The Four F’s to Zen

My life’s been so clenched lately.  At work, we’re reorganizing. At home, I’m reorganizing, looking forward to a year with both of my daughters at home with more than a little anxiety.  And there’s no reprieve in sight in my work or personal life for the next few months.
This weekend, I told a friend that I had find my Zen again. As it turned out, I didn’t have to go too far.
1. Family
An afternoon spent with my daughter, listening to her happy chatter while she potted plants on the balcony did wonders for my mood. We looked at a recent picture of my newly engaged aunt, transformed into a youthful girl again by the ring on her finger. Later I enjoyed a relaxed phone conversation with my sister in New Mexico, and then had a few Facebook scrolls to see how the rest of my large family was doing. There’s nothing quite like family to help me find my footing again.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2. Friends
Most every weekend begins with me going to see an old friend just after work on Friday. We eat, tell secrets and lies, and I go home with my curls unwound. The next morning, I jet over to the gym to do water aerobics with my closest friend from high school. Afterwards, we carve out an hour, just the two of us, and catch up on life’s ups and downs. It’s a ritual we’ve enjoyed since our now-adult children were in school, and we protect it as though our time together is sacred.
 There are lots of nice people in life I enjoy. But these are refrigerator friends. I can open their cabinets and graze without asking if I want, and they can do the same with me. We’re that comfortable.     
Friday Friend
Saturday Friend
3. Food
 
 I love reading the zenhabits blog. In a guest post by Scott of the Modern Forager Blog, he offers tips on how to recognize healthy, nourishing foods. http://zenhabits.net/the-zen-of-real-food-keeping-eating-simple/
  •          Food grows and dies. It isn’t created.
  •          Food rots, wilts, and becomes generally unappetizing, typically rather quickly.
  •          Food doesn’t need an ingredient label (and probably isn’t in a package either).
  •          Food doesn’t have celebrity endorsements.
  •         Food doesn’t make health claims. 
My tricky relationship with food improves when I take the time to shop and fix my meals at home. https://lameredith.com/2012/03/to-eat-or-not-to-eat-end-of-troubled.html
 This weekend, my friend Heather had me over for some scrumptious paella.  And tonight, when the need for dessert overcame me, I went online and got a gluten-free recipe, and made some substitutions so I wouldn’t have to drive to the store. My baked banana creation may not be photogenic, but trust me, it was good.
paella
Liz’s banana dessert
kale
4. Fitness
Gyms are fine. Home workouts will do in a pinch. But the exercise that heals my soul is simply walking outside. The sounds, the smells, and just the feeling of the air on my skin is medicinal. Walking creates no stress on the joints. There’s no waiting for a particular machine at the gym. My best times of reflection are when I’m walking alone, my best periods of clarity are just afterwards.
It’s been just 48 hours since I told my friend I needed to find my Zen again.  I watched less television, spent less time online, and more time in the moment with my Four F’s.
And I feel fabulous.
What do you do to find your Zen?

Can you estimate how many F’s are in this piece?

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Lessons from My Father(s)

My father Kova Meredith

Today is Father’s Day.

It’s  a time when those who have one remember and (ideally) honor their fathers, those who had one remember their fathers, and those who had none mourn their losses.

In my work with juvenile delinquents, it’s common to talk to kids who’ve never met their fathers. Sometimes, their moms don’t know who or which one he was. Other moms, like mine, deliberately cut contact between the child and father.

Such a shame. Everyone needs a father.

What is a father, exactly? I looked at Dictionary.com today http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/father and found the following:

fa·ther

[fahther]  Show IPA

noun

1.

a male parent.

2.

a father-in-law, stepfather, or adoptive father.

3.

any male ancestor, especially the founder of a racefamily,or lineprogenitor.

4.

a man who exercises paternal care over other persons;paternal protector or provider: a father to the poor.
My first father experience was my mother’s final husband. He appeared in my life when I was two or three years old and didn’t technically leave until I was finishing high school.  I say technically because never fully there. Many years younger than my mother, uneducated, and a hard drinker, this father inflicted a lot of harm. I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean to,  but he couldn’t ever seem to stop himself.  He wasn’t cut out to be a role model, but he did provide financially, and I’m confident he loved me. And because of his greatly negative impact, I made up my mind to never expose my kids to out of control men with good intentions once my marriage collapsed.  So that was good.
When I was twenty, I met my real father, Kova Meredith. He was seventy by then, and didn’t say too much.  But when he did speak, it was worthwhile. “No one has the right to hit another person,” he once told me.  That was a stunning departure from how I’d grown up, and this simple sentence later inspired a lot of change for me. My father wasn’t perfect, but he was transparent and accountable. He was a hard-working, plain-spoken man, happily playing with his kids long before it was chic for fathers to do so. He had to work at being a patient parent because it wasn’t modeled to him by his own dad.  To that end, he was a successful man, and I admired him for it.
Several years later, I met Hank, or Charles Henry Rosenthal. 
Hank Rosenthal
 Then, deep in my twenties and already a single parent, I hadn’t realized truly wonderful life could be.  I met him through his wife. Hank had been a prolific writer and successful oil lobbyist, and I met him just as he was about to retire. There was something about being around him. I felt safe and at peace. Hank was ornery, greeting me regularly with , “Hi, Guy! That extra weight you’ve put on looks great!”  Ouch.
 But he shared more comforting messages, too.  “Never worry,” he’d tell me. “My mother always told me worrying is just borrowing tomorrow’s trouble.”  Or perhaps my favorite, “Never miss an opportunity to keep your mouth shut,” which appeared at the top of Anchorage Daily News’ Finance section two years after his death.  Hank had great impact on a lot of people. 

But so do all fathers.

To my daughters, I wish for you a borrowed father like Hank.

To those who haven’t met their fathers, I sure hope you can find yours. 

And to all dads, Happy Father’s Day.

Your importance can never be overestimated.

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Finding My Family/ Interview With My Favorite Locator

In late May of 1985, I received the gift of a lifetime when my dear friend, attorney Ira Uhrig, located my biological father. Kova Meredith was living on a farm in rural Kentucky, and had recently rented a home in Louisville. I was twenty. My father was seventy.
 
 Thanks to Ira, I gained a father, siblings, aunts, and uncles that I’d never known.  Now a judge in Washington, Ira Uhrig tells about the experience that changed our lives, and restored my birth name, changing me from Libby Ponder to Lizbeth Meredith.
 
Q. How did you become interested in reuniting families?
While in my second year of college, I had the opportunity to hear of an organization that was forming for the purpose of helping adopted parents and children reunite.  They were originally called “Birthright”, but they changed their name when they learned that a pro-life group already used that name.  They became W.A.R.M., for Washington Adoption Reunion Movement.  I knew my roommate and his sister were both adopted, so I convinced him to attend the meetings.  

Within a short while, through the considerable efforts of many people (and I am honored to have played a small role), he was able to locate his father.  When he and his father reunited and I had a chance to spend time with them, I was struck with awe as to how much they were alike – not just in physical resemblance, but in posture, speech, mannerisms, and in every way imaginable, yet they had never had any contact whatsoever or spent one moment of time together before the reunification. I then took it upon myself as a mission of sorts to do whatever I could to help facilitate this type of reunification whenever possible.

What were the first steps back then in finding a missing family member?

Back in the ’70s and ’80’s, it involved a good bit of detective work…numerous phone calls, searching out newspaper articles, mailing letters to possible relatives or even past business contacts.  It sometimes took many months to even come up with a clue.

Of course, things like the WARM Confidential Intermediary System make this all much easier, but I dealt with many cases as an attorney where the adoptee or the parent did not want to use the services of any organization, perhaps because these organizations were still relatively new back then and there was still a large degree of societal opposition to reunifications.  Fortunately, these organizations are much better-known these days there is less hesitance for the parties to seek out their parents or children, and society is recognizing these reunifications as something that can be very important to the birth parent, to the child, and to the adoptive parents as well.

When my friend Libby told me she had been adopted, I asked her if I could help her search for her father.  She had very little information about him …only his name and her city of birth.  Libby was one of my best friends in the world, and I would have done anything for her, so though this seemed a daunting task with so little information, I set out to find her dad, thinking all the while that I might meet with failure, but not accepting failure as an option.

I’d like to say that it was my brilliant investigative techniques that led me to finding Libby’s dad, but it was simply luck and/or divine intervention.  The very first thing I did was to call directory assistance in the town where I expected he might be living (thinking I might find some relatives who could help me), but I was completely surprised to find that he had a listed phone number.  Imagine further the joy I felt when I called that number, spoke to him, and told him that his daughter would like to meet him.  He told me he had been looking for her for 20 years.

Oh…about the divine intervention part, I should add that had I made my call to directory assistance just an hour earlier, I would have come up with nothing, as he just had his phone service connected that day and it was a brand new listing.   In fact, my call was the very first call to that number, and he had assumed it was the phone company calling to see if the phone was working properly.

I have done many reunifications that were far more difficult, but I can tell you that reuniting Libby and her dad was quite probably the most rewarding thing that I have ever done in my life.  To this day I keep in my desk a copy of Libby’s Name Change Order that was entered on June 7, 1985 (exactly 27 years ago to the day as I type this) which allowed her to once again bear her birth name.

First reunion with my father and some of my siblings, June, 1985.

















How has technology changed the location process?

In the years that have passed, the Internet makes these type of searches much easier…I suppose that is obvious.  And the  widespread use of the Confidential Intermediary System in my State is a great help as well. 

When I was sworn-in as a Superior Court Judge (coincidentally, in the same courtroom where I got the name change for Libby), I became the Judge in my county who is primarily responsible for all of the Confidential Intermediary requests.  And each time I sign one, I am able to re-live to some extent the joy I shared with my college roommate, with numerous friends and clients, and, most of all, with my friend Libby, in reuniting parent and child — sometimes for the first time ever.

The Honorable Judge Ira Uhrig
The Meredith Family Reunion, June, 2011.


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