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East Coast USA, United States
Lowcountry porch sitter. Appalachian Mountain lover. Finger Lakes dreamer.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A matter of conversation

How do we manage in times when conversations are tough? I'm thinking along  the lines of communication that does not transpire because a person (or people) meaningful to you has passed away, a connection was lost by time and/or distance, a bridge no longer exists between differences of opinion, a little regret built an insurmountable wall preventing possibility to flourish or a demand stands in the way of real understanding.

I was blessed with a mother and sister that thrived on delivering encouragement and love, not just during the holidays but even on the odd days. Their deaths left a huge void in my immediate environment in terms of a real time experience (note, I do believe our loved ones that have passed away cheer us on from some kinder place). Over time, I have collected close friends that recognize this gap in my daily experience who constantly deliver profound motivation unconditionally. I've become acquainted with individuals that add to the quality of my life experience.  I discovered a father who moved beyond his own grief and fundamentalism to reach out to me in a way that allowed a fuller relationship that also included humor and recognizable milestones.

A kind word is never untimely no matter how it gets delivered.

We age and grow away from where we once stood. That's inevitable as humans. While some may critique the over-share environment of social media networks I say look past the infatuation of some and get to the heart of others and experience the opportunity these outlets provide. While one may never regain what once existed with places and individuals in our past, sometimes through these networks a whole host of people find they made and continue to make a difference in the unfolding of our lives.

See the value in even the smallest of gestures.

The point at which politics, gender identity and religion separate us should be the juncture where we marshall acceptance. That what we do, how we do it and where it plays out is exactly the place where peace exists. Granted value systems vary greatly and some are pretty hard to manage from an individual frame of reference, but I for one relish the part that diversity offers in capturing understanding.

Make love not war.

What did not happen at a certain point in time does not make it the end of the world nor is it removed from possibility. We can't let our age, children (or lack of children), or money determine our possibilities to engage in life. Certainly our physical bodies have shortcomings, but age truly is a state of mind and living younger in an age frame that keeps extending itself makes that more true than false. Children, well there's no greater way to make a difference in tomorrow than spending time with a child today (yours or someone else's). Mentors, tutors, foster parents, neighbors, friends and/or teachers all build characters that will carry the future. Memory is a powerful gift to give someone at any age under a whole host of circumstances. And face it, there's never enough money even when there's plenty. The years following the fall out of the U.S. economy have been difficult for many and no one is walking through it without reservations, without struggling, without pain (well a small 1% but this post is about those of us staying afloat as best we can).  

Grow beyond the limitations and grasp the opportunities that speak to your best effort.

Anyone who uses ridicule or places demands of obedience and submission as the means to frame love or acceptance is not really offering anything of the sort. And yet with good will and determination we can find a way to engage these individuals with a great deal of compassion. In truth, I found author William Paul Young. If you are inclined, check out Mr. Young's FaceBook page where he daily inserts a phrase with a pretext of "Words you will never hear God say...."  For example, Words you will never hear God say, "I want you to be someone else." ~ Words you will never hear God say, "It all comes down to rewards and punishment." ~  Words you will never hear God say, "Belief is only about the head."  Insert Allah, Yahweh, Universe or whomever/whatever gives you the leverage to rise above is my best advice. So the next time that naysayer in your life starts rattling off dark dogma simply say to yourself  "Words you will never hear [God] say..." and if necessary say it out loud.

Compassion sometimes requires that we think creatively.


Life is a matter of conversation...today, tomorrow and even down the road.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Day 10: Every "Other Mother" needs a review

Ann-Marie:

What a journey my friend! 10 days with "The Other Mother" blog tour has opened doorways, shed light on relationships and revealed the souls of the people and places we hold dear.

Much thanks to the other bloggers and contributors who stepped in on their own accord (Jennifer Brewer  over at Olives & Alzheimers and Beth Lathrop at Muse & Profit ). Each of you made the conversation rich with anecdotes from your own lives and your thoughts on the book's characters added to the dialog. Needless to say we believe the journey continues beyond the confines of our ten days together.  It's time to pass the baton on to the eyes of readers, the ears of book clubs, and the keyboards of press beyond our east coast borders. I go back to crafting inspirationals, teaching others to tell their story and a life still unfolding.

So what's next for "The Other Mother: a rememoir"...a sell out of your first run of books, screen play, film....


