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your strong, calm center

I thought that when my kids got to be 18, I would be the bow and shoot those arrows off into the world.  But I was a young mother and little did I know that my job would never be done.  Each of my children in their own way has taught me that motherhood is not over–ever really.  It just takes different forms.  Now that they are adults, I am sometimes asked to process their childhood wounds with them, when and if they are ready, surprised at which one latches on to which childhood  memory and what their perspective looks like.  I try to be present with each of them in the ways they need me to be, while still taking good care of myself.   I celebrate with them their joyful moments, when they invite me to do so.  I try to be a good listener–a good friend, when they want that.  I am there for them, when they face an illness–like cancer.  That’s where I was for the last three months, facing that disease with my daughter.  It was a journey with much fear, many mysteries and surprises, deep learning and,  gratefully, the best outcome possible.  Once again, I was reminded that what was needed from me is loving presence in my strong, calm center, so I could pay attention to the many details of her needs without getting overwhelmed.  We all have that center deep inside, if we can only listen and find it, when we need it– which is all the time.  It takes practice, but it will carry us through difficulties.  The sooner we get in touch with that place within, the stronger that connection will be, when we need it.

Are you looking for that place in you?  Have you found it? Do you nurture it? How does it help you be a more creative woman and thus a better mom?

If you live near Portland, I invite you to HeARTspace in the heart of the forest to search for the path to your inner strength and creativity through art-making, nature and a community of mothers, seeking their inner balance between parenthood and personhood.  Join our Soul Art for Mothers Meetup on the contact page of for dates and times of our meetings or go directly to

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Grandma's cold cream

Grandma smoothed Ponds cold cream on her round face

Along the way on my path of motherhood, I gathered my stories that emerged as I began exploring my creative self.  Bit by bit, I wrote them down in my journals, made visual art about them, danced them and finally began performing them, all the while struggling to convince myself that I actually COULD do this!  A teacher of mine gifted me with a motto, “You are transformed by what you do.”  So I kept on doing, even when it scared me to death.  Now twenty-some years later, (It’s never too late) I gathered all of those short stories from my life and looked for the main message they hold.  When I found it, I created a one-woman show called “Finding the Lost Spark” about five generations of mothers and daughters in my family and our journeys from having lost the spark of creativity to having found it and expressed it.  I performed this show at the Fertile Ground Festival in Portland, OR on January 27 and 30 and February 3, 2013.  If you were there, thanks for sharing this experience with me.  If not, I will perform it again in the future. You can find out when and where by signing up for my newsletter on this website.

Are there stories you would like to tell?   I will help you tell your stories through art-making in your own way.

Isolated Mother


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Find your creative path.

Find your creative path.

Most of the time I was an isolated mother.  I lived in the suburbs. I’m not a group joiner. I don’t love shopping, or cooking, or card playing, or bookclubs or tupperware parties and that seemed to be what other mothers in my neighborhood were doing.  I didn’t know my artistic path yet. Oh, I provided lots of art and play experiences for my children.  They were my creative outlet, but on the other hand, driving them to soccer practice and waiting wasn’t very inspiring.  I made a macrame wall hanging for the house, sewed clothes for my kids, made them Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls, but didn’t find my creative spark for a long time – Till they were all mostly grown.  My artist daughter said, as a young woman, “I thought I couldn’t move forward until you did, Mom.  I needed you to show me the way. As I stepped toward my creative happiness, she leaped forward into her own!”

Are you showing your children the way by seeking and finding your creative path?

Read my mind.


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love yourself

Find your strong, calm center

I think it would have been better if I had never expected my kids to read my mind.  I sometimes wasn’t clear about what it was I wanted them to do – All the while saying what I didn’t want.  I guess I thought they had superpowers to see my thoughts and then expected them to fulfill my unspoken wishes.  It took me awhile to learn that I had to ask for exactly what I wanted before I could even hope to get cooperation.  And in order to do that I had to be in touch with what I wanted.  How many mothers are not in touch with what might help their day go better?  They know the feeling of frustration, but can’t get in touch with what their heart’s desire.

How do you take time to connect with your strong, calm center, so you can be clear with yourself and your family?

Never-ending lists.


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Lost Broom

Well-used Broom

My kids would often balk at completing their assigned housework jobs.  Seems typical that children don’t want to work – Do you?  I don’t.  So I decided to let them choose their jobs from my list.  But then I realized that my list was never-ending.  When they completed one – well – there would be another one waiting for them immediately.  Seeing the end of a list is a relief.  So I learned to keep each list short.  Yes the next jobs will always be there, but it helps to not make them visible all at once.  I let the kids have the satisfying feeling of completion and moving on to their fun day before another job appeared on the horizon.

