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lately, i have been asked variations of one specific question: is there anything i can do? 

i have to admit that i am so grateful when someone does ask this because often it means they are putting their own thoughts/need to share a story/need to tell me advice to the side and trying to understand what i need, what we need. and when i hear that question, sometimes the answer simply comes right out of me. and this can mean that the answer is too quick and not quite what the other person wanted to hear. other times i am not honest and just say, "oh we're/i'm okay." 

after spending time at the reveal retreat with some beautiful, amazing, strong, brave women and encouraging them to hold the space for one another, for themselves, to ask for what they need, to own the truth that lives inside them, i am pushing myself to show up here and ask you, whomever might be reading this, for what i need.

our daughter ellie jane turned four months old yesterday, and this friday morning, october 8, she will be having open-heart surgery. 


this is why so many people have been asking if there is anything we need.

this is why my heart feels like it might break right in two at any moment, and i keep visualizing all the energy and wisdom and knowledge of the women who came before me somehow constantly stitching it together so that i don't simply combust from the fear and can instead be completely present for whatever ellie jane needs.

this is why i am so grateful for the gift that was...that is...eleven amazing women showing up to share in community and truth and love and giving themselves permission to share pieces of who they are and where they stand on their journeys. because, truly, where else would a mama who is me be with her baby girl when we stand facing the scariest, most important day of our lives, than surrounded by eleven other women who have given themselves the gift of revealing the beauty amidst all of the "stuff" that brought them to this moment?


i am simply taken out at the knees by the truth that is the gifts given to one in the midst of the fear and the desperate hope. to be honest, it almost pisses me off because it just never stops...the beauty standing shoulder to shoulder with the shit. how the beauty and the joy and the hope and the truth shift it all. 

however, i do not always remember this. nope. i do not always see that beauty. sometimes i am so far under the fear that i am hoping i have the snorkel + mask from our old house on oak road in my pocket so i can somehow breathe as i try to remember which way takes me to the surface.

and so today, i will answer your question, your beautiful question of "is there anything i can do?" 

yes, you can do something for me...for us.

you can spend a moment or two thinking about a loved one in your life, someone you want to spend some time with, someone maybe you need to see or talk to. consider asking that loved one to join you in doing something you love. perhaps you will meet a friend for a date or take your son to the park or ask you mother to join you for an afternoon of paints and collage papers or take your daughter and her best friend to the ocean or sit curled up with your cat and have a poetry reading for two or invite your husband on a photography adventure or count the squirrels with your dog or call someone whose voice you need to hear. 

do this.

then, spend some time thinking about the love that filled the space between you as you connected with one another. maybe this love was apparent, maybe you have to really spend some time being open to finding it in the tiniest sliver of a moment.

you will find the love.

then, maybe you could take a second or two to gather up some of this love and send it ellie's way this friday morning and in the days that follow.

because here is the truth (my truth): i want to one day be able to do these things that you will do. i want to be able to do these things with her...i want her to dip her toes into the ocean and giggle as the sand rushes between her toes. i want to read to her every single mary oliver poem i can find. i want to teach her tree pose and how to braid her hair. i want to hold her hand in mine while her daddy holds her other hand as we walk off a plane in paris. i want to hear her first word and her 100,000th. i want to walk with her through an indiana cornfield. i want to tell her everything i know so her path is always filled with soft light if she chooses to seek it. i want to hear her laugh at yet another of her daddy's silly jokes. i want to sing to her until she joins in. i want to watch her stand tall rooted in her own truth on her path even though her back will often be toward me as she finds her way.


and i know that it is the brave choice to answer, "yes, there is something you can do." i know it is the brave choice to say, "you can be a light on my path so i don't get lost in the darkness. if you really want to help, you can sit inside the love in your world and then, for just a moment or two, shine just a bit of your light this way."

each day this week and the next and the one after that, i am going to push myself to make the brave choice. 


(thank you)

Reader Comments (62)

I'm reminded of the scene from Out of Africa, where Meryl Streep is leaving Africa and saying goodbye. She promises to build a very large fire so her friend can find her again.

I'm gathering wood and building a big bonfire for you. You'll be able to see it for miles. Much love and light.

October 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJolie

shining the spotlight of light and love and warmth right up north to your house and your hearts. xoxoxoxo

October 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjen

OMGosh-- i have never read anything more tender & loving & HONEST! there is nothing like a mother's love & ellie jane is one lucky girl! i will dedicate all my yoga practices to you, ellie jane & your husband. will keep you all in special prayer on friday. may you receive all the peace, love & comfort that you need.

October 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlaney

anything you need dear friend. xoxo

October 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkristen

yes I will. i will sit in the love in my world this week, and I'll soak it in. I will also be sending love and light your way in the coming days and weeks. And on Friday morning I'll wear my yes around my neck, and hold all of you in my heart.

October 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDanette - olive & hope

love and light.
prayers and blessings.
each day this week.
and the next.
and the one after that.

October 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKirsten Michelle

i hear you now and see the love. we are here. prayers will be lifted.

all my love, liz

October 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermindy

you've got it. i will be a light on your path. i honor your journey and send sweet love and light.

October 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermarilyn

i hope you can feel and see the light shining from me and my three girls. and we will be thinking and praying for you and your family.

October 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

You blow me away, with your grace. I really will spend some time with someone I really love and offer it up for Ellie. And I will pray for her over and over again on Friday, as I will you & Jon & the rest of your family. You will be surrounded by love, there is no doubt.

There is so much about this world we don't know, but the love a mother has for her child is a power that moves mountains. I believe in this power with every fiber of my mama bear being.

October 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSam

oh, liz. I am moved beyond belief. I am in awe, in complete awe, of your grace.

sending much love and light to you and to your family.


October 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteramy

yes. my loved ones and i will dedicate all our prayers and love to ellie jane on friday morning.

well, we will send some to you and John too.


October 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJudy wise

breathe in deeply and feel the strength in that....and know that others are doing the same for all of you....sending calmness and clarity and peace and strength.

October 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTina M.


love and light and prayers.
and candles.

for all of you.

October 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

love love love. this is what i have for you and your sweet baby girl. there is nothing in this world as strong as love.

October 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermeredith winn


by telling anyone who reads this what you need you have given us all a gift.

i am holding this space for you, sweet eleanor and your family.

i sit inside the light in my world and am beaming it your way


October 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterstacy

I have not spoken to my parents in months, and I have known for a while that I need to let some love slip through my stonewall of hurt -- that I need to reach out to them, even when I believe they will never reach out to me.

(sigh) What is it the Beatles sang about "the love you take is equal to the love you make"? Anyway, it feels as if there's much irony in my reaching out to my parents on behalf of the love and light that your family needs, but it makes cosmic (and comic) sense to me. There's no separation between healing the emotional and healing the physical. I take a step toward healing, knowing that healing is possible for all of us.

Thanks for the nudge. Your little family is in my prayers.

October 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJudy Merrill-Smith

i am absolutely moved by this.
thank you for opportunity to peek inside, to open up, and to give.
everything will go exactly as it should and you WILL do all of these things.


October 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjenica

yes, as much as you need and then some.
and a few dozen hugs as well

October 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersuvarna

Yes, that is the least we can all do for you. Will be thinking about you

October 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCelina Wyss

Liz, you are incredible. I do not know of any other word to use besides incredible. Your honesty struck a chord deep inside my heart and brought tears to my eyes. Asking us to reach out to a loved one and shine the light your way is simply a beautiful thought and idea. I will do this for you dear Liz. For your family and for your beautiful little daughter. You are being held in loving arms with candles lighting your path. I will never let you sit in darkness.


October 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

Yes...I am thinking of you, Jon,and little Ellie. Sending much love...and brazen hopefulness to you all.xo

October 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCeleste

honey YES, we will be sending you ALL love and light in the coming days and weeks.

October 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

my thoughts and prayers are with you and your beautiful daughter

I shall do all that you ask

October 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterleonie wise

you've got it. the most powerful forces in the universe, the prayers of friends, belong to you.

years ago, i think on oprah, a woman was talking about visiting heaven. as she was enjoying the tour, she gazed down on earth. all she saw were random and rapid pulses of light emitting from cities and towns and mountains and valleys. "those are prayers," said her tourguide angel. she noticed that every so often, stronger and more powerful light pulses filled the sky. she questioned about the curiously intense and pure nature of those lights. "those," said her tourguide, "are the prayers of mothers."

October 5, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlisa

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