Archive | Nourishment (Issue #2)

Sunday Salon: Wearing All the Hats

Sunday Salon with Becca Rowan


A few years ago the small office I worked in went through a period of transition and downsizing. Those of us who had been around for a while were asked to take on more responsibilities to fill in the gaps. In particular, one of my colleagues seemed to end up with a task in every department, from marketing to IT, from human relations to account collection.  We kidded her about all the “hats” she wore around the office; for Christmas that year I bought her a box full of hats, each labeled with a company business card denoting her varied positions.

young-girl-walking-in-croatian-city-rovinj-picjumbo-comShe was philosophical about the whole thing, and though sometimes I’m sure it was extremely stressful, juggling all those different roles and responsibilities, she eventually developed the skills she acquired into a much better position at a larger company.

Truthfully, we all wear a multitude of hats in our daily lives. For people who embrace their creative natures, sometimes the roles we’re required to play might seem restrictive – we may even feel stifled and frustrated, trapped in tasks that seem completely opposite of the work we’ve been “called” to do. But if we look closely, there may be ways to express that side of ourselves, even amidst those roles that seem far from creative.

Connor and me disney 2015This week, I’m primarily wearing my Grandmother hat. It’s one I’m thrilled to have in my collection, and each summer when my son and his family come to visit, I plan my days around them. It means a lot of walks in the park, coloring, playing board games. It’s time spent in visits to museums and plays and the pool. There’s little time for writing or reading (anything other than The Berenstain Bears or Frog and Toad that is!)

Still, I feel as if there is creative living inherent in all the things we do together. Instead of sitting at my desk, I’m outside in nature, exploring the world with a little person who sees everything with eyes of wonder and delight. Instead of writing chapters in a novel, I’m helping Connor make up stories about Ping Ping the bear and his friends Harvey and Duffy. Instead of practicing accompaniments, I’m playing and singing “Everybody Loves Saturday Night” or “This Train is Bound for Glory” while my grandson keeps time on the tupperware container that has been repurposed as a drum. All the while, I’m trying to capture these special moments in photographs I can use to create our annual Michigan Trip picture book that tells the story of each year’s vacation – a creative project I’ve been doing each year after the visit is over.

This is creative living, Grandma style.

flowers-871685_1920Most of us aren’t lucky enough to spend our days totally immersed in our creative endeavors, but it might be possible to wear a creative hat during parts of your day, no matter what it involves.  Maybe it’s as simple as arranging fresh flowers in a vase on your desk at work, or setting the table for supper with different pieces of tableware found at resale shops and estate sales. Maybe it’s listening to classical music while you input data on your computer, or taking 15 or 20 minutes out of your lunch hour to write in a journal or capture some photographs or sketches around the office.

Here in the Sunday Salon, I write about the intersection of art and daily living – the way literature and music and art enhance my ordinary moments and invite me to live a more fulfilling life.  My roles as a writer and a musician are important ones in the creative life I try to live. But caring for the people I love is an important role for me too. It’s one that is fulfilling in an entirely different way, and is even more so when I recognize the way I can bring my own creative gifts to bear within it.

It’s a hat that fits me quite comfortably, and I hope to wear it well for as long as possible.

About the Author: Becca Rowan

becca_connor_bio1Becca Rowan lives in Northville, Michigan with her husband and their two dogs. She is the author of Life in General, a book of personal and inspirational essays about the ways women navigate the passage into midlife. She is also a musician, and performs as a pianist and as a member of Classical Bells, a professional handbell ensemble. This week she’s busy being a grandmother – making cookies, reading stories, and going for walks in the park with her four-year old grandson, Connor. She loves to connect with readers at her blog, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.

Im tiefen Schlafen (In Deep Sleep) by Æverett

Dunes by Carla Lloret via Unsplash

I had a dream. A man I fell in love with when I was eleven was there, with feathers all down his back, and his dark hair pulled back at the nape of his neck. He wrapped himself in lace, pale and pearlescent, and spoke to me in tongues.

His grey eyes said to me, “Don’t speak,” and sang me a lullaby, crooning in the trees — As the desert sun rose over the meadow, and the ruins of a bombed out city cast hard shadows on the tall grass.

He came close to me and draped his lace about my body. The wind blew it, whipping at my knees. He whispered a grotesque poem — one I wrote from years ago — and my flesh stood on end. There was no wind.

And then his skin was covered in scales, hard and silky, like powder on stone. And his eyes, the sharpest blue, bore into my sockets, pulled apart my limbs, kissed the throbbing from my throat and temples. Cold, grey hands and hips draped in lace darker than the night sky — brighter than the moon.

“Don’t worry, I’ll love you.”

All million languages ringing in my ears. My skin tingles, and we fall into the dirt and debris of the bombed out house. Tattered and worn from the fighting. His tears streak the dust on his face — And I weep for him.

“I could fall asleep…”

The meadow is soft underneath us. The duvet is warm. We look up into the denim abyss and point out constellations, as the boughs on the trees around us sway, whispering, in the warm desert breeze.

I wake in a sweat, still smelling his skin and the lace under my fingers, devastated at the loss brought on by my own ragged breathing and the cruelty of the rising sun.


About the Author: Æverett Æverett

Æverett lives in the northern hemisphere and enjoys Rammstein and Star Trek. He writes both poetry and fiction and dabbles in gardening and soap making. She has two wonderfully old cats, and a dearly beloved dog. He also plays in linguistics, studying German, Norwegian, Russian, Arabic, a bit of Elvish, and developing Cardassian. Language is fascinating, enlightening, and inspirational. She’s happily married to her work with which she shares delusions of demon hunters, detectives, starships, androids, and a home on the outskirts of a small northern town. He’s enjoyed writing since childhood and the process can be downright therapeutic when it’s not making him pull his hair out. It’s really about the work and words and seeing without preconceptions.

The Calming Nourishment of Same by Jeanie Croope

lake sunset (Jeannie) I’m writing this at my summer house in Northern Michigan, tapping on my laptop in a document because I don’t have an internet connection.

Outside it is dark and the only sounds I hear are soft waves, gently lapping on the shore, the occasional fishing boat and soft music coming from my neighbor’s porch. Lizzie the Cat is perched on the back of the chair in which I sit. The table beside me holds the book I finished and the one I started a few hours ago while sitting on the beach enjoying the last bit of a gentle sunset and the dusk that follows. On the table across the room you’d find my art journal, my watercolor brushes and palette and a few more books.

In other words, it’s pretty much the same as always.

I’ve come to this lake since I was a baby and my mother and her family came here for decades before that. When I was 13 they bought this cottage, a short walk from the old family place where my cousins now vacation. They bought it furnished — even much of the art was on the walls.

mantel at the lake (Jeanie)

Over the years, some of the furniture has been replaced — more often than not from castoffs at home — crewel-work still lifes and oversized posters were swapped for new finds from art fairs, special gifts or my own photography. The newer stove and refrigerators were sorely needed birthday gifts from Rick. The bathroom was remodeled — not necessarily for the better, in retrospect — and the old steel sink in the kitchen removed and replaced with nice stainless one surrounded by a second hand cabinet. A porch added on when I was 14 has been rebuilt with a newer model and last year’s project was replacing the screens.

But you’d still find the same braided rugs, the evocative photo of the Au Sable River over the fireplace mantle, the maple buffet hutch and dining cabinet and even a couple of the original end tables. You’d see two old prints of Dogs Playing Poker because it just seems wrong to have an old cottage and not have these iconic images. The bookcases are filled with VHS tapes that moved north when the DVD player was added at home and packed with the books of my childhood, along with mysteries and novels left by — well, I’m not sure.

When I leave the city for weekends or an extended period at the lake, I don’t seek the new, the stylish, the avant garde. I seek the safety and nourishment of “the same.”

Although I have always lived within the same city, I’ve lived in a variety of spots — my parents’ house, the dormitory, college and post-college apartments, a duplex and finally a house I love. With each move there have been the changes one would expect — packing and discarding, accumulating new furniture or art, learning about new neighbors or where things are most conveniently located.

lizzie at the lake

But when I head north, it’s rarely change I seek, except for a change of locale. I walk into the cottage and I know where I am. I know its quirks — tricky windows, for one — and the sounds it makes. (I’ll never forget the time I was reading The Shining alone on a windy night and the tops of bushes scraping against the screen gave me a shiver!) I can count on being awakened by noisy gulls (or grackels?) and going to sleep listening to the sound of the water.

The pressure is off. I’ll make the bed, be sure the dishes are done and on occasion will sweep sand from the rugs. But more likely than not, I’ll settle into a comfy chair or chaise lounge with a book or perch myself at the end of the table on the porch that serves as a temporary art table — at least until dinner.

I’ll walk around the circle road, woods on one side, lake on the other. Lake people wave if they pass you in a car or greet you with pleasantries if you pass on the road. I might stop to visit friends or family in cottages along the way or just do the circle. And my mind is free — free to welcome a new blog post, writing project or art idea.

In the years since my parents have died, I have made few changes to the cottage. Old treasures of my mother’s sit on the shelves, though I’ve added pieces that catch my eye. The dishes in the cupboard are the same, but new placemats or a tablecloth will cover the table. The mishmash of cooking bowls and pans have been accumulated over years, everywhere from my parents’ wedding pans to yard sales.
lake tree heart (Jeannie)

I don’t come north to have the life I have at home with a dishwasher and garbage disposal, cable and yard work. I come north to simply “be.” I grow here. I think, I slow down my mind and listen and in doing so, take in ever so much more. Changes are made gradually and I live with the comfort of welcoming each day with a degree of familiarity, one that can be modified to be sure, but at my whim.

A moth is dancing around the light beside me. Lizzie has seen it and soon will be on its trail and if she doesn’t capture it, I most certainly will before the light is turned off for the night. Tomorrow is supposed to be nice again. I’ll pull some weeds on the beach, take a dip (or two or three) in the lake, work on another painting and run into town for cat food.

Yes, some things always stay the same.

About the Author: Jeanie Croope

Jeanie Croope bioAfter a long career in public broadcasting, Jeanie Croope is now doing all the things she loves — art, photography, writing, cooking, reading wonderful books and discovering a multitude of new creative passions. You can find her blogging about life and all the things she loves at The Marmelade Gypsy.

9 Ways of Nourishing a Writer’s Soul by Andi Cumbo-Floyd

Instrumental_Care of Creative Soul

Some days, it feels like I have so much to learn – about craft, about platform, about critique.  When the world of being a writer is too much with me, I look to these and feel my spirit ease.

  1. They are locked behind the diamond bars of my nightstand, their bottoms out, stacked pages. I prefer the ones without cute kittens and free of lines although this means I will write crooked. I like the scour of rough paper, and a deckle edge lifts my heart.  But I’ll take any journal as long as it’s wide open for wandering.
  2. If it will slide between my fingers without catching on even the paper-smoothed skin, I love it.  The same if it will sway under my touch before pushing back against my hand – velvet or a buzz-cut head. But if it will slide onto my foot and cushion it with soft, fabric that can only be called fuzzy, I love it best. A cold autumn afternoon’s gift rising from my soles.
  3. I don’t know why – until a few days ago, I thought I was the only one, but Kelly loves the same – I love a hot bath where I can let the water run for long, long minutes.  It’s the sound, I think, the white noise of it. I’ve even been known to free the plug with my toes – since my hands are full with pages – and let it drain so I can keep filling the tub with heat and sound.
  4. The gloaming.
  5. When a book jacket will embrace all the pages I’ve read or, near the end, all the pages I have yet to read, I smile.  The flip of opening so easy this way, as if the story has been waiting for me to return. “Here,” she says, “we were here together.”
  6. The shadow of a lamp darkens the corners. The glow is the yellow of tempered light. I don’t have to tolerate the falseness of a bulb so high overhead it only shades my soles. My space. It reminds me of the perfect library carrel, the only place in the world where we use that word.
  7. I want the rasp to be almost silence. The way you only hear your heartbeat when you settle onto your pillow. Pen to paper, I want to not hear it, not feel it even, except in the motion like wind lifting the hair from behind my ears to bring cool to the nearly forgotten folds.  A felt tip, maybe. Or the Uniball Vision Elite. . . one that gives me the shapes I treasured in elementary school pencil tips gone skewed at the tip, where shadows and points play together. But without the pressure of even my hand.
  8. Leave me alone there after you convince me that you really are fine to run errands or sit by the water. Find me a bookstore near your favorite fishing hole.  Then, I will wander amongst the artifacts I love most in the world. I will lift them to my nose and smell their wonder. I will lean them against each other. My fingers will bounce along their spines.
  9. A porch. A breeze. Two friends who know the gift, the languish, the labor of words.

