Ted Talk and a Wish

My mother in-law, Carole, recently sent me a link to a Ted Talk video.  And I was so inspired by it that I thought I’d share it with you as well.  This 6 minute presentation from Candy Chang got me thinking more in-depth about the things that really matter to me…big or small, funny or serious. Watching this video opened up something big in me that I did not expect to share – watch the video first and then please read on.


My answer to the question “Before I die I want to…” is:  I’d very much like to see my biological mother again.  She lives in Thailand and I last saw her about 15 years ago during my honeymoon. She doesn’t speak English (we both speak a little Chinese so this helped us to get by) and we never connected online so I’m unsure how I’ll be able to find her.  Prior to my honeymoon, I had only seen her once since I was adopted and moved to the U.S. when I was 4 years old.  My mother had given me up for adoption because our family had fallen apart (my biological father had an affair and went off to start a new family).  And she felt that it was better for me to move to America to live with a missionary family, where there would be more opportunities for everyday necessities like food and shelter as well as a decent education.

Back then (and probably still today), girls in Thailand did not have much to look forward to in regards to their futures.  Basically, you would start work at a young age (school life was not a priority) and then simply be married off…and very frequently you would not be the only wife.  In Thailand, men often marry more than one wife (it’s technically illegal but a widely accepted norm), and the most you could hope for would be to be the first one to marry your husband (then you’d be considered the “head wife”)…which is not very much to hope for if you ask me.  Anyway, my mother didn’t want this life for me, so she made the most difficult decision…she let me go, hoping that I would have better opportunities in America.  It’s important to me to find my mother so that I can thank her for making this ultimate sacrifice.  I know it wasn’t easy because she loved me very much (I know this because when I first met her at the age of 16, she held on to me for what seemed like hours and deeply cried…I think they were happy tears).  I want my mother to know that I’m doing very well these days, and that her sacrifice was not for nothing.  I want her to be at peace.  And I want to let her know that her little girl is at peace.

Originally, I didn’t mean to get so involved with this post but as I wrote I felt I should…to better explain my answer to the question from the video.  I think I’m at a stage with my blog that I’m ready to open up more – I know this will (and has already) trickled into my artwork.  I’m not sure where any of this will lead me, and this uncertainty makes me feel scared.  However, maybe facing these fears head on is exactly what I need. Who knew that answering one question could lead to something so raw?  I guess you never know where the heart will lead you.

And you, how would you answer the question “Before I die I want to…”.  Please, do feel free to tell me something about yourself…big or small, funny or serious.

19 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. No words but (((BIG HUGS))) Thanks for sharing your heart here and letting us partake of it.
    As for your question… my answer is- write and illustrate a book. Very little thing compared to yours, anyway it’s on my wish list.
    Love to you,
    Monica xoxo

    October 13th, 2012

  2. Thank you so much for sharing. I hope you get your wish.

    October 13th, 2012

  3. Thank you for sharing this part of your story Becky. I cannot begin to imagine giving up one of my children ~ what a loving, amazing, completely unselfish person your sweet mother is. I will be praying that you will see each other again, and maybe even again after that!

    October 13th, 2012

  4. Michelle

    Becky, your wish is beautiful! I know your mother thinks of you each and every day! I am a birthgrandma in an open adoption….we are all blessed to share our love. My daughter and I try to never use the words “give up”. Instead use the words “placed with a loving family” or “made an adoption plan”. Just like you shared…your mother loved you so much she wanted more for you than she could provide. My father and his siblings were all adopted… 50, yes fifty years (1941-1991) after their adoption, all of them were reunited! Soooo I share two stories of hope/unconditional love for you:) AND remember each and every adoption is a journey!
    Hugs from Iowa,

    October 14th, 2012

  5. Wow, what a story Michelle! Thanks so much for sharing your personal story here…I am so very moved by it.

    October 14th, 2012

  6. with tears streaming down my face…i am at a loss for words dear becky. truly. this post touched me DEEPLY! it will take some real “soul searching” for me to answer that question. i thank you for you willingness to share such an intimate part of yourself. i pray that you will find your biological mother and be able to hold her and tell her all that’s in your heart.

    October 14th, 2012

  7. Patti

    Such a wonderful post, Becky. I had seen the “Before I die…” project, but not the TEDTalk. It was a 1000 times more moving to hear her words and her ability to turn pain into art… You seemed to have been thinking about how to give back more recently and so seeing an artist, so vulnerable and brave, look for ways to do that, must have been very inspiring. I too am inspired by Candy, and by you and your dream of holding your biological mother again…

    Before i die, I want to turn abandoned building, buses, train cars, trailers and other cast off materials into places for people to live and make art…

    Thank you for reminding me of this… I need to get started… BTW i have been cutting hearts out of cereal liners and wax paper… inspired by you…

    Keep sharing your heart and your dreams and your art… you light up the world.

    October 14th, 2012

  8. I guess everything happens for a reason, and there is a reason why this video came to you. It’s an amazing and eye opening video, thank you for sharing. I wish you success, happiness and love on your path.
    And to answer the question – before I die I want to know how it feels to have a child.

