Forget spring cleaning in a soon-to-be empty nest

In December 2000, the back seat of my car was pristine. Untouched.

I was eight months pregnant. Still me. Still incredulous that I was soon going to join the demographic “women who have given birth.” I was aware that carrying my child above my bladder and under my heart, might be uncomfortable but would be the easiest phase of parenting. My body did the cradling, feeding, and nurturing, while I went on with my life. All the conscious effort, decision-making, and second-guessing would come later.

And so would the stuff.

The rear-facing infant car seat, installed weeks before the impending due date just in case the baby arrived early, was the first harbinger of the stuff that would take over our lives. Every time I returned to my car after work, it sent a jarring message from the future: Soon everything will be different.

At our house, a guestroom bed was moved out, and a nursery appeared. A mural painted by Christopher’s sister and aunt; a crib, changing table, and gliding armchair to welcome the soon-to-be new addition.

The arrival of a baby brought sleeplessness and worry, monitoring of poops and pees, and a whole new awareness of the world being so much bigger than me, and so much smaller than everything else that used to matter.

It also brought piles of soft blankets, clean bottles, and increased board books. It brought ridiculous gadgets with ridiculous names, like Diaper Genies and Wipey Warmers.

Some things came and went. Bottles and their cleaning accouterment disappeared after our baby refused to take one. Pacifiers went next after I forgot one in a pot of boiling water and it burnt to an unrecognizable crisp. The house smelled like plastic for days, but the firemen assured me I wasn’t the first.

When the baby became mobile, the blankets we had laid him on spawned soft toys, which in turn spawned wooden train tracks and giant blocks. Tiny four-wheeled cars lined up end-to-end from the front door to the back.

A second baby joined us. Tiny diapers and baby things reappeared, now added to the big brother’s essentials. Yellow construction trucks. More books, a few balls.

They churned out watercolors and tempera paint creations, five or six a day. I hung them with clothespins from a string I affixed to the ceiling separating the kitchen from the family room. A rainbow-striped rug on the floor added to the sensory overwhelm.

“Your house looks like a preschool,” my sister observed, which I did not take as a compliment. If my house looked like a preschool, it was one run by a madwoman who could create, but not curate. I kept everything. We should have bought stock in Scotch tape.

To hold all this stuff, a three-by-four-foot “toy table” anchored the family room, with two giant drawers filled with puzzles and games and whatever else could be shoved in there. By the end of each day, a Fisher Price three-level parking garage with a car elevator — the same kind I’d had as a child and played with for hours at a time — seemed to have survived a hurricane, with cars parked willy-nilly, upside-down, and sideways. Red and blue plastic train tracks, uprooted by a light tornado waited to be sorted and stored. Or not.

Around that time, I went with my pre-schooler to a new friend’s house. Watching them play, I could not take my eyes off the neat array of plastic storage bins on wall shelves, each with matching printed labels. Is this how my house should look? Every time the boys got a new play idea, the other mom made them stop, clean up the toy they had been playing with, and return it to its proper bin on the shelf. I made a mental note — Aha, that’s how it should be done!

Our house “rules” for cleaning up toys were only consistent in their inconsistency. Some days I made him clean up before doing the next thing, but most of the time I let it slide. After all, a car race he had toiled for hours to set up on the living room floor was too impressive to be taken apart so soon; surely he would want to come back to it the next day! We stepped around and over it for days until he (or I) finally had enough.

Twenty-two years after that car seat marked the end of one phase of my life, that first baby is graduating from college. His “baby” brother is weeks away from finishing high school. In the morning when he leaves for school with a ‘bye-mom-luvya,’ I want to chase him down (and sometimes do) to get a hug. In a few months, he will be walking out of a dorm room in the morning, living in a new city.

I know this much is true: Toys get picked up. Dinosaur jigsaw puzzles with pieces as big as your face get boxed up, put in bins, and migrate to closets out of reach. Legos are stored. Yellow construction trucks are donated to Goodwill or given to friends with younger kids. Toys give way to balls and gloves, then video game consoles and phones. What is left: discarded socks and size 11 men’s shoes kicked off on the family room floor. Blankets spilling off a couch where a teenager falls asleep watching movies into the wee hours. Shaving cream and razors on sink counters.

