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Monday, April 24, 2006

musemother

Poetry Readings in April,
rundown: last Saturday night in Portland Ontario, at the Legion Hall, a rousing round of poetry by John B, from LA, myself and Anders, organized with gusto by Anders Carson and his wife Vicky, and their lovely community. Jazz band's lively sets in between kept us bopping and hopping.
Thanks to all for such a great welcome and keen ears and hearts.

Atwater Poetry Project: ms Menopause in attendance again - boy she gets around. Took off her hat and gloves (Sabbatu, rest day, means no work, lie on the lounger) and read from the heart. A quiet audience, but appreciative. Thanks to Oana for organizing this series> Even if the venue is uninspiring....

Pierrefonds Comprehensive High School, classes of Mrs. Lori Brown, Grade nine and ten. Young Poets Week event. (QWF and League of Canadian Poets)
It was a pleasure to introduce these lively young people to some poets they may not have heard before, to awaken the ear to sound and the eye to metaphor: Neruda's Ode to my Sox, and Quincy Troupe's Magic Johnson - full of basketball lingo that the guys in the class translated for me - take it to the hoop Magic! My first time reading in a classroom, and I hope not the last.

Cafe l'Utopik and Restaurant El Rancho,
both bilingual events, with readings and music and even puppets made of driftwood. Thanks to Lynne Cooper who let me unveil Ms Menopause in her leopard skin pill box hat (of Bob Dylan variety) and read a message from the Queen of Heaven, and to Elizabeth Roberts for the trilingual event with Chilean poets in attendance too.

musemother

city and green

here be green leaves, here be April rain and tulips, moss on trees and grey skies, oh heart that wanders, find your peace in rootedness, even in turbulent skies on a plane before touch down, there is a prayer from the heart to be calm, to not panic, to hold on to the common center, to the human, humility, of peace in the middle of the battlefield. Yes, even at home, especially the first day back, amidst a ton of laundry covering the floor and a ton of emails to answer.
paix et amour,

musemother

The Oasis

Back from New York, I found this on my desktop. Never sent it out to be published, so will post it for you to read of my harried life a few years back:

In a hurried, harried world, sitting in stillness has taught me that the immediate present is the only place I can be at peace. Some days, I have no control over outside events, and the best I seem to be able to do is damage control.

This winter was a prime example: between a pedagogical holiday and one child sick, my two kids were home practically a whole week. My daughter had an ear infection, the dog vomited in the car, the kitchen sink got clogged with sand, and the heat pump started frosting up. Between plumbers, vets and doctor’s appointments, my regular schedule was totally disrupted. On days like that, if I don’t spend time in the quiet sanctuary within, it’s not a pretty sight. By Wednesday, the tone of my voice was getting shrill. The sore shoulder was acting up, there were groceries to unload from the car, and the kids made a beeline for the door, leaving me with the bags. “Come back and help me!” I yelled. It was already 6:15 pm, and I was totally clueless as to what to make for supper, (too late to make that beef stew I had planned). It may not be all out nuclear war, but my kids wisely aim for the hills, or hide behind closed doors when Mommy starts yelling. By Thursday, I was ready to abandon my list of things to do. No point fighting the chaos, which was not going away. I was no longer willing to let it disrupt my equilibrium. Nothing to do but surrender the battle, and wave the flag of peace.

I have learned the hard way that if I don’t spend time cultivating my inner oasis, this mom will soon be scraping rock bottom with nothing to give. That’s not the kind of mom I want to be, so I’m learning that nurturing my need for balance and peace inside me actually improves the harmony in my household. The trick is to find a quiet time to be alone, when no one can disturb me. For me, this means waking up early before the kids are up, or after they have left for school. I sit in my comfy chair with my eyes closed, a warm shawl draped around me and practise some simple techniques for going within and feeling peace. I don’t need any props or candles, not even incense or soft flute music in the background. My peace is absolutely portable; it’s always with me, as long as I make the time. The hitch is to put off the busy list maker for a while. My teacher Prem Rawat once said ‘If you don’t sit still, how can you expect peace and tranquility to catch up with you?’ My thirst for peace is what propels me to go within.

