Over the past weeks, we’ve been taking the time to hear stories from our CMYK community. This series of talks has been simply titled "Stories." We have been hearing what each person is carrying, what has led them to this moment, and what they’re wrestling with and celebrating.
Each of us has a story and our stories matter. Wherever you are and whatever is going on in your life, we hope you know this. There is something sacred and beautiful about all of life’s ups and downs and struggles. Your story has weight and significance and meaning. We invite you to do the good, divine work of sitting down and hearing each other’s stories, whether it’s with neighbors or friends or family or through the Stories podcasts.
Mother’s Day – God Our Mother
The concept of God Our Mother may feel totally foreign in light of the traditional image of God, the Father. Yet we limit the divine by the label of "father." In a very special gathering on Mother’s Day, we will be exploring and celebrating the femininity of the divine.
10:30 a.m. only. (There will be no 6 p.m. gathering.)
Sabbath Gathering – May 27th!
We believe in the great spiritual work of rest. This means we don't gather every Sunday. We regularly take time to rest, play, eat, laugh, and remember that life is filled with so much beauty.
Please do your best to clear your schedule and join us in some of the best "work" you could do.
WE HAVE ENOUGH.
CMYK is currently giving 45% of everything given to organizations doing great work in the community and world around us.
The Free Verse Project is a Montana-based organization we’ve just discovered. Clair Compton of Free Verse shares this update with us:
Free Verse is a nonprofit organization founded by four University of Montana students who believed in the transformative power of creative expression and believed in art as a catalyst for social justice. Today, Free Verse holds workshops in juvenile detention centers and transitional shelters across Montana, in places both rural and urban, with the aim of helping students discover and share their incredible voices.
Free Verse has been operating in Billings since February 2017. Our teachers hold lessons once a week, alternating between the Billings Juvenile Detention Center and the Ted Lechner Youth Services Center. Each lesson focuses on a theme and presents literature, current events, music, art, and film that explore that theme. One of the Billings students' favorite lessons centered on Junot Diaz's story, "Nilda." Our teachers worked with concepts of regret and prompted the students to write about a decision they'd like the chance to remake.
We partner with The Beat Within, a national journal of art and writing by incarcerated kids. Seeing their work in print validates and encourages our students. In each lesson, we bring in work from The Beat, which provides the opportunity for our students to hear the stories of people from entirely different backgrounds facing challenges that mirror their own.
The Free Verse Project resonates strongly with CMYK, as we believe that every story and every person matters. It seems apropos to discover the Free Verse Project while we are going through our “Stories” series. We are honored to support them in what they’re doing.
(Free verse poem below by one of the students.)
I’ve seen you slipping, forever falling down
Never acting like yourself, mood swings going around
I’ve thought about stepping in and helping, but you don’t look open to it now
My voice is growing dimmer, soon you won’t even hear the sound
I hope you pull it together, working this program is the first step
I’d hate to see you forever stuck, drowning in the depth
Being mom is no light duty. Laundry, body fluids, dinners, lost pets, forgotten homework, heartaches, scraped knees. There is no shortage of reasons to give kudos, high fives, massages, support and prestige to the moms in our families and communities.
As we celebrate moms this week, we’d like to take a chance to introduce you to a small contingency of the moms who make up our community. Moms at CMYK are of a wide variety — brand-new moms, working moms, moms with kiddos with special needs, stay-at-home moms, moms by adoption, moms who have lost babies, moms with years of experience. The demographic is rich, but we can all agree that our love for these sweet little souls has transformed and shaped our worlds. There is no looking back, and the road ahead sure is wild but, undoubtedly it is so FULL.
Enjoy the responses to the quick questions we posed. Laugh with them or at them, admire them, offer to help them, or feel sorry for them — whatever you do, say hello next time you see them at CMYK.
CMYK: What would your kid say is the worst thing about being your kid?
Cassie: Having to listen to me sing to him every mundane thing about changing his stinky poos, about picking boogs from his nose, about how he needs to be patient while I get out the boob. When we are alone for long stretches it’s monotonous, so I become a one-woman musical.
Amber: Honestly, I’m pretty sure they would say nothing. We haven’t got to that stage in life yet. They still idolize me.
Sara: Sometimes I try to fix things when they just want me to listen.
Kaylee: My poor, poor, children. Since I have four kiddos, I think each of them would have something really special to say about why living here sucks. Addy doesn't love it when I brush/curl her hair. Anker hates eating, so he'd probably say I make him eat the food he doesn't like. (If I didn't force-feed him, he would die of starvation.) Anders doesn't love physical affection, so I naturally hug and kiss him as much as I possibly can. Anika is perfect and loves me and thinks I am perfect. (I think this phase will end in about four months.)
CMYK: What is your most proud moment as a mom?
Sara: When I see my daughters from across a room and I look at them and think, “Wow, how did I get so lucky to have such kind daughters?”
Amber: My most proud moment as a mom was when Kieran’s school counselor made a point to come out to my car, to tell me how compassionate and caring he had been that day. It was the first day of school and he had a girl in his class who had broken her leg and was in a wheelchair. She was very much missing her mom, and Kieran spent his entire day cheering her up.
Cassie: I am proud of him for literally everything he does. I saw him kick a little bit at an ultrasound appointment and was like ‘That’s my boy!’ I am proud of myself for being way more chill than expected. And I thought I’d have zero mom instinct, but turns out it was just lying in wait somewhere. I can usually anticipate his needs. I can nourish him from my own body, I can comfort and soothe him, I can change his diapers and do all the extra laundry! I can do so many mom things now — except when I don’t want to ... and then we can just go on snuggle strike together for a while. I am proudest to say that I love being my son’s mom.
Kaylee: Recently, I had an awful moment (think, lots of yelling and crying mixed with misplaced anger). After the "terrible event," when I calmed myself down, I was able to sit with all my kids and apologize to them for behaving the way I did. I believe that the repair is more important than the mistake. I'm proud that I can look my kids in the eye and admit fault, ask them how they feel and then spend some time loving on them. I want them to accept this part of being a human.
CMYK: Cassie, what is the hardest thing about balancing business ownership and momhood?
Cassie: I’m forever fine-tuning and asking for help. I do think we as a society have a ‘balance’ fetish that is really just perfectionism in disguise, and we like to flagellate ourselves with the scourge of perfectionism, when in reality a certain amount of being overwhelmed is just a normal byproduct of being alive. What I am doing is noticing those stressor points and responding. For example, I had the idea that I could go back to work and Jude would just play adorably on the floor while I got busy on my laptop with a cup of coffee. Then I quickly had a realization that, NOPE — that just wasn’t going to work for either of us. This realization led to a good, honest conversation with my husband about needing child care. Together we asked for help, and now Jude does a few days with his grandparents and two days (that’s all we can afford) with an in-home child care provider. Now this decision creates some balance in the sense that my work time is more productive (it has to be because now I’ve got to pay for child care), but it causes imbalance in the sense that I’m missing out on entire days with my baby (cue the ugly cry) and I have added on stress around needing to make that extra money to cover new costs related to my baby.
I think we need to stop talking in terms of balance and have the balls to start talking about mental health and social responsibility. (That’s when you notice someone struggling and you have the ability to help and you respond with help.) Balance is a euphemism, and it’s pretty packaging to sell you things like vacations, massages, yoga classes and other luxury products. I say luxury products because, I guarantee you that pioneers and cave mamas weren’t talking about needing to find balance as they forged west or gathered seeds to grind into grain. They were probably having more pragmatic conversations around how to forge that river together or “hey you can’t nurse that baby, let me give you my milk so that it doesn’t die.”
If your life is crazy and you just can’t seem to “get ahead” and you want to cry most days, does that mean you’re not finding balance? I would argue that just means you’re human and probably trying to do something worthy with your life-blood and the finite amount of time you have here. You, like most of us, need a healthy dose of compassion and help. You need a society that sees you and responds to your need. You need friends or family that can say, “Hey mama, how’s your mental health? You going a little cray and need some company or just five minutes by yourself?”
What if we stopped talking “work/life balance” as the female working class and instead said, “Hold up, don’t you worry, I’m doing me boo but, where are we at with education and affordable, safe child care for all? And why are we still not making equal pay yet?” It sure seems like society would rather we keep talking about “work/life balance” like the problem is just within ourselves. I know I’m not just an earner and that there’s more to me than “business owner.” However, sadly, the society I live in doesn’t seem to know that. Now that I have a baby I want to start having real conversations in hopes that maybe we can make it better together.
CMYK: Kaylee, you are a mom of four. What is the best part of having multiple?
