May 9, 2010

“Dear Mom.” From elephants Ryan Van Duzer, Jenny Kendall, Nancy Alder, Sally Duros, Donna Drejza…and you?

Today we’re publishing poems and stories in honor of Mother’s Day. Send your love letters in to editorial at elephantjournal dot com—fast! ~ed.


From Ryan Van Duzer:

If you know me, you know that my mom is my hero.
I know all moms are amazing women, but mine is especially special.
She raised four kids, while working full time, going to college at
night, and making sure to volunteer with every parent group in our
I’m not quite sure how she did it.
Growing up in Boulder I was surrounded by rich kids who had all the
cool new toys and went on lavish vacations every summer.
I wanted to be part of the cool kid club but mom couldn’t make it happen.
She’d always say, “Ryan, I may not be able to get you everything you
want, but I will get you everything you need.”
All you need is love!

And she gave the four Duzer kids lots of it.
And sometimes we got to eat hot dogs…
We’d pick cans out of the trash at Scott Carpenter pool and recycle
them for dinner money, 25cent Wiener night at Albertsons.  To us it
was as extravagant as the Flagstaff House.
Christmas was always a big deal; she’d start planning in July, buying
little presents here and there…and on Dec 25th we all felt like the
luckiest kids in the world.
She’s a good sport…In high school I dressed her up in a Tuxedo and
she chauffeured me to prom…

In college she cheered me on in a Bikini
contest at a stinky bar not fit for mothers…

and after repeatedly
telling me not to do it, she was the first one to hug me when I cycled
back from Honduras.
And even when I’m thousands of miles away she’s there for me, like
when I called her, balling like a pathetic mess at 6am with a broken
She sacrificed everything for her kids, instead of dating and getting
distracted by men, she devoted all her time and energy to raising her
four angels.
Living with her until my 31st year was a gift.  Some may call me a
loser but how many 30 year olds get to spend this much time with their
mothers? Everyone should be so lucky!
But I’m out of the house now, You’re free mom!

Go get em!


From Jenny Kendall:

When my Mom was young
she looked like Marilyn
blonde and pretty

My mom wore

poodle skirts
rode horses
smoked Lucky Strikes

My mom doesn’t smoke now
still rides horses
posts on Facebook

If Marilyn still lived
she might look like my Mom

Om Shanti
Jenny Kendall

Read my Yoga Articles and keep up with yoga in the Tucson area happenings.

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Via Nancy Alder:

Motherhood is the real yoga.

The last week I’ve been forced to stay off my mat due to a shoulder injury.  I’ve been missing my yoga.  However with today being Mother’s Day I am reminded of how much being a mom is like being a yogini.  There are many parallels between motherhood and yoga.  Here are a few:

1.)   You get to go with the flow.  Let’s face it: on any given day mothers have to be prepared for every worst-case scenario.  That’s why they all transport a change of clothes, every kind of snack, all sorts of entertainment and a GPS to get them to whatever location is required.  Just when they think things are predictable our children or our lives throw in a new curve.  Yoga is the same: each practice is a lesson in something new.  One never knows what will come up, will feel amazing or will surprisingly not sit well.

2.)   You salute the sun.  Sunny days are like opium for mothers.  They allow children to play outside and offer a million options for healthy and active entertainment.  You can join your friends at a park, dig for worms under rocks or splash in a sprinkler.  Sun brings joy, energy and life.  Similarly, we salute the sun in practice as a way to raise energy and awaken ourselves on the mat.

3.)   You bend over backwards.  It is well known that mothers will do anything for their children. They often have to give up something that they love in order to make their kids happy.  Fears are conquered and new understandings and faith are all part of what makes motherhood possible.  Backbends are a wonderful way for yogis to practice acceptance and letting go. Opening our hearts and knowing the ground is there to meet us allows us to step into the challenges of life more fully.

4.)   You become more flexible as you practice.  First time mothers are notorious for hovering over their children. Eldest children are less likely to entertain themselves or to take risks.  Second children and onward are the opposite.  Obviously this depends upon the child, but it is also a result of the protective nature of mothers.  As we practice our jobs as caregivers we learn that a little bit of flexibility goes a long way.  Mothers are stretched and stretched and still come out feeling ok.  The more flexibility we have in our relationships with our children, the easier life gets for everyone.  On your mat this practice is also true.  You may begin yoga barely able to touch your toes.  But incorporating a daily practice can lead to an increased ability to reach for those digits.  Greater flexibility means fewer injuries and more limber joints.

5.)   You rely on the breath.  There is not a mother out there who has not used the words “take a deep breath” with themselves or their children.  Being a mother is hard work, exhausting hard work.  Children challenge their mothers in ways that no human should be challenged.  However, mothers are able to approach these detours and flames with slow deep breaths.  In yoga, breath is the gift that connects our movement and our minds.  Without breath, yoga does not exist; it could be said that without breath there are no yogis.

So Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms!  You are the true yogis practicing off the mat, and like the sun we salute you today.


Choosing Motherhood over Otherhood


New research in the United Kingdom has found that among women born between 1954 and 1958, college graduates were 50% more likely than non-graduates to remain childless throughout their lives. Studies conducted in the United States and Germany had similar findings.

These trends register as true for my generation of college-educated women, but I am betting that findings might be different for women younger than I am.

I have seen three circles of friends choose motherhood at different phases of their lives. When I was in my early 20s, many of my neighborhood friends from grade school were married and had their first children shortly afterward. When I was in my late 20s and early 30s another circle – these women my college friends – married and had kids a few years into their careers. And finally during my late 30s and early 40s, during the 90s, another circle – this time high-level executive women – decided that to follow their hearts, they would put corporate America behind and have families.

I made a different choice. When I was 13, I decided that I would not marry and that I would not have children. My youthful decision, arrived at so easily, emerged organically from the political, social and economic climate of the time. It was my personal hard line against what I saw as an erosive devaluing of women’s contribution to the world.

Sometimes we doubt the powers of our intentions, our ability to do what we intend to do. But this youthful commitment was something that I accomplished with little difficulty. Throughout my adult life, as time passed, with considerable reflection and equal doses of gladness and sadness, I have stayed that initial course.

At times, I have felt as though my head intended one thing, but my heart expected another. There is a way, I think, that women of my generation, no matter how well-developed our desires, still believe at some gut level that a knight on a white horse will ride in to save us from ourselves.

When I told a client of mine recently that the main reason I didn’t have children was because I had chosen a career over home-making, he said he didn’t believe it. I suspect many people just a squeak younger than me don’t believe it. But it’s true.

The way I perceived things as a teenager, the role of wife and mother was limited, especially financially. I really didn’t like the idea of not having my own source of income. My mother worked hard creating a loving home environment, raising four children and being wife to my energetic, responsible and loving father. Still some inner voice urged her out into the world, and in 1971, like so many women in their 40s at the time, she headed off to do office work. It was a point of, well, umm, discussion in our family’s household, and it met with a little resistance (I love you, Dad!)

But in the end my mother won. She took deep pride in the work she did, the money she earned, and the substantial contribution her income made to the well-being of our family. My mother loved working outside the home. As a result, she was always very supportive of my life choices – no matter how hare-brained they seemed to others – and she always urged me to aim for personal happiness.

At the time I made my youthful decision, there were few visible and positive examples of the myriad ways to be a woman, raise a family and have a career. After watching my mother’s happiness with her work, I took the road most natural to me. It seemed that to have two full-time jobs, and to try to do them both well – was not an option for me.

Since that time, many women have taken creative plunges into unknown seas of work and motherhood. Their powerful excursions – into business, politics, family and community – have opened doors for women and men alike. The most fortunate of us now have full freedom to choose our roles in accordance with our unique desires as individuals rather than by rules of gender and conformity.

For Mother’s Day, I offer them deep gratitude for their courage in finding their own way, clearing the path and making transparent and accessible for all of us what was once invisible: our unique hearts and our unique paths.

Recommended reading for this Mother’s Day: Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh; The Price of Motherhood: Why the most Important Job in the World Is Still the Least valued by Anne Crittenden; Bold Women, Big Ideas by Kay Koplovitz; and Toward a New Psychology of Women by Jean baker Miller.


I never wrote a poem for you.

~ by Donna Drejza ~

I wrote a poem for a man, but never one for you.

I made a movie of my dog, but never one of you.

I did a portrait of a lover, but never one of you.

Today, a friend played a song for me

Said it made her cry.

About all the things a mother does

She’d forgotten as a child.

She no longer has a mother.

This made me cry.

I’m grateful I can tell you

I remember everything.

On my 4th birthday –  I hid under the table, you dragged me out to play.

You taught me how to shop —  and to hide our new stuff from Dad.

When we camped in the woods — you wore lipstick everyday.

Every mother’s day, I will write a poem for you

Next time you visit,  I will make a movie of you.

Before it’s too late, I will paint a portrait of you

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