Teresa:

From your lips to Ang Lee's ears! Unfortunately, most memoirs ~ even best-sellers like "Eat Pray Love" turn into dreadful flops at the box office. So I'm not counting on a movie just yet ~ though if anyone's interested I write screenplays too!

Joggling Board Press is a tiny, dedicated, independent publisher without a big marketing budget, so we cherish the power of social media and word of mouth.  If more and more book clubs follow the lead of the Oyster Cay's Collection "Owls" we'll be thrilled. We even came up with a list of book club questions in the back of the hard cover to facilitate conversations.

What's great about "The Other Mother" is that once people read it they want to get together and talk about it and they want to celebrate the other mothers in their lives.  Three dear friends: Barbara Kelly in Beaufort, Andrea Schenck in Charleston and Audrey Chang in Washington DC have thrown "Other Mother Soirees" to do just that.  Each soiree is entirely different ~ like the women who host them ~ but I read little bit, answer questions and then we all dish about the other mothers we need and cherish. It's a blast and I'd love to do more. I'm also hoping to get on speaker's bureau's ~ turns out my TEDx talk made me realize I like live audiences.

Lets see...what else? Regular followers of my blog know I've been recording the audio version of the book.  My vocal chords are thrilled that we've finished that portion of it, although the producer has just taken a job in Baltimore and it may take a while before he can get all 417 pages of it edited and available online.  But I'll keep you posted on www.teresabrucebooks.wordpress.com.

And early in the new year, Joggling Board Press plans on releasing the Kindle version.  So all of your kind reviews on Amazon and Good Reads will help launch the e:book as well.  It's all about the conversation as Ann-Marie coaches us social-media newbies ~ and this blog tour was an amazing start!

The Other Mother: A Rememoir by Teresa Bruce 

It's your turn readers to plan your own "Other Mother Soiree!"
Thank you for supporting a local author from Beaufort, SC!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Day 9: All shut-eye ain't sleep. And all goodbye ain't gone. "The Other Mother"

Ann-Marie:

I spend a great deal of time encouraging people to jump into "the conversation." Some days it's about keeping a brand presence in the media stream, other days it's about speaking up to make difference in a community, and still others it's about surrounding oneself with the people that make the greatest difference in your life.

The deaths of both my mother and sister left huge voids in my life, but the unconditional love and words of my own "other mothers" have filled that space with a great deal of abundance. Some years, the only sense of family I had. And now years later as my father has found his own way past grief and relinquished a strictly conservative point of view I find that "rememoir" serves as a catalyst for healing a relationship that lay dormant for way too many years.  Many of the conversations I've shared publicly in reconnecting with my father are couched in humor...as two individuals in later life walking past what they don't know and can't remember has its levity in bonding. I imagine the stories and conversations the readers find in the book keep Bryne alive for you. We tend to do that with the people we hold dear.


Teresa:

I never tired of listening to Byrne's stories.  Over  the course of living with her when she had the blood clot, her memories flowed into mine.  Especially the love stories involving Duncan.  I was so young and so yearning for examples of
real, mutual, respectful love that I made them into a fairy tale.  It was naive, at first.  But gradually I realized that Bryne had choreographed parts of the story. At first I felt cheated when I learned that Duncan wasn't what she had led me to believe (that's as much as I can say without spoiling the ending for those of you who haven't read it yet.) Let's just say I figured it out before it was too late.  Here's a moment from a difficult conversation we had on the porch, over a glass of wine.

"We're always," Byrne started to say before she shifted back to past tense. "We were always joined at the hip and people used to tease me, asking if Duncan always held my hand or if it was just for show." I was surprised Bryne cared what others thought. "I knew we were equals, true partners in life's journey.  But I got all the attention and he got lost in my shuffle..."

At last I could participate in the conversation. I knew what she needed to hear. So this is how that conversation ended.

"The Gullah have a saying," I said to Bryne. I could sense she wanted to be alone with the regret that kept Duncan close. It was time for me to kiss her cheeks and say goodnight. "It goes something like this. All shut-eye ain't sleep. and all goodbye ain't gone."

