I really wanted to have more time to do this properly, but you know what happened? Uh, everything! So rather than not doing it at all, I’m still going to introduce you to the women of the Listen To Your Mother Austin cast, by plagiarizing the LTYM Austin posts about the cast. With my own additional information!
Shelley Schooley Oswald is a freelance writer, blogger, coffee-addict, native Texan and mom. When she’s not at her day job or performing her duties as taxi driver and swim-mom/cheerleader for her two teen boys, she fills her evenings with kitchen experiments, Netflix binging, dipping her toes back into the dating pool, and untangling her latest crochet project. You can usually find her on Facebook or over at her personal blog, Slightly off Kilter, where she over-shares about relationships, raising gentlemen, and trying to find herself in the process.
(Lane says: Shelley has the cutest nose. It was the first thing I noticed about her, and I had to comment. I mean, seriously. The. Cutest. Nose. She also had an amazing read. I’m following her on Facebook now, and she is consistently worth reading.)
Lisa Owen is a writer and blogger at My So Called Glamorous Life: The Adventures of a Domestic Engineer (www.mysocalledglamlife.com). Her work has been featured on Blogher.com, Project Underblog, Centering Down and in the supplemental materials for The Princess Problem (available at Rebecca Hains.com). An Illinois transplant to Houston, Texas, she is a mother/step-mother in a blended family with five children ages 7 to 24. Lisa has a B.S. in Journalism from Southern Illinois University and spent 15 years working as a corporate/transactional paralegal for law firms and corporations before becoming a SAHM and pursuing her passion for writing.
(Lane says: Lisa’s reading made me choke up BIG TIME. You will want to be prepared with tissues for this one, for sure. Warmed my heart, and wet my cheeks. Interacting with her on the LTYM Facebook group has been a lot of fun. She’s smart, supportive, and always quick with a “like”.)
Jill Robbins is a wannabe wine snob and sometime runner from San Antonio, Texas. She has a degree in social psychology which has so far been unhelpful in understanding the behavior of her husband and three children. She writes about adoption, motherhood and midlife on her blog, Ripped Jeans and Bifocals. Jill is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, Blunt Moms Babble, and Mamalode. She’s also been published in The Washington Post’s On Parenting and has had writing featured on Scary Mommy, Mamapedia Voices, In the Powder Room, SheKnows Parenting, Midlife Boulevard, Beyond Your Blog and other places around the internet. Her print publications include the December 2014 issue of Mamalode and three upcoming anthologies about motherhood. She someday hopes to write the books that are living in her head. You can follow Jill on Facebook and Twitter.
(Lane says: Please, please, please go look up Jill’s blog and start following her. She is truly worth your time. I loved the wit and candor of her piece, and Jill has a really great voice. All the adjectives like solid, and warm, and gentle, and honest!)
Crystal Valentine was raised in Austin, Texas. She grew up a pastor’s daughter and spent her teenage years fully living up to this title.
Crystal tried to be cool once but found it exhausting. She now embraces the words of Charlotte Bronte: she would always rather be happy than dignified. She no longer conceals her love for Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music and she’s given up on hiding her tears while watching American Idol. (Also, Crystal’s children do not love it when she dances in public.)
Crystal lives in the tiny, homogenous suburb of Hutto with her two sons, one daughter, one husband and a dog. They head into Austin every chance they get to be closer to graffiti and Thai food. Crystal takes on occasional freelance writing projects and has published volumes of precious words on Facebook. She has several personal manuscripts that she hopes to find a home for.
(Lane says: None of us cast members has favorites, but Crystal’s piece was my favorite. She wrote from such a place of love and admiration, and she echoed the sentiments of so many teenage girls. You know what is brave? Raw honesty. Now, getting to know her on Facebook, I’m an even bigger fan. Also, Crystal looks just like Ashley Judd, so I wanted to stare at her a lot at our table read. You’ll want to stare, too, but don’t be creepy.)
Elizabeth Jayne Liu started her blog, Flourish in Progress, to chronicle a yearlong shopping ban. Surprisingly, she survived, and now writes candidly about her former addictions, love of four-letter words, and her affinity for all things rap. Flourish in Progress was named a Blog of Note by Google Blogger, and Elizabeth has been featured on Glamour, Huffington Post, Adweek, CBS, and as the Daily Six for Six-Word Memoirs.
She lives in Los Angeles with her family and her complete collection of Yo! MTV Raps Trading Cards. Connect with Elizabeth on Facebook and on Instagram @flourishinprogress.
(Lane says: Elizabeth’s piece shattered me in all the good ways. There are a couple of lines she spoke about her daughter that I’ve heard my own mother say to me. It’s a fierce kind of love, and it cast Elizabeth into a special stratosphere of respect for me. Also, she is wicked funny. Go read her HuffPost blog, then come back and thank me.)
Brooke Meabon is a small business owner, a writer, runner, food-lover, and a chronic volunteer that’s fiercely in love with her city, San Antonio. She is a wife to a cowboy-boot-wearing-Pennsylvanian and mom to a four year old daughter that would wear glitter to bed if allowed and a three year old son that believes with all of his heart that he is a superhero. After a decade long career of wearing pantyhose everyday in the luxury hotel industry, Brooke discovered a love for writing and freed herself from the nylon bind, making a profession out of her passion. She is the co-founder of Alamo City Moms Blog, San Antonio’s leading parenting website, and marketing consultant for local businesses and organizations. Brooke can usually be found spinning too many plates at one time which makes for great writing material.
