Sunday, May 28, 2006

Blog the Eleventh : Part the Second

A lesson in vortexes (or is it vortici?) wasn't quite the point of the first half of Blog the Eleventh. I just got curious and a bit carried away, which, for those of you who know me, is something I am very prone to do.

I'm sure it comes from a lesson learned early on, from my Mother as it turns out, when I kept asking her questions about various and random things and to define words I didn't know. She turned to me finally and said, "Look it up."

I have a sneaking suspicion she said that because she actually didn't know the answers to what I was looking for. Tricky, tricky. But it was probably more that she wanted to make sure I didn't get too comfortable always asking for help, always having someone else tell me the answer. In that one instant, after hearing those three little words, I distincly remember thinking - fine, I'll go figure it out for myself. That sort of attitude has definitely played a significant role in shaping my life.

I digress yet again dear reader. The point of Blog the Eleventh was to share something very special with you. I have listed the songs that get me through the bad times - but during the Vortex of Pain, probably the hardest time in my life, there is something I "read" rather than "listen to" that helps me along.

It is a poem.

One whose words envelope me in a blanket of sureity, that I sometimes repeat it again and again to myself, hoping to continually absord the utter confidence it speaks of in making it through the rough times. One day, I hope to get the whole thing tattooed somewhere on my body, if not at least just the title. For now, it is displayed at my desk at work and at home.

If you decide this poem speaks to your heart as well, I encourge you to print it out, fold it up and carry it with you, in your wallet, your shoe, even your bra. It will serve as a reminder of the resolve that is in all of us everyday or even just when we need it the most.

And now, I proudly present...


OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.


*many thanks to my friend Terrence Hendrix for passing this poem, this strength on to me.

*Invictus was written by British Poet William Ernest Henley

Blog the Eleventh

The 3 1/2 weeks between Mother's Day and June 9th are what I have so affectionately referred to over the past 11 years as the Vortex of Pain.

Ah yes, the Vortex of Pain - Mother's Day , Mom's Birthday, Mom's Anniversary - all in less than a month. While some Motherless Daughters dread the traditional holidays, I dread the Vortex of Pain. Some years are better than others. This is not one of those years.

I actually don't know, off the top of my head, what the word "vortex" really means, so I am going to look it up right now...

Excerpt from Wikipedia: A vortex is a spinning, often turbulent, flow (or any spiral motion) with closed streamlines. A good example of a vortex is the atmospheric phenomenon of a whirlwind or a tornado or dust devil. On a much smaller scale, a vortex is usually formed as water goes down a drain, as in a sink or a toilet.

spinning, out of control - check

turbulent, emotional, angry - check

tornado, destructive - check

down a drain... or a toilet - double check

Excerpt from Thinkquest's Forces of Nature Section: A vortex is a rapidly whirling spiral. Forces of Nature can bring both blessings and devastation. No human can control them. Natural disasters can happen at any time or place. They can bring sorrow, but they can also teach important lessons about who we are, what is important to us, and what joys life can hold for every human being. Because natural disasters are such an essential, and often overlooked, part of our lives, it’s important to know how they function and how to prepare for them.

Well, it seems I wasn't too far off the mark with calling my most dreaded weeks the Vortex of Pain (I feel like there should be some melodramatic Dun Dun Dun! music playing every time I say those words hehehe). But I am actually surprised to find out two things:

1. The relevance between forces of nature, what they bring about, and our own grief/healing processes as Motherless Daughters.

2.That the word I used to describe this particular point of time in my life, a vortex, actually defines something natural. I always thought a vortex was a mathematical shape, like a cylinder, and not an occurrence of nature.

*Wikipedia -
*Thinkquest -


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Blog the Tenth

The hardest part about writing a blog for Motherless Daughters... the hardest part about writing a blog about being a Motherless Daughter... is having to say something about being Motherless.

