Thursday, May 21, 2015

Listen To Your Mother, Portland, 2015. Magic happened.

I'm all out of analogies, folks. I've been in a bit of a word hangover for 2 weeks. Except I'm not craving greasy eggs and a bloody mary. In fact, it's rather ethereal and mildly electric, like the surface of the ocean just after a thunderstorm. More like the soft-lit hours after giving birth than the hazy morning after tequila. I'm craving a return to words, but am rather content at the moment just floating here. Because Listen To Your Mother, Portland sold out the house at The Alberta Rose Theatre! What. Something is happening in this awakening of live storytelling, something juicy. And because my loquaciousness has left the building, I'd like to share a re-cap of that juicy, magical night, through the artful and talented lens of our photographer, Johann Leiter.

Our venue, two years now. We love it here. Also it smells of freshly baked savory pies.

In the green room with storyteller, Christi Krug and storyteller/director, Carisa Miller.


For the audience.

I bought my copy of LTYM the book from our on-site booksellers. Then the cast signed it. Then I cried for the eleventieth time.

THESE GUYS! Our local sponsors: Women's Healthcare Associates, Crafty Wonderland, Radio Room, Folly, Paleo Sweet Cheeks, and Johann Leiter.

In the green room with Michelle Borum, laughing out the butterflies.

Storyteller, Michelle Porter, getting lip-prepped.

Giddy over sweets from my dear friend, Ocea, of Paleo Sweet Cheeks. (And that's her mom! Hi Lisa!)

Mothers are pretty great at sitting and listening. 

Mic check. Dance like oompa loompas. Just for a sec.

Ellen made us do it. Again.

Lurking in front of someone's beautiful driveway. Thank you neighbor!

The 2015 cast of Listen To Your Mother, Portland!

Leanne Goolsby, LTYM Portland 2014 storyteller joined the audience!

Deb Stone of the 2014 cast came, too! Storytellers are like snowballs. We just gather and gather. Unstoppable. 

The midwives of Women's Healthcare Associates came!

And then we began.

Christi Krug shares her story about nobody in particular.

Gypsy Martin squeezing an imaginary breast.

Mary Mandeville shares a game we wish wasn't real.

Carisa pushes out her story and pulls at every mama heart.

Noelle Guest compromises. And wins.

Nicole Rardin wows the crowd with her bravery.

Susan Domagalski Fleming says, "Redddddddd."

I try to breathe, even when it smells of yoga farts.

Michelle Borum advocates for her mother, and women and children everywhere, with her gut-wrenching honesty of domestic violence. 

In case you hadn't yet discovered, Kathryn Leehane reminds us that motherhood is disgusting.

Susan Moshofsky brings him home.

Kylie Menagh-Johnson advocates for our children, because little white lies aren't helping anyone.

Michelle Porter relives a morning you'll be grateful wasn't yours.

Thank you for another amazing show, Portland! See you in 2016!

Friday, May 15, 2015

That's Mamoré! Anniversary Gratitude Giveaway

The only constant in life is change. Forever is only as far as we can see, and then the horizon shifts and forever looks different, it's new again. And it will change again, and again. But we can't waste our breath on lamenting our choices, or our circumstance, or our hearts. We can't shy away from change because we're afraid. Instead we stand where we are, confident in the space that our bodies occupy, we hug those who are near us, we connect and we grow. And we smile knowing that change can be filled with grief and love in equal measure, in balance, and we honor the forever that no longer is with gratitude.

And so we grow!

