Posts Tagged ‘Sisterhood’

lost in living

March 3rd, 2014    -    4 Comments

lost+socks+sockSome nights as I put myself to bed, a tremor comes over me with the thought that there’s no time. Of course there’s no time but what I mean is that in my house there is no baby, no little girl, no tween, no new bride, no young mother, no thirties, no forties, no fifties, no yesterday, no tomorrow, and no someday. This is real, people! There is no time to question how much or little time there might be, where to go or when, what comes after, how to end up, the next great thing I should or could do. The days of wondering are spent.Paradise in Plain Sight

About a year ago, I recommended a documentary called Lost in Living that follows the lives of four artists in different stages of work and motherhood. You might have caught a screening of the film in your community, purchased a DVD or attended a house party viewing. Now, Lost in Living will be available for free streaming for 24 hours beginning Saturday, March 8 to coincide with International Women’s Day. This global Web screening event is an opportunity to share Lost in Living with women around the world. I know some of you have been waiting for this.

Before I say more, let me give you the vitals:

Here is the link to view the video which will be public for 24 hours only beginning at 8 a.m. PST on Saturday, March 8.
Here is a link to more information about sharing the live stream on your website or social media.

I hope you can find a quiet corner sometime Saturday to watch the film, not least because you’ll spending a few hours with yourself. That opportunity alone is worth cherishing. As you watch the film you’ll see beyond yourself into the connection women have with one another in every phase of life, and how motherhood transforms our aspirations. It’s poignant, funny, powerful and oh so good.

A few weeks ago I caught a screening of the film and heard director Mary Trunk talk about how she started the project that consumed seven years of her life. Her motivation sounds universal. She and her husband had just relocated to LA and she was home alone with a one-year-old in a new and unfamiliar town. She felt adrift and isolated. Her camera became her passport into friendship and collaboration.

As our lives change and children grow we find ourselves in unfamiliar places where we have to reinvent our work, rhythm and purpose. This is where I am right now — at the end of one stage without ready answers or expectations. As everything around me changes, I am changing too. Something new will appear and give me a new way to express my life. A new way to serve others. I don’t need to wonder what it will be. Generations before me have walked this path: an infinite world of women who live the story of becoming themselves.

Find the time to see Lost in Living this Saturday.

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Photo Credit: Lost Socks do-it-yourself project at Brilliant Like Fireflies.




April 14th, 2013    -    44 Comments

bracha_amulet_2Every now and then someone will write to me and say, “It feels like you are reading my mind. It’s so comforting to know that I’m not alone. You have a way of writing exactly what I need to hear at the moment I need to hear it.”

Other people will pipe up and say about me, “She is so not me. I can’t relate to her at all. We’d never click in person. I dislike the way she writes as if her story is exactly the same as any mother’s story.”

Whatever people say is revealing, because whether we realize it or not, we are always telling a story about ourselves.

Stories are universal. We think that our story is unique and special. Particularly painful, particularly wise, particularly interesting. What really matters is when we see that our stories are the same, because then we see the invisible connection between us—a greater truth than told in the particulars. For that moment, we stop judging each other and begin sharing what lies beneath the story: love.

Here are two pieces of storytelling I want to share with you today.

Amulet: Spring 2013

First, a community of wildly creative women has collaborated on the spring edition of an online magazine called Amulet. A friend asked me to spread the word, and this is what she said. See if it doesn’t sound familiar.

“We have poured endless love and guts into it, and you know the drill—being mothers and workers and creators—whoa. But we are so in love with doing what we do.

If you aren’t familiar, Amulet is a field guide for seasonal living that includes inspiration to help us keep connecting with the earth under our feet, the world around us, and the universe inside us through prose, DIY, recipes, herbal stuff, book stuff, music, hand made goods—every day life stuff. ”

Sounds like my stuff.

Lost in Living

In January I shared the story of a new documentary about the intersection of motherhood and artistic expression, Lost in Living. Filmed over seven years, Lost In Living confronts the contradictions inherent in personal ambition and self-sacrifice, female friendship and mental isolation, big projects and dirty dishes. The response was amazing. Many of you wanted to know how you could see it. Now you can. While the film makes its way around the country in public screenings, it is also now available on DVD. I have a copy of the DVD to give away to a reader who comments on this post anytime this week.

You will know if it’s your story. All stories are your stories. They tell you that you are not alone.

The winner for this giveaway has been chosen and notified. Thank you for entering.


January 27th, 2013    -    5 Comments


Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.

When they are young, our children can seem like the tiny thorns to our bloom: our creative yearnings confined. As they grow up, our children can seem like the blooms to our thorn: their freedoms caged.

And yet, our longings are the same, two parts of an indivisible whole: life’s longing for itself.

I’m excited to share two upcoming events that examine motherhood as the unfolding of a creative journey. I hope you let yourself out of the house and come, where you are certain to meet a part of yourself you thought you’d lost.

Lost in Living
A full-length documentary by Mary Trunk
Friday, Feb. 1, 6:30 p.m.
Free, or a $5 charitable donation to benefit the All Saints Foster Care Project
All Saints Church
132 Euclid Ave.

Behind the domestic curtain of motherhood, where the creative impulse can flourish or languish, are four women determined to make a go of it. Filmed over seven years, Lost In Living confronts the contradictions inherent in personal ambition and self-sacrifice, female friendship and mental isolation, big projects and dirty dishes. The complex realities of family life unfold in this documentary film about the messy intersection of motherhood and artistic expression.

Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment
Discussion and book signing by Katrina Kenison
Friday, Feb. 8, 7 p.m.
Vroman’s Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Blvd.

“No longer indispensable, no longer assured of our old carefully crafted identities, no longer beautiful in the way we were at twenty or thirty or forty, we are hungry and searching nonetheless.”

An inspiring, beautiful book for every woman whose children are growing up, but who is not done growing herself. Kenison explores the belief that even as old identities are outgrown, new ones begin to beckon, inspiring readers to summon enough courage to heed the call.

Heed the call.

(If you subscribe by email and are unable to see the trailer below, click here.)

with no help from me

August 12th, 2012    -    15 Comments

for Jena

I can’t remember when we first talked
the middle of March, end of September
before a shower, after walking the dog
third cup of coffee gone cold
beyond the particulars
of hot and cold
before and after
March or September
You must be so busy
she might have said when she called
because everyone says that
She asked questions
that weren’t the real questions
And one more thing
I answered without answering
what, I can’t remember
but she remembers
everything, that is,
with the kind of memory you don’t keep
the way the old message floats up from an empty pad
ghost words birthed by a pencil rubbing
Don’t miss this
the way the ancient turtle returns to shore
a heavy bellied resurrection
against the tides of extinction

I always invite folks to get in touch with me, and some do. Accept invitations, that is. Jena Strong is one who does. I honestly can’t remember the first time we talked. There was a second time, and maybe a third, and then two meetings, one on each coast. Whenever the need or opportunity arose. Sometimes it sounded like we were talking about writing, or ambition, marriage, money, career, or children. But we weren’t really talking about that. What passed between us—what passes in-between the words—is truth.

Jena is a poet who wrote poems nearly every day while believing she should be doing something else. Isn’t that what we do? Endure the life we think of as kinda-sorta, not yet real, a stepping stone, a holding pattern? And then one day she stopped believing she should be anything other than who she was. She just published her first collection of poems, Don’t Miss This, a memoir, with no help from me.

This poem is a tribute because she reminds me that we’re all poets. If you read, you’re a poet. If you write, you’re a poet. If you speak, listen, shout, cry, rant, sing, live or die, you’re a poet. Every moment expressing the eternal truth beyond the particulars.

As a writer, I like to give away books. But I like it more when someone buys them with no help from me,  so please don’t miss this.

