Poetry Monday

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“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

It seems that no matter how far I’ve come, the ghosts of my “adoption past,” unbidden, come back to haunt me. What to do about the attack? I realized that it might be a good idea to do some re-naming. Instead of “Blue Monday,” I’m choosing to call today “Poetry Monday.” The choice of whether or not to go with the painful memories or to push through them and then move on is always available. Pushing, shoving, dislodging, climbing up out of the depths. Along those lines, I offer you a poem that has provided me with great solace throughout the years…1413231694198
The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Do you recall roads not taken in your life? What choices and twists of fate have shaped your destiny?

Reaching out to Homeless Teens

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How can we make a difference, we who have so much, to those who have so little?

Autumn is well underway and Winter fast approaching. At 7,000 feet—the elevation of my hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico—the nights are growing cold. Life on the streets is becoming increasingly harsh. Brutal. Dehumanizing. Youth Shelters, a local nonprofit provides a beacon of hope and a safe haven for a forgotten layer of the homeless: adolescents. This organization performs street outreach with warm coats, water, and hope. The professional staff can provide temporary housing for young people who have nowhere else to go. Because I was adopted at age five by loving parents, I did not have to suffer the fate of homelessness and alienation. Not every parent-less child is so lucky. The upcoming event is my way of trying to help: feasting for a cause, raising awareness of Youth Shelters, enjoying fine food on an October evening.

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As part of my personal mission to benefit New Mexico’s young people who have left home or who do not have homes, I decided to throw a benefit party at my favorite French restaurant.

Le Dîner Avec Elaine Pinkerton Coleman
A celebration of her new ebook
Santa Fe Blogger ~ Life After Adoption Recovery

My go to Bistro morning, noon or night!

My go to Bistro morning, noon or night!

Sunday, October 19, 2104 5:30 pm

“A touching, heartfelt book following a woman’s struggle with adoption and acceptance…Through blog posts, old letters and journals, the author traced her history, meeting of her birth parents and the love she knew for hew adoptive parents. Definitely a moving read.” ~ Author Peggy Bechko
The event will benefit the Youth Shelters street outreach programs for teens of Santa Fe and northern New Mexico.

“Youth Shelters and Family Services delivers life-changing services to homeless, runaway, and in-crisis youth in northern New Mexico by providing shelter and addressing health, safety, education, and workforce opportunities so they may lead independent and meaningful lives.”Image 1

For more information contact Elaine Pinkerton
505.983.9747 or email elaine2005@comcast.net
217 E. Palace Ave. Santa Fe, NM 505.216.1845
Fixed price dinner $38.00

Date:
Sunday, October 19th

Time:
5:30 pm

Place:
Chez Mamou French Bistro
217 E. Palace Ave.
Santa Fe, NM

Phone for reservations (space is limited)
505.216.1845

                                                                  Menu for the evening:

Chez Mamou menu 1

Traveling the Chamisa Road

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Chamisa, also called Rubber Rabbitbrush: a perennial deciduous Native shrub, with aromatic, blue-green-grey, feathery foliage in Summer and dense clusters of bright-yellow flowers in early Fall. Deciduous shrub, 3-5 ft. tall & wide. Can prune strongly – blooms on new growth. Sow anytime.

October brings Chamisa into full bloom.

October brings Chamisa into full bloom.

Join Elaine every Monday for reflections on adoption and life.

Join Elaine every Monday for reflections on adoption and life.

Though I loved growing up in northern Virginia, with its lovely green deciduous trees and grassy lawns and hills, I willingly adapted to living in a dry land. Here in my adopted state of New Mexico I find myself surrounded by Chamisa. It is scruffy and hardy; it attempts to cover the hard dirt fields, it is everywhere. Though occasionally planted in gardens or used in landscaping, Chamisa’s favorite place is bordering roads.
Many Octobers ago when I first moved to the Southwest, this ubiquitous plant was abloom with small yellow blossoms. I made bouquets and put several throughout the house. Soon I was sneezing my head off. Lesson learned. Too pungent to be used in the house, Chamisa is best left outdoors.
This lowly “rabbitbrush” seems to symbolize the adoptee’s journey of forgiving the past and being in now.  Not resignation, but rather, acceptance. The “Chamisa Road” is about moving beyond invisible wounds, those injuries that are hardest to heal. It’s about traveling from “how to have what you want” to “how to want what you have”
In my experience, the wounds of adoption may never really go away; they simply change form. I’ve written about this in my confessional, The Goodbye Baby-A Diary about Adoption.  Similarly, in her excellent memoir Split at the Root, Catana Tully indicates that restoration may be a lifelong process. The “wounded heart” of the adoptee overrides intellectual decisions. At any time, the feelings of being not quite OK, of not belonging may reappear. They rear their ugly heads and must be stared down.
Adoption recovery, it turns out, is not accomplished by simply writing a memoir and then declaring “OK, I’m healed now.” It is a Sisyphusian undertaking that must be faced afresh every morning.  It is about walking The Chamisa Road.

