About Me

“These little things make all the great difference. When they are gone you must fall back upon your own innate strength, upon your own capacity for faithfulness.”  Joseph Conrad

Photo by Scott Hevener

Stephanie Land writes through Barbara Ehrenreich’s Economic Hardship Reporting Project, and for social and economic justice as a writing fellow through the Center for Community Change.

Stephanie is represented by Jeff Kleinman at Folio Literary Agency.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in English with a Creative Writing emphasis from the University of Montana. She lives with her two daughters, Emilia (“Mia”) and Coraline Land in Missoula.

Bylines:

The New York Times (print)
The Washington Post (print)
Narrative.ly
The Guardian
Manifest Station
DAME
Alaska Magazine
Bill Moyers.com
Salon
IMG_0220The Nation
Missoula Independent
Mamalode
Literary Mama
ESME.com
Esperanza Magazine
AlterNet
The Huffington Post
Club Mid and Scary Mommy
Vox
YWCA Missoula
Montana public radio
Cosmopolitan
Good Housekeeping
Redbook
YourTango
SheKnows
Talk Poverty
Hello Giggles

 

Stephanie juggled several house cleaning and landscaping clients through college, along with single-parenting her two daughters.  She was a recipient of the Women’s Independence Scholarship for three years.

Her memoir is in progress. It tells the story of raising Mia primarily on her own, focusing on a year of them living in a studio apartment when Stephanie worked full-time as a maid. It’s a story of surviving domestic violence, long hours of gritty work, chasing dreams, and redefining the single mom narrative, and what makes a house a home.

1238895_10201296842235616_1364896996_n“Your friends urge you to leave town and never look back. It takes six years, but you do. You’re a single mother, on your own, 500 miles away from family or friends. But you make new ones. You enroll in the creative writing program at that university you called years ago. You get published. Every weekend one summer, you both go camping, hiking, or rock climbing. She starts kindergarten. You’re in school full time and clean houses. There’s not a lot of money, but you make it work. And a little girl watches your every move.” 

-excerpt from “Your Every Move,” published through Literary Mama.

86 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Excellent story”I spent 2 years cleaning houses. What I saw makes me never want to be rich”. Amazing what some will do and give up for the all mighty dollar.

    Be safe ………keep writing as I will be looking for more…………Thanks

      • Thank you for writing. Your story, the hospital stay, it touched me. I understand. You are surrounded by love; you’ll see.

      • On his marvelous book Take the Rich of Welfare, Mark Zepezauer, while analyzing how taxpayers’ money going to subsidize corporations and rich individuals, he demonstrates how this has grown from about $448 billion in the late 90’s to over 1 trillion dollars to date; and while this is going on the amount of the tax money that comes from those flush companies and individuals continues to shrink. Ironically the media and its propaganda machine dominated by those who have power, want us to believe that the poor, needy and medical disable people in this country are the one benefiting from this bonanza. While the word `welfare’ is more applicable to those who are really benefiting- -the wealthy: e.i., how many time did the Joe of America had to pay for Donald Trump’s businesses bankruptcy and yet over 50 million people are going to bed hungry everyday?– it is also a form of “oligopoly”: laws created to help the weak and poor have instead resulted only in the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

    • Well,Very truly story.I remember my time in hospital.I was there with kidney stone for 3 days.
      After 3 days I left hospital with One Hundred Ten Thousand dollars bill to pay.

    • I know exactly what you mean, rich and entitled, no sense of sharing, no sense that equally hardworking clever people didn’t / don’t get what you have, I might eventually recover from an arsonist destroying my life, but I could never be ‘rich’

  2. I start to read many articles and just lose interest after the first few sentences..or read them and then have a ‘meh, ok’ reaction. Your article on the “..cleaning houses..” rocks! Loved it.

      • I read your article and I completely understand. I too had a similar experience after a very bad marriage. I owe almost $40,000 in medical debt and am being garnished at 52 years of age. I lost my home. My family has nothing to do with me because I’m the crazy one. I will more than likely never be able to get out from under this. Some days it’s just hopeless. I do have a great job, with an very understanding boss and 2 great daughters, so I guess it really could be worse.

