Writing

Pep Talk from My Birth Mom before my Aerial Show

In the past year following my birth family reunion, I’ve learned some incredible life lessons. Truly amazing! This blog was an incredible space to share these experiences. One thing I’ve learned is that you can really and truly talk to people who are already in heaven. I am convinced of this. 

A few weeks ago, I performed in my first live aerial performance at the Founder’s Inn Grand Illumination event with Airotique Aerial Dance Company! Just before it was time for me to stand up and perform my routine, there was a space of time where I was seated on the dance floor awaiting my turn to rise and stand up to climb the silks. I don’t know why my mind wandered to where it did, except that it was really my birth mom poking me from heaven! I sat with my knees leaning toward one side, looking out at the audience, taking everything in. All of a sudden, I had this enormous sense that my birth mom was looking down on me from heaven. She was there to watch me perform in my first show. In my heart, I heard her say to me, she was there. She also clearly told me that she was so glad my adoptive mom, Doris, was there, and that she couldn’t have chosen a better person to raise me. She said she was exactly the person she wanted to raise me, and she was so happy that my adoptive mom, Doris, was my mom.

I immediately welled up with emotion, and my eyes filled with tears! Soon after, I quickly snapped out of that transcendent experience and landed my consciousness back to the dance floor where I was seated, and to the silks in front of me that I soon needed to climb. My thoughts returned to the ballroom just in time before the tears were able to stream down my face, thankfully. It was such an emotional and powerful experience! I’m not sure why it happened when it did– right before my show. I took it as a signal that I was meant to find aerial arts, and connecting with my birth mom at that moment was another sign that aerial dancing was meant to be with me for a while longer. It could’ve also been because my birth mom knew that this was important for me, so she wanted to cheer me on and let me know she was with me. I don’t think I know the full reason yet, but I get the impression I will.

When choosing the photos for this post, I debated between the one at left of me climbing the silks at the performance and another shot of me seated on the ground. I was feeling attached to the one of me seated on the ground because I had a clear look of badass determination on my face, and my make up lines looked exactly like Natalie Portman in Black Swan. However, that photo was a little out of focus. So, I asked my husband which one he thought I should choose based on what I was writing about. He said he liked this one because it looked like I was climbing to heaven. Such a sweet sentiment! He’s definitely a keeper.

Hope this post finds you well this holiday season!

Merry Christmas!

xoxo

rm

Reconnecting with my Younger Self after my Bio Family Reunion

Reuniting with my birth family a year and a half ago threw me into a tail-spin of emotions and forced me to do a lot of soul-searching. My reunion created a bit of an identity crisis because it made me question everything about myself. I felt like I was a teenager figuring out who I was all over again.  Upon reflecting on my life, I saw that in my late teens and early twenties, I became super serious and extremely dedicated to my professional life, work life, and the activities of adult-living, including working all the time, getting married, paying bills, and caring for a husband.

I really neglected to care for the spontaneous, adventurous, active, daring 16-year old self I left behind when I entered college and a serious dating relationship when I was 17 years old. I was so deeply devoted to leading this older life that I even graduated from college and married when I was just 20 years old. I dressed and behaved in the oldest most professional version of myself. I worked 60+ hours per week on a regular basis. I felt like I needed to prove myself at a professional job that I began when I was 22 years old in the company of many older more experienced colleagues. I wanted to be the best at my job and to be taken seriously. I wanted to be at the top of my field. I spent a lot of time cooking and cleaning and caring for others. I was navigating the waters of what it meant to be an adult.

During the year following my birth family reunion, I took a step back from all of those “adult” activities and really evaluated the way that I was living my life. It was like a part of me woke up and realized that I wasn’t leading the life that I loved. There were huge parts of my life that were dictated by the ideas of rules of the way I should or shouldn’t behave rather than listening to my own intuition about what I really wanted.

Somewhere along the way I lost the happy-go-lucky girl I was when I was sixteen years old. And I can deeply say that I loved the person that I was when I was sixteen years old. I have never felt more alive than I felt during the year I was sixteen. I felt like I was in my groove.

 

I think this loss of my inner child happened when my adoptive dad tragically passed away in a freak accident at his house in Baltimore just before my seventeenth birthday. He was in a gas explosion suffering burns to seventy-five percent of his body, including burns on his lungs from smoke inhalation. He died in the Johns Hopkins Bayview Hospital Burn Unit–one of the top burn centers in the world.