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here because of you

December 19th, 2011    -    12 Comments

To the woman pulling out of the parking lot on Friday who rolled her window down and said, “Are you Momma Zen?”
To the ones who asked.
And the ones who came.
To the one who wrote, “If I’d known what your workshop was about I wouldn’t have come.”
To the people who traveled across states and south from Canada.
Who saw a sign that said, “turn here.”
And even though it was far they thought, “It’s not too far.”
For the airport rides and the spare bedrooms.
For the reunions and first meetings.
The coffee, the breakfast, the dinner, the talks, the tears.
For the last-minute cancelations.
For the names I didn’t remember.
And even the “constructive criticism.”
For not saying, “You’re older than I thought.”
For the sun in Asilomar, the rain in Pittsburgh, the old friends in Houston, the new ones in DC, the love in Georgia, and the stars in Colorado, oh the stars in Colorado.
For meeting your children. For bringing your mother.
For looking me in the eye.
And for sending me on my way.
To the man at the Zen Center on Saturday who said, “I’m here because of you.”
That’s only half of it.
I’m here because of you.
I’m here because of you.
I’m here because of you.

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Discuss amongst yourselves

November 20th, 2009    -    7 Comments

I have a little load of delicates in this just-published book. I haven’t seen the book yet, but I’m posting this promotional video to make it easier for me to view another 2,000 times:

Since the video is a little finicky, you can always click and see it here.

The book is one thing, but the really interesting thing (to me) is that the editor, Kirtsy co-founder and social media maven Laura Mayes, was once a co-worker of mine. Actually, I was her dictatorial but charmingly benevolent boss back when I was a woman of substance. That our lives have intersected again is something far more interesting than anything of mine you’ll see in the book, because it’s the way women’s lives really are: deeply and profoundly connected.

I can get as riled up as the next gal about the inequality in this world of ours, the his-versus-hers, the patriarchy, and the idiots in pants. But the more I see, the more I see that’s the way it has always been. There is no equal, and there is no quality. So I don’t want to spend any more time getting riled up. Not while there is so much to do. Like write, and read, and fold laundry; like start companies and spread peace; like soothe the suffering and calm the cries; and discuss, yes, discuss everything amongst ourselves.

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The company of mothers

May 31st, 2009    -    5 Comments

The author Mary the poet Jena the joyful Myriam the faithful Chris the teacher Melinda the peacemaker Janet the mystic Melissa the first responder Nancy the traveler Sheryl the actress Holly the educator Jen the yogi Jill the artist Stacy the columnist Anissa the graceful Kathleen the singer Francie the manager Jody the gardener Amy the athlete Brenda the doctor Cassandra the cheerful Blue the leader Liz the writers the healers the cooks the scientists the coaches the doctors the lawyers the nurses the musicians the songwriters the sandwich-makers the crying the smiling the laughing the sisters the daughters the grandmothers the aunts the mothers the non-mothers the you that you haven’t yet met, just as you are.

Sixty women full of grace coming together at the Mother’s Summer Plunge on Saturday, June 20. The possibilities remain wide open, but registration closes this week. There is room for you; there will always be room for you and time for you in the company of mothers.

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From a tipi to a tribe

May 27th, 2009    -    2 Comments

Perhaps if this woman had ever been here, she would have had the fearless forethought to stay there. Maybe if more girls could find their own expression, they wouldn’t be lost in translation. It’s not farfetched to imagine the day we’ll have one of our own braves as chief. That would indeed be tribal justice.

My friend Wendy Cook has taken an impossible dream out of her laptop and into her lap with the launch of the Mighty Girl Art empowerment camp starting this summer. It’s for our tweens riding the raging waters between slippery rocks and hard places. (And those aren’t just the frontiers where calls get dropped.) I have a tween, and I hope in the months and years ahead she will learn to trust the voice of her native intelligence above the mindless cacophony of the crowd. But she needs wise mentors and guides beyond her mother’s fleet fingertips. All of our girls do.

What I really want is for Wendy to bring her tipi to my front lawn for a West Coast outpost. Saving that, I want you to look around the camp see how you can add your muscle to the magic. How can we grow this? Spiral it outward? I liken it to my own recent kids’ writing project, which has ricocheted to 70 places all over the world in just the last week. There’s no underestimating the power of getting ink all over your hands, and no one has to make a case for it.

It’s about time, girls, to put our faith in the tipi instead of the WiFi, connect to the sacred circle and not just a cell network, and flex something other than our thumbs.

We have a whole world to rescue and seven generations to serve, starting now.


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No one you know

May 4th, 2009    -    4 Comments

After a short round of legal dodgeball, the story is posted again. Try the links, and thanks for reading.

