Adoption · Alabama Gulf Coast · Uncategorized

November National Adoption Month

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An invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place and circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break –

                                                                                                                     Ancient Chinese Proverb

On any given day in the United States over 100,000 children currently wait for their forever families. 20% of these children wait five years are more to be adopted. 30,000 of them will “age out” of the system having never had a family to call their own. While 1 in 3 Americans have talked about adoption, only 2% have ever adopted.

In 2015, I was given a first hand opportunity to work with children in the foster care system. I was employed by St. Ann’s Home and School in Methuen, MA. The home was a group facility with a number of children who were in the “system”. I remember the first few weeks working there, coming home in tears. My coworkers and supervisors cared a great deal for these children, like their own. Many of my “kids” endeared themselves to me in such a way that even today I think of them. As a mom, I wanted to bring them home with me. So many of just needed someone to show them that they were loved and that there were people in their lives who wouldn’t leave regardless of the circumstances.

The average age of a child in the foster care system is 10-11 years old. I remember a social worker once telling me that if the child hadn’t been place by 11 years old the odds were that they would never find a permanent home. Teenagers have the lowest overall adoption rate only being 5% of adoptions in 2015. As the mom of 3 teenagers, I can understand the apprehension about fostering or adopting a teenager. I’ve heard everything from “these kids have other issues on top of just regular teenage issues.” and while the fact that they have experienced hardships is true, I don’t think it should disqualify or discourage families from opening their homes and hearts to these kids.

There are many reasons I believe in fostering and fostering to adopt. These kids need you! America is a country with tremendous opportunity for success but there are children who may never know a life without fear or chaos. They deserve a stable family and the ability to not just survive but thrive! There aren’t nearly enough homes for these children. After the age of 6, it’s extremely challenging to place older children and sibling groups. While residential homes like St. Ann’s, provide safety, basic needs and structure, they cannot provide a family atmosphere. The longer the child stays in a residential home, the more institutionalized they become. Let’s face it, living with 12-20 other children in dorm like arrangements isn’t normal unless you are in college or the military!  These children need to feel the belonging that comes with being placed with a family.

I personally believe the foster system is a mission field. Foster parenting changes entire generations not just the child you are caring for. It will change their children and their children’s children, breaking what is often a cycle. If 1 family out of every 3 churches adopted from the foster care system, there would be no more orphans in the United States.

Maybe you are like me right now and you know in your heart that you cannot foster/adopt right now. There are still ways you can make a difference in the lives of these children. I wanted to share a few of these with you. (Information from http://www.adoptuskids.org)

  1. Become a court appointed special advocate or CASA.As a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) volunteer, you’re empowered by the courts to advocate on behalf of a child in foster care. You don’t have to be a lawyer or social worker.

    The work done by CASA volunteers involves gathering information from everyone in a child’s life, including parents, relatives, foster parents, teachers, medical professionals, attorneys, social workers, and others. This information will then be used to inform judges of what the child needs and what will be the best permanent home for them.

    To be a CASA volunteer, you simply need to:

    • Pass a background check
    • Participate in a 30-hour pre-service training course
    • Stay with a case until it’s closed (approximately 1.5 years on average)

    The National CASA Association has more information on becoming a CASA volunteer.

2. Mentor a child in foster care.

Becoming a mentor or tutor for a child in foster care is a great way to make the difference of a lifetime for children in need of permanency. There are lots of different ways to mentor children of all ages.

3. Offer free photography or video services.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, your photography and videography talents are a priceless gift that can go a long way toward helping children in foster care. Adoption agencies around the country are in need of high quality photos and videos of children that can be shared with prospective families.

Use the National Foster Care and Adoption Directory to find agencies where you live that could benefit from your services. You can also connect with the Heart Gallery of America program, which organizes expos and galas with framed portraits of children available for adoption.

4. Become a Respite Provider. Respite care workers provide parents and other caregivers with short-term child care services that offer temporary relief, improve family stability, and reduce the risk of abuse or neglect. Respite can be planned or offered during emergencies or times of crisis. Respite may be available to foster, kinship, adoptive, and birth families in need of support. Talk with your caseworker or use the National Foster Care and Adoption Directory to find local agencies in your state that can connect you with information on how to become a respite care provider where you live.

5. Fundraise or Donate Supplies to Foster Care Agencies.

Many children in foster care have very little to call their own. Everything from back-to-school supplies, toys, and suitcases are needed by foster care organizations around the country. Whatever you can do will go a long way, whether it’s donating money or supplies directly to an organization in your area or organizing a fundraising or donation drive.

Use the National Foster Care and Adoption Directory to find a local agency to partner with to help children in foster care.

