Latest Posts

Sometimes you need Rap Music

Know what I mean? I’m listening to T. I. “Why You Wanna” and godd*aaaang does it feel good. It’s like a breath of fresh, cool, 2006 nightclub air at 2am after 3 shots of Bacardi O. That kinda thing. Man. And then you think, why didn’t I do this sooner? Why don’t I listen to hip hop every day, before breakfast, and after lunch, and after all the kids go to bed and nobody is crying anymore and nobody needs you to feed them or wash them or wipe them or anything at all, just go to Naughty by Nature or LL Cool J– OHHHHHHH, haaaaay, now I’m on to “Mama Said Knock You Out“.

I’ve been in Eastern Europe for 14 months now, with 3 children under the age of 7. The details of why and how are another story, what matters at the moment is getting through each day without melting down by 5pm. And a certain kind of heavy-hitting hip hop music, the kind where the bass reverberates in your spine, deep into the heart of your tired soul, has been like emotional therapy for me lately. It’s like the soft and nurturing part of motherhood has to be met with the harshness of something else, something that pushes up against that constant giving and caring and allows the giver (the mother) to feel a release into another world that doesn’t ask anything. With music, it feels as though the heavier the beat and deeper the bass, the wider open the mind can feel to flow, free, into an abyss of untethered daydream. Yah. Like that.

Most of the time lately I feel like a partial failure as a mother. It’s a constant feeling that I could be doing better, I could be more attentive, more creative, more fulfilling to my children’s many and diverse (yet simple! So simple!) needs. Isn’t Mothering what we were made to do? Isn’t it completely natural? Shouldn’t we know, instinctively, how to do this? I suppose yes to all of that. But, I’ve come to realize that the lives we all live are not the way it was long ago. You know, tribes, raising these complex humans together, as a band, never alone, never feeling the darkness creep in on us making our nerves break down and our thoughts whirl in a tornado inside our worn-out minds that never stop seeking the answers that don’t exist because the world we live in wasn’t really built with children in mind, it was built for something else. Yes, for the freedom of being independent and alone, yes for that liberation of doing whatever you want within your four walls of isolated independence– but, at the expense of the sense of sanity that togetherness brings. Togetherness with other women, mothers, who understand. Who can laugh with you about the poopie diaper explosion in the middle of the park when you forgot to restock your baby’s supply of nappies, or hug you when the mood-swings of your 4-year-old make you question the very core of your maternal instincts. We need something. I think we need each other. But in the absence of that (and more precisely I mean, the absence of enough of that to feel a sense of peace within), there is music.

If you’re there somewhere, feeling that biting loneliness that is particular to motherhood, I say to you now… crank up some Will Smith–complimented with a cold glass of white (I recommend an Italian Moscato by Castello Poggio, yes, splurge sister splurge!)– “Summertime“, and then “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It“. Pure wholesome feel-good rhythm. You can’t go wrong there.

In the meantime I’m going back to my obscure and strangely healing mix of Amon Tobin’s Two Fingers “Fight! Fight! Fight!” album interspersed with some Busta Rhymes and a bit of classy French jams by Hocus Pocus. Because a little bit of French hip hop can always make a girl smile.


Waking up With the Sunrise

I’m sitting here holding on to my enormous belly,

thinking a stream of words running rapidly through my mind… I am 38 1/2 weeks pregnant, only 11 days until due date, I need to be ready, I am ready, I’m not ready, I’m so excited and so tired and everything hurts and I can’t bend over without grunting and squatting, I wake up 3-4 times a night, I have a BABY inside of me, right there, a whole complete tiny human person balled up and it stretches out and kicks me and hurts me and I love it SO MUCH it’s crazy.

I thought I knew what life would be like when I grew up, in my young and unexperienced teens- and twenties-brain.  I had my goal posts all lined up, and by the age of 30 I’d have already accomplished so much that I wouldn’t have any worries.  I’d have a family and a successful career and enough money to not be concerned with the cost of private schools or the size of our home or the age of our car or the organic foods grocery bill each week.  None of that would matter because I would have already made it.

How do we so thoroughly fool ourselves into these beliefs when we’re young?  I’m sure I was particularly foolish, so confident was I in my trajectory.  But I didn’t know, I didn’t understand how intricately complex life can become with unknowns and mistakes and chances taken.  How every decision means something, adds up to something bigger, and that the very small, most tiny moments, most inconsequential moments, add up to become the basis of who you are.

I’ve struggled over the years with falling into a deep well of regret and frustration at myself for things I didn’t do, paths I didn’t choose when I was younger.  It is truly exhausting to constantly fight your own mind and try to pull it away from those useless thoughts.  Regret is not helpful the way that learning from a mistake is– in fact I believe they are opposing things.  Being obsessed with always making the “right” choice feels like an illness, and it is a taxing one to bear.  In some odd way, having children has tremendously helped me with these feelings.  For me, the act of mothering (in the broad sense of the word– anyone can be a “mother”, whether you have a kid or not) is a thing which puts the rest of the scope of life in better perspective.  It is the act of balancing one’s own insane amount of self-thought with the thoughts of others, but in a deeply meaningful and consequential way.  My decisions for my own little life have impacted me, to be sure, but my decisions for my children are so much more far-reaching.

I have ended up in a place, at age 33, of understanding at least one thing very deeply: We choose each day how we will perceive our own life.  (Barring, of course, intense mental or physical illness, which, let’s be honest afflicts everyone at some point so shouldn’t we all feel absolutely lucky beyond words to wake up each day with the health we do have!)  That should be enough of a rope to hang on to and not fall back into that echoey, hollow well of darkness again and again.  I can wake up early, take a walk with the sunrise, and decide to be an active participant in my own life each day.  The dark well will always be there, but I don’t have to keep falling in.

Right now all I really want is to cuddle with my 2-year-old baby, who will soon not be my “baby” anymore, and practice reading with my 5-year-old, and bake yummy things in our tiny kitchen while my big belly sways beneath a flour-covered apron and my girls say “Can we help stir that mommy?”  That is exactly enough right now.  In fact, it is everything.




Summer Travels and to be “Content”

I just came across this unfinished piece I wrote last summer, when I traveled alone with my two daughters to stay in Bulgaria for 6 weeks with our family.  


( Tuesday, 6/27/17)

We are midway through our 6-week stay in Bulgaria, the homeland of my husband.

Things I love here…

The linens and t-shirts and undergarments hanging outside on clothes lines on balconies

The fresh morning air, dry and cool and with a hint of the mountains upon the breeze

Sweet old grandmas with their floral print blouses and long skirts, socks and sandals and ancient kerchiefs upon their hair

Funny old grandpas and their mesh or leather sandals (also occasionally with socks), and their very retro, unknowingly cool sartorial style

Plum trees dripping with ripe fruits everywhere

Grapevines, verdant and crawling, everywhere (not yet with ripe fruits, but still beautiful to behold)

Charming old Soviet-era cars, colorful and unselfconscious (as though they possess their own, ultra-cool personalities)

Small children and baby carriages everywhere

Big, ancient trees, regally holding court across the expanses of the beautiful park

Smooth, ancient cobblestones in the bumpy, bouncy roads

Cherries, melons, nectarines, and peaches, cucumbers, tomatoes, milk, cheese, and feta– all of these totally organic, all of these fresh and bursting with more flavor than I’ve ever experienced elsewhere


Chopska Salad

Feeling at home thousands of miles away from home


There is something different in the air here.  A sweetness, and an inexplicable calm.  People decidedly do not rush here.  There is not a great sense of urgency, nor of striving for the kind of “American Success” we are so familiar with.  To describe Bulgaria in one word, I would choose Content.  I’ve been to Bulgaria twice before over the past 7 years, have traveled to most of the major cities and many, many villages, and always, everywhere (with the sole exclusion of Sofia, which is metropolitan and busy) I’ve encountered the same thoughts– this is what it’s like to be content with what you’ve got.  Though what a childish analysis, for of course it is an outsider’s view.  Certainly there are significant numbers of people here who want change, who wish for a different future, who yearn for progress and a better paycheck and a newer Peugeot.  But still, I can’t help but recognize the easy, unforced smiles and genial temperaments of so many.

I must be under the Tourist’s Charm.

I don’t know if it’s a real thing or not, but I recognize it as existing every time I travel anywhere new (or even not-so-new).  It’s the feeling you get when you’re on vacation and under the spell of being released from your daily stressors and the repetition of routine.  That feeling of wonderment at all of life around you– the buildings, cars, people, streets, food.  How a simple morning coffee in a new environment can make you all excited and cornily grateful, or how a totally goofy grin can impart itself to your face as you trot downhill to the park and stare blissfully across the valley at all the (romantic, to you) old brick houses on the hillside, with the morning sunshine cozily warming your back (not yet 94* fahrenheit as it will soon be, when you’ll be melting into a sweaty puddle and huffing away climbing back up that hill to get home later).  Ah, the charm of being the tourist.

Being here with just my girls is such a unique and rich experience… I want to attempt to bake all the words, thoughts, feelings, emotions, experiences into a neat and warm little pie, and serve it up so others can take a bite of it.  I want to share the flavor of this place.  How different it must be for every person, with their own likes and dislikes and inclinations, to experience a place.  How lovely it makes the world.

I had a thought come to me today… motherhood happiness is measured in stretches of joy with children.  All the tough parts are trimmed away,

there are more happy moments than not

The hard parts can drain you quickly and completely, but all the good parts fill you up and runneth over.



A short list of great podcasts, and other listens…

Good things to watch and hear.


Here are some fantastic women I’ve been listening to while I work from home lately (cleaning, sewing, doing absolutely endless laundry.. mostly that kind of work).   Sometimes these very solitary activities make me feel a bit lonely, and it can be a difficult thing to escape.  One way I fight those feelings is by listening to hour after hour of spoken words– audiobooks, TED talks, podcasts, radio interviews, etc.  It’s medicine for the mind.


T E D  T A L K S . . .


👆 “How to make hard choices”, Ruth Chang

This was recommended to me by my friend J, with whom I share the character trait of exceptionally long, intense self-mind-debates over both small and large life choices.  It’s a great listen, especially if you’re in the midst of a difficult decision-making process.


👆 “This deep-sea mystery is changing our understanding of life”, Karen Lloyd

SO fascinating and also uplifting– fascinating because it’s about mysterious marine microbes, which is just so cool, and uplifting because it’s the polar opposite of all the political noise in the news every day.  (This is the kind of stuff that allows me to take a BIG breath– the world is still ok, there are cool women scientists and cool marine microbes just doin’ their things out there.  The world is still ok.)


👆 “How to raise successful kids– without over-parenting”

Relatable and not at all preachy, Julie Lythcott-Haims puts her finger on some very big issues that children are facing today, and how a parent can identify the “check-listed childhood” and hopefully avoid it.


👆 “Why Women Should Tell the Stories of Humanity”, Jude Kelly

Founder of WOW (Women of the World festival), Jude Kelly doesn’t mince words about her views on the female perspective through history, both recent and distant.  I love what she has to say about the story of Hamlet.


O N  Y O U T U B E . . . 

👆“Sarah Pascoe on Animal:  Autobiography of a Female Body”

I opened YouTube and searched “autobiography women“, and this came up at the top.  I’d never heard of Pascoe or her book, and I listened to this entire interview while intermittently pausing it to vacuum under and around my desk (didn’t want to miss any part!)  It’s 53 min 19 sec. long and I was wishing for more… great listen.


P O D C A S T S . . .


Woman’s Hour from the BBC

“The programme that offers a female perspective on the world”.  Presented by hosts Jane Garvey and Jenni Murray.  I love this show. I stumbled upon it when I searched for Lena’s show “women of the of hour” to check if she had any new episodes (sadly, no) but I misspelled “women” as “woman” and up came this. They delve into such a wide variety of womanly and worldly topics, and also feature some fun interviews.



SO good, so warm and groovy and inviting and yet also makes you think.  Helga Davis hosts this interview series, and she is full of comforting/smart woman-vibes.  (listen to episodes with Hilton Als and Sarah Jones, both are excellent.)




art by Linda Lopez via

What I don’t do won’t kill me (?)

I have no idea half the time.

No idea how to get there, how to make time work in my favor, how to be a really good mother, how to make money. How to stick to one thing until it’s “successful”, whatever in gods name that means.

I don’t know when is the right time to speak up, or if speaking up is what is best for me and my family (b/c as a mother I’m pre-programmed for my concern to reach beyond myself, it’s unstoppable), or if writing is worth the time to do it. The less time you spend working on something the less quality you’ll reap from it, but the greater the honesty of that thing will be. What a trade-off.

I don’t know when my mind will catch up to my calendrical age and start to think less emotionally and more like a calm Buddhist monk, something I desire like a child wants cheap plastic toys for Christmas. Or how to stop being dependent on sugar to make me feel just normal ever day. How do I stop stopping myself from doing things I want to do that require the sharing of personal thoughts? Drinking more and earlier would help in this case but it doesn’t seem like a good enough reason.

I saw today this brief post on an online news outlet about a girl who took photographs of her grandparents’ belongings after they had passed. It was her way of preserving them and their life, and a way to honor the simplicity of that life. Later I was doing my best thinking during my shower and thought of how simple minded it is to attempt to do Big Things in a lifetime, because no matter how Big and Memorable and Important those things are, people in the present simply do not care. We do not care about Nefertiti or Alexander the Great or anyone in history who has made an indelible impact on humanity. I mean we don’t actively give a damn. It made me think, all in the briefest flash of a moment, that being a simple “nobody” who is kind and good and endlessly loving to their closest loved ones (and also kind to strangers) is the purest form of a truly good life. And that’s actually all that matters. Just that. Waking up, feeding your family, listening to your kids say funny and long-winded things and hugging your spouse all morning like it’s a lazy Sunday even when it’s a Monday, and baking bread and cookies from scratch, and helping your parents with whatever and your siblings with whatever and just being a decent person and not giving so much of a damn about what you’re going to Get Done Today… that’s it. That’s all that is good and golden and precious of life. We make it so damn complicated. Why can’t we stop wanting so much? Why can’t it be enough, just this.

All of life often feels like a game to me. A complex yet configured set of coding which could be untangled and understood if only our own humanic interiors could be wangdoozled. That’s how it feels anyway.

And somehow I feel closer to the truth than ever before.

It’s just outside my reach.


Art by Hayv Kahraman via The Jealous Curator

Monday Menagerie #42

“I try to avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward”

Charlotte Brontë

N E W S . . . New location of The Wing announced in SoHo

If you haven’t heard of it yet, The Wing is a new women’s club/workspace based in NYC.  The kind of place you see pictures of and get all squirmy in your chair because it’s soooo pretty to look at, and you just feel the groovy woman-vibes emanating from the images.  It first opened its doors less than a year ago, and already has expanded to three new locations:  DUMBO in Brooklyn, Washington D.C.,  and now SoHo.

Want a Wing in your town?  Tell ’em here.

Below, pictures from my Wing newsletter of the cool 3-D paper model (by artist Lorraine Nam) of the newest location…

 N E W S . . . Lenny Letter now has Lenny books!

Lenny has just released their first book title through their new imprint with Random House, read an excerpt here.

C R E A T I V I T Y . . . Female Artist Metalsmiths Unite

Pretty and strong metal creations by four women… (I like the pierced silver bowl)

Juliette Bigley, Ane Christensen, Rebecca de Quin, Simone ten Hompel and Adi Toch are five metalsmiths from culturally diverse backgrounds. Living and working in London, they “share the language of metal and a love of making objects”.  All of their practices explore hollow forms through the lens of their own personal heritage and the particularity of their making.

via Creative Boom

A R T . . .  Carol Milne’s knitted wonder

This woman knits glass.  I have no idea how that works but jeez how cool.

via The Jealous Curator

R E A D . . .  “Back Again” by Holly Blues

The most recent lovely piece from one of my favourite reading blogs– full of warm,  simple words that feel like a friendly embrace.  (And her photography has some kind of pure magic to it.)

D E L I G H T F U L L N E S S . . .  A farewell to Gems 

Just wander around this blog, you will get wonderfully lost in time.  It’s one of those somewhat rare internet black holes that leaves you feeling positive and happy after getting lost in, like you spent your time well no matter how long you were there.

Gems was/is a blog created by Mallory McInnis, and which regularly featured the most delightful object/theme compilations, old film stills (perfectly captured screen shots), and various pretty things to look at and be inspired by.

I’ve just discovered she will no longer be updating her blog (which makes me quite sad), but it will hopefully continue to exist in its suspended state forevermore.

(link above is to one of her old 2012 posts about Mountains, which just feels nice to look at right now.)

all images below via Gems.


Crazy/funny Artwork at top:  Vikki Chu (discovered via Gems, of course)




From my window I can see…

Tuesday, July 11, 6:29am, Haskovo, Bulgaria.

Sounds and sights from the balcony…



A row of black socks on a clothes line

One red wall amongst brown

The sound of pigeon feathers, flapping wings

A sheet with yellow and white stripes stretched out to dry

Underwear on the line

Scaffolding 8 stories high


A rooster crowing (just one… now two)

The morning sun casting light upon the buildings to the West


Cars driving

A dog barking

A baby crying

A white cat

Another dog barking

A house painted bright red

An orange towel

Flowers upon a balcony

A hatchback car the color of an 80’s spandex suit

Many, many television satellites

Haze in the distance

Another dog barking, or the same as before

Constant motion

Endless sounds





Photo- my own

Be Here Now*



I’m sitting in a kitchen in a tiny old apartment in Sandanski, Bulgaria.  It’s about 1:32 pm here, sunny and warm outside.  My cousin-in-law is sitting on the bed next to me (beds in kitchens are occasionally a thing here, really cool), and we’re listening to retro 80’s music on my phone while working on our computers.

