All Posts By Vanessa Diffenbaugh

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Grow Roots

by Vanessa Diffenbaugh on October 10, 2014 at 9:19 am

SAF_LLAF_GrowRoots_404X404Four years ago I co-founded The Camellia Network, a nonprofit organization set out to change the way youth transitioning out of foster care are viewed and supported.  What I’ve learned through that experience, and through raising my two eldest foster sons, is that what foster youth need more than anything is a community that cares about them. No matter what your personal passion, the advice I offer below is how to grow roots in your own community.

Ask people to tell their stories. Everyone has a story, full of both heartbreak and triumph, but we can’t see their story just by looking at them. Asking people to share allows you to find common ground even when all you see—externally—are differences.

Be real. We have been trained to broadcast our successes and hide our failures. But the truth is this: our failures humanize us, and they connect us to one another. Being truthful about both sides of your story will help you form more honest connections with those you love and admire.  Read More

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The Language of Flowers

by Vanessa Diffenbaugh on August 23, 2011 at 9:03 am

The funny thing about writing fiction is that everyone believes it’s true. After reading my novel The Language of Flowers, my husband held me tight in his arms.

“I’m sorry you felt so overwhelmed when our daughter was born,” he said, regret thick in his voice.

My own husband! The man who had been there every day—monitoring our baby and me with careful attention—thought I was as overwhelmed as the new mother in my book, Victoria.

“It’s fiction!” I told him, exasperated. “Don’t you know I made it all up?”

The trouble is—as much as I deny it—my character does, in specific instances, think and behave exactly like me. We share, for example, a passionate love for flowers and their meanings. Victoria leaves a single spring of rhododendron to say beware—I give wild bouquets of bellflower to express my gratitude. We both spend copious amounts of time buried in piles of language of flowers dictionaries from the 19th century, their spines crumbling and the gold lettering faded to dust; we both cringe as we walk past cellophane-wrapped mixed bouquets wilting in liquor store windows, their messages conflicting. Read More