A great organization that I have raised funds with in the past is Together We Rise. Having seen kids in the foster care system arrive at St. Ann’s with their belongings in trash bags broke my heart. Together We Rise provides “Sweet Cases”, new duffle bags filled with essentials like toiletries, blankets, and a teddy bear. They even have an amazing program for foster kids who are entering college for the first time where they have help and a family setting to help them move into their dorm rooms. Find out more at http://www.togetherwerise.org

You can make a difference in the life of a child. Consider foster care or adoption.

It will change your life as well!

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Alabama Gulf Coast · divorce · dogs · Fairhope, AL · Government · Gulf Coast · Pets · Sailboats · Sailing · Travel · Uncategorized

Dia de los Muertos: Remembrance

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I’ve always had a different approach to death. Even as a child it wasn’t something that scared me or even really caused much anxiety. Growing up a PK, or pastor’s kid, I had experienced death at a young age. I remember the first time I saw a corpse. It was a great uncle that had passed away, someone whom I really didn’t know all that well. At the end of the funeral, as the family passed by to look on the body one last time, my Dad picked me up and gently carried me towards the coffin. “Rebecca, you understand that this is just a body. Your Uncle Fred’s soul has gone on to be with Jesus and while we are sad and we’ll miss him, this body is just a shell and he is living in Heaven.” I don’t think my 6 year old mind truly comprehended what my Father was talking about. I remember feeling a little strange staring down at the body of my Uncle. This was just an introduction to death. Later, I would begin accompanying my Dad and Grandfather to the hospital to spend time with those dying. I was never frightened to hold their hands, tell little stories and even sing. This really shaped my little mind and death wasn’t feared. Maybe that’s why I appreciate the holiday Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.

Dia de los Muertos is celebrated throughout Mexico and Central America. Over 3000, years old, it couldn’t be stopped by the Catholic Church and eventually they embraced it as their own aligning it with All Saints Day. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray and remember those who have died. They build ofrendas, or little alters, to the deceased. The celebration lasts two days, beginning with children building alters to children who have passed on. Then, on Nov. 2, family and friends gather in homes or cemeteries, They build the ofrendas, decorate graves and tombs, and share the deceased’s favorite food and drinks, often tamales. It’s a joyful, colorful remembrance that celebrates the loved ones. I think it’s beautiful. Calaveras, or sugar skulls, are eaten and often funny stories and antedotes about the deceased are shared. There is dancing and music and death is not feared. It reminds me a bit of my own heritage.

In New Orleans, death is also something centric to the culture. Jazz funerals wind their way down moss ladened oak tree lined streets. Songs like Nearer my God and Just a Closer Walk with Thee are played as families march from the church to the cemetery. It’s somber and sad until the “body is cut loose” and buried. As the family makes their way back home, the band begins to play upbeat music. The group of mourners who followed the band and family, the Second Line, breaks out into dance and celebration. Parasols are twirled and handkerchiefs waved as mourning turns into dancing. The dead is celebrated, remembered, and sent off with a party that is joyful. The tradition is thought to come from the Congo, brought by slaves to New Orleans. It’s so central to the culture in New Orleans that you often see Second Lines forming after parades, weddings or any eventful celebration.

Remembering our loved ones, however we choose to do so, honors their legacy and memory. While I don’t celebrate Dia de los Muertos, I’m going to pause a minute today to thank God for those who have gone on before me, for the influence they shared and the love I had for them. I’m thankful that I’ll see them again one day, that this life isn’t the end and like my Dad said to that little precocious 6 yr old girl, I will be celebrating with Jesus and my loved ones one day. Happy Dia de los Muertos!

Alabama Gulf Coast · dogs · Fairhope, AL · Gulf Coast · Pets · Sailboats · Sailing · Travel · Uncategorized

Monthly Mash-up: October Edition

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE! It’s the end of the month and I’m going to try start a monthly mashup of our adventures. This was kind of a scary month (no pun intended with it being the holiday) I started off pretty secure in a job and was let go the second week in October. I’ve kind of been drifting since but it’s not the end of the world I suppose. Even though my travel adventures really had to be put on hold due to finances, I still managed to get out local and enjoy several fun activities here on the Eastern Shore in Alabama.

I discovered that the cities of Daphne and Fairhope have a beautiful rich history and MANY wonderful walking trails and short hikes. The Historic Village Preserve Trail in Daphne proved to be a really fun, short day adventure. With great walking trails and even a wooden boardwalk through the swamp, it was nice day trip for Ava and I. We got to see the Jackson Oak, a beautiful HUGE oak tree with an interesting story to tell itself (www.villagepoint.info/p-jackson.asp). The foliage was especially beautiful and the weather was so pleasant that you couldn’t help but be as cherry as the sunshine. Ava really enjoyed the open grassy area. There is also a very old cemetery along the trail where some of the first settlers to Daphne are buried.

