Wendell Berry’s “How to be a Poet”

Poetry as a gift of silence…Here is a poem which spoke to my heart like a familiar breeze ruffling through the forest, bringing new life and resonating with joy. It is from author Wendell Berry’s book New Collected Poems

  

HOW TO BE A POET (to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down.

Sit down. Be quiet.

You must depend upon

affection, reading, knowledge,

skill — more of each

than you have — inspiration,

work, growing older, patience,

for patience joins time

to eternity. Any readers

who like your poems,

doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditional breath

the unconditioned air.

Shun electric wire.

Communicate slowly. Live

a three-dimensioned life;

stay away from screens.

Stay away from anything

that obscures the place it is in.

There are no unsacred places;

there are only sacred places

and desecrated places.

Accept what comes from silence.

Make the best you can of it.

Of the little words that come

out of the silence, like prayers

prayed back to the one who prays,

make a poem that does not disturb

the silence from which it came.

Interview with Bonnie Way of The Koala Mom

Here is an interview with my friend and fellow Love Rebel: Reclaiming Motherhood author Bonnie Way. I’m excited to be starting as a guest writer a few times a month on her blog, The Koala Mom, and was interviewed on it last Monday. I so love having a blogging buddy to talk about writing with! Hope you enjoy meeting her, too! 

 

Bonnie Way                          The Koala Mom

Please tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m a SAHM with three girls (ages 7, 5 and 2) and another baby on the way in November. My husband and I both grew up in Alberta. We met at university and got married when we graduated, then moved around a lot before deciding to go back to university in Victoria. Now we’re settled in Vancouver, where I’m homeschooling our oldest two. We enjoy going swimming and hiking together, watching movies, and playing board games with friends.

Why do you love to write? How does it help you be more yourself?

I’ve always been a writer. I started my first diary when I was ten and printed my first novel when I was fourteen. In my teens, I wrote several fantasy novels and started various other novels, which still sit on my computer. Then I did an English degree and worked as an editor for a year before going on maternity leave. I started my blog just before getting married and it has slowly evolved to be my biggest writing outlet. It took me a few years as a mom to realize that I needed the support of other moms; my blog has been one way to connect with other moms and to share this journey of motherhood. Writing is kind of my way of processing what I’m thinking and going through, and blogging allows me to combine my passions for writing and mothering.

What made you want to be part of this project? Why do you think it’s important? 

I love supporting other moms and writers, so the idea of contributing to an anthology was a lot of fun. Moms and families are also very much under attack in today’s society, so I believe it’s important that we as moms encourage each other. I’ve often felt looked down upon for being “just a mom” or wanting lots of kids. Society seems to see kids as a burden, an expense, a stage in life to “survive” until they are more interesting. So I wanted to share that kids are a joy at any stage – even through those night wakings of the first year or two and that it’s okay to want nothing more than to be a mom. Reading Anna’s essay on being a love rebel is what really encouraged me to share my whole struggle with wanting to be a mom in a culture that looks down on a mom, and how finally, after nearly seven years of being a mom, I feel like I really have embraced that role and stopped looking down on myself. I hope that will encourage other moms too, to stand up to our society and be love rebels.

  

What benefits do you think people will gain from this book? Could it be used in a mom’s discussion group or book club?

Yes, this would be a great book for a mom’s discussion group or book club. I think each of us contributors provides a unique perspective on motherhood. Any of the essays could inspire a good discussion. 
I also picture this book inspiring the mom who doesn’t have a mom’s group, who is busy all day with her toddlers or babies and snatches a few minutes here and there to read. Many of the chapters are short (well, except for my long essay!) and easy to read in a few minutes (put it in the bathroom if you have to! I used to read a lot of magazines there!). As moms, it can be easy to get bogged down in the tantrums and the messes, the daily chores, and to lose the big picture of motherhood, so I hope this little book can inspire moms everywhere to look beyond the sleepless nights and the other trials of motherhood to the joys and the long-term goals of raising kids.

