How Would you Respond in this Situation?

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Shocking me is not an easy accomplishment. I spent much of my childhood in a bar. But today a woman who I don’t know set her mouth to flying in response to someone practically drag racing down her road.

She used the phrase Jesus Christ on a cross as a substitute for cussing. That was the first shock of the day. The second was when our big horse decided to take a section of fence out. Thankfully, my horse is okay.

Society has its own checks and balances, making corrections where needed, and even undoing some of the corrections that weren’t needed. But something has upset the balance. Something has influenced our minds in such a way that people just don’t say what they want to say and need to say to set things right.

Back in the 70’s and 80’s in the barroom with my mother. Men and women sipped their drinks and talked with one another. There was a lot of good natured joking and heaps of smoking.

Everyone knew that dropping expletives in the presence of ladies and children was totally not cool.  Sometimes there were slips, but do you know what would happen next? Someone nearby would gently say, “Keep it down,” or “None of that here.” These kinds of corrections were followed by good natured snickers and chuckles.

A correction, gently stated, was needed today.  That woman’s expletive was way out of bounds. I give her the benefit of the doubt. I don’t think she realized what she said. After all, no one would deliberately speak of someone’s death in the way that she spoke of Jesus’ cross.

If this had happened when I was a child in the barroom, customers would’ve spoken up. I can almost hear them now, “None of that in here,” but this time there would be no snickers and no chuckles.

I’ve spent some time thinking about this incident. I’ve shared some of my thoughts with you. I’d like to know your approach to this. Would you have said something to her? If so, what would it have been?

Wishing you a lovely day,

Pamela

 

 

Her Eyes Bugged Out, She Smelled like Vicks, She Hated Left Handed Kids

Mrs. Browley, my kindergarten teacher reprimanded me lots of times every day. My speech impediment had me mispronouncing many words and she repeatedly corrected me. I faced other challenges, too. I couldn’t tie my shoes, tell time, write numbers or letters—not even those in my name.

Mother hadn’t prepared me for kindergarten. She didn’t see the value for children’s books and had never read to Robin or me. In fact, there weren’t any books for kids in our house. Mother didn’t show us how to do anything academic. She didn’t teach us the spelling of our names, or how to hold a pencil, or how to recite the alphabet, or how to count.

Sometime during the first week at Thomas Edison, just after the morning bell rang, I picked up the fat, black pencil and obeyed Mrs. Browley’s name writing instructions.

“That’s not the correct hand,” she said from across the room.

She could’ve been speaking to any one of the twenty-eight kids in my class. I knew how many kids there were because Mother had said that in my class of twenty-eight, another boy and I were the only students who wrote with our left hands. Mother thought left handedness was a sign of intelligence. She said Einstein was a genius and he was left handed, but perhaps Mrs. Browley didn’t see it that way.

“Pam!” Mrs. Browley snapped. She hurried across the room with a ruler pointed in my direction, ignoring the curious and startled stares of her class of students, and she leaned over me, smelling of Vicks VaporRub, with black-framed glasses balancing on her nose, and her eyes looking ten times larger than they really were. “Hold your pencil with your right hand.”

I dropped my pencil like it had stung me and grabbed it with my other hand.

“That’s more like it. Now, keep it there,” she said sternly.

All throughout winter, bug-eyed Mrs. Browley tried reforming me into a right handed person without success. Shortly before recess one afternoon, she confronted me with a ruler held high in the air, and she slapped the knuckles of the hand in which I grasped the fat pencil. “You will not”—Her jaw trembled and her pale complexion turned a deep red—“write with your left hand!”

No one had ever struck me, not even Mother, and I dropped the pencil, swallowed hard to stop the tears forming in my eyes, and stared down at the worksheet on my desk. I knew I was bad. “I don’t know what hand to use. Which one’s right?”

“What did you say?”

My lips trembled and my voice had little strength. “Which one’s right?”

“Right, not white. Pam, pick up your pencil with your right hand.”

By natural inclination, I picked it up with my left.

“Not that one!”

I switched hands and clutched the fat pencil clumsily.

“Left handedness is a sign of retardation. Just look at your letters.” She continued her scolding in a voice loud enough for everyone in the room to hear. “Pam, your letters are backwards.” Her ruler pointed to the place at the top of the page. “Just look at this P in your name.”

A lump formed in my throat and I kept my eyes on the worksheet in front of me.

Her voice softened. “Are you watching?”

I nodded.