(Lane says: Brooke is absolutely darling, and I loved how her piece touched the need to have mother-friends and mother-advocates. She is a real friend-builder-upper, and a first class blogger.)
A’Driane Nieves is a USAF veteran, writer, artist, and speaker with a heart for serving others and social good. She’s also a mental health advocate living with bipolar disorder, and a survivor of postpartum depression and anxiety. She writes about the intersections of life, art, motherhood, mental health, and race on her personal blog. She’s been a contributing editor to Postpartum Progress, the most widely read blog on maternal mental health, and was selected as a BlogHer 2014 Voice of The Year. Her superpowers include knowing every Prince song not sitting in his vault, making the best faces while dancing, and rocking a hot pink afro. She’s mom to three boys and wife to her robotics loving husband.
(Lane says: A’Driane’s piece read like a tone poem to me. There was an actual beat to it, and I loved that about it. I also loved her totally colorful socks, bright personality, and glorious hairdo! Such hair envy.)
Leah Fisher Nyfeler grew up with her nose in a book, developing a love for word craft of all sorts. As an adult, she’s worked as an educator, freelance writer, and editor, and recently discovered the joy of marrying writing with her interest in health and wellness through her blog, Enjoying the Journey: Adventures, Thoughts, and Observations, on Leading the Fit Life. An avid runner, former triathlete, and now boxer, she began her blog as a training diary to connect with other athletes; after serving as editor in chief of a local fitness magazine, it became a way to continue her mission of bringing the pleasures (and challenges) of living a healthy lifestyle to the greater public. A chance encounter at an elementary school writing workshop led to her LTYM submission, which reinforces Nyfeler’s profound belief that life’s journey involves taking on those things that spark a certain level of “what have I just done?” in order to be fully lived. Mother of three grown and amazing children, wife to supportive and long-suffering husband James, Nyfeler lives and freelances in Austin, where she can be found working out with friends, eating good food, and still reading anything she can get her hands on.
(Lane says: While Leah was reading her piece, I was picturing the Murray kitchen, with Meg, Sandy & Dennis, and Charles Wallace gathered all around talking to their parents about quarks and tesseracts, warm and happy inside, with Weather happening outside. I wanted to go home with her because anyone who can make me have Madeleine L’Engle feels is someone I want to follow around. I don’t even know how to give a better compliment than that.)
Lisa Caldwell was born and raised in Pittsburgh, but don’t hold that against her. Her first year of college, she met a cute parking lot attendant who whisked her away to the wild west, first to Albuquerque, then to Reno where she cultivated her graphic design career specializing in gaming – the gambling kind, not the kind your kids play, so don’t ask her about Minecraft. Motherhood followed in 2010. Lisa turned to writing shortly thereafter as a way to vent her feelings about parenting and address her many questions such as: “Are they supposed to do that?” “What is wrong with me?” and “When are her real parents coming to get her?”
The Caldwell family relocated to Austin in 2012 where Lisa sought to grow her blog and take over the world. That didn’t happen within the two-week allotted time, so she took a job as an account manager for a branding studio. She is a regular contributor to LiveMom, former contributor to Austin Moms Blog and sole curator of Hip-BabyMama.com. She lives in central Austin with that same cute parking lot attendant, and her even cuter five-year-old daughter.
(Lane says: Lisa had me giggling, which is good because I was still trying to mop myself up from the reader who’d gone before her, when I first heard her piece. Since meeting her at the LTYM table read, I’ve been article-stalking her, and it’s been time well spent! Check her out.)
Lee Bell Hovland is from Little Rock, Arkansas, but moved to Austin in 1996 for graduate school and decided to stay for the breakfast tacos. She has a Master of Library and Information Science degree from UT, but has managed to work for more than 16 years without actually using that degree except for one time back in the early 2000s. She has a day job at the Texas Association for Counties, but by night she wrangles puppies and small boys, the dogs for the Cocker Spaniel Rescue of Austin/San Antonio (of which she is a founding board member), and the boys, Hopper (6) and Rowan (4), because they call her Mom. She also enjoys drinking wine with her husband, Sam, sommelier and wine buyer for East End Wines, and helping him figure out which ones pair well with cheese puffs (for the record, go with a Lambrusco).
(Lane says: I loved everything about Lee’s piece, and I am crowning it this year’s Perfect Essay. Last year’s Perfect Essay was Robyn’s. Lee’s piece is beautifully crafted, and takes you on a journey through love, loss, and fireflies and is just…*sigh* Also, she was a truly lovely person to meet.)
Tonie Knight is a Cuban-American-Texan, which means she is loud, makes an excellent Cuban coffee, and wears lots of red lipstick. She’s the boisterous and demanding mother of Dylan (22), Madison and Griffin (twins, 20), Cassidy (18), and Harrison (8). Her alter ego is an organized and exacting, middle-aged, middle manager. She’s a former longtime competitor and participant in the Austin Poetry Slam, and educational media voice talent. She is wildly in love with her husband, Jeff, whom she met in 1988 and knew for twelve years before they ever kissed. They made up for lost time. She can be found online at www.honeysucklezilla.com.
(Lane says: I haven’t gotten to meet Tonie yet, or hear her piece, but I have seen her shoes. If her work is anything like her shoes, you are going to be her new biggest fan.)
Lane Buckman Eh, you’ve already met me. I’m still trying to figure out how I got to be part of this group. I guess you’ll just have to come see the show, and let me know.
Tickets are on sale now for our two shows on Saturday, April 25, at 3pm and 7pm. We hope to see you there!