A World Away From Home


Q: Do you think you will ever meet your birth parents?

     A: No.

Q: Do you think your birth parents might look like you?

    A: I want to believe so.

Q: Have you been back to Russia since your adoption?

    A: No.

Q: Do you want to go back to Russia?

    A: Yes.

These are some of the questions I typically get asked when I reveal to people that I was adopted. To be honest, I often forget that I was adopted. Well, I don’t actually “forget,” of course, but I don’t think about it as regularly as some adoptive children do. My parents never treated me any different than my brother. My adoptive parents, Susan and Ernie, are just as protective of me as they are my brother, who was not adopted. I have never, even for a fraction of a second, felt left out. Nor will I ever. My mom and dad raised me to the best of their ability and did one heck of a job. The beauty in my adoption is that I will always be able to say that I was adopted with a smile on my face and a twinkle in my eye.

Meeting my birth parents was never a serious desire of mine. I choose the word serious because some adopted children constantly struggle with not knowing who their real parents are. They feel like they have been abandoned and left out of their ‘adoptive family.’ This colors their outlook on the world and can often lead to depression. They find themselves in inner turmoil wondering how and why their birth parents gave them up. I consider myself lucky because I do not feel this way. In fact, I feel extremely grateful and loved. I am a crucial part of my family and I understand that to the core of my being. Who knows where I would be if it weren’t for my adoption.

Although I can easily tolerate not knowing who my parents are, I am still inquisitive. As I grow older, I become increasingly curious about what my biological parents look like. Yes, I want to know about their physical features. I want to know how tall they are. I want to know if they have the same hair and eye color as me. I want to know if their personality is similar to mine or far removed. It may just be that the closest thing to knowing what my birth parents look like is comparing what I looked like when I was ten years old, to what I’ll look like when I’m fifty. It’s only in fleeting moments like this that I wonder what they look like and what kind of people they are. Now, this is the time in which I really begin to stretch my imagination. If I had to guess what my biological mother and father look like, this is what I would say: Mother: She’s 5’1 (I’m 5’3). She has light brown hair (I’m dirty blonde). She has hazel eyes (I have blue/green eyes). She is muscular (just like me). Father: He’s 5’7 and muscular. He has light blonde hair and brown eyes. See what I mean by stretching the imagination?

One troublesome matter that all adoptees have to come to terms with is not knowing about any health risks they may have inherited. When I go in for a physical and I have to fill out my parent’s health history, it’s then that I am reminded that I have no idea of my genetic makeup. Does heart disease run in my family? What about cancer or diabetes? I do my absolute best to eat as healthy as I can and exercise to ward off any inherited risks. That’s all we can ever really do, isn’t it? I have to be pro-active and set my mind straight. Worrying gets me nowhere and only increases whatever risks I may have.

The last question that I presented at the beginning of my post in the ‘FAQ section’ is one that I think about most frequently and that is – “Do you want to go back to Russia?” Yes, I do. When the time is right, I will go back. I’m curious about my “homeland” and what my reaction to it might be. Will I be happy? Will I be sad? Will I be frustrated? Who knows. But, I do know for sure that someday I will be able to answers these questions truthfully and with dignity. No matter what anyone says, I am certain that I am the luckiest girl to be able to live in a world where I am free – the beautiful and wonderful United States of America.

And a world away from home….I am not alone.

little maddie

 A wish was made that day.


Jackie Evancho

After four years of watching Jackie grow from the 10-year-old who captivated America, to the 15-year-old who continues to captivate America, I can’t help but wonder how she does it. After America’s Got Talent, Jackie’s career skyrocketed. She has performed for President and Mrs. Obama, for the Royal Japanese Family, and has sung with legends such as Barbra Streisand and Susan Boyle. Her golden voice has taken her all over the world. I’ve watched Jackie bloom in her career and she has done a remarkable job. It isn’t always easy being raised in the public eye at such a young age, but Jackie has definitely made it appear that way. With the support of her parents, she has managed to stay sane and is comfortable in her own skin, which is rare for someone her age. Now, a high school freshman, Jackie continues to pursue her dream of being a notable singer.

Like with any young successful person, some people are bound to be jealous. “Her voice is going to change when she’s older.”  “She’s going to become a diva.” “She is going to turn into Miley Cyrus.” As any other close follower would, I have questioned why anybody would want to put her down.

