I’m a a community organizer, folklorist, freelance writer and radio producer, and lover of baked goods. 

This site is a messy collection of writings about grief and joy, pies and trees, ancient things and new things, babies and old people, and, hopefully, a not so jargony discussion of concepts like liberation and movement and peace—stuff like that.  I’m not much of an editor, so expect mistakes. Lots of them.  I also try and update the site every so often with my published print and radio pieces which hopefully have fewer mistakes (although probably not). You can find more of my work at the Boiled Down Juice, ” a gathering space for budding conversations at the intersection of community-based traditions and holistic, democratic, anti-racist, place-based community action.” 

Some backstory about this blog: In October of 2008 my mother died from breast cancer. Four months later I found out my husband and I were pregnant with twins.  As I learn how to become a mother I am also learning how to live without one.  There’s no formal, polished writing to be found here.  In short, just an exploration of daily life that’s hopefully not quite as emotionally vomit-esque as the stacks of handwritten journals that clutter my home.

My mother’s life, and those of her parents, in-laws, my aunts, uncles, and cousins  influence my own life in countless ways.  They are always with me. I want to make sure my children know their grandparents and great grandparents, and that their lives are acknowledged in our own. Sharing their stories is one way I can do this. And it’s not just stories of their lives, but also stories of their homes, their food, their pets, their beliefs, their mysteries.  Both sides of my family have lived in rural central Arkansas for generations, and the land, the plants, and the larger community, is family too.

Slowly, very slowly, I am learning how to embrace the sorrow of loss and the joy of birth, and so many other seemingly opposite emotions that make up the human experience. Here is a place where I can share their stories and a bit of my own, hopefully providing an honest discussion about the complexity and interconnectedness of grief and joy. And what I really hope is maybe there will be something useful here for others in similar situations.  I believe in collective liberation, in a womanist movement, in the power of poor people to work for grassroots democracy, in collective building. Sometimes I talk about that, too. Although not directly.  You can read more about that here.  

If you want to read a bit more about the backstory and what led me to start this blog, click here to read my introduction post.

About Me: Besides writing and learning from my children, I love to garden, play and write music, listen to the stories people tell, commune with cats and dogs (and hopefully someday mules and donkeys too), knit, travel around, and make and eat baked goods.

My life’s work is engaging with oral history, folklife, sustainability, social justice and community action in my home state of Arkansas. I’m the editor of the Boiled Down Juice, “A gathering space for conversations at the intersection of community-based traditions and holistic, democratic, place-based community action,” and I work with the McElroy House: Organization for Folklife, Oral History and Community Action.” 

Thanks so much for stopping by. I’d love to hear from you and hear your stories. You can email me at tendingthebittersweets@yahoo.com

My mother with her parents, Lloyd and Golda McElroy

My mother holding me.

Me and my twin boys. Photo by Saira Khan

4 Responses to “About”

  1. Kim said

    While I only have one, not twins, I too lost my mom suddenly, less then a year before I got pregnant with my son (she always told us her goal from when she was little was to be a grandmother). My pregnancy was one of the most bitter/joyful experiences I have ever had. Love and warm thoughts to you.

  2. So much gratitude in finding your site! I am in the midst of working to understand my mother and myself as individuals, as mothers, and as two parts of an intricate whole. Hearing of your own journey in mothering and being mothered is a very special blessing. I look forward to hearing more! ~ Much light and love to you and your family in the new year!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: