Flag Waving and Other American Pastimes

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4th of July, 1888, by Neil Boyle

4th of July, 1888, by Neil Boyle

We clearly hadn’t thought it out…

We were headed to a 4th of July parade with an enthusiastic youngster riding high on holiday excitement. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and we were all looking forward to the revelry of red, white, and blue. As said youngster took note of the countless American flags flapping in doorways, waving from passing cars, or clutched in the hands of other like-minded kids, his eyes lit up. It was the 4th of July and he had to have a flag.

Why we hadn’t anticipated that probability, or at least thought of it earlier, say, before every store within a 50-mile radius was all out, was inexplicable. I hate to say we’re bad parents, but come ON! Still, foresight be damned, it was Independence Day and that bubbling little patriot was getting’ a flag!

We must have hit every party, grocery, and CVS store in Claremont, CA, the town hosting the events of the day, and there was not a single star or strip to be found. And just as we were about to endure a full-blown “I don’t have a flaaaag!” meltdown, the friends we joined at the parade miraculously snagged an unclaimed (albeit small and plastic) flag, and fireworks of the not pretty, popping kind were preempted.

Tread Flag 2My point is: people love their flags. They love ’em. They love to hang them in doorways, march with them down streets; wave them as symbols of pride, alliance, and attachment. America has, in fact, been cranking out some version of the American flag since 1775 and, in looking over some of the earlier contenders, it’s good we didn’t settle too quickly on a design: this one here with the stripes and snake on which we were not to tread lacked, I think, artistic gravitas. But surely our current flag is a worthy choice, a stately symbol redolent of so much history and national passion.

Which brings to mind certain cultural events of late, brouhahas centered around the topic of flags. Interesting that, shortly before our most patriotic and all-American holiday, we’d be widely, and wildly, debating other flags that hold great meaning—good and bad—for our eclectic and often polarized citizenry.

I don’t think anyone could deny that the Confederate flag incites tremendous emotion, both from those who believe it’s a symbol of racism and national disdain, and others who insist, “it’s heritage and not hate,” as Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd remarked recently. And while that sentiment may be true for some southerners, it’s getting harder to accept the assessment, particularly since the “flag of Dixie” has been held high by some of the most heinous characters in history, as recently as the tragedy in Charleston, S.C.

In fact, even Patterson Hood, founder of another proud southern band, The Drive-By Truckers, asserted this about the flag known as the “Stainless Banner”:

“I’m from Alabama,” says Patterson Hood, “I lived in the South my entire life. I have ancestors who fought in that ill-begotten war, but it’s way, way past time to move on … That [Civil] War was what, 150 years ago? It’s time to move on. It should have been a moot point years ago. The flag represents an act of war against the United States.

“The flag was put there to antagonize and intimidate,” he says, about its initial erection over the Capital. “During the Civil Rights era, Southern states started flying those flags and putting the logo on their state flags to remind black people what they thought their place was. It was just that simple…

“People say ‘The South will rise again,’ Hood says. “The South will never rise again as long as we keep our heads up our asses. I feel very strongly about it. I’m from Alabama. I lived in the South my entire life. I have ancestors who fought in that ill-begotten war, but it’s way, way past time to move on.”

Which makes sense to me. When some in this country talk about “taking back America,” demanding a “national language,” or bemoaning the “denigration” of the country by illegal immigration, how illogical is it, then, to defend a flag representative of so much pain and national antipathy? Particularly at a time when Americans of all stripes are (or should be) looking to bridge chasms, not create them.

reb_gay flags

There’s another flag that’s been waving around lately as well, one held high by those in our country fighting for equal rights for all: the Rainbow flag. Surely you’ve seen it. It’s the colorful symbol of gender and orientation diversity. No one near any kind of media these past weeks could have missed the wildly polar response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on constitutionally protected marriage equality. It was telling to watch the viral sharing of images showing the Confederate flag coming down as the Rainbow flag rose high. Wherever one stands on these issues, it can’t be denied that, yet again, it’s a flag that holds the symbology of so much passion and belief.

