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Upcoming Class! The Story of Us: Journaling to our Children

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Cost: $50.00

When: Saturday, April 12, 9-11 a.m.
Where: Zen Adventure Treehouse (A residential writing retreat in Minneapolis)
To register, contact me.

Journaling is a powerfully intimate and creative literary art, allowing space and time to pay close attention to and honor the stories from our lives.  During this workshop, we will begin a journal for our child/children as a simple and artful way to write the small stories otherwise lost in the swift movement of childhood.  Within its pages, we will share stories from our childhoods, our experiences and moments as caregivers, and create a space to record the incremental evolution of our children’s lives.

To participate, you do not need to be a writer, nor do you need to write perfectly or know how to begin or have to stop at Archivers…
Throughout this workshop, writers and non-writers alike will learn the art of writing stories and snapshots in a vivid and accessible way.  The only tools you’ll need to create this unique masterpiece are: a journal, your favorite pen/pens, Scotch tape, and great love.

You will leave this workshop with ideas and inspiration to continue this someday gift to your child/children (to be given when they are old enough to understand the love and work that goes into parenting and writing about parenting).

Ultimately, this journal will become a reflection of the blooming of two lives–of caregiver and child–eternally interconnected, as we move through this intense and fleeting time of life.

“When God thought of mother, He must have laughed with satisfaction and framed it quickly—so rich, so deep, so divine, so full of soul, power, and beauty, was the conception.”  -Henry Ward Beecher

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if you want to write to your children

In a few weeks, I will have a class in the Treehouse for this very thing.  I should probably post it on my site.  See?  This is why I wasn’t a marketing major.

Anyway.

Roughly once a month, I sit down and write to Oliver and Lucy.  I have been doing this since I was pregnant with Oliver.  I began to write to the fetus that became Oliver because I was terrified of becoming a mother.  And because my mother had died suddenly six months before I found out I was pregnant, and there were a lot of questions I would have liked to ask, like, “How did you feel when you were pregnant with me?  What was your pregnancy like?  What was your life like then? Did I kick the crap out of your ribs every night too?”

I also write to them to harness the stories otherwise forgotten.  Little stories.  Like Lucy sleeping next to her new Barbie last night, and coming downstairs in her pajama bottoms (she decided not to wear a shirt to bed), brushing her new doll’s hair as she whispered a story to no one in particular.  How Oliver and his best buddy Miles, their wallets burning with birthday money, emerged triumphant from the toy isle at Target last night, each holding a nerf-style gun that shoots water pellets that was on clearance for $15.00.

I write little things that illustrate a little moment.

I find solace in writing to Ollie and Lu because I am (somewhat psychotically) aware of our nature of being–that anything can happen at any time.  My mom dropped dead from a pulmonary embolism one day in December when she was 55. This is real.  And this knowledge can scare us or motivate us to pay close attention and love greatly.

The vulnerability of motherhood knocks me over.  And motivates me leave something immortal, stories immortal.

Oliver and Lucy's current journals.  I like the pages because they are heavy so I can write with a Sharpie and they are blank.  I don't like writing on lines.

Oliver and Lucy’s current journals. I like the pages because they are heavy so I can write with a Sharpie and they are blank. I don’t like writing on lines.

I wrote this page to Oliver after I dropped him off at school.  This equals about ten minutes of writing.  It's amazing how much you can get out in a short amount of time.

I wrote this page to Oliver after I dropped him off at school. This equals about ten minutes of writing. It’s amazing how much you can get out in a short amount of time.

Sometimes I'll save things like birthday lists and tape them in their journals.  Sweet little things from their small hands.

Sometimes I’ll save things like birthday lists and tape them in their journals. Sweet little things from their small hands.

I'll save cute little notes from beloved friends too.

I’ll save cute little notes from beloved friends too.

Don't get stuck on not knowing how to begin.  Begin with where you are, what you are doing, where they are, what they are doing.  Begin with this moment.

Don’t get stuck on not knowing how to begin. Begin with where you are, what you are doing, where they are, what they are doing. Begin with this moment.

 

 

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empty bowl

empty bowl

Early this month, I walked both of my children through the door of their elementary school to their 1st and 3rd grade classrooms, and for the first time since the birth of my son, I walked out of the school without a child’s hand in mine.  For the first time in eight years, I had a span of six hours before me to do whatever I wanted to do.

I spent those first hours crying.

Crying because I would miss walking to the park at 11:00 on a Tuesday, picking dandelion bouquets on the way, miss hearing little voices playing imaginary games in the next room while I did dishes.  Crying because all of those divine and irritating and funny and boring and blessed and wretched moments are now history.  Crying because surely there was something I did wrong to make the time go so fast.  Crying because Life is actually really fast and soon we’ll be old and die and I am so glad I was lucky enough to be home with my kids.  Crying because of every single time I lost my patience.  Crying because I finally got the hang of being a mommy, finally relaxed long enough to soak it in and savor it, and now they are in school and I’m feeling like I’m just out of college wondering what Life will now be like.

It’s funny. I remember vividly another time I cried out in such existential angst–when I found out I was pregnant.

Then I cried because I wouldn’t be able to travel all over the world with my husband, and I cried because I wouldn’t be able to sit at a coffee shop and write for hours or go out with friends whenever I wanted.  I cried because Life would be different and I loved the life I already lived.  I cried because I was afraid I would not be a good mother, that I wouldn’t know what to do.  I cried because I thought I was losing my life.

And then I gave birth, my former self exploding into a million pieces to be reorganized to include my new role as Mother.

At first the boundaries between myself and my children were completely blurred–there were no boundaries.  They depended upon me for everything, for their food, for their safety, for their growth–their lives.  Then slowly, slowly, ever so slowly, they grew, needing me less and less to live, and more and more to nurture and guide.

And these lines have been changing ever since.  So when I dropped them off and emerged from that school alone, I spent a lot of time writing and thinking and asking myself questions like: How do I mother children who don’t need me for everything, but need me nonetheless?  How do I mother now?  What is my new role?

And what I came to is this: When they are at school, I will work hard in the direction of my dreams.  And when they are with me, I will be an empty bowl for them to have a place to pour out their hearts and worries and fears and dreams.  In those moments, I will free myself from any ruminations and preoccupations, so they have a wide open space to land in me.

Where I was once a food source, I am now an empty bowl, evolving, loving, and ever-mothering.

 

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