Attachment Parenting, Engorged Boobs, Women’s History, Moose, and Muse


I know I posted on Facebook (facebook.com/memomuse) and Twitter (@memomuse1) that I would post the Monday Mooseletter Monday night.  I just didn’t get to it.  I don’t like to make promises I can’t keep.  So, here it is on Wednesday.

Afterall, I don’t want a riot to start because I didn’t have a fresh post on my blog. Ha ha. Seriously, I wonder who are my loyal followers.  What I think about when I get a new like on Facebook is not about the number, but the actual number — the person. The fact that one person in this great big universe decided to go to the sidebar and hit like.  It means a lot to me.  It means you truly heard me and recognized and appreciated  my voice. And I thank you.

So, here are some moose:

Mama moose and her little one

Here is an update of what is going on:

1. Remember 35 mm film and photos you hold in your hand

This post will be short (this is an out right lie) because I have a photography deadline to meet. I am going through my photos (35 mm film prints) from Wyoming (my home state) to find color photos for a Wyoming tourism brochure I was invited to submit photos to.  I have so many photos (literally thousands) of film prints to go through.  I am so biased when it comes to Wyoming because my heart still lives there even though I live in North Carolina now.

Moose on the road in Yellowstone. They are enormous in size.

It takes my breath away and it makes my heart swell.  It also breaks my heart that there are so many wildfires going on in the West, especially Wyoming and Colorado.  My sister lives near the High Park fire and she is safe now, but it was frightening to wonder if she would lose her farm.  See — here I said this post would be short, but now I want to write about my sister’s farm.

I love Wyoming. Photo taken in 2004 on my honeymoon.  We went to Yellowstone for our honeymoon.

2. Working on Two Books

An agent in New York is reading over my motherhood memoir (proposal and full manuscript requested).  It is a creative nonfiction memoir about Attachment Parenting, as it relates to me, as a new mom trying to find her way.  It is NOT, I repeat NOT, a how-to book.  All I know how to do is be the best mother I can be to my son and write pretty well.  I can do other things too, but you get my point.

BlogHer CEO and c0-founder, Lisa Stone, recently declared Mamalode magazine America’s Best Parenting Magazine. Mamalode publisher, Elke Govertsen, has agreed to write a blurb and endorse my book.  She is such an amazing person and has really taken Mamalode where it was meant to go — a publication with subscribers in every state and many countries around the world.  Elke is a true trailblazer and visionary.  Check it out.  There is a link to the magazine on my sidebar too.

3.  More Details about Book Projects

I have to just hit enter and go to the next number or I will ramble on.  I have so many ideas for blog posts, but they require research, development and crafting.  I just don’t have the time right now to develop the blog posts I want to write about.  I have been thinking about turning them into articles for magazines, but then I am brought back to #2: my books.  I have to finish these projects.

These two books (AP motherhood memoir and historic food memoir) are my priority right now.  The Attachment Parenting motherhood memoir is a book about my experience as a new mom. I kept detailed journal entries in graduate school for an independent course on motherhood I designed. It was called,  Motherhood: The New Frontier.  I picked five books to read, and basically had free reign to write whatever I wanted to about motherhood.  Well, to say the least, it is raw, edgy, hopeful, honest, vulnerable, and loving (and about a dozen more adjectives).  One of those books on my reading list was Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott.  Read it if you are a new mom.

Anne Lamott and me at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC.

If you haven’t met Anne yet, let me introduce her.  Reader, this is Anne Lamott. She is a recovering alcoholic and addict, absurdly funny, and radically Democratic.  She is not afraid to speak her mind.  She writes as if in a confessional, and turns a phrase with the craftsmanship of a needlepoint artist.  Anne, this is my reader (feel free to introduce yourself to Anne in the comments — I’d love to know more about you).  You two should talk.

One of  the themes of my motherhood memoir is the fact that I was practicing Attachment Parenting without even knowing it.  AP is flexible and you can adapt the 8 principles to fit your family’s needs.  People are up in arms about AP and the recent Time magazine cover.  I really don’t understand all the hoopla and outrage, but the Mommy Wars are a real thing. I’m a lover, not a fighter.

Motherhood is beautiful, ugly, difficult, easy, complicated, simple, textured, smooth, heart-breaking, heart-pounding, and one of the most complex relationships.

