Es Más Bello Vivir Cantando


Is there anything surlier, more easily embarrassed, or more ungrateful than a teenager?  That’s a rhetorical question.

I was typical, vacillating between really wanting my mommy, and being so embarrassed by my mother I wanted to get bitten by a radioactive spider and develop laser vision so I could burn a hole in the ground to hide in.

My mom is a really good dancer.  She’s got rhythm in spades, whereas I have rhythm in…no part of my body.  This link will take you to proof.  I show you this so that we can laugh together, and then you can pat my back while I cry into a bowl of ice cream.  (P.S., never wear satin on film)  I also show you this as proof that I can sorta rap in Spanish.

I got kicked out of a dance class in my 20s.  I had decided I wanted to try Irish step dancing, so I found an adult beginner class and began.  I made it through 6 weeks before the teacher pulled me aside, handed me a check for my money back, and said she was sure I had other talents to pursue.  I was so bad, I was holding back all the other beginners.

Anyway, my mother can dance.  She can still dance.  When I was a teenager, and she was in her 40s, if there was a floor, she’d get on it, and get down on it.  And I?  Wanted to die.  There was a time when we were out at a Greek restaurant with some of her friends, and a band started to play.  My mother took off her shoes and went and danced, and danced, and danced.

I remember that night because while I was watching her and wanting to die of embarrassment because OH MY GOD SOMEONE MIGHT THINK SHE WAS WEIRD AND HOW COULD SHE DO THIS TO ME PEOPLE WERE STARING, I was also thinking how cool it was that she didn’t care if anyone thought she was weird, or if people were staring.  She wanted to dance.  She danced.  And she was good.

I’ve tried to take her attitude with me wherever I go.  There are always going to be people who will laugh at you because there will always be nasty people in the world.  Also, sometimes, you are going to be really funny–whether you mean to be, or not.  People laughing isn’t bad.  Being afraid to laugh at yourself is.

That’s something else I’m trying to teach my boy.  If you are afraid to do anything because you’re worried about what someone else thinks, you’ll grow up to be the pre-Delorian version of George McFly.  And who wants that?  Yes, if you put it all out there, you might get rejected, or laughed at, but if you don’t put it all out there, you can’t ever live the fulfilled life either.

Now, this link goes to the actual Celia Cruz version of the song I’m singing up top.  Lyrics and translation are below.  The words speak for themselves.

La vida es un carnaval

Todo aquel que piense que la vida es desigual

Tiene que saber que no es así
Que la vida es una hermosura, hay que vivirla
Todo aquel que piense que está solo y que está mal
Tiene que saber que no es así
Que en la vida no hay nadie solo, siempre hay alguien

Ay, no hay que llorar, que la vida es un carnaval

Es más bello vivir cantando
Oh, oh, oh, ay, no hay que llorar
Que la vida es un carnaval
Y las penas se van cantando

Todo aquel que piense que la vida siempre es cruel
Tiene que saber que no es así
Que tan solo hay momentos malos, y todo pasa
Todo aquel que piense que esto nunca va a cambiar
Tiene que saber que no es así
Que al mal tiempo buena cara, y todo pasa

Ay, no ha que llorar, que la vida es un carnaval
Es más bello vivir cantando
Oh, oh, oh, Ay, no hay que llorar
Que la vida es un carnaval
Y las penas se van cantando
Para aquellos que se quejan tanto
Para aquellos que solo critican
Para aquellos que usan las armas
Para aquellos que nos contaminan
Para aquellos que hacen la guerra
Para aquellos que viven pecando
Para aquellos nos maltratan
Para aquellos que nos contagian

Life is a carnival

Anyone thinking that like is unfair,
Needs to know that’s not the case,
that life is beautiful, you must live it.
Anyone thinking he’s alone and that that’s bad
Needs to know that’s not the case,
that in life no one is alone, there is always someone

Ay, there’s no need to cry, because life is a carnival,

It’s more beautiful to live singing.
Oh, Ay, there’s no need to cry,
For life is a carnival
And your pains go away by singing.

Anyone thinking that life is cruel,
Needs to know that’s not the case,
That there are just bad times, and it will pass.
Anyone thinking that things will never change,
Needs to know that’s not the case,
smile to the hard times, and they will pass.

Ay, there’s no need to cry, because life is a carnival,
It’s more beautiful to live singing.
Oh, Ay, there’s no need to cry,
For life is a carnival
And your pains go away by singing.
For those that complain a lot.
For those that only criticize.
For those that use weapons.
For those that pollute us.
For those that make war.
For those that live in sin.
For those that mistreat us.
For those that make us sick.

