Saturday, July 30, 2011

Keeping My Eye on the Goal

Faith.  A very powerful word and process and it may have different meanings for many people, but, powerful if used correctly nonetheless,

I write my blogs from the heart, with a great deal of thought behind them.  The thought of the day that comes my way may be my own, for someone else, or provided by someone else, but affects me nonetheless in a way that I choose to express myself in words here in my blog. 

Yesterday, I wrote about 'Removing Obstacles," and unknowingly and certainly not intentionally, I put an obstacle in my own path about my upcoming and very welcomed visit to Buffalo over Labor Day weekend.  This unintentional obstacle was put in the way not only for myself, but perhaps for others in my family too.  I am so grateful to have it pointed out to me in a loving and respectful manner this morning.  The unexpected and amazing note gave me pause for thought about how I let the thoughts come out in writing for my blog.

I spent the morning thinking about where the obstacle came from and more importantly why I let it affect me as it apparently had.  What I realized over the past several hours is that is that for a very good part of my young life I has been fearful of some form of abandonment or rejection and that came crashing through in yesterday's blog.  It came through in a way that could be misconstrued of the very thing that I dislike, having preconceived ideas and perceptions from mere words shared by others. 

It is important for me to publicly announce, as I did yesterday in my blog., that I mean it with all my heart that I did not intend to disrespect anyone member of my "newly discovered" family, their believe system of their faith. 

What is important to note about yesterday's blog is that I was sincere when I said that there are no "obstacles" and that I BELIEVE in the "power of love of family."  My initial contact with everyone, both in person and telephonic, has given me pure joy and I know that each meeting and conversation is very sincere and real in every respect.

What the most welcomed note of the day has taught me is that I have a great deal to remember and even learn about what I post about each day and that includes having faith.  Another new and wonderful man and friend noted on my post that "Obstacles are the things we see when we take our eyes off the goal."  I really let one of my past fears take my eye off the goal.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Removing any Obstacles

My "Wake-up Call" (above) for the day is very appropriate for myself today.  For the Labor Day holiday weekend this year, Steve and I will head to Buffalo to spend a few days meeting all of my "newly discovered" family.  The first obstacle is out of the way; I have been reunited with my dad.  Many other obstacles have been removed as well; as I have been communicating with my "newly discovered" family on a regular basis.  Sometimes to just wish each other a good day now.

Now the time has come to introduce Steve to my "family."  I believe it is time now because as  the get to know me better, it is important to me that they get to know the complete me and all the beauty associated with me and my life.  Don't get me wrong, I do not view this as an obstacle at all. It is simply a part of the process that will be necessary to get to know all there is about me and in a way and for all of us to understand how our various families will interact with each other in the coming future.  Regardless, for me, it is essential that they know Steve, myself and our children are a package deal. 

So why talk about obstacles, you ask?  Because it has been shared with me, that while the obstacle is not with Steve or I, that because of what may be part of a ingrained belief system, life and church teachings and really, no matter how you look at it; non-experience with our lifestyle, that there may be some perceived obstacles with some of my "newly discovered" family, to overcome and to help them understand as a family.  Becasue I believe in my heart this may be just one's own perception shared as some loving precautionary guide, it is important to say that this is not what we believe.

Certainly for Steve and I, this is an non-issue and as we make our preparations for our Buffalo adventure, we are keeping a very positive attitude and maintaining our focus on the reunion of family and the power of that bond and love.  Of course and unfortunately, because society has made it so, we are preparing for the unknown too. but always hoping for acceptance of who we are as men and open arms because we are family.

Steve and I are not about creating obstacles and neither are our children.  We are about having open minds, freedom and all it stands for and creating opportunity.  Honestly and without any difficulty over the years, we have been successful with tolerance, acceptance all because of the love and understanding of our families and friends.  We are just two fun loving, normal guys and all we come into contact with know that about us.  So, I have no preconceived obstacles in my way because I BELIEVE in myself, who I am, what I stand for and in the power of the love of family, present and new. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Today is Your Day...

For my family and friends reading the blog; Today is your day; and if you want it, make it happen, so you can win. 

Perhaps a phrase we hear often, tell others to think about, but because of the obstacles that can get in the way from time to time, ultimately fail to really believe in it for ourselves.  Sometimes those obstacles can be so big that we are not sure how to move them, our of our way or learn to be resilient enough to plow through them.

I think we can all agree that life is not easy some of the time. I don't really believe that it was ever meant to be.  However, I am certainly aware that with our myriad if responsibilities of caring for family, home responsibilities and work duties, it can all seem a bit over the top at times.  But for me, part of the fun from it all really is the climb.  However, if you then add in the troubles that life can toss our way, such as the unexpected traumas, crises or unwanted situations, or bad attitudes from others in life, being overwhelmed can sum up the situation.  We've all been there and some more frequently than others. 

No doubt, some have certainly had more than their share of tough times and hurdles to climb.  Life does have a tendency to toss us around now and then and sometimes when we find ourselves flat on our back, we are even kicked again when we are down.  What is it I hear from time to time?  I remember, "It is what it is..." While that can certainly be true, I believe that being resilient and believing in yourself and that today can be your day will be the key to finding the resiliency to get through the mess and stress.

