What is Family?

My father always said that being related by blood didn’t matter at all.  He saw no value in “family for family’s sake” and was quiet honest about the fact that he found his relations almost universally boring and stupid and not worth spending a moment with.  Others in my family of origin, in any and all generations, have discounted family for the same or other reasons, leaving me the odd duck who has always felt that family was a top, almost one might say, obsessive priority.  So what is the odd duck to do?

Well for years and years, I’ve tried various techniques to change the world, ie. my family of origin, and of course that has been singularly unsuccessful.  I’ve also worried, felt sorry for myself, etc. and mourned my loss of family.  This also has not helped me one whit.  Four years ago, in a desperation move, I landed on my beloved Vashon.  Little did I know that the move would prove to be the catalyst for so many wonderful changes in my own belief system and hence my own reality.  But now, with the changing of the seasons and the approaching holidays, my longing for a sense of family can absolutely blindside me without warning.  The old tapes are hard to reprogram and they can still be easily triggered.

But I’m realizing more and more that for those of us who are, for whatever reason, the odd ducks in our family of origin, the solution is simply (well in theory, but not so simply in practice), to create our own family.  When I was thinking about this, I realized that not only are most things truly working in my life, but the reality is that I now have, after just 4 years on Vashon, a significant number of people I can call friends, people who truly care about me, who love me and whom I also love in return.  Most of them do have families of their own, in my original sense of the word, and of course everyone is very busy, etc.  But that doesn’t stop them from caring about me and for being there for me in some pretty significant ways (such as taking me to my cataract surgery, etc.).  I no longer feel so alone and isolated, and that is a wonderful thing.

As I approach my 65th birthday (and just received my Medicare card!), I realize that I’m just starting to find my own path, a path I stumbled on quite serendipitously when I moved to Vashon, but then I’ve always been a slow learner when it comes to the basics, the emotional and spiritual aspects of life.  But better late than never, and my search for my self and identity is one reason, I believe, that I’m able to relate to my students at some fundamental levels.  Anyway, I am just beginning to find or develop deeper relationships with kindred spirits, but I know that takes time.  At this point in my life I now have more friends on a variety of levels than I’ve had in my entire life, in totality!  I know I’m an introvert and developing relationships remains a challenge, but Vashon is truly unique.  Because it is rural and an island, we depend upon each other for a lot of basic survival needs.  But Vashon is also very liberal and diverse.  We have a bumper sticker that says “Keep Vashon Weird,” and most residents take pride in honoring diversity.  So my purple house may not be the “norm” as such, but it is the “norm” in that it is “so Vashon.”    I have finally found a place I can call home and for me, that is of vital importance to the very core of my being.  I’ve found a place where it is safe to discover just who I am, and now, I will be able to develop more relationships, deeper relationships with kindred spirits either here on Vashon or through the internet community or wherever, if I just keep my heart open, if I am receptive to change, if I can stay in the moment, stay full present, and be ready for whatever wonderful possibilities life has to offer.  That is my family, and this is my home!

11 responses

  1. HI, Daphne!I stumbled upon your blog yesterday, read several of your posts and really enjoyed your thoughts and perspectives. Of course, it's always great to meet a fellow vegan! πŸ™‚ And I also share your interest in Taoism (Daoism). Though not a quilter, my best friend is, and I love going to quilt shops with her, hearing about her successes in quilt shows, admiring her latest projects, etc. I even went to her quilt guild meeting with her when visited her last time! (She lives in Michigan, I in Wyoming). In fact, it was because I was on a mission yesterday to do a little holiday shopping for her that I found your blog (I was sniffing around quilt sites ~ shh, don't tell!) ;-)Vachon Island sounds beautiful and all kinds of wonderful. Lucky you to get to live in such a place! I know all about feeling isolated (let's just say as liberal progressives and vegans we're not exactly living around like-minded people here!), and though we absolutely enjoy our solitude, we hope/plan to relocate to a much more like-minded community, similar to how you describe Vachon. Have you ever read Clarissa Pinkola EstΓ©s book "Women Who Run with the Wolves?" Her chapter "Finding One's Pack: Belonging as a Blessing" really resonated with me, and I'm sure it would speak to you, too!Anyway, I'm glad to have found your blog, am honored to be your first follower, and wanted to say hi!

  2. Thanks, Laloofah, and I posted my reply to your comment in a new post, but I think my problem might be browser related and I'm now using Safari instead of Firefox to check that out. I noticed on your site that you are a Mac user as well–something else we have in common. Thanks for being my first follower!

  3. LOL – I'd posted my comment on your "post reply" before I saw this, so you can ignore my helpful (not!) instructions on how to post a reply to a comment! πŸ™‚ I had trouble with Safari and Blogger too, so I just use Safari now. And yes, my 9 1/2 year old Flower Power iMac finally conked out a few weeks ago, so now I have one of the new iMacs. Still figuring out all the bells and whistles! Btw, I meant to say in my other comment that I'm glad I mentioned "Women Who Run with the Wolves" – an interesting mix of fairy tales from a feminine and Jungian perspective. I enjoy Clarissa's writing, and have "Warming the Stone Child" on tape as well as a bunch of bedtime fairy tales and folk stories read by her. She has such a soothing voice (and way with words). Right now I'm reading Duma Key by Stephen King. Hardly soothing, but perfect for Halloween season! :-)Honored to be your first follower!

  4. And you are the first blog I've actually signed up to be a follower rather than just getting the RSS feed. I've ordered Women Who Run with the Wolves and I'm really looking forward to reading it. Thanks again!

  5. Daphne,I'll be eager to hear your thoughts about the book! Hope you enjoy it! I need to re-read my own copy one of these days soon, it's been a while! So many books, so little time… πŸ™‚

  6. Definitely so many books and so little time. I just finished Little Bee and I'm now reading Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson and both are excellent stories of characters on "spiritual" journeys.

  7. I've never read either of those. In fact, I've never heard of either of those! I'm on a Stephen King bender at the moment (Halloween, dontcha know!) but am also re-reading "Your Heart's Desire" by Sonia Choquette, which always lifts my spirits. Funny you just read a book called "Little Bee," for I recently read "The Secret Life of Bees" for the first time and really enjoyed it. (I've never seen the movie).I'll check out Little Bee and Major Pettigrew! Got a long winter coming up, lots of opportunities for reading by the fire (I hope!) πŸ™‚

  8. I've never really gotten into Stephen King–scarier than I like, but I know they are well written and this is the time of year for it. I'll look into "Your Heart's Desire" as I've not heard of that one. I also enjoyed "The Secret Life of Bees." My copy of Women Who Run With the Wolves has just arrived and it is now on my stack. I read your list of 7 little known facts about you on your website and I also took shop instead of home economics or whatever it was called back then, and I also was the only girl. I took it for 7 yrs from 6th grade through 12th and my last project was building a clavichord. Great fun. And like you, I'm also a Capricorn! Have a great day!

  9. All hail, fellow Cappy! Okay, spill… when's your birthday?"Uncle Stephen" (we're not really related, but we used to share the same last name!) is not for everyone, but I've been a fan of most of his books since I was in junior high. I've always loved ghost stories. No surprise that Halloween's my favorite holiday! :-)Yay for your new book arriving! That was fast! My library has Little Bee, but it's checked out.You took shop instead of home ec too? And for 7 years?! Awesome!! You made a clavichord? That's amazing! (Wish you'd posted this as a comment on my blog, that's too cool!) Do you still have it? My little salt and pepper shakers are feeling awfully insignificant now! πŸ™‚

  10. My birthday is 12/27/45, and I always was glad I was after Christmas! How about you? And I've now posted a comment on your site as well–I'm really new not only to blogging but also to commenting, so I don't always think about that. And I think your salt and pepper shakers look really cool! So when's your birthday?

  11. Oooh, you came awfully close to being a Christmas baby! I know two people whose birthday is 12/25, and I always felt badly for them. Mine is Jan 3. My father never forgave me for being born after the 31st of the previous year and costing him a year's tax deduction! Hey, I did MY part, I was born 9 months to the day after conception! He should have planned ahead. ;-)Thanks for leaving your comment on my blog! πŸ™‚ I'll reply to it soon, am just taking a quick break while I eat a late lunch. And thank you for complimenting my S&P shakers! I'm still totally impressed with the fact you took shop AND built a clavichord!

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