Adoption is still my “Something”

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Note from Elaine: Five years after writing this post, originally published in 2012 – I’ve incorporated the theme of “adoption” in fiction. Clara Jordan, heroine of my new suspense novel All the Wrong Places, travels from Virginia to New Mexico hoping to locate an unknown birthmother. Instead of finding roots, she falls in love with Henry, who leads a double life and betrays her. She runs further into trouble as she searches petroglyphs for traces of a mother she’s never known. All the Wrong Places is available from http://www.pocolpress.com. I’ll give a reading at Collected Works Bookstore on May 15th, 6 p.m. in Santa Fe.

If you’re in Santa Fe, NM on Monday, May 15, 6 p.m. please join me and Santa Fe author Peggy vanHulsteyn for a reading and booksigning. It’s at Collected Works, 202 Galisteo, in downtown Santa Fe. (Peggy’s mystery-in-progress is titled The Art of Murder)

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It’s been said that trauma is not a mystery, that it attaches itself to you in a way that’s hard to undo. My story, as related in The Goodbye Baby, offers living proof. Being an adoptee has added melodrama to my life, created a passion for writing, and ultimately inspired me to take off the masks and to discover who I really am.

Though I was fortunate enough to land in an adoptive family who loved and cherished me, it could not make up for losing that first “mother connection.” My birth mother and I said goodbye before I started first grade, and I waited 38 years for her to come back into my life. I was deeply wounded by the separation.

My struggles have been with feeling abandoned, isolated, and rejected. I’ve worried for years that I will be misunderstood and that I’m simply not good enough- as a daughter, a friend, a partner, a mother, or even as a human being.

My son and I in Greece.

Because of being adopted, I felt small and insignificant. Probably because adoption wasn’t something my family discussed, my negative assumptions became deeply embedded. Throughout my adult years, I accomplished a great deal, but in my mind, I was never admirable. Harmful pangs of inadequacy took root and shaped my outlook, my decisions, my disastrous romantic choices.  Until I re-read my diaries, I never realized that I myself had invented the self-damaging myth.

How did I deal with my adoption-induced complexes? My adoptive parents had to raise a delinquent teenager who drank excessively, stayed out too late and attracted bad boyfriends. As I grew older, I tended to be an over-achiever: running nine marathons to lower my finishing time, yet always “keeping score” and endlessly coming up short.

Twenty-three years ago, when I first started to write about my adoption, the title of my book was Reunions. My plan was to meet both my biological parents and write about finding the missing puzzle pieces. I met my original parents, but the reunions were not what I hoped for.  The pieces were in place but the puzzle remained. Only writing The Goodbye Baby completed the picture.

What my adoption has taught me is that the world reflects my inner reality, that my happiness or unhappiness depend on my actions and not on outside forces. I’ve learned that it is never too late to make a fresh start.

I have always known I would be a writer. In the summer of 1962, I wrote in my diary,

“Some of this frantic recording is wasted energy. How can I have a future as a writer?…I need to find something to say.”

The theme of adoption is that something.”

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An Earth Day March for Science

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Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.                                        ~Arundhati Roy

When my hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico hosted footraces throughout the spring and summer, I never missed one. Along with friends ( we were what some might call “run-a-holics”) I ran five and ten kilometer distances. Before a knee injury put a stop to my running, I completed nine marathons and took an hour off my finishing time. Many happy memories.

Every April around Earth Day, there was a footrace. The Plaza, in the heart of downtown, would fill with runners, their friends and families. We participants, warding off the early morning chill, would line up. The elite speedsters were at the front;  the middle-of-the-roaders (like me) were in the middle; walkers and joggers were at the back. A shot from the starting gun and we’d take off. The Old Santa Fe Trail Run, a popular ten-kilometer, wound uphill from the Plaza, around the museum hill complex and then back to the Plaza. A tough but scenic course.

Fast forward a few decades to Earth Day 2017. The Plaza again filled with people, dressed not for a race but a hike. We had gathered for the Santa Fe March for Science. The mood was positive but there was an edge: a message to those in charge. Basically, it was to stop politicizing science and to support scientific pursuits.

Photos courtesy of Donna and Bob

Carrying a variety of signs and banners, the crowd of 3,000 snaked around the Plaza and ended up at the State Capital Building. Less than a mile. Local and area politicians spoke, people listened, bobbed their signs in the air, eventually drifted away. The morning was filled with camaraderie, and it felt positive to be making a statement.