I think it was only natural for me to turn into a super responsible person after my adoptive father died, given the tragic way in which he passed. Subconsciously, I felt like I could stay one step ahead of bad, unpredictable things by being super responsible, a planner, and a work-aholic. I probably forfeited this adventurous spontaneous part of myself also because my dad was the more spontaneous adventurous of my adoptive parents. And it was like that part of me died with him.

Within the past year and a half following my reunion, I realized that I wanted to make a big change in the way I was living my life. I reconnected with parts of my younger free-spirited self that I neglected in my twenties. I reconnected with my love for traveling, adventure, and spontaneity. I also reconnected with good friends from younger years. It’s been so much fun! Truly awesome!

Last week, I had an amazing trip exploring Switzerland and Germany with a good friend of mine who I hadn’t see in over ten years. In high school, she, another friend, and I called ourselves the “Rae Team” because the three of us had the same awesome name, “Rachel.” Everyone wanted to be part of the Rae Team, but they couldn’t because they didn’t have the right name! It was a very exclusive club where we basically just sat around being awesome!

We had a lot of fun in high school, and meeting up this year made it feel like no time had passed at all. We explored a bunch of quaint medieval Swiss towns, including Schauffhausen, Seegräben, and Sargans. We also witnessed the annual tradition in Dürnten where farmers dressed their cows in flowers and walked them down the mountain to be judged for which were the top cows in the region. We visited Schloss Laufen and the stunning Rhine Falls. We rode a gondola up to the top of a breathtaking mountain in Flumserberg and ate lunch at the restaurant where we were perched above the clouds. Here are a few photos that captured some of my favorite moments:

 

switzerland12      switzerland7  switzerland16 

 

Iswitzerland17t was an amazing trip and a really fun time with my friend. It’s been so much fun reconnecting with these parts of my younger self over the past year. After coming through this year, I feel like I’m much more in tune with my own intuition. I know more of what my heart wants. I know how to have more fun! It’s definitely been a wild ride and a major shift from the super serious work-a-holic twenty-something year old I was over the past decade. I’m turning thirty tomorrow, and I’m really looking forward to exploring more of myself and embracing all parts of myself, including my spontaneous free-spirited nature, in my thirties. I’m also looking forward to turning thirty because I finally feel like the age that I am and the age that I feel are finally matching. In my twenties, I was acting like I was in my fifties. Now that I’ve mellowed out and my age has increased, I finally feel like my age fits me just right. And, I’m at a place where I am leading a life I am truly excited about living. The life that I love. It’s taken time, energy, a lot of personal work, writing, and, at times, even tears. But, it’s been worth it.

I’m reading the self help book, You are a Badass, How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. I love the following quotes from my scrumptious reading sesh yesterday. Each really spoke to me as I formulate the type of life I want to live. I hope they speak to you wherever you are in your own personal journeys!

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.” –William Blake

“You get to choose how long you want to stay in school and work on the same issues over and over and over. Your graduation cap and gown are cleaned and pressed and waiting for you whenever you want to put them on, all you have to do is let go of your present story and rewrite a new one that fits who you truly are.” –Jen Sincero

“Time spent enjoying yourself is never time wasted.” –Jen Sincero

“Love Yourself. And life becomes a party.” –Jen Sincero

It’s never too late to make a change! And, it’s AWESOME! If there’s an area you’re wanting to change in your life, put on that graduation cap and gown and Go for it! You want to go to Europe? Find a way to make it happen! You want to play the ukulele… go get one NOW!

I’m rooting for you!!

xoxo

rm

Human Connections

I’m realizing more and more how we as human beings affect one another.

On my flight home from St. Louis earlier this summer, I was watching the flight attendant give her safety presentation. She was much more stoic and unengaging than on my previous flight. So, I was wondering why that was. I realized it was her lack of eye contact. This small simple act reduced the amount of human connection and made the interaction a lot less engaging. Working on some photo projects this year, I noticed this happens in photography too. If a model isn’t engaging to another human being–through her eye contact and body language, the photograph is dull. Really makes me think about how important human connections are to just about everything.

These scenarios really sum up a lot of what I’ve been learning this past year– that we as human beings are part of the human network. We are all connected–for better or worse. Our actions, our words, our attitudes affect the people around us. Things become so much more meaningful when you are doing them for another person. Life becomes so much more rich when you’re experiencing it with people you love. And each day becomes more fulfilling when you are sharing special moments with special people in your life who care about you. And you can travel the world, but a city is only as good as the people you know in it.

As I continue to cultivate my own identity, I can’t help but stop and think about the people in my life. The people who have shaped me and my life. The family that I was born into. The family who raised me. The people who love me. The people I care about. Friends. Family. All of these relationships have touched me and my life somehow.

