Do the right thing

I have found myself experiencing an odd fear. It’s a fear that comes and then dissipates almost immediately. It first appeared when I gave my notice at work; I felt this fear of the unknown and a sadness that I was leaving. When my resignation was announced to the office, the fear came back along with the sadness–and the concern of not having a place to go each morning. When my properties were distributed to my colleagues to cover, that apparition appeared again. And then it was gone.

And these emotions continue every time something happens that reminds me I’m leaving to pursue my dream. Despite the giddiness of being able to be ME and do what I want, there’s this pull to be conservative, to do the conservative, safe thing. To do the “right” thing. To invest my money and work until I retire, yet all the time wondering “What if?”

But what is the “right” thing? Is it staying in my job and letting my money earn interest and never following what I feel inside? Is the right thing NOT taking a risk? Is the right thing remaining unfulfilled? Sometimes you just have to say “What the f—” and toss aside conventional wisdom. Rarely does conventional wisdom lead to fulfillment and a joyous eternal encounter with oneself.

Now that the day is drawing near, I’m about ready to leap out of my skin. I can’t wait. I’m jumping from the frying pan into the fire and I have no fear whatsoever. Oh sure, I get twinges of anxiety that last five minutes. But I just can’t wait. I have so much I want to do.

I know that I have to approach this in an organized manner. I know that I can’t expect huge success immediately, perhaps NO success immediately. But I see the greater prize of self-fulfillment, of happiness and joy in claiming the life that’s out there for me. And that is priceless.

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Shouldn’t I have more to say than this??

I’m home. And more than ever, I miss B.C. This trip was so good, so therapeutic. It was wonderful to see so many people. No one would let me treat them out to eat! I got a ton of free meals! The way to my heart is definitely through my ever-expanding stomach.

Everyone bought books. Everyone is so excited about this journey I’m on and it’s so gratifying. Everyone also has me moved to Italy already even though I keep telling them that it’s a process. Yet, I’m encouraged by their positive responses. Makes me feel good.

And I noticed something–I took almost no meds for my bipolar disorder. I wonder what that means? If I move to Italy, will it be the same? An interesting thought.

I got to have some wonderful talks with some special people. As usual, I was searching for answers, searching for information. I never seem to have enough. Always more questions crop up and I continue to seek.

But I’m progressing. I was told that I’m still grieving and that I will never be over my father’s death. I have to admit that is probably true. I want to be strong, I want to move on, but we were inextricably tied together. If I were over his death, why would I still be searching? Will this search hinder me the way the years of striving for acceptance did?

I have to admit that I’m anxious more than ever for my job to end to start my new journey. That’s one thing this trip did for me.

Don’t go breaking my heart…too late

I have so much I want to say. But it’s hard to concentrate when one is sitting in a Starbucks with the requisite music playing louder than it should. Especially when the tunes I hear resemble Nepalese yak-herding music.

I’m in B.C. for a few days. Last year, after our father, Giulio, died, my brother and I decided we would come to B.C. in July of 2013 to bury his ashes with our mother, Gwen. Well, my brother had to cancel due to work commitments. He wants to reschedule for late September. As a result, I’m up here alone.

Nevertheless, I’ve been able to accomplish a few things. I’ve spoken to the church, the pastor and the cemetery. I now have all the information I need so that we will be ready when it finally comes time to bury Giulio’s ashes. I still have to email the information to my brother in Dubai, or wherever he is today. As with everything else, all decisions are my brother’s. I’m on the outside. But I’m accustomed to that.

I’m staying in my father’s house. A neighbor’s son has been living here and taking care of the place until it sells. I had been under the impression the house was off the market. What a surprise to find out it’s sold.

So, I’m staying in Giulio’s home. I’m sure glad I came up here anyway. By September it will be gone, literally, a $950,000 knockdown–such is the housing market in B.C. At least I got to see this place one last time.

It’s weird being up here now. B.C. has been a part of me my entire life. I was conceived here. We came up here for years to visit my aunt from my adoptive dad’s side of the family. This is where my biological family lived and for decades; I came up here to meet them. My father died here and I helped plan the funeral. Now, almost everyone is dead, my brother is in Dubai and I’m feeling a tremendous sense of loss.