That said, I missed the halcyon days of footraces. Looking back, it seemed a kinder, gentler time. What can one do, however, but adopt the now? It’s what we have.

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Join Elaine every other Monday for reflections on adoption and life. Her new suspense novel, All the Wrong Places, can be ordered: http://www.pocolpress.com or from Amazon.

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FOOD ~ Adopting “The Right Stuff”

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Elaine and Dr. Davie preparing dinner.

As an adoptee, it seems I’m always trying to improve myself. Longtime fitness buff- skier, hiker, former marathon runner, I thought I was doing fine in the food department. Maybe not everything right, but OK. When I took a weekend course in Culinary Healing from Dr. Joalie Davie, I learned how to do much better. Eating ones way to better health involved much more than I’d imagined. Shopping wisely, learning about the differences in nutritional value of foods that looked but aren’t alike and using spices and herbs to heal…these were just a few bonuses of the culinary weekend.

The two-day workshop included dinner, complete with healthy appetizers and a breakfast with several courses. It was held in Joalie’s light, spacious home, situated near foothills of the Rocky Mountains and surrounded by flowering fruit trees. The other student, Bruce, a therapist from New York, had flown in the night before.

We convened at 5:30 on a Friday evening.at Joalie’s home. Cooking aromas met me as i took off my shoes in the foyer and walked into the cosy kitchen/sitting area. Bruce was already there, perched on a barstool facing the range and counters. Jolie served us with an appetizer of sliced heirloom tomatoes garnished with avocado wedges and red caviar. Lightly salted and peppered, the appetizer was drizzled with flax seed oil and cumin.

Day One’s Dinner Menu: Red snapper, flounder, both delicately sautéed; quinoa, steamed asparagus, Okinawan potatoes, and baked Granny Smith apples. This was followed by sesame seed crunch and several homemade dark chocolate treats.

I was cautious about eating tomatoes, as I suffer from occasional outbreaks of lichen planus a gum inflammation that can be worsened by acidic foods. Assuaging my worries, Joalie explained that green and yellow tomatoes are lower in acid.

“At home you might try making a paste of tumeric and water,” she added. “Use a teaspoon of tumeric with some water. Rub it on your gums and inner cheeks. This paste can be swallowed when you’re done, and can provide relief. That doesn’t mean you have to stop using the steroid rinse prescribed by your periodontist. Use both.”

This suggestion was the first of many that were sprinkled throughout our cooking sessions, and it was one that I’d put into action.

Our next appetizer was pickled cabbage that Joalie shredded with a mixer stick. It was delicious, highly beneficial, and much milder than any sauerkraut I’d had. As we sampled this tasty snack, Joalie explained, “First you remove the outside leaves of a head of cabbage, either red or green. Cut it up and soak it in a teaspoon of Celtic or Himalayan salt with filtered water. Let it sit for two days in jars, covered loosely with lids. Then blend with the mixer stick and refrigerate for two more days. After that, it’s ready.”

More dishes and beverages were prepared and consumed, detailed instructions and

Quinoa, asparagus, potatoes, red snapper and flounder comprised the main course.

demonstrations with each course. Sometimes we helped with preparations, sometimes we simply observed. Along the way we sampled many beverages, including raw milk, tea made from cilantro, Foti root tea, chai made with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, black pepper, allspice and cardamom. A medley of juices throughout the evening. “You can make juice from many things,” Joalie told us. “Whatever is fresh, good, local.” We sampled juices made with parsley, celery, lettuce, cilantro, fennel, carrots. They were delicious, refreshing and energizing.

Day Two: Back to Joalie’s the next day. More chai, hot cereal of rye and oats with walnuts, dates, vanilla and maple syrup, fried organic eggs, Kombucha, and a variety of teas and juices. An added treat comprised roe from the flounder of the previous dinner.

New ways with hot cereal!

In addition to the yummy dinner and breakfast, we were given dozens of health tips relating to food. I took notes about everything and will put the knowledge It’s hard to decide which foods I liked best. All were delicious, and it became clear that the quality of ingredients really does matter. Care and imagination in preparing makes a difference. In a way, a good lesson for the Salon of the Mind!

