So What Happens Now?

 I thought someone stole my life. At the time it was real.

Each hospitalization steals a piece of who I used to be, each reaction possibly  a death sentence. Between adoption reunion and a rare mast cell disease I feel like I’ve been fighting a war or working on one of those fishing boats being tossed around like feathers in an ocean of power.

 I still have a life only its very different from the one I had planned for retirement. Different from the one I anticipated as I worked my way down my “Places to Go Before You Die” list. Different from the strong, physically fit nurse running on concrete day after day. Different from my friends and family. Different

Thing is, I have a life and I am grateful.

SO WHAT HAPPENS NOW?.

How does one manage, adjust, accept and live in the new world around them.

ACT AS If YOU KNOW

A few years ago before I got so sick I was at a retreat where the teacher used that phrase frequently. If you were asked a question and were stuck for an answer the normal reply is,”I don’t know “Thats why I’m asking you.” He would slowly curl his lips up in a smile and say, “Well, I know you don’t know. but if you did, what would the answer be?’ Immediately, people felt a shift and an answer became apparent.  You had it all along. It’s that simple.

I have had many times, many major times in my life, that in an instant, my life changed. These major life changes demand adaptation. Until you get re-grounded, Act As If You Know.

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When you experience major life changes such as we do in adoption reunion, serious life threatening illness, anything that comes out of the corner swinging when you least expect it, there are a few guidelines I’ve found quite helpful.

1.Change is part of life. Feelings of grief, sadness, anger are normal when experiencing a loss. Give yourself permission to feel that way but with limits. A day, a moment, a brief accountable time. Sit with the emotions but don’t stay there.  There’s no adaptation if you don’t move forward. You stay in a place of helplessness  and personally, i’d rather be in a place of hope and growth.

2.Take off the mask.  You know the one.  The strong, independent fearless warrior we like everyone to see. Let people see the real you.  The vulnerable, the frightened you, so greatly in need of help. The you that wonders if you’ll make it through another day. Only when others can see the real you are they able to offer help. Through vulnerability comes courage.

3.Remember you aren’t the first person to experience change and you won’t be the last. You Are Not Alone You always have yourself and you are surrounded by the energy of the universe, spirituality and love. Open the door just a crack and you will find many others feeling the same way.

4.People aren’t mind readers. They don’t know what you need, what you want and many have no idea what to say or do in your particular situation. Be specific and you will find people feel relieved because they had no idea and will gladly support you. If they have to guess, they feel helpless, just as you do. Empowerment comes from knowing.

5.Change takes courage but our ability to adapt is incredible. You need to believe that you can adapt and you will. Now that I have O2 24/7, it’s taken a great deal of adapting, inventing, climbing over obstacles I could never have imagined. You will find solutions for whatever is standing in your way. We are survivors.

6.Don’t lose hope. I know there are days it seems futile and the dark places try to pull you in but don’t go there. There is something, no matter how small, that you can grasp like a rope of hope.  Hang on, the ride is wild but know in your heart it will be alright, just different.

7.This journey, be it illness, death, adoption, reunion, whatever it is, is traumatic and it will change you forever. It changes how you see life and deal with things and right in the middle is the learning, the knowledge, the courage and strength you didn’t know you had. What’s happening around us, to us doesn’t change us as human beings. Stay centred and grounded and remind yourself you are okay.

Start right where you are now, in this moment, just accept it without comparison to your past life. We adapt. We survive. A habit takes 21 days to form. Neuroscience tells us our brains have extraordinary capacity to rewire patterns so get out of your own way. Meditate, walk in nature, listen to music, write.  Do what you must so you can see what’s around the next corner.

ACT AS IF YOU KNOW

Hay House Radio Interview for Finding Heart Horse (I still have free Ebook Stubs to giveaway)

IMG_3394 When you write your story, bear your soul, your heart, your life with the world there is no going back.  Brene Brown says vulnerability=courage.   The more vulnerable you are with others in life the more you become filled with courage.

Most of you know the back story, have watched the video and now will hear the interview.  Yet,  I still feel very vulnerable.  I also am filled with courage.

I’ve worked for days on The Wall of Secrets,

 today the self publishing process has begun.

