“It’s just a house! Do something with it!!”

  Last year, Paul and I bought the family beach house and these words from my mother's painting class keep me going. She charged her painting students with this and other pithy sayings when they were blocked. Today, the words seem prophetic. On the 15th anniversary of my mother’s death, my dear husband and I became sole owners of the Cape May house she adored. It’s a house that has served generations of our family and friends as a respite, a place of celebration, a center for art … [Read more...]

First Father’s Day Without My Father

Wicker Love

My father got things done. He applauded us when we got things done. So last week, when I arrived in Cape May, I vowed to restore two wicker chairs my father had cared for years ago. I thought it would be quick work, as the paint was peeling. I’d just shake them off, maybe use a wire brush, then coat them with the oil-based Cover Stain primer our friend Marc Shenfield (a certified wicker nut) recommended. Marc likes to get things done, and he had lovingly restored the rocker in the painting … [Read more...]

Can You Keep a Woman’s Secret?

Self-Preservation in a Time of Misogyny: While International Women's Day honors the known as well as the unknown stories of those who have long kept a woman's secret, I believe we honor ourselves when we honor our mothers and grandmothers, ancestors, and women of all races, creeds, and eras. Therefore, I'm not content to confine this activity to one day, or one month: it is a daily practice of awareness. You may recall that the academic study of Women's History began in the 1970s, during a … [Read more...]

3 Ways to Play Your Edge in 2017

If you pay attention to patterns, you know that clinging to that which fails to love you back is toxic;  you must play your edge if you want to love your life. When Carrie Fisher wrote Postcards from the Edge, she was playing her edge for all to see. Fisher shared a difficult mother-daughter journey that illuminated the path for others. She died suddenly on Tuesday, and the following day her mother died of heartbreak. Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher gave an object lesson in how to play … [Read more...]

Does Generosity Cost You?

If generosity is a good trait, why does it get tangled up in angst and confusion at this time of year? How can you maintain inner peace in a season of relentless advertising, competitive shopping and expensive gift-giving? I have been mulling over this question since we focused on the week six theme of generosity with my Mother-Daughter Way ONE goddesses last month. It was easier to manage week 6 during the pilot group last January when I tagged the focus as a week of … [Read more...]

Defying My Mother, Again

                    Today marks fifteen years since my mother's death. As I awoke this morning, I remembered her last words to me. And I will defy them. I'll tell you about that soon, but first I need to set up the event of losing my mother so you understand how tangled this mother-daughter way can become. For the last two decades of her life, I considered my mother to be my best friend. She was a passionate artist. … [Read more...]

Transcendence in the Mother-Daughter Way

    For the final week of the Mother-Daughter Way, we focus on transcendence. What does that mean in everyday terms? When my mother asked me to sit for this portrait, I resisted. I was busy. She was dying. I imagined having yet another unfinished portrait to remind me of the ways we couldn't sign off on each other. However, I agreed on the condition that I could write while she painted. I loved watching the way she rallied when she picked up a brush. As I recorded her … [Read more...]

A Powerful Combo: Emotional Strength & Vulnerability

Self-Portrait, c. 1996 Watercolor by Alice Steer Wilson

Emotional strength coupled with vulnerability makes a powerful combination. After my mother died, this self-portrait startled me when I found it among her works-in-progress. It showed her strength of character and her self-awareness as she faced her mortality. The portrait was a project my mother started after she survived her first battle with breast cancer, but she never signed it or left any description for provenance. I dated the work by the visual clue of her curly post-chemotherapy … [Read more...]

Envy Opens the Mother-Daughter Connection

  Connection is the focus of this, the 7th week of the Mother-Daughter Way journey. My connection to my mother, Alice Steer Wilson, fifteen years after her death, is one of imagination and memory. I lead this part of the journey with a renewed sense of the relevance of the program mission, which is to open up the process of self-mothering the way you wish you could be mothered, or in the case of a difficult daughter, the way you wish you could open up that connection using the MOM … [Read more...]

Christmas Story: Mothers and Daughters

mothers and daughters

Red was my mother's favorite color. I love blue. For the first week of the Mother-Daughter Way program, we focus on safety: feeling grounded and connected to earth. Within the practice of yoga and energy work, we honor the ethereal body by balancing the chakras. The healing begins with the root chakra, which is associated with the color red and the element earth, or source. Every Christmas, I feel close to my mother when I surround myself with red. What brings you close to your mothers or … [Read more...]