Posts Tagged ‘Love’

Sweetest days of all

March 5th, 2008    -    21 Comments

So Georgia and I are driving around one Saturday afternoon a few years back listening to A Prairie Home Companion on the radio and the little one erupts from her car seat: “Mommy, that’s Sally Doorsky!’ It turns out that Sally, frequent radio guest, is the mom of her pre-K mate Charlie, and his little sis Lila, and in that moment Sally Dworsky has become the most famous person we will ever know. Her transcendent voice, her songs of pure heart: we can’t sum it up except that we have become fans of the most slobbery kind. Here is Sally, another soulful sister, mother of mercy and angel of inspiration talking about singing in and out of her new CD, “Boxes.”

I can remember having coffee together one day and you were as doubtful as any of us mothers that your creativity would return, that you’d ever have the time or the impetus to write songs again. Tell me how that struggle eased for you, because look, here you are!

The truth is, I think I have always had that insecurity. Even before kids. That sense that I would never write another song, or at least not another good song. Each time I do, I am so excited and relieved and surprised, and then I return to that state of not knowing. But I did wonder how I would ever have time to be alone and still enough to receive the little bursts of inspiration and follow them. And it’s true, I have much less time to explore an idea, but there is a benefit to that. I can’t afford to labor and self-judge as much as I used to or I’d never get a thing done. I realize now that it has always been about capturing those little ideas that usually come in the midst of doing something else, not in the time I’ve set aside to write. So if anything has eased with motherhood, it’s my acceptance of that fact, and my willingness to record it as it happens and not worry about the many different ways I could have played it or sang it or said it. Kinda like the way I am answering these questions while the kids watch Arthur. No time to try too hard.

I can hear you singing about your mother, your father, your kids, and your partner in these songs. Am I right? Tell me how your family inspires you.

Some people are great at making up stories and characters. Not me. I can’t even make up a bedtime story for my kids. It all comes out of my real relationships. Both of my parents have passed away now. That, coupled with having children keeps me in a perpetual state of reflection and processing of the cycle that we’re all a part of; keeps me wondering if or when I’ll ever feel grown up as I try to guide these little people. My family, and my place in it, is relentlessly inspiring.

What song on your new CD is the most personally powerful for you?

There are a few, but maybe Sweetest Days. I want to be present as it all keeps flying by.

What do you want to do with your music? With your life?

Creatively, I feel more honest than ever before, and therefore more confident. Also less competitive, which is freeing. I am connecting with other wonderful singers and musicians and exploring new collaboration. I want to be playing and writing more routinely, so that it is just woven into my life with all of the rest of my responsibilities. Then I think professional opportunities would come more easily. The practical need to be making a living makes me want to break through in some significant way: songs in films, other people recording my songs. There is not a clear path for an artist like me. It may be about some fluky little opportunity that I can’t even imagine right now (like those two sweet songwriters from the movie Once). That’s why I just want to find a “practice” so that I keep doing it and doing it honestly. I would also love to facilitate other people singing together. Especially kids. Maybe a kids’ choir?

What is your greatest delight?
Singing, singing in harmony with others, listening to my son sing, watching my daughter do sign-language and monkey bars, making soup and eating it with a good hunk of bread and a glass of wine.

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Be greedy for love! Leave any comment this week and a sudden burst of inspiration from Jen Lemen, songs from Sally and even more could come your way. Enter your name or enter the name of one of your own sisters who could use some soul support. (And hey: the sister could be a mister too.) Prize winners drawn after 6 p.m. PST this Friday and announced on Saturday. Keep entering to win, and make sure you leave a way for me to reach you with the good news. That means you don’t need to have a blog, but if you don’t, be sure you contact me via email on my Profile page so I can get in touch.

This way comes

March 4th, 2008    -    28 Comments


All this week I’m introducing you to mothers of mercy in the order of soul sisterhood. In today’s installment with Jen Lemen, we consider both small and large matters underfoot. And remember to comment here or any day this week to enter my weekend giveaway of inspirational art by Jen and others.

