The Truth of Who I Am

"Only the truth of who you are, if realized, will set you free." -Eckhart Tolle

All in The Family

on May 1, 2013


I’ve been out of town in the beautiful city of San Francisco for the last four days and away from my kiddies and I can’t express how wonderful and hard it has been. The first two days weren’t so bad because the kids were with their Daddy, but then he left to join me in San Francisco and that’s when it got really hard. I don’t like it when our family is apart. It just doesn’t feel right. We belong with each other. It’s hard to believe that just 8 years ago our family did not even exist and now I can’t even remember what it was like not to be a family. Well let me clarify that with some truth – I do remember free time and NOT knowing what it was like to lack sleep and to have lots of energy and sleep in on weekends, but I don’t remember what it felt like NOT to love Brian and David and Kaya and to NOT love them as a unit. It just doesn’t seem real that there was a time when we were not a family. I think every one of us has felt this un-rightness the last couple of days. Over the last two days together in San Francisco, every time Brian and I passed other parents with young children, my heart ached a little bit and I became even more aware of the emptiness next to me and the yearning for a little hand to hold as we walked.

The separation of our family has had me thinking about families. I believe that families are of the Divine. I believe this to be true regardless of how well or badly the family works. Each member – no matter how she or he arrived – is chosen for a very specific purpose. I believe that our families are formed to help us become more like our Divine selves. More like the image of the Divine Spirit of which we are created. We are chosen to be together. I believe we each come to this planet in little packages prone to quirks and habits and tastes and interests and personalities that are designed to offer lessons to the people around us.

An example of this – my entire childhood right up until college, I believed that I knew a whole lot, dare I say everything. I was very literal and had an answer or comment to just about everything. This side of me showed up the best for my family members because I was shy around most other people. I’m guessing this not-so-endearing personality trait was a repeated test for my family members who often gave up trying to convince me of things or explain another perspective. So I’m not sure what lesson they learned other than patience and the ability to love even the less-than-charming pieces of me.

Fast forward to this new family I’m in now and I hear my dearly beloved son at age two telling his Granddad that he knows everything and what he doesn’t know, he just hasn’t thought of yet. At age seven he is still going strong and has an answer and comment for everything. The first time I became conscious of myself in him was humbling. It went something like this, “David, give it up already!” And then to myself, “Wow! He sounds so familiar.” And then, “Uh oh! He sounds just like ME! And it’s not pleasant at all! Oh no! So THAT’S what it was like for my family!” Very humbling experience. Fortunately, I am offered the opportunity to atone for my lack of consideration by loving my son through this stage and gently trying to teach him how others experience his amazing, unlimited knowledge of answers and comments to everything. If you should be so lucky as to experience this side of him, please be gentle, too.

There’s another kind of family that we are sometimes offered in our lives. This kind of family is like a bonus family (maybe because you need more teachers in your life). I was lucky enough to be reunited with some of these family members during my time in San Francisco. This was a family of loving, kind, gentle people who matched our family perfectly and from the moment we all met each other when my family moved to Zambia in 1979, it was as if we had known each other our entire lives. We barely needed time to ask the getting-to-know questions before we were playing and talking and laughing and singing (really, our families did this without a karaoke machine) together. Our mothers would spend hours talking and giggling and their four kids and our five kids got busy with all kinds of silliness. Our families took our first trip to Harare, Zimbabwe, together and we still reminisce about our ridiculous and dangerous behavior in the hotel room when the parents left us for an evening. Something about locking ourselves in one room and walking along the outside window into the room next door – definitely higher than the 3rd floor of the building. Don’t judge the parents – they were awesome parents in the 1980s. Perfectly reasonable for those days to leave 8 kids ranging from 7-16 in a hotel room, I’m sure. As much time as we spent together, I’d say our families practically grew up together in Zambia. But, as often happens with family, we eventually got separated and spread out as life happened to us. We now occupy a total of seven cities on three continents.

Needless to say, I was looking forward wholeheartedly to spending time with my other-mother and her daughter and family in San Francisco after not seeing them for about 10 years. And I was not disappointed. In fact, my heart exploded a little when I finally arrived at their home at 11:30PM to see a table laid out beautifully for dinner with me. I teared up a little bit then and remained on the verge of joyful tears the whole time I was with them. My heart was that full! So full that I could not contain the tears. Every minute with each family member was precious and I saved the feeling in my little heart for days I know I will need it. I felt so loved and treasured and cared for by each one of them. Being kissed goodnight on my forehead at night by my other-mother was almost more than I could take. And then when Brian arrived and they met him for the first time, they wrapped their arms around him and welcomed him into the family as if he had always been there. As is he’d always had a place there.

That’s what it feels like with family. Like they are and always have been a part of me. That’s why it’s not easy to remember what it was like before my little family was a family. That’s why it matters how we develop as a family. It matters what traditions I pass on or create with this family. It matters that I tell David and Kaya that they have to take care of each other and that we make decisions based on whether or not they are good for the family and the world. It matters that we love each other through the delightful parts of ourselves and also through the not-so-sparkly parts of ourselves. This is a place where we learn how to be in the world. This is the place where we must learn how to take risks and then whether we win or fail, we still love. This is a place where my children will learn how to love and be loved. It is a place where our spirits came together and it is a sacred space.

I am typing this post from over 10 0000 ft off the ground in an airplane, while my family is scattered between the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans. I cannot wait for the world to be right again when we are reunited. While I am grateful for this opportunity to notice the sacredness and Divine design of families, I am so ready to wrap my arms around my kiddies and smell their hair and feel their little hands in mine. And when the four of us are together again, we will have to celebrate and notice that we are together and the world feels right again.

I often ask myself how I got to be so lucky to have these particular people in my family. And it is a question to which I have no answers nor comments.

Truthfully yours,



6 responses to “All in The Family

  1. Sandra says:

    Hey Girl,
    Not much of a writer,
    It Was so good and beautiful to see you you again, it just felt like we have been apart. Super to Meet Brian at last. What a fantastic Man. Nilo and Christopher were so impressed to feel what real friendship really feels like.
    so do miss our Lusaka/Kabwe days!
    Talking about Family, cannot imagine my life without My 3 Boys.
    And My beautiful Family in Africa

    • justrhina says:

      Your 3 boys are wonderful. You have a truly loving loving and it’s obvious to see your influence in all of it. Thank you for such a great time. It was such a bonus to have your mum there, too. Love y’all!

  2. Every time I read one of your blog entries my heart swells…this time my heart is swelling and tears are pooling up in my eyes! You are such an amazing soul…and I am so grateful and blessed and excited to have you and your little family (and by association your extended family) as a part of what I consider to be my family!!! What a blessing you are!!! Can’t wait to see/spend time with you next so we can chat about all of this…Love you always!

    • justrhina says:

      And you are a lovely part of the extended family, Dr. Kimmy. Thank you for your encouragement and loving words! It takes one to know one, you know?

  3. Candace says:

    Rhina, your blog brightens my spirit EVERY time I read it!! Who knew this little ray of sunshine was just a few doors away from me! You are the kind of person we all should aspire to be! Thank you for being you!


    • justrhina says:

      Candace! YOU are so sweet. This was such a welcome message today when I felt like I failed at a million things all day long. Thank you! You know – I love that you read my blog.

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