The School Years

As I lay down my pen at the end of a new short story draft, I again have to acknowledge my strong affinity for mother-son themes. This makes me think of my own son, my eldest, who seems to hunger near-constantly for time one-on-one with me. He lost a great quantity of mommy-and-me time after his sister was born. Now they both fight for me. It's…

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Summer Churning

Elise, what have you been up to? Where shall I start? It's officially summer, so my garden and I have been racing each other to see who can weed/grow weeds the fastest. Ha. It's no contest. I lose. But the flowers are gorgeous and I keep picking these bouquets that knock my socks off! Seattle friends--I'll make you a pretty posy is you want to stop…

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Anything but Plain (WA)

As the capstone to my participation in the Cascadia Residency this year, I and four other artists stayed in a beautiful riverside retreat center in Eastern Washington called the Grunewald Guild. We experienced warm, mild weather, created art, took restorative breaks in hammocks, and gathered around fresh meals that were prepared for us. We worked hard, really! It was a true residency—we didn’t have to worry about…

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Good Stuff

Today I have good news to share! A glimpse at the day-to-day first: I'm at the tail-end of a very challenging season in which I've had to hold down the proverbial fort with home and children for three months while my husband studies for a big engineering test. (The test is April 13th! Wish him luck!) I have been faced repeatedly with depression, exhaustion, and feelings…

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Swim

"Put your face in the water. Blow bubbles. See? Like me!" I immerse the lower half of my face and push air through my nostrils. I raise my face from the pool in an expression of excitement. My son copies me once, then refuses to repeat the action. He needs to learn to swim. Sure, it’ll take years before he’s close to mastery, but the process…

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Pushing On/Pushing Back

In my twenties, running as fast and hard as I could seemed like the best way to ensure I was climbing my ambition in the right direction. But now, more than ten years past my college graduation...I'm seriously assessing the cost of such behavior and asking myself, What do I pay for in mental fragility, depletion of emotional reserves, temper with my kids, and closeness with…

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Take Care

Having the second baby has made me slow down. A lot. My new normal has squeezed me toward ultra-focused sessions of writing and drafting in the afternoon and a running list of priorities that I update daily. My household chores have been broken down into a monthly and weekly rotation. I prep my dinners on one particular afternoon a week, and I plan-plan-plan so that the important…

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Stand Up: (A mental health reminder for introvert parents)

I’ll rush to defend a friend, but cringe and sometimes fall silent when it comes to defending myself. I once loved to argue. I am still easily riled up. When it comes to protecting time to myself, to write, to sleep, to speak to no one, I am apologetic yet fiercely determined. I explain to my husband that my attitude of distant exhaustion is not so…

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The Art of the Do-Over

What would you do over, if you could? My husband and I were recently talking about things we truly wished we could do over again. He’d wished he’d attended high school prom with the girl who’d asked him. I wished I’d actually dated a particular boy in my senior year of high school, despite my parents’ objections—because, looking back, I’m pretty sure he was my first…

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I See You (a Father’s Day letter)

Beloved, I see you. Up in the morning with the little one smiling on your shoulders as she rides through the house in the hiking backpack carrier that you wanted for your birthday. You yearn to bring our babies along on your outdoor adventures. The beauty of that desire does not escape me. I see you. Curled up on the couch in the morning light with…

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