Sometimes writing is delivered to me in small packages, when the kids are watching cartoons and I’m drinking a beer because it’s Friday and I have exactly 47 minutes to myself. But I have this idea, see? It is a spark that needs to be lit, an itch to be vigorously scratched, so I run upstairs to my crowded desk, with loads of contracts and various mugs filled with stale old coffee, and furiously write. And when I open that box I feel full, because it’s a gift to have this desire.

It is okay, that writing happens in this way, little boxes tied up with red grosgrain ribbons. It is okay that my career has twisted more than rivers, bound up at times, flowing at others. And it is okay that sometimes I feel like moving my feet forward and other times I feel like curling up and hiding like a possum in the light.

There are so many areas to fail. I don’t write everyday, as I should. I don’t wash clothes every week. I don’t write thank you notes like my mother taught me, and I sometimes yell at my children. I don’t have a book deal. I don’t floss. I don’t work eight hours a day. I basically don’t know what the hell I’m doing most of the time.

But we must whisper to ourselves like a mantra: It is okay. Life is still worth it. Beautiful things will come.

Because there are packages that appear, in your bedroom and between your nose. In your mind and amidst the Starbucks napkins in the front seat of your car. Look around! They are in abundance around you. Even when you are tired, or worn down, or broken up with guilt. They arrive, through the miles and skies and years and headaches. There are always little packages.

The way a woman smiles at you. The way your child makes you laugh. The urge to bake chocolate brownies. The ability to say the right thing. Today, somewhere, a gift is laid out before you, and you get to unwrap it. It is a delight that God surprises us in such unique ways.

I like to keep my heart open. This is at times a curse, since I am easily bruised. But I am not calloused, and my wounds always turn to scars that fade. And although I remain soft, I grow in wisdom, and I can see the magnitude of such gifts.

Life is not sometimes hard, it’s always hard. Let’s not parse words about that. It is so stupid hard. You feel like you’re on the wrong track. Everyone around you seems to have it all together and you’re sitting on the couch with a sinus infection. But it’s a funny thing, because soon enough there will be a gift. The way your daughter dances in front of the mirror. A text message that makes you laugh. A short line at the grocery store. It explodes into piles and piles of gifts, and soon enough it’s Christmas morning and you are surrounded with ribbons. The good grosgrain kind and not the curly ones that twist and break around the scissors.

Collect all these gifts in your heart. Be grateful for the beauty of these small things. This is life. It’s not always an epic, sweeping film, but a collection of very small, good things. It’s okay that life is hard. That you aren’t perfect. That sometimes bad things happen. You might be a hot mess. Because soon enough, gifts will come. Delight in them, unwrap them, and be grateful for these provisions.

Today, I ran upstairs to write, whereas tomorrow I might feel bone dry. And that is okay, because tomorrow there might be pumpkin bread or a letter or the way I notice my coffee, hot and perfect, going down.  Funny that I did not notice that yesterday. Because it is a gift for another day.

Save the multitude of ribbons that you gather. Hold them to your face and remember how beautiful they are, tied up in bows, holding together all that love.


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Odd and Curious Thoughts: Celebrity Edition

(1) Every time I look at a gossip magazine in the grocery store I see a column that reads “Stars are just like us!” with a picture of Jennifer Garner at the Farmer’s Market or Gwen Stefani buying her kid an ice cream. But I never see these people wearing ill-fitting workout gear accidentally running over their kid’s tricycle while yelling at their 2-year-old to stop eating old goldfish found in the crack of the car seat with allergy eyes wondering if they lost their credit card. So they aren’t like us.

(2) Some crazy lady was arrested for stalking Clay Aiken.  I think this is clearly a publicity stunt because tell me who would stalk Clay Aiken.  Tell me.

(3) I’m actually proud of Lindsay Lohan.  She’s re-invented herself and apparently has a new career out of showing up at court appearances looking haggard.  She’s doing great and we all need to support her in this new endeavor.

(4) Speaking of getting in trouble with the law, Reese Witherspoon got pulled over and was all “I deserve to stand on American soil” and “Do you know who I am?” She then issued a statement the next day about how much she loves law enforcement, Go America, boo to drinking, very sorry to disrespect the family, red-white-and-blue, just headin to the policeman’s ball, etc.  I’m so renting Legally Blond this weekend in tribute.  I’m also going to say “Do you know who I am?” more often.

