Category Archives: Family

85 Years

Erica’s mother turned 85 today. What a fantastic milestone. A huge party was thrown in her honor. People flew in from all corners of the country. It was quite the event!

I liked the fact that people cared so much about Marge that they not only took the time to come to Newport for the weekend but some flew hundreds and thousands of miles. Wow! That says a lot about her and the friendships she has made over her lifetime.

I find inspiration from Marge in the many countries that she has traveled. I looked at the list of places she has visited over her lifetime and was astounded. In some years she visited half a dozen countries and she traveled like this regularly for most of her life. I got the travel bug late in my life, but it bit hard and I can’t seem to get enough.

The other thing that inspires me about Marge is the time and money she gives to worthwhile charities and other important organizations. She is continually working to help improve the lives of others. She doesn’t talk about it. She just does it, day in and day out.

Finally, the third thing that I enjoy about Marge is her independence. It’s one of the first things I noticed about her after our initial introduction. It’s a great lesson and inspiration for all who meet her.

So, Marge, Happy 85th Birthday! I can’t wait to celebrate your 90th with you. It will definitely take that long to work off all the food we consumed for 8 or 9 hours today.


Great Birthday

Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional. – Chili Davis

Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children. – George Bernard Shaw

I’m sixty years of age. That’s 16 Celsius. – George Carlin, Brain Droppings, 1997

Well, it was a great day for me! Phone calls from friends and family. Some really cool gifts and lots of fun.

I didn’t have to work today which was an added bonus. So, I started off really slow and just stayed relaxed for the rest of the day. One of my favorite parts about birthdays is the calls from friends, family and this year B-Day messages on Facebook. I’m very fortunate to have the friends and family that I do. They are a great gift!

The kid in my really comes out on birthdays. I just want to do things that are fun and really fun.

Erica took me out to a great restaurant in Providence and then we went to see Cirque du Soleil, specifically their Alegria production. Alegria means jubilation in Spanish and let me tell you, this show was full of it. I can’t describe what I saw, but I didn’t know the human body was capable of some of things I saw tonight.

Cirque du Soleil was unbelievable and a perfect ending to a perfect day.

Thanks to everyone for calling, sending me messages or texting me. It made for a special time.


Father's Day

Fathers, like mothers, are not born. Men grow into fathers and fathering is a very important stage in their development. – David Gottesman

It is much easier to become a father than to be one. – Kent Nerburn

I don’t know about other fathers, but I didn’t find being a father to come naturally. I had to learn how by trial and error, patience and a lot of hard work. Thank goodness my daughter had an excellent training program. This year I wanted to do something a little differently. I am a father because of my daughter. Without her, I’d just be another guy. lol

Here’s what my daughter helped me to learn:

  1. Unconditional love
  2. Courage
  3. Selflessness
  4. Patience
  5. Joy
  6. How to laugh at myself
  7. The true meaning of fear (i.e. I was initially terrified that I would be a bad parent)
  8. How to focus on the present moment
  9. How to have fun like a child again
  10. What it really means to raise a teenage daughter

Thanks Linsday! It’s a gift to be your dad.

Family Reunion 2009

One of the reasons I’m in Austin is to attend our annual family reunion. We typically hold this event sometime around the fourth of July. This year we had 17 of us but it can swell to over 35 if most everyone can show up.

I always enjoy coming to our family reunions as I don’t get to see many of our family during the year except for this one time. So, we typically spend a lot of time catching up on everything that has happened since we last saw each other.

But, mostly we laugh and laugh and laugh. We have many comedians in our group, so someone is always saying something funny and then the rest feeds off that. We can’t seem to help ourselves.

This year was packed full of activities: golfing, geocaching, eating, hiking, cave exploration, shopping, eating, swimming, playing guitar and more eating. Exploring the Inner Space Caverns was definitely a highlight.

I’m thankful for the family I have. There is never a moment where I feel alone. We all help each other if needed and enjoy each other’s company.