I haven’t felt this relaxed in a long, long time.  We came here a week ago, just me and my two girls.  A special 6-week vacation to stay with my husband’s family (he is back at home, holding down the fort like a champion, making us all miss him awfully).  It is also a chance for me to disconnect from all the maddening stress that had been stalking me for many months at home.  The combination of being sick and having sick babies for weeks on end, since February, with barely a breather between each new illness, and my constant companion of allergies so fierce they make my brain feel like cooked squash, was wearing me down to a ghost of a person.  I was losing sense of everything.  It felt like being in the surf without a board and having the waves crash over and over again… at some point you just want someone to pull you out, save you.

Do we all hold these things inside?  Should we try to tell more of the dark side?  Should we speak up?  I want to keep the hard parts covered up beneath layers of smiles and sunshine.  It’s both a choice and an instinct.  Some people explain or complain, others do not.  I believe that more often than not, speaking honestly about how we feel–if that feeling is in anyway not good– comes across as complaining.  Self-interested whining.  Boring to hear.  Who wants to listen to lousy stuff?  It all sounds like excuses.  And excuses make your ears ring, they always sound the same; a droning tune of a tin pan band.

I’m so happy being here.  I’m not sure if it’s because I so deeply and fervently love being in new/different places far faaaar away from home, or because the weather here is so sparklingly sunny and the air so clean and dry (as opposed to my hot and very humid Florida), or because it’s just a change of scenery, all of these things and more I’m sure.  The food here (tomatoes, peaches, plums, nectarines, cucumber, butter, eggs, milk, cheese, etc. etc.) is SO GOOD it almost makes me angry.  We burn holes in our wallets for Wholefoods groceries at home, and here you can drop $20 for enough wholesome, pure, straight-from-the-garden, truly organic and/or homemade sustenance to last you a full week.  Really.  (And the depth of flavors! Ah!)  But ya can’t make much dough here, the green kind.  Trade-offs.

I don’t want to go home.  Back to the usual ebb and flow of life, the drum and marching of the band to the sounds of a music I have never cared for.  But then again it’s home, it is comfort and warmth, family and friends, all that is most dear and familiar to me.  Nothing can change that.  As much as I fight it like a child, I still love my hometown (albeit in a strained and ever uncomfortable way.)  Rather, I love certain things in it.  The big, smooth-trunked Magnolia tree I climbed every day as a child, the white sand beaches that used to squeak like a rubber balloon when you walked on it, the cicadas in August, skiing down sand dunes (before it became outlawed), and the smell of car grease and diesel from my grandpa and dad’s old auto/body shops.  Those things.

What I sat down to write about was supposed to be about this place– this little blog.  As usual,  I’d wanted to attempt to explain something.  But explaining is the second cousin of excuses, and of course excuses are married to complaints, and there’s no room for that here.  However, I think I’ve learned something recently… maybe this week, or maybe just today, this morning, when I was at the park with my eldest and she was playing on the playground happily…  that it is what it is.  You can love it, hate it, try to change it, try to break free of it, attempt to wrangle it into submission and understand it, scream at it, pray to it, yearn for it, beg of it… but it remains what it is.

I wrote this in my travel notebook a few days ago…

“…I’m never more than a stone’s throw away from the person I was at 17, and 22, and 25, and 28, and 30.  Why is it so difficult to leave oneself behind?”

You, and me, and everyone, we all sometimes hope to change something in ourselves.  To become new people, to become dream-versions of who we actually are.  But small adjustments and little improvements are the only things we can attain– the rest is who we are.  Why is it so hard to hug that character tightly, wrap it about our shoulders like a warm, beloved cardigan, and wear it with some pride right outside?

I’m working on that.



*I first saw the phrase “Be Here Now” spray-painted in simple lettering on a sidewalk by our apartment in South Beach, some 5 or 6 years ago.  I didn’t know it was a statement that had already been in existence for a long time and had its own history– I just thought is was cool and made sense.  I now know that phrase is attributed to the Western yogic spiritual leader Bhagavad Das, and his student Ram Dass, from several decades ago.  I still like it.

Photo and art by:  Tara Tona (taken/made on my iPhone, here on this little old sundeck, just before I published this.)



the bird made the wolf flinch.

All things in the wild are wild things, and humbled by wilderness.

All things
made to eat,
and also
to be eaten.

All things
and also

perhaps designed,
for the sort of desperation
that springs all beings forward;

for the sort of desperation
that makes all beings present;
knowing that fate lies
under earth.

Bound only to their needs,
they are free from god;
free from ego.

All wild beasts bow to one another. The light is the only thing left untouched for now.



photograph: Blaz Poljansek

It’s ok, it’s ok.

When I was lost,
Looking even for myself,
I went first
To the mirror in my bathroom.

Lips and eyes and breasts
With no answers
Just “sure, maybe.”

I took myself outside,
And looked up to the sky
That went first
To the sun,
But couldn’t stay.

Clouds, an occasional bird and wires-
Full of conversations and connections,
None that led to me.

“Poor me!” I wailed
I am so lost
So unloved
So alone
Don’t I deserve?

I was docile
And decent
Digestible even.

I thought of the trees
In the forest
And even went to see them.

They felt familiar
But then I heard about the roots
And the fungi
On a radio show
That lots of people were listening to,

And went looking again
For something real

Stars, yes
And no.
Coyotes, yes
And no.
Unborn babies, yes
And no.

I checked under rocks with the names carved in
in abandoned nests with the eggs still in

On busy streets
On streets made of dirt

In office buildings with suits and mid-length skirts
In abandoned buildings with leather boots and line-hung shirts

None of them were like me.
All of them were like me.
They gave me no answers;
Just sure, maybe.

With the others,
Thinking of the others.
We’re all that way
It’s ok,
It’s ok.


Art:  Gosia Herba via

Ever Changing, Ever The Same.

No one ever said it would be easy.  But good grief I didn’t think it’d be so hard.

Just life.  The grown-up part of it.  Now.  Being post-30, with children, attempting to continue to make your own path.

Decisions.  So many decisions.

I’m sitting at my “desk” (the kitchen table, because I moved my actual desk out of our home office and it’s now sitting in our living room/kitchen because I can’t make up my mind to sell it online or donate it or shove it into storage because I’m nostalgic about it, because I’m nostalgic about everything), with my elbows resting on a pile of forms I’m supposed to fill out to do this fundraiser thing for my daughter’s preschool.  I had no idea this kind of stuff started in preschool.  I need to decide what to do.  Do I just fill out the form and fall in line and go ask for donations and do the whole bit?  Do I just write a check out of pocket for $25 and call it a day?  Do I forgo the entire program because I can’t stand even the thought of a fundraiser for anything?  Am I just grumpy?

Every decision I have to make seems to be predicated upon something so much larger.  Philosophy, social norms and mores, personal values and beliefs, the Greater Good, the Bigger Picture, our family budget, the weather, dopamine levels.

And I’m tired.  I’m so tired I could cry.  I’m so tired that I physically can’t cry.  That’s the real thing I never realized about being a parent.  How absolutely numbingly tiring it can get.  Not every day, not all the time, but pretty much every day and all the time.  Loving someone so completely is, in itself, emotionally intense.  It is both fulfilling and draining at once.  My cup runneth over and spilleth all over the damn place.  And I haven’t time to clean up the mess.  But I know I’m just going through that difficult phase of having a 3 1/2 year old and an almost 9-month-old, trying to function as both a good mama and a whole and complete human.  And currently everyone is sick with the flu.  It’s just a tough February.

I don’t think I’ve ever so looked forward to spring.

Recently I started reading again.  Like, actually reading words that are printed on paper.  It’s beyond wonderful.  I almost finished Anthony Bourdain’s A Cook’s Tour (read late at night, the only time a mother can properly read).  I would have totally finished it (Bourdain is one of my very few highly beloved writers), except that all those gory food descriptions started to wear on me, so I had to switch gears.  (Allow me to defend his writing briefly— it is the best kind of gory food descriptions, but I am the exact opposite of an “adventurous eater”, so I’m not very well-suited to travel food writing.  I strictly read it for the travel-y bits and his glorious talent to construct a sentence.)  I picked up Eat, Pray, Love, yet again.  It’s been a number of years since last I read it, but it stays, always, comfortingly, upon my bookshelf.  I need it right now.  It’s as cozy to read as an Alpaca blanket is to snuggle up in.  That’s all I need or want right now.  Something to wrap around my shoulders, so I can quietly rest beside my warm husband on the sofa at night, after the little ones are finally, finally, finally asleep, and just take a long deep breath, and read.

And then wake up in the sunlit morning to a warm, squishy baby looking at me with doe-eyes, smiling with her little bunny teeth, and I’m all melted butter inside.  Like the sunrise after a long night of darkness, Clarity is always right behind a curtain of grey confusion.  And for me, clarity is a true kind of happiness.


“Art” at top by me.  And my Sharpie.

New Year, New Me, New You

11:11am CST, 31 Dec. 2016.


Of all the places I could be, things I could be doing, thoughts I could be thinking, I’m mighty happy right here.

I’m tired, it’s been such a long year, but right here is good.

I’m 32 years old, just barely, and I’m learning the pace of life.  It’s slow and steady, and nothing we humans do can speed it up.  I like that.  I like that we’re not in control of some things, so many things, bigger than us, stronger than us, so very much grander than us.

We all have these wishes and desires for our lives, these trajectories we envision and strive to achieve by plotting our course and working, working, working.  We always seem to want to go faster and harder and be a little bit better than ourselves as we were before.  Sometimes we find ourselves ahead of the curve, and it feels amazing.  Exhilarating.  More often, it seems, we’re running behind a kite caught in the wind, chasing the string.  That’s what makes life an adventure.

Babies change everything.

They take your old, comfortable, self-centered, easy life away from you and replace it with something entirely different.  They make you a willing servant, a person who will gladly, joyfully, even at times gleefully, take care of the needs of another entirely and wholly and fully before your own.  No one else can do this, only a child.  Only your own.  The exhaustion, the never-ending tiredness, the mind-numbing sleeplessness, it all is ameliorated, quite instantaneously, with the laughter and babbles of a baby.  Or the tender words of a little girl, saying she loves you.  Such simple, simple things.  How can life be so simple and hard and painful and beautiful all at once?  But it is, over and over, day after day, year after year.

I’m a mother of two, and my life is nothing as it used to be.  There is an invisible veil that I believe all parents– most dramatically mothers (but fathers too)– pass through that no matter how hard you try to look through before parenthood you cannot conceive of it.  Cannot understand what will be asked of you, demanded of you, brought out of you.  Cannot imagine how you will be molded and reshaped, like soft, warm clay in the hands of a potter.  Because that’s exactly it, we the parents are the ones who are shaped by our children.  What a beautiful thing, if we can be patient enough and aware enough to recognize that.  My how beautiful.

So we are upon the very cusp of a fresh new year, full of all the possibility and hope and wonder of the dawning of a bright new day… may we all step forward, alight ourselves upon the strong soil of reality but keep our heads in the lovely clouds, and continue to strive for greatness, for kindness, for compassion, for patience, and for the thrill of simply being alive.

Cheers… to 2017 and to YOU!

Xx, Tara T.



photo/art by me (photo from Peru, Sacsayhuamán, 2012; digital art added later.)

All Together Now


I usually don’t use an alarm to wake up. I like to wake up naturally. You see, I have that luxury as an unemployed actor and freelance writer who, by the way, has made exactly $200 writing this year. YES!

The night before my 40th birthday in July earlier this year, I set my alarm. I knew precisely what song I wanted to ease me into my extraordinary year of 40.

I had forgotten that the song starts with a few measures of a brassy and slightly drunken sounding version of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, but since I’ve spent the last 39 years conquering insecurity, fear, and doubt, a triumphant war song seemed more than appropriate.

And then the vocals…

Love. Love. Love.

Love. Love. Love.

Love. Love. Love.

You gotta respect the bold simplicity of that lyric. The word “love” repeated nine times. And then this…

There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.

Wow. That gives me so much hope. I think that means that I alone decide what my limitations are. Sexy. It’s easy. So I choose none.

Then there’s this mind blower…

There’s nothing you can know that can’t be known.

Nothing you can see that isn’t shown.

There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be. It’s easy.

Oh HO HO HO! YES! Here I am. Nowhere near where I thought I’d be just weeks ago. My path dramatically changed and yet, according to this, I’m where I’m meant to be. How about that?

And who has been by my side through all the unexpected change? The same person who was by my side at the Frenchman Hotel in New Orleans when I got my wake up call back in July. The same person who has been by my side for the last seven and a half years. The blue-eyed, hay-headed love of my life.

If you are participating in a committed relationship, I commend you! The active word here being “participating.” After my marriage failed several years ago, I told my parents that I didn’t think I was suited to be in a relationship. I thought it was probably too painful to try again and I feared more failure and heartbreak, so why partake? They convinced me otherwise. To be more specific, they said that idea was stupid and to get over myself. Tough love.

And here we are.

I have goals and dreams. I have strong desires to create, to write, to perform, to inspire change and evolution, and yet, I feel that my relationship with my partner teaches me more about myself and the world than anything else that I do. To be in a relationship; and I mean the active part of “be,” has been the great teacher of my life. We vowed early on that we would not take each other for granted, that we would actively choose each other every day. Would you believe it? We do. Do we fight, argue and sometimes get on each other’s nerves? Of course! But there is nothing sexier than throwing your preferences into the fire that burns between you. Hot! That’s just it. There is a fire between us that needs tending to, stoking, and fuel. A fire needs attention or it goes out. Sometimes we throw what is most precious to us into the fire to keep it going.

I had no idea when I chose The Beatles’, All You Need Is Love, to wake up to on my 40th birthday that it would become my mantra. Love, love, love… love nine times. I’m taking the time to acknowledge and tend to the fire, the love, burning between my partner and myself. I’m clearing my plate of busy-busy-busy-making in order to fully experience the heat of what we’ve accomplished together and what we will continue to accomplish and grow together.

The beautiful thing about all of this is that the fire I have with my partner helps me to better understand and grow the fire I have with my community and with everyone I come into contact with. This is a ripe time to be practicing love in every sense of the word. I actively practice love with my partner and then I have the tools and energy I need to practice love with the world.

All you need is love. All you need is love. All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.



Featured Art:  Elaine Kehew


It’s over.

The thick fog has lifted from our heads and finally we can see clearly again.  Amazing what a difference just a day makes.

November 9th was a day of mourning for those of us who voted against Mr. Trump.  As for me, I was in shock, then in awe, then in shock again, then in a coma for most of the day.  The entire day was spent hunched over my computer/cell screens attempting to make sense of what had happened.  The grieving process felt visceral, and important.  Just allowing myself to sink into the sadness and confusion felt like a release in itself.  Allowing myself to acknowledge how bad I had wanted Hillary to win, and how repugnant a future with Donald at our helm seemed.


Today is a new day.  And actually by late afternoon yesterday, I already had begun to feel a confidence and spirit bubbling up inside of me.  I realize now that it was insuppressible.  That verve and bright fiery spirit is insuppressible in all of us who demand more of our existence, who do not settle, who aim for goodness in the world, who desire to achieve great things for ourselves and those around us, who do not trample on the lives of others in order to advance our own position, who love, and accept, and are open-minded and clear-viewed and thoughtful and expressive and complex and unique and DIVERSE.  THIS IS WHAT I STAND FOR.

And this is what I will fight for, and work for, and live for.

Let us rally.  Let us move onward together, let us UNITE.  Let us be kindred spirits and let us be kind and decent and rational and move through this world with love in our hearts and on our tongues.  And that includes embracing the man who is our new president.  He is human too, as flawed as any of us.  I’m sick of the hatred and intolerance, whether from the opposing side or from ourselves.  Let’s do something worth doing, and worth living for.

I had no intention of writing a finely crafted piece today, which this obviously isn’t.  This is just flow, unedited and raw.  I’ve nothing more to hide.  No reason to hide.  I will be meek no more.



Photo at top:  Joan of Arc.  I chose this image very deliberately.  Despite the fact that Joan of Arc (so far as we can tell from historical recordings) went to battle in the Hundred Years War as a result of having visions of saints while standing in her father’s garden (hallucinogenic plant ingestion perhaps..?), she was indeed a brave warrior who fought boldly, was captured by the enemy, burned at the stake at age 19, subsequently found not guilty for her charges, and posthumously canonized as a saint.  I believe she is an icon for feminine bravery and strength, and her story and the images of her in battle are really quite inspiring to me.  

Why I am Voting for HRC

I am voting for Hillary Rodham Clinton because…

She is a badass

She talks about the issues

She doesn’t give a F**K about what the other side says about or thinks of her

She is a fighter

She CARES about people, families and children

She makes mistakes

She keeps on fighting

She has incredible experience leading and supporting leaders

She has been working her whole life for this moment

She is open

She can see situations from all sides because has been on all sides

She has lived like the average American and has built herself into a world leader

She is supported by Barack Obama

She is supported by Michelle Obama

She has the support of every single person that I think is smart and cool and talented

She supports all the things that I care deeply about…protecting Roe vs. Wade, smarter gun laws so that we can stop killing one another in senseless acts of violence, saving humans and the earth from our growing negative environmental impact, education reform, prison reform, giving every single child a chance to get the education she/he deserves, preserving equality so that each human can live the way she/he feels the most like themselves and experiences the greatest freedom, affordable healthcare for all, immigration reform so that we are balancing taking care of ourselves as well as those who desperately need our help, tax reform so that the money in this country can be more evenly distributed and the 1% at the top are helping to support those who didn’t have the same opportunities they were given.


Yes, I am supporting Hillary for a lot of reasons but one of the main reasons I am supporting her is because she is a strong, strong woman.  It IS TIME for a woman to be leading this country. Women are nurturing, smart, strong, tough, caring and they know how to surround themselves with the right people. I admire her strength and have no idea how the heck she can take so much abuse.  She is determined to lead this country, why else would she stay and endure all the intense negativity being thrown her way?  I would have broken down a long time ago but she keeps moving forward with grace and confidence and this undying spirit to win this thing.  I am SO PROUD to be a democrat.  I love loving the things I care about because I believe in my heart that all the things I stated above are for the betterment of mankind and will lead to a more peaceful world.  Call me a hippie, call me a socialist, I simply want to see us be kinder to our fellow humans, the animals that share this earth with us, the earth itself, and most importantly, ourselves.  I want us to live together trusting God and the Universe that there is enough to go around and that we are ALL here for some grand and beautiful purpose.  That’s the kind of world I want to live in, and I want my children to live in, and I feel HRC will continue the work my hero, Barack Obama, started to get us there!

I am spending my day today, election day, praying that we continue moving forward and don’t take one GIANT leap backwards.  If for some sad reason we do, I will spend my time searching for and gathering the people who want to start a revolution…for a more peaceful world.  And because of this divisive, polarizing, and toxic election, I think they are going to be a lot easier to find.


“If you vote for Hillary Clinton you are a grown up, if you vote for Trump you are a sucker, if you don’t vote at all you are an asshole.” –  Louis CK


Photo (at top) of the artist Olek with her entirely crocheted Hillary “billboard”, via The New Yorker

The Girl Who Ran For President


She wasn’t just a girl

In fact, none of them were

just girls

or just boys

just white

or just black

or yellow

or brown.

None of them

were just good

or just bad.

They were all

just themselves;

just people,

who were all a little good,

and all a little bad.

They all just wanted something

good to hold on to

in order to belong.


So they made groups.

They said:











And they were all wrong,

and they were all right too

because they were who they were.

And they were all a little good,

and all a little bad.

But some of them,

most of them,

forgot about something;

forgot about themselves;

forgot about

the In Between;

the stuff they gave away

to give in

in order to belong.


They gave away their sex lives,

but couldn’t change their sexuality.

They gave their pride,

but kept their homelands.

Denied their skin,

but kept their blood.

Kept their kids,

and lost their minds.

Gave their shirts,

and lost their asses.


They paid taxes.

They collected welfare.

They prayed to this God,

or to that God.

They had children,

or chose not to,

because of this God

or that God

or forgiveness

or no God.


They spoke out,

and stood up.

They didn’t settle

for the back of the bus

or the bottom of the pay scale

or the first in line at the airport security check.


No matter who ruled them

they didn’t settle for sons shot down

or daughters shot down

or religions shot down.


They call it

the Land of the Free

but it has always been

the Land of the Flawed.

We are all just us,


The In Betweens.



Products of the world

that tried to pin us down

to just one thing,

but we have never been

just one thing.

We have always been something

from everywhere

that settled for some things

but never for just anything

from just anyone

because they’re “someone”.


Freedom has never been,

and will never be.

Freedom is fighting.

Freedom is

a black baptist,

a trans mayor,

a german jew,

a gay father,

a rich man


a girl president

all together.


But she’s not just a girl

she’s not all good,

but she is alright

with me.


I think she knows,

and I think she tries.

I think she would listen.

I think she could say

“I was not all good,”

and then change.


I think she’s good enough

the way she is

because she’s smart enough

to change

for us, the way we are,


as In Betweens.


vintage photo of Hillary Clinton

Podcast Episode #6 – Guns, Politics, and Immigration

This is the last episode of our two-part series, “How to Talk About Controversial Issues”, and also… Our final episode of Season 1!  

In this episode:  Guns, Politics, and Immigration.  Jamie shares a personal story about gun violence, and we talk about 2nd Amendment rights.  In Politics, we discuss the two female candidates– Jill and Hillary— and what we like/dislike about their platforms (including a brief discussion on abortion), and also address our personal opinions about the Opponent.  In Immigration, we focus on Syrian refugees and Jamie shares a social media movement to help bring awareness to the realities of what these people deal with.  As always, our conversation is followed by Cameron, (our Male Liaison) giving us his POV, and finally Jamie and I challenge each other with tough questions and jam out to a darn great track of music.

We hope you have enjoyed our podcast, any part you may have listened to.  Thank you to all who have joined us on our journey!  We’re stoked to come back for season two next year… stay tuned 🙂

👇 👇  Listen Here!  👇 👇

Theme music by Jnuary (aka, Jeremy Bullock… Thank you amazing wonderful Jeremy!!!)

Podcast Episode #5 : Black Lives Matter and Extremist Violence

“This is a doozy

Episode #5 is part one of our two-part series called, “How to Talk About Controversial Issues”, and in this episode we explore Black Lives Matter and Terrorism.  I think Jamie described this episode perfectly with that one remark… it’s definitely a doozy.

In this episode:  A discourse on what Black Lives Matter really means, and how we, as white women/people, should talk about it and what our responsibility is to it.  Then we talk about ISIS/ISIL– what makes a person turn to such violence, and what if we approached radicalized individuals with love?  We wrap the conversation section with a few words on gun violence (which we will explore deeper in episode 6).  Next we hear from Cameron, our “Male Liaison”, to get his take on the issues at hand, and finally we end with some lighthearted yet terrifically challenging pop-quiz questions!  And music!  Great music!!  We hope you’ll love it.

👇 👇  Listen Here!  👇 👇

Theme music by the wondrously talented Jnuary.

Stay tuned for our forthcoming episode #6, in which we will discuss Gun Violence, Politics, and Immigration. 😬!!


Your feedback means a whole whole lot.  Drop us a comment or email if you have any thoughts to share.


Say it Out Loud

Dear Reader, Dear You,

Today I finally stepped outside of my cozy little bubble of comfort and said something.  I said it loud, and strong, and publicly.  Though it was “said” in type via social media, it was still put out there for anyone to see.  I endorsed Hillary Clinton for President of the U.S. on behalf of Project:Women.

Why does it matter?  I think it matters for two very specific reasons, one personal, the other universal.  Both of equal importance.

The personal is about the individual– specifically, the individual’s right to say what she or he or they believe.  That most core of values held by humanity, the one addressed by our First Constitutional Amendment.  To be able to confidently, yet thoughtfully, speak out the convictions, feelings, points of view, concerns, questions, and values one holds in their conscious mind.  To be not afraid to do so.  To be not restrained by the fetters of opposing views.  To stand up, bravely, and declare one’s stance on any subject regardless of its divisiveness.

For years– for my entire adult life– I have held back many of my deepest beliefs because I didn’t want to be the cause of a schism between me and my conservative extended family members.  Being a member of such a tight-knit family, there was nothing in the world that I felt was worth standing up for and possibly losing that bond.  But through the years I have watched each of them stand up for what they believe in, without a trace of fear.  I’ve wondered why I couldn’t do the same, what it was that so stifled my full voice.  I’m sure it was a big mixture of things, but I know it included love.  My love for my extended family was always too big, too strong.  It overshadowed my self.  I always thought that was a good thing.  But I don’t anymore.  It has taken me over 30 years to learn that my voice matters, and that it is worth saying out loud.  It doesn’t mean that I love them less, it means that I respect myself enough to stand up and speak.

The Universal is about everyone else– the Big Picture.  We humans are not islands, we are nothing without connection, and we must live together and commune together on one big, beautiful, imperfect planet.  Our individual choices affect one another.  They are important.  

Today was my first real, big, purposeful step forward towards reclaiming my own identity, and to building up and openly sharing who I am, what I stand for, what I believe.  I hope whoever reads this will feel empowered by my words, and will not feel alone if they too (if you, too,) might be burdened by the same thing I was for so long.  Don’t be afraid to speak– for who knows how your voice might affect the world.

From the Depths of my Heart,



PS.  Thank you to my husband, Atanas Delchev, for tirelessly supporting me and continually encouraging me to speak my voice.  I can never thank you enough… my dearest love.


Art: Self-portrait, Tara Tona, 2015

What Do You Have To Say?

I’m a good listener. Or, at least, I think I am. I’ve been told numerous times that I am, so it just might be true.

Most of the time I enjoy listening. I like that people are comfortable to speak freely to me and often times share intimate details about their lives with me. I don’t care so much for drama, gossip, or complaining, but when someone is going through something challenging, or is experiencing growth or is about to grow, I want to support that with listening.

Often I’ll be listening for a while and suddenly the speaker will ask, “And how are you?” and I’m speechless. Such a simple question…

I don’t know what to say.

It is very very possible that I am hoarding my story. If I share it with inelegant words then it might lose its value or meaning to me. If it is not received gently or with care I might feel embarrassed and resentful. Or, it might just be that I express myself better in writing and prefer it over casual conversation. Nothing wrong with that! But here’s what I’ve discovered this last month as I’ve pondered why “how are you?” is such a tough question for me. I actually have a lot to say but I tend to choose actions over words and that’s sometimes tricky to demonstrate over a cappuccino with a cherished acquaintance.

What am I saying? Here are some actions that say a lot:

To listen is to say I am compassionate and have a willingness to surrender judgement while encouraging a fellow to work it out.

To smile is to say there is no danger here and friendship is possible!

To laugh is to say there is playfulness here and mistakes are not only expected but encouraged.

To shower and groom says I take care of myself and am approachable.

To make eye contact says you are valuable to me and we are the same.

So, how am I? At present I am compassionate, friendly, playful, approachable and I value you.

A very wise teacher said, “Speech is highly valuable.” He also said, “We never want to miss a great opportunity to keep our mouth shut.”

I really love the idea behind this wisdom and have taken it to heart. That’s not to say that I’m not sometimes a full on blabber mouth or that I don’t sometimes have beautiful philosophical debates with my friends. I do. But I’m learning that many things don’t need to be put into words; you know the old adage, actions speak louder than words. Totally true. Believing that “Speech is highly valuable” allows us to choose our words wisely and simply.

To write is to say I have carefully chosen my words to convey a message that I believe has value.

As we presently witness the world turning over itself socially and politically, my teacher’s words have never resonated more deeply. Do you want to be part of the chatter and noise or do you want to take action?

To vote is to say I take responsibility for the future welfare of my fellow citizens and myself. It also says I am grateful for those who fought hard so that I can vote and participate in democracy.

To give to charity says my money is not only for me but for the causes I believe in.

To volunteer is to say my time is well spent on those who have less than me.

To protest is to say I will not be manipulated by dishonesty and greed and I will hold those perpetrating such foul behavior accountable.

To support is to say I value the actions of those around me who demonstrate what I believe to be true and who have honest values.

To create is to say I have something valuable to add that I think you might benefit from.

To love is to say I understand that there are no real differences between us. We may disagree and have different life experiences but we are in fact all human.

To listen, to smile, to laugh, to take care of yourself, to make eye contact, to vote, to give, to volunteer, to protest, to support, to create, to love. There are so many actions to be taken.

How are you? Show me. What do you have to say?



Photograph:  Suffragists marching, 1913, via Library of Congress


Podcast Episode #4 – “Fathers and Inspirational Men”



We are sharing episode #4 of our podcast today!!  We recorded this episode in June, which feels like forever ago, but the content within is timeless and is sure to offer a pleasant respite from the mania of the current political news stream.

This episode was dedicated to “Fathers and Inspirational Men”, and in it we discuss some things we love about the special men in our lives, and why they are so important to us.  Then, in our Monday Menagerie segment, we share some cool discoveries that involve men as creators, including recycled sea plastic transformed into shoes, compost pedaling, a man bringing homelessness to light through his art installations, and the man behind Vivian Maier.  We wrap up with our “Male Liaison”, Cameron Pearce, putting in his 2 1/2 cents about the important men in his life, and finally, Jamie and I ask each other some terrifically compelling questions of one another.

The photo above is from our actual recording session of this episode… Jamie and I and my then 6-week-old baby (under the blanket!), sitting in a tiny corner of my deck that seemed to have the most “sound proofing”, chasing away a swarm of mosquitos with organic bug spray, and basically having a hoot of a time just making it happen however we could.  Memorieeeees are made of this… 😀

👇 👇   Listen Here!  👇 👇

(may take a brief moment to load, patience is golden ain’t it?)

Our fabulous podcast theme music is by:  Jnuary



Interview with boxcar+muse


If you were to have ever asked me when I moved across the country from New York to Los Angeles if I thought that part of this enormous transition would be making new girlfriends, I would have said no.  Not only would I have said no, but I am sure I would have swiftly added that I already have my friends.  But now here I am in Los Angeles, finally feeling settled a little over a year later, and I have a community of women surrounding me that easily offer welcome and love for the simple return of my presence.  All of this happened when one of my dearest friends introduced me to Emily Kate Warren.  Emily is a professional makeup artist from Texas and we immediately bonded over her daughter’s and my matching red hair and love of country music.  She invited me into her vision for boxcar+muse and I have proudly participated in almost every series event.  Along the journey Emily met Ariel Nazryan, a theatre director relocated to LA from New York with a background in Women’s Studies and an MBA in Entrepreneurship, and the two formed a partnership with the wondrous result of celebrating, uplifting, and empowering women.  Here is the interview that I recently conducted with the founders of boxcar+muse for Project:Women.


What is boxcar+muse and what does it offer?

Emily:  boxcar+muse is an indulgent and imaginative play and workspace, a connector of diverse women, and a platform for fun and meaningful experiences.  Our mission is to provide every woman with the inspiration, tools, space, and camaraderie she needs to live her fullest life.

The world will be a safer and even more magnificent place when women are continuously engaged in the joy of exercising their genius.

What is the story behind the name boxcar+muse?

Emily:  So my grandmother remembered quite late in her life that for a period of about a year or two, during the depression, her entire family lived in a boxcar. She’s always been my muse and when thinking of names for the company, my husband actually said, what about boxcar?  I wanted it to be softer.  THEN…as magical fate would have it, one of Ariel’s main reasons for earmarking time to talk to me early on was that she was intrigued by the name because she too has a boxcar story.  She found The Boxcar Children story book in an abandoned school library sale and it brought her great inspiration and comfort for many years.  She created boxcar-like clubhouses and places to gather her friends and she even has had a lifelong dream of having a boxcar as an office in her house!  Isn’t that so amazing?!

boxcar is steadfast, sturdy, courageous, and works alone but also well together.  We added the plus sign to show that boxcar + muse means it’s a place and a concept.  The place AS the muse, but can also inspire you to think about things when there…to actually muse, the verb.


For more info, watch this short video…


How did this concept come about?

Ariel: Part of the magic of boxcar+muse is how Emily and I each arrived at a crossroads on separate journeys and found each other there—at the intersection of idea, opportunity, love, and bravery.

For me, my life mission is to create meaningful and delightful experiences—art, events, spaces, monuments, products, communities—that satisfy our universal needs for belonging, challenge, and self-actualization.  Once we have satisfied our physiological needs for things like food, shelter, and safety, our craving for love and relationships, challenge and accolades must be satisfied.  And although many people stop there because it feels so good to have our psychological needs satisfied, we then crave self-actualization—creativity, morality, self-care, spirituality—the things which allow us to really reach our full potential when practiced. That’s my mission, to make things that help people feel, not just happy and satisfied, but deeply fulfilled.  And I’ve been on that journey since I was starting clubs and shops and making plays and poems as a little kid, even if I didn’t have the words for it then.  I decided I wanted to live in a world where it was practical, possible, and wonderful to practice rituals of creativity and self-care like it was no big thing.

Emily:  I have always been an activist for women’s rights and we basically have so many less than men.  The idea for boxcar+muse had been stewing in my mind for years and years. Especially when I lived in San Francisco, and found it profoundly difficult to maintain new friendships—old ones have the gift of years together to make them last and new ones, they take time to foster.  It’s difficult to start fresh with so many other obligations (work, family etc). Something that had never been a problem for me before.  I had about three close friends that I managed to keep up with, but other leads never really took flight.  And it was very lonesome.  I wished for a place where everything was all just waiting for me:  things to learn, stuff to do, friends to be had, activism, kindness, volunteerism…and I think later in life I realized I’ve been building this since I was born practically.

What is your biggest dream boxcar+muse?

Emily: I would like to reach as many women as possible so that the world will be a safer and even more magnificent place. I believe women are the answer to so many of the world’s problems!  My biggest dream is that by starting as we are, the ripple effects of our encouragement empower women to make small changes in their own life toward living positively and joyfully, that those ripple effects are spread throughout the world starting with one small spark.

What is “guilt-free self-love?”

Ariel:  So many women in our community are concerned with what they “should” be doing, or with being able to draw a straight line between money and time spent and concrete benefits to their work or family.  (Mind you, we can indeed draw those lines!) But they find it hard not to feel guilty when deciding whether to participate in a workshop series or take time for themselves “just because”.  And we want to make both the decision-making and the participating guilt-free.

Emily:  This is the concept that doing something for yourself, for the sheer purpose of experiencing joy in that moment, is not selfish.

Are there particular women who have inspired you? How do you honor them through boxcar+muse?

Ariel:  When we imagine what boxcar+muse will be like in its next incarnation or when we’re generating programming ideas, I make sure that things pass the friend-check—would each of these vastly different women enjoy this if they lived here, would each one feel comfortable, feel welcome, thrive here?  Does this work for introverts, workaholics, people of color, trans folk, social butterflies, artists, programmers…my friends inspire me to make a place they’d each be proud to bring their other friends to!

Emily:  For my own personal inspirations, my grandmother has inspired my entire life creatively.

What expected or unexpected gifts have you experienced since starting boxcar+muse?

Ariel:  The best gift has been the one from my daughter—her curiosity and excitement shows me that for her, there is no question about the future of this thing.  She wants to go to boxcar+muse, she wants to work at boxcar+muse (she’s four), she wants to hear every detail when I get back from a workshop experience, and she has asked if she can be my business partner too, when she’s older.

Emily: I have experienced love, support, trust, and in the beginning, so many experts have been willing to donate their time and expertise to spread our message.