I believe that resiliency is a learned behavior from our human instinct to survive.  As I mentioned above, we all have those moments in life, when we wonder, "why me?" or "what did I ever do to deserve this?" Better yet, "why do I keep having to justify myself to the human race?" something I know that others like me and myself are doing far to often.  The of course there are the situations that can be created by others by words or actions that can really make us doubt ourselves. While it may not be easy all the time, it might be a good idea to try to remember the old "sticks and stones..." phrase that our parents continually reminded us about when we were growing up.  Despite being a cliche phrase, it really does work because they are only words and you do not have to believe them.

Regardless, from my point of view and personal experience, I have learned through life that it truly "is what it is."  But, the more resilient you allow yourself to be, the more you believe that "today is your day," the better your day and life will be and the better you will feel about yourself and your life.

So, no matter what the day held for you, there is still time to make today a great day and your life all you want it to be.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

So, What About Steve?

Today's blog is for my partner, Steve. I have been thinking of this blog for him for quite some time and while each time I give thanks for my family; of course he is included with them.  But he certainly deserves his own post for all he is to me and does for our lives.

Our lives are not Camelot, for whose life really is?  Unfortunately and silly as it may seem, our lives are questioned and judged by many and our life together is no exception. Steve put up with my one year culture shock and adjustment to the Midwest, a feat not dared by some.  Trying times have been ours for sure, but, I assure all of you that our life together is solid, beautiful, loving and filled with an amazing family too.  I beleive my life with Steve is a dream come true. 

Faults, we both have plenty.  But the good news is that we both know forgiveness, can read between the lines and share many of the same hopes, fears, dreams and love for family that many other couples in life do.  I will admit that there are times with the ways of the world and marriage that I feel ours is more sincere and real compared to others.  But, we do not judge or compare, for we only wish that the same kind of love and happiness could be shared by all. Then perhaps the judgments and political debate will come to an end.

We are there for each other at all costs, no matter what.  We would move heaven and earth for our children, separate and shared. We can be found supporting one another, no matter what has come our way.  A concept I believe many could take to heart.  For I truly believe it would help strengthen lives and asssit in making many dreams come true.

Steve has blessed my life in many ways over the years.  Probably the most significant was recently because of his knowledge of what it meant for me learn the truth of my past and learn what I could about my family tree in order for me to find a way to let go of the past.  In this pursuit, Steve provided me with the tools and in the end became one of the major conduits to making that reality come true for me.  But until then he has freely shared his wonderful family with me and my daughter, Chenin, when I thought mine was lost and we became the WB.  I am forever grateful to him for this gift. He helps keeps me focused on my goals and dreams and I love doing the same for him and our families. 

Steve has taught me how to "build a basement," which really cracks my west coast friends up in disbelief. I may not be the "farmer" that Steve is yet, but I love planting, caring for and harvesting our own vegetable garden every year now because of him.  I believe, without hesitation, that we have been able to ground the other when the time was essential to do so too. 

So, "What about Steve" some of you ask?  He makes my life amazing, not perfect, but we don't do perfect/ We would not want that because the mistakes we have made along the way have made us stronger. There are days when I now wonder what I ever did before him and his family.  But, I do know this; that I have found in him place called home.  The WB; with Steve.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Thankful for All I Have

I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to let everyone know just how thankful I am for all I have been blessed with and have to look forward to in my life.  I try each time I blog to be sure to include just how grateful I am for life's blessings and this special gift and miracle of new family.

It has been a wild couple of days taking care of my family and the things that come with our home, love, health and wellness.  In addition, I have been pleasantly pre-occupied with opening up lines of communication with my newly discovered family. What a gift!

I have settled into somewhat of a routine with communicating with my newly discovered brother, David.  We enjoy calling one another, checking in, finding out new things about each other, events in our lives and our learning more about out children. I personally learn wonderful new things about him, his children and Lorna, the wonderful woman that he loves and the things in his life as well as the things that make him tick.  I have enjoyed and I am thankful for each of these moments.

I have also been communicating, via phone and text with my newly discovered brother, Michael.  He is still a newly wed and just the thought of that kind of special love and happiness each time I jot him a line or dial his number makes me very happy for him, puts a welcomed smile on my face and in my heart.  Love is beautiful and the love and history he and his bride, Jen have shared is uniquely special and when I hear more about them, I have the biggest smile in my heart.

The brother I grew up with all my life, Jimmy, is now happily married and ecstatic that our dad is back in our lives.  He called me the other day just to thank me and to see how I was doing.  But, more importantly, he calls me more frequently now and I love it. I can see and feel the smile in his heart and on his face each time he calls me and either leaves me a message or we speak in person.  What an amazing gift we have been given and I express my gratitude to God for opening up this opportunity for us.

I finally was able to speak with my newly discovered sister, Kelly last night.  I enjoyed learning about her life for the first time, past and present, her love for her husband and family and about the super mom (my words, not hers) that she is for her children.  Our conversation was about focusing on the new and not the old and how the gift of the truth can really set you free.  We laughed about the stories we shared about her life, my life, the recent wedding and reunion in Boise, Idaho.  We talked about how both of us felt apprehension at first, but how those quickly dissipated once we talked. I feel connected to her now and as if all the barriers I originally felt put in my path are slowly coming down. 