When I first heard Jackie sing, I instantly fell in love with her voice. Jackie has the ability to move people, multiple times her age, to tears. Because the depth of her emotion, she attracts adults more so than people her own age. Perhaps her choice of songs and her style are reasons why she appeals to adults. Here is an interesting concept that I am quite fascinated by.  I do not like opera. In fact, I’ve never liked opera. However, a lot of people mistake Jackie for an opera singer, but she is not. She is a classical crossover singer with an operatic voice.

Aside from the voice and her mature nature, Jackie has exceptional interviewing skills and a very broad vocabulary. Her parents have clearly taught her well. In an interview on NPR, Michelle Norris says to Jackie, “It is clear that you are in touch with what you’re singing.” Jackie’s response didn’t surprise me. “I’m kind of possessed by the music,” Jackie chuckles. I enjoy listening to Jackie’s interviews because she has something new and interesting to say each time. When I listen to her, sometimes I’ll pause and ask myself, “Wow, could I have formulated those words at her age?” If you think I envy Jackie, think again. I am a proud fan and I’m impressed with what she has done.

I’ve listened to Jackie in private for four years because I was criticized every time I mentioned her name. Neither my friends nor family wanted to share my enthusiasm. That being said, I no longer care what others think. So here I am, setting my own trend. I will never regret anything that puts a smile on my face. In fact, no one should. Jackie is a role model because she does what she loves and follows her heart. I will forever be grateful that I discovered her. If I could give Jackie advice, this is what I would say: Don’t give into peer pressure, be who you are and please, sail on silver girl. Maybe, just maybe, this is good advice for everyone.

Enjoy Jackie’s rendition of Ave Maria (Live)

An Oasis of Nature’s Beauty

Take a quiet walk with nature. It will nurture your mind, body and soul.

I’ve seen America. I’ve also seen Switzerland, Germany and France. I have found that I can hear, understand and feel nature no matter where I am. The beautiful aspect about nature is that it’s surrounding us. We can’t escape it, but we can choose to become friendly with it. Our time on this earth is limited and therefore, I believe we must become one with the very thing that is keeping us alive.

Nature is beautiful for many reasons, but what fascinates me most is the effortlessness it takes in order for me to feel. Feel happy. Feel calm. Feel beautiful. Feel free. It’s exhilarating to be able to look at the colors of the ocean, sky and grass and feel nothing but pure happiness. Without a shadow of a doubt, my imagination runs wild and I can be alone with my thoughts. I believe that nature enables us to be alone with our thoughts. Sunsets in particular, bring me much joy. I find it interesting that nature can naturally evoke emotion in a person. Sometimes, we are unaware when we feel touched by nature, but this fact is pleasing because of the ability it has to make us feel. Not being an emotional person, I find myself questioning why I feel this way when I am surrounded by beauty. Nonetheless, it’s a wonderful feeling. This is divine.

Natural. From a very young age, I have had a deep relationship with this word. If I had to come up with my own definition for this word, it would be “To effortlessly succeed.”

As the days go by, my appreciation for nature grows. I perceive nature as allowing us to be cognitive and intellectual, while becoming spiritually re-born. In other words, when we are in the midst of nature’s beauty, we notice and learn more about ourselves. As you are walking through the woods or swimming in a lake, you may notice how you are feeling (or not). Sometimes, it isn’t until after your journey in the woods that this feeling hits you. It can be refreshing. Thank you euphoria.

Switzerland’s beauty has had a lasting impact on me. The beauty of Switzerland will always stay with me. However, I no longer need to be enchanted by a place in order to see the value in it. I do my very best to understand a place for what it is, rather than what I want it to be. In doing so, it allows my spirit to be informed and affected. As I previously stated, nature is all around us and although it may not be the most beautiful sight, it’s still there.

The birds chirping, the wind howling, the thunder roaring and the rain falling are all signs of life. When I listen to birds in the morning, I instantly feel like I am in paradise. Lightning has always intrigued me. When I was younger, I would watch the lightning strike with curiosity, unaware of its significance. Most of us are probably sick of seeing the same scenery over and over again. However, you must look closely. You must look deeper into it, because there, you will find peace.

Beauty is in nature. Nature is today. Today is here.


A Shift in Perspective

“Nobody got where they are today by living for tomorrow” – Tom Wilson.

