Life, loss, love

This just in: Live everything

Live everything.
Live everything.

“And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” ~ Rilke

My friend, Marita, sent me this quote a few weeks ago and it’s been lingering at the edge of my mind ever since. Life offers us so many questions. What should we do, go, be, and with whom? What matters most, right now, at this moment, and do we have the courage to pursue it even if it doesn’t go as we hope it will? Can we take chances? Can we let go? Can we allow ourselves to be infused with every emotion when it strikes us and really feel it down to our bones without breaking?

I’m beginning to realize that Rilke was spot on—life is about living everything as it comes. The good and the bad. The painful and joyful. The elation and the disappointment. In this way, there is no wasted time. Just experience.

death, growth, Life

This just in: The beauty of breaking down and building up

How long a seed must rot to grow

“Dead men are wisest, for they know
How far the roots of flowers go,
How long a seed must rot to grow.”

~ The Wise by Countee Cullen

There’s something to be said for everything falling apart, for not being able to hold something together no matter how much we try. We see it as failure, sadness, and loss. And if we can hang in there through the falling down, we find that on the other side of every kind of death—a dream, a relationship, a drastic change, and even the big death with a capital “D”—is a newness. Perhaps uncomfortable and maybe unwanted, but certainly a birth, a new way of being. Losing something we love, anything we love, is difficult and often painful. As someone who has lived through many deaths of every variety, I promise you there is life on the other side. Much to my surprise, that new life has always been better than the one that came before. Even the sad ones, even the ones I prayed would never happen. I grew from each one of those changes. I learned. I became a better person. More grateful, more aware. And that’s really the point of it all, isn’t it?

action, adventure, art, career, creativity, Life, youth

This just in: Marian Cannon Schlesinger, 101, is my new idol

Marian Schlessinger
Marian Schlesinger

Marian Cannon Schlesinger is 101 years old and the ex-wife of Arthur Schlesinger Jr., historian and special advisor to President Kennedy. She’s also my new idol.

“She’s still painting, writing, watching Rachel Maddow, and reading two newspapers a day,” said The Atlantic in a recent interview with her. What struck me most about the interview was her advice to free-spirited women: “Do your thing no matter what…Early on I decided being a painter was what I wanted to be but I wanted to be a lot of other things too. I wanted to write…play tennis…have a lot of friends [and] beaus. I think I’ve been very lucky. But I think that I’ve made some of it for myself. I never gave up. I wanted it all, in other words, and I think I really almost got it all too…Just keep going.”

Thanks, Marian. I will.

Life, Washington

This just in: Catching the beat of D.C.

Catching the beat of D.C.
Catching the beat of D.C.

You can’t miss the beat in New York City because it’s often hitting you right in the face. In D.C., there isn’t so much a beat as there is a hum. It’s low and steady. You have to listen more than you talk to catch it. I caught my first few notes of it when I was out yesterday afternoon. I turned the corner from Connecticut onto N Street and there was a hush on the street that caught my attention. I felt supported by that hush, almost like it was carrying me to the next place I needed to be, helping me along without rushing me in any way. My steps were lighter, my breathing easier. I smiled. It feels good to finally be exactly where I need to be doing exactly what I need to do. And it doesn’t get better than that.

Life, love

This just in: Love and life are one and the same

Love life. Live with love.
Love life. Live with love.

“Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.” ~Ursula K. Le Guin

As it is with love so it is with life. We have to constantly renew it, nurture it, and tend to it. When we have a healthy relationship with one, then things seem to fall into place with the other. Love and life, two sides, same coin. Love life, and live with love.

change, creativity, Life

This just in: In stillness we can appreciate change


“Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.” ~Hermann Hesse

I woke up this morning with one pervasive thought—how very different my life was a month ago. Not just my geographic location but also my outlook on my own life. I thought I might lose Phin. I wasn’t in my own space. My career was a giant question mark. I felt like I was spinning my wheels in the toughest way, and I really didn’t know how I was going to gain any traction from that place.

Then last night I went out to dinner to sit and laugh and eat with friends just 2 blocks from the Capitol Building. Phin is on the mend and we’re both settling into our new digs. I’ve got a number of career options on the horizon. I’m hopeful about the many possibilities ahead. For a while I laid in bed and just rested in the stillness, the stillness of knowing that if we can make a commitment one tiny step at a time to make our situation better, then all those steps will eventually add up to something that looks and feels like progress. And while it might seem like an overnight process, there have been so many forces at work for a long time, forces far beyond my control or understanding, that made today’s circumstances possible.

This can be a hard perspective to keep in the moment. Certainly a month ago it was hard for me to imagine what life would be like beyond the very minute I was living. And that has its own gifts. All of a sudden we realize that we are empowered to do anything we want to do. All of a sudden we realize that if we can honestly ask for help and advice and then listen to it, then others will come to our aid. That’s certainly what happened to me. These life changes that happened to me in the last month were largely built on the generosity and kindness of friends. And I’m grateful for every one of them.

action, adventure, choices, future, Life

This just in: Your life is in your hands

Your life is in your hands
Your life is in your hands

“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours — it is an amazing journey — and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.” ~Bob Moawad, author

This is a magical moment. It’s also scary as hell. All of a sudden you wake up and you realize your life is really all up to you. You steer it. You make the choices. You build your own road. It’s a lot of responsibility. It’s also one of the greatest privileges of being an adult. You aren’t trapped. Starting right now, you can make choices to change anything and everything in your life. The road to where you want to go may be long and winding but you can start your journey in that direction right now. One tiny step leads to another.

change, choices, creativity, grateful, gratitude, Life, love

This just in: How to let the light in

Live in the light
Live in the light

“Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” ~Leonard Cohen

This quote has been an important guidepost for me for many months, now more than ever. It inspired the title of my novel, Where the Light Enters, and it continues to guide me through the many changes that I’m experiencing in my life now.

No matter what’s happening to us and around us, it’s important for us to continue to ring the bells that still can ring. Smile and love and help where and when and how we can. Our actions don’t need to be perfect; we don’t need to be perfect. We can’t be. We live in a world that is wholly imperfect. All we can do is our best, and that means continuing to show up and put our hearts and souls into the act of creating the best lives we can, for ourselves and the people we love.

And that’s the trick of it all, that’s how the light gets in. It gets in with love and gratitude and actions guided by them. It gets in when we let ourselves we vulnerable, when we allow ourselves to learn and change and grow, not in spite of adversity, but because of it. That’s how we make a good life.

humor, Life, love, Washington

This just in: Finally beginning to understand the “better together” principle

Better together
Better together

I’m a fiercely independent person. I like to be able to take care of myself, and I take a lot of pride in that ability. Yesterday I had to run a few errands in D.C. by car—not my preferred mode of transportation. In the bitter cold. With my dog, Phin, in tow.The packages I picked up were heavy. Phin was uncomfortable in the weather (as was everyone.) It wasn’t easy, but I got it done.

When I parked the car and got back to my apartment, an unfamiliar thought ran through my head: “It sure would be nice to have someone to share the load with.” I sat up a little straighter and looked around. Did I really just think that? Phin looked at me with his big marble eyes as if to say, “Yes. Yes you did.”

First time that idea’s ever crossed my mind so I guess there really is a first time for everything. And maybe here in D.C. I’m going to find that someone who can share the load of life with me in a loving, supportive, and helpful way. And if he could have a sense of humor about it all, too, then I’d be sold on the idea. Time will tell.

art, creativity, Life

This just in: Take a step back

Take a step back
Take a step back

“If you see a whole thing — it seems that it’s always beautiful. Planets, lives… But up close a world’s all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life’s a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern.” ~Ursula K. Le Guin

If we just look at life day by day, it can seem frustrating. All we’ll see is the small step we took today, and the long road ahead of us that we still have to travel to get to where we’d like to go. Whenever that overwhelms me, I reflect. I look how far I’ve come from where I started. I step back. That perspective helps me to get back to work. Like the ingredients of a cake, or the brushstrokes of a painting, daily life becomes so much more than dirt and rocks, so much more than the sum of its parts. Together, those days create meaning and purpose. Together, they make a difference.