Three Things I Loved About 2013 and My Top Three Blog Posts

Happy New Year!

What are the top three things you’re most proud of from 2013?

I like reflecting on these each New Year rather than to make  commitments to achieve new goals.

My top three sources of pride in 2013?

This was a first for me, given that I didn’t meet most of them until I was an adult. I will  treasure the memories.

2. My adult daughters and I have transitioned from merely tolerating sharing space in the house to becoming a team again, no small feat for three outspoken females.

We’ve learned to bicker less and support one another more effectively. I’m not hoping we’ll live together forever, but at the moment, I wouldn’t change a thing if I could. Boomerang kids may be underrated.

3. I created time for writing. 

Writing classes, writing retreats, writing articles, working with an editor on my books, and being faithful to this blog.  And I’m happy to say that it’s paid off. I hear from you, either in comments or in daily visits, at a good clip now. 

My top three posts of 2013 were

Is it Loneliness or Love? Why do we Cling to Relationships that are Bad for Us?

Recipe for Disaster: The Factors that Influenced the Acquittal of Lisa Donlon

Solo Travel for Women/Are We Just Asking for It?

As you ring in 2014, I hope you’ll take time to look over what you’ve done that your most pleased about in 2013.

Thanks for stopping by.

Adding to the Three Things I Know Something About

Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays!

I’m revising one of my very first posts, written almost exactly two years ago.

Though I will continue to be committed to reconnecting with lost loved ones, issues of child abduction, and domestic violence, in 2014 I’ll be expanding to include more about love. What is a safe and healthy relationship? How do we find them? Keep them?  When should we let go of them?And how do we cherish their memory, once they’ve ended?

And there will always be room to connect on other topics every once in awhile.

I hope your holidays are full.  Thanks for being a constant part of my life over the past two years.


My intent when I began blogging was to write about the things I know and care about, focusing on the following three:

1) Domestic violence
Recently, I was contacted by two friends within hours of each other about their concerns over a loved one being abused. It’s been more than a decade since I’ve worked formally with abuse victims, and more than twenty since I left my own abuser, but the calls and e-mails still come in.

Dear Liz,

I need your help/ advise about a friend that is possibly at the worst time in life these past few days from controlling/ mental abuse/ possible a recurrence to old physical abuse but not sure.
In her situation, she’s been (insert emotional/physical/sexual abuse)…
Do I take the information and meet with a police officer, or just give her the information about the local domestic violence agency?  Lead the way.
 Thank you.
The fact is, domestic violence continues to be one of the leading causes of injury to women in our country. And the children who witness violence against their parent often end up in their own trouble later on if the cycle goes uninterrupted.
2) Parental child abduction, especially international child abduction

Sixteen years ago, I recovered my abducted children from Greece. Only a fraction of parents whose kids are kidnapped and taken out of their home country ever see them again. I was (am) lucky.But despite the passage of time, issues of child abduction cross my mind daily, if not hourly. Perhaps it would’ve been more manageable had I not been a stolen child myself. 

3) Recovering/reconnecting with loved ones.

Random, you say? 

Not really. Because the first two topics are all about isolation. Being disconnected from supports. From family. From yourself, even. I firmly believe losing strong and healthy relationships isn’t just sad, it can be dangerous. Conversely, I’m convinced that having those relationships in tact can be instrumental in preventing or getting out of a violent intimate relationship.

So now that I’ve stated my blog’s raison d’etre, I’m committed to writing about them. At least some of the time. And I hope you’ll let me know your thoughts from time to time.

What Can Be Gained When Your Found Family Member Has Died? The Stories of Philomena Lee and Cynthia Phan

My girls just before their abduction.
My worst nightmare was always this: I’d search for my kidnapped daughters relentlessly, and just before finding them, one or both would be killed in a fatal accident.
I nearly missed finding my father in 1985.  I found him when he was seventy and I was twenty, and he died after a few short visits. 

This week, I saw the movie Philomena, based on the book by reporter Martin Sixsmith’s  The LostChild of Philomena Lee, and remembered that awful anxiety all over again. Philomena Lee, an elderly Irish woman searches for her adult son, stolen by the nuns and sold to an American couple for $1,000.

What does one do when their laser focus to find a missing family member ends up with them finding a grave instead?

Just ask Cynthia Phan, who recently found her missing father after forty years. Dead. He’d left her Vietnamese mother Thu and returned to America, writing her a letter, 
Dear Thu,
I love you and miss you so very much. I will be back about 18th of March, 1971.Will you miss me? I will miss you. I am taking your pictures with me.I send you a kiss. 
Love you very very much, 
Standley”I love you and miss you so very much. I will be back about 18th of March, 1971.Will you miss me? I will miss you. I am taking your pictures with me.I send you a kiss. Love you very very much, 
My father, many years before I met him
Cynthia didn’t know her father’s last name, and kept the single photo she had of him close to her heart. After a DNA test confirmed her father’s identification a few weeks ago, she also learned that her father died in 2007.
Still, Cynthia Phan looks at what is gained.
·        * Her name.
·      *   Her heritage
·       *  Surviving relatives
·       *  Context. Questions like Why did he leave me? Did he ever think about finding me? –have to be answered for the seeker to find peace.      
My daughters, all grown up.

The benefits to finding lost family members can be exponential. If you get time, see the movie and let me know what you think!

Top Secrets for More Holiday Joy from a Reformed Holiday Hater

How are you doing during this holiday season?

I’ll admit I’ve darkened a number of holiday parties and Christmases over the years.  While others around me delight in their family connections and memories of holidays past, I’ve taken the time to revel in awful family memories and awful holidays past. This, while trying to put on a holiday that my two kids could enjoy all by myself.
After my daughters confronted me about the impact that my annual holiday blues was having on them, we created some fun and affordable ways to celebrate with new, positive traditions.  

This year, I couldn’t wait to get the tree up. It’s been a pleasant surprise.

My Top Secrets for Increasing Holiday Joy

         Give up the guilt.
Hopefully, we cherish those we’re close to all year long to the best of our ability. So what difference does it make if the Christmas card or package is late? Or if  we don’t send one at all? D
id the neighbors revolt when I stopped baking Christmas cookies? 
As near as I can tell, no one has suffered from the losses.
     Spend your resources where they’re truly needed.
Volunteering at a kitchen for the homeless or adopting a family in need is a terrific way to ring in the holidays. Do you worry your efforts will go to some lazy people gaming the system?
I’ll never forget the piles of presents on my apartment doorstep in 1990 for my daughters and me.  A kind family hosted our Christmas, and every detail, from the wrapping of the presents to the sizes and colors of the winter clothing they selected for us was perfect. (Thank you, Christmas Angels!)
      Connect with one person you may have lost touch with ages ago that won’t expect to hear from you.
Example: I heard stories of a great babysitter I had as an infant in Kentucky. I Googled her and got her address a couple of years ago and sent her a card from Alaska. Well over forty years had passed since we’d seen one another. She called me, and both of our holidays were made better by the renewed connection.

What traditions do you enjoy, alone or with your friends and families over the holidays?

Thanks for being here. I am grateful for your company.