The more I learn about my newly discovered family and share with my present family, the more proud I feel about myself, my family and how truly grateful I feel for beauty of this new beginning.

While I have always done my best to do so, starting today, I will be sure to not let a day go by that I do not express my gratitude for all I have.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Remembering to Look for Bright Spots

I missed a day of blogging due to complete chaos in my work life.  It happens to all of us from time to time, where there may not be enough time in the day to get everything done that we either want or need to get done.  I usually prepare my blog post the night before and then upload it the next day, but yesterday was one of those days where it was all about the day job.  Regardless, I always find time to share with family and friends and yesterday, even through the chaos, I was able to find my bright spot when I made connections with my new brother, Michael.

I will steer off course a bit here.  Dad and "mom" (Sandy is dad's wife and the connection with her last weekend was so amazing that calling her "mom" is very natural for me) has a flight delay on their way home from Boise.  The storm in the Midwest kept them in Minneapolis overnight.  I could tell that dad was overwhelmed by the experience and after talking with "mom" first, I knew that she was. 

If having this experience wasn't enough, dad does not like to fly and then add on the fact that they could not get accommodations to rest properly from the airline, it made for even a longer night for them.  When I talked with him further, I learned that an airline employee took their situation to heart and brought them to a room where there was a sofa and she laid a mattress down for "mom," so they could rest.  I said to dad, "there's the bright spot" for you with that situation.  I could tell he did not see it at the time, but when I told him there was a reason you were held over and I am glad that they at least found someone nice to help them.  He agreed.  I asked him to remember that his kids (new and known) are here for him and all he needs to do in the future is call me and I am sure between all of us kids that we can make sure you have sleepmg arrangements during the delay.  I could sense the smile on my dad's face through the phone line.  Another huge bright spot in my day. 

As you have read, my brother, Jim, was married last weekend in Boise and I have a wonderful new sister-in-law, Trina.  A monumental  bright spot in my life.  More importantly, my brother wrote me a small note thanking me for "finding our father."  He said to me that "if it hadn't been for you, we would not have him in our lives."  This was awesome to get from Jimmy to say, as I know initially that he was very confused by the situation.  Now, we both have a huge bright spot in our lives for the rest of time.

Yesterday afternoon, after a number of text messages and social media contact, I reached out and spoke with my brother, Michael (in the photo above).  He put it best when he said that it puts a whole new perspective on the reality of this new family beginning.  Michael married his love, Jen in August of last year and they live in North Carolina.  We talked about everything, or at least everything we could squeeze into our 40 minute call.  What I learned about him, is that, while he is of course much younger, we are very similar or have had very similar lives.  We both served our country.  Michael was in the Marines and I was in the Navy.  We love our country and are very proud of our honorable service.  Michael loves the gym and of course I do too.  We are two very free spirits from very different generations, but we think so much alike.  We enjoy talking and we have the same quirk of interrupting when the other is speaking. I chuckled. We say what is on our mind and we both love our coffee!  Now, I know he is my brother.  It was a major bright spot in my day. 

My younger brother, Michael, was offering me advice on how to communicate with my other siblings too.  I really found that to be a bright spot and something I would totally do too.  After the call, we continued texting one another until the late evening.  I told Michael that I felt like a kid again in anticipation of meeting him and my other siblings and wondered how that was possible. I'll bet he smiled, because he wrote back and said, "he did not know, but he bet it will be another cool moment."

I slept with a big smile in my heart last night.  This bright spot felt awesome!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A New Family's Future

Now that the reunion of the long lost father with his first born sons has taken place, it is all about what comes next for me and I'm certain for my newly discovered family too. 

Actually, the "what comes next" has been on my mind before the reunion ever took place last weekend.  As a result. I have been very fortunate that I have already been in contact with two of my new brothers, David and Michael and just before leaving for my whirlwind weekend, my sister, Kelly reached out to me to wish us the very best for the weekend. 

During the weekend reunion and wedding in Boise, Idaho, I was in constant communication with those that I have made connections with.  I was either using some form of social media, texting or other telecommunications method to keep everyone up to date, as to the new and latest family development or experience was happening in real time.  I did this in order to do my part to make everyone, who wanted to be, part of the miracle that unfolded.  I do believe it was a success.  There was always an updated avenue for everyone to enjoy the miracle as it occurred. 

Now, comes the personal connection, for some as well as myself, perhaps the preferred method of interacting, learning about and enjoying family.  So, the voice connections have begun to spread to others in the family now and it is putting a whole new face on our new beginning and new family too.  Of course, I am a realist and certainly understand that there are many unanswered questions and pasts to discover from one another, learn about on another and that we all have a great deal of catch up with each other. 

I have shared with my new family that I am an open book and I too have many unanswered questions myself.  Some of which I have already been asked answered last weekend and in various communications.  Stay tuned, as I will blog about some of thin the coming days.  I'm certain that there are others, for all of us. to difficult to ask about without the potential for opening up old wounds and not so pleasant memories.  Regardless, they need to be asked and answered and I for one am ready.

