Wild Cards Wednesdays ~ Authenticity

Fanning the fire midweek, we are tossing you a spontaneous quote, question, or conundrum related to Monday’s post. We invite you to riff on this prompt or share a story—heartbreaking or hilarious—to spark further conversation about the path of motherhood.

When trying to muster the courage to speak my truth as a mother, there are a few women who have come before and help me take heart. Beloved author, Annie Lamott, wrote a book called Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year (Ballantine 1994), which I believe should be required reading for all new mamas. Here are a few choice quotes that convey Lamott’s raw and honest prose:

Operating InstructionsOh, but my stomach, she is like a waterbed covered in flannel. When I lie on my side in bed, my stomach lies politely beside me, like a puppy.”

“…one of the worst things about being a parent, for me, is the self-discovery, the being face to face with one’s secret insanity and brokenness and rage.”

Lamott also came out with a new book this year, extending her wit and self-revelation to the next generation. Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son (Riverhead 2012) promises to be good read.

Another masterful memoir and truthful wondering about the experience of motherhood is Louise Erdrich’s The Blue Jay’s Dance: A Memoir of Early Motherhood (Harper 1996).

The Blue Jay's Dance

Please comment about any other books that can empower our authentic expression as mamas. Or, perhaps one of you will feel called to share your own writing. Please feel free to do so here or send us a guest blog piece about your personal dance with the depths of motherhood (see Bare Your Soul).


PearlIt is humbling to sit down to write with a card like Pearl in my hand. The journey of authenticity is one of the enduring reasons that we were called to blog about our experiences as mothers. We hoped to empower other women by keeping it real. We are not perfect. Thankfully, a good friend once assured me that the best mothers are the imperfect one’s who therefore can see their children as they truly are rather than as some projected ideal.

My children are well aware of my true nature. They witness my stellar moments and glow in my presence. They also are pulled down with me when I lose my footing. My little girl is tuned into how I express myself when I am frustrated and asks, “Why ‘shit’, Mama?” And, Haven, knowing the remorse that inevitably follows my baser moments, says to me, “Mama, you are going to be sorry.” With these words, my wee gurus remind me where my growth edge lies.

While I am not exactly proud of my foibles, I am grateful for their redemptive service. If I am not trying to sweep my missteps under the rug, I can look to them with joyful curiosity and begin peeling back the layers to reveal some new facet of my being. I can get a little neurotic when parenting at large gatherings? Hmm…what is that about? Performance anxiety?

This weekend I had yet another chance to practice my public parenting at the wedding of a dear friend. Midway through the three-day, mostly adult gathering, I was not sure I would make it to the end. I felt raw and exposed as a mama. It was the bride who reminded me how standing in our truth is the only way forward. She and her husband faced the seemingly impossible task of weaving together all the disparate strands of their lives. As two people who are wholly and unashamedly themselves, they pulled it off with utter grace.

In the end, I too was able to relax enough to enjoy the event and again experience the freedom of being with people who are authentic. They invite me to be myself, no matter how scared or outrageous or eccentric. My now married-off friend attended my daughter’s birth, so she is definitely one who has seen my true colors. And, I feel blessed by a circle of friends who show up with the beautiful truth of who they are, and love me because of my quirks as well as my gifts.

walking women

photo courtesy of Erin Kott

Yet, I say it is our children who are the best role models of authentic being. They have not learned to be anything but one of a kind. I pray that I can show Haven and Afton how this is enough; how they are each a pearl beyond price. What are you and your children teaching one another about true nature?




Mothering Muse ~ Creativity

On Friday, we invoke the muse of motherhood to shine her light of inspiration upon.

This week’s card inspired me to finally make a pouch for my mother’s deck. It’s always hard for me to use “valuable nap time” for playing — I am always diving into my ‘work’. (Honestly, I don’t know how to sew. I fake it, although someday I hope to learn.) I found this sweet, silk peacock ribbon in Tulsi’s magic, Blessing Way box, and the pale green fabric felt healing. I love it. It’s simple and feels sacred. I’m so happy I took the time! When Tulsi woke up from her nap, she instantly wanted to make one, too. She was so proud of it. I loved watching her carefully choose each fabric and cut every shape exactly how she wanted to. She even came up with a theme — one side was “home” and the other was “India”. When we finished her bag, she immediately filled it with apricot seeds, dried moss and special rocks for a secret witch’s potion. :)

Other sweet creations around the house this week…
Papa + Tulsi’s sweet garden flower bouquets (and our homemade flowers, too), a recycled+altered kitchen curtain,

and Tulsi’s “art-calendar”. I started it for her last month so she’ll always know what is happening day-to-day, and it has been so helpful! I think she feels more actively involved in our schedule/routine since after we discus the upcoming days, SHE draws pictures of the essential details. She often remembers what is happening each day when she wakes up, but when she forgets, she runs to her calendar to see, and she looks forward to upcoming fun events. Next to her calendar is her ever-growing, and oh-so happy, art wall.