We traveled to Gulf Shores Alabama and took in the National Shrimp Festival. This festival is full of ALL KINDS of arts and crafts, but my favorite part was once you’ve taken the festival in you can make your way out to the beach. The white sand and crystal green water was a perfect way to cool off at the end of the day. The Festival also hosts some amazing musicians and raised money for several charitable organizations.

Ava and I walked the Eastern Shore Trail through Montrose, a historic neighborhood in Fairhope. We discovered several great restaurants along the trail to include Manci’s Antique Club (Daphne), Cousin Vinny’s (Daphne) and McSharry’s Irish Pub (Fairhope) If you stop in to McSharry’s tell Ronan that Rebecca sent you! He is a native Irishman full of some amazing stories of Ireland. Stop in and have a Guinness and catch some football (soccer). Ava really enjoyed the outdoor seating at McSharry’s and later a walk through the downtown area of Fairhope. While most stores aren’t pet friendly, the sidewalks and cute shops made for some excellent window shopping. I returned later sans Ava and picked up some great secondhand items at a few of the many upscale resale stores. I also was really excited to witness the Fairhope Witches Ride, a benefit bicycle ride. The costumes and bike decorations were amazing and if in this area next year I’ll definitely be participating, but if you are interested better watch for the tickets to go on sale. It’s a popular event that sells out fast with over 300 participants this year alone!

I finished the last weekend in October off by heading out to one of the last farmer’s markets in Cathedral square. The weather didn’t really cooperate and the morning ended up being cold and rainy, but it was a perfect excuse for ducking into one of my favorite coffee shops in Mobile, Serda’s. They have excellent coffees, espressos and treats to enjoy while you sip. The artsy, eclectic atmosphere is really fun and you never know what featured local artist will have their work showcased. After hours, they become a really cool wine bar with poetry reads and live music.

So here I am with Ava curled up on my feet, thinking of November and our next adventure. If you have any suggestions feel free to voice them! I know we will be checking out the Gingham Tree Festival in Lucedale and possibly the Pecan Festival in Grand Bay but let me know if you have an event you’d like featured in the blog! Until then I’ll be working on the sailboat and hanging out with my girl Ava. Hope you’ve had a spooktacular October!

Alabama Gulf Coast · divorce · dogs · Fairhope, AL · Gulf Coast · Pets · Sailboats · Sailing · Travel · Uncategorized

Shuffling: iTunes and what it says about me

I’ve been in a bit of a writer’s funk. With my employment ending at the Marina, I’ve had entirely more time on my hands than I wanted or good for me. I’m feeling stuck. The resume is out and I’ve had a few interviews, but honestly there hasn’t been anything that has REMOTELY. I am trying really hard not to give into RSS or Restless Soul Syndrome. You know the one where you want to run away as fast and far as you possible can in the attempt to start over and find yourself. News flash: You typically just end up far away without any money!

So here I sit, looking again through pages of jobs and listening to my iTunes account. I began to wonder about my taste in music, especially thinking of whether or not it has some hidden message about here. Here is what my top 10 tunes were and my thoughts:

  1. Trouble by Coldplay- This song reminds me of living in Seattle. I really discovered Coldplay there. They just fit the cold, rainy, coffeehouse vibe. It wasn’t until later I realized what an Anglo-phile I actually am and that I would have Chris Martin’s baby. So Chris hit me up. I’m single.
  2. Nothing Left to Lose by Mat Kearney- For some reason I think Mat Kearney gets me. He wants to just be free and watch the world around fly by us. I wish I had that spirit. Currently I’m just feeling like there’s nothing left to lose Mat, because I’ve already lost it. This song makes me feel nostalgic for times spent with a carefree abandon. What I would give to try one last time to find myself.
  3. On Top by The Killers- So who knew that Brandon Flowers (lead singer) of The Killers WASN’T BRITISH! What kind of crap is it that The Killers are a Los Angeles band! I completely refused to believe this until just recently. I love the edginess of this song. I always roll the windows down and scream The Killers songs at the top of my lungs because honestly is there any other way to sing them?!?
  4. 1901 by Phoenix- Sirius Alt Rock this is your anthem! It’s also a song I learned to love because of Kenny. I remember standing in our kitchen, cooking and listening to bands I’d never even really heard of until I met him. This song makes me a little sad and at the same time carries a memory of innocence in our relationship. The was the Beck and Kenny that laughed and mitten danced in the kitchen, that rolled the windows down in the truck and stuck our hands out to ride the wind currents. So yeah….wiping the tears back and at the same time dancing in my chair.
  5. Hallelujah by Rufus Wainwright- This song is rather depressing and reminds me mostly of the first Shrek movie. Damn you Mike Meyers! I love you and your funny green ogre.
  6. Bama Breeze by Jimmy Buffett- I grew up here on the coast and for some unknown reason until just a few weeks ago, I had never discovered the FloraBama. Jimmy captured a perfect image of this beach bar. While I’m not a big drinker, the music and people watching here is SUPERB! From tourists to locals you can’t go wrong watching people stumble in off the beautiful Perdido Beach and swaying to the music at the FloraBama. I’ve supported local artists, watched military guys from out of town have their drinks bought and witnessed more than my share of redneck lovers.
  7. Three Little Birds by Bob Marley- This is the song that reminds me of my kids. When Brandon, Kendall and Kaitlyn were around the ages of 8,6, and 3 we move to Texas. We spent a lot of time alone there since their Dad was deployed. Every night I’d play music and we’d sing together to beat the blues. This was our song. Sometimes when Kaitlyn would see I was having a bad day, she would sing this song to me. It was the sweetest thing ever. They were my Three Little Birds. Don’t worry about thing, cause every little thing is going to be alright. I still have to remind myself this as I wipe away a tear for my Three Little Birds who have left the nest. I love you Brandon, Kendall and Kaitlyn. You are my heart!
  8. Free/Into the Mystic(live) by Zac Brown Band- Kenny and I used to sit on the beach in North Carolina and watch the sun, This song always makes me think of our drive back onto the base. I have never felt more free in my life than when I spent time hand in hand with him.
  9. No Other Way by Jack Johnson- Good grief! Why does every song remind me of Kenny at this point? I almost saw Jack Johnson in concert once. I’m just going to leave it at that.
  10. On my Mind by Rebeloution- I LOVE THIS BAND! I was never a big fan of reggae music. Kenny introduced it to me and it was love. This is the music on my playlist when I’m on the ocean. The religious undertones and the loved filled revolution/change call to action makes me want to sail to the Carribbean, turning green smoke to black and living a free pirate life.

 

If you made it this far down my playlist I hope you’ll check out some of these bands. They brought a smile to my face tonight and that’s been missing. I need to find an adventure for my adventure blog or I’m afraid this is going to just become a complaining blog. Oh well, it’s a process right?

Alabama Gulf Coast · divorce · dogs · Fairhope, AL · Gulf Coast · Sailboats · Sailing · Travel · Uncategorized

Life Over/Life Beginning

Ava is currently barking her head OFF! She is usually very quiet but today the roofers are here and she is quite sure they mean to do me harm. I’ve noticed she’s been extremely protective of me lately. It’s actually a comfort as I have felt pretty vulnerable lately. The last few days have been very tough. I keep trying to keep things in perspective. I have come so far in the last few months, even though I’ve seemingly been gut kicked pretty hard again. The company I work for has been forced out of business, so once again I’m on the hunt for a job. I really loved living and working here so it was a bit of a blow.

On another note, I’ve me some crazy, incredibly wonderful people here at this job. They come from many different backgrounds, businessmen, military, attorneys, you name it. We all share a love of the water though. One of the highlights of my morning is to join them with a cup of coffee on the docks. We talk about the weather, the latest maintenance on their boats, sometimes the government and social issues. I enjoy the diversity their opinions. I’m going to miss my co-workers. I’ve formed a friendship with them and right now has been a time when I’ve really needed friends.

This weekend we had the joy of experiencing a hurricane at the Marina. Hurricane Nate showed up unwelcomed. We hauled out boats with the travel lift for 48 hours. It was hard, slow going work. As the storm got closer, neighbor began helping neighbor in the marina. I tied up boats, tightened lines, and worked alongside our other clients to make sure everyone was taken care of. I slept through most of the storm itself. We thankfully didn’t get hit as hard as expected. Not a single boat was damaged due to the storm. In fact, the only boat that sustained damage at all was mine. The wind caught the Rialto Zephyr as I steered her into the travel slip to be lifted out of the water. She smashed into the pilings busting out a navigational light and bending my pulpit and stanchions. I’m just glad no one was hurt. The current and the wind were too hard to fight. The tidal surge did create a bit of mess. Docks floated up and washed away, but overall it was a successful storm prep. It made me realize how much I’m going to miss working here all the more.