I limit the number of glances I make into my sons’ bedrooms. In one, the blanket curls in the middle of the bed. Clothes that might be clean or dirty decorate the floor.

And in the other, where my older son sleeps when he comes home to visit, the bed is made. The room is neat and tidy. Pristine. Untouched.

Laura Nicole Diamond is the award-winning author of Shelter Us: a novel, and Dance with Me: a love letter and editor of the anthology Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood. She is writing a memoir about becoming a foster mom to a teenage asylum-seeker from Guatemala. For more, go to FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Dream Small

Unexpected wisdom from a midlife birthday

Many years ago, an artist’s handpainted signs at a crafts fair at the local park caught my attention. I came home with five, and hung them on the wall outside my sons’ bedrooms. They implored:




As a fledgling writer working on a novel, these three messages I needed for myself. Acknowledging that these messages carried their own kind of pressure, the wall also bore warmer fuzzier, and perhaps competing, messages I also wanted more of:



A decade and a half later, on the eve of my birthday, I sat at my dining room table with my family. Dinner was winding down, and my father asked with his winsome smile, in the quiet voice he uses now, if I had a speech. Like a doll he can wind up with a key, needing the barest of nudges to speak (I am like him), I said, I do.

I have been thinking lately, we need to do the opposite of what the world tells us is called for. We need to let go of all the pressures we take on that we cannot see or name, like the signs I hammered into our walls — think big; make a splash; publish the book and hit the bestseller list. We need to dream small.

Dream small.

Dream of having dinner with parents who are healthy. Dream of an imperfect table with uneven leaf extensions. Dream of the flavors of Thai take-out. Dream of a chocolate-smeared tablecloth and pink candles melting into icing.

Dream small.

Dream of an array of pink tulips your husband arranges for your first-thing-in-the-morning view. Dream of your 18-year-old’s doting presence and phone calls from college towns. Dream of a board game whose rules you don’t understand but you play because it makes the kids happy, and their happiness makes you happy.

Dream small.

Dream of an afternoon dog walk over slick, muddy grass that pulls you down, then pulls up a laugh and a memory from your honeymoon.

Dream of a fireplace and fresh chopped wood that catches. Dream of hand-me-down sofas with room for everyone. Dream of the ache in one hip that is loosening with stretching and time.

Dream small.

Dream of Prince’s music playing over the speakers, reminding you of how in 1987 you danced to 1999, and how in 2023 you are dancing to it still. Dream of the friends who walked that arc with you, whose smiles you count on appearing at your door.

Dream small, and in naming your small dreams discover their immeasurable enoughness.

Laura Nicole Diamond is the award-winning author of Shelter Us: a novel, and Dance with Me: a love letter and editor of the anthology Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood. She is writing a memoir about becoming a foster mom to a teenage asylum-seeker from Guatemala. Follow on Medium, FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Hey, Writer’s Block: Meet Me Outside.

When creativity hides, look for it in unexplored places.

Blue skies above a green mountain range, above chartreuse grassy meadow.
Photo by Delano Ramdas on Unsplash

“Why don’t we ruminate on good things?” I ask my husband as dawn pushes through the shutters. I am awake unusually early for me, and he is in bed unusually late for him. Beyond the closed windows, Sunset Boulevard’s morning commuter-shush rides over our neighbor’s house and our back-to-back yards, mirroring the sounds of waves that are rolling against sand a mile in the other direction.

“Maybe it’s the amygdala’s fight or flight at work.” This is the kind of answer he can wake up with. “We have to think about what dangers are out there.”

The dangers pinging around my semi-sleeping mind this morning are mild in the scheme of world problems—navigating hurt feelings and rejections, my own and my loved ones’ — yet they will occupy and squat in my mind until I kick them out.

