Testing the waters

I have had so many things happen to me in the last couple of weeks I’d be an idiot if I didn’t take a moment to really reflect on it all.  Yesterday after signing my contracts and sending them off I had to work. I don’t mix work with my personal life so I had to jump around in the bathroom and walk around with a Cheshire cat smile on my face all day without anyone knowing why.

My quiet time is on the bus and that’s when it all really hit me- what a bad time! It takes me a while to process things. I have to do it in my own time and in my own way and maybe God knows this. Yesterday the day was perfect, gorgeous weather testing the watersand the sun shining down on me making this moment even more precious- God really knows how to deliver, doesn’t he? Do you believe in signs? Since you are still the couch I don’t expect an answer so I can tell you, I definitely believe in signs. Signs have changed my life; street signs, horoscopes, fortune cookies and the stars in the sky. Yesterday it was the advertisements on the bus; Museum Day is coming up, 1 October bus route changes and Nike’s slogan – Just do it, Now!

I had an A-ha moment. It should have been when I found my biological family, but it wasn’t. It should have been when my family openly talked about my adoption and all the feelings I was harboring since childhood but it wasn’t. It should have been when I was offered my book contract but again, it wasn’t. Fear still holds me back and doubt is still a good part of my life.

Sitting there surrounded by strangers (bus buddies at most) I was touched by the Spirit and it broke through all my reservations and self-doubt. There aren’t many moments in our lives that are like the one I experienced and I was reduced to tears. I was afraid I’d been in the well of fear too long and if the light ever did shine down on me I wouldn’t see it; I’d be blinded by darkness but I saw the light and the promise of all I could have if I just hang on. Have faith.

How many signs does a person need to change their life?!  (I’m sure that’s what God was saying) I need no other sign. This is it! THANK YOU GOD for everything you’ve given me. I won’t waste this chance and I won’t pass up another opportunity, I promise!!

I’m done testing the waters- I’m jumping in!

Advertisements

Taking a big Leap

take a leapMy mind was officially blown two weeks ago when I received an offer to publish my book. I didn’t quite believe it was real. I waited to tell everyone but until I knew for sure it wasn’t a bogus offer or the subtle offer to publish at my own expense (and as any hard-working author would agree- Never!) I self-published and it wasn’t as easy as everyone thinks.  When I received this offer I was hesitant.

When I first started writing (in 2009) it was to distract myself from my own pain. I wanted to fantasize about anything other than what I was feeling. No one really know about my private life because I didn’t share it and if I did, it was bits and pieces or I lied altogether but everyone could attest to the fact I was stuffing my face for some reason. They just didn’t know what.

In the midst of all this, a friend of mine told me to write the story of my life – for those who know me, it seems I am easily swayed by ‘friends’ – in truth, they can get me to do anything!  Just ask Karen! I got tased for a t-shirt! – My friend believed it would make a good book but when I started writing an auto-biographical story I would have gladly drilled a hole in my own head than continue writing. I was bored with my own story!  I’ve had an interesting life, I admit that, but reading it line for line, year for year it was killing me so after some thought I came up with Lara. She enabled me to relive my past enough to relay my feelings into my writing but not enough to plunge me back into my earlier depression.

Some people ask me what kind of books I write. I’m not really sure how to explain them. They are semi-autobiographical but I throw in some suspense with a little bit of mystery and wrap it all up with a happy ending.  Some authors start out writing romance novels (Iris Johansen) and other authors know their genre and write little else (Stephen King), I don’t know my genre yet. I want to complete the Lara Martin series and then write something different. What it will be I don’t really know but I’m excited to see what it is.

We are done with negotiations and I have signed the contracts. I have a deadline now.  It still blows me away! I was proud of myself when I completed Secret of the Kings and I certainly accomplished something when I wrote One Step Closer and followed up with Through the Darkness and published online, but in my mind (and probably others) I wasn’t a real author until I was picked up by a publishing company. I can now stand on the mountain tops and shout that it is real and it is happening!!

My sister says I’ve been writing all my life and it’s true. So let’s just see how far I can go!

If you’d like to read my books, follow the link below:

http://dmlvanheest.wordpress.com/

Rumors of war

be kind“Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don’t want it. What appears bad manners, an ill temper or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen. You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone.” ― Miller Williams

DON’T GIVE IN TO fear

alone 5I’m saddened every day by the number of people who feel they are alone. When depression strikes where do you turn? The sad part is most of us turn inward and that’s the dangerous part. If you’re not expressing your feelings then too quickly they become dark and if we can’t stop the flow of negativity it will build until it’s overwhelming. Depression isn’t a problem for most people and how stunned are we to learn that people die every day from it? Gia Allemand from the Bachelor took her own life. She was beautiful, fun, shy with a perfect smile, her smile hid her distress. And how good are we at hiding our distress? Some of us are very good.

I’ve told this story to my children but it serves to remind me of what fear can do if we let it: When I was in high school my friends and I foolishly played with the Ouija board. We thought it was a game but eventually it was freaking us out. Now I’m not going to say that we were talking to a spirit or some wandering entity but we were talking to something and it scared the crap out of me. One night I was asleep in my bed and I woke to find a black darkness spreading across my bedroom, I turned on the light but the light did no good, the darkness kept coming. I remember I woke screaming in the hallway with my Dad shaking me awake. I had awakened the whole house- my sister said it sounded like I was getting murdered. I’m sure she still remembers that night!

My mother knows me very well (no matter how well I think she doesn’t) she asked me what was wrong and it all came out. Talking it out in the bright light of my bedroom it sounded silly to me but my fear was very real. I’m not sure exactly what she said but the gist of it was, there is only one force on earth that feeds on fear and emotions like it (depression, anger and negativity) and that’s the Devil. He’ll use any weapon he can to turn you away from light. Don’t give in to fear, face them.

That lesson back then is the reason I remain resolute in my decision to fight my fears. Listening to that negative voice in your head telling you that no one will understand, no one will listen to you, no one will be there, no one can ever understand what you’re going through- you’re listening to the Devil and as long as he has your ear the Lord does not.

Families were put on this earth for one thing to support each other and when family isn’t there you have another one. Every parent out there knows that children are only home for a short period of time and then they face the world and unfortunately they don’t face the world with you beside them, they go out on their own so they must be prepared by giving them the absolute best chance for survival. Arm them with everything you can so they are strong against the world because we all know the world can be an Ugly place.  Look at what happened at the Navy Yard and murders and abductions that happen every day.  The Church is your other family. Any church in any city will listen if a stranger walks in and needs to pray. That’s what they are there for, for you in your time of need!

You are Not alone! Don’t give in to fear and doubt! You have angels all around you so stop listening to that voice. I’m here and I- will- listen!

What the past will reveal

who am iMy family history has always been a mystery to me. When asked about my medical history I can say ‘I don’t know, I’m adopted’ generally about twice a year. I’ve never known but now I do.  I have gotten more information on my lineage in the past few weeks than I could ever have imagined. My sisters have been supplying the information.

They have been shining a light on our mother’s history and leading me on a path back through time. Knowing who my family is has always been important to me but only recently has the past come to light. I found my family August 22nd and I have a family tree that goes back hundreds of years. My poster board and markers haven’t even begun to crack the wealth of information my extended family can provide me on who I am.

Some people don’t need a family tree to tell them who they are. Some will never know it and until recently I was one of those people and I can tell you that it didn’t affect me much. I was confident I would never know and that part of my life would go unanswered. How wrong was I? I am working on my family tree but the Indians will know more. My sisters have informed me that the Quapaw have kept a very good genealogy record that one day soon I hope to be added to. I am related to the Quapaw by blood. My mother was half Indian and depending on who my father was will determine how much Indian blood I have.

I have sent away for my original birth certificate. Soon I will the last piece of information needed to become a member of the tribe and my children will be given the same opportunity.  You need two things to obtain membership: an original birth certificate and be able to trace your lineage by name to a full standing member. Meaning you have to be related by blood to someone who has a roll number. My mother has a roll number as did my grandmother.

