“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...]

Board the Kind Ship Now

It's time to pay attention . . . Last December, as I created exercises for the Mother-Daughter Way focus on kinship, a typo got my attention. I kept misspelling “kinship” by adding the letter "d" and creating a new word – kindship. It happened so frequently, I had to pay attention. Why? Because, at the risk of sounding woo woo, I believe certain so-called errors arise from a deeper level of consciousness. Like the word, which spawned the idea, of a Kind Ship. That's why I write every day. I … [Read more...]

Open Heart, Open Hand: My Prayer for You

Although I strive for an open heart, I've been quiet lately. Let's be open with each other. There are reasons for my silence. Yes, I lost my father recently. And yes, I am in the midst of running Mother-Daughter Way ONE, which is fabulous and bountiful and exciting. But my quietness puzzles me: I love to write. I write daily, so why have I been reluctant to post? Perhaps I've muted myself because the airwaves were overcrowded with incredibly loud and angry, even hateful speech. The … [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...]

Nurture Your Blessed Autonomy

For the 11th week of the Mother-Daughter Way, we are nurturing a blessed autonomy. In this photograph, my grandmother reads her memoir and shares her vision of more than 90 years on this planet. She was sure that the world outside of her small apartment would receive her words, and that they would live on. It was a lesson she showed me, and I love passing it on to you this week. She knew she was the author of her life story. To nurture your blessed autonomy, this week's body/mind focus is a … [Read more...]

Thrilled to unveil Alice’s Cape May, the part represents the whole . . . .

Fifteen years ago, Saturday, my mother began painting a large oil portrait of me. That may sound unremarkable, since she was a painter and I am her daughter, but it was highly charged for two reasons: I was busy, healthy, and I hate to sit for portraits. She was weak, breathless, dying of breast cancer, and she had never been satisfied with any of the previous portraits she’d attempted of me. In her home, and my sibling’s homes, there were plenty of portraits of the rest of the family. Her … [Read more...]

Loving, Losing, Letting Go

Yesterday, I helped out as my friend Sandy Sampson conducted an estate sale to empty her parent's home. I had to see how she did it. Sandy is an awesome daughter who provided much family caregiving over the past decade. Her father, Harry Trigg, died in April 2009, and her mother, Marion Jane Bold Trigg, passed away four months ago, on Christmas Eve. Sandy set her mind and heart to the difficult task of clearing out her family's lifetime of collections, and to do so with the willing … [Read more...]

The Promise of Mothers and Daughters

...this is how you sweep a corner; this is how you sweep a whole house; this is how you sweep a yard; this is how you smile to someone you don't like too much ...   Jamaica Kinkaid, "Girl" Will you be there?  ...  Can you hear the truth?    Tori Amos, "Promise"   It's been a lovely meditation for me to sit down and write daily tributes for Women's History Month. Now, on the last day, I'm returning to the relationship with the most elemental power­: the Mother-Daughter bond. So … [Read more...]