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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

First Memories

In this post I talk about the mother figures in my life.  The one I only mentioned as a RS Mentor was Sherri Flake.  She truly was a mom to me, and Clel my other dad.  The both passed away in March of 2014.  I never thought I would forget a single moment with them, but now time is passing and the memories begin to fade.  I'd like to write all I can.

I believe I met Clel first.  He was the 1st counselor in the college ward bishopric.  I think it was the second week of school that he asked me to give a talk in church.  I had plans to go home that weekend, so I said no.  He promised me he would ask again, which he did until I said yes.  I don't think we said anything remarkable, but I knew he knew who I was.

One week I went home, and my whole life fell apart.  I returned to EA feeling overwhelmed and afraid.  I needed to talk to someone, but who did I know there?  I asked to talk to Clel merely because I knew who he was.  I don't remember much of what he said, but I do remember that I went in with him and started sobbing about everything that was wrong.  He got me to laugh, which was the greatest Heaven-send at the time.  He then offered me a blessing.  I was shocked-I thought that was just for people who were about to die or in other serious situations.  Clel told me no, blessings are the most under utilized tool we have in the church.  I do not remember what was said, but I do remember feeling loved and valued.

I don't remember a single moment where I met Sherri.  I think we sat together in RS one day.  It was probably the first day, the one where she introduced herself.  We got talking, and Sherri invited me to dinner that night.  Having a home cooked meal at a family table was literally a gift from heaven.  I felt safe and loved in that home, and I didn't feel much of that my first semester of college.  I would later learn that they invited college students over every week, but I'm so glad it was me that week.

I can't remember what I was upset about the first night I just showed up at their doorstep in tears.  I just remember thinking "it's 8:30.  They aren't going to be too happy with me, but I don't have anywhere else to go."  Clel was the one who opened the door and said "Come on in!" with a smile.  I grinned at him and said "You just can't get rid of me, can you?"  His immediate rejoinder was "We wouldn't want to."  Like I said, I don't remember what the problem was, but I do remember how much better I felt afterwards.  Knowing there's somewhere you can go makes all the difference in the world.  For me, EA could not have been home without the Flakes.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Adoption Feelings

I'm not completely sure why I'm posting this in a public space.  Maybe I want some validation, maybe I just want to get out of my own headspace.  My adoption journey is taking some turns

Many of you know I was adopted in infancy.  The adoption was closed and there has been no contact with the birthfamily since then.  In fact, my parents tried to get medical information when I was 5, but were unable to.  I've avoided trying to find her for the past 9 years because she does not know about my birth defects.  Very recently I realized I could seriously regret not looking for her sooner if the notion hits me when I'm 50.  I don't want to chance, so I'm looking now.

There are several forums online where mothers talk about the experience of "surrendering" their child.  Most of these are very negative and they talk about the horrible regret they feel through their entire lives.  They say they wish more than anything that they had kept the baby and raised him/her.  That is just crushing for me.  I've  had a wonderful life.  The video below shows my husband and I growing up (I come in at 1:03) and I hope these pictures prove I have a wonderful life. I hope my happiness didn't destroy her life. (You can just ignore him;)  )

I don't need or want another mother.  I hope that fact makes her happy as well as sad.  I've always known that she loved me more than most people can imagine in order to place me.  I've heard people badmouth her for it, but they have no business doing so unless they have the strength to make the same decision.  I have always been grateful to her, and even if this doesn't go well, I always will be.

I've always figured she thought about me at every birthday and maybe every time she saw someone my age.  I'm sure if she is still praying she prays for me.  In some ways I feel like I've been a source of great pain for her in the past 27 years even though I don't want to be.  I hope reaching out to her might heal some of the pain I imagine she's been through because of me.  Hopefully it won't crush her to know I have Fetal Alcohol Effects and Cerebral Palsy.  Then again, I'm sure she'll have emotional turmoil over the FAE.

This journey has been an emotional rollercoaster the likes of which is somewhat similar to finding out I was sexually abused.  I am so afraid of what this will bring, but also hopeful that it will be a positive experience for both of us.  This is a sticky issue, and I'm sure it wll be hard for her, for me, and I'm not sure what issues it will stir up for my parents.
All my life, this one song has spoken to me as being from my birth mother.  Right now it has me crying pretty big tears.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Mixed Feelings

Life is great, you know that?  Mine is especially wonderful.  Far from perfect, but wonderful.  The weather is turning colder, which I LOVE!!!!  First of all, Tucson cold is just cold enough to enjoy oneself, and second, it is the harbinger of the holiday season.  Bring on the carols, the baking, the merriment, and all other goodness that comes with it!  I love sweaters and how hot showers feel so much better in the cold than during the summer.  This time of year so many people are bursting with good will.

