Léna is also a Regional Manager for Writopia Lab whose mission is to foster joy, literacy, and critical thinking in kids and teens from all backgrounds through creative writing.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pen Parentis: Parenting Done, Write

I've had one of those unbearable-lightness-of-being days. (And full credit goes to Milan Kundera for beautifully encapsulating my feelings in four words. Okay, maybe his translator should get the credit . . .) Life is poignant, technicolor, overwhelming and messy, and I've got a million-plus-one things clamoring for my attention. Calgon, take me away!

Instead, I grabbed my I-Pod and headed for the subway, downtown to a literary salon hosted by Pen Parentis, and it's extraordinary co-founders Milda De Voe and Arlaina Tibensky.

I got off the subway at Fulton Street and made my way to Gold Street to the Gild Hall Hotel, and walked through the revolving doors (how green) and up the wide, elegant staircase to the Libertine Library. I stood there in amazement. It was swanked out with leather couches, walls of books and intimate lighting. Beautiful women in cocktail dresses seemed to drape over the tables and chairs - as much a part of the architecture of everything else. Was I in the right place?

I was greeted by Arlaina, who recognized me from my picture on this blog. (And I just realized how similar our names are! I just don't have the AR in front.) She made me feel right at home, joking about Facebook and the fact that we both write YA. (Arlaina is making her debut in the spring!) Arlaina had to meet and greet so I looked for Milda, the stunning red head I had coffee with last week. Connections made, I chose a leather couch in the corner, opened my journal and started writing, until the first author/parent was introduced.

In this case, it was authors, two producers from the Today Show who had, in their spare time (!) written a book called Today's Moms: Essentials for Surviving Baby's First Year. I have to say that I was a bit intimidated by Mary Ann Zoellner and Alicia Ybarbo at first - both were so well-spoken and elegant, but it soon became apparent that these two are extremely down-to-earth women, my kind of women, and have much to offer. (Okay, so I'm still intimidated, but in more of an awe-struck way!)

Next up was Kristen Schultz Dollard reading from The Yoga Body Diet, which also was impressive and amazing. I have been an avid yoga practitioner for the past eight years, but for the past month with all of the transition in my life, I have let my yoga practice fall by the wayside. She reminded me of what I need to do - most importantly, take deep breaths, drink lots of warm water, and practice mindfulness.

Milda announced a break before the last reading, and challenged everyone to mingle. "This is a salon, people!" - so she foiled my plan of hiding behind my journal. Mary Ann Zoellner was sitting next to me, so I was brave and struck up a conversation with her. What a delight! We talked about juggling parenthood with everything else, and how cool it is to raise kids in the city. We were joined by her BFF Alicia Ybarbo who radiated sweetness.

The last reader/writer/parent was Laura Vanderkam, who had us all under her spell reading from her new book: 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. Isn't this exactly what I've been struggling with? And she's a very talented writer, to boot!

Needless to say I am 70 bucks poorer because I had to buy all three books (and have them autographed, of course!) to support not only these authors, but also a fabulous independent bookstore in the financial district called Bluestockings who was supplying and selling the books. What would we do without indie bookstores?

I am so much richer for having gone to this event, and for networking in such a meaningful way. Writing does matter, there is a point, and there are others with whom to share the journey.

Thanks to Milda and Arlaina, for your entrepreneurial/artistic/community passion! they had a poster up that said: Pen Parentis: Parenting Done, Write! Write indeed!


  1. So nice to meet you and good luck getting your yoga on!

  2. Love all around . . . the yoga will happen . . . I'll keep you posted!

  3. Oh, the perks of living in the big city! Sounds fabulous.

  4. Thank you Wonderwegian! Do you live near a big city?

  5. Parents should force their kids to practice always of their coursework assignments that is important for them. In they way they will be able to be professional writers because they practiced it for long time.


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