Who says what?

Novelist, mother, minister, and yoga teacher muses on books, babies, motherhood, and what matters with reverent humor.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

My Best Reads of 2012

Hello dear readers! Can I tell you how it fills my heart with joy to know that I have an above average number of blog readers? According to my stepfather who read it somewhere reliable (he doesn't read anything that isn't reliable), the average blog has fewer than ten readers. That was some of the best news I've heard in all of December. I feel so totally POPULAR now!

It's almost like spending lots of time with small children and thinking, "hey, I'm the smartest one here!"

At any rate, in my continual effort to give back to the teeming masses of my fans, I want to share with you my absolute favorite reads from 2012. This year has been a good reading year for me. I've loved nearly everything I've read. (I probably average a book a week so that might actually be saying something.) Without any further literary foreplay, here's my list.

BEST PARENTING BOOK: John Gray, Children Are From Heaven
One of the all around best books on parenting I've read in nearly seven years of obsessively reading everything. I wish I'd read this one first. Compassionate, original, loving.

BEST CAN'T PUT DOWN READ ALL NIGHT NOVEL: Kamala Nair, The Girl in the Garden
I actually could not put this book down. I read it on the toilet and while brushing my teeth and while driving...

BEST FUNNY BOOK: Valerie Frankel, It's Hard Not to Hate You
This book is so good and so funny, everyone I know should read it. It's a searingly honest self-exploration of the author's hater-side. Brilliant about envy for other writers. I can't think of a person who wouldn't identify or laugh through most of it--if they're honest with themselves!

BEST SPIRITUAL MEMOIR: Joanna Brooks, Book of Mormon Girl
I read tons of spiritual memoirs. This may be one area where I actually know what I'm talking about (though maybe not, it's been awhile since I had a full night's sleep), and I raced through this book. It's compelling and fascinating and amazingly truthful. You do NOT need to be a Mormon to like this book. Anyone who grew up with a strong faith tradition will identify with her journey.

Every Christian should read this book. And all the ex-Christians who can't stand what modern Christians say, do and think. It's an enlightened, progressive, stimulating look at some of the deepest held and most toxic beliefs and most amazingly of all, it's written by an evangelical minister (which gives me such hope for the future).

BEST FUNNY NOVEL: Maria Semple, Where'd You Go Bernadette
A clever, inventive, original, witty, hilarious novel. This is the kind of book you sneak off and read and when people ask what you've been doing, you say, "I've been having fun!"

BEST BOOK BEYOND CATEGORY:  Christian McEwan, World Enough & Time
Lush, lovely, inspiring, moving, important. A look at our cultural "hurry sickness" with poetic, creative, literary and though-provoking ruminations on "the cure." Each page, each chapter like a chocolate. I read it slowly and it has helped me.

BEST DRAMATIC NOVEL: Emily Giffin, The Heart of the Matter
The book's take on infidelity I found fresh, poignant, satisfying and real.
Not that Emily Giffin needs me to sell her books. Compared to her, I'm a total LOSER, super unpopular, basically read by NO ONE. But I did love the book.

So stop reading this stuff and go enjoy a good book!

Friday, December 21, 2012

One Weak

It has been one week since the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. And have we been weak or strong in our response?

My internet presence is primarily as a novelist. I started this blog before my debut novel came out to help promote my novel and I joined Facebook recently in order to do the same thing. I have a website as novelist Samantha Wilde, my pen name. I am not skilled at social media or too much taken with it (and I think it feels the same about me). I have been moved, however, by those who have responded to the death of all those children and educators in a social media context and acted strongly in response.

On the other hand? There have been a lot of weak responses. In the time it takes you to send an email or post to Facebook, you could sign a petition, write a representative, or join a group to make a change for peace on this planet. For those who cannot take the time, what will it take? Will it need to be your child who dies? Or your neighbor at the mall, your family member, spouse--it can't be you. If it's you, it's too late to make a difference.

I have written novels because I love to write. I believe writing well is a gift I was given (and one that requires work and editing and effort, of course) and it gives me a sense of purpose to use any of my gifts for the good of the world, of others, their children and mine. Why would other writers, professional users of social media, or any user of social media, shy away from--not speaking out--but ACTING? I understand the fear of disagreement or upsetting someone with a different view, but how insignificant is this fear in the face of what those teachers did one week ago today?

Shannon Watts the stay-at-home mother of five who began One Million Moms for Gun Control last weekend is a perfect example of using one's abilities to change the world. Compared to most novelists, my reach is microscopic, but I feel blessed that I can use my talents, at they are, to speak out.

The best use of the social media can happen NOW. You can click on a link in this post and add your voice; your voice, your vote, your words, your gifts, your time, your talents, your resources, your despair, your anger, your response COUNTS.

 Every day this week when my children hugged me, showed me what they made at school, looked forward to Christmas, stood in front of me, I thought of the families who cannot do that ever again. The mothers' who have a pile of dirty laundry from a child they will never hold in their arms again. And what will Christmas be for them?

I am not ambivalent. The same day of the Sandy Hook shootings, a man knifed 20 students outside a Chinese primary school. THEY ARE ALL ALIVE. Tell me what the difference is? Mental health? Video games? There's one cause: guns.

What will you do? What will you use? My husband spent part of a demanding work day drafting a serious, heart felt letter to our representative full of educated, significant points and suggestions and he sent it on his letter head.

Let your heart be moved to strong action.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Do Something NOW!

Please listen. Please share. Be convicted to act.

You Can Do Something! my episode on Blogtalkradio.

You will find this a resource no matter your spiritual orientation. These are the days for every mother to make a new world for our children.

And EVERY MOTHER, please join this woman, Shannon Watts, to become One Million Moms for Gun Control.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Mother's Response to the Connecticut Shootings

I write as a mother who brings two of her children to a public elementary school every day and every day leaves them with a passing thought that on that day, they could be swallowed by the mouth of the beast of violence.

I write as a progressive minister who does not believe in a place called "hell," a fiery pit, a devil with a pitch fork, but who does know that hell exists on this planet and it is happening now to the parents of those children and it is the mind of the shooter and it was the time of heart stopping fear when teachers gathered children into corners.

It is unacceptable to send one's "sympathy." Send your sympathy when someone's 98 year old grandmother dies! This is a senseless tragedy, but no tragedy is meaningless. Those children CANNOT have died in vain. Each of us has the opportunity to make meaning from this moment that changes our lives individually and collectively. We must not cry and change the channel. I REFUSE to accept school massacres as the "the way things are." I WILL NOT raise my children with the lurking shadow of disaster invisible in their school rooms.

The folk singer Cheryl Wheeler wrote a song called "If It Were Up To Me," in which she describes a variety of reasons for violence (in response to another tragedy) and her last line: "If it were up to me, I'd take away the guns."

Well, so would I. We CAN redeem this tragedy. Tragedy can be redemptive and I'll tell you how: respond to the loss by loving your children more, loving people more, forgiving and savoring the day as if you might not see tomorrow, rethink your hobbies that promote a culture where violence is so acceptable that for some watching the news of this shooting barely registered--these may be shooting practice, using hand guns for sport, watching violent films, playing violent video games, accepting the violent tendencies of children without conversation or guidance (and there are others). We MUST take care of our boys and men. Has one of these shootings in the past two decades been from the hand of a female? We MUST pay attention and care for the men and boys who are other people's children too.

You and I, this very day, can be transformed for the better by an act that looks like nothing good could EVER come from it. When terrorists strike, the nation stands up and says: Never Again. There is nothing else to say (are you listening, Mr. President?), but NEVER AGAIN. We all must change our hearts, our minds, and our lives. We can look to the countries that do not suffer from this horrific malady of spirit and learn.

I write as a mother whose heart breaks for those parents and who asks herself: what can I do to help? I want to join with others, one by one, to make a world where IT NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN. I want to step away from the sorrow and fear into power and honor--to make meaning out of the senselessness and honor the lives of those children by changing the world now and forever.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How to Write Better

I've put my top 6 best holiday tips for writers up at The Girlfriend's Book Blog.

Now, I shall go take my own advice!

Saturday, December 8, 2012


What can a feminist mother look like?

c. Sam Wilde/ Chrystina Nursing

The other week when three mother-friends of mine came over for a play group for our four year old daughters, we had a provocative, compelling and rich conversation about what it means to be a feminist mother. Next time you're with some mothers, ask to take one of their pictures for the I Am A Feminist Mother Photo Contest and Virtual Exhibit and see what happens!

I wanted to capture how my friend Chrystina as I see her. She is a mother who radiates kindness, who continually sows good deeds in to the lives of all those around her. She's a woman who brought gifts for others at her baby shower. Everything she cooks is bliss. Her house is a place you never want to leave. The way she infuses care, love, patience, and attention into her home and her children, is an art.

When I asked her about posing for the picture, she wasn't sure about the term "feminist mother" and connected feminism first with anger. This opened a door for a meaningful conversation about what it means to value the rights of women and the equality of the sexes. That day my friends recommended a new term for "feminist mother" (as well as for feminist, but this new word is specifically for the concept of the mother a feminist). I coined the term Mamanist (so it's MY word!). Here's a word to capture the fundamental dedication to enriching, supporting and valuing the lives of women who are mothers, acts that will improve the lives of all people necessarily.

And where's YOUR picture? 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Do you know a new mother in need of a care package?

Two years back I posted about wanting to help some new mothers and I heard back from a woman whose sister recently became the first time mother to a baby girl which allowed me the opportunity to send along a package to a stranger--but a sister in the motherhood.

Well, I want to do it again.
New mothers have the best, hardest time, and I love them.
 If you know a new, first-time mother who could benefit from a care package of gifts, I want to know about her. I'll send along a copy of THIS LITTLE MOMMY STAYED HOME, probably some chocolates, and maybe another thing or two she might need.

Please leave a comment and tell me about this new mother. Tell me what she needs and why she came to your mind and heart. If I get a few replies, I'll pick one or two and go from there to get the care package to this new mama in time for the holidays.