Leave a comment

Kelly Fern Speaks at Oak Ridge Country Club




I was so pleased to speak about Songs of My Families at the Oak Ridge Country Club.  There were 165 people in the crowd, and they were all so wonderful.  BOND (Branching Out in New Directions) is the name of their organization, a group of women who raise money to provide scholarships for Twin Cities post-secondary students. Channel 5 Eyewitness News sportscaster and director Joe Schmit (pictured) spoke before I did.  And fiction writer Scott Dominic Carpenter spoke after me. Scott is a Carleton College professor of French literature and literary theory, and he published two books last year.

Joe spoke about his very inspirational book Silent Impact. (Which I will have to wait to read because Brad is hogging it!)  Joe spoke so passionately about purpose, persistence, and passion. He’s such a fantastic speaker.  Great job Joe.

Scott spoke about his collection of short stories This Jealous Earth. It is obvious that Scott is a great writer.  When he read from his book, you could hear a pin drop.

Our contact was Sharon Levine.  Thanks Sharon for inviting Brad and me. Now it’s back to the books for me.  I should be graduating from Adler by February, at the latest!  :)


Speaking at the Marsh

Brad and I spoke at the Marsh for the H2O and Marshwinds Toastmasters clubs.  It was a beautiful evening.  They set up a lectern outside, so we were able to enjoy the wonderful scenery while we spoke.

DSC_0300 2

Brad spoke about genetic resiliency and the possibility for positive outcomes for children who’ve experienced trauma or chronic stressors.








I spoke about how I’ve seen resiliency in the faces of the people whose lives have inspired me.  Our hosts were our good friends JoAnn and Jennifer.  They did a great job of taking care of all the details.



Thanks for a great time!

My next speech is with Bond’s Annual Fundraiser at Oak Ridge Country Club in August with sportscaster Joe Schmit, Scott Dominic Carpenter, and Shawn Lawrence Otto!


1 Comment

Missing You


Wearing my new coat (gift) to protect me from the cold!

It’s been about three weeks since my family left for Korea. They stayed in my  home for a month during the coldest winter since 1938. They celebrated their first American Christmas and New Years holiday with us. We ate raclette on a Swiss tabletop grill for Christmas and spent 3 nights in Chicago for New Years. My daughter Suzie and my bio-family finally got to meet and spend time together.

Sizie and Sungmi

Suzie and her cousin Sungmi


My husband Brad, niece Sungmi, and my sister Whasoon


My grand niece Yugin with her mother Sungmi

We walked to Lake Harriet through the Bird Sanctuary and checked out sculptures on the ice. They asked to see the iconic Cherry Spoon Bridge at the Walker Art Center. We spent a day at the Minneapolis Institute of Art and tried out different restaurants. They ate Mexican food for the first time and liked it.  (Although they did not like beans.)


My Korean family at the Como Arboretum


Max (right), Yunyong, and a new friend at the MOA


Yujin, Cici, Yunyong, and Max

I finally got the chance to cook with my sister. We made several Korean and European dishes together. We bonded while watching Korean movies and dramas. She amazed me with her curiosity, humor, and sweetness. She played with her grandchildren making them laugh and chasing them in the snow. It was fun to see her so full of life. Yet, there were still many things I wanted to do with them before they left.

In the month while they were here I feel we had the chance to get to know each other more intimately. For me, there was a lot of bonding going on by just being together. My sister doted over me at times and teased me about not being strong enough to open a jar or lifting heavy objects. In a way, she still thinks of me as the little girl that she took care of for 5 years when she was a teen. I found out just how wonderful my Korean family is and what a great sense of humor, playfulness and sweetness they have.


Dream Visit!

Just as I wondered about my Korean family, I assumed that they wondered about me.  They probably dreamed about where I lived and what my life was like.  In 1971, my sister Whasoon and I were ripped apart.  She finally came to visit my world last month.  So wonderful! ! !

Enjoy the Youtube video by clicking the picture:

Sungmi & Yujin

Click Image for Video

1 Comment

Finally, They’re Here

Whasoon, Sungmi, Yunyong, and Yugin!  I am finally spending time with my family members here in my home city of Minneapolis.  I love it.  We’ve eaten Korean food at Mirror of Korea in St. Paul, shopped at Southdale mall in Edina, watched movies together, cooked together; and we’re just getting started.  They’ll be with us for a month, and I’m thrilled.

Sungmi, Whasoon, Yugin, and Younyong in front

Sungmi, Whasoon, Yugin, and Yunyong in front

Brad and Whasoon cooked a wonderful meal tonight.  Spaghetti, bruschetta, greens salad, and tasty-salty olives from Whole Foods.  Everyone loved it.  Brad was drinking pinot grigio while he was doing the cooking, so it wouldn’t have mattered how it tasted for him.  :)

                    Italian Bruschetta

Italian Bruschetta

Me, Loving Brad's Cooking (Brad and Whasoon's!)

