Friday, October 30, 2009
No matter if it is an airplane, train, car, boat, bike, or a pair of old sneakers, we get carried into nature via vessels. This FreeDay's activity is simple. Take a new approach to going into nature. Try out a different vessel.
If you take walks, try out a new path. Drive to a new park instead of the same one you always go to. Bike through your neighborhood streets instead of walking. Pick out library books for your children that have planes, boats, or trains and see what these vessels bring to mind.
A new vessel will help give you a unique experience with nature!
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Motherhood is a eternal spring of new experiences, fresh perspectives, and changing beliefs.
One surprise that caught me off guard was the decrease in time spent outdoors. Before I became a mom I spent many hours a week hiking on trails, walking through parks and gardens, sitting on my porch, and biking through neighborhoods. Since becoming a mom, I stay indoors more often and when I do get out it is usually in a car. Our time spent outside is most often at a playground.
Of course I miss being so actively engaged in nature. It did more than heal my mind's racing pace and my body's stress accumulated after a day's work. Being in nature shaped me and gave me answers to questions I didn't even know I had.
Fall and Winter days, for those of us living in temperate regions around the world, bring the cold and wet to our world. It's easier to stay inside with my toddler and baby. Although we get out when the sun is shining, we often see nature through the glass window.
While playing in our family room I point out to my daughters the female spider in her web, the vivid blue fall sky, the golden trees, and the broken branches dangling down all beyond the window. Sometimes my toddler crawls up on to the window ledge (its low and wide) and looks at these things. Sometimes she just gets up there and shouts "Shake it baby shake it" while dancing for the world beyond. And sometimes she just glances up from her spot among the toys on the ground and resumes playing.
But I continue gazing at nature. Missing it yet finding tiny pieces of calm entering my mind and body. I may not experience the little things beyond my window with all of my senses, but my imagination can take what I get and expand on it.
How do you see nature through your window? What does it bring to you?
Monday, October 26, 2009
By Loren Christie
The side yard at my grandmother’s suburban home was a bit secluded and overgrown with yuccas and ancient rhododendrons. Behind a sappy maple tree I employed my younger brother in gathering leaves to camouflage us when the dinosaurs came marching past. Surely they would, since this piece of nature was my little imaginary world. In October our efforts would turn to a preoccupation with the supernatural in light of our excitement for Halloween. Then the square side yard transformed into a witch’s cave, complete with shelves of ingredients for my secret magic brews. Of course you had to be age 9 or under to see the room, in all its mysterious splendor, like my younger brother and I did. In the center was the focal point, the caldron, (an old sauce pot borrowed from grandma). With a gnarly branch taller than me, I would stir the smoky soup and send little brother off to gather ingredients.
“Okay Robbie, bring back the wing of a fly.” I’d announce to the eager five year old, who would rush off towards other parts of the yard to find such an object. He’d return with a seed shaped like a wing from a large tree in the yard. Then I would screech “Perfect!” and we’d both engage in belly-rolling “Ha, Ha, Has!” until we truly were laughing.
For my own children, just as it was for my brother and me, nature is a wonderland. Watching their play in the backyard, or the nearby wooded park brings me joy, and at the same time, fascinates me. Children approach nature differently than most adults. Often I wonder how and when a human being loses that childish sense of joy and awe that nature inspires.
It has been many years since I was delighted by bugs. In fact, I’ve become a spider/mosquito hunter in my home. Biting bugs are doomed to being squished if they set foot in my house. How different I was as a child! The first time I heard the story Charlotte’s Web I remember remarking: “Oh, a talking spider! I know one too!”
The fact that in my childhood world elves and gnomes inhabited the woods, and all creatures spoke to me reflected my awe of the beauty of creation. It was my creative and innocent reaction to it, and desire to engage in it.
I no longer talk to animals, (except my pets), but I get such a kick out of watching my kids play in this way. Every fall, we go outside and collect leaves. Then we lay them all out on the grass and marvel at their individual beauty.
“Even the ugly ones are amazing!” says my oldest.
My three young children help me slow down to remember the magic of natural world. Sometimes I don’t feel like collecting rocks or leaves or branches, even though I’m told enthusiastically that the branches are really dinosaur bones, the rocks are surely from a diamond mine where real elves work, and the leaves are crying, because they so desperately need to find the tree that lost them. That’s when I put down the phone, or turn off my email and go outside. It’s time to remember how to be awestruck.