I am planning on what I hope will be a full family reunion for the Labor Day weekend in Buffalo, New York.  I know that I have two brothers, dad and Sandy (mom) on board.  I believe that my other siblings need a download from "mom" and dad before taking the next step and leap of faith.  As like in any situation, this being no exception to the rule, there may be some skepticism around the "why now?" part of this new beginning.  I want everyone to know that I am ready to open up, no matter what, for I believe it is time.

The only answer I have for the "why now?" for those who need it, is that we must all be ready for it.  There can really be no other answer from me, as I was not armed with many details to begin my search all those years ago.  I had no real names, dates, places or truth on my side to work with during my long arduous search but that never stopped me for long.  So, it is important for all of you to know that I could not get a break on cracking the code to the secrets and lies until I literally stumbled across it by accident on that beautiful May 1st day of this year.

I am ready to move forward.  No, I have moved forward, already in many respects.  But, I am not letting the past ruin my present. Now, I would welcome the pure joy and pleasure to share me and my immediate family with this incredible gift of a my new family and all its members.

I send love and hope that all of us can understand that winning and moving this process along will be all about learning from our collective pasts, including, our successes, struggles and failures and turning all of the positives, which clearly have the most power, and any weaknesses we've each learned from over the years into strengths for our future.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Miracle Reunion

Wow!  That one simple phrase kind of sums it all up for me right now.  I sure wanted to Blog about all of this over the weekend, but with all the travel back and forth from Chicago to Las Vegas to Boise and back, the work and obligations in between, there was no time.  So, I left it all in the good hands of my posts on Facebook until I could get this posted in my Blog.

Now, where to start.  I suppose, I'll try to begin where I left off and go from there. 

I left for Las Vegas Thursday evening for my weekend leadership conference. I was on overdrive and could not determine which of the numerous emotions were fueling me becasue of the very little sleep that I had over the past week due to my anticipation of meeting my father.  Nevertheless, like everything else I've ever done, I persevered through it.  I arrived late in Las Vegas.  Really no fan fare to share.  As it was late and Steve was still in his meetings.  I let him know I had arrived and waited for a bit.  When I did not hear back, the hour got later and since I already checked into the hotel, I decided that sleep would be welcomed and I called it a night, as the next day brought the prize.

I was up early the next day to take care of leadership responsibilities and meeting planning with my team.  Because they were so amazing and were pinch hitting for me that evening and Saturday at the conference, I shared  the details they were not aware of from my amazing story with all of them.  I could see that the flood gates opening for some, as they witnessed the pure joy and happiness on my face, as I shared it with them.

I attended the conference kickoff at 2:00 p.m. on Friday afternoon, was able to be introduced with the team and literally grabbed my suitcase and ran out at 2:20 p.m., to catch a cab for my 4:25 flight to Boise for the big event and yes, my brother's wedding too.  Keep in mind that I would have to return to Las Vegas sometime immediately after the wedding in order to make my 8:15 a.m. presentation on Sunday morning.

The Las Vegas airport was packed when I arrived sometime at 3:00 p.m., and entered the security lines.  They seem to have the system down there as the lines moved quickly and efficiently.  A flood of emotions came over me the minute I got through security.  I realized because of our work commitments that we really had no opportunity or time up to this point to share in my feelings, thoughts and emotions about all of this with my partner, Steve.  If I missed saying before he was at the same leadership conference.  I believe part of the problem in sharing those feelings for me, is that there was never really adequate time to allow me to really share the depth of my overwhelmed state of emotions for fear that I could not  get to the next moment in this process without  falling apart. I hope that makes sense to some.  Nevertheless, I worked through that missed opportunity and knew that I would certainly make up for it on my return.

It was a very quick flight to Boise.  Before I knew it, I was debarking and looking for the Southwest counter to check into my return flight, which would be in just 24 hours.  I wanted to do this now before I headed off to the hotel.  I was in my taxi before 7:20 p.m., and was on my way.  That ride seemed to take an eternity.  Once I finally arrived and checked in, I called my soon to be sister-in-law, Trina again, to let her know that the "eagle had landed" and that the delivery of the prize was all in her hands now.  If I did not share it with you, Trina and I chose not to tell my brother, Jim, that I was coming to the wedding. She wanted it to be a surprise.  My brother and I had not seen each other in three years.  We would see each other again with our father, together. So, you can see that there were even more emotions attached than you could even begin to imagine. 

Trina referred to this reunion and rightfully so, as a miracle; and it was; no doubt about it.  She encouraged me to take some time to  get myself together and freshen up while she round them all up and head over to the hotel.  I did jsut that and it was a great suggestion too.  It really helped get me prepared and calm me too.

I was to meet them in the lobby of the hotel.  At first, I was taken back by the request, as I was unsure of what emotions that my dad, brother or I would experience at the expense of the public.  I am not a public person with my emotions, so this was going to be another new experience for me too.  Nevertheless, I was ready for it and really that was not my focus.  What the heck was focus at that point anyway?