The dog’s paws skitter up the steps, then thunder into a running leap onto the bed. This fluffy one marches straight to my head and pillow to present his curly furry chest for a morning scratch, while his sister stretches out on her pillow on the floor. The dopamine hit of my hand against his heart works its magic on both of us. Though when my scratching pauses, he lifts a paw and pokes me: No stopping now. Get up. Get going.

It is time for a walk.

The spring deluge has retreated for a few days while it gathers itself for an encore, so our walk is lit by sunshine, making vibrant greens and blues. Los Angeles is most stunning after a storm. At the park, grass grows over patches of the once-and-future muddy field, bright weed-mounds popping up without a pattern. A tree has tipped over from the soil’s saturation and the prankster wind that followed. The square of sidewalk that always has tiny shards of glass is washed clean. The mountains play dress up doing their best impression of Oregon.

The dogs explore the scents the rain has scrambled, and I think about my dormant writing practice. It has been three months since I last posted something after a two-year streak of posting almost every week. What I discovered through that weekly posting practice was that even when I had nothing I needed to say, a concrete goal boosted my creativity. (Almost as important was announcing this commitment, as accountability to keep from quitting.) This practice yielded almost one hundred new pieces. Some cringy, some I still like, including the first piece, “What Will We Remember?” about the small shiny moments amidst the rubble of the preceding twelve months, as well as the last, “Almost There.”

Last December, I allowed myself a six-week pause in my weekly posting to focus on finishing a bigger project. Now that “pause” has rolled to a full stop. I have not been able to rouse myself. I write shards here and there but I have not found words worth sharing. Of course, we all need time for renewal. For grace. For stirring the pot and letting the sauce simmer (oh god, see how these horrible metaphors take over?!) My mind tells me it is time to get back in the saddle (ack, there they go again!), but my words resist. They want to stay on the ground, burrow under, and continue hibernating. (Good lord, do you see what I’m up against?! Revolting!)

“You can’t fight it,” Judi, my writer friend advises. “It goes in cycles. You just have to ride it.”

Fine. Past the field, past the sandbox, I lead the dogs toward a place where I can let them off leash, but they have a different idea. They are pulling me toward home, so I let them guide me. Words a writing teacher once preached come to my mind: there are many ways to be creative. Use them to nourish you.

Could this walk outside have given me…the seed of an idea? A writing prompt for when I get home:

Make a list of ways to be creative.

  1. Plant a garden. Corn stalks and cucumber and kale, next to the tomato plant that survived the torrents and gale winds, and the green onions and the baby eggplants, survivors all. A ratatouille growing in the dirt outside your window.

2. Make a meal.

3. Create a meal plan! (Hahahaha!)

(It’s not that a meal plan is a bad idea for everyone, it is ambitious for me. Too many fancy meals (aka a meal planned and shopped for before 5 pm) can overwhelm the senses. I need a palate cleanser of, say, cereal or scrambled eggs or whatever is in the pantry at dinnertime. I need to let the dazzle of the last meal’s flavors sink in, like that rare novel your mind is still digesting days after you finish reading it and you need to let linger before you can pick up the next one.)

4. Make an album of photographs from last summer, and the flavors of Spain are brought back in the revisiting.

5. Start a photo album for my youngest child for his high school graduation. Revisit these 18 years that have felt like 18 months, all of it living in me at once — my way to prove Einstein’s theories of relativity and time-bending-over-itself. A caution: one risks getting stuck in these curving-in-on-themselves moments and overheating in a meltdown of your nuclear core. So yes, pause on the memory of him on his first birthday sucking on a corn cob in the little garden, holding it in a dimpled fist, his round eyes wide open with the new experience; then remember to see him as he is now.

6. Dig out the watercolors and oil paints from the cupboard; paint something without judging it.

7. Light a candle.

8. Let an idea take me for a ride on its airstream.

9. Collaborate.

10. Go to an art museum and stare at things I do not understand.

11. Read poems.

12. Eat good food. (See #2 and possibly #3.)

13. Take new walks and see new sights.

14. Learn Italian.

15. Pull weeds.

16. Dye my T-shirts royal purple.

17. Pick up my old guitar now that I’ve worn my fingernails down to their nubs again.

18. Sing a made-up song while one dog pulls me forward and sideways as he explores every nuance and scent the rain has reallocated, and the other dog stays right next to me, sensing my need.