Me, Loving Brad’s Cooking (Brad and Whasoon’s!)

Whasoon and Yugin Loving Italian Food

Whasoon and Yugin Loving Italian Food

We plan to visit the Mall of America (of course), Chicago for four days, the Guthrie and Stone Arch bridge.  We’ll go skating, sliding, and possibly check out the last of the Hollydazzle parade.  Luckily, Heon – our new Korean American friend – was able to come and translate the first night.  Our good friend Paul was there for us at the airport!

It was the fulfillment of a dream, to sit with my eldest sister at my dining room table, drinking tea and just talking.  She is one of the people I remember most from my Korean past (she and my father).  I remember loving her cooking when I lived with her in Geumsan.

I used to think that “coming full circle” was an event.  Now, I realize that it is sometimes a process.  A long and lovely movement toward things coming back together.

Pray for nice weather.  We want them to be impressed!  :)

Leave a comment

Edina Magazine

Edina Magazine’s Maureen Millea Smith wrote an article about what inspires local authors.  (Minnesota is a hotbed of literary talent!) The November issue has an article about me and four other authors.

Edina Magazine Photo

Edina Magazine Photo

Spoiler Alert: Brad is and was my muse.  Please follow the link to Edina Magazine and read the article.

Leave a comment

Healing Wounds

My husband Brad has been studying a social science approach regarding culturally-marginalized people.  I thought I’d pass along a very well-written blog post to those of you who are interested.  The name of the blog is “The Irrational Season“, and I suggest that everybody click the link to visit it.

Lecturing About “Songs of My Families” and Adoption Issues

The post is about the concepts of “encapsulated” and “constructive” marginals.  Dr. Janet Bennett, a communications specialist, provides perspectives to help adoptees, minorities, and others who are required to stratal two or more cultures.  I hope to study Dr. Bennett’s work when I’m not so busy with my Adlerian studies.

Thanks to C’HAV at “The Irrational Season” for providing a great synopsis.  Notice that Dr. Bennett offers a point of view designed to help refugees, immigrants, and others besides international adoptees:

While at the Families in Global Transition Conference last year I was able to hear intercultural communication specialist, Dr. Janet Bennett, discussing ‘cultural marginality’. She defines this term as ” a cultural lifestyle at the edges where two or more cultures meet”. Cultural marginals would include (among others) refugees and immigrants, global nomads/TCKs and long-term adult sojourners in other cultures. Marginals living in this liminal space can be either encapsulated or constructive.

Encapsulated marginals, at core, have difficulty constructing a cohesive cultural identity. These individuals struggle to switch between the different frames of reference required by each culture they encounter; usually due to conflicting cultural cues and loyalties that remain unresolved. Encapsulated marginals may experience:

- Difficulty in making decisions and sticking to them
- Alienation from both/all cultures experienced
- A feeling of constant and isolating uniqueness
(terminal uniqueness)
- Difficulty establishing boundaries
- Difficulty in identifying personal truths that plays out in an extreme ‘live and let live’ stance
- Never, ever feeling at home

Constructive marginals, on the other hand, live in a state of what Muneo Yoshikawa calls, “dynamic in-betweenness”. Rather than the either/or identity of encapsulation these individuals are able to live in a both/and state of integration of their various cultures. As Bennett says, ” By maintaining control of choice and the construction of boundaries, a person may become a constructive marginal. This individual is able to construct context intentionally and consciously for the purpose of creating his or her own identity.” Constructive marginals may experience:

- Knowledge of which cultural framework to use in making
- A feeling of authenticity in all of his/her cultures
- Cultural curiosity and a happy acknowledgement of
cultural difference
- A clear sense and understanding of personal truth
- A recognition of their reference group: other cultural
- A sincere understanding that one is never not at home in the world

As the incomparable Pico Iyer says,

“…the fact remains that humans have never lived with quite this kind of mobility and uprootedness before….A lack of affiliation may mean a lack of accountability, and forming a sense of commitment can be hard without a sense of community. Displacement can encourage the wrong kinds of distance, and if the nationalism we see sparking up around the globe arises from too narrow and fixed a sense of loyalty, the internationalism that’s coming to birth may reflect too roaming and undefined a sense of belonging. The Global Soul may see so many sides of every question that he never settles on a firm conviction; he may grow so used to giving back a different self according to his environment that he loses sight of who he is when nobody’s around. Even the most basic questions have to be answered by him alone, and when, on the planes where he may make his home, the cabin attendant passes down the aisle with disembarkation forms, it may be dificult for him to fill in any of the boxes: “Home Address,” ” Citizenship,” “Purpose of Visit,” even “Marital Status.”
I can answer almost any of these questions from a variety of perspectives…. But though this can be a natural- and useful- enough impulse in response to the question, “Where do you come from?” it becomes more treacherous in answer to the question “Where do you stand?”


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 37 other followers

%d bloggers like this: