Tag Archives: mothers

A Toast! to Bird- my daughter. 4/365

Screenshot 2015-08-27 07.47.08 sunsetselfie_v2

Okay, gonna write this one fast so that I can attempt to contain my emotions.

I am the luckiest, most blessed mama in the world because I am Bird’s mom.

When she was born she was named Lanee Faye, Faye being the middle name of my older sister, Dee Dee, who was my confidante, helper and birth coach. Dee Dee called me Buddha when I was large and round at the end of my pregnancy. She’d feed me chili cheeseburgers and spaghetti. She made me laugh so hard I’d nearly pee my pants. And when I was in labor and they told me that I needed a C-section, Dee held my hand and told me watch her face, focus on her and it was going to be alright. And she stayed there by me as Lanee Faye entered the world.

Bird didn’t get added to Lanee’s name until much later, when she was a teenager, discovering and developing her artistic voice. Bird is actually my grandmother’s name. Priscilla Bird.  But it resonated with Lanee as she dug deep into her Native roots and created soulful art so invoking and intriguing, she got into the prestigious San Francisco Art Institute- self taught and awarded a Portfolio Review Scholarship.  She took her connection to Bird, my grandmother, and created her dream.

So we call her that now and just makes sense.

I think that’s the true gauge of our actions- if they feel right and just make sense.  When I see my daughter and I say Bird, when I get to hug her, which is not often enough now that we’re on opposite coasts of this country, it makes sense. She’s taken her artistic prowess to New York City and making a name for herself there. We’e couldn’t be prouder. I couldn’t miss her more. And even that, as a parent, just makes sense.

For this post I searched for a photo of an owl because that’s the Bird I think she is. I think she exudes owl spirit medicine. I think she’s wise and intense. I think she’s transparent, direct and sees all. I think she’s touched with something older than this world. I think she makes people see who they are. I think she’s magical.

And she’s here. We’re together. We had dinner with family last night, preparing for my niece’s wedding and I got to sit across from her at the restaurant and watch her laugh with abandonment. I got to feel her showered in love. I got to be there in her space. I got to.

I get to…and I’m blessed so today’s Toast! is to her. My daughter. My Bird.

Toast! to Art That Heals- Blessed the film

This is my desk on some mornings. Many mornings. Most mornings.

I discovered a long time ago that what I write is good for me, for my heart, for taking on the emotions that sometimes seep into the morning from the nightmare that wrecked havoc with my soul.

I appreciate that about writing. I am so grateful I discovered this for myself. I know that when I create a story about a woman who’s fighting for her family, I’m dealing with what it means to be a mom and what I’d fight for. How I’d fight. I also know that when I create a story about loss and grief, that I’m trying to heal my own wounds.

Right now, I’m in pre-production for a short film called Blessed. It’s a story about a cop who is trying to make herself believe she doesn’t want a baby and what happens when her wall she creates to hide behind comes tumbling down… in the most incredible way. She is forced to deal with her pain, her loss…her understanding of her faith and who she is.

It’s a tall order for a short film. It’s powerful and deeply connected to me.

See- my character, Kiona, has suffered her third miscarriage. She’s asking all those questions about why and what has she done to deserve this. Her mother, however, straight up believes that Kiona will be blessed when she’s ready.

Of the many beautiful characteristics of these women, the main one for me is that they’re Native American. So to have Mary Beth state so matter-of-factly that she believes the Great Spirit will bless Kiona when she deserves only deepens Kiona’s exasperation of dealing with her loss. Why doesn’t she deserve?

Grief is grief- that’s what my shrink said when I told her about making this film and how exposed I am. See- I suffer…struggle with secondary infertility. I just found that term and a bunch of amazing women, mothers, who suffer this, too. It may not be the same miscarriage as others but none of us are the same, except grieving the loss of a child who will never be.

I know the incredible joy of creating a child, and carrying her inside me only to give her life…I know how I felt when it dawned on me that God must see that I’m worthy of something grand in this world to give me a child.

Now- I truly believe that is true for any parent, no matter how that child comes into their life. When you are chosen to be a parent, through whatever means, that’s what God is doing. Blessing you. And I know Peter and I will blessed with more children.

For me, right now, though, the wound lies deep inside me. In that place of creation that is no longer capable of creating any life. I went through an early menopause at 43. And have never felt so alone. Because so many women my age are just cool with not having more children. Or at least that’s what they say. Their lives are filled with college-bound teenagers and elementary school-agers…and they don’t seem to ache as much I do.

I had my daughter, Bird, by myself. I was a single parent from pretty much minutes after conception. Seriously. And it was hard at times…and it was lovely. And warm. And I love her in ways I can’t even find the words for. I love her with all that I am, with all my essence. Becoming her mom gave me purpose. Gave me direction. Bird saved my life. She did. (that’s another film – to tell the story of the life I was living before her)

But now, I have a husband who is the most incredible dad. His love for Bird is unmeasurable and I wanted to create a baby with him. When we first met and became friends, he told me that what struck him the most was the kind of mom I am. On one of our first dates a couple years later, he told me this and that he wanted me to be the mother of his children. But I can’t have babies. His babies. I can’t.