The above quote is one that I will vicariously live my life by for the remainder of my time here on this earth. Living in the present moment can be hard for many. School, work and social life can often consume your worries, no? I believe this to be rather normal. But, instead of saying “Nobody got where they are today by living for tomorrow,” how about we concentrate on saying “Focusing on today will get us where we want to be tomorrow.”

I have seen and experienced worriers. In fact, I am one. I have worked, consciously, to understand why I worry. Most often, I can’t come up with a definitive answer. But, when I do find an answer, it’s usually an original answer. “Did I do this right” or “I’m late” are the kind of daily worries that occupy most people. That being said, I no longer feel alone. “Wait, but, what if I want to feel alone?” I mused.  We would think it would be nice not to be alone in our worries. However, I don’t want to worry just because everyone else worries, right? I once heard the saying, “don’t let your mother’s worries become your worries.” I wholeheartedly agree with this statement and find this to be a very true accusation.

Swaying uncomfortably between the spheres of present and future, I find myself lost in the moment. Since recent revelations of self-awakening, my newfound appetite is to enjoy the present moment for what it is, rather than what I want it to be.

A few days ago, I went in for an interview at the Mystic Marriott, located in Mystic, CT. Before I arrived, I was nervous, but not as nervous as I had anticipated. This is due to the fact that I realized, in the moment, how I was feeling and thought to myself, “Is worrying going to do you any good? Worrying is not going to change reality, so stop it!” This was beauty beyond description because I could finally fight my nerves, and win. Nobody has control over the future, so why waste your energy on worrying? “A day of worry is more exhausting than a day of work.” – Anonymous.

As I rest my head on my hands, close my eyes and silently think about the thoughts that are racing through my mind, I suddenly realize that I would be much happier if I spent half my time living in the the moment. Most people think that worrying is pondering over what’s next, and for some, if there even is a next.  My question to you is this: How can we tell the difference between worrying and thinking? Unfortunately, I can only provide you with my answer.

When I am mulling my thoughts over, I smile because I am genuinely a happy person. Music takes me there often. On the other hand, when I am worried and/or stressed, I notice that I sigh a lot.  See the difference??

Being mindful about how you are feeling in the moment, can help you to naturally realize when you are on edge. Once you have trained your brain to think a new and improved way, your “no worries mindset” will automatically come into play. We can’t change the past, we can’t predict the future, we can only live each day to its fullest. This statement alone is a prescription for a happy life. While I will continue to worry, at least I have the knowledge on how to become mindful when I am worried. This “knowledge,” if you will, will guide me through the rest of my life.

I want to be forever happy. I never want to hear, even the softest whispers of jealousy, deep within my soul, at another’s happiness. So, let’s do the world and ourselves a favor. Concentrate on today, so tomorrow will lean towards a better future.


A Beautiful Soul Indeed

Fly a Little Higher, by Laura Sobiech, captured my attention and held it exquisitely. Reading this phenomenal novel allowed me to understand how hard it is for a mother to watch their son’s time clock tick.

At the age of 14, Zach Sobiech was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer. During his battle with cancer, he didn’t fight alone. Zach’s friends and family were by his side every step of the way. Doctors told Zach that he had months to live. Although Zach knew that his time on this earth was short, his innate spirit is what kept him strong. He had a beautiful soul that nobody was able to touch. I’ve never witnessed something so glorious. This story is about a boy who lived, while dying.

Death is a very public phenomenon in that it has been felt by all, but very private in that all do not discuss. When we decide to overcome our fear of death, life becomes more valuable, rich and full. Death can be devastating, beautiful or some twisted combination of the two. While most of us see death as something tragic, it can actually be a peaceful release especially when someone has been suffering for so long. Everyone will die, whether it is tomorrow or in ninety years from now. The only thing we have control over is how we react to it. In other words, our relationship with death.

Zach didn’t see death as anything tragic. He simply saw it as a life event. Zach was a stoic young man who stayed strong through this difficult time. I’m convinced that most people, including myself, don’t understand how a young gentleman could stay so resilient through this journey. I am astonished by his seemingly effortless ability to stay emotionally stable. While I don’t understand how this is possible, I want to understand, so if I ever have to go through the pain of watching a loved one die, I’d be able to handle it.  In one of Laura’s interviews, she mentioned a profound statement that Zach had said. He said, “Mom, I’m glad it’s me who has cancer because I don’t think I could watch someone I love go through what I am going through.” This was devastatingly true to him.

Regardless of how hard we fight the tears in a situation like this, the tears will win. But guess what? That’s okay. I believe emotions are beautiful because it reminds us that we are alive.

In life, everything we do is a choice. Everything we don’t do, is also a choice. Most people would like to change their life one way or another, no? Nobody’s life is perfect, but we can choose to be happy.  Choosing to be happy, no matter our downfalls, will have a positive impact on our life and the life of those surrounding us. I can’t speak for others’ in terms of their happiness, but I will tell you one thing; I am happy.

RIP Zach Sobiech. You are a beautiful soul.  Gone but never forgotten



Being in the hospitality business, I believe that being well spoken is crucial. In fact, whether your field is Sports Management, Hospitality, or just about anything, being well spoken is an important skill to have. People often view the phrase “well spoken” as meaning to express their thoughts and ideas adequately. Although that is correct, being well spoken also has to do with your overall knowledge, the scope of your vocabulary, the economy of your presentation, the quality of your pronunciation, being courteous to the needs of your listeners and reducing the amount of “ums” and “uhs” used in your sentences. All these attributes contribute to being well spoken.

Ever since studying abroad in Europe, I have become more aware of how I speak and also, the non-verbal gestures I use. Many of the Europeans I met are much more animated in their expressions and gestures while talking. I found this helpful when I didn’t understand what they were saying. For example, it is easy to determine if someone was happy or angry, or, frustrated or content by their facial expressions and other gestures. You may have heard the phrase talking with his or her hands. Well, I have seen that in action, and no, I don’t mean sign language. In general, Europeans seem much more expressive in this way.

I know that I am not the most well spoken person out there, and this is due in part to anxiety. That said, I am keen on becoming better spoken. I have worked day-in and day-out to understand the attributes to being well spoken and apply them to myself.  That’s all we can ever really do, isn’t it? You’ve got to work at something to become good at it.   While I have the knowledge to become better spoken, something is stopping me from doing so. I am working hard to understand my challenges and overcome them, but it’s a process. It will not happen over night. I hope others will find this helpful as they grapple with the same challenges.

Being well spoken is a key to success in any business. It starts with your first professional interaction/first impression with someone and goes from there. Understanding the skills and attributes of a well-spoken person will help you understand how to become one yourself. Best of luck to all of us.


A Semester Abroad

Studying abroad is something I never aspired to do while planning for college.  My school, Mitchell College, did not have a study abroad program, so I never really gave it any thought. That being said, I am a person that loves to travel and loves going on adventures. Flying on an airplane, riding on a train, road trips and going on boats excite me the most.  I remember road trips to Florida with my family and how excited I was to be able to just have time to myself and look out the window, while listening to music. I don’t travel often, but when I do, I’m probably the happiest person at that very moment.  I simply love to travel.

I am currently in my junior year at Mitchell, majoring in Hospitality and Tourism.  This semester, my department started working with a study abroad consultant and an opportunity came up that I jumped on.  This Spring, I will be studying at a school called Les Roches International School of Hotel Management in Switzerland.  Les Roches is ranked among the top 3 Hospitality schools in the world for an international career and attracts students from over 85 different nationalities worldwide.  The school’s motto is, “It’s not just a school, it’s a way of life.”  I found the school’s intentions for their students very unique and hands-on, and so, I fell in love.

Les Roches is located in Crans-Montana in the small village of Bluche.  It’s a beautiful campus in a valley of the Swiss Alps and the vistas are breathtaking.  From what I have read online, they say that the students feel like they’re not living on a traditional campus; they feel as if they’re living in a village.  With the school’s location, students can take day trips to Italy, France, Germany or even Austria.  I hope to see them all.

Another reason I decided on Les Roches is that in addition to taking several courses related to hotel management and operations, I will also be interning at a resort called LeCrans Hotel and Spa.  It’s a beautiful 5-star property where I hope to put my book learning into practice and learn more about the Swiss way of hospitality.

Being able to study abroad will open many doors for me.  As they say, it’s truly a once in a lifetime experience; it’s life changing!  I expect it will be as I meet people from all over the world, learn to appreciate different cultures, try new foods, and do what I love most, travel and have fun!


Life’s natural beauty