Meet New NABBW Associate Wendy Boorn: Her Life Mission is Help and Hope for Mothers of Adult Children — Whether or Not They’re Boomerangs

by Anne Holmes on October 3, 2013

wendy boornWe are delighted to introduce NABBW’s newest Associate, newly published author Wendy Boorn, MC, LPC, who is a psychotherapist, with over 30 years of experience encompassing more than 1,200 adult clients — many of them mid-life parents.

For the last 25 years, she has been the owner of a private psychotherapy practice specializing in parenting, transitions, grief, addiction, and relationship issues.

A member of the American Counseling Association and the National Board for Certified Counselors, she is licensed as a Professional Counselor by the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners.

In addition, she’s taught over 1,000 adult learners in college counseling psychology classes, during which time she regularly received the highest scores possible on student evaluations. She also developed and facilitated more than 200 workshops and presentations and has been interviewed on radio, internet, and in print.

Wendy began her career in the addictions field, where she spent eight years developing and implementing innovative family treatment programs.

She tells us that she sees herself as a student as well as a teacher. In fact, Wendy believes that her greatest asset is probably her ongoing commitment to her own personal growth.

She suspects that it is not just her expertise as a therapist and as a mother (including parenting adult children), but also her humility, sense of humor, and ability to empathize that make her clients want to work hard with her in therapy.

Her recently published book, I Thought I’d Be Done by Now is a book of short essays and stories designed to provide comfort and challenge, inspiration and practical guidance to worried mothers (and fathers) of 20 to 50 year old adult children.

She notes that it’s designed to be easy for readers to absorb, even of you only have short periods of time to read: Each one-page vignette ends with a one-sentence summarizing lesson, and a comprehensive index allows parents of adult children to look up specific topics such as releasing guilt and fear and learning to laugh at ourselves. You can read several excerpts from her book on her website. 

We are delighted to announce that NABBW will be offering a  one hour teleseminar with Wendy on October 10, 2013. The topic is “Help for Parents of Boomerang Kids” and it is free and open to the public. We hope you will not only join us for this call, but share the information with your friends, especially those who have adult children living at home with them…

Meanwhile, Wendy took some time to answer our favorite blog questions, and her answers begin immediately below: 

Using one paragraph, tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a 68-year-old psychotherapist in private practice, specializing in areas important to many Baby Boomer Women: parenting adult children, aging gracefully, building healthy relationships, and cultivating a spiritual (but not necessarily religious) life.Boorn book

I also became a published author this year. My book is entitled I Thought I’d Be Done by Now: Hope and Help for Mothers of Adult Children Searching for Peace. (More information can be found on my website: Most important is my daily commitment to my emotional and spiritual growth.

Tell us about your family: married, divorced, children, grands, boomerangs or parents living with you, etc.

Happily and choicefully single now for 35 years, I began my adult life with a too-young-for-marriage of 14 years.

I had the challenge and privilege of caring for my dad for his last two years.

I am very close to my two adult children – one son, one daughter – who, between them, have produced three precious grandchildren, ages 22, 21, and 14.

My daughter and grandson boomeranged back home for two years after she left her first marriage, but she and my son, both in long-term relationships, have been on their own for many years now.

What is your favorite childhood memory that is reminiscent of growing up in the 50s, 60s or 70s?

Growing up in the 50s and 60s was great fun. After we got our licenses, going to the drive-in was a favorite summer pastime for me and my teenage friends. The drive-in charged by the number of people in the car, and we didn’t have much spending money.

So I am both appalled and delighted to recall the many times I drove my dad’s big old 1949 Pontiac to the drive-in, with one friend in the front seat and four more hiding in the trunk!

What qualities do you have that speak of our generation of women?

My mother was a teacher but never worked outside the home once she married. Rather than work toward a career, I believe she sent me to college to find a husband, which I did.

Graduating from college in 1967, I began to benefit from the Women’s Lib movement and gradually learned that my ideas and needs were as important as men’s.

In 1980, after taking assertiveness training classes, finishing graduate school and getting divorced, I felt confident enough to stand up for myself, allow my voice to be heard, and enter the workforce as a professional.

I had always been smart and competent enough – I just hadn’t believed in myself. I certainly do now and love helping women empower themselves.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by women who see life as a learning journey to be met with curiosity, delight and courage, who face adversity as a mountain to be climbed while enjoying the scenery along the way, who don’t wait to be rescued by a man, their parents, children, or friends.

Although they may be afraid, they don’t allow their fears to stop them. Some who come to mind are:

  • Dr. Maya Angelou, so much more than a poet, educator or historian, she is a true Renaissance woman
  • Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani women’s rights and education activist
  • Author Brené Brown, who became known to so many after her memorable 2010 TEDx Houston talk, The Power of Vulnerability and
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton. Just recently retired from serving as President Obama’s first Secretary of State, she is of course, also the first American First Lady ever elected to national office, serving as US Senator from New York between 2001 and 2009. There’s already a website in place supporting her next run for US President in 2016.
What brings you the most pleasure in midlife?

As I have gotten older two truths have emerged: the first is that it matters very little to me what others think of me – what a relief! The second is that what really matters in life is the quality of my relationships with self and others.