“You write P like this.” Holding my right hand clutched around the fat pencil, she directed my hand and wrote P in the correct direction. “As it stands, your name is backwards. You read from left to right and you write from left to right,” she said, still guiding my hand. “Your name’s not Map,” she said, shaking her head in disgust. “Do you want to be called Map? Map is not a name. It’s a thing.”

I wanted to tell her she was wrong, tell her what Mother had said about Einstein, but that meant I’d have to speak again and she wouldn’t understand, and who wanted to speak when they had to repeat themselves? So I just shook my head.

Excerpt from Pamela Koefoed’s new memoir, JoyRide: Life, Death and Forgiveness.

More about the book: http://joyridebook.com

© Copyright 2014 Pamela Koefoed

You are More Than All That — The Size of Your Body Doesn’t Define the Size of Your Worth

 

My daughter is wiser than her years. One day she asked me, “What defines beauty and who gets to decide who’s beautiful and who’s not?”

Since that day when Sierra demonstrated such amazing insight and compassion, I’ve viewed the so called beautiful people in a new light. Today, I saw an article featuring a woman who was highlighted for being especially beautiful. She was in her twenties, somewhere around 5 feet 8 inches tall, and 100-105 pounds. Makeup was plastered on her face, and her eyes were half open in a seductive pose. Is this Beauty?

I don’t know how it is for guys, but we gals over-stress the size of everything between our heads and our toes. From Western culture, we’ve gotten the idea that one’s weight is somehow related to one’s value in society. 

When your personal self worth is tied up in how you think you look, you’ll demean yourself when you don’t think that you’re beautiful.

The ugly duckling is a great example of this. Nothing about the little darling was rejection-worthy. If you’re familiar with the story, then you know that the “duckling” was actually a baby swan, but he didn’t know it. His poor self-image messed with him, causing him to devalue himself and to be depressed.

Back to my daughter’s question—What defines beauty and who gets to decide who’s beautiful and who’s not?

The young model in the beauty write up was pretty, but she looked frail. I’m far more concerned about her as a person than I am about her body shape. Her hair style and color are furthest from my mind, and I don’t care if she is wearing expensive designer jeans–I mean, really, aren’t there far more important issues in the world than the label on our pants? Seeing her photo, I had all sorts of questions. Is she all right? Does she take pills to maintain her weight? Is she starving or purging?

For all of my sisters, the women I’ve met and those who I’ve never met, I want you to know that being skinny doesn’t add up to being gorgeous. Beauty and skinny are not the same. The size of your body doesn’t determine the size of your worth. You are more precious than anything in this world. No matter what you feel about how you look, sister you are more than all that!

Defeating Fear to Help Others

My Journey of Defeating Fear to Help Others by Memoir Author Pamela Koefoed

Posted by Kathleen Pooler/@kathypooler with Pamela Koefoed/@JoyRideBook

 

Photo Credit--Free Google Images

Photo Credit–Free Google Images

Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway
- John Wayne
So often when we write a memoir, the story develops a life of its own and becomes a part of a larger cause. This is certainly the case for Pamela Koefoed who began advocating for abused children and teaching audiences how to overcome a painful past after publishing her memoir. It is my pleasure to introduce you to Pamela whose memoir Joyride: Life, Death and Forgiveness is a riveting story of hope and overcoming child abuse. Pamela will discuss how writing her memoir helped her to defeat fear and find her mission of helping child abuse survivors. My reviews can be found on Amazon, Goodreads, Shelfari and LibraryThings.

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Book Synopsis:
Pamela Koefoed tells the story from the child’s point of view, recalling in vivid detail the events leading up to four house fires, her narrow escape from them, and the conviction of the arsonist. She depicts the heart touching tale of being left alone for weeks with her eleven year old sister and baby brother, and describes how they managed to deter notice from Child Welfare. Pamela and her sister surprise us all by their spunkiness, indomitable joy, and resiliency. Due to their circumstances, they draw on the love they have for each other and rise above the unthinkable to show us all the way to a richer and more meaningful life. If you enjoyed The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, you’ll loveJoyRide: Life, Death and Forgiveness (from Amazon author page).

Welcome, Pamela!

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Memoir Author and Advocate Pamela Koefoed

My Journey of Defeating Fear to Help Others

As a child and into young adulthood, I lived in a place of powerlessness known as “the conspiracy of silence” where painful, unexplainable experiences were never mentioned and where we went on with daily life as if we were a mini version of the idyllic family of the popular sitcom that ran in the late sixties and seventies, the Brady Bunch.