If you asked me again today whether or not making new girlfriends would be a critical part of my transition from one coast to another, my answer would be a resounding “yes!”  Now here I am just returning from a birthday brunch with three fellow muses.  I have felted soap in my bathroom and my nieces have a pajaki (polish tissue paper chandelier) hanging in their playroom, both of which are products of muse sessions.  The picture of me accompanying this article was taken at a boxcar+muse event by fellow muse Jane Houle.  I know these women’s children and have iced their birthday cupcakes.  These women root for me, pop into my restaurant job unexpectedly just to hug me and make me feel special, and remind me I am more than what I do to pay bills.  My existing friendships have been improved with the depth of my connectedness to this community, as have my marriage and my mind.   Emily and Ariel are cultivating a place for women to engage in themselves by embracing community and I am honored to be a boxcar muse.



Find out more about boxcar+muse by following them on Instagram @boxcarmuse,  liking them on their Facebook page, and visiting their website


Thou Shalt Pamper Thyself!


I spent the last six weeks climbing a mountain in the form of some of the most difficult, emotional, and challenging work I’ve ever had the privilege of undertaking and I have a message for you: You MUST Pamper Yourself at any cost or even at no cost. You must.

I didn’t get this message from a burning bush, although there is a bush involved (mine to be exact. More on that later..). I got this message out of necessity. Pure need for balance. Giving yourself 100% to a project doesn’t leave a lot of room for self love/care. I was so fulfilled and nourished by the exhausting work at times that I would forget to eat. Sometimes I was so riled up that I couldn’t eat or sleep.

I knew this wasn’t good for me. I knew I needed to implement some strategy to take better care of myself because I had to have a strong body and mind to do the work I was so crazy about doing. I had to dig deep for something that has worked in the past and remembered spiritual guru, poet and business woman extraordinaire, Danielle LaPorte, author of The Fire Starter Sessions and The Desire Map. Years ago, I read her books and came up with my, what she calls, “Core Desired Feelings.” These are the words that trigger how I want to feel in my day to day life and one of them has always been, “cherished.”

To me, “cherished” means nurtured, taken care of and adored. It brings up the image of a sweet mother or a beloved butler.

I am not Bruce Wayne, y’all! There is no Alfred in my life! I knew I had to achieve “cherished” myself. To be my own sweet mother. My own butler! I made a few appointments and I got down to the serious and important work of pampering myself, aka, cherishing myself. Some of it cost a lot of cash, more than I’m willing to part with on a regular basis, most of it was free; all of it was necessary. These aren’t exactly the Ten Commandments of Pampering, but you might be inspired to take on one or two depending on your budget.

  1. Mani/Pedi! Cost with gratuity, $75. Three adorable cast-mates and I met on the Upper West Side in Manhattan at a place called Dashing Diva. I enjoyed the social aspect of it and the result was so so nice. I felt really pretty. I was suddenly a lady with lovely fingers and toes. Not that I wasn’t before, but looking down at my hands and feet was a reminder that I took the time to pamper myself and this is a good thing. PS, there are more affordable nail salons out there that might have felt equally pampering, but the group decided a deliberate splurge was in order.
  2. Brazilian Wax. Cost for a first time visit to the European Wax Center in Manhattan, only $45 including a generous gratuity. Here’s the burning bush I promised you. What in the world is pampering about a lovely stranger spreading hot wax on your precious pink parts and then tearing all of your hairs off with a piece of cloth? For me, it was all about peace of mind. I was scantily clad in the project I was happily killing myself for and the thought of audience or fellow actor seeing any part of bush was beyond mortifying. No one can see any if there isn’t any. So there’s that. I could write a sonnet about all of the wonderful benefits of the Brazilian but I know it’s not for everyone. Know that for me, it was super pampering even if it was an amusing kind of torture for a few minutes during, and a few hours after the procedure.
  3. Sleep/Rest. Cost $0. Early to bed and late to rise. This was the order for the last six weeks. I take restorative health very seriously. I was putting out a huge amount of physical and emotional effort and resting, even if sleeping wasn’t happening because of nerves or excitement, was sometimes a ten hour endeavor. Who has this kind of luxury? Admittedly, not many, but if you can make time to do it, I highly recommend it. The sweet mother voice in my head didn’t allow for guilty voice to chime in. She allowed me to rest and even sweetly demanded it. Priceless.
  4. Cut and Color. I’ve been going to Dramatics in Mid-Town Manhattan since I moved to New York four years ago. My hair stylist, Xena, convinced me to dye my hair blonde in June. This hair style is ridiculously high maintenance! And, I love it. I’m not going to share the ongoing cost of this pampering process, but just know, a little cut and color at the salon once in a while is totally worth it. You’ll look and feel like a million bucks. I find that it’s a confidence boost which is good for every other aspect of life!
  5. Meditation. Cost $0. I have a regular meditation practice that is so second nature to me now that it’s just like having good hygiene; good spiritual and mental hygiene. During this cherishing and pampering time, I made sure that I added a little extra dose of awareness to my practice by making sacred space around it. Even meditating a couple of times in the audience of the theatre before the show was a double whammy of sacred space. It could be as simple as lighting a candle before hand, or finding a cool and quiet room instead of meditating on the subway as I so often do.
  6. Mindful Mealtime. Cost varied. Since eating became an issue during this project, I had to take on a more mindful approach to meals and what my body needed. I was downing chicken soup like a flu victim on winter break. But I wasn’t sick and soup was not enough to sustain the amount of work I was doing. So I consciously sought out high protein meals once a day to give myself the energy I needed. From full on Irish breakfast at my favorite pub to turkey patties and cottage cheese, I was making a choice to fuel my body.
  7. A Treat! A treat is not a treat unless you recognize it as a treat before, during and after. Mine is usually a grande ice chai tea latte from Starbucks. It’s not a daily thing, it’s a treat! Cost about $5. It has a whole process. I’d like a treat. I’d like a yummy chai tea latte. I’m going to get one at the SB on 35th and 8th. I’m enjoying it. That was a lovely treat! There have been times in my life where spending $5 on a coffee treat was totally off limits due to finances. I know there are ways to have a treat even if you don’t have the cash. It’s all about identifying something as a treat and moving from there.
  8. Time Outdoors. Cost $0. I cherish myself enough to make time to go to the park and be quiet and listen to the birds sing. Even for as little as 10 minutes, the return is enormous.
  9. Gentle Self Talk. Cost $0. This is an ongoing challenge. Being an actress and a singer, I’m highly critical of my work. I’m learning how to be critical without being harsh, cruel or demeaning. I made an extra concerted effort during the last six weeks to correct negative self assessments and turn it into constructive criticism. I’m giving myself major props for working on this. I could not have done the kind of work I did with a negative voice running in my head. I even had an accountability partner in the cast who knew my go-to negative thought patterns to help me overcome them. She was a huge help in the cherishing department.
  10. Spa Castle. Cost $So.Much.Money.Oh.My.Stars! When the whole project was complete, I took my best friend of nearly thirty years to Spa Castle in Queens. It’s exactly what it sounds like. A castle of spa treatments. We spent 5 hours soaking and sauna-ing. We even took a nap. I got us each a “Scrub and Rub” which consisted of lying naked on a table for an hour while a woman in her underwear practically used sand paper gloves to remove seven years of dead skin cells from my body. She then climbed on top of me and performed what I think was meant to be a massage but felt a little more like a punishment. My BFF and I got a big laugh out of it and I have to say, my skin feels AMAZING! I could afford this kind of magic maybe once a year, but I’m so glad I did it. It felt like the ultimate pampering. I give myself an A+ in the cherishing department.

So there you have it. Not so much the pampering commandments as pampering suggestions. This Extraordinary 40 project has gone to places that I didn’t see coming. I had no idea when I pitched this year long endeavor to Project Women, that I would be getting to do some of the most fulfilling work of my career. I feel like had I not done all of this introspection this year that I may not have implemented so much pampering which may have lead to a very different attitude about the work I got to do. What if I had burnt out, or gotten really sick because I wasn’t eating or sleeping? My work would not have been as fulfilling. For as fluffy as pampering may seem, I think some form of it is essential to being and doing your best! So, go on. PAMPER THYSELF!



Art by Jo Muench

Nothing is Easy


8 September, 2016.  Thursday.  Late morning.

The theme this month is “Nothing is Easy”.  I know that sounds kind of like a cop-out, because it totally is.

I’ll restate what I wrote on our Theme of the Month page:  I am tired this month.  So tired.  As a mother of two I am only beginning to understand the true reality of being a working mother.  Everything, both large and small, feels like a challenge.  But even if I had no kids– heck, even if I was single— still, nothing is easy.  That’s not to say that there is no joy or thrill to the pursuit of something, but it is to defend the idea that “there is nothing worth pursuing that isn’t hard as all heck”.  Or something like that.

Nothing is Easy.  It is mostly true.  I sit here in my office every weekday, working and wondering if the work that I’m doing is the right work.  Sometimes I think about this blog and I can’t believe I’m still doing it.  Can’t believe anyone is still doing it with me.  There is just so much content out there in the world.  So many stories, blogs, people trying to share their own voice.  So many distractions and pulls on your attention.  It’s hard to stay focused, and even harder to occasionally close out the noise of the world to be able to focus on one thing, and bring it to completion.  The rapid-fire of social media sucks the very life from me some days (it’s such a complex relationship there.  I am at once exhausted by it and endlessly inspired by it.  I adore the beautiful art, creative photography, personal family photos and random life updates which offer a respite from the drone of sameness that has become so prevalent).

I am in the middle of a process right now.  Some kind of slow understanding of what it means to dedicate yourself to something that may succeed or may fail.  I am constantly re-evaluting my actions, my work, my way of approaching it all.  But ultimately it’s about how you define success or failure.  For me, success is found in the process; success is found in the satisfaction of completing a task or reaching a goal, no matter how tiny.  Every morning I have about an hour to work in peace and quiet, and I must decide if I will work on my business, work on my blog, or take care of one of the thousand-and-one items that seem to reside on every grown person’s to-do list (wash dishes, do laundry, deal with insurance, schedule dental work, organize digital photos, deal with returning some crap thing purchased from eBay/Amazon/insert any company name here, read news, read something funny to recuperate from reading news, read emails, respond to emails, deal with junk mail (both actual and virtual), vow to unsubscribe from every email list ever signed up for (or didn’t) , etc. etc. and so on).

Ah, but there are days and moments, so many moments, when I feel like I’m doing exactly what I need to be doing.  When I’m on a roll!  When I’m utterly focused on the task at hand.  When I connect with another individual through work.  When I receive an email or text from a friend that makes my entire day, and sends my heart and soul into the sky.  All these things are like precious fruit found among the brambles.

And now my hour is nearly up… time to gently wake my sleeping baby and give her a million smooches, put her in the carseat and drive to school where my toddler will give me the biggest hug and make me forget absolutely everything I just wrote about here.  Isn’t life just a hoot?




Art at top:  Painting colour experiment, when I used to have time for such frivolity.



Yoga: Sweet and Strong.


I hate core work. Like, absolutely loathe it. Yesterday, I was whining and cursing through a workout with my friend. I’ve been teaching yoga for seven years and I still want to breathe out dragon fire and punch something during plank. Sometimes, I’m like that golden retriever at the dog park that immediately rolls over for you to rub her belly. A part of me is submissive as hell and content to eat, play, swim, fetch something for you, and cuddle. Maybe that’s why I love teaching restorative yoga. I find it deliciously lovely to explore the sweet, relaxing, recuperative side of the practice.

But the ancient yogic text of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras reads “sthira-sukam asanam,” translated as “the posture (asana) [should be] stable (sthira) and comfortable (sukha)” or even more simply, to “resolutely abide in a good space.” This translation mirrors the sweeping essence of yoga as a practice which brings balance to our extremes. Even the ujjaii breath is often compared to ocean waves in its audibility and also in its rise and fall. The inhale mimics the sun, the rise of the tide, effort, the sthira, which means “to stand, to be firm, to take a stand“, at its root. The exhale represents the other side of the coin, the moon floating over the gentle fall of the tide, the letting go of our grievances and worry, and the sukam, literally translating to “good space“. One of my favorite quotes by Joel Kramer is “Yoga is a dance between control and surrender – between pushing and letting go – and when to push and when to let go becomes part of the creative process, part of the open-ended exploration of your being.

Over the years, my own practice of yoga and meditation has helped me explore the middle ground. I found yoga as a deer-in-the-headlights, perfectionist, overachieving, young twenty-something in New York City. Now, I definitely fall on the other side of the pendulum. My boyfriend is a chef and I will eat a lot of pie if I let that sukam quality run rampant! But, the beauty and the medicine of the practice is its ability to meet you where you are, every time. I find that as women in this day and age, we rarely feel naturally balanced. We either find ourselves overextending and straining to accomplish a feeling of keeping up/surviving or we throw our hands in the air and bury our sadness/anxiety/feelings in what we think are sweet comforts. Usually these illusive pleasures turn out to be band-aids for our true inner struggles. Many would argue that America is addicted to the extremes of overwork and “comforts” of overeating, overspending, social media, and indulgence.

I was teaching a class the other day and we were holding a warrior standing pose. The women in the class looked at me like what the eff? Why are you making us do this? They were making my plank face. We laughed about how people think yoga is supposed to be all unicorns and sunshines and roses. Like any worthy endeavor, we will have breakthroughs as we dedicate our time to exploring a little ease during our strong pointed effort, and some effort in staying present during our ease. What we find is clarity and quite possibly the ability to approach our lives with more curiosity and less extremism and judgment. We might add a little sthira when we are dragging our feet or avoiding an uncomfortable opportunity to grow. We might mix in a pinch of sukam when we feel disappointed so we can cry and rest and reset before emerging back into the world. For me, this sutra has helped me break down overwhelming tasks into smaller bite-sized pieces. I am able approach the little steps gently, remembering to breathe as I go instead of unconsciously rushing. On the other hand, I can allow myself a day off but maybe not eat a whole pie.

I continue to enjoy the practice of yoga because it’s a good friend to me. It tells me like it is every time. It tells the truth of what I need. This season, I need a little core work so I can show up with confidence in the world, support my hyper mobile lower back, and balance out my Southern food habit. But, there’s gotta be some love for myself in the intention behind building strength.

How about you? What do you need? What steps will balance out your dance so truth and breath and your truest expression emerge?


Robert Svoboda and Scott Blossom (2014, June 2). Sthira and Sukha: Steadiness and Ease. Retrieved from Yoga International.

Art by: Naomi Vona

Monday Menagerie #41

I’ll be honest.  There are some weeks that I’m not super stoked about writing my Monday Menagerie.  Because sometimes I find a flowering bouquet of glorious things-a-happening that I just can’t wait to share; other times there are just too many stories that make me sad to be a human.  Or just irritated as heck.

Ah, such is life.

There’s always cool, good, happy stuff out there, somewhere.  My mix of finds today is quite small, but it’s made with love nonetheless. 🙂




via the internet

I N T E R V I E W:  Lena Dunham/Amy Schumer

A funny, witty, lighthearted interview that subsequently got slammed by the “outrage machine” (quote, Lena Dunham) of Twitter.  Such an appropriate term for what I would call “humans with ZERO sense of humor”.  What happened was, Lena made a funny joke in the interview about an experience she had, and then a whole bunch of people who read the interview got angry at her for making the joke.  Then Huffington Post published a highly typical article detailing the incident.  I won’t even include a link to said article because it doesn’t deserve to be linked.

Rather, just read the interview, and hopefully you’ll have as good a laugh as I did.




via Gawker

N E W S:  Gawker shut down.

If you frequented Gawker, then you already knew this.  I never read Gawker, but found out about  its sad, albeit tragically fascinating, demise via my favorite alt. news outlet Monocle 24.  I’m sharing it here because after just reading the last 3 posts from this once powerhouse of the social internet world, I realized how profound the entire situation was.  The article I’ve linked is a long one, but it’s worth reading as much as you can, and then the very last line.  Powerful.




via npr Invisibilia

P O D C A S T:  “Flip the Script”

This recent episode from Invisibilia is SO SO SO GOOD, I feel like it should be listened to by every governmental group in the world.  The main story is one that could quite literally change the reality of the ISIS-infected society we live in today.





via artist’s website

A R T:  Lucy Sparrow

Oh I do adore felt art!!  Lisa Sparrow went above and waaaay beyond anything I’ve ever seen– in terms of volume– and set up an entire “corner shop” full of handmade felt goodies.  Everything is made of felt!  It’s like a childhood fantasy (except the candy is non-edible.  Darn.)  She has designed an array of other felted-up objects of everyday life, some are much more in-yo-face than this shop of sweets!






via esme grey designs

S H O P:  Esme Grey Designs

Just discovered this lovely British online boutique, full of the kind of dreamily minimalist items I wish I could constantly surround myself by.  (The artwork above is sold in the shop.  I. Want. It.)



C O M M U N I T Y:  Love Thread Project

A beautiful project that was sent my way from my friend Eliza, who lives in Perth where this organization took seed.  Love Thread Project works with women in Bali to produce sustainable garments which are then sold throughout Australia, thereby both supporting female workers and a healthy, eco-concious method of fashion production.

“Love Thread Project is a social enterprise providing a collaborative platform for social change through fashionable ventures. Our vision is to use fashion, and the creative industry as a whole, to combat social injustice for women at risk.”

Shared by Elizabeth Parker





P O L I T I C S:  Women Trump Trump

Take a closer look at that bus.  Aha…





Featured image (at top) by: Katie Batten

All reviews written and opinions expressed are the author’s own. “Shared by [name]” – Refers to the person who shared the link to the original piece featured here.

September Editor’s Letter

Twenty-nine days from today I will turn 32 years old.

