More than 350,000 family abductions occur in the U.S. each year, nearly 1,000 per day. 1,000 children abducted by a parent, a relative every day! On November 2, 1987, I lost my two children to such an abduction by their father. Monica was almost six years old; David was one and half. I had never known or heard of anyone who had had a child abducted either by a family member or non-family individual(s). I did not know where to turn or what to do. What I fervently did know was I would find and be with my children no matter the obstacles. Above all, I vowed I would never give up hope.
During the almost thirteen years it took for me to locate and reunite with Monica and David, my journey had many twists, turns, and often heartbreaking dead-ends. For a long time, I was unable to look at or touch my children’s toys and clothes that had been left behind. I would drive by the school where Monica had attended kindergarten and I would start to cry. A child in a stroller would remind me of David.
There were numerous calls to and conversations with local, state, and Federal law enforcement, and attorneys both in the U.S. and Mexico. There were repeated futile attempts to find organizations that would help. There were disreputable private investigators who claimed they would find and bring Monica and David home if I just paid inordinate amounts of money. Ultimately, I connected with The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). This organization understood and I knew they would undertake the steps needed to find my children.
As the years went by searching for my children, I made important professional and personal decisions. I knew that I had to take care of myself both physically and emotionally in order to be a strong person and parent when I reunited with Monica and David. I sought and obtained my accreditation in public relations and started a firm, which continues today. In conjunction, I found immense value in therapy, which allowed me to grow and obtain a sense of self. Along the way, I met a man, Earl, who is now my husband. He has been my rock and support through all the “ups and downs” in the journey.
Through the relentless efforts of several at NCMEC, Monica and David were found in Toluca, northwest of Mexico City. I will never forget April 4, 1999, when I received the incredible news!
Except it was not a fairy-tale reunion. Monica and David were strangers. My children had been told I was dead, and as I was still alive, why had I waited all these years to come for them? Both stated that we would never be friends and, definitely not family. My journey in searching for my children was not over. It had actually just begun. And, I was determined, more than ever, to remain hopeful and patient that one day I would have a relationship with my children.
Nine years after we reunited, on February 4, 2008, my birthday, David called me. “Happy Birthday, Mom, I love you!” I was speechless.
The following year, Mother’s Day 2009, Monica sent me a card.
“Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! Love, Your Favorite Daughter!”
Today, Monica calls me Favorite Mom and she is Favorite Daughter.
And David calls Earl “Dad” and signs all of his cards, emails, and texts to each and both of us, Love, Son.
My journey continues.
P.S. – Susan Morrow’s book chronicling her search, reunion, and rebuilding the relationships with her children is due to launch fall 2013.
Susan Morrow MissingKidsLogois a crisis management specialist and helps organizations in the areas of internal planning, communications with media, community, and industry audiences, and counseling during actual crisis situations. She uses her immense talents as a consultant at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. In this role, Ms. Morrow’s nationwide team of 20 volunteers supports families whose children have been abducted by one parent or a family member to locations here and abroad. She and her team have helped over 2,000 families in the last seven years. Ms. Morrow also counsels families experiencing long-term abductions and provides post-reunification support.
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
As you’re progressing through your divorce, how have you been able to use love, patience and hope to get through your toughest spots? I hope that you’re not in Susan’s situation of having your children abducted, but I know that you have had some tough times. These are the times I’m asking you to think about how you’ve had a chance to use love, patience and always hope to make it through them.
How might you rely more on love, patience and hope to support yourself as you use your divorce as the starting point for you to live the BEST of your life? Although it might not seem like your divorce could actually be the beginning of the BEST of your life, with a bit of determination and creativity it can be. If you’d like some support in figuring it out, just let me know. I’ll be happy to help.
If you’re looking for more help on how to navigate the challenges of your life now, read more articles on Life After Divorce.
For me, my life has been one big life lesson in courage and freedom. Thus it comes as no surprise that helping others find the courage to reach financial freedom has been my career path for the past fifteen years.
As a wealth advisor, I help others have the courage to pursue their dreams and create the financial freedom to live joyful and abundant lives. Does that equate to living a life full of roses—the answer can only be yes if one accepts the thorns alongside the beauty.
The key to embracing our life purpose lies in embracing the challenges along the road to freedom, facing the fears that otherwise hold us back and having the awareness that without a roadmap in hand, financial freedom is but a fleeting dream. It takes real courage to invest one’s money into a volatile market gripped with global economic uncertainty. Throwing caution to the wind is not prudent. But with careful consideration of one’s goals and objectives, flavored with a bias towards risk management, and courage to correct course along the way, financial freedom becomes reality.
We all go through transitions in life—affectionately called “stressors”—-marriage, births, job loss, career changes, major illness, loss of loved ones, divorce, moves, retirement, to name but a few. All transitions share a commonality—they take courage—courage to overcome our fears and courage to embrace the change that results from each event. Financial freedom makes the transitions less stressful. And sometimes the financial freedom comes as a result of the transitions. And yet, financial freedom takes focus, effort, work, determination, and courage.
If you are seeking courage and freedom, then “When the past calls, let it go to voicemail. It has nothing new to say.” With an open mind you can explore, create, and grow, remembering all the while that progress would be impossible if we continue to do things the way we always have. As John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death—and saddling up anyway.”
So “saddle up”—find the courage to create a life full of freedom, joy, happiness, and abundance and you will know you are truly living!
This article was contributed by Janet Woods, Wealth Advisor, UBS Financial Services, Inc., 214-373-5918 www.ubs.com/fa/janetlwoods
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
What are your financial goals? Most people dealing with divorce need to visit this question. Divorce usually changes finances dramatically, yet it doesn’t have to ruin your financial future. Allow yourself the freedom to really assess what your financial goals are.