I’m trying to think forward to the future as far as a new career. I have no idea what I’ll do now. I suppose as long as it supports my sailing habit and feeds Ava and I, it’ll be ok. Life while looking like it might be over, is actually starting to feel more like a beginning. I’m starting to realize that it’s all about cycles. Just like Mother Nature cycles through weather, we have cycles through life as well. Sometimes it’s grey and stormy, often it’s bright and sunny, but I have to keep in mind that these changes don’t always happen overnight. I have to allow myself to experience both the good and bad knowing that they don’t last. In the meantime, I’m going to ride this adventure to wherever it takes me. Jake1

 

Alabama Gulf Coast · divorce · Fairhope, AL · Gulf Coast · Sailboats · Sailing · Uncategorized

Stormy weather, since you and I ain’t together.

via Daily Prompt: Interest

I’ve always had an interest, almost wild obsession with the weather. Maybe it’s the sailor in me that always keeps an eye to the horizon for the dark clouds that often roll in off the Gulf, or maybe it’s the energy I revel in as I stand, facing the wind defiant in the face of the storm.

While most children are afraid of storms, I can remember the excitement as I would watch them form over head. Thunder crashing all around only fed my interest. As I grew older, hurricanes began to fascinate me. I felt drawn to them. The power they displayed was amazing. It reminds me of one of my favorite Christian band songs where God’s love is described as a hurricane and we are a tree, bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy. That word description has stuck with me for years.

My life being stormy on the other hand, isn’t fascinating or powerful. The storm clouds that have gathered over me and my family have often left a sense of impending doom. Storms are unpredictable. The whip through sometimes unexpected and often leave paths of destruction. They cannot be tamed. That’s my life as well. I feel the swirling clouds of uncertainty, the wind howling to me that my life will never be the same, the waves crashing over me giving me a sense that I’m just at the cusp of drowning. I fear these storms.Silhoutte1

Alabama Gulf Coast · Fairhope, AL · Gulf Coast · Sailboats · Sailing · Travel · Uncategorized

Life in a Southern Coastal town

A Sailor is an artist whose medium is the wind”  Webb Chiles

 

Sailing has become a form of therapy for me. When I’m out on the water, I don’t care about the present troubles I’m facing. The snap of the sails quite literally snaps me out of the funk that I’ve been in for weeks. I’ve been in a funk the last few days, though no one would know except my very close friends and family.  Today I decided the only way I could snap out of it would be some good ole’ southern hospitality. I’m lucky enough that I both live and work at a local marina in Fairhope, AL. At night before I go to sleep, I hear the shrimp boats as they make their way out of the channel and into the bay. They spend all night out there casting their nets. In the mornings as I’m having coffee in the cockpit of the Rialto Zephyr (my beautiful sailboat and home) the seagulls and the shrimpers greet me on their way back to the docks. This Friday the funk I was in led me to the decision that the only way to cure it would be to host a shrimp boil for my coworkers and fellow neighbors.

Gerald has been shrimping this bay for longer than I have been alive. His boat, the Miss Elise, is a traditional setup made for catching bay shrimp. She is well worn, but well loved. He pulled into the dock Friday morning with ice chests full of beautiful white shrimp. No sooner had he tied his lines, people were lined up with cash. He shook my hand and asked me about my “people” and how “my mom and ’em are”. He shared stories of some tough shrimping times as he scooped the shrimp 5lbs at a time into Ziploc bags. I love hearing his stories and sighed silently as I realized that this way of life is beign pushed to the corner of extinction.

The marina is filled with liberals, conservatives, wealth and not so much wealth,military, civilians, but the one thing we all have in common is our gypsy souls. Always keeping a weather eye out for adventure. I love to sit and listen to the conversations that happen when we are all together. In those moments, our differences don’t matter so much and we share food, companionship and sea stories. We laugh, we reminisce, we love.

I started a pot of boiling water and began to chop up the onions and garlic out at the pavillion. Soon I had several live aboards stopping by to see what they could bring to the cookout. They asked questions about traditional southern food, shared their favorite stories and recipes, and anticipated the shrimp, andouille, corn and potatoes that would soon be dumped out on newpaper and gobbled up in a free for all. Coworkers brought glass Root Beer and Dr. Peppers. Even a straggler from a subcontractor joined in our feast. All of the sudden, my troubles felt small as we shared a meal. I laughed, teased, and for once let go of the burdens I’ve been carrying all week. I reminded myself of how thankful I am to be home, how this life is worth living, and that you don’t have to look to hard to find yourself. These vagabonds are my as Gerald put it “people” and I wouldn’t trade living in this little coastal southern town for anything, well except some more of Gerald’s shrimp.

 

Next rounds on you boys!