I met this month’s Scrumptious Mom, Maggie Baird, a little more than 10 years ago. She and I were both learning how to fly!
Not in the the traditional way, in the cockpit of an airplane, but with our own wings, hanging from silks or the trapeze. Yes Maggie and I had discovered the magic of aerial fitness!
Since then, I’ve drifted in and out of class, but Maggie stuck to it and last year became my little Sabrina’s instructor. And I discovered so much more about this fascinating woman! She is a mom fully devoted to her two children, but equally committed to making her own dreams come true…
54 year old Maggie Baird lives in Highland Park, California, with her husband Patrick O’Connell and their two children, 16 year old son Finneas, and 11 and half year old daughter Billie.
Maggie was born in beautiful Colorado but moved to New York city in pursuit of a dream – to become an actor! After several years in the Big City, she was cast in a play that took her to Anchorage, Alaska. There she met her husband, Patrick, who was also a member of the cast. The couple moved to Los Angeles, after touring in a play that took them there. Maggie became a member of The Groundlings Theatre where she also wrote her own material and taught.
“I worked with a lot of wonderful, hilarious people there. Many of whom went on to great fame. Others of whom were just as talented but went into other aspects of the business or raising a family.”
Maggie worked as a stage actor as well as a voice actor in all media and pursued another one of her passions: Songwriting.
“I have recorded two CD’s. My first was recorded as a gift for my then dying father. The second “WE SAIL” is available on iTunes.”
Maggie lost her parents much too soon. She was in her 20’s when her mother died of a heart attack. She had been misdiagnosed with a stomach ache. Maggie’s father became ill with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and passed away in the mid 70’s.
“Losing my parents probably made me even more devoted to mothering and family. I know how quickly things can change and I never take things for granted (sometimes I wish I could take things for granted a little bit!!) They were wonderful parents and it has been very hard not to have them around to see my children grow up. Although I have brothers, they both live far away so not having family around means developing close friendships that feel like family. My children are absolutely the greatest thing that has happened to me.”
The loss of her parents also solidified her commitment to being healthy. She has been a vegetarian since the age of seventeen and in the last few years became a gluten-free vegan. This has been an interesting shift for Maggie who spent many of her years as a serious baker, making countless wedding and specialty cakes. She is enjoying the challenge of discovering new and delicious ways to make vegan fares fun and scrumptious. Her family, who is also vegetarian, joined her on her vegan journey this past year because of rising health concerns. This decision has been amazing for them and they are all thriving from it!
The life of an actor comes with a unique set of challenges, the least of which is inconsistent and sometimes non-existent employment. But because her work also provided the family’s health insurance, Maggie has always felt the need to work. When her son Finneas was born, Maggie knew without the shadow of a doubt that she wanted to relish her role as a mother and spend as much time as possible with her son. From that point on, all of the family’s decisions supported this. Maggie felt that home-schooling would be the best choice for her children and she embarked on yet another adventure.
“It has turned out to be a wonderful decision and it has been a positive force not only for both of our kids, but for us as parents as well. Sometimes though, we have had serious financial setbacks because of lack of work as an actor and particularly related to my husband’s work (in addition to being an actor he is a carpenter and used to work restoring and selling homes). One giant disaster in particular strained our family almost to our breaking point and it has taken a lot of strength and perseverance to recover from that.”
What makes Maggie Scrumptious?
For Maggie, being scrumptious is really about two things: her family and personal time to create!
“I am not a “spa person”, no manicures, not a great fashionista, I like to keep moving, creating, writing, playing guitar and piano, singing, thinking, cooking, dancing, flying – as in doing aerial silks and trapeze and all with my family. I don’t need “me time” the way it is presented in commercials, I need time to create. I recently added a Hip Hop class to my “me time”. I wait through several hours of my kid’s dance classes and then they wait for one more hour for mine.”
What does living the Scrumptious Life mean to Maggie?
The scrumptious life for Maggie is about having the freedom and time to fully express her creativity!
Over the past few years, Maggie and her family went on their biggest adventure yet as she set out to bring to life another one of her dreams — making her own movie!
A few years ago, Maggie recorded and released a CD and then decided that she needed to perform LIVE in LA. She found, however, that she was resistant to making the time to perform. Excuses abounded and the stage remained untouched. So she enlisted another mom friend to form a group. They called themselves “The Performer’s Collective” and began performing a various “Open Mic” events throughout the city. The group grew to include about 5 moms, and a few male friends and husbands who accompanied them and performed every now and then. It was a magical experience! Having a group of friends committed to one another, supportive of each other, and holding each other accountable, meant that they followed through and grew in the most beautiful ways.
Maggie’s family came along for support. It was during this time that Maggie’s son Phineas began to write songs as well. This, along with several other events, inspired what eventually became “Life Inside Out”. Maggie wrote the screenplay with her friend Lori Nasso, one of the other members of “The Performer’s Collective”. The pair always intended to make the movie themselves rather than sell their script to a studio, though they really had no idea what that would eventually entail.
“We only had time to write together about once a week at best and some on our own so it took us a year and a half to finish the script. When we did finish it we were so excited when people liked it.”
The support Maggie found was exhilarating and allowed her dream to become reality. They found another “mom” friend who wanted to direct the movie, a wonderful producer and a great cinematographer. Maggie also launched a successful Kickstarter campaign. This along with the confirmation that so many people loved the script brought investors to the table and “Life Inside Out” was made! This ultra- low budget SAG film was completed last summer and brought so much more to Maggie and her family than they could ever have dreamed of.
“It was an incredible and amazing experience and one that involved the whole family.
We actually shot in our own house for almost half of the shooting schedule. We had the best crew and cast ever and everyone in the family appeared in the film. My son (Finneas O’Connell) also starred in the film opposite me so it was a once in a lifetime experience. We all had the time of our lives.”
Life Inside Out is an “Official Selection of The Heartland Film Festival. Truly Moving Pictures” which is a wonderful film festival. And, much to Maggie, her family and friends’ delight, the film has also been accepted in the “Hollywood Film Festival”
The movie’s World premiere will be Oct. 18th at both festivals!
“I cannot wait for people to begin watching the film. My great hope is that it will touch people and speak to their real lives. It isn’t a big Hollywood movie, it is about everyday families. Just a human story.”
I had the privilege to attend the cast, crew and supporters screening of the movie and I was blown away! It is a beautiful movie, with so much heart and such a powerful message! A perfect family movie that celebrates all that being a family really means. I strongly encourage all of you to take some time and make it to one of these film festivals if you happen to be close by. If not, I suspect it won’t be too long before you can find “Life Inside Out” at your local movie theater.
If you are in LA and interested in attending the premier at the Hollywood Film Festival, you can reserve your ticket here: http://www.arclightcinemas.com/
Maggie’s Scrumptious Tip to other moms:
“Go ahead and start! Whatever it is you want to do, just start. If you only have one hour a week to do something (write, take a class, learn a language, build something) do it. Time will pass and gradually you will have created your dream. Anyone can squeeze in one hour a week. You will be so glad that you did!!”