I Wonder


It’s no secret that I am enthralled with Mister Stevie Wonder. I want the whole world to know; my religion (Wonderanity, Wonderism, aka Love, Peace, Justice, Good Music) brings me great pleasure and inspiration.

I can’t get enough. His songs play all day in my head and I’m conditioning my toddler too. I didn’t discover this passion for all things Wonder until I was 25, which is surely 25 years too late.


As of this writing I’ve not yet started knocking door-to-door to politely inquire if “You might have a moment to spare so we can talk about my personal lord and savior, one Mr. S. Wonder, formerly known as Stevland Haradaway Judkins of Saginaw, Michigan.” But I’m nearly there, I just need some batteries for my boom box so my proselytizing will have maximum impact.

stevie again

However, Stevie has not become my adopted uncle. Yet. He isn’t moving into the house that’s for rent next door. Maybe someday. And I’ve not yet sent him the Braille letter I’m working on. Near future. But I do have a plan and with it I have reason to believe that our paths will cross, and when they do I will be sure to tell you all about it.

In the meantime, give a listen:

Thanks for reading,



Smile Back


I am nothing if not blooming with ideas. (Or are ideas blooming with me?) And, for the first time in my life, I’m doing something about them. (Or are they doing something about me?) Either way, My Ideas and I are beginning to figure out how to work together.

They bombard me. Usually they are conceived on the wind, outside, plunking down on my head like pinecones dropped by a rascal squirrel. “Ha, Ha, Ha”, they chitter, “See what you can make of me!” Since becoming a mom six months ago, I’ve been paying more attention to them. Sure, I have more time to get to know them, more time at home thinking and reading and dreaming. Sure, I now have the biggest impetus to “amount to something”, aka Ysa Simone. But perhaps the most important shift, and why My Ideas and I are starting to pay attention to each other, is simple: I now believe they’re good. I’ve started saying, after I gush them to a supportive ear, “…And I don’t see what could possibly get in my way!”

This is all very nice, no? Poetic and whimsical, yes? Indeed, ideas can leave one starry and foaming, exuberant with the flush of possibility, the keen burst of insight. However, the ideas themselves and how they come about is not the hard part.

The hard part comes a little later, after my breathless glow has cooled from a rapid boil to a steady, pragmatic simmer, and I’m faced with them, head to head, heart to heart. My mind has whirred itself to a quiet by then, and together My Idea and I have a standoff. This is when I start to think of all the things that could possibly get in my way, contrary to my strident, invincible mission statement.

But I need not waste ink telling you about my doubts and worries. I trust you’ve had some of your own and, truly, they don’t make for the most fascinating story.

Instead I want to tell you about My Latest Idea.

I’m going to do this in bullet points. It’s easier that way.

  • Problem: My Mom needs serious dental work. She needs implants and repair that I can’t even wrap my head around. We’re talking majorly serious mouth overhaul. Since we live (or die?) with a broken health care system in this country, there is no conceivable way for her (or any of us) to pay for this. I know maybe two people who could afford the amount of work she needs; the vast majority of us simply cannot. And so we suffer. But my little Mom has suffered long enough. In order to keep her around and for her life to flourish as it’s meant to, this needs to happen, and STAT. 
  • Dream and History: I plan to spend my time writing and illustrating children’s books. This has long been my plan. I’m practicing every day, and get filled to the brim with this inspiration. It’s what I want to do, who I am.
  • My goal? To start my own publishing company. Possible name: Lichen Oak.
  • Fact: My family and I are all artistic. Intrinsically. Uniquely.
  • Another Fact: I believe that we all have (at least one) fabulous story in us that would fit well into a children’s book.
  • Idea and Simple Math: If we each, my Mom and Dad, four siblings, and their respective children of book-writing age, put this concept “How Mom Got Her Smile Back” into our own version of a children’s story, make replicable copies, and sell them, we could (conceivably!) raise enough money to begin this process. Just think!
  • One last litany of facts: My Mom is a saint. Anyone who loves her knows that she is sunshine and sweetness incarnate. She is fresh bread and warm arms. And everyone who meets her or knows her comments on one thing: her luminescent smile. However, this smile needs some rebuilding. It’s still there, and it lights up all of our faces, but it is waiting to truly shine.

What do you think? My family is on board. My dad said, after I told him yesterday, “Ok, so my assignment is…” and my sister left me an excited message: “Mace! Let’s do this!” Now we get to create, in the name of restoring a precious gift, and giving it a new life.

Stay tuned, we’ll have finished products as soon as we can.

With love, gratitude, and one very huge smile,


Soup as Metaphor


White Canvas


This first post is Intimidating.

I’m going to write something personal, click one button, and send it to the ethers for all manner of opinion and critique. But this is the very nature of art, isn’t it? To create something–anything–and to set it free to take on a life of its own, a life that relies on you, Dear Reader, to make of it what you will.

So here is where I write down my experiences, inspirations, and the insights I think are notable and share-worthy. I am calling this web-log (blog, if you’re on familiar terms with it) WhileYsaSleeps. I chose this name because so much happens while my daughter is sleeping, from folding diapers to typing my thoughts into words. When she is awake, I would feel like some sort of nut to choose to stare into the glowing eyes of my computer screen over the warm chocolate puddles of her baby sweetness. That’s that.

Since becoming someone’s mom ten weeks ago, I have been ruminating on the idea of Being the Best. Initially I would hear myself saying things like, “She is the Best baby,” or “I have the Best husband,” or “My life is the Best.” These happy proclamations led me to conclude that it is an odd feeling, this Best-ness, and it’s not an entirely comfortable fit. It doesn’t include enough. Calling something the best is, at best, risky business because we simply cannot know if something is or isn’t. Motherhood can be, like so many things, rife with competition and one-upswomanship. With stakes as high as they are when raising a child, it is easy and natural to want to be good at it, to be a rockstar parent, to do everything right.

However, it doesn’t work like that, does it? We have to learn. We have to mess up around the edges, or maybe right in the big fat middle of it all. Just when we think we’ve got it down, chances are good that it’ll be all new tomorrow. Our children, thankfully, show up just in time to help us, to illuminate our dark corners and hold the dustpan as we sweep away the cobwebs of what we think we know.

So I have to thank my tiny daughter for showing me that I’m fully capable of being my best, everyday. But I’m not the best, and I never will be. What does it even mean to be the best? Is there such a thing? When it comes to motherhood, or parenting in general, I think not.

This post goes out to all the good parents who show up for the work of pouring love into these soft, malleable creatures with eagerness, humility, and big open hearts. Here’s to all of you who make your first brushstrokes on the white canvases, whatever form they may take, with care and love, knowing that your best is unshakeable, and no one can top that.