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Looking for a good end-of-summer book? Here’s a list I wrote for a magazine in Rhode Island called Newport Mercury. Some great titles here!

What I’m reading right now: The Heavens May Fall by Allen Eskens.

Yoga & Writing Workshop

My friend Grace and I are teaching a special workshop on writing and yoga on Sunday, April 23. Would love to see you there!

Shining the Light: Awakening Through Yoga and Writing with Grace & Wendy

Yoga and writing have a lot in common. Both require practice and can be used as tools to awaken the spirit and discover personal authenticity. Join us for a special springtime workshop to explore the intersection of these two expressive endeavors in a positive, supportive environment.
Awaken the body through asana. Explore the mind through writing exercises. Learn how writing and yoga work together to reduce suffering and self-judgment and help us find our truer selves.
All levels welcome. No yoga or writing experience required. Participants should bring a mat or blanket, a journal and a pen.
When: Sunday, April 23, 12 p.m.-2:30 p.m.
Where: RPM Fitness Studio, 4444 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood
Cost: $30
Space is limited.

Me and my momma. 1977

Me and my mother, 1977. Old Orchard Beach, Maine.

In this photo, my mother is only 22 years old. We are at an amusement park at the beach – in one of those photo booths. I don’t remember much about this day, since I was just three years old. But I wish I could remember it. Did we swim? Did we get ice cream? Was it warm? Were we happy?
Shortly after this photo was taken, a seagull pooped on my shoulder as we walked along the pier. This is something I do remember. Or perhaps I just remember the stories my mother told me over the years. Apparently, I was horrified by what the seagull did. I cried and cried. Only blue cotton candy appeased me.

Sometimes I wonder if I look like my mother looked when she was my age. And I wonder what my own daughter, Angie, will remember about our outings.
Will she remember the time we swam with dolphins? Or the day at the movie theater when she screamed because Frankenweenie was too scary? What about that time she got to pet a shark at the aquarium? Or that time she caught a pickerel at Parker Pond, and the fish jumped out of her net and flopped its way back to the water? She thought the fish was mad at her and was going to bite her as payback.

I hope she remembers the first time she danced on stage and the first time she swam in the pool unaccompanied, as well as the last time she needed me to push her on the swing at the playground.

I hope she holds all these memories and all these experiences, and not just my stories about them.

Here’s some exciting news for 2017.
Now you can buy artwork and merchandise with my writing on it.
Thank you to the artist, Lori Soucie, for featuring my words on her images, which are gorgeous and mesmerizing and inspired largely by nature.
The first image is called Faith, and it’s all about trusting your choices. How much do you love that? I love, love, love it, and I’m really excited about this new collaboration.
You can find Lori’s work here

and here.

More images to come. Stay tuned!

There is always love

Christmas is a really difficult time for me. Every year, I have these weird flashbacks to the first holiday during divorce – wandering the mall with a two-year-old, trying to figure out how to be festive for a toddler, wrangling a giant blue spruce into the living room when all I really wanted to do was hide under the covers.
I have happy memories too, and so I try to focus on those. Here is one of them.
On our second holiday after divorce, when Angie was three, she and I had almost nothing – no Christmas ornaments and barely any money for a tree. So we bought this one at Walmart for twenty bucks, and then we decorated it with ornaments my grandmother had gathered from yard sales and church bazaars. All of them were handmade by people I’d never even met. Crocheted angels, popsicle-stick sleighs, and candy canes made with colored beads and pipe cleaners.
It wasn’t much, but it was everything. I wish those church ladies could know what a difference they made for us that year.
No matter what happens, no matter who or where or why, there is always love.

first tree

That crazy thing? Do it.

You know that crazy thing you’re thinking about doing? Call me. Because I’m going to tell you to do it.

Six years ago this week, Angie and I sold everything we owned and got on a plane to Los Angeles. Everything I never knew I wanted was on the other side of that decision. New adventures, new friends. Sunshine in February. A really great husband.

I know how scary it is to step into the unknown, to not know if you’re going to like it or where the money is going to come from or if you’ll end up right back where you started, tail between your legs.

And I can’t promise you it will work out. But I can tell you that you might surprise yourself, that the universe is designed to catch you when you jump.

That it most likely will be the best thing you ever did.

***
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A poem for moms

You are

You are the morning wake-up call –
the egg scrambler
the chocolate milk mixer
the ponytail maker
the missing sneaker finder.

You are the personal chef –
the cookie baker
the lunchbox packer
the mac and cheese expert
the midnight snack assembler.

You are the labor pool –
the play-date planner
the crossing guard
the taxi driver
the whole, stinkin’ cleanup crew.

You are the doctor who makes house calls –
the bandage carrier
the boo-boo kisser
the medicine giver
and yes, once even the lice finder.

You are the library reference section –
the atlas
the dictionary
the thesaurus
the walking, talking encyclopedia

You are the homework brigade –
the math tutor
the spell checker
the keeper of the reading log
the last-minute science project assistant.

You are the worrywart –
the fevers
the bullies
the broken bones
the cars that go too fast up and down the street.

Of course, you are also the party pooper –
the task master
the sugar police
the attitude adjuster
the dreaded, inevitable bedtime reminder.

You are the person who loves them most –
the sound of their laughter
the squeeze in their arms
the breadth of their imagination
the way they wiggle their toes beneath the blankets.

You are the last one they see before falling asleep –
the story reader
the forehead kisser
the tucker-inner
the goodnight-sweetie, see-you-in-the-morning.

You are a mother.

IMG_5376

Know a single mom who needs a break this holiday? Maybe it’s you. Maybe it’s your best friend or your sister. Maybe it’s the woman who lives in your building, who you don’t even know that well – yet.
Here’s a contest. Let her know that you are thinking about her, that you see how hard she is working, and you’re proud of the job she is doing. Trust me. That’s all she really wants anyway – to know she is appreciated.
You can nominate a mom, nominate yourself, or make a donation. Spread the love!
(But do it quick. Deadline is May 6)

Click here for UrbanSitter’s Mothers Day Contest

SMN - Urban Sitter Single Mother's Day Giveaway

Write Now.

Last week at AWP, a national conference for about 15,000 writers, a very well-known author told a single mother/struggling writer in the audience (whose baby was sleeping in a stroller next to her) that she could put pen to paper later, that now was the time to spend with her baby because these years are fleeting. They would be over before she knew it. Cherish it, he said. There’s time to write later.
I think this is total and utter bullshit. Of course we should cherish our children, but if you have something to write, write it now. When your children are sleeping. When they are napping. When they are watching television, playing on the floor, eating lunch or splashing in the bathtub. Write your story in a notebook that you keep in your purse, in the diaper bag, on the nightstand. Write it in a notebook that you keep in the bathroom.
Write it on a fishstick coupon, a Friendly’s receipt. Write it on the back of an envelope, a business card, a Starbucks napkin. It doesn’t fucking matter. Just write it.
There’s time to write now AND later. This isn’t an either/or scenario.
Writing is a practice. Nobody is born good at it, not even this very famous author at AWP. I don’t know him personally, but I’m fairly certain he wasn’t born writing books that get turned into movies. We all suck at first. We all write crappy first drafts. But if we keep telling ourselves later, later, later – then there will never be any first drafts. There will never be any practice.
Here’s the truth: There will always be something standing between you and the page. Maybe it’s the baby’s first few months of life. Maybe it’s the baby’s first day of school. Maybe it’s the baby’s soccer practice or orchestra practice or art class. Maybe it’s those pesky teenage years, or the stress of sending your baby off to college.
Maybe it’s guilt. We shouldn’t be writing! We should be cherishing! We should be watching our children as they sleep, as they eat, as they play. Writing is selfish!
I call bullshit on that.
Here’s what isn’t bullshit: If you don’t practice writing now, then you won’t practice writing later either. If you don’t start sitting with the guilt of balancing motherhood with writing, then you will never learn how to let that feeling go. And we all need practice with letting that feeling go.
Cherish your baby. But cherish yourself too.
And write, write, write, write.

Nerve

If I run my fingertips along the outside of my left thigh, the feeling there is dull and numbed, more irritating than soothing. The sensation contains an eerie kind of distance, as though I were touching my own body through layers and layers of cloth.
It’s been that way since I was pregnant, when the weight of my growing uterus pressed on the large nerve that wraps around the pelvic bone and extends down the femur. It was worse then, the numbness so overwhelming sometimes that I had to sit down and rest. After my daughter was born, things never completely went back to the way they had been. The feeling, though muted, remained.
Add it to the list of things about my body that haven’t been the same since the day I became a mother. My waistline is thicker. My ribs are wider. My breasts are saggier. A patch of pale pink lines adorn my stomach, and whenever I sneeze, I pee a little.
My body isn’t the same on the outside, nor is it the same on the inside. I’m a bundle of nerves. Every day, I worry that something or someone is going to hurt my child. Will we get into a car accident on our drive to school? Will she fall on the playground and break her arm? Will today be the day we get that earthquake everyone’s always talking about? Will she huddle beneath her desk, scared and crying and waiting for the shaking to stop? Will she encounter a pedophile? Will he be a stranger or someone she knows, someone she trusts?
Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t have had her, not because I don’t love her but because I do. Too much. More than I can bear. I don’t know what to do with all that love. It presses on me from the inside, leaving me frozen and fretful and anxious for her to come home.
At least when she was inside my womb I could keep my eye on her. Now she’s out in the world, exposed to things that terrify me. And as she grows, the risks only become greater. Will she make friends? Will she feel lost? Will she do drugs? Will she drink and drive, have sex, get pregnant? Will she be depressed or angry or confused? Will she get sick? Will she love her body? Will she love herself? Will she love me?
That patch of skin on my thigh may still be numb, but I can run my fingertips from knee to thigh and feel every single thing.

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