I still have Ebook stubs to giveaway,  if you are interested drop me a line at thealmostdaughter@gmail.com

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Here is the Hay House Radio Interview..it’s still airing on Bright, New Voices

After the Release of Finding Heart Horse

It’s been a couple of weeks now since Finding Heart Horse has been free.  I experience waves of emotion as if I have just given birth and in a sense that’s what releasing a book is.  It’s your word baby, a chronically, a story, a life of it’s own.  For years you nurture it with phrases, favourite words, descriptions, coffee stains, tears and love and then you set it free to live it’s own life.  Terrifying and freeing at the same time.

This past week I have been working with an amazing photographer Nathan Harben putting video and words together to make a video release for Finding Heart Horse.  Robin Toma, another amazing photographer is also contributing and I can’t wait to see the final product.  Video releases are short, usually 1-3minutes in length so everything has to be condensed and the photographer performs his magic and you have a short summary of what you want people to know about your book.

It’s yet another “birth” of sorts.  Another exposure of self that leaves you feeling vulnerable and new and yet energized.  I continue to watch Brene’ Brown video’s and am trying to embrace with courage the vulnerability of my telling my story.

Stay tuned for the video and the Hay House Radio Interview.

I’d like to start a Finding Heart Horse gallery.  When you buy a book send me a picture of you and the book or the surroundings and I will add it to the gallery.  I know, so far it’s being read in Scotland, UK, Canada and the USA…send a picture in to   thealmostdaughter@gmail.com

Finding Heart Horse: A Memoir of Survival
WWW.AMAZON.COM

Have you ever wanted something so badly it was all you could think of? All you could talk about, write about, dream about. Claire did. She wanted a horse. Finding Heart Horse is her journey and her search for her Heart Horse. It takes her from being “the girl most likely to succeed” to a life on …

 

Setting Heart Horse Free

ImageSitting on my table for the last few days has been the story of life until age 20.

I’ve held it, opened it, moved it around, read a line or two, shed a tear or two and felt very vulnerable.

I’m finally, after 8 years of writing, setting the first part of this journey free.  Into the world Heart Horse goes, and I’m ready.  Bring it on.

Bring on whatever you have to say, in fact, I really want to hear it.

I want you to convince me adoption doesn’t have ramifications.

I want you to convince me abuse doesn’t leave scars.

I want you to convince me that the Primal Wound and  In Utero Learning doesn’t exist and create a lifetime of ingrained belief systems that make it so difficult to know and feel loved.

 I would love to know that all those things mean nothing and the slate will be wiped clean with a bit of therapy.  I know better.  The damage is done.  The scars are deep and the pain unrelenting, affecting everyone around us.  All we can do is learn to “manage” these beliefs.

Brene’ Brown’s interview with Elizabeth Gilbert was inspiring.

 Elizabeth said, “I live a creative life, and you can’t be creative without being vulnerable.

 I believe that Creativity and Fear are basically conjoined twins;  they share all the same major organs, and cannot be separated, one from the other, without killing them both.  And you don’t want to murder Creativity just to destroy Fear.”

FINDING HEART HORSE is my journey of search and survival.  There are things in  Finding Heart Horse that will make you squirm in distaste and repulsion.  There are horrors described by a 16 year old that no one should ever endure.  The raw life of living on the streets in the late 60’s when drugs and peace were the norm.  Unfortunately it quickly turned into wars and violence that spilled into my world.

 Looking back I now see that my entire life has been spent in the never-ending search.

The search for where I belonged.

The search for acceptance and love.  The search for my tribe, my family, my roots.

The only thing that kept me alive was “Heart Horse” and the dream of someday catching a wild horse.  Without him, i wouldn’t be here to write.

It’s only one part of the journey.  The Wall of Secrets will be out soon and is part of “the all”.  Without The Wall filled with drawers to store my many traumas and secrets, I would not have survived.

As I hold my book and feel it’s energy…..books do have energy you know…a sense of peace, a vibration of knowing and acceptance radiates from the pages.  As Heart Horse  is being set free, so am I.

Mark Epstein in his book “The Trauma of Everyday Life” says;

By not fighting with his internal wounds, by not insisting on making them go away,

by not recruiting everyone in his intimate life to save him from his feelings of abandonment,

by simply resting with them the way we do in meditation, he could learn,

as the Buddha did, that he already was the love he thought he lacked.”

