#SoThisIsTheNewYear (Finding Purpose and Happiness)

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This is about to get real, deal reader.

I think about death often. My death.

I want to preface this blog entry by writing that I’m not suicidal. If I am anything, I am reflective (although I do think about my funeral and what share of blue my body would turn without oxygen and bloody flow quite often). This death fascination has been especially strong the last couple of weeks, even during my happier moments.

Perhaps I have post-holiday depression. Maybe I need to have my antidepressant increased. I just feel nothing. Two days ago, I sat on the beach in Venice, CA- one of my most favorite places in the world- and I felt nothing. I had a great weekend, exploring, partying and meeting new people. But on that beach, even in moments before, I felt empty. On the plane ride home from Christmas, I sat with my seat leaning back, wishing that the plane would explode during midair. L’appel du vide– I’ve always had that feeling but as each day passes by, the feeling intensifies. I would never kill myself- it would kill my mom- but lately, I don’t feel like my life is worth it. I think about my cousin, Josh, who died two years ago in a terrible accident. He was a really good guy, extremely kind and grateful for his life- why couldn’t have God taken me instead of him?

I have a hard time feeling joy- that lasting moment of happiness that I feel like everyone around me has. They are happy all the time despite whatever they’re going through- they express that happiness physically and emotionally. Their lives aren’t perfect but they love them anyway.  For as long as I can remember, I thought it was my mental illness that kept that feeling away from me. I could never sustain that feeling. Even as a tween, I felt that overall sense of sadness all the time. I slept a lot- good chunks of my day- because of it. In college, one of my professors told me that I’m lazy. I replay that moment over and over in my head. I will never forget Paul’s words. Over Christmas, my father and step-mother called me a narcissist. My previous ex-boyfriend said the same thing. They all said that I don’t think about others and I don’t know my identity; that I chose to be miserable and have had a negative influencer in my life. What they all said they been weighing on my mind, as well as this song which features the lyric, “But people don’t really change.” I think about the times in the past when I tried to change my mindset into thinking happier thoughts or break bad habits. I would do really well for a week or two but then slip back into old ways. I don’t think in a sustainable way. All I do is want to sleep and be sad.

I don’t want to set a New Year’s resolution. Last year, I came up with a simple on: be happy. I was miserable most of it. Right now, I’m on deadline for one of the publications that I write for. I’m writing about spring cleaning your being- getting rid of life’s dead weight. I want to be able to push through this dead weight of my life and be a kinder, more empathetic, happier person by the year’s end. But I’m scared of fucking things up, scared of disappointing others and disappointing myself. I’ve been this way for most of my life- I don’t know what it feels like to be happy most of the time, how to be kinder to myself and others. I’m terrified to step out of my comfort zone. What if I can’t break these bad habits?

I feel like I can be happy when I figure out my purpose in my life. That is something that has been weighing me down. Despite my friends tell me to enjoy being single, I hate it. I’m eager to jump into something when I know that I shouldn’t. I love that feeling of being a girlfriend, though. However, I know that you shouldn’t base your happiness on your title or through another person. I think of how being a girlfriend, and then eventually a wife and a mother (especially being a mom) will give my life meaning. But why do I have to wait for someone to come in my life? Why can’t I find that purpose now? I do good things for my community. I have a great circle of friends who support me. So, how do I let the feeling of lappel du vide morph into something happier?

I’m writing this today with no intentions for you, dear reader, to feel sorry for me. I already feel enough pity for myself. I just want to be real with you and ultimately, myself.  I haven’t been great with being honest about myself and the way that I live my life. Most people read this and think that I’m pretty carefree. I’m not. But I want to be. I really do. So, this is my 2017 journey- to 1) find a reason- a good, solid reason to live, 2) ) figure out exactly who I am and 3) be a better person to others and put myself and their shoes.

Happy 2017, dear reader. Maybe your year be filled with all the good stuff you want and need in your life right now. Join me on this journey, won’t you?

What is Making Me Happy This Week

Halloween cocktails with my dear friend, Saffeya, at Hollow Nickel in Brooklyn

Halloween cocktails with my dear friend, Saffeya, at Hollow Nickel in Brooklyn

The last couple of weeks have been busy ones- I traveled to the East Coast, job hunted and interviewed and started prepping for the holidays. I’m grateful to have these exceptional moments of happiness in my life to reflect on when things weren’t easy…

Last week, I walked out my university’s bookstore with the biggest smile on my face and my graduation cap and gown in hand (I can’t wait to decorate!). 29 days until graduation!

