More About the Author
I am Cynthia, daughter of Florence who was a maker of quilts, 80-year-old Internet explorer, and infinitely patient mentor of children. I am granddaughter of Vernie, who taught me how to embroider; great-grand daughter of Nettie Whipple, who dressed up each afternoon to sit at the kitchen window and wait for her secret love from her girlhood days to come and call; great-great-grand daughter of Lucy, about whom I know nothing.
This matrilineal and tribal response is what immediately came to mind when I answered the question "Who are you?" a while back. I look at my hands these days and see the same wrinkled roses in my knuckles that I saw in my grandmother's hands as I held them in mine when she lay dying. I hug the afghan my mother made me tight to my body as if by doing so I can somehow keep her here, alive and warm. These strong women are gone now, but I see them still in my equally strong--yet gentle--daughter and in her sweet twin boys--the grandsons I adore.
I am also a writer, editor, and writing consultant. I've written several books; published over 500 articles, columns and guest editorials in a number of magazines and newspapers throughout the country, and my essays and poetry have appeared in various literary journals. I have been fortunate enough to receive awards for poetry, creative nonfiction, essays, and newspaper articles. When time permits, I teach creative writing at the Loft Literary Center and University of Minnesota. I encourage students to look for metaphor, nuance, and story in the mundane as well as in the magnificent. I believe that writing helps us become more discriminating readers, more astute and artful observers, and more engaged citizens. I know I'm doing my job when students tell me writing is changing the way they view the world.
Since my first girlhood diary, I've used writing as a way to figure things out and connect my internal and external realities. I became a single mother after a divorce in the early 1970s, when my daughter was just three months old, a profound experience that actually launched my writing career. During that time, I wrote the first poem I ever sold, and years later, a line from that early poem--Sing Your Own Song--became the title of book published in 2001. I also began an educational quest when I was a single mom and, although it took me a total of twenty-five years, I now hold Bachelor and Master degrees. Among other writing endeavors, I've been privileged to write for the esteemed Hazelden Foundation for the past 25 years. I also co-authored a book in 1993 called New Life, New Friends with my good friend and mentor Christina Baldwin, and I was one of the authors of a still-popular meditation book for families entitled Today's Gift that was published by Hazelden in 1985.
Although it sounds like a B movie, I met my soul mate, Michael, in 1968 at the top of the Empire State Building when I was visiting New York with two girlfriends from Minnesota, and Michael was there with several of his seminary high-school friends from Ohio. We felt an instant connection, and I came home and announced to my best friend, "I met the man I know I could happily marry." Then he went off to march in the Vietnam War and I marched against it, but our friendship remained unshakable; our correspondence honest and constant. Meanwhile, I married someone else, gave birth to my beautiful daughter, and later divorced. When Michael moved to Minnesota in 1973, we got married. He adopted Jessica, and we became an "official" family. I soon discovered, however, that when I married Michael, I also married Vietnam and the trauma he carried from his combat experience.
My most recent book--Shock Waves--is about our journey and the journeys of others who, like us, have learned to live with the challenges and scars of trauma and the "shock wave" effects of PTSD.
Michael and I feel we have achieved a good balance of living fully in the intimate world of family and friends as well as in the world at large. Our personal experience with war and trauma has strengthened our commitment to working with others who struggle with these issues. I co-facilitate a caregivers' support group, and Michael and I often speak to audiences about the effects of trauma and war in our continuing involvement with veterans and veterans' issues.
I began writing Shock Waves on the eve of our 36th anniversary, and I'm happy to report that our marriage and life together continue to grow richer and stronger, even though the journey has not always been smooth or easy. We are deliriously happy being "Meema and Papa" to our young grandsons, and we cherish the close relationship we have with our daughter and son-in-law. Who could ask for more?