Loren Christie writes at Dude, Where Am I?
Friday, October 23, 2009
We've all been doing bubble maps since high school, so this activity may not strike you as innovative; however, I propose a new twist that I think is a fun way of integrating nature and writing! If this weekend is anything like last weekend, we'll need some indoor activities for ourselves and our children. It's been a very wet October!
On Wednesday I posted a list of upcoming themes for our literary magazine. One theme is Generation Eco-Tech, which is loosely focused on the generations of children today who experience nature through technology.
Your task today: Use the theme Generation Eco-Tech and your generation (Baby Boom, X, or Y) as the center bubbles of two different bubble maps and expand them out with your children!
STEP ONE: Create two central bubbles with Generation Eco-Tech and your generation name in each one.
STEP TWO: Ask your children to they use items such as computers, cell phones, iPods, Internet, wii, XBox, etc to "experience" nature. The question might seem a little odd to them, but as they warm up to the idea write down keywords that they come up with.
STEP THREE: Ask your children how they think you experienced nature when you were their age. What devices did you use (e.g., bikes, tubes, wagons, etc)? Make a list of the keywords they come up with.
STEP FOUR: Using the two list of keywords to create the two bubble maps.
STEP FIVE: Link the two bubble maps by connecting different bubbles with one another and along these links write one topic idea that you could use to write an essay, short story, or poem for The Motherhood Muse literary magazine on the theme of Generation Eco-Tech!
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
We recently published a list of themes for the first three volumes of the literary magazine. It is available on our website, but it is also found below as well. We accept submissions that may or may not be based on the theme; however, using the theme when writing for our literary magazine may help by serving as a focal point.
If you have any questions regarding any of these themes, please feel free to contact us at editor(at)themotherhoodmuse(dot)com.
The Motherhood Muse Literary Magazine - Upcoming Themes
Issue 1 Winter 2010 (January) - Theme: Metamorphosis
Issue 2 Spring 2010 (April) - Theme: Secret Gardens
Issue 3 Summer 2010 (July) - Theme: Vessels Into Nature
Issue 4 Fall 2010 (October) - Theme: Maternal Instincts
Issue 1 Winter 2011 (January) - Theme: Bella Body
Issue 2 Spring 2011 (April) - Theme: Urban Gone Wild
Issue 3 Summer 2011 (July) - Theme: A Wilderness of Sweets
Issue 4 Fall 2011 (October) - Theme: Roots, Boots, & Hoots
Issue 1 Winter 2012 (January) - Theme: Generation Eco-Tech
Issue 2 Spring 2012 (April) - Theme: Mother Nature's Ingredients
Issue 3 Summer 2012 (July) - Theme: Eclectic Footprints
Issue 4 Fall 2012 (October) - Theme: The Healing Balm
Monday, October 19, 2009
The summers in Georgia are hot. When I was a kid, my upstairs bedroom with no air conditioning was especially hot. I did a lot of sweating and I kept a fan going at all times. I also did a lot of listening. Tree frogs would sing me to sleep while chirping birds served as my alarm clock. I hated it.
Lying in the camper, the childhood sounds of the outdoors come rushing back—and I get to share those sounds with my girls. We hear the normal sounds of birds, squirrels and frogs, and my children recognize nature’s sounds for what they are. But we hear other stuff, too. Once we listened as a raccoon made off with an entire bag of dog food. On a different trip, we heard a raccoon raiding our cooler as it stole the steak marinating for our fajita supper. Cows came through one campsite at night, chewing cud and making a loud, scary sound. Then there was the time when there was absolutely no sound at all. Creepy.
I love our camping excursions because they afford me the opportunity to expose my children to the living, breathing world outside our door. It has become all too comfortable to close ourselves off from the very things that sustain us—the trees that provide oxygen, the dirt in which our food is grown, the plants and animals that become meat and vegetables on our tables. My children need to learn and care about the great big world outside, right down to the pesky raccoons, so that they respect the fact that nature is a vital part of life. Our generation must be willing to step outside so that future generations can enjoy nature’s symphony living just beyond our well-insulated walls.
About the Author:
Friday, October 16, 2009
If you're in the market for a new journal (aren't we always!), please check out these journals to see if one of them might be what you are looking for!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
In high school, I wasn't the super-popular chick, the homecoming queen, the lead in the musical, the track team star, the valedictorian or anything spectacular like that. But even though I wasn't THE best, let's just say I was one of the best.
I remember pretty darn vividly what it felt like to go from my high school in Phoenix with my list of semi-decent achievements and enter my freshmen year at the University of Southern California. To leave a campus of over two thousand and walk around a campus of like thirty thousand.
It didn't take me much longer than sitting in on a few of the classes in the college honors program that I somehow qualified for to realize uh, I'm not that smart.
I thought I wanted to major in drama, but after an acting class or two, I realized I'm not that talented.
And even though I played four years of competitive soccer at USC, I realized even there, I'm not that good.
It all hit me like a ton of bricks a few months into my freshmen year.
I am totally and utterly average.
In a big, deep, thrashing, never-ending sea.
I've been reflecting on this big fish idea as I've cruised around in recent weeks reading all kinds of posts from what I would call bigger fish in the blogworld expressing feelings of disappointment and confusion as to where their community was heading with the onslaught of new blogs on the scene that focus on, I guess, the business side of mommy-blogging as opposed to the creative side of it. I know that's boiling it down to one particular angle but it seems that's the general point of the stuff I've read. I've tried to understand where they're coming from, I really have, but I just don't get it.
The way it seems to me is that, to put it simply, the sea is getting bigger and with all of these little fish swimming around, it's just tougher to be a big fish.
Feeling like a big fish is cool. It seems part of human nature to want to harness that big fish feeling. Easier to swim amidst all those choppy waves.
But when it all shakes down in the end, we all are little fish. And I kinda wish we could all swim around together a little more peacefully.
When I look at my three little ones cruising around in their small worlds, I am reminded of the natural transition that occurs as our brains twist and grow and we come to the intellectual realization someday that we are simply a pebble of sand on the beach of life.
But emotionally, that's the rough part. I think it's hard to wrap your heart and feelings around the fact that in the sea of life the one person that's really gonna care the most about you and make you feel like a big fish, even though you're not, is you. But I think that's the truth.
There is so much in the current online social structure that is screaming at the part of us that innately yearns to be a big fish. Again, the awards and the numbers and the followers. Yada yada yada. And not that long ago when the sea was much much smaller, it was a hell of a lot easier it seems to feel well, like a big fish.
Sometimes when I'm driving on the jam-packed freeways of Los Angeles with red brake lights and white headlights as far as the eye can see in all directions, I wonder how these gazillion drivers stuck behind their wheels think about their place in the grand scheme of things? Are they still holding out some hope that somewhere, someway, somehow, they will be a big fish? Even though the reality of their little fish existence is smacking them right in the middle of the forehead just beyond their windshield?
I look through the traffic and feel grateful that I already know I'm a little fish. I had my revelation years ago and even though there have been times in my life when that big fish feeling came flooding into my being, I knew it was fleeting.
And really. I'm totally and utterly fine with being a little fish.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Those who subscribe to the newsletter by November 1st will have a shot at a $15 Starbucks gift card, compliments of The Motherhood Muse.
To increase your chances of winning, you can do any of the following to have your name entered into the contest more than once:
1. Blog about the newsletter and The Motherhood Muse.
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4. Tweet about it.
5. Email everyone you know about it!
6. Join our Facebook group.
7. Join our LinkedIn group.
Make a comment on this post for each item you've done and we'll enter your name into the contest that many times!
Here's the URL for subscribing to the newsletter: http://eepurl.com/c24S .
Thanks! The winner will be announced on November 2nd!
Friday, October 9, 2009
We know how quickly weekends fly by, often without much spare time for writing or seeking time in nature, so the topic of each FreeDay post will offer something that requires 15 minutes or less. Why 15 minutes? And why is it called FreeDay?
(You get the nifty button below if you make this pledge.)
But do we give ourselves time to discover the freedom found in writing and nature? This is where we can explore, play, find peace, recharge our batteries, be ourselves and more.
So if you are needing a little bit of encouragement or inspiration over the weekend to give yourself the freedom to delve into writing or nature, check our our first activity below!
Step 1: Take a walk outside and during this time find 12 items of nature (e.g., leaves, rocks, wood, bugs if you're feeling adventurous!) and place them in your pockets, or a bag if you're not trying to get on Survivor.
Step 2: Back home flip through your favorite book and pick out 12 of the most creative, bold words you can find.
