The Interdisciplinary Work of Lyss Warmland.

Posts tagged mothers

Check out my conversation about Sweet Coffee Club with Jeannette Breward!

Sweet Coffee Club is an interdisciplinary creative collaborative between two friends. We create surrealist photos based on original poetry. It’s a project we’ve been working on for almost two years, over the course of both of us becoming mothers alongside one another, and are ready to finally push out into the world. Sweet Coffee is one of the first poems we worked from.

Our work aims to find connection, care, and empowerment through creative expression that centres our relationship with our Selves, our bodies, and a relationship with the earth.

Sweet Coffee Club is unapologetically feminist. This work is about the lived experience of the women we are. It’s political and personal all at once. It’s soft and mean and spiritual and firmly grounded. We are white, and queer, and cis, and anxious, and sore, and tired, and settled, and vulnerable, and honest… but we don’t want Sweet Coffee Club to be just about those perspectives.

You can join Sweet Coffee Club too. Show us, however it makes sense to you, how you, in your body, find connection, care, and empowerment through your relationship with the environment around you. Mention us and hashtag your posts and stories #sweetcoffeeclub 💓

Come visit the in-person exhibit at Happenstance Coffee Pub in downtown Port Hope in November and December!

Check out my conversation with Jeannette Breward and Elle Warren!

We talk about what women empowerment means to us and whether each of the following topics are empowering to women:
– Sex work and porn
– Women only space
– Moms who work out of the house and mom’s who work in the home
– Cosmetic surgery

Jeannette Links:
Previous episode

Elle Links:
Previous episode
Personal IG
Bon Bon Fashion IG

I’ve been listening to poetry
For hours trying to find
Something that feels as familiar
As you did the first time you
Introduced me to the static
Of this world that mid summer
Red hot
Rose petal
True love
My mother
You were like a Friday evening
And I was Saturday morning
You looked at me like I was
The best choice you had ever made
So when I celebrate you on
This day I am tied to
With the roots of your arteries
On this harvest moon
I’ll hold you at the helm
Of the care that you gave me
While I hear the echo of your
Heeled shoes through the sound
Of the still static.

CW: death (feat. lyrics by Dashboard Confessional)

I remember her body
tiny and frail
convulsing in my arms
still pretty
still in this physical world
back then.

I sang to her

“she smiled in a big way”
her dry, thin lips unmoving.
“quiet in the grasp of dusk and summer”
it was late December,
but she was quiet.

“you already lost”
as she faded from me.
“when you only had barely enough to hang on”
it was true.

“she made you better than you were before”
I wanted it to be so.
“she told you bad things that you wished you could change”
and I grew up
so young.

“she said, nobody here can live forever”
And she died a couple of days later.
“Some things tie your life together
With slender threads,
And things to treasure,
And days like that should last and last and last”

he came home
I was already awake
he didn’t have to say anything.

my brother,
hugged her body.

touched her hand.

my suddenly too-big body
I drew in a deep breath
cold air
scraping against my insides

CW: death, death of a parent, cancer, mental health, care-taking, crisis

I don’t remember very much about the summer I was fourteen except that I did backstage crew for Les Miserables put on by the Burlington Student Theatre Arts Camp. I’ve always measured my life through association with whatever show I was working on at the time. I also spent a lot of time that summer sitting on the back deck with my mom in the backyard of the house I grew up in surrounded by flowers, two Japanese Maples, and the pond that mom was constantly re-creating. We would read trashy, secondhand, paperback novels (V.C. Andrews for me, Nora Roberts for her) that smelled of coffee and mildew and eat sweets alongside our vanilla tea.

It was a time in my life where I was discovering the constant ache that is clinical depression and generalized anxiety (and everything that comes along with it). Ever the researcher, my younger self took to the internet and then the library for something to describe what I had been going through for the last few years. I wanted so badly to understand. To be honest, none of the psychology books ever came as close to describing what I was going through as My Chemical Romance did.

The week before I started grade nine, I was sitting at the kitchen table with our freshest secondhand book store scores, waiting while Mom finished preparing our teas. She was talking to me about something casual and nondescript that I can’t remember anymore. She kept losing her train of thought and stumbling over her words, something she had been doing a lot lately. We had chalked it up to “fibro fog”, a common symptom of fibromyalgia, which she had been diagnosed with for years. I didn’t know it at the time, but she had been struggling to read all summer, and most of the time I had spent sitting on the back porch with her, she had simply been pretending to read and enjoying sitting beside me.

She started to sob in frustration. She couldn’t remember my name.