STAR WARS! STAR WARS! STAR WARS! Let’s just declare December 18th a global holiday already. I’m excited to dress up in my Rey costume and line up for the midnight showing.

Despite my Nana’s death, I got to spend a few days with my mom, some extended family members and old friends, eating some classic Jersey fare (PIZZA!) and Puerto Rican staples, cheering on the Mets and walking around my beloved Brooklyn. 

Reno had a short autumn and we’re waiting patiently (or impatiently depending who you’re talking to) for the snow this El Nino season is supposed to dump on us. Although I’m not a fan of winter and the snow, I’m slowly getting pumped about the holidays. I already started purchasing gifts and planning dinner menus for Thanksgiving- I can’t wait for the cookies! I just bought these cookie cutters (grr)…

How have you been, dear reader? Happy, I hope.

Each week, my favorite NPR podcast, Pop Culture Happy Hour ends their program with the question, “What is making me happy this week?” The podcast’s commentators then share the best parts of their lives from Sunday ’til Saturday. As I’m trying to live a more positive life and focus more on my own happiness, I started asking myself this question, with hopes that I can happiness everywhere in my world.

December 18th can't come soon enough!

December 18th can’t come soon enough!

In Memoriam: Carmen Alicea

My grandmother passed away peacefully in her sleep last night. Carmen Colón Alicea was a terrific mother, grandma and friend.

She took care of me when I was young, opening her home to me and my biological brother before I was adopted. I remember the report I wrote about her in elementary school, about when she came to New York City from Puerto Rico when she was 19. I admired her constant courage and loved her stories. We’d have BBQs parties in her backyard with so many of her friends- people from church, our neighbors, strangers she met at the grocery store. She was adored by everyone.

She was there when I registered for college courses and she stressed the importance of getting a good education. When I was in rehab six years ago, she visited me every day and made sure that I was doing okay. She tried to teach me how to cook and inspired me to study Spanish in school. The last conversation we had was in Spanish and she seemed so happy that she could talk to someone in her native language.

Carmen was strong and beautiful, kind and loyal- the kind of woman I aspire to be. Nana, you are the best and I will miss you forever.
Me, my mom, and my Nana- October 2014

Me, my mom, and my Nana- October 2014

A Gentleman’s (and Lady’s) Guide to the Holidays

I have blogs that I read religiously. From Krystal Bick’s online look book, This Time Tomorrow, to Nerve.com’s sexual musings, I spend most nights on my laptop, eating up the author’s words. MakeItMAD is one of those blogs I’m always hungry for. It is manned by the thoughtful and talented, Max Dubsinky. I highly recommend MakeItMAD to everyone, including his lists on how to be a gentleman. The man knows his stuff, especially on how to grateful and charming during the holiday season. I posted his list of a gentleman’s guide to the holidays below, adding my thoughts to the mix (because you and I both know that kissing under the mistletoe is a holiday must)…

I’m finding it harder to be a gentleman today.  Every time I hold the door open, I’m afraid she doesn’t know the gentleman still exists.  I could throw my jacket in the mud for a woman, and I don’t think it would ever make her day.  Now the holidays are fast approaching, and I’m wondering if today’s woman needs or even wants an arm to hold going down those icy stairs in her heels.  Are we still kissing under mistletoe? And when is it appropriate to wear an ugly Christmas sweater? Never, that’s when. We can do all our Christmas shopping from home so we’re certainly not helping any old ladies carry their bags to the car anymore.  Are we attending candlelight church services out of habit or out of guilt? And “It’s A Wonderful Life” will forever be a classic, but if I have to choose between that and watching John McClane trapped at the top of a skyscraper on Christmas Eve killing terrorists, well, I’m locked and loaded.

… Here’s your guide to the holidays.

