Saint Anne dishes on OCD and unconditional love

love, honor, and cherish--unconditionally

A highlight of the Festival of Faith and Writing was hearing Anne Lamott speak about writing and faith.

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 7.33.41 AM Anne talked about brokenness and pain, although she was sure none of us Wholesome Midwestern Types could understand what she was talking about, because she was sure we grew up in homes where our parents loved each other unconditionally, and our family members honored one another, and we cherished each other, with no strings attached.

(This got a big laugh from the Wholesome Midwestern types.)

Because we were loved, honored, and cherished–without a whole list of requirements to satisfy first–we felt safe.

And because we felt safe, we didn’t display obsessive-compulsive tendencies like counting steps, or meticulously avoiding stepping on the sidewalk cracks, or flipping the light switch on and off a certain number of times before bed (which set my mind awhirling in a number of different directions, none of them comforting. But I digress).

Anne Lamott on faith and writing

I’ve been blogging for a year and a half about my desire to cultivate a warm atmosphere in my home. Could the bottom-line answer really be to unconditionally love, honor, and cherish? Anne made it sound so simple. Not easy, but simple.

Because that? I can do. Even when I’m angry, or upset, I love. I can honor–my husband, my kids, probably even the dog–even when I’m really pissed off. I can remind myself to cherish those I love in the midst of the whole range of human emotion.

It’s not easy, but it’s simple.

If I wanted to underscore the truth of Anne’s words, I couldn’t have done any better than diving into Elizabeth Esther’s new release Girl at the End of the World upon my return home. Holy smokes, what a memoir–and what a terrifying story of what happens when we’re not loved, honored, and cherished unconditionally in our own families.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Anne Lamott’s work, unconditional love, feeling safe, and OCD in comments. 

(For more wise words or one-liners, view my compiled tweets from Anne’s sessions on Storify here and here.)

P.S. On letting my face speak what’s in my heart, and your kids need to hear joy in the lifestyle you’ve chosen.

Twitterature (April 2014 edition)


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Welcome to the Twitterature link-up! For the lowdown, head over here, or try this Cliff Notes version: this is the place to share short, casual reviews of books you’ve been reading.

Here’s what I’ve been reading:

Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë

I’ve been meaning to read this classic for a decade or two, and am glad to finally cross it off the list–which isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it. But oh my, that Heathcliff–I had no idea he was such a monster! I feel enlightened. #melodrama

Delancey: a Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage, Molly Wizenburg

I’ve been dying to read Molly Wizenburg’s newest (due out May 6) and was over-the-moon when a reader sent me her ARC. Loved the story, if a bit puzzled by the recipe selection. #readit

Parnassus on Wheels, Christopher Morley

This completely-and-utterly charming novella will appeal to book nerds everywhere–and Miss Pettigrew fans. I loved my pretty orange edition from Quarterly’s second Book Riot box. #fastandfun

The Vacationers: a Novel, Emma Straub

This was fine. Good characterization (and I loved the slow unfolding of secrets), but not particularly compelling. I would have happily axed some racy details that gave the book an ick factor I could have done without. (Wondering if this is an HSP thing?)

Possession, A. S. Byatt

A re-read. Dismayed to say I didn’t like this one as much the second time through. Not sure what that means. Still think it’s worth reading at least once, and would love to follow it with more from the author.

The Hypnotist’s Love Story, Liane Moriarty

An enjoyable yarn from Liane Moriarty, but I haven’t loved any of her books as much as her first, What Alice Forgot. #prioritizeaccordingly

Extraordinary Jane, Hannah Harrison

I’ve been in touch with the author/illustrator of this charming preschool-aged circus story, which means my kids and I got to enjoy it on two levels: the story, and the story-behind-the-story: what it takes to conceive of, create, design, and illustrate a real book. We enjoyed it on both levels. #adorable 

What have you been reading lately?

twitterature monthly reading linkup short reviews

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Let’s talk about your favorite airplane reads.

Let's talk about your favorite airplane reads. I flew to the Festival of Faith and Writing last week, and choosing great books for the plane was a high priority. I’m a nervous flyer (shocking, I know) and so I like to read fast-moving, plot-driven books on the plane. (Guilty pleasure books are also high on my list.) I love gorgeous, lyrical literary fiction, but not at 30,000 feet.

It’s also about time to make the final selections for this year’s summer reading guide, so my reading list is long–good timing for air travel.

For this trip, I loaded up my Kindle Fire with:

The Language of Flowers

Honeymoon in Paris (a prequel of sorts to The Girl You Left Behind)

Eve in Hollywood (a sequel of sorts to Rules of Civility)

For backup, I bumped these ebooks to the top of my queue:

Wives and Daughters (because I loved the movie)

Eat with Joy (because the author was speaking at FFW, and I bought it ages ago)

And in case I had to turn off my electronic devices during takeoff and landing (horrors!), I packed Snobs by Julian Fellowes in hardcover.

Tomorrow is twitterature, but on Wednesday I’ll tell you something Anne Lamott (who was amazing) said about the families we grow up in. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts. (Is there anything else you want to know about FFW?)

What do you consider good airplane reading? If you knew you’d be stuck on a plane for a few hours and could bring any book(s) you wanted–regardless of cost–what would you choose?

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Is it possible to be a SAHM and a WAHM at the same time? 3 tips to smooth the way (and a new series!)

How She Does It: an everywoman's guide to breaking old rules, getting creative, and making time for work in your actual, everyday life.

We’re kicking off a new guest post series on the blog today called How She Does It (just like the book). This is your chance to share a snippet of your work life (or lack thereof, or maybe of work you’re dreaming for your future?)

If you’d like to submit, email your post (or pitch, if you’d prefer) to modern mrs darcy at gmail dot com. Please share a little about what you do, why it’s challenging, and why it’s worth it. If this series is any good, it will because of the variety of experiences represented in it.

Today we’re kicking things off with Faigie, a former high-end portrait photographer who now blogs at Edu Art 4 Kids.

I taught preschool up until I was ready to to give birth to my second child.

While still at my job, I took 3 days off from work to take a course in studio photography. I wanted to be home with my kids and I had this dream that I could actually make money while staying home with my children.

We took our wedding money, bought studio equipment, set up shop in the middle of my dining room, started advertising, and waited for the “bliss” of working from home to set in.

Bliss never happened.

I can’t say I didn’t make any money; I did. More than that I learned some important things about working from home with kids around, especially if you have non-virtual clients you have to see.


1. Get a babysitter.

When my oldest was about 2 1/2 she was quite a handful. My expectations of her were a bit high as well–mainly being that I would work and she would behave.

One day I had a client come in for a baby portrait session.

I deposited my daughter in her crib for a short nap set up to coincide with the session.

She hollered so loud I had to take her out to avoid the neighbors reporting me for child abuse. I put her in the room next to my dining room studio, where she then proceeded to kick on the glass door and scream.

Need I say that my professional image was in jeopardy? I was mortified.

In a totally unexpected way I got to repair my image.

My friend called a day or two later saying that she had been at the pediatrician and overheard a woman talking about her experience with this new photographer in town. She said she was really good, but the only annoying thing is that her kid is around when she works. My friend put two and two together and realized that it was me.

As a result I made sure to take my daughter to a babysitter when this client came to choose her photos (pre-digital days), and I made a point of being a minute or two late, explaining that I  had to drop off my kid at the babysitter. (Because I was a responsible professional, the last time, you see, was just a glitch.)

Don’t embarrass yourself: get someone to watch your kids while you work.

2. Don’t keep tempting stuff that you need for your business in plain view of toddlers and preschoolers.

We moved into our new house when my oldest was about six. We bought the house because of the gorgeous den, perfectly sized for a studio.

I had some guys doing some work for me when we moved in and I had them custom make a set of shelves for all my negative holders (remember what negatives are?). The small shelves on the bottom were for the exact sizes I needed.


My kids thought so, too. What a perfect way to get at all that fun stuff.

If you have stuff you need to use for your business GET A CLOSED CLOSET…with a lock. Do not expect your children to withstand temptation.

3. Try to get your own space to meet clients

We bought our house because of the den for my studio but I ended up never using the back entrance I originally thought I would.

Instead, I was leading clients through my home into the den in the back.

It came to the point that I either had to clear the laundry off my dining table and clean up the house, or not have clients. With four or five little ones around and LOTS of laundry it was becoming increasingly tempting to keep the laundry on the dining room table and just not book clients.

I once had two parents who were hiding from their kids so they would allow me to photograph them…go into my KITCHEN. You cannot imagine what my kitchen looked like that day. Another mortifying experience.

When my tenants moved out of the upstairs apartment of my two-family home we decided to take over the second apartment to use as a studio. What a difference it made! I was able to see clients and STILL have laundry on my table.

I know that not everyone has the luxury of having a second apartment for their business but it is truly important to have your own space to see clients even if its a small space.

Those are the 3 main tips I can give you in ensuring your working at home experience goes a bit smoother than mine.

Faigie Kobre, former high end portrait photographer, has turned her artistic efforts towards teaching kids art. She runs the blog EduArt 4 Kids, which helps parents and teachers with art that actually helps children think. She believes that many parents don’t do art with their kids because of their own bad childhood art experiences. If that resonates with you, then check out her FREE report “The real reason most people don’t learn to draw and 5 tips to help ensure that your child will.