Right Livelihood


I was just listening to Rachel Maddow’s podcast and wow is she a geek about elections. Politics and what you think of her slant of things aside, she is living some right livelihood. She is a huge and ecstatic nerd about all the beltway and campaigning minutiae, and her excitement is infectious. You can almost imagine her being that kid from Wet Hot American Summer spending all summer doing a radio show even when the mic isn’t plugged into anything.

I also happen to watch a lot of Curious George episodes (don’t judge) and one of the surprising and joyous aspects of it is that everyone from the doorman to the scientists to the restaurant workers are utterly gonzo about their jobs and love whatever it is they do. The show imagines and presents to kids this reality where all people love what they do and no one is denigrated for their labor. It’s a bit of a quiet utopia that I adore and wish was more prevalent in the real world.

Today I got to take a long walk on a rare sunny day through the quietness of my South Seattle neighborhood full of all kinds of small beauties and crumbly houses next to brand new ones. Spring was budding out and popping up everywhere, and I ended up at this Mexican bakery run by a family that flawlessly makes tamales, quiche, bagels, and flan. I got an excellent almond croissant and settled into a corner with my laptop and a scene from the urban fantasy series I’m working on which I might describe in three words as “Modern Medusa Mayhem” though that leaves out all the devils in my details. I wrote fast and hard as I do whenever I get to have a walk before writing: it somehow helps my subconscious even if I’m not thinking about my story. I had some excellent ideas that had that ineffable feeling of being true, which is odd since I’m obviously making it all up. Then I walked home and stepped into my other kind of mayhem which is the happy chaos of my family and all the pushing and pulling and meeting needs or not which happen on any given day.

All of which is to say I’m so lucky to have my right livelihood which is wrapped up in a lot of levels of both privilege and sacrifice, and I hope whoever might be reading this has a right livelihood too, or is on their journey to getting there.

Parenting and Productivity


(Obligatory cute picture of the first kid and me.)

I wrote a guest blog over at Kiki Cares about being a parent and getting stuff done:


And here’s what I wrote:

First off, thanks to Kiki for letting me do a guest blog on her lovely site! I had the pleasure of talking with her about nannying and loving kids over this Christmas break, and it struck me what deep and profound work it is taking care of little ones, whether you are a parent, a nanny, or someone else important to a child. Today, I wanted to say a couple of things from the parent side of life.

Before I had kids, I thought parents were such drama queens. I thought they were like those kids in high school  who loved to go on and on about how they’d only had two hours of sleep last night and oh my gosh, my life is so hectic and exciting. I felt sure parents were like that. It couldn’t really be that hard, right?

Then I had a kid and realized, holy hell, those parents were underselling it. My days filled up from dawn to dusk with the exhilarating, tedious, and lucky work of getting to be with my kid.  And then I had another one and that wall of work? It just got more frenetic and full and have I mentioned I love being a parent? But it is also the most difficult thing I have ever done, especially because while I get to be a stay-at-home parent, it is not the only work I do. I also do fundraising for a non-profit, am the administrator for a monthly writer’s workshop, and write a lot of young adult and adult fiction. It’s a great plate and a full plate.

What I have learned in the last five years of doing all this? What I want to tell you, and what I want to tell myself? We are not going to get everything done.

We just aren’t. Every day I have things I want to do that I don’t get done, and sometimes that thing should be so easy, like taking a bath, but it just doesn’t happen.

I want to frame any of these moments not as a failure, but the truth of life at this moment. And life at the moment is a bit messy, definitely chaotic, and has more heart and laughter than ever before.

So, here’s what I think we should do. Make a list of all the things we aren’t getting to. Super fun, right? But go ahead and make the list and put every damn thing on it small and big.

Look at this list. Sigh at this list. Blow kisses at this list and the idea it embodies of an organized and gentile life. Then look at your kids and make yourself cross three things off that list. Three things you are not going to care about and are vowing to not get done. Things for today, or the week, or the month that you are not even going to try to tackle.

Then go play with your kids. Crawl around on your floor while you all play the “magical unicorns who can turn into other animal and now we are crabs and now we are kittens” game, or whatever ridiculous and fun thing your kids want to do. Because in the span of your life? The kids will be grown soon and you can get back to all your things. So if you can, if you are able, right here and now? Let things slip and slide. Let them get messy and stay messy even if it drives you a little mad. Forget to send out holiday cards. Let your hair grow long and frumpy. Build that duplo tower that goes all the way to the ceiling and when they knock it down? Laugh and start all over again.


(Obligatory cute picture of the youngest and me.)


Updates from the Sparrow Nest

First and foremost, thanks to any and all of you who are reading my Fay Morgan Chronicles. I am so pleased that I have flung these books out into the universe and they are being caught by you and you and you. I have just turned in book four “The Demon’s Revenge” to my official editor, the talented Erica Satifka as well as my unofficial editor and long suffering love, Elijah, who always and forever reads all my work. What a catch!

One thing I love about writing these books is they are set in my home town, Seattle, so whenever I go anywhere I am always collecting small, local details. Like, I have been taking my kids on long walks through our neighborhood and we have a game of pointing out all the signs of spring: crocuses, budding cherry trees, and the changing flora the local Buddhist Temple sets out as an offering to the huge, golden, Buddha statue. And, in the fourth book, do Lila and Morgan go on a walk through the city and notice such things? Indeed.

I am also crafting the fifth book of the series and trying to wrangle the disparate and disjointed threads and weave them together, and oh, I’m just realizing as I type this that that is the main metaphor for how Morgan makes spells. See what I mean? Real life influencing my writing, of course.

And last, in one other writing project, I am starting to put together a fledgling new young adult book that has all my heart and hopes in it. It’s called Always Falling Up, and is about the sadness of climate change, and the audacity of being able to feel hopeful and take action inside of the truth of our planet and species. Oh, I love it. Oh, I am very confused about how to write it. But my brain keeps picking away at it and I have all these sapling scenes and I think I know who the characters are, though they may shift and change.

What a job. What a life. All is good. Hope there’s lots of signs of spring in your neck of the woods.