        • Welcome to the digital age.  Avoid the over-crowded malls and shopping centers this year, and loosen up the gridlock by keeping your car in the garage.  There’s enough snow and teenagers texting and driving on the road today to cause a seven-car-pile-up at every major intersection.  A gentleman can get all his shopping done in just a few clicks at Amazon, Target and Best Buy without losing a moment of sleep. (Andrea’s note: Although I agree with Max, I stress to everyone the importance of shopping local. Purchasing locally-made goodies from local shops helps create jobs and lets your money stay in your community. If your town is lacking that buy local movement, check out Esty.com, where vendors sell their handmade good for reasonable prices.)
        • Spike the eggnog.  Leave the punch to the kids. (Andrea’s note: I’ve never been a fan of the nog. Instead, I drink a hot toddy- whiskey or brandy mixed with hot water- or put some peppermint Schnapps into a cup of hot chocolate.)
        • Telling anyone under the age of nine that Santa Clause doesn’t exist is never a gentlemanly thing to do.  Leave this world-wrecking task up to those fourth grade punk-asses on the back of the bus.
        • A kiss on the cheek beneath mistletoe in the doorway is always appropriate.

          Go for that kiss!

          Go for that kiss!

        • Holding mistletoe over your head at the office holiday party is not only entirely inappropriate, it’s also borderline desperate, and the only thing you’ll be getting under your tree this year is a restraining order.  ‘Tis the season.
        • Kissing your boss’s wife on the cheek when the mistletoe is across the room is frowned upon.  Kissing the wives of your brothers, fathers, or friends is never appropriate no matter what time of the year it is, or where the mistletoe is located.
        • It’s still protocol to kiss for luck at midnight.  So sweep the single woman next to you off her feet on New Years Eve. Kiss her at midnight whether she’s your best friend or a perfect stranger. (Andrea’s note: I am a firm supporter of this, all you single men and women out there. I know of relationships that stemmed out of a simple New Year’s kiss. Those types of kisses are magically and one-in-a-million).
        • A gentleman never expects to receive.
        • Give.  Give extravagantly.
        • Buy a Christmas gift for the person in your life who you believe would least expect a present from you.  Someone recently did this for me, and the gesture was simple: a pack of fine-point black pens, which no writer should ever be without.  I was elated.  I lose pens faster than a seven-year-old loses teeth.  The gift made my day.  I never expected it.  And I look forward to passing that feeling on to someone else.
        • Unless it’s for Starbucks, gift cards are old news.  It’s time to get personal, again. (Andrea’s note: Starbucks or coffee, in general. Support your local coffee houses and tea shops.)
        • Hand-write the messages on your annual Christmas cards this year. (Andrea’s note: I’m a big fan of Christmas cards. I wish that I could buy all my friends gifts but if I did so, I’d grow broke. Christmas cards make up for that. It’s a treat to receive in the mail and inside each card, I can let everyone know how much they mean to me.)
        • At least one of the following holiday movies should be on every gentleman’s Netflix list: “Elf,” “Gremlins,” “Scrooged” and/or “Die Hard” because nothing says Merry Christmas like Yippie-Ki-Ya Mother Fu—. (Andrea’s note: Add “Love Actually” to that list. The movie is good anytime of the year but it is always playing in my DVD player during December.)
Hello, nurse!

Yes, guys- scarves are a plus. Hello, nurse!

      • Professional fashion consultant and close friend of mine, Jason Walker says, “Men need to take more risks with accessories this holiday season: scarves and hats are in, and rings are not just for married men anymore.” (Andrea’s note: Winter is my favorite time of year simply for this reason. Men, you look amazing in heavy trench coats and a pair of lace-up dress boots. Add a scarf this the mix- and now you know why I’m desperate to move back to New York City- the men there wear terrific pieces in the wintertime. I know that I’m not the only girl who feels this way.)
      • I miss the days of Christmas Carols.  The only Fa-la-la-la-la-ing we seem to be doing these days is in the bedroom.  Don’t be afraid to take those Christmas songs back to the streets with your close friends or family.
      • A gentleman stands up for what he believes.  Ditch the Happy Holidays.  Wish someone a Merry Christmas.
      • Socks are never a bad gift.  Give those with a pair of TOMS  (an organization which donates a pair of shoes to children in third world countries with every pair purchased).
      • Even if you don’t believe in that little eight-pound guy in the manger who saved all mankind, a gentleman should consider a Christmas Eve church service because you might just find the true meaning of Christmas has been inside you all along.   Did you know they have electric guitars in church now?
      • A gentleman (and a lady) starts his/her own traditions.
      • My father often writes letters to us, or his grandson, Jack, recapping the year full of painfully hilarious truths that have us laughing well into the night.  Over the last three years I hear my status within those letters hasn’t been updated: “Your Uncle Max is still in Hollywood, broke, and starving, but he remains a gentleman about it.”

