The Orphan Trains

Been thinking about the discontinuation of our use of the word “orphan”. Did you know that over 120,000 homeless and neglected kids were shipped from the east coast to the west between 1853 and 1947?
When I was young there was a series of books called “Anne of Green Gables”. The premise of the book was that she was sent west on an Orphan Train. Her adoptive parents were late getting there and she was the only child remaining. They said that they took her “even though” she was a redhead. (Ever heard the phrase, ‘meaner than a red-headed stepchild’?)

I haven’t thought of that book for many years, but it was well written- there was a constant subcurrent of Anne’s effort to be accepted by her parents. It was bittersweet.

Mr Rogers and Shame

I grew up in the era of Mr Rogers. His zen-like demeanor, empathetic communication style and thoughtful “life lessons” made more of an impact on me than I ever expected. I emulated his slow thoughtful style.

In this electronic culture we seem to value novelty, haste and outrage – a complete contrast to the days of taking 4 minutes to change into your tennis shoes and cardigan. Teens spend hours sending videos of themselves with doe eyes from Snapchat. Our friends feel rejected if we don’t answer a text within an hour and the latest scandal or terrorist attack appears on our screen minutes after its occurrence. We are living in a knee jerk reality and it’s not us who has the rubber hammer.

This speed promotes shame and outrage. As we are fed information on our screens, we don’t give ourselves the time and bandwidth to process how we actually feel. We rely on the language used or the images. This emotional disconnect causes us to use a symbolic shorthand. Our snap judgement of what is happening in the image or the intent of the writer ignites our quick dopamine fueled response. We only read Cliff Notes now, we don’t take the time for novels.

I once put a post on social media that went something like this” I’m feeling great since I’ve been on a cleanse the last 3 weeks. I’ve been running 5 miles a day, eating no dairy, sugar or gluten…” and so on. At the very end of the list of ‘accomplishments’ the final sentence states “I don’t know whose status this is but you should copy and paste it too.” Of the 30 or so people that responded, most obviously didn’t read the whole text- coming back with comments like “Great job!” “Good For You!” etc. Only 3 read to the end and laughed. It’s as if we see ourselves as too busy to actually complete our own experiences.

The richness of emotion is a garden that needs not only water but pruning, mulching, and maybe most of all, singing.

We seem to have emotional transparency, but it is shallow. We are so busy moving on to the next thing that it’s easy to distract ourselves.

I saw a great quote from Fred Rogers this morning ;

“Anything that’s human is mentionable and anything that’s mentionable is manageable. When we can talk about our feelings they can become less overwhelming, less upsetting and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can let us know that we are not alone.”
I often talk of how ashamed I was of being a teenaged mom. That shame cut me off from other people and perpetuated the feeling that I didn’t deserve respect and understanding. I had ‘done it to myself ‘(btw NOT true:) How often do all of us isolate ourselves with shame? Hobbling ourselves so we can’t walk forward?

Shame is ego turned in on itself in the worst way. Let’s try to give ourselves AND others the space and the permission that Mr Rogers did.

Episode #8 Finding Family with H


Can you imagine looking for your birthparents for years and then getting a response and a picture 2 minutes after sending a facebook message?