“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...]

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...]

Spring Lilies Evoke Energy of Gratitude

When my father planted the secret garden of our alley with spring lilies in 1994, he couldn’t have imagined the lasting energy of gratitude those simple bulbs would evoke over the years. They bloomed so brightly, so shamelessly, so vibrantly the following spring that my mother was compelled to paint them in their glory. And now, decades later, “Spring Lilies” has become one of her most beloved paintings of all the genres and all the moments she memorialized in her work which spanned fifty … [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...]

Compassion is Another Kind of Beauty

  Compassion is the focus for the 9th week of the Mother-Daughter Way – compassion for self and for others. Valentine’s Day messages bombard us with lush images of romantic love  –  images that can be elusive and misleading. They exude a manufactured beauty that doesn't fit all shapes, sizes or ages. By contrast, compassion is always a good fit. This week, we look at times in our lives when we gave up on a dream that still smolders. It's essential to recognize and heal those … [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...]

Blessed Abundance or Cause for Panic?

The weather forecast for this weekend is all about abundance. Of snow. Which conjures Abundance's evil twin, Scarcity: scarcity of groceries, transportation, and brawn to shovel the walks. When I walked the dog today, I was warm because my sister Deb, who travels to Sweden, taught me that there's no such thing as "bad weather" -- just "bad clothing." She doled out this tidbit of sisterly wisdom on a cold winter day in Cape May, as we prepared for Christmas. The wind was bitter and I was … [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...]

MOM Fix III: M is for Mercy

Jan's Bouquet, 1966. Alice Steer Wilson oil on board, 9 x 6 inches. From Alice Steer Wilson-Light, Particularly, by Janice Wilson Stridick.

Even when I was an angry teenager, long before my mother and I forged our way back to forgiveness of each other and ourselves, we shared a love of the colors of nature. I was grateful for the beauty of the roses my father grew in our garden, and when I picked a few and gave them to my mother, she expanded the gift by creating the painting above. Later, when I prepared to move across the country, she gave me the painting as a memento. The 3rd profound shift to lighten and reframe the … [Read more...]

MOM Fix II: O is for Openness

Be My Guest, 1992 Alice Steer Wilson watercolor on paper

The open doors of her third floor studio inspired this black and white watercolor my mother painted to illustrate my grandmother's poem about aging and seclusion. When the three of us started working on The View in Winter, Alice planned to use her skill as a colorist to brighten up her mother's poems. I argued against the use of full color illustrations because I wanted the art to complement, not overpower, the verse. Alice agreed, reluctantly, to work in black and white, and later, she was … [Read more...]