Featured

The Importance of Story Creation and Early Literacy

Stories are the fabric that binds us all together. Your local library is the most important resource you can utilize and it is all available for free. All you have to do is sign up for a library card. I encourage you to have your children also fill out an application for a library card as well.

I was about five or six years old when I filled out an application for my first library. That is when I fell in love with books and I knew I wanted to be a writer.

I had no idea at that age so many worlds were available at my fingertips and that I could create worlds of my own. My first story I wrote was when I was six and in the first grade. I still have it! It was about a girl who ran away because her parents made her do chores. Of course if was chalk full of spelling errors, but that makes it even more special to me.

You see when your young you don’t care about what others think or what mistakes you may make.You just know you have this idea inside of you that you need to give birth to.

Later that year I began illustrating my own stories as well. The series I created an illustrated was called “The Adventures of the Valley River People.” My parents still have those drawings and stories somewhere. I also typed some of them up on a typewriter. That’s when I fell in love with the process of creation.

I created a whole world. A whole town of people. Some people lived in nursing homes and needed learning to adapt and use wheelchairs. Out of this, was born the ability to empathize with people and later led to a job as an Nursing Assistant as a career, later in my life. I had people that were all from different walks of life and nationalities in my story. One woman was from China and was a Buddhist. She wore beautiful Kimonos and became a princess. One man wrote spooky stories for a living and found a spooky story of his own! He found out the local school was haunted.

I still have ghosts that haunt me. Unfinished stories. They call out to me at night, needing to be written and told. The thing I fear most is that these stories will die with me. Death is perhaps a reminder of the importance of our stories. We have an obligation as writers, readers, as people with souls to tell our own.

I hope that someday when I am gone and six feet under, the stories I have written will outlast me. That they will inspire others and live on in the souls of those that they have touched.

My Son found me again writing his stories this morning when he woke up.

He said to me, “Mom when you die I will still have all these stories…my books,” and then he asked me to read him more. He threw his arms around me and said, “Mommy I love my stories. Please write me more.” That means the world to me.

When he filled out the application to get his own library card, I saw the same joy I felt at the moment when I got mine.

I told him, “You can go anywhere with this. This is your passport to new worlds of adventure.” Perhaps one day he will want to write a story of his own. He loves sharing his own stories with anyone that will listen…and to think that both of our journey’s started with a library card. Isn’t that something?

Press Pause. Begin Play.

Everything was put on hold when the lock down happened. People went into their homes to protect the immune compromised, the elderly, the little ones. Some people grumbled about it, others followed because they understood what it means to protect the weak. But many people fail to see the opportunity we have been given to press pause and begin again.

Some of us have lost those we love to this virus…a reminder none of us are promised tomorrow and we all need to take care of each other. We are our brother’s keeper. The givers, the selfless people, healthcare workers, grocery store workers, teachers, the parent, the grandparent, the common worker. The common person. The humble person. These people are the real heroes of the pandemic.

I am reminded of the beatitudes of the sermon on the mount…

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:3-10 (NAB)

These common people who love others as they love their own family, these are the real hero’s of today. The people that are living through faith and not fear. People that would sacrifice themselves and possibly their own family for the well being of others. Sometimes because they don’t have a choice, because they have to provide for their family and for others. Because their love for others outweighs the risk that COVID brings.

It’s not the C.E.O. sitting in his high and mighty office, willing to put profit before safety that is the hero. It’s not the politician that is the hero, that is willing to sacrifice the common man for his political and selfish gain.

Without the common man, the worker… the economy would fall. These are the very people being offered up as a sacrifice. All so the economy continues to turn and profit is put before people.

We have an opportunity to overturn the money changers, to love one another. To turn this around to love and protect one another. History repeats itself again.

Remember who you are. A child of God. You’re brother’s keeper.

Press Pause.

Spend time with those you love.

Don’t forget to laugh and enjoy this life you have been given!

Want to write that book? Do it!

Want to create that masterpiece of art? Do it!

Want to start that business? Do it!

Want to tell someone how much you love them? Do it!

We have been given a chance to start over again. To love more deeply, to live more fully. To begin, press play.

Stories from the Pandemic

What have you learned from the pandemic? I would love to hear your stories… Please send an email to christinaoliver.2015.utmt@gmail.com with your name and story. I would like to start working on and feature a section with all of your stories, and a place for discussion. A sort of support group and system for everyone struggling during these times. The world needs to hear your story.

I can tell you what I have learned.

1.) Your family is now important now more than ever.

Right before the shut down, my Grandfather passed away. He had had pneumonia which would come and go and a high fever right before he died. We are assuming he had covid, because all of us got really sick after his passing, a day or so after the funeral. Unfortunately we will never know, but I am thankful we all got a good day before he passed away. This brings me back to the power of prayer. I prayed the Novena of Divine Mercy with my Son Noah, on on the last day we were given a wonderful day with my Grandfather who had dementia. He remembered us all and we had a wonderful day with him. The power of prayer works.