The pain is so deep. I’ve lost friends who couldn’t stick around to help me. I’ve lost friends who weren’t capable of showing up. I’ve suffered through newborn happenings and baby showers and birth stories and struggled with balancing my pure love and joy for all these incredible mamas in my life while tending to my wounds. My grief. It was private and personal. Intimate aches.

So last year when I pushed to finish a draft of Blessed I didn’t recognize what I was doing, actually. I didn’t see the healing I was committing. I found a brilliant director who not only dug the story of Kiona, she also appreciates the beauty of Kiona being a cop who believes in laws, justice and strength. My director also is committed to the action and suspense in this story, which apparently doesn’t happen that often – female leads in action films about a more feminine theme. She’s bringing me extremely talented people who are joining us to make this film and they get it, too. And I’m so grateful.

I’m meeting actors who take my breath away. Fierce and strong, and yet so wounded, they are giving this story life so that I can heal. I get to keep healing.

Along with my therapy, my daily writings, my Brene Brown work, my watercolors, my collages, tea, toast and dark chocolate, Blessed, the film, is healing me.

So today’s Toast! is to Art That Heals.

And here’s wishing you all some healing love and magic today.

PEACE

Toast! to Inspirational Creative Places- THE LIBRARY!

I love the library. Always have. As a kid I have the fondest memories of the tiny library in Worthington. And Mrs. Beck. I still remember her name. She turned me onto the Bobbsey Twins. She steered towards Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys, and she told me “good job” when I added multiple circles to my summer reading caterpillar. She also kicked me and my siblings out when we danced too loudly to the records – “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies was a favorite of mine.

Oh…and downstairs there was a museum. Rooms like stage play sets were blocked off by rope, but if no was looking and you stretched your arm, you could touch some of the items. Again, reasons why we were kicked out. But I was fascinated and scared of the iron lung. And although the scenes of life on the prairie (did I mention Worthington is in rural Minnesota?) didn’t do much for me because there were no Indians, which was who my people were during prairie times, I found all the old iron kitchen tools and utensils very cool. The dolls though, they gave me the creeps.

But in the stacks, I could wander for hours. I remember finding solace in the library years later, when I was pregnant and back home. I remember carrying my sleeping newborn through the paperback room, looking for books.

And as Lanee Bird grew, the library became a joyous event in our lives. No matter where we lived, we always spent alot of time in libraries. Even moving here, when things were alittle difficult with my adolescent – try moving across the country at 14 to a city that you quickly discover you don’t like- we always the library. Sometimes she’d go her way, and I’d go mine and we’d meet up, arms full of books. On a few occasions I’d find her, sitting on the floor, books stacked around her and I’d be happy. I raised a daughter who loves the search for knowledge.

So, the picture is of the atrium of the Los Angeles library. You can find me there, two cloth bags filled with books, sitting on the floor in the stacks, searching and learning…and possibly tripping a bit down memory lane.

Today’s Toast! is to Inspirational Creative Places- THE LIBRARY!

What are yours?

PEACE

Toast! to a Creative Community. Yay! Writers Group!

Deadlines can be a real bitch. Anxiety-inducing, difficult..soul crushing, even, depending on where you’re at with the ebb and flow of our draft.  But deadlines are also markers.  Goal posts on the road.  So, even though I could still feel my skinned knees from crawling the rugged terrain of my writing path (this part rugged, others parts are deep waters and I have to swim, or multiple feet of snow and I struggle to get warm enough to melt the ice that’s blocking me, or open air against turquoise blue skies that I float on…yes, that last one does happen. Sometimes) This most recent deadline was hard.  But…it was for my writers group.  And I am grateful. 

My husband and I raced around yesterday morning to get my tiny house ready for guests. Clean towels in the bathroom, sweeping the floors, dusting and scrubbing and… baked oatmeal.  That’s the coolest part of  hosting writers group for me-  I make my now signature dish of baked oatmeal. Oats, maple syrup, roasted walnuts, berries and bananas, cinnamon…deliciousness that I get to share with my smart creative friends. 

Once the setting is done- furniture moved in a circle, tea brewing, table set, some 80’s music in the background (again, another signature of coming to my house)- my girlfriends arrive. Hugs. Food. Laughter. My house is filled with the beautiful energy of these storytellers.  

When we finally get to the work submitted we all put on our smart caps- using the tools and skill we learned at USC SCA and have applied to our work since then. We share books and movies as inspiration. We laugh more. We support and share.  