My road to motherhood was not easy; I struggled with infertility, postpartum psychosis, postpartum depression,  breast feeding, co-sleeping, and anxiety.  As they say in the South, I was a hot mess.  The thing is, nobody really talks about how hard motherhood is.  In fact, it is a taboo subject.  I guess it easier to talk about the joys and blissful moments instead of talking about nipple scabs, cracked nipples, sleep deprivation, and all the other little dirty secrets mothers live through.

My little miracle. Hard to believe something as wonderful as being a mom can be so downright terrifying at times.

I remember calling my friend, Debra Elramey in tears saying, “Debi, my boobs hurt.”  My milk had just come in.  I was not told it would feel like the lower falls of Yellowstone were dammed in my breasts.  I was parked in the parking lot near the super strip mall and my husband was getting me a Subway sandwich.  I was trying to be strong, and the baby blues were coming on something fierce.  Ben was sleeping peacefully in the car seat, probably a week old.  Debi said, in a voice only a good friend can emulate, “Honey, you’re engorged,” she paused while I cried, then said, “you need to get a pump.”  I was like, “What is engorged?”

She explained the situation and what I needed to do. I got a free hand pump from the lactation consultant that spent ten minutes with me the next day.  She said, “Yep, you got this, you’re doing it right,”  as if I was some tick mark to check off on a list.  I wanted to call her out and say, “Lady, I think you are mistaken — I have no f#@&ing idea what I am doing! Please sit your a$$ back down on my couch and please don’t leave.”  Instead, I just kept a stiff upper lip until she left and then I cried.  My next call was to the La Leche League and that is a story for the memoir…

Historic Food Memoir — The Community Kitchen

My other book is a historic food memoir about women in the kitchen and history in the making.  It is about my great-grandmother’s (Elizabeth Hawley Odell) food business. The Community Kitchen started as a food conservation project in the basement of the Evanston’s Woman’s Club in the summer of 1918, during WWI.  Read this blog,  to find out more about it.  I am working on the book proposal for this book.  Two agents have expressed interest in this book already.  The history is incredible, as it spans 1918 – 1951.

The Community Kitchen store front (600 Davis Street, Evanston, Illinois)

My grandmother, Elizabeth Odell Welch, was an executive chef for Alice Foote MacDougal, Schrafft’s, Birdseye, and General Foods.  “In 1926, she joined the staff of Alice Foote MacDougal in the tea shop business in New York. Later she did experimental recipe work for Schrafft’s and before she returned to Evanston in 1947, she was on the staff of General Foods preparing foods for advertising photography.” – The Evanston Review — May 31, 1951

Juney was a 1930’s version of Peggy Olson from Mad Men.  In fact, she had the beauty, style, and sass of Joan, the sense of humor and charm of Roger, and the creative vision of Don.  She was a trailblazer.

My grandma, Juney (nickname), was something else! She was a Taurus, athletic, smart, sassy, and beautiful — honest and funny too.  She loved New York so much that when her husband bought a home in Long Island when they were newlyweds, she said, “Take it back! We’re going back to the city.”

She loved my sister, Kathleen and me dearly, as we were her only grandchildren. She adored her nieces, Mary Liz Price Hunt and Virginia Price Ware and her grandnieces, Harriet Hunt Brown and Mary Hunt Newcomb, and nephew, Lewis G Hunt.  She loved her daughter (my mom) more than anything in the world.

I know this story is powerful: women’s history, food history, American history, and most important — family history! Did I mention how excited I am about this project! I am the sieve of this story.

Please tell your foodie and history buff friends about it. Word of mouth is a powerful tool in marketing. I hope you enjoy following The Community Kitchen as it evolves.

The photo below is a photo of my grandma, Juney — isn’t she just something else?  She was the only grandparent I ever met.  She passed away when I was ten.

This is my grandmother; her nickname was Juney.

4.  Moving on, as I am rambling on.  I am thinking about self-publishing a lot lately.  I have the motherhood memoir written and am working on final editing.  To be or not to be.  That is the question. I do like the glamour of a publisher and agent from New York, but the more I read, the publishing process is not very glamorous.  My grandma was a New Yorker and my mother was a New Yorker.  There is something magical for a writer to think their manuscript is traveling like a tourist in New York.  I hope that both my books not only travel New York City, but become residents, ultimately securing a book deal and publishing contract.  For now, I am enjoying the cab ride, gazing up  at the tall skyscrapers of possibility with wonder filled eyes.

