How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria’s

A writer on mythology made the observation that every one has their story that guides their life; everyone has a story that has influenced their journey. Today, we may not be as familiar with the travels of Odysseus or the feats of Hercules, but we still have our own “mythological” stories and our own “mythological” heroes to guide us. Most likely, these heroes and heroines are found in our films. When I was five years old, my parents took me to the Cooper Theater in Colorado Springs to see the Sound of Music—my life was never the same. Maria became my Beatrice, my guide through the labyrinth of mortality.

Maria had seven children, so I had seven children.






Maria married the dashing Captain so I married a dashing Captain Corvette. Maria climbed mountains;


I have climbed mountains.

Maria was torn between her life in the abbey and her life in the secular world. I also feel torn between the “contemplative life” and getting my butt out of my chair and taking care of the children. Recently, a friend blogged about the angst she felt about needing to spend more time in church and at the temple after having her fourth baby. In the past couple of months, this subject has also occupied a lot of my thinking as I have tried to balance the pull of “singing in the mountains” with living responsibly. I find myself wanting to “hide in the abbey” (interpreted as disappear and read a book) instead of caring for the captain’s children (interpreted as finding the floor of the laundry room).

The glyph for womanhood seems to embody this dilemma for all women. The cross at the bottom represents our need to be grounded and in touch with the earth, this temporal world, those day to day chores that sustain life.  The circle at the top represents our needs to be part of something spiritual, heavenly, and I will add creative. It is a constant balancing act….it is the problem of Maria…it is as hard as holding a wave upon the sand. Elaine Pagels, a woman, a mother and a prolific writer often quotes the Gospel of Thomas. “Jesus said, ‘If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you.  If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.’”  Finding balance, the balance between our outside life and our inside life, between our creative selves and our responsible selves, between our contemplative lives and our productive lives, between the spiritual and the temporal can save us or destroy us. In the words of another writer, “If you do not go within, you go without.” Or as Stephen R. Covey teaches,…”are we ever so busy driving that we forget to get gas?” The quotes can go on and on, yet I sit here and blog and the dishes pile up and the kids are hungry.

Maybe we just need to listen to the Reverend Mother and “Climb Every Mountain.”

Climb every mountain, (of laundry)
Search high and low, (for shoes, for keys, for time and clues to be who we are meant to be)
Follow every byway,
Every path you know. (The whisperings of the heart will tell you this)

Climb every mountain, (of dishes)
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
‘Til you find your dream. (To dance, to write, to draw, to sing, to read, to photograph, to explore, to love)

A dream that will need
All the love you can give. (and a big chunk of your time)
Every day of your life
For as long as you live. (If you don’t bring forth what is within you…I hate to think of the consequences!)

Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
“Til you find your dream (oh for Pete’s sake, or St. Peter’s in this case, just figure it out Maria!)

A dream (and kids, and family, and a spouse) that will need
All the love you can give
Every day of your life, (not kidding here Maria, EVERY DAY of your life)
For as long as you live.

Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
Til you find your dream.

Oh, this is where I get teary eyed….seeing Maria and her family climbing the Alps….I have confidence and confidence I love, besides what you see…I have confidence in me…and you….how have you found balance…please share (I have worked all morning on the font-I give up;-).




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6 Responses to How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria’s

  1. Jessica Gregory says:

    Mom, you are hilarious! The picture of the drapes cracked me up. You better never take those drapes down…unless to make us play clothes that is. So many similarities between my momma and Maria…Who knew? I am just so sad we don’t sing…but at least we can dance:)
    This is a bad time for me to relate to this post since I am sorta “singing in my mountains” at them moment. But I will be revisiting this post probably in about two months.
    I love that you have always taught us to find feng shei in our lives and as mothers. It has helped bring a lot of happiness in my life. I think my modern day mythological role model is Elle Woods off of Legally Blonde. I love that she was true to herself, kind to everyone she met, achieved her goals, and looked good along the way.
    Thanks for the great post. I needed a good summer read.

    • Heather says:

      Oh how I am feeling this post. Sometime it seems like that balance is such a fine line to walk, and I haven’t yet figured out how to maintain it. Living a day at a time I feel more secure in my balance, but planning balance in the future is harder–read: deciding how much school to get myself in this year. Too bad there is a finite number of hours in a day and a finite amount of energy and we can’t just do it all.

      I don’t know who my Maria is…something to think about.

      I am still waiting for my jumper made from the laundry room drapes.

  2. Cathy says:

    Now I am crying, too! Crying because what you wrote is beautiful, thought-provoking and yet similar to some of my own thoughts which in a million years I could never express like you do! My question is, did you take the picture with your kids with this blog in mind or did you just happen to have one just like Maria’s?? (I must have had 7 kids because you did because you have been way more of a guide to me than Maria ever was!)

  3. brooke says:

    i do think i’ve tried to model my mothering after maria. she’s the best. and seriously– the captain is HOT. one of biggest crushes off all time.

    nevertheless, i think the balance is so hard. there is something so gratifying about doing the creative and wonderful things of your heart that fill your soul, but it’s also so satisfying to lie in bed at the end of a long, hard, honest day’s work– when you’re bone-weary from the mothering and the laundry and full of the knowledge that you really earned that bedtime. i think both are good, together.

    two more things: do you have the sound of music dvd that comes with the sing-along? you need it. it will make singers of you, jessica! i swear it. and have you heard hillary weeks’ “climb every mountain” spoof about laundry? your parenthetical cleverness made me think of it.

    xoxoxoxo love you, lady!

  4. Carolyn Chase says:

    Wonderful. You do seem to find some opportunity to express yourself – and it always seems eloquent and resonates with the rest of us. I just finished reading quickly through The Artist’s Way, a spiritual path to higher creativity, by Julia Cameron. And am endeavoring to follow some of her suggestions. I highly recommend it. I look forward to following your links.

  5. Carolyn says:

    I swear to do think before you start, “who am I going to inspire today?”

    I don’t know who my Maria is but man do I love the Sound of Music! Such a great movie. My niece just sung My Favorite Things in her talent show last week. Too cute to express.

    Balance is such an important apsect in anyone’s life. Everyday I try to start my day thinking how am I going to balance what I am up against today? Maybe not the best but sometimes it is hard to balance work/love/friends and among many other things. Even if I don’t have children I like to imagine Jeremy right now as one 😉 his broken leg has me working extra hard around the house. I don’t know how to find the balance between getting mad at him and telling him to get up himself AND feeling bad for him and doing everything. God only knows I can’t do everything 😉 Thanks for inspiring me today Colleen!

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