Mother’s Day Evaluation?

imageWhat a great day Mother’s day is. I get gifts, my kids speak kindly to me while still nudging and pushing one another to see who gets to sit in the front seat. There are cards, and hugs and kisses, (at home, in private), and my children look like Angels that floated down from a cloud with silver wings and garlands of lilacs….editors license here.

My sons suggested that I get a report card, “you know Mom, to see if there is anything you could improve on, right?” Nodding numbingly and with little enthusiasm , I agreed to take part in my new Mother’s day evaluation.

What harm could it do? I mean, I’m a pretty darn good Mom. Sure, I loose my cool, curse, yell, lecture, need occasional time outs, “to pull myself together,” and there may have been tears from time to time, I’m not sure whose exactly. Okay, so there have been hiccups along the way but I’m working really hard at being a good mother. For a grade I would say B+.

My sweet sons exchanged glances of pity and listed a few, mind you just a few things that I could improve.

“1. Don’t yell at both of us at the same time cause you seem to get confused and for some reason it makes you madder when we point that out.

2. You do not need to get out of the car when you drop us off at the following locations: school, friend’s houses, sporting events, boats, buses, or when you drop off stuff that we left at home and needed you to deliver cause we Have to have it today. My 10-year-old pipes in, ’cause we just saw you earlier that morning.’

3. Don’t yell out at games, Ever.

4. Don’t call us by our silly nicknames in public.

5. Don’t nag so much about us washing our faces and brushing our teeth and cleaning our rooms, we like it messy.

6. It would be better if our bed times could be later, you do give us baby bed times now.

7. Don’t try to trick us into trying foods we told you we already don’t like. We still don’t like them even with gravy.

8. We should be allowed to spend our saved money anyway we want. It’s been a long time since you were kids and you don’t always know the right stuff to get. Plus you’re a girl.

9. Stop making us pose for your photos everywhere we go, sometimes it’s sooooo embarrassing.

10. Please, please don’t hug/kiss us when we are in public, please refer to number 2 on this list for uncool hugging/kissing locations.”

Other than that, my grade from them was an A+++. Frankly they think I’m the best Mom, Ever. However a more detailed list will be provided should I wish to improve further.

To all the wonderful Mom, Aunts, Grandmothers, Sisters, and Friends who love their children beyond measure, mostly. Enjoy your day!

#mothersday #motherslove #mothersevaluation

In the Presence of Writers

This fall I took a writing workshop on Martha’s Vineyard with the legendary, Nancy Aronie, who I have deemed a “Literary Guru”. As a writing teacher she moves fluidly, dancing gracefully through her life, sorrows, pain, and joy in such a way that it invites and inspires her writers to do the same. Nancy has the uncanny ability to create the space that allows each writer to submerge themselves in their memories, dreams, disillusionment, and prayers to evoke words, prose, and stories that made me weep, laugh, and applaud with astonishment and joy. Nancy creates a safe place for each writer to slowly shed their cocoon and emerge into the brightly beautiful butterflies we are constantly struggling to become. She allows us to become the writers we have each longed to become. Every day each person was required to write from one of Nancy’s daily prompts and no one disappointed, although collectively we bemoaned, “what would we say? Could we even write about ‘that’?” “Am I even doing this right?”.

These amazing writers showed up with their humor, their heartbreak, their tragedies and they wove a web of stories that enthralled and entranced everyone within earshot. As the rain steadily pounded the studio’s windows, these unique voices, shared their eloquent prose, poetry and purpose. They told stories that made me feel honored to have sat among the last vestiges of  fall’s, leaf-colored, canopy, in the in bleak ending of November and weep with unabashed abandonment. Tissues were quietly passed from person to person as we heard stories of suffering, and so much sadness that people have endured in their lives and have lived to tell about it. Each testimonial and written word was as individual as the writer but the collective experience of being human beings trying to navigate the morass of our own childhoods, teenage angst, and adult lives made me long to comfort them in some way. The best thing I could do was to sit silently, breathe deeply and bear witness to their incredible stories and then applaud like I was at a rock concert when they were finished.

You could hear a pin drop as each one of us were preparing to read our words, tell our stories and share our hopes and dreams and often revisit the very pain that had brought us there. Each voice was as distinctive as the writer. There was a richness, a catch in their throat honesty and the willingness to endure, that allowed us to be  swept away into their worlds and into their shared moments of dreams, triumphs, successes and sorrow. At the beginning of each class I was sure that we had heard the best writing and then I would be lulled, lead, and laden anew with fresh tears as even deeper stories emerged and these brave souls bared their spirits and shared their lives with such courage, writers who were strangers to me no more.

All writers were funny, raw, theatrical, heartsick, loving, imaginative, vulnerable and unflinchingly truth tellers who sat in a sacred circle and bared their underbellies for the rest of us to see. What I heard was a cacophony of vibrant voices, experiences, and writing styles, but these were WRITERS, true artists. No one else could have told their stories and shared them with 23 strangers with such rawness, profound honesty, honor and grace. Each voice, each piece was an expression of what that writer brought to the group and it could not be duplicated by anyone else. That is what being a writer is about, I suppose. Telling a story that only you know the intimate details of and making us see, feel, and step back into the piece with the same clarity and tangible, tactile feelings that the writer sees in their mind’s eye. It is the ability to draw other people along, to envision your steps, your views and your emotions that makes someone a talented writer and an artist.

As I sat listening, laughing, and languishing in empathy, sympathy, and pain, I realized, this is writing. Each person is responsible for telling their story, their way, with no apologies. Each writer’s words and voice lent itself to the story being told and on some days I wondered how it is that we have all survived. If you’re a writer, you put the pain, sorrow, and longing on the page and you tell your story because invariably the other people reading or listening are sharing in the triumphs and losses, just as your exquisitely chosen words intended to convey. It’s like writing music, the tempo, the melody and the visionary, inextricable placement of each word delivers the listener to another world, another layer, where you are the star and we are the audience, there unseen, unknowing, and unaware of where this beautiful song will lead.

I have been changed by this class and as my favorite quote reminds me, “When I move, Providence moves with me.” Stay tuned as I write about the other revelations that have emerged from this one simple act of stepping out on faith. It turns out, getting out of my comfort zone, challenging myself, and standing in the presence of greatness allowed me to find a bit of my own greatness amidst the crowd of writers that I now call friends.

#writers, #gratitude #inspiring