Which gets us back to the 4th of July: kids and flags; mom, dad, and apple pie; stalwart patriotism, and all things American. Each of these iconic concepts stirs warmth and nostalgia; optimism and hope, particularly as we look to strike a balance as individuals, stalwart in our beliefs, who also allow others to experience their own lives with dignity and respect. When I think of true American ideals, that’s where my mind goes.

Flag Waver

“Flag Waver” by LDW

Our 4th of July will be spent with family in the bucolic surrounds of Ferndale (whose downtown looks very much like the iconic Neil Boyle illustration at top!). Our daughter, who hasn’t been able to get up here in recent years, is visiting with her two children. They’re excited to partake of of the many Humboldtian wonders, particularly highpoints we’ve identified in and around Ferndale (i.e., feeding grass to kindly horses and getting rides on a local fire engine). We’ll gather at our beloved home, raise a glass to family and community, raise eyes to the wonder of sparklers and fireworks, and hold hope that we can continue to raise awareness in the evolving country we all celebrate on this holiday.

I think the American flag has the spirit, the history, and the heart to be a proud standard for everyone moving toward that noble goal.

“Freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order. If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion or other matters of opinion.” — Supreme Court Justice Robert J. Jackson, 1943

* * * * * * * * * *

Original version published July 2, 2015 @ the Ferndale Enterprise

The illustration at the top, “4th of July, 1888″ by Neil Boyle, is one of the many iconic and incredibly beautiful pieces of Boyle’s illustrating the book, Notes From Abe Brown’s Diary by Tom E. Knowlton. I was delighted to be gifted five limited prints from that collection by Boyle’s daughter, Kay Jackson, who has become a friend since we connected over an article of mine called Neil Boyle, Molly Malone’s and Pretty in Pink. I am honored to have both her friendship and her father’s prints, all of which now beautifully hang in our Ferndale home.

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To Those Who Post Animal Videos On Social Media…Thank You!

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Say Hello To My Little Friend_sm

“Say hello to my little friend…”

I’m not being facetious; I mean it. Because I LOVE animal videos. They make me happy. They make me laugh. Sometimes they make my day. I’m not shallow, I’m not a crazy cat lady; I’m just an appreciator of our great animal kingdom. And science now proves I’m on the right track.

Since I no longer subscribe to the local paper (too many ads, too much wasted paper, and we travel too much), I typically start my workday with a cup of chai (lately my thing) and a scroll through various online new sources. And when I get to Facebook, I find myself smiling, grinning, even laughing out loud at the predictably present videos of animals doing those things animals do: being cute, tugging heartstrings, interacting nicely with various species, listening to or dancing to music, or just generally being incredibly entertaining.

It used to be standard operating procedure to poke fun at not only those who posted such pictures and videos, but those who enjoyed them, but there’s been a recent cultural shift, inspired by some actual stats that prove the value of such postings.

From "Cats Standing Up"... hilarious!

From “Cats Standing Up”… hilarious!

A Japanese research paper entitled “The Power of Kawaii: Viewing Cute Images Promotes a Careful Behavior and Narrows Attentional Focus,” posits that taking breaks to indulge in a little animal viewing can actually be helpful to one’s work flow:

Results show that participants performed tasks requiring focused attention more carefully after viewing cute images. This is interpreted as the result of a narrowed attentional focus induced by the cuteness-triggered positive emotion that is associated with approach motivation and the tendency toward systematic processing.

Animal videos have also helped raise awareness of the plight of poaching; promoted greater human-to-animal understanding; aided humans as a form of meditation, and even contribute to scientific understanding of animal behaviors:

“They’re not substitutes for good, hardcore research, but they’re very valuable for people who aren’t going to see certain things,” Marc Bekoff, a former professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, told LiveScience this week. “From a pedagogical point of view, I wish I had had more access to YouTube videos. I would have probably used them in my classes.”

