Blogging the Grief (#poem)

Tropical air breathing
Lifts me when I’m grieving
The death certificate arriving
Reminds me I’m alive and thriving

Those around me ignoring
Dismissing me like that floors me
I was here before them
Who I am is without shame

Their secrets they hide
Until the day they died
They dumped on me
Instead of taking responsibility

Emotions overcome my brain
Their reactions are so lame
Where do I take this grief inside
Do what I always do, blog it online

Attack, deny like mixing a song
Delay, if need be, anything to not be wrong
Like the phoenix rising from the dust
I stand tall and in God I trust

The Day I Died

According to my mother, I died the day she was called to school to speak to a counselor in my junior year of high school after moving from sunny Southern California to the gloomy, rainy, dreary grey skies of Oregon. She yanked me out of school, scaring me half out of my mind. I asked, “What’s wrong?”

She said, “Somebody died!”

My heart thundered in my ears as my fear escalated. I asked, “Who?”

“You!” she said with force in that dramatic way of hers when she wanted to control a situation.

The truth is, my English teacher and I had had a misunderstanding about the due dates of a particular project. I thought I was supposed to hand in the paper at the end, but, according to her, I hadn’t been handing in my weekly papers. I had no idea it was supposed to be weekly. How I could have misunderstood that, I’ll never know, because I was an “A” Honor Roll student. This was a new progressive school, unlike any I’d known before, with study periods sprinkled throughout the day in various study nooks. It made sense to me that the project was due at the end of the term – like my science paper.

The situation escalated when the school counselor called my mother in to meet with him. Mind you, none of this was known to me until the day my mother yanked me out of school, declaring my death. The counselor supposedly said, “When a student changes this much in a short amount of time, they’re usually on drugs.”

Drugs? Now I was supposed to be on drugs due to a misunderstanding? Drugs were the last thing on my mind. This was the late ’60s/early ’70s when adults were hyper watchful and suspicious about kids taking drugs. Of course, I only have my mother’s word for this conversation. As I would discover much, much later in life, it was difficult to know the truth about anything because she lied even when there was no reason to lie.

But she might be right about that moment being the day I died, because, honestly, I think I died as soon as she’d decided to leave our beautiful new home in Orange County, California where I had the best year of my life. As editor-in-chief of the school yearbook in the first graduating class, I had many privileges such as being the first editor and naming the yearbook, singing in the choir, and even featured as a soloist in the spring program. Life was looking pretty rosy in that moment.

Not only did we leave this beautiful home, friends, and family and school, but we moved to Oregon and lived in an old 1930s farm house where the kids’ bedrooms were all upstairs where there was no heat. My small container of water I kept for my eye liner froze over. That’s how cold it was.

Not to mention our enrollment in her mother’s religious cult (Jehovah’s Witnesses) where we gave up birthdays, Christmas, in fact, all holidays had to go plus that door-to-door pushing JW magazines with the threat of total destruction at Armageddon, thereby, avoiding “bad associations” (“worldly” friends at school) and the places they hung out (the choir, and all school activities beyond the required). And then there were the male chauvinistic elders who policed our behavior. Eventually, I was totally indoctrinated.

But God had plans to turn things around for me. Fast forward twenty-five years when I met a lovely Christian man at work and we both converted to the Eastern Orthodox Church in Cupertino, California and experienced the most amazing Sacramental Orthodox wedding.

When I informed my mother of this decision, she called me at work (again, for the most dramatic effect), and said she’d called to “Say good-bye.” As a Jehovah’s Witness, she officially would have to “shun” me. Of course, she admitted later that she never really believed in the religion and didn’t consider herself spiritual at all. I concluded it was more of a crutch, a tool to control, than it was any deeply held religious beliefs.

From that moment on, I set out on a journey to find the truth about so many things, including my biological father, which led to discovering the type of person my mother really was. Looking back, I see that, not only did she deprive me of my father and the rest of that side of the family who all lived within thirty minutes of our home, but then she took me completely away from the place I called home, leaving behind everything that was important to me.

Much later I would discover there’s a name for mothers like that and the daughters who must endure their cruelty. They’re called “Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers.” or DONM. We hear the word “narcissist” tossed around lightly on social media these days but this is something far more than what we might think. One book I recommend is “Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistc  Mothers.”

Soon after I met my father, I wrote about meeting my father for the first time and the lessons learned in Myths of the Fatherless but often my fiction has a similar theme. One work in progress is called “She’s Not That Good.” I’m also working on an album I’m calling, “Fathers and Other Strangers.”

So my real life didn’t end at all back then, but the real life I was supposed to live just began.

 

Walking-Inspired Writing

In today’s chapter of Pep Talks for Writers by Grant Faulkner, I read about how walking is inspiring for writers. Julia Camera also speaks of this in the Artist’s Way.

I discovered the joys of solo walking when my family first moved to the Pacific Northwest from Southern California in my late teens. Walking was cathartic and inspired my imagination. I think by then the family scene was overwhelming to me and in an effort to think my private thoughts and to escape the mashed potatoes on the dinner table (lol), I would skip dinner and go for a walk.

Eventually, at different times my younger sister (10 years younger) would ask to come with me so I told her she could if she didn’t talk. This was my oh so important alone time. She agreed to those terms and perhaps she also enjoyed the quiet companionship along with her own private thoughts.

We leaned on each other at various times of our lives. But she grew up and had a little girl and now her little girl is all grown up and has her own little girl.