What do you need to do to achieve your financial goals? This is one of those times when it’s important to know what you need before you can ask for help. Everyone has a unique financial situation when they complete their divorce. Some people need to figure out how to invest a lump sum from a retirement account, some people need to find a job, and some people need to figure out how to rebalance their portfolio. Whatever your unique situation is, spending a bit of time figuring out what your most immediate need is will allow you to know exactly whom you need to request assistance from.
Luckily, I know you know how to ask for help (you wouldn’t have found this newsletter if you didn’t) and so you’ll be able to start on your path to reaching your financial goals by working with the correct professional for you. BUT, if you need an assist in knowing which type of professional to work with, I’m only a phone call or email away.
© 2013 Karen Finn. All rights reserved under all copyright conventions.
Have you ever heard someone say that instead of working things out a couple is taking the easy road by deciding to separate and divorce? I have and all I can say to those ignorant people is “Seriously? You have no idea what it takes to get divorced.”
Making the decision that a relationship in which you’ve invested YEARS of your life is better off ending than continuing is FAR from easy. In fact, it’s usually gut wrenching. Although there are the extremely rare people who enter into a marriage with the intent that it end with divorce, the rest of us jump into marriage with both feet, a sense of commitment and a willingness to make things work whatever that takes. And did I mention we usually spend YEARS trying to make things work before we ever think of separation or divorce. I certainly don’t see how any sane person can look at a couple who’s divorcing and say they’re taking the easy road.
Reaching the decision to separate and divorce is hard. It was one of the most difficult decisions I ever made not only in the moment the decision was made, but in the fall-out of that decision. EVERYTHING changed in that moment. Not all the changes were for the better – at least not in the short-term. I came face-to-face with some hard truths about me and how I was living my life. It wasn’t all pretty and took a whole lot of really hard work to get me straightened out. BUT I am a much healthier and happier person now.
The road I’ve taken since my separation and divorce hasn’t been easy, but it has felt much more alive and real than the road I was on in my first marriage.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are contemplating divorce. Should you stay, or should you go is a powerful question and I’m here to help you make a smart decision that will lead to your greatest happiness… whether you stay OR go. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.
If you’re looking for more help answering the question “Should I stay or should I go?”, read more articles in Unhappy Marriage?.
When’s the last time you heard someone say, “I feel stuck!”? It probably wasn’t that long ago. Heck, it might have even been you hearing yourself uttering or muttering these words.
When I went through my divorce and the process of rediscovering myself, I felt stuck. Everything in my life was changing, but I felt stuck. I had repetitive thoughts that got in my way. I had beliefs about being less than others and these beliefs often kept me from having, doing and being what I wanted. In short, my divorce derailed the life I was living and I was feeling overwhelmed by all the changes.
What I know now that I didn’t know back then is that all of my feelings of stuckness were just my personal dragons that I needed to slay before I could fully engage in my life again.
So just to be clear about what it feels like to be stuck these are some common things my clients say to describe being stuck:
- Stressed out
- Feeling misaligned with what’s going on
- Experiencing strong unpleasant emotions
- Needing to get more knowledge about something, but not sure what or how to do it
- Repetitively trying things that just don’t work
- Not able or willing to take the actions needed
(Of course there could also be a medical reason for experiencing these feelings of stuckness and those folks need to work with their healthcare provider too!)
Maybe these descriptions of stuckness seem familiar to you. Maybe you’ve seen your own fire-breathing dragons and are tired of being at their mercy. If that’s you, I’ll bet you’re wondering “How do I slay my dragons?”
And that, dear reader, is exactly the question I hoped you would ask.
It turns out that there’s been quite a bit of amazing research done over the past hundred years or so on the human body and discovering that we each have “multiple brains”. If we define a brain as a collection of a large number of ganglia along with sensory and motor neurons, neural cells with inter-neurons, support cells and components such as glial cells and astrocytes. In addition a brain has certain functional attributes such as perceiving, assimilating and processing information, memory and storage access, ability to mediate complex reflexes via an intrinsic nervous system and a storage warehouse of neurotransmitters. With this definition and capabilities, it turns out that we each have at least 3 brains (You can read more about multiple brains in Oka and Soosalu’s book mBraining: Using Your Multiple Brains to do Cool Stuff). Your 3 brains are located in your head, around your heart and in your gut. By understanding how to connect with each of your brains and in a particular order you can slay your known dragons.
Here’s how I suggest you go about slaying your dragons:
- Relax. The exact method here isn’t as important as that you just do it.
- Step into the logic of the issue to get really clear and specific about what the current situation is and what your desired situation is.
- Tune in with your heart. What is your heart telling you about the situation?
- What is your head/logic telling you about the information from your heart?
- Tune back in with your heart. What adjustments to the thoughts from your head need to be made?
- Tune into your gut. What does your gut say about this information?
- Ideally, at this point your gut has given you an indication of what actions need to be taken and given you the energy to take them. If not, then take the information from your gut and return to step 3.
As you can see from the steps above slaying your dragons is all about getting clear and energized about taking actions because you’ve been able to think about the situation (dragon) in a different way. I think Einstein said it best – “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
Solving the challenges and problems that come along with divorce requires you to think and act differently than you have been. Once you can see them from a different perspective, it usually becomes fairly clear about how you can slay your dragons. How do I know? Because I’ve done it myself.
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
- Identify a dragon you’re ready to slay. I recommend starting small. What’s one small thing that’s keeping you stuck?
- Apply the process above. Allow yourself the time to experiment with this process. I think you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll be able to get in touch with each of your brains and get moving in the right direction for you.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice or schedule a confidential consultation with me.
© 2013 Karen Finn. All rights reserved under all copyright conventions.