Judy M. Miller
Judy M. Miller is the author of the internationally known parent guide, What To Expect From Your Adopted Tween, and a workbook for adopted adults, Writing to Heal Adoption Grief: Moving Forward & Making Connections. She created and teaches the popular class, Parenting Tweens, Tweens & Beyond. Judy lives with her husband and four kids, ages 12 through 20, in the Midwest.
Interviewed by Pat Bean for the Story Circle Journal
Posted on 08/18/2014
Judy Miller is a mother and a writer—two attributes that qualified her to participate in a national program called "Listen to your Mother," in which moms read their stories to an audience.
Judy, who is Story Circle Network's vice president, jumped at the opportunity to do just that after hearing about the program from a friend, who was producing and directing one of the regional shows.
"When I heard the premise, I couldn't submit my piece, 'Souls Speak,' quickly enough," said Judy, who is the mother of four children, and writes regularly about motherhood and parenting. She auditioned for the 2012 Northwest Indiana show, and was "over the moon" when she was selected.
"I was totally blown away by the range of stories in the Indiana show," said Judy. As soon as it was over, she applied to direct and produce a Listen to Your Mother program in Indianapolis for 2013.
She was thrilled to get a green go-ahead light, but admitted that her husband was not as happy. He was "furious with me," she says, "because of all the time and work he knew such a project would demand. But he softened after a few months, after noticing how happy I was."
So it was that Judy also directed and produced the 2014 Indianapolis show.
The piece she read for the show was titled "Between Us," which is a tribute to her adopted daughter and to the woman who chose to give up her child so she would have a good life. The story (which you can listen to here) had Judy reaching for a tissue.
"I am blessed," she said, "to parent a multiracial, blended family of biological and adopted kiddos ... I began writing to make sense of raising a child with sensory processing disorder, and then to process other events in my life, such as the arrivals of my kids and the legacy of my mother."
Judy, the only girl of four children, considers herself a Chicago girl, although she was raised in what she calls "an idyllic rural setting outside of the Windy City by a mother who believed that childhood should be enjoyed." Her education includes Master of Arts degrees in anthropology and forensics.
"I was bitten by the anthro bug in Mr. Cummings's sixth-grade history class. Exploring why we do what we do has always fascinated me. I love to explore, learn, and travel. All of these curiosities continue to drive me."
Judy is also driven by her motherhood responsibilities. While they are many, she believes that probably the most important one is to "listen with a mother's heart. Intuition drives my decisions and listening with my mother's heart guides me pretty accurately through the challenges of raising four kids."
As a writer whose focus is on family, the Listen to You Mother program was a perfect vehicle for Judy's writing. The program, she says, takes an audience "on a well-crafted journey about motherhood, and even those who are not mothers will find stories that they can appreciate, or stories that resonate with them."
LTYM was created by Ann Imig in Wisconsin in 2011. It was an immediate success and four more shows were produced that year. Ten shows were performed in 2012, 24 in 2013, and 32 this year, all within a period of two weeks prior to Mother's Day. Each show is completely different, based on the stories of the regional presenters.
"I love it when people come up to me after the show and say such things as: 'How did you know? You spoke my words.' Or, 'Oh, my god. This was amazing.' Or, 'How can I present my story?'"
Stories that are selected to be read are judged on content, how they transfer from the page to the stage, and how they will fit with the other stories that are chosen.
While being in charge of one of the regional shows involves a lot of hard work, Judy said the rewards have been many.
"I have gained so much. Confidence. Perspective. Strength in commitment. Ability to inspire others. A sure voice. Ease of authentically connecting with others. I'm growing in ways I never thought I could, soliciting financial support from sponsors directing other writers, producing an amazing show that connects with so many, creating a legacy example of 'Yes, I can!' for my kids—most importantly for my daughters. I am inspired by the mosaic of motherhood, and honored to give back to others and to my community."
If you're thinking that all these stories sounds like a book in the making, you're right. Judy said that one will be coming out in 2015. And, if like Judy, you're inspired to participate in the 2015 LYTM program, you can find all the details here.
If you would like to learn more about Judy M. Miller and her books and events visit her website.
About the interviewer:
Pat Bean is a writer, avid birder, hiker and passionate nature observer with wanderlust in her soul who spent nine years living and traveling in a small RV, most of that time with an opinionated black cocker spaniel named Maggie by her side. She now lives in a small apartment in Tucson with Pepper, a joyful black Scottie mix.
Pat is currently putting the finishing touches on a book she has titled, Travels With Maggie. She feels it would fit nicely on any book shelf, or on a Kindle, right next to Steinbeck.s Travels With Charlie. At least that.s her dream. Since beginning their travels in the rolling home they call Gypsy Lee, she and Maggie traveled over 130,000 miles together. She and Pepper have done 7,000 miles together and look forward to more. Follow Pat on her blog.