I was approached by a chapter president of American Mothers, Inc., a national organization of 75 years, to accept a nomination for Mother of the Year for the State of California. I was requested to compile recommendation letters, write essays about my philosophies and submit a record of what I have done during my 36 years of mothering. At a special gala event, held in the Los Angeles area, in March, it was announced that I would represent California as Mother of the Year for the year 2011.
I then went to a national convention, held in Salt Lake City, in April, where each state representative was commissioned to "make a difference." The keynote speaker, Sherri Dew, in our culminating event, encouraged us to use our own unique talents and interests to guide us in finding out what it was that we should do to make "that" difference. She told us to take seriously this opportunity to "change the world." We each had to give a 3-minute speech which I have included here.
Sherri Dew, Me, Holly Nelson (Daughter-in-law), Fred Nelson (Son)
I have been pondering what it was I could do. After a long process of trying to match what "I do best" with "making a difference," I finally brought it all together to create something I am infinitely excited about. "Circle Mothers." I have championed the cause of "circle living" versus "sideways living" for years. I have written talks, philosophies and essays on the power of the circle. Growing up with seven children, around an enormous round table, across which we regularly connected our lives, was where the fascination with its power began. I never knew, as a child, why I was so anxious and excited to come to the dinner table to share my “news” with my family and to hear that my brother got an “A” on his English paper. It was like a pizza – I could look across the table at each person. I could see their eyes and realized, over the years, that their eyes truly were the windows to their souls. I feel like what happened at the table – the words, the eyes – to understand and be understood – was bonding, valuable, building.
As I grew into girlhood and womanhood, I began to realize the importance of “girl talk.” Raising children and going through the inevitable trials that beset family life was a load lightened by other mothers sharing and caring. This led me to being interested in all the information I began to capture from studies and findings about the benefits of verbal exchanges between women. I am including one of these reports in this blog, from UCLA. http://newdaywomenscenter.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/friendships-among-women-reduces-stress/
I HAD A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY TO SEE HOW THIS WORKS...
Several years ago I was involved in a church organization that provided me with the opportunity to work with a group of women that taught me the power of circle gatherings. We had many tasks to perform but the “magic” of the circle began with the opening of the first door to the very first meeting. That joyful greeting, that was powerful enough to open any heart, brought us together. It felt like we had entered C.S. Lewis’s “wardrobe” where we began a journey that propelled us into development, self-discovery and a world of sharing, caring and unity. It is the power of this Circle that I would like to create for the mothers of America. The “sewing circles” and “quilting bees” of yesteryear were popular among women for a reason. I believe there are untapped talents and resources in the heart and life of a mother that could greatly benefit herself, her husband, her children, her extended family, her friends, her school and her community.
When my first child was about to get married I tried to think of the best thing I could give her and all I could come up with was "me!" I had been collecting my thoughts for years and writing them into a book. My gift was a collection of my philosophies on life, poems I had written, personal letters, my personal history, dramatic writings, writings and poems about her and my ultimate, favorite recipe. This tradition has continued as each child has married; the book becoming immense as the years go by – because I keep thinking and keep writing. Somehow when you know you are going to write your ideas down, you actually "think about what you think" more. The trick to doing it, I discovered, amid all the wonderful chaos of raising a family, was to grab a piece of paper, napkin, checkbook, etc. as fast as I could to catch my thought in time before it got away from me. Often just one word was enough to trigger memory. Later on I would gather up all my little scraps of paper with the "words," which had now been processing in my heart and mind, and sit at the computer and start writing all the things I knew to be true about an idea or principle or new dawning of thought or story that taught me a profound lesson. Then the magic began. Somehow the process cemented the idea deeply within me and became a real part of me...and I began to actually know what I believed and how I felt about all kinds of things…it became the art of my soul. Then something unexpected happened. Almost without being aware that it was stirring in my soul....the idea became so meaningful and so much a part of me that I wanted to turn it into art. Art always graces life by taking it to a deeper level of experience. That is how I started writing poetry. I wanted the words to capture what I really meant with the added strength of the depth of art. It followed naturally ...and not necessarily rhyming poems - any artistic flow of thought captured by a pen.