About the Author: Andi Cumbo-Floyd

andibio1Andi Cumbo-Floyd is a writer, editor, and farmer, who lives on 15 blissful acres at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband, 6 goats, 4 dogs, 4 cats, and 22 chickens. Her books include Steele Secrets, The Slaves Have Names, and Writing Day In and Day Out. You can connect with Andi at her website,, or via Facebook and Twitter.

Small Indulgence – by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

chocolatsoftserve2For the first time in too many years
she treated herself to a softee,
a tall chocolate swirl
rising from a small cone.
It begged for her tongue.
She obliged. Licked and slurped,
tried to keep the sides
from dripping down her white shirt.
Settled at a picnic table under a pine tree
she watched the traffic on Main St. flow by.
She listened to teens just out of school,
watched a mother manhandle a twin stroller,
heard birds above her head bicker and sing.
The creamy sweetness of chocolate
tickled her taste buds, reminded her
she didn’t have to pare everything good
out of her pared-down life.

About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones

PatriciaWellingham-JonesPatricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.

Sunday Brunch: August Nocturne

Sunday Brunch With Melissa Bartell


With the flip of a calendar page (or a swipe of finger on a smartphone) July is gone for another year, and it is August, my month. The first summer month when, even though the sun is still reluctant to set, the days are discernably shorter, and the nights incrementally longer.

I’ve always been attuned to the night. While some people are morning people, happy and chirpy at first light, the only time I typically see dawn is when I haven’t yet been to bed. I have never been afraid of darkness; rather I crave it.

I come by it naturally.

The night before I was born, there was a full moon and an eclipse. If that doesn’t lock you into a special relationship with nighttime, I don’t know what does. (Recently, I asked my mother if she remembered any of that, and she reminded me that she’d been a little preoccupied with being in labor.)


In any case, just as foghorns sang my first lullabies, the night was my first muse. Every night, after we spend a couple of post-dinner hours together, my husband and I retreat to our separate spaces, he to his man-cave (it’s his office during work-hours) and me to either the Word Lounge (my office/recording studio) or the bedroom (I like to write in bed). Around midnight, I text him the same question: “Bed at three?”

Most nights, my question isn’t meant to nudge him toward bedtime, so much as it is to gauge how much writing time I have left, because the wee hours, the ones between midnight and three in the morning are when I’m most creative. (Even this piece, that you are reading, most likely, while sipping coffee or tea on a sunny summer Sunday, was written long after dark, long after the time my neighborhood – and probably yours – had gone to sleep.)

(I’m fortunate that I married a man as nocturnal as I am. We don’t have a relationship that involves one of us cajoling the other into changing their habits, and we’re lucky enough to have schedules that mesh with our mutual nocturnal proclivities.)

While I don’t love the daytime heat, I do enjoy my afternoons in my pool, swimming laps or even just idly floating under the canopy of trees. I even enjoy sitting in the morning sun with a mug of coffee, or reclining on a chaise lounge with a magazine and a tall glass of iced tea.

But the nights – those soft, sultry, August nights – those are my favorite parts of summer. After spending June and July at my creative low, I emerge into the moonlight and starlight with renewed energy, and renewed inspiration.

During my childhood, the nights of August were filled with anticipation: my birthday, returning home from my grandparents’ house where I spent most summers until I was a teenager, returning from music or drama camp as a teenager, and the eventual preparation for school. They were also filled with magic: going to the beach at twilight, catching fireflies with my cousins, having late-night coffee ice cream and scrabble tournaments, enjoying the thrill of a thunderstorm, or even the occasional hurricane.

As an adult, I have to make my own magic, but over the next few weeks there will be time spent trying to catch the Perseid meteor shower (NASA says it’s going to be extra-intense this year, and the best date for viewing is August 12th), and yes, my birthday, because you are never too old to celebrate yourself.

More importantly, there will be time spent communing with the night, when the starlight will sprinkle my soul with glitter, the moon will illuminate new ideas and help me find new perspective on old ones, and the darkness itself will soothe my soul.

Vincent Van Gogh once said, “I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.”