I came to know the magnitude and depth of this love that had once seemed almost unreal.  Writing this memoir was like having a conversation with Bryne ~ along with all her collected daughters.  I interviewed as many of them as I could for the book and the amazing thing was we all remembered the same core stories of affirmation and love. Then when I started pouring through Bryne's papers at the Beaufort County Library's Special Collection I found them again, in newspaper and magazine articles.  She had seduced almost every reporter she met, not just me!

It's funny, for years after her death I found myself wishing I could share experiences with Bryne. I missed her in so many ways.  But writing it all down, digging deeper into all the conversations we had on her screened porch stage, has helped close the grieving cycle. She's with me now, listening in on every conversation, comment, tweet and book signing.  And I'm certain she's loving every minute of it.


The Other Mother: A Rememoir by Teresa Bruce

Tell us about your most meaningful conversations...

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Day 8: Other Mothers clothed but naked

Ann-Marie:

"There has to be another layer to breathe, a place to float away to forget." 

While some readers point to Duncan Miller's infidelity (revealed in Chapter 17 of The Other Mother: a rememoir) as a personal breaking point with his character, I'm standing at that same juncture, less rattled by the symptom of cheating, more frustrated at his inclination to escape as I can only imagine how much Byrne must of needed his support in a great many ways.  A caregiver will exhaust every resource emotionally and physically to offer the best hope they can to their loved one. She offered the best hope to their daughter in an era when mental health was far from understood and at the same time extended a graceful gesture to retain the love of a man she could not live without. I found myself  saying aloud "Wow, iron will" as I turned to the next chapter.

Jennifer Brewer over at Olives and Alzheimers provided a great quote in commenting this week on the blog tour Day 4 that seems to fit in this discussion: "Reinvention is a necessary part of being. It is the result of learning and growing, not a game to change the uniqueness of the person to a societal ideal. The 'ing' is important in the word being, living, growing, learning and reinventing. The 'ing' demonstrates that none of these are static, but always changing." 


Teresa:

Bryne Miller certainly took a creative approach to loving and living with mentally ill family members.  She had to. The first time schizophrenia pounced on her life ~ in the early years of her intense bohemian, artistic marriage ~ she did what women in the 40s were suppose to do. She sought out the best medial opinions and treatment centers for her toddler.  But that was back when the condition was blamed on women.  The doctors even had a term for it: schizophrenogenic mothers.  And they used a primitive form of electric shock therapy to "cure it."

Byrne rarely spoke of times she felt defeated or scared.  But one of them was watching her little Alison's head get prepped for shocking.  And it didn't work.  At least not in the way doctors told her it would.  So she set about re-calibrating Alison's brain herself ~ using whatever new techniques and intuition she could summon.  In the end, Alison led a difficult but mostly independent life.  I think one reason headstrong Bryne could let go was because she became the other mother to so many collected daughters.  We, collectively, fulfilled her dreams ~ following in her footsteps as dancers, writers, teachers, parents, and scholars.  Alison had the freedom to be the best woman she could be.

I don't want to give away a major plot line in "The Other Mother: a rememoir" but schizophrenia struck again in Bryne's life. And the second time, she didn't do what anyone expected. She created an alternative universe to protect those she loved ~ madness simply part of its cosmic makeup. It was beyond kind or compassionate ~ to me it was the greatest act of love. I know it wouldn't work for every family living with mental illness. My beloved uncle's battle with schizophrenia meant life-long medication and periods of institutionalization that have robbed him of a career and family of his own.  But I understand why Bryne fought this intrusion and I feel privileged to have witnessed a grand experiment.  It's how I know that there can be a love so powerful it creates its own truth.


The Other Mother: A Rememoir by Teresa Bruce

Tell us about choices that were hard but created possibility...

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Day 7: Lowcountry where Other Mothers thrive

Ann-Marie:

We live in very special places. I in Port Royal, you in Beaufort. A world away from so much else and yet close enough to know the universe.

The port of Port Royal, SC
Writing about the area in context of the story naturally translates into that much of the book is about living here. How could one NOT ~ finding oneself surrounded by the simpleness of time bathed in sunlight and coated in the salt tears of a clock standing still. It is the Slowcountry. One I relish for its lack of routine other than the tide, fishing, boating, cocktail hours and natural escapes.

Teresa:

We are jackpot-lucky to live in this place, and I think Bryne felt the same way. She and Duncan were expats in their own country and I think it's important that they chose this place to live and work.  I so connect with that that I wanted to do that justice.   So the Lowcountry, in "The Other Mother" is more than just a location, it's a central character.

