May is motherhood memoir month


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The Ekphrastic Letter

Dear Mother,
I should’ve cleaned your fingernails before you died. I know dirty fingernails never bothered you, but in that last photo I took of you where your hands wrap around the ceramic mug of fresh coffee I brought with real cream, instead of the styrofoam cup of instant with powder packets you’d been getting—-in that picture the gleam is back in your eyes, feisty again, but a dark, dirty rim lines each fingernail. I regret not offering to clean your nails, but at the time it didn’t occur to me. You had lots of life left in you. You could’ve cleaned your own fingernails….

The Jesus Chicken

The other day our middle daughter came over to celebrate our youngest daughter’s 15th birthday. Arielle asked what we were having for her birthday dinner. Chicken Alfredo? I said, knowing it’s her favorite. Where is the chicken from? Arielle asked. She’s taking AP Environmental Science in her freshman year at Camas High School. We try to buy mostly free-range, usually organic chickens, but this class has raised the bar on what she finds acceptable. She’s nice about it, but she won’t eat it if she thinks it might not be responsibly sourced and humanely treated. Or if it contains palm oil. From the kitchen, her father called out some details–it was a heritage chicken, woodland bred, fed a diet of sheep’s milk, soy and hazelnuts, local and organic with at least 4 acres to graze upon with lots of friends… (Portlandia episode–ordering chicken) I added that it was a happy…

May (MaMoMeMo) is Here

Are you ready to write, even just 5-10 minutes exploring your story in May? If so, bookmark this site and subscribe to my newsletter… which I admit I’ve never actually sent out. I write my blog posts (here and more regularly on Ekphrastic Mama but I don’t bother with emails. Some of you have asked me about this… I’m working up to it, is my best answer. I’m still figuring out the public side of writing. Mostly, writing is private, something I do when I’m alone, although I do write in groups and with partners, which I find drives my writing forward in surprising ways, but more about that later… I find memoir a bit unwieldy- it tends to run off in directions I didn’t think I was going. Sometimes I have to stop and ask, what is the story that wants to be written? However, during May…

I Am a Tree

Picture yourself as a tree. All day I’ve seen myself re-cast as a tree and it has been my best new thought, drawing me toward the sky, a seeker transforming the air we breathe. I love trees. Last week I posted this quote from John Muir: I have never seen a discontented tree. Muir’s words speak to two of my deepest places: a love for trees, and a desire to be satisfied. I’ve pondered contentment much of my life, coaching myself toward it, sometimes thinking I’ve arrived. But I haven’t entirely whipped it. I know this because I’m often restless. My restlessness takes the form of wanting to consume things I don’t need, or even really enjoy all that much after the initial dopamine hit. Dark chocolate or some other “healthy” treat is usually my consumable of choice. Sometimes wine or beer, but not on a daily basis, and usually…

Comfort and Challenge

In making my list of 10 elements for a great day (yesterday’s post) I found myself contemplating the balance between comfort and challenge. A good day possesses them both, in unequal measure, as one bleeds into the other. Writing, for example, is both challenging and comforting. I begin with the easy flow of words in a journal, just writing whatever comes to mind, which I find comforting, seeing my thoughts materialize on the page, the abstract inner workings of a mind translated into black and white, or in my case, purple, my ink gel color of choice. Purple both soothes and excites my soul. From the space of colorful freewriting, I find it easier to move into the work of writing, developing stories and putting words together that others might make sense out of, or be moved by- more challenging, and sometimes unexplainably exhausting. And yet, at the end of…

Top 10 for a Great Day?

Do you ever wonder why some days end on a high and others end in defeat? Today was a great day, but why? What makes for a great day? In an attempt to quantify it I made a list of my top ten elements. All are actions I can take to push my day in the right direction. If my actions are good then every day can conceivably be good, if not downright great, right? Before you look at my list you might want to jot down your own. In no particular order- Drinking enough water; 6-8 glasses at least Doing Yoga, ideally 30-45 minutes, but 10 is okWriting. And more writing.Accomplishing something on a project I want to finishNot overeating or drinking/numbing emotions with food or drinkGetting outdoors for 30+ min. strenuous exercise, or at least a walkBeing kind, and showing it with a smileNot getting carried away by…

Dented Love’s Saluted Image

“In my unresisting picture, all love seen All said is dented love’s saluted image” This line from beat poet, Bernadette Mayer, calls out to me from her book, Midwinter Day, written on the shortest day of the year; a mother with two small children wrote an entire book in one day. Cataloging every thought, every image and scene, beginning with waking from a dream, flitting from one moment to the next, as a mother’s life does, yet still missing many it is an epic memoir/poem streamed from what might be her subconscious. But what is dented love’s saluted image? What can it be, but motherhood? My mother, my daughters, my self This image, my mother, my three daughters, each born in different decades, and myself, calls me out too. So today, I’m putting them together. A line-up. Almost 10 years ago, before I left California, I asked my mother and…