By: Madge Woods
I am flying home from Texas as I write this. I want to put my thoughts down about my recent adventures around the country meeting Facebook friends and The Next Family writers. I decided to go because I love what I do and getting to interact with people on a daily basis.
My journey started with a Facebook announcement that I would be traveling to the cities where people expressed an interest in meeting me. I grouped those that were interested by region and my path was formed. I decided to do a test run in Northern California first. I was up there for four days; I had the best time and knew I was on the right path with my original idea.
So I formed the big trip: in fifteen days I would travel to Toronto, Cape Cod, New York City, Minneapolis, and Dallas. I would spend a few days in every location, staying in either hotels or writers’ homes or just old friends who offered. I booked all my own transportation and off I went with hopes of it all working out. Some people were added and some canceled, but I was hopeful that those who were willing in the beginning stayed willing. I just had a feeling it would be wonderful and that every visit would offer something unique and rewarding. I had no idea just how truly rewarding it would be, however.
In each city I was welcomed with open arms and lavish praise and love; it warmed my heart. Because I felt such affection for the people I was meeting, I was so thrilled to see it was beyond my wildest imagination. I met relatives, kids, friends, and random people on trains, buses, and planes. With each meeting a story happened, organically and without predetermination. I was shown sights that were both unique to each area and special to the people living there. Some days involved relaxing in jammies, eating in, and just sharing stories. Other days were filled with the sights and sounds of the cities. Some days I walked until my feet were tired and needed soaking.
All of the homes were as different as the people living in them. The kids I met showed such love to me and to their parents. These were real families with real life stories and the makeup of each family didn’t (doesn’t) matter. Maybe the conversations were different, but in every case the love within the family was evident. The kids and the parents seem to be thriving. Anyone who questions how a family is formed, who thinks it can only be one way are so, so wrongly directed. Families are made up of people who love each other, who respect each other, and who cherish each other. They are made of listeners and talkers. Kids grow up and have kids of their own and follow their own life paths. I urge everyone to think of families in new ways and in every combination possible.
As I shared my amazing journey I hope all came to understand how important it is to be tolerant, generous, caring, and respectful of everyone and how people love differently. It doesn’t matter how a family is formed, what matters is that love trumps gender and ethnicity. I plan on doing this again and again. Until my next adventure, I just want to thank everyone who made this one of the best adventures of my life.
You can read more from Madge on her blog