For me- we reviewed the half draft of High Card Trumps. A deeply dramatic film that breaks my heart to write. And out of all the notes- what’s working, what’s tender, what are the questions, I discovered that I’m so sorry for breaking my character’s heart over and over that I’m pulling her out of the toughest moments. I literally cut away and show the results. The fallout. The aftermath.  It just hurts so much to make this mother go through what she’s experiencing. She already lost one son in the war and now with Sam… she’s losing it all. Her faith. Her family. Her place in her community. She’s not just floating alone in some vast emptiness, she’s being hurled through her world without direction, without guidance. She’s being torn apart by the forces of life.

I cried.  But these amazing storytellers, my writers group, held me in this space. They teared up, too. They understood the difficulty and supported me as I told them of the emotional angst I feel every time I go to the page, that it’s so hard to keep hurting Dahab over and over. No mother should have to suffer living after her child is gone. That’s a hole nothing can ever repair. And although I don’t know this exactly, I’m blessed that my child is alive and well, I did stand witness as my sister died. My family has endured the pain of death multiple times. I’ve watched my mother suffer a grief that nearly destroyed her. I want to protect Dahab from this so the real pain happens in the cut away.  

My peers, my literary colleagues while sipping tea  with their bellies full of baked oatmeal, curled up comfy on my old furniture in the bosom of my home, they listened with love and told me that they need to see these scenes. They need to see these moments in Dahab’s life. And then they told me that because I’m a mom and I can envision my deepest fears as a mother I’m exactly the person to be telling this story. 

I’m exactly the person to be telling this story. Me. This story. Whew!! 

Today’s Toast! goes out to these women. My creative community. I wish for you all to have a community that holds you and understands you, who loves you just as you are, and for the love and gratitude you give them. 

PEACE

 

Toast! to Toasting…and movement

Good morning,

I’ve been thinking about doing this for awhile now- to get this blog back up and moving. Moving. Moving. Moving. That’s what I feel I need to be doing…always moving forward. That’s been difficult this summer, there seems to be alot of obstacles for that…first the breast cancer scare which kept me stymied in a state of fear for a month. Movement was chaotic and emotional. I felt blind and lost. Abandoned and confused.  So when the verdict came back that I was okay, the lymph node is recessive and that I have til December before I need to pick at it again..I took a deep breath, gathered up the lessons I learned about myself and thought..”awhhh…yes, now to move forward!”   But then my arm and shoulder didn’t heal, the nerve pain intense. And just as I began to treat this, I got into a car accident. My fears loomed up from the back seat as my car was totaled and I got stuck. Again. Sure, we continued with our plans- vacation and traveling, precious time with family, but the pain kept me from moving forward as much as I wanted. As much as I needed.

Physical therapy, drugs, a spiritual and astrological reading, hours with friends, chocolate, forgiveness, and therapy – all doing its job has me ready to move. And that’s brought me here – back to this blog.

I am blessed more than I could have ever dreamt for. I am supported by the people who matter the most- my husband, my daughter, my family and friends. They believe in me as a storyteller, as a filmmaker. They hold me up when my critic gets loud (and she can be a total bitch at times) and I think my work is lousy when really it’s just draft.  I have days to do what I want to and need to…all to feed my creativity. And that’s a huge blessing.

There was a time in my life, a very long time when I struggled. Every day. I was very poor. And a single parent. Working and in school, always trying to move forward, always trying to heal, always trying to define and keep my dream alive…and to think that I’m on that path, now, living creatively, that it’s all happening as it should, as it was meant to be, as I dreamt… makes me stop in my tracks. That’s not an obstacle to movement, it’s a…present breath that surges me forward.  

So part of honoring this dream and moving forward is this blog,Toast!  For the month of October, I am committing myself to do an entry a day. Toast something everyday, something that honors my creative life.  I hope some days it’s poignant, other days, more literary, like the great story I’m reading. It could be more…technical exploring an element of screenwriting, like toasting character development discoveries or that dark writing pit towards the end of Act II where you discover if the story works or not. There will be blogs coming to you from Mexico- we’re there in three weeks to celebrate dear friends getting married…on the beach, baby. I foresee blogs about my people; friends who influence me, who make me laugh, who always make me smile. Friends who tell me I’m a good friend when I need to know I’m doing right by them. Friends who have space in their worlds for me, just as I do for them. Friends who hold my heart. There will be blogs about my current projects, what’s in pre-production, what’s brewing. I know there will be blogs about family and love and support. There will be blogs about being a socially-conscious writer, about being a COC (chick of color), about being over 40 and rockin it hard…there may even be a blog about how I would embarrass my gorgeous creative daughter if she heard me say “I’m rockin it hard..”  

Every day I’ll make a Toast! 

…last night the government was shut down. I’ve been grieving losses, again. I woke at 4 am with a heavy heart. But got up and wrote this blog…so, today’s Toast! is to movement.  We have to move. Go forward. Take that moment to feel the ground beneath you, breath into Mother Earth and hear your breath connect your heart to the world around you. Then no matter how tiny the step, take it. Take it with intention, with love, with purpose. We can’t afford to sit back. Move. Towards

Peace.