Monday, September 5, 2011

What's your Labor of Love?

My labor of love: books!
 by Maggie Toussaint

Today, Sept. 5 is Labor Day, a holiday celebrating the end of summer in the U.S. First celebrated on Sept.5, 1882 by the Central Labor Union in NY, it became a national holiday in 1894. Early on, this day celebrated the strength of labor unions with a parade and speeches followed by family time.

Through the years, the tradition among most Americans has changed to a day of relaxation with family and friends. The summer of 2011 has been harsh with its earthquakes, hurricanes, and heat. Frankly, I'm glad to see it go.

Art is a labor of love

Since I'm mostly self-employed, I tend to work most holidays, including today, but the topic of Labor Day caught my fancy. I stated thinking about the word "labor" and the various associations I have with it: working to pay the bills, of course; working at various chores which are a real effort; pregnancy labor; and working at something I love.

Because when you work at something you love, the hours fly by. I imagine the sense of timelessness that overcomes writers like me when we are "in the zone" is shared by other artisans and laborers. I'd love to know about your "Labor of Love."

Proceeds benefit children

Here's an example to get you started. My friend Adelle Laudan compiled a charity cookbook: Sweet Sunshine: baking sweet memories. The cookbook is meant to be shared with children as it's chock full of yummy recipes, cooking stories which feature children, and adorable childhood pictures of authors with their recollections of cooking as children. (Quick plug: available at ) The cookbook benefits the Sunshine Foundation for kids in Canada.

Please post a comment about what you love to do, about your labor of love. One lucky commentor will receive a digital copy of my Bed and Breakfast Romance - Seeing Red - which was a true labor of love - twice! Be sure and leave your addy if you want to be included in the drawing! I'll post a winner by 9 pm eastern time tonight.

Maggie Toussaint


  1. My friend Mona is having tourble with Blogger today, but she sent this message to me to post:

    Hi Maggie--Labor of love is when I painfully sewed a dress to give my daughter, or when I crocheted an afghan for the church's auction or for relatives or friends. I made 33 afghans, then I started writing and stopped sewing, knitting, crocheting, needlepoint,...My next labor of love will be to write my memoirs and the family's history for the children and grandchildren.

    Best Regards,
    Mona Risk
    OSIRIS' MISSING PART, Ellora's Cave Blush
    Rx IN RUSSIAN Top Pick at NOR
    BABIES IN THE BARGAIN, 2009 BEST ROMANCE NOVEL at Preditors & Editors Readers Poll

  2. Good topic, Mona. My true labor of love is my writing. My job job. But the hours I can spend curled up in front of my computer (so to speak) are the most precious to me. My recent historical was twelve years in the making--eleven in the recesses of my mind, and another year in research. Oh, my, how I did love that book. Someone else could always do my job, but write my books? No, I don't think so!

  3. You are so creative, Mona! I've often tried to get the hang of crochet. My Mom, sister, aunts, and grandmothers crocheted. Not me, I'm all thumbs and knotted string.

    My early sewing efforts were labors of love. Back in the day, I sewed Christmas outfits for my 2 young daughters and me - matching dresses for all of us. How I had time for that, I'll never know. They came out much better than I anticipated and lasted until we all outgrew them, LOL.

    Thanks for sending the comment!

  4. Hi Miriam! I hear you about the books of our heart. Particularly when there is a lot of research involved. We want to get all the information so that we don't make a historical error. I'm that way when I research a newspaper article or even when I'm trying on shoes. I need to make sure I've checked everything available before I move to the next step. Thanks for stopping by! Maggie

  5. First up--me.
    I forget about the Sunshine Cookbook.I want a print for myself but haven't done much else with it. It was the featured book on my blog when it first came I should do more. It's a worthy cause, and I love it.
    The word "labor-intensive" came to me as I read your post. Any task with that label might be a turn-off, but sometimes the most and best ones are labor-intensive, meaning, I suppose, many hours must to put in to finish this project.
    The most labor intensive thing I ever did--besides school, etc., was draw the house plans for our current home. I worked two years on those plans, wanting everything just as we both wanted. Every day after teaching, and after necessary tasks for the next day, I pulled out my drawing pad, my little house plans--dozens--I had cut from the paper or a magazine...and drew and re-drew.
    When I had it to both our satisfactions, I created it on graph paper--several sheets taped together to make it big--even including the width of the walls, etc., to get the exact sq footage. When I took my plans to a draftsman, he praised me and said he hardly changed anything--added one window--but even the width of the walls impressed him.
    Labor-intensive? Countless hours, and I loved every minute. And we love our home.

  6. Celia,

    That's so perfect! Your labor of love is something that you will enjoy for so many years. I can just see you there pouring over the ideas, trying to figure out just how to adapt them to suit your needs.

    When we built this house in Ga. I had to make room in our eat-in kitchen for our dining room set. It involved moving the windows around and bumping the doors over, but it was worth it. We got to keep something custom made and it hardly cost much to change at the plan stage.

    I bet your draftsman appreciated your drawing as much as you did!

    Thanks for stopping in! Maggie

  7. MAGGIE!! DON'T FAINT!! I MADE IT OVER HERE!!! LOLLOL Wow, I loved reading about what everyone else did as labors of love or "labor intensive" projects. I learned to crochet many years ago, but couldn't do a pattern, so I made afghans like crazy and gave them as Christmas presents. Everyone loved them. I used to sew a lot, but the year I made matching clown costumes for my kids (they were 1 and 4) I swore if I ever got those *@(*&%)(# costumes finished I'd never sew again. I put the sewing maching back in the table when I was done and never took it out again, true to my word. I'm totally impressed by Celia's house plan drawing! WOW. I KNOW that took a lot of time and effort, and was truly a labor of love. Like Miriam, I have a book that I started many many years ago. I have it written, but now that the "rules" have changed, I will need to go back and rework it. It's long. But I think now some of it can be cut. Probably much of it. LOL So writing is and always has been a labor of love for me, and something I can't imagine NOT doing. But probably for me, as with most of us, my most important "labor of love" has been my kids. First, when I was 21 and first married, my husband's kids were a huge priority for me when they came to visit, and in a year or so after we married, when they came to live with us. I took being a "mom" very seriously, and wanted to do the best I could do for them. Looking back now, I am surprised at myself for handling the situation with as much ability as I did, since I had no experience in being a mom and was the youngest child in my family, with no siblings close in age. And believe me, my stepkids had a huge set of problems that I was not equipped to deal with. But we managed, and several years later those days gave me a kind of "measuring stick" for what to do with my own kids when they came along. It was a breeze compared to "back in the day". So all this to say, my stepkids and my own kids have been an ongoing labor of love for most of my life, as I'm sure is the case with all moms. This is just what came to mind.

  8. Because we're all writers, I won't talk about my writing as a labor of love--or the time I nearly burned down the house because I was so in the zone.

    Another labor of love happened this summer when I taught my nephew to read. He's "home schooled" and because he's the youngest, babied. And because he's stubborn, given into. So his first four years of "school" was mostly play. I've had enough. So although it wasn't my "place" when he came to stay with me for a few weeks, I made reading part of our nightly routine. Lord have mercy, but that child is stubborn and able to throw a fit like no one else. At one point he glared at me and said, "it's a good thing I love you."

    Fortunately for him, I'm more stubborn than he is, and fits bounce off me like arrows on dragon scales. I can't say he loves to read yet, but he loves stories and his reading his getting pretty good. He still argues with me from time to time when I make him read or do homework, but mostly he just sighs and does it.

    I enjoyed your blog, Maggie. Thanks for making me think about something other than work this morning.

  9. oops, my bad, didn't you say to leave our e-mail addy? I'm feeling lucky today!LOL

  10. Hi Maggie,
    Fabulous topic as always. :) Labor's of love are the best. The culmination of focused hours evolve into a humbling achievement that often touches others lives. My labor of love is volunteering for Habitat For Humanity, which is one of my favorite charities. When you give a family a home, it's more than concrete and wood, but a place where they can build dreams.
    I'll be working alongside you this Labor Day Weekend, and like you, writing, which is another labor of love. Take care, enjoy the day, and I wish you continued success and for being a continual amazing inspiration! *Hugs*
    Love you!


  11. Hi Cheryl,

    I don't have time to faint today! Although, I will admit, I have always longed for one of those Victorian Fainting Couches. Wouldn't that be a cool addition to a writer's office?

    Parenting is a wonderful labor of love. I'm always amazed at how we feel like we're fumbling through the process and the kids come out great. The human race is pretty darn resilient, thank goodness. Parenting is a 24/7 job. Just when you think you can sleep through the night, you get a call from a teen or college age kid in crisis. That's life! Like you, I love my kids and I'm proud that they call me as often as they do. Family rocks!

    And I'm feeling lucky today too. What's up with that? Do we have a great horoscope today or something?


  12. Hi Keena,

    Teaching a child to read is a wonderful labor of love. Books were so much a part of my life that I always read to my children and they took learning to read in stride, like brushing their teeth. It was part of what they had to do.

    I admire you for making the effort with your nephew. He may not appreciate your patience and strength of will now, but he will one day.

    Thanks for the comment! Maggie

  13. Hi Diana,

    I'm so glad you took time to stop by. Habitat for Humanity is a wonderful labor of love. I'm so awed by this choice, and that of the other commentors today.

    I've always been lucky enough to have a roof over my head, a home to come "home" to. The thought of being on the flip side of that is truly scary. I'm awed at your choice and wish you plenty of energy, and of course, great writing as well!

    Thanks for the love! Maggie

  14. One labor of love for me was making special quilts for my grandsons when they graduated from high school. One has been a soccer player since he was 5, so I took some of his soccer shirts and made squares out of them. The other has been very involved in theatre, so I made his quilt out of shirts from the shows he had been in. For both of the quilts I had to come up with my own patterns, which was a challenge since I don't do quilting. But remember geometry? That sure came in handy. Plus the lady at the local quilt shop was very free with her advice and suggestions. Both the boys treasure their quilts.

    I'd love to be in the drawing for your book. My e-mail is maryann (at) maryannwrites (dot) com

  15. Maggie, you're the best. The cookbook was definitely a labor of love, but I can't take all the credit. Sixteen authors and their childhood memories made this book as special as I think it is.
    If anyone wants to see Maggie as a child, we've got pictures! lol
    I don't sew half as much as I used to, but I think my kids would lynch me if I didn't make them their yearly Christmas PJ's. I thought the novelty would have worn off by now, but they say Christmas just isn't the same without them.
    Great post Maggie. It's nice to be reminded.

  16. Maggie, of course my labor of love is my writing, but I'll take my response off my writing for a bit.

    My labor of love is my son, Joseph, who turns 5 Sep. 20th. (Not to say I don't love my son, Andrew, I love him very much, but Joe's story tugs on my heart.)

    After we had Andrew, my husband didn't want any more children. It was a bit upsetting for me. Andrew was too much work he claimed. Well, babies and toddlers are. Imagine my surprise when the stick turned pink again back in 2006.

    My husband wasn't very thrilled with the news. He immediately became stressed. How much is another baby going to cost us?

    We had to have another baby shower because he threw out everything after Andrew except the crib. Yes, I admit to being a little stressed about his attitude, but then I got some help from his family. At the baby shower they discovered his "laissez faire" about Joe and lit into him. After months of getting him to change his tune, my in laws did it for me in a day. They basically laid the BIGGEST FATTEST guilt trip on him and he saw that Joe's coming was really a blessing for us and there was nary a disheartening word out of his month since.

    That said, Joe was delievered via an emergency c-section. Seems he was sunny side up. His head was down, but facing the wrong way and I just couldn't push him out.

    He made his physical milestones on time, but around 15 months we noticed he wasn't talking. Around 18 months he still wasn't talking. Scared, we took him to the doctors and got a referal for the Regional Center. At 21 months Joe began receiving early childhood intervention services, speech therapy, occupational therapy, group therapy, and child development therapy.

    At 3 years old the Regional Center did a psycharic (sp?) profile on him. They came back saying he was not Autistic, but he had Sensory Intergration Dysfunction. Joe receives sensory imput correctly, but his brain misinterupts the signals. He's mainly a sensory seeker, but does have some tactle reluctance.

    Both my husband and I have had to give up a huge chunk of our time to make sure Joe got to his therapies and got the help he needs. This year he was mainstreamed in his kindergarten class and comes out only 1x a week for occupational therapy. He still needs to work on his sensory management and his frustration issues, but with a lot of hard work on his part, my part, and my husband's part, he's able to engage in activities other boys his age does. He plays socceer and does gymnastics. I still have more work to do, but he's my labor of love.


  17. Writing and getting paid for doing it is great from my point of view. Writing is a labor of love.

    Jacqueline Seewald

  18. Hi Maryanne,

    Those quilts sound like such a wonderful labor of love. Thanks for popping in. I've added your name to the drawing!


  19. Adelle,

    Those Christmas pjs sound fantastic. Will you adopt me? There's nothing I love better than a great pair of pjs.

    Thanks for popping over!


  20. Ah, Steph, my heart is full of love for your family. Coping with differences is hard, a true labor of love. I'm so glad Joe and Andrew have such a talented, active mom who's proven herself over and over again to be great in a crisis.

    I have a nephew who isn't autistic but he's somewhere in between that and the rest of us. He's now in his thirties and doing quite well for himself. Hang in there. Maturity is coming!

    (For the boys - not for us - we're tinkerbells at heart!)


  21. Hi jacqueline

    You're truly a woman after my own heart. Writing is truly a labor of love and getting paid for it is the nicest thing going.

    Thanks for stopping in. I appreciate you making time for my blog.


  22. Ah Maggie, so many thoughts in my mind about what I could choose....

    In writing, it's my Rehearsal series. Very long, lots of research, lots of spin-offs ... just a massive project I hope I can fulfill well.

    Otherwise, I'd say military support by way of mailing boxes, creating awareness, joining with groups to help in several little ways.

    In the even bigger picture: supporting America AS America for the reasons we were formed, and trying to encourage others to see just why it needs protecting and supporting. Needless to say, I get plenty of flack along the way, but hey, I value my freedom and I wish more people in the world had it. You can't keep what you aren't willing to fight for.

  23. Hi Lorraine,

    I'm thrilled that you stopped by to leave a comment. Your Reheasal series rocks. (haha) And it's so very cool that you support the military and our freedom as Americans. I love your strenth of beliefs and wish more people felt the same level of commitment to their causes.

    Thanks for stopping in! Maggie

  24. Closing out the book giveaway for the day. The winner by random drawing is Maryann Miller. Thank you to everyone who posted today, and I hope you'll all come back and visit next week!

    Congratulations, Maryann!


  25. I'm late chiming in, but wanted to comment that like so many others, my labor of love is my writing. Beyond that, my family, friends and dogs are a point of love, but I can't call it labor. The only fly in the ointment is marketing and promoting. Those just feel like labor, but it's still all good.

    Marja McGraw

  26. Great another post!!, I follow this blog with RSS and its great!

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