Motherhood & Words

We’ve been hearing a lot about that whirling mass of cold air that keeps engulfing us again and again. And there is no denying that it sucks. The day or two of warmer weather sandwiched between frigid air feels like a mean joke, and it’s all grown so tiresome.

But it’s not just the ridiculous weather that’s gotten me down. These last couple of months I’ve also been drowning in my own vortex of minor health issues. Oh, I’m fine. And I’ll be fine. But it’s been one thing after another and I haven’t been able to run or swim for weeks, which has led to stiff everything and a very crabby Kate. Finally yesterday I indulged in a massage (something I do approximately once every 18 months), and I feel better—sore, but better. I slept well last night and woke feeling more like myself. (And trust me, I’m not the only one in my house who is relieved about that.)

I’m going to head to the gym today and walk, try to remind my body what that feels like, and then I’ll spend some time organizing myself for my online class, which starts tomorrow.  I forget how much I miss teaching until I’m kicking off a new class. There is that tingle of excitement in knowing that I’ll learn just as much as my students. And what a group they are—women from all over the country and world. I’m already grateful for them.

The other thing I’m doing to get out of my funk is to start planning for some of the great stuff I’ve got coming up this spring and summer (when it will hopefully be warm again). My annual retreat at Faith’s Lodge is in just three weeks, and that’s always such a rewarding weekend. Then the following week I’m off to Seattle for AWP, where there might be spring flowers and some sunshine. (I’m hoping.) I’m really excited about the two panels I’ll be on: “What Was Is: Present Tense in Creative Nonfiction” and “Breaking Silences: Women’s Memoir as an Act of Rebellion.” What’s not to love about those? And if you’re in Seattle, I’ll be reading and discussing Ready for Air at Third Place Books, Ravenna, on Saturday March 1st. I’d love to see you there.

At the very end of May, I’ll be heading to Ashland, Ohio, for River Teeth’s Nonfiction Conference, a highlight of my year. And in early July, I’ll be leading a Women’s Memoir Retreat at Madeline Island School of the Arts. Imagine it: Hopping on a ferry in northern Wisconsin and heading to the largest of the Apostle Islands for five days of writing and talking craft and biking/walking/running along the shore, staring out over the sparkling water of Lake Superior. I’m slowly compiling essays and memoir excerpts that I want to discuss over the week. It’s going to be so fun. Anyone interested? Check in out here. Then later in July, I’ll be the visiting editor at Ashland’s MFA residency, so I’ll get to go back Ashland and spend time with some of my favorite people and do manuscript critiques. What an honor!

See? I feel so much better. It will eventually be spring. I will eventually stop coughing. I will run and swim again. And I’ll get to work with tons of smart and funny people. Vortex destroyed.

What is keeping you sane these days? What are you looking forward to this spring and summer? Come on, spread the love.

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I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience. It takes courage to write your truths, especially if it doesn’t seem as though anyone cares, as though anyone is listening. Let me tell you: your stories matter, I’m listening, and I’m here to help you find the heart of those truths, to get them down on the page, to craft them, and to send them out into the world. Together, we will change the world, one story at a time.


  1. Sonja on January 29, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Kate – THANK YOU for this post today. I had forgotten what used to be my strength, planning for the future to escape the present;-) I wonder if all those wise souls who encourage us to live in the moment and stay present ever lived in a place like Minnesota!
    You’ve given me hope today. It’s been a long winter, often stuck inside, with three kids under 5. Three active little boys! Today I will spend some time daydreaming and planning for our spring and summer. LOVE IT!
    With gratitude,

    • Kate on January 29, 2014 at 10:17 am

      Oh Sonja, yes! I love this: “I wonder if all those wise souls who encourage us to live in the moment and stay present ever lived in a place like Minnesota!” I doubt it.

      And let me know what kind of daydreams you come up with. It will be wonderful to get your boys out to the park again, won’t it?

  2. Sue LeBreton on January 29, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Oh that silly weather- that sounds like the crazy weather we have all the time in Calgary. Honestly, it has been 6 months of winter the past three years since I moved back. I am starting to feel the bad weather follows me.
    Your spring and summer sound full and fabulous. I hope your minor health issues evaporate. My workouts are so key to everyone’s happiness in my house as well.

    • Kate on January 29, 2014 at 12:16 pm

      Oh Sue, I know this is nothing to what you usually live with. But honestly, it’s making me crazy. But I’m glad you’re finding a way to exercise throughout it all!

      • Sue on January 29, 2014 at 10:41 pm

        Exercise is mostly skating or indoors. I try to embrace winter but that would be easier if it did not overstay its welcome 🙂

        • Kate on January 30, 2014 at 8:59 am

          I know, Sue! It’s actually snowing (a lot) right now, and I could strap on my skis and head out the door…maybe later.

  3. Lindsey on January 29, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    The cold bites, but these longer days keep spring close. I hope your health improves. My husband has had poor health this last month, and I can empathize with how much that takes away from living well in your household. All the best to you!

    • Kate on January 29, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      Yes, Lindsey, I was just staring out my office window and I couldn’t help admiring the way the slanting sun was reflecting off the ice-rink. And I thought the same thing: at least the days are getting longer. Thanks so much for stopping by. I look forward to checking out your blog.

  4. Barb Buckner Suarez on January 30, 2014 at 12:41 am

    Kate: I’m hoping that you’re okay with me sharing this post with folks I know who are writing – a few of the things you’re planning for the Spring/Summer would be perfect for them.

    I, too, go bat-crazy when I’m a) stuck inside and b) can’t exercise. I can so relate to your family feeling relieved that you’re sleeping better and feeling more like yourself… It’s true – when Momma’s not happy, nobody’s happy! I also totally get your excitement about teaching. I just started back up tonight with a new group and again tomorrow night. There is a lot of prepwork and it makes for a very long day, but I get so much energy from them. I love it! Congratulations on all the good stuff coming your way – perspective changes everything! Even sucky weather! :O)

    • Kate on January 30, 2014 at 8:58 am

      Barb, I’d LOVE it if you’d share my upcoming events with friends. Absolutely! Thank you!

      Have fun with your new group. It IS worth the effort, isn’t it, when we it fills us with energy.

  5. Marilyn Bousquin on January 31, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Hi, Kate, and thank you (again!) for another inspiring post. How do you do that? Even when you’re in the midst of a cold spell (get it?) you manage to find the yeses. I am in awe of the women who get to work with you in your coming class and at your memoir retreat this summer. Maybe I can be one of them? (How far is it from Virginia to Wisconsin, anyway?) See you at AWP dear friend. xo, M

    • Kate on January 31, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      Thank you, my dear. You’re the best. And wouldn’t that be amazing? I would be in heaven if you’d come to Madeline Island. HEAVEN. It’s a drive, you know, but how bad could it be with some good music?

  6. Angie Mizzell on January 31, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Yes, I’m interested. Hmmmmmmmmmmm…..
    (I was going to type m’s all across the page but I decided to stop)
    I do hope you feel better soon, and I’m glad you were able to go to the gym. xo

    • Kate on February 2, 2014 at 1:44 pm

      That would be FANTASTIC!!