Others have even extrapolated that the pleasure derived from watching cute animal videos helps in bone growth (that seems a stretch, but, hey, who am I to argue?). Even Super Bowl 2015’s most successful commercial was a compilation of some of the best inter-species videos around (maybe my favorite commercial ever!).

From "Friends Furever" Android commercial

Friends Furever Android commercial

Personally, and with kudos to all those many benefits, I am simply entertained. I love breaking up my work to occasionally enjoy cockatoos with decidely different attitudes about Elvis (hilarious!!), a montage of cats who rule the roost, or an elephant finding delight in a big blue ribbon. Of course, baby goats are always delightful, but baby goats in pajamas will leave you speechless. And if you think only furry animals are worth a watch, get a kick of out this octopus determined to hold onto coconut shells he/she found!

These glimpses into the lives, emotions, activities, and predilections of our animal brethren can only help make clear just how alike we creatures are. They not only entertain us, they connect us; they let us know we’re all in this together, living, loving, and banging on pots.

So thanks, everyone, for making my days a little brighter. And now I’ll leave you with Husky Sings With Baby. Go build some bone! :)

Dog with Reindeer @ LDW photgraphy
Cat @ Cats Standing Up

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Art of the Book Cover: Pictures Tell the Story

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"Walking the Cambria Shore" — original photo for back cover of AFTER THE SUCKER PUNCH

“Walking the Cambria Shore” — original photo used for back cover of AFTER THE SUCKER PUNCH

Someone asked me the other day what was the singlemost reason I chose to self-publish my books. Actually, I have two reasons, which, I suppose, makes this a “doublemost” situation.

First: while I would’ve loved (I mean, seriously loved) the help of an enthusiastic literary agent and the support and heft of a publisher with name value and cultural prestige, procuring those collaborators in our ever-changing industry has become an increasingly elusive event; it certainly was for me. I gave it my all over several years then decided I had no more all to give; since I truly believed what I was doing merited further advancement, and I’d gotten to the point where I just wanted to move forward, I leapt off the indie cliff.

Think I’m still in mid-fall!

Second: I wanted control over the work I put out. Frankly, if you’re not getting the perks of industry collaboration, there has to be some kind of trade-off; one of the most phenomenal trade-offs of “doing it yourself” is controlling exactly how your work comes to fruition. For the uninitiated, this is a big thing because, with traditional publishers, items like final edit, title, and book cover are typically taken out of the hands of the author. Certainly an unknown author. Which would be me. And since I was one of the brave souls striking out independently—for better or for worse—one of the “betterest” reasons was the ability to create and produce EXACTLY the books I wanted.

"Bene Bene" - original photo used for HYSTERICAL LOVE cover

“Bene Bene” – original photo used for HYSTERICAL LOVE cover

Now, if you’re like me, a creative perfectionist who’s driven many a musician, producer, co-writer, actor, director, sound mixer, editor, or wildly opinionated drummer crazy with detailed, nuanced, and very specific standards and opinions, you’ll understand that the perk of creative control for someone like me is a boon. I’ve always believed that, if you’ve put in the time to truly learn your craft, gain your experience, hone your expertise, and bring to life a beautifully imagined story and set of characters, you deserve the power to render the final edit, pick the title, and decide on your cover art. Certainly working with professionals in the arena of editing is essential, input on titles is always illuminating, and a cover designer is a must-have, but ultimately it all comes down to YOU.

"Street Memorial" — Original photo used for cover of "She Tumbled Down"

“Street Memorial” — Original photo used for cover of “She Tumbled Down”

Which is lovely.

And a book cover, to my mind, is one of the most important elements of the final product. Why wouldn’t it be? Books truly are judged by their covers and too often the covers of self-published books are artistically lacking, poorly designed, and amateurishly rendered. Those covers then become litmus tests to the perusing and reading public, signaling to many that this writer may not have a firm grasp on professional market standards and, therefore, likely hasn’t delivered a professionally excellent book. I’m sure that’s not true in every case, but from all reports: most.