“Green…green, I can’t…”

It was rare to see my mother like this. She was a woman who shared a lot with me, but who always tried to spare my brother and I the extent to which she struggled with chronic pain and fatigue. It was a struggle I wouldn’t fully understand for a few more years. The night before, when I had been in my room, I had heard her scream at Dad and throw a plate at him. This wasn’t like her at all, and I knew something was off.

Since I had been researching my own struggles with mental health, I recognized her sudden change in behaviour and cognition as signs of a potential mental healthy crises. I had read about this. I knew what to do.

Dad and my brother were at some hockey thing or some golf thing. So I called my mom’s sister at work and said, “Something is wrong with mom. I need you to come pick us up and take us to the hospital.”

Mom sat at the kitchen table and cried. “Green,” she pleaded with me.

“Everything is going to be okay. We are going to get you some help,” I told her. I didn’t cry.

My aunt arrived and assessed the situation, agreeing with me that something was wrong. She called our family doctor and asked him to meet us at the hospital, and we drove there. They admitted her, and then I don’t remember very much more until the next day, when I came to bring mom a laptop and some O.C. DVDs. I think it was Dad who told me that the scans had come back, and the doctors had found a brain tumour on a part of Mom’s brain that affected language and emotional regulation. They were going to do surgery the following week, and once they had removed the tumour, they would do a biopsy to see whether the tumour was malignant or benign. There was hope that this would all be over in a week. Maybe Mom’s fibromyalgia would even be cured, who knew. Mom, who had always smoked, immediately quit, cold turkey. I took the cigarettes from the top drawer of the hospital cabinet, sat in Mom’s bathroom upon getting home, and smoked my first cigarette.

I remember going to all of my classes a few days into grade nine and explaining to my teachers that I would be keeping my ringer on my phone, and that I would leave the classroom immediately if it went off because my mother was having brain surgery and it was important for me to be able to handle potential crisis. Mom deserved that from me.

My phone didn’t go off during class, but when I exited the front door of my new school that day, Dad was there to pick me up, even though we only lived a fifteen minute walk away. I already knew what he was going to tell me, I had known since the moment I had heard the words “brain tumour”. It was malignant. It was also in her lungs and adrenal glands. I had lived with chronic nightmares and the seemingly unfounded belief that my mother would die from cancer when I was fifteen, and that premonition I had chalked up to anxiety was coming true.

For the next year and a half, I watched my beautiful, intelligent, opinionated, creative mother die. She fought, never wanting to believe that the cancer would kill her. After her brain surgery, she lived through radiation and chemo. I used to go sit with her during chemo while we marathoned crappy t.v. shows. I wish I had known more about cannabis at the time, but I had chosen to stay completely sober upon learning about her diagnosis. She needed me more than I wanted to learn to party, but I often think now that maybe cannabis could have helped her.

She went to all of my brother’s hockey games for that first year. Bundled up, makeup fully done, she was there. She had begged the brain surgeon to spare as much of her hair as possible while he removed the tumour, but shortly after starting chemo, she bought a beautiful wig that looked a lot like her hair had been, but thicker, which she was pleased about. She laid in bed while I sang to her and begged me to tell her it will be okay, just like I had as a kid when she was mourning the loss of her own mother to cancer.

“It will be okay, mama”.

A lot happened that year. I started getting really into going to shows. I fell in love. I joined choir and band. I watched my friends struggle with their relationships with their mothers and learned to cherish mine, even though it was hard and the brain tumour came back shortly after the surgery, so she still couldn’t speak fluently or regulate her emotions. It was really hard, and I have had to work hard to forgive myself for being wrapped in my own life as much as I was and not spending even more time with her.

Mom died at 3:00 a.m., January 1, 2007, which was four days before my sixteenth birthday. I gave a eulogy at her funeral, and I didn’t cry. I often feel spirits around me, but almost never hers. Ten years without her, I am still learning to own the affect losing her has had on me and learning to celebrate her life, even though I only remember bits and pieces of her from before she got sick. I wish I had gotten to know her more. I wish I remembered the sound of her voice. Sometimes though, I hear the sound of her wedge heels and catch glimpses of her when I look at my own legs or in my face when I do full theatre makeup.


there was a storm:
snow cascading from the clouds
the doctor
halted by the chaos
sat home by the fireplace
so I was delivered by a
there was the cord:
connecting my mother and I
wrapped tightly
around my under-sized
neck, turning my face
blue, like I’d be for
there was my grandmother:
on her own death bed
refusing to 
hold me or see me,
my mother’s daughter,
who took her name
There is a matrilineal lineage:
and a traumatic birth,
a precursor
for an anxiety-induced
identity formed by