Right now I simultaneously want to play with my cooing infant (who is currently kicking about in her bouncy chair at my feet), take a nap, and write this piece.  Mostly I want to play with the baby.  Her squishy, glowing adorableness calls to me, her sweetness and joy making me feel so happy to just be.  But I can’t pretend that I don’t sometimes fantasize about having a private room to disappear into and just write in solitude for hours.  Writing is an act that requires complete isolation– the baby-loving extrovert must transform into a hermit.  Actually, my real fantasy is having a very old, crumbly palazzo in Italy on the edge of Lake Como where I sip a bowl-sized cup of cappuccino and smoke a hand-rolled organic tobacco cigarette while sitting on a tiny balcony at a little wooden table, all alone, writing to my heart’s content.

I love the month of September.  Such a transitionary time of year, when everything slows a bit before the hectic buzz of the holidays arrives.  And too, I love having a birthday on the last day of the month.   It makes me feel like I have plenty of time to prepare for it, to properly honor the event to come.  Those four or so weeks a year when I feel not quite so self-centered in the act of thinking about myself.

I just read a post by Stevie Mackenzie-Smith from the blog Discotheque Confusion.  Hers is one of those very rare blogs that is entirely and purely genuine, whilst also being well-written, interesting, entertaining, and relatable.  It is everything I look for in another woman’s writing, and I find a great deal of comfort reading her simple yet thoughtful posts.  This particular piece she wrote about fashion, and about how she was kind of tired of not letting herself have fun with it anymore (at least that was my takeaway, because that’s what I wanted to glean from it, most likely).  God I feel like that too.  I feel like that with a lot of things, and I’m not sure when it started or how I haven’t noticed it in so long.  Though I have noticed it.  I feel like that with my writing, with my apparel choices, with my art, with everything.  Like I’ve deliberately removed the fun and spontaneity from all of it for the benefit of getting stuff done more quickly and efficiently.  But efficiency can lead to a lacking in the area of one’s creative expressions.  What I’ve been yearning for is to just say what I think, dress how I feel, cut my hair short (on some days), make a new bag, write with full transparency to my thoughts, share more of my art, make more art, talk about the people, objects, creations that move me.  Why is that so hard?  Any of it, all of it?  It all takes time, sometimes effort, sometimes patience, sometimes space.  As a mother of two very tiny ones, this is where the ultimate challenge comes.  It’s something utterly impossible to grasp until becoming a mother— that fight for the self.  Time for the self, ability to express the self.

Those things I enjoyed and things I wanted for myself before having children are the same, except now I want such things for my daughters too.  By that I mean, my self-desires have essentially now multiplied, and I want the same things for my darling ones as I do for myself– For them to have lovely and well-made items, the very finest food, thrilling experiences, time to themselves, diverse and unique opportunities to grow beautifully.

So many things I desire.  To be great at something.  Not just swell, but GREAT.  I want to learn more, know more, remember more, speak more eloquently, spend more time with dear friends, sew, draw, paint, take up kick-boxing again, organize my office, get rid of the clothes I don’t like but keep because I can’t afford a closet full of Celine, The Row, and Stella McCartney, start my own fashion line because I can’t afford said desired fashion labels, travel the world with my family, take a break, take a nice, long, b i g  b r e a t h where I don’t check emails/answer phone/look at internet/think/talk/worry… I want these things.  

But I think I can be patient for my time to come around again.

Something I learned from my first child, who is now 3 years old, is that you will regain yourself.  There is no need to rush it.  There is a chunk of time that you and her or him are inseparable.  That first month after birth is extremely challenging (even though it’s overflowing with love)— emotions, body pain, fears, worries, giving of oneself entirely to the baby because you must.  Then 3 months pass and it’s so much easier, so much more enjoyable.   A bit of the self returns, a bit of separation begins.  But nursing keeps you close, physically and emotionally (in the best way).  Then at 6 months they begin to eat solids, and the separation takes a new leap forward.  You also begin to feel much more like your old self again, body getting closer to being back to pre-baby.  After a year, you have reached a massive turning point.  Something clicks, the baby is now a toddler, beginning to have independence.  She probably no longer breast-feeds or is nearly weaned.  The self returns with a fervor that is remarkable.  It’s worth the wait.

September is here.   My littlest one just turned 3 months old.  My time will come around again. For now I will enjoy her tinyness, her precious and delicate, quickly-passing infancy.  In a blink I will have no more excuses for myself to get to work on that long list of desires.  And oh how I will then miss the exquisite, messy beauty of my life–our life– as it is right this moment.

Xx, Tara T.


PS.  I had this thought when I finished writing this.  I thought, “this is stupid, utterly self-centered, and pointless, and will probably make me look more self-absorbed than I actually am.  I hope no one in my family reads this.  I need to scrap it.  Start over.  I need to focus more on my children, I need to keep editing……”  I know I will never be able to please everyone with my writing.  Perhaps I’ll please no one but myself.  But that has to be enough.

My motto of the month will be this:  WRITE FOR YOURSELF, and dude, just chill.



🎵 Listening to right now:  “The Awakening of a Woman” by The Cinematic Orchestra

Photo at top:  Taken by my husband– Me and my oldest daughter in Bulgaria, when she was just a wee thing.

Middle-Aged No Longer An Acceptable Term


After all this pretense and buildup with Extraordinary 40, last month when I finally turned forty, I wrote what I thought was a pretty freakin’ fantastic article called Midlife Crisis: Denied. You probably didn’t read it because it came out during the national conventions and, I ask you, who in the world could compete with all that noise?

So here it is again if ya want a big fat dose of my 40-year-old realness.

In a nutshell (pistachio, if you will, because I like idiomatic specificity), I discovered last month that I am as relevant now as I ever was and that my time is better spent listening to and helping people who have never been given relevance to lose. So, yes, I’ve been listening and educating myself and that is a work in progress that I’ll keep you posted on.

What I want to talk about is the term “middle-aged.” Actually, what I really want to do is put a few thousand sticks of cartoon dynamite in it and watch it go KA-PLOW!

I’ve recently used this term myself to describe, well, myself. I’ve tried it on to see if it fit, but saying it feels like full-on gag wrong wrong wrong. How can I be middle-aged? What even IS middle-aged? Middle of what; an average lifetime? Even the Google definition is ridiculous. (No offense, Google.)

Middle Age (noun): the period between early adulthood and old age, usually considered as the years from about 45 to 65.

So according to this definition, I’m not only not “middle-aged” yet, but I’ve not even entered early adulthood. This is a bunch of poop. Poop, malarkey and nonsense!

Middle-aged is a way to classify a huge group of people who are neither considered young nor old. It’s lazy. It also forces comparison which is a big no no in the pursuit of happiness. Compared to that twenty-two year old you look pretty used up, but compared to that sixty-five year old, you are looking quite springy. YUCK!

It also, by definition, omits all of the expectations that society places on said “middle-aged” people; perhaps by this “early adulthood” at 45 (for crying out loud), you have achieved some lifetime goals like starting a family, buying a home, advancing in the workplace, starting a nest egg, etc.

I haven’t done a one of those things!

If you remove averages, comparison and expectations from the equation, you’re left with individuals. I’m an individual who has been alive on this planet for 481 months. I feel pretty fantastic, I’m having a wonderful time, I’m smarter than I was yesterday, I have great relationships and get to do fulfilling work. I have not done any of the things I think society might have expected me to do by now and I feel really okay with that.

There’s a stinky stigma that is attached to the term middle-aged and I don’t like it one bit. I’m not saying I don’t like being 40. So far I love being 40. A few months ago when I was 39 I was playing a feisty and grubby widow while understudying all of the matronly roles in My Fair Lady in China. A few months later at age 40, I’m in New York playing love scenes opposite a gorgeous twenty-something actor in The Wild Party. I’d say 40 is a dramatic improvement!

Here’s the thing. I don’t want to lump myself into a group of people merely based on not being young and not being old. I’m me! You can look at me and guess my age all you like, but to know me is to know that I can not be defined by norms. I am not the rose, but the whole glorious bush. My flowers bud, blossom, bloom and die, but the bush with her thorns lives on in ever evolving phases of beauty.

I don’t expect society to stop using the term middle-aged, but I will no longer be using it to describe myself. No one will know what my middle age was until I leave this planet; could be twenty or thirty-two, but I’m kind of hoping for at least forty-five.



Art by Anna Di Mezza

Monday Menagerie #40

I am fascinated by Hillary Clinton and all of the women that I am sharing in this week’s Monday Menagerie. We are in an incredible time in history.  Although it’s a somewhat scary, often depressing and morally challenging time, it is also THE time to be a woman. The sky and beyond are the limit (finally) and thanks to Hillary and all of the women who had courage, determination, and said “I will not be discriminated against because of my gender,” we have a LOT to look forward to. Soon we WILL see a woman’s face on American currency and as the leader of the free world–major milestones that give me hope and reasons to smile. Happy Monday and happy time to be alive!





Victoria Claflin Woodhull (1838-1927), the first woman to run for president in 1872

Suffragist and Pacifist Jeanette Rankin (1880-1973), the first woman elected to congress. Upon her election in 1916 she reportedly said, “I may be the first woman member of Congress, but I won’t be the last.”

Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005), the first African American woman to be elected to Congress in 1968.




Thank goodness for this “practical joke” and her determination to realize her dream at any cost.

“Elizabeth Blackwell was rejected by all the leading schools to which she applied, and almost all the other schools as well. When her application arrived at Geneva Medical College at Geneva, New York, the administration asked the students to decide whether to admit her or not. The students, reportedly believing it to be only a practical joke, endorsed her admission.”






Oh I have been enamoured by Amelia Earhart since high school. I don’t know what drew me to her…oh, wait, yes I do…her amazing courage, her mysterious death doing what she loved and this super cool, no nonsense attitude that made her super stunning and strong.

“Amelia was the best. She did so many amazing things with her endless appetite for adventure, and had so much swag that they probably had to wipe it off of her propellers every time she landed.”

Truly amazing!






I regret to say that I only heard of Wilma Mankiller when I started to become interested and involved in Women on 20’s and she was one of the candidates. Her life and her work were incredible and she was committed to setting an example for young girls everywhere and empowered them to be leaders.

“After learning of Mankiller’s passing in 2010, President Barack Obama issued a statement about legendary Cherokee chief: “As the Cherokee Nation’s first female chief, she transformed the nation-to-nation relationship between the Cherokee Nation and the federal government, and served as an inspiration to women in Indian Country and across America,” he stated. “Her legacy will continue to encourage and motivate all who carry on her work.””






What a firecracker! How amazing would it have been to sit in a room with Susan B. Anthony? Her energy, her grit, her “tell it like it is” attitude (this is who I would listen to rather than the person some Americans say the same thing about today :))

“Ignoring opposition and abuse, Anthony traveled, lectured, and canvassed across the nation for the vote. She also campaigned for the abolition of slavery, the right for women to own their own property and retain their earnings, and she advocated for women’s labor organizations. In 1900, Anthony persuaded the University of Rochester to admit women.”






I was so happy to find this great interview with Rosa Parks, to hear the story in her words is so inspiring.

“Rosa Parks: I don’t remember feeling that anger, but I did feel determined to take this as an opportunity to let it be known that I did not want to be treated in that manner and that people have endured it far too long. However, I did not have at the moment of my arrest any idea of how the people would react.”






The woman who WILL be on the $20 bill…YAY!

“Using the Underground Railroad, Tubman traveled almost 90 miles to freedom. She later said, “When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything; the sun came like gold through the trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in Heaven.””

I mean come on…can what we have struggled with or taken on in our lives even come close to what this woman endured or what she woke up every morning fighting for? Wow. Incredible! Thank you, Harriet Tubman. Thank you so much.

Be Natural Trailer from Be Natural on Vimeo.


A documentary searching for Alice Guy-Blaché, who at 23 was the first female director, became a powerful figure in film, then vanished.  (Featured this video in a previous MM but it’s worth sharing again!)






I’m with her.




M U S I C: H.H.A Beach

1897 – H.H.A. Beach’s “Gaelic Symphony” is the first symphony by a woman performed in the United States, and possibly the world.



Featured image (at top):  vintage photo

All reviews written and opinions expressed are the author’s own. “Shared by [name]” – Refers to the person who shared the link to the original piece featured here.

Life Is Not A Fist


There hasn’t been a lot to celebrate in the news lately. Perhaps, just like me, the state of the world has left you feeling angry, helpless, and sad. Perhaps you have been wanting to make things better, but the task feels so overwhelming that you end up engaging in a Facebook comment fight, hiding your head under the covers, or drinking more than usual.  Because I haven’t known what to do, I have found myself disassociating in a variety of ways. It all just seems like too much.

But then I remember that I do not have this luxury. When I choose apathy, I choose to give power to the victimizers. I was reminded of this while listening to the wisdom of the late Elie Wiesel on the podcast, What it Takes. Wiesel was a survivor of the Holocaust and he decided he could not remain silent about the atrocities he witnessed. Ten years after the war, he wrote Night, which I read for the first time in the 5th grade. It made a lasting impression on my life.

Wiesel won the Nobel Peace Prize and dedicated his life to standing up for victims of hate around the world from Darfur to the former Yugoslavia. The podcast is a collection of several speeches he gave at the Academy of Achievement. When I listen to his words, I am simultaneously broken open, disarmed by truth, and given the deepest challenge of raising my own moral standards. If this man, who had experienced the unfathomable, can spend his life mining for hope each day and standing up for victims of violence, then I, an American woman, born into safety and privilege, have to remain aware, engaged, and active. I have no excuse. The Nobel Committee called Wiesel “a messenger for mankind, one who had worked for peace, atonement, and human dignity.”

Wiesel said,”If I remain silent, I may help my own soul, but because I do not help other people, I poisen my soul. Silence never helps the victim. It only helps the victimizer. Faith? I think of the killer and I lose all faith. But then I think of the victim and I’m inundated with compasssion.”

So what can I do?

I can ardently speak in myriad ways which are unique to my life story. I can share what I have learned through healing trauma of my own by being resilient and keeping my eyes and my heart open to the experiences of other people. My faith comes back in droves when I think of how I can be an example to women of what it’s like to reemerge into the world with strength when I once listened to messages of emotional and psychological abuse and felt like pieces of myself were being eaten away by someone else. I can mentor women who have lost all sense of worth and teach them skills to build self-esteem and confidence.  I can continue auditioning and acting despite the entertainment industry’s culture of ageism and sexism. I can share yoga and meditation with cancer patients, mothers who have lost their children, women with eating disorders, and others as a way to ease anxiety, process grief, find joy, and heal. I can devote my time and attention to news stories which highlight the people who are creating positive change and I can use my anger as fuel to continue to stay passionate about holding higher standards for my life and this world. I can educate myself about politics without giving in to the fear mongering. I can vote. And just like that, I am filled with a sense of direction. I have been given a unique path and a specific story, and so have you. What a sad story it is if we do not use it to affect even the smallest positive change.

Wisel said “every hour is grace and I feel gratitude in my heart each time I can meet someone and look at his or her smile” and “life is not a fist. Life is an open hand waiting for some other hand to enter it.”

I still feel frustrated and small in the grand scheme of things sometimes, and inspirational quotes seem cliche when I see them on Facebook or in an office building. But if I give in to that cynicism, then I am discounting the life of a great man, discounting the power of my own impact, and closing my eyes to a vast mystery of faith. I’ve always done better on a team because there is something to fight for, a greater collective cause, and friends I care about. So, proverbially, I put my hand in yours. Let’s keep trying for a better world. We are all made of the same stuff and we have a choice. I will if you will.

Lokah Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu: May all beings be happy, peaceful, and free, and may my actions contribute to their happiness, peace, and freedom.

Below are links to the podcast cited and an organization dedicated to sharing uplifting stories about humanity.

What It Takes Podcast

Love What Matters: Where do you go when you want to read about foster kids being adopted, military heroes returning to their families, a dad opening a box to learn he’s now a grandfather, or a first wedding dance that doctors thought would never happen? These are the things that matter, and we celebrate them every day.




Drawing by Clara Cabrera Miquel

Who Was He?


Like so many others, I’m trying to make sense of the world we are living in right now.  In truth, I’m quite sure that modern civilized humans have never lived in less violent times than today.  But in reality, the horrific acts of killing that are taking place make the world feel like it’s brimming with violence.

With every new massacre of innocent people I sit down and write notes of my thoughts to attempt to make sense of it.  Endless notes, with no clear direction.  These notes are full of questions.  It seems like so many people think they have the answers to it all– but do we?  All those things you think in your own head, are they correct?

I think if there is an absolute truth out there, it is that humans are immensely complex and beautifully simple all at once.  We all need the same basic things:  Food, water, sun, love, and community.  If we are missing even one of these things, then we fall out of balance, right?

Could the answer be somewhere in there?




We say we want to know why, but do we ask the right questions?


Was he angry?

Was he sad?

Was he suicidal?

Where did he come from?  A war-torn country?  A country of dictatorial oppression?

Was he abused as a child?  Was he met with anger and hatred each day of his young life, as so many thousands of children are in this world?

Did he grow up looking for answers as to why life is so painful?

Was he looking for something to embrace and be embraced by?

Or perhaps, was he genuinely mentally ill?

His mind taken over by the quirks and abnormalities which plague the fragile human brain.

We sometimes forget just how fragile the piece of meat within our skulls truly is, and how easily it can become afflicted with things we haven’t yet begun to fully understand.

If so, did anyone identify that illness?

Did he have access to the medications which could help him?

Perhaps he suffered severe mental illness that was overlooked until it was too late.

Or, perhaps he fell into a depression so deep that it transformed into anger and hatred– a different kind of mental illness altogether.

And what of the groups that find these vulnerable young men and “brainwash” them?

What of those men?

Are they evil?

Or perhaps not?

Could it be that those individuals have lived lives of oppression and bullying and senseless killings by their Western counterparts of their own people for so long that they have decided to move forward with violence in any way they can?

Are we all ultimately afraid of the truth?  Are we afraid that in asking these questions we will retrieve a seed-path of answers which lead to a silo on our own soil?  One filled not with grain but with guns?

