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Walk In Your Own Shoes

My book, Sunlight on My Shadow, begged to be written. It sat there for years, this quiet weight on my heart. It was a story bound in secrecy that was there yet obscured by years of neglect.

It was oppressive holding this story inside of me.

So about 5 years ago, I started tapping on the keyboard. The words flowed easily but when I thought of anyone reading what I wrote, I cringed and the words dried up. So I just wrote it for myself, pretending no one would ever read it. It seemed the only way to keep the words flowing onto the page and I knew the writing was good for my heart and soul.

Interview with Joseph Courtemanche

I just met Joe at Starbucks for an interview about my book. He’s posted an great story as a result on his blog: http: commotioninthepews.com

When I first started working in the voice over world a local children’s book author hired me to do the work on her interactive software. Entitled “Times Tables The Fun Way!” it was not only the best paying job I had that year, or the next, but also it forced me to do over twenty different voices for the work. I still love going to her website (www.citycreek.com) and listening to the samples. She made me a much better voice over talent with her kindness and expectations.

Read the rest here: http://commotioninthepews.com/?p=5517#more-5517

Kicking The Cake Addiction

I hate it when I eat a big dinner and then take bite after bite of the towering mud pie and only stop because shame descends on my reaching fork. And when my belly is tight as a drum and food is creeping up my throat because the stomach is at capacity. Ugh! Certain foods for me, like Tres Leches cake for instance, are like alcohol to an alcoholic.

Many of us have our drugs of choice. Some people have a glass of wine and the good feeling makes them want another. The second one goes down easy and the warm buzz makes the arm keep pouring, until the head is in the dinner plate. What is it that overrides the body’s common sense and prompts us to keep at it when the overdose destroys brain cells, causes ulcers, and pulverizes the liver? The drug addict also ignores these physiological compromises. That sweet reprieve from everyday anxiety oozes through the blood stream in a physical jolt of euphoria. The feeling so compelling that one must increase the dose to recall the effect and soon the body builds a tolerance so the cells need the drug to just function normally.
And cigarettes. Some say this is the most difficult habit to break. Many never quit in spite of the commercials of the woman with a hole punched in her throat so she can get air after years of smoking. Vices persist as you trick yourself into believing in their value. But after the compulsion has a good grip on you, you begin to suspect you are paying a high price-by shortening your days on this earth.

Talking Pictures

Show don’t tell, my writing teachers remind me. While writing, I have to constantly remind myself to talk in pictures. I am tempted to write, “She was so awesome.” As a reader, does that leave you cold? There are just so many awesome people that your image gets muddied and lacks detail. It tells the reader you like this person but they have no idea why –nor do they care. Instead to convey that she is awesome, I could say, ‘she reached down and picked up the hanky the little old lady dropped and then she said, “My pleasure to assist you, Sweet Pea, and planted a soft kiss on her forehead.”’ Now the word awesome is chiseled to mean that she is caring and loving. You get this by the picture painted with the words. Writing practice helps you learn this technique. It doesn’t come naturally. You learn to visualize some scene that illustrates the emotion you want to convey.

Kiona and Tessie Talk About Mom’s Book

Jon Chapman asks Kiona and Tessie how their mom’s book changed things. Kiona says she is just about as excited as her mom about the book launch because she was one of the first people to read the first draft and has been along on the writing journey helping with editing and feedback. Kiona has been a wonderful support of my story and an encouraging light along the way besides for a talented editor.

Tessie cries as she tells about reading that her mom’s mom, Grandma Ethel never had a serious conversation with me after I returned from giving birth and giving my baby up for adoption.My mom never knew the details of my experience. I know it is hard for Tessie to understand that nobody spoke -not mom-not me-not dad-but there was so much shame that it seemed best left in the darkness of secrecy. Tessie goes on to say that she is thankful for the message of the toxicity of secrets and grateful to know me in a deeper way.

The Children They Gave Away by Sarah Karnasiewicz- salon.com

In this article Sarah interviews Ann Fessler, the author of “The Girls Who Went Away.”
“In the decades between World War II and Roe v. Wade, 1.5 million young women were secretly sent to homes for unwed mothers and coerced into giving their babies up for adoption. Now their stories are finally being told.