I'm a little hesitant to approach this topic because I don't want to be misunderstood.  Recently I have really wanted to have a baby.  It started shortly after I got married and the desire to have kids of my own grew to the point where it was most of what I thought about each day. I feel empty inside and my work to become a librarian seems paltry in comparison to being a mother.  I'm not sure how else to describe it other than to say I feel empty inside.  I know being a wife and mother is the most important job I will ever have.  After talking to parents I admire, I have come to understand that when two people raise a child together (keeping the Savior first, one another second, and the kids third) it can bring a couple so much closer together and provide much deeper joy.  I want that for me and for us.  I know there are precious children who are supposed to be in our family.  I want to hold them in my arms

Since I started this conversation I'll tell you I am on birth control.  I have an implant in my arm that is more effective than an IUD.  Robert and I have fasted and prayed about starting our family and both gotten the clear answer "not now."  I need to learn to control my mental health better, I need to finish school, and at least one of us needs to get a full-time job with benefits (now we have 3 part time jobs between the two of us).  I also feel strongly that we need a two bedroom place.

I asked God to comfort me and help me regain my former passion for my studies.  I realized I need to be more grateful.  I also need to focus on where I am now.  I have so many friends who are expecting and so many others who just had babies.  I would like to say I love you so very dearly.  I love your precious children.  If we're close, I feel an attachment to your kids.  I love pictures of them and I could probably look at pictures of just your baby on facebook and correctly identify them.  HOWEVER I need to step back for now.

If I think about it too much,  that empty feeling comes back.  I will have my own babies I have no doubt.  But I'm not going to have them right now.  At this moment I need to focus on school work and lavishing love on my hubby, nieces, nephews, and the teens I will soon be working with at the Joel D Valdez Main Library.  The life I have at this moment is wonderful and I need to love it.  I promise I will stay up to date with pictures of you and your babies in the moments I can handle it.  I am very happy for you and I want you to continue to share your pictures as you see fit.  Please keep sharing your joy.

I don't want to sound like I'm complaining because I'm not.  Some blessings are mine now, some blessings will be mine later, and some day I will have  the best of all worlds.  Some (many) of you are at a different stage in life than me, and that's in large part because your life path is different from mine.  And mine is beautiful.  When I allow myself to live in the moment I realize I have more blessings than I can even recognize.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Frustrations and Insecurities

Today for work we were doing a project where we needed to cut out little squares, laminate them, and then cut them again to make little cards.  While I was happy to help, there was one thing I neglected to mention to my bosses.  I have very limited fine motor skills in my left hand.  I could do the tasks they wanted me to, but I would have to concentrate a lot more, and even then I would be very slow.  Normally I don't mention this because it doesn't matter.  I avoid crafts like the plague, and in other life areas it makes little to no difference.  Well, it makes my handwritting horrible, but that's why I type everything.  Part of the reason this sticks out to me is that my mom said she talked to someone recently who feared their child would never have a normal life because of a stroke in infancy.  My mom assured the woman that though there were challenges, I have been able to live a somewhat normal life. 

Today I also noticed I've done very little to accomplish my goal of being more vulnerable.  I promised I would open up more and I need to do better at that.  For the most part I don't even notice my disability, but today I am definitely feeling insecure.  By next week this project will be done and I can go back to focusing on what I'm good at, but for now struggling is forcing me to be more humble than normal.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

First Miracle Since Last Post

This morning Hubby kissed me goodbye and left for work, just like every morning.  About 2 minutes later he comes back in and says "Jana, my car won't start, can I drive yours today?"  That was no problem for today but tomorrow it would be a BIG problem.  After looking at it for a few minutes I quickly realized the problem must be with either the starter or the battery.  The battery was replaced less than a year ago, so my money was on the starter.  Quite literally, as a starter runs around $400.  We weren't going to be able to tow it today, and I wanted to avoid towing (read: extra $100) if we could, since we don't have the money to start with.  I went outside with the intention to call my cousin Calvin, the Car Whisperer, to see if he knew anything that would help.  I got ahold of his wife who told me he was unavailable.  Sad day.  Before I even hung up my cell, one of our neighbors came to me and said "I'm a mechanic, can I look at your car?"  He tried to start it, and it didn't work.  He then popped the hood and jiggled a wire.  Voila!  He then gave us the cost estimate: 75 cents!  Yep, you read that right, 3/4 of a dollar.  The battery needs to be cleaned off with a can of coke.  I tell you, whoever our guardian angels are, they don't get paid enough!