FINDING HEART HORSE is now available on Amazon, Chapters.Indigo

It will be a brave journey you take when you enter my world.  Please leave and honest review.

Learn what adoption does to a person, what abuse creates and together we can and will make a change.

A portion of the proceeds from these books will go to Covenant House, Vancouver

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Vulnerability and Shame……FINDING HEART HORSE COVER REVEAL

So, I couldn’t figure out how to incorporate the video into the post so it came first.

 The beginning of shame because I didn’t research how to do it!

I’ve been thinking a lot about vulnerability and shame.  I think, in particular because as you know, I’m getting ready to do my cover reveal for FINDING HEART HORSE.  I just approved the galley text as well which means the book goes off to print.  I have the Hay House Radio Interview and the Video Release next as well and THEN…..THEN…it’s all real.  I will hear it, see it, hold it and be it.

This is where the vulnerability and shame comes in. Intellectually, I know I am stronger because of the life I have lived, the suffering I have endured, the traumas experienced and yet…to share that in the public is one of the most frightening things I can think of.

I have listened to Brene’ Brown’s TED talks dozens of times and the number will go up as the release date gets closer.  She nails it.  She makes it clear that the only way is to just do it.  Put it out there, be courageous and vulnerable.  I so believe her, yet I still feel so vulnerable and shame sneaks in around the edges.

As I re read my galley text and take myself to the place of that young girl it breaks my heart.  She was so vulnerable and filled with shame at such a young age and it shattered her spirit and stuck with her…until she became me, sitting here writing this post.

Shame can be unbearable.  We can equate it with being worthless, unlovable, unredeemable.  It can fill us with terror that we will be abandoned yet again, fragmented, or overwhelmed with despair.  Adoptee’s are born with this ingrained.  That is not to say other’s don’t experience it as well, just that we are hardwired.

“If distress is the affect of suffering, shame is the affect of indignity, transgression and of alienation.  Though terror speaks to life and death and distress makes of the world a vale of tears, yet shame strikes deepest into the heart of man….shame is felt as inner torment, a sickness of the soul …the humiliated one feels himself naked, defeated, alienated, lacking in dignity and worth”

  Silvan Tomkins-1992

Shame really represents an entire family of emotions: humiliation, embarrassment, feelings of low self-esteem, belittlement and stigmatization.  Shame is often a central ingredient in the experience of being.  It can show its ugly face physically or in defence mechanisms because it interferes with our ability to think clearly.

As I was reading I was also thinking how people will judge.  I fully expect that..There is purpose behind my telling my story.  I survived.  I want others to know they can too.  Go ahead and judge.. because quite frankly, I don’t give a damn.  I did what i did in order to survive.

Many adoptees will recognize themselves in my book. Others that come from various walks of life will as well. The journey of searching for self.  The devastation and pain that arrives when you discover your own mother didn’t want you enough to fight to keep you.  Most lost daughters and sons tried to cope the best way they knew how.  The pain and despair is unbearable, even tho’ at the time you don’t recognize where it’s coming from. 

In my life, I ran from abuse at the tender and naive age of 15.  That automatically put me into the place of vulnerability.  Vulnerability is scary, even now.  But it’s also a place of power and authenticity.

I lived  a life of risk back then and still do now.  Having gone through “reunion” and placing myself in the most painful experience of my life, i know now, vulnerability is also the centre, the core and heart of meaningful human experience.  Just as Brene’ Brown says, its a place of uncertainty and emotional exposure with an unknown outcome.  It’s opening your heart wide knowing rejection may be the result.

As soon as I post my cover to FINDING HEART HORSE the external journey begins.  Of course, I’ve had people write reviews, and editors to critique.  Those are the warm up experiences because just sharing with them leaves me in a vulnerable place and embarrassed by the life I led.

I learned through reunion, being so vulnerable and open can also be very painful.  One needs trust when you are in a vulnerable place.  People need to earn the right to hear our stories.  It takes courage to show the battle wounds.  To open your heart knowing it may get stomped on.  Courage=Vulnerabilty

Brene’ Brown concludes about daring greatly:

“And, without question, putting ourselves out there means there’s a far greater risk of feeling hurt.  But as I look back on my own life and what Daring Greatly has meant to me, I can honestly say that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as believing that I’m standing on the outside of my life looking in and wondering what it would be like if I had the courage to show up and let myself be seen.”

