Update: Oh hi, it’s me!

Still here! Just a little preoccupied with the creature in my arms.

Still here! Just a little preoccupied with the creature in my arms. This is the only recent picture I have with me actually in it– but pretty fitting since I took it last night while I typed one handed. Learning to get a lot done with a little extra creativity.

As I sat down to start writing today, I remembered I had some comments over on Leap of Mama to check out. Then I wandered back over to this blog and realized, wow, it has been more than a month since my last entry. That made me a little sad. This blog used to be my baby. Then I had a baby and, well, she took over that spot and my writing had to become a lot more prioritized, (as in, somehow, this blog fell to the bottom of the list).

I hope you stick around despite the neglect. I plan to triumphantly return one day and hopefully soon! The non-mom part of me is still alive and kicking, if just for a couple hours here and there throughout the day. Most of my writing attention has been going to middle grade fiction, a novel about an 11 year-old girl in search of answers about why her mom left and what it means to be alive, all within the kid-favorite context of living across the street from a graveyard.

I am having a blast writing it, started the last week when E was in my belly and picked it back up a few months ago. I’m 15,000+ words deep, which for middle grade fiction means I’m about halfway through a book, exciting stuff. I look forward to sharing more as I finish up in the next few months. My goal is done with my first draft by E’s first birthday; the best present I can think of for her, even if she has to wait ten more years to appreciate it, (which is great, because that gives me plenty of time to polish it up and slap a real cover on it!).

Anyway, just wanted to stop by, say hi, and tell you I’m still around, writing. I miss the community that was beginning to emerge on this blog. Now it’s a little like an abandoned garden plot, but I know there are more good things to come, just hope you are still around to say hi too! If you really miss me, (which how could you not?), you should stop by my other blog, Leap of Mama. I make a more frequent appearance in those parts.

Happy holidays to you and yours!

And, oh yeah, let me know how you’re doing– what projects are you working on? What’s new in your life? Would love to hear, whether it’s a comment or email!

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Getting Meta: The Stories we tell Ourselves

A collection of notebooks I found around the house... I'm sure there are more.

Time to whip these suckers back out and get intentional about my present and future again.

I have always been a storyteller. When I was a kid, this got me into a bit of trouble as I molded my reality to fit the story I wanted to tell. I wasn’t a liar, per se, but I manipulated details to create my world into one where I wanted to live.

Without stopping to notice, I am still the same person. I tell stories all the time. And just as when I was a kid, they are neither true nor false, but rather subjective to the lens I choose.

Today I was feeling down for the first time in awhile. Maybe it was the weather. Maybe it was those pesky hormones still sticking around after baby. Really it does not matter. What does matter is what I realized.

I had a choice. I could either tell myself a negative story or a positive one. Both were true enough, depending on which details I chose to focus. What a thought. I could live in whichever story I wanted, so why choose the gloomy one?

Time to get out those notebooks again and be more intentional about the stories I'm creating now and five years down the road.

I love old pick-me-ups in forgotten journals… It is like the old me knew I would someday need a picture of a fish saying, “Boo!”

Even so, I let myself bask in the gloom for a bit. Sometimes I enjoy a good mope. Contrasts are good. Recognition of feelings is good. After all, we can’t always opt to live on a bright, fluffy cloud. {Where is the growth and variety in that?}

Still, we can choose where we want to spend more of our time. Overall, I prefer the rosier lens. Maybe not the one filled with rainbows and unicorns, but the one where even the less enjoyable details serve some bigger, higher purpose.

Have you stopped to think about the stories you tell yourself? What kind of reality are you crafting in this very moment?

With those questions in mind, I am off to create a new story for myself, one where I get back in the driver’s seat and count my blessings for what they are worth. {A lot…}

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Month Seven: Changing the Meaning of Home

olivia:

Another cross-over post; writing, writing, writing up a storm today! Too bad baby naps aren’t always this productive :D

Originally posted on Leap of Mama:

We said goodbye to our first little home as a family this month, good thing the path ahead is so exciting.

We said goodbye to our first home as a family this month, good thing the path ahead is worth it…

It has been two weeks since we moved. Despite my excitement about our new adventure, I also had my worries. I did not know if two bedrooms would be enough. I was concerned we would miss our privacy. I feared I would somehow feel rootless, or homeless in a nontraditional sense, without an entire house to ourselves. Most of all, I did not want our little family to lose the intimacy of those precious moments shared just the three of us.

To my great relief, our first two weeks have made any trade-offs unimportant. So far, I do not miss a single item stuffed into our 1,500 cubic feet of storage, (and, yes, we used all 15 feet of vertical space thanks to my clever cousin-in-law). Nor do I lament…

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Living my Bohemian Writer Fantasy (a Couple Months at a Time)

olivia:

A cross-over post from my other blog as I embrace life as a mom and writer. The scariest part of this decision? I have zero excuse not to write!

Originally posted on Leap of Mama:

The sale-pending sign hangs outside our house. This leap is getting real!

The sale-pending sign hangs outside our house. This leap is getting real!

Our house is in escrow. Half-packed boxes are scattered in every room. By all appearances, we are moving. Five years in one house is the longest I have lived anywhere. Ever.

It feels good to go through everything and make piles. Keep and give away. We own so much we never use. Going through it all is a good reflection on what matters.

I like stuff. Dresses, jackets, shoes, woven wraps. But I have more stuff than I use. More stuff than I stop to appreciate. More stuff than matters.

My favorite part of moving is finding the person who could use what we don’t. Baby swings, strollers, clothes. The list goes on. For most everything, there is a person in our life or sphere who will put the item to better use. It is like a puzzle.

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Gearing up for Fall: Focus & Writing Inspiration

As the light begins to change again, my connection to childhood and the seasons feels stronger than ever.

As the light begins to dim and Eloise continues to grow, my connection to childhood and the seasons feels stronger than ever.

Childhood was intertwined with seasons. The excitement of a new school year with the supplies and smell of the classroom, the changing of the leaves with pumpkins and candy, a big parade on an old Stockton television with turkey to follow, Christmas trips to the city and then the countdown to Santa, banging pots and pans on New Years, cold rainy days inside with a puzzle and Mom, valentines from friends as the light began to change, spring rain and green hillsides, the hug of summer heat and endless summer nights, all to begin again.

It’s the same rhythm that made me love teaching. In a world of windowless cubicles there are no seasons. In a classroom everything changes with the month of the year. So it is at home. I can feel the end of summer. I must have been four years old the last time a fall went by without school or outside work. Reflexively I prepare to focus again, even if this time it is from home. It is that burst of completed effort before the holidays arrive and everything slows again. Life in synch with seasons.

Blogging fits into the cracks of life, those moments when she is asleep or in someone else’s arms. The real work of writing is the bigger projects, the ones that require more determination to keep going even when there are fewer words to say, (as opposed to the instant gratification of a quick post shared…).

I am almost ready. The trick is picking one project instead of getting distracted by five. A tired promise, but an important one all the same. In the weeks before Eloise was born I started a middle grades fiction novel about a girl named Indigo who lives next to a cemetery. I think I’ll start there, seasonally appropriate after all.

What are you gearing up to work on this fall? Maybe we can inspire each other…

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BEACON OF VENGEANCE, A Novel of Nazi Germany, CORRIDOR OF DARKNESS Volume 2, NOW AVAILABLE!

olivia:

A fantastic read– and not because we share the same last name! Started reading last night, had to put it down because it was too haunting of a bedtime story. Adeptly written. If you haven’t read Corridor of Darkness, Volume 1, start there!

Originally posted on Patrick W. O'Bryon:

Beacon front cover jpeg

In the summer of 1941 America edges closer to joining battle against Hitler’s victorious armies in Europe…but a dangerous spy game is already underway.

Reluctant former operative Ryan Lemmon disappears in Nazi-occupied France, a country riddled with corruption and deceit. Ostensibly assigned to the State Department’s Special War Problems Division, Ryan now works for America’s newly centralized intelligence office under William “Wild Bill” Donovan. His official assignment– undermine German intelligence operations across Occupied Europe.

But the first task of independent-minded Ryan Lemmon remains deeply personal–release his friends from a fascist internment camp while there is still hope for their survival.

And what ever goes exactly as planned?

Beacon of Vengeance, the new thriller inspired by my late father’s undercover life in Nazi Europe, is the second volume in the Corridor of Darkness trilogy. It is now available as a trade paperback at online retail outlets, and as an eBook for Kindle and Apple readers on Amazon.com.