But there was a problem with this way of being—it wasn’t true. My mother wasn’t the Carol Brady, doting sort of parent. In her childrearing, there was little room for mothering and her general philosophy was more in line with the idea that life is a party, so pass another beer. A lifestyle like my mother’s doesn’t allow space for children. Consequently, my childhood was similar in many ways to the thousands of children who are neglected by parents or guardians each year in the United States.

In addition to being a victim to neglect, when I was eight-years-old my mother was arrested and charged as a felon for committing crimes, which put our entire household in grave danger. On four occasions, I fled for my life, twice barely escaping death. To top off all of this craziness, after my mother’s release from a California correctional facility, my nine-year-old sister and I were returned to her care.

Sixteen years ago, the conspiracy of silence that had held me powerless lost its grip and I began sharing snippets of my testimony publicly.

The first time I stood in front of a group to speak about my past is especially memorable. I stood nervously near a podium before a small congregation of fifty to sixty parishioners at the non-denominational church my husband and I attend. Adrenaline rushed through my system, causing my head to feel detached from my body and constricting my vocal chords. I opened my mouth to speak—my voice trembled and my speech was nothing more than thin, wispy breathes. I thought I would throw up, but somehow I managed to be heard and, obviously, I lived through the ordeal.

When we’re afraid and follow our convictions anyway, we’re victorious.

After my initiation into public speaking, there were many more opportunities to speak to groups; for years, I did so with my very being engulfed in anxiety. Eventually, those negative feelings vanished, but it took great perseverance, some faith, hard work and encouragement from family and friends.

In 2009, the executive director of my county’s CASA program, Court Appointed Special Advocates, asked me to run the program, giving me the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children who have experiences similar in many ways to my own childhood. Initially, the uncertainties and the what if’s hounded me. The stories of maltreated children would confront me. Might I have nightmares? What if I broke into tears in the courtroom while presenting these children’s needs and wishes? How healed am I, really? Am I even qualified?

The greatest enemy, as someone once said, isn’t fear. From time-to-time, everyone feels afraid. It’s coming into agreement with fear and believing the nagging doubts instead of embracing the truth—you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.

I accepted the position as the director for my county’s CASA program and embraced a new season. Stepping into this role proved to me that the very things I had feared were nothing more than shadows and that advocating for children is an ideal fit. Right next to death, on the list of things we humans are afraid of, comes public speaking, and I think next to this comes writing a survival memoir, which I’m grateful to have completed last year, and next to this would be hearing the stories of children who have had hellish childhoods. All of this sends shivers up our spines, causes labored breathing, our hands to sweat, our stomachs to churn—yikes!

When you’re faced with an opportunity to do good and help others, whether it’s through volunteer work, writing a memoir, or taking a new job, and if fear is hounding you, let me leave you with a little advice from our friend John Wayne, saddle up anyway. The world will be a better place because you cared.

***
Thank you Pamela for sharing your inspirational story of surviving childhood abuse and overcoming fear. You remind us of the power of memoir writing to heal and help us connect with a higher mission. I can’t help but feel your noble work of advocating for children who have been abused is a perfect fit for you!

Author Bio and Contact Information: Pamela Koefoed, originally from Sacramento, California is a child abuse survivor and a daughter of an ex-felon. In addition to writing numerous articles for websites and blogs, she has authored two books. Her latest book is JoyRide: Life, Death and Forgiveness, a Memoir. When not writing, Pamela directs a child advocacy agency program and is a frequent guest speaker on radio shows and at events around the nation. Pamela and her husband have been married for 25 years. They enjoy golden sunsets and coyote serenades from the back deck of their rural home in southern Oregon.

Website: http://pamelakeofoed.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Pamela.Koefoed.Author
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoyRideBook
JoyRide: Life, Death and Forgiveness is available from the website, http://joyridebook.com, from Amazon, and by requesting it in bookstores.

How about you? Has writing your memoir led you to a higher mission? or helped you to overcome a fear?

Pamela has graciously offered to give away one copy of JoyRide: Life, Death and Forgiveness to a commenter whose name will be selected in a random drawing. To enter the drawing, go to Kathleen’s website by clicking this link http://bit.ly/1jlFxwJ

We’d love to hear from you. Please leave your comments below~

Announcement: Congratulations, Tracy Lee Karner! Your name was selected in a random drawing of commenters to receive Nina Amir’s book, The Author Training Manual.

Next week: ”What Goes Into a Successful Pubslush Crowdfunding Campaign?”