Laura Nicole Diamond is the award-winning author of Shelter Us: a novel, and Dance with Me: a love letter, and editor of the anthology Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood. She is working on a memoir about becoming a foster mom to a teenage asylum-seeker. MediumFacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

In Praise of Tiny Gratitude

Most days I feel like gratitude is my superpower, and I can turn away from the crap and orient myself toward reverence for all that is good — as small as a dog offering her tummy for a scratch, or a piano playing in the other room, or as wide as Christopher’s steadfastness, patience and love.

Some days it is harder to find that reverence. There’s a lot of sadness, near and far, and rustling up gratitude feels like a heavier lift than usual. On this day of heightened emotions — both gathering with joy and missing with ache the people we love — from a posture of humility, I go tiny: gratitude for finding my computer charger. Gratitude for finding a matching sock in the laundry. Gratitude for joints that bend and stretch without pain, and the sense of smell when the maple caramel pumpkin pie comes out of the oven.

It occurs to me that these are not tiny at all. Neither are these “tiny stories” (in 100 words or less) of gratitude from around the country I pass along (hoping the link goes past the paywall.)

Wishing you a happy, ample, or (fill-in-the-blank for whatever you need) Thanksgiving.

Laura Nicole Diamond is the award-winning author of Shelter Us: a novel, and Dance with Me: a love letter, and editor of the anthology Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood. She is working on a memoir about becoming a foster mom to a teenage asylum-seeker. MediumFacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Did I love it enough?*

No matter how we try, can we savor a moment as much as we should?

A young man and his mother in black raincoats, stand in front of a waterfall with their mouths open to catch snowflakes on their tongues

Did I love it enough?

Those three quick days with our son, popping into his life for a weekend, then back out. Arriving on his doorstep straight from the airport, feeling the moment it takes to reinhabit our connection, then the swoosh that wraps us up like a swaddle in our mother-father-child circle.

His hug, for me, is what resets it. It says more than a love poem. It feels like storing up for winter.

Did I love it enough?

The stepping into his living room from outside, wiping the already wet and leaf-sogged bottoms of my shoes on the small rectangle of cloth at his door. These Oregon trips are always waterlogged. A quick exchange of hellos with his Cherub-faced friend, another mother’s baby graduating from college this year, then the three of us go off to dinner, our route drawn by Google maps to a restaurant we have never been to.

“Are your synapses firing, Mom?”

He’s teasing me about a rant where I said I want to do new things and go new places because it makes our time feel longer (or so said some TV show that I told my family about, which he will not let me forget). Tomorrow we will leave his college town for a new adventure an hour away, two nights with our boy in a cottage on the McKenzie River. But did I love it enough, these familiar streets, his favorite sports bar, playing pool with his friends?

The next day, Christopher drives and I soak in the views from the passenger seat. The full rushing river. The steady rain. Forests of Douglas fir. Colors of fall, specifically northwest beautiful — more yellows than browns — so different than the desert beaches of our southern California autumn.

Closer to our destination, the trees wear char marks from last season’s fires. Some are blackened halfway up, yet recover and yield to green at their tops. Others end in shards scraping middle sky. Oregon fires have become a season to themselves, prompting me to check my Weather App for air advisories. When the fires came again last month and my son’s town’s air filled with smoke, I asked if he needed an air purifier and N-95 masks.

“You sent them last year.” (Unspoken, perhaps: they’re still in their boxes.)

Beneath my conscious awareness, but in my bones, is the memory of another drive with just the three of us, headed to the ER near midnight because our son’s breath scraped his lungs and he might not be getting enough. When he fell asleep next to me in the backseat and his breathing eased, we turned around; the ER seemed worse than guarding him through the night, listening for the tightness again. The next day the pediatrician gave us an inhaler and said, as his body grows so will his airways, and this proved to be true.

The rains have washed the air; it smells like life. We walk along a trail it took us three tries to find, then retreat inside to get dry, gaze at the river, read books, and — here’s the most important thing — watch college football. He takes a break to do some work, and we watch the river go by and talk about where to have dinner.

The guy at the diner in the Astros shirt shows us a photo on his phone of a waterfall twenty-six miles away. “This one is visible from the highway. There’s another waterfall, but you have to hike two miles to see it.” And because our son wants to see a waterfall, and also wants his Sunday watching ESPN Redzone on his couch, and because I see how much he works — writing, interviewing, editing, and publishing — I want that for him, too. A waterfall from the road will be plenty.

The snow surprises us as we get closer to the falls. We had not noticed the elevation gain or the temperature drop. There is a small parking lot and a well-marked sign. We step out in too-light rain jackets and follow a steep, slick path.

You might watch a waterfall forever and not be able to decide which is more powerful — the sound or the sight. A million gallons of energy pour, spilling, endless, relentless, backsplashing against the river it is part of. Snowflakes fill the air, thick and fuzzy, and accumulate on the trees. I understand why we say “take your breath away” and that something beautiful is “stunning.” .

“Woooow! This is crazy!” My son’s awe sends a tickle down my neck.

“My synapses, Aaron!”

He tips his head back and sticks out his tongue to catch slushy snowflakes in his mouth, and I think, that is the best idea anyone has ever had and do the same. I see the sky above, the trees tilting toward it, and dancing melting dreamflakes landing on my face and tongue. The waterfall behind us never thinks of slowing down.

Before we go, one of us says, or maybe we both do, “I love that when we go home, this is still here, still happening.”

Did I love it enough, these days with my son? Soaking up time together. Building a fire. Playing Catan. Talking about what keeps him awake at night. Falling asleep to the sound of the river rushing by.

Can you ever love it all enough?

[*After the poem “November” by Maggie Dietz]

Laura Nicole Diamond is the award-winning author of Shelter Us: a novel, and Dance with Me: a love letter, and editor of the anthology Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood. She is working on a memoir about becoming a foster mom to a teenage asylum-seeker. FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

If you would like another way to support my writing, follow me on Medium.

Unexpected Gift of a Writing Practice

How it may break me of the nasty “helpful” habit.

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

At our Thursday morning zoom writing group, a poem is read, a timer is set, and we write without stopping. Moving the pen in this way can loosen us up and let out the juicy stuff, surprising us at times with where the subconscious may lead.

Except minutes into the session, my son’s “G’morning” as he rouses himself from bed breaks my focus. Is it a little gravelly? Is he sick? Even as my pen moves, my mind starts ticking through “should do’s”: I should ask if he is feeling okay. I should offer him lozenges. I should find a Covid test.

No, that’s not it. I should keep writing.

I should. But one quick reply to let him know I am here can’t hurt. Checking that my zoom is muted, I shout upstairs, “I can help you in thirty minutes.” Good for me! Protect my writing practice. This is a revolution! My declaration of independence!

The next thirty minutes will be my internal civil war.

Because, I mean, I haven’t made his lunch yet, something I do most days — not because I think he can’t do it, of course, but well, we both like me to do it. And he does not know that I bought the good bread for sandwiches yesterday.

No, no, no. I am not stopping to make his lunch.

Except now I hear him say something to Christopher, who is out of commission with Covid, and my brain tunes out my inner voice and tunes into theirs. A vector pulls hard on me to get me off my chair to see what they need.

No, no, no. No getting up. But maybe just one text? There is good bread in the pantry, and sliced turkey, and yogurt, and apples.

Ahhh. A hit of helping settles me down. Now I can focus on the writing.

Except was that a sneeze? Now half my brain (more than half, let’s be honest) is occupied with, who was that? do we have tissue? and shouldn’t I go buy a Covid test this very instant?

No, no, no, no, no. Stay here with your pen, your notebook, your fellow writers, creating collective energy. Stay until the timer says you are done.

It takes more strength than it ought to, resisting the reflex to jump away from my work into what I think they need. Running around doing for others feels like home base — extra points if I have to give up my own thing to do it!! The martyr game is my jam!

Next time, I think, just tell them in advance that I will be unavailable for ninety minutes. But it is only me I need to tell: Stay put. Atta girl.

If it takes scribbling garbage until the timer beeps to keep my butt in this chair and break the impulse to jump into everyone else’s business, well then let that be one more way writing saves me.

My arm is getting tired. Good. Keep going. Keep writing like your life depends on it, every word showing you how strong you can be.

Laura Nicole Diamond is the award-winning author of Shelter Us: a novel, and Dance with Me: a love letter, and editor of the anthology Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood. She is working on a memoir about becoming a foster mom to a teenage asylum-seeker. http://lauranicolediamond.medium.comMedium, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

At College Application Season, A Message to My Son

“What I’m Telling You is Yes Yes Yes”

Photo by Drahomír Posteby-Mach on Unsplash

To my beloved high school senior:

It is college application season. You and your friends are being asked to condense your whole beings into 650 words, the grades you have earned, and a list of activities that caught your teenage interest. Is it any wonder you drag yourself to the desk? Who could go with grace to this task whose stakes feel so high?

Before you submit yourself for inspection to a committee that will decide if you are “worthy,” and before these schools with the big names that look so good on sweatshirts have their chance to pronounce your worth—allow me to answer:

Yes yes yes.

My dear heart—you who did not patent an invention, or work in a cancer research lab, or get elected president of, well, anything— you are amazing.

You excel at kindness, and making your parents laugh. You have a philosopher’s mind, a nurturer’s soul, and a prankster’s sense of humor. You notice when someone is standing outside the circle, and say, let’s make the circle bigger. You know how to stop a bully with a look.

Forgive my hyperbole; it’s about to get extra: you are the shining light of God’s eyes. I know you don’t believe in God, but can you think of a word that better captures the beauty of your unique soul? (If you can, use it in that essay.)

What I’m telling you is, Yes yes yes.

Before the envelopes, thick or thin, begin to arrive; before you even submit your requests; what I am telling you is you have all you need inside you to craft a life that fills you.

I am not saying, my sweet kiddo, that it will be smooth sailing. There will be times in life when you will question your worth. I tell you this from experience. Impostor syndrome comes to everyone, myself included. (Even the Queen of England, I am sure of it, had her moments of looking around Westminster Abbey, feeling the weight of the crown and sceptre, and pinching herself.) You will wonder, Who am I fooling? Who am I to write a book? To stand at an Open Mic? To dream of greatness?

What I’m telling you in a voice that is loud and clear and bold: you are everything.

So, when you do, you know, eventually, hopefully before the deadlines, send off those applications, know that your worth is not waiting to be decided. It is already as steadfast, whole, and unassailable as my love.


Laura Nicole Diamond is the award-winning author of Shelter Us: a novel, and Dance with Me: a love letter, and editor of the anthology Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood. She is at work on a memoir about becoming a foster mom to a teenage asylum-seeker. MediumFacebookTwitter, and Instagram.


*This essay was prompted by the kickass poem, “God Says Yes To Me” by Kaylin Haught.

This is What We Are Given

The author’s family, circa 1972, photographer unknown

This is what we are given.

An invitation — to write, to meet, or maybe to listen — and the discernment to accept or reject.

Hunches, gut reactions steering us toward yes or no, if we can get quiet enough to listen.

I heard a doctor on a podcast describe being in a sensory deprivation tank, floating in total darkness and silence, in water that matched her body temperature so that even her sense of touch was numbed. In that space, she discovered the ruckus going on inside her body. So much more than heartbeat and breath, she heard the orchestra of her organs at work. Seduced by their surprising song, she spent an hour listening and could have stayed longer.

This is what we are given.

The pumping heart, the growing (or decaying) bones, the flesh and ligaments connecting head all the way to feet — ours to use until we cannot.

The rituals of fall, the birthday of the world, reminding us that we can set and reset intentions. The chance to forgive ourselves and others for forgetting. The awareness that we will have to do it all again next year because we are human, and forgetting is what we do best.

We are given a planet that holds all the remedies to what ails us — ways to capture carbon, or cure diseases — if only we can harness our minds to find them, a treasure hunt for survival.

This is what we are given.

Foaming soap. Soft rugs. Baby powder. Washcloths.

A mother who sang a lullaby with the words changed, so that her baby will never fall from a broken bough; and a father who told the story of my birth as “Oh good! Another girl!”

Parents who let a seven-year-old design a t-shirt proclaiming in simple black letters on a light blue field, “Laura the Great,” worn in rotation with a YMCA t-ball team shirt.

I was given almost zero athletic ability, and a sports-loving dad who taught me to play football and baseball, and every arcane rule governing them. I was given a sister who could launch a football in a perfect spiral across our lawn, farther than I ever could hope to throw it, and the chance to see that I did not have to be good at everything to be cherished in the world.

If I could give you anything, it would be this: To know your greatness is complete, and it is non-negotiable.

Laura Nicole Diamond is the award-winning author of Shelter Us: a novel, and Dance with Me: a love letter, and editor of the anthology Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood. She is at work on a memoir about becoming a foster mom to a teenage asylum-seeker. Medium, FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Why Do You Write?

One reason is universal: to share our stories and remember.

Photo by Negative Space on

For generations, authors have offered their personal musings in answer to the question, why write? Joan Didion, said, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” Cormac McCarthy, was less precious: “I don’t know why I started writing. I don’t know why anybody does it. Maybe they’re bored, or failures at something else.”

As for me, I write to try to understand this vast, surprising, and sometimes heartbreaking world. To enter a moment and hold it, examine it up close. I write to make life feel more real — to make the glowing moments shine brighter and to make the painful moments more bearable.

Read the full post at Medium

Laura Nicole Diamond is the award-winning author of Shelter Us: a novel, and Dance with Me: a love letter, and editor of the anthology Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood. She is at work on a memoir about becoming a foster mom to a teenage asylum-seeker. Follow her on Medium, FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

What to Do When the World Goes Mad?

Stand your ground for beauty

Photo credit: Author

My son reads us the headlines aloud from the CNN ticker that updates every few minutes.

“There’s a guy they’re calling the Ghost of Kyiv. He shot down six fighter jets.” 

I understand why this Ghost has captured my son’s (and the world’s) imagination. Like Snoopy’s need to fight the Red Baron, there is a hunger for hope to conquer evil. Or at least to take a swing at it. Most of us feel helpless here on the ground. 

He says that folks are not sure if the Ghost is real, “or if he is an urban legend the people of Ukraine need right now.” Real or not, Twitter users are cheering the real downing of the Russian planes and helicopters. I cannot cheer, though, reflexively thinking of the mothers of those Russian pilots, whose dead bodies are not myths. Who are victims of Putin, too.

He pipes up with another horror story from the news ticker. “On Snake Island, a tiny island, eighty Ukrainian soldiers were surrounded by Russian warships. The warships told them to surrender or die.” They did not surrender

How can this be happening? How can this carnage be real? How can missiles fall and tanks roll while I am ensconced with my family on a weekend trip to the snow, planned when the strangest thing happening in the world was Covid?

“Go to Google Earth,” I say. I need to see our planet looking like a big blue marble, insignificant, with no borders drawn on its curves and swirls. 

I cannot stop madmen from starting wars. (No one can, apparently.) So I try to locate the balance between sorrow, empathy and gratitude, to allow myself to enjoy the rare gift of a conversation with my son while we traipse through fresh snow. For the beauty around us, as fragile and as temporary, as it may be.

My father’s father was born in Chernobyl, Ukraine in 1917 before the Soviet Union existed. He died in 2000 after the Soviet Union ceased to exist.

“Go back to the view of Earth from space,” I urge. “See if you can find us.”

Laura Nicole Diamond is the award-winning author of Shelter Us: a novel, and Dance with Me: a love letter, and editor of the anthology Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood. She is at work on a memoir about becoming a foster mom to a teenage asylum-seeker. Follow her on Medium, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and here at