I'm not sure why, but I needed to talk and share this moment with my daughter Chenin, who has been just as pleasantly overwhelmed by all of this as her dad.  So, I called her as I waited for everyone to arrive.  We talked about the moments in time leading up to this meeting.  For the first time, I was able to listen to her share her feelings about having a "grandfather" now and she shared the content of the recent letter she received from him with me too.  Amazing and of course made me even more emotional. It seemed like we were on the call for an eternity and I was certainly a nervous case too.  Finally, I asked her if I could call her after I met dad, so I could breath a bit before the meeting.  We ended the call and I stood up to move about to let some of the nervous energy out.  I must have been standing by the side window to the entrance of the hotel around 8:15 p.m., when I saw them pull up.  Trina was the first one in the door and I could see the pent up emotions on her face as she walked over to the side in preparation for me to meet my father and share with my brother that I was here for his wedding too.

My dad walked through the door right after Trina.  I am not sure what happened next because my body went limp and my knees buckled.  I had to catch myself from losing my balance.  I leaned down to catch my breath and to catch myself from falling over.  I was up, white as a ghost and then the embrace from my dad.  It was like he was making up for all 52 years in that one brief moment in time.  I could tell that he did not want to let go and neither did I.  The tears could not be stopped from anyone within eye range.  All caught on videotape thanks to my wonderful sister-in-law.  Finally, I could see my brother in complete shock and disbelief that I was here to share this with him too.  Let's face it, it was my persistence that provided this incredible gift, I wanted and needed to be part of this gift too.  Regardless, my brother and I embraced and whatever kept us apart for the last three years vanished in that moment.  We laughed about it the next day, as neither of us could remember why.  I finally formally met my new sister-in-law.  Because we set this surprise up together over the past week, we were already connected in a major way

I was back over to my dad again; another embrace and then I embraced Sandy, I did not know her, but I did from our conversations over the phone.  Then, I had the proper introductions through all the emotions and tears of joy.  I called my daughter and shared the moment with her over the phone.  She was with me from every minute up to that point and I wanted to her experience this with me too.  Trina  took a photo of my dad and I immediately following (above) and I sent that photo via social media and that any my text went viral to all family and friends.  I can only imagine what they were feeling from the responses that were pouring in from all over the country.

While I am not  sure when or where, we all sat down and took in the moment and looked at each other.  Quite a moment all by itself.  Then it was coffee time for the family.  My dad loves why does that sound familiar?  The sharing and the catch up began, as much as we could get into while we got to know one another. One thing is for sure the emotions shared then was pure joy and happiness by all.

We finished coffee at "A Cup of Joe," the first one dad ever bought for me and headed back to the hotel for the night of celebration and dancing to honor Jim and Trina. We all went back operating on no sleep, but plenty of love and happiness to get cleaned up for the pre-wedding celebration.  Amazing what a nice pair of Jeans and boots can do.  I walked into the club at the hotel and immediately met Trina's family and their friend; truly wonderful people.  Dad and Sandy came down and then the story came together for everyone else too.  I heard many things that night, from "what a miracle" to "this should be an Oprah moment;" indeed it should.  My though is that it would make a very good a book and movie.

My dad can dance!  Now, I know where I get it from.  The women were going crazy as my 75 year old dad got out on the dance floor and boogied!  Sandy was having to slap the hands of one lady from touching her man.  Very funny and unforgettable moments in time.

Sandy is amazing!  I bonded with her almost instantly.  I have not been able to do that since my mom died 23 years ago and I told her so.  Jimmy and I referred to her as "mom" the entire time and she told us that she loved it.  You could see the pure joy in her face that her husband was reunited with his long lost boys, as she witnessed his joy and happiness.  That my friends and family is pure love!

There are more blogging moments from my whirlwind 24 hours, but I am going to savour them for a while longer before I post them for your reading pleasure, as they are definitely moments that need their own billing.  As a good friend of my posted over this past weekend, "I woke up to read on FB what was going to happen next. It is like a good book that I could not put down."

The story is far from over my friends and family. This new beginning has just begun.  It has many parts, family members to tell you about and stories shared. I look forward to sharing it with you here in my Blog.  If you were ever a skeptic about miracles like this happening, this is one that should help you BELIEVE.

I send my love and complete joy to you today and always!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A New Beginning

The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together. ~Erma Bombeck

Well, tomorrow evening, I will reunite with more family, beginning with my dad and his lovely wife, Sandy.  Not to sound like a broken record here; but it is the end of a 22-year long search for my family tree that will bring me to this moment.

How does it feel?  There are many emotions, descriptions and phrases that I could share. Some of them I have in my previous Blog posts.  However none of them trump my feeling for the love of family.  Despite moments in my past that I prefer to forget, that feeling has always been with me.

Now, whether through a miracle or an answered prayer (a long overdue response), I will begin to meet members of my new family.  I have slowly been getting to know them through calls, letters, e-mails, texts and yes even through the power of social media.  Nothing exactly a true description of all the things that Erma speaks of above, but similar in different respects and powerful nonetheless. My dad and I summed it up on our call last night as a new beginning for all of us.

We are overwhelmed, excited and nervous...all of us.  However, one clear message from everyone; confirmed in a text from my new sister, Kelly, last night, is that everyone is pleased about this new beginning and we are all hoping for our happy ever after.  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Staying Focused

Well, it has all come down to two more days for me before I will reunite with my dad for my brother's wedding.  Very good energy and thoughts have been sent my way and I want to share that I feel and am living with all of them from all of you.