My sisters do too and I love the tidbits of Indian everyday life I glean from our conversations. My sister Season tells me she is busy making moccasins and purses and was pleased to know that I loved fry bread (my Mom made fry bread a couple of times growing up, it is good).  Most of what I know about Indians is having known a couple of them throughout my life. It is respectful to give something when you first meet an elder either tobacco, sage, or sweet grass and you never know when you’ll meet an Indian. I met Samuel Holiday, one of the last Navajo Code Talkers, back in 2005. I met Marcy Tiger, Muscogee Creek Nation and his lovely wife, Sandy, last year when I arrived in Washington.

As I said you never know when you’ll meet one so I keep a stash of sweet grass with me at all times. I’m sure if anyone saw it, in the trunk of my car, they would think it was marijuana but no one has ever asked me yet, what the heck is that?!

I think history is as relevant as you want to make it. For instance, you might not want to dwell on history if you happen to uncover a serial killer, but medically it can be really revealing. You might find depression runs in the family. You might find schizophrenia there as well or diabetes or cancer. Things you might not have known were hereditary and therefore you should be watchful of.  My mother died of cancer. My Mom’s family has a history of breast cancer so each year my Mom, my sister and eventually my niece get preventative check-ups.  I will have to do that too.

Now not only do I have a medical history but I also have names for unknown faces for family living in and around Oklahoma. My ancestral tree resembles a Redwood! And guess what? It includes a Chief, the last traditional Chief of the Quapaw Nation. How cool is that?

Disabled or Daring?

COL GadsonI got to meet a very impressive man today. His name is COL Gadson and he is currently serving as the Garrison Commander at Fort Belvoir, VA. In addition to this, he played football for West Point and looks like the toughest guy I wouldn’t want to meet in any alley! He is also a Wounded Warrior having lost his legs in Baghdad. I, of course, didn’t know this. I just recognized him from the movie ‘Battleship’ and asked for his autograph.

I was blown away by his accomplishments before and after the injury. He is an advocate for people with disabilities. I am not disabled but I have a very good friend who is, Anne. She is an inspiration having been born with Spina Bifida. She had to suffer surgery after surgery when she was younger and spent half her youth in hospitals. I can’t imagine what she’s gone through. But she’s not disabled, she’s daring! Today she can walk but who wants to walk when you can ride? She owns a Segway and you can see her racing up and down the hallways of the Army Materiel Command any day of the week.

When she tried to board the metro using her Segway she was almost arrested. Her case along with many others were key in reforming the WMATA. New guidelines have been established making it legal and safe for handicap people using Segways to enter the metro. She is awesome! If you’d like to read more about her read the article in the Washington Post:

http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-257254.html

How best to show my gratification for our friendship than by placing her in my book as one of the main characters, Gina Grails. Which is why I asked COL Gadson to sign a copy of my book. It was great meeting him and it’s an honor knowing people like him and Anne- so brave in their every day challenges!

What do you see in Silence?

Postal receiptIt is done. I don’t think there are very many times in our lives when we knowingly change our fate. We make decisions willy-nilly often without thinking of the consequences. I think if we really thought about each decision we made before we made it we’d all be very predictable people, Lol.

I am not predictable. I wish I was….sometimes, but more often than not I am content to be just a little off.  If I was twenty years older the term might correctly be ‘eccentric’ but for now I prefer weird. I gripe so often of rigid, narrow-minded, inflexible people that I think I’ve become one without even knowing it.

I’m hard on people and I don’t meant to be. I pray a lot on my own weakness and I try to follow my mother’s advice, if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all. I find myself quiet A LOT.

I do try to fit in. I do lunch dates with friends and night at the movies, attend church- you know, all the usual stuff people usually do but then I withdraw. I like going to the movies alone. I don’t mind staying at home and skipping lunch and sometimes I do play hookie from church (btw, it never fails when I do skip church my Mom calls me – sheesh!)  When I was younger, I was never alone.  Is being alone so bad, so taboo that you absolutely need someone with you all the time in order to do things?