How do you give yourself a break from your never-ending list?


Lost in Motherhood


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Find your way to your own life.

Balance your motherhood

Often I felt lost in my role as mother.  It’s not that I didn’t want that job – I loved being a mom!  I began motherhood at a young age and quickly my attention was absorbed in the needs of four children.  This was the life I had chosen and it was good, but I began realizing that I also wanted a life of my own.  Not my role as wife, not my role as mother, but my role as me.  My life was out of balance.  I was nurturing creativity in my children, which was fun, but I wanted my own creativity too, and never seemed to find time for it.  Finally, I had to start making time for it.  For me this outlet was making art, alone and with other adults.  I drew, I painted, I danced, I did performance art, I wrote in my journal, and I sang in the shower and car! I was a much happier and more present mom, when I took time for the creative parts of me.  And I learned a lot about myself by making art – Nothing fancy,  just art my way.  My art seemed to speak to me, revealing my deepest longings.

What do you do to take time to let your creativity out, so your parenthood and personhood are in balance?





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Listening skills for parents.
Listen like a mirror.

An easy way to learn to  listen well to your children is to listen like a mirror.  Just keep reflecting back what you just heard or saw or what you think your child is feeling.  If you are wrong they will correct you.  This is hard to do!  It’s so easy to want to analyze, or give advice or sympathy or suggest solutions to the problem.  If you can concentrate on listening in this way long enough and consistently enough, so your child can trust it, you will find out important information.  The trouble is you can’t do this well,  if you are not in your calm, strong center.  Your mind will start working on it.  You will start feeling sorry for them, or frustrated with them, or even angry with them,  or your self image as a parent might be threatened in some way, so you want to fix the problem. Instead, just think: “I am like a mirror now.” Then they will feel heard and calm down.  Later, after you find out what’s really going on, you can help them solve the problem and learn the lesson or skill they need.

Who listens to YOU like a mirror?  Ask someone you trust to listen to you in this way, then you will learn how good it feels to your kids.




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Let emotion out in good ways.

Feel like yelling?

Do you ever yell at your kids?  I did, when I was not coping well with my life.  I was like a little tea pot - internal “water” + unexpressed “fire” = “steam” that blows the whistle!  Then we moved and the house next door was occupied by a father who yelled loudly at his family.  He was a reflection that was not wasted on me.  I never yelled again. I was ready to stop that habit, which was a damaging waste of energy. I learned there were better ways to get my points acrosss – To be heard.  In fact when I yelled I was never heard – Just tuned out.  I learned to pause, breathe, and speak clearly and dispassionately about what I wanted from my kids.  Some things were negotiable, some things were not.  I gave choices – Both of which were acceptable to me.  Then I focussed on what my action would be, if a choice was not chosen.  The kids helped decide what that action would be. That way the kids were choosing the consequence by their decision to not choose to get the task done.  No need to yell – Just follow through.  It was much easier to do this as I took better and better care of my own needs.

Do you sometimes yell, when you are tired, frustrated, fearful, or in some other physical or emotional pain?

What’s Helpful


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Mother of Four Children

Four Under My Wing

I went to a community college class for single mothers during my first year of being a single mother of FOUR (remember that number).  The teacher was a single mother of ONE (remember that number).  I sat in the back.  She had a very neat and tidy grid on which she plotted an organizational chart for each day of the week that was suppose to solve all of our problems!  I scoffed and thought, “Which of my children do you want me to sell?!!” Her left-brain strategies, I thought, worked well for her (and her ONE child), but I could not relate to them in any way, shape or form.  (Don’t get me wrong – Parenting ANY number of children has it’s challenges, but that was my thinking in that class.) This blog is not about giving each other advice or answers. It’s about sharing our stories, being heard and finding our individual strong, calm centers from which to be good enough parents and fulfilled enough people.  What worked (or didn’t) for me might be way off the mark for you and your children. But each of our stories might spark someone else’s creative solution or give you comfort that you are not alone – Someone else is out there who is willing to listen and might just understand.

How has hearing someone else’s story helped you?


Blue in the Face


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Talk less, listen, do more.

Who's listening?

Do you ever feel like you talk to your kids till you’re blue in the face? (Meaning of that phrase:  “You keep saying the same thing again and again, but no one listens to you.”) Mothers are often accused of talking too much.  I hate to admit this, but it was true of me.  I could have listened more – to my children AND to myself for what was really needed - and then given choices and taken action.  I couldn’t really make my kids do stuff by saying lots of words over and over. They just tuned out.  I finally learned that calmly listening inside myself and taking appropriate action took a lot less energy and got better results – cooperation.

More about this and other parenting tips in future newsletters, but for now, what makes you talk till you’re blue in the face?