This place has meant so much to me for so long that it’s hard to let go. I always seem to make the mistake of forgetting that the world moves on; change is inevitable. Then, suddenly, I’m faced with enormous change that has been gradually building for years and I wonder what’s happening.

B.C. has always resonated with me. Even before I met my family, before I knew I was adopted, my family would come up to visit. I remember always feeling a stirring in my soul that defied description. There was an uneasiness that I couldn’t articulate as a child. It’s an uneasiness that I still can’t articulate. But I now reconcile it with the fact that I had a connection, spiritual or whatever, to these people, this province, this nation. And now I know why. I’m part of this place. This place is part of me. B.C. is in my DNA and I don’t want to lose that link.

And it’s odd, this time around. For the first time in 35 years I’m up here with no agenda, no responsibilities. I don’t have to take care of my father, visit family, talk to doctors. There’s no stress superimposed over the visit, no screaming from my father. No abuse. No insults. I can enjoy myself. B.C. will no longer be equated with pain and negative emotions. There is no longer a lump in the pit of my stomach when I see the Peace Arch as I cross the international boundary between the U.S. and Canada.

At the cemetery I visited all the graves–my mother’s family is buried there, most of whom I never knew. I looked at these grave markers and I felt yet more questions. Too many to articulate. I feel cheated and I feel like life is passing too quickly. For those family members I knew, I wonder about how much I still didn’t know about them. Why didn’t I ask more questions? Why didn’t I get more information? Why the hell am I obsessing????

And that last question haunts me. Does anyone else out there obsess over their identity? Is this just a byproduct of my situation–being an adoptee? Finding my family? Having three families? Is it a byproduct of the fact that I’m a drama queen–or is it king?

Is it both?

I feel like I’m losing everything I’ve ever known. I think this trip to B.C. is therapeutic because I will now be able to let go. But I’m afraid of letting go. There’s so little left in Oregon and now I’m facing the loss of B.C. Is this God’s way of telling me that Italy is more than a possibility, that Italy should be viewed as a probability???

I can say that I feel the pieces are falling into place for Italy, even though I still have some doubt about work. But I feel this trip is definitely pointing me in that direction.

Don’t show me the money

So, as I mentioned in a Facebook posting, my Salem book launch occurred on Saturday. At first, attendance was sparse so I opted to commence the reading ahead of schedule. Big mistake. A number of people arrived right when the reading should have begun origninally. I am still regretting my early start.

Anyway, this launch was successful in a different way than the Oregon City launch. Where the Oregon City launch resulted in more attendees and more sales, the Salem launch was successful in a less quantifiable, yet more meaningful way. First, a former board member from one of my old HOAs that I used to manage arrived with his wife. I was blown away. Seems his wife had read about the launch in the newspaper and she remembered my name. They determined right then and there to come and buy a book. I was so touched.

Then a friend from junior high arrived and bought two books–one for a family member due to a family issue which I am not at liberty to discuss. She said when she heard me speak she knew she needed to buy two copies. My heart surged.

THIS is why I wrote my book. Not for the money. For two years I’ve had it in my heart that my true desire was for my book to resonate with someone and result in healing, reconciliation, forgiveness. If it results in just a phone call, isn’t that better than nothing? Doesn’t that get the ball rolling? Doesn’t that set the stage? Use whatever metaphor you want, but the intention behind this book is to make a difference. I don’t care how small. A small difference for the better is better than no progress at all.

And after the reading, people were asking questions, different from the Oregon City reading. I was asked some very probing questions about what I had learned, etc. In discussing details in greater depth I gave away a few things in the book, but I also saw the response of the attendees–people wiping their eyes (men and women), people genuinely touched.

It’s these responses that will help me to press onward. When I’m down and discouraged, I will have my blog to re-read to remind me that there’s a bigger prize out there. Maybe someone somewhere will be so impacted by my book that it will be life-changing. If so, I hope that person contacts me.