What is the predominant color of clothing in your closet? Why do you suppose that is?

I can’t resist the color brown – even though my little urban family often campaigns for any other color, I wear it so much. I love the way brown can feel earthy and rich at the same time, depending on the texture and the fabric.

Describe your favorite pair of shoes.

I live in a pair of chocolate brown Pumas with light lavender stripes. They’re nice and squishy and they don’t look like ordinary sneakers. When these wear out, I’ll go buy another just like them.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be and why?

I have dreams of living for a year in Cape Town, New York or some European city, but the truth is it’s hard to beat where I live right now. My little city is a melting pot of African immigrants and every day friends from faraway places come to my house to cook or visit or tell stories. Nothing makes me happier than being with refugees or immigrants, so I feel incredibly blessed to live here.

What one thing are you going to do this year that could set it apart from any other time of your life?

International travel is not out of the question for me this year. I have a dear friend from Rwanda who would like me to go to Africa to visit the children she left behind. I can only imagine how that kind of journey would alter the landscape of my heart. In the meantime, I’ve always wanted to publish a book, and I think this is the year to do it.

* * *

Oops! She said it out loud.

And for all you seekers: here’s the link for purchasing your own copies of the poster featured above. (One of the not-so-secret prizes I’ll award later this week!)

Be greedy for love! Leave any comment this week and a sudden gust of inspiration from Jen or others could come your way. Enter your name or enter the name of one of your own sisters who could use some soul support. (And hey: the sister could be a mister too.) Prize winners drawn after 6 p.m. PST this Friday and announced on Saturday. Keep entering to win, and make sure you leave a way for me to reach you with the good news.

Something healing

March 3rd, 2008    -    21 Comments


She calls herself a professional blogger, but those of us who attend regular services at her sanctuary know that description hardly captures the dimension of her spirit. I asked writer and artist Jen Lemen to reflect on her life and work during a week in which I’ll introduce you to a few of my very favorite mothers of mercy in the order of soul sisterhood.

You are from a family of sisters. How intrinsic is sisterhood to your art and writing?

Sisterhood is so major for me, I almost don’t know how to talk about it. I can say this – if my work as an artist or a writer has any hint of the spirit of connectedness or deep trust in the Universe, it’s largely because of the love I’ve experienced from my sisters. We don’t always get along, and there are times when our differences feel personal and painful. But no matter what, my sisters are sewn into the fabric of my heart; it’s hard to think of myself outside of the circle of their love and support.

Do you have the sense of a calling in life?

Since I was a little girl, I’ve had a deep desire to write and also to change the world. It’s impossible for me to think of one without the other. Even now nearing forty, I still want to tell stories that change you and me forever and I want to do it in such a way that you feel inspired to action and filled with hope and love for the world around you.

What is your faith tradition?

I grew up in a Christian family of the low church, born-again variety, but all those labels really don’t do my religious heritage justice. My parents embodied a theology of kindness that didn’t have much patience for rules or dogma. They taught us how to care for the elderly, love the poor, cook for crowds, talk to strangers, show up in a crisis and have fun as a strategy for healthy living. Even though I long ago left the church, I’m still deeply invested in this particular brand of openhearted generosity.

How would you describe your spiritual practice?

My spiritual practice is mostly homemade and borrowed from various traditions. I keep a tiny gratitude journal and set up little altars in my house to mark the travels of my soul, but my real practice is to love strangers and allow the poorest of the poor to be my sage guides and teachers.

There’s more from Jen tomorrow, and more sister inspiration all week.

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Here’s your chance to enter the sisterhood. Leave a comment, any comment, many comments this week and you could find a sudden gust of Jen Lemen’s inspiration on your doorstep. Enter your name or enter the name of one of your own sisters who could use some spontaneous soul support. (And hey: the sister could be a mister too.) Prize winners drawn after 6 p.m. PST this Friday and announced on Saturday. Keep entering to win, and make sure you leave me a way to find your email address so I can reach you with the good news.