2.) The Power of Prayer

Thanksgiving Prayer Answered

In November, people were getting sick. My sons Asthma which is usually well controlled, he was really struggling with. He wound up in the hospital a few days before Thanksgiving. Between coughs he was praying the Lords Prayer and asking for the coughing to stop. The coughing did stop and on Thanksgiving he was able to come home. A Thanksgiving Prayer answered.

A Tornado during the Pandemic

During lock down, my Husband and I made the decision to have our Son and I go up to my parents house because we were not sure how bad this was going to be, and with Noah and his Asthma we did not want him to get this. So we made the decision to stay with my parents until we knew more about Covid-19. I was up praying while everyone else was sleeping. Thankfully the weather was cool so the windows were opened. We had a thunderstorm and all of the sudden there was a lull in the storm. Then I heard a noise like a freight train. It was so loud it was deafening. I looked out across the field from the window and could see a tornado coming across it. I got Noah out of bed and shouted across the hall to my Mom. Noah was still not waking up so I picked him up and ran down the stairs with him. He looked out the window and asked what the noise was and what was the “smoke,” he saw across the window. My dad head the sound when I came downstairs (he had fallen asleep in his chair) and knew what it was. My Mom still was not up so he ran to get my Mom out of bed. We ran downstairs to the basement. We prayed the Lords Prayer and a Hail Mary. Thankfully the tornado missed the house.

3.) Check on your Friends.

People are not ok. You’re friends may not be ok. Please check on them. We are social creatures. Yes speech is part of communication but you use your face and mouth as well to communicate. It’s difficult to be social while wearing masks. Socially distancing is hard for people that are people persons. Honestly, it’s not “social” at all. Please be kind. You never know what other people are going through. I have lost some friends because of this, and have suffered myself.

4.) Spending more time with my Son.

I have had an amazing opportunity to spend more time with my Son. I also have seen how much work teachers put into helping their students and I have found I also love to help teach as well. I have learned my child is a visual learner and has some math brains. (He didn’t get that from me because I’m no good at Math.) Virtual learning is hard, but I have also learned more about technology because of the pandemic as well.

Last but not least…

Time…

I have had the opportunity to spend more time with my family. Because when we are not promised tomorrow that I feel is the most important thing. Do what you love with who you love.

Lessons from Kindergarten Room LL2…

My Son’s teachers brought over the remains of his cubby from school and the rest of his work for the year. It killed me.

You should have seen the way his face lit up. He loves his teachers and friends, he misses his school and can’t wait to go back. He was looking forward to so many things. We all were.

I brought in his items from school, that my Son’s teachers lovingly packed up in a brown paper bag, wrapped with plastic. There was a note from his teachers, some of the work he had completed through out the year, and two certificates for completing the schools reading program and his religion class.

These things he would have gotten at his kindergarten graduation.

I am broken. He is broken.

Later that night as he was getting ready for bed he was going through the bag that his teachers packed with care. He found the contents of his cubby.

“I’m not going back to Kindergarten to LL2 Mom…am I?” He said as he was crying.

So I just held him in my arms. We sat there and cried together before bed. We talked about all the friends he made. The memories from his class in LL2. He talked about his teachers and why he loved them and his classroom so much.

Kindergarten is hard. Especially this year. Yes, seniors have been cheated. Cheated out of graduation. But don’t forget the little ones, the ones that are reaching milestones too, and the teachers that have worked so hard for our children to REACH and achieve the milestones.

I told my son he will be a big first grader next year and that LL2 is just down the hallway. That he can visit anytime. I don’t think my child will ever forget the hard lessons he learned this year. He knows what it is to feel disappoint and loss, something I think we are all feeling during the COVID pandemic.

Hold your kids close. If its one thing this has taught me, yes this is hard for adults. Even though your kids might hide this well, this is really hard for them too.

They also learned to love…

To spend time with family.

Spend more time with nature.

Appreciate and talk to their friends daily.

Share their feelings.

Take nothing for granted.

Relize that regular people are heros.

Pray harder

Love harder.

Be the light.

Pray then love again.

Then repeat.

The Truth in Fiction

A wise man once smiled and told me, “You know they say, there is a bit of truth in every piece of fiction that you write.” The wise man smiled and got a twinkle in his eyes and talked about that as I began my own journey of becoming an Author. This wise man was my Grandfather.

I know this is true. I tend to write what I know about life and events that have shaped my life pour out onto the pages. In different ways, of course.

So the truth that has been pouring out onto the pages tonight is perhaps, somewhere between myth and legend. The myth is the mythology of our Ancestors going back to the fall and the Garden of Eden, and the myth that is created is the kingdom and the kings of old, that would fight and lay down their lives for it. Perhaps the battle is one that is waged between enemies and foes, and only the heart of a child is what it takes to break the curse.