So given my bona fides as a photographer with a deep catalogue of images from which to choose—convenient, considering my preference for photographic cover art—my design process was both financially beneficial and extremely simple. Add in the fact that my cover designer is a brilliant graphic artist from Chicago, Grace Amandes, who just happens to be my sister, and it was a foregone conclusion that I’d get exactly the covers I wanted. And I did.

AFTER THE SUCKER PUNCHwith its story of a woman who discovers on the night of her father’s funeral that he thought she was a failure, needed a female face in the background, one that reflected the mood and emotional tone of the piece. After pulling an image from my gallery—as well as finding a back cover image that illustrated another story point that takes place in Cambria, CA— I handed the images to Grace, who ultimately came back with a cover I loved: 

ATSP final cover

With HYSTERICAL LOVE, a more whimsical story about a thirty-something guy struggling to find the meaning of true love and his father’s long-lost soul mate, a through-line involving an ice cream truck became the inspiration. There was no doubt I’d be using a favorite photograph taken in my neighborhood and processed with a “selective color” concept (see original above). Grace found the exact right font and color for the title, and it has become a cover that people literally smile over. I do too!

HystericalLove_full cover

For “She Tumbled Down,” a short story about a tragic hit-and-run, published only in e-book, I decided to design the cover myself, trusting that, since ebooks don’t require quite the specifications of a print cover, I could pull it off. Inspired by Grace’s work, I came up with another “selective color” version of an image also taken in my neighborhood (see original above). It makes the very poignant point.

Final cover - "She Tumbled Down"

Final cover – “She Tumbled Down”

Working in both literary and photographic mediums, I’ve discovered my general thrust as an artist is, quite simply, storytelling. Whether visual, literal, or musical, the narrative I see and feel impels the work forward, and so it has been a natural marriage between words and images in bringing my books to happily imagined life…a result that makes all the challenges and occasional indignities of self-publishing all the more easy to forgive!

To view my photography galleries at Fine Art America click HERE.

LDW w glasses_rTo leave a comment, click the “dialogue bubble” to the right of the title, or the comment box below individual article pages.

Follow LDW via links at sidebar or visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com. Find her books at Amazon and Smashwords, and be sure to stay current with her adventures in publishing at AfterTheSuckerPunch.com. Don’t forget to FOLLOW THE BLOG (box above/left)!

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There’s Really Isn’t Much As Lovely As a Tree

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The Green Curtain, Ferndale

The Green Curtain, Ferndale

The prognosis was in. It wasn’t good. General health decline and evidence of weakening structure. There’s nothing anyone can do. The third alder’s comin’ down.

All I can say is, dammit, there goes the forest

Well, our forest, the little one we’ve got wrapped around our yard in Ferndale, CA, that mélange of trees, bushes, ferns, bamboo, and more stinging nettle than anyone should have to wrangle. It’s a hodge-podge I’ve grown to love and I’m not pleased about its seemingly inexorable thinning.

It started a while ago. A towering alder that bordered our back fence (the one you see in the background of the photo above) suddenly crashed down, rupturing the green curtain that comprised our view. My husband reminded me that we’d been told from the get-go that this particular tree was not long for life and my tree-grief should be modified accordingly.

So I moved on; planted a couple of willows; wrapped potato vines around the split-rail; put in another round of drought-resistant whatevers in the front patch, and hoped for the best. The potato vines didn’t make it, but I’m encouraged that the willows are still straggling along (though considering my ideal is the willows of Central Park, odds are good I’m being a bit delusional!).

The Willows of Central Park

The Willows of Central Park

Then, like a thunderbolt from Artemis, Dionysus, or whichever tree deity handles alders, the second one tumbled not long after the first, and this one had not come with a terminal diagnosis. No telltale pockmarks, no tilting weaknesses; its leaves seemed plentiful; there was nothing to portend its cruel and unceremonious demise. Now, instead of two auspicious alders bookmarking our backyard, there are wide open spaces and lots more sky.