Spell d-i-s-a-p-p-e-a-r

February 20th, 2008    -    8 Comments

F-a-d-e to i-n-v-i-s-i-b-l-e. Step b-a-c-k and a-v-o-i-d becoming a p-e-s-t. After my s-n-e-a-k-y p-l-o-t to t-e-s-t her l-i-s-t for this Friday’s spelling bee she did not d-i-s-g-u-i-s-e her c-r-y. “Mom, you are taking over my life!”

Editorial Note: G-r-i-n. H-a-p-p-y. H-u-g. L-o-v-e. T-h-e-s-e are more than words to m-e-m-o-r-i-z-e.

The future in a rear view mirror

February 19th, 2008    -    11 Comments

This is the only way to see where I am going.


Editorial Note: Spend your day hauling a posse of second-grade girls and you won’t know whether to look forward, look backward or squeeze in-between.

going postal

February 15th, 2008    -    4 Comments

nyplvalentine2It’s not fair! Everything happens when you don’t expect it and at the very end when you want it the most!

This was my daughter, yesterday, at that hysterical place where well-laid plans go postal. Dear friends from Texas were about to board the plane for a weekend at our place when the flu bug arose in that most irrefutable indication up out of your gut and onto your Air Jordans. Our friends are now where they should be: still at home and on the mend. That’s where we are too, on the mend, facing a few days suddenly free and undone. She and I will find it, too, the fresh direction in just the two of us, holding hands, nursing root beer floats and indulging in what will be no small amount of retail therapy.

Friendship is like that, so reliable and yet still so unexpected.  As I write I’m playing the angel voice and sacred songs sent forth by my friend Sally Dworsky, who wrote her love hymns as our children romped in a shaded schoolyard like a litter of kittens, pure life and joy; be sure you have a listen. And then a secret heart, a handmade valentine arrived in the post from Beth, so faraway and yet her magic is today here in my grip; it is my ticket and I am using it right now, sending love to everyone, everyone by return mail, and with this solemn pledge.

Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

Love the one you’re with.

Love in the time of laundry

February 13th, 2008    -    15 Comments

Dear Cupid:

I’ve been out of touch for a while. I used to imagine you, worship you, and cry my eyes out for you every day. But that was before you left for the last time.

I’ve learned a lot about myself since you’ve been gone. I admit I’ve changed. I learned, for instance, that there is a time and season for everything. There’s a time for flirting with that cute waiter at the breakfast place even though he’s 10 years younger, doesn’t own a car, needs to borrow money and he’ll pay you back this time for sure. A time for composing all-night sonnets to the old high-school heartthrob who doesn’t realize he’s just using you to get over his divorce. There is a time for booking a first-class ticket to spend a romantic weekend, at your own expense, with the handsome stranger who will one day soon drive down from Denver, move into your house, barely ever get out of bed, never get another job, and tell you everything that’s wrong with you and your life before he moves out again.

Then there’s a time to sort the whites from the colors.

I’ve learned, too, that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. That Mars can be light-years away from clearing the dinner dishes from the table, putting the shoes in the closet, and making the coffee in the morning, but that Mars is nearly always inches away from a flat screen.

The washer and dryer are on Venus.

I’ve seen and felt my share of love. In some ways, I consider myself an expert. I’ve seen a man’s face tremble in awe and, yes, fear, as I walked down an aisle toward him. I’ve seen a man weep at the sight of his baby girl. I’ve seen the walls quake and the floor tilt with the immensity of our anger, then fall instantly still with an apology. I’ve seen an entire home built and rebuilt on love alone, sometimes in a single day.

I’ve seen the washer overflow and the fuse short out.

Love comes into my life everyday now, Cupid. It comes in denim, khaki, in cotton underwear, in hand wash, machine wash and rarely, rarely in dry clean only. It comes in dainty piles of pink and purple, and massive stacks of towels and sheets. Love comes by the basketful in my house, Cupid, but it doesn’t come from you. It never did.

Dear Cupid: I’m into my third load today, but I’m just not that into you.

***
Inspired just in time for Happy Valentine’s and another lovely group writing project at Between the Lines.

When it pours

January 31st, 2008    -    20 Comments


The other week my h-u-s-b-a-n-d stayed home on a Friday. What? Turns out his office closes every other Friday. What? But he’s usually either out of town or so busy that he can’t spare the day at home. What?

But on this day he’s home working, and I’m home working and he seems happy enough and then he looks up, a little disoriented, and asks what time our daughter gets out of school. I tell him 2:15. Then he says,

Maybe I’ll just go to a movie.

Now in all the nearly five years since my daughter started preschool, it has never once occurred to me to go to a movie during the daytime, during a weekday, when I could have stayed home and slaved like a worn-out washerwoman.

So I looked up at him dumbstruck and I thought, What is wrong with me? Why hasn’t it ever occurred to me to enjoy myself on a Friday before 2:15? But what I said was,

You could clean the rain gutters.

Cleaning the rain gutters, like nearly everything I do around here, is a job I don’t particularly like doing but a job I like to get done. In my first marriage, we paid someone to come around once a year and do the job for us. But that was before I took so seriously all those vows of worse and sickness and poorer. For all the years Ned and I have been together I’ve done the gutters on my own.

So he looked up at me and without even a sideways glance or a rolled eye, he said,

OK.

This is all I have to offer you. In a month when LA County has recorded about 55,000 inches of rainfall, he said OK, climbed up to the roof and rooted the mushy guck from the swollen gutters, and this is my testament, my only secret to a happy marriage.

***

We’ve plumb run out of fun with marriage this week. But you can still claim your chance to win an autographed copy of my book, Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood by leaving a comment on Monday’s post. The winner will be drawn after 12 noon PST on Sunday, Feb. 3. Good luck!

It only looks like a doughnut

January 30th, 2008    -    14 Comments

I’ve written before about the kind of work my h-u-s-b-a-n-d does. He’s in the long-distance business, the very long-distance business. Outer space.

Specifically, now he’s working on Mars. Seriously. When you work on Mars it involves daily side trips to the far reaches of Pasadena and occasional launches to Los Alamos, Washington and France. Before he worked on Mars, he worked on a couple of asteroids, which was a kind of a code word for Italy and Germany. When we met on that fateful evening in Florence, Italy, 13 years ago he was actually working on Saturn.

So you think it’s a surprise to me that I find myself alone so much? I always say the same thing to my friends in a similar circumstance, although it’s nubby comfort: Every mother is a single mother.

Now careful: I mean no offense to the single mothers who are fathers, or to the single mothers who really are single mothers. I do not know the depth of fear or frustration or anxiety, the financial hardship, the personal sacrifice, the sadness, the isolation or the inconsolable straits you may find yourself in, I only sense that most of us are in these things alone.

To his credit, Ned tries to interest me in the curious question of the composition, age and origin of the dust on the surface of the red planet, but that is not the aim of my life’s mission. My mission is to uncover the truth of my life on Earth, a mission that in my earlier days I had no earthly interest in at all. And so I know that I am indeed lucky to have this field to roam so freely on my own, to resolve my questions, to find the deep source of life and love right where I stand.

Even so, Ned’s absence gives me time and space to make trouble; it lets me boil and burn in my own flaming grievance; it invariably wears out my welcoming heart. He’s always happy to come home, and I am usually quite pissy about it. He has this habit of stopping near the airport and picking up two doughnuts as a coming home prize for Georgia and me. How is it that I can hate when he does that, but love when he does that? I eat mine promptly that night or next morning.

When I eat that doughnut, mind you, it only looks like a doughnut. What I am eating is my own clogged heart and deep-fried resentment. I’m swallowing residual anger and bad attitude. I’m chomping that ever-living ego of mine back to a manageable size so we can start over.

The search for intelligent life involves a lot of starting over and an advanced form of mathematics. As my daughter wrote in an email to her dad last night: YOU + ME + MOM + MOLLY (the dog) = 1.

***

Join me for more fun with marriage all week. And just for grins, here’s your chance to win an autographed copy of my book, Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood by leaving a comment on Monday’s post. The winner will be drawn after 12 noon PST on Sunday, Feb. 3. Good luck!