      • Thank you for commenting, Kate. Enjoy the love of your daughters. I am estranged from my family as well. My daughters are often what get me through.
        Much love,
        Stephanie

  3. Thank you for keeping it real! I too am going through domestic abuse, alone, without family and no where to turn. You are an inspiration!!!
    Would love to hear from you. Would love to talk to someone who has been through the fire and made it successfully through !!! God Bless you and your family

  4. I absolutely got hooked on your writing ! after reading about your experience of cleaning houses….You are inspirational in your clarity.
    Thank you

  5. I spent many years living in Santa Barbara working on the most expensive houses in the world for the richest of the rich, nowadays I dread when I get a call to do a job on Montecito or Hope Ranch. The places are sometimes so dark and soulless I feel like they are demon-possessed if there is such a thing. The shear size of the places made me loathe large houses. Working in other peoples homes has been interesting in some ways though, some people have great books about their beliefs, photos from great places and sometimes there are dogs that just needs a hug, haha. Anyway I like the way you write, keep it up.

  6. Really? You don’t know anything about those people, All your conclusions that you have fabricated, real or not, about their lives; jobs, children, family are based on trash can litter, snooping through drawers and medicine cabinets. It’s appalling. I find it amusing that those living on the lower end of the food chain find personal fault with those living near the top based solely on assets. You have absolutely no idea what effort and sacrifices were made to achieve their position. Yet, you vilify and make judgement on others based on the cost of a blanket. This is exactly what you are doing, because as you stated, you never even met them. This is all a mask for jealousy and you justify it by trying to expose their weaknesses, very sad. These people trusted you just by letting you into their private world, their home, and you have the audacity to betray that with your condescension and blatant spying. Who are you to make any kind of judgement based on scrubbing toilets and folding sheets? Do you believe that just because someone makes more money that their lives are so different? I wonder what assumptions would be made based on your trash and dresser drawers. However, as someone who you would consider “rich” I feel certain that these clients are not losing sleep over being scrutinized by “THE HELP”…

    • Dear Vanessa, Stephanie could be a detective! Your home is a reflection of you. Why are you so uptight? Try reading “The Help” of “The Barbarian Nurseries” for more insight. Be proud of Stephanie’s ability to make people interesting. Here’s a virtual hug for you. X JO


    • Offended one living on the higher end of the food chain in the empty big house? Take another antidepressant and get over it, princess, because you sound like you are loosing sleep over something …

    • I agree. If I went through your personal life from the perspective of snooping through your personal stuff, I might conclude you are a white trash divorced loser , just another poor piece of detritus that suffers to make ends meet and struggles to feed your kids.
      I might thank God that I learned from the Rich People whose lawns I mowed and whose houses I painted when I was a kid, who taught me to Give Back when I made it Big-( which I did) , who gave me tips on how to move through life with grace and ease , how to access the brightest and best ( who are often very rich), and how connections and friendships with much richer people allow me to see the absolute best and most spectacular places on earth.
      Yep , I’m Rich. I also do Yoga four times a week , mentor a homeless teen through the local YMCA , serve on a couple of boards for local charities, and give 10% of my profits from my business to Breast Cancer Research and Juvenile Diabetes. I am president of my Synagogue , where I have come to know a lot of Rich , and amazingly Kind , people who give of themselves. Charity for us is at a level that we ” have to feel it” . It should hurt more than buying that fancy Bedspread you talk about!
      I have met countless other Rich, Charitable, Thoughtful, and highly intelligent & fascinating people at the Top.
      I also give a good deal of my used stuff to the couple who clean my home. They are from Cuba and brought me a box of Cohiba Cigars
      When they went last. He cleans my Boat.,
      I have taken him and his Family fishing.
      If all these people knew about me was what they gleaned from inspecting my Toilet Seat or inside of my Underwear ( and Filing Cabinets)
      They would not really Know me ….would they?
      I think the basis of your article has merit- Money cannot buy Happiness, and many Rich folk are miserable. So are many Poor or Midfle Class Folk And yes, everyone’s Shit Stinks.
      Where you are flawed is that you make your conclusions about other people’s lives based only on their dirty laundry.
      In my humble opinion , this is another form of Prejudice- Pre Judging others by seeing only a tiny part of who they are.