And so..with her words behind me, and in me just like an ear worm I embrace my vulnerability and shame and will walk through the doors with my book in hand being held up by courage.

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Finding Heart Horse …Cover Reveal Soon

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Congratulations to the winners of the 2013 Hay House Insights Nonfiction Writing Contest. Each of our entries was carefully reviewed by a panel of judges who made difficult decisions in choosing the Grand Prize, First Place and Second Place winners.

Winners of the 2013 Hay House Insights Nonfiction Writing 

 I was going to reblog my book post from July but decided to just fill you in on whats been going on since then.  

The process of self publishing has been such a learning curve and also exhausting at the same time.  Trying to work it all in along with my mast cell disease has been a challenge but I’m almost there.

I don’t think I posted about the above contest.  I’m quite shy in the self promotion department and actually found it hard to believe myself, so I’m going to practice, right here, right now.  Scroll down the blog and click on “Like” for my writers page.  If you haven’t read the post “Finding Heart Horse-Memoir of Survival” have a read and it will give you an idea of what the story is about.

I’m going to reveal the cover on my writing page first so come on over and say hello and watch for the big reveal.  The galley text has had it’s final corrections and soon will be off to print.  Exciting!

Next in line is The Wall of Secrets a sequel to the first book.

 

 

Being an Open Book

 

ImageI must have read this brilliant and reassuring saying hundreds of times during the past  seven years of writing these two memoirs.  At my most vulnerable times it kept me going, it kept me honest and open with my words.

I have several books that have been with my during this journey of self discovery.  One of them is The Right to Write by Julia Cameron.  My daughter gave it to me way before I felt I could tell or write even a sentence or two.  Just the title alone brings reassurance that yes….you have a right to tell your story.  

For so many people that have experienced trauma of any kind it so painful to bring it to light, never mind sharing it with others who may not understand.  It is however the most important thing you will ever do.

Knowing there are others who share in your journey is the very healing you need.  Writing it on paper takes it out of your body and allows you freedom to just “be”.

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Blocked Emotions

The truth about childhood is stored up in our bodies and lives in the depths of our souls.  Our intellect can be deceived, our feelings can be numbed and manipulated, our perceptions shamed and confused, our bodies tricked with medication, but our soul never forgets.  And because we are one, one whole soul in one body, someday our body will present its bill.  The wounded and lost child is only in hiding:  the soul is still whole in spirit.  Ultimately, our deepest self will accept no compromises or excuses, and it will not stop tormenting or contaminating us until we stop  evading the truth.”Alice Miller

Finding Heart Horse and The Wall of Secrets have been for me, the catalyst for self healing.  By being an open book, by being vulnerable and examining the stages of my life as an adoptee searching for a place in this world through writing, has led me to a place of peace and wholeness of self despite the trauma’s and abuse endured.

There were times in writing and in living I was curled up in fetal position with howls coming from a place I didn’t know existed.  A deep guttural place of a wounded animal screaming in pain.  The years before reunion I was that little girl above.  You would never guess it on the outside, although my daughter tells me I always looked sad and an old friend wrote a song about my sad eyes.  Yes, that typical adoptee aura that people can’t quite put their finger on was with me always.

I’m nervous that once the books are out and read, I will be judged and yet a stronger part of me feels it’s important to be free, be an open book, with hopes that someone will know they too, can survive.  That over rules any fear of judgement.  Those who judge won’t be in my life anyway and usually when judgment occurs it’s because of one’s own fears and doubts and it certainly doesn’t come from a place of love and understanding.

Julia Cameron says it’s human nature to write and that it claims our world making it specifically our own.  She also says we should write because humans are spiritual beings and writing is a powerful form of mediation and prayer and it connects us to our insights and the deeper level of inner soul guidance.  I believe that to be true.

Seven years ago I wouldn’t have called myself a writer or even a story teller.  Now I am both.  Don’t let fear get in the way of you telling your story.  Begin Now.