Kaylee: We have a small basketball team. We all have a hand-holding buddy. We always get the big rooms during family vacations. It's very wild and nearly unbearable at times, but I wouldn't change a thing about it.
CMYK: Sara, you are a mom with experience. What is the best part of watching your kids grow/age?
Sara: Watching them grow into their own people, separate from their dad and me, that is the best part!
CMYK: Cassie, you are a new mom. What was the most shocking transition?
Cassie: After I physically did the work of labor and delivery, old me went, “Good job, girl, you can just rest up now because that was hard!” It was not even 12 hours before that girl was gone. I had this new role, and I had to step up. Baby needed to come first and he had to be fed all the time or he’d suffer. He’s fragile and needed to be handled with care, so I watched over him. He couldn’t advocate for himself so I had to find my voice for him. And just like that, out came this new mama bear right along with this new baby.
While I know that we are separate beings, my life is knitted together with his now. I will always be thinking in terms of “we” and not just in terms of “me.” Will this decision be good for us? If I speak that way to his father will he absorb those blows too? If I skip breakfast, will I make the milk I need to feed him? And so on and so forth until forever, I guess, or until he’s a fully formed, autonomous, emotionally literate, card-carrying grown up (whichever comes first).
CMYK: Amber, you are a mom of two totally awesome dudes with special needs. What is the single biggest thing you have learned from that parenting perspective?
Amber: The most important thing I’ve learned on this journey with the boys is to appreciate the little milestones and validate the small victories, because they work so hard for those successes.
CMYK: What is the most hilarious sentence you have heard from the mouth of your kid?
Sara: “How come in the books when the girl has weird quirks, it’s endearing and guys fall in love with her, but in real life you are just the weird girl who needs the radio volume on an even number.”
Amber: One time I was pretty annoyed waiting in a fast food drive-thru and Kieran in his best Daniel Tiger singing voice sings, “when you feel so mad that you wanna roar take a deep breath and count to four.”
Kaylee: Anker has the absolute best one-liners. Yesterday, he told me he "had a serious pain in his butt; I must need to use the bathroom." He also told me when I yell at him, "It feels like his heart is melting and broken into a million pieces and it falls on the ground, and I ruin it." (Yes, I will pay for his therapy when he grows up, but I think that if he ate food, his feelings would not be as intense.)
Meet the Mommas:
Sara: Full-time mom, part-time art teacher and still trying to decide what I want to be when I grow-up. Ruth (17), Grace (20).
Cassie: I am a child of God who is currently also raising a child of God. He is Jude (6 1/2 months)! Together we are like one beautiful Russian nesting doll of God-made goodness, and that makes my heart happy.
Amber: I’m a mom to two amazing little boys who are on the autism spectrum, and I’m married to my soul mate! Kieran (7) Liam (5).
Kaylee: Ethan and I are always looking for free babysitting so please inquire if you're interested. Addy May (10) Anker James (5) Anders Davenport (3) Anika Joy (19 months).
ARTIST YOU OUGHT TO KNOW: JENNA LIVINGSTON
“Swollen Flesh” — to some this may sound more like a surgeon’s dictation than a sculpture. But this artwork by Jenna Livingston led her to an experience afforded very few students and a bus ride few would be brave enough to attempt.
Jenna is a member of the CMYK Community and an art student at MSUB. In a clay and 3-D sculpture class, Jenna was tasked with creating 50 nonrepresentational objects inspired by a randomly assigned word. Her word: SWOLLEN.
As Jenna created pieces for this assignment, she described how the project started to embody issues of race, health and age. She strived to make the clay represent distended skin in a “non-pretty” way. The clay figures could, in a subtle way, speak about beauty. “Lots of art is too bold” when tackling issues, Jenna says. “I didn’t want race or aging to be obvious or in your face, but it’s in there.”
After many drafts and trial runs, she had molded 50 fleshy spheres, squeezed and bulging from their perfect form. The project received rave reviews and Jenna's professor urged her to submit her piece to a student juried exhibition. “Swollen Flesh” was selected for display in a gallery at the National Council for Education of Ceramic Arts. The gallery exhibited fewer than 100 works chosen from more than 500 submissions. Jenna’s sculpture was in the company of only 16 undergraduate students' pieces.
In March, Jenna boarded a bus to Pittsburgh to embark on a multi-day, multicultural adventure. Her bus delays and seatmates provided entertainment, unease and anecdotes alike. Countless hours on a bus with a sassy driver and sleeping next to strangers are good and terrible adventures Jenna will never forget.