      If you knew me

      • I wonder if you do charity like you do yoga, part of your feel good about yourself ritual,
        rather than thinking about how to do something substantial for people who find themselves suddenly disadvantaged

      • Hi, Not sure why you contacted me, or who you are. …and what this is about. Please clarify- thanks! Skip

        Sent from my iPhone

        >

      • It’s good that you give back to the community, but doesn’t it seem weird to you that in a wealthy country with charitable people in it, there is no public land set aside near each city that people can legally create shelter for themselves if they find themselves suddenly homeless, you mentor a homeless teen, and give to worthy charities, no amount of increase in token charity, however much you feel it, will fix a structural problem.
        A documentary on 2 masai warriors coming to america (Warrior Road Trip: Boni And Lamarti …) shows their astonishment that america has homeless people, it really is astonishing when you become one of them, wildlife has a right to live in the wild, but homeless people don’t have a right to be anywhere,
        You are influential, and you know a lot of rich and amazingly kind people, will any of that change the structure of homelessness? regards Simon

    • The comment of “lower end of the food chain” reflects your dehumanization and commodification of human beings into a food group, which places you more towards that end of evolution from which most have evolved. Moreover, looking at what has offended you may offer you some insight into what you are giving-up in exchange for maintaining the delusion that wealth makes a person successful. Be the master of your own personal wealth, not just your money and people. Seeing the struggle of life in another person, and receiving the shared embrace of communication is an occasion to celebrate our mutual humanity, rather than to disassociate from one’s –own– humanity. I hope that when you pass from life you leave more than a dead animal and a pile of paper-promises for the vultures to pick over. I hope when you pass from life that, having more wealth, –you– having greater-than-most potential, leave an expression of life that can inspire many, an expression that you –own– being human, an expression of life that others can maintain and remember. Wealth is something that can own you, make sure you own it by not letting it devalue you by way of devaluing other human beings. I appreciate your wealth and your struggle because it is a process within our common humanity, society, and organization. Perhaps we can see that struggle for life as something we share, wealthy onto despair; life our process to bear.

    • Nouveaux Riche such as yourself are what give people who have a bit of money a bad name. You describe this hard working young mother as soneone at the bottom of the food chain. She felt compassion towards the loneliness she saw displayed. In the world if Kardashian worship, her thoughtful writing gives us a different insight.

  7. Stephanie, loved your story about cleaning houses. I have a small house that I can clean and love it. Keep up the writing, nice.

  8. I really enjoyed your story. My first wife and I lived comfortably (small house) but we were young professionals with little free time, and had a private cleaning person. Once we had a child, we decided to adjust our lifestyle and cut back on work hours, so we gave up our cleaning person. In a lot of ways doing the hard work of taking care of our home reconnected me with appreciating what I have, and to want for less. Thanks for highlighting that just owning nice things doesn’t always add to your happiness in life.

  9. After reading your house cleaning article, I was so impressed I read your Literary mama article ” Your Every Move” I was very impressed. As a life long reader, wish I could write, I can tell you will do great things. The Literary Mama article put into words all the wonder and pain that can come from a relationship and becoming a person who has to stand up for herself and her child, when it would be so much easier to just submit. The only other thing I can say is that not all of us of the male gender are so cruel.

  10. It’s sad that some have missed the point of her story. She clearly states that after seeing what she has seen, she now knows that money and a large house is not the most important thing and also the fact that if the house is too large for her to clean, she would be opening herself up to the same judgment from others that she would have to hire. I took from this story that she has certainly known the poor side of life and now knows that the “rich” experience the same sadness and heartache as anyone else. The sadness of a miscarriage, the loss of a loved one, the emptiness that lingers in some of the most beautiful, manicured homes. I didn’t feel that she judging anyone, simply making an observation that there are people that can afford a blanket that costs more than her car. A simple comparison to items that she understands. Please don’t be harsh or take this article personally. I am pretty sure that those with negative comments have and always will be offended by things that hit a little too close to home! Maybe?

