lucid

For adoptees, the journey is never over. It evolves, it twists and turns, but it never ends.

I reunited with my birthfamily in Taipei, Taiwan, in January 2012, during the Lunar New Year. I can’t even begin to express what a life-changing event it was. I met my two older biological sisters, their spouses, my older brother, nieces and nephews, and our Uncle, the Patriarch of our family. I did not have the opportunity to meet my birthparents, as both had passed on years earlier. I learned that my birth father died around the same time as my adoptive mom.

Lucid_Light sketchGrowing up, I never entertained the thought of searching for my birthfamily. My adoptive parents hid my adoption records, which I later found after my adoptive mom passed away. My adoption record held information that was quite contrary to what my mom had shared with me. To this day, I’m left wondering if she lied about my past. After learning the truth, I was struck with an insatiable curiosity. I set out to find answers. That led to a three year search for my birthfamily. I won’t go into all the details, but will share an incident that led up to my search.

After my adoptive mom passed, I attended a Bonny Method Guided Imagery & Music (GIM) training at Arizona State University. Briefly, GIM is a type of psychotherapy utilizing classical music to assist individuals in uncovering unconscious material and emotions. Watch a brief video about GIM here. My classmates and I were graduated music therapists. We were paired up and were each given the opportunity to be the “client” and the guide, or therapist. I went into the training worried because my adoptive mom had recently passed away, and I knew that the training might cause more grief to surface. At the same time, I was also concerned that I would not be able to “travel” as they call it, or be able to conjure any images while “travelling.”

When it was my turn to be the “client,” my partner and I found a spot on the floor. I was lying on my back, and he was kneeling near my head. The music began. Eventually, images began to flow. I entered a room that looked like a library. There were bookshelves with hundreds of books. Several minutes in, a cloaked figure emerged in the distance, its face was hidden by the hood of the cloak. Initially, I was afraid, as the figure appeared ominous, its cloak was as dark as charcoal. Barber’s Adagio for Strings was playing. If you’re not familiar with this piece, it is intensely beautiful and mysterious. There is also a yearning and a sorrow underscoring this composition. I highly recommend giving it a listen here.

As the figure drew nearer, I knew in my heart that it was my birth mother. She reached out to me. I remember her long, graceful fingers, which were gloved in grey. We embraced. It was a feeling like I’d never experienced. Joy, sorrow, disbelief, mystery. I then saw my adoptive mother. Her face was lit up, and she was beaming down at me. The first thing she said was, “I’m okay!” By this point, I’m sobbing. I sensed that she wanted to tell me something vitally important. She wanted me to know my birth mother. It was time. It was like she was trying to connect us. I didn’t know at this time that I would eventually set out to find my birthfamily – that did not occur until months later. My birth mother and I held each other for what seemed like an eternity. She told me that she did not want to give me up and that she had given me my musical abilities. I later learned from my biological sisters that our mother loved classical music and learning, which are two of my favorite things.

When it came time for my birth mother to leave, she exited slowly, walking backwards. I cannot begin to tell you the sorrow I felt in watching her leave. Later I watched as my adoptive mom was taken away by white beings. I can only describe them as angels. The music had changed to Mozart’s Serenade in B-Flat. The angels moved to the beat of the music, lovingly carrying my adoptive mom away until I could no longer see them. Both my moms had left me. I should say that because I had such an intense experience, one of the facilitators came to my side to help me through it. They had purposely selected the piece by Mozart because of its ability to contain strong emotion in a way that felt safe and comforting. There was much more to this event that I don’t have time to share. Suffice it to say, it was truly transformative.

The drawing above is an imagining of my birth mother. I never saw her face during the GIM imaging. It remained cloaked in darkness. My biological sisters gave me a picture of our mother when I went back to Taiwan, but she was much older when the photo was taken. My sisters said that I look like her when she was young. Unfortunately, they no longer had any photos of our mother when she was a younger woman. So I’m left to my own idealized imagination and creative intuition.

I believe that the experience that I had with GIM was only the beginning of a journey that led me back to my roots in Taiwan. For adoptees, the journey is never really over. It evolves, it twists and turns, but it never ends.

 

anger

I still do not manage my angry feelings well. Deep at my core, I’m still a people pleaser and hate conflict.

I’ve been exploring anger lately. It’s an emotion that I’ve tried very hard to avoid most of my life. My adoptive mom exploded in anger when I was a kid at any given time. It got worse as I became an adolescent, as I became quite rebellious. To this day, I don’t know why she carried so much anger. I often wonder if she had an undiagnosed mental disorder or illness, like depression. She and my adoptive father drank a lot. Of course, many from their era drank socially. My father joined the Air Force at the age of 18 and was a pilot in World War II. He flew a B-24. My parents loved their martinis and cigarettes.

I feared my mom because of her anger. I seem to gravitate toward people with similar personalities to that of my mom, quite unconsciously. Through therapy, I’ve learned that it’s common to attract what we’re most familiar with, even if it’s not particularly healthy.

Therapists and others identity anger as a secondary emotion. In other words, anger lies beneath another emotion, like sadness, emotional pain, loneliness or disrespect. I think, however, that anger can also exist as a primary emotion. When someone cuts me off on the freeway, and I have to slam on my brakes, I’m pissed. I think that you can genuinely feel angry toward someone else without the presence of a secondary emotion.

I’m learning to own my anger and that I feel angry a lot more often than I realize, or allow myself to acknowledge. Anger tells me that I need to explore the root – that’s the part I don’t like because it means I have to do something to resolve it. Like confront. Throughout my life, I’ve let others take their anger out on me without doing anything about it. It typically just sinks deep to the bottom of my heart. I can recall times when my mom terrified me with her anger. She once ripped the cord of my telephone in my bedroom out of the wall when I was talking to a friend (we didn’t have cell phones back then) and threw it across the room.  On another occasion, she pushed me onto my bed and proceeded to shake me by my shirt. I was a teen when both incidents occurred. Other times, she just yelled and screamed and that was enough to send my heart tripping. She demeaned my father by calling him names like dumbass and asshole. I yelled back, but I also felt so fearful, and that was never resolved. I became a people pleaser. I put on a smile, learned to be kind and passive. It did not serve me in the least bit, except to avoid conflict. I learned to live in fear like it was a normal, daily experience.

There are a couple of podcasts that I’ve listened to recently that explore anger. One is Adoptees On by adoptee, Haley Radke, where Pamela Cordano, MFT, talks about some of the reasons why adoptees legitimately feel angry.  I highly recommend listening in to this episode, especially if you’re an adoptee. She also discusses different types of anger and gives some practical exercises to work on. The other is The Creative Superheroes Podcast by Andrea Scher. Guest, Juna Mustad, a Life Coach, Intuitive, and Group Facilitator, discusses relationships and the Drama Triangle, which very much resonated with me. She also wrote a book called, The Good Girl’s Guide to Anger, where she talks about healthy relationships, confrontation, and dealing with anger.

Something made me really angry last weekend. The piece above came from that anger. I still do not manage my angry feelings well. Deep at my core, I’m still a people pleaser and hate conflict. I have grown and am growing, but still have much more growing to do and fears to overcome…It’s crippling to not deal with anger. I’m so grateful that art gives expression to those difficult emotions.

grand symphony

Hey folks! Happy Saturday to you. I have been so inspired to create lately. I’d much rather be drawing and painting or taking some art classes than working. Alas, that is not possible at the moment. I’ve been wanting to make art related to adoption, but have been low on ideas. The piece above came mostly because I wanted to say something to other adoptees. Thus, the salutation, ‘Dear Adopted One,’ popped up, and I wanted to highlight just how important adoptee voices and stories are. In the adoptee community, many of us feel that our voices are the last to be heard – adoptive parents and adoption professionals have long held the mic. Adult adoptees are forcefully flipping the script, however, and changing the scene. We are the truest experts of our own experiences! Our community is vibrant and thriving. Visit Lost Daughters to learn more about this movement.

I worked on “Grand Symphony” over the week and had great difficulty with painting it and with the letter stamps. Grrrrr. Didn’t quite end up exactly how I had envisioned. Practicing patience…There are many, many other adoptees using the creative arts to flip the script. I’m just grateful to make a small contribution.

Cheers…

no judgment

Are there any places in your life at the moment where you need to let go of judgment?

I was watching and learning from a YouTube video recently by Mark Crilley on how to draw more realistic eyes. I liked that he said to draw anything realistic takes patience. I’m not a very patient person. I tend to want to do things right the first time. So practicing these skills is a lesson for me in patience, and furthermore, letting go of self-criticism and judgment toward my own creative work. I have only just begun learning to draw and paint more seriously. I have to remind myself that I’m a novice, I’m exploring and creating for the sake of creating, but it’s tempting to observe other professional artists’ work and feel that I’m very much an amateur. Are there any places in your life at the moment where you need to let go of judgment? Toward self or others? I invite you to let go today!

Cheers!

dear adopted one

Ours is a sacred community of individuals who rise up, speak out, and overcome.

