Thursday, May 28, 2009

UPdate- May

I'm a little early sending May's update, but the 30th is a very busy work day. Forgive.

To mark this 6th month, here are 6 things to accomplish before … well before…

  • 1- Be able to carry a 3 year old child 20 hours a day for weeks/months at a time.
  • 2- Start running again.
  • 3- Gather a stock pile of donations for the care center.
  • 4- Save enough to cover the last bit of fees plus…
  • 5- Take a vacation. Away. A real treacherous fun exciting one that is not condusive to bringing small children. (It's likely it may be Brandy Pond- but hey... A girl can dream!)
  • 6- Stop waiting. Waiting sucks... LIVE.
This is what I really wanted to share with you: This very funny (and SHORT, Wes!) article. Remember I didn't write it! You'll be tempted to think I did. I've got some work to do if I don't want to be poked and laughed at, deflating my sensitive self- esteem. (HA- that's sarcasm)

This is reprinted from Link here:

By Hannah Vick

"Three Weeks in Addis"
Shyness is overcome quickly at the orphanage. In less than an hour of my arrival, I am surrounded by half a dozen giggling girls stroking my hair and my cheeks. "You!" they say, mouths open in smiles, "You are so fat - so fat and white!"
Peter leads me up the stairs, through the kitchen and into the courtyard of Layla House, a center for orphaned children in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, run by an American adoption agency. He points at things and children, nonchalantly throwing out useful tidbits, like "Don't eat the pasta", and "That's Meron, she's going to Denver", and "Use the staff bathroom, the kid's are still figuring out toilet paper".
He does not mention my plus-size figure would be the source of constant delight and amazement for Ethiopians.

The children, of course, are wonderful in their optimism and courage, jumping over cracks in the cement, arguing over who will brush my hair. They babble in Amharic and look at me nose to nose. One girl concentrates, with her tongue out, as she combs my eyebrows. They hold my hand, wrap around my neck, sit on my lap and pinch my upper arms. More giggling and they say I'm beautiful. "Very beautiful," Marta says, concentrating now on my braids that have unwoven, "And very, very fat."
The Crown Hotel is the first of our obligatory touristy destination stops. It features traditional Ethiopian dancing and music. We arrive early for good seats, stools crafted from one tree trunk. The stools surround a mesob, a round table that holds a plate of injera — the staple of any Ethiopian diet.

The other volunteers are chatty and adventurous. Aaron is taking a hiatus in Addis after getting shot at in the Congo while teaching HIV awareness classes. He's young and bright-eyed, a recent graduate from a Canadian college, eager to change the world. Brett and Kara are the honeymooning vegetarian couple. Kara is a size two and directs a homeless shelter back home; Brett was accepted to medical school and runs five miles a day. They are, unequivocally, the nicest people I have ever met.
And then there's me. I'm from Wisconsin, where we all carry an extra 30 pounds to keep us warm in the winter.
Our guide waves to get my attention. "Look!" he says, holding up a stool from the other side of the room, "I got you a big stool. Big stool just for you!" He laughs and gestures for me to take it. My cohorts stay diplomatically quiet, but Brett reaches over and pats me on the shoulder.
Riding in a mini-bus in Addis is a terrifying, deeply religious experience. There are no discernable traffic laws and a distinct fondness for roundabouts. On the dashboard of this particular mini-bus is an icon of Mary, a picture of Bob Marley and a sticker of the rapper, 50 Cent. I consider praying to all three, to be on the safe side. The interior of the bus rattles, everyone bumps along in tandem.
Brett is chatting with his seat partner, Kara is smiling dreamily as we rumble past our destination.
"Waddatch!" I say, which I believe means stop, although I'm not entirely certain. I'm hot and uncomfortable. I feel overwhelmed by the city and its poverty. I have pangs of guilt constantly, the emotion is sharpened by the humbling contentment of everyone I meet. The people of Addis seem delighted, genuinely so, that I've gorged myself on American consumerism, obviously, food. The effect is stifling.
"Waddatch! Waddatch! Waddatch! WADDATCH!" I yell, raising eyebrows and turning heads. Kara asks what's wrong and I tell her I don't want to walk a half mile back to the volunteer house. The man sitting in front of us turns around and says, "You could use walking," he smiles and shakes his head gleefully, "You are so fat."
The boys at Layla House crowd around me almost as much as the girls, although with hesitancy. They're eager to show me their Kung-Fu moves, they jostle each other to clear a space, raising their voices and then smiling sweetly at me.
A ten-year-old dramatically assumes the classic Karate Kid pose, I bark out a surprised laugh.
"What did you learn in America class today?" I ask. The children take turns telling me — and pantomiming — the details of a typical American house. The class is designed to prepare the children for their new post-adoption lives in the U.S.
"Big, big houses!" a young boy says, straining on his toes to show me how high. "With a kitchen!"
"And what kind of things are in the kitchen?" I ask. "Is there an oven in the kitchen?" Yes, everyone nods that there is - and a refrigerator.
"No, no," one boy says, his forehead creased in seriousness, "In America, every room has refrigerator, not just kitchen. And one is full of meat!"
I try to dissuade him of this notion, I fail, spectacularly. I can only think of his adoptive mother's confusion at this undoubtedly un-met expectation.
I change the subject to something I think is very important.
"Listen to me!" I raise my voice over the ongoing refrigerator debate. "Listen! When you get to America, you must not tell anyone they are fat. Do you understand?"
No one understands. The boys are confused and they ask each other questions; some in Amharic, others in broken English.
The boy holding my hand says with an appropriate gravity, "You are very fat."
"Yes, I know," I say. "But you can't say that when you get to America." I forge on with resolution. "If you say 'you are fat' to someone in America, they might get angry." I show them my angry face. "Or sad."
Ah. The boys nod. They look at me with wide eyes and murmur agreement. I nod, too, smug and impressed with myself for saving them from overweight school-yard bullies.
A tall boy in the back raises his hand, "How much do you weigh?"

We take a Saturday to do some shopping in the textile district, or rather, the place where all the dresses are made. Arriving by mini-bus, we start peeking inside row after row of tiny shops, filled to the ceiling with clothes and scarves. Each shop is bursting with all sorts of colorful things, the dresses hanging in doorways look to be making a form of escape.
We stay at one shop, watching Kara try dresses, chatting with the two saleswomen. They're like most Ethiopians, gracious and eager to please, constantly smiling and ready to forgive our botched attempts at communication. They send out for coffee, which arrives in a steel warming bucket. They smile shyly when we thank them a disproportionate number of times.
The traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony is beautiful. I thumb through the ceremony dresses for one I like. "Do you have my size?" I ask.
"Oh yes," she says, rummaging around in the back. She nods to her associate, together they unravel the largest dress I've ever seen. It almost reaches from one side of the store to the other. "Just your size! It fit perfectly!" Smiles all around.
I shell out 65 Birr and am now the owner of a tent in the shape of a traditional Ethiopian coffee dress.
When I returned home and began digesting my three weeks in Addis, the adoption agency forwarded a letter written by one of the little girls at Layla House. It was seven pages of drawings, in neatly written sentences that repeatedly exclaimed my name, her name, Wisconsin and "I love you".
On the third page, near the bottom, she wrote in loopy ten-year old letters - You are so fat.
Hannah Vick traveled to Ethiopia in May, 2006. She can be contacted by e-mailing BootsnAll

reprinted from:

Monday, May 25, 2009

Wandering Outside 2009 Begins...

Hiking forces my mind to be still. Ahhh Peace.

My love of Life, breadth of self knowledge & spiritual journey have all matured along the paths of red pine needles laying among ferns, Birch and Pine.

Along Friday’s hike, some life lessons were recollected:

  • If I keep my head down, hanging low for long- I have no idea if a wrong turn was taken. (And it’s the not knowing that’ll F-up my mind along the journey.)
  • Even when all is lost- stay on the path that lay before me.
  • Just put one foot in front of the other and keep going.
  • Rest when needed.
  • I am not alone!
  • Coming down from the “Summit” presents a whole different set of challenges. And now you are tired. So rest well, be prepared and do not panic.
I can find many literal and (?)figurative junctures in my life these days, that I should keep these in mind. All of these I learned the hard way – including the “you are not alone” part. (I’ll let you conjure up that image on your own)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Growing Pains...

I remember being 9, 10, & 11 lying in bed with incredibly aching legs and hips. Ouch! I still remember that feeling, even today. Crying out to my mom, she answered “It’s just growing pains. There’s nothing to do but live with it for a while.”

At the time, I thought she must hate me. “How can you not help me? This hurts! Aaaaa! Make it stop!” (insert pre-teen drama).

I wanted to follow up on last weeks post.

During it’s peak- it is all that occupies your mind. During it’s peak- nothing else matters. During it’s peak- it is hard to remember, that it lessens, goes away or changes the recipient- often all three.

Eventually- it changes you.

Growing pains.

Growth requires pain.

During the peak of question, heartache, loss… pain I struggle to pay attention to what will follow. I know (in my head) that Pain is required to grow- but... during the peak of pain, it sure is hard to feel.

Stretch. Pain.
Lift. Ow!
Grasp. Twinge.
Jump. Thud.
Run. Ache.

Rest. Recover.
Hope. Grow.
Light. Peace.

Shortly after that post. I reread a number of my posts recently and the feelings behind them surfaced. I wondered, why did so many posts seem… so down?, introspective?, heavy?.

Then I reviewed other blogs. Y’know what. I don’t think I’m that different. I think that when life is full, happy and exciting, who has time to sit and journal? I haven’t made the time to express, the joy, happiness and excitement during this season.

I noticed something else. The Milestones; Markers for progress. I haven’t marked any significant ones since December 30. Truly waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Ugh.

Waiting is too static. Waiting is life on hold. Life is now. I don’t know what I’m “waiting” for. Truly I do not. I can think I know, but- what will be will be. And it will NOT be, by me. . . . . WAITING!

So what next?
Getting my ducks in a row.

Baby steps. Forward progress. Joy and Pain (pump. pump pump it up.. “Sunshine. And Rain.” Name that tune if you can). 2 steps forward and one step back.

I’ll fall down and get bloody and I’ll love the scar it leaves because it leaves me tougher, stronger with a deeper character.

Waking up.

Getting up.
Showing up.

Every day. Every hour. Giving it all.

Life. Living. Movement. Experience. Exploration. All Antonyms of “waiting”.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Signs of Spring & Summer in Maine....

Yup. This sign is what you'll need to see in Maine before you know spring has sprung.

Any seasoned Mainer will tell you it's often difficult to actually experience Spring if you pay attention to the weather. (it can come and go real fast... we can go from snow to mud to drought in few short weeks) But there are 'sines' to look for. "Fiddleheads" being a big fat primary clue.

But this one. This next one. Is what is the sign the tells us "Summer is almost here".


Ok, not "open"... but the tarps & plywood are gone.

All these pictures were taken yesterday on a quick trip to Portland. Although Fiddleheads are out and available roadside up north here, too. The Blooming Apple tree seen here on Commercial St is gorgeous (ah, and my 3 handsome suiters ain't bad neithah)... The trees up here are budding. Not Blooming quite yet.

I swear, this time of year visiting Portland is traveling to a different climate. My body hadn't adjusted and I felt like I was sweating pits. Especially after visiting this lady (whose name I always forget, so some one please remind me!)

As is typical, in the 'best' restaurants, she generally tells me what to order. (At least in all two times I've been as ASMARA. ) This was dish hottest I've had. Spicy and HOT. This may have played a role in feeling like Portland Maine was in the deep south.

Have I mentioned that I love this food. LOVE IT. So much so that I am literally amazed when others do not. "BUT HOW CAN THAT BE???" crazy people. crazy.

BTW: Can anyone tell me if Teff is Wheat?

Please forgive the photos. I still have not fixed my camera since New Years Eve. Camera phone photos... every one of them... ugh.

Monday, May 11, 2009

OWW!! That hurts...

Just two...

Booster the Tetnus & begin the Hep's

Why do I have the Carpenters song... "We've only just begun...." replaying in my head...