      • OMG!! you are truly an inspiration to me!… I wish I could know you.. I wish you alllllllll the happiness in the world…and for the record I am so mad at your mother too!! You look happy please stay that way…and I am sure you will you have the world and myself beside you..clapping!! :)

  11. 20 years in the service industry with customer interaction in their castle….I have stories that will blow your mind.
    Sociology 101 in college has nothing on the real life experience of your service provider and his/her encounter in the homes of the human race; rich, poor, young, old, black, white, short, tall, white collar, blue collar, male, female….

  12. Great writer! loved your story about “Cleaning Houses’. You’re were honest, and keep it real. like life should be.

  13. Just read your article “I spent 2 years…” and loved it! I too am a single mom and know how hard it can be! Your insights made me thankful of where I am with my children. We are truly blessed! I can’t wait to read the book! Many blessings!

  14. wow. enjoyed the writer and all the comments this afternoon. I am online seeking employment after being unemployed for almost two years. Reading non-fiction is a great part of my peace.
    Thanx,
    know domestic violence
    grows us all one way or thee…

  15. Stephanie,

    Your article is amazing and so well detailed. It spoke to me in volumes. I am also as single mother and going back to school. Your story inspires

  16. I became thoroughly caught up in reading your story, “I spent 2 years cleaning…” as I, too, grew up poor and performed many menial jobs until graduating the state university (on scholarship) and becoming a teacher. My one question is: Now that you obviously have money, have you remained true to you promises of austerity and playing games outside with your children? These oaths are often made and not kept once the income situation changes. My hope is that your have stayed faithful by steering clear of the pitfalls of the uber wealthy. Sincerely, Barbara

    • I laughed out loud at your comment, Barbara. I am sitting here, at my kitchen table, making sense of this with an overdrawn bank account and a truck outside that’s on the fritz. I’m still a single mom struggling to make ends meet. I’ve been trying to make it as a freelancer for the last year, and getting started is never easy. I don’t have any plans to get a big house, and we play in neighborhood parks, if that’s what you’re asking. Thank you for the comments, and for reading.

  17. I’ve been following you for as long as I can remember. You posted for a while and quit and I was always checking my email for a new post. I was worried about someone I’ve never met. I’m also a single mom of two.. And it’s hard. But you give me hope. Thank you.

  18. This is the first article by you that I’ve read. I like your style: observant, honest, subtle humor. I had to laugh as I read it. I’ve had a housekeeper as long as I have been married. Nearly 24 years ago, my new groom made this observation. “You work all week; you clean all day Saturday and sneeze all day Sunday. And…you’re not that good at it. Let’s get a housekeeper. If I don’t like cleaning, why would I think you would? And, it you don’t like doing laundry, we’ll send it out.” He was so right about the first observation, but I informed him that as a Laundry Queen I could get out any stain so he was in luck.

    Now, we have a pretty house but it’s not big. What it lacks in size though, it makes up for in inconvenience. I think there is a special place in hell for the guys (I know they were) who designed my kitchen. I know it was by design because of its diabolical nature: deep cabinets with narrow entrances and fixed shelves; a cook top that butts up perpendicular to a counter and a hell-hole of a pantry that swallows up staples and spits them out stale 10 months after the expiration date. Impossible to keep in good working order! The only things that has kept me in this house are creative housekeepers that helped me keep that pit somewhat organized and a kind husband took over all the cooking and grocery shopping after the birth of our daughter. Seems he could not do “diapers” because of a trigger gag reflex and he’d rather I helped with the homework. To my delight, he kept cooking and shopping for twelve and a half years until I retired.

    Back to the housekeepers, over the years, we’ve had three different ones that came every two weeks. I never used a service for the very things you mentioned. Anonymous people with keys to your home and the code to your alarm system (we live in a nice neighborhood, but hey, it’s California); people doing who-knows-what in your home when you are not there. No, I always hired individual people by word of mouth; people I liked, trusted and honored.