“Nobody ever asked me if I wanted to keep [my] baby, or explained the options. I went to a maternity home, I was going to have the baby, they were going to take it, and I was going to go home. I was not allowed to keep the baby. I would have been disowned.”

— Joyce

It was the 1960s and Joyce was going to beauty school in Florida when she realized she was pregnant. When her mother found out, Joyce says, she was “dumped” at a Salvation Army Home for Unwed Mothers in Alabama. “It was an old, old, old house with big rooms,” she remembers now. “[And] I had no control … It was like being in a car wreck or something. Once you start skidding, that’s it. [So] I kind of skidded through it.”

Joyce is just one of more than a million and a half women who were sent to maternity homes to surrender their children for adoption in the decades between World War II and the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973. They were college freshman working their way through school with two jobs. They were tomboys, sorority girls and valedictorians. They were mothers and they were invisible.

But now, artist and writer Ann Fessler has uncovered their hidden stories. The result of years of research and more than one hundred interviews, Fessler’s new book, “The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade,” is an astonishing oral history that brings to light the dark undercurrent of life in America’s postwar middle class. Denied adequate sex education, shamed by socially conformist parents and peers, and without legal access to abortion, Fessler’s subjects emerge as the victims of a double standard that labeled them promiscuous while condoning the sexual adventures of their male counterparts.

Brene Brown’s Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto

I just love this message of teaching by example and raising our children so they know they are seen, loved, and belong and that we can share our struggles. Sooo beautiful. This is from Brene Brown’s new book Daring Greatly. Read the whole article here. Judy

    The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto by Brene Brown

Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and lovable. You will learn this from my words and actions–the lessons on love are in how I treat you and how I treat myself.

I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness. You will learn that you are worthy of love, belonging, and joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections.

We will practice courage in our family by showing up, letting ourselves be seen, and honoring vulnerability. We will share our stories of struggle and strength. There will always be room in our home for both.

Unwanted Pregnancy-the Joys and Sorrows

I was just 16 and found myself pregnant. Well, that is a kind of euphemism. I knew why I was pregnant, it wasn’t just like it happened mysteriously, but what I mean is that the pregnancy was not planned. And so then I wondered what I would do next. I was so young, attending an all girls catholic high school, and in some real hot water.

My father wanted me to have an abortion, but I didn’t think that was possible since my baby was by now, so big…

Sunlight Book Launch- Open Book- Minneapolis

City Creek Press hosted the release of Judy’s new memoir, Sunlight on My Shadow, on February 16, 2013 at 2:00 pm at the Open Book in Minneapolis. Four authors read prose, poems, and spoke about the joys and sorrow of adoption. Dan Israel played guitar and sang Unwed Fathers, Let it Be, I Shall Be Released, and Slip Sliding Away. Not a dry eye could be found during this moving program which included some laughter when Judy shared a coming of age story when her mom first told her about sex and how she misinterpreted the description.

Judy read four excerpts from Sunlight on My Shadow and was accompanied by Margaret Hasse, award winning poet and author of Milk and Tides, Kate St. Vincent Vogl, author of Lost and Found, Carol Connolly, poet-laureate of St. Paul. Dan Israel struggled to hold back the tears as he sang a touching rendition of John Prine’s Unwed Fathers. City Creek Press sold about 60 books of the authors and wine and appetizers were served during the reception. Jun Sugiyama played instrumental guitar and added ambiance and sweet sounds as a back drop to the lively conversation. Thank you artists and authors for adding a rich mix of profound thought and music to this event.

Home Birth 34 Years Ago Today-Happy Birthday Tessie

What a celebration it was- 34 years ago today- Tessie was born at home. I was in labor and it was a cold windy cloudy day. I remember sitting in the back bedroom of our single wide trailer, watching the wind blow the milk pods in the field. Now this sounds kind of ghetto, but it was a nice trailer. We had new bright red carpets and a couch from RC Wiley’s Furniture store that had stripes that matched the carpet. My dad gave us the money to buy a matching avocado washing machine and dryer. This was my first home with such luxury and a far cry from cross country skiing to the Laundromat when we lived in our one room cabin in Fraser, Colorado when Kiona was a baby.