Duncan, in particular, so needed to be near water that he was willing to return to the same stretch of coastline where his childhood had been ruined (he was born in Charleston). Byrne probably would have been just as happy to live out her life in Santa Fe, where she actually founded the Byrne Miller Dance Theatre. She found the desert mountains freeling and limitless. It was her daughter Jane that we have to thank for the Bryne Miller Dance Theatre moved to Beaufort.  This daughter of rebellious, Vietnam War protesting bohemian parents joined the Marine Corps! When Jane and her husband at the time were stationed at MCAS Beaufort, Ducan and Byrne followed her here and made it her home.

For me, the water in particular is what makes this place so special.  I first started writing about it in the "Transfer of Grace: Images of the Lowcountry." The way the tides are so reliable, so undefeatable, gives me a sense of perspective. Nothing we stress about in any given moment will be the same six hours from now.
narrative essay that accompanies my husband's photographs in

"Twice a day the waters reverse course and flood the marshy inlets once again.  All that is lost returns."

I still feel the magic and the majesty of the Lowcountry every time I come back from a road trip and drive over the Whale Branch River.  Again from the book ~

"For a brief thrilling moment, the Whale Branch River Bridge releases all who travel over it from gravity.  You look down from an Osprey's eye view into a fish-full ribbon of life.  the water is a shimmering membrane, wide and porous.  Salt and sweet, past and present glid in opposite directions."


The Other Mother: a rememoir by Teresa Bruce

Tell us about what surrounds you...

Friday, December 6, 2013

Day 6: Dance, Movement and Words make "The Other Mother"

Ann-Marie:

As the voices increase in number during the blog tour, it's a must to incorporate their words into the dialog.

Each voice however different, literary or not, choreographed or not makes it plain that the essence of what we all know holds to be true. That life is transitional. That life happens. That there are individuals that aid our awakening to new points of light. It's the voice of an author like Teresa Bruce that aids us in wrapping our life memories around a common experience.


Today I frame my thoughts around what one thing does a reader take away from reading the book.


Heather Desaulniers, another blogger on #THEOTHERMOTHER blog tour adds another trail in the other mother storyline.  As a dance critic, but also a former dancer and choreographer she lends a contemporary voice. A voice of and with dance and about life..."The Other Mother: a rememoir" proclaims that human life is a work of verbs, both active and inactive: of doing, of believing, of deciding, of being." Read her blog entry this week.


For Beth Lathrop a most welcomed contributor to the tour, the "one thing" comes in the recollection of her own experience of another mother who stepped in and loved her. Her "Other Mother" entry this week tells us about the words her other mother relayed that stay with her, reminding her of her love, a mother she lost and who she is today. "You are a damned fine woman, just like yo' mama."


Teresa:

I'm thrilled just to be able to introduce Byrne Miller to people who didn't happen to cross paths with her incredible life. And there are so many movements in "The Other Mother: a rememoir" that its impossible not to find one dance that gets your feet tapping.  For most women, I suppose the big takeaway is the awareness of how many other mothers we need and cherish.

The title of the book gives it away ~ I could have called it "my" other mother but Byrne was an other mother to so many collected sons and daughters that I couldn't claim her all to myself.  Other mothers rarely stop with one ~ they have so much wisdom and wit and passion that their impact is limitless.

The amazing thing was realizing, as I wrote the book how many other mothers come to life in its pages. There's Suzanne Larson ~ a familiar to WJWJ public television viewers, and for countless other reporters who grew up under her tutelage.

I wish I'd seen it at the time, but I was more other mother than wife to Sonny -- the man I brought with me to Beaufort the first time.  All I knew was that he was wounded and until I met Byrne and Duncan the only marriages I'd witnessed were one directional. I thought it was the woman's duty to forgive any transgression and nurture even the most dangerous men.   Thank you Bryne!

Then there's Fanny ~ Byrne's mother ~ who steps into Duncan's life and becomes the mother he needed. The rift between Duncan and his biological mother is never explained because even Byrne didn't know what happened.  But it didn't matter to Fanny.  Duncan as the young man who made her daughter stand taller, dream bigger and fight harder. So she took him in and became his mother.

But Duncan's situation ~ one of needing to replace his mother ~ is the only one of its kind in the book.  For the rest of the characters, including me, other mothering is more revelation than rehabilitation.  I hope the book leaves the readers in the same warm glow.

The Other Mother: A Rememoir by Teresa Bruce

Tell us about your one thing...

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Day 5: Who are the "Other Mothers?"

Ann-Marie:

When you search variations on the hashtag #TheOtherMother in Twitter you get a hodgepodge of tweets/posts in terms of its meaning, but generally the same reference point. That is, someone not your parent.

You coined the phrase as the book title (along with rememoir) and in my perspective have wrapped its use around both men and women. I can pinpoint several individuals in my lifetime that have and continue to play an "other mother" role in my life. Your comment this week on FaceBook regarding the BBC article "Memories pass between generations" struck home with me... "So if we can inherit the fears of our biological relatives...maybe Bryne Miller's 'womenism' about not being stuck with the family you inherit is more important than we realize." 

I would say very important.


Teresa:

Hopefully soon when you Google "Other Mother" the top search hit will be Bryne Miller's leaping smile on a beautiful cover of "The Other Mother: a rememoir." Right now if you type in "Other Mothers" you come up with a lot of writing around same-sex parenting. But the term goes back much further ~ anthropologists writing about slavery in this country coined the term "fictive kin" for when female slaves were sold off the plantation but their kids weren't. These motherless children were left to be raised by other mothers.

So it turns out there are may ways to define other mothers but you know it when you feel it. They can be that favoirte teacher, a special coach or mentor but for me the key aspect of other mothers is that they are not genetically responsible for you.  They have no biological ties to your identity so they're free to see only who you are or might become.  They don't start out with the deep background on all your successes or failures so they champion your potential without any baggage. When I gave my TEDx talk in Charleston this year I described my other mother ~ Byrne Miller ~ as being able to see right through me.

The cool thing about celebrating the love of other mothers is that we can pay it forward and become other mothers ourselves ~ at any age, for any length of time and whether we have kids of our own or not. It's "other" in the most limitless way possible.


The Other Mother: A Rememoir by Teresa Bruce

Tell us about an "other mother" in your life...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Day 4: Reinvention and "The Other Mother"

Ann-Marie:

Resilience and reinvention are inspirational pivots for many of us during the current economy. I suspect the bloggers associated with "The Other Mother" blog tour know a great deal about these topics either directly or indirectly.

I have a tendency to lean my own personal story in the resilience category. One that sheds more light on living with grief and framing hardship as a learning tool. However, what I have learned by rallying through and up from these circumstances is that while one may not necessary effect outward changes, others make a note of a transition to some perceived flipside. Placing what they "see" in a category of transformative reinvention or as Byrne suggests to you "walking into another room." I do believe the common denominator of resilience and reinvention is the recognition that what transpires in one's life is significant, but not all-defining.

The Story of Byrne is a myriad of experiences in this regard. As is your own story Teresa. One realizes this reading the book or watching your "The Wisdom of Quitting" presentation at TEDX Charleston in 2013. 

Teresa:

Byrne Miller definitely knew a thing or two about reinvention. She was a classically trained pianist, but when the Great Depression hit she had to help support her parents by becoming a burlesque dancer on Vaudeville.

It's funny; because of my fanatical training to be an Olympic rhythmic gymnast, I always equated quitting and starting over with failure. One of the most important things Byrne Miller, my other mother, ever taught me was wisdom of quitting. It's the catalyst for reinvention.

She would tell me, "When what is painful can't be fixed, simply close the door behind you and walk into another room. The brain has more chambers than the heart."

In the course of researching her life for my memoir of our relationship, I learned how many times Byrne had to walk into another room.  Her professional modern dance career was cut short by having two daughters, so she reinvented herself as a choreographer.  When she moved to Beaufort and couldn't find enough professional dancers to support a performing company she reinvented the Byrne Miller Dance Theatre to become a presenting company for modern dance instead.

By the time she "collected" me as a daughter, she had another womenism at the ready: "There is not a contract on earth that cannot be rewritten," Here's to that!

The Other Mother: A Rememoir by Teresa Bruce

Tell us about your story of reinvention...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Day 3: Provocation and "The Other Mother"

Ann-Marie:

"Provocative" according to Merriam Webster...serving or tending to provoke, excite or stimulate. 