Five-Step Program for Adoptees

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The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing, and face us with the reality of our powerlessness, that is the friend who cares. -Henry Nouwen, Dutch-born priest and writer

Our feelings are very important. They count. They matter. The emotional part of us is special. – Melody Beattie, Author of Codependent No More – How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself

Learning to "friend" yourself pays great rewards

Learning to “friend” yourself pays great rewards

Maybe it’s the transition from summer to autumn, but lately nearly everyone I know is carrying a heavy sack of problems that keeps life from being fulfilling. I’ve always prided myself in being a good friend “in time of need,” a resourceful adviser, stalwart and supportive pal, a woman who listens without judging. My wonderful community of “amigas” are much cherished, and we support one another in many ways.

Why, then, do I find it hard to be a friend to myself?  Clearly, a barrier is that old grief that began with the initial wound of adoption. Nancy Verrier in her book by the same title calls it The Wounded Heart.  I’ve come a long way on the road to adoption recovery. No matter how hard I resist, however, when life becomes too challenging the thought seeps in: “My mother gave me away because I wasn’t good enough.” Children believe that they are the cause of everything around them, and adopted children often become their own worst enemies.

Adult adoptees need to guard against the old grief, the invisible wounds, the doubts that spring from having been adopted. It takes special effort to befriend oneself. Here’s a list of ways to nurture and appreciate that adopted self:

1. Be gentle. If you were advising your dearest, most cherished pal about a situation, what would you say or do? Treat yourself as kindly as you would that best friend.

2. Stop depending on external validation and approval. Such seeking is Ego-based and tends to break your heart. Comparing yourself with others is bound to end up badly. (Here, as throughout my post, I can relate only my own experience).

3. When troubles pour down, remember that, like rainstorms, they will pass. Think about this: If you fast-forwarded to a year ahead, many of today’s problems would not even be remembered. Those ills, would, of course, be replaced by new ones, which in turn would be replaced by others. To be alive is to have problems. As you face them, be a kind, loving friend – TO YOURSELF.

4. Spend time in nature and appreciate the beauty of every season. Whatever your favorite outdoor activity, try to do it five times a week. Biking, walking, running or hiking: They are good for not only cardiovascular health but also for ones emotional state.

5. Fine tune your sense of humor, especially the ability to laugh at your own foibles.

No one ever promised us that life would be easy, but it is made richer and more enjoyable with the help of friends. There just might be someone who is waiting to be your new best friend: YOU. Try including that new friend in your thoughts and actions. Practice befriending yourself this month and see what happens. You just might gain a new BFF!

Join me every week for reflections on adoption and life!

Join Elaine every Monday for reflections on adoption and life.

Welcome to Fall!

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For today’s post, I offer you a favorite poem I’ve admired ever since discovering it during college days at the University of Virginia. How, you might be asking, does it relate to the theme of my blog, an adoption recovery journey? Here’s how: After “staring down” my life and doing battle with a lifetime of invisible injuries, I found that the mental decluttering allowed room for revisiting past literary loves. John Keats, who lived from 1795-1821, created some of the most beautiful poetry of the Romantic Era. This tribute to the season has been called “the most serenely flawless poem in English.” Enjoy.

Sunrise in Late September

Sunrise in Late September

Ode to Autumn

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,

Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

Conspiring with him how to load and bless

With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;

To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,

And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells

With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,

And still more, later flowers for the bees,

Until they think warm days will never cease;

For Summer has o’erbrimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?

Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find

Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,

Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;

Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,

Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook

Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers:

And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep

Steady thy laden head across a brook;
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Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,

Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?

Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—

While barrèd clouds bloom the soft-dying day

And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;

Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn

Among the river-sallows, borne aloft

Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;

And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;

Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft

The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;

And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Aspen Vista, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Join Elaine every Monday for reflections on Adoption and Life

The Path to Serenity

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“Only when you are on foot are you really there.”    -Goethe

We adoptees who are now adults are supposedly “over” adoption issues.

