As Jess and I have been traveling through the southwest, we have stopped to see folks that we consider dear to us: folks that we’ve met on our years-long family vision quest (, folks that we knew when we lived in some places, folks that are even related to us that are family in “the blood way”, scattered all over Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.  In the various places and in the presence of these various people, we have been reminded of the kind of connections that are real, that transcend time and miles, that rekindle as soon as you fall into one another’s arms.  We’ve been reminded that family of the heart is a real thing.

As I wrote about some years ago in Trust is Thicker than Blood, trusting that you are safe with people is a huge blessing.  The ones that you can answer “YES” to these questions are the ones to keep close to your heart:

  •  Can I be myself with you? 
  • Can I say what is true for me in your presence without judgment or negation? 
  • Can I live my life and hold my own beliefs as I see fit without condemnation or denigration? 
  • Can you acknowledge and affirm (not tolerate) what I do in my efforts to be healthy and whole?
  • Can you find it in your heart to applaud my courage in finding my own path rather than being threatened by it? 
  • Do you truly want the best for me, even if it doesn’t look like what is best for you?
  • Can you celebrate my victories even if they don’t match yours?
  • Can I be completely me with you, warts and all?

I have been blessed to find these kinds of people in my search for family, and it is a revelation to feel kindred spirits in the world.  I wrote in 2010 about a Cheyenne story that describes pouring our bad water from one’s cup so that we can put good water into it.  It is the same with relationships.  In order to embrace the love that is available out there for us, we sometimes have to pour out the toxic relationships in our lives to make room for the ones that can truly nourish us.  This southwest trip I am taking with my son has felt like a re-arranging of molecules in my body…like the old patterns of belittling and beating myself up for not having the kind of relationships I want with my blood family have been exposed and dried up in the heat of the desert sun, allowing fresh, green connections to grow like healthy vines underneath in the moist earth of my heart.  I feel a strange symmetry with the flipping of the sun’s magnetic poles…a change that is so immense in nature as to feel like life beginning anew.