Wendy Ann

It has been another good writing weekend for me.  I'm getting close to finishing the third draft of Two Hearts, One Baby: An Adoption Memoir and I want to be finished this draft in the worst way.  Writing a memoir is not something for the faint of heart. It is hard and emotional work but also, I am trusting, healing and teaching work.

Yesterday I was writing about my half-sister and the "coincidences" that seem to surround our sisterhood. 

The picture attached to this post was taken at Christmas when I was just shy of my second birthday and Mom and Dad bought this doll for me.  We used to say that it looked like I was looking at her and asking "Why don't you talk to me?".  This doll was like a sister to me until my parents adopted a second daughter about a year after this picture was taken.  The name of this doll was Wendy Ann.

One day about twenty years ago, out of the blue, I received a phone call from a woman telling me that I had a half-sister who was looking for me.  The name of this half-sister was Wendy!

When Wendy and I met we learned that for a time we had lived just a few blocks apart and attended the same school at the same time!

Yesterday I was telling my husband about Wendy Ann and Wendy as I was making a desert to take to a Memorial Day gathering today.  I suddenly realized that the recipe I was using had been given to me by Wendy!

I don't believe in coincidence; I believe that everything happens for a reason.  Today I don't know the reason for the coincidence that seems to crop up where my sister is concerned, but I hope one day to learn what it is all about.

Adoption Poetry

The adoption writers at Grown In My Heart are having a poetry carnival this week.  It's been many years since I wrote poetry so I decided to participate by using one that I wrote when I was a teenager and posted recently on my Arms of Adoption blog.

I Was Adopted

I was adopted when I was a babe
My identity taken away
And I never knew the woman who bore me
Or the reason she gave me away

My name was changed – my records were sealed
I started my life anew
But I never knew where I got my blonde hair
Or who gave me eyes of blue

When all of my friends were tracing their lines
And climbing their own family trees
I had no names to put on my branches
All that I had was me

I always have feelings that I don’t belong
No matter where I go
And all of my past – all the family I had
Is something that I’ll never know

The family I have is the best there could be
I couldn’t love anyone more
But all through my life in the back of my mind
There’s been something that I have yearned for

I don’t want a mother – I already have one
The best one there ever could be
I’d just like to have enough blank spaces filled
To fill every branch on my tree


Drive-Thru Rage

It is hard to believe it's been one week since I updated my blog.  I am heading back home today after an unexpected trip to Canada to help my daughter as she has battled a health issue.  I'm greateful to have been able to come and help her with caring for my granddaughter and everything else that young moms have to take care of.  Thankfully Laurinda is on the mend, though the doctor says it will be an up-and-down recovery.

It has been a blessing for me to spend time with both of my grandchildren this week though.  They grow and change so quickly, and Gerry and I have made it a priority to visit as often as possible during these early years. 

Only one experience somewhat marred what has been a blessed week.  One afternoon I had taken my granddaughter to visit our son, his wife, and our precious grandson at their home to give Laurinda an opportunity to rest.  I was on my way back to Laurinda's house and stopped to get an Iced Capp at Tim Hortons for her and, as Makiya was in the back seat, I decided to go through the drive-thru.

I followed the arrows; I thought I knew where I was going; but it turned out that when I reached the end of the parking lot where I intended to turn into the drive through there were three cars blocking the way and they were also going to the drive-thru.  When the car immediately in front of me pulled forward, and the one behind stayed back to leave a gap, I could have driven through, driven down the road, turned around and joined the back of the queue.  I didn't.  I assumed that the driver was waiting was giving me an opportunity to join the queue, so I waved in a gesture of thanks, and turned into the line-up. 

I assumed incorrectly and the woman driving the car that I turned in front of was not happy.

She rolled down her window and began spewing obscenities at me and calling me names.  When it was my turn to place my order at the speaker she blared her horn.  She made gestures toward me that left no doubt about her state of mind.

I felt bad that I had misjudged her intention but it wasn't like she was going to have to stay in line that much longer because of it.  There was also only one car behind her when I turned in front of her so it wasn't like I was affecting numerous other people either.

