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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

inspiration and work

I am currently teaching three classes--two online Mother Words classes and a prose revision class at the Loft--and I'm busy, especially when you add the girls and Stella's spring break last week and writing and editing and family and friends (well, you get the picture). There isn't enough time in the day to keep up.

But--and this is a huge but--I love it all. I leave my Monday night class at the Loft elated. What an amazing group of writers. They are both fiction and nonfiction writers, and each person brings a unique perspective to class. They are warm and funny and talented. And they work so hard--each week they come to class with new writing and different ways to approach their revisions. Last night I got home and was ready to dive into my own writing, but it was ten o'clock, and the girls get up early, so I opted instead for a glass of wine and a book in bed. (I just started Tracy Seeley's new memoir My Ruby Slippers: The Road Back to Kansas, which I'm already loving. Seeley's prose is absolutely gorgeous. I'll post more about that in the coming weeks.)

This morning, I read some of the wonderful writing and dipped into the discussions of my online students--two groups of brilliant, thoughtful, talented mother writers. And I even snuck in some of my own writing. (Just a little, but it was something.)

So, the sun is shining. I wrote. I taught. Now I'm heading home to work on my current editing project. And maybe I'll even have time for a walk today. We'll see. We'll see. 

How is everyone's work going? What is inspiring you today?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

thank you!

Thank you to everyone who commented on my de-lurk for Japan post and also to those of you who linked to it from your blogs. What an amazing community! I feel so fortunate to be a part of it. 

I've been a little scattered lately. This weekend D turned 40! (Happy birthday, babe!) We had a lovely sushi dinner on Saturday night followed by a small surprise party at Toast Wine Bar in Minneapolis. D doesn't really like surprises, but I couldn't resist. And even though he claims he doesn't like surprises, he seemed thrilled about it. (See. See.) Sunday was filled with more birthday festivities, but then yesterday I was scrambling to catch up on class prep. Not to mention the fact that it's spring break, which means less work time. Even as I type I have three inventive kids (two of them mine) gathered around the dining room table making bubbling potions with vinegar and baking soda and food coloring. (If the project is safe and they promise to clean it up and it allows me to steal a few minutes at the computer, my answer is almost always yes.) 

But now it's time to make their lunches, so I'm signing off. I'll be back with more serious blogging soon. (I have a wonderful line-up of books to write about this spring, so stay tuned.)

Thanks, as always, for reading!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

de-lurk for japan

I always seem to miss the national de-lurking day, the day when all the people who read blogs anonymously—silently—are asked to post a comment and say, hey, I’m here, reading.

I actually don’t really like the term “lurker” because it conjures up a number of sinister images in my mind: someone crouched in the bushes outside my house; someone peering around a tree, clad entirely in camouflage. Creepy, right? But a lurker is really anyone who reads a blog regularly without commenting. (And of course there is nothing wrong with that. But as a blogger, it IS nice to know who your readers are.)

So every year, I end up hosting my own Mother Words de-lurking day whenever it fits into the schedule. Or rather, when there is some disaster in the world that has affected thousands (millions) of people, and I feel the urge to raise money.

Last year, I hosted a de-lurk for Haiti. This year, I’m hosting a de-lurk for Japan. I’ve spent the last days scrolling through stories at, feeling sick to my stomach for all the loss, the devastation, the incredible fear and not-knowing that the Japanese people are living with right now.  

I can’t do much to help. But I can do a little. Please leave a comment and tell me little something about yourself. I want to meet you! And for every comment left by a reader who has never commented here before, I will make a donation to the Red Cross to help support their important work in Japan. 

Please de-lurk for Japan! 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


It’s hard to believe that on Saturday my little Zoë turned three. For weeks, whenever someone asked her how old she was, she smiled that huge Zoë smile and held up three fingers. And now it’s official—my baby is not a baby anymore.

On Friday we took cupcakes to her preschool and her friends gathered in a circle to celebrate each year of her life. Z was feeling a little shy, so she didn’t walk around the candle, which represents the journey of the earth around the sun. And she tucked her head into my lap when one after another of her friends raised their hands to offer their wishes for her birthday: “I hope you get good presents.” “I wish for you a good birthday.” And my favorite: “I hope your cupcakes taste good.” But after each friend expressed his/her wish, she quickly lifted her head and said a quiet thank you.

On Saturday morning, Stella and I went to return Zoë’s presents (a frilly pink dress with a tulle skirt and sparkly pink shoes) because Zoë said she didn’t like them. “I want an American Girl Doll,” she said. Fair enough, we said, so Stella and I headed off to the store to make our returns and pick out Zoë’s doll. (Note: we buy the affordable Target version of AGD rather than the real AGD.)