Lightbulbs go off

January 29th, 2008    -    17 Comments


One morning last week, on a day Ned was in town, I came into the kitchen at god-awful thirty to start the coffee, breakfast and the slog of getting my daughter fed, dressed and bundled off to school. I found the kitchen nightlight pulled out of its socket and sitting on the counter.

First, you’re thinking: kitchen nightlight? It’s just one of the sweet little things that remains in our home from early parenthood, a beacon of comfort in case the baby crawls around in the dark at all hours.

I had an immediate and vivid certainty about why the light sat there on its side, and how it got there, but I plugged it back in and tested it, and it worked. So there.

The next morning I walked in to find the same thing sitting in the same way and I threw myself right into the investigation, turning on Ned.

Why do you keep taking out the nightlight? I charged.

He backed up a step and stammered. The bulb is burned out and I set it there to remind . . .

To remind me??? I cut in, quick, before he could even recover.

Because he frequently does things like this, you see, to help me out. If we run out of coffee, he leaves the empty canister conspicuously on the counter to call out to me. If his shaving creme is kaput, he leaves the empty aerosol perched on the rim of the bathroom vanity so I’ll notice while I parade through freshening up his towels and sorting his laundry. Some things, you see, just don’t have to be said, let alone done, by anybody but me.

I was going to replace it, he defended himself, but I don’t know where you keep the bulbs.

Where I keep the bulbs?

I pointed him straightaway to the closet two feet from where he stood, the closet devoted almost entirely to lightbulbs of every size, wattage and sustainability, a pharaoh’s tomb of lightbulbs nearly every one of which he bought and put on the shelf.

My first h-u-s-b-a-n-d (Beware: It can be very satisfying to say that), my first h-u-s-b-a-n-d- ran a hotel and he was never home. It’s understandable: we were a childless couple “married” to our careers. Now I never leave home and I feel like I run the hotel! How did it turn out like this? How did the whole thing spin a 180 on me?

Of course I know how, but I still don’t know why. I don’t know why to some people “clearing the table” means stacking the dirty plates on the counter then firing up a video game, and to others it means rinsing them off and loading the dishwasher. I don’t know why. I can never know why because there is no why to how things are done or even when they get done. All I have a handle on is the who. And the only who I have a handle on is me.

There is a mysterious symmetry, a cosmic boomerang, at work in our lives. It delivers us smack back into the scene of every crime from which we’ve ever fled, only with a comic twist, a change in perspective that widens our vision and illuminates, if we’re awake, a tiny nightlight of wisdom on the way to the refrigerator at 3 a.m.

Look who ended up in the hotel business! I run a fine hotel, and most days, I even like doing it. The days my lightbulb is on.

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Join me for more fun with marriage all week. And just for grins, here’s your chance to win an autographed copy of my book, Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood by leaving a comment on yesterday’s post. The winner will be drawn after 12 noon PST on Sunday, Feb. 3. Good luck!

Giving yourself away

January 28th, 2008    -    98 Comments

Yes, this is your Bloggy Giveaway. Just scroll down to the comments to enter. Check your entry to make sure that it includes a way I can reach you, or you won’t be included in the drawing.

Shortly after my daughter was born I spent long afternoons in shudders of sobs and laughter.

This was in the year 2000 before I could have entertained myself in front of this here screen for the better part of a day, so I parked my mushy butt in front of the great grandmother of all mommy blogs, the Neanderthal of reality TV, the ancient TLC. I would watch the hypnotic loop of The Baby Story followed by The Wedding Story followed by The Baby Story laughing and crying all the way.

I laughed at The Baby Story because most of these innocent, self-assured first-time mothers were about to give birth to an experience that was unlike anything they had ordered up, so contrary to their expectations, and so screamingly off-script. Then I bawled every time the baby was lifted up into their arms.