On January 1 2014 I left the familiarity of a 7 year position with my dear friends at gDiapers. I swam into a new part of my ocean and explored life at a creative agency as their social media strategist. I learned so much in a very short amount of time, very short. Within just 4 months it was clear to me that I wasn't telling the stories I needed to tell, and I wasn't using all the tools I wanted to be using. I put out my probing feelers to a few of my favorite local brands, "Hypothetically speaking, if I were to quit my day job and head out on my own, would you be interested in having me tell your brand story?" I was met with yesses. I was floored. And freaked the hell out. I consulted a friend and freelance mentor, Zach King, and felt empowered to make another change. I began working as an independent marketing consultant and writer under the name Mamoré, my intention was to help small brands with big heart Love Bigger and Reach Farther. And here I am, a year later, still afloat in this ever-changing ocean, telling stories that I adore, supporting brands who support women, children and the earth, and leaving me with more time to play with my kids, to explore this city, to volunteer and to breathe deeply. 

I am overcome with gratitude to those who have supported me on this journey, and to my brilliant clients. I hope you'll join me in celebrating. Enter any of the following giveaways below, courtesy of some of the coolest people I know (open to US residents 18 and older, sorry Canada kids):

GladRags - I'm loud and proud when it comes to reusable feminine hygiene, and it's because of Tracy, Meagan, Eliana and Heidi at GladRags. We say we love our bodies, and then we plug them up with garbage. Disposable pads and tampons are toxic to people and the planet. That's the biggest ick factor there is, way grosser than "Ew I might touch blood that came out of my own vagina!" Win a GladRags Day Pad and Pantyliner and love that rockin' body of yours.  Enter the GladRags Giveaway Here

MOBY - Babywearing has moved away from being "that thing that Sacajawea did" to an increasingly normal way to be with baby, which benefits parent and child alike in so many ways. MOBY is to thank. Their wraps and carriers have made babywearing approachable and easy for new moms and dads. If I had a baby, I'd have one of these Moby Wraps designed by Lotta Jansdotter. But I don't, so you should score one for your own baby (or to be the coolest auntie or uncle ever). 

Baby Wit - My kids rocked some kickass clothes thanks to Rosalee Rester of Baby Wit. A onesie with Sarah Palin, devil horns and oil derricks? Yes. A t-shirt that irreverently displayed Obama as Jesus and asked "What Would Obama Do?". Yes to that, too. And a bitchin' rainbow dress. And a life cycle frog tee. And a custom-print skirt for me. I love them all so hard. Are you more Bernie than Hillary? Nab a Bernie t-shirt in the kid or adult size of your choice and wear it into and long after the campaigning has ended. Because that's what cool does. Cool doesn't give a ___. 
Enter the Baby Wit Giveaway

goumikids - Co-founders Lili and Linsey have these gigantic, juicy, supremely kind hearts. They're making baby goods that don't just decorate baby, they work and work well. Their stay-on mitts keep baby from scratching, the hats retain critical body temperature, and the boots stay put when all others fall off and go missing. And goumi gives. These mamas are introducing their goods to the tiniest and most vulnerable babies and are working to bring an end to human trafficking, a HUGE issue here in Portland and worldwide. They love big. And I love them big back. Score a pair of their signature stay-on mitts and booties for a little one that you love. 
Enter the goumikids Giveaway

Gaia Couture - Disposable clothing isn't doing anyone any favors. Clothes are made cheap, sold cheap and then sent off to landfills. Humans suffer under exploitative manufacturing practices and the earth suffers under the heavy use of pesticides and waste. Joy Martinello of Gaia Couture knows that sustainable is beautiful. Buy less, choose well. Win a $50 gift certificate to spend on Joy's collection of slow fashion: dresses, skirts, tops, cardigans, yoga wear, leggings, tunics and more. 
Enter the Gaia Couture giveaway

Thank you!


Kelli Martinelli, Mamoré Communications

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Swearing with my 9 year old.

"Sometimes S-H-I-T can be a funny word," my 9 year old explained to me as we hung out in the kitchen while he unpacked his lunchbox.

"Yeah, it can be. When was it funny to you?" I asked.

"Like the other day, when Ian was opening this thing and ..." And here the details didn't matter so much. My son had decided to open up a conversation with me about swearing! With complete confidence and zero trepidation. I tried to maintain my mom cool but I was afraid my giddiness was showing through. I was in Buddy the Elf mode. "Swearing is my favorite!" I clapped to my happy elf self. 