Merry Christmas. (Stay warm, dear reader.)

You can read more of Max Dubinsky’s work at MakeItMAD.

Let’s Talk about Mental Heath

Hi. My name is Andrea and I have borderline personality disorder. (All together now… “Hi, Andrea.”) My disease is characterized mainly by the extreme spectrum of emotions that I experience every day- when I’m happy, I’m really happy. When I’m sad, I’m really sad. With these severe highs and lows, I am particularly sensitive emotionally. A stranger can shoot me a mean glance for whatever reason on a Tuesday and I’ll be depressed the rest of the week because it. I go through periods of intense loneliness and feel rejected when someone doesn’t return a text message or cancels plans. Because of my lack of emotion regulation, I often come to extreme conclusions and I have a pretty negative opinion of myself (even though deep down, I know that I’m attractive, smart and a decent human being). Also, because of my lack of emotion regulation, I have a hard time expressing feelings. On the days I have an especially hard time at work or school, I want to hole up in my room, not wanting to talk to anyone. This silence can last for days as I usually spend that time sleeping. When I don’t have any responsibilities, I can spend about 22 hours of one particular day sleeping.

I don’t know why I’ve been blessed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Some medical professionals claim that BPD is genetic while others say it is situational, often caused by lack of care as an infant. I don’t know anything about my life prior to my adoption when I was a toddler. However, I have done some research. Even though I have never been formally diagnosed with these disorders, I believe that I suffered from attachment disorder and selective mutism as a child, which developed into social anxiety as I’ve gotten older (there is a recent and interesting CNN special that stated 79% of adopted children, adopted domestically or abroad at any age, suffered or will suffer from some form of mental illness).

the Depression Monster (by Toby Allen)

the Depression Monster (by Tony Allen)

My illness has affected everyone in my life: my family, my friends, roommates, every single relationship I’ve been in. I don’t know how my parents managed to handle me growing up, raising me and my other sisters to become functioning, productive members of society. It has been a long, bumpy road and even though I do get depressed and down, I do like to believe that I have a good handle on things. I stay balanced with moderate excercise, I reach out for help when I need it and I’m considering the one-step-further option of taking anti-anxiety medication. Most days, I feel great.

In our society, we are told that being sad is a bad thing.  Of course, we don’t like to see the people that we care about feeling blue so we tell them to suck it up and stop crying; to get out of bed and move on; to see the sunshine through the rain clouds. Look, I know that talking about depression is, well, depressing but depression shouldn’t be something that we gloss over with a simple phrase. Often times, those small words hurt, not help. I understand that these words don’t intentionally support the cruelness associated with joke but they’re still painful. Mental illness, in whatever form, is not something to make fun of. It’s something to take seriously. People shouldn’t be ashamed to tell the people that they love that they or that they have a psychotic disorder or battled through anorexia. They should be welcomed with open arms and be encouraged to seek out proper help and share their story. We listen and sympathize with those who have cancer or a fever- mental illness is just as common as a cold. So, let’s talk about it and figure out how we can help people we care about.

According to the Associated Press, Aaron Alexis, the shooter in last Monday’s incident in Washington D.C. suffered from mental health issues- post traumatic stress disorder and paranoia with claims of hearing voices. If we have learned anything from these last several shootings across the United States and about the mental health conditions these people faced, we need to start addressing such diseases and conditions, making things like schizophrenia and depression less taboo, and caring properly for those who unfortunately suffer with such illnesses. Instead of focusing on gun control, can’t we focus on getting the funding to support mental health research and treatment? Let’s morph the stigma into awareness.

the Anxiety monster (by Tony Allen)

the Anxiety Monster (by Tony Allen)

I shared my story. I know that this one account won’t make everyone feel better about discussing mental health. But I do hope it inspires to change beliefs- your beliefs, the ones of your friends, the ones who make decisions that affect our country. Beliefs become thoughts that become actions. Those actions become habits and habits make up our life. The so-called “shame” of mental health must be erased.