Day #28 and 97% funded! My Pubslush Crowdfunding Campaign for my memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse ends at midnight on June 11, in 2 more days
Thanks to your generous contributions I am within reach of a successful campaign!
In making a contribution you will help me spread the messages of hope, resilience and courage to those seeking freedom from abuse.
Here’s the link to the campaign:
http://pubslush.com/books/id/2076.
I’d love it if you would share this link with others.

Thank you for joining me in sharing the hope!

Originally published at, http://www.krpooler.com/2014/06/09/beyond-the-memoir-my-journey-of-defeating-fear-to-help-others-by-memoir-author-pamela-koefoed/ by Kathleen Pooler

Life Doesn’t Come with a Cut and Paste Button

Photo, Pamela Koefoed ©

Twenty years ago, I wanted a cut and paste button on my living history. If only such a thing existed. I would’ve recreated my childhood, deleted certain details, and added events that my children could proudly tell to their friends. My rewritten version would exclude the times I fled for my life, and include a mother I could trust, and the knowledge of her love.

Time has passed and I’m older now, and I’m thrilled with the power of choice. I can have grey hair if I want, since I don’t, I color it brown. I smooth out fine lines on my face with special creams, and exercise to keep my middle age bloom from blossoming into something resembling a beach ball under my shirt. I can select which speaking invitations to accept, or work to do, or friends to keep, or what I’ll eat for breakfast. But no matter how hard I try, I can’t erase or rewrite past history. It’s done. It’s past. It’s fact.

The years have brought change in me. Now, I review the past with that certain wisdom found only in those with grey hair, covered or not, and I’m content with what was given me and at peace with the events of the first twelve drama filled years of my life.

When I reflect on the past, I no longer wish for a cut and paste button to clear away the difficult to explain parts of my childhood, because they remind me that miracles really happen, that future challenges will be overcome, and that I have a Heavenly Father who cherishes me.

From everything I’ve experienced, I get it. I totally understand.

He loves me.

 

 

 

When I Thought of Quitting, I Used My Secret Weapon

Like caulking that’s squeezed into cracks along window and door frames, writing filled every available space, and I found that the miracle hour when creativity made its appearance came most nights between 8 o’clock p.m. and 2 o’clock a.m.–Pamela Koefoed

Writing my memoir, JoyRide: Life, Death and Forgiveness, was an extreme work of love, a three-and-a-half year write-a-thon. I persevered through at least five revisions with help from God and by using my secret weapon, which I’ll share with you in a moment.

What images do you have of an author involved in her work? Dismiss all illusions of grandeur. Most of us don’t have a special space, surrounded by serene beauty. Creativity doesn’t flow in our veins non-stop, as if it’s available to us night or day. Yes, there are times of free flowing words that seem to appear out of thin air, but most of our work is accomplished through great effort, through something that has been likened to giving birth.

My writing space is in the kitchen, not far from the sink, stove, and refrigerator, and it’s in the living room where my view is a mocha colored wall, and it’s my bedroom with its long array of closets and cabinets (a former owner had three daughters in this room and he gave them each a closet and an upper cabinet–how nice). In other words, I write wherever the household noise is least noticed.

During my personal write-a-thon, life went on, but in a somewhat disrupted pattern. I’m grateful for a husband and daughter who picked up some of the slack. However, my responsibilities didn’t disappear the day I decided to write a memoir. Family and home were priorities, and someone had to run the advocacy program and direct the ministry that I oversee–that someone was me.

Like caulking that’s squeezed into cracks along window and door frames, writing filled every available space, and I found that the miracle hour when creativity made its appearance came most nights between 8 o’clock p.m. and 2 o’clock a.m.

An emotional element was also involved. The decision to write my story of survival came after much contemplation of probable results. I looked at it from various angles, and it came down to vulnerability, and my willingness to share with a great many people the childhood experiences that tore me into tiny pieces, the personal account of how I persevered, and how I loved.

I reached out to God during childhood–that in itself brought great healing, comfort, and security. And during the “birth” of my memoir, I’m certain of His Present help.

Sometimes, I considered putting my manuscript in a file cabinet and leaving it there, but I had a secret weapon that kept me moving forward. The secret weapon against quitting was you.

During the most fatiguing hours, I thought of people I know who have been or who are currently in a crisis and people who wished they had been given a better life. I considered the people I’ve never met who have emotional pain deeper than the Grand Canyon, and I believed that my story might help.

The author’s reward is satisfied readers. Since JoyRide’s publication, I have been rewarded numerous times by people I know and by those I have never personally met. And I’m immensely grateful.