Pretty much describes a recent word string I wrote about holiday activities associated with the month of December: "What's not to love about a month of stealing kisses under mistletoe, spending time in the kitchen making nog and ramping up the naughty or nice meter! And then there are the elves doing everything other than sitting on shelves."

I relished the response by Bryne's husband in Chapter 9 when she promised that she would behave on her tour with The Sara Mildred Strauss Dancers. (Readers will have to grasp that at a time when great hardship befell the country, Bryne was able to secure employment as a dancer that paid well, gave her husband the freedom to pursue writing a novel and support her parents~handsomely paid for wearing next to nothing). He told her "...Be brazen. Be bold. Be burlesque!" It's in this chapter called "Taking Turns" that the reader realizes that to follow their passion (Byrne and Miller) was as much about the individual pursuit as it was celebrating the other's attributes.  Which becomes even more meaningful when the chapter ends with a decision by one of them to relinquish "a turn" to benefit the other.

Passion, bold, and brazen (as well as compassionately human). I do think Byrne and I would have enjoyed each other's company.


Teresa:

Are you kidding? Byrne Miller would have eaten you up ~ she was a snob about language and you're a writer. Major points right away. Plus she claimed to love my cooking and I'm not half the foodie you are. So we're defacto sisters by Bryne.

Provocation was a game to Byrne. she enjoyed, shall we say, surprising people. Personally I'm always attracted to larger-than-life personalities so her most outrageous pronouncements seemed like performances. Remember, I was 22 when she dropped such womenism bombs like "every woman should have a at least one affair. It builds confidence" and "modesty is for the hoi polloi." I didn't even know what that last one meant.

It was only later, when I started to list them all for "The Other Mother: a rememoir" that I realized Bryne's womenisms were an expression of love for her collected daughters. She meant for each of us to live the fullest lives we could and never settle. If a husband or a boyfriend wasn't up to the potential she saw in us, she had no use for them. She knew we could do better but instead of criticizing our choices, like regular mothers do, she'd tell us "mediocrity is distasteful" and "there is no contract on earth that cannot be rewritten."

She did shock me though, when friends threw me a going away party when I left Beaufort for a new career in Washington D.C. She raised her glass of red wine for a toast to the possibilities a big city would offer. Only she said it this way: "Anonymity has its own rewards. You can be trashy and nobody will ever know."

The Other Mother: A Rememoir by Teresa Bruce

Tell us about a provocative moment in your life...

Monday, December 2, 2013

Day 2: Writing about "The Other Mother"

Ann-Marie:

I have many favorite quotes from your book, but this morning (Cyber Monday no less) the powerful nature of what surrounds us in the Lowcountry, that which exists right in front of us and brings forward our creativity...that is where my mind waunders this morning. The phrase or perhaps best described by you as "...the logic of the hopeful, the rationale of a dreamer" says it best for me today and comes from Chapter 5 via your surfer/common law husband..."the perfection of a day judged by a dolphin." Hindsight or foresight this applies perfectly to our life along the coastline of South Carolina.

One always wonders why someone writes what they write. I write a great deal for work, but I also write inspirational phrases called "word strings" and spend time in a classroom encouraging others to craft content to tell their stories.  You write screenplays and books.  What led to writing about Bryne? Perhaps you always have, even if not directly.

Teresa:

Wow, I wonder if you're onto something. Maybe Byrne's voice has been in my head longer than I realize. Come to think of it, that's how "The Other Mother: a rememoir" started. Long before I knew that I wanted to write a book about my other mother, she was part of my interior dialog. I remember looking into the mirror on the day I went to my divorce hearing, repeating her words in my head. "You are marvelous," and "Do not affect to be so delicate."

The first part was from Duncan ~ her husband of almost 60 years who said that to Byrne every night when he watched her undress. She knew that even though there might be women more witty, sexy or well connected ~ she was the unique combination of attributes he could never live without.

The second part of what I whispered to myself that morning was Bryne's favorite quote. It's from Nietzche and it means that we are all stronger than we think we are or pretend to be. 

Maybe as I walked into the courtroom -- Bryne's words affirmations of confidence -- I started writing my own story. I was collecting and rearranging the words that helped me become the woman I am.  And she is an always-present part of that. I think all mothers and other mothers are: the former are literally part of our DNA and the later of our free will.

