Is it nature or nurture that make you who you are?

This post is a guest post by a wonderful author and birth mother – Caroline K. Dixon.   A woman of heart and conviction, she has used her faith, heart, and love to understand the complex, emotive world of adoption.   

birthmom Caroline K Dixon

Meet birthmom Caroline Dixon

“The loss of the daughter to the mother, the mother to the daughter, is the essential female tragedy.” – Adrienne Rich.

I have spent the better part of this afternoon perusing a fellow birth mother’s blog.  My first baby girl, Rebecca, suggested I might do that, so I could learn more about blogging. It has not been easy to feel her pain. I have experienced so much of what she shares. I have borrowed the quote above from Suz at WritingMyWrongs.com

My heart aches as she shares hers. We share a grief no mother should know. I am most blessed, however, that I have been reunited with the infant daughter I released just a few days after her birth. It has not always been easy. Ours was a closed adoption, in 1978. I never expected she would want to know me. She had loving, generous parents that always prepared her to know me. Sadly, when my own mother learned that I was to be reunited with my baby girl, she could not imagine why I would want that. I can’t begin to express the joy I felt at knowing that my baby girl wanted to know about me. I had built a stone wall, believing such an event could never take place. For 18 years, I could only pray she was loved, healthy and thriving. I would have given anything to see her, to hold her, to know her. How could my mother not understand that? I was certain that she would be happy that God had blessed me so. Powerful emotions rest just below the surface today.

Providence for a First Time Mom book cover

Finding comfort from love and faith.

In the midst of all of the triumph, there have been tears. I have finally realized that I was not my most authentic self until now. I have spent 35 years trying to be what my mother wanted me to be. Finally, I am learning to be who God intended me to be. I am free to love and be loved. The love I know is unconditional. I am blessed beyond measure by family and friends, truly joyful for my accomplishment in sharing my story. I am filled with gratitude for those who have reached out and said my story has touched them in some way. I am looking forward to the next baby steps of this journey. I am eager to learn more about  my new friend, Jeanette, and about her story, which begins with FLYING SOLO and answers all the questions in WAITING IN THE WINGSProvidence continues.  The people in and out of our lives have purpose.  Perhaps you need them, or perhaps they need you. My prayers are ongoing for those who have any painful memories from me telling my story. It is my perspective from a time long ago, but brings peace to the soul of this first mom. – Caroline K. Dixon

This wonderful and book was published and Caroline’s story made possible by Progressive Rising Phoenix press.  I had the pleasure of meeting Caroline at 3rd annual Lexicon Writer’s Conference.  Sometimes God’s providence does indeed put two people together.  We were immediately drawn to another.   Spine tingling goosebumps!   Take a moment to visit Caroline’s inspiring story and words.   Her hopes, as are mine that anyone experiencing adoption – be it birth mothers, children adopted, or adoptive parents find strength and hope in reading our stories.

 

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Did you love or hate Catholic school? Meet saucy journalist and author Amy Gallagher

Those of us Baby Boomers who attended Catholic school all have some strong memories.  Some good, some not so good.  Take a look at this author interview with dynamic and talented journalist Amy Gallagher.  Amy has a knack for bringing young adult and childen’s issues to the forefront through creative humor.  She has been published in numerous journals involving healthcare and aviation.   In addition, she has published two children’s books on being the “odd child out” and learning the ABCs through eating health veggies!  She has recently joined alliance with the Indie Authors of AgeView Press.  Enjoy!

Amy Gallagher writer

Meet YA and Children’s author Amy Gallagher

What sparked off the idea of your books?
My original manuscript – which I’m still writing – Riley Patton, In Search of the Blarney Stone, a fiction set in Ireland. My Chapter 4 was basically a character analysis of Riley which I then brought to life to create Good Girl Gone Plaid.
Which character, if any, most resembles your personality?
Definitely Riley. I’ve always loved the name Riley for a girl. And Riley is just as inquisitive as I was growing up. I think it’s important to ask “why” even to grown ups which was frowned upon at home, school and church during my childhood. When children know why, they understand more and feel greater empathy. It’s a child development fundamental that needs to be properly nurtured. It’s also a teaching moment between adult and child.
Which character was the hardest to write and why?
Probably Riley’s dad. My own father died in 2003 when I was drafting the Riley Patton, In Search of the Blarney Stone. Chapter 4 was about Riley and I read it to my dad who absolutely loved the character and her shenanigans. My dad never knew alcohol would lead to death, and as he lay dying in the hospital over the course of three weeks, I read my manuscripts to him, as well as scriptures.
How do you plan/research your books? Well, that’s a tough one because I work full time as an English teacher and I also write freelance for nurse-related magazines. Planning and researching for my books happens when it happens. I’d love to do nothing but write my books, and that’s what I’m working toward…one day!
Good Girl Gone Plaid for YA

A YA coming of age story!

What are you working on at the moment? I’m drafting Good Girl Gone Blue, a non-fiction account of my life as a “Blue” wife – married to a police officer…ten years but the streets got the best of him, which led to his adultery, ultimate divorce, first ever foreclosure, etc. The foreword is written by a psychologist who worked for and with the Dallas Police Department for 20 years which is very insightful, validating and supportive. I’m also including actual police reports to highlight the realities of the life as a Blue and a Blue Wife. Blue as in the color of the uniform, and Blue as in the resulting depression that emanates in the life. I’ve also completed two children’s nutrition books: The Blue Apple and Johnny’s New Race Car.

Do you write for any websites?   I’ve written articles published on various web sites and newspapers: ADVANCE for Nurses Newsmagazine; Air Med & Rescue Magazine;Nurses Lounge; Nurse.com; Fort Worth Star Telegram; Burleson Crowley Connection Newspaper; Burleson Star Newspaper. In addition, I run an advocacy website for nurses called RNspiration.
Do you prefer to read paperbacks or ebooks?  Tell us why . . .
I need both. I think a balance of the two is important to the growth as a reader, writer and teacher. As a teacher, I continually poll my students [middle school and high school] about their preference, and invariably the results are always 50/50. I find that very interesting and telling about the future of paper. So many have predicted the death of paperbacks, but I believe otherwise.
Favorite book as a child and as an adult? As a child, my two favorite books were Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Black Beauty. As an adult, probably Anne Lamott’s books, notably the Blue Shoe.
Whom do you admire and why? I admire my 17 year old son Michael. That may sound trite since I’m his mother, but I admire his ability to adapt to the adult-level demands of teens today. He is a child of divorce, and has had to manage the “double life” like many children of divorce today [including my students], along with the unrealistic expectations of others to produce perfection daily. The freedom to “run be free” has been stolen from our teens. Families are broken, society delivers conflicting messages, our leaders lie, money talks. I don’t mean to sound negative; I’m not. I am a realist, a mother who has had to “fight the good fight” for and along side her son. He has overcome many challenges and yet remains so beautiful inside and out.

When you just feel different!

When you just feel different!

Name three people, dead or alive, you would invite to dinner. And of course, why? Jesus, Peter, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Amelia Earhart, my son Michael, my mother Shirley, Ghandi, my best friend from St. Peter’s Catholic School Mary, Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks, Ellen D. Why? Jesus for the obvious – He was the main character in the greatest story ever told! Peter, my elementary school was named after Peter, and throughout the book of Peter, the content address sobriety, salvation, suffering and serving. Peter was a pastor/shepherd and instructed how to deal with persecution from outside the church, false teachers, evildoers…all while stimulating Christian growth. I’ve always believed that if we aren’t growing, we’re dying. I’ve also been persecuted and have come to understand there are evildoers in this world, which I refused to belief as a little Catholic school girl. Churchill because he vehemently stated “We will NEVER surrender!” I love that! I fight my own personal “wars” at times, and yet this man was a Timex that kept on ticking. JFK because he was the first Catholic president, and I’d like to ask him who the shooter was. I’d also like to give him a piece of my mind about his multiple affairs. Earhart because I’ve been called “Amelia” a few times in my life, and I love flying – have also written for the aviation market, interviewed corporate pilots, flown in a private jet, flew a corporate jet simulator and a Blackhawk helicopter simulator. I’d like to ask her where she crashed…if she crashed, and what were her last thoughts. My son Michael because I love him and he has a brilliant mind and would thoroughly enjoy the experience. My mother because she would also enjoy the experience. Ghandi because he is the great teacher of simplicity/peace. My best friend Mary because we grew up together, and I considered her like a sister; we had so much fun together as kids. I would love to reconnect with her today but I do not know where she lives/works. Denzel because he is my favorite male actor and I find him very sexy. Tom Hanks is my second favorite actor, brilliant as well. Ellen D. because she is extremely authentic and incredibly funny which is a tough act to follow. She “bottom lines” to the truth which I appreciate as a journalist. Just the facts, mam.
Enjoy an exerpt from Good Girl Gone Plaid

A woman who tells it like it is, author and journalist Mary Lou Weisman

Author and Journalist Mary Lou Weisman

Author and Journalist Mary Lou Weisman

Putting a pen to words is an art, indeed a gift.  Especially when those words have the power to change lives.   Mary Lou Weisman was born in 1937 in Fairfield, Connecticut to a mother who believed that writing thank you notes was a high art, and to a father who was convinced that one of the great joys in life was the pursuit of the right word.   According to Mary Lou, he was right and so was her mother.   Mary Lou became a writer at the age of seven, mainly due to her father’s influence.  Although initially she protested writing anything at all, she ultimately came to learn about gratitude and enjoyed searching for the right words to put on the notes.  She couldn’t  just write “Thank you, love Mary-Lou” when she received gifts.  She felt compelled to both acknowledge it and graciously go on to tell the person who gave it to her exactly how she was going to use or enjoy their gift.

Later in life, unlike many of her classmates, she found she enjoyed writing term papers.   She recalls two college literature teachers who complimented her on her writing ability.  They were instrumental in helping Mary Lou take herself seriously as a writer.  She feels she owes them a lot.  Mary Lou obtained a solid liberal arts education, married, and secured a position as “clerk typist” in what was called, laughably, “a job in publishing.” The salary at that time during the 60s was a whopping  $62.50 a week.   She believed she was on her way to a career in journalism.

To this day, Mary Lou laughs at her unlikely success.  She believes she’s still a work in progress, despite having published numerous books, articles, and journalistic works.   At first she wasn’t sure she had the stamina for writing.  Every single writing job involved an initial anxiety attack, but once she delved into the project, she found she loved the process.  She describes the culmination of a writing project and the ultimate payoff as a thrilling sense of resolution and accomplishment.   For Mary Lou, writing has become not only her career, but a passion.   When she first began, she had no other ambition than merely to write.  But over the years, she has fallen in love with the process.   Of course Mary Lou still gets disappointed if her writing project gets rejected, but she never regrets having written.

Mary Lou is inspired still by her parents. Even though they had no intention of making a writer out of her, inadvertently through her mother’s interest in basic writing skills and good manners, and her father’s love of words, they did so. Later on, the professionals in her life, helped her to do her best. Mary Lou’s first newspaper editor, Paul Good, remarked, “You don’t write bad for a housewife, kiddo.”   Some women might have taken offense to that, but for Mary Lou, it made her day. He was no feminist, but, hey, she was happy for the compliment. Further into her career, the editor of Woman’s Day, Ellen Levine, would invariably return her work back two or three times. Saying it could be better, without giving details, Levine never revealed what about the work she didn’t like. Ultimately, Mary Lou realized that there wasn’t anything specific Levine didn’t like. What she was trying to teach her was the life lesson that everything can always be better.

Despite working during the sixties, pre-women’s lib, Mary Lou remained naïve of any ways in which she’d ever been discriminated against as a woman.  She believes this largely to be because she normally worked alone or among other women and did not compete with men directly in the marketplace.  Although she’s never experienced a male writer, for instance, being chosen over her, Mary Lou constantly runs into a prejudice against women writers.  She believes, that tendency is reflective of a lingering prejudice against women in general.  If someone, male or female, asks her what she“does,” Mary Lou answers that she’s a writer. Often their next question is, “Have you been published?”  She suspects that if she were a man, they wouldn’t ask her that question.

Mary Lou has written five books and scads of newspaper and magazine articles, all of which she considers to have been very rewarding. One of the books, MY MIDDLE-AGED BABY BOOK was a bestseller. Despite that commercial success, the book INTENSIVE CARE has given her the greatest sense of accomplishment.   Not just because the book is about her beloved son Peter, who died at the young age of sixteen from Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy, although that was enough to make it her most rewarding experience.  -and not because it received high praise from literary critics, although she is humbled and rewarded by that, too. It is because so many mothers and fathers of children with Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy and other life-threatening diseases have written to Mary Lou, including myself, to thank her for writing an honest, unsentimental  book.  Mary Lou’s description of the painful saga is frank and unforgiving.  From the very first chapter, she tells it like it is.  Organizations like The Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy recommend that all families read this valuable life lesson.  These families thank her for acknowledging how difficult their journey is, for inspiring them and for giving them the courage to go on.

Mary Lou Weisman Intensive Care

An intense look at demanding care.

Mary Lou is humbled that she was named a Belle of Steel.  For her, writing is her passion.  According the Mary Lou, “As anyone who has had a passion for anything – caring for the elderly, rearing children, playing the violin, fixing cars, teaching, — knows, passion is a strong driving force. If that passion is reinforced by talent, discipline, and a determination to persist in the face of rejection, you are likely to succeed.”

My Middle Aged Baby Book Mary Lou Weisman

Best Seller!

When asked what she hoped to be doing five years from now, again she was frank and honest.   First and foremost, she’d like to be 81 and alive. Given that gift, she’d still like to be writing, teaching writing, enjoying her husband, grandchildren and friends, and traveling.  But she supposes she won’t be riding her bike by then.

For her courage in writing the truth about an unpopular and devastating disease, and the book that has changed the lives of so many families, including mine, who face the battle of Duchenne’s, AgeView Press is proud to name Mary Lou Weisman its eleventh Belle of Steel.

Contact Mary Lou Weisman at www.marylouweisman.com