My new brother, Michael, was very encouraging in a very short paragraph the other day that I needed to know and the time I read it. Michael wrote to me "Great Blog about walls.  "I know dad is as excited and nervous as you.  It will be a great moment...for all three of you." "I very much appreciated that and I was sure to thank him for it right away.

It will be a very busy couple of days at the office and a side trip to a leadership conference where I will be part of a team presenting before I head to Idaho.  I will return to Las Vegas to complete my obligations post wedding.  So, my main goal now is to stay focused on the moment and to not try to live outside of it for now. There will be plenty of time for that on Friday night and Saturday and the remainder of my lifetime beyond that I'm sure.

Even with a very faced pace week and end of the week travel and work schedule, I do have my eye and focus on the prize or gift in my situation. As James Allen quoted; "It is a process of diverting one's scattered forces into one powerful channel."  While easier said than done sometimes, it seems to be working for me.  I know that I am being driven by the power of my renewed spirit and the energy that it has given me.  This intense focus has allowed to me keep more than my normal pace this week and even without several of my regular Starbucks coffee shots.

Ready or not the hours are counting down and it is getting down to the wire.  So, I have my eyes on the stars and my feet firmly on the ground.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Remembering What Gave Me My Strength

As I have blogged recently, and as I narrow the days until I reunite with my dad, I have been through the gamut of emotions.  But more importantly, I have been reflecting on how and why I got to this moment in time and what gave me the strength to stay on course.

I believe we all learn at an early age in life; the age is probably very different for all of us; to do what is right for us, or to do what may not be right for us. Perhaps we choose to give in to peer pressure in order to gain popularity or even to just be accepted.  Like many of you, I would imagine that we all gave into peer pressure once or twice down the road.  I certainly know that I did...once or  twice.  I digress.  Regardless, when I was at that juncture in my life, I chose part of both paths.   I am very glad I did because that is what ended up molding me into the man and person I am today. 

Life as a child is a welcomed distant memory for me and the one I find myself reflecting on most these days.  Those memories that have come crashing back are so unbelievable and at times that I do not know what to do with them.  Talk about a light bulb going on.  Why would this be a welcomed distant memory you ask? Because it scared the hell out of me on most days.  For a little boy, I found myself in the grown up role many times, protecting myself, being the big brother and making sure everyone was behaving just to keep peace and the volatility low key.  I will leave it there for now.  This is when I learned how to be strong and to endure the unimaginable.  I needed someone to help me, but I knew that wasn't going to happen, so I helped my little sisters and mother, because I could. At the time, this was a story of desperation and I am not blogging about it because I am still sad by any stretch of the imagination.  I am blogging because I am embracing what turned out to be a very positive story because I learned how to be strong, believe in myself and protect the ones I loved.

Those experiences along that way, good, bad and indifferent catapulted me to young adult hood.  Then decided somewhere during my award winning military career that no matter who I would grow up to be that what was right was to be a good person. 

Then came the birth of my daughter, Chenin.  We can all agree that our children teach us many things along the way.  They may not realize it (because we do not share it with them), but their unconditional love and devotion to us should mold us into loving, caring and decent human beings. This is what happened to me.  It may not have hit me like a lightening bolt the day she was born, or even the day she turned four, but I knew it instantly the day she turned five was moved to another part of the state and would be away from my daily contact and assurance of my love.  I knew then, that I would move heaven and earth to be a good dad and be with her whenever I could.  Of course, having no role model for such an endeavor, I never even knew what that really meant. 

Along the way, I surely gave into more peer pressure and experimented like any young person who might have the temptation staring them in the face.  Some good, some not so good and some down right bad for me.  Nevertheless, despite having to endure the experiences of bad choices, I learned that some of those choices were not the smartest ones that I should have made and why.  Probably the most important part was the why.  So, my message today is that I learned from my mistakes, missed opportunities and misfortunes because I was able to muster up the strength to do so, focused on the love for my little girl, the fact that she needed me to be strong for her, I needed and wanted her and that I needed to stay focused and on a healthy path.

In retrospect, I suppose I am remembering all of these things now because I am preparing to reunite with my dad and I am painfully aware that there was so much that we both missed out on along the way, through no fault of our own.  But, I focus on that I did make my way.  Yes, I had many diversions, obstacles and hazards to overcome, but I was able to get through them and over them by applying the strength he and my mother gave me in my DNA to be a good and successful person, a good dad, friend and partner. 

So, while I have been reflective and emotional too, I am thankful for my journey and that it got me to this healthy place today in order to be ready to reunite with my dad, embrace new family and an unbelievable second chance at having a dad at age 52!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Emotions on High, But No Walls This Time

In less than a week, after over 50 years, I will be reunited with my dad!  Our separation was not one that either of us wanted and certainly one I never knew about until I was a young adult. From my Blog you will see that my mother made her choice many years ago to take my brother and I and move away from our dad.  She is not here to discuss the reasoning with her and I am not sure that it really matters at this point. 

Regardless, from a choice that was made for three of us long ago (three of us who did not have a vote), I made it my life's mission to make sure I knew all there was to know about my dad before my time on God's green earth was over.  Yes, it was on my bucket list!

Now, I believe I have given an incredible gift to my family.  My brother, Jim and I have a dad, four half brothers and one half sister (we never thought that was possible), the kids have a grandfather and there are so many nieces and nephews too.  All of them we need to get to know, just as much as they need to get to know all of us.

