35 Things That Matter to Me Today


Like major holidays or the first day each autumn that the coffee shop offers eggnog lattes, each year on my birthday I feel compelled to reflect on years past and what the day has meant to me over time.

This year as I reflect, I find many of the things that mattered in the past—my height, the theme of my invitations, the content of my gifts—don’t matter to me anymore.

Other things—my width, the theme of my current essay, and the contents of my coffee cup—matter more. Continue reading “35 Things That Matter to Me Today”

First Drafts and Other Loves

first draft

DRAFT: to make a version of something that will need more work in order to be finished


I came home today to the jarring reality that always follows a relaxing vacation. There was laundry to wash, groceries to purchase, emails to scan, mail to sort, and homework to complete.

I was especially dreading the homework because…well, because it’s called homework and old habits die hard. Pavlov’s dogs salivated when the bell rang; I resist when something is mandatory. It’s science. In this case, the homework involved reviewing five essays from five writers in my memoir class.

Once I got started, I was reminded how much I love reading. I love the power of the written word in all forms. I love books, magazines, and blogs. Heck, I’m a sucker for a text-filled napkin. But there is something extra special about being trusted with early drafts from other writers. Continue reading “First Drafts and Other Loves”

Swimsuits and shoes: A tale of two purchases


SWIMSUIT: a garment worn for swimming

Sales Lady: May I help you?

Me: Yes. I’m looking for a swimsuit.

Sales Lady: What kind?

Me: Something highly engineered.

Sales Lady: Right this way. Anything in particular you are trying to hide?

Me: My c-section surgeon’s optimism … and the cascade of reality that spills over the misguided tummy tuck.

Sales Lady: Try this one.


The list of things I want to do more than swimsuit shop is long, but it wasn’t as bad as I’d feared. The Sales Lady was unflappable and incredibly patient. Plus, eavesdropping on my fellow patrons provided a novel’s worth of fabulous dialogue and banter that I plan to put to good use.

The lady in the room next to me brought the kind of friend we all say we want but few of us can actually handle: The kind of friend who does not shy away from the term “back fat,” or avoid commenting on the condition of your bikini line, or pretend that you can pull off stripes.

I peaked my head out of my dressing room and offered to rent the friend. She offered her services for free so I asked for her candid assessment of one of my top three swimsuit finalists. She made overly familiar comments about my breasts and thighs and I decided she was more friend than I could handle. I retreated to my dressing room and allowed the tie breaker to be the price tag.

I am the proud owner of an expensive – but not the most expensive – swimsuit. A swimsuit I hunted for over an hour to find and will go to great lengths to avoid wearing.

The cowboy boots I bought right afterward, on the other hand, took me ten minutes to purchase and will be on my feet tomorrow.

Happy New Year


RESOLVE: to make a definite and serious decision to do something

I resolve to make 2015 a Happy New Year.

HAPPY: feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life

There is much pleasure and enjoyment to be had in my life.  I have beautiful coffee mugs that fit my hands just right and a loving husband who brews the magic elixir that fills them each morning.  I have a charming house and joyful children who fill it with the noises and chaos that transform it into a home.  I have pens that work and notebooks waiting to be filled.  I have cute shoes, worn jeans, and comfortable bras.  I choose to be grateful for and, by extension, happy about the gifts that surround me each day.

NEW: not old; not used by anyone else previously; recent; modern; made fresh

I will not chase newness for the sake of newness, snub ideas because they have been tried before, or insist on being the first user.  However, I will be mindful of when things need freshening – my sock supply, my weekly routines, my friendships – and work to breathe new vitality into the areas of my life that feel stale or are beginning to show signs of decay.

YEAR: the 3651/4 solar days required for one revolution of the earth around the sun

I will remember that there are many days, weeks, and months ahead.  I will pace myself.  I will leave room for the variations in the seasons – times for productivity and times for rest; times for giving and times for taking.  I will accept that some things –revolving around the sun, making lasting changes in behaviors, and writing book manuscripts – take time.  I will give things the time they need but make sure I’m doing the daily work of spinning a little further in the right direction.

You Were (Mostly) Right

EULOGIZE: say or write good things about someone who has died

I remember the doorbell ringing long after dark. I remember standing at the top of the stairs as you pitched a late night trip to the theater. I remember thinking you’d wasted gas on a fool’s errand. I remember gawking as you argued in favor of spontaneity, joy and fun to my mother – the antithesis of all those things. I remember my jaw dropping when she told me to grab my coat.

I grabbed my coat today with no illusions that this outing would be fun.

I remember your fascination with MacGuyver and duct tape. Duct tape on your binder. Duct tape on your wallet. Duct tape on everything. You claimed duct tape could fix anything.

I think of you and your optimism each time I open our toolbox.

I remember you walking high school hallways in Hawaiian shirts almost bright enough to match your smile. I remember rifling through department store racks and holding up several respectable choices for our upcoming matching shirt dance debut and having you shoot them all down as too predictable or plain. You countered with a bright white shirt trimmed in red that prominently featured the Trix cereal bunny. I protested. You insisted on spontaneity, joy and fun. You won again.

I wore a predictable and plain black dress to your and Emily’s funeral but inside my boots I wore brightly striped socks. I thought you would approve.

I remember the email exchanges where we attempted a virtual high school reunion – paragraphs exchanged to try to cover the years between then and now.  You shared a little about work and a lot about Emily, Annabella, and Marcus.  Your joy and pride and contentment were nearly tangible.  You were reaping the kindness and joy and good you’d sown and loving every minute of it.

You were right about the merits of spontaneity, joy and fun.  

But, you were wrong about duct tape.

It can’t fix this.


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