After Stella deliberated and deliberated about the perfect doll for Zoë, she settled on Jenny with her long blond hair, and then decided we should have party bags with candy for the kids who would be at Zoë’s party. The candy bags turned into bags with party blowers and rubber lizards and little parachute men who turned out to be quite difficult to assemble. (I know, I know.)

Zoë ended up loving her doll (whose hair is already a tangled mess that Stella has had to brush through three times). And she had a wonderful time at her party, up and down the stairs with her friends and cousins.

When she fell into an exhausted sleep that night, I stared down at her (before also falling into an exhausted sleep) and took her in: her tangled red hair, which she insists on brushing herself even though she can’t actually reach the majority of the tangles; her still toddler-chubby body, which is often without clothes, running around the house, jumping from the couch; her round face, which, when she is awake is almost always lit with a smile.

I love the way Zoë still sometimes says “shoppy cup” for “coffee shop.” (“Mom, I’m going to the shoppy cup to work.”) I love the way she picks out her clothes every day, insisting on all stripes (of varying sizes, colors and direction), a tulle skirt, and her patent leather white “dance” shoes that she inherited from Stella. (She’s the only kid I know sporting white patent leather in the middle of a Minnesota winter.) I love that she and Stella have memorized the lyrics to “So Long, Farewell” from the Sound of Music and that they perform it daily for anyone who happens to stop by our house. (The performance includes Zoë being Gretel, pretending to be asleep on the stairs at the end of the song. Stella drags her up the stairs, waving and singing a high-pitched, drawn out, “Goooooood-byyyyyeeee.”) I love how in the morning, she wakes up (inevitably between me and D) and reaches her arms out to encircle our necks. “Let’s snuggle,” she says. Or, if Stella is up first and wants someone to go downstairs with her, Zoë jumps out of our bed and says, “I go with you, Stella!” (Happy, always, to be her big sister's side-kick.)

As part of the Friday’s circle of life celebration at her preschool, I read a little bit about each year that Zoë has been alive, and then I got to say what our hopes are for her future. This is what I read aloud to her and her classmates: “We hope that Zoë will continue to be a healthy, happy girl, bursting with life and laughter. We hope that she will always wear her joy openly, sharing her smiles with everyone she encounters. We love you Zoë.”

Happy Birthday, three-year-old! We love you!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

retreat recap

I wanted to write about the retreat on Monday, but as soon as I arrived home, I had to shift gears and dive into class planning and prep. But I want to take some time now to say what an amazing weekend it was.

Friday and Saturday mornings were both spent in group craft meetings up in the Eagle’s Nest, the top floor of the Lodge that overlooks formidable pines and the snow-covered pond. When it’s sunny, the sun streams through the windows onto the pine table, and it’s the perfect place to read, write, and talk about writing.

Or sit by the fireplace and write...

And I was amazed again this year by the quality and volume of writing that was produced in a few short days. There is definitely something about Faith’s Lodge—built to offer comfort to those who have experienced tremendous losses—that unleashes something powerful -- a desperate need to connect, a hopeful rush of words. It's definitely a space built to allow people to dive into reflection.

In the early afternoons, I had individual manuscript conferences with the participants, and then, spent but exhilarated, I headed out the door, skis in hand. And around and around the small pond I went, letting the hiss of skis on snow propel me. I would stop periodically and stare up at the sky, at the tiniest snowflakes I’ve ever seen, glinting in the afternoon sun. 

On Saturday, after I skied the pond, I stopped at Sophia’s Bridge, named for the daughter that one of the participants lost to SIDS. And I just stood there, taking in the sun and snow and the incredible loss.

Saturday night, after we talked more about writing and had dinner, we went out to the bonfire and (after we finally got the wet logs to light) roasted marshmallows for s’mores and read our favorite poems. And when that was done, we dashed inside (it was 12º below zero after all).

Sunday morning was spent writing and reading and then goal setting. One of the participants (who had also recently lost a child) told me that it was the first morning in a long, long time that she woke up feeling inspired. What a gift to have been a part of that inspiration.

I’m hoping to raise even more money for Faith’s Lodge next year with a slightly bigger group. So mark your calendars for the last weekend in February 2012, and don’t miss out on three transformative days of writing, reading, and sharing with other mother writers. (Oh, and don't forget the wine and conversation and dark chocolate...)

Thanks, ladies, for making it such a wonderful retreat!