But, mostly I like the laughter. It’s a big selling point for me.

Have a great day!


Hello, my name is Flo Holt…

A recent journal writing prompt, “What I let myself yearn for”  lead me in several directions.  What I wondered is “do I really let myself “yearn”?  How would I define it? A longing in my heart?  Any sort of longing, so it could include even clothes I see in catalogs? “Yearn” sounds like something that creates an ache because of its absence, maybe an ache so deep it’s unrecognized as being there at all.

Last week in a class, I told my adoption search story.  It wasn’t a time where everyone was sharing, but I offered to talk of it.  It became personal and not really classroom –focused.  What I mean is, I didn’t try to talk about it and tie it to the information we had just been presented on searching for adoptive parents.  I just sort of laid my story out there, with some of the time-line I’d experienced.  I told how it’s not a “search and reunion story”. It’s just the search.

My birth father lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Since 2000, when I turned 40 and did life-cycle-change things like participate in a triathlon, I’ve been trying to contact him.  In my head, I’ve always, honestly always, known I was adopted by my father, Don Barner.  Following his death in 1998 and my brother’s soon after, I was propelled in so many directions due to my emotional upheaval.  One of those was this “search”.  The thing is, after all this time, my birth father doesn’t reply.  I have decided my next step is family members.

Last week in  class it became very clear to me why the serach weighs heavy on me (1) the sense of rejection that is perpetuated because he has never responded (2) the feeling I carry that I’m the “dirty little family secret” (3) the disconnected feelings of attachment that I carry because of the adoption.  It’s engraved in my small child self – the one who at 3 years of age went excitedly to court when she became a ”Barner”.  There  are so many times I wonder “why” about my feelings about things and honestly, I don’t want to ‘wonder why’ any more.  Instead of analyzing I’d just rather do something – analyzing makes me feel stuck; paralyzed and in the “freeze” part of freeze•fight•flight.

“Buck it up – figure it out – take some action – make a decision”.  Can’t say that’s my higher self talking there, but some very determined part of me.

The plan – write a letter to the family:

“Hello, my name is Flo Holt…”



94 Years Old

My grandmother had her 94th birthday today. We call her Dee Dee. Her nickname was my idea as I couldn’t say grandmother when I was very young. Dee Dee worked well in my limited vocabulary at the time. The name stuck and everyone since has called her by that nickname.

Dee Dee is still as spunky and bright as she was 40 years ago. I was thinking about what has changed in the world in 94 years and it is staggering; technological advances that would be science fiction for people in 1915; multiple wars but more importantly thousands of incidents where people helped others out of every crisis imaginable. The world is more connected now than ever before.

In my grandmother is the seed of what we should all be following. It’s simple. She takes each day as it comes and makes the most of it. She works on keeping her attitude high and doesn’t hold on to negative things for very long. She seems to enjoy her life and doesn’t appear to have any regrets. Finally, she is appreciative of the life she has now and has lived.

I find her attitude inspirational and it has been a major input to my own life philosophy.

Dee Dee, Happy Birthday! I look forward to sharing many more with you.


What You Believe in Others

Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them. – Lady Bird Johnson

Belief. It’s a powerful influence not only for children but adults as well. By sharing your belief in someone else, you can actually help them instill that same belief within themselves. It’s a great way to help people and one of the best ways to enable others to learn how to help themselves.

I’ve seen it in work situations, my friends and my daughter.  People will rise to your expectations. Sometimes that is all they need to get going. Once that fire is lit, it will burn on its own eventually.

When you worry about someone or have anxiety and fear, then you are feeding their lack of success. Empathy may not be the answer to helping somebody. Seeing past their own faults and looking into their true nature is the only way to help them. If someone is feeling down, you can’t help them by feeling down also. If someone is talking negative or having negative thoughts, being negative with them will not help them. In fact, all that does is bring you down also. It’s important to not feed someone’s dysfunctional belief in themselves. Show them a different way, a different perspective. That’s the best gift you can give. Sometimes it’s just the support people need to get out of a challenging situation.