Taken from http://lyricstranslate.com/en/la-vida-es-un-carnaval-life-carnival-celia-cruz-life-carnival.html#ixzz3YBT2rcEX

Triple Klutz, Triple Toe Loop


I love to watch figure skating.  I did a bit of it in my youth, and while I was never good enough at it to be considered a contender to even warm a team’s bench, I was good enough at it that I felt like a gold medalist–rare enough in my life.  In my mind, I am a great figure skater.  In reality, I stay upright, can go pretty fast in a circle, can skate backwards, and make a tiny spin, but my signature move looks like this:

The big smile is included in my move because I am always just so happy to be on ice, or the wood of a roller skating rink.  I really love skating.

Recently, Thor and I have started going to roller skate at a rink nearby.  We’re both loving it.  It turns out, I’m still able to stay upright, can still go pretty fast, skate backwards, and manage a spin.  Thor is just getting his wheels under him, and because he hates to look foolish, he’s been taking his development on the chin.

“I fall down too much!” He exclaimed.

“Know what I saw?” I asked.

“What?”

“I saw you get up a lot.”

He thought about that, then said, “You’re better at it than I am.”

That has to be a bitter pill!  In general, since he could walk, he’s been more coordinated than I am, so for me to be honest-to-goodness better at something because of skill, and not because of age and length of leg is a stunner.  So, I explained for how long I’ve been skating, and how it was something I did for a few hours a day, every day of my life for many, many years.  He considered that, then asked to go back and try again.  Off he went.

The next time we went to the rink, we were meeting up with a friend of mine and her son.  Thor asked, all worry, “Is the other boy really good at skating?”

I said, “I don’t know.  But if he is, you should definitely make friends with him, and ask him to show you.  Always make friends with people who are better at things than you are, and learn from them.”

Those two lessons, the one about paying more attention to the number of times you get up, and choosing friendship over feeling bitterness and inferiority are two lessons my mother taught me.  I’m talking about how she did that in my Listen To Your Mother Austin piece.

I’ve been practicing reading it aloud, and trying not to choke up on emotion at certain passages–you know, so people can understand what I’m saying, and it doesn’t just sound like underwater blubbing.  So I don’t embarrass myself with a big, grateful, ugly cry.  It’s a lot like figure skating.  I’ve got the staying upright, the going really fast in a smooth circle, whipping around backwards, and doing a little spin down, but then I gear up for that Triple Salchow, Triple Toe Loop combination and my insides go to water.

If I nail my jumps by making it through the passages without too many tears, it’s going to look like this:

If I don’t, it’s also going to look like that.  You know why?  Because missing a jump means you tried a jump, and trying is the only way to succeed in the first place.

Thanks for teaching me that, Mom.

I may not always (or ever, when it comes to a sport) win, but I always try, and I always find a way to have fun.  That’s the kind of life I want for my boy.

Ladies Who Listen


I really wanted to have more time to do this properly, but you know what happened?  Uh, everything!  So rather than not doing it at all, I’m still going to introduce you to the women of the Listen To Your Mother Austin cast, by plagiarizing the LTYM Austin posts about the cast.  With my own additional information!

shelley schooley oswaldShelley Schooley Oswald is a freelance writer, blogger, coffee-addict, native Texan and mom. When she’s not at her day job or performing her duties as taxi driver and swim-mom/cheerleader for her two teen boys, she fills her evenings with kitchen experiments, Netflix binging, dipping her toes back into the dating pool, and untangling her latest crochet project. You can usually find her on Facebook or over at her personal blog, Slightly off Kilter, where she over-shares about relationships, raising gentlemen, and trying to find herself in the process.

(Lane says:  Shelley has the cutest nose.  It was the first thing I noticed about her, and I had to comment.  I mean, seriously.  The. Cutest. Nose.  She also had an amazing read.  I’m following her on Facebook now, and she is consistently worth reading.)

Lisa OwenLisa Owen is a writer and blogger at My So Called Glamorous Life: The Adventures of a Domestic Engineer (www.mysocalledglamlife.com). Her work has been featured on Blogher.com, Project Underblog, Centering Down and in the supplemental materials for The Princess Problem (available at Rebecca Hains.com). An Illinois transplant to Houston, Texas, she is a mother/step-mother in a blended family with five children ages 7 to 24. Lisa has a B.S. in Journalism from Southern Illinois University and spent 15 years working as a corporate/transactional paralegal for law firms and corporations before becoming a SAHM and pursuing her passion for writing.

(Lane says:  Lisa’s reading made me choke up BIG TIME.  You will want to be prepared with tissues for this one, for sure.  Warmed my heart, and wet my cheeks.  Interacting with her on the LTYM Facebook group has been a lot of fun.  She’s smart, supportive, and always quick with a “like”.)

jill robbinsJill Robbins is a wannabe wine snob and sometime runner from San Antonio, Texas.  She has a degree in social psychology which has so far been unhelpful in understanding the behavior of her husband and three children.   She writes about adoption, motherhood and midlife on her blog, Ripped Jeans and Bifocals.  Jill is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, Blunt Moms Babble, and Mamalode.  She’s also been published in The Washington Post’s On Parenting and has had writing featured on Scary Mommy, Mamapedia Voices, In the Powder Room, SheKnows Parenting, Midlife Boulevard, Beyond Your Blog and other places around the internet. Her print publications include the December 2014 issue of Mamalode and three upcoming anthologies about motherhood.  She someday hopes to write the books that are living in her head.  You can follow Jill on Facebook and Twitter.

(Lane says:  Please, please, please go look up Jill’s blog and start following her.  She is truly worth your time.  I loved the wit and candor of her piece, and Jill has a really great voice.  All the adjectives like solid, and warm, and gentle, and honest!)

Crystal ValentineCrystal Valentine was raised in Austin, Texas. She grew up a pastor’s daughter and spent her teenage years fully living up to this title.

Crystal tried to be cool once but found it exhausting. She now embraces the words of Charlotte Bronte: she would always rather be happy than dignified. She no longer conceals her love for Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music and she’s given up on hiding her tears while watching American Idol. (Also, Crystal’s children do not love it when she dances in public.)

Crystal lives in the tiny, homogenous suburb of Hutto with her two sons, one daughter, one husband and a dog. They head into Austin every chance they get to be closer to graffiti and Thai food. Crystal takes on occasional freelance writing projects and has published volumes of precious words on Facebook. She has several personal manuscripts that she hopes to find a home for.

(Lane says:  None of us cast members has favorites, but Crystal’s piece was my favorite.  She wrote from such a place of love and admiration, and she echoed the sentiments of so many teenage girls.  You know what is brave? Raw honesty.  Now, getting to know her on Facebook, I’m an even bigger fan.  Also, Crystal looks just like Ashley Judd, so I wanted to stare at her a lot at our table read.  You’ll want to stare, too, but don’t be creepy.)

Elizabeth Jayne LiuElizabeth Jayne Liu started her blog, Flourish in Progress, to chronicle a yearlong shopping ban. Surprisingly, she survived, and now writes candidly about her former addictions, love of four-letter words, and her affinity for all things rap. Flourish in Progress was named a Blog of Note by Google Blogger, and Elizabeth has been featured on Glamour, Huffington Post, Adweek, CBS, and as the Daily Six for Six-Word Memoirs.

She lives in Los Angeles with her family and her complete collection of Yo! MTV Raps Trading Cards. Connect with Elizabeth on Facebook and on Instagram @flourishinprogress.

(Lane says:  Elizabeth’s piece shattered me in all the good ways.  There are a couple of lines she spoke about her daughter that I’ve heard my own mother say to me.  It’s a fierce kind of love, and it cast Elizabeth into a special stratosphere of respect for me.  Also, she is wicked funny.  Go read her HuffPost blog, then come back and thank me.)

Brooke MeabonBrooke Meabon is a small business owner, a writer, runner, food-lover, and a chronic volunteer that’s fiercely in love with her city, San Antonio. She is a wife to a cowboy-boot-wearing-Pennsylvanian and mom to a four year old daughter that would wear glitter to bed if allowed and a three year old son that believes with all of his heart that he is a superhero. After a decade long career of wearing pantyhose everyday in the luxury hotel industry, Brooke discovered a love for writing and freed herself from the nylon bind, making a profession out of her passion. She is the co-founder of Alamo City Moms Blog, San Antonio’s leading parenting website, and marketing consultant for local businesses and organizations. Brooke can usually be found spinning too many plates at one time which makes for great writing material.

(Lane says:  Brooke is absolutely darling, and I loved how her piece touched the need to have mother-friends and mother-advocates.  She is a real friend-builder-upper, and a first class blogger.)

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 11.50.41 AMA’Driane Nieves is a USAF veteran, writer, artist, and speaker with a heart for serving others and social good. She’s also a mental health advocate living with bipolar disorder, and a survivor of postpartum depression and anxiety. She writes about the intersections of life, art, motherhood, mental health, and race on her personal blog. She’s been a contributing editor to Postpartum Progress, the most widely read blog on maternal mental health, and was selected as a BlogHer 2014 Voice of The Year. Her superpowers include knowing every Prince song not sitting in his vault, making the best faces while dancing, and rocking a hot pink afro. She’s mom to three boys and wife to her robotics loving husband.