I love that social media allows people all over the world to connect. I remember the first time another adoptee reached out to me in 2011. She was adopted from the same orphanage. It was profound. Social media has allowed me to connect to many adoptees in the U.S. and abroad. I see photos and posts daily that clearly communicate the trauma, loss, woundedness, confusion, and rejection felt by so many of us. And yet ours is a sacred community of individuals who rise up, speak out, and overcome.

My beautiful biological sisters have always said to me how happy they are that I was adopted and experienced a better life, and out of love and respect for them, I don’t post things that I feel may be upsetting to them. They are genuinely compassionate, kind, and forgiving. This morning, I felt inspired to create something adoptee-related. The piece above is part of an angels series I’m creating. To my fellow adoptees, may you know that you are truly precious. And, may you know that your angels are always singing love over you.

spirit angel

I believe that there are angels around us all the time

I believe that there are angels around us all the time. Guides. I have often wished that I could see my own angels. Though I’m unable to see them physically, I like to believe that they are always guiding me. I often pray that I can be attuned to their guidance and able to receive whatever gifts or messages they have to offer, whether it’s encouragement to stay the course or get off at the nearest exit. I hope that I can grow increasingly attuned to their presence. I’ve sketched a couple of different angels in the past, and this is yet another. Not super happy with her eyes, but still very much experimenting and practicing. I think maybe I’ll start an angel series…Hope it gives you inspiration to tune in to your spirit angels!

Cheers!

soul art

there is nothing wrong with discomfort. Pay attention to how it feels…

I was listening to The Power of Sacred Business, Lead from the Heart Series by Shereen Sun this morning. LMFT and founder of DharmaBridge, Kelly Blaser, was the guest. She talked about growing your sacred business and most interestingly to me, about cultural conditioning. Under the larger umbrella of cultural conditioning exists the conditioned mind. Our conditioned minds live inside a conversation about ourselves. I understood this to be how we perceive the messages society throws at us and how we interpret and apply those messages to ourselves. We’re in this space of “conditioned mind” a lot of the time – Kelly explained that we’re hypnotized by it; however, it’s just a conversation in our minds – We’re hallucinated into thinking it’s the truth, and we behave based upon that collective hallucination. Kelly further explained that in our society, there is a conditioning that’s agreed upon. For example, we happen to agree that we are more worthy if we have more degrees…More education and credentials equal more worthiness, which is actually just a construct. This is an example of a culturally agreed upon conditioned belief. Holy cow, I’ve totally bought into this agreement! Furthermore, I believe that I have this overachiever construct due to my own issues related to adoption, which manifests as perfectionism. I thought about how much time and energy I spend on negative self-talk,  trying to achieve more, and avoid the pain that comes with others disliking me. Kelly believes that there is a way to flip this or reframe this conditioned mindset. We have an opportunity to liberate ourselves from anything that goes against our conditioning. The moment you begin to walk through the discomfort, e.g., anxiety, being liked, conflict, self-hatred, etc., you’re in the process of burning away your conditioned patterns. I hate discomfort. I want things to be easy, for pete’s sake. Well, if you can burn away your conditioned patterns, then you begin to return yourself to the truth of who you are, which is infinite possibility. Okay, so it’s a process, maybe a long, uncomfortable process with a lot of heat. Moving through the discomfort helps you find liberation. It’s in the walking…If you can experience the heat of the discomfort and think of it as a kharmic seed that’s being burned away, and if it didn’t burn away it would just take root and create the same conditions you’ve been accustomed to, then you can eventually experience liberation.

I like that Kelly said there is nothing wrong with discomfort. Pay attention to how it feels. The more you can unhook from what you think the discomfort means and actually be with the discomfort, realizing that it’s fine, it’s not a problem, the more you begin to burn away separate self patterns, or the parts of the conditioned mind that perhaps weren’t benefitting you. Drop what was, and step into what’s new.

All of this made a lot of sense to me, as I’ve been in a lot of discomfort lately, and it has been pretty awful. The piece above came out of this discomfort. It was intuitive (as most of my sketches are at this point), and I wasn’t quite sure what would emerge. Soul art, soul practice. At first, I wasn’t happy with how it turned out, but I thought that was perhaps a metaphor for how I felt about myself at the moment. Today, as I finished the piece, I felt a little better about just sitting with the discomfort I feel until it doesn’t feel uncomfortable anymore. I added pink into the background. Pink is a color I associate with warmth, cheer, peace and cotton candy – the good feelies. Maybe that’s my intuition telling me, I’m walking through the heat and doing my best to patiently transform my conditioned mind. I think it’s gonna be awhile. If you’re feeling discomfort today, you’re definitely not alone. It’s a soul journey, and I’m happy to share it with you.