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Join Elaine on alternate Mondays for reflections on Adoption and Life. Her newest novel, All the Right Stuff (Pocol Press) is about adoptee Clara Jordan and will debut at Collected Works Bookstore and Coffee Shop, 202 Galisteo, Santa Fe, NM at 6 p.m., Monday, May 15. Please come if you’re in Santa Fe. If you’re elsewhere, order directly from http://www.pocolpress.com. For more information about Dr. Joalie Davie, to to http://www.healthfromwithin.org

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Shakespeare-Mania!

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April is National Poetry Month. Not only that, it’s the BIRTHDAY month of the great English poet and playwright, William Shakespeare. For me, it means ADOPTING SHAKESPEARE- HIS LANGUAGE, HIS PLAYS, HIS SONNETS, and you’re invited to join in. On Wednesday, the Sweet Swan of Avon (who lived from April 23, 1564-April 23, 1616) turns 453! To celebrate Shakespeare’s Birthday, please send favorite quotations, thereby entering my annual Shakespeare contest.   Tweet them, using my twitter name @TheGoodbyeBaby. Quotation competition takes place during the month of April. The prize, a set of “The Shakespeare Papers” by PhD Shakespearean scholar Robin Williams, will be sent to the top contributor via snail mail. Past winners include poet/memoirist Luanne Castle (@writersitetweet).

Shakespeare's language takes Elaine to the heights!

Shakespeare’s language takes Elaine to the heights!

Sonnet 73 is one of my favorites in the Bard’s magnificent canon. The narrator speaks of the ravages of time on one’s physical well-being and the mental anguish associated with moving further from youth and closer to death. The “death,” point out critics, may be not may be the end of life but rather, the demise of youth and passion. Beginning when I first read this poem in a college literature class,  I’ve appreciated it more each year. Sometimes I focus on the narrator’s sadness, other occasions on the tenderness and love. Read Sonnet 73 aloud and see what resonates with you.

SONNET 73
That time of year thou may’st in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day,
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by-and-by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
-William Shakespeare

At the end of April, copies of brilliant Shakespeare scholar Robin Williams’ “The Shakespeare Papers” will be mailed to the four best entries. So, as the song goes, “Brush up on your Shakespeare…start quoting him now!”

On April 23rd, William Shakespeare turns 450 years old!

On April 23rd, William Shakespeare turns 453 years old!

Bopping around Barcelona

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Every voyage is an exploration and every journey a discovery of the true self. -Kidore Hobbs

It’s no accident that “adoptee” and “authenticity” both start with “A.” As I’ve chronicled

The Goodbye Baby gives an insider view of growing up adopted.

in The Goodbye Baby-Adoptee Diaries, my way through a forest of adoptee-induced emotions is journaling. Another route is travel. As an adoptee who spent a lifetime searching for a sense of family and a “real” family tree, I go to unknown for self-understanding. As Martin Burber sagely remarked, “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”

Europe calls me. My late birthfather Giovanni Cecchini was born in San Martino Sulla Marricina, Abruzzo, Italy, and my late birthmother was German. Two years ago, I explored eastern Germany. Recently, along with lifetime gal pal Jeri, I traveled by ship on a tour aptly titled Mediterranean Odyssey. Each day we disembarked to spend a day or two in a different city. The countries we docked at were Spain, France, Monaco,Italy, and Croatia. Italy, of course, was a top destination (more about Italy in a future post), but for years I’d dreamed of traveling to Barcelona, Spain and seeing the architecture of Antoni Gaudi.

This month that dream became a reality! Barcelona was the first stop of a 2 1/2 week-long Viking Ocean Cruise. Spain’s Catalonian capital is a visual feast. A great city brimming with history, wide boulevards, a magnificent L’Arc de Triumf, elegant buildings and a wonderful atmosphere. After hours in airplanes traveling from New Mexico to Spain, Jeri and I were eager to walk, and walk we did…

We strode the famous Las Ramblas – a mile-long leave pedestrian way. A wonderfully wide road, completely closed off from cars, the route drew us back several times during our Barcelona stay. Sidewalk cafes serving tapas provided lunches, each one tastier than the one before. A highlight was the extensive open air market, literally bursting with lane after lane of beautiful fruit, vegetables, meat, cheeses, baked specialties, flowers, spices and more.

The best of Barcelona, however, comprised the astonishing creations of Antoni Gaudi, the brilliant and endlessly creative nineteenth century architect. He produced wonders such as La Sagrada Familia Cathedral, Casa Batlló and La Predrera. Having always loved Art Nouveau, I resonated with Gaudi more than any other aspect of Barcelona. Herewith, Gaudi details that reveal the man’s genius.