Atalaya Mountain, 9121 feet

Atalaya Mountain, 9121 feet

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Nature shrine in memory of Ruth

While I believe this in theory, I know that when the road gets rough, the old angst comes back for a cameo appearance. The same tiresome crew: feelings of melancholy, loneliness, impatience and frustration.

Think in terms of life as a journey. Now that it’s almost Fall, I look back on the route I traveled last summer. Most of the season was a smooth highway, but the past two weeks resembled a dusty, rugged washer board of a back road. At the end of August, my neighbor Ruth died rather suddenly. True, she was a month away from turning 95, a ripe old age in anyone’s book. But the fact that I lived next door to her for 40 years, the fact that I was planning to visit her once again for one of our quarterly  coffee klatches and the harsh fact that, all of a sudden, a visit was no longer possible left me flat. I’ll admit it: Even though I know about necessary and inevitable losses, the old abandonment issues kicked in.

I’ve discovered a solution: I take myself outdoors.

Those of you who’ve been following my blog know that I’m all about not only adoption but also the curative power of nature. When life becomes hard to take, I take to the trails: anywhere outdoors that will provide a walk in the woods, a view of the mountains,
walking, strolling, rambling, climbing in a beautiful spot.

This is one thing I’ve learned. Whenever I feel stuck, down or dissatisfied, nature lifts me out of myself and helps me achieve an “attitude adjustment.” I recommend this for lifting the spirits, overcoming writer’s block, or recharging your emotional batteries.

I live near mountains in the scenic Southwest, but no matter where you are, there are sure to be are lovely places. While not necessarily a permanent solution, hiking and walking can definitely make the world seem brighter.

Join Elaine every Monday for insights on adoption and life.

Join Elaine every Monday for insights on adoption and life.

Longing to Belong

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“Home is where the heart is.”
-Pliny the Elder

The yen for authenticity is a universal quest.  To paraphrase Meister Eckhardt

The Adoptee's Quest: Feeling at home in the world.

The Adoptee’s Quest: Feeling at home in the world.

Tolle, “we long to know who we REALLY are.” This knowledge comes from within but also from our environment and the people immediately around us, our families.

It’s been said that the road to adoption recovery is a search for authenticity. Adoptees must choose from two family trees, one biological and another through adoption. In writing my memoir The Goodbye Baby-A Diary about Adoption, I realized that neither family tree was the answer. My feeling of being “at home in the world” had to come from a source within, a gradual unveiling, a stripping away of masks I’d assumed for a lifetime.

Much of my healing has come from reading. Not just nonfiction books about adoption, but novels. Not surprisingly, adoption runs as a theme through much of literature. One of the best contemporary novels I’ve read about adoption is Emily Giffin’s Where We Belong. In this beautifully told story, a birthmother and birthdaughter meet for the first time when mom is thirty-six and daughter is eighteen.

Author Emily Giffin captures the nuances of adoption reunion.

Author Emily Giffin captures the nuances of adoption reunion.

Marian Caldwell is a television producer fulfilling her dream in New York City. With a jazzy career and picture-perfect relationship, it would appear that her life is just as she wants it to be. But her daughter Kirby Rose’s inconvenient appearance produces the key to a past that Marian thought she had locked away forever. For Kirby, the discovery of both her original mother and father bring about a reevaluation of her adoptive family and her thoughts about the future. In other words, the reunion changes everything.

As Marian and Kirby embark on a quest to find the one thing missing in their lives, each comes to recognize that where we belong is often where we least expect to find ourselves. A place that we may have willed ourselves to forget, but that the heart remembers forever.
Giffin’s characters ring true, from the first knock on the door by Kirby to Marian’s final comment about a life transformed by the reunion: “It is not what I planned — this day, this moment, these unlikely relationships, both old and new. Yet I feel overcome with peace and certainty that, for once, I am exactly where I should be.”

Join Elaine every Monday for insights on adoption and life.

Join Elaine every Monday for insights on adoption and life.

Adopting the Road to Gratitude

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“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie

The highway from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, New Mexico

The highway from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, New Mexico

Two years have passed since the publication of The Goodbye Baby-A Diary about Adoption. My memoir comprises diary entries from years of dwelling on unanswered questions about my adoption. Most of those questions have been answered; now I am free to live my life. This journey—writing the book—has opened up a multitude of insights. The weekly blog posts I’m committed to writing has deepened my tolerance and understanding of not only my adoptee status but of the personal issues of friends and family members.
I feel that I’m traveling an entirely new highway, going from overcast skies to wide open sunny plains. The secrecy that surrounded my adoption caused weary decades of self-doubt and recrimination. The lack of a family tree that was authentically mine felt like a character flaw. Being an adoptee and the insecurities attached to that label defined, at least to myself, who I was.
Finally it seems possible to turn problems into opportunities. Of all the insights gained, perhaps the most stunning is this: growing up as an adoptee was the source of my problems but, paradoxically, the springboard of my success.
Through the Internet’s vast, far-reaching adoption community, I’ve met adoptees young and old, birthparents, adoptive parents, couples wanting to adopt, and people who care about adoption issues. Seeing the “land of adoption” with a wide-angle camera has opened up a new landscape.
Its been said that eighty percent of our information comes through our eyes. Since accepting  the past and steadfastly refusing to stay mired in it, I’ve gained a new appreciation for the beauty all around us. I’m fortunate to live in northern New Mexico’s high desert country, a land of astonishingly beautiful sunsets, the Rocky Mountain foothills, majestic forests and scenic plains.
Sometimes all that’s needed is to spend less time “over-thinking”—a notorious flaw of adult adoptees I’ve met—and more time simply really looking at the world.This is a step toward discovering the fullness of your life. BEING HERE is a gift.

Join Elaine on Mondays for reflections on adoption and life.

Join Elaine on Mondays for reflections on adoption and life.

Hiroshima Day – August 6th

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Join Me:  VETERANS FOR PEACE41CTQ4qcooL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_ EVENT

5:30 pm August 6th, 2014.

Benefit reading IMG_3307

Op Cit Bookstore/ Sanbusco Center
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501

Elaine Pinkerton reads her Dad’s WWII letters
(published as From Calcutta With Love)

Everyone who attends will receive a copy of my book, which is set in the
CBI (China-Burma-India)
theater of WWII.

Refreshments/ Door Prizes, including WWII atlases/ Free

Contact: elaine2005@comcast.net

Advice from a Tree

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“When the Student is ready, the Teacher will appear” -Unknown

This California tree overlooks sun-baked terrain.

This California tree overlooks sun-baked terrain.

Stand tall and Proud
Sink Your Roots into the Earth
Be Content with your Natural Beauty
Drink Plenty of Water
Enjoy the View!

-by Ilan Shamir

LIKE THE REHABILITATED ALCOHOLIC, the recovering adoptee must be ever vigilant for signs of backsliding. Nature, I have found, provides opportunities to gain clear vision, to strengthen, invigorate and purge. For example, a grove of Eucalyptus trees near my son’s home became a psychological springboard. For one week, I strolled daily under the majestic giants, stopping occasionally to write in my journal. It so happened that in the journal was a bookmark that spoke directly to my heart. Quoted above with the permission of http://www.YourTrueNature.com …is the lesson. Sounds simple, but it is actually profound. Yes, I’m following advice from a tree, delivered by a bookmark!

Join Elaine on Mondays for reflections on adoption and life.

Join Elaine on Mondays for reflections on adoption and life.

TWO YEARS AGO, motivated by the desire to provide a “tell-all confessional,” I published The Goodbye Baby-A Diary about Adoption. Through the Internet’s large, rambling “adoption community,” I’ve met dozens of other adult adoptees, many of whom have written about the same hard lessons of growing up adopted. The response from my readers has been gratifying, but even more beneficial has been the freedom allotted by pouring the angst into a book and journeying forward with courage and positivity.

And yes, it is possible to leave the past behind, to move on. But let’s get real. No matter how much analysis, clarification, self-appreciation and education the adopted self receives, the demons return. Thanks to the support of my readers and the excellent adoption memoirs I’ve read, especially Catana Tully’s Split at the Root, I am able to recognize the demons and combat them.

Hope comes from many sources. Who knows where or when the next beacon will appear? While taking a

Nature awaits us with answers, if only we take time to listen.

If we take the time to listen, Nature awaits us with answers.

beautiful walk on one of San Diego’s many urban trails. I realized that the answers to adoption issues, and maybe to anyone’s issues, need not be complicated.

So here, with the clearer vision of one who’s fought the demons for years and come to an armistice, is the message: Letting the past take up too much of today is not a good idea. Learning is a daily challenge, but one that makes life worthwhile. The rewards are never guaranteed, but when they do arrive, we are able to emulate the tall, proud, healthy tree. My gratitude is deep, I’m drinking lots of water, and I’m working on the rest.

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