Archive for Mothering Matters Posts

Book Review: An Octopus in my Ouzo

 

“It takes years to know for sure if you’re in a good relationship; but I didn’t have years to get pregnant.”

– Jennifer Barclay, An Octopus in my Ouzo

Life on the Tiny Greek Island of Tilos

I read An Octopus in my Ouzo; Loving Life on a Greek Island over the summer. At the time, I loved reading the author’s detailed descriptions of island life…the swims in the sea, the long walks through the countryside, the goats, the villages and local characters…the delicious Greek food!

Now that a couple of months have passed since I finished the book, what also stands out in my memory is the author’s personal story of coming to terms with not being able to have a baby. Although she is living (and loving) one of her dreams – living full-time on a Greek island – she is struggling to accept the fact that another dream – motherhood – likely won’t be happening.

I appreciated the honest and eloquent way in which the author shared her journey. It can be incredibly difficult to accept that we are not going to get everything we want – or think we want – in life. And yet to be able to step back and look at all that we do have in our lives, and be thankful for that, is essential.

The Seahorse Moment

There is a powerful scene near the beginning of the book that involves a seahorse. It hit me hard. I won’t divulge much detail in case you read the book yourself. But for me, the seahorse moment spoke volumes about the importance of speaking up for what we believe in…even if it is something as small as a seahorse. I was reminded of this quote:

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

For how often do we hold back on speaking our truth about the “little things” because we don’t want to get into a discussion…don’t want to rock the boat?

More often than we care to admit, I suspect. For maintaining harmony in a household and peace in personal relationships are equally worthy objectives. But the “little things,” in my experience, are not always so little. They may, in fact, be tips of icebergs.

I highly recommend reading An Octopus in my Ouzo. It will warm your heart, whet your appetite for scrumptious Greek food…and quite possibly inspire you to spend some time on a Greek island 😊

My Connection to Jennifer

I have written about Jennifer Barclay before. I reviewed her delightful book, Falling in Honey; How a Tiny Greek Island Stole My Heart. And Jennifer was the original editor for my book, A Widow’s Awakening. Jennifer taught me how to write creative non-fiction. Sentence by sentence, she showed me how to transform a painful personal experience into an engaging story for the reader.

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here. As a thank you, you’ll receive a short but saucy e-book entitled, Dive into this Chicago Deep Dish – Ten Bite-Sized Steps for a Yummier Slice of Life.

published in Children, Compassion, Inspiration, Mothering Matters by Maryanne | October 23, 2018 | 2 Comments

Kindness 101 – Won’t You Be My Neighbour Documentary Hits Home

 

“I like you as you are…I think you turned out nicely.”

– Lyrics from Mr. Rogers song

Have you seen the Mr. Roger’s documentary?

If not, I highly recommend it. My niece, Emily (age 20), and I watched Won’t You Be My Neighbour not once but twice in one weekend.

Emily is an Early Childhood Education student at Mount Royal University, so it makes sense she would be interested. As for me…well, I watched it the first time because Emily wanted to see it. I watched it the second time (and took notes) because I couldn’t believe how profoundly impacted I was by the now-deceased host of a slow-paced and seemingly simple children’s TV show (that ran from 1968 to 2001).

And here’s the even weirder thing: I didn’t even watch Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood growing up! I don’t know why. I guess the show never really clicked with me. I preferred Mr. Dressup, Casey, Finnegan and the gang.

At any rate, I’m hoping that what I missed out on by not watching Mister Rogers as a kid, I have now somewhat made up for having watched the documentary…twice 😊

If I had to use a single word to describe the message that Fred Rogers was most passionate about trying to communicate in his show, it would be kindness.

Acceptance, tolerance, compassion and unconditional love would all follow close behind.

There is a great line in the documentary by one of the many people interviewed (who knew Fred personally or professionally) that sums up what Mr. Rogers stood for:

“Fred’s theology was to love your neighbor and yourself.”

Simple, yes. Easy, no. I recently spent seven years of my life despising my noisy neighbors…and have been working for the past year writing a play script about the experience, which is probably another reason this documentary crossed my path when it did.

This is another comment, by one of the people interviewed, that also really resonated with me:

“Fred realized that if you really want to communicate, you have to listen.”

Here are some sage snippets by Fred himself, pulled from the film:

“The space between the TV screen and the person receiving the message…I consider that very holy ground.”

“You’ve made this day a special day just by being you.”

“What do you do with the mad you feel…when you feel so mad that you could bite?”

“I think silence is one of the greatest gifts that we have.”

“Sometimes we need to struggle with tragedy to feel the gravity of love. Love is what keeps us together and afloat.”

“You don’t ever have to do anything sensational for people to love you.”

“No matter what your particular job, especially in our world today, we all are repairers of creation…thank you for whatever you do.”

Even though I am not a parent myself, this comment really hit home:

“I’ll tell you what children need. They need adults who will protect them from the ever-ready molders of our world.”

And as you may have heard, there is also a feature film about Mr. Rogers in the works, starring Tom Hanks…can’t wait! Emily and I will be first in line 🙂

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here. As a thank you, you’ll receive a short but saucy e-book entitled, Dive into this Chicago Deep Dish – Ten Bite-Sized Steps for a Yummier Slice of Life.

 

published in Book Reviews, Childfree, Decision Making, Family, Health, Motherhood, Mothering Matters by Maryanne | June 24, 2017 | 6 Comments

This is the 8th and final Mothering Matters blog in the Spring 2017 Blog Series:

A Must-Read Resource When Making the Motherhood Decision…or ANY Major Decision for that Matter

 

 

“When you isolate your desire first, and then weigh it carefully against your personal circumstances, it’s easier to make your decision.”