Window of La Familia Sagrada Cathedral

“House of Bones”

Atrium, Casa Batlló

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Join author Elaine Pinkerton on alternate Mondays for posts about adoption and life. Your feedback is invited. Coming in May: her newest novel All the Wrong Places (Pocol Press).

Adoption Recovery 101

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The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

-F. Scott Fitzgerald

...Nothing so wise as a circle. -Rilke

…Nothing so wise as a circle. -Rilke

This morning’s labyrinth walk yielded reflections that I’d like to share with you…

With the publication of The Goodbye Baby-Adoptee Diaries, a memoir comprised of diary entries from the 1950s through 1980s, I began to heal from years of repressed anger and pain. I forgave the past and myself. I redirected my imagination. Instead of dwelling on all those invisible wounds (from being separated from my birthparents), I was able to focus on writing.

After The Goodbye Baby, I decided that I’d moved on. Producing a memoir was instructive and healing. Helpful as it was, however, it wasn’t enough. Or to put it more accurately, it didn’t last. The stress and instability of my first five years of life sometimes come back to haunt me.

Here’s my newest “rescue remedy,” a three-pronged remedy for adoption recovery.

ACCEPTANCE –
Realizing the difference between dreams and expectations. As Sarah Ban Breathnach recommends in Simple Abundance, I’m following her recommendation:
“You dream. Show up for work. Then let Spirit deliver your dream to the world.”

WALKING-
I do this daily and I reaffirmed this intention with creating a new edition of my             guidebook Santa Fe on Foot. (www.santafeonfoot.com)

READING-
Allowing time each day for books.
I spend time reading for edification, for entertainment, for information, and (sometimes) sheer escape.

We really do not know what’s in store for us. As Sarah Breathnach recommends, “…we’ll only find out once we start investing our emotions in authentic expression, and not in specific outcomes.” Don’t get caught up in the “delivery details.”

Keep your dreams even as you accept what IS.

Keep your dreams even as you accept what IS. Join Elaine on alternate Mondays for adoption thoughts.

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GOLDINGHAM ~ 1820

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Note from Elaine: This post was originally published in December of 2013 and is now part of my novel-in-progress The Hand of Ganesha, scheduled for 2019.  All the Wrong Places, prequel to Ganesha is due out in April of 2017. Pre-publication orders are being taken at http://www.pocolpress.com.

Lord Goldingham is the ancestor of my character Arundhati Benet, one of the protagonists of The Hand of Ganesha.

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A British tourist, one Lord Johathan Dinegar Goldingham, strolled along the beach

The India of his dreams...

The India of his dreams…

just south of Chennai. His cousin Lady Elizabeth, a descendant of George Earl of Cumberland, had invited him to Calcutta. That hectic cauldron of humanity was not to his liking and therefore Goldingham announced diplomatically that he would travel to outlying areas rather than exploring more of the city.
It was here in Tamil Nadu that Goldingham found the India of his dreams. After exploring the stoneworks of Chennai, he hired a black Indian to lead him to the beach where stone ruins could be viewed. The tide was out and huge stone ramparts loomed up from the water. It was as though an ancient city were rising up from the ocean, that or sinking into it.
As he walked, Goldingham pondered the Bagavad Gita, particularly that portion he’d committed to memory:
He who neither likes nor dislikes, neither bemaons nor desires, who has renounced both the auspicous and inauspicious and who is full of devotion to me – he is dear to ME.
The trip to India was, he surmised, a step toward achieving the end of desire. His desire, that is. After the death of his beloved Bet and the tragic accident that took their son and daughter, he lost his will to live. Reading the poetry of Samuel Coleridge gave him a new reason to get up each day. It was Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” that drew him to the mystical, world of the imagination.
As he edged along the ocean, it occurred to him that he should look in the damp sand for fragments that might have floated surfaceward from an ancient city under the sea, the lost kingdom of which he’d dreamed.
No one around to find his behavoir peculiar, he felt strangely liberated. Still nimble at age 45, he sat down on the white sandy beach and removed his shoes and stockings, stuffing them in a rucksack he carried on his back. After rolling up his trouser legs, he waled  into the ocean, ankle deep. The water felt warm, like bathwater. Not at all like the icy Atlantic Ocean surrounding his native Isle of Jersey. He stretched out and retrated his toes, as though they might find artifacts buried just under the sand.
The world of the imagination, that’s what attracted him to Samuel Coleridge and “Kubla Khan” and to take this trip to India. He strode from the beach in front of his hotel toward a lone pillar, part of the ruins of Mahabalipuram. He tried to envision the lost city that lay beneath the ocean, the ancient empire of which this pillar was just a part. He recited, at first in his head, and then out loud…
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree;
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;

Beyond this point he’d not really memorized. He remembered only a fragment beyond the “walls and towers”; a “damsel with a dulcimer.” A damsel, yes a damsel…

Stay tuned for more excerpts from the prequel to Elaine's novel Arundati.