And this little experience serves to strengthen my faith. It wasn’t that long ago that I was once again questioning this quest to God. The high from the Oregon City launch had worn off. And, while I’m sophisticated enough to know that I can’t always live a mountaintop experience, I’m still not completely convinced of what I’m doing. So, I meditate and I pray to God and I ask for clarity. And I ask Him to give me what I need because I’m not sure. Then, Salem.

I know doubt will continue to creep into my mind. But with every little success and with every little step forward, I will be motivated because 1) I’m doing something that is meaningful to me and 2) I will be reminded of what’s important.

That’s the greatest prize of all.

Not a Daddy’s Song

The weekend is almost here.  And my last day of work zooms ever closer.  Next week I’m off work for several days so I can meet my brother in B.C. to spread our father, Giulio’s, ashes.  We will bury most of them with our mother and spread some along the waterfront in White Rock, which was where he lived and died.  He loved that place.  It was the goal of him and our mother, Gwen, to retire there.  He lived out that dream on her behalf.  We also plan on taking some ashes to Italy to scatter there.  My brother and I both feel strongly that he would have wanted that. 

It’s only been eight and a half months, but I’m over his death.  He died October 27, 2012 but I was over his death by Christmas.  It’s funny, but I feel nothing.  Let me take that back; I feel relief.  Liberation.  I never have to put up with his abuse anymore.  He can’t hurt me anymore.  He will never ignore me like a piece of furniture anymore.  I guess that’s why his memory is a footnote.

Yet that footnote continues on for pages in my life.  He was my father and I whored myself for decades to gain his acceptance.  Sometimes I wonder if he secretly exulted over the control I gave him in my life.  Did he enjoy watching me squirm?  Did he enjoy the heartbreak in my eyes as he abused me viciously?

The remembrances are different for my brother, of course.  In his eulogy, my brother rhapsodized over what a “great man” Giulio was.  But his definition of “great man” is different from mine.  In his eyes Giulio was a great man because Giulio taught him how to be a success.  That’s true, my brother is a multi-millionaire.  Simple things like common human decency, respect and a healthy values system needn’t apply.

For me a great man is one who takes responsibility for his actions, accepts accountability, apologizes, works to grow and learn, and has respect for others’ opinions.  Giulio was nothing like that.  He refused to understand the parts he played in the problems of his life, refused to apologize to those he hurt and ran from the truth.  Quite frankly, I have to say that my father was definitely not a great man–not in my eyes. But then, that’s my reality and it is the polar opposite of my brother.

It’s rough to feel that way.  It’s rough to know these things about the man who produced me.  I don’t want him to be that way.  I want Andy of Mayberry.  Mike Brady.  Instead I got two fathers, adoptive and biological, who failed miserably as fathers.  And now I have to paint a smile on my face and drive to B.C. to meet my brother and pretend that a man who was basically a shit ass was something he wasn’t.

But I will do it.  Why?  Because despite what my father thought of me, I’m twenty times the man he couldn’t or wouldn’t be.  I will swallow my pride and make an appearance because this is important to my brother and my brother is dear to me.  I won’t demonize him.  I have no need to.  He’s dead and there’s no reason to trash someone who can’t defend himself.

No, I don’t need to be vengeful.  I will admit that I had fleeting thoughts of taking some of his ashes and flushing them down the toilet after a Taco Bell feast.  But I won’t.  I’m above that and I feel good that I’m above that.  I will not wallow in the depths of the literal sewer the way Giulio did.  Even though I have some of his bad traits, I will NOT be like him, spreading evil, pain and disgruntlement.

And when we’re in Italy, I will paste a smile on my face again as we spread his ashes on the family farm where he was raised.  It will be important for my uncle who grieved massively when Giulio died and I won’t deny him that grief.  But I’ll be thinking about my favorite cappuccino bar while we’re scattering.

And I don’t feel guilty.  I have no reason.  I took care of Giulio when I didn’t have to.  I don’t know what he thought of me when he went into eternity and I don’t care.  My head is held high.  He didn’t break me.  If anything, I’m a better man.  Stronger.  I’m everything he could never be. 