5.  Artist in the Schools and Writer-in-Residence

I was selected by the United Arts Council to be an Artist in the Schools and a writer-in-residence.  If you are a teacher in Wake and Johnston County (North Carolina), you can apply for a grant to bring me to your school to conduct residences and workshops on Poetry (The Bicyle of Poetry: Riding through the Senses), Memoir, Poetry Slams and Spoken Word,  Photography (A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words) and any other writing program.  I am more than happy to tailor it to meet your classroom needs.  Email me directly if you are interested.  Don’t worry, I can tone it down for the public school setting, as I was a teacher for thirteen years (Special Education, Elementary Education, Middle School, and Residential Treatment Center).  There is nothing more powerful and rewarding than helping children and teenagers find and hear their own voice.

6. Brain Tumor Thursday

I have a profile for Brain Tumor Thursday, which will be posted tomorrow.  It was submitted by a man named John. He was an archeologist and his profile is moving.  I don’t find these profiles sad, but then again, my mother has brain tumors and has lived with them for the last twelve years.  They were diagnosed in 2000; she most likely had them longer. Brain tumor survivors submit their profiles to me, using the template I created.  They fill in the blank:

I hope…

I wish…

I dream…

I am…

And then they can share their diagnosis, treatment, photos, and three things about themselves.

Well, I should be wrapping this post up.  I do have that photography deadline to meet. Have a great day.  I hope to see you here tomorrow for John’s post.  It is whimsical, funny, hopeful, and beautiful. The photos he submitted are quite magical.

Find me on Twitter (@memomuse1 or @600DavisSt).  You can find me on Facebook too (facebook.com/memomuse).  I would love to chit chat with you there.

I leave you with one more photo, as you have been reading a rather long post (thank you for reading the whole post, even though I said it would be short). If you click on the photo it will take you directly to the food memoir blog.  If you are interested in this book, read the about page, as the history is fascinating.

This is a photo of my great-grandmother. She is the woman on the far left. The three women pictures founded the Community Kitchen.

I’m Beautiful (or so they say)


Beauty. What is it?  How do we define it?  What will we do to obtain it?

I think beauty is something you can not hold in your hand. It is silent and ethereal.  It is the soft whisper of a child sleeping.  It is the bright red lips of a beautiful woman.  It is the elbow of your husband.  It is the dog’s bad breath.  It is familiar, it is far. It is unusual. It is aloof and kind.  It cuddles with you as you read an awesome book. It is everywhere. It is within you.

You are beautiful, brilliant, wonderful, and strong.

When I taught 4th grade in California, ten plus years ago, I encouraged my students to say this everyday aloud (“I am beautiful, brilliant, wonderful, and strong.” )  They would chant it.  It was my first year teaching and it was a magical year.  I wonder if those students remember me and if they still say that.  I hope so.  Children are powerful teachers.  I learned so much from that group of students.

I recently was nominated for this award: The Beautiful Blogger.  Thank you Blazing Trail.

This award comes with some rules… (oh rules — you know how I feel about those, but I will play nicely)

1. Thank the person who nominated you and Link to that person

Thank you Blazing Trail.