I say:  I’m a mermaid child, born on the night of a full moon and an eclipse, raised sand on my toes and salt-spray in my hair, and sung to sleep by seagulls and foghorns. The sea can never harm me, for it knows me as its own, and the night can never scare me, because I speak its language in my soul.

Image copyright: solerf / 123RF Stock Photo


About the author: Melissa A. Bartell

Melissa A. BartellMelissa is a writer, voice actor, podcaster, itinerant musician, voracious reader, and collector of hats and rescue dogs. She is the author of The Bathtub Mermaid: Tales from the Holiday Tub. You can learn more about her on her blog, or connect with her on on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Motherhood, Magic, and How to Meet the World with Hope by Briana Saussy

Let’s give children credit. Childhood is not all sweetness and light, butterflies and rainbows. Real childhood – as opposed to our fantasy about childhood – is full of very intense, even traumatic, experiences. Every step of the way, candycandycandythe child’s larger-than-life desire is subverted by mysterious obstacles, by a mysterious “No.”

Who knows why they can’t have that whole bag of candy, and stay up all night watching TV: they just can’t and Mommy said so, and that’s that. It’s a mystery.

You have to be a hero and a wizard to be a kid. True it is, from our perspective, those chiddlers (as the BFG calls them) might seem to be little drama queens. But put yourself in their shoes for a moment, and you’ll see at once that their emotions are as real and serious as the things we take seriously.

We are watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy with our little one right now. He is five, and some of the scenes are intense, so we take time to talk through them. He’s a little chatterbox once you get him started, but he gets it, as children so often do. Giving him space to talk to us about what is happening is so crucial for his growing experience. Intense experiences are not unfamiliar to our little one nor to other children.

Yet so often, from a place of good intentions, we like to shield our little ones, under the rosy, romantic belief that childhood is, or should be, pure and completely free of all the scary stuff. And we don’t allow them to confront things that are “above their heads” – afraid perhaps that they might feel frustrated. The truth is that they won’t feel rosinessofchildhoodfrustrated if we engage with them.

What goes with the rosy picture of childhood is a desire to check out and to disengage with the hard work of being involved with our children. But here is the point to see: even the most protected childhood is full of its own intensities – we can’t escape it, because it comes from our own natures and the nature of our desires and the nature of reality.

For our desire, as life itself, is always and ever “above our heads.”

Certainly there is much to shield our kiddos from, and children do need to feel safe. But while we try to protect them, on the other hand, maybe we can ease off on making ridiculous demands on them – for example, wanting them to be “socialized” without ever talking experiencing what “society” actually could/would/should mean.

As those of you who have seen the films and read the books of the Tolkein’s magnificent trilogy know, one of the core tensions of the story is around the issue of hope. The most important characters are the secondary characters – Aarwen the Elvish princess in love with the mortal Aragorn, Sam Gamgee, the devoted hobbit who will follow his best friend Frodo literally into hell, as well as Merry and Pippin, two other trickster hobbits who seem at the outset of the story to be more trouble than anything else. They are the ones throughout the story who have hope.

Hope is the through-line of the narrative and the teaching, as I understand it, is that hope is not Pollyanna-ish and easy, but rather is a struggle. Hope is challenge, hope is dangerous, and hope is absolutely necessary.

Hope does not shield us through the ugly, the difficult, the painful and the scarring, but it gives us the courage to hope1look at these things dead on, to descend into them, to learn from them what we will, be changed in the ways we are, and then come back to bright and the beautiful, back to land, back to air and sky – different and yet whole, hurt in some ways, and yet healed too, scarred by what we have seen and heard and felt and made holy by those scars.

This is the power of hope and this is why it is not a thing you have the way you have the knowledge of what two times two is, but rather a virtue that lives, wrangles, and tangles with every day.

I sent out a new moon note with a prayer poem about the armor that we wear. The writing came on the heels of tragedy upon tragedy – Orlando. Istanbul. Dhaka. We can now add Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, and Dallas to the list. One of my miracles (this is what I call all of the members of my community) wrote this to me:

I always love your optimistic approach. You don’t deny that it should be better, but gracefully you encourage us to believe and to embrace our path with dignity and joy.