At the gallery Jenna enjoyed her anonymity, standing within earshot of her exhibit and eavesdropping on observers’ opinions and feedback. The reactions lifted her spirits, inspired her, and strengthened her resolve to create. She said it was lovely to see people, without buy-in or pretense, genuinely enjoy something she had poured herself into.
Finding it hard to make time for meaningful connection with your children each day? Don’t worry, you are not alone. The fast pace of life has created challenges for families in creating meaningful face-to-face connection time. Plus, technology has replaced some of the opportunities we do have. Making time for face-to-face connection each day is vital. Brains grow best when they are face-to-face, mind-to-mind and heart-to-heart with caring others, according to Dr Becky Bailey in her book, Conscious Discipline: Building Resilient Classrooms (2015). These connecting times wire the brain for impulse control and willingness. These connection activities need to have four elements: eye contact, touch, being present in the moment and being set in a playful situation.
Planning for these moments will help parents ensure they happen. They can also be planned strategically for difficult transition times during the day, giving you and your child a moment of togetherness before the transition. Some times that may be difficult are before going to day care or school, before naptime, after picking your child up from school or day care and before bed. These are ideal times to connect using playful rituals. These take only a minute or two but create cooperation and an opportunity to provide a sense of belonging and social trust. Some examples are listed below. You can use any words and movements as long as you include the four elements of connection listed above. For more information about connection and rituals go towww.consciousdiscipline.com
Jenny Barkac is our CMYK Kids Leader. During the week, she works with schools and parents around the United States as a Conscious Discipline Certified Instructor. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the CMYK Community. https://consciousdiscipline.com/
ALWAYS BE LEARNING
by Daron Faught
I know this is not exactly what the character of Blake says in the film “Glengarry Glen Ross” ('Always Be Closing') but it's almost a mantra of mine and — who knows? — it might just catch on with you.
My choice of movie for this month is 1974's “Harry And Tonto.” Art Carney won the Best Actor Oscar for his brilliant portrayal of the aging but still vital retired college professor Harry Coombes. A widower, he spends almost every moment of life with his trusted cat, Tonto. Director Paul Mazursky made the notoriously heavy-drinking Carney swear never to show up drunk to the set. Carney also hated cats but found working with one to be tolerable. Carney was known for comedic roles; most notably Ed Norton, Ralph Kramden's best friend in the classic sitcom “The Honeymooners.” He wanted to show everyone he could stretch himself as an actor, so he peppered his later career with more dramatic roles like this one.
The film begins with the duo's eviction from their Upper West Side apartment just in time to escape the demolition of the building. (Urban Renewal was replacing old tenement housing with luxury condos and public places such as The Lincoln Center.) They go off to live with one of Harry's sons in the suburbs. However, Harry misses his friends in the city and feels out of place with his son's family. One of the sons, Norman, is a hippie, and his New Age ideas pique Harry's interest. Even though he is intrigued with some aspects of the hippie lifestyle, he stops short of trying any drugs. He's also adamant that he is a "one woman man."
After feeling suffocated in the suburbs, Harry decides to go visit his daughter in Chicago and, later, his other son in Los Angeles. Tonto doesn't take to either planes or buses, so Harry buys an old Chevy and heads west. This is where the real story begins. He picks up several hitchhikers, and even Norman along the way. All of these people stimulate Harry's sense of curiosity with ideas and practices that are unfamiliar to him. Some he likes, and some he discards (much like we all do during the course of our lives).
The film shows that an "old dog" can indeed learn "new tricks" and that change is the only constant in this world. The trick is doing your best while adapting to the changes. It helps if you can laugh a little, too.
DIRTY COMPUTER BY JANELLE MONAE
By Matt Blakeslee
If you have yet to get into Janelle Monae's music, consider this your formal invitation to step into enlightenment. She has consistently pushed the edges of genre, creativity, and writing in her previous two albums, and her latest full length shines yet again. Here you'll find elements of funk, pop, hip-hop, soul, rock and much more.
If you like music that moves you, invites you to get up and dance, and causes you to think...I believe this might be for you. It's her most accessible album to date, but don't let that fool you into thinking there's no depth here. Be warned: it does contain some adult themes and language, but for those willing to explore her ideas, it's an important approach. It is only May, but this might be my favorite album of the year. Welcome to enlightenment!