Auntie and Niece

Great Niece

 

Advent (#poem)

Her belly leaps with joy as he feels a mother’s love
And the presence, a promise of a loyal companion
A long ago story come down from above
And the reason for the season

Advent gives us hope in the midst of sin
The tragic results of a broken world
For we must repent before we can be forgiven
To do any less would negate the yes of a teen-aged girl

When a mother-to-be resists the gift
She inflicts a lifelong wound
When she cries every day, she creates a rift
One felt from within the womb

Whatever happens, we are not alone
Questions unanswered we hold in our hand
God is there and the light is shone
Someday, my child, we shall understand

Mothers & Daughters (#poem)

Mothers and daughters can love and can hate
The relationship can change from age to age
Some things remain the same and this is what the world knows
But only those in the know can know and this really blows

To be so close yet never know them at all
The facade they show their mother and at the Kingdom Hall
Years later a clue leads you to truth you resist
Nothing makes sense until you see through the Narcissist

These daughters of these mothers are their own special breed
For most of their life they’ve been down on one knee
Until this moment when they seize the day
Leaving behind chaos and walking away

The Promised Land (#poem)

Tiny little towns lie in the Valley paved with gold
Pickup trucks and cowboy boots lined with filth
Rickety shacks and outdoor houses she didn’t have to choose
Coats catching fire, coffee burns or so I’ve been told

Two families from the same place take different paths to the Promised Land
One chose north, the other chose south, but it didn’t really matter
Picking fruit or Hollywoodland, mine chose the latter
I ended up with the one that was fake, but I played in the sand and got a nice tan

Too young to understand what true love is, it’s not for me to say
It’s not what I would have wanted for her, but others wouldn’t have changed a thing
It’s their version of the Promised Land of sun and Golden grain
Muscle beach, curly hair, eyes of blue, and a quick roll in the hay

They hold on tight to the lie he didn’t give her a ring
Those are the same who like to say I have no legitimate claim
This is about my life, I say, this is not some twisted game
Close to my heart for so very long, it’s my God-given dream

Myths of the Fatherless: Truer Than Ever 10 Years Later

The world talks a lot about showing love to people but they also have their own definition of love. The truth is, it’s only by telling people the truth do we show love – not denying truth and enabling people to live a life of lies. And so I’m reposting this now because it becomes truer and truer every day.

cover_myths_blogMyths of the Fatherless still sells and I’m pleased by that – especially now that our culture has swung so far from an awareness of this issue that it’s hard to remember the motivation for writing it.

But it all started after we’d first moved to Portland, Oregon from the San Francisco Bay Area 12 years ago. There was an article in the Oregonian about adoption records being opened and some birth mothers were upset by it. I’d often related to the adoption issue because I’d never known my biological father growing up and had been raised by a step dad – a man I thought was my dad until a cousin spilled the beans.

Soon after the Oregonian article, I took more than the few halfhearted steps I’d taken before to find my father. With the help of others, I found my father, we met, and started a relationship ten years ago. All of this gave me insight into the truth I’d been denying and I documented it in Myths…

Hollywood studio executive, author, motivation coach and speaker Libby Gill encouraged me to write the book, telling me that my experience made me an expert on the subject. And so I wrote it, published it, and opened myself up to encourage others to do the same via the “fatherless” blog. But when I look around at our world today, it’s hard to believe any of it was possible.

I was already fighting an uphill battle because the world encourages us to think that bio dads don’t matter, that there’s no issue in being adopted or being raised by a step dad. That was then.

Ten years later our world praises “single moms” as if that’s the goal. I’m thrilled to see single mothers being supported, because, as a woman, I can imagine myself as a single mom. But let’s not think that that’s the goal or the solution.

Ten years later, the world supports adoption for gay couples. Obviously, a child raised by a gay couple is not being raised by his/her biological parents – one at most – but not both. Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wished Their Adopted Parents Knew is a fabulous book about adoption issues.

Ten years later, it’s far more common for egg donors and sperm donors to help create babies who will not know the genetic parents they come from.

In the spirit of supporting women and gays, we are forgetting the rights of any human child – to know their own parents, if at all possible. I speak from experience and my heart goes out to the children. We are moving so far from supporting these kids in the way they need to be supported and that makes me sad. We are complicating an already complex issue. These kids are a blessing but they are going to need our understanding/insights into their issues even more going forward.

One thing I’ve learned that is consistent is that many – if not most – of the world’s problems or issues can be traced to a missing or troubled relationship with a father. Because our relationship with our earthly father mirrors our relationship with our Heavenly Father. And those who have experienced this firsthand know this and speak it – I am not alone in speaking out.

My first published novel, Real Women Wear Red, reunites a birth mother with her daughter. Their story continues in the sequel – Real Women Sing the Blues. And now I’m writing songs that tell a similar story. One of the songs I’m working on now through my musicianship program is “Advocates in Heaven.”

I can’t wait to share it with you.

Myths of the Fatherless Interview

Carine Nadel interviewed me for her article in the Orange County Register – also picked up on MSNBC – about my search for my father and book about this subject, Myths of the Fatherless.

MYTHS OF THE FATHERLESS

Every little girl loves her daddy. But what happens when that daddy is missing? Or another man steps into his place? Society has accepted many myths about what that means to a child.

MYTHS OF THE FATHERLESS attempts to dispel those myths by sharing the author’s story of her search for her father and eventual reunion with him. Throughout her journey, she discovered she was not alone, and despite her denial, fathers are very important to a woman. And whatever the reason the father is missing, not knowing him affects a woman’s relationships with men and her entire life.

Available in Print, E-Book, Smashwords, and on Kindle.