Step 3: Assign each nature object one word.
Step 4: Finally tie one object-word pair with another object-word pair. Write one creative, fantastical or witty sentence about each pairing for a total of six sentences.
This activity is a lot of fun with children and results in usually more than a dozen words and six sentences!
Thursday, October 8, 2009
- Take any experience you've had as a mother and look at it from the perspective of nature(e.g., literally, metaphorically, the five senses, human nature)
- living in a different country
- sibling rivalry
- maternal instincts
- water, air, fire, earth
- mammal traits
- sustainable living
- relationship with things in nature
- growth and development of the body (e.g., mother, child)
- adventures in nature
- encounters with nature
- pets and animals
- pollution, chemicals, allergies
- boys vs. girls
- physical, mental, spiritual health
- natural living
- natural mother
- new mother
- mother of many children
- what and how children teach us about nature
- wildness and wilderness
- city life vs. rural life
- human connection with each other and/or with nature
- childhood memories
- Earth day
- birth, death
- seed, egg, creation, evolution
- fears, joys
- rites of passage
- vision quest
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
The Motherhood Muse has two main functions:
- The blog serves as a community center for mothers and writers to meet each other, share stories, learn from posts about the nature of motherhood, receive giveaways, and more.
- The website is the host of The Motherhood Muse e-Zine, Writing Contests, a Newsletter and Writer's Workshop. The e-Zine is an online magazine published four times a year. It is a literary magazine on motherhood and nature. The Writing Contests include a contest for non-fiction and fiction as well as a poetry contest for children. The Newsletter comes out eight times a year with highlights and updates. The Writer's Workshop is an online six-week writing course offered twice a year for mothers and writers wishing to develop their writing on motherhood and nature.
The Motherhood Muse can be found on Facebook and LinkedIn in addition to our website and blog. On Facebook and LinkedIn you will find additional information, such as discussions, news updates, job postings, and more!
*Starting next week our regular schedule of posts will follow a Monday, Wednesay, Friday posting; however, this week we will be posting every day!
Monday, October 5, 2009
Two words we grow up hearing linked together. They hold a certain mystic awe that quietly lingers in our minds over the years.
At times we as women may feel we understand her, know her intimately. At other points in our life we may only catch a wisp of some remote idea of what these two words mean.
We don't grow up hearing the phrase "Father Nature," so how does the name "Mother Nature" impact us as women and mothers? Do we feel a certain obligation to be intimate with nature? Are we carrying a responsibility to exhibit qualities of Mother Nature?
Mothers today range in their connection with nature. From living under the stars to watching the changing of seasons through windows, from growing butterflies with children to squishing every bug and spider in the pathway of children, from eating-breathing-sleeping a green life to telling a child the fast food hamburger he is eating comes from a cow... all mothers across the globe have a personal relationship with nature, unique in its depth, love and appreciation.
No matter what your connection is with nature, one thing is true for all mothers: we send messages to our children, and right now many of us might not be sending a strong enough message that a relationship with nature is valuable.
Parents, educators, other adults, institutions--the culture itself--may say one thing to children about nature's gifts, but so many of our actions and messages--especially the ones we cannot hear ourselves deliver--are different. And children hear very well.
- Richard Louv ("Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder")
We as women, mothers, and/or writers also need nature. With not enough hours in the day, nature may be pushed aside in order to get food on the table, do the laundry, write a few lines, or stay caught up on the latest technological inventions. We may feel a twinge of guilt in knowing that Mother Nature is somehow supposed to be expressed in us, our bodies, minds and souls. How can our children perceive it if we as women aren't completely giving ourselves the time and space to reconnect with nature?
We need nature just as much as our children do. And nature needs us.
This is your first step in developing a stronger relationship with nature through your body, mind and soul by the visual sharing of literature on motherhood, nature and children. Although reading and writing on these topics may seem like a small step in reconnecting with nature, it is an important one because it expands our minds. Literature awakens our senses. It gives us the freedom to stretch our imaginations over the frontiers in our minds. And that is where we can begin to rediscover nature.
The Motherhood Muse is a community of women, mothers, and writers all coming together with one common interest: to pursue our connection with Mother Nature through literature and more in order to show our children the importance of nurturing our relationship with the environment.
Our community offers an exciting range of possibilities and resources! If you are interested in learning more please come back tomorrow for the details. In the meantime, be sure to check out The Motherhood Muse!