If he only could have recognized that.

The thrill is gone…or is it?

It’s been nine days since I gave my notice at work and started down this frightening, yet exhilaratingly unknown path. I’ve been jazzed and encouraged and I’ve felt completely confident.

I knew it wouldn’t last! Although, to my credit, I’m not down in the dumps. Reality is just setting in, that’s all. It’s the same reality I felt when the book was available—I realized the sales were going to be real small and might never be huge. In the case of this decision to pursue writing, it’s the realization that I’m facing enormous odds.

Yet the fear is always overcome by the possibilities. It’s overcome by my newly found confidence in my intelligence and abilities. It’s overcome by all the opportunities facing my to get this facet of my life going.

I’ve found in the past that the times I’ve been most invigorated have been the times when I’ve jumped out of my comfort zone and just done something challenging. Meeting my biological family was probably the first time I did so. Picking up and moving to California when I had no job and almost no money was another. I can think of others but there’s no reason to beat the point to death.

And that’s what I’m feeling now, an excitement to be alive, to be challenged, to have something to pursue without a safety net. It is a bit chilling, at fifty-four, to be doing this. But I have this innate confidence that it’s going to work out.

I’ve been going over in my mind how everything seems to have converged—I have no one to care for anymore with my adoptive parents and biological father now deceased. I have this money that allows me a certain freedom to take this chance. I feel liberated from the abuse thrust upon me by my biological father. Liberated so much that I’m once again discovering the person I used to be—more happy, more confident and wanting to see what the world has to offer. Those feelings were squelched for decades because life got in the way. They’re flourishing again like wildflowers after a spring rain. And I feel their beauty in my soul.

I’m getting more and more accolades from people about my decision. I sometimes think that many of them have misread my Facebook post. I’m going to try to remain in Italy. It sounds like everyone has me moved there already! I must admit, the more I think about it, the more I’m motivated to do it. I spoke with my cousin, Sergio, last night and he’s surprised at my drive and my decision but he totally supports me. I would like to have something to pursue once I’m in Italy. I’d like to be able to get an interview with a local newspaper or radio station (my other cousin, Maurizio, would have to translate) and promote this as a sort of long-lost- Italian-son-comes-home type of story. And to do it at Christmas? How meaningful would that be?

After talking to Sergio, I had to admit that I felt a bit down. Sergio is the V.P. of HR for Fiat. He is traveling to Russia and Serbia as Fiat enters those markets. There’s a possibility he could be transferred to America since Fiat owns Chrysler (wouldn’t that be the ultimate irony?). In talking to him and in talking about my brother, I found myself feeling somewhat like a little boy who’s running after his older brothers, wanting desperately to play with the big boys. Even though I’m older than my brother by three years and older than Sergio by just over ten years, sometimes I feel like I can’t keep up. But that is becoming less of an issue now. Even if I move to Italy and get a regular job allowing me to remain there, I will feel like the biggest success in the world because I will be with my family, exulting in my culture. I feel I belong there.

Major Announcement

So, my “major announcement” is finally out there for the world to see—or at least the world on Facebook. Adding it onto my blog makes it a bit more official since I have people from all over the country reading this. By the way, I’m flattered that you have chosen to follow me!

My major announcement, for those of you not on Facebook is this: I’ve given my notice at my company which is called “The Management Trust-NW”. It is a management consulting firm. We manage homeowners associations; I am a Community Manager with a portfolio of properties stretched over eight counties. Needless to say, I drive a lot.

I gave my notice a week ago Monday, July 1. It’s rather odd how it came about. I was just waking up, in that dreamland between REM sleep and wakefulness and I was stressing about my job! I had just come off a three day weekend and I was dreaming (thinking?) about a problem with a client. It wasn’t a major issue, just one of those itty bitty things we mere humans tend to over-dramatize.

Anyway, suddenly I got it into my mind that I wanted to quit. It popped out of nowhere. I still wasn’t fully awake, but I dreamed (thought?) about the ramifications of pursuing my writing and my newly released book full-time.