The emotions are completely overwhelming.   They encompass, joy, happiness, love of family and even fear.  There are moments I have to sit down and catch my breath from the anticipation of all of this.

Joy; this says it all.  I feel as if I was given a second chance in the father department and that makes me feel like a happy little kid.  A brand new experience for me to say the least.

Happiness; I am overwhelmed with this feeling with every waking moment.  Then, when I am at rest, I wake in the middle of the night believing that all of this is a dream.  I tear up at the drop of a nickle at anything sentimental these days and I find myself dealing with the fear of that too. 

Love of Family; I've always loved being a part of family.  I love and adore my family now.  They are all very special to me.  However, for many years, my brother, Jim and I only had each other. I was a young man when my mother died and then our sisters disengaged from the fold after their father died in 2002. There was too much drama and truth about their father that could not be accepted and I believe that ended up causing distance and ultimately they "wrote" us off.  Now, my brother and I have a chance to have some good times; something we never were able to really experience as young boys.

Fear; This is real for me. I believe it is fear of the unknown and of course the possibility of non acceptance for who I am, which to me may feel like rejection all over again. 

No matter the emotions, they are all my real emotions at the present time.  However, like anything I have ever done or accomplished in my life, I will embrace them and confront them head on. I will go into this reunion with my mind and heart wide open.  There are no obstacles in my way, I am proud of the person I have become, there has been time to get to know my dad over the phone before we reunite and I know he understands who I am and what I stand for.  So, unlike the times before, there will be no walls for me this time around.

Friday, July 8, 2011

You Do Make a Difference

I try to set out each day not thinking about the mistakes I might have made the day before.  Probably a real good idea for me, especially when I think of the last several days.  Nevertheless, I set out at work and in my personal life with the concept; how I can make a difference today.

I challenge myself to move my thoughts to a different place and contemplate something I have never done before. I look back on my "lessons learned" and question my assumptions. I try to find out why what I did before may have worked, why it failed and why the concept seemed to have promise in the first place.

See, just because something didn't work before, or perhaps we weren't to popular for it, does not mean you can't still learn from it. It may have been a humiliating failure or a roaring success, but there are still lessons to be learned in order to move on to the next thought or idea that may help make a diference for you or someone you care about or love.

Our past is our past.  Lord knows I've had one and I'd venture to guess we all have one with some moments in it that we'd rather not repeat.  What I took away from much of mine is that the experience helped me make a difference in my future.  While at the time I was going through some of those moments I may have been angry, felt let down or said some things that I wish I could take back, it was not the time for me to see the relevance or even a silver lining.  One thing is for sure, we learned from it. In more ways than one.  I'd even go out on a limb to say that I'll bet you are even a better person because of it and that you've made a difference in your life, your child's life and perhaps even with your family and friends too.

It is okay to re-live it, and re-evaluate what made it that success or failure and challenge your thinking. contemplate how you can do things better. Contemplate how you can take the knowledge learned in a whole new direction. Contemplate synthesis and re-organization. Think about consolidation and cutting out the nonesense and not repeating the same mistakes twice. Whatever needs to be done for you, try to do only those things.

Truly think outside the box and see what new combinations will occur in order for you to continue making a difference tomorrow and in the days yet to come.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

More Than Good Enough

A very interesting statement. I heard it last night at a meeting and while not for the first time, it gave me pause to think about what it meant for me.

I have been passionate for most of my life at being the best at what I do and to be the best I can be. Why? It started with simple negative statements made to me by my stepfather, that I would "never amount to anything," or that "I would fail miserably at life."  There were more I assure you, but these resonated with me.  Great phrases for a young teenage boy to hear from a man, who was everything in these statements and a lot more.  Yet, he was wishing the same thing on me.  To share more of it would take months of blogging and I would require breaks in between.   

Regardless, from that moment on, I refused to believe him, broke away from him and my situation, and while there was a price attached to it for the family, it didn't really matter because I new I needed to believe in myself and that I would make a difference in this world.  I'm not even sure why I believed that I would, as there wasn't a male role model to show, explain the difference, or someone to learn from, but I just knew that I would be more and that I would try for more than "good enough." 

I know that I set out in my life on my 17th birthday.  I was fortunate to have an incredible boss, George Kimpton, who while he did not ask a lot of questions, just knew that I needed a place to call home before I would become a very young U.S. Navy man.  The Navy was very good to me in may respects.  I grew up, I learned about life, what was right and wrong and how to be a man.  There are many people I credit for that growth, but non more than the incredible woman I married, Linda.  While I had not completely figured out who I was and neither of us knew what would come next, we both needed each other for what we did not know at the time was the same thing, to prove who we were and that we were more than "good enough."  We both had similar backgrounds and upbringing.  There were somethings that I never shared with her out of shame at the time and I knew I had to come to grips with them myself first before I could begin to share them.  It was all a process for me to prove that I was a good man, the best I could be and surely wanted to be more.  I never settled for just "good enough."