It is taboo to even suppose that there could be greater, more expansive and far-reaching reasons to the ill that spreads across our globe today.  We are not supposed to look inward, at the actions of our own people, as possible causes of such horrific acts.  No, we say, one cannot possibly lead to another.

We are not supposed to question the unquestionable.

What we do not wish to see, what we cannot seem to reconcile, is that all actions are a domino effect.  Every tiny thing we do affects our collective futures.  Even the smallest of actions can have effects on a massive scale in a brief amount of time.

It is easy to gather and band together against acts of violence that are so extreme and so blatantly cruel.

It is not easy to say, “But what brought this man to this moment?  Truly?”

It is not easy to lift the thin veil that covers the intricate framework of modern civilization which was built upon the backs of multitudes of humans in order to get to where we are today.

But that’s another story.

It’s all interconnected.  Yet we can only deal with so much at once, right?

What do you think?



“Burnt Out” Photograph by Tara Tona, 2006



Midlife Crisis: Denied

Oh boy. Where do I begin? How about where lots of stories begin?


My fun lighthearted proposal was to document a year of introspection, travel, body sculpting, adopting new health practices and rituals combined with serving my community and volunteering. I’d call it “Extraordinary 40” as it was to coincide with the year I was and am turning 40. The hope was to cultivate a positive “bring it on” attitude toward being an aging woman in a society where aging women lose relevance.

There. Did you catch it? That last sentence has the fear.

I was afraid of losing my relevance.

Midlife Crisis (noun): An emotional crisis of identity and self confidence that can occur in middle age. (According to Google.)

Okay. I hear that. I researched further to discover that some symptoms of midlife crises include changing jobs, leaving your marriage/family, buying a sports car or a dramatic change in appearance like shaving your head or dying your hair.

Wait; what?

About three weeks ago I paid a professional to…wait for it…make me a blonde.

Oh, friends, I was going to write about how liberating it is, how fun it has been to look different, how confident it makes me feel, and all the heads I’ve been turning! I mean, relevance-shmelevance: THIS BLONDE IS on FIRE!

But, just this once, let me spare you from vapid journalism and instead dig a little deeper into the meaning of crisis. It’s time to expose some roots. (Get it?)

Crisis (noun): 1. A time of intense difficulty, trouble or danger. 2. A time when difficult or important decisions must be made.

I’ll admit that having so many chemicals on my head for that many hours was pretty difficult and probably a little dangerous. Deciding to go blonde in the first place was, like, seriously months of debating with myself and with my stylist. Months! Not an easy decision to make.

That being said, a crisis is no joke. A crisis cannot be about going from brunette to bleach blonde when you’re a somewhat educated size 4 fairly attractive and articulate white woman days away from turning 40 who can afford to live in Manhattan and pursue a career in the arts. It just can’t.

More on crises later. Now I want to talk about rebellion.

Rebellion (noun): the action or process of resisting authority, control or convention.

Now we’re talkin’. I think I’m having a Midlife Rebellion and I feel pretty good about that. (This is not a new concept apparently, so I can’t take credit. I did identify it before looking it up to see if it’s a thing, though. It’s a thing.)

I’m rebelling against the idea that dying your hair is dumb and a waste of time and money not to mention that it may look desperate. These are things I can hear my mom saying. I’ve never ridden on a motorcycle because my dad threatened to disown me if I were ever caught doing so. Same with tattoos and gratuitous piercings. I love my parents (who are no longer living by the way) and know they meant well, but come ON! I’m almost forty-freakin’ years old! I wanna have fun, dammit.

Now before I devolve into a petulant whining teenage version of myself (not cute) I want to talk about crises again.

I’m about to turn 40 in a world that is in crisis. There is no Midlife Crisis for me. The only crisis I am in is the crisis that we are all sharing and I have a choice to put my attention on this “time of intense difficulty, trouble and danger.”

Speaking of having choices, to be able to choose whether or not I engage in a time when “difficult or important decisions must be made” is a result of my status and privilege.

The ability to choose implies that I can likely move forward with my bleach blonde head and finally book that Broadway show I’ve been dreaming about with stars in my eyes for goodness knows how long without being directly affected by what’s going on.

Choosing implies that what’s happening in the world and in American neighborhoods is potentially not my problem and doesn’t need to touch me if I choose not to look at it.

The reality that I have a choice at all proves that no matter how many tattoos I get, or bottles of bleach I go through, or motorcycles I feel I need to ride over this second half of my life, I, in fact, have very little to fear.

I was afraid of losing my relevance when there is a large part of the world’s population and our own nation’s population who have never been given any to lose. How dare I?

In just a few days I am turning 40. My BIG 4-OMG! I am going to celebrate and over-indulge, make love, listen to live music and walk real slow so people can admire my ridiculous amount of sex appeal and self confidence. And when those heads turn, I’m going to laugh. In your face, society. I’m making Midlife Choices!

Over the next half of my life (presumptuous, I know) I will continue to rebel against the conventions that have been presented to me by my parents and society at large. I will likely make bold and perhaps even desperate looking choices with my appearance. I will try lots of new things and will probably even wear a helmet sometimes.

But I’m planning on taking my rebellion a little further. I’m going to take the “action of resisting authority, control or convention” on a larger scale but I’m going to start small. I’m going to start by listening; listening without judgement to the people who are actually fighting for their relevance. Whatever step comes after listening, I am prepared to take. Listening is the best chance I have at maintaining my own relevance and of maybe someday earning the name of my proposed project, “Extraordinary 40.”

I still believe in introspection, self help, nutrition and cultivating confidence. I’m going to need these fortifications if I am choosing to be a part of something bigger than my own personal fear of extinction.

My midlife marks the time for listening, engaging and rebelling.

No more fear.



Featured Image:  Cindy Sherman self portraiture art

All There Is

Of all the ways
I’ve tried
showing love,
walking through
those steep hills
of wildflowers
to where you sat
on the bench
in the valley,
came so close.

Words miss their meaning.
And after all,
there were so many bees                                        moving through                                            their honest work.

Though I’m not sure
you noticed,
I thought it to you
and over
and over.

If you’re here,                                                     in the world,                                                       then everything is enough for you.



Photograph by Florian Reischauer

Monday Menagerie #39


Today I had the radio on in my car because I was too lazy to plug in my iPhone, when out of the speakers came the voice of Gwen Stefani, from her No Doubt era, belting “I’m Just a Girl”.  I haven’t heard that song in many a Gregorian calendar year, and I couldn’t stop myself from singing along.  It reminded me of all the badass chicks who have been around throughout the lifetimes of us Millennials.  And made me want to pull out my high school JNKO jeans and rock out to Tragic Kingdom likes it’s the 90’s all over again.

Happy Monday…




B R E A S T S  a s  W E A P O N S : FEMEN

I recently watched this documentary on Netflix, it’s about the young feminist movement called FEMEN which originates from the Ukraine and has now spread to other countries.  I’d heard of these girls before, but never knew too much about them aside from their bare-breasted activism.

Watching this made me better understand why they protest topless.  No one gave a damn about what they were saying when they had their clothes on, so one day they went out sans shirt-and-bra and got full news coverage.  That’s pretty much how the toplessness started for them, and now it is their most powerful “weapon”.  Understanding that post-soviet Ukraine is a very different place than Western Europe or the USA is vital for understanding why they do what they do.  I find everything about it to be inspiring.



michelle hartney artwork

A R T  a s  A C T I V I S M : Michelle Hartney

I’m not even sure how I came upon this woman, Michelle Hartney, but got chills (the good kind) when I started reading about what she does.  She is leading a revolt against the horrific atrocities the medical industry has imposed upon laboring women.  Through her initiative, Women’s Health Collective, she creates a variety of art works/installations/performance pieces that speak directly to these inhumane practices and seek to bring the silenced voices of affected mothers to the fore.



Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 11.46.50 AM

A R T  a s  E D U C A T I O N : El Nacimiento de Mi Hija [The Birth of My Daughter]

This is another variety of in-your-face art that talks.  Artist Ana Alvarez-Errecalde documented the birth of her daughter in 2005 by making these incredibly pure, straight-forward photographs of herself immediately after giving birth.  The images are stark, perhaps shocking, and above all, real.  I love the courage of this woman to put her body and the most intimate of all human actions–that of giving birth– on display in honor of the art of creating life.

“By giving birth I take off my “cultural” veil. My maternity is not virginal not aseptic. I am the archetype of the primal woman, the woman beast that has nothing prohibited. I show a maternity not seen through the eyes of Eve (the divine punishment ”you will give birth with the pain of your body”) but seen through the eyes of Lucy (the earliest hominid found to date).”


Xiaohong Zhang, Pregnancy, WI, 2002-2003,

Xiaohong Zhang, Pregnancy, WI, 2002-2003,

B I R T H  S T O R Y : Kaden’s Home Birth

I was reading a bunch of happy birth stories during my last trimester of pregnancy (because I couldn’t not read birth stories!  When you’re about to pop it’s kind of all you can think about), and this is one of them.  It’s not all happy, of course, it’s complicated.  Just like life is.

An excerpt from the story…

“…The pain of labor and child birth was fleeting and the rewards of having a natural home birth were immense. Just a few hours later I could hardly even remember the pain, and I am now left with the memories of a wonderful, spiritual experience.

I encourage women everywhere to look deeper into the medical procedures and practices that are used and make an informed choice [about] what is best for them. There are many myths about the safety of home births and many myths about the safety of hospital and medicated births. I wish I had known them before the births of my other two children because I am certain I would have made different choices—even in a hospital—and had different results. The human body was built to give birth. Medical professionals are well-trained to handle emergencies. There is no reason that one must infringe upon the other.”



lizzie carr via the GUARDIAN

via the Guardian

E N V I R O N M E N T : Woman paddleboarding England’s canals finds thousands of plastic items

This chick just paddle-boarded 400 miles to document the foul state of England’s waterways, and she found a lot of crap.  Literally.

“Lizzie Carr completed the 22-day challenge on Sunday with swollen knuckles and more than 2,000 photos of plastic junk she found in canals and rivers from Godalming in Surrey to Kendal in Cumbria.

The 30-year-old paddle boarder catalogued more than 1,600 plastic bottles, over 850 plastic bags, 40 footballs, 24 toys, seven dummies, a pair of traffic cones and one bin lid.”





P O L I T I C S :  Next British Prime Minister Set to be a Woman

Two women are up for the seat of Prime Minister of Britain, and if one of them wins she will be the U.K.’s  “second female leader after Margaret Thatcher, who was P.M. from 1979 to 1990.”  Can you just see the next G-8 with Hillz and a female PM of Britain??  I like the look of it already.



emma coburn via espn

Emma Coburn via ESPN

S P O R T S : Emma Coburn: Steeplechase barriers will ‘leave you pretty scarred’

My friend Elizabeth sent me this story the other day, (along with a link to the photo–at very top–of a totally badass woman with a prosthetic leg riding a bike naked.)  Emma Coburn is a kick ass 25 yr. old mountain climber-turned-runner who is featured in the current issue of ESPN’s Body Issue. Here’s an excerpt from her interview with them:

“I climbed my first “fourteener” when I was 7 years old.  A 14,000-foot mountain is called a “fourteener” in Colorado. There are 60ish fourteeners, and my dad has climbed them all twice, my mom has climbed them all once and my sister and her husband are trying to make their way through them as well. I only have climbed probably three of them; I retired from that sport probably when I was 12.”

(shared by Elizabeth Parker)



Featured image (at top) viaESPN Go – The Body Issue

All reviews written and opinions expressed are the author’s own. “Shared by [name]” – Refers to the person who shared the link to the original piece featured here.


A Thank You Letter To A Few Good Men


Thank you for…


Being my first true love.

Sharing your birthday with me.

Setting the example that all the other men in my life now have to live up to.

Showing me how a real man treats his family, his work, his friends and the people around him.

Giving me my love of organizing, bags, a good deal, animals and a super strong work ethic.

Being so excited about the little things in life and passing that excitement on to your family.

Saying “I love you” a lot while I was growing up and to this day.

Singing and playing guitar for me, making me feel like a star and introducing me to Bad, Bad Leroy Brown and Neil Diamond.

Providing the kind of love, security and happiness that every little girl dreams of.

Helping me to see and believe that I was meant to do great things and could accomplish anything I wanted in this lifetime.

Not ever losing your creativity and passing that onto Jer and I.

Buying Jeremy his first guitar.

Giving me that shoulder to cry on when my world felt like it was crashing down and always letting me know that no matter what, my Daddy would be there to love me and support me through all of my ups and downs.

You are an incredible man, an incredible father, a hero and a saint in my eyes and I truly don’t think I could love you more. I am beyond blessed to call you my Dad.

Thank you for you, Daddy.


Thank you for…


Being born (even though I wasn’t happy about it at first).

Making us laugh from the time you could talk.

Cleaning up after me during parties I was throwing while I was suppose to be babysitting you.

Not hating me when I was a mean older sister.

Being such a cool kid for all of my friends to be around.

Taking risks and knowing the perfect time to pick up that guitar.

Finding your identity and calling and not shying away from it.

Playing Young Pippin (and being so freaking good).

Staying on stage with me as I danced my final dance on the stage at Millbrook.

Being a part of my college life and creating an incredible experience of your own.

Living in Los Angeles and allowing us to make super cool memories together.

Being a rock star.

Continuing to prove to be THE most genuine, loving, caring, hilarious, kind, talented and compassionate guy (people!) I have ever met…and you are my brother!!!

You are one-of-a-kind, Jer-Boy, and I am SO FREAKING GRATEFUL for you. “Be sweet!”


Thank you to all of the men who have impacted my life: my boyfriends, my best friends, my teachers and my mentors. Thank you to the fellas who broke my heart, which in so many ways made me stronger. Thank you for the life lessons, the tears, the smiles, the growth, and the encouragement. I owe so much to all of you because, as individuals, who we become is built from our relationships and the people whom we share intimacy and love with. You all laid the foundation, loved me, pushed me, challenged me, sometimes made me cry but ultimately gave me wings and I love each and every one of you for it.


Thank you for…


Saying yes to a weekend in Ashville with two of your best buds and being ok if some random person named Jamie that you didn’t know tagged along.

Hugging me on the dance floor under a very wet tarp on a rainy night in the mountains.

Whisking me away on our first date.

Taking a chance, flying to Los Angeles and launching our love story.

Being so patient and kind.

Being so loving.

Saying YES to a lifetime of adventure.

Taking the reigns and taking such good care of me.

Loving me.

Teaching me.

Creating a life with me.

Inspiring me every dang day.

Staying so committed to your personal growth.

Taking on challenge after challenge and ROCKING each one of them.

Creating such a loving and healthy partnership.

Being so good for me and to me.

Paul Hottie, you are a dream come true and I love you.



Art by Liliana Gelman

My Mother’s Hands


Your hands like well worn leather are the covers of the book that tells the story of our family through the years.

Your hands like well worn leather are the shoes upon my feet that protect my every step from sole to soul.

Your hands like well worn leather weather storms of tears and rain streaked with creases of worry, time and circumstance.

Your hands hold mine hold hers trace lines on palms touch fingertips of youthful song. Clap your hands like well worn leather and we will celebrate together. Generations.

You are my mother. I am her mother. You are her grandmother. And one day all our hands will be like well worn leather clasping memories of a life well lived.


hands tessgamboa



Antique drawing by unknown artist; photo author’s own

You, My Love

It’s getting close to 10:30pm.

The house is still and quiet, our oldest daughter is in bed asleep and our littlest one is cradled in my arms calm and restful.

There are no phones, computers, movies, or music going— only the dim hum of the refrigerator and the crickets in harmony outside.

Here it’s just us.  You sitting on the sofa, I nestled in close beside your warm, tired body.  Together we sit.  There is no need for conversation in these moments, only the need to get just a little bit closer, to snuggle in a tiny bit more.

In the space of just a few minutes an eternity will pass by.  In this space I let go of my thoughts, the whirling in my head calms and I am falling asleep in a field of wildflowers.

You, my love.

How did we get here?  How did I find you, you find me?

When did the love grow so big that it consumed us both?  Turning each of our root systems into one inseparable organism that is somehow at once individual and forever intertwined.

Maybe it happened as soon as I met you, that day you caught my eye and I caught yours, and we both smiled like shy teenagers.  At least that’s when it all began.

After a few minutes, which feel like ages, you get up, kiss the baby and then me, tell me not to stay up too late and to come to bed soon (as you do every time), and then you head to bed.  There is another early morning and long day of work ahead of you.

Life is complicated, hard, as we climb up this mountain together right now.  But when you hold my hand I feel and see only the sunshine upon us.

These moments are what I live for.

Just us, together, sitting quietly.  As one day, so many years from now, I hope we still do.

Until we are so very old, and so very grey.

My love.



A Fond Farewell to My Thirties

Nine years and eleven months ago I was married, trying in vain to conceive, living in Los Angeles, both of my parents and my grandmothers were still alive and I had never flown over seas before even though I’d been dreaming about it since as early as I can remember.

Standing on The Great Wall of China a few days ago, as my eyes scanned the incredible view, I thought, “I can’t believe I’m actually here.” Playful butterflies flitted on the wall’s path and I thought of my mom, dad and grandmas and how proud they would be of me, and as I drank a beer at tower six before racing down the mountain on a fun as hell toboggan ride, I thought of my boyfriend, my life partner of seven years, and how much he would have LOVED this adventure.

My thirties have been a wild ride of world travel, adventures beyond my craziest imaginings, being in a relationship that sets me free, a handful of worthy career achievements and a move from where I grew up to the city where all of my dreams are coming true; New York. Even though my thirties have also wrung me out with tears over the toughest decision I’ve ever made which was to end my marriage and give up on my hope of having children, to the unexpected loss of both of my parents who were only 61 and 65, grief and joy have so shaped who I am over the last decade that I can’t help but have gratitude for all of it.