This individual attributed something to me, neglecting the fact that HE was the one who pulled it from my words. In essence, he was describing his own beautiful self and he is right.

We cannot deny that it should be better, that some things should never have to be seen, heard, participated in, and inflicted upon others. Absolutely not. And yet they are. You have experienced it, as have I, as have we all. And there are voices, many and loud, that tell us that our experience of the bad and the ugly is the sum total of who we are and what we are capable of. But we know better.

It is easy to rest in cynicism, easy to stay in the underworld mired in our own waste, easy to just sit down, stay still, and wait for the end to come, easy to rake ourselves over the coals of shame with what we didn’t/could have/should have done or said. Much harder to engage in the struggle of hope. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the soulful seeker does not do easy when easy comes at the cost of true.

I’m sure you have read the statistic that is gleefully quoted in mainstream media that for the first time in ever, parents today in the United States are not sure that their children will have the same or better quality of life that they have right now. That’s a form of easy cynicism and fear mongering.

It is also untrue according to my grandmother and the elders I know, whenever there are young ones there is always worry and fear riding along side joy and love. The proper response has been the proper response since time out of mind: we pay attention, we do what can be done to help and to aid, to support and to cherish, we do not hide from the hard but we meet it, full on, with something incandescent and ultimately indestructible.


We meet it with hope.

About the Author: Briana Saussy

briana_bioHi, I’m Briana! I am a writer, teacher, and spiritual counselor, and I am part of a growing community of soulful seekers, people who are looking for wholeness, holiness and healing – for better, more rewarding lives.

The best way to work with me and begin living an enchanted life right here and now is to register for my year long course of fairy tales and magic – Spinning Gold.

New Moon Creative: Moon in Leo

As we draw to the end of our Nourishment issue, we’re can’t help but confess that we never tire of hearing about (or seeing) what nourishes YOU, your creativity, and your Creative Life. And, of course, that begs the question: ARE you nourishing your creative life?

What would happen if you were to commit to your own creative life each month? How would you feel if you nourished your own need to create? How excited would you be if you didn’t just create something, but also shared your creation with other people who were also stepping into their creative lives?

While all of us at Modern Creative Life hope that each of our readers is indulging their creativity (even if it’s in small ways) fairly frequently, we are also dedicated to the idea that we get to choose our own paths to creative living each and every day of the year, by writing, painting, cooking, or even making and artful arrangement of the books on our shelves.

As well, we believe it’s important to honor the cycles of life that form currents through all our lives. As part of our ongoing celebration of those cycles and currents, we will be releasing a collection of prompts to inspire you on your creative journey.

Since the New Moon is traditionally been a time of new beginnings, so here is our 3rd Round of Prompts for our Nourishment Issue in honor of the New Moon in Leo:

New Moon Creative Prompt (Moon in Leo)

Write a poem, essay, or short story. Take a photograph and leave us with the image alone. Create a photo essay.

Post your creation in your blog and/or share your work on Social Media, be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or all of those spaces. Use the tag #NewMoonCreative so we can find you. Leave a comment here (with a link) so we can read your words and lovingly witness what and how you are creating.

On the Full Moon (August 18th), we’ll post a collection of the work that was inspired by these prompts and post them here, with links back to the full work (and you).

Motherhood 2016 by Lisa Zaran


Perhaps I’m planning a diagram of a family structure.
Here is the beginning, a dot on a page, and what to call
this dot? Here.

About the Author: Lisa Zaran

LisaZaranBioLisa Zaran is the author of eight collections of poetry including Dear Bob Dylan, If It We, The Blondes Lay Content and the sometimes girl. She is the founder and editor of Contemporary American Voices. When not writing, Zaran spends her days in Maricopa county jails assisting women with remembering their lost selves.

The Stories of our Mothers: A Call for Submissions

When I was a little girl, the highlight of summer vacation and Christmas break was being packed up and taken to my grandmother’s house for a week or two. I always had great fun: I’d climb trees and walk around “the block,” which was just through the alley and back. I’d root through the pantry and ponder the mystery cans of mincemeat. I learned to sew and crochet. We made jelly and canned peaches. Once, I even repainted an old table I found in the mygrandmothergarage.

Being the youngest of all the grandchildren, I was in the precious space of being coddled and spoiled. When most of my cousins were in their younger years, my grandmother was still working as a seamstress at the Haggar Pant Factory, so I, alone, got to just hang out at her house.