Next time you are with friends, family or coworkers, look and see what your beliefs are concerning them. Are you helping them or feeding their hindrances?


Recovery, Farewell and No Regrets

With a heavy heart I left my daughter and her boyfriend in Yosemite. Unfortunately, I have to fly back to New England tomorrow on a very early flight.

I’m a very lucky father in the fact that I have a fantastic daughter. We also share a love of nature and the outdoors. Hiking with her is fun because we both love the details of the hike; looking for unusual things, animals, plants, rocks and simply enjoying the experience overall. It’s fun to share that kind of activity especially with family. We are already planning our next adventure.

Before I left, my daughter’s boyfriend asked me if I regretted doing the Upper Yosemite Falls hike. I said, “Ask me in 72 hours. That’s when I expect the sore muscles to be back to normal.”   :-)   Truly though, I don’t regret it one bit. The difficulty of the hike was more than rewarded for the sense of accomplishment and the view that very few people get to see.

I have learned to regret very little now. I don’t find it a useful thought process or emotion. Regret implies that we have made a mistake. If you are moving through life, trying out new things, endeavoring to have new experiences, how can you have any mistakes? If something doesn’t work out or you don’t like it, then you have more information than you did prior to that experience. You simply move on to the next logical step whatever that might be. There are no mistakes. Bumps in the road maybe, but no mistakes.

No regrets! Throw that phrase out of you vocabulary. You’ll be much happier for it.


“Remember me”

You know that  little check box that says “remember me”?  It’s  a regular feature on most websites that require a log-in and was at the bottom of the WordPress screen as I logged in a few minutes ago.

“Remember me” is what I should be saying, with a big, not just big but GIGANTIC question mark – like this: “REMEMBER ME?”as it has been a very long time since I’ve written in this space. (Hello?  Hello?  Are you out there??)  I’m not missing.  I just wandered.  Wandered off. Wandered for a bit.  Wandered away.  Wandered afar.  Wandered around. (I can go on and on about it…) Really, I’m still out here and haven’t forgotten about being in this space, either.  Sometimes (well, I probably should say “often”) it’s a juggle for time, for priority and many things racing to be first in line.  For instance, in the midst of writing this ever-so-brief blog I was interrupted to: put the bassets out; put the bassets to bed; feed/water the outside cat, TJ; try to unhook the hose from the spigot as it is freezing tonight (no luck on that one);  put the laundry in the closet (it has been on the floor for days – probably 10 days).  Now, I look at the clock and I have to stop and go to sleep.

No worries. I’ll be back.



Deep Freeze!

It’s easy to complain about the cold (we’ve been down to -18F in Chicago today). But, I just read in the New York Times that the canals have frozen in the Netherlands for the first time in 12 years. This is a very big deal for the Dutch, who think of skating, according to the story, as “part of our soul.”

I’m thrilled for the Dutch, who have rushed out by the hundreds of thousands to skate on the canals, an old national tradition. Older Dutch are euphoric to relive their childhood memories. For many children, of course, this is a new experience. I imagine how happy, how full of wonder and surprise they must be to see their parents and their grandparents bursting with childlike excitement. How great to learn to be a child from your elders.

Just this morning I told friends that I have never really minded the bitter cold, at least on a sunny day, but that I don’t love it as much since I stopped having the chance to skate outside. And now I’m reading about a country able to skate outside, in spite of water pollution, in spite of global warming.

Can’t you imagine it, the wind pushing freezing tears from the corners of your eyes, your skates ripping into the hard, rough ice, the warmth returning to your feet in your skates as you work your legs and arms. If you are lucky, you hold a small child in front of you with both hands, feeling him feel the ice, the startling lack of friction and weight, as you glide untethered away from shore.

God bless winter.