Growing up as a Korean adoptee into a Polish-German family, I’ve always felt like I had to forge my own path. Growing up in a non-traditional family definitely fosters individuality and independence. I used to think that it was important to never be “influenced” by people. But now, I can see that no matter what and no matter who we are– the people in our lives influence us. For better or worse. And I think it’s just a matter of deciding how you let the people in your life influence you. And even better– it’s deciding to surround yourself with people who influence you to be more of what you want to be.

Just thinking about life.

xoxo,

rm

Robbed, Destitute—But Coming Back Swinging!

Had a really tumultuous weekend in my hometown. Was in town helping a friend of mine with a photo shoot for a fashion spread in a national girl’s magazine he shoots for. We were shooting two models against the backdrop of an old abandoned fort in Baltimore County just past Miller’s Island. The shoot was grueling with mishaps happening at every turn. We were working hard all day to make sure the shots were incredible. Thankfully in spite of all of the issues that arose, the shots we captured were amazing—truly stunning.

Sometime within the course of the photo shoot, someone shattered the passenger window of my friend’s car to steal some of my most prized possessions: my wedding rings, my favorite Kate Spade weekender bag, my designer handbag given to me by my mother for my birthday, make up and clothes that I curated with care, my glasses carefully selected and fitted by a boutique over multiple trips to NYC, and my treasured special edition iPod. The thieves also used my credit cards to charge over $500 worth of gas and merchandise as well as taking the cash and checks in my purse, my phone charger, and my car keys.write pic

In spite of being robbed of over $7K worth of some of the most expensive of my most prized possessions, I was most heartbroken over losing the journal that was tucked inside my Kate Spade bag. I was writing in this lovely space over the past year. A small pink notebook with beautiful gold lettering on the front with the words, “Write” inscribed on the front. This tiny token probably only cost $15. But to me, it was a priceless item that cannot fully be replaced. I’ve had so much personal growth over the past year and each milestone was documented within the pages of my little pink journal. I was also in the process of writing a series of children’s books—and had just completed a concept web outlining the backbones of each book in the series of 7-10 books that fit the theme. These inspired ideas came at a stroke of genius moment just one week ago while late-night writing at one of my favorite coffee houses after a long day. It was one of those monumental moments where the ideas were flowing, and I felt so energized to get the project going that I began making plans to collaborate with illustrators and publishers to get these inspired ideas out there. My journal also had pages of sketches for clothes I recently designed during other moments of inspiration. I was working toward creating them for events this year. I also had painstaking notes on trip details and options for traveling to a few destinations to celebrate my milestone birthday this fall, which took mad time and energy to research and plan. All of which I enjoyed and loved doing at the time—so for me, this journal was a patchwork quilt of pieces of my life that I loved. It documented these moments of insight as they happened. And it contained exciting plans for the future.

The county police officer was invested in trying to help me regain what I lost and to identify the suspects. After the shoot, my friend and I went back to his place to determine a plan of action. Thankfully the hair/make-up venue used their shop-vac to clean out the chards of glass scattered around the passenger side before we drove home. They were able to clean about 90% of the glass. The drive was pretty crazy as some of the residual small chards of glass still crackled in the side of the door as we went over bumps or made sharp turns. Each time the car accelerated, both of us kept forgetting that he no longer had a window and instinctively pushed the window button to try to shield ourselves from the wind. Upon each attempt, we both cringed hearing more grass cracking in the slit where there should have been the smooth caressing sound of an intact window closing. Thankfully, we made it to his house without any more mishaps. I decided to go out to unwind and connect with other people. I decided to drive back to my mom’s house to shower and change since I was super muddy from the shoot. That’s when I realized those tools stole my damn car keys, so I was stranded with nothing but the clothes on my back without access to my car or cash. Nothing I could do about accessing the car that night. Everything was closed. car window

I was super dirty from shooting outside at an abandoned fort all day. So, I showered and washed the clothes I was wearing. As I stood in the shower washing the last of my make up off, I felt pretty stripped of everything I held dear. Without any cash or cards to replace any of the items that were stolen—I felt pretty destitute. Sounds pretty dramatic, but it’s truly how I felt. Grr, I was going to have to go out on a Friday night without any makeup on.

I decided to still go out despite that I felt naked and destitute without any of my usual things. And I met up with some really great people. So weird to have nothing but the clothes on my back that night. No money, no credit cards, no car, no purse, no makeup, no dress clothes, no favorite shoes, no phone. But I had friends. And that was nice.