I love sky. I love wide open spaces. I loved my trees more.

What is it with alders? Their life expectancy is 60-100 years, so I can only assume ours were in the winter of their lives. Old. Clearly not as old as the grand conifers that abound, but old enough for both to die within a relatively short period of time. Maybe they’re like swans, mating for life, and it was a soul mate thing.

I checked an article by David D. Mortimer of the Simi Valley Acorn titled, Ask the Arborist—Death of the Alders, and here’s what he had to say:

“Why are so many alders dying? Could it be bugs? Some nefarious disease? Global warming? Hardly. How about this: They are just being alder trees, doing what alder trees do. That is pretty much the story. Alder trees have a comparatively short lifespan, especially when they’re not in their native habitat. They’re definitely not a drought-tolerant tree.”

Maybe it is the drought. Or maybe they were just old (and God knows I have respect for that state of being!).

Big Yosemite Tree_sm

Big Yosemite Tree

I’ll admit: I’m a bit of a tree-hugger. I wept openly decades ago (scaring my then-toddler son) when a misguided gardener hacked the life out of a majestic conifer outside our picture window. I practically caused internecine crisis years back when I stomped off a friend’s property after they described the house that’d be going up after the old-growth cedar came down… the one I’d just been hugging (yes, literally hugging). So it’s a thing with me, that’s seems clear.

Obviously in forested territory like Humboldt County tree-love has to find balance with the essential and job-providing lumber industry. And let’s face it, who doesn’t love a wood house, gorgeous hardwood floors, the warmth of beams and rugged fence work. Balance is the key, and I figure as long as everyone involved is a responsible steward—thinning, replanting, selective harvesting in lieu of full scale annihilation—one can hardly raise a ruckus. But given the essential role trees play in the holistic health of our planet—balancing carbon dioxide, providing habitat, preventing erosion, and so on—protective and proactive attitudes and actions are always a wise investment.

In fact, I recently stumbled on a GoodNewsNetwork.com story about an ex-NASA engineer who plans to use drones to plant one billion trees a year. Really.

Drones will fly two or three meters above the ground and fire out pods containing pre-germinated seeds that are covered in a nutritious hydrogel. The company’s CEO, who might be called ‘Johnny Apple Drone’, thinks it should be possible to plant up to 36,000 trees a day, and at around 15% of the cost of traditional methods. And they aren’t just looking to create plantations of trees, but full ecosystems.

“Together with tree seeds, we hope to seed in other species including micro-organisms and fungi to improve the soil quality and ensure long-term sustainability of our efforts.”

I’d say that’s not only dedication, but a far better use of drones than blowing up things!

All this matters to me because, on a global scale, I want to see the integral value of all trees honored and protected worldwide. On a local scale, I’m mourning the loss of that third alder on our property. (See, my scope is both macro and micro!) Though, actually, it’s not on our property; it’s on city property, a stately specimen that not only contributes to our personal forest, but is precariously perched so that if/when it goes, its sheer size will bring the fall trajectory not only onto our property, but our roof. Not good, clearly.

We’re told the tree may have some time left, so it’s possible just topping it will deliver us from danger and give us all a few more years. I hope so. I want the tree around a bit longer. I also want my roof.

Peg's Tree

Peg’s Tree

But I have discovered a brilliant assuagement for tree loss, particularly those that have fallen worldwide for one reason or another. There’s a site called StandForTrees.org, where contributing just $10 “keeps one tonne of CO2 from entering the atmosphere by supporting local and indigenous communities protecting forest in developing countries.” That’s right; you get to pick your forest. I love the idea. So far I’ve bought three tonnes and I plan to buy more. If you love trees, or you just want to take part in helping the planet, you don’t have to be a tree-hugger; you just have to buy a tonne. Or two or three. I urge you to visit the site and learn more about it; it’s a very innovative business model. And it’s saving trees.

