Tag Archives: authors

“…give only the excess after you have lived your own life…”

2mitchell_youngTo tie together last week’s thoughts on hand-written letters to my daughter and this week’s thoughts on parenting, here’s a gem of a letter from a mother to a daughter…

In January of 1919, Margaret Mitchell was away at Smith College when her mother fell ill with the deadly Spanish Influenza that was sweeping the globe. Margaret rushed home to Atlanta from New York. Her brother met her at the train station with the sad news–their mother had died the day before. As they made their way home, he gave Margaret the following letter that their mother had left for her.  

January 23, 1919

Dear Margaret,

I have been thinking of you all day long. Yesterday you received a letter saying I am sick. I expect your father drew the situation with a strong hand and dark colors and I hope I am not as sick as he thought. I have pneumonia in one lung and were it not for flu complications, I would have had more than a fair chance of recovery. But Mrs. Riley had pneumonia in both lungs and is now well and strong. We shall hope for the best but remember, dear, that if I go now it is the best time for me to go.

I should have liked a few more years of life, but if I had had those it may have been that I should have lived too long. Waste no sympathy on me. However little it seems to you I got out of life, I have held in my hands all that the world can give. I have had a happy childhood and married the man I wanted. I had children who loved me, as I have loved them. I have been able to give what will put them on the high road to mental, moral, and perhaps financial success, were I going to give them nothing else.

I expect to see you again, but if I do not I must warn you of one mistake a woman of your temperament might fall into. Give of yourself with both hands and overflowing heart, but give only the excess after you have lived your own life. This is badly put. What I mean is that your life and energies belong first to yourself, your husband and your children. Anything left over after you have served these, give and give generously, but be sure there is no stinting of attention at home. Your father loves you dearly, but do not let the thought of being with him keep you from marrying if you wish to do so. He has lived his life; live yours as best you can. Both of my children have loved me so much that there is no need to dwell on it. You have done all you can for me and have given me the greatest love that children can give to parents. Care for your father when he is old, as I cared for my mother. But never let his or anyone else’s life interfere with your real life. Goodbye, darling, and if you see me no more then it may be best that you remember me as I was in New York.

Your Loving Mother

Wordless Wednesday — Time to Grow

Thoughts on growing from three wise men who always maintained a connection to childhood:


I’m youth, I’m joy, I’m a little bird  that has broken out of the egg.
James M. Barrie 

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.

C. S. Lewis 

Being born in a duck yard does not matter, if only you are hatched from a swan’s egg.
Hans Christian Andersen 

Newly hatched baby gecko

Newly hatched baby gecko


I hope you grow today.  


I’m Really Not That Tall

I need to declare something publicly and I need to say it to people who will hold me accountable.  I hope y’all don’t mind the responsibility.  I guess this is as good a place as any.   OK, here goes.

I am a blogger.

Well, DUH.  Over the last four months, I’ve been writing diligently and posting with great regularity and really digging the feedback from the people who read this…stuff.  I can say that I enjoy writing.  I can encourage others to express themselves.  But that exact arrangement of words?  Yipes.  So today I’m putting it out there–I am a blogger.

So what?

Well, there’s this conference for female bloggers called BlogHer and it’s in Chicago this July.  I’ve had it on my radar for months and had it on my calendar for months.  I saved tax refund money to cover the expense.  I’ve even reserved the vacation days at work.  I’ve stalked the website, clicked on the schedules, looked at the photo gallery of the hotel, checked flights to Chicago, but I just couldn’t pull the trigger on registering.  Because that conference?  It’s for BLOGGERS.

There's an impostor among us...

There’s an impostor among us…

If I actually went, it would become some “Carrie Goes to the Prom” nightmare, right?  They would let me register, but once I walked in the meeting I would be called out in front of everyone for presuming to place myself at an event for REAL BLOGGERS.  For example, I looked at one of the photos of a discussion group at last year’s conference and noticed that everyone was using an iPad to take notes.  I don’t even own one.  Well, we do have one that G won in a raffle and we mostly use it to entertain the kids on long drives.  It might be under the love seat in the den, cloaked in a skim of Cheetos dust.  Why would real bloggers let me in with my nasty Cheeto-smelling raffle iPad????  I am a fraud, clearly.  

But even I must acknowledge the ridiculous nature of posting on my BLOG that I can’t call myself a blogger.  Every word on this thing is written and managed by…me.  Baddest Mother Ever is a wholly owned subsidiary of MissAshleyCo, Inc. Worldwide.

Sometimes I have a hard time believing that I am allowed to claim what is mine.  Even when I have done the work myself.  Sometimes I can’t even recognize myself.  Do you ever feel like that?  

A couple of years ago, I got a Facebook message from a woman I knew in college.  Lizzie was a year behind me, an international student from Bangladesh,  a young woman very far from home.  Back in those days, we had an old tradition where the sophomores hazed the freshmen, so my class indoctrinated Lizzie’s class.  Then 20 years later, she wrote to me on Facebook to say that she always appreciated the fact that I was kind to her during the hell week.  She said something along the lines of “I remember you because you were this tall girl with laughing eyes and your smile let me know that it was all a joke and it was going to be OK.”  My first thought upon reading this?  She must have me confused with someone else because I’m not really that tall.

I’m 5’9″.  That’s pretty tall by most standards, right?

After many years of therapy, I can at least catch myself doing this.  My brain heard a genuine compliment.  But I was so uncomfortable with someone acknowledging the simple fact that I’m nice and generally kind to people that I had to deny the very idea that she was talking about me! 

I shared this story about Lizzie with my friend, Heather (who blogs here at Allonsee).  Heather is one of the few people I know who doesn’t essentially doubt herself on a daily basis.  She gets frustrated and she gets muddle-headed at times, but she’s pretty secure in the fact that she’s an OK, intelligent person.  Can you IMAGINE what it would be like to live in her head for a day?  Now, whenever I start belittling my own skills or attributes or chances, Heather can simply say, “And you’re not even TALL!”  It’s become a form of shorthand that is much more polite than saying, “Get your head out of your ass and look around.”

To make a long story longer…This afternoon, Heather happened to ask me if I had registered for BlogHer at the very moment that I had the registration website open for a little spot of stalking and self-esteem bashing.  Damn her and her impeccable timing.  She sent me this list of reasons I should do it:

Why Ashley should go to Chicago …

1. It’ll be like her giant girl college experience. 
2. It is in Chicago in July for pity’s sake 
3. She loves writing and so do they 
4. She gets to take time and money to do things that are interesting to her because SHE HAS TIME AND MONEY THAT IS HERS 
5. There is NO entrance bar for BlogHer – she is not going to need to show her “Valid” pass to get in. 



#5 hit me right in the gut.  Yep.  That was what was stopping me.  I thought there was some “Official Blogger” pass that I didn’t have in my wallet.

I did it.  I registered for the conference and I booked myself a hotel room.  I even registered for the pre-conference session called “My Blog as a Book Proposal” because while I’m putting it out there to the universe I might as well put it ALL out there.  It’s time to start calling myself what I want to be.  I am a blogger.  I am a writer.  I am a creator and an author and a storyteller and a joyful citizen of the messy parts of life.

Oh, and for the record–I am tall.

Are you feeling tall today?  Or curled up in a ball?  What word do people use to describe you that you have trouble calling yourself?