So, when we gather in circles to "talk" we would be holding a spiral notebook in one hand and a pen in the other. As we share we write words that will be springboards later to the full development of our ideas. The next time we meet together we bring the expansion of our thoughts and share them with one another. The spoken word is healing and revealing. The written word is, in essence, a record of “you”…and the journey of your mind, your heart, your life. This will be immediately valuable to those with whom you presently share life with a treasure to those in your future.
Mothers of the Year 2011
This proposal for the creation of “Circle Mothers” will be presented to the Superintendent of Schools for the State of California. The goal will be to bring mothers together to share philosophies, learning, art, music, poetry, stories, parenting ideas, traumas, hopes, beliefs, ideas, etc. It will be a time for processing our lives together, connecting women of many faiths and backgrounds. The hope is that this connection will also serve as the "stress reliever" it is believed to have the power to do and to bring women together from their designated schools to assess, share and learn as friends, school workers, mothers, helpers, confidants and for the encouragement needed to and develop the unique talents within each person. The discovery and combining will create a powerful force for good in all levels of community.This could be a vast resource for the school. “Circle of Mothers” could take a survey of all the interests and talents among the mothers in their school and have it available to the principal, the teachers and to use among themselves. There is no end to the possibilities of having this information available. Finding out who does what can connect lives in innumerable ways.
These meetings could be held “in a circle” at the school, at a time and place designated as best by the Principal. The meetings could be held weekly, bi-monthly or monthly. Each person would be encouraged to share in whatever form they desire. The natural similarities inherent in bringing age group mothers together lends itself to having Circle Mothers held at the child’s school. These meetings, however, could also be held in homes, churches, senior centers or other community centers. My daughter recently held a meeting in her home, in the form of a tea party, which she called “culture club” where all types of connections were able to be made. As an example, if I were in the circle, for the first time, I would share one of my philosophies of life that I have written from my “Lit by Life” book. Conversations would naturally result that would create connections with another person’s feelings, struggles or ideas. The “circle” could also be a place for someone to share a painting or musical presentation. It could be a place for a parenting dilemma to be shared that could be aided and given perspective by having others share their experiences. These ideas and learning would be recorded by each person.
Anyone who participates in “Circle Mothers” can then , on this blog, contribute any of their thoughts or ideas or give an general account of what took place in their meeting…and keep a collection of their own ideas for their own personal record or book of ideas they are creating….and create their own blog of ideas.
The Mother: Stress relief – expansion of thought – valuable, helpful connections – a record of ideas
The Husband: necessary “girl talk” providing room for “husband/wife” talk
The Child: peaceful, fulfilled mother with expanded mind and heart to bless their child with - “If Mommy’s happy, everybody’s happy!”
The Teacher: Mothers that are connected would provide the teacher with a network of women that are familiar with one another that could help with a variety of needs in or out of the classroom i.e. special projects.
The School: Behavioral problems would most likely decrease by children coming to school from a peaceful environment. Women could use their expanded and united talents to enrich the education of students by creating and organizing events or programs. Knowing what someone has done and can do can connect lives in innumerable ways. Years ago I organized and performed in Christmas Concerts for the Community. As my children matured in talent they would also perform in the concerts. “Circle of Mothers” would (just as one example) know who played musical instruments, or who were vocalists. A “Mother/Child” concert could be created for the school or the community. Women could find out who had small children of similar ages and arrange for “park day” together. Families personal lives could also be enriched by the interests and talents of others…such as help with weddings or funerals. This “circle” would be like a drop of water in a pond extending out creating circle after circle after circle.
We need to know who each other is and what we can do to bless the lives of one another. Everyone’s lives would be enriched immeasurably. Strengthening and resourcing Mothers of America would be a powerful force for good and for expansion of life. Feeling alone in the battle, wanting motherhood to be the wonderful adventure we all are striving for it to be, can be blessed by this opportunity to come together and share our adventures with each other and the things that enrich our paths.
It is my hope that all schools in California adopt "Circle Mothers" as a powerful tool that will strengthen and develop the mothers, which will in turn bless the family, the schools and the community. It is my further hope that “Circle Mothers” will become a nationwide opportunity to strengthen and empower Mothers of America.