And for your sweet tooth, we’ve been mixing up these coconut-almond ‘yummy balls’ in the food processor: crispy almonds, dates, unsweetened dried shredded coconut, pinches of cinnamon, ginger powder and salt, and a little coconut oil. Process the nuts first, then add salt and spices, then pitted dates and oil. Roll into small balls. You can make them with other nuts (or a combo) and spices, too. Plus, they are fun and easy for little, eager helping hands to make!

Have a creative and beauty-filled weekend!

Wild Card Wednesdays ~ Creativity

Fanning the fire midweek, we are tossing you a spontaneous quote, question, or conundrum related to Monday’s post. We invite you to riff on this prompt or share a story—heartbreaking or hilarious—to spark further conversation about the path of motherhood.

So I love Ellis. I find her honest, funny, radiant, and full of light.  She sang at Folk Fest, and Niki and I were inspired to give her a copy of the deck cause she is just the kind of mama we want to be connected to.

When she was signing CDs after the show, i was able to ask her a quick question about the connection between motherhood and creativity.
She said, “Watching my two-year-old daughter paint, play, dance, and sing is to witness complete purity. All she is doing is being herself. At the heart of creativity is connecting to our true self—children are such natural reminders of that.”

Here is one of my favorite Ellis songs. It speaks to me because I am always worried about being late, left behind, missing the boat…I think in that fear, and accompanying rush, I am missing the creativity of being in my—and my children’s—flow.

On her website she describes “Right On Time” as a wish for her newborn daughter to trust she is on her own timeline in a culture where we are encouraged to go faster and faster.


Bonus feature: And here are a few pics on my budding artists at work.

What inspires your creativity? For me it wasn’t obvious that rushing around all the time actually squelches my juju.  I would love to hear how you get your–and your kids–creative juices flowing.


At Folks Festival, the creativity was a flowing, from the kids building dams, castles, and cairns in the river to the musicians on stage, pulsing with the songs that welled up inside them, demanding to be let out.

Everywhere there were people relaxing into life on this small planet, planet bluegrass, this unhurried pace of life where the only thing to do was play, dance, and sing.
My children adored the art tent, where there were tons of raw materials and no rules. I could see how I approached the art table with a project in mind, while for Jordan and Oriah the compelling thing was the act of creating itself, not what was created. Oriah spent a good hour just piddling in the paint, while Jordan, a big tape fan, loved that tape could unify his vision, bringing disparate objects into some kind of cohesion.

It was so refreshing to take a three day pause in my life, to finally just play with my children without needing to drive or rush or do chores. To watch them be inspired by the buzz of energy and music all around them.
It reminded me so much of the Rolling Stones song “As Tears Go By”… I sit and watch the children play.

We also went over to to the recording tent, where they had professional equipment that could record you sing or play. Jordan did it a few years ago, and I remember trying to correct him, telling him to sing louder and clearer. This year, again he was enraptured just by holding the mike, and hearing himself sing, his lips flared against the mike. I didn’t try to change anything…just let him sing his song, even if what came out what was a monotone drone.

For who am I to tell anyone how to sing their song? This was the amazing thing about the festival, how many songs there are to sing and ways to sing it. To be able to hear the exquisite rhythms of own lives, and to come to the place, as the poet Rumi writes, where everything is music.

But finding that music is no easy task. As Ellis said during her show, we need to listen to those dreams we carry inside our hearts—they are there for a reason.
Right now I am exhausted, filled with song and needing to become empty again to be able to pick out the tune I want to carry.
The line that keeps humming in my head is from Iron and Wine’s cover of Such Great Heights.
“Everything looks perfect from far away…”

The folks festival reminds me that with a little perspective change, by standing in the river or lying underneath the stars, camping in my own backyard, there is a perfection to our lives, in the flawed but infinitely tender love that moves through them.
One of my musical high points of the festival was hearing Iron and Wine, his incandescent voice reaching the big dipper that was poised over the stage, and inverted question mark. Here is a verse from Lion’s Mane:

Love is a tired symphony
you hum when you’re awake
Love is a crying baby
Mama warned you not to shake
Love is the best sensation
Hiding in the lion’s mane