I cried at The Wedding Story because the goosepimply sense of romantic destiny, the adoration and most of all, friendship described by these couples was so unlike anything I experienced in my own marriage, either time. Neither time had I married what I would call “my best friend.” My best friend was back in Texas and if I called her and said I had a flat tire in the pouring rain on the 405 Freeway, she would have climbed on a plane with two umbrellas and a jack. If I had reached either one of my h-u-s-b-a-n-d-s, they would have said, “Call Triple A.” There are friends, and then there are advisors. My h-u-s-b-a-n-d Ned is not my most reliable friend, but he is my most consistent advisor.

By the time the happy couple on TV was drunk and dancing at the reception, by the time the wedding gown was stained and stepped on, the up-do coming undone, I would be laughing again.

We’d all better be laughing again, and soon.

Tears give way to laughter, laughter to tears. Marriage, motherhood, life, keeps handing us the opportunity to give ourselves away, and that’s how we become our own best friend and advisor. We marry ourselves for life, and we join Triple A. Everyone else who comes into the picture is there for laughs. The laughs always begin amid the tears.

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Join me for more fun with marriage all week. And just for grins, here’s your chance to win an autographed copy of my book, Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood by leaving a comment here. The winner will be drawn after 12 noon PST on Sunday, Feb. 3. Domestic addresses only. Make sure your comment links to your own blog or contains your email address so I can contact you when you win. Good luck!

One unique visitor

January 27th, 2008    -    12 Comments


This post was inspired by Heather Armstrong (yes, that Heather), because I recently read an interview where she estimated that her blog had 55,000 unique site visitors every weekday. The interview was two years ago, so by now she probably has 5,555,000 unique site visitors every day. Can you imagine that? She’s so damn popular, so beautiful, so rich, so thin, so funny, so blonde, so talented, so insanely in love with her man, who seems so dependably to hold her hand and ease her way and make her laugh, that it unleashes in me a depth of awe and adulation that is indistinguishable, at times, from gut-rumbling hatred. Oh well. She has what she has, and I have my one unique site visitor.

One night last week I was checking my sitemeter for the 55,000th time that hour, and I spoke up to my dh, who for the sake of his privacy I’ll call “Ned.”

I said, “Hey Ned, someone just searched my blog for entries with the word h-u-s-b-a-n-d!” For the sake of my privacy, I’m spelling the word out every time I use it from here on out.

I turned to look at him then as he sat behind his laptop all of six feet away from me, and we both knew even before he grinned and said, “It was me.” Ned, sitting in the same house in the same room at the same time with me, searches my blog for some clue about my feelings for him, I suppose. Something unsaid to him but broadcast on and in-between the lines to my readers, a vast and influential audience steadily approaching 55,000.

This, friends, is the nature of our relationship. I’m not so sure that it isn’t the nature of every man-woman relationship, the nature of every marriage. The peculiar distance in sharing life side-by-side; the gulf between interests, feelings and pastimes; the doubt and isolation; the language, the view, the time, the space, the worlds that we do not occupy in common.

I’m dedicating this week to talking about this, this strange and universal phenomenon in partnerships and marriage, this unique visitor that some of us spell h-u-s-b-a-n-d.

Please keep me company. My Ned is out of town, your Ned might be out of town, and either way we always have each other.

All of the above

January 25th, 2008    -    12 Comments

I did a little something different here this week because:

A. I was busy elsewhere.
B. I hadn’t read this old writing in about 10 years.
C. When I see it now I see it with new eyes: the pictures, the words, the recollections, the purity, the pain, the truth, the teaching, the wisdom that was waiting on the page all along.
D. I don’t want you to worry about yourself or your children. I don’t want you to worry that they won’t know a grandparent or have picture perfect happiness or a certain kind of memory. I don’t want you to worry that your skills are lacking, or that your children will end up hollow or ruined because of something said or done, or because of something that wasn’t said or done.
E. Tell me, please tell me that you see what hangs so clearly from this tree, what hangs from every tree, the only living thing that lasts, what refreshes and nourishes us forever, what we carry from day to day and season to season in an undiminished supply, that we need only reach up with our own hand to take and taste as our own.
F. Love.

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