Today I’m chatting with Miki DeVivo, a poet, photographer and creator of the Parenting Out Loud community.

Miki draws her life experiences from her theatre studies, her work photographing families and writing poetry about the mundane beauty of life as a woman, mother and wife to offer glimmering hope to everyone who knows that real life is so much more boring and interesting and challenging that what gets shared in mainstream media.

Her desire to be authentically human and openly vulnerable comes directly from her own pain. Miki’s now deceased father suffered from bipolar disorder with a side of narcissism, and as a result, when she was a child Miki never felt seen clearly, understood or safe.

Her transition to motherhood was, thus, incredibly challenging. She was so paralyzed by the thoughts of what she ‘should’ be doing that she couldn’t enjoy what actually was. Starting to photograph her daughter was what sparked her ability to see more clearly, and help others too.

Miki’s passion to erase shame and the appearances of parenthood, and instead get into the nitty gritty and very real feelings and experiences of it are so inspiring.

Over the past couple years I’ve gotten to know Miki through a couple wonderful internet communities, and I’m so honoured to consider her a friend.

This interview is a real treat – Miki gets honest (of course), shares stories, and, lucky us, recites one of her poems too.

Enjoy our ramble through the story of The Mists of Avalon, relationship with body, and with creativity.

Things we chatted about in this episode:

  • the Mists of Avalon: it’s heartbreaking poignancy of missed connections
  • romance and mystery of the British Isles
  • everyone gathering around a community and a roundtable and how appealing that is
  • how having a theatre background shapes you
  • how myths teach us
  • the push pull of wanting to belong and connect, also feeling like that’s not happening
  • relationship to body: having hair brushed by parents, brushing your child’s hair as a parent
  • the complex relationship between protecting children and allowing them to make their own mistakes
  • public vs. private spheres
  • on making an early decision to not appear ‘girly’ and knowing she fits the mythic feminine norm (white, blond, blue eyes)
  • on growing up in Hawaii and never wearing shoes as a child
  • dancing hula and learning about her body through that dance form
  • theatre and how it teaches embodiment
  • taekwondo training and how doing the hard thing, the power of making a decision once then showing up for it everyday no matter what
  • how you don’t realize, until you get hurt, how much easier life is when you’re not hurt
  • on having a full-bodied ‘yes!’
  • on parenting a growing child on a daily basis, as an introvert raising an extrovert
  • how parenting is a fortunately unfortunate proposition – the paradox of living it
  • relationship to creativity: on being a poet
  • the difference between the inner critic and inner knowing
  • on being told you don’t have what it takes in a creative discipline
  • having that unsatisfied artists temperament
  • how being a new mom and photography are a great fit
  • on following the impulse and asking the question: ‘what’s the next thing I’m feeling called to do?’
  • on shifting from helping people tell their stories (photography) to telling her own stories (poetry)
  • fear and an abusive father and how it shapes what can be shared, and how death changes that

Resources from this episode:

Connecting with Miki:

Connecting with Janelle: