Monthly Archives: May 2020

The Magic of Family

I’m laying in a hotel bathtub somewhere in southern Minnesota. I didn’t sleep much, which is no surprise.

I’m grateful to all the people who help my family. Today will be jam packed with meetings and appointments, followed by the long drive home so that I can get up early for work tomorrow.

A little over two years ago, I had the idea to grow my family again. To be honest, I was surprised that I was able to pull it off! I thought my age and marital status would be roadblocks to adopting again, 23 years after I last adopted.

I didn’t really think too much about the concerns that intimidate many at the thought of adopting multiple kids… older kids… kids with special needs.

Here I am, with those hurdles behind me.

It’s hard to imagine my life without my kids. As our caseworker has said many times, we were a good match.

The magic of family happened late for us. We lived a lot before we came into each other’s’ lives, and now my youngest is an adult. He has one more year of high school, and I am not ready to be an empty nester again.

Is this for everyone? No.

Once again, I am grateful to all the people who help us. Not only the caseworkers, therapists, teachers, doctors and other support workers, but the family and friends who love and support us. Your words and smiles mean so much, and we look forward to hugs again.


I think and write a lot about expectation. It’s an uncomfortable feeling to question whether what I am doing will live up to someone else’s expectation. This is why I rarely do paintings by commission. It stifles my passion and my interest to try to bring someone else’s vision to reality.

I prefer to do what I want to do, and not compromise my artistic voice and integrity.

Sometimes, I inadvertently find myself feeling bad or getting defensive about something someone said.

More often than not, I am only reacting to my own interpretation, and not the intent of the speaker. My insecurities surface.

This does not have to devastate me.

The gift can be found when I step back and consider the words. Can they help me improve? Can they help me understand myself better? Do I value this person’s opinion?

I won’t apologize for expressing myself, nor will I react. I will carefully consider, and move forward with greater awareness. With each challenge, I will grow closer to the artist I am yet to become.


I made a little plate and then decided to put words on it… names.

I started with my last name, YOUNG, in the center. Then I put my first name… the names of my kids. I kept going, adding my parents, my grandparents, my siblings, nephews, nieces…

As I was adding names, I thought about a statement I made in court last fall… it was our adoption hearing. I put a couple of quotes from my statement on the rim of the plate…




Some relationships, even within a family, are more difficult than others. My own words encouraged me to keep going… to add my former wife. My son’s former wife. My kids’ biological parents and grandparents. I added names that were not easy to add. But love has room for everyone.

This plate is about inclusion, forgiveness, healing and hope. I didn’t know that when I started making it. I just took a little creative detour.

I can hardly wait to get this bisque fired and glazed. I want to hang it on my wall where some people can look for their name, and others can hear the story.

These people are part of me, and there is a story behind every name… a relationship that has helped to make me who I am today.

These people are part of me.

You can read part of my statement below:

I’ve been dreaming of this day for a long time. Since long before I started this adoption process.

It felt like a slow journey of jumping through hoops and convincing people that I was serious, and knew what I was doing. Now it feels like the time went by fast.

Raymond and Summer and I are family, and have been, even prior to recognition by the court today. I didn’t have the joy of watching them grow up, but we came into one another’s lives when we needed each other. Already, we have created memories together and formed bonds of love between us.

I can’t explain how the magic of family happened to us, but I can say that from the moment I saw their profile online, I knew they were my kids. Call it love at first sight, or call it fate. I am so happy to be standing here today with so many people that have supported us, and with their expertise, brought this dream to reality.

Not long after meeting them a year ago, I gave Raymond and Summer pendants that have a quote by A.A. Milne. It says:

“Always remember
you are braver than you believe,
stronger than you seem,
smarter than you think,
and loved more than you know.”

Love is not limiting, it is expansive, and has room for everyone.


These are crazy times. Crazy, inevitable times. The whole world is experiencing this time of pandemic, yet because we are isolated, I feel like I’m alone in this. Adding to this surreal feeling is the fact that we have no confirmed cases of Covid-19 in our county. We want to keep it that way.

The Arts Festival and Fisherman’s Picnic have been cancelled. It’s going to be a unique summer in Grand Marais.

I don’t see my house as a prison. I see it as an incubator.

I’m busy all day long. Fortunately, I am a nurse. An essential worker. So I get out several days a week. The rest of the time, I paint. I cook. I read. I write. I dream… of getting the boat out, and physically distancing with my son on a lake.

My friend Mike generously loaned me his extra potters wheel, and I am making a long held dream into a reality.

My pots are not light and refined, but I think they are getting better all the time. More have been broken and recycled than not, but each one is an experience. It teaches me more about how clay feels. How clay acts. How much my clumsy hands can ask of it, and how much it can teach my fingers.

I always like the less refined pots anyway. The ones that look like they have been buried for a thousand years, or have sat in a shipwreck off Sardinia since ancient times.

added1/2021: This pot came out of the kiln today, and I just thought it would fit here

Still, I want to learn how to throw proper vessels and be able to control that effect.

I think of lichen on rock, or gravel on a road and imagine ways to capture something that reminds me of that… textures to catch glaze without appearing contrived or overdone. Forms that reflect something of me and reinterpret my artistic language in a new medium.

At any moment, I may step away from the wheel and open my paints, or sit down to express my thoughts in words.

These months are filled with grief and uncertainty. We are pelleted with mixed messages and opinion. While I do what I can to protect my family and respect my community, there is so much I can’t control. I look for the gifts. The time to reflect and express. The time to learn a new skill. The time to dream of better days to come.