There is so much to share, the good and the bad, that sometimes I don't even know where to start. And sometimes, when I do start, it's actually too hard to finish. I've shed tears over nearly every post, actually over every post except Blog the Ninth (that one was kind of fun!).

I want to talk about what it's like when you start forgetting things, voices, faces. I want to discuss how you cope with all those Firsts new Motherless Daughters are faced with in the beginning and veteran Motherless Daughters are surprised still affect them years later. I want to say things about the dreams you'll have and the memories, about going back home, about taking care of yourself on your own. I want to write about how you're probably going to feel like you're always going to be screwed up, like there will always be this little bit of drama that keeps you separate, that keeps you different from other people, and how could you possibly connect? I want to say it totally fucking sucks at times to be a Motherless Daughter. It totally fucking sucks. It affects relationships - romantic ones, familial ones. It affects your work, your health, your sanity. I want to talk about that feeling you get, when you sit and review your life, and realize it's not how you planned things at all - good or bad - it's just not how you thought your life would turn out, not in the least, not even close. We'll have to discuss time management, and pain management, and household management and how very often everything, everywhere seems particularly overwhelming all the time. And I want to make sure we discuss how it is we're all getting along, how we all keep on keepin' on, how we all still do the dishes and wash the tub and go to work and love our loved ones and pluck our eyebrows and shave our legs, without our Mothers.

Yeah, I want to talk about all that, and then some. You ready?

"Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night."


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Blog the Ninth

I wanted to share something today but I didn't know what to write. Thanks to my friend Kelley @ Don't Know How Ya Do It (and her friend) I didn't have to write anything (for the most part).

This may be floating around the 'net somewhere in it's full form; I've condensed it to share here:

1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE
"If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning."

2. My mother taught me RELIGION
"You better pray that will come out of the carpet."

3. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL
"If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!"

4. My mother taught me LOGIC
"Because I said so, that's why."

5. My mother taught me FORESIGHT
"Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident."

6. My mother taught me IRONY
"Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about."

7. My mother taught me the about CIRCLE OF LIFE
"I brought you into this world, and I can take you out."

8. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION
"Just wait until we get home."

9. My mother taught me WISDOM
"When you get to be my age, you'll understand."

10. My mother taught me about JUSTICE
"One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you."

I'm sure you guys have your own versions of this. Feel free to share them as comments. I'd love to hear what they are!

My Mother was allllll about #4.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Blog the Eighth and a Half

By the way, this year for Mother's Day, I didn't feel up to calling anyone. Even 11 years later, you never know how you're going to feel.


Blog the Eighth

I had to go to my doctor today. An impromptu visit that got me out of work an hour early, but had me sitting in the waiting room as an add-on. Whatever allergic reaction I am having has decided to display itself all over my face. Red, hot and itchy is never fun, so I decided to get it checked out.

Even though I was an add-on, I didn't have to wait too long and I got to watch Oprah on the waiting room's massive plasma screen. While I generally don't watch Oprah (or television much for that matter), I found this episode particularly poignant. It wasn't about Mothers, or Daughters, or Motherless Daughters, or quarreling spouses. It was about (what I think Oprah does best) showcasing influential people. In this case two of the world's most influential people. And both of those people were women.

Both of the women are from countries where women generally don't become influential, let alone globally so, so I was pretty much glued to the television.

There is something about listening to strong women speak. They can empower you to action, or confirm what you already know about yourself - that you are a strong woman too. I have an idea of where a bit of that strength comes from. While many of our Mothers may not have been international diplomats, their lives and their deaths are significantly influential to the people who knew them and the Daughters who loved them.

Here were the two women I got to see while watching the few minutes of Oprah I got to watch:

1. Her Majesty, Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan - she spoke of filling up your Good Will Bank and being down to earth despite being royal. She spreads her philanthropic principles and practices to all her people, especially the women, of Jordan. During her interview on Oprah she says, "In my mind, Poverty is a 'she'."

2. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf - her story is a stunning one. At 67 years old, she is Africa's first woman elected president. She and her cabinet have a long road ahead of them as they work towards brining peace back to the civil war torn country of Liberia.

Even though you have lost, Motherless Daughter, I hope that, like the women listed above, you can find the strength to influence and give.


*You can find further information about Women Changing The World on

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Blog the Seventh

All right Ladies. Let's talk about it. Let's point a finger and look at it. Let's admit it is here. Let's open up the shades a crack and let light fall on the thing in the dark that we may all be hiding...

The 500 pound elephant in the room... Mother's Day.

There, I said it. Mother's Day.

Mother's Day!

Are you still alive? Good. I knew you would be.

Sunday May 14th is Mother's Day, and for those of us without Mothers it could more appropriately be entitled, "Why Don't You Just Take a Sharp Knife and Stab it Though My Already Bleeding Heart Because You Keep Reminding Me that I Don't Have a Mother Anymore Thank You Very Flippin' Much Day."

Dramatic yes. But for many, right on the mark. For us, for Motherless Daughters, this day could be even worse than a holiday. On this day, every Hallmark commercial, every newspaper, every radio station, and every cute little family or lovely young lady gallivanting around with her Mom, is a painful reminder of what we've lost, of what we can't have. Mommy.

No more skipping through the wild flowers hand in hand on Mother's Day. No more Mother/Daughter facials or tea times. No more, "I'll cook the meat, you cook the potatoes," dinners.

That's what Mother's day is for us. It's that one day out of the year that will always bring back the memories and the tears. What luck. You can't run away from Mother's Day.

But I'll let you in on a little secret. You don't have to run away from Mother's Day at all. You can actually embrace it. Embrace it, not fake it (I know a faux smile when I see one). Do the memories have to be sad ones? Do they have to be unhappy tears? I say not. I may not get to celebrate Mother's Day with my Mother, but that doesn't mean the day has to be an inherent disaster and a total loss. I haven't cried sad tears on Mother's Day in years. Why? Because all I have to do is look around and see what and who I have to celebrate in life on this day.

Here a few things I've done over the years to live though (gosh the beginning was so hard!) or have fun enjoying Mother's Day. Maybe one of these ideas can help you out as well.

1. The "What Mother's Day" Approach - lock myself in my room and cry, cry, cry till I couldn't cry any longer. I'd be so tired that I'd instantly fall asleep and bang - the day was over.

2. The "It's Just Another Day" Approach - grab a bunch of romantic comedies, stay in my pajamas, get cookies, lay on the couch and laugh all day long.

3. The "Alone Time" Approach - pack a small lunch and go for a long mountainous hike, or walk along the beach. I'd give myself time to think about my Mother and talk to her. Fill her in on what's happening in life. Whether I'd cry or not, everything stayed with the beach or the mountains and I'd come back home feeling refreshed and reconnected.

And my personal favorite (I use this on Valentine's Day as well),

4. The "Who Says I Can't Celebrate the Day?!" Approach - make a mental list of every woman I know who is an Awesome Mom or Awesome Mom To Be and go out and celebrate her. Grandma, Aunties, Step Moms, Cousins, Best Friends, Close Friends, Work Friends, Friends' Moms, even the stranger on the street who is pushing her baby carriage. When I opened up the day, and it didn't have to revolve solely around "my Mom", I found that there were so many opportunities to share and care.

Mother's Day is not over because we no longer have our Moms here. It doesn't have to be like that. On the contrary, it can become a day where we celebrate all the special women in our lives.

Also, on Mother's day, I like to remember all the amazing qualities that my Mother gave me to help make something out of this life - resolve, tenacity, strength, independence, attitude, confidence. They have also become the things that have helped me get on without her.

Be well on Sunday Ladies. Hang in there and...

Happy 500 Pound Elephant!