When I finally woke up, I called my cousin, Sergio, in Italy. I asked him to contact my brother in Dubai since phone and text conversations don’t seem to work well for my brother and me between America and the UAE. I asked him to have my brother call me at his earliest convenience. Within two hours my brother had called me and I told him what I wanted to do.

I was fearful of his reaction. My brother had notified me in May of the inheritance I was receiving from our late father’s estate. It’s not enormous—I can’t retire. But it’s substantial and it’s generous. My brother told me that it was the desire of him and our dad that I use the money for a house. Since I can’t buy a house right now due to some past financial issues, I asked my brother to invest the money for me and he agreed.

Now, I was wondering if he would “let” me have this money to pursue my dream. He was completely supportive. My brother has always wanted me to pursue writing; I think he believes this is my chance to shine. My light has always been under a bushel these past decades while my brother’s career has continued an upward trajectory. He’s never understood why I’m not on that same trajectory. My father felt the same way.

I’ve been talking to friends who are helping me and giving me advice on publicity. I feel that, for the next five months, I’ve got my work cut out for me. I will hit the ground running; I know that I can’t afford to sleep in, be lackadaisical. I will have NO income and can’t rest on the financial laurels of my inheritance.

Anyway, I went into the office and told my supervisor. I felt like I was walking on air. He was supportive and walked up and shook my hand. Today it was announced to the entire company after a short period to give the upper management team time to look at its options to replace me and adequately cover my clients. My last day is July 31.

I have to admit, once that announcement came out, I was suddenly seized by fear. It became even more real. Something about the printed word truly finalizes things. Plus, the entire company now knew and I realized there was no going back.

At work, a colleague of mine said, “Why don’t you just go to Italy?” Funny, but I never really considered it. All my friends have been encouraging me to go, but I’ve always dismissed it. I had looked at that option in a very conservative manner. In my mind, it would have made no sense to go to Italy without a job, some sort of buffer. But then, I’m going to have no job now, so what’s the difference? I wonder why my colleague’s comments resonated more than my close friends?

Maybe because it was unexpected. Sometimes it takes relative strangers to point out the obvious because the obvious isn’t so obvious other times. Maybe I was ready to hear it. This whole situation has been the epitome of mind expansion. My brain seems open to everything.

Since I am planning a trip to Italy for Christmas, I can do some research before I leave and look around when I’m there. If I need to stay longer, I can; perhaps my family has some contacts. If I move there, my expenses would be similar to here in Salem. The only difference is that I would be in ITALY. My homeland. With my beloved family. I would liquidate most things here and store the rest. Sell my car and pull out all the stops to pursue this dream.

My family in the past has encouraged me to come to Italy. After my mom died, they enthusiastically, yet gently encouraged me to come. I was in no mindset to make such a decision. And it wasn’t time.

Now I truly believe it’s time. I feel like all the stars are aligning. I have nothing keeping me in North America. My parents are gone, my biological father is gone.

I took care of everyone. I took care of everyone for decades. I took care of everyone to the best of my ability. Now it’s time for me to shine. For months I’ve been asking God, “When is it my turn?” I see my friends living out the lives they want, happy and fulfilled and I’m thrilled for them. But I kept wondering what was wrong with me.

Perhaps helping everyone was my way of avoiding a chance to shine. Perhaps it was a crutch. Perhaps I was running because I was fearful of what I have to offer. Truth be told, I’ve always been fearful of success. Now, I’m ready to embrace it. I’m not necessarily talking about financial success, but success as fulfillment. I’m fifty-four years old; I don’t give a crap about being a millionaire. I want to find my niche, make my mark and claim the life that’s out there for me.

Will this book do it for me? I won’t know until I’m promoting it full time to the best of my abilities. Will my writing do it for me at all? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll wind up as a barista in a coffee bar in Offida, Italy. There are worse things.

I don’t know if taking care of everyone for decades and searching in the wrong places for my heart’s desire was the wrong path. Someone needed to help out. But I did it and now there are no encumbrances. My life is mine and I don’t need to play St. Francis of Assisi anymore.

I can be me.