Why go within? Within is where being takes priority over doing. Here is a time to set all other matters aside and enjoy the rich well of contentment that fills me with every breath. Focusing within, I allow my senses to be soothed from a different place. Instead of roaming lost in worries about tomorrow, or mulling over yesterday’s mistakes, I relish the stillness that is right now. Within me is a sanctuary that costs nothing, and is accessible at all hours of the day or night. The missing peace finds me, when I slow down, and sit still.

A good day is a day that I can feel at peace, even in the midst of unscheduled appointments, a puppy that chews my boots, kids’ illnesses, and getting my teen son off to school with a decent lunch packed. A good day is when I stop worrying about what is out of my control and put my focus on what is within my reach to improve. A good day is when I remember to eat regular meals so I don’t get cranky, get some fresh air and sign up for that Jazz Ballet class. And every day I practice the simple techniques that help me turn my attention within. Even in the middle of the day, I want to remember how close this peace is to me. Sometimes I even give myself a short break, get up from the computer and look out the window at the cardinal on the bird feeder. Amidst the rays of sun, the crystal flakes are like a bright dust falling outside the window. I take a deep breath, revelling in the serenity and calm.

I don’t have to wait for the resolution to end all wars on the planet. I don’t even have to wait until my children stop having earaches or the puppy learns not to chew on my boots. Peace is not hiding on the top of some far away mountain, or at the bottom of the sea. It's tiny doorway lies within me.

Jennifer Boire

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Mother of all cities

So, the day before Easter, dark rainy skies. Droplets of water hanging off the young oak in front of my window. It's too early to get up, just 7:00 am-ish. And already reading my emails.

Off to New York this week with the family, to see The Producers and Spam alot on Broadway. tripping the light...

Dear Muse, it was a full moon two nights ago, and I thought of you. Black crow lands on the ash tree, bare, bleak against white siding. Land on my soul, touch me with your art, let the dual muses of poetry and Montreal, the city with heart, breathe into me.

Maple, dark with rain and moss, shorn branches from the ice storm, still unhealed wound on your side. There are too many of us, poets, writing in the dawn.

Ms. Menopause read on the night of the full moon, to a small audience at the Atwater Library. Dull room, poor lighting, I forgot my reading glasses. Someone kindly lent me theirs, and I noticed a smokey odour as I lifted them to my face. Later I pulled on the leopard spotted pillbox hat, the long gloves, to read a message from the Queen of Heaven. Be brave, foolish heart. Expose yourself to art.

one day, somone will post a comment....

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Mothering the muse

Mothering the Muse
-musings on finding creative space published in Q-Write Newsletter of Quebec Writers Federation

“All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy.”
Orson Wells.

It’s a common view that all mothers are selfless, compassionate and hardworking. Although far from selfless myself, I admit the mother in me has taken precedence over the writer these past few months. When a deadline is approaching, I only wish I could leave the dishes unwashed, let moldy t-shirts lie on the floor, leave the teens to fend for themselves for supper. In fact, the central conflict in my life right now is how to leave the mother side behind and nurture the writer. How to mother the muse?

Sheherazade told her stories each night to avoid having her head chopped off. Mothers know a lot about sleepless nights, endless stories and little tyrants demanding, “just one more” or off with your head. Inherent to mothering and writing is this conflict of roles that resist merging. In my mind, I can be either a good mother or a good poet. The poet in me hates schedules, discipline and regular habits. She is moody and rebellious and she doesn’t like to be disturbed. She equates creativity with messiness. Sometimes the Muse is hard to grab onto, so I spend days writing myself reminders to write in my notebook. Sometimes I actually do it.