Life continued and time passed and I became a dad myself.  It scared the life out of me at first.  I did not want to become the man that my "father" was, or at least I thought he was my father at the time.  Then, I woke up one day, when my daughter was still young enough to experience me as her dad, a very good dad and man who wanted everything good in the world to be hers, including me.  I wanted to be more than "good enough."  She certainly had a big role in showing me, through our own life experiences (yes, the good, bad and indifferent) that I was a dad she could be proud of and love unconditionally.  It was then, at a young age of 31, that I finally accepted the ghosts of the past and the gift of my future.  I knew then that I was more than "good enough," for accepting and believing in the real me.

Today, or better last night, when I heard the phrase again in this sentence; "is your life right now good enough?" I had to pause and wonder is that what I am settling for?  Have I achieved and do I have all the things in life to be more than just "good enough?"  Recently, I shared that I had set out on a 22-year search to map out my family for my daughter because I would not settle for what I knew and because I did not settle for "good enough," I found more than my family tree.  I found my dad.

Regardless, I certainly realize that I alone cannot be the judge of myself at being better than "good enough," because while I try to be, I do not know if I am more than just "good enough" all the time at what I do; being a partner, a dad, a friend, brother, etc., the list goes on an on.  All I know is that I strive daily for being more and having more in my life than just "good enough."

There are days when it is acceptable to have just "good enough," as so many in this world have so much less.  However, I will say that I do want more in my life and to share more about myself in my life than just "good enough."  There are some things I just cannot live without or will compromise.  They include; the love for family, passion in all aspects of life shared, not just one part or parts, and being able to live as the person I was born to be.

So, my revelation from last night and into this morning on the train ride was that I may not always get or give more than "good enough," but as as long as I do not compromise on my beliefs, I can live with that.  However, to know that I strive and have the passion in my soul for being more than "good enough," is really all that matters to me and I hope for many others too.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

It is What it is...

In eight days and a wake up, I will reunite with my dad for the first time on over 50 years.  For all of those years, I have only been able to dream of this day.  All the while never imagining or expecting that it would actually happen.

Nevertheless, my tickets are purchased and arrangements have been made to make the 24-hour trek from my meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada to Boise, Idaho next Friday afternoon.  All in time for my brother's (the only one I have known my entire life) wedding on Saturday and to experience reuniting together with our dad.

You can only begin to imagine the emotions I have experienced over the past few weeks since my discovery.  There have been times that they have been so strong that they have kept me preoccupied wondering what to do next, or where do I go from here.  Something I really cannot afford with the current crazy busyness of my life.  Nevertheless, I have welcomed the emotions, embraced this experience and have done my best to express them to my family and friends.

However and oddly enough, sometimes I found myself not really able or in a position to share the full extent of these emotions. While distance has kept me sharing the completeness with some, there have been other factors too that I have not really been able to put my finger on.  Perhaps it is because there has not been a willing audience, who was really willing to be open to these sharing the emotions or my experience with me, or perhaps it is my fear of really letting those emotions out for fear that disappointment could win out.  Whatever those reason(s), I have decided not to focus on what didn't happen or what I would have liked to have happened.  I decided to take hold and go for it.  While I envisioned the experience of being reunited with my dad a little differently in my original plan, "it is what is" now. 

As I listed in my "wake-up call" today, I am not waiting.  I have taken charge and I am doing something about it in order to continue with this beauty I am experiencing in my life and to welcome the dream I am about to experience.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

If You Can Imagine It...

I imagined more amazing beauty and times for my life and they became a reality...

An absolutely amazing July 4th holiday weekend meeting some wonderful new friends, as well as the opportunity to connect with more members of my "newly" discovered family. 

I connected with my brother, Michael and his wife, Jennifer, over the holiday weekend for the first time.  They were visiting dad and his mom in Buffalo and the news of this discovery became their reality too.  Michael and Jennifer reached out to me (complete with family photo) in order to share part of the excitement of their weekend with family, learning more about "the discovery" and then connecting with me.  Truly another amazing moment in time.

I trust all of you were also able to take in the meaning of the holiday weekend and enjoy the amazing feeling of being able to live free.  I made sure I took the time to thank the men and women who fought to give that right to me.

Today, I am imagining a productive day for both my personal and professional lives.  No doubt it will be a busy one at work, but I want to make time for me today, as well, so that I may finally move forward and away from my dilemma that I wrote about last week.  Nevertheless, it was a good weekend and I took time to focus on what it is I wanted and needed from the potential opportunity to reunite with my father at my brother's wedding in Idaho.

I want to thank everyone who shared their  thoughts and especially those in my family for reminding me that there really can be no dilemma for me, as I have dreamed of this moment in time for over 22 years, never knowing that it would ever even happen, let along come now during one of the most busy professional times for me.

Regardless, I routinely talk to my family and friends about "not living with regrets," and I believe that this time, I have to pay attention to that statement for myself now. 

I had a great conversation with my dad and his wife, Sandy last night.  I did not share with my dad that I would try to reunite with him in Idaho at the wedding, as I tend to want to hold off, so there can be no disappointments for any of us.  I did share with Sandy that I was going to see what I could work out to make the journey.  I could tell she was pleased at the thought for dad and myself.  I am too!

So, today as I imagine what tomorrow might bring, I am reminded that yesterday is gone and can never, ever return. The only time I can change is right now, so look out. A valuable reminder for all of us.