"... and then Ian was like 'ohhhhhh, s-word' and it was really funny. It was the right word for that time." He chuckled, remembering the good times. 

"Yeah it totally can be funny sometimes. I say it, too." I laughed with him.

"I know. I can hear you sometimes," he said. "But you don't sound angry when you say it. And I don't really hear you say the f-word." 

"Ha! Oh I do." Oh darling son-o-mine, just you wait. You'll hear it. And then you won't ever un-hear it.

"It's not that swearing is bad, you just don't want it to become your first language. Use your brain and your incredible vocabulary first, and sometimes, those other words just fit, and that's okay." I said. God, I hope I'm not f-ing this up, I thought.   

"Yeah, some of my friends think it's cool to swear all the time when their parents aren't around. They just sound like stupid kids with nothing better to say." 

And this is when the love balloon inside my chest filled to near bursting and then floated out of me, into a dreamy sky.

"Well I'm glad to hear you say that. I'm sure you probably swear sometimes, right? When I'm not around." I prodded.

"Yeah I do. Just the other day when I was with my friends I said 'crap'." 

"Ha. Well, I think there's some debate over if that's an actual swear word or not." I smiled. "But it definitely was a swear word in my house when I was a kid. I got in trouble once for saying the word 'sucks'!"

"Oh ouch. That sucks." We both laughed at that one. 

"I think there are two things to keep in mind about swearing, kiddo. Always use your bigger vocabulary first. Find the words that fit, and learn new words constantly. Language is so rich and helps you become a better storyteller. And the other thing is know your audience. I mean, like, know who you're talking with. Is it Noah? Then by all means drop a 'crap' or even an s-h-i-t. Is it your teacher? Well I bet he's gonna wanna hear that big vocabulary of yours more than he'll want to hear what he can read on the bathroom stalls. Just be respectful of those around you, but be authentically you. You can do both, believe it or not."

"I get it. We've read three Percy Jackson books now and there hasn't been one f-word! But still, sometimes swearing is funny."

And that was it. A brief kitchen conversation with my kid about swearing. About using your words wisely, but celebrating the full spectrum, and goddamit, be respectful. 

Fuck yeah. 

I love the crap outta this kid.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

You gotta hear this ...

These snot-stuffed sniffle rags speak volumes. 

You may already know that Listen To Your Mother is a national phenomenon, spanning 39 cities in 2015 and boasting a brand spanking new book coming out (next week!).

You may also already know that last month my friend/director/and Laura to my Mary, Carisa Miller, and I hosted local auditions for the 2nd annual Portland Listen To Your Mother Show coming to The Alberta Rose Theatre this May 7th (get yer tickets here).

And to add to your impressive and ever-growing knowledge of Listen To Your Mother, you may have even read about how Carisa and I agonized through the massive stack of stories of hearts humbled and kimonos opened, of the raw, the vulnerable, the relatable, the irrefutable honesty of motherhood, to impossibly whittle them down to a small stack that we could stitch together into a show to present to you this May.

But what you don't know yet, dear friends, are the stories themselves.

The 2015 cast of the Portland Listen To Your Mother Show gathered over the weekend for our first rehearsal. The first rehearsal is the grand unveiling, where cast and crew meet collectively like a highly anticipated blind date, printed stories initially clutched protectively to chests, and then bravely forked over and presented to one another. It's when the quilt gets stitched together. No longer separate stories, they fuse into one breathlessly beautiful experience. And by the time rehearsal wraps, I've known these storytellers across lifetimes, no Tardis required, just a tissue box and an ever-expanding universe of what it means to be, to know, or to have a mother.

It's time to listen. Are you ready?

Get your tickets here. And soon! We expect a sold out show.
10% of all ticket sales goes to support the critically important work of The Portland Women's Crisis Line. 


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Don't have a cow.

self-portrait with cheese
My favorite food in ALL OF THE LAND is a grilled cheese sandwich. Sourdough bread, amply buttered on both sides, cheddar cheese (not too little,  not too much), sliced tomato, and gahhhhlic.

But I'm saying good-bye. Good-bye my grilled cheese lover. Good-bye my manchego at midnight. Farewell to the most perfectly buttery scrambled eggs whipped up with sour cream.

And hello to .... breathing. To eating foods that don't have to be processed in order for people to eat them. To general wellness for my brief time on this beautiful and over-compromised planet.

I'm committed to 2 months of completely dairy free living. Starting .... now .... right after I finish this leftover parmesan pasta.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Making the bed

The bed has to be right or I can't even begin to fall asleep. 

The fitted sheet must be pulled taut, the flat sheet should always be positioned in a proper rectangle, not sideways or twisted or heavens forbid touching the floor. Gently tucked into the foot of the bed, but no hospital corners so my feet can at least slide from left to right. I've loosened up in that way at least. 

The comforter must also be angled properly and adjusted so that the overhang on the left side matches in length to the overhang on the right side. The flat sheet pulled up and folded back over the top of the comforter, so now the bedding can work as a team. If the duvet cover has flowers, the flowers must be pointed toward the head board. On this particular detail I am not alone. Monica Geller once told her boyfriend Richard that the flowers must point toward the headboard because that would be where the sun is, of course, and in that episode I found a true friend. 

And finally the pillows must be fluffed, their cases smoothed and tugged so that they wont reveal their incriminating tags and face stains underneath. Then I will stack one on top of the other, and on this I don't particularly have a solid nagging preference as to who gets to ride on top, the osmotic recipient of my Dr Who dreams. 

And then, so long as the lunches are made, the coffee ground, the cat fed and accounted for, client work comfortably on schedule, texts returned, inbox mostly empty, bladder drained, cookie eaten, contraceptive swallowed, contacts removed, vinyasa flowed, temperature adjusted to be not too cold, not too hot, and feet cleaned and lotioned, I can sleep. 

Unless it's allergy season. And then none of it fucking matters.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Underneath, we're all naked.

As we ramp up for another incredible season of Listen To Your Mother, with 39 cities nationwide hosting stories that celebrate the heart and humor of all things motherhood, I wanted to take a pause from the hustle of sponsorships and website logos and press releases and rehearsal planning to just breathe and remember what this is all about, the rich wonder of the narrative of motherhood. Below is my own story, shared on stage at Listen To Your Mother, Portland, in 2014, and never shared online until now (because frankly, I totally forgot). The live reading is at the end of this post in case you'd rather just ... listen. 

Get your tickets now for the 2015 show on May 7th at The Alberta Rose Theatre. We have some incredible stories to share with you. 

“I never thought I had it in me to write about my own mum” is what my inner British narrator contemplated in the shower while at the same time grappling with the age-old question “to shave or not to shave”. I wanted to write a story about motherhood. But while the stories and opinions abound in my own experience as a mom, the stories about my own mother just wouldn’t come.

And so, as I held the shaver aloft and decidedly threw it back in its caddy, I allowed the story of my mom and I to just … be. To not steer myself in the direction of “Once, long ago, in a tiny bright green house on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, there lived a girl and her mom, and they ate popcorn, a kernel at a time, while watching Little House on the Prairie, or Highway to Heaven.” Looking back, I totally get why Mom was so riveted by these TV shows. Hellllllo, Michael Landon.

