One Day, Elsie Jane

October 24, 2013

The closing keynote at BlogHer Pro was a singer/songwriter named Daria Musk. I had read a brief bio, but didn’t know much about Daria. So I sat back in my chair and learned…no, more than that, I soaked in the interview Elisa had with her.

Daria is someone who has a beacon-like energy that I was drawn to for its light. She is joy embodied and said this is a decision for her–to have fierce joy, to live fierce joy.

When asked about her perspectives on life and creating and building her empire (truly, an empire born on Google plus!), Daria frequently returned the compliments and insights back to her mother. She said that her mom taught her this:




Daria added (and I paraphrase) that if you pick a dream bigger than a lifetime, you have something to do for your whole life. With setbacks and fighting your way up and trying and trying and starting again, there’s plenty of doing to be done, always. Striving. This must be a passion, to touch lives with her music, of course.

This is a gift from a mother. I want to be that kind of mother for all my children, but Daria’s words about her mom and her relationship with her had me thinking especially of Elsie Jane. A daughter, like Daria. Or, I hope….I hope that she will be fully Elsie Jane of course and I predict that she will have no problem being HER, she already insists on it. I plan to nurture that instinct in her, to fight to be her own person, to live by her innate Director, authentic to who she was born to become.

I hope I can mother in a way that nurtures EJ’s individualism and her belief in herself, but beyond that, listening to Daria reminded me to encourage my daughter to dare. To dare to live adventure, to feel so fully alive she can’t contain the gifts she’s been given. To choose joy in the face of lions.

When I was 24 I was looking only for my next drink, my next chance to run away from growing up. Daria strikes me as a woman who is looking for her next high, too. But she wants the real thing, the kind of buzz that comes from feeling connected to the world in an authentic way. She sings You Move Me and she means it–she is touched by a diverse humanity. She is brought to an exploding fill of joy because she is seriously inspired by the human story.

Daria was honest, it wasn’t always easy and she and her mom didn’t always get along perfectly, of course. But what is so obviously behind her are years of messages instilled–there is no boundary to keep her from her dreams, no checklist of the “right” things to do first. No chasing of a goal that’s silly, nothing a waste of time. This is what I want my Elsie to know, that in her voice, there is power, (whether she can sing or not) and as cliche as it may be, she really can do anything she puts her heart and mind to doing.

I have spent too many years fighting my head. My daughter, like I now finally know that I am, is made to live heart-first. It is not stupid or irresponsible or naive to do that. It leads to a confidence and maturity that so few of our girls are taught. The definition of success seems to have always come with a certain set of “but firsts”. But first you need that degree in this particular thing. But first you need to find a love of your life to support you. But first you need to have this experience or that amount in savings…

Sure, there’s something to be said for being a responsible, contributing adult. BUT, there are a million and then a million more ways to do that.

Daria and her music broke through because she intuitively knew that starting to have Google Hangouts while playing her songs would be doing something “first” and she believed it would bring her to people all over the world. It did. She now has 3,171,689 Google + followers and she was the inspiration Google needed to add their live Hangouts On Air (HOA). Now she has been featured in Billboard Magazine and Entertainment Tonight, has given her first TED Talk and hit stages and panels for SXSW, CMJ, BMI and more.

I mention these successes because they are a result of hard work and passion. Every mother wants their children to understand the value of those two things. For Elsie especially, who will most likely have to fight harder than her brothers to be taken seriously, I want more than anything for them to know what their passion are and to live them. How many of us miss this chance?

I walked up to Daria last night and I started to cry because I believe so whole-heartedly in what her mom taught her. I told her about Elsie Jane and how she is such a spitfire and how much I want her to be like the Darias of the world. And I want to be a mother like Wendy Musk, no matter how terrifying it gets.

One day, Elsie Jane, you may wish you had a fall-back plan. But if you don’t have one, you must keep going, keep fighting for and working toward your passion. The secret reality you might not figure out until much later, and that’s maybe for the best, is that your “fall-back plan” is me. You will always have us–your Daddy and me–not to dig you out of ruts you’ve created with irresponsible choices, but to support you while you do the craziest thing: follow your heart and fight the fear lions in your head, bringing joy to the world through your gifts. It doesn’t matter if you reach 3, 171, 689 people or 5. It really doesn’t. You just need to know that you are loved and you are meant to feel so fully alive and you can. You really can do anything and you are so worthy of all the joy.

Keep screaming when you’re mad and laughing hysterically with your joy. Keep demanding. Keep scrunching up your nose when you don’t understand and ask questions. Keep scrunching up your nose to grin. Keep being this beacon of joy that you are. Keep loving people and also letting them have it when they do you wrong. Then forgive them, whether or not you keep them in your life. Kick at the world when it holds you back, like you kicked the nurse over and over when you were born. Use your voice to say what you need. Allow connections to move you and move you again and again. Having adventures with other humans is a natural high, so keep seeking both. Know you belong, with Daddy and with me and know that you’re going to screw up sometimes but you’re so good, just so good, and you will rise up and try again and again. In the dark times, learn how to wait it out and to see it all work together for good. This is what makes you a beacon.

I love you.






Wendy Musk October 24, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Dear sweet Elsie Jane’s Mom!
You article brought tears to my eyes and I am so touched to be mentioned in your blog post. The picture of Elsie, nose crinkled in delight, with all the world to explore,her talents to discover, brings my girl to mind. Daria at three, angel hair flying free, running barefoot to the pond where I wait for destiny to sweep us up into something greater than ourselves. Your intention of Elsie will feed her soul; and of course, you understood the secret..we are the back-up plan and the lions at the gate. Our girls are allowed to develop because we stand between them and premature judgement. My favorite word is yes. Yours, Wendy Musk

tara pohlkotte October 24, 2013 at 7:36 pm

beautiful, just beautiful. I’ve got a daughter just like this. One that demands the space that is rightfully hers. She demands life to open, and in doing so, has allowed this mama to see this world so much wider then I ever had before she was born. Let’s be the mamas who started starting this world on fire. one tiny daughter at a time. they carry a torch already that can lead us into dark and deep places, places we’ve kept hidden but deserve to illuminate with life and attention.
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Jenny October 25, 2013 at 1:13 pm

This is the kind of mama I want to be for my two beautiful girls. My girls have opened my eyes to see that I deserve and they deserve to take up space in this world. Beautiful as always, Heather.
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Elaine A. October 25, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Your little letter to her, I mean, just WOW. For her to KNOW that you care for her and her pursuits that much is just such a wonderful thing. And an awesome place to start. Just think, if all children had that, what an even more amazing world this could be!!

Joanne Tombrakos October 25, 2013 at 5:29 pm

I too am moved to tears by this blog and the note to your beautiful daughter.
What a joy to read and to have met you at BlogHerPro!!

Nina October 27, 2013 at 9:38 am

I love this so much as a mom of two daughters. And how cool to see Wendy’s response to you.
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Vikki October 31, 2013 at 4:45 pm

I learned to parent from my son and then my daughter came and – whether it’s because she’s a girl or because she is so completely Zeca – I had to learn to parent all over again. I hope I inspire her and I hope she lives passionately and yes – I hope I get to watch.

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