After Hours 3.23.22
Discussion 9: Radical Honesty Through Motherhood and More
with Devon DeMint
At Thread Spun, we take great pride in being a place where mothers and those who mother alike can feel heard and understood. While we all have different experiences, the emotions we experience through parenting and helping tiny people grow are universal. Whether it be unbridled joy and fulfillment or despair and confusion, local Leucadia mother, Devon DeMint, puts it all down on paper for the rest of us to relate to. Devon is a human being, a mother, an amazing friend, a writer, and a wife. Add a couple of sides of talented skater, surfer and intermediate-embroiderer and you have one fun, patient, down-to-Earth motivational human.
Of course Devon is all of these things, but she is also working on integrating her entire human experience beyond labels. She is practicing all of the things that bring her happiness despite life's obstacles-the things that force her to challenge herself and to grow, and she is doing this all very transparently and sharing with all of us her journey along the way. She is who she is, and our community is so much richer for it. This month's Q&A gets us inspired to jot down our thoughts, to reflect inwards and be true to ourselves, while also uniting with others and sharing our struggles and successes.
Photos by Kimlien Le
I was born and raised in Orange County. I moved to San Diego for school in 2003 and I've been here since. I'll have lived in Leucadia for 15 years this summer.
I was put on academic probation my freshman year of college for citing my sources wrong in a final paper for English class, which led me to fail the paper and the class. One of the teachers on the review committee took pity on me and told me to take her poetry class the next semester. I got the sense that she was trying to tell me mistakes are inevitable and writing is about more than APA guidelines. I read Mary Oliver for the first time in her class. I liked how simple, but moving poetry was. It can take your breath away in a paragraph. I started writing more after I had my first miscarriage a few years ago. It felt like an easier way to process the feelings than talking about them. Funnily enough, my name, Devon, actually means "Poet".
- How long have you been writing poetry? Is that your main occupation?
Photo: (L) Kimlien Le // (R) Bella Glickman
- Wow, thats a huge shift in your life happening after such a difficult time. How do you feel that shaped you?
I never really stopped writing. I just sort of wrote it off (hah) as a career and pursued teaching after I graduated. I kept a physical surf journal throughout college and began transferring that over to a blog page. I taught preschool and nannied while trying to have a supplemental income from blogging and contributing to various surf publications. As blogging kind of transitioned over to instagram content, I found one of my favorite bloggers, Kate Baer, using poetry to share her experiences in motherhood. Her vulnerability really inspired me.
Early motherhood was very isolating for me. After working with children, I figured it would come easily to me and that wasn't the case. I had to grow into my role as a mother and sometimes that growth was painful (and still is). I found a few friends with children, like Heidi (the owner of Threadspun), who were open about the struggles- not just with breastfeeding and sleep, but in self autonomy and with anxiety and depression. Conversations I had with friends and family where I felt really connected to other women and myself influenced what I was writing.
- Any words of advice to someone who may share that experience?
One quote that I try to keep in mind is by Carl Jung: ‘Loneliness does not come from being alone, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important". I think being able to be vulnerable makes being human so much more manageable.
I wish I had studied writing more in school. I was kind of scarred by my early college experience in English class. I took another class called "Writing Autobiography" my senior year. It was incredible and the teacher was a great listener, but I ended up getting a B on my autobiography, so I thought that was a sign that I wasn't meant to be a writer. I just kept coming back to it though.
- Did you go to school for writing?
Photo: Sarah Lee
I run a skateboarding collective for women called She Skates Here. We meet-up to skate different parks in San Diego a few times a month. I also like surfing, free diving and collecting sea glass with my kids.
- What are your hobbies aside from writing?
Surfing has always been my first love so it shows up in most of my poems. My inspiration comes from all my great loves: my family, my kids, nature and the ocean, but I also just want to be able to examine mundane things in a different light. I love how Kate Baer writes. She even has a poem about things found on the floor of her minivan. It's like saying there is art everywhere and, as a mom who stays at home with her kids, I like believing you don't have to have some profound, transcendent experience to tell a story that matters.
- What are the inspirations for your poems?
- What do you believe defines a "writer"?
I think, to be a good writer, you have to embrace radical honesty and explore dark parts of yourself and your experiences, which is scary, so I think someone who can call themselves a writer is brave.
- She Skates Here sounds so fun! How long have you been skateboarding for?
My parents redid their kitchen one summer, so there were a lot of oak cabinets lying around. I used to cut them into "sidewalk surfer" shapes and carve pictures and quotes into them before shellacking them and drunkenly riding between parties down in Mission Beach. I started skating in skateparks about 8 years ago. My husband bought me new skatepads and a helmet for Valentine's Day.
- That's amazing, do you all skate as a family too?
My daughters are starting to get into skating. I've been taking them to the skatepark since they were babies and now the three of us can actually go and skate together, so that's been really special.
- Who taught you / what inspired you to skateboard?
I guess I taught myself to skateboard, but my first board was given to me by my "Nonnie", my grandmother, when I was in high school. It's a Hobie longboard that I still have.
- How hard was it, were you nervous at all?
I'm almost always nervous when I skate. There's so much that can go wrong with just the flick of a wrist or if there's a tiny pebble, but it usually doesn't and I think that's part of the thrill.
- Have you ever experienced bullying?
How could you tell ;)? I wouldn't say I've experienced overt bullying, but I was very much an outsider in high school and I spent freshman through junior year eating my lunch in the library, scratching sad things into a composition notebook. I remember thinking, "If I shared what was in this journal, I know I wouldn't be alone" which is what later inspired me to write my blog and share my struggles and experiences more publicly.
- Do you have to know how to skate, to join She Skates Here? What is the age range?
You can be any age and any ability! You just need a skateboard and a helmet and pads (if you want). Our core group is actually between the ages of 35-55!
- I'm personally nervous of being teased or put on blast if I try new things in front of people. Has that happened to you or have you seen it? What would be your advice to someone like me?
I have been so surprised by how welcoming and inclusive the skate community can be! Most skaters like to give pointers, see a new line through someone else’s lens and offer encouragement if you’re open to it. The skate community is actually so much more inclusive than the surf community, which totally caught me off guard. Skateboarding can kind of be like the land of misfit toys.
I think my best advice for you is to skate with a friend. Or, better yet, come skate with us! When I was first learning I was pretty paranoid about being in the way, having a lot of eyes on me or feeling out of place so I went to the skate park early. Skaters are not, traditionally, early birds, so if you want some privacy I’d say skate before 9 or 10 am. However, if you want the full experience I’d find a park you like and make some friends.
- What are 3 things you would like to see progress or change in the world?
I would like to see the stigma between boys and girls activities shift more. I think we're definitely in a better place now than when I was younger, but there's still a ways to go. I'd like to see people being more conscious consumers and realizing the impacts our everyday choices, whether for convenience or comfort etc, are having on the environment. I'd also like to see more radical acceptance. I think if we all read each other's journals we'd find more common ground than we expect.
- If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive who would it be and why?
If this also includes fictional characters, I would definitely have dinner with Buffy Summers! The ultimate heroine.
Check out Devon's blog HERE
Follow Devon on Instagram HERE