Writing screenplays was a huge help in making Byrne come alive on the page because it had forced me to hone my sense of dialog. I write by visualizing scenes ~ what she's wearing, how she's standing, how others are responding to her body language. And you're right Ann-Marie, writing about Byrne has kept her close to my heart. Photographs can fade, but the truth I commit to the page stays firmly in place. Bryne Miller is now a dance I know by muscle memory.



Tell us about a word or phrase that someone used that you continue to evoke...


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Day 1: Crossing Paths with "The Other Mother"

And so it begins...the "10 Days with The Other Mother" blog tour.  Starting today and continuing through December 10th this blog will host a public conversation with author Teresa Bruce that provides readers with an opportunity to gain insight and reflect on Bruce's recently published rememoir "The Other Mother." 

There are several ways you can participate in the conversation:

1. Join the conversation! Enter comments and/or respond to entries in the comments section at the end of each blog entry. The author and blogger will actively monitor and engage in a virtual dialogue during the ten day tour.

2. Share a link! Copy and paste a link to each blog entry on your FaceBook page, your Google+ account, your Twitter feed or cite an entry on Pinterest, Tumblr or your own blog...wherever you find yourself socially networking.

3. Buy the book! The author and blogger will provide a great many reference points over the next ten days but to fully appreciate the beauty of the book one must really dive into the text. Available on Amazon at: The Other Mother

Blog Tour Day 1: Crossing Paths

Ann-Marie: 

I have always marveled at how our lives interweave with the people, places and experiences necessary to propel us in one direction or another. Chance meetings. Serendipity. Work assignments. Blind dates. Coffee shops. Network referrals and the like. Each built around a stated opportunity whose purpose we may or may not be fully aware of in the immediate.

In fact Teresa, our becoming acquainted two years ago at the Beaufort International Film Festival was very much like that. I have always relished "table readings" so when the festival schedule included the opportunity to hear some of Beaufort's local thespians reading the screenplays entered for competition, I was quick to secure a ticket for the occasion. And with that attendance I became acquainted with you. That first encounter, listening to your screen play being read, set in motion an appreciation for your brand of storytelling. Most especially for your knack in bringing to the page the good, bad and sometimes comical way life has a tendency to flow and unfold.

Chapter 8 of "The Other Mother" presents readers with your first encounter with Byrne and Duncan Miller while on assignment with a local public television affiliate. Initially you take a journalistic approach upon meeting the Millers, to design a story of "worthiness and drawing out empathy" for a man with Alzheimers and a wife eager to bring public attention to their plight, by the conclusion of that chapter your approach quickly shifts to an admiration for the reflected love you witnessed in meeting them.

Thus, my volley to you, Teresa on Day 1 in our "10 Days with The Other Mother" conversation starts with our crossing paths at the film festival and you crossing paths with Byrne Miller....

Teresa:

I remember it well...Our paths crossed on the auspicious occasion of the first ever screenplay table read in Beaufort, South Carolina! That was two years before MovieMaker Magazine would name the Beaufort International Film Festival one of the coolest 25 film fests in the country ~ I guess we were BIFF before it was the film world's BFF! I was so nervous and it was great to look out into the audience and see your smiling, exuberant face in the audience. I didn't even know you but I could feel your encouragement and support for the creative process. 

I love it when that happens ~ paths crossling like two dancers on stage at the same time, hooking arms and spinning off in new directions.

I was like that meeting Bryne Miller, the Other Mother in the title of my memoir. I was 22 at the time, a rookie TV reporter at WJWJ-TV in Beaufort, SC and she was an 82 force of nature. I never set out to find an Other Mother but she folded me into her world before I knew what was happening. 

She always said "The family you're born with is not the one you're stuck with" and that was the genesis of a word I invented to describe her pearls of wisdom: womenisms. And now, years later, our dance together has spun off into so many directions. I have a blog called "womenismsm" on wordpress and a whole book worth of chapter headings in "The Other Mother: a rememoir."

What a great position to open the tour with Ann-Marie!



Tell us about your experience in crossing paths with people who made an impact on your life...


Life Enrichment is like a travel and learn program...offering infusions that make every day life thereafter far more interesting! ~ Ann-Marie Adams, Reflections on a Meaningful Life