November 7, 2010
Culver City, California

When I first looked out this window almost 14 years ago, I said a silent prayer. My dream was to be a homeonwer and this peaceful and sunshine-filled condo on Summertime Lane in Culver City, California, was for sale. I have now lived here for over 13 years, and it has been my refuge as I have gone through the ups and downs of life.

But now it appears that the time has come to move on. With a mixture of anticipation and sadness I am preparing for what lies ahead. While it’s still too soon to know what comes next, I do know that life is about moving forward.

December 15, 2010
El Segundo, California

I got out early in the morning, took my remaining things to Public Storage in Playa Vista, then checked into a Travelodge in El Segundo and pretty much collapsed.

During the next few weeks, I didn’t blog. There were many dark and lonely days and nights with couch surfing and other temporary arrangements. Life became a blur, fueled by resentment, fear and shame. I isolated. My emotional state and my health were fragile, and by Christmas Eve I felt the sun would never shine again. But a few days later a generous friend amazingly gifted me with a cruise through New Zealand and Australia, and I left the United States on December 31. Unwittingly, my “spiritual sabbatical” had begun. More about my ship experiences, elsewhere… On January 12, I disembarked in Melbourne, due to sea sickness, to remain for four more weeks.

January 11, 2011
Tasman Sea, Australia

Life is not always smooth sailing.  Sometimes the sea is rocky and uncertain.  But if we are patient and gentle with ourselves, sooner or later we once again find we are standing on solid ground.

January 15, 2011

It’s said that the things we regret most in life are the things we didn’t do. Some things are universal: a child’s smile, a kind word, a helping hand, God’s love.  When we think about what we can bring to the table — instead of what we will get — life can be so much richer. I don’t know what the future holds, but today I am living life on purpose.

January 28, 2011

Happy talk
Keep talkin’ happy talk
Talk about things you’d like to do
You gotta have a dream
If you don’t have a dream
How you gonna have a dream come true?

For my 6th birthday, I got a child’s record player from my parents. It came with a 78 RPM record of a song called Happy Talk. It was a song for children about daring to dream.

With a bright yellow label and a picture of a smiling woman wearing a lei around her neck, it quickly became my favorite toy. It seemed so exotic and and the idea of having a dream inspired me. With childlike enthusiasm, I listened to it over and over and over and over.

Long after the record and the record player were lost to the passage of time, the song replayed in my mind every now and again over the years. The simple lyrics are such a joyful affirmation of life and the very human need to have a vision that encourages us to reach beyond our grasp.

If you don’t have a dream, how can you have a dream come true?

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned the song was from the musical South Pacific.

In a few days on my birthday I will be 10 x 6.  Amazingly, I am marking that milestone in the South Pacific.

As I looked out over the water today, I suddenly remembered that song…

February 1, 2011

Life Tapestry in Silver and Gold
Suddenly everything is sacred and connected.
Boots and books, fanning and Fan Pages, persuasion and acceptance.
Time and space and circles and stones.
Hot, thick air on a steamy California night and a tram on its way to Coburg.
Southern Pacific railway station lines like silvery-golden threads across continents and cultures.
Garage doors and alley-ways hidden behind 82nd Street and Craigrossie Avenue.
New Orleans to Judy Chicago to Santa Monica to Melbourne.  Women and men and pens and paper.
All is sacred and connected.
The sun, the moon, the stars and places, woven like silvery-golden threads of thought, time and memory.
The past and the present, sacred and connected.
Today there is no need or desire to persuade anyone, even myself.

February 8, 2011

“Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them.” — David Hume

The best thing about getting older is the perspective you gain with the passage of time. For most of my life, I was ashamed of this picture. All I saw were super-chubby cheeks. I truly thought I was an ugly baby.

C’mon. That is one cute baby, okay?

When I think about all the time I have spent in my life feeling bad about things that really weren’t bad, it causes me to wonder: What am I missing today?

February 9 is my 60th birthday. Now, I’d like to be all spiritual and stuff and say I am just in total joy about it, jumping and skipping down the streets of Melbourne singing the praises of advancing age.

I am more than grateful to be alive and in good health, but I also struggle with feelings of ambivalence about the physical realities of getting older. I look in the mirror and see that my face and my body are changing; no doubt about it. Every time I turn around, something has either moved or changed colors! I’m eating healthy and getting exercise, but I’ve got my share of aches and pains. I find myself wondering about the future, and moisturizer can only do so much!

But beauty truly is an inside job. That baby picture hasn’t changed, my perspective has. And so it can today.

Wow, I’m turning 60. What a miracle and a blessing. Yaaaaaay!

February 11, 2011

I have been living in Melbourne for exactly one month, today.  It has been my temporary home while I engaged in personal reflection and renewal. I didn’t plan to be here; it was through a series of (what seemed at the time) “unfortunate” circumstances that I landed in Melbourne. I immediately fell in love with the city.  I decided to stay for as long as I could.

Australia is below the equator, so February is in the middle of summer.  It took a little getting used to, but I found myself making the psychological shift.  Out came the sandals and the sun hat. There are so many things to see and do in Melbourne, and there is an interesting mix of reverence for the past while embracing the future.  The city has a vibrant, creative tempo that resonated with me.  I began to wonder if I might make a life here.

But now it is time to go home to Los Angeles.  In some ways Los Angeles is really no longer home because I moved our of my home of 14 years on Summertime Lane only a few days before coming to Australia.  The leaving was not a pleasant experience, and I don’t know where I’ll be living when I return.

I love the Louise Hay cards.  I bought a pack this afternoon to share with the women and men who will be attending a vision board workshop I’m giving later today.  Yes, I found a way to give a workshop because I wanted to somehow leave a part of myself here in gratitude to Melbourne. It was a safe harbor for me at a very rocky time in my life.

When I opened the box, the very first card read:

“I see myself living in a wonderful place.  It fulfills all my needs and desires.  It’s in a beautiful location and at a price I can afford.”

I thought, “Aha! A prediction that I will find a place to live in Melbourne!”  But as I think about it, anywhere I’m at I am alive.  So if I choose to focus my attention on the beauty that surrounds me, I am living in a wonderful place with every breath I take.

February 12, 2011

Daddy planted the peach tree with love and hope
And tenderness
So much thoughtfulness
Bears such sweet fruit

Today I looked up and saw a peach tree on Drummond Street! I have a soft spot in my heart for peach trees because my father planted one for me in our South L.A. backyard when I was a little girl. I was too young to remember the day, but my mother would tell the story about how we were at a nursery and I asked my father to get the tree.  In the summertime the tree would get so full with big, yellow peaches that Mama could not can them fast enough.

My father grew up in the segregated South and dropped out of school in the 3rd grade because his mother needed him to work. He never learned to read and he could barely sign his name. Yet, he later came to California as a grown man to build a better life for himself, and he did.

He died when I was 14 years old. I always think of Daddy whenever I see a peach tree.

February 13, 2011

I was slow out of bed this morning. Guess I didn’t want to face my final sunrise in Melbourne. My flight to L.A. leaves this evening.

When I finally did draw the blinds, I was greeted by the improbable sight of 3 hot air balloons drifting in the sky above the city. Here’s two of ’em. I grabbed my camera, just to affirm to myself that I wasn’t hallucinating.

Expect the unexpected. If you get up and face the road ahead of you, you never know what delights your day might bring.

February 17, 2011
Vancouver, Canada

“I walk upon this planet safe and secure, knowing that I am always connected with an unlimited and benevolent Universe.” — Louise Hay

Is it practical for a woman of a certain age to get on a plane and fly off to a city she’s never been to before to land in the middle of the night?  I’ve always played it pretty safe and straightforward in life.  But I have to admit, this leap of faith in what seems to be evolving into a World Tour, has been a life-changing experience.  I’m beginning to think that being “practical” is highly overrated.

Less than a week ago I was in the summer heat of Australia.  Now I find myself in the winter’s chill of Canada after only a couple of days home in Los Angeles.  I haven’t seen much of Vancouver yet except the neighborhood grocery store around the corner.  First impressions: clean, quiet, easy going and friendly.  So far the weather has been brisk but not daunting.

Tomorrow I venture into downtown, remembering that my father always said life is for the living.

February 18, 2011

This photo was taken from the exact same location as  yesterday’s post — slightly different angle, but same window, same direction, same camera, same photographer.

How many times have things seemed bleak and dark when, in fact, there was a powerful mountain of light right before us!

February 27, 2011

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to wait. Things happen in God’s time, not mine. It can be hard to resist the urge to try to make something happen. I mean, doesn’t He know I’ve got places to go and things to do???

But no matter how hard I may think or try to the contrary, one way or another, the Universe will have its way.

Perhaps the gift is to learn the beauty to be found in the waiting.

March 1, 2011

I’m finding I’m having to let go of a lot of things on this journey.  A big item on the list is beating myself up for being human.  It’s a luxury I can no longer afford, because the paralysis it generates keeps me from moving forward.  I have a lot of experience with paralysis.

I broke my new laptop this morning.  It’s been my constant companion and lifeline since I got it 6 weeks ago, and it all happened because I was multi-tasking and hit the screen.  The computer instantly went bonkers, and so did I!  As a traveling writer, a busted laptop is no small matter.  As I stared in disbelief at the now all-white screen and went into a full tilt case of how-could-I-be-so-stupid mode, a thought came to me that stopped my emotional meltdown: What would a loving parent do in such a situation?  Hmm…

Well, a loving parent would realize that a child is only human.  A loving parent would say “you made a mistake,” not “you are a mistake.”  A loving parent would let the child know that they are much more valuable than some ol’ computer.  So I gave myself a virtual hug, dried my tears and called the Apple Store in Vancouver.  I have an appointment in a couple of hours for a diagnostic, and I even have temporary use of a friend’s computer to do this post.  It is an abundant Universe and all is well.

It was an accident.  It’s a piece of plastic.  Fixable?  Perhaps.  Replaceable?  Possibly.  Would life go on without that computer?  Absolutely.  End of story.

March 2, 2011
Los Angeles

What do you do when home is no longer home?

March 15, 2011
Los Angeles

Since returning to the U.S. a couple of weeks ago, I have been in deep reflection.  Do I stay in Los Angeles, my hometown that is no longer my hometown?  Do I move to another part of the country?  Do I continue to travel and maybe live abroad?

Right now, my heart is leading me to Fresno, California.

Fresno?  A perfectly nice but modest town a world away from the big city lights of LA?  A place primarily known for its agriculture?  A place on the map in a relatively remote area of a very big state?  Why Fresno?

Because my birth mother, a woman I have never met, a woman I did not even know existed until I was almost 30 years old, was from Fresno.

It was after the death of the parents who raised me as an only child in South LA that I learned 30 years ago I was actually the child of a woman from Fresno who came to LA briefly to give birth.  Needless to say, it was a shock to learn when I was almost 30, and right after a death in what I thought was my natural family, that I once had a completely different name and identity.  Every now and then I have thought about going to Fresno to see if I could find any remnants of who she was, or if she might even still be alive, but I would push that idea to the back of my mind.

But something in my heart is leading me to Fresno.  It has now been 60 years since my birth. The name my birth mother gave me before going back to Fresno was Darnel Elizabeth Williams.   I became Eleanor a few weeks later when I came to live with the parents who raised me.  I found out all this when I was 30.  I just want to know my story – whatever the answers might turn out to be.  I’ve scheduled a place to stay with no predetermined end date, and I will be heading there in a week.