When I got to the window to pick up and pay for the Iced Capp I had ordered for Laurinda, I told the girl that I also wanted to pay for the car behind me; it turned out that she had also ordered just an Iced Capp. 

For the sake of thirty seconds and a couple of dollars she lost her temper and spewed anger.  I wondered what her day had been like up to that point and what she had ahead of her for the rest of her day.  My hope was that my gesture of paying for her order would diffuse some of her anger so she wouldn't carry it with her and direct it toward anyone else.  My fear was that she would feel justified and entitled. 

I glanced in the rear view mirror and smiled at my granddaughter who was humming a little tune, said a quick prayer for the angry woman, and continued on with my day.


Cacophony.  Don't you love that word? It sounds just like what it is, which is, according to dictionary.com, a "harsh discordance of sound". 

I confess that the cacophony of my daily life wears me out and the older I get the less I can bear the constant noise that surrounds me as I go about my daily activities.  When I am home alone I rarely turn on the television, the radio, the CD player or anything else that will disrupt the sweet solace of silence. (I confess that the sound of my computer keyboard clack-clacking away doesn't bother me in the least, though!)

Recently, almost by accident, I discovered that an album (do they still call them albums?) I purchased from iTunes has the opposite effect.  It contains an assortment of selections, some of which are familiar others not, played softly and gently on an instrument like the piano or flute. I connected my iPod to my external speaker the other day while I was writing and something about the music soothed me to the point where I was inspired to take my writing to another level.  I believe it was one of the most productive writing days I have had in some time.

I am still worn out by the end of the day, exhausted by the constant cacophony generated by people, traffic, and even sometimes the geese that fly overhead.  I still crave silence whenever I can get it.  I have also come to realize that my sense of hearing is a blessing and, in the right form, sound can sooth me.

Time Out

It's hard to imagine that this sweet little girl looking up at you could behave any differently from what that little innocent face portrays, isn't it?  It's true she is the sweetest little sixteen-month old girl on the planet, but according to her mom she's quickly closing in on what they call the "terrible twos" and I can attest, due to the magic of our frequent Skype visits, that she has a mind of her own and knows how to push her mom's buttons already!  My daughter has started giving her short periods of time-out to teach her what's acceptable behavior and what isn't. 

I was thinking about time-out as I was driving home this afternoon.  The concept is to separate the little one from the unacceptable behavior and provide an opportunity for them to calm down and make a better choice when they are removed from the time out.  I think I could use a time-out sometimes.  I have a tendancy to become very focused (perhaps obsessive) on the task at hand to the exclusion of everything around me. 

My husband might suggest I need a time-out on Saturday mornings when I am driven to write; my yorkies might suggest I need one when they want to play and I am in the middle of a good book; my co-workers might suggest a time-out would be in order when it's time to participate in one latest team-building "fun" activities and I feel I have too much work to do.

I recently realized I needed a time-out first thing in the morning.  For years I have had a morning routine that I rarely deviated from from the moment my feet hit the floor, but for the past few weeks I have mixed it up a bit.  I'm forcing myself to slow down and take better care of myself.  (I heard someone say recently "if you wear out your body, where are you going to live?")  Unbelievably, it's working!  Those few minutes that I take my morning time-out carry through to the rest of my day and help me be more mindful of making healthier choices for myself.  Who knew it would actually work for an old 'gal like me?!

Have you taken any time-outs lately?  Do you need to take any time-outs?

And the winners are.....

Three books and three winners to announce today!

Leaving Microsoft to Change the World is leaving my house and going to CJ's house, Then She Found Me is going to my daughter, Laurinda, at Seasons of Life, and Mary is going to receive The Blue Cotton Gown.

Happy Reading, all!

Book Giveaway!

The weather has finally turned warm and the sun is shining! I'm feeling the pull to the lawn swing in my back yard where I hope to spend many hours with a good book over the next few months.  The problem is that to make room for new books I have to get rid of some of my current books.  So, I have decided to have a giveaway!