I found out something about myself recently, I don’t mind eating alone. I’ve been opposed to eating alone all my life. When you eat alone you look lonely and pathetic. Who wants to be that? But lately I’ve shed a new skin; I am officially one of those people. Why should I miss a good meal just because I don’t have anyone to join me? So Sunday afternoon after not going to church I went to Ruby Tuesday’s and ate alone. It felt good like I’d accomplished something I didn’t even know I was trying to achieve. Was it a test? I don’t know but I sat there and ate a very nice meal.

For me, my life has been a blur. I’ve been going non-stop for so many years that complete silence turned out to be a good thing. The silence put me in tune with the off things I needed to see in myself (and it’s an ongoing process. No one is perfect). Now I have no trouble sitting quietly reading, writing or just drinking a cup of coffee out on the balcony. Silence was a nice change of pace for me from the drama of the last few years.

But I guess I’m made for drama because I’ve done something again that will cause the waters to stir. I just mailed my court order to OKDHS to open my adoption records with the sole purpose of obtaining my original birth certificate. If I don’t do it, I’ll never know and I need to know everything now. It might shed some light on who my father is but for sure I need it to become a member of the Quapaw tribe.

Have you found yourself in the silence? or does the silence hold secrets even you don’t want to hear?

‘Silence might be a foreign land to you but sometimes it is good to leap into the unknown. Practice leaping’- Macrina Wiederkehr

Fear and the Well

rock bottomIt’s amazing to me how much fear holds us back. Fear of not fitting in, fear of being viewed as different, fear of rejection, fear of failure and fear that someone else’s opinion will change who you are. I think I lost my fear when my life hit the dirt.

Being in a well of depression is just that, it’s a well and you’re down there all alone (it feels like it). I think depression is the number one silent killer. No one knows you’re suffering until it’s too late. I also think that the things that define us are also the things that separate us from others– No one could understand what I’m going through so why bother trying to explain it or if they knew the ‘real me’ they wouldn’t like me anymore. I have every reason in the world why I don’t share my feelings with others but the truth is it’s an Excuse. I can keep punishing myself and keep trying to make that well my home. I was afraid to hope. I was afraid to try.

Some people don’t want to leave the well. They are content to be alone with their pain and misery and honestly don’t want people intruding on their very own, private space. They’ve grown comfortable in the gloom and walking topside no longer appeals to them. They look at others in resentment and view life in bitter jealousy. A very small part probably wishes they could leave but it’s overshadowed by the dark they’ve grown used to. You can’t help these people because they don’t want help. When I closed my eyes and said, Lead and I will follow they laughed because the very idea of shedding their despair is ridiculous. Their pain makes them who they are and that’s their biggest fear. That underneath the pain and sorrow, underneath the anger on why this happened to them in the first place, and underneath hurt they’re just like everybody else. No longer separated by their despair, no longer special, no longer different.

I am happy to leave the well. Sometimes I’m not sure I trust what I see– did something good really just happen to me? But each step I take I grow more confident. On my journey I lost everything but I found something too, I find ME.

I don’t have your answers the only answers I have are my own. Where ever you are– in twilight or down in that dark hole- I hope you have the courage to try. I hope when the sun burns away your last tears of anguish you’ll see what we’ve seen all along. We see you……and we like what we see!

Higher!

hawkeyeIf you have crazy friends like I do you’ll understand this. I’m a little melodramatic. I’ve been stuck the last few days wondering if the recent events in my life forewarned an early grave.  I’m 42 years old, fairly healthy – I don’t know, I don’t go to doctors but I did go to the doctor for a full check-up about two years ago. I had to, I lost hearing in my left ear. After that I decided to get a complete physical, just in case.  It turned out to be an earache, nothing major, but I had built it up in my mind to this horrible possibility; I thought I had a tumor. I see clouds and I think it’s a storm where others simply see rain.