Monday, May 08, 2006

Blog the Sixth

One of the first things I do is turn on iTunes. When I get to work in the wee morning hours (or about 6:45 a.m.), and I have the whole office to myself, I love to turn on the music and play it loud. I realized this morning how much music has been a factor in my healing. And not just music, mind you, but many other forms of art (most especially writing).

I have collected over the years, a vast library of songs that I listen to at different moments in my life. I think we all have them - the breakup songs, the love songs, the teenage rage songs. But I have a few songs that I've most definitely found comfort in during my times of grief. These are my Motherless Daughter songs, and I thought I'd share a short list of them here:

1. I Will Never Love Again - The Princess Bride
Sorry to start off sooooo dramatic, but this song from the soundtrack is just so haunting. The longing, the aching. The melody is so enchanting. This song lets me feel my sadness. This song lets me be.

2. Into The West - The Lord of Rings, The Return of the King
This song by Annie Lennox reminds me that someday, my Mom and I will be reunited.

3. Me and Mrs. Jones - Billy Paul
One of my Mother's favorite songs! She had/has really good taste!

4. A Gift of Thistle - Braveheart
More haunting melodies. It gives my mind time to breathe, to stretch out and imagine. Imagine being alone in a space where there is no time and there is no pressure. There is just swirling mist, and quite trees and me.

5. The Show Must Go On - Queen
'nuff said.

And finally, the song. The Ultimate Song that Soothes the Savage Beast...

6. Introduction Et Rondo Capriccioso - Saint-Saens
If you can't find the piece with Tasmin Little go for Itzhak Perlman. A mere description of this piece will not do it justice. You will just have to hear it for yourself.

I'd love to hear what songs you guys use to get through. Leave a comment and tell me about them.


Saturday, May 06, 2006

Blog the Fifth

There is one thing you know instantly about a Motherless Daughter when you meet her - that she is still standing.

Even if she feels like she is one day away from giving up, every step she takes forward is a sign that for today, for this moment, she is still standing. She is still surviving. She is still making it. And she is still trying to keep going despite this most devastating of losses.

That is the strength you have Motherless Daughter. Whether you are two days into your loss or twenty-five years. You may think you won't make it, but when you meet others like you, you cannot deny that you too have a chance to survive. And not just survive, but after awhile live and thrive and smile and be happy again.

I think the key is to make sure you connect. Connect (in a healthy manner) to a person or a pet or even a cause. Connect to something that can remind you everyday (even if it's just opening up the curtain to feel the sun) that you do indeed have a shot at life, even after your Mother's death.

When my Mother died, I died with her that's for certain. The product of a divorced family at the age of two, I grew up predominantly in the presence of my Mother. It was the two of us for the long haul. And I felt, really truly, that she and I were a team. I was a good kid for her. I got A's in school for her. I achieved great things for her. One day I heard her say, "My daughter is the best part of my life."

When I lost her, I lost my own life. And I couldn't conceive of how I was possibly going to make it if she wasn't there. Yet here I am, eleven years later. Eleven long years later. Eleven long and hard years later. Eleven long and hard, and yup, even happy years later.

You may want to end your life to be with your Mother or to leave the pain behind. You may stay in the dark because you can't figure out how to live anymore, especially if you're facing the prospect of what seems like a never-ending sadness looming before you. I know. I've been there. That all too familiar ledge. But every time I chose to go back was another chance I was giving myself to see that I was ACTUALLY still standing.

And that's what you are doing everyday. Every time you come here to read this blog is another few minutes that you are still standing. Every time you finally make it out to the grocery store is another moment you are still standing. And every time you look at your red-faced, teary-eyed, messy-haired self in the mirror is yet another grand moment that YOU ARE STILL STANDING.

So you keep on keepin' on Motherless Daughter. You keep on keepin' on.


*this post is dedicated to my advisor, teacher and friend Professor Pierre Desir who made sure that I always remembered to keep on keepin' on.