This woman, the one exploring China, hiking up sacred Buddha Mountain, wandering around night markets, having tea with strangers using gestures and smiles because neither speaks the other’s language, taking selfies with monks and monkeys, visiting pandas, getting on a bus to another town by herself to visit ghost mountain and being taught by strangers how to eat Szechuan food “family style;” this is the woman my thirties has produced.

I love her.

JameyHood Ciqukou Chongqing

I really do! I love her attitude and curiosity. I love her bravery and sense of humor. I love her compassion with others and herself. This woman, the one who laughs when the weather takes a turn for the worse, the one who doesn’t mind getting lost in a strange city where she doesn’t speak the language, the one who doesn’t think or worry too much about the future: this is the woman of my dreams. I know how vain and narcissistic this may sound and yet, this woman doesn’t care!

Goodbye, thirties! You’ve done your job. You have delivered so many blows and so many joys. You’ve marched me forward and along the way you’ve helped me drop the veil of shame and meekness. You’ve seen me shed the skin of doubt and embrace my sexual power. You’ve led me off the well worn path and down so many alleys full of curiosities and delights. You’ve opened my mind so wide helping me discover that I’m a writer and very recently a teacher. You’ve taught me that I can not only survive grief but that I can draw strength from it, too. Thirties, to say that I’m going to miss you would be a lie, because you also taught me how to let go and live in the moment.

I’m wrapping up my thirties with an extraordinary adventure in China and then in two weeks I’ll be back in New York enjoying summer nights with my favorite guy and seeing my friends whom I just adore while re-immersing myself into the theatre community where I still after all these years feel a strong sense of belonging. In July, I hope to be in glorious Crescent City with my lover listening to live jazz and blowing out a candle in a Beignet at the Cafe Du Monde. Let the powdered sugar fly because this woman will not be wearing black!

I really haven’t thought beyond July. I’m ready to let my forties surprise me. I’m holding my arms wide open ready to embrace whatever is to come. This woman is ready.

Hello, forty.


JameyHood and Warrior


Images (from top):  Buddha Mountain; Ciqikou market in Chongqing; The Warrior.

Monday Menagerie #38



A collection of stories and videos that hopefully make you want to stand up and cheer for all of the crazy cool women out there making a difference and making it a fantastic time to be alive!



P O E T R Y: This Powerful Spoken Word Poem Celebrates Heritage And Self-Love

“It’s easy to say ‘I want to sound and be like what’s perceived as the majority population’ but once I realized that what I was doing was rejecting the richness of my culture, I was able to find ways to begin celebrating and loving myself.”

Oh hell yes!!



P O L I T I C S: Meet the 30 women who will change the election

I don’t know about you but I really need some hope in this election and these women are doing it for me.



M U S I C: Michelle Obama And Kelly Clarkson Team Up For New Female Empowerment Anthem

“First Lady Michelle Obama commissioned Kelly Clarkson, Missy Elliott, Diane Warren, Zendaya, Janelle Monae, Lea Michele, Kelly Rowland, Jadagrace and Chloe & Halle to join forces for a song about female empowerment. It’s titled “This Is for My Girls,” and produced by AOL’s MAKERS, a digital platform showcasing the stories of women.”

T E A R  J E R K E R: Girl With A Prosthetic Leg Overjoyed To Get A Doll That Has One, Too

This video has been all over social media this past weekend and it totally got me so I had to share.  What a beautiful expression of love!





E C O  F A S H I O N: Juhi Shareef ‘Why fashion needs sustainable development’

“Basic rules to avoid fast (disposable) fashion purchases:





E N T E R T A I N M E N T: Wonder women: the new breed of feminism sweeping Hollywood

Australian producer Bruna Papandrea joins the gender equality debate and explains how women have dropped the “lady ball”.

“We feel that women need to make a pointed effort to give other women opportunities to realise their full potential. Men have no qualms about helping out their male counterparts – giving an extra legup to a friend – it’s part of their buddy system. Women need to get on board and promote the idea that one woman getting a job doesn’t take it away from another. When one woman gets a job, it opens doors for others, and we should continue to hold open those doors for each other. It’s the gentlewomanly thing to do.”



photograph by Beth Murphy via

photograph by Beth Murphy via

E D U C A T I O N: One U.S. woman’s vision is changing the lives of girls in rural Afghanistan


“Afghanistan has the highest gender disparity in primary education in the world, and girls from poor rural families are the least likely to go to school. Estimates suggest just four percent of such girls complete their primary education. But for girls in Deh’Subz district, there is a ray of hope. Behind it is Afghan native Razia Jan, founder of the Massachusetts-basedRazia’s Ray of Hope Foundation.”





Jane Goodall is a true heroine and leads the fight everyday for our animals and our planet…and I just think this interview in simple and powerful! I hope you do too!



Illustration by Jean Gouders

Illustration by Jean Gouders

A R T: Cartoonist Reimagines World Where Girls Haul Books, Not Water

“Across the globe, women and girls in developing countries spend an estimated 200 million hours every single day collecting water in areas where potable H2O isn’t available.

That means they’re more susceptible to developing physical ailments such as spinal and neck issues. They’re also more likely to miss out on work and educational opportunities.

When it comes to schooling, there’s a direct correlation between increased access to clean water and higher enrollment rates.”

P O E T R Y: Poet, 12, from the slums of Nairobi enthralls crowd in New York City with tearful words

“Most of the kids in Kibera are raped, some are neglected by their parents, some are homeless,” she said, fighting back tears after the performance. “Most of them have dreams, but they don’t know how they can achieve them, so I had to write a poem that tells them that they can achieve their dreams.”





T E C H N O L O G Y: 6 Women Coders Who Are Advancing Gender Equality

“According to a American Association of University Women study, only 26 percent of computing and mathematical jobs in the United States are held by women. And according to a survey called Elephant in the Valley, which was conducted by two women who have worked in Silicon Valley, 60 percent of women in tech have been sexually harassed at work, and 84 percent have been told they’re too aggressive.

Here are some women who have not only risen above these challenges but also lifted other women up with them.”


C O U R A G E: Hello Luv Is The Kurdish Pop Diva Who Has ISIS Going Crazy

Shared by Alaina Latona



Featured image (at top) by: LisaFerranteStudio 

All reviews written and opinions expressed are the author’s own. “Shared by [name]” – Refers to the person who shared the link to the original piece featured here.


Motherhood is a Choice You Make Every Day

“Motherhood is a choice you make every day, to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is…and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.”
―Donna Ball, At Home on Ladybug Farm

This quote spoke to me because it’s how I feel that I will feel as a mom, wanting so badly to do the right thing but thinking I am doing everything wrong.  I simply can’t imagine it and that is why I am even more inspired by the women around me.

Almost all of my best girlfriends are moms and among all of them I think we have counted about 30 kids.  The oldest child is 12 and the youngest is going to be born any day now.  For a long time I was not sure if I wanted to be a mother.  I made a pact with the Universe and said “I know that I want to have children in my life and that I want to impact the lives of youth, but if I am not meant to bring one into the world then I will trust that.”  The crazy or maybe not so crazy thing is that now, because of my age and because of the strong partnership I am in, I want it very, very badly, but will still be ok with whatever the Universe has in store for me.

The beautiful thing in waiting so long to have my own has been the opportunity to watch my incredible friends turn into these incredible mothers so instantly.  I hear their struggles and KNOW that it’s the hardest job in the world but I watch how they are with these little humans, the ones depending on them for everything, and what I see is women effortlessly doing what they were born to do.  I see their children who have turned out to be these awesome people– they are kind, funny, thoughtful, playful and compassionate.  I am blown away by their vibrant personalities and love seeing my friend’s attributes and quirks in them.  I have been able to witness how each one of them parents differently but also the common bond they all share of loving these little people with every fiber in their being.

I have heard over and over again, “you don’t know what love is until you hold your child in your arms”, and I see that every single time I am around my best friends.  They love and they give everything for their children, and each one of those humans is so lucky to have landed on this earth right where they did.  I don’t know if I can explain to my friends how much I look up to them and admire them for the mothers that they are but I try.  I try very hard.  I also don’t take for granted how lucky I am to have such incredible role models to lean on and get guidance from when the Universe chooses to bless me with the opportunity to bring my own into the world, or provide a loving home to one that may not have been given the best shot the first time around.

“To my dearest daughter, as you grow older I want you to fly out like a free bird. Go forth and pursue all your dreams. Live life to the fullest and make sure that your happiness is second to none. And while you are at it, just remember that every time you need a hug or a place to call your own, I’m always here. Love you.”  -Unknown

This is the quote that reminds me of my own sweet mom.  She lets me fly, she supports me, she loves me through it all but I always know I can come right back to her, that she will be there, that HOME will be there.  That is something that not everyone has, a true home to always call home. When I was deciding to move back to the East Coast after being in LA for 15 years and said part of the reason I was moving was to be closer to your family, I remember a friend saying “I moved here to get away from my family”.  That struck me because that was the hardest thing about moving away.  I moved away to find myself, to gain independence, to screw up, to learn lessons and to take risks but I never moved away to get away from my family.  My mom has always been there and even though we have had the typical mother/daughter tension, I am realizing at this moment that it was usually during the times when I didn’t love myself and found it hard to understand how someone could love me unconditionally.  I still will not understand the depth of her love until I have one of my own but I know that I am one of the lucky ones.  My mom is giving, loving, stylish, and cheerful and can make friends with ANYONE.  It is one of the things I love so fiercely about her– the ability to see the good in everyone, the ability to connect with anyone on their level and to make them laugh.  She brightens people’s days, I can see it in their eyes and it makes me so proud to call her my mom.

Mom, thank you for loving us unconditionally and for standing by us no matter what.  Thank you for being a mom to all of my friends, for showing me how to love, for making us your top priority and for teaching me why it’s important to be kind, accepting, and loving.  You are brave and smart and I look up to you in so many ways.  Thank you for you.  I love you MORE!


Jamie and Mom


Featured art by: Drawing Sarah

Birth Story of Harper Joy

My name is Sarah Hock.  I was born and raised by the beautiful beaches of Fort Walton Beach, Florida.  I’m happily married to my childhood best friend since 2004.  We have three amazing children from ages 5 to our new one month old.

I was very uneducated for my first birth.  I knew I wanted a natural birth but didn’t know my facts–I ended up with a c-section with her as she was breeched.  Right after having her I knew I wanted a vbac (vaginal birth after cesarean), and automatically began to research and educate myself.  I looked into homebirths and midwives and found we had one local midwife who attended homebirths.  We were overjoyed to find that I was pregnant again almost two years later.  We had our second, a son, peacefully at home.

As healing and amazing as his birth was, my husband and I knew that it still could be much better.  I had a long labor and pushing stage as I never quite felt that urge to push.  I was also very weak and tired after his birth.  We both did more research and learned quite a lot.  We had discussed doing an unassisted birth for our next child before I was even expecting.  Then when we found that I was pregnant again, we prayed about it and knew that it was the best thing for us to do.  I could name several reasons why we felt that way or what lead us to that decision but ultimately our main reason was we knew I needed to not depend on anything or anyone but our God, who we allow to lead us, and the intuition that He has given me.  I had our third at home with just my husband and sister present.  The experience was so peaceful, freeing, natural and exhilarating, what I believe birth is suppose to be no matter where it occurs.



Birth Story of Harper Joy💖

April 24th.  My husband, Kyle, set up a babysitter last minute for us to go out on a dinner date.  We decided to go to Target first to pick up a few things we needed.  While walking around I had a very mild contraction followed by another at check out.  I didn’t say anything to Kyle until we got to our restaurant as other signs were appearing.  I didn’t want to get too excited as contractions were very mild and sporadic.  I also figured there could still be a few days or another week until baby is born.  I did contact my two sisters who were my birth support team just to keep them updated.  We talked names for the baby just about the entire dinner as we were waiting to find out gender at birth and still didn’t have a name.

When we arrived back home my sister came over so I could show her where all the birth supplies were just in case things went quickly.  However, things slowed down tremendously once I went to bed.  I had consistent contractions for one hour in the middle of the night that even woke me up, but those too slowed down.

Monday morning came and I was no longer comfortable lying down. I got up and went walking around outside in my backyard.  I began to pray for me, the baby, and the birth.  It was so peaceful.  Just the early sound of the birds and feeling so close to God.

We went on with our day like normal.  My good friend, Ali, came over to hang out.  She was going to be our birth photographer and I told her about the night before, explaining that it could still be another week give or take.  I had a few mild contractions while she was over and would even have to stop talking to breathe through them.  I even tried to just ignore a few.  As the day went on they did become more intense.  I had to get in the bath mid-afternoon to help with them.  I then took a nap with my older two.  Once we were up I had a little burst of energy; I went on to prep meals that I wanted to have on hand for after birth (though I technically didn’t get to finish said meals) and make dinner.  Again, would have to breathe and dance through each contraction when they came.

The kids and I were outside when Kyle arrived home from work.  I was outside rocking on the patio chair while kids were playing.  I told him about how my day was, explaining the rushes (contractions) I would have but adding that this could go on for a while.  As the night went on I had to get in the bath again to help relieve the pressure from the contractions.  I also tried to do some stretches and exercises to help relieve some of the pain.  I shed a few tears by this point and prayed that this please not go on for a week or so.

By 10:30 pm I was exhausted and was ready for bed.  I thankfully was able to fall asleep and get some rest for a few hours.

12:30 am in mid-sleep I jumped out of bed because I had such an intense contraction.  I leaned over the wall swaying and breathing through it.  Once it passed I laid back down and fell back to sleep until the next contraction came.  This happened three times until I decided I would go get in the bath.  When I went in to get ready for the bath I realized that my water had perhaps started leaking.  I woke Kyle up to inform him.  He joined me in the bathroom while I sat in the tub.  He wanted to start timing the contractions and I was fine with that.  I know it helped him to feel like he was doing something.  I also needed him to rub my back during the contractions, which were roughly 10 minutes apart.  After a while we decided to go ahead and inform the birth support team which included my two sisters, mom, and my good friend, Ali, who would be taking pictures.  Because my last birth with my son was so long we figured this one could be too and told everyone not to rush over.  We would let them know when it really started.  Thankfully one of my sisters, Kristen, decided to come on over.  When she arrived the contractions were already getting closer and I was getting more vocal with them.  I was ready to get out of the tub as it was getting really uncomfortable but the water was helping so much.  I told Kyle to go ahead and prepare the birth pool.  I remember thinking that I hoped I didn’t regret requesting the pool just yet in case everything stopped and it wasn’t time for the baby yet. I was clearly still in denial.

Once the birth pool was ready and I got in I felt so much better. The contractions were still coming, even closer and intensifying. That’s when I accepted and knew we would be meeting our baby very soon.

It also was here when fear tried creeping in.  All the “what ifs” started filling my thoughts.  What if something is wrong?  What if baby gets stuck?  What if I can’t do this?  Right then Kyle turned on some worship music.  It’s exactly what I wanted and needed.  It was like he was able to read my mind.  The song “It is well with my soul” was playing.  I began to sing along and then pray, remembering the promises God had spoken over me during my pregnancy in regards to this birth.  Kyle then began praying over me, the baby and the birth. Words can’t describe the amount of peace that came over me.

I told Kyle to go ahead and contact Ali, our photographer.  A few more contractions after requesting that, my body began to bear down.  I didn’t say anything but just followed my body’s lead until I felt serious urges to push.  I then vocalized that my body was pushing.  Kristen encouraged me to listen to my body.

I pushed with the first real urge and the head came out.  Two more pushes and Harper Joy was born into daddy’s hands at 2:11 am on April 26th.  He announced it was a girl.  I knew she was a girl.  My dreams and intuition were right.

I turned around and my husband placed her in my arms.  Harper gave a little cry and then peacefully just rested on me.  She was so serene.

My eldest daughter, Anna, and son, Nolan, woke up soon after.  They came into our room and saw me in the birth pool holding their new baby sister. My friend and other sister arrived shortly after as well.  We all couldn’t believe how fast she came.

Kyle made me some eggs and cut up some cantaloupe.  My friend snapped some photos and my sisters and Kyle cleaned up the birth space.  We all were just talking and laughing.  I couldn’t stop talking about how shocked I was that she came so fast and how everything went so smooth.  I couldn’t believe how great I felt.

It was the birth of my dreams.  Of my prayers.

I was able to take a shower as Kyle did some skin on skin time with Harper.

By 5:30 am we were all back in bed and resting.  Now as a family of five.


Featured image by:  Lior Pattel

Martha and Rhonda

Growing up, I had no rules, no emotional support, and little advice.  I raised myself.  Started down the path of alcohol, drugs, partying and went missing for days.  The men I dated were abusive and drugged out as me.  I had no idea at the time that I was lesbian. I didn’t even know who I was.  I just went by what I saw on TV and the status quo.

My mother gave me everything that I asked for materially and very little spiritually and emotionally.  My father was not around much.  The stories of my childhood and young adulthood are a mini-series in themselves.  I’ll just say that I choose my parents for reasons I now understand.  I love my mother and father.  Being their child shaped a lot of who I am today.  When I talk about those stories today it’s with a grace and not a definition.  The story I would like to tell here is about the most influential person in my life.

The first time I saw her I was roaming around my favorite Spiritual bookstore.  I often had long conversations with the folks that worked there about life, healing, spirituality and how to save the world.  The woman behind the counter began to tell me about a woman she had been seeing for emotional healing work.  Her name is Martha Burgess.  She talked about Martha being a former actress, acting teacher and business coach.  She began to tell me about the profound healing, mediumship and emotional work that happens there.  She said Martha invites a small group of people to her home on Thursday nights by invitation only.  I was fascinated by what she was telling me about this woman and had to meet her.  In the middle of our conversation Martha Burgess walked in to pick up some books she ordered, and the rest is history.  Our friendship began that day.  She looked me up and down and said, Yeah you are one of us.  See you Thursday night.  It will be 10 years this coming November since that day.

