It’s my birthday tomorrow, and I’ve always wanted to make one of those lists of things I learned over the previous year. Remember when people used to blog all the time and do that? Well, last night, I found myself making the list in my head and then reaching for pen and paper and then deciding I would post it right here.
Parenting is perhaps more about unlearning than learning.
Reading more books brings me a lot of joy. (I mean I knew this one. I did. Since I was about five I’ve known this. But in the last year, I’ve read more books than I did in the last few years combined, and it has made me so happy. Also, I heart The Book of the Month Club.)
It’s okay to admit you love a good romance novel. Because I do. I really really do. (Five favorites from the last year: The Light We Lost, The Kiss Quotient, Ghosted, One Day in December, and Love and Other Words.)
Shingles are really that bad.
The world will break your heart. Sometimes daily.
So you’ll have to remind yourself, “Don’t let the muggles get you down.” Because they will. But then you will look up and see kindness and beauty and openness and you will remember that people are amazing.
The song “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison makes me think of many imagined moments from my high school days.
I still miss mix tapes.
The truth is that in some ways I’ve been looking for friendships like I had at boarding school, but 25 years later I realize that I could also really, deeply nurture those friendships I’ve had for almost 30 years along with the other ones I’ve made along the way. (I’m so damn lucky.)
I have a crush on Keanu Reeves. (And I’ll be rewatching A Walk in the Clouds asap.)
Puzzles help me even out my anxiety.
Oh, and I have anxiety.
I’ll be forever grateful for a weekend in Eugene, Oregon with my friends Alli and Hannah. A weekend that would be our last time together. A weekend that would involve a lunch of pizza and wine where we got just a little drunk and laughed so much and were a little late for the next workshop we were attending but it didn’t matter at all because that laughter, that honest conversation, that love was everything. (I miss you, Alli.)
The gift of ice cream never fails.
Celebrating people in the smallest of ways makes the biggest difference. Alli taught me that one. (And the other magical Ali in my life reminds me of this one all the time.)
Teaching EJ about poetry and watching her fall in love with reading and writing poems is stitching me up inside.
Discovering your family history can unlock something inside you - maybe it’s the old stories that are in your cells, maybe it’s a healing of those old stories, a healing of the people who came before you.
If I could go back in time and meet my ancestors that I’ve seen in photos, I would give the women two things: bras and birth control.
Working with Kelly Barton again lights up my life.
Yellow shoes delight me.
I can attend my 25th high school reunion and feel beautiful showing up as me (someone tell that to my 17-year-old self or maybe even my 40-year-old self).
Ellen Bass’s poem “Relax” is holy shit so good.
After Mary Oliver died, I read her poem “I Worried” for the first time or perhaps I’d read it before but I read it in the midst of a deeply challenging time. And that last stanza might just shape the rest of my life:
Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
Watching your child’s heart break will turn you inside out in ways you could never imagine.
It’s okay to go after your secret dreams. Just take one step toward them today, even if the season you’re in causes you to think that they are impossible to achieve.
Always stop when you see gorgeous cherry trees in bloom and stand barefoot in the piles of petals beneath your feet even as people drive by. (This is even better if you have a child with you who throws the petals in the air like snow.)
You will find people who you can tell the whole truth to, and they will not judge you. They will just sit beside you. (Thank you.)
Therapy can help you become even more of who you want to be in the world.
Boundaries and asking for what you need can change everything (see #27).
You can (I can) survive being profoundly let down by someone.
I can’t fix certain things (or people or help them make better choices) (especially when no one asked me to), but I can love.
There is a really good goat cheese in the world that will make you profoundly happy to be alive. (It’s the marinated chevre. You will thank me later. In fact, invite me over please so we can eat it together.)
Longer bangs make me even happier than the short bangs I had for ten years. Who knew?
You don’t have to be grateful for everything that got you to this moment, even if you’re grateful to be right here in this moment.
Some days I realize that all the things I tell her, that I hope to teach her, really are filling her up. Like this day.
A little white dog will soften sharp edges every single day and convince me to work from my bed in the afternoons (by standing at my bedroom door and snorting until I pay attention as I work in my studio), so that he can curl up against me and nap.
Sometimes old friendships shift in unexpected ways and you will feel like you are rediscovering that favorite faded blue sweatshirt you had in seventh grade that you knew you’d given away but somehow find in a box of things at your mom’s house and it fits even better than it did so many years ago.
Watching EJ read all the Harry Potter books and then talking about each of them with her was completely and totally awesome. (And helped a lot with #6.)
Telling people thank you for helping you become who you are is a gift for both of you (and something you should do now before it is too late, dear one).
You can have one of the hardest years of your life and still feel profound joy.
Being able to have completely serious conversations about time travel with my husband makes my day every single time. (Kind of like when my friend Heather and I used to talk about Grey’s Anatomy or Kevin and I used to talk about Ross and Rachel like the characters were real friends in our lives…but with more science.)
You will never fail to love your birthday cake if you order it yourself.