What we should have been thinking about this Father’s Day weekend

What we should have been thinking about this Father’s Day weekend

I spent Father’s Day weekend doing what I have done for 16 of the last 22 Father’s Day weekends: getting away to the East End of Long Island and running the Shelter Island 10k. I’ve written about it here, and here.  This year was a little different. Instead of using the weekend as an escape, it was a relaxing weekend of quality time with my boyfriend.

I was pleasantly surprised when he agreed to come to New York and give up spending the day with his kids (they’re adults, but still, spending time with them, I know, is very important to him). Since I will be officially an Illinois resident in a few weeks I’m not sure what will happen to this tradition in future years, so I was grateful that he chose to come along. I truly enjoyed sharing it with him.

It was my parents that introduced me to the East End as a child and we spent our summers in Montauk and Shelter Island. These places remain special to me because of the memories they hold. This weekend involved lots of reminiscing and probably way too many stories that began, “when I was a kid…” If he ever got tired of them, he never said so.

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The beach in Montauk with my Dad. 1971.

I had an incredible childhood. I always knew unconditional love from my parents. These were my adoptive parents, and I have always felt blessed for the life I was given with them. I wrote about my early years in My Story: Part 1. What I didn’t include in that story, however was how I had anxiety attacks (that at times made me really sick) every time I was separated from my parents…until I was a teenager! It is not uncommon for adopted children to experience separation anxiety.

“Today, we realize that this separation is traumatic for both the mother and the child, and we recognize that early experiences have a disproportionately large impact on the structure of the brain.

“When an infant or child is separated from his or her birthmother, it is undeniably a traumatic event. All of the once-familiar sights, sounds and sensations are gone, and the infant is placed in a dangerous situation — dangerous that is, perceived by the infant. The only part of the brain that is fully developed at birth is the brain stem that regulates the sympathetic nervous system, that is, the fight, flight or freeze response. The parasympathetic ability to self-soothe isn’t available and baby needs his or her familiar mom to act as the soothing agent to help with self-regulation but she’s not there. Events that happen age 0-3 are encoded as implicit memories and become embodied because they place before language develops.”

– Johnson, L. 2013. “10 Things Adoptees Want You to Know,” Huffington Post.

I lived in institutional care for my first two years. It was wonderful care, in a convent, with a nun  that loved me and continued to be a positive part of my life – as well as my daughter’s – until her death in 2009.  There was nothing negative at all about my adoption experience, and yet, I was still affected by being separated from my (biological) mother.

I have worked for social service agencies who were part of the foster care system. One had a Family Preservation program whose goal was to keep families in tack. These were parents at risk of losing their children due to abuse, neglect, illegal drug habits and other criminal activities. They used an evidence-based model that showed rehabilitating parents and giving them the tools they needed to succeed as parents, was in the best interest of the children. The goal is to keep kids out of foster care.

So why am I talking about all of this? Think about it. Think about when you were a kid. Can you imagine being separated from your parents? What about now, as a parent? How would you feel about being separated from your child? Can you imagine for a moment what it would be like for your child? Think about it. Really think about it! Then read about what is going on in this country and tell me you don’t care.

Start here: “Here’s what’s happening with immigrant children at the U.S. border, policy wise” USA Today.  This is the most non-partisan view on what’s happening that I could find. I don’t want to hear, “But Obama…” At this point, I  don’t care who you voted for or why you voted for them. What’s happening at this very moment has to stop before we contribute any further to the PTSD of these children. If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

Please act! If you don’t think this is okay, make your voice heard. Do something. Start by calling your Representative. Use this number to be connected to his or her office: 1-855-660-1185. Here are some additional ideas: “Seizing Children From Parents at the Border Is Immoral. Here’s What We Can Do About It.” New York Times.

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The Beach in Montauk. June 2018.
4 things I learned from having cancer

4 things I learned from having cancer

Last night I had the honor of being the speaker at our High School’s Relay for Life Kick Off event. Our high school and many organizations in town have been participating in Relay for Life since 2009 and have raise over $1.5 million for the American Cancer Society.

This is what I shared… Read more

Let Me Reach Out!

Let Me Reach Out!

This is another one of those weeks where I struggled to figure out what I’m going to say here. I have lots of ideas of things that I want to write about, but some weeks none of my ideas seem appropriate. Like many parents, I am shaken by another school shooting. 29 mass shootings so far this year, the 18th at a school. I ran hard yesterday morning. Running relieves stress.

“Not just exercise, but a way to get in touch with and reclaim myself in an often fragmenting world, running also serves as a powerful antidote to clinical depression, a metaphor for the creative process, and, in its most profound moments, a spiritual practice.” – Poet Alison Townsend

Read more

What is The Cause?

What is The Cause?

We often talk about the connection between mind and body – visualizing positive outcomes, training our minds, the importance of building “mental fortitude” – during our physical training. While it’s important to consider the connection between mind and body (being as well as doing) as we look to achieve our goals, another important consideration is the soul (or feeling).

And that’s where the “cause” comes in. A cause by definition is something that gives rise to action. A cause can be positive, negative, personal or philanthropic, but it’s ultimately what motivates us. Read more

10 Fundraising Tips for Marathoners

10 Fundraising Tips for Marathoners

I received a message recently that the went something like this: “The Cancer Society came up on my FaceBook feed looking for people to run the London Marathon and raise money for them. Do you think I should do it?” It was followed by a passionate case of why this was a great cause, how it personally touched her family, and so on. And then, the admission: “fundraising is completely out of my comfort zone.” My immediate response was “yes! do it!”

There are two reasons I encourage marathoners to run for charity. Number one is that the charity benefits from the funds raised, and also because you share their message with your family and friends. Personal testimonials of your involvement with them are powerful marketing tools. The second reason is that you benefit. While running for a charity makes you feel damn good, it also comes with perks. Read more