I receive great pleasure from spending time with family, friends and clients. Now I have some wonderful new friends – the people who have read my book!

Perhaps most importantly, I am my own best friend and treasure my alone time.

Do you have any interesting hobbies?

Writing, creating memory books, and playing the piano are my passions. I didn’t start any of these hobbies until about 14 years ago, after my dad died, when it dawned on me that life doesn’t go on forever and I was spending far too much time working.

Do you have a favorite book or movie? If so, tell us why it’s your favorite.

This is like asking me to name my favorite child! Four (of many) favorites are:

In all cases, these authors inspire me because they share what they’ve learned with great honesty, vulnerability, insight and good humor.

Do you travel and if so, who are your favorite travel partners and where do you like to go?

I have always loved to travel, especially to be near water (I am a Pisces and I live in the desert)!

Cape May, New Jersey; San Diego, California; the San Juan Islands near Seattle; and a cruise through Alaska’s Inside Passage are favorite destinations.

Beloved traveling companions are my family and my five oldest and closest female friends, all from undergraduate school days. 

Do you practice preventive medicine? Please elaborate.

I never miss mammograms, colonoscopies, or regular check-ups. In addition, I take a variety of nutritional supplements, am a non-smoker and non-drinker, eat a mostly-healthy Mediterranean diet and meditate daily.

I also have been a long-time believer in and recipient of several effective forms of complementary medicine, most notably Classical Homeopathy and the Feldenkrais Method. I do struggle with my weight and am still learning how to have a healthy, mindful relationship with food.

Is it important for you to retain your youthful looks, and if so, to what degree are you willing to go?

I am happy with my age and have no interest in trying to turn back the clock. My life has been about learning to love and accept myself and others as we are.

The one exception is coloring my hair – I’m not quite ready to accept my gray hair and think that hair dye is one of the greatest inventions of the last century!

Have you re-invented yourself, and if so, how?

In four ways:

  1. 31 years ago, I became involved in several 12 Step programs, which gradually transformed the way I approach life. I continue to embrace these teachings, which have taught me to take responsibility for the quality of my life, to live each day with an attitude of gratitude, and to be of service.
  2. I transformed my work life. Several years ago, I was severely burned out. I did a lot of soul-searching and realized that I had many clients who weren’t committed to helping themselves. I was working much harder on their behalf than they were. During a two-year re-organization, I slowly transformed my caseload to include hard-working people willing to do what it takes to claim their very best lives. I feel so grateful to love my work again.
  3. I became a published author for the first time at 68. I have always loved to write, but never envisioned being able to complete a book (I’ve actually written two now, the second to be published in 2014). But, 8 years ago, I just sat down and started writing, and, with the encouragement of my women’s writers’ group, I gave birth to a book!
  4. I live mindfully. Until about 20 years ago, I was just racing through life and am sad to say that I missed out on most of it. In other words, I lived in the future and didn’t pay much attention to the present moment. Through a daily practice of reading inspirational literature, meditation, and, often, writing, I no longer have the all-too-common experience of asking “Where did that day (week, month, year) go?” I know exactly where the day went, because I was there.
Do you plan to retire?

As of now, I have no retirement plans, since I enjoy my work so much again. I  will probably slow down gradually, but I know I benefit on every level from the challenging, stimulating and fulfilling work I do.

Are you doing anything to GO Green?

I recycle everything possible; have energy-efficient appliances; utilize a time-of-use electricity plan; use cloth grocery bags; and go paperless whenever I can.

 Can you pinpoint major turning points in your life that led to your life’s work/play at midlife?

Going through divorce led me to a counselor who helped me establish my own voice. Since I had to re-enter the workplace to support myself and my kids, my counselor suggested I go to graduate school and train to become a counselor. Nancy was my angel here on earth, since, thirty-five years, I’m still going strong!

Do you still have unfulfilled dreams, and are you doing anything to accomplish them?

I’ve been wrestling with this question and have concluded that the concept of unfulfilled dreams is not one to which I relate.

Doing my best to be proactive on my own behalf and to make each day count keeps me from longing for what I don’t have.

That said, there are a few things I would love, including having more concentrated time to write and taking my oldest grandson on a cruise when he graduates from college.

How do you make a difference in the lives of others, your community, and your world?

I do my best (though let me stress that my best is far from perfect) to be kind and compassionate to every person I encounter, whether in a grocery store, on the street, in my office or home. I fight for and contribute money and time to causes I believe in.

Who has had the biggest influence on your life and why?

Wow, that’s another tough one, since I feel blessed to have had so many inspiring influences. But, if I have to choose one, it would be my old, dear friend and Methodist minister Pastor Jody Kranz, who has the most steadfast faith, the most effective coping mechanisms for adversity, and the most enduring lightness of spirit and sense of humor of anyone I know. I often ask myself “What would Jody do?”

If you were to have a personal mission statement, what would it be? Feel free to be as serious or fun as you choose.

“Do no harm” is the first part of my mission statement. Life is already hard enough; I don’t want to add to anyone’s burdens.

However, I want to contribute more: Whether it’s that others have developed the courage to do something they’ve previously feared; have more of an appreciation for the little things; are gliding through life a bit more lightly; or have more compassion for themselves and others, I hope people feel that their lives are better because they have known me.


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