Thursday, November 06, 2014

Four Dozen

Wow.  Here I am.  48 years old today.

It's hard to believe that so much has happened since last year's birthday post...

This morning I woke up in our new place (surrounded by cardboard moving boxes and without TV or Internet), I walked a new route to the train station to go to my new job at work.  This year, for the first time (not the last) I became father to a teenager son.  This week I taught the first Kali Majapahit Japan class on a TUESDAY and our group continues to grow.  This year I also started social dance and am now on my way to being able to waltz (still badly).

In retrospect, this has been a year filled with new things - some good, some bad.  In many ways it feels like I am starting over again.  It feels exciting.

I try to be grateful for every day I am alive, and especially for all the people around me that make my life so rich and filled with energy.  This morning I had an inbox filled with birthday greetings from friends (new and old) all over the world.  Thank you all for taking a moment to think of me. I take a moment as I read each greeting, thinking about how and where we met, and how you all have inspired and influenced me. I hope I have been able to return the favor, and more importantly, to pay it forward to the other people I meet.  I have tried to imagine myself like a particle in motion, bouncing off others nearby and hopefully giving them a positive charge. Sometimes, it just feels like I am bouncing off the walls. :-)

Kids like me never had much of a chance.  I was a prematurely-born, hyperactive, runny-nosed little kid coming from a broken home and processed through the State of Illinois foster care program (Illinois Children's Home and Aid on Dearborn Street, Chicago). I was placed in long-term foster care in Villa Park and have been a thousand times luckier than most foster kids.  I had the same foster family for nearly 20 years and was not shuffled from house to house like so many others kids are.  I was not physically or emotionally abused as many foster kids are.  My foster parents suffered all my antics and loved me as completely as any parents ever could, even when I broke their hearts - again and again.
They never gave up on me, and maybe that's why I didn't give up on myself.

Most of us foster kids eventually give up.  We give up on trusting other people because our parents betrayed our trust. We give up on ourselves because we feel unloved and unwanted - unable to have a "normal life" like other kids around us have (or as we imagine they have).  We give up because we don't feel we deserve the same opportunities as other kids - believing that we are unworthy because we were cast aside. Sometimes we give up just because we become too tired to fight.  Most of us develop various emotional problems as a result of our experiences, and I am no exception.  I can be an extraordinarily difficult person to be around, with wild mood swings, a wicked temper, and a seemingly subconscious urge to self-destruct.
I can never ask forgiveness enough times from all the people I have hurt along the way, and instead can only keep trying to re-balance the scales every chance I get and pay it forward.  Thank you to everyone who manages to care about me when I sometimes hardly seem to care about myself.

In the end, what has mattered most is my own family - MY TRIBE.
Thanks to my loving and patient wife, Sanae, I have what I always wanted - a loving and supportive family of my own.  She has made all my dreams come true and brought me more happiness than I probably deserve. She is my hero and still the coolest chick I know.

Even before my first son was born, I promised I would never subject my children to what I went through - wondering why they had been born and why their parents didn't love them enough to keep them.  Although I can say I have made every conceivable mistake as a parent, my two fantastic boys never fail to amaze me with their happiness, energy, and confidence.  They are well-grounded and sensible (most of the time anyway).  This is credit to Sanae far more than me.  I wish I could be more like her.

I have fallen.  I fall all the time.  But I will keep getting up.
I will not give up.
I will keep going forward and making progress, sometimes only an inch at a time, but continuously and relentlessly.

Thank you all for believing in me.  It means more to me than you can imagine.

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