    October 14th, 2012

  9. Thank you for sharing! I wish you all the best with finding your birth mother, and with your increased level of openness on the blog. I know it can be a challenge to put personal things out there – what to share, what not to. Just let your heart and the knowledge that sharing can help you *and* others be your guide…

    I believe Ms. Chang is right – by thinking about death and accepting its eventual/possibly unexpected arrival, we can clarify what is important and what deep need and wish should NOT be delayed. Like Ms. Chang I lost someone dear to me some years ago. My Aunt Bobby was a second mom to me, and when she passed away I was sad and was challenged by the need to process her passing and life without her.

    It was difficult, but a powerful lesson. I’d never assumed I’d live to be an old woman, and the loss of my aunt reinforced life’s uncertainties and the need to do important things in the now. Express love and gratitude, act in kindness and generosity, and go after the things your heart wants most.

    I’d contemplated the “Before I die…” even before my aunt’s passing, and the answer was that I wanted to travel overseas. I’m passionate about travel, and if I’d died before reaching a far-off destination I would’ve been dissatisfied and somehow incomplete. I’m happy to report I’ve been to Ireland, Peru, and Mexico, and hope to visit many more destinations that are new to me – both national and international.

    Thank you for reminding me of this prompt, because I have some thinking to do. I’ve got to figure out what my *new* answer is, though I think it’s that I’d like to have a garden. This might not sound like a big thing to some, but I’ve always lived in apartments and would love to have some land for a garden.

    October 14th, 2012

  10. ann marie

    Wow … I did not know all of this and it’s a beautiful thing to read. I wish you much success in “what will be.”

    As for myself? My bucket list changes every single day. I don’t manage to do any of the things because the next day something more important comes up. So I kind of just take it with the day. So far, so good.


    October 14th, 2012

  11. Becky dear you are a very brave and precious soul. Thank you for sharing your story. I had watched this video several weeks ago and it really got me to thinking. Unlike you I do not have a clear and definitive answer. So for the interim I am making a very conscious effort to do as many good deeds per day that I can possibly do. It is truly amazing how even the smallest nicety is very rewarding to both participants. May you realize your dream. Blessings to you my dear…

    October 15th, 2012

  12. Thank you very much for sharing your wishes ladies. And if you don’t mind Sherry, I’d like to add your wish to my daily to-do’s also.

    October 15th, 2012

  13. you have made this a day of inspiration, and have me perusing wishes, and ways to make them come true. thank you, sweet girl, for sharing your brave heart (tears fill my eyes as i read your story…..). xox

    October 15th, 2012

  14. I do think when we go to that depth with a question we cut out the little things on the list and go directly to the heart’s wish~ I so hope you get your wish-a gift of your thanks to your Mom! This was so touching n’ profound~ I can’t imagine, this is one of those ultimate sacrifices~
    I love the photo of you~so cute!

    Yes this is a tear filled post. I so hope you get your wish!!! xo

    October 15th, 2012

  15. Linda K

    Thank you for sharing this video and especially for opening your heart to us thru your blog Becky. It’s something I started doing little by little although the main purpose of starting one was to share my love of art. I think that by being a bit vulnerable you release what may be fear lurking behind your emotions. I have found the blogging community to be so supportive and kind with a willingness to share personal thoughts that may have come up as a result of one of those persoanl posts such as this one.
    Your story exudes the love of a mother and child, and of the tremendous sacrifice because of that love. I hope and pray that you see your mother again. Envision it happening every day.Picture your reunion. Make a vision board.
    Before I die- on a spiritual note-I hope each day I feel the joy and gratitude of the everyday things that so often can be overlooked and that I can pass it along to at least one person I might encounter whether in person or via cyberspace every day.
    On a more materialistic note, I want to see Ireland and Scotland. Something I shared more personally on my last blog post, and because of it have received some of the nicest notes and emails from those who shared their stories.
    Blessings and hugs to you. XO

    October 15th, 2012

  16. What a wonderful thing Candy Chang started – I love the idea of a wall with a question and the entire randomness of the answers. I love that there were “big” answers but there were also some that were quirky and surprising….life is like that and the wall mirrored it well.
    Your story is a deeply touching one. I think back to my four-year old daughter and cannot even imagine giving her up, but I also understand that if I had to for her sake, I would have. So you received the both greatest gift and the biggest heartbreak a child can be given by their mother. I wonder if that isn’t as big a burden to bear at times as the one your mother must have carried?
    My immediate answer to the was “Before I die…” was “”I want to live” and while it may sound glib and I have tried to think of other things, it just keeps coming back. For me it is full of meanings, strong ones, good ones. Anne Frank said it first, and she said it best, but before I die I want to live.

    October 18th, 2012

  17. I’m so touched! I hope you can find your birth Mom again and you can hold her for a long time.

    October 27th, 2012

  18. What a beautiful post and beautiful wish, Becky. I hope you find her again! I’ve seen this Ted talk before. One of our students posted it on our campus Facebook page and we’re now trying to bring the “Before I die” project to campus. What would I wish for? A window into my mother’s thoughts. I lost her to suicide 13 years ago.

    October 29th, 2012

  19. I love those Ted talks! Some of the ones on education are amazing, I’m always blown away by the information presented and am always inspired to do something different. I’m going to watch this one now. Thanks so much for sharing about your story and adoption and the sacrifice your bio mom made for you. I try to finish that sentence and find that I’m unable to. I I try to find words but nothing comes,just lots of thoughts that I can’t organize.

    January 14th, 2013

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