As the king passes on -to lands beyond becoming legend- somewhere in the garden a boy begins his journey. So I am writing the mythology of the Crystal Prince, because to me the Garden has more than one meaning.

It’s the place where I go to write, a state of mind. It is the beginning and the end.

Growing Pains

As I sit here writing, I look to the right of my desk where we created our own story. I know things will change now that you are moving on to Kindergarten. They already have. When I got you ready for school yesterday and you told me, “Mom I’m too big for your hugs,” Oh, how those words stung my heart.

When I picked you up from school, you must have forgot because you ran right into my arms. I know that you are quickly outgrowing my arms. Soon, you will be bigger and taller than me. I just hope that you will remember all the time we spent together and, that this will help you get through the tough days.

When you were a baby I used to sing and rock you to sleep under the chandelier in our one bedroom apartment, when you would have trouble sleeping. I used to sing you to sleep and dance with you. Our neighbors below us probably thought a large stampede was going through the apartment complex, or a freight train! You would laugh the way only a child can. A loud big belly laugh. I wish I could bottle your laughter for the tough days like this. A lot has changed since then.

We moved into a house, where you have your own room. You learned how to run up the steps, and fell down them a few times too. Because you always would run, instead of taking your time to walk. But isn’t that what children do? Perhaps, this is why life seems to go so fast once we reach adulthood. We never took any time to slow down.

We have had many tough times too, and I imagine more are coming. Perhaps, this is why this is so hard. Sending you off like this. All the late night hospital visits and stays early in your life. It is why you are so sensitive to peoples needs when you see they are ill or in pain. Because you have experienced first hand what it is like.

You who are not afraid of death but have been so close when you were little. Perhaps, you are a bit closer to God because of that. Because of your faith you have brought me closer to him too.

I missed you on the car ride home. It was so silent.

I missed you today when I was cleaning. You would have wanted to help me.

I missed you today when I was practicing guitar. You would have practiced with me.

I missed you, when I cried because I was missing you. You would have hugged me.

I hope you are having fun and being as kind to your friends, and teachers as you are to me. I hope you are helping others, having fun, and learning a lot. I hope others do not take advantage of your kindness and good heart, as others have done to mine. Mostly, I don’t want you to get hurt. If your anything like me you will get hurt easily.

I worry about you, I love you and I believe in you, and know you will make good decisions. You will make the right choice even when it is hard.

I know this thing called growing up is painful, but oh what an Adventure it is to love.

Welcome to Kindergarten!

Our summer adventures are gone,

now it’s back to school.

It makes me sad to think,

that I will get to spend less time with you.

But that’s part of growing up I guess,

your adventure has just started.

Our summer has gone so fast.

Now it’s back to school,

Where you will learn and grow through faith,

and your teachers

will guide you along the road.

I read you our bedtime story,

the one we wrote together.

We say our prayers,

and give God thanks,

for another night

and look forward to the morning.

After you close your little eyes,

I look at your angelic face,

beaming and then crying I write…

I am so proud of you

and all you have accomplished.

Welcome to Kindergarten my big kid.

I love you and see you tomarrow morning!

Love, Mom

Blink

https://youtu.be/94RN7JRIbb0

One day your five,

Then you blink and your twenty-five.

It was yesterday that I was staring out the living room window,

asking my parents, when will I be grown up?

…And now, I’m here.

Before you know it summer will be gone.

Play will turn into work.

It will be fall, the sun will set.

Another day will go by.

Then your child will ask you the same question.

Why?

It’s still a question I ask my self.

And my God, where did the time go?

I blinked and now I’m here.

Soon another day will pass and it will be winter.

I look forward to that day and at the same time it will bring sadness.

I will one day take the place of my parents,

and my Son will be in mine.

In the blink of an eye.

Living Stories

The most rewarding experience of continuing to write has been my Son’s response to my writing.

Today he said, “Thanks Mom for working so hard on my stories.” These stories are not just mine, but they are his stories too.He is the first one that hears them.

Gives me suggestions and adds to the plot.

Gets excited about creating a storyboard and helps me.

My Son adding his own work to the storyboard!

At night when he heads to bed, he sees me working at my desk…

He hears typing from the keyboard and the music coming out of the computer speaker, that helps me keep pace while typing the story into word.

He sees me write each story in a notebook.

Before he goes to bed, he finds the stories he wants me to read to him, on my desk.

To me this is the most rewarding experience… Reading my Son our stories.

These stories I created for him have got us through some tough and terrible times, it has allowed both of us to escape. For that, I am greatful.

As I update my blog and add to this webpage, I will be sharing all the reasons these stories have been so important to us, how they came to be and why.

We are living stories. Stories shape our lives and are one of the common threads that connect us all, besides our families and faith.