Welcome. This isn’t the kind of place I am used to hanging out. I prefer my living room where windows offer a view into the forest, my Post-it filled writing table, art shed and gardens. But my favorite place of all is holding hands with children and pausing to share one discovery after another on the cushioned trails near my home here in Bonny Doon, California. But online is a real place, so I’ve surrendered to the digital world and rather like posting thoughts, stories, videos. I hope to continue offering access to recently published articles and stories. You are welcome to sit for a while or stroll and browse blog posts, essays, photos, drawings and stories. It’s a bit lonely, so please offer a comment, say “Hi.”
While writing the draft of Fallen from the Nest, I joined a critique group, found my voice, and became a writer. To understand what had happened to our family, how it happened, I opened my mind and discovered my heart. In our sixties, like millions of parents we found we were needed and my partner and I invited two of our grandchildren to move in. In the beginning I was confused and called it resentment and frustration. While unable to pull myself out of a pit of misery, seeking to see it all differently, I opened my arms to embrace my new family. I actually thought, “This isn’t how things were supposed to be.” Who says?
I’d spent my career as an early childhood educator supporting children, educating their teachers , addressing children’s needs and meeting families where they are. Yet despite all of that, my own son and his children needed me to be someone I wasn’t. Not yet. They were in crisis. I was unprepared. I was ashamed of myself and of them. But ultimately, I changed my expectations about the retirement I’d imagined and found myself in love again, adoring two needy little ones who entrusted me to their care. That’s the story I explored, a mess that evolved into a love story, forgiving my son, loving our shared children and myself.
I offer a special welcome to relatives raising children and those who understand the struggle when things don’t go as you’d hoped for an adult child. Fallen from the Nest (as yet unpublished) and my blog, Letters to Montana may resonate with you. Though your particulars may differ, we know that raising children the second time around is nothing like the first . Everything is different, a different era, the children have experienced trauma or we wouldn’t be raising them in the first place, they suffer from harm, and may require special care and education . Whatever the case, we all deserve a warm hearth and open heart. My two require my full attention and deserve it.
Ten years later, grandchildren twelve and fifteen, homeschooling during the pandemic added to both the challenges and the rewards of our journey. We look forward to the new school year, high school and middle school this Fall. Looking to open new pathways toward engaging in what interests them and letting go so they each walk toward independence. But there’s an unexpected event and once again, we brace ourselves. In life, with children their always is…
A World for Jess
More recently, I discovered Jess, a character bubbling in the pool of my imagination for some time now. I love Jess, a fictional eleven-year old, inspired by my grandchildren and their father with a big helping of myself. Jess is the main character in my middle grade fictional series, A World for Jess about an atypical ten then eleven year old, soon to be twelve. Jess will delight you as she stumbles over what life tosses her way as she tells herself and her readers what’s its like to live in an her atypical world. I hope you enjoy Jess’ monologues, adventures, a little magic, and endless lessons.
As Jess struggles to find her place in the world, she grapples with feelings often too big to manage. She twirls, walks circles and flaps her hands to discharge her angst. Afterall, she’s part bird. A keen observer, she uses what the natural world to understand others. She digs deep holes and discovers a magic in the underground and in true Jess form, jumps in feet first. Ground-dwelling animals become Jess’ first friends. But are they real or a product of an overactive imagination? To Jess everything is very real.
On my blog, A World for Jess I post stories for Jess, some magical and others real-life inspired. I explore ways we open the world atypical children, like my grandchildren, add magic and wonder of the natural world. I hope to open doors to the Jess in all of us. Her stories are written for all ages but in particular, a middle-grade audience, the current ages of my two grandchildren. Poke around and make comments about what you see, feel free to share with others and check back because Jess and I have more coming!