We consider ourselves family now.  So much has happened in our time together as teacher, student, mentor, coach, healer, confidant and friend over the past 10 years that it would be impossible to write it all here.  Let’s just say our friendship could be compared to the story of Socrates and Og from the book The Greatest Miracle in the World, or The Karate Kid and Mr. Miyagi.  I’ll do my best to share how she influenced the shaping of my character, consciousness and awareness.

Martha guided me to my true self and helped me change my perceptions of myself and the world.  Some of her favorite axioms are,

“nothing is what it seems,”

“your pain is growing you,”

“don’t be overly sympathetic to what you see,”

“God presents two ways according to our understanding. God presents as the absence of itself (still God) or the fullness of itself (all God) according to the individual understanding. The energy of the absence of God is fear. The energy of the fullness of God is Love.,” 

“we are uniquely wired,”

“ your divinity lies in your humanness,”

“God is all you are and Love is all you are.”

“Everything in the world is neutral. Only the egoic child’s mind judges things as good, bad, right wrong, rich, poor, ugly, beautiful and more. Everything Just Is in the energy of the Ascended God and we must learn to Cooperate with it and Create from this real place.”

“If all you can see is what you always see, there is work to be done on the self to deepen and see more.”

I would walk into her house and moan and groan about how hard is to be black, gay and female in America.  I would go on about how the world and some people in my life have wronged me.  My parents were messed up and insane.  She then goes into how nothing is what it seems. “Nothing is what it seems. One moment leads to the next and to the next and to the next.  I don’t know the mind of God, why souls meet, what their agreements are.  There is always a deeper meaning or issue at play.  We are living a human experience from the ego perspective the end goal is to learn through our humanness who and what we really are.”  I just keep on pushing through and having faith, while attempting to work on myself and help others.

We talk for hours about the egoic child’s mind vs. the adult mind.  The best way I can explain it is by relating it the way she first presented the idea to me.  It’s like as a baby our first idea of God is our parents.  So something happens like you bring home a piece art you made in school and your father brushes you off and tells you to go sit down he has things to do.  As a child in that moment one may feel unloved or unappreciated.  The reality may be he just got fired or had a hard day.  But as a child we only see the brushing off.  So we carry that with us and draw experiences that reinforce this idea of ourselves.  My own personal experience is that my father abandoned the family many times physically.  So I became afraid of being abandoned and attracted it.  The adult mind knows that my father was an alcoholic and didn’t know how to live life.  Knowing his issues had nothing to do with me allowed me to forgive him and release the need to be abandoned.

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a woman, I set aside childish ways.  Now we see but a dim reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.…” 1 Corinthians 13:11

Martha often says “We spend our whole lives trying to be loved. All the negative emotions of fear, hate, rage, resentment, jealousy are love.  They are love that has become frustrated and hardened; turned into something else.  Nothing can turn into something that is not at first itself.  They can turn into love like water to ice and back to water.  This is why all our emotions can turn into love because they are love.  You are love no matter how you have distorted it.  It’s time to turn all this back to its higher form because, if you don’t, it is stuck in itself and can only be that.”  So, I try a little something every day by working on myself and clearing out the clutter of my emotional body.  I’m attempting to bring love to everything I do.  From the gifts that Martha has given me and my own individual practice of raising consciousness in me I have hope. The process for me is not an overnight sensation.  However, little by little, my character moves closer in alignment to my consciousness.

Peace, Love and Light,

Rhonda Turner


For more information on Martha’s teaching and healing work, visit:  Blog Talk Radio, and Martha’s Website.

Featured artwork by: Ruta Puidokaite




All the Chapters

Some of my most vivid memories exist under the Magnolia tree in Burlington, NC.

We left that house when I was 4, but when I think about my childhood, that small chapter of my life is so clear.  Some of the simplest things my parents did affected me deeply during that time. We lived in a small town and there was no internet.  They planted a huge garden in the back yard and I developed a love for squash!  They set up a microphone for my 4th birthday and all of my friends got up on the “stage” and heard their little voices amplified.  I stood there equal parts party dress and muddy skinned knees from playing outside with the boys.  My favorite toy was my  Fisher-Price record player and we listened to “We are the World” on repeat.  My sweet littleBritt Wilk hotlanta brother was born.  We planted a little tree, “my tree,” in the front yard.  Ironically, here I am in my hotlanta shirt, representing the city I live in now after many years of living far away from my parents.

What a magical little chapter of my family’s story, full of new beginnings, new life, and just a little opening into what would unfold.  We have all lived so much life since then.  There is no way that little four year old who ate mint off the tree and daydreamed in the dirt could ever comprehend what would lie ahead.

But that’s the thing, right?  That’s it!  That’s life.  All of the flavors, all of the chapters, and being brave enough to jump in with a little mustard seed of faith.

Nobody does this better than my mother.  She just dances right off of that little cliff and swims with broad strokes, laughter, and eyes to the sky.  My mom.  My friend.  She’s the one who embarrassed me with huge movie star glasses and a purple mini van in elementary school, calling my name in the carpool lane.  She’s the one who wore jumpsuits and ankle boots made by artists and a big blond side ponytail.  She’s the one who sang in our home.  She’s the one who started her own business over 25 years ago; walking to the bank to get a loan in 1977, the UNC Marching Band passed her on the street playing the Rocky Theme song.  She got the loan.  She has charisma, chutzpah, guts, and a big generous heart.  Magic follows her.  She is fun, up for anything, compassionate, and giving, and I feel 100% confident introducing her to friends at a party.  She is loved.

Britt Wilk mother 1

I’m now an adult, and my mom and I have traversed a whole bunch of chapters together.  The one when we drove across the country together like Thelma and Louise.  The ones when we fought more than usual because she gave me some of that fiery DNA and southern sass and strong will.  The funny thing is, just as fast as the fire ignited, the laughter and ease would follow, and we’d be planning our next adventure.  The fire would burn up and out and a new seed of a new moment would take root, becoming the first words of a new chapter.  As I have gotten older, I have come to appreciate not only my mother’s will and grit and sense of humor, but the fact that she is always there at the end of the battle.  It doesn’t matter if that battle is between us when I was an angsty teenager or when the battle was losing someone we loved.  She is there.  She is fiercely loyal.  She is honest about her feelings and her struggles.  She is intensely private when it comes to her close knit group of friends and especially her family.

Everyone knows the fun side of my mom, the beautiful side, and the artistic side.  I am lucky, though.  She’s a character in every chapter of my life, even the ones which are hard to read.  Sometimes jumping off the cliff means conquering a dream and sometimes it means an unleashed ugly cry.  Sometimes it means just staying through the storm.  Thank you, Mom for all of your lightness and goodness and fun and faith.  When I imagine your face, my sense memory lives in dance, song, laughter, delicious food, expression and celebration!  When I ask myself how to honor you, my heart says to say thank you for showing me your humanity.  So, thank you. Thank you for admitting your mistakes and your shortcomings and for apologizing.  Thank you for always telling us when real and difficult things were happening.  Thank you for making us feel like you would sit with us through those difficult times.  Thank you for being on our team and going to bat for us over the years.  Thank you for being brave enough to speak at Papaw’s funeral even though you say “you aren’t good with words.”  Thank you for choosing inspiring people with integrity to befriend; they have become my second moms and dads and shaped who I am.  They were the village for this little girl.  Thank you for showing me how to hold space for a friend who has experienced a great loss.  Thank you for mourning openly in front of me when you experienced a great loss.  Thank you for accepting me fully, for helping me to surrender and believe in the unseen, and for believing in my goodness and ability to add something of value to the world.  I’m so lucky to know you so well, to learn from your wisdom, and to be your daughter.  May I honor you by keeping my heart open to let in all the joy and when the pain comes, may I clasp my fingers around the hands of those I love, weathering the storm with the grace and grit you gave me.

Britt Wilk mother 2


To read more about my super cool mom, check out her website:  Possibilities Boutique 

Photo at top:  film still from Thelma & Louise the movie

To My Two

In one short week I will be starting my first day of a brand new job – my first job.

I decided in the fall to quit my work as a full time mom and go back to school.  I worked hard and now I am here..  But can I do this?  Can I be a perfect parent and work full time?  How will I find time to cook?  I am arranging child care for my children and the emotions have been running through me at lighting speed.  Gracious for the opportunity to pursue my dream.  Terrified that I won’t be able to spend the amount of time with my children that we’ve been accustomed to.  I feel stubborn because I refuse to skimp on the quality of schools that my kids will attend.  Nervous because.. well we all know that our “first day” anywhere is frightening.

But then I tell myself to STOP.
Stop freaking out.  Stop stressing.

I think about my own mother; an incredible woman who raised three kids on her own.  As a single mom, she made every sacrifice that she could in order to put us in the very best schools.  She pushed herself to be the hardest working woman all the while still being the best mother that she could be. My mom will do anything for her children.  If you are feeling down, she will break out in song and dance in the middle of a grocery store just to make you laugh.  I think of her, and I smile knowing that she is the perfect balance of business and motherhood.  She works hard for what she has, and I feel proud to call her mine.  Now with children of my own I have an enormous respect for the way she paralleled her career with her home.  With dinner on the table every night, although sometimes microwaveable, we grew up spoiled as ever with love and security.  With her as my role model and my speed dial when I feel frantic, I know that I can do this.  I can hear her telling me, “You’ve got this, baby.”

I am lucky to have my super momma cheering me on, but throw my perfect mother-in-law in the mix and I have unconditional support.

She is a woman who has raised eight children for the last 29 years and counting.  She wakes up at the crack of dawn to cook, clean, and chauffeur her kids to school and practices.  Every meal is hand-made from scratch and love right in her kitchen.  I have learned all of my cooking tricks from her.  She has taught me how to be kind and patient despite the lack of sleep most mothers suffer from.  She has become one of my closest friends and I call her often when I need advice.  I admire her so greatly.  Always putting others before herself, she truly is the most selfless woman I have ever met.

I am in awe of my mother for being the working woman I aim to be and I treasure my mother in law for being my role model in parenting.  On one end I have a mother driven by work and on the other end I have a mother driven by her home.  I have the perfect balance – I have two perfect moms.  I love you both.

I can do this.

To you two, I thank you.



Featured Images:  Vintage, photographers unknown.

Interview with Actress Hanna Ardehn


Hanna Ardehn is the kind of actress who captivates you first with her beauty, flawed and real and raw, and then keeps you with her talent, subtle, yet strong; undeniable.

I first saw Hanna on the Swedish TV series, 30 Degrees in February, streaming on Netflix. Hanna has one of the leading roles, Joy, a young Swedish girl who moves to Thailand with her mother and younger sister in an effort to heal her mother, who suffers from anxiety-induced strokes.

Hanna embodies Joy’s character with the kind of severity that gives the audience the impression that this could be Ardehn herself, and in the process, you sort of fall in love with both of them. She’s beautiful, in the most natural way, not perfect, not intimidating, beautiful in a more wholesome realm, that honors herself and the eyes that witness her; almost like seeing a deer in the woods. She calls an attention from the audience, without force or volume, a subtle pull that gives each of her characters a presence hard to overlook.

Ardehn grew up just outside of Stockholm with her mother and two sisters. She currently resides in Linköping, where she studies Psychology at the local university. Hanna and I conducted this interview over email.



Hey, Hanna. How are you?

I’m excellent! It’s spring here in Sweden so the light is finally coming back.

What kind of music do you like? Any favorite musicians at the moment?

I like a lot. I’ve listened to very different kinds of music throughout the years. Before, I listened a lot to metal and punk pop, like Marilyn Manson, Rise Against, Panic! At The Disco and My Chemical Romance. Now I’m more drawn to calm indie music, like Keaton Henson, Ben Howard and Little May. Two favorite songs at the moment are ‘Gun’ with Mas Ysa and ‘Blue Blood’ by Laurel.

You mentioned playing in a theater group as early as age six. Is this where your acting career began? At what point did you realize you wanted to become an actress?

I’d say the theater group was more just for fun. It was all about letting us kids improvise and create our own small plays to show to our parents. I didn’t really start acting more seriously until I was 9 ,when I went to my first auditions. I don’t really remember when I fist knew that I wanted to act. It’s always just been a thing that I liked to do. I remember my mom telling me I used to stand in front of the mirror, when I was around 2 or 3, and pretend to be the evil queen from Snow White, reciting “Mirror mirror on the wall”. She also told me that I also practiced using bad words when I thought no one could hear me.

Can you tell me about your journey from theater group, to being cast in the award-winning television series, 30 Degrees In February? Who were your biggest supporters in this process?

My biggest supporters have always been my family. My mom and dad have always come to every one of my plays, no matter how bad they were. My dad was the one who first suggested that I should try going to auditions for movies. He found two websites where actors uploaded their profiles and signed me up. Later, I went to different auditions that were advertised on the sites. When I was ten-years-old, I got the part in This Is Our Kids. After having acted in a movie, I was really inspired to act more. I went to more auditions and got small parts here and there, meeting different casting directors. When I was fourteen, I got a main part in Dubble Life, a series for young adults, and soon after, I got asked by one of the casting directors that I’d met before if I wanted to go to an audition for 30 Degrees in February. I had to go to several auditions for the part before I got it. I thought I was dreaming when I got the part. I didn’t really realize I had gotten it until a week into filming. Four years later, I got to meet everyone again and shoot the second season.

Does it feel surreal to be scoring these roles?  Do you watch the productions you’re in? If so, what’s that like?

It is very surreal and strange to think about. When I was younger, I never really thought about the fact that others would watch what I did, I just did it for fun. It is still strange to think that people I don’t know, and even more people that I do know, watch me act. I get a little embarrassed when people comment about it. I don’t really like watching myself. I have watched the series mostly to see the other actors. Watching myself is like hearing a recording of your own voice, but worse. I am a bit critical of myself so I just pick apart all the things I think look weird. But I guess we’re all a bit critical of ourselves.

What roles would you like to see yourself taking in the future? Why?

I’d like to do some things with action. I think I would like the physical part of it. I would also like to do something where I am a villain, or just a dark character. One of my favorite movies is Silence of the Lambs and Anthony Hopkins portrayal of Dr Lecter is so intriguing. I have always liked thrillers and dark characters, and to explore that would be amazing.

You did an amazing job embodying your role as Joy- a strikingly beautiful, silently strong, innately innocent teenager, emotionally supporting her ill mother, and younger sister, in 30 Degrees In February. In what ways do you relate to Joy, if at all?

Thank you. I don’t really know how I’m like her. I look like her at least. I would like to think that I am as enduring and headstrong as her. I am more careful in what I do and I would never run away like she does. I admire her, but I don’t always agree with what she is doing.

Who do you look up to in your field? Who are your favorite directors/producers, actors/actresses? Who would you like to see yourself working with in the future?

There are so many incredible people that I’ve worked with, and I truly admire them all. I have learned so much from them. Maria Lundqvist, who played my mother, is amazing, both as a person and as an actress. She is warm, caring and knows what she wants. I also admire Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, George Clooney and many more. I don’t know any specific person I would like to work with. Every actor and director I can think of would be wonderful. If I’d have to pick one I’d say Anthony Hopkins since I especially like one of the characters he’s played.

What are some of your favorite movies? Which European films can you recommend to the American public?

Oh, I’ve watched so many films. I do love some dark comedies like Death At A Funeral, In Bruges and 7 Psychopaths. As I mentioned before, Silence Of The Lambs is a big favorite. As for European films, I would recommend french films like Amelie de Montmartre and Intuchables since they often have a unique way of telling a story. I would also recommend some Swedish comedies like The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared, In Bed With Santa and A Man Called Ove.

What are your other passions aside from acting? (I’ve seen some of your drawings on Instagram; they are really nice.)

I like creative outlets most, like sewing, knitting and drawing. I like the therapeutic aspect of being creative, and the way you get to make something tangible in the process. If I’m stressed, I just sit down and draw something. It doesn’t always turn out the way I want, but there’s a pleasure in just letting your pencil glide over the paper. I also like writing. It’s a good way to get rid of the clutter of thoughts that sometimes arise in my mind. When I write, I often draw things around the text, and let the words be a part of a picture. I constantly listen to music when I’m alone, and I often let it reflect my mood or affect what I draw or write.

Everyone has their own idea of beauty. What is a beautiful woman? Everyone has their own idea of strength. What is a strong woman? Is there a difference?

For me, everyone is beautiful in their own way. There is the beauty in looks, and then there is the beauty in personality. Strength is also quite varied. There are people who can do absolutely everything, and never back down from a challenge. There are also people who might seem fragile, but fight their own demons and battles that you might not see, and that, for me, also shows enormous strength. I am amazed by women like my sister, mother and grandmother, who, no matter what life throws at them, always keep moving on. They are full of life and energy, and always have new ideas. I find that very beautiful. Strength and beauty for me are often intertwined, since I find strength beautiful and I usually find strength in most women. The idea of a woman is beautiful to me. They are beautiful to draw, and they are beautiful in their strength. Just the fact that they can grow and carry a life inside of them is pretty amazing. I hope that gives some kind of an answer to your question.

Any movies currently in the making? Where would you like to see yourself in five years?

At the moment I’m not making anything. I am studying psychology, and mostly focusing on that. Something might come my way, but you never know. In five years I will probably have my psychology degree, and I might have shot some movies, short films or another series. I would love to be able to act and study at the same time, but if a great offer comes along, I think I could take a year off of university, and then come back to continue my studies.

Is there anything that I didn’t ask you in this interview that you wished I had? If so, would you please elaborate?

A great book tip is Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, and frozen grapes and watermelon are my favorite snacks.


You can watch both seasons of 30 Degrees In February on Netflix, and discover the force de Ardehn for yourself.  Hanna can also be found on Instagram @hannaardehn. 

Photo courtesy Hanna Ardehn, edited by Tara Tona