So crazy but this moment of destitution actually sparked some painful memories of the feeling of abandonment and destitution related to being abandoned as a little baby when my birth father gave me up for adoption. It was painful to make the connection as I stood there in the shower and reflected on how destitute I was when I was left as a little baby to fend for herself with nothing but the clothes on her back and a small box of toys. I realized that since I was able to bounce back from that, I was sure I could bounce back from this.

I’ve learned so much from this experience. May sound cliché, but these moments really did remind me of what was important. Do I need to have the best make up, the finest clothes, the biggest engagement ring? No. Do I really even need more than a little food and water? Not right now.

The night I was robbed, my husband was able to work with my friend and I over the phone to help me devise a plan of how to get a new set of car keys. And the next day my friend Sean and my mom spent the time to help me get my car towed and get a replacement set of keys programmed at the dealership. I am so grateful for their TLC. I couldn’t have done it without them. Being completely purseless, my mom spotted me money for food, the tow, and the new car key. All of these kind gestures made me really think of how truly grateful I am to have such wonderfully loving people in my life who care about me. If I didn’t have them around, I truly would have been in a pickle. I am so appreciative for all of the people in my life who I know I can truly trust and count on in moments of need, namely my mom, my husband, and my friends.

I think that holds true for my adoption story too. While I was left with nothing material apart from the clothes on my back, I was placed into the loving care of my adoptive mother. She was always a huge source of love and support, and without her I would be truly lost! I am convinced that it was her unconditional love for me that gave me the confidence I have in myself to be the strong woman who I am today. I don’t let her know how much she means to me as much as I should.

Losing such precious things reminded me of how fleeting things are, and how important it is to savor and enjoy the things you love in your life—because nothing lasts forever. This past year I invested a lot in myself. The things that were stolen were so painful to lose because I loved them so much. Makes it easy to think it may be better not to care about anything at all. But at the same time, I think it’s better to love something for a while to then lose it than to never put yourself out there to love anything at all.

After traumatic things happen like this, it’s a knee-jerk reaction to question whether or not I should’ve done something differently. Should I have traveled to Baltimore, gone on the photo shoot, left my bags in the car, or the list goes on. But I think that when you put yourself out there and take risks and do amazing things, some bad things are bound to happen in the process, and that’s just life. I would much rather live a huge life and have things happen than to stay reclusive and lead a small life where nothing really happens at all.

I can rewrite the ideas in a new journal. After all, the journal itself is only a written expression of thoughts that I myself created—and thank God, I am still here. So, I can create something new. Conceiving the ideas are the hardest part of writing. Once the idea is conceived, it’s fairly easy to rewrite –especially for something as memorable as an idea conceived during a stroke of insight. And I can buy more beautiful clothes and handbags. There is a silver lining in everything. I am allowing myself the space to be mellow, chill, and sad for a time, because this experienced sucked!!! But after that, I am going to use this angry passion for the things I lost to fuel a flame to recapture everything that I lost and held dear or to reinvent them in a fresh new way.

This loss was a personal attack trying to keep my spirit down. But it’s done the opposite. This loss actually fanned a flame for the things that I’m really passionate about. It’s pissed me off. But in a good way. I feel so incredibly fired up that I feel even more energized to fight even harder to move forward with the things that I planned in my journal. I feel so incredibly stoked to write that I can’t even stand it. I am going to redesign the garments I sketched and create them to love and show off and cherish. I am going to recount and rewrite every detail of every memory from my previous journal that I still want documented in a beautiful new journal, or incorporate them into a book I am working on—which was even better. I am going to pick out gorgeous new clothes, and who doesn’t love that?? I am going to buy new makeup that I love. And I am going to use this as an opportunity to redesign new rings to fit the personality and style that I want to convey in a fresh way, rather than to try to duplicate my previous wedding rings. I have a few jewelry designers in mind, so will be a fun new endeavor that I am excited about. This is a fresh start.

I am not the type to just take things lying down. This terrible thing knocked me down, but I’m gonna come back up swinging. For a while now, I’ve been burning to do a long distance race. Don’t know what it was, but I felt an immense desire to run over the past couple months. And this trying experience tipped the scale and inspired me to commit to training for one. I don’t know what it is about pushing yourself physically that makes you somehow stronger and your enemies weaker… but it does. And I’m ready for that.

I’m not going to let these criminals ruin the things that I love and the things I cherish in my life! I’ve got too much going for all of the things I’ve set out to do!

Just thinkin’ out loud. Hope these thoughts hit you right.

Sending my love, prayers, and positivity out to you! Send ‘em back to me, please! I’m gonna need them this week. < XoXo