It doesn’t always look like success

It was a summer evening on Whidbey Island a couple of years ago. We were on a relaxing family beach vacation, and I was breaking down in tears. My sister had just shown us a video of an amazing scarf acrobatics dance routine that she had choreographed to the song Thunder by Imagine Dragons. It was stunning and beautiful and powerful and after watching it, I…

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Cascadia Residency: One Year Later

I stood in an old schoolhouse that had been converted into an art library, then temporarily converted into a studio for a writer (me) and a visual artist (my friend Jason).  I hefted a book in my hands, as I narrated my part of the studio tour, sharing that my next literary goal was to be published in this sci-fi and fantasy anthology. One year later,…

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Grace Note

This year has sparkled with good things--I don't say this flippantly. I truly sleep without interruption most nights. My children are 75% potty-trained, as a whole. Our house projects are minor and not choking us every weekend. Homeschooling is good--full of challenges, discoveries, walls and breakthroughs. James and I are close--we laugh together, plan our strategies, share our fears, encourage each other. My 2018 New Year's…

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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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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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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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