So as I mourn the imminent thinning of my forest, I’ll take solace in managing my metric tonnes and getting out there to see what else can be salvaged in the yard. The magnolia is looking good and it’s certainly time for those willows to start flourishing…

Adapted from article originally published @ The Ferndale Enterprise on May 7, 2015.

Peg’s Tree, Willows of Central Park, Big Yosemite Tree, & The Green Curtain photos by LDW

LDW w glasses_rTo leave a comment, click the “dialogue bubble” to the right of the title, or the comment box below individual article pages.

Follow LDW via links at sidebar or visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com. Find her books at Amazon and Smashwords, and be sure to stay current with her adventures in publishing at AfterTheSuckerPunch.com. Don’t forget to FOLLOW THE BLOG (box above/left)!

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Mother’s Day Celebrates Life, It’s Not An Act of Exclusion

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Passing Down BelowAs I was doing research for my recent piece at The Huffington Post, I Don’t Care If You Don’t Want Children…Really, I became increasingly dismayed by the bitterness and resentment bubbling under the surface of our current parent vs. non-parent wars. As some in my circle remarked upon reading my article: “Who knew?”

Indeed, who knew that the procreation-imperative, imprinted in humans since the beginning of man, had unleashed such competitive envy, defensiveness, judgment, and self-pity? But it seems it has. Reams have been—and continue to be—written on the topic (my article above has links to the latest), to the point that even the sweet tradition of Mother’s Day has been put under the gun by cultural flamethrowers:

“I did not raise my son, Sam, to celebrate Mother’s Day. I didn’t want him to feel some obligation to buy me pricey lunches or flowers, some annual display of gratitude that you have to grit your teeth and endure.”

* * *

“Mother’s Day celebrates a huge lie about the value of women: that mothers are superior beings, that they have done more with their lives and chosen a more difficult path. Ha!”

* * *

“I hate the way the holiday makes all non-mothers, and the daughters of dead mothers, and the mothers of dead or severely damaged children, feel the deepest kind of grief and failure.”

Think those lines were uttered by one of the curmudgeons at Fox News? A churlish blogger with generalized anger issues? Some embittered naysayer who rains on the parade of any holiday celebration? You’d be wrong. They were all part of very gifted writer Anne Lamott’s recent takedown on the matter of Mother’s Daya surprisingly bitter rant that seems out-of-character for the usually wise and compassionate author. Not only is Ms. Lamott put off by the singling out of mothers on this special day, she goes so far as to assert that 98% of parents not only feel themselves superior, that same percent believes non-parents simply cannot know the level of love they know. To which I sigh, “Really?? I have not met those parents. Apparently the people I know are in the other, more rarified, 2%.”


happy coupleThe fact is, yes: while everyone has been a non-parent at some point in their life, no one who has not had children can know what it feels like to have children. Fact; not judgment. Just as I cannot know what it feels like to climb Mt. Everest, go hand-gliding, or bungie jump off a bridge. People can tell me the attendant exhilaration is like no other, and I believe them; but I wouldn’t know. That they’ve had that experience does not make them superior; it just means they’ve had an experience I have not.

Maybe it’s a lame analogy, but the same applies to parenting. Whatever that experience is for anyone, it doesn’t make them superior. But let me also add: no one I know feels superior simply because they’re a parent. They may feel superior because of other things, God knows, but the mere fact and act of procreating is not something I see anyone hoist as a measure of personal value or worth. It’s just part of who they are and how they’re living their life. Like being a teacher, a doctor, lawyer, or landscape artist.

If those who are childless-by-choice, who have lost, or who cannot have children, feel minimized and/or dismissed by the parents in their circle, either they’re hanging out with the wrong people (who likely act superior and callous about a great many other things as well), or they need to look inward to see why their pain and heartache, or their choice, compels them to judge others so negatively. It’s one thing to step away from a Mother’s Day celebration because it’s difficult to be reminded of what you can’t have, don’t have, lost, didn’t want, or had an unpleasant version of; it’s another to slime the holiday and denigrate the people celebrating it.