I read Leaving Microsoft to Change the World while I away from home on a business trip.  John Wood and the Room to Read organization he founded is an inspiration.
Then She Found Me  by Elinor Lipman is the story of a birth-mother and the daughter she gave up for adoption thirty-six years ago.  Is there any doubt that I would have related to this one?!

I read The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife's Memoir by Patricia Harman as part of a memoir challenge of reading four books in four months.  I couldn't put this one down.

There are the books; here are the rules.  To be entered into the drawing, become a follower of My Own Velvet Room if you're not already one, post a reference to my blog on your blog if you have one, and leave a comment here letting me know which book you would like if you are chosen.

That's it!  I'll draw for the winner on Tuesday!

I Was Blogging When Blogging Wasn't Cool

I was a blogger before anyone knew what a blogger was. 

I've been making my way through pages and pages of writing I did when I was younger, in an attempt to connect with the younger me as I'm writing my memoir. 

I started writing in earnest when I was a teenager when Dad brought home a discarded typewriter from his office and I claimed it for my own.  Suddenly the scraps of paper I had been scribbling on became real pages filled with poetry and short stories that I wrote and rewrote.

As I read these pieces today I remember that cynical young woman who sat at her desk in her lavender bedroom working her way through adolescence seeking to find her true self, that self that wasn't affected by circumstances, the self she was created to be.  She felt out of place much of the time, but when she sat at her typewriter and allowed her thoughts to flow through her fingers, the clickity-clack of the keys brought release and she felt strong.

Fast forward a few years to a young mother still struggling to reveal herself to the outside world.  She wrote stories, she wrote poems, she dreamed dreams that seemed so close she could reach out and touch them, and yet so far away they seemed part of another life.  But still, she wrote.

Today, I leaf through the yellowed and tattered pages where I typed and retyped the story of my life and I remember that young woman.  She wrote because she had to; it was her way of standing strong and declaring her place in this world. 

If there had been such a thing as "the internet" or "weblogs" I would have been online with a different version of My Own Velvet Room; as it were I blogged on sheets of yellow newsprint instead of a computer screen.

It is not so much the medium, as it is the practice of writing that I am drawn to. While I love the twenty-first century technology that allows me to put my writing out there, I realize that I was blogging long before the first time I heard the weee-waaa-weee of dial-up internet that connected me to the world back in the 1980's. I was blogging in my lavender bedroom as I composed poetry on my typewriter and listened to Peter Frampton on my record player. 

I will bet that many of us were.


We have had some extraordinary spring storms this year and there was a wind storm the other day that resulted in trees coming down and power outages all over the area.  We lost electricity at work and, as these days it is difficult to function without computers, the office was all but closed down. 

The drive home required my full attention as I navigated through the traffic; it moved slowly because of heavy rainfall and standing water on the road.  I felt the force of wind resistance on my vehicle and gripped the steering wheel with both hands as leaves, twigs and debris flew by.

Then, just for a moment, I happened to look up.

There in the sky above me were two birds, their wings spread wide, gliding on a wind current.  I watched their bodies dip down, then rise, turn one way then the other, all without any effort on their partl.  I wondered if they were calling out to each other: This is great! Isn't this fun? We've been waiting for a day like this!

And I thought how it would be if, when storms come into my life, I could let go and allow myself to be carried by the wind.  I know there is Someone looking out for me, that all will turn out in the way it is meant to in the end. But sometimes I forget I don't need to flap my wings and try to get through it on my own; I forget that to try to navigate on my own power will only wear me out.

So in the midst of a stormy afternoon I heard a still, small voice whisper to me.  Rest easy..

Book Review...and Manderley Video

My review of Anne Lamott's Imperfect Birds was just posted on the Story Circle Book Reviews site. I found it to be a riveting read that sent me to bed early every night until I finished it! (I do most of my reading in bed.)

I fixed the Manderley video clips on my previous post as well.  Take a relaxation break and see what prairie serenity looks like!