Maybe the trouble I have is with my image of writers and mothers: mothers are supposed to love their offspring unconditionally, drop their own projects to sew elastics on ballet shoes or drive someone to the video store. Mothers don’t say “go away,” when their daughters come bugging them for help with French homework. They don’t put up a sign on their office door that says DO NOT DISTURB. In my mind, a “real” writer is a cranky old man with a pipe and beard who works in his study and never lets any children or noise in. Children tiptoe around him and never dare hug him. At his door stands a wife, ready to shoo the young ones away and answer the phone, deal with the plumber and cook the meals. Ah, the wife… well, that would be me.

It feels like the “real writers” are cooped up like hermits behind closed doors or in mountain retreats communing with the Muse. And the “real mothers” are baking brownies, washing floors and carpooling hockey teams. But I am a hybrid: a writing mother, and I manage to do both, with some compromise.

If I don’t mother the Muse, i.e., make time to write, my inner Hemingway comes alive. Then watch out! Mothering the Muse sometimes means answering her call in the middle of the night, or finding the tiny cracks in the day’s schedule where inspiration wafts up, in between breakfast dishes and homework and chauffeur service to after-school activities. It can also mean leaving the house to write in a cafĂ©, waking up 15 minutes earlier to write a few morning pages, or spending the day at a friend’s cottage, where the octopus of household tasks does not live. I have to check my “mother guilt” at the door, though; it’s only one more block to my creativity.

Self-discipline and summoning up the courage to value my work above all other tasks are the biggest part of the challenge. Like most writers, I find that the trick is the doing of it, not the thinking about it. Maybe I can’t lock myself away in a cabin in absolute stillness and silence. But in the past 10 years I have somehow managed to publish a book and a chapbook, and to teach a course in journal writing, all while raising two kids.

Mothering has become a theme, a puzzle I am trying to figure out in my writing. My first book, Little Mother, explored in prose and poetry my first pregnancy, childbirth and nursing, as well as the earlier drama of living with an alcoholic mother. My latest creative project is a play about Eve’s mother. Mothering the muse, musing on mothering, it has all become one. Ideally, with a little help to manage household duties – cleaning ladies are true angels – and a little support from the Muse, a new manuscript will soon be in the mail to publishing houses. So, Muse, I am making an appointment with you for 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning – whoops, I forgot, school is out tomorrow. How about next week?

musemother

musemother

Well, I forgot how to get back and post another blog, so can't say as I am an expert yet at blogging. It's already been 2 months plus.

Haven't seen anyone answering my quest for info on women's cycles. I am researching a book on the value of the menstrual cycle, and some myths and facts about menstruation. Instead of seeing it as a curse, why can't we understand our symptoms of discomfort may also be coming from our discomfort with our female bodies in general, and with being either overtired, or plain not listening to our need for rest, food, exercise, all reflected in increasing annoyance and PMS. As women and mothers especially, we are raised to be good girls, to give to others before ourselves, and to meet everyone else's needs. Barring any medical reasons for discomfort, it's worth investigating your/our own need for quiet, alone time, and reflection on our inner lives during the few days leading up to our periods. (I personally know at least 4 women who are suffering from burn-out in midlife, and they probably each know four....all work and no play, or rest time makes Jill a dull girl. Menopause, peri-menopause - time to play catch up with self-care)

Ever thought about taking a sabbatical? Well, the thing is, even if you can't leave the job or home for a year, you can take mini-sabbaticals, or mini-retreats to soothe your soul. A walk near a lake, or in a local arboretum, botanical gardens or spending a night outside the city looking at the stars....even staying home and snuggling under the covers once a week instead of running like a maniac to all the social activities we feel we have to do....at least I feel I have to do, these are some of the things I like to do to get back in touch with my woman's soul.
As well as yoga and meditation, walks with my dog, these are my favourite retreats for the sacred feminine in me - and they are not only good for women. Men have an inner feminine too!

Ok that's enough from me - I'm going to send this blog address to people I know all over the place, and see who responds.
A sunny but cold April day in Montreal,
p.s. I am reading some poems in the guise of Ms Menopause next week April 13, at the Atwater Library. Then April 22, in Portland Ontario. Will post those details later.
syonara,
questing girl

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