Why is friendship with other moms so important? Is there a friend who has made a big difference in your journey as a mom?

I was among the first of my friends to get married and the very first to have a baby. That created a bit of a gap in my friendships, as all my friends were focused on their careers and I was at home changing diapers and doing laundry. Then we moved several times and went back to school, and I finally found a mom’s group at a local church. That group of ladies was like a breath of fresh air. It was so amazing just to show up every week and talk about everything, from who was up all night with a grumpy baby to how to help a kid transition into Kindergarten. We’ve moved again since then, but I still keep in touch with the moms from that group and miss them so much. They were the ones who taught me how much moms need other moms – whether they can answer the question I’m struggling with, pray for me, or just offer a shoulder to cry on until a certain parenting phase passes.

Tell us a bit about your pieces in the book…what is your main message, or best piece of advice for moms?

I have a couple little poems in the book, a short essay I wrote about my oldest daughter’s first pair of shoes, and then a longer essay about my journey into motherhood. I think the first three pieces each focus on little moments of motherhood – things we could overlook, but might look back on later with a smile. I want those pieces to encourage moms to treasure the little moments before they are gone. My longer essay is about my desire to be a mom in a society that says women should be more than moms. I hope that essay can encourage other moms who also struggle with that to stand up for their desire to have kids and be mothers. Even if we wear other titles as well, “mom” is an important and worthy job and we shouldn’t let society look down on us because this is what we chose to do with our lives.

  

Who was your favourite author growing up? Was there someone in literature who modeled for you how to be a woman or mother?
Just one favourite author? LOL. On the topic of motherhood, I’d mention Little Women and Louisa May Alcott’s other books. Marmee is a constant, loving presence through that novel and we also see Meg and Jo growing into their roles as moms—Meg as the mom of her own twins and Jo as the adopted mother of a whole school of boys. Another favourite author is L. M. Montgomery and her Anne books. I love the way the relationship between Anne and Marilla develops through that novel, and then again, seeing Anne become a mother in the later books is also inspiring. And I should mention Cheaper by the Dozen, a hilarious book about a family with twelve kids that kind of started my own joke that I want twelve. All of those books talk about motherhood, adoption, and large families, and had an impact on me as a young reader. 

Can you tell us a little about your blog?

Well, I write a mom blog so it covers a little bit of everything. Right now, I blog five days a week and have a rough schedule of blogging about motherhood on Mondays, travel (around Vancouver) on Tuesdays, marriage or other things on Wednesdays, homeschooling on Thursdays, and book reviews on Fridays. I’ve been blogging for nine years this summer and do product reviews as well as sponsored posts. I call my blog my work-at-home part-time job and I love the fact that I can do something I enjoy, make a bit of extra money for our family, and still be at home with my girls. Plus, I’ve met so many other cool women through my blog so I love the way that social media and the blogosphere can connect us as moms.

  

Visit Bonnie at 🐨 The Koala Mom 🐨

Love Rebel: Reclaiming Motherhood

  
I am so excited to announce that my first book, with four other awesome women writers, is about to be published!

This beautiful labour of love (sorry for the birthing pun!) started with a spark of friendship that caught fire a few summers ago, when my friend Laura’s cousin Roberta Cottam, now a close friend of mine, first came to my mom’s group. We were discussing the importance of spending time on our artistic pursuits, even as busy moms…how spending time on things that make your soul happy and stimulate your mind is actually good for your whole family. A happy fulfilled woman is a happy fulfilled wife and mother. 

This was a huge point of connection for Roberta (artist, writer, designer) and me (writer and photographer) and began a series of great conversations about the topic. We both felt that our spiritual lives and our artistic output were very connected, and encouraged each other to deepen both. This book is one of the fruits!

It also came about because of another very good friend, Monique Leblanc, who had inspired me to start blogging about a year earlier. I found her blog so genuine, funny and refreshing that I decided to start blogging myself. I liked that her writing was so real…you felt like you were having tea with a dear friend…rather than remaining an aquaintence who is only shown all the pretty bits…it was the opposite of contrived. I connected with joyful Melanie Jean Juneau and fun-loving Bonnie Way online through blogging and mutual friends, and when we began the book project, Bonnie invited her good friend Monique Les to join in as well. 

