I have always enjoyed stories of rebirth – particularly ones involving modern-day heroines who overcome trying circumstances to carve out a new, more satisfying life for themselves. For example, Anna Rossi, the main character in Hunger, a novel by my friend Jane Ward, leaves her lifeless marriage for a life shaped by her passion for food.
I also enjoy reading nonfiction accounts of triumphs over adversity, such as the new memoir by former House & Garden editor, Dominique Browning. Its title, Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put on My Pajamas & Found Happiness, is a siren song to those of us who yearn to live life at our own pace with the time and freedom to discover and explore the things that interest us.
My fascination with rejuvenation extends to objects as well. For example, I enjoy articles and books about home renovations, and study the before and after shots with the fervor of one preparing for an important exam. I want to understand how they transformed that wreck of a place into a home.
Its time to approach my own life as though it were one of those fixer-uppers. It has sheltered me during more than a few severe storms and given me much pleasure. But some rooms need cleaning. No. Some rooms need gutting. Change is terrifying.
Risk-taking doesn't come easily to me. Living in the moment -- rather than envisioning how a possible disaster will unfold -- is a habit I need to develop. Yet I'm certain that if I don’t find the courage to take some chances, I will never experience the satisfaction of achieving success on my own terms.
And so I am drawn to this image by Nashville-based artist, Bridgett Ezzard. The lush green garden beyond the wooden grid beckons me. “Take a chance,” it says. “You’ll get there. But first you have to unlatch the gate.”
Mother’s Day requires poems. This selection of poems is from work that is available online, so the first stanza or so of each is here along with a link to the entire poem. Two of these poems, Nellie Wong’s “Mama, Come Back” and Lucille Clifton’s “[if mama/could see],” are from the child’s point of view. The others are from the mother’s point of view. However, in this ever-shifting dynamic, in a number of the poems there are shifts and turns. Enjoy!
Mama, come back.
Why did you leave
now that I am learning you?
The landlady next door
how she apologizes
for my rough brown skin
to her tenant from Hong Kong
as if I were her daughter,
as if she were you.