    Now I know they have had their share of laughs and stories over my creative housekeeping. And some of them may have pulled out tufts of their own hair. My husband has not affectionately called me, “Mrs. Messy” for nothing. With a house woefully lacking in convenient design and adequate storage, it tapped into my greatest ADD weakness. Picture an explosion in a mattress factory. But every other week, my patient housekeepers helped me put things back in proper working order. I warned my husband that after I retired, she might need to come every week. Instead, now I work alongside her. She’s a great motivator who helps me keep things in order. She laughs saying, “We all have our own strengths and this one is not yours! But your messiness keeps me gainfully employed.” (For the time being, that is. She, like you, is a budding author working on three children’s books). By this time next year, I may be scrubbing on my own!

    Thank you Stephanie for sharing your observant housekeeping story. I look forward to reading more of your work from the Big Sky Country.

  19. For about 10 years we have had someone clean our house every week. As a matter of fact, she and her husband will be here in about 4 hours. We are in the midst of raising 3 wonderful children—one starting grad school, the other in college and the third in high school. So, we have a busy schedule. The kids are not perfect, but then again, no one’s are. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Though we have had our issues raising a family, it’s nothing dramatic…no porn, no creams, no habit-forming medications to speak of. I can make more money by working more, but I make it a point to be home by 5:30 every day (and 3pm on Fridays to pick up my daughter from school) and be with my family. Not all “rich” people are sad or lonely or depressed or in need of topical creams (including the blue or pink pills).

  20. Three Car Crashes is well written, narrative but artistic in style & language . You own both hardships and mistakes and that is character. I hope you establish more stability.

  21. Stephanie, I am so very proud of you! I see you have endured hardships, forced yourself to get up when you were down, moved forward! Plus, you are living the life I always thought I would! You are a writer. My husband says I am, because I have actually finished two full books, have some short stories written, and actually have had a couple of poems published in online magazines. Oh, and I also have kept like somewhere around nine journals or so. He also says I am an artist. Yes, I have always been obsessed with writing, painting, do some sort of art, but that is where my talent ends.
    I haven’t gathered enough gumption to throw myself and my work out there for the world to taste, to evaluate and to judge. I am scared shitless of rejection, and I need to break out of that before I am too old! LOL,,, and boy, do I feel old!
    Anyway, you are such an inspiration to me, hon. I have always adored you since I knew you from way back in the day. You make me want to do something productive with all this creativity inside me and collected all around our apartment over the years. You make me want to be a better mom too.

    M Calhoun

  22. Dear Stephanie, I’ve just finished your story “I spent 2 years cleaning houses. What I saw makes me never want to be rich” – and I really enjoyed reading it. You made me feel like you were my eyes and ears in those houses.

  23. Nice! One of the best things I ever did was move from my small town to work as a nanny for two wealthy families in a large city after high school. I hadn’t really expected that money would buy happiness per se, but I thought that having enough money would make life fairly stress free for these families. What I saw was that people created their own stress. Was their kid drinking from a bottle for too long? Should they forge the kindergartener’s homework he refused to do? Was their deck bigger than the neighbours’? They not only were not happier; most of the families I saw appeared significantly less happy than the low- or moderate-income families I grew up with in the rural midwest. That time disabused me of any notion that I would be happier if I were really wealthy. That said, having enough to at least know you can cover your (modest) bills is helpful, and having spent time poor I wouldn’t want to do that again.

  24. Just heard your interview on Australia’s Life Matters, ABC Radio National. I relate to the lone mum doing it tough, absolutely – in a culture that engenders deprivation. Keep up the good writing.

  25. I also heard your interview on ABC Radio National’s Life Matters. I’ve now read more of your wonderful work …as well as the comments on this page. Those who take umbrage are also revealing and illustrative in a way that enhances the poignancy of your insights. I have the big job and throws that cost as much as some people’s cars, along with too many other things I rarely get time to enjoy, let alone use, because of that job. I don’t feel superior. As George Carlin once said, “The upper class keeps all of the money, pays none of the taxes. The middle class pays all of the taxes, does all of the work. The poor are there just to scare the shit out of the middle class. Keep ’em showing up at those jobs.” There are just a handful of people who will be OK unless they take a stupendous gamble, but the rest of us are probably one bad accident, health crisis or job-loss away from the sort of challenging existence you reveal in such a nuanced way. You show how we see ourselves largely through the eyes of others because we are social creatures. These processes of self-evaluation and comparison are particularly acute as we find ourselves in a perversely competitive and image-conscious world – a world where automation, robotics, algorithms and satellite technology are also rapidly converging in a way that will make most of us unemployable. Our technologies replace more jobs than they create. That’s why they are successful, but as a society we only know how to punish and ridicule those who don’t achieve an outcome that was normal for an earlier era.

