News & Events

A Jagged Journey

A Jagged Journey follows the story of Charlie, a too-trusting thirty-something-year-old high school teacher who thinks he knows what he wants until life radically alters his plans. It is the story of single mother, Hannah, and her young son, Sammy, whose life journey is bolstered by loving and supportive family members. And then there’s Gretchen, an educated professional whose thoughts and opinions are challenged at every turn when the cruelest of detours changes her life forever.

Irene Frances Olson, author of Requiem for the Status Quo, has written a new novel about disparate characters between the ages of seven and seventy-seven that will have you laughing and crying in equal measure. The author paints a picture of what it is like for individuals to evolve and arrive at a place where hurt begets joy, smarts don’t necessarily equate to intelligence, and vulnerability guarantees increased strength.

If you have ever hit speedbumps and roadblocks in your personal life, if your opinions and judgments about others have taken abrupt and unexpected turns, A Jagged Journey was written for and about you. Be sure to follow this author’s website for publication updates.

RELEASE DATE EARLY 2021.

 

Free books!!!

Because sometimes it’s difficult to find time to sit down and read a traditional book, I now have an audiobook available for purchase. But in celebration of caregivers everywhere, I am offering several free copies of the audiobook.

If you or someone you know would benefit from a copy of my audiobook, please email me at irene@irenefrancesolson.com. The first 10 responses will receive a link and instructions on how to redeem their free copy.

As the adage goes, “But hurry, don’t wait, to receive your free gift now!”

 

Discounted Books About Dementia!

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, a time to increase understanding of what dementia is and how it impacts the lives of those it touches. It’s also a great time to work to decrease the stigma and silence that too often accompanies an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Each June AlzAuthors hosts a book sale and giveaway to help caregivers and those concerned about dementia find knowledge, guidance, and support offered through shared wisdom and experience. AlzAuthors is the global community of authors writing about Alzheimer’s and dementia from personal experience. I’m proud to be a part of this growing non-profit organization, and I’m excited my eBook, Requiem for the Status Quo, is a part of this sale for only 99 cents, but only for a week!

June 15th through June 22nd you can take advantage of this biannual opportunity to purchase excellent resources on the dementia diseases for free or at reduced prices. AlzAuthors offers a variety of genres, including fiction, memoir, non-fiction, and children’s and teen literature. Most are available in Kindle and ebook, and many are available in paperback and audio. I would like to encourage you to build a library of carefully vetted books to help guide and inspire you every day.

These books are written from a deep place of solidarity, vulnerability, and love. May you find one – or two, or more! – to help guide you on your own dementia journey. Click here for the sale’s discounted offerings.

 

 

Being gracious – now and always

It’s so easy to focus more on what we lack versus what we have. Easy to take the hard work of others for granted, simply because what others are doing is a job for which they are getting paid.

My May 1st In Your Corner column in Grandparents Day Magazine addresses how important it is to express gratitude in recognizing the hard work of others. Whether that person is a frontline worker, a spouse, a child, or a neighbor we pass by on our social distancing neighborhood walk, everyone needs to know they are appreciated for showing up and simply being who they are, day after livelong day.

Please read my Grandparents Day Magazine column, and then let’s all fine-tune every expression of gratitude we can muster. 

Storytelling is an Art

I’m currently auditioning narrators to produce a new audiobook for my novel, Requiem for the Status Quo. This brief post, however, is not about audiobooks per se, rather, I simply want to talk about the importance of storytelling. Very few of us will write memoirs or even novels in our lifetime, but we do have an ongoing opportunity to tell our story. 

  • We tell our story by the way we live.
  • We illustrate our story by the words we choose to say and those we wisely choose not to say.
  • We add drama to our story by demonstrating how we manage the difficult times in our lives and we provide sorrowful interludes when what transpires has a devastating impact on our well-being. 
  • We inject humor into the many scenes depicted in our lives, hopefully laughing at ourselves more than laughing at the expense of others. (I made a point of including humor in Requiem because even in the toughest of times on my father’s Alzheimer’s journey, he never lost his sense of humor, nor did I.)
  • When life serves us lemons, we either choose to make lemonade or we allow the sourness of an episode to irreparably discolor our outlook from that point forward.
  • We can remind ourselves that even when it appears more bad than good is coming our way, the truth of the matter is that far more positive than negative events fill the days we have been gifted. (As of this posting, I have lived close to 24,455 days; I’ve enjoyed my life more than I have abhorred it.)

There are a few sayings that come to my mind on this topic: I can read you like a book or Your life is like an open book. My hope is that if those statements apply to me, they will mean that my motives, thoughts, and/or actions say a lot about me, and what they are saying is mostly good. 

I try to live my days, doing the best I can  with what I’ve been given.

How about you? What’s your story?

What’s in a name?

What’s in a name? Turns out, quite a bit. We have all been on the receiving end of name misspellings – whether our first name or our surname. Countless times since my 2000 marriage, my surname has been spelled Olsen.  Fortunately, when our name appears in print, oftentimes such misprints are easy to correct and life blissfully carries on. But what about after our life has ended?

In my home-based gym, I have been exercising as of late to a Netflix series, Finding God, hosted by Morgan Freeman. What attracted me to the series was the fact that no one religion is spotlighted, rather, many beliefs are presented, and that pleases me to no end.

Today’s episode discussed the topic all of us wish we knew more about:

What happens after we leave this life; is there such a thing as eternal life?

Sorry, I don’t have the answer to that question but what I can offer is the following: our name will live on forever. Morgan Freeman went to Thebes, Egypt and received an educational tour of Ramses’ tomb in the Valley of the Kings. (There were several Ramses, this was one of them.) In this tomb, Ramses tried to preserve the memory of his life by writing on the walls and pillars with both a self-body image (a selfie) and the actual writing of his name in the language of his time. He was well aware that many would outlive him but he was also aware that no one lives forever so he’d better make his mark on history while he could.

What about our mark on history? I already know there are more than one Irene Olsons, which is why when I published my book Requiem for the Status Quo, I wrote out my full name, including my middle name, Frances. No doubt I am not the only Irene Frances Olson who ever existed but to my knowledge, I am the only one who wrote this particular novel to honor her father who died from Alzheimer’s disease; I am the only Irene Frances Olson, née Desaulniers then changed to Desonier by her parents in the hopes of others spelling it correctly; the only Irene Frances Olson who birthed Erin Maureen Li Sai Wong Green; the only woman fortunate enough to be named Irene Frances Olson because of her marriage to Jerry Olson; I am also the only Grammo to her grandson, Lucas…and so on and so forth. Who I am as Irene Frances Olson is different from every other person similarly named because who I am is a result of how I have lived my life and how I continue to live my life.

My name is very important because it is attached to the me who is trying to make a difference everywhere she goes.

No one else is me, so I choose to make sure I inspire memories in others that will carry from one generation to the next. Fortunately, I don’t have to be famous in order for that to happen. All that is necessary is that the me that is attached to my version of Irene Frances Olson is memorable in a positive way.

12 Years Later

Twelve years ago today, my father died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. That morning I had received a call from the memory care unit where Dad had lived for several years. The nursing manager of that unit said if I wanted to see my father again before he died, I should come as soon as possible. (I had spent a week with him the month before and knew that his prostate cancer would most likely hasten his death.) I first called my husband at work to let him know I would find a flight from Seattle, WA to Medford, OR and be gone…for how long? I didn’t know. Then while on the phone with my brother and sister, I booked my flight online with a tentative return, threw the very minimum of clothing in an overnight bag, and headed to SeaTac International Airport.

If you have read my novel, Requiem for the Status Quo, you’ve pretty much read the account of what transpired for me at my father’s bedside; some of the happenings that day/evening were altered, but the gist of what transpired are contained in Chapters 41 & 42.

Upon my return to Seattle, my energy level was depleted yet still on alert. When you have a loved one with a debilitating disease, a state of alertness is the norm – the status quo of constantly being in a state of emergency, if you will. You keep waiting for the phone to ring with the latest development – such as it did for the last time on October 13, 2007 – but that phone number’s appearance on my Caller ID had ceased.

What hadn’t ceased was the business of dying – all the financial and estate matters one cannot ignore – but because of my father’s diligence and organization leading up to his Alzheimer’s diagnosis, much of what I needed to do on behalf of his estate and us survivors, was readily dispatched in the months that followed my father’s death.

But the “now what?” of life post-caregiving was front and center for me. Initially, I wanted absolutely nothing to do with anything having to do with dementia. I continued to financially support my local Alzheimer’s Association and participated in one more Walk to End Alzheimer’s, but that was it. Then my heart called and I became an Alzheimer’s Association caregiver support group facilitator and shortly thereafter, I entered the world of long-term care advocacy by becoming a Washington State LTC ombudsman, both of which I did for five years.

Then my heart spoke to me again, this time it said, “How about writing about your experience as Dad’s caregiver?” I ignored that thought until I no longer could – it wouldn’t leave me alone! I dragged out all of Dad’s records and my numerous journals, sat at my dining table, and over many months’ time, outlined how I would honor my father’s journey and my family’s experience within the pages of a book that might benefit others.

That was five years after my father’s death. My book was published five years later.

Now twelve years after the end of my father’s Alzheimer’s journey, my book still manages to make its way into the hands of those who need it.

If you, or someone you know, needs encouragement and a renewed sense of hope, please make your way to your favorite bookstore, or find the book right here.

Blessings to you today, and always.

48 caregiving stories for only $1.99

This compilation of encouraging stories is priced at a discount, but only through Friday, September 20th. I hope you will secure your discounted eBook copy in time to benefit from the discount. Perhaps someone you know could use a copy? It’s easy to gift a Kindle book, all you need is the recipient’s email address. What a grand gift that would be.