Safeguarding my children’s stories

Joy, Lovely Joy

Before they came into this world I had plot lines and narratives scaffolding in my mind, outlines and blueprints of their stories sketched in pencil. But like any story that’s given room to grow and roam and veer off the plotted points from A to B to C, they began to wander into their own exposition, their own conflict and rising action, and it’s only now that I’m beginning to fold my own plans and tuck them away. It’s only now that I’m truly seeing them as protagonists in their own stories. Stories that aren’t mine to tell.

Joy, Lovely Joy

And so here I am wondering where this leaves the state of this blog, which was founded as a way to preserve moments of their childhood. A blog that was founded alongside an industry that capitalizes off of stories that expose our children no matter how well intended, so lately I’ve been asking: Where do I draw the line? What is considered “over sharing” in a medium where such a definition is nearly impossible to define? And if I continue down this road will my children come to identify themselves by their online presence? Am I still trying to lay a framework from those blueprints even as I stuff them away?

Joy, Lovely Joy

I’ve been silent for a while because I’m not sure where this leaves me, mired in motherhood and feeling drawn to write about it, to process it, to share it, yet an overwhelming desire to protect them and safeguard their stories has kept me from doing so as of late. I have no doubt that I’ll continue to write about motherhood–it’s my greatest source of joy, frustration, and doubt–but I don’t want to unintentionally force identities on my children or publicly speculate about who they are becoming. This discovery should be theirs.

Joy, Lovely Joy

I’m still trying to figure out a way to navigate this terrain of writing about motherhood on a more macro level. With that said, I will continue to take photos (though I’m becoming ever more wary of featuring their faces online) because I know that someday they’ll be grateful for these snapshots of their childhoods.

P.S. You can find me on Instagram here.

Joy, Lovely Joy


I’ve been getting life wrong lately. I’ve been focusing my attention in the wrong areas, wasting time on the wrong things, the wrong people. I let my temper flare around my children but cower in a corner when I should be speaking up elsewhere. I’m just not jiving with life lately. There’s friction between us, life and me.

Wyatt broke a vase of flowers yesterday after I repeatedly told him not to play with the flowers. Since the boys have been mobile, our home has been minimalistic out of necessity. Bare tables, low shelves empty, anything breakable out of reach. They will be four in June. I mean, it’s time, right? They might still be tiny tornadoes but surely with more self control than a year ago? Two years ago? So, flowers in a glass vase on the kitchen table. It was time. Only Luke snapped off the head of a flower and Wyatt “On guard!”-ed the vase with a pirate sword and that was the end of that. I wanted to scream, truthfully. Not for the broken vase or homeless flowers, but because IT IS TIME.

I snapped, I snarled, I hissed. “I’m sorry, mama,” he said, all saucer eyes and tilt of the head, and I stood there and took a breath. I put the towel down and let the water seep to the edge of the table.

I was getting it all wrong. Life, pay me no mind. It isn’t broken vases I treasure.

Life, please do not break my children.

28 Days of Play

Play and the Generation Gap

What I remember about my mother is this: she was there. She was there for band-aids and kisses and snacks. She would help us build tents in the backyard where we would hoard stacks of books, and she would pull down the trunk of old baby clothes from a high shelf so I could dress my dolls. She would unstick zippers and tie scarves in my hair and search for a beaded necklace to add to my dress-up ensemble. She made sure to foster an environment where play was encouraged, and when I needed her, she was there, but I don’t remember ever playing Barbie or baby doll with her.

I’m honored to be featured at You Plus 2 Parenting as part of Rachel Cedar’s 28 Days of Play series, and you can read the rest of this essay here. I’d love to hear your thoughts over there and keep the dialogue going on why it is we sometimes struggle with engaging in play with our children.

28 Days of Play

What is voice?

finding your voiceAh, voice. As writers, we hear about it a lot. Lately, I’ve seen discussion of it crop up on social media, and I’ve been scribbling a lot of notes about voice in the margins of the manuscripts I’ve been editing.

We’ve all heard the advice: Write what you want to read. And this, I think, has just as much to do with voice as is does plot. A lot of finding your voice has to do with telling the story you want to tell in such a way that only you could tell it. Your voice is the particular tone, style, technique, and word choices you use to tell your story, but it’s also the unique perspective, personality, and flavor that only you can bring to it. How you approach the world, how you interpret your surroundings, and how you filter it all onto the page is your voice.

You’re totally clear on what voice is now, right?

This is why we can procrastinate and resist writing. This is why we’d sometimes rather comb the cat or clean toilets than park our bums and just write. Because if you start to think about voice, or more precisely, if you start to wonder what voice is and how does one find such a thing and what if you don’t have one, not much writing will get done because panic will open the door for that inner critic, and the inner critic will win.

First of all, you have a voice. You do. But we always talk about finding that voice. Here’s a trick: go back and read old writings, whether they be journal entries, blog posts, whatever, but read them chronologically. Start with the oldest piece of writing and work your way to the present. I bet you’ll see a thread of recognition in each one, and I bet that thread gets more vibrant the closer you get to your most current writings. That thread of recognition? Those telltale signs that some bit of writing is yours and yours alone? That’s your voice. And it’s not your voice because it’s brilliant or quirky or offbeat or astoundingly new, though it may be. It’s your voice because, even when taken out of context, it’s your style — your particular makeup of word choice, flow, rhythm, cadence, personality, and perspective.

A good voice is original and credible. A good voice has the ability to remain consistent even as the plot shifts. A good voice carries the reader through to the end of the piece, essay, novel, etc. but doesn’t overshadow the story.

So here’s how to succeed in finding your voice: don’t overthink it. This is why freewriting can be so powerful. Get out of your own way, write a lot, and most likely your voice will find you. Be mindful of the narrative techniques you tend to gravitate toward (metaphors, hyperbole, foreshadowing, backstory, etc.) but don’t obsess over them*, and try not to veer wildly off course. (i.e. Sophie Kinsella said that she once tried to write a thriller wherein she had written a cast of really nice people who suddenly started killing each other.)

*In the process of finding and cultivating your voice through journal entries, first drafts of novels, picture books, essays, etc. it’s fine to fall back on devices like metaphors and backstory, etc., but once you move on to subsequent drafts you’ll need to take a critical eye to the piece and try to recognize when something is overplayed.

Discovering our voice means we have to write the story we want to read in the most authentic way we can, which is the only way it’s going to be a success. Scratch that. It’s the only way we’ll write to the end.

If you’re interested in learning more about the editing services I provide, click here. I’d love the opportunity to work on a project with you. 

8 blogs that rock (and why)

Originally posted on Joy, Lovely Joy:

Blogs that Rock

*This post was originally published in March of 2013. The original post gets quite a bit of traffic so I decided to update it now, in February, 2015, to reflect some of the blogs that I currently read regularly.

This post is in response to a homework assignment for Holly Becker’s e-course titled Blog Boss. The objective is to feature 8 blogs that rock, two of which need to be fellow classmates’ blogs. I follow so many blogs (and rarely keep up with them on a daily basis), so this task seemed monumental at first. While there are plenty of blogs I check in on from time to time for their eye candy or crafty inspiration or practical purposes (for example, the more technical aspects of photography and writing), I decided, finally, to focus on the ones that speak to me. The ones that pull me in through writing or…

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