Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Hardened Heart

My Hardened Heart

© 2009 Celeste Billhartz

 I’m not sure when it happened, exactly. I just remember thinking, “No more Mrs. Nice Guy” ... no more trusting, accepting, smiling, etc. No more automatic acceptance of strangers, automatic friendliness, auto-anything.

 Is this what happens to old women, living alone? Do they just get fed up? Do they stop trusting? I sure have. I’m nowhere nearly as friendly and gracious as I used to be ... all in less than a year’s time. Sad, I know. I dare not greet the world with an open heart, anymore. That can’t be healthy for me, nor for the world. I used to be so nice to people. I just dare not; not so much as before.

 I won’t enumerate the specific events ... business co-mingled with personal ... that brought this on. Suffice to say, I trusted .... trusted too soon. My bad. My naivete. It won’t happen again. I have learned the lesson. I will do better, will be better.

 Still, I am forever changed, finally grown-up, I guess. I know I’m not so damaged that I can’t be polite again, or fun-loving again. I just won’t ever be so genuinely trusting. That’s sad. I can feel myself getting cold and distant. I can feel the shell closing over my .... my ... what? ... my ... sweetness. Yes, that’s what’s gone.

 Not one new person in my life will know that sweet me. She’s gone; probably, to some dreary, silent place for old women with hardening of the hearteries ...:)


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Aging Alone

Aging Alone

©2009 Celeste Billhartz

 I am 70 years old, live alone, have friends, a family of cousins, a decent retirement, pretty good health, a car, activities I enjoy, and a volunteer commitment I take seriously. And, I’m lonely.

 Why am I lonely? How dare I be lonely??           

 I think Loneliness is still in the closet ...:) I find that many people are quick to tell me what to do to not be lonely .... volunteer! do this! do that! They don’t know how to just .... listen. They want me to fix my loneliness, they rush to tell me what to do. So, I stop talking. I smile, and I listen to them ... I ... listen .... to them. I am losing hope of ever finding someone who will just ... listen to me. I think half my loneliness is for want of a listener. 

 One of the true pleasures I had when I lived in my house “out in the woods” was going outside about four times a day to feed walnuts to the squirrels and birds. I will have to find a handy place to do that here, in the city. I will find it. I will find some squirrels and birds to toss a few walnut pieces to ... and I will ease my loneliness. I will fill my need for good-giving.

 I love purposeful work, thus, I volunteer. Also, I love to sing oldies. I am asking around for a pianist or guitarist to accompany me. I emailed one fellow who had been recommended ... but, I wonder if his interest slipped into amusement when he read that I am 70. I’m just saying ...:)

 I am also putting together a program of poems and stories, songs, to share with local groups. Not everyone in the theatre/performance business I approach for advice is helpful ... or kind. I think there is an underlying ageism/sexism going on here. Really. I think if I were 30 and asking for advice I’d get advice. I suspect if I were a 70 year old man, I ‘d be heard with more respect. What I am getting are verbal pats-on-the-head and assurances that .... ha ha .. no, you don’t need a publicist ... ha ha ... you just need to put some things together and put on a little show in your living room for friends, then go to some poetry slams ... and get the word out to some senior centers ... just get out there ... just do it! 

 I wonder how many other old women have talents and desires to perform and are not taken seriously? How many just shut up and never tell anyone else about their wishes and ideas? I wonder how many old women I pass on the street or see in the grocery store or in the coffee shop go home to their apartments and houses and stare at their closets filled with binders of poems and stories and songs they will never get to read or tell or sing? I hope each of them will read/tell/sing a few pieces to someone, anyone, before she passes from this earth. It’s that important to her. It really is; she really is ...:)


Friday, September 11, 2009

Update for RuthMaryCeleste

Update for RuthMaryCeleste

©2009 Celeste Billhartz

It is September 11, 2009. Eight years ago, this morning, I was chatting online with a friend, when the news popped that The World Trade Center tower had been hit by an airplane. Then, as I chatted with my friend, the second plane hit! We were stunned. The world changed, forever.

