Life in the Slow Lane

Contemplating life, faith, words, and memories

Generational Messages by Gwen Plano — February 17, 2015

Generational Messages by Gwen Plano

Today it is my pleasure to introduce my guest, Gwen Plano. Gwen is a writer who spent most of her professional life in higher education. About a year ago, Gwen’s first book, Letting Go in Perfect Love, was published by She Writes Press. More about Gwen a bit later.

Join me in welcoming Gwen Plano to the blog.

Gwen Plano, author of Letting Go in Perfect Love
Gwen Plano, author of Letting Go in Perfect Love

I am honored and grateful to be a guest on Sherrey’s blog today. She asked that I consider reflecting on generational messages, and I am pleased to do so.

Earlier this month my dad celebrated his 96th birthday. His strong physique has weakened with age along with his awareness of time. When we talk, he shares stories of his youth, and like the paddles on a riverboat, these stories repeat in rapid succession. For my dad, time is not a linear experience; the distant past is his present. He struggles to recall the name of the caregiver who has helped him for the last three years, but he excitedly recounts his fist fights with Albert, Samuel and Tom when he was just a boy of 8.

When I was a child, my father was a formidable presence in our home. Having grown up “dirt poor” as he would say, he was especially sensitive to anyone who had less than we. His expectations for his seven children became the moral standard that reverberates in each of us today. “Who do you think you are?” he would say if he imagined one of us was acting uppity. With a tone that sent shudders through me, he’d add: “Remember, you could be that person some day!” And so it was that we learned to share what little we had—and to fear the possibilities that might become our fate.

Gwen, holding Baby Tina with some of her siblings 
Gwen, holding Baby Tina with some of her siblings 

While dad taught us determination and fairness, mom provided nourishment both literally and figuratively. Her days were spent caring for her unruly tribe. With a baby in her arms and a toddler at her knees, she’d go about the tasks of the day. It seemed she was always standing at the stove preparing yet another meal or at the sink washing the pots and pans. And, when she did these chores or hung the wash on the clothesline or gathered eggs for the day, she prayed—for a sick friend, a struggling newborn, and the deceased. Her diverted eyes taught me about a world I could not see.

As the eldest, much was expected of me. I learned to cook before I could read, to be a mom to my siblings when there was need. Somehow through it all, I felt alone and wondered if anyone noticed me. I’d watch mom with the babies, and when she cuddled them close, my heart ached for the same. When I look back through the years, though, I wonder if perhaps my mother had the same longings as me. Like her, I turned inward and began to dream—of non-earthly realities and of kingdoms across the seas.

I’ve come to realize that who I am stretches deep into my ancestral heritage. My father’s experience of the Dust Bowl, of starvation, of dire need has made me compassionate and generous to those with less than me. When I see a beggar on the street, I always think, he or she could be me. And, I see my dad as a boy, hungry and lean.

Gwen and a haystack
Gwen and a haystack

Similarly, my mother’s life of prayer and sacrifice became an integral part of who I understood myself to be. Selfless to a fault, mom never thought of herself or her needs; nor did I—until I realized I had lost me. One tragedy after another finally awakened the yearnings within my heart and led me on a journey of recovery. Letting Go into Perfect Love is my memoir about the steps and side-steps I took to find the one Love that would bring me peace.

Here’s more about Gwen Plano ~

Gwendolyn Plano spent most of her professional life in higher education. She taught and served as an administrator in colleges in New York, Connecticut, and California. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in nutrition from San Diego State University, was awarded a Master’s Degree in Theology from the University of the State of New York, and the completed a Master’s Degree in counseling from Iona College. Finally she earned a Doctorate in Education from Columbia University. Plano is also a Rieki master and a Certified LifeLine Practitioner.

About Gwen’s First Book:

In Letting Go into Perfect Love: Discovering the Extraordinary After Abuse, Gwen bravely recounts a violent marriage that lasted twenty-five-years–and the faith that opened her heart to hope, to trust, and to awe again. As a survivor who came out of the relationship determined to start new, Gwen artfully depicts the challenges and triumphs of balancing the obligations of motherhood and career with her family’s healing process.

Alternately heart-wrenching and joyful, Letting Go into Perfect Love is a powerful story of triumph over adversity–one woman’s inspiring account of learning how to forgive the unforgiveable, recover her sense of self, open her heart, and honor the journey home.

Gwen’s book is available on Amazon.

Connect with Gwen here:


I am an affiliate of Amazon. As such, if you buy a copy of Gwen’s book from Amazon, I may receive a small percentage of the sale. This distribution in no way impacts the price you pay for the book.

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