So five moms, five bloggers, five friends, brought together through the passionate work of Roberta Cottam and designer Laura Wrubleski (http://www.visualaura.net/), have resulted in an anthology which I hope will encourage and inspire many mothers in the beautiful and worthwhile vocation of raising the future citizens of the world (yup, I mean being a mom!). Look for it soon on Amazon in print or as an e-book! 

Lent: A Season to Grow in Love

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As we feel spring breezes shaking us out of the slumber of winter, and see little signs of new life popping out of the ground, we all feel the hope of new beginnings and fresh starts. This is one aspect of Lent, examining ourselves to see which areas of our life need revitalizing, and praying for the grace of the Holy Spirit to blow away the cobwebs and bring us to new and deeper life.

Trees teach us so well. They know how to strip themselves bare and stand naked before God, honestly revealing all their bumps and scrapes, and asking to be healed and covered afresh in a robe of spring blossoms.

When we look at ourselves without excuses and pretence, we can all see areas in which we need to grow. Faults we have that cause others pain or inconvenience, like being sloppy, indiscreet, insensitive or impatient. Lent is a time to move forward with hope, choosing a few small ways to try to improve ourselves, with the help of grace, so that we are better able to love.

We should be humble enough to realize that rather than sudden showy or impressive changes, it is the small steps taken consistently that usually lead us to improvement. (Stinker! Fast and flashy sounds much more fun! 😉 Where’s the fairy godmother’s wand when you need a makeover…)

Ultimately whatever we decide to give up or take on this Lent, should have this goal in mind: to become better versions of ourselves, to grow interiorly, to make amends for our mistakes, and to grow in our ability to love God and love the people we encounter each day. Perhaps we can smile at a stranger and ask how they are, or take time to speak to a lonely co-worker instead of eating lunch alone with our iPhone. Let’s push ourselves to reach out to others in love, and fight, as Pope Francis calls it, “the globalization of indifference.”

Many of the little acts of denial we might choose may seem very mundane, like clearing off the table and doing the dishes before getting distracted on the internet, reading the kids their bedtime story or calling a lonely relative, even when we are worn out from a long day. Yet it is in these little things like cheerfully serving others, finishing what we start, and doing things on time, that make our homes run more smoothly and harmoniously, and less like chaotic zoos (trust me, living with 5 little monkeys, I know about zoos!). With our example we can foster an atmosphere of generosity and concern for others in our families. Happily kids do copy the good things we do as well as the bad.

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It can be hard to keep giving, remembering that all these little acts, when done consistently and with love, add up to a quiet heroism. At least, it can be hard alone. Which is why I think community is so essential, for everyone, but also for moms, who tend to work long hours as the sole adult aboard ship Kidalot. Having community with other moms to laugh, cry and share stories is so healing and helpful. It makes life so much more full and rich, and reminds us we are not alone on this journey. I couldn’t do it without my mom buddies or cheer me up and cheer me on!

If you feel like you could benefit from the encouraging company of fellow moms who want to remind you of the depth and beauty of your calling as a mother, and to encourage you to grow in your faith, please check out the upcoming (March 6-9, 2015) online conference for Catholic moms (or anyone else interested, of course!). It’s free and convenient, and once you register you can view any of the talks online, from the comfort of home…perhaps while your little ones take a nap or have an outing with daddy.

If you enjoy the talks you’re able to see, and want to view them again, or see the ones you missed, you’ll be able to purchase the entire conference package afterwards. This is not part of registering, but an option afterwards. The talks will be a great resource for discussion at your parish or mom’s group, and give you a chance to be a leader in fostering community among mothers in your area.

Having looked myself at the extensive panel of speakers, many mothers, writers, bloggers, foodies, etc, I can’t wait! Hope you’ll join us online!

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Awesome Presenters
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