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Fleeting Peace...

Adoption, it is a process of saying yes, repeatedly, again and again, over the course of many months. When things change with your job, you have choices to make. When things change in your personal life, you have choices. The economy bottoms out, you have more choices. When things change in your heart, you have choices. It is an amazing process that tests us along the way and requires us to say yes, again and again.

It wears on you. Wears you down. At some point: you give it all up. Give it all to God, because you are broken and can’t take it on your own. You make peace with what will be, give up all sense of control and place your trust in the Big Guy. Peace.

Peace is fleeting.

Something happens at your agency. You lose your specialist. You lose another one. They restructure. Expected referral times increase. Three months later, they increase again. Referrals grind to a painfully slow pace. “All is fine.”, they say. “No need to worry.”

New regulations are rumored in country. Closing all single adoptions. Extra medical testing required. More signatures needed. Family members must appear in court. More hardship on others so that you can have a family. You feel selfish. You feel ignorant. You feel lost. You feel out of control. Mourning. Loss. Anxiety heightens. Your insides are a mess. You mind doesn’t rest. Your body rebels. You begin to not recognize yourself. You are no longer the person that started this journey in ernest.

You struggle to gain control again. Move things along. Hurry it up before it all goes away. You question if you are really supposed to be here anyway. You question if it will ever really happen. You question if this is really your path. All at the same time fighting for control... with God . . . . again.

Did I ever really let it go? Did I ever really give it all to Him? Will I ever?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Finding my way...

I was baptized catholic at 2 days old. I was raised in a Catholic Church. I won’t go into the long history of my religious affiliation.

I will say that the past few years has been a quest. A quest to know my Real Life. The Real Path the lays before me. This lead me back to my spiritual life. Lead me to finding real Peace. Real Meaning. Real Love. Real Joy. Similar to the song. I was lost. I wanted to be found.

I often feel like writing about my quest to deepen my relationship with God, may come across as childish in comparison to those who have had a life long study and mine has only begun. I recognize my immaturity in it all, so I listen rather than speak. Live rather than preach. My inexperience makes it uncomfortable to share my story.

Please understand, for those of you reading, understand, this is my quest. My walk with God. One thing I have learned, is each of our paths is different. Unique. I write today about what happened this Friday, to record events, that feel, somehow necessitating a small historical record. Only time will tell its meaning, but each of our walks are unique, and mine has been calling me to document this. I have no tidy bow to wrap it up in. No full circle to complete the story.

My instinct is to keep it to myself. Private blessing. Personal Gift. That is another thing God is working with me. But for today, I’m learning to say “Yes Lord” and leave it at that.

For my Children:
This past Friday, was dedicated to Prayer and Fasting, for me.
It was the first day in a long time, I woke up with Joy in my heart. Without effort. It was the first day in a long time, I awoke with real anticipation for the day ahead.

This sounds strange as I re-read this. I admit that. I hope that one day soon, I can edit this more eloquently without exaggerating or mitigating the truth of it all. Perhaps one day I'll awaken with the insight, vocabulary and eloquence to write like Kampossible, The Livesay's or Laura and her resilient family.

Friday evening ended up being a FAMILY NIGHT. I thought of you often. Saw you playing outside with your cousins. Rolling down the hill. Riding in the wagon with Papa pulling it with the “tractor”.

Lots of interesting and odd things happened that night. But in retrospect, nothing as poignant as this:

Nana had made a crock pot of beef-stew. I had brought a medium sized piece of fish. There were 5 of us expected for dinner. Every 15 minutes another family showed up to visit. By 8pm there were about 50 people, all for dinner and drinks. No one had planned or expected there would be visitors. No one had brought food. No one put out chips, veggies, appetizers. There was only the small crock of stew, 6 biscuits and a medium piece of fish.

As people ventured into the kitchen, EVERYONE ATE. EVERYONE ATE. NO ONE WENT HUNGRY. At the end of the evening, there was a large bowl of stew remaining. Everyone laughed, loved, smiled, hugged, celebrated.

The next morning, Taunte’, Mom & I all came to the same thought at the same time. It was like the loaves of bread and the fishes.