Faith arises from mystery like the peppermints from the bottom of your grandma’s handbag.

Go straightaway and read this newest story of mine, which isn’t my story at all, but theirs retold.

Here’s what got me there. Some years ago the service liturgy at my Zen Center was appended so that when we recite the names of all the male enlightened masters in my Zen lineage (81 generations and counting) we chant the following dedication at the very end:

And to all our female ancestors whose names have been lost or forgotten.

Because, as a matter of housekeeping, we have lost or forgotten their names. That’s what can happen in patriarchal institutions of all kinds, which is what all kinds of institutions are. The women are no less integral or involved in keeping house, their names are simply lost or forgotten. Ahem.

When we first started to chant this invocation, at my teacher’s insistence by the way, I heard it as I suspect my own daughter hears the invocations I recite:


Then one day I started listening to the words. All. Our. Female. Ancestors.

What immediately came to mind was just that. All. Our. Female. Ancestors. The ones whose names I know and the ones whose names I don’t. Like my Grandma Tate or my Grandma Patschke, whose own given names I scarcely knew. Was it Irma or Erma? Cordelia or Cornelia? Alverno or Alvina? Heddie or Hattie? Did I know them at all when I knew them? Did I know anything at all of their lives of love and loss, betrayal and forgiveness, cynicism and faith? Do I know them yet?

Lately I’ve been drawn to the voices of women, voices unsung and voices unheard. I want to listen. I want everyone to listen to women of found faith and women of lost faith. Women of faith forsaken and faith restored. That’s what drew me to this story, her story, that I posted some months ago. That’s what drew me to this story, their stories, the one that runs today. Please read this one and share it, sing it, heal it, love it, as only we can. We have all waited so long for the listening.

And if you wonder or worry why I would place any article of mine in a magazine entitled Killing the Buddha (interestingly enough, it is based on a Zen teaching), the answers are easy. First, these open-eyed editors heard the deep timbre of an ancestral song and asked to broadcast it. Second, in a world of misguided institutions and ideologies, eradicating the false altar of a misunderstood and misappropriated Asian male deity is nothing other than the ultimate kindness. Like when grandma plumbed the recesses of her Sunday purse to proffer a peppermint candy, soothing your cough during a horrendously long sermon in the steam of a mid-summer Sunday in Central Texas. A miracle, I tell you.

That a group of wild-eyed religious iconoclasts would respond to this truth with such immediacy and sensitivity is evidence of the bottomless, benevolent mystery of God’s handbag. All my grandmothers have carried the very same bag. Whether you know it or not, so do you. From it, miracles come.

Pointing you in the right direction

March 22nd, 2009    -    8 Comments

Attention, please.

I’ve made a couple of additions to the right sidebar and I want you to poke around over there. That’s right, to the right. Down a little. Then further down. Right there.

First, you’ll see a link announcing my first-ever hosted retreat, a one-day summer camp I call Mother’s Summer Plunge. This is a big step for me right off the deep end. A test of my faith and dog paddling skills. But after being asked the question many times, I decided to change my answer to “Why not?” (Some of you know that it’s my favorite question, I mean answer, I mean the question that is its own answer.) The retreat is on Saturday, June 20, a date I selected because it was staring me in the face, and because it is my mother’s birthday. And if the first thing you think is, “I can’t come,” because like most things it isn’t reasonable or feasible or some such, I want you to notice that you think like that and not think like that anymore. There! You’ve put your toe in already!

Farther down, after the book order advert, you’ll see I’m asking for you to plug your email into a newsletter list I’m putting together. The thing is, when you get into the retreat business and other assorted unreasonable and unfeasible activities it can be handy to have a list of all the people you want to invite to a birthday party in honor of your mother. Please enter yourself! I promise I won’t abuse the info. In exchange for your trouble you won’t just have to put up with me reading your mind, whispering in your ear, visiting you in your dreams or collecting dust on your bedstand, you’ll have to fish me out of your junk mail!

