Laurie Samsel Olson
Member – American Rose Society
For 29 years, I put my heart into helping others through social service work in the private and public sector. Writing was something I fit in wherever and whenever I could. In retirement, I’m letting my soul wander full-time in its natural world — the land of stories and inspirational thought.
My relationship with pen and paper began at the age of 10 with a poem about trees. “Trees are very pretty. I like the way they blow. And as I watch them day by day, I find they grow very slow …”
I proudly handed the three-verse masterpiece to my fifth grade teacher who returned it to me with several red-ink corrections and not a word about my obvious genius with meter and rhyme. That triggered a love/hate relationship with editing that I carry with me today, but it didn’t stop me from letting the words flow whenever the spirit moved me.
Over the years, I’ve been most proud of stories that helped readers understand one another. During my first career as a journalist in the 1980s, I wrote human interest pieces that talked frankly but compassionately about what it was like to live as a quadriplegic in an able-bodied world or as a “boat person” who survived an ocean crossing to escape from a war-torn country. In 1994, after my schizophrenic/bipolar father died, I wrote and self-published a book to help others cope with the serious mental illness of a close family member (He Was Still My Daddy). In 2007, my second foray into self-publishing was a metaphysical novel with both a humanitarian and an environmental message (Shooting Stars). Today, I’m writing a historical novel and sharing my thoughts on life through two blogs — Notes from My Mother (launched in 2014) and Where the Roses Grow (launched in 2018).
I believe that one of the secrets to understanding someone is knowing who they hold in high regard. To that end, my heroes are parable writer Mitch Albom, folk music icon John Denver, political dreamer Robert Kennedy, my intensely spiritual mother-in-law, Joan Millard Olson, and my weird and wonderful mother, Joyce Metzger Samsel. Only one, Mitch Albom, is among the living. The others are all resting safely in my heart.