Lost in Living: A Must See

Mar 1, 2015

Caren-OliveLost in Living is a film for artists. Particularly women artists, though not exclusively. It’s also a film for people who are living with, loving, or trying to understand artists.

For me, Kat Ward (no journalistic royal “we” here), Lost in Living by Mary Trunk and Paul Sanchez of Ma and Pa Films was a pivotal documentary.

Two young women, M. Caren McCaleb and Kristina Robbins, are real-life friends. Over the seven years in which Lost in Living was filmed, they marry and have children, trying to balance their lives with their art. Painter Marjorie Schlossman who married and had six children while creating her art “in obscurity” and prize-winning novelist and Caltech professor Merrill Gerber also share their experiences, reflecting from an older perspective.

Lost in Living is connective, primarily for anyone who has had, or still is trying, to balance a life of art with life itself, which often includes marriage and raising a family. Watching the film was inspiring, illuminating, and powerful. The women’s journeys are exciting, fun, playful, arduous, disappointing, and painful. Desires and talent don’t always lead to success; husbands, children, and motherhood bring unexpected gifts, as well as challenges. Even the word “success” must be pondered, dissected, and re-imagined. Choices have consequence and repercussions.

“I don’t know how you ever really justify making art.” (M. Caren McCaleb, Lost in Living)




Watching Lost in Living made me feel not so alone in my attempts to balance an artistic and “regular” life. And it has been attempts, as in plural. The requirements of motherhood and making a living has often consumed my time, energy, and ability to create (i.e. write fiction). How my creative side likes to write and create stories does not fit neatly into early mornings making breakfast and lunch, working during the day, playing chauffeur, doing laundry, etc., etc. By the time the end of day arrives, any creative energy has been sapped. I pretend as though it doesn’t matter, that raising my girl and keeping a roof over our heads is more important, but then I have a night away, alone, and I sit outside in the evening and crack a brand new composition book and write for the first time in a year.

“I really, really want time. I don’t know, I still don’t know how to make art without having time.” (M. Caren McCaleb, Lost in Living)




Just the act of writing—allowing a character, a voice, a scene to fill the pages—brought me joy like I had not felt in a long, long time. A joy that’s not better or more valuable, but different than the joy I experience with my girl, or with my friends and family; the joy I feel walking the Arroyo, while eating a good meal, watching a Clipper win, or swimming in the ocean. All of those joys create a quality of life for which I am endlessly grateful. Writing fiction comes from a need and desire that feels born in my core. And when I ignore my fiction writing, a part of me fades. I get lost in living, as Mary’s documentary so clearly illustrates. Yet, the film also shows how these artists persevere and keep creating, or how they find peace with pulling back and taking a different path, how goals can change.




To celebrate International Women’s Day weekend, Lost in Living will be available on-line for free from noon on Friday, March 6th to midnight on Monday, March 9th. No password is required during these dates only.




For a preview, watch the Lost in Living trailer and if you like the Facebook page, Mary will send a pdf file of the 23-page Lost in Living discussion guide. Here is the link to the film, which shall be free on the aforementioned dates. So buy some wine and invite friends…

For complete details and links, click here for the Ma and Pa Films newsletter.

“I guess you could say that an artist’s life is a tossup. It’s a crapshoot. And, I took it. I did that life.” (Merrill Gerber, Lost in Living)







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