mama scout lab e-course

Sunday, December 27, 2015

well, that's that.

I hope your Christmas was great! Maybe some of you are still celebrating it? Some might have a let down or sense of sadness now that it is all over. For me, the days after Christmas and especially January are my favorite time of year. I love the fresh feeling my house has when I take down the ornaments and tree. A new year feels e x p a n s i v e and full of possibility. It is also typically a month full of the best weather in Florida, so we can hike midday and sit in the yard for hours without getting eaten by mosquitos. 

Our Christmas was hot and filled with turkey, bingo, coloring books, records, games and a new ping pong table. We are so fortunate and look forward to spending the upcoming year playing with all our goodies. 

I will be spending the next week camping on an island in a river, looking for alligators and manatees, thinking up my word(s) of the year, and preparing for what I anticipate to be a jam up session of BAM. Each year is a bit different with some new prompts, a new guest contributor and fresh ideas/perspectives and this year promises to be one of the best ever. 

We are going to be: talking about how to realistically incorporate herbal medicines into your life, searching out origin stories, learning new time management techniques and maybe even drawing some comics. 

It will be chaotic and expansive and unlike any other lab you have taken. 

If you want to read more, you can check it out here.

Monday, December 21, 2015

{review} A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

I love reading because sometimes you come across a book, story or poem that perfectly communicates something you know or feel deep down inside. Truman Capote's short story A Christmas Memory did just that for me. I have known about it, but for some reason have never read it. What was I waiting for? My children and I were charmed by the character Buddy, a young boy living with his elderly cousin, and his preparations for Christmas. Although they don't have much, they seem to have everything that really matters. I don't want to give too much away - but the story is both heart warming and heart breaking and such a sweet reminder of all the ways we can make our own magic at this time of year.

Capotes writer's eye focuses on small and sensual details; his rhythm and frequent, chatty asides make the story roll off the page with ease. It is absorbing and a provides a perfect evening's read in front of a fire.

A little taste from the book:

On decorating the tree they just cut down and hauled back home in a baby carriage a long ways:

"A trunk in the attic contains: a shoebox of ermine tails (off the opera cape of a curious lady who once rented a room in the house), coils of frazzled tinsel gone gold with age, one silver star, a brief rope of dilapidated, undoubtedly dangerous candy-like light bulbs. Excellent decorations, as far as they go, which isn't far enough: my friend wants our tree to blaze "like a Baptist window," droop with weighty snows of ornament. But we can't afford the made-in-japan splendors at the five-and-dime. So we do what we have always done: sit for days at the kitchen table with scissors and crayons and stacks of colored paper. I make sketches and my friend cuts them out: lots of cats, fish too (because they're easy to draw), some apples, some watermelons, a few winged angels devised from saved-up sheets of Hershey-bar tin foil. We use safety pins to attach these creations to the tree; as a final touch, we sprinkle the branches with shredded cotton (picked in August for this purpose). My friend, surveying the effect, clasps her hands together. "No honest, Buddy. Doesn't it look good enough to eat?" "

( I have the edition illustrated by Beth Peck and the watercolors are lovely!)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

{BAM} how it works (and a crazy promotion)

I am busy working on goodies for the next session of Book About Me. I love sending mail and it has become a hallmark of my labs. The tangible becomes a thread that connects us all across time and space.

I wanted to drop in to let you know something about BAM. Something I think is important and another distinguishing component of Mama Scout labs. I strive to make the content as EASY to access as possible. There are no videos to watch of me waxing about story or memoir (you will have to come to a live retreat for that!), no downloadable workbooks, no projects that are prescriptively taught to you, no forums or platforms that ask you to choose yet another password; there is none of that. I am not against classes like that  - but as a participant of so many labs myself, I have noticed a sharp decrease in my involvement with the material as the content delivery became more polished and technical. It does not work for me or my lifestyle.

So, I am doing it different. And I think it works really well.

Everyday, for 6 weeks,  you will receive the lab in an email that you can read immediately (no downloading or clicking through). My goal is that the content is easily available to you as you check you phone in the morning before you get out of bed or when you are in the bathroom (:)) You can even read it waiting in car line at school.

If you carry your smart phone, a journal and pen - you are good. You can read the essay and prompts, think about them all day, write when you have a chance and in as simple or elaborate way as you want. If you have a chance at lunch or when your kids are in bed, check into the FB group to see what is cracking for other labbers. If you do just this, I promise that by the end of the 6 weeks you will have a new outlook, a deeper appreciation for your story (and those around you), and hopefully the beginnings of a creative practice that you can carry with you.

BAM is intense and serious and content heavy. BUT I have made every attempt to remove the barriers that might make sticking with it hard.

Sign up here

Now until Christmas Eve, you can invite a friend for free. Just add their name, address, and email in the comments and they are in. This offer allows you to gift yourself and a friend with an experience that will start 2016 off with a intense reckoning with your life and your story. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

{copy work} The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry

The Peace of Wild Things

by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me 
and I wake in the night at the least sound 
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, 
I go and lie down where the wood drake 
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. 
I come into the peace of wild things 
who do not tax their lives with forethought 
of grief. I come into the presence of still water. 
And I feel above me the day-blind stars 
waiting with their light. For a time 
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Monday, December 14, 2015

{art} collabs with olders

For Christmas I asked each of my kids if they would paint a collaborative painting with me. This is tricky territory because I have trained myself over the years to let them paint with little direction and normally can not imagine laying paint on their artwork. 