– Ann Davidman and Denise L. Carlini, Motherhood: Is It For Me?

Book Review of “Motherhood: Is it for me?”

For many women, the motherhood decision is a given. For some, the decision not to have children is just as clear. But for many of women – myself included – the motherhood decision is not so cut and dry.

In fact, I spent two decades struggling over whether or not I wanted to become a mom. In the end, life – and my choices – pretty much chose for me.

And as glad as I am that I ended up not taking the path of raising a child/ren, I could have saved myself an awful lot of time and energy…that was spent thinking about the decision, if the brilliant book, Motherhood: Is It For Me? Your Step by Step Guide to Clarity, had existed to help me work through the process of making a decision.

Alas, it wasn’t published until 2016.

But for all the other women out there, currently struggling their way through the “Should I or shouldn’t I…become a mom?” question, I highly recommend reading this book.

And yet, here’s the thing: even though I read the Motherhood: Is It For Me? book at the tender age of 49 😊 I actually found it to be extremely useful in helping me make another major life decision over the past few months (more on that in another blog).

In my opinion, that’s the sign of a very good book!

But why, perhaps you may be asking yourself, would a 49-year old single gazelle have taken the time to read a book entitled, “Motherhood: Is It For Me?” in the first place?

Well, here’s the scoop: one of the authors, Ann Davidman, contacted me several months ago, after watching our documentary, Whatever Floats Your Boat…Perspectives on Motherhood.

Ann is a Motherhood Clarity Mentor and a Marriage and Family Therapist. Ann has been helping women work through the motherhood decision for more than 25 years.

In fact, the book stems from the Motherhood Clarity Course, which is a 14-week program that helps women who are struggling with indecision about whether they want to become a mother.

Ann’s co-author, Denise L. Carlini, is also a Marriage and Family Therapist. The authors know from their professional experience that an analytical pros-and-cons approach often fails to successfully answer this most personal question.

Because of the Whatever Floats Your Boat documentary and the Mothering Matters blog series, Ann asked me if I would read and review their book. I said yes. And I’m awfully glad I did.

Right off the top, Davidman and Carlini explain the difference between determining one’s desire – what the heart truly wants – and making one’s decision: what course of action are you actually going to take?

This is important because: “When you isolate your desire first, and then weigh it carefully against your personal circumstances; it’s easier to make your decision.”

So often, we get caught up in trying to MAKE a decision before we’ve taken the time to really think through what it is we truly want…and that goes for anything in life, not just motherhood.

Here are just a few gems gleamed from the book…perhaps you might find, as I did, that regardless of where you’re at on your path, there is some very sage life advice here:

“Sometimes an important piece of information needs time to completely unfold, and sharing it prematurely can disrupt the unfolding…even the most well-intentioned feedback from others can disturb the feeling of safety you’ve been creating for yourself and push you off track.”

In other words: it is very wise to keep the early part of your decision-making process to yourself. Don’t let the riff raff in until you’re ready to let them in!

“Slowing down may indeed feel uncomfortable at first, but we’ve learned that allowing yourself time and space to examine and accurately perceive the various aspects of your life is far more effective than generating those pros-and-cons lists that only seem to keep you stuck in an endless loop of indecision.”

“Thinking is good, of course, but so much more happens when you write. The writing itself takes twists and turns in a way that thought processes can’t, creating a fertile environment for more and more to emerge.”

Ahhh…music to a writer’s soul.

“Bring intention to your process while you suspend judgement, and trust that on a deeper level something is happening.”

“Most women find that when they grant themselves permission to not know, they feel less fatigue and have more energy for exploring.”

“What needs to be known first is what you want for yourself regardless of the circumstances of your life.”

“Trying to make a decision based on your internal emotions and the external circumstances in your life at the same time creates all kinds of pressure…trying to figure out your desire and your decision at the same time creates gridlock.”

“There are no appropriate or inappropriate fears. There are only the fears that live inside you for good reason.”

“Human nature compels us to seek answers actively. It can feel excruciating not to know, and fluctuating between answers creates the perpetual illusion that at any moment the answer will come and provide relief…making a case for ‘yes’ and then making a case for ‘no’ doesn’t help you get any closer to getting off the fence; it only serves to temporarily soothe anxiety, nothing more.”

“When you relax into self-acceptance, the result is spaciousness. From there you can more easily gain access to the answers that are already there.”

“When you’re able to say yes to a big dream or future possibility, whether or not you know how it will come about, you move forward toward it and life tends to meet you, often filling in the details.”

“As you imagine your future, do you feel that you’re entitled to have things go the way you want them to?”

See? I told you it was a brilliant book 😊

Here is the link for further information on (or to purchase) Motherhood: Is It For Me?

“At the centre of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”

Lao Tzu

Related Blogs

Getting to the Heart of the Matter – To Be or Not To Be…a Mom?

Undecided about Motherhood? A Motherhood Clarity Mentor Shares Her Personal Story and Professional Advice on Making a Decision

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. She is the executive producer of the documentary, Whatever Floats Your Boat…Perspectives on Motherhood. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here.

Mothering Matters is an initiative of Pink Gazelle Productions Inc.

For further information about the Mothering Matters blog series, here is the link.

If you would like to receive the Mothering Matters blogs and/or read the other blogs, please click here.