And she said

February 16th, 2009    -    16 Comments

I’m so honored to meet you. I’m so sorry I’m late. I love your book. It has helped me so much. I can’t believe I’m here with you. I haven’t been a very good mom. I need this so much. I haven’t even finished reading it yet. I’ve tried to meditate on my own but I can’t do it. I tried other books but they were so complicated. I love to hear you speak. Will you write another one? Will you write about marriage? I hope so. My friend met you and she burst into tears. This is really helping me. You’ve helped so many women. How did you become so wise? There’s no one like you out there. Let me ask you a question. I’m going to come back. I’m going to come see you again. I can’t wait to read your next book. I love you. You don’t know how much you’re helping me. Thank you for being here for me.

And I said:

I’m not here for you; you’re here for me.

In honor of Mandy who came to the beginner’s retreat yesterday and showed me how to begin again.

And to you, who do the same for me every single time you come here. You cannot know how much you help me.

Your girlfriend is a priest

February 11th, 2009    -    19 Comments

As much as it shocks me to realize it, sometimes as I cup my hand consolingly under someone’s elbow, I hear myself say, “I’m a priest.” And then I tell them something or other that they probably already know.

So here are some priestly items for now:

1. Never ask your husband if he remembered to feed the dog. He doesn’t like to be reminded that he always forgets to feed the dog. Just feed the dog no matter what.

2. Never ask your husband to pick up the dog poop, since you yourself are most likely responsible for it in the end analysis (See point 1). And face it, your husband doesn’t like to be reminded of that either.

3. Never buy underwear in the 75 percent off, free shipping, extra 20 percent off one-day-only sale at Victoria’s Secret online because underwear that costs .17 cents a pair looks like it costs even less. Just wear the old underwear for the sake of the economic crisis.

4. Plus, this saves you the embarrassment of having to go up to a larger size when you buy new underwear because of the unconscionable fact that they only come in three sizes. Well four, but on my mother’s side of the family we don’t consider S a size for adults.

5. Then you can tell yourself that you are still the same size as Jessica Simpson will soon be.

6. Never compare yourself to someone who probably doesn’t even wear underwear on a fairly consistent basis.

7. Never believe the words “self-cleaning oven.”

8. Never blow your nose.

9. Hey, I’m not a doctor; I’m just a priest.

10. Silence is the ultimate kindness.

Meet the parents

January 20th, 2009    -    12 Comments

Imagine if someone you hardly knew – equipped with only their stubborn insistence, vague navigational skills and a bag of spinach – arrived at your home one morning. What you would make of it?

Make soup, I say.

Denise Andrade and her husband, Carsten Kroon, gave me their prized covered parking space, opened the front door to their comfy haven, and let me keep noisy company with them and new baby Cedar on Monday. I babbled them out of their quiet sanctuary and crowded them out of their kitchen. But they were most kind and accommodating, because they are new parents. And new parents don’t get much of a say, do they?

Cedar, if you hadn’t guessed, is a fluffy soft, sleepy bundle of tiny (yes, he’s still tiny) goodness. He could have cared less for me or anything I brought, because he has this:

To redeem myself, I simmered up a big pot of Italian Wedding Soup to do at least a little good on a January day and to last perhaps a day or so after.

If you need a boost, this could do the trick. If you know any new parents, make a double batch and take some over. We’ve all been called to serve others. They won’t have any choice but to let you in.

Italian Wedding Soup

Mix and brown these meatballs (or use your favorite meatless meatballs):

1 lb extra lean ground beef or turkey
1 large egg
1 minced garlic clove
1 medium onion, minced
1/3 cup breadcrumbs*
A few dashes of Worchestershire sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste

Then combine in a stockpot with this:

12 cups chicken or vegetable stock
6 oz orzo, pastina or other small pasta*
1 lb fresh baby spinach, washed and drained

If you’re making meatballs, combine first 7 ingredients in a mixing bowl. Roll 1 tsp portions into balls and brown in a skillet until done. Place meatballs and all other ingredients in soup or stockpot. Simmer until pasta is done, stirring as needed to keep pasta from sticking to bottom of pot. Serve immediately.

Based on an original recipe by Andrea In Blue.

* Modify to gluten-free like I did by substituting 1/3 cup crushed gluten-free Rice Krispies for the breadcrumbs, and use any small gluten-free pasta.

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