Friends sometimes take these short depraved opportunities in my life and run with it and depending on which friend it is will determine where I end up. Like the friend who propels your fear even further – it’s not a tumor, it could be a blood clot. Really? Or the friend who instills fear when you didn’t have any to begin with.

I worked as an intern for the Kansas City Zoo back when I was in college those two short years in the cornfields of Iowa. I got to work with each section of the zoo behind the scenes cutting  up food and cleaning cages. The fun stuff. There was this camel, a Bactrian, named Richard. He was beautiful and BIG. He was so tall and majestic, he could see me coming from any point in the zoo. He was beautiful. He was in a large enclosure but there was a part that only had electric wire between us. I met with Richard every day.

Camels grind their teeth and he would grind his teeth and grumble deep in his chest when I was near him and I just stared at him in awe. I was so close I often reached out and stroked his hair, shaggy and scratchy. I was told later that I shouldn’t go near him. Richard had bitten someone and he was considered dangerous. The next day I went to meet him and I felt something I hadn’t before, I was afraid of him and I wouldn’t have been if nothing was ever said. An incredible connection was broken and it really bothered me (as you can tell, I’m retelling this story 22 years after it happened!).

The good friends are the ones that encourage you. They aren’t at the bottom of the ravine yelling Jump Jump Jump, they stand beside you and jump with you. I have one such friend. Where I saw the end of my wish list, she saw the beginning and she felt so sure of this new venture in my life that she shared my blog on her Facebook and tagged You haven’t seen anything yet!

Her kind of support is dangerous. If she had my wish list, Las Vegas would be at the very top. She encourages me to fly and when I do she’s shouting at me to go higher, to break the ties of gravity and see just how high up in the sky I can go. I love her for that.

So I’m scrubbing my list and starting a new one. Am I going to Las Vegas, doubt it. I think I’ll land somewhere between Arkansas and Texas. I’m going home.

 

Where is my Voice of Reason?

life sucksTake my advice and Don’t self-diagnose with the Internet!  I am now manic-depressive, bi-polar with a touch of schizophrenia (haha my ex might agree). I’m sure I’m not any of those things but I definitely have some mixed up feelings. But that’s what I get for tooling around on the Internet drinking a 44 oz Big Gulp of Mt. Dew and crashing around midnight. My eyes feel like Berber.

I was trying to read about other adopted children and the feelings they might be going through after they found their family. The process is called ‘post adoption’ and feelings range from indifference to total acceptance of their new-found family. I am holding back, I know I am and asked myself for real, what is wrong. I feel disloyal to the family that raised me. My sister said something that I remember, she said my biological mother is just the woman that birthed me, she had no part in raising me or making me the person I am today.  I think my adopted mother would disagree. I know for a fact she’s said a time or two, this is not my daughter and she’s probably wondered why I am the way I am.

Sometimes answers aren’t definite, Yes means Maybe and sometimes Maybe means No (but always, always No means No- don’t get confused!). One thing I know is true, life is not black and white. Feelings aren’t easily defined and I don’t know why I’ve wanted to reconnect with my biological family, I just do.

Are my feelings disloyal? Does my mother want me to find these answers or would she be happier if I put this behind me? And if I can’t, will this affect my family. Just like my daughter said, I don’t want my family to change and I don’t want to hurt my mother or father by pursuing this (and my sister too, can’t forget about her).

I know I should live closer to home because only the people who really know you can tell you something you should already know.  My friend, who shall be nameless (F R A N C E S), told me to talk to my mother. She said, she is your voice of reason and dang it – it’s true. Whenever I know I should be doing something I can always count on that little voice in the back of my mind to speak up and blast it all, that voice is my mothers.

Where is my voice of reason? She’s in the north country. My parents have been on a six month expedition to Alaska but I believe they come home today.  I hate to admit that I can’t work through my feelings on my own and it takes a good friend / friendS to help me out.

I need my Mom. I need to talk to her and I absolutely need her guidance in my life. My mother is my mother and she is now the only mother I’ll ever have.

When does Alaska Air land? Anyone know? I’m off.