I’m well aware this chapter could have many different endings.  But if I never seek, I will never find.

March 24, 2011
Gorman, California

Familiar choices can sometimes take on a new meaning.

April 15, 2011
Fresno, California

After starting out at a somewhat frenetic pace digging into my family roots in Fresno, I have slowed down, struck by the enormity of all that has happened since the end of December when this particular journey began.

Recently, in the interim, I made a brief trip back to LA for a funeral of a professional colleague that gave me even more cause for reflection on how I’m living my own life.

Now back in Fresno gently taking it one day at a time, I’m finding out what is really important to me. I am re-setting my priorities, making time for rest, eating healthy food and staring at the stars. I’m praying, asking God for direction and peace. I’m smiling more and sleeping more. I’m calling friends and telling people what I love about them. I’m listening to the sounds of children playing outside my window. Instead of turning away, I look into the eyes of the men panhandling outside the 7-11. I give a little money when I’m able. The other day my BlackBerry, crashed which I interpret as the Universe telling me I don’t need to check my email every time I hear a beep. Verizon can’t retrieve my data, which I interpret as the Universe telling me I don’t need 500 entries in my address book. I close my eyes when the choir sings and really let the words sink in. I set my alarm to go off just before sunrise so I can hear the birds. I’m noticing the different types of plants and flowers. I wear jeans with my fancy pearl earrings and don’t worry about what anyone thinks. I cry myself to sleep. I laugh myself silly.

Life goes on. Life is good. Live your life.

April 17, 2011
San Jose, California

Never believe that you have wasted your time. No matter what you are doing — whether alone or with others, whether running or standing still, whether ideal or imperfect, whether recognized or anonymous, whether at home or afar — you are learning, you are contributing and you are growing.

Trust God and keep doing your best, because there never has been, and there never will be, a wasted moment in your life.

May 17, 2011

No matter how deep the need or desire to recapture the past, it is only possible to live in the present.  It takes courage to stay grounded in the unpredictable present, but it’s the only way we can live fully.

Driving back to Fresno yesterday after a weekend to take a look at a potential roommate situation in LA, it suddenly hit me why I have been procrastinating on the family search here in Fresno: I’m afraid to face the reality of what I might learn.

There have been so many changes in my life in the last 6 months. I’ve lost my home to foreclosure, all of my possessions are either gone or in storage, I’m out of work, I suspended the organization I founded and led for the past decade, I had a milestone birthday (60), I’m seeing and feeling the physical changes of getting older, I’m in a right-size dress size for the first time in my life, I’ve been to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, I was a panelist at a major conference in San Francisco, and I came to Fresno to find my birth family.

And that’s just for starters!  Whew!

It’s not all bad and it’s not all good.  It just is what it is.  And I think I needed a breather.

But it’s time to pray for the courage to take the next step.

May 22, 2011

Don’t be concerned if your pace seems slow. What appears merely to be going around in circles may actually be spiraling toward the heavens.

May 30, 2011
Deer Park, Escondido, California

I rake leaves…
The wind blows.
I rake leaves…
The wind blows.
I rake leaves…until I realize that there is joy to be found in just the raking.

June 3, 2011

As I travel back to Los Angeles today after two months of searching for a needle in a Fresno haystack, help me to keep my mind on what I found, not on what I didn’t find; on what I learned, not on what I didn’t learn; on who I am, no on what I’m not.  Help me to redefine love, family, friend, belonging, faith, peace, fulfillment and hope. Thank you for showing me that they are already present in my life.  I don’t need to search for them.

I met so many beautiful and helpful people along the way in Fresno. Kindness and generosity of spirit is not limited by bloodlines.

I will keep researching my family history. But now I know what to look for…and what not to look for.

Some things are not to be found in stacks of pieces of paper.

3 thoughts on “History

  1. Pingback: Late-discovery Adoptee | My Spiritual Sabbatical

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