But this was different. We thought of it as an experiment and I love the results. We picked poems by  Dickinson, Wordsworth and Berry to work into each piece. I suggested that they paint an animal or scene that reflected their interests and personality and they sketched in the design. My help was more with painting backgrounds and adding touches here and there. 

I love what they (we) made and now have a great poetry corner in our eating space. I am sharing here because it feels like such a good connecting and creative project to do this time of year. It was the perfect present and I think we will incorporate this approach more often. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

{exciting!} a new teacher and herbal component added to BAM

I have enlisted the amazingness that is Melanie Levy to add a component to A Book About Me that I have been thinking about since the beginning. 
This session of BAM will have a mini-lab on herbs and easy ways to use them to support your health and spirit as you do this deep work. 
During the week we will talk about writing, memoir, journaling, trying new things, remembering, bearing witness and recording the mess of it all. 
Each weekend you will get a special lab with information and an actionable step you can take as you explore your inner kitchen alchemist! Topics include: intro to herbs, tinctures, teas, salves, syrups, and oils. This is a fascinating area of study that can become a cornerstone in your family's wellness. 
Melanie is a wise, engaged and funny teacher. I was able to be in one of her sessions a few months ago and the class could not get enough - of the content and her easy manner. She leaves her students feeling empowered and ready to start their own journey and course of study. 
I am beyond excited to expand BAM into a bigger vision that will help spark creativity, heal the soul, and embolden each participant to step into their own power. 
Join us! 
{this is the perfect gift to yourself! imagine reconnecting to your self after the holidays...}

Join here.

(I met Melanie in person a few years ago in DC and several times since. The friendships and connections that can made in intentional and thoughtful online groups is real, so real.)

Monday, December 7, 2015

found memories

I was reading through I book I had not cracked open in 15 years. 

A place was marked with a popcycle stick half stained orange-red. 

I can not remember eating this - but the concrete connection to my younger self pulsed off the page and makes me homesick for something I don't even recall. 

{Book About Me} 2016 session open for registration

This starts right after Christmas and will kick start your 2016 like nothing else! 
Join now as a gift to yourself in the new year!

A 6 week Mama Scout e-lab for mamas looking for themselves. 

Through list making, memory mining, visual map making and attentive looking, we will clear the path back to who we are, noticing how we have changed and plotting who we want to be. 

This lab is only being offered once in 2016. This is that session. It is the prefect preparations for my spring offering, Dream Lab.

_____________Who is this is for?_______________

This lab is primarily for mamas who have given so much to their children and families that they have lost a bit of themselves along the way. A virtual room of your own, but in the form of a self-ethnographic book/journal.

I was inspired to do this project after I did something similar with my kids. 

Over the weeks that I helped them compile books all about themselves (with lists of favorites, recording of life stories, timelines, maps and charts and more), I kept thinking of how the format could be an amazing tool for self growth and exploration for women. So, I took notes, adapted and added adult themes to the project and this lab was born.

However, the adult Book About Me program has taken on a life of its own and has become a standard Mama Scout lab. It is one of my favorites and I look forward to returning to the prompts (and the new ones) each year. 

By recording the details of our lives, both big and small, through word and image, we recover our lost selves and reconstruct stronger versions of the women we want to be.  

You might be looking for the forgotten you, the submerged self, a younger or different you than who you confront in the mirror each morning. This course is to help you uncover her, find her and also redefine her. Because chances are, she has been deep in the muck so long, she might have evolved into something a little different. 

__________What do I get & how does this work?___________

+Just before we gather you will get a little welcome package of goodies in the mail to get you inspired for the lab.

+ Each day, for 6 weeks you will receive an email lab from me. Each lab contains a short essay, a meaty journal prompt, a creative invitation, copy work and additional resources to help you on your journey. This is as low-tech as I can manage which using a computer. There are no videos to watch or big downloadable workbooks. My ideal lab (and how I designed this one) allows you to read the entire lab on your phone or laptop quickly in the morning before you even get out of bed. I want this the fold simply and seamlessly into your day. 

+ We will have a giveaway each week! In the past these have included great books, CDs, art supplies, digital products and more!

+ You will receive a special discount for Dream Lab (offered in late March)! 

+ You will gain access to one of the most positive and friendly online groups. Not only have great friendships and collaborations been welded in mama scout groups - there is a genuine, non judgmental and supportive energy.

I will not lie, it is a lot.

I encourage all participants to write daily for 5-15 minutes. Seriously, that tiny amount can shift roadblocks and open doors. BUT even if you just read the lab material and THINK about it, you will benefit. 

Our secret FB group will allow you to witness and share stories that will shock, heal and amuse. 

The creative projects are for the most part simple and inexpensive, yet novel and meant to disrupt your (and my) default thinking. I hope they will inspire you to look deeper, think weirder, and explore your life in a creative way. 

As a full time, homeschooling mom, I have found online courses to be of great benefit to me. As a lifelong student, I am personally enriched and a much better parent when I am engaging my mind and creative spirit. My e-labs are the type of courses I had been searching for and could not find. So, I created them and learn next to the participants in each lab.

What supplies might I need? 

When the course is closer, you will recieve a welcome letter and a more detailed list of supply ideas. Basically, you will need a journal or notebook with paper, pencil or pen, camera and printing capabilities, an internet connection and generic art supplies. You should not really need to buy anything specific for this course.

Please feel free to check out my work at or email me any questions you might have amybarbo [!at] 

I look forward to working with you in a lab that can be the catalyst to major change and refinement in your life. This is powerful stuff!


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