(5) Ryan Lochte has his own television show.  Ain’t nobody cares what Ryan Lochte has to say about anything, but we will all tune in to see if he takes off his shirt.

(5) I also don’t care what Kim Kardashian wears during the course of her pregnancy.  Laws are being made, people are displaced in war, somewhere on an unknown channel Ryan Lochte is shirtless.  Priorities. 

(7) Kristen Stewart is a beautiful girl, so I’m confused as to why her hair always looks like she just got out of the pool.

(8) Who even is Amanda Bynes, and why is her mental deterioration anyone’s concern?  Let the woman cover her head, mutter about prunes, wander around, and get extensions in peace.  Have mercy.

(9) It has been formally revealed that Gwyneth Paltrow endures 2-hour workout sessions every single day, has an uber-serious carbohydrate ban, and maintains a “fashion essentials” list that totals more than the value of my house.  You lie, People Magazine.  Celebrities are not just like us.

(10) Robert Downey, Jr. just made $50 million on one film.  They are like us in the same way that I am like a person who dusts.

(11) I have a crush on Connie Britton’s hair.  It’s out there. I said it.

(12) I ain’t gonna lie. I knew more about the details of Justin Timberlake’s new album release than who was running for local office.  But at least I’m focused on real people. You know, people just like us.


The artwork of Georges Seurat is ugly when you stand up close.  The compilation of colors and brushstrokes and dots make no sense when you’re staring directly at them.  You go take a look at Monet’s Water Lilies from a foot away and tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about. I think life is that way.  Up close, it’s messy and ugly and disorganized.  But just take a look how breathtaking it is when viewed as a whole.

CAMILLE PISSARRO: “Landscape at Pontoise”, 1874.

Just this week, I tried to capture unique, individual moments.  Globs of paint just slapped on the page.

  • I walked into my daughter’s room and my son had happily covered himself in black Sharpie marker. I mean all over. On his legs and his hands and his stomach. “What in the world have you done?”
  • “Don’t you ever swing with your brother walking behind you,” I yell to my daughter as my son lands face-down in the dirt, screaming.  “Swing! Swing!” he says to me as if I didn’t just see what happened.  Then she starts crying because she feels bad and says  he shouldn’t have been there to start with.
  • “Can you read just one more chapter?” my daughter begs.  “Just one more?” She cuddles down into the pillow with sleepy eyes.
  • “You eat that carrot,” I say.  “It’s good for you.  There’s just one more on your plate, for goodness sakes.  It’s not like I’m asking you to eat a mouthful of dirt. Why are you making that face?”
  • “Ice creeeeeeam!” my son shrieks.  “Not for breakfast, kiddo,” I say in return. He throws himself down on the floor in protest.
  • I look at my daughter, with a headband and a ruffled purple skirt and a shirt that says Girls Rock.  She’s wearing shades with Tinkerbell on them and her hair is all messy. “But why are you wearing sweat pants underneath?” I ask.  “It’s 90 degrees out.” She shrugs.
  • “Is that hail I hear?” my husband says, as he rushes outside to check the garden.
  • “Time for bath,” I said as my son took off running.  I had to chase him all over the living room while he squealed with delight.  I finally grabbed his shirt and pulled him to the floor.  “Noooooo!” he yelled.  “No bath!”
  • “Let’s move,” I say to both kids.  We are late, as usual.  My daughter’s pony tail looks horrible.  It’s all lumpy.  And is that a stain on her jumper?
  • “I’ll just have Wheaties,” my husband said.  “But I made chicken pot pie,” I whined.  “I worked so hard and made the crust and everything.”  I’m not proud to admit it, but I think I stomped my foot a little.
  • Why is there a pair of scissors lying in the bathroom?  Why is this toothpaste open?  And why, for the love of everything in this world, do you kids always run around messing things up the very moment I clean them?
  • Re-fold that towel.  Put away your shoes.  No, not in the middle of the floor, but in your closet.  Please don’t hit your sister.  No, you can’t have another juice box.  Did you get into my makeup? PICK THAT UP, for crying out loud!

But when you stand back from afar, it’s a blend of screaming and laughing and crying that somehow makes up a family.  It’s the texture and pattern of our journey.  I try and gather up all these tiny brushstrokes in my heart.  At the end, I’ll look back and think to myself –

Oh dear God.  How breathtakingly beautiful.