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42 things I learned in my 42nd year

liz lamoreux

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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.

  1. Parenting is perhaps more about unlearning than learning.

  2. 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.)

  3. 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.)

  4. Shingles are really that bad.

  5. The world will break your heart. Sometimes daily.

  6. 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.

  7. The song “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison makes me think of many imagined moments from my high school days.

  8. I still miss mix tapes.

  9. 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.)

  10. I have a crush on Keanu Reeves. (And I’ll be rewatching A Walk in the Clouds asap.)

  11. Puzzles help me even out my anxiety.

  12. Oh, and I have anxiety.

  13. 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.)

  14. The gift of ice cream never fails.

  15. 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.)

  16. Teaching EJ about poetry and watching her fall in love with reading and writing poems is stitching me up inside.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. Working with Kelly Barton again lights up my life.

  20. Yellow shoes delight me.

  21. 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).

  22. Ellen Bass’s poem “Relax” is holy shit so good.

  23. 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,
    and sang.

  24. Watching your child’s heart break will turn you inside out in ways you could never imagine.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.)

  27. 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.)

  28. Therapy can help you become even more of who you want to be in the world.

  29. Boundaries and asking for what you need can change everything (see #27).

  30. You can (I can) survive being profoundly let down by someone.

  31. 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.

  32. 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.)

  33. Longer bangs make me even happier than the short bangs I had for ten years. Who knew?

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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.)

  39. 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).

  40. You can have one of the hardest years of your life and still feel profound joy.

  41. 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.)

  42. You will never fail to love your birthday cake if you order it yourself.

Five Deep Breaths

liz lamoreux

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Five deep breaths.

Right here.

Letting whatever is pulling on you roll off of you like raindrops with each breath.

Inhale.

Notice.

Exhale.

Let it roll away.

Repeat as needed throughout the day.

permission

liz lamoreux

permission love note

I just want you to know I’m thinking about you today.

I hope you will go gently, and that you will know you aren’t alone over there.

Listen to your inner wise one as you can and do what you need today.

Rest. Rage. Love.

Ask for a hug.

Get outside.

Reach out.

Drink some water. Take a long hot shower. Listen to music.

Move your body. Read a poem. Honor your story.

Do what you most need, dear one.


If you’re looking for ways to connect with that inner voice through mindfulness and creativity, check out my ecourses. Listening to what you need, connecting with that wise one inside, is what my courses are all about.

a gatherer of sunsets

liz lamoreux

sunset art journaling page

Perhaps she will be a gatherer of sunsets, and my job will be to slow us both down so she can fill the cracks with the beauty and the quiet and the wonder and the glorious shades of orange, pink, and purple.

(Amen.)

Because writing the words, the prayers, the hopes stuck inside me onto the page help me make sense of things. Always.

i really want to tell you...

liz lamoreux

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I really want to tell you that there's something so magical about spring in the Pacific Northwest, and I wish you were here so I could show you how the blooms on the fruit trees stitch my heart back together (they might stitch your heart back together) as they swirl into puddles on the ground. I really want to tell you that I am certain that you made someone have a better day today just by the way you're showing up in the world. That smile you gave, the way you held the door open, the way you listened, that moment when you let that car merge when no one else would, the music you were playing while making dinner, that moment you said, "thank you," that decision you made to send a text and check in...those little ways you are you make the world a better place. I really want to tell you that I know some days it feels like we're walking through a sticky mess of "how the hell did I get here?" AND somehow we're still walking. Can you feel what that means in your bones? We get that it is hard, but we keep showing up. Side by side. (Isn't that a miracle?) I really want to tell you that sometimes I default to insisting that I'm alone in the midst of it all, but I've found that my friends won't let me pitch a tent there anymore. They look at me (sometimes that might mean over the phone or via text or Marco Polo {get that app!}) and they say, "I'm here. You aren't alone. Even if you try to be, you're not." And I'm so damn glad that I listen to them. I really want to tell you that being a parent pushes me to edges I didn't even realize I had. And yet, I'm sitting across from this little girl as I type this, this warrior girl with "I dissent" superpowers and a huge heart and a sense of humor that makes me literally snort with laughter, and I see her. I see who she is. And I feel the ways she makes me stand up in my warrior self. I watch her concentrating with a tiny smile on her lips, and I let the gratitude rush in beside the heartache and my whole body relaxes as I smile knowing we are okay. I really want to tell you that you are beautiful. That you are not alone. That you are making the world (your world) a world I want to live in as you show up as you. Yes. Yes. Yes.

(I’m sending more love notes like these to my newsletter these days. If you want to subscribe, just head over here.)


I take her hand

liz lamoreux

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I took this photo the day after EJ’s open-heart surgery eight and a half years ago.

I’d just had the longest night of my life standing beside her while I held a pacifier in her mouth because it seemed to help her sleep. She hardly used one at home but the nurse really wanted to try giving her one and it was too big for her little mouth and it kept falling out. Each time it did, she would moan a sound that ripped at me. So I stood there and held it. For hours.

It felt like the final challenge of Survivor. Know what I mean? I watched the first few seasons and the final challenge was always a balance endurance test.

I had music playing softly, the playlist I had made four months earlier when we were waiting for her to arrive. Indigo Girls and Macy Gray and my voice singing along with them. My dad relieved me at some point around 5 am and I went downstairs to the Starbucks because of course the children’s hospital in Seattle has one.

I pretended I had a protective bubble around me like Violet from The Incredibles creates. I didn’t want to let anyone or their story in. I remember sitting at the table thinking I was enveloped in fog. Beginning to lean into the truth that a doctor had saved her life. Holding the fears surrounding how she would heal. How I would.

Before going back upstairs, I took this photo. It’s part of a series of mirror photos I took back then to help myself know I wasn’t disappearing. It’s become a practice I turn to again and again to feel seen.

Today, I want to whisper to this woman: I see you. Thank you for being so strong and open and present even when it might have felt impossible.

And in this moment, I’m imagining that I take her hand and walk into this day.


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Being Seen is open for registration!

This is my 5-week ecourse that combines the mirror meditation and self-portraiture to help you deepen your relationship with yourself. The mirror meditation is a practice you can do almost anywhere that can help you feel deeply seen and reconnected in the midst of the unpredictability daily life can bring.

During and after the course, we'll connect in a private Facebook group + I'll be sending you the mirror meditation journal (and optional care package upgrade) in the mail! There are a limited number of spots for this final round of the course, and we’re almost half full. Learn more about sign up here.