Turning Over a New Leaf

So, I promised myself and my lovely Katie (you can find her here) that I would start blogging again.

I have a problem with blogging.  I love writing about my wonderful, happy, perfect, life and sharing the joy I have with friends and family alike.  The problem is that my life rarely looks that perfect, so I stop posting.  Not any more!  This blog is going to be for real.  Not gonna lie, I have some picture perfect moments.  And I have moments, hours, days, weeks, etc that are not so picture perfect.  And I very rarely take pictures anyway for the simple fact that I forget.

In my quest to be more authentic, I am also starting to publish my story.  You can find it on or on -whichever floats your goat.  It's an Avatar the Last Airbender fanfic about my favorite character-Iroh.  This goes from the birth of his son to leaving the Fire Nation with Zuko.  It's a daunting story to tell, and though I look forward to writing it, I am scared I won't do it justice, though having an experienced beta like ljlee helps.

In regular life I'm balancing being a newly(ish)wed to my sensitive, loving hubby(love!), going to grad school full time(love/hate), and going to work.  So here goes my next adventure!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Connection Power

Thank heaven for the internet, I would not be where I am today without it.  First of all, my entire degree is online.  There is no way I could go back to school if I did not have online classes to cater to my schedule.  Sure, correspondence school has existed since 1840, but with online courses I get to be in an actual class and develop friendships with my classmates.  I may never have met Shannon Huston in person, but we have collaborated so much over the last two years, she is my go-to woman when I need ideas.

Likewise, I have not met Jee in person, or in a class, but she is one of my most valuable professional resources I have.  I may never meet her, seeing as she lives in Seoul, South Korea, but she is a dear friend and mentor none the less.  Because of the internet I have people in my life I could never have met otherwise, people I now cherish and run to whenever I have a question.

Thanks to the internet, I can access resources from all over the world.  The databases of professional knowledge are invaluable to the communities they serve.  School librarianship exists in many countries and they all do research.  Most of my paper for my class on how children respond to literature was based on research from Denmark and China.  Sure there was research on children and stories here in the United States, but research on how stories affect the linguistic development of children?  That seems to be taking place on other continents these days.  This commercial may be about television, but it conveys exactly how I feel about the internet:

The internet is the focus of my study.  I am going into library science, which is not about libraries, per se.  It’s all about the information, and where to find it.  Now, you can find most of it online if you know where to look.  Google can be great if you know how to speak computer, but otherwise it can return a mess.  That is why librarians take classes like “online searching” “online searching medical” and “online searching music.”  Of course, these teach more than just Google.  There are so many databases out there-and they have so many answers!  I have Goggled “latest research on boys transitional literacy” but I will not find something I could use in an academic paper.

All these things I mentioned help with academics, but education is more than just academics.  Education is learning to understand and apply what you know.  Learning to recite information or even explain only one point of view is not education, it is brainwashing.  Because of the internet any viewpoint is available on any subject.  Just recently I read this blog, which includes information not published in the official channels. 
 The internet is arguably the most powerful tool of our day.  Like all power, it can be used for many different purposes.  While this commercial clearly shows some of the good accomplished via screen, but the following quote by Neil Postman sums up very well how the internet hinders my education:

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information.Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us.Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us. (Postman, 1985)

My appetite for distraction is indeed infinite.  As I write this, or anything else, I have Facebook open.  That’s not to say there is anything wrong with Facebook, but it is not helpful in me being a better writer or student.  I refuse to bring my laptop to class because I know I will end up tuning out the teacher to take a quiz on “Which 60’s Screen Idol Are You?”

In short, the internet is a source of power.  It is the power to connect, to see the world, to visualize and then realize our dreams.  When I use this power for our own edification, it can be one of the greatest benefits to mankind in modern day.  When I become consumers to the exclusion of building, that is when it becomes power against me instead of power for me.

Postman, Neil. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. New York: Viking, 1985. Print.