  26. Stephanie,
    I found your blog through your NYT essay (Learning to walk alone), and from there read the rest of your articles. I have a 13 month old daughter who is just taking her first steps, so your essay was particularly meaningful. Although my life is in some ways very different than yours, your writing really resonates with me. I’ll continue to read, and hope your success will grow.

  27. Hello Stephanie, I just read your post on vox.com. Thank you so, so much for sharing your story. And deep respect for you. Warm hugs from a fellow human being, with all too human struggles as well:-)

  28. Been there with my wife – less than $500 left to pay the hospital for their services – it has taken several years of payments.. hard for the “sick” wife and her husband to live though the collection calls for the money owed the hospital; for a time almost daily collection calls and at all hours of the day. The constant calling alone could cause someone to consider ending their life. Very hard time for us and very poor medical treatment follow-up of the ill who could only understand the collection calls and the debt in part and then with confusion.

  29. OMG!! you are truly an inspiration to me!… I wish I could know you.. I wish you alllllllll the happiness in the world…and for the record I am so mad at your mother too!! You look happy please stay that way…and I am sure you will you have the world and myself beside you..clapping!! :)

  30. Stephanie you are so brave & strong. I wish you happiness & joy with yourself & your daughters. I am also a single mom. One of my dreams is to write a children’s book. You inspire me.

  31. Reading your story brought me to tears. My older brother and I lived a similar early life, but as through the eyes of your children. Thank goodness we also had the same strong resilient mother your daughters have.

  32. I also lost my job due to a 5 day hospital stay for my depression. I lost everything. I now live in a cold attic at my sister house. They need a organizations.to help people with financially if we have no income.

  33. Your story is inspiring. The fact that you were willing to write about it is even more inspiring, thank you. Our stories are nearly identical, though we endured different abuses our tales are otherwise almost exactly identical. Your courage and survival is nothing short of a miracle, and the world just became a better place knowing there is another person out there who had suffered through the same circumstances and made it out alive.

    • Thank you, Wade. So much. All these comments are so full of support and solidarity they’re hard to read without getting emotional. I appreciate your thoughts and taking the time to write.

  34. Hello Stephanie, as you have probably read and heard time and time again, “your story of survival is very compelling”. I am so touched. My response to your story of survival is purely on a personal human to human level, notwithstanding my background as a mental health professional. You are indeed an inspiration to us all, especially those of us who are victims of abusive relationships and struggling with mental illness.

    As a Clinician, I have seen up close much of your well documented experience with domestic abuse, depression and system failures to provide safety, protection, and appropriate treatment (outpatient and inpatient) to the most vulnerable among us. It is unimaginable that in your moment of utter despair, you found the inner strength to seek help, only to be released without an appropriate discharge plan and thousand of dollars in debt. The real issue here though is that your experience is very very common, it’s only worst in some States.
    Please keep telling your story, it is a very powerful one, and emotionally moving.

  35. Happy you’re doing well in Big Sky Country now Stephanie! I too had a somewhat smaller stay at a detox for being suicidal in my late twenties(rough time for many, especially the artistic types ;-)). They sent me the bill and it was around $5,000 in 2006. Four days, a few meals, and a sleeping pill. If anyone reading this is thinking of getting professional help, do yourself a favor and just buy a ” for dummies book about your ailment” and pray for the best. If you have “hope”, even the smallest amount, you’ll find your way(for a lot less$$$).

  36. Thanks so much for your writing! I moved to Great Falls Montana last fall and really felt lonely at first. As a “stay at home dad” with a four year old, your writing really struck a chord. Much appreciated!

    Life is indeed a struggle for everyone. We are so lucky and blessed if we have good physical health and mental health… as you obviously do. Our kids are the icing on the cake and the best reason to keep plugging. You have a wonderful gift. Thanks so much for sharing it! You are an inspiration!☺

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