By Dina Evan, PhD


According to Webster, a family is a group of one or more parents and their children living together as a unit or a group, made up of all the descendants of a common ancestor: That has never been my experience. I left home at 13 after fighting with my consistently inebriated mother and chasing her rapist all over Phoenix. I knew if I stayed at home, I would watch her die. That was the day I grew up. I put on a big girl dress, got a job, went to work, quit school and years later after raising my own family and making huge mistakes because of my empty tool bag, I graduated college with a Master’s degree and couple of PhD’s. My family then, was several uppity women friend activists who kept telling me I could do it, and my kids who made me want to. Those days and years were not easy on any of us.


Today’s families are different

Every elderly person I know is bereft and alone including me. I didn’t know how alone I was until this past week, the day I turned 81 and never heard a single word from a grandchild or great grandchild. To be fair, one of my children, who I love dearly, and who for a couple of years, clearly hates me for reasons not explained, decided to spend some time with me and brought a wonderful partner as well. Over a great lunch we had a genuinely good time. Clearly, this child is a master teacher, teaching me how to love in the face of hostility and silence. And herein lies where we are in life…basically on our own, except for now and then.

On our own, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. My life is filled with joy and purpose every time I sit in Spirit and on purpose with a client who is healing, or a friend who calls from Chandler, Phoenix, New York, or Hollywood, California, to tell me happy birthday, I am loved, and they miss me. I think perhaps it’s just about priorities changing. So many of us are overwhelmed just waiting for the next shoe to drop, as we stand alert and unprepared for the next war, crisis, flood, or fire. At this point I simply tell myself this is our new norm, our new way of life.


How do we create family now?

We create it by choosing to be with those we can help, those who can help us, those we can love and forgive and with whom we can communicate truthfully without fear or resentment.

That for me is the new family and I cherish it.

Maybe it’s no longer about who gives birth to whom…but rather it’s about who gives life to us, energizes us, speaks truth to us and reminds us that we are valued, not for who we are not, but for who we are. Put your arms around those souls because they are your family, your lifelines, your inspirations, your beloved fellow travelers and change makers who actually see the real you, past the places at which you are still growing and without judgment they value you for simply being in their lives.


The color of our blood is the same

We have family the minute we get over ourselves and begin to see past color, nationality, sexual preference, gender, age, language, economics, borders, and all the other differences we imagine and use to separate ourselves from each other. The color of our blood is the same. The depth of our sense of sorrow and separation is the same. The depth of our sadness and joy is the same. The need for connection is the same. So, smile at the child in line at the grocery store regardless of his or her color, and at person whose clothes appear worn and dirty outside sitting on the curb, and the new person at the meeting for the first time, as well as the person who is there for the hundredth time. Reach out to your family, young and old and make a genuine connection that shows your love.

What I know is that there are many tissue thin people in this world, but if you are reading this paper, you are not one of them. So, let’s all get on purpose and just lovingly and gently do exactly what we came here to do…love without limits.


Dr. Evan is a marriage, family, child therapist and consciousness counselor. She has presented nationwide seminars and workshops, written several books and created meditation CDs for couples, individual and mental health professionals. Visit or call 602-571-8228.