I saved our chat ... somewhere. Have no idea where it is, now. Moving from a three-bedroom house with an attic, basement and garage to a two bedroom apartment ... with a tiny storage bin down in the parking area ... ment pitching and donating many things. I know I saved the conversation from that morning, but I don’t know where it is.

I moved from a lovely, quiet WASPy enclave, to an artsy, noisy, neighborhood. My former neighbors come here on day-trips when they want to experience our sidewalk coffee shoppe and mingling with the local artists, poets, writers, etc. It is a wonderful place to visit .... and now, I live here. I love it!

I turned age 70 on September 1,  2009. Many of my friends and former co-workers gathered at a local bar for a party on  Saturday, Sept 29. I decided to invite people from all facets of my life. What a hoot! I loved it.

I switched political parties for the election ... I had to, to vote for Hillary. And, since the Republicans really don’t seem to like Liberals among their folk, I am staying over here. Somehow, my being a pro-gun Liberal hasn’t caused any of the Dems I know to faint, yet ...:)

I am still unaccustomed to the number of thugs that prowl city nightlife. That I don’t like about my new locale. And, the discarded bottles, cans, food wrappers, and cigarette butts, etc,, that  litter the sidewalks early in the morning, on my way to the coffee shoppe. What kind of person just drops those things onto a public walkway? Yes, of course, I stoop over, pick up and carry some of it to several  trash cans enroute to and from my morning coffee. I wonder if, as I grow accustomed to the criminals, I will also tolerate the trash ... hmmmm.

I am likely going to wrap up The Mothers Project with a DVD of the presentation and a book. I simply want to not have to schlep electronic equipment, ever again! And, many people want something to take with them ... a DVD or book. So, those two projects are in the works. All I need is money. LOL

I want to hand the conference coordinators a DVD and they can deal with the projectors and other electronic things that totally mystify me. All I want to travel with is my little valise of poems and stories to share with the audience, after they see the film. I am ready to just talk/do Q/A ... not fiddle and futz with clickers, PowerPoint, etc.

And, I want to expand my topics to include the one I am now experiencing: Ageing, alone.

When one is alone and single and has no children, whose place is it to take her aside and say, “We need to talk ...:)”

You know .... that talk ... about the memory lapses, the terrible fall/knee surgery, the isolation ... I described myself as “imploding from loneliness.”

My friend did that. She expressed her concern about me living “out in the woods.”

I shared about the impact of isolation, living alone, being lonely ... yes, imploding from loneliness. She said I needed to consider moving into the city, closer to my friends, my support system, We talked about going to lunch, to dinner, shopping,  all kinds of  activities I had missed ... because I lived, alone, out in the woods, too far away for a quick trip to the city. I used to love the solitude; now, I was  drowning in it.

Well, that’s all behind me, now ... except for the lingering loneliness ...:) I am reminded of the saying ... “wherever you go, there you are.” Wow. So, I am still in a sort of Limbo. Someone said to me, recently, as I sat in her chair watching her prepare dinner .... “you look lost ...:)” I said, “I am.”

Yes, I am. I am more among people and that has helped so much. I love going to the coffee shoppe each day, several times a day. Still, there lingers a deep loneliness I cannot explain. I know that I miss telling the stories and reading the poems ... I am born to write and perform, talk, etc. I miss singing the oldies songs. I know that.

Maybe, finding my father might validate something in me ... or not ...:) He was from a long line of Methodist ministers, and I feel my talent for this writing and speaking, etc., .... must have come from that bloodline. It is such a natural talent, such a gift. Unfortunately, my efforts to communicate with his family are ignored.  I could push it, of course, but I do not want to be hurtful. And, God knows, I don’t want to be rejected, overtly. I shouldn’t give a damn; but I do ...:)

Well, time to go meet a friend for lunch! Hooray!


Monday, March 9, 2009



©2009 Celeste Billhartz

I know your story ... the hardships that battered your soul

The meanness and cruelty foisted on your little-girl heart

A childhood left to rot along Life’s highway.


I’m so sorry you were robbed of safety and love.

You had a baby and ... your parents gave her away,

Made you pretend it never happened

Made you get on with your rotting life.

And so, you did.


Maybe, you piled that loss on top of all the other scars

Maybe,  that explains it.

See, I need to make sense of your meanness.


I know your daughter, and I’ve seen a photo of you

And, there’s no doubt she’s yours

She ... is ... your .... daughter.

Do you know how much she needs you?

She needs you in her Life, wants you to meet your grandchildren

You told her, “No!”


Perhaps, you have lived too long in your denial

Still hiding .... and, needlessly, stony-cold

Your heart sequestered ‘neath your scars.


This poem, NonMom, is about a mother who refuses to reunite with the daughter she lost to adoption, 40 years ago. She has met her, has had moments of joy with her, but, now, refuses to acknowledge her or work through the difficulties in reunion. She, I think, is terrified. I hope she sees this poem and knows how important she is to that young woman, who wanted to find her, all her life.

The damage done to her mother, early on, likely makes "blissful reunion" out of the question, but, maybe, they can meet each other half-way and come to terms with the relationship they have ... or could have, if each is patient and compassionate.

My friend needs to know her mother. We all need to know our mothers. Most of us get that opportunity and most of us are welcomed by our mothers. A very few, like my friend's mother, do not have the emotional stability to risk the openness and faithfulness necessary for reunion. 

I support mother/adoptee reunion in all cases. We don't have to stay in contact if we don't like each other or have nothing in common ... but, at the least, we should send yearly updates. And, when we hit the bumps in the reunion road, we really ought to be a lot kinder to each other. 

So, mother-of-my-friend, may you find enough faithfulness to reconnect with this kind and loving daughter who wants you in her life. 


 I have never met a mother who doesn't want to reunite with her child .... I only know the many who never stopped loving the son or daughter their parents forced them to surrender to secretive, closed adoptions. Nor, have I met adoptees who don't want to reunite with their mothers.  I have met mothers and adoptees whose reunions were not successful or are stagnate. I know the many younger mothers, today,  suckered into "open adoption" arrangements that work ONLY so long as they stay on the good side of the adoptive mothers. That said, I welcome hearing from mothers who don't want to reunite with their children, adoptees who don't want to reunite with their mothers, moms and adoptees who have broken off contact, and from young moms happy in open adoptions. Email me, please, at

Monday, January 26, 2009

Musings on a Monday Evening

Musings on a Monday Evening

©2009 Celeste Billhartz

More than one person has told me, softly, “Trust that the confusion and unease of the present time are part of God’s plan for you.” And so, I stifle my disgust at not being more productive, not downsizing my home, not pulling the hundreds of  outdated things from shelves and storage units and drawers and setting them at the curb for AMVETS; not “finishing” The Mothers Project – the DVD and the book, not moving ahead with this feeling that I am ready  to  go in a different direction, to find another pianist and to sing “Oldies Songs” – I have soooo much fun doing that,  ---  to read poems and tell stories about Life, ageing and old times  ... and to not have to deal with electronic mysteries that are part of  my TMP PowerPoint experience. I liked it so much better when I just hauled those huge posters around. ... but, that limits me to local travel. And, I have many more images to share, in PowerPoint. Ah, well, it will all get sorted out, right ... God?


Ageing is an interesting experience. I really am not handling winter very well. I don’t know why I continue to live in Ohio ... I have no family here, and I email  -- rarely visit -- my friends just 20 miles away. Really, why don’t I move to Florida? All  I need is a one-bedroom apartment, a television ... and wireless internet service. The bedroom is just for guests. I could be perfectly happy in a studio apartment. Likely, I’ll sleep on the sofa there, too. ...:)


I believe young mothers who want to keep their babies should be supported and  loved by their families and communities, not forced or befriended to surrender their babies to other women in closed and open adoptions.  My bias was formed by many interviews with women who were forced to surrender their babies, in generations and decades past. They never got over the loss; never.  

I have met young mothers in very difficult open adoption arrangements. They, too, never got over losing their babies.  Most agree, though, at least they know where their children are. A few do not know, because the adoptive family moved and the adoptive  parents do not want the child to have more closeness with his/her natural mother. 

I have not one story/interview about a young mother who is glad she chose adoption/open adoption. I do believe they are out there. I just want to understand it all.  Maybe they like the open adoption arrangement because they know where their child is and with whom. Maybe that makes it work. Maybe they have no suppressed longing for that child, no regrets, no  “too much closeness” issues that put the contact in jeopardy. I have no idea.  I’d like them to email me    .... ...  I want to hear their stories and I want know the following:

1. how old were you at the time you had your baby?

2. who first talked with you about adoption/open adoption?

3. after you gave birth to your baby, did you still want to have him/her adopted?

4. what/who was most influential in helping you to choose adoption/open adoption?

5. did you want ongoing info about your child?

6. what are/were the specific contacts you and the adoptive parents agreed to?

7. how often have you seen your child since giving birth to him/her?

8. do you regret this adoption/open adoption? Why or why not?

9. in what specific ways are the adoptive parents good to you?

10. What are the most important things you want to say to a single, pregnant young woman who  is considering adoption/open adoption?


And, please do not post your reply, here .... I want to hear from you, privately.

Thanks, Celeste



Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What If?

What If?

©2008 Celeste Billhartz

I used to be for adopting. That's what happened to me. My single 
mother gave birth to me and I was adopted. Just like millions of 
other kids. Most of us went to good homes and had good lives.

Many of us think otherwise, now. I guess the biggest reason is this: 
our mothers never got over losing their babies.

Why is it still socially acceptable to take babies from young 
mothers when we know, now, they will never get over the loss?

Think back to your first pregnancy. What if you were constantly 
badgered and told you had no business keeping your baby because you 
were single, and too young, and too poor to provide for him/her, 
that a married couple is waiting to provide him/her a much better 
life, and you are selfish for wanting to keep your baby?

What if, in that 9 months of psychological duress and brain-washing, 
you began to doubt your natural instincts to be a good mother? What 
if you believed that all the adults in your life knew best -- so, 
you signed an agreement to surrender your baby?

Remember how you felt about your baby, after giving birth? Would you 
have wanted to keep him/her – no matter what agreement you signed 
months, or weeks, or days before?

Today, as in our mothers' day, most girl/mothers change their minds, 
after giving birth, but everyone around them demands that they honor 
that agreement. The young mothers want to keep their babies! Nobody 
listens, nobody cares, because adopters -- checks in hand and names 
picked out -- are waiting for their babies.

I urge single young women to keep their babies. DON'T SIGN ANY 
AGREEMENTS, and read everything you do sign at every agency, health 
center or religious organization.

I urge /grandmothers/aunts/cousins to help young mothers keep their 
babies within their families. If your daughter, niece or cousin is 
very young -- or irresponsible, step in and file for Kinship Care or 
Legal Guardianship. Don't give her baby away! Please, don't do that 
to her. She won't be young and poor, forever.

I urge mature women to form support groups to help mothers and 
babies get a good start in life, together. Don't hurt young mothers 
by separating them from their babies.

Finally, I urge women to NOT adopt, no matter how much you want a 
baby of your own. Adopting is legal, of course, and it is immensely 
profitable for brokers and agencies -- but it is terribly unfair to 
young mothers at the most vulnerable time in their lives.

Please, don't be part of that treachery and covert theft.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Pond Scum

Pond Scum

©2008 Celeste Billhartz

 Well, I’m old and cranky so I reserve the right to say this: thieves are pond scum!!

 My friend’s purse was stolen. She had to call all the credit cards, Social Security, her bank, get a new driver license, buy a new cell phone. It has been a nightmare, as you might imagine. She’s not young, has medical problems, etc.

 The thief took her purse from her grocery cart, when she turned away to open the trunk of her car. She lives in a rural area and well, you could do that fifty years ago. Not today.

 No, today you risk losing a favorite purse, cell phone,  your cash, your vital papers and credit cards. Why? Because some low-life pond scum wanted to get easy money.

 I guess the thief pitched some of the contents along the road because a neighbor found  papers with Jo’s name on them and called her, right away. No purse, no cell phone, no cash, no Visa card.

Even if the thief/thieves don’t try to use her Visa card  -- that’s a felony, I guess  they figured that out -- they’ve ruined her sense of safety and peace. Nope, she doesn’t feel safe, anymore, not even in her local grocery store.

Oh, yeah, I forgot .... she’s also a veteran. Ssome thanks for her service ... :(