(Lane says:  A’Driane’s piece read like a tone poem to me.  There was an actual beat to it, and I loved that about it.  I also loved her totally colorful socks, bright personality, and glorious hairdo!  Such hair envy.)

Leah NyfelerLeah Fisher Nyfeler grew up with her nose in a book, developing a love for word craft of all sorts. As an adult, she’s worked as an educator, freelance writer, and editor, and recently discovered the joy of marrying writing with her interest in health and wellness through her blog, Enjoying the Journey: Adventures, Thoughts, and Observations, on Leading the Fit Life. An avid runner, former triathlete, and now boxer, she began her blog as a training diary to connect with other athletes; after serving as editor in chief of a local fitness magazine, it became a way to continue her mission of bringing the pleasures (and challenges) of living a healthy lifestyle to the greater public. A chance encounter at an elementary school writing workshop led to her LTYM submission, which reinforces Nyfeler’s profound belief that life’s journey involves taking on those things that spark a certain level of “what have I just done?” in order to be fully lived. Mother of three grown and amazing children, wife to supportive and long-suffering husband James, Nyfeler lives and freelances in Austin, where she can be found working out with friends, eating good food, and still reading anything she can get her hands on.

(Lane says:  While Leah was reading her piece, I was picturing the Murray kitchen, with Meg, Sandy & Dennis, and Charles Wallace gathered all around talking to their parents about quarks and tesseracts, warm and happy inside, with Weather happening outside.  I wanted to go home with her because anyone who can make me have Madeleine L’Engle feels is someone I want to follow around.  I don’t even know how to give a better compliment than that.)

Lisa CaldwellLisa Caldwell was born and raised in Pittsburgh, but don’t hold that against her. Her first year of college, she met a cute parking lot attendant who whisked her away to the wild west, first to Albuquerque, then to Reno where she cultivated her graphic design career specializing in gaming – the gambling kind, not the kind your kids play, so don’t ask her about Minecraft. Motherhood followed in 2010. Lisa turned to writing shortly thereafter as a way to vent her feelings about parenting and address her many questions such as: “Are they supposed to do that?” “What is wrong with me?” and “When are her real parents coming to get her?”

The Caldwell family relocated to Austin in 2012 where Lisa sought to grow her blog and take over the world. That didn’t happen within the two-week allotted time, so she took a job as an account manager for a branding studio. She is a regular contributor to LiveMom, former contributor to Austin Moms Blog and sole curator of Hip-BabyMama.com. She lives in central Austin with that same cute parking lot attendant, and her even cuter five-year-old daughter.

(Lane says:  Lisa had me giggling, which is good because I was still trying to mop myself up from the reader who’d gone before her, when I first heard her piece.  Since meeting her at the LTYM table read, I’ve been article-stalking her, and it’s been time well spent!  Check her out.)

Lee Bell HovlandLee Bell Hovland is from Little Rock, Arkansas, but moved to Austin in 1996 for graduate school and decided to stay for the breakfast tacos. She has a Master of Library and Information Science degree from UT, but has managed to work for more than 16 years without actually using that degree except for one time back in the early 2000s. She has a day job at the Texas Association for Counties, but by night she wrangles puppies and small boys, the dogs for the Cocker Spaniel Rescue of Austin/San Antonio (of which she is a founding board member), and the boys, Hopper (6) and Rowan (4), because they call her Mom. She also enjoys drinking wine with her husband, Sam, sommelier and wine buyer for East End Wines, and helping him figure out which ones pair well with cheese puffs (for the record, go with a Lambrusco).

(Lane says:  I loved everything about Lee’s piece, and I am crowning it this year’s Perfect Essay.  Last year’s Perfect Essay was Robyn’s.  Lee’s piece is beautifully crafted, and takes you on a journey through love, loss, and fireflies and is just…*sigh*  Also, she was a truly lovely person to meet.)

Tonie KnightTonie Knight is a Cuban-American-Texan, which means she is loud, makes an excellent Cuban coffee, and wears lots of red lipstick. She’s the boisterous and demanding mother of Dylan (22), Madison and Griffin (twins, 20), Cassidy (18), and Harrison (8). Her alter ego is an organized and exacting, middle-aged, middle manager. She’s a former longtime competitor and participant in the Austin Poetry Slam, and educational media voice talent. She is wildly in love with her husband, Jeff, whom she met in 1988 and knew for twelve years before they ever kissed. They made up for lost time. She can be found online at www.honeysucklezilla.com.

(Lane says:  I haven’t gotten to meet Tonie yet, or hear her piece, but I have seen her shoes.  If her work is anything like her shoes, you are going to be her new biggest fan.)

Lane Buckman Eh, you’ve already met me.  I’m still trying to figure out how I got to be part of this group.  I guess you’ll just have to come see the show, and let me know.

Tickets are on sale now for our two shows on Saturday, April 25, at 3pm and 7pm. We hope to see you there!

Best Feet Forward


I love playing with Ancestry.com.  I love it even more now that I’ve discovered I share my 19th great-grandfather on my father’s mother’s side with a family of ladies I adore.

I came to the appreciation of Girlfriends in my mid-twenties.  Up until then, I was the girl who liked to say she preferred the company of boys because girls were just so…ugh.  The problem wasn’t the girls.  The problem was the fact that we were all teenagers.

I had a couple of good girlfriends, girls who are still my friends, in fact, but until I met the women who would end up making the core of my Tribe, I didn’t have much nice to say about my gender compatriots.  Now?  Ffft.  My girlfriends get me through the day.  What would I do without them?  My droogs.  My dogs of war.  Y’all know who you are!

One of the things I’ve enjoyed with the Listen To Your Mother Austin cast, is how open and welcoming all the women are.  We’ve made Facebook friends with each other, and we’re sharing fears and photos like we’ve known each other forever.  No worry about judgment.  No concern about cattiness.  Just a bunch of women who were strangers 3 weeks ago, who made themselves vulnerable for the sake of art and honesty.

Listen To Your Mother isn’t just happening in Austin.  It’s in nearly 40 cities across the country.  If you are near a show, go.  I went last year, and sat in the audience having All The Feels.  It was a delicious experience, and I want you to have that!

If you are going to be in Austin on April 25, please come see our performance.  We are really, really good.  And I’m not just saying that because I have Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Also, I’ve seen the shoes that will be up on that stage.  Come for the artistry, stay for the fashion show.

Who’s Afraid of the Dark


I put The Boy to bed last night, and five minutes into my bath, there was a rapping at the door.  “Moooooooooom?”

I asked what he needed, and he snuffled that he had a stomach ache because he was afraid.  So, I drew the curtain shut and told him he could come in.  He sat on the floor and put his toes up under the shower curtain so I could touch him.  I asked him what he was afraid of, and he said he wasn’t sure.  He thought maybe it was just the dark.

“I’m afraid of a lot of stuff,” I told him.  “It’s okay to be afraid of things.  You just can’t let the being afraid of things keep you from doing what you have to do.”

“What are you afraid of?”

I told him to guess–mainly because I was shaving my leg, and I am afraid of cutting off my kneecap.  If I cut off my kneecap, the bathtub sharks might come for me.

We all know this is my greatest fear. This bad boy, and clowns. This bad boy dressed as a clown…ugh.

“Maybe walking alone in the dark?”

“Good guess!  I am afraid of that.  Oooh, and of being by myself in the house at night.  You know when you and Daddy went to New Mexico, and I was here alone?”

“Yeah.”

“I was afraid.  The first night, I was so afraid, I didn’t sleep at all until the sun came up.  Isn’t that crazy?”

With great seriousness, he replied, “No.  That isn’t crazy at all.  What did you do?”

“I read a book.  I played on Facebook.  I talked to my friend in England, who was awake because it was actually daytime there.”

“And then you went to sleep?”

“And then I went to sleep.”

“And the next night?”

“The next night, I told myself I was being silly.  There was nothing in the dark to hurt me, and if something happened, I had the phone for the police, and I had Hoo for his teeth, and I’m pretty mean in a fight.  I think.  I’ve never actually been in a fight, but I think I’d be pretty mean.”

That got a laugh.

“So you went to sleep?”

“I did.  Well, I went to bed and turned off the light, and I listened to all the house noises and worried, but eventually, I fell asleep.”

“Did you stop being afraid?”

“I stopped noticing it so much.  Listen, fear is there for a reason.  Fear tells you to be careful.  Fear is part of your self-preservation instinct.  There is nothing, nothing, nothing wrong with being afraid.  But fear is like a little kid pulling on your arm.  If you’re going to get anywhere, you have to pick it up, contain it, and make it behave.  You can’t let it run away with your mind.  And now I have to get out of the bathtub, so you need to go back to bed.”

“Can I go get in yours?”

“No.”

“Moooooom!”

“Boooooooy!”

“I’m afraid.”

“What should you be more afraid of?  What’s in the dark, or me?”

That got another laugh.

He went to bed.

I am still afraid of the dark.  I’m forty-four years old, and I am afraid of the dark.  But that’s okay.  At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.