For ease of ordering, just click on one of the book covers pictured in the…

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Saying Good-bye (For now) to My Little Sister

This is the face I always remember best.

This is the face I remember best.

A week from tomorrow my little sister, K, leaves for college. When I stop to think about this I tear up. Sending her off on her first journey into adulthood comes at an interesting moment in my own life, as I welcome my daughter into this world and anticipate the path that lies ahead.

My little sister gave me my first tastes of motherhood with thirteen years between us. Thinking back to K as a child makes me smile. She confounded me. I pained myself to be obedient and make everyone else happy. She would wake up and make herself a bowl of ice cream to eat with her morning cartoons and think nothing of it. She made her decisions for herself, not others. This is not to say she was not generous, she has just always known how to care for herself first.

In our family of five kids, K managed to still stand out.

In our family of five kids, K managed to still stand out, (yes, she is the fabulous little person in the middle).

It took me eighteen years to understand how this perceived rebellion was beautiful. I used to try and change her with my words, make her more like me to make others happy. Instead, she always stayed her course and others were happy still. It blew my mind. She showed me she could be her own person, less eager to please, and that others would adapt and be better for it.

While I stayed close to home and went to college in Davis, she is off to study film at NYU, on the other side of the country, a move I was too afraid to make. I only applied to California schools and UW, (which I turned down because it was too far). I have no regrets, as each choice took me to the life I have today, but I also admire her. She has always been good at pushing our family outside of its comfort zone.

My family often jokes that Eloise is already like her Auntie K. Strong-willed, focused, determined. There was a time when this would have scared me. However, as I get ready to send off my sweet blonde-haired sister, I can only hope Eloise grows to be just as true to herself and that I can be the mom who gives her space to follow her heart. As I hug K good-bye, I will feel Eloise in my arms too, making it a little harder to let go.

Good luck Auntie K, we will all be rooting for you!

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Wanted: WordPress.org Advice

Hi fellow bloggers–

I have been researching making the move from wordpress.com to wordpress.org for my other blog, Leap of Mama. Does anyone have experience with hosting a wordpress.org site? I’m looking for the simplest option that is also affordable, as I don’t have a lot of experience with site maintenance or security. Even though I like the built-in community of WordPress.com, I want more control over the ads on my site, as communities like BlogHer won’t let you join from WordPress.com.

Any words of wisdom would be much appreciated! I have read forums, but it helps to hear from other bloggers who have actually used WordPress.com as well.

Happy writing,

Olivia

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Month Five: The Leap

olivia:

A crossover post from my other blog– here’s to new adventures in motherhood AND writing! More on that second part to come.

Originally posted on Leap of Mama:

Month 6 and year 31 may be the most exciting yet.

My beautiful, present reality.

31 tomorrow. You don’t need to wish me a happy birthday. I am happy enough.

This week I wrote my letter of resignation with tears in my eyes. A blessing to choose between two good things, but hard to let go. My school has become part of my identity. Those kids changed me. My coworkers are friends. It took me forever to type. I wrote, deleted, wrote, deleted. I could not find the right words to express the difficulty of my decision. It is strange how much our jobs become entangled in our identities.

Still, my life has changed. I am not ready to leave my sweet girl for six hours a day. Maybe fewer would have worked, but I am grateful life chose for me. The words of advice that stuck with me most were about time. Jobs will be out there when she is bigger and…

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Come join me over at my new blog!

I know posts about motherhood aren’t for everyone, but in case you missed the memo, I am now blogging over at Leap of Mama as well. Whether you are a first-time parent, empty nester, or suffering from baby fever, you are welcome! Come on over, click follow and join the fun.

I'm sure you don't want to miss what is happening in the world of this cute face.

I’m sure you don’t want to miss what is happening in the world of this cutie.

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Fourteen Years.

The memory is fuzzy now, a mixture of images and emotions, pauses because I really have to think. Fourteen years. I got off work at Osh Kosh B’Gosh in the outlet mall and you were waiting on the curb with your best friend and this beautiful girl from your apartment complex. It was hot and I was giddy because I knew you had waited hours for my shift to end, your cute face appearing inside the store when there were still hours left.

The three of you followed me home in your 80’s five liter Mustang with the leaky T-tops. My dad was just getting off work in his business suit and you were forced to shake his hand in the garage. I grimaced for you. It had to be a strong handshake, your death trap of a car parked out front and that smile on your face.

We decided to drive to a party at a childhood friend’s house. You rode with me in my Mazda 626 that kept on dying when I tried to get anywhere outside of Folsom, more than 200,000 miles on the odometer. Somehow, that night, it made it. You braced yourself each time I braked. We laughed anxiously. Your friends followed in the Mustang.

The party was tame by teenage standards, if anyone drank we had nothing to do with it. Instead we talked and talked until our faces were so close together that I wondered if you always talked to girls so close and then I thought it would be less awkward if I just kissed you. Later you claimed it was your plan all along for me to make the final move. It was the sweetest, gentlest kiss of my sixteen years. I knew you were different than the other boys.

You had to leave early, but at my best friend’s house we talked on the phone, a call filled with long silences and shy laughter. We decided to be boyfriend and girlfriend. Fourteen years later I am sitting in bed with our daughter scribbling these thoughts into a journal with just a nightlight. Like usual, it is 4AM and everyone else is asleep. I am at my mom’s and you are home, but with our sleeping child warm against my leg, I feel like you are here.

She is the most beautiful part of us but I am also glad we had those nearly fourteen years alone together first. High school dances, endless summer nights, college weekends in Davis, trips to Europe, our Berkeley apartment, our first house, the most beautiful wedding I could imagine. So much life lived, but so much more to go.

I love you, Alex.

Fourteen Years

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The Old Lady at the Door

An old woman knocked on my front door this afternoon. She knocked and knocked and when I did not answer, she knocked some more. At first she knocked on the door and then she knocked on the window with her keys and then the door again. The dogs howled and still she did not leave. Instead she sat in one of the wicker chairs on my front porch and made herself comfortable in the hundred and ten degree heat.

Reluctant, I opened the door, baby in arms, dogs still growling. I knew who she was. She was the same lady who stops cars dead in the middle of the street for a ride. I have picked her up on the corner before, her arms waving back and forth like it is an emergency. My husband has taken her to the farmer’s market. My mother-in-law waited for her to walk up and down each isle of the grocery store just last week. When she stops you, she gives you no choice but to let her in your car. She does not budge.

So when I opened the door, annoyed because I was trying to get the baby down for a nap, I told her I could not take her. I knew she could manage for herself. Sometimes I sit and watch her stand in the middle of the road until someone lets her in his or her car. She is quite capable and here I am, standing on my front porch in the heat with a sleepy infant who does not like the car, listening. The baby smiles, giving her more fuel. Inside I groan.

There are no apologies for waking the baby or causing such a ruckus. Just a straight face and a lot of complaints. Her knee, the blazing sun, her small social security check, her need to go to the store, (which we have learned is always followed by the bank and the post-office and the…). No sympathy when I tell her the (smiling again) baby is fussy. Instead stories about her grandkids making millions of dollars and those years she worked for Harry S. Truman and how her name is Bernice.”Like our street?” I ask. She does not respond.

I look at her clothes, a wool jacket and long pants. I am sweating in just shorts and a t-shirt, anxious to get back into the air-conditioned house. I feel sorry for her but still do not have the time or energy to take her all over town. After all, I have a trip to get ready for, a messy house about to be listed for sale tomorrow, a baby who should be asleep. I accept her phone number and tell her next time I leave the house without the baby I will give her a ride but warn her it might be a bit, I am leaving tomorrow. She finally gives up.

I ask if she has asked any other neighbors, she says no. The new neighbor pulls into the drive and she yells across the yard, the girl stares back uncertain if the woman standing on my porch with me and my baby is really yelling at her. I shut the door and shake my head. I call my husband and complain. I feel bad but she makes no attempt to be understanding. She is not like the other old lady who lives down the street, the one with the old cat who has now passed, who thanks me and apologizes every time she knocks because she remembers what it was like to have a baby with barking dogs.

This old lady pushes, so I push back. It is my nature to push when pushed. But now it is 4AM and I am awake while everyone else sleeps and I wonder if just maybe I should have been a little kinder and done something for her. Growing old sucks. Growing old alone is worse. Maybe I would be that pushy too.

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