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For more of Tony Allen’s work, visit zestydoesthings.tumblr.com

Gumby and Sheryl Sandberg

When I young, I was obsessed with Gumby. I watched his show on Nickelodeon religiously, admiring his and his friends’ adventures in their clay wonderland. I also had a bendable Gumby action figure who lost his life when my dog became a member of the family. In college, I watched old “Saturday Night Live” episodes with Eddie Murphy as Gumby- “I’m Gumby, damnit!” I’ve always wished that I could be flexible like that green creature; that I could shape myself into anything- an airplane, a puddle, a tire swing.

But let’s get real. I’m not Gumby.

I really wish I was, though.

I’ve been doing a lot lately. A LOT. Between my two jobs, I work 55 to 60 hours a week. That doesn’t include my freelancing gigs.  Volunteering has always been important to be and I set time aside each week to do something for my community. Plus, I’m studying for school for the Spanish class I’m hoping to get into this fall. I don’t have a lot of free time- which is fine. I enjoy being busy. I’m enjoying my work and my life. But something is definitely missing. I’ve never been good at planning, scheduling and sticking to the different aspects in my life. I know that some things are more important that others- my career for one thing. I don’t want to write for the city paper for the rest of my life. I’d like my own office somewhere in the NYC Conde Nast building one day. I bust my “balls” to make that dream come true.

With my recent work responsibilities, I know I have put a lot of stuff on the back burner. Friendships are the first thing that come to mind. I know I haven’t been the greatest friend to my own nor the best girlfriend to my guy. I see my boyfriend about once a week now (sometimes, I get too busy/tired and we just text for a few minutes before I move on to the next thing). A good friend of mine sent me a text yesterday about me working too much and bailing out on every opportunity to hang out. I know that employment safety triumphs friendship/family/love on the Maslow’s Hierarchy but I’m wondering if my recent actions with the amount of hours I’ve been working are really at all worth it. Are they? Relationships verses works… What to chose? As Sheryl Sandberg once put it, I’m leaning into my ambitions. But does that mean to take one step back out of another portions of my life?

As much as I wish there were 60 hours in a day or that I could find a way to substitute a workout for sleep, I know that those things will never happen. I think about my parents who managed to work full-time jobs and take care of me and my sisters. I have no idea how they did it (and in regards to my dad and stepmom, I still don’t know how they do all they do ad find time to take my youngest sister to Disneyland). A 40 hour + shift, plus their children and their education and after school activities and dinner on the table at five on the dot- AND the relationship with their spouses. Whoa! However do you get a moment of time to breathe?

I don’t know how I’m doing it right now. I know that I’m doing a lot of things wrong but that’s life. I’m making mistakes but I’m learning from them. I know with more practice (or if I wake up as a Claymation character), my weighted scale of life will be perfectly balanced.

But now, I’m just going to relax in front of the television for a brief moment, looking for old “Gumby” episodes on Netflix.

Being Human

“Where do I belong? Where do I fit? Who are my people? Where do my loyalties lie? We all choose our tribe. It’s that need to belong. To live within boundaries. ‘Cause it’s scary on the outside; on the fringes. Some labels are forced on us.  They mark us, set us apart ’til we’re like ghosts, just drifting through other people’s lives. But only if we let the labels hold. You can piss your whole life away trying out who you might be. It’s when you’ve worked out who you are that you can really start to live…”

It may be a silly television show about make-believe characters (a ghost, a werewolf and a vampire) but I have learned a lot about people and about life from “Being Human,” a SyFy Channel series (I highly recommend the show- check your local listings for airdates). I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I’ve felt like an outsider most of my life, venturing among different groups looking for my own special place. I can identify with Aiden’s, Sally’s and Josh’s plights- them trying to find their place in the world as they deal with their own set of unique problems. Granted, I’m not a demon (even though I still hang on to my high school fantasy of being a vampire slayer) but lately, I have been struggling with my placement in this life, trying to figure out exactly who I am – am I a devoted ex-girlfriend? A unconcerned daughter? A friend who really doesn’t have friends? A journalist who can’t find work? A lazy dreamer? Who really am I supposed to be? Someone loving and sweet? Someone great and powerful? Someone who is just… human, plain and simple?

I realize that the descriptions that I mentioned above as the labels that I put on myself. Yes, not all the labels stuck on me are negative- I do have a lot of good ones. But it’s those labels that we focus on that, in the end, don’t mean anything. And in the end, I’m Andrea. I’m just Andrea. And that’s enough to pay attention to.

And if anything else, I’m just going to focus on the sexy bloodsucker on my TV screen.

TED Talks: Why 30 Is NOT the New 20

I’m a big fan of TED Talks. I have learned so much from them and they always inspire my creativity. This talk was especially moving to me: Meg Jay’s Why 30 is Not the New 20 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhhgI4tSMwc). As a twenty-almost-thirty-something, I’m still in the process of finding a great job that I love doing/could possibly turn into a career while simultaneously searching for an amazing partner. Jay explains why your twenties are the most important decade in your life and tells you, dear reader, how NOT to waste them

Enjoy.

Shine Bright like a Diamond

On Thursday, I went to my first AA meeting. Yes, I have a drinking problem but yes, I’m fixing it (and I will eventually get better). It took some drama to see this problem hanging out with the plethora of other things running around in my head- Monday morning, I broke up with my boyfriend. Monday afternoon, I lost my job. Although it was the day from hell, all the negative experience brought clarity. I have an issue with alcohol. I don’t sleep and eat enough, like a normal person should. I have problems with verbal communication and emotion regulation. My depression is affecting every aspect of my life- I’m letting it take over my life. Well, not anymore.  Tuesday, I spent the day energizing and exercising in the sunshine, getting some much need physical activity and Vitamin D. Wednesday, I met with a therapist and made an appointment to get prescribed anxiety medication.

Making big decisions like this is tough. No one likes changes of this magnitude. Telling my friends that I had an alcohol problem was hard. I’m the girl who enjoys her cocktail and the monthly downtown wine walks. I was afraid of the pressure to “try this” or “take of sip of that.” But everyone I told has been amazingly supportive. They encouraged my courage and for that, I’m incredibly grateful. Last night, I went out to my favorite bar with a couple of friends and they ordered me Shirley Temples along with their tequila shots and pints of beer. Nothing felt out of place or forced. It made me feel like I can conquer all this negativity and still be me- just a better, happier version.

I’m writing this entry, listening to Rihanna’s “Diamonds.” Every time I listen to this song, I get something new out of it.  “Find light in the beautiful sea/ I chose to be happy.”t made me feel like I can conquer all these negativity and still be me- just a better, happier version. I know that happiness is a choice, but most days, at least for me, it’s a difficult choice to make. I wish that choosing happiness and glee was like deciding what outfit you’re going to wear in the morning. I’m sure after I clear the demons out of my head and the chunks of concrete out of my heart, I’ll be able to flick on my happiness switch permanently with a snap of my fingers.

Diamonds sparkle even when surrounded by darkness. That’s something that I need to remember. Even though I’m missing my ex-boyfriend like crazy and I need to hunker down and start job hunting, I know that I’m doing the right thing, finally building a good mental foundation- one that supports my attitude and my emotions, that will help with making and keeping relationships and work. I know that this will take a long time to heal and get better. I only hope that I’ll be patient with the results I’m seeking and that I remember to be kind to myself. But I am determined to get better and I know it will happen.

Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

Happy Adoption Day

Two-year-old me and my little sister, Nicole, in 1988

Two-year-old me and my little sister, Nicole, in 1988

Most people don’t know this but I am adopted. And I’m pretty proud of it (I just refuse to explain that I am to most people because my family tree tends to get pretty confusing). My mom texted me earlier today and wished me a happy adoption day or as she puts it, “Happy Special Day.” As long as I can remember, she and my dad have made a point to celebrate my special day, whether it’s with cards in the mail or a trip to Dairy Queen for some ice cream.

Working at the homeless shelter, I’ve talked with a lot of folks who grew up in the foster care system, who never get homes to settle into and families to love. I was and still am pretty lucky to have my parents with their great desire to have me as their daughter. I think about all the people who will never have a mother and a father of their own, or siblings to annoy. My boyfriend and I once talked about having children. He asked me how many I wanted to have. I replied with, whatever amount the adoption agency will let me have. Adoption, he asked. Why? My answer was simple. I told him that I wanted to give a child a home.

I hope that you, dear reader, will consider adoption one day. Not just with kids but with a pet. Or perhaps an elderly person. In elementary school, my sister and I adopted a “grandparent” from our church and we invited our “grandmothers” to school to visit. There are so many people that deserve love but for whatever reason, are not receiving it. I challenge you to open up your heart and let a stranger in. Embrace them into your life and let them adopt your soul.