She let me do things my mother never would, like baking from scratch. It’s been forty years, but I can still recall standing in her kitchen, running powdered sugar through a sifter to make frosting for a cake as if it were yesterday.

She was one of twelve (or was it fifteen?) children and on the wall in her living room was a family portrait. I was fascinated by the contrast of my eighty year old beloved wrinkled and grey haired grandmother in that photo: a child. She would point herself out and tell me “I was crying in that photo because my sister Lilly hadn’t outgrown her shoes yet and my mother tied big satin ribbons at my ankles since I couldn’t go barefoot in the picture.”

Almost sixty years later, with only two surviving siblings, and she still felt the pain and shame of not having shoes.

I couldn’t imagine not being able to afford shoes as I’d always been well-fed and well-clothed, but it opened my eyes to life in other times. It also came as a bit of a shock to realize that the woman in front of me – before she was my grandmother and before she was my mother’s mother – was once a young girl with dreams and hopes and stories of her own.

The relationship with my grandmother was one of unconditional love.

The relationship with my mother was not.

And you know what? I’m pretty sure that my mother felt the same way: her “Little Grandma” provided unconditional love whereas her mother, worn down by the stress of the Great Depression,  did not.

No matter who you are, you can’t help but be influenced by your relationship with your mother. There are those lucky girls who look upon their mother as a trusted confidante and best friend. There are those heartbroken women who can’t speak to their mothers without the conversation going south. We revere our mothers. We love our mothers. We hate our mothers.

Often we forget that before they became our mother, like my grandmother, they had a life before us with stories of their own. What were the lives of our mothers and grandmothers like before we existed? What were their dreams? What secrets did they keep?

How did the legacy of our relationship with all of the mothers in our lives – our own mother, our grandmothers, our aunts, our mothers-in-law, and substitute mothers – influence our own approach to mothering?

Some of us could write a love letter and heap gratitude upon the mother figures in our lives. Some of us spend our entire adulthood seeking to heal the wounds our mothers left behind.

Yet, no matter who you are, behind you stands a legacy of generation upon generation of mothers and mother figures.


When we envisioned what Modern Creative Life would bring to the table, part of that vision was to occasionally leave the digital world and go old school: paper. We’ll be publishing a paperback “Best Of” collection each December. We will also be creating at least two stand-alone collections in book form per year.

Our first Original Collection will be published in the Spring of 2017 and the topic will be “Mothers.”

(Yes, it will have a snazzier name than that come publication time.) This will be published in paperback and Kindle. We want to explore every aspect of this complex role in our society and our own lives.

What are the stories of our Mothers and Mother Figures? What are the ways WE mother – our children, our pets, our partners, our friends, and even strangers? What are the secrets and legacies?

We have an opportunity to explore more than a single side of this complex role – the good, the funny, the bad, the loving. We have the opportunity to go across time and dig into our heritage, too. To share those forgotten stories of the women who lived before us. Those mothers of our great-grandmothers and beyond.

And in contrast to those stories that bring a smile to our face and have us looking back with nostalgia, we must not rule out the dysfunctional ways our mothers have affected us (sometimes called “The Mother Wound“).

Here’s what we are looking for:

  • Creative Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction Stories, and Essays
  • Minimum Length: 800 words. Maximum Length: 5,000 words
  • Submissions should be submitted via attachment in WORD  or in the body of email in a 12-point black font (no PDFs)
  • Writers may submit up to five pieces for consideration
  • The collection will include up to three pieces per author with full bio in the back of the book
  • Submit via our submission form or via email to: ModernCreativeLife(at)
  • Deadline for submission: March 15, 2017

Whether or not we have brought human children into this world, whether or not our mothers are part of our daily lives, the reality is that each of us has a mother, and that means each of us has a story to share.

We invite you to share yours.

About the Author: Debra Smouse

debra_Smouse_mclDebra Smouse is a self-admitted Tarnished Southern Belle, life coach, and author of Create a Life You Love: Straightforward Wisdom for Creating the Life of Your Dreams. She resides in Dayton, Ohio where she practices the art of living with the Man of Her Dreams.

She’s the Editor in Chief here at Modern Creative Life. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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