I watched Mom’s cheeks get pink over the Samsonian-haired homesteading angel, and cheered her on as she delighted in ordering a new multi-strand sterling silver necklace with matching earrings on QVC. There was a host we both thought was cute. Once, they had a karaoke machine up for sale, and the shopping channel cherub sang “Puppy Love” as a demo. Indeed, he had puppy dog eyes, and soft, feathery 1993 hair. His throwback crooning made Mom blush and I caught a giddy lift in her voice and then she returned her attention to her ironing board. She ironed the church music director’s shirts in exchange for piano lessons for me. Thank you, Mom. I am so very very sorry that all I can play on the piano is Mary had a little lamb with a tinge of Asian-influence.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard Mom speak badly of someone. Although once, when I was madly in love at the age of 16, I threw myself into her arms, wildly leaking from my face as I cried the ugliest of teenager tears “He broke up with me!” and shortly thereafter I found the framed photo of my tattooed surfer love lying on its back, bewildered, with its glass shattered. I may be mis-remembering, “false memories” as my kids call them (who taught them that?). Maybe it was I who broke the glass. But I like to think that it was actually my kind-hearted mom -- the mom whose laugh makes me see pink -- who wrecked that bastard’s glass.

I don’t come to Mom for many things. I had typical teen experiences that I would decide at the time “This one’s just for me.” It could’ve been pride. It could’ve also been laziness. “Well if I tell her this, then I’ll have to follow up with this, and I really just want to close my door and wail I’m Every Woman out of my karaoke machine.” RIP Whitney.

I don’t know how, and don’t want to know how, Mom had children out of her vagina. Because moms just don’t have sex because of ew. Except, they totally do. A lot. Like all the time. Still, I had, and yes have, this perception of innocence about Mom. One time I introduced my mom to a keg of beer. “What’s that?” she asked. “IPA.” I responded. “What’s that?” she asked. “A type of beer.” I answered. Her eyes got huge, drinking it all in. Another time I treated Mom to her first frozen strawberry margarita, whipped up, right there in her kitchen with fresh strawberries and this wacky wizard’s juice called Tequila. Her rosy smile gave it away that she didn’t feel guilty at all about enjoying the treat. So these little acts of teaching ma about moonshine hinted to me that some other subjects maybe shouldn’t be broached with her. In fact, I don’t think we ever had the talk. I’ll have to double check with my older sister, but I’m pretty sure it was she that taught my pig-tailed self about how gnomes have sex. My knowledge of sex stems from a book about gnomes. I do, however, remember Mom giving me a body safety talk. Without using any words at all. She stood in front of me in our tiny living room, near the chipped white piano, and she pointed to her backside, then to the front, and then, though I wondered why, to her mouth. Ohhhh, for kissing, I finally realized. And then of course, much later, realized it was for other things, too. (Clearly, material not covered by the gnome book.)

But Mom has had sex. More than once, and with more than one man, though she may not come right out and admit it. And she must know then that underneath their clothes people are likely naked. Still, there was the time when I couldn’t admit to my mom that I was, underneath it all, a naked person. One time my month-old son and I took the long and bottle-necked drive to McMinnville to see Mom. Once there I settled in to Mom’s couch to nurse him, starting on the left breast, gazing at him with my newfound motherly wonder, engaging in light chit chat. And then he exploded. In one end and out the other, up the backside of his cloth diapers and all over my left leg. Mom rushed in to gather him up and we headed to the bathroom to tend to the mess. Mom wiped down the giggling poop baby with a warm washcloth. I did what I could with a towel and the sticky brown mess that was rapidly soaking in to my jeans. Mom and I chuckled. Then I settled back down to finish nursing my beloved first-born and, because my life wasn’t interesting enough, he went and crapped all over my other leg. So Mom and I repeated the bathroom routine, with noticeably less amusement. And Mom offered to wash my jeans if I wanted to strip down to my underwear. I … wasn’t wearing underwear. I couldn’t tell my mom that I wasn’t wearing underwear. That wouldn’t make sense! Her sensibilities would be shattered! Aliens would land and demand the rest of the popcorn! World-splosion! And so I said, “Nah, I’ll be fine.” And then I drove 2 hours home with clammy legs and a bag full of poopy cloth diapers on the passenger seat floor.

I never thought I had it in me to write about my own mom. And in fact, it took a deliberate act of not writing about her, to see just how big the story actually is. To see, with the help of an inner British narrator, "That it's because of her that I have any story at all."

Get your tickets here for the 2015 Listen To Your Mother, Portland show.