Me & dill b-daysI don’t usually get involved in social media hot-topics these day, but frankly, as a mother, a woman, and an optimistic human who believes we each have the power to manage our joys and sorrows, I was stunned by both Lamott’s thesis and the vitriol of some of those commenting. The language of this seemingly metastasizing conflict is counter-productive and presumptuous enough that, ultimately, I felt a need to respond on the thread:

I usually agree with your wonderful posts, Anne Lamott, but find this one sad and oddly cynical. Celebrating mothers is not, in any way, a dismissal of the myriad roles men and women play in making this world go around. Nor is it about “pricey lunches or flowers, some annual display of gratitude that you have to grit your teeth and endure.” That WOULD be a sad thing, and if that’s what the holiday means to you, I can understand why you never celebrate it with your son!

I cannot help but hear a certain victim tone in your assertion that by celebrating one set of people, “superiority” is being asserted over another set, the non-parent people in our midst. Not only is that not true, there is narcissism and bitterness in the idea that makes ME sad…that somehow you feel the universe doesn’t provide enough joy for us all, to begrudge the celebration of others. In fact, the day is NOT another faux-separation of women-who’ve-had-kids vs. women-who-haven’t, a construct that seems rampant these days. ANY woman who has been a mentor, a leader, a caregiver, a teacher; a nurturer is honored on this one little day. Not at the exclusion of ANYone else. We’ve got days to celebrate fathers, our God-figures, the birth of the nation, hell, even secretaries; we can surely spare one day for the mother/nurturers in our midst.

Nor do most of us approach the day with a presumption of “guilt” being the driving force behind our children’s cards, our family’s emails of love; our colleagues’ and friends’ hoots of “happy day!” For many of us, Mother’s Day is simply a day to give a nod to the women in our lives who’ve provided nurturance and compassion, whoever they may be and regardless of their parental status. It can be done with a simple hug, a card, a phone call, a warm smile, an “I love you”; maybe a homemade breakfast, a walk on the beach, or shared space on the couch watching a movie. No money has to be spent; no endurance required.

But to say “Mother’s Day celebrates a huge lie about the value of women: that mothers are superior beings, that they have done more with their lives and chosen a more difficult path” is SUCH a sadly negative and ungenerous perception! I don’t know where you get that “98% of people think….” negatively about non-parents, but Anne, none of the parents I know believe celebrating mother/nurturers makes ANY such statement! Dear Lord, we cannot live our lives so afraid of offending someone or making someone feel left out that we eschew honest, joyful celebration. Even the women who are not mothers were born of mothers, have strong female role models, etc… how about turning the day into a celebration of them!?

Maybe you feel your stance on this is democratizing, but I’d ask that you look at the edge in your philosophy and consider that you might have made some presumptions about those us who have had children that simply don’t ring true.

For now, I’m going to go leave for a walk on the beach with my family, to celebrate me, our children, our mothers, our mentors; our nurturing friends (some of whom are not parents!). And it will be a great day. I hope somehow you have one too.

That pretty much says it all. For me, anyway.

Rikki w-Maritza & familyLook, life is short, obstacles are many, and most of us are focused on living meaningful lives infused with as much joy and happiness as possible. When a holiday represents an opportunity to celebrate the essence of love and compassion as symbolized by the life-giving role of “mother”—a title and role that can be applied to any person who nurtures and mentors—the wiser person acknowledges that intent and either joins in, or steps aside to allow others to join in. The person less wise and considerate makes it about them, about less, about what they don’t have that others might; what they don’t wish to celebrate that others do. Let’s not do that. Let’s rise above, let’s exude generosity of spirit; let’s allow that each one of us is having our experience and one does not negate the other.

So to my friends and family celebrating: Happy Mother’s Day… said with all my authentic, guilt-free, non-superior, all-inclusive, openhearted love and good-will!

All photos by or by permission of me.

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