Stay tuned for more excerpts from Elaine’s novel The Hand of Ganesha, sequel to All the Wrong Places

ADOPTING FICTION~Characters in Search of a Plot

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January is a great month for new beginnings.

As an author and adoptee, I find myself forever involved in a personal makeover. Maybe it’s the extreme sort of freedom granted by having more than one family tree – the parents to which one is born and the adoptive parents who raised one. Whatever the case, I find myself often embarking on new ventures. This became crystal clear during the creation of my memoir The Goodbye Baby~Adoptee Diaries. During the 50s,60s and 70s, I sought to be the kind of daughter my parents wished they had, never meeting my own impossible standards. Harvesting my journals for that book was a route to being at peace with having been adopted. It freed me to write other books.

Searching for characters took me to Mahabalipuram, India

Searching for characters took me to Mahabalipuram, India

Always a new avenue… However, the constant thread has been and will always be writing.  After the debut of my guidebook Santa Fe On Foot-Exploring the City Different, I suffered from post-publication letdown  This reaction is not uncommon. With writers I know, the joy of completing a book brings with it a dreary vacuum, an emptiness. The only solution is to begin another book.
Good news: I have a novel coming out this April, All the Wrong Places. It’s being issued by Pocol Press, an independent publisher located in Clifton, Virginia. Here’s the plot…
Adoptee Clara moves from the east coast to Red Mesa, New Mexico, and begins a teaching year at the American Indian Academy. Shortly after the start of a new semester, headmaster Joseph Speckled Rock is found dead on Clara’s classroom floor. Both teacher and students are shocked.
    Clara deals with her students’ grief and her own frustration by daily running in the rough hills surrounding the academy. Carnell Dorame, a talented student and Clara’s favorite, uses the Internet to trace the identity of her birthmother. The school’s computer teacher Henry DiMarco invites Clara out for a date and they end up becoming lovers. Henry, however, is not what he seems. His real business is smuggling pottery, an enterprise that is tied in with the death of Speckled Rock.
    When Clara begins to suspect Henry’s dual nature, he decides that she is in the way and breaks up with her. She runs to a remote arroyo and underground cave studying petroglyphs that might lead to her birthmother’s identity. But it seems she is not alone…
Will adoptee Clara Jordan be able learn about her family tree? I can tell you this much: Clara does learn about her birthmother, but it is not a good reunion. She’s left with more questions than answers.

In Hindu tradition, Ganesha is a god of wisdom and success

In Hindu tradition, Ganesha is a god of wisdom and success

I’m now at work on a second novel in the Clara Jordan series, The Hand of Ganesha. My heroine Clara moves to Santa Fe, New Mexico, still questing. There she befriends Arundhati Benet, another adoptee. The two discuss traveling to India to trace Dottie’s ancestry. Their friend Sanjay Roy invites them to go with him to Chennai, Tamil Nadu, where he has relatives. The two women end up being separated from Sanjay. They find themselves at a Kumba Mela festival and either find a clue as to Dottie’s real origins – or not. I’m “interviewing” Clara and Dottie. Daily “free writing” has yielded character revelation and background.r than imposing a plot, I listen to what they have to say about what happens.

Does the interview method work? Time will tell. I’ve given myself until Valentine’s Day to decide on a plot. After that I’ll begin the “real writing.” I’ll be armed with a plot, but that will be subject to change. The characters will have the final word.

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Join author Elaine Pinkerton on alternate Mondays for reflections on adoption, writing, hiking and living in the Southwest. Stay tuned for news on All the Wrong Places, and check out http://www.santafeonfoot.com. Your comments are invited!img_2279

Poetry Monday, Once Again

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Note from Elaine: I’m adopting poetry for this first post of 2017, contributed by a writer friend whose work I’ve admired for many years. Her beautifully crafted images capture much of what there is to love in northern New Mexico. Join Roberta as she takes you through Northern New Mexico’s palette with intimate details, sweeping panoramas, and all kinds of weather!

Grace Notes of 2016 in Jaconita

A form that's both ancient and contemporary.

A form that’s perfect for today.

by Roberta Fine

JANUARY
Snow enhancing trash.
Crystal-crusted broken hoe
Crowned by red-topped finch.

FEBRUARY
Wrinkled, folded hills
Holding ancient secrets.
Spinning fireside tales.

MARCH
Finely crafted nest.
Feathered weaver’s masterwork.
Lying on the ground.

APRIL
Silver silhouette
Truchas Peaks shining in new
White Communion dress.img_2917

MAY
Hummingbird stealing
Insects from spider’s rich cache
In window cobweb.

JUNE
Slim moon slice smiling
In arching black velvet sky
Empty of storm clouds.

JULY
Coral fruit crowning
Lushly-leaved apricot tree.
Feathered thieves dive in.

AUGUST
Monarch’s stained glass wings
Fanning magenta blossoms.
Sipping as it clings.

SEPTEMBER
Apple scented breeze
Stirring hollow wooden chimes
Into two note song.

OCTOBER
Caught in burnt-red sprays,
October sun igniting
Locust’s vibrant leaves.

NOVEMBER
Yellow butterfly
No bigger than a nickel
Finding last flower.

DECEMBER
White veil laid smoothly
Overnight over Sangres.
Valley brown, leafless.

Poet Roberta Fine lives and writes in Jaconita, New Mexico. She finds inspiration from the diverse seasons and scenery of the Southwest.

What are your favorite scenes from home and environs in your corner of the world? Please send comments, and tune in to Elaine’s website every other Monday for a fresh blog post about adoption, hiking and life.

Roberta Fine adopted Haiku as her medium of expression

Roberta Fine has adopted Haiku as her medium of expression

Adopt a Peace Plan for the Holidays

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The grandchildren are visiting soon, and I couldn’t help but recall a long-ago past. Like

Christmas is full of joy and anticipation!

Christmas is full of joy and anticipation!

my five-year-old boy and eight-year-old girl, I was caught up in Christmas magic. I couldn’t wait! What a contrast with these days’ scrambling to accomplish everything, to set the stage, to “deck the halls.” It can be exhausting!

During a recent hike in the Santa Fe National Forest, I talked with a friend about combating Holiday Doldrums. His solution was simple: “Aim for peace, and stay within the confines of the day.” Great advice as far as it goes, but I’ve found it helpful to set boundaries for the day, especially during December madness. Based on a recent message from the Chopra Center, here’s my personal six-point plan.

Be in the NOW, regarding each day, from sunrise to night, as a gift.

Raise your appreciation quotient. Challenge yourself, as you go throughout the holidays, to turn your attention to others. Last week I was stuck in a slow-moving line at the post office. Instead of the snag turning into an ordeal, I enjoyed a pleasant conversation with a fellow USPS customer. We discussed the superiority of the greeting cards carried by our post office. Just one example of being grateful for the “small stuff.”

3. Think less about yourself, more about others. Give your ego a vacation and practice really listening. It is a way of flipping the script and focussing on being.

4.Be easy on yourself. Don’t obsess about making the holidays perfect. That can be a

Make it a daily practice to recall at least 5 things for which you're grateful.

Make it a daily practice to recall 5 things for which you’re grateful.

recipe for disappointment. Look for ways to be satisfied with all you accomplish.

5. Set limits, and do it gracefully. The holidays are often a time when old family issues reappear, stress levels rise, and people overstep your boundaries. Reactive responses are the enemy. If you find yourself saying the same things you’ve said in the past, just stop. Determine to recalibrate your emotions.

6. Focus on the spiritual. Whatever your beliefs, place them in center stage during Christmas and Hannukah. Turn to scriptures, poetry, being in nature — whatever inspires you.

Create a checklist, writing these suggestions on an index card. As you go about the day, refer to the list to see how you’re doing. It shouldn’t be burdensome but more like a game. Be grateful for the times when you meet your expectations. How do YOU make the holidays less stressful and more joyous. Please share your reflections!

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Please join Elaine every other Monday for reflections on adoption, hiking and life. Let us know if you’d like to contribute an adoption-related guest post. And remember, as of now, the days are growing longer!

Nature can be the best therapy of all!

Nature can be the best therapy of all!