2. Post the award on your blog.

Check

3. Nominate 7 (or less) blogs and link to them:

  • http://debrasblogpureandsimple.blogspot.com/ I love this lady.  She and I met at a party. We shared a love of literature, wine, and The Sun magazine.  When I was in graduate school and whining about my thesis, she said, “Put your big girl writer panties on.”  She is hilarious and always gives me a dose of honest writing advice when needed.
  • http://cbwentworth.wordpress.com/  I have come to know this writer through the blogosphere.  She is a dedicated teacher, as well as a free spirit, journaler, fiction, poetry, and nonfiction writer. She is a huge fan of Wreck This Journal.  She is highly organized and dedicated with her posts and someday I’d love to meet her.  She is a passionate teacher who goes against the grain.  Public education is lucky to have her, and so are we.
  • http://mezclados.wordpress.com/ This is a good friend of mine.  She is an Aries like me and a bit of a scatter-brain with all her creative projects.  She writes, paints, mothers, works, and appreciates art.  She also has two toddlers she adopted and a teenager she adopted.  She is amazing.  Her blog is about mixed families. Her husband is white, she is black.  Check her blog out.  Her heart is the color of a rainbow.
  • http://peacesofgreen.wordpress.com/  This is another good friend of mine.  I adore her.  We met when I lived in California.  She is one of my best friends on this planet.  She is a nature lover.  She recently moved to Oregon — to a town she had never been to.  She just felt in her heart that is where she belongs.  She followed her dream and wrote extensively about her trip cross-country, as she moved to a new town without a job.
  • http://quinncreative.wordpress.com/  Can you say creative?  Well, this woman is creativity personified. She has several books on mixed media journaling and creating.  She is lovely.
  • http://judesphotography.wordpress.com/  This is one of my cyber buddies. She is delightful.  She is a British woman living in France, who is a writer, photographer, small airplane enthusiast (I love it when she posts photos taken from her airplane) and someone I adore.
  • http://kindnessgirl.com/  This is Kindness Girl.  She is a mom and kindness activist.  Yes, she is an activist and has all kinds of projects designed to pass it forward.  Check out her latest project, The Magic Wand Project, where she leaves little magic wands around Richmond, Virginia encouraging children to do acts of kindness.  Ellen Degeneres follows her blog.  I hope someday to see her on Ellen talking about her contagious kindness campaign.  Her tagline is “Kindness changes everything.”  Indeed, that is true.
  • http://deborahbatterman.com/  This woman is so charming.  I discovered her blog and amazing writing talent through a writer facebook community.
  • http://www.thejadedlens.com/  This blog is amazing!  This woman is a photographer, kind spirit, and a good friend of mine, who I have had the pleasure of meeting through a writer facebook community.  Her photos are beautiful and the prose she writes is gorgeous.  Meeting her and developing a cyber friendship with her has restored my faith in humanity.  I am a big believer in big hearts and I do think everyone has kindness in them and beauty, but she truly shines —  genuine, honest, inspiring, and whimsical.

4. Tell you 7 things about myself that you do not already know.

1.  I tend to break the rules a lot.  I was supposed to post 7 blogs; I posted 9.
2.  I met Michael Jordan when I was 15 at the Michael Jordan Flight School.  He put his arm around my waist when he refereed a basketball game when I lost my balance at the free throw line.  When I lined up to get ready to sink my two free throws, he handed the basketball to me on my right, and I twisted and lost my balance thinking he was going to hand it to me on the left side. In the confusion and enormity of standing next to my idol (and I should mention how breathtaking beautiful he is), I lost my balance.  He caught me in his arms, with his long left arm around my waist and said, “Sorry doll.”  I sunk the two free throws to win the game, but he gave the cute Canadian girl a ride to the mess hall in his Corvette. I cried after the game, alone on the basketball court, from shock and awe.
3.  I could not talk until I was 4.  I had a severe speech disability and had to go to a special pre-school for children with disabilities (I literally rode the short bus and a mean girl on the bus used to pull my pig tails until my older sister and her friend stormed on the bus and told her to stop.  That bully never touched my pigtails again.  Now I won’t shut up.

I think I was destined to be a writer. I’m related to Agatha Christie on my father’s side. (So he says)

4.  I know the exact moment I chose to be a writer.  I was on a bus for a collegiate soccer trip my senior year.  I played Division I soccer.  On the bus, traveling through New York City, I wrote down everything I saw.  It was at that moment I knew something had exploded in me.  I have been writing ever since.
5.  I love pomegranates and it was the one food I craved when I was pregnant.
6.  I went to Catholic school for 5th and 6th grade.  I gave my teacher so much grief that I had to be moved to the back of the room.  I remember thinking, how did you figure out how to silence me?  At the end of the school year, she had two dozen on my pencil top toys in her desk, including my most prized, Odie pencil top.
7.  My father bought a car that had 5 different colored doors.  My sister and I called it the Green Machine.  I was so ashamed of the car; I insisted he drop me off blocks away from my tweenager destinations.  Now that I am older, I know it was a classic car and would be considered cool in my book.  Back then, it was just strange-looking.  What I wouldn’t give to hop in that car and go cruising with my father.

My parents were very eccentric. Both of them were artists in their own way and they were soulmates. My mother claims he visits her often in the nursing home. She has extensive conversations with him. They truly helped each other heal on this planet and I am lucky to be their daughter.

I have another blog where I ask people to sign my journal.  I have been doing this since I started writing on the bus in New York City.  Check it out and submit your original thought.  I’d love for you to be a part of The Original Journal Project.  I also have a tab at the top of this blog titled, “The Original Journal.”  You can read about this project there too.  There is a video link that has some of the journal signatures I have collected over the last ten plus years.  I have my heart set on Chronicle Books to publish this.
Thanks for being beautiful and remember, “You are beautiful, brilliant, wonderful, and strong.”
What do you think is beautiful?