Category Archives: Thank You

And she was full of gratitude. The kind that takes up all the table space.

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Chaos took Craziness by the hand and they started jigging in the middle of the floor.

That has been my life as of lately. One big ol’ wedding party to celebrate Craziness & Chaos as they weave & bob & cut the cake.

And while I crave slowness & stillness, my bones feel full of gratitude for so many individuals. Individuals who came into my life just weeks ago. Individuals who have been friends & family since the start of this adventure and eons before it. Individuals who have read this little blog of mine since the first posting three years ago (happy blog-o-versary to me!)

This post is for all of you. It holds my gratitude. My love. My need to each & every one of you. My need to breadcrumb a trail of thankfulness for the ones who have pushed me, dared me, and believed in me enough to support me as I followed my dreams.

It ain’t ova yet… Truly, it is just starting.

First, first, All Of You– For all my readers. My supporters. My letter writers. My Beliebers (I don’t actually have those but hey, why not?) You keep me going. You make me see the value in my work. You challenge me. You keep my hands full of gratitude. I treasure you & your dedication to me in an always & always sort of way. Hold tight, much ahead.

& to a God of Abundance- I deserve nothing of this. But I am so thankful that you filled my hands. You’ve blessed me with soul & purpose, is there thankfulness enough in this world for that?

Mama & Dad- I know I don’t say it nearly enough but Thank You. For raising me well. For believing in me enough to let me quit my job to follow my heart. For instilling values into me. For teaching me the true worth of humans & the time that they will always deserve. I love you.

Celia & Carleigh- You two have been my biggest cheerleaders since day one. Every blog post, every writing piece, every stitch of the heart. I don’t think enough words exist in the world to thank you so fully for your friendship and your belief in me. I don’t ever plan to let you down.

The roots of me—Corey, Lauren, Laura, Sarah, Christine & Tori-  Thank you for the endless support. The constant normalcy. The girls’ nights that arrive at much-needed times. The wine & laughter. Y’all take such inventory up in my heart.

Jill & Ron– Seemed only right to pair you as the two of you tag team my blog on a daily basis and show my TED talk to dinner guests. Thank you for your endless support & your goodness. Jill, thanks for taming Ron. & for being one of my very best friends. Ron, thanks for taking care of my Jill. & for telling me what the world truly needed out of me.  Naters– not a day goes by where we don’t miss you still. We love you. We are constantly geared towards making you prouder.

Britt– For a friendship that never ages. Never falls away. Never stops growing. You bring me laughter & clarity. I am endlessly grateful to call you a friend. I am so very proud of you & your every endeavor.

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Tiffany Farley- For being a brain sister. For being a sister when I always prayed for one. For loving branding just as much as me (maybe more). For being fierce right alongside me in pursuing gifts and never apologizing for the call on your life. I look up to you. I thank God for you in an always & always kind of way.

Tippin-For laughter. For joy. For the reality that life should not be taken so seriously. You keep me high-fiving a million angels & I is so very grateful for you. This is truly our beginning…

Tammy Tibbetts- There are not enough words in the dictionary to thank you for your friendship & guidance in the last two years. You and your organization saved me. You gave wings to my smallest ideas. And I will never, EVER, stop thanking you as my front row seat supporter at the TED showcase. It means the world to have you in my corner.

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Danielle LaPorte, Eric Handler & Selena Soo- Thank you for giving me the courage to leap. Thank you for the chances you’ve poured out upon me. Thank you for igniting a light within me & steering me on a path to making own dreams come true. It has been the biggest pleasure & blessing to work with each of you this year. Thank you for being such lasting role models to me.

Danielle D, Becky, Leonora, Sara, & Jen- You. Speak. Life. Into. Me. You keep me organized. You keep me sane. You convince me that Twitter is a beautiful, beautiful organism. I would be all sorts of lost without you. Thank you for putting up with me & thank you for never leaving my side.

The More Love Letters Team - Each of you is a miracle. An absolute miracle. Thank you for joining me. For coming along with the wild ride. For bringing feet and arms to a crazy mission and making sure I don’t stand alone in it. You are invaluable  in my book. I love you in an infinite, forever kind of way.

The whole of City Church- I feel blessed & blessed & blessed to be in such community with such beautiful souls. Thank you for welcoming me in. Thank you for shifting me & helping me heal. Thank you for showing me what mobility God has for my life & for teaching me to grow my faith like a sunflower. Taller & taller & taller. T & Miah- thank you for being my biggest strongholds in all of this. My gratitude for the both of you Never Stops Overflowing. Lauren G– You are one of my best friends. You make me so proud. Thank you for caking me with normalcy & Starbucks. I need it more desperately than you know.

Save the Children- I miss the limbs off each of you but I am so thankful to have known you, laughed with you, and- above all- gained the distinct pleasure to work with you. Your drive is remarkable and I am severely impressed with each of you on a daily basis. Thanks for being such a supportive clan & for pushing me to make the leap out into my own ventures. It was Rough Sauce to say goodbye but I won’t let you down.

She’s the First- Oh, jeepers… open the floodgates. Each of you has changed my life is some unexpected way. I won’t ever stop being grateful for how I stumbled into such a powerful organization full of go-getters & do-gooders. I love you. And I am eternally oozing with gratitude at the thought of being enveloped in this family of beautiful folks.

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To TED & TEDsters alike- Thank you for bringing me to your stage and giving me a chance to truck my little mail crate along to NYC. You gifted this girl with the very best experience of her life and she will never forget it. Nick- thank you for your friendship in all of this. Tania & Brian- Thank you for adopting me into your family and keeping my tummy full of cruddy diner food. You fuel me & you make me count my blessings twice.  I am so thankful to be a “we” with you.

To the Grovers- Thank you for ushering me into your community. Thank you for warm cups of coffee & the finest of fine hospitality. Thank you for bringing  innovation back into the elbows of New Haven and letting me fall in love with this city all over again.

Steph & Sara-I honor you. I look up to you. I never go a day without thinking of your mentorship. Thank you for being leaders & beacons in my life. And for helping me hold my mission high up to the world.

Joshua Furnas- Thank you for laughter. & orbs. And for printing. & publishing my first memoir without letting me see the manuscript.

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My Georgia Peaches- Thank you for the best vacation this girl has had in a long while, even better than the time the maid at Disney World consistently sculpted characters out of hotel towels for me. It was such joy & needed goodness to find friendship, laughter, deep conversation, & home in the crevices of Georgia’s countryside. I’ll be moving soon ;)

Kendall Ciesemier - I don’t know how our friendship rose up out of the ground but I am so thankful that it did. Thank you for your peace. For your quality. For your willingness to be a constant cheerleader but also a voice of reason. I treasure you.

Matthew- How do I thank you enough?! I feel like this whole blog post should be just for you… But will you take the mention? I am proud to have you as a cousin. I have been wanting to change the name of this blog to MatthewWilliams.com…. Stay tuned. But seriously, I love you. Always.

Azure, Claire, Kaleigh, Tehrene- AKA the definition of awesome sauce. Thank you for always hammering me with inspiration & new ideas. & text messages. & support. & beautiful words. Each of you are a marvel to me. I feel very lucky & blessed to know you.

There are numbers & numbers of folks to thank beyond this teeny blog post. Please know that this is not the fullness of my list or the end of my list… I would be here for tiny eternities if I were to list everyone. For all your impact, your support, your love, and your spirit…. I am scripting a language of gratitude to you. 

 

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Filed under Thank You

I’d string the trees in Central Park with Yellow Bows for you.

She was fidgeting with the elevator buttons

when the tears for you rolled through.

I knew upon the first slow trickle, down blush-applied pink cheeks,

that the herds of salty soldiers marching from my eyelids

were all for you today.

Untamable tears. Terribly Untamable, Mysterious Tears.

They might be my only offering to this world.

They might be just the start.

I let the tears scamper for a moment,

like restless children tumbling to see the first gleam of spring.

Propelling down over humps that were once

the bane of a chubby cheek existence.

Searching in my mind for ways to turn

Each Drop of Salt into Characters that sit Metallic in Blank Word Documents.

Because crying doesn’t solve anything,

(my mother taught me that one)

but words can do some good.

You held up a piece of cardboard two days ago and I knew it then.

Homeless. Veteran. Iraq.

These three words would call me to my knees one day soon.

Black Tights on Tile Flooring Praying for Men with Foreign Soil Beneath Their Boots.

My mind left stirring over a cup of coffee we never had.

Envisioning you taking me from start to finish.

Tell me the story of how a young man,

waking only to lie down for his country,

encounters that same sleepy-eyed country when its time to cradle him home.

When he fights well. Does Good.

Shouldn’t “thank you” be a phrase that

Drops Endlessly Off Our Tongues?

Thank. You. You. You.

I’m no politician. No picketer. No rebel.

My combat boots are all for show. Fashion, really.

No agenda. No protests. No Crude Words for Magazines.

I cannot talk Libya or Japan when I just want to talk humanity.

I cannot banter over military industrial complexes

when I simply want to know, adding sugar as you speak:

How did the air feel in your hair over there?

Whose arms folded you inward during tented dreams at night?

Whose laughter are you longing for? I know it’s not mine.

When did you start missing it?

Tell me the pitch.

Verbalize the tone.

You’d speak and I’d categorize your eye color into the

running concordance in my mind. Maybe the Blue Files.

Perhaps the Ambiguous Hazels.

Scripting you deep into the front line in the notepad memory

of a Syllable Seamstress with Untamable Tears.

It’s not much but sometimes we need that:

for someone else to remember our eye color.

Remember something about us.

And let their minds return back to it after longer days.

I’m going back today.

If I see you, I will ask you out to coffee.

Knees sunk into the floor of a 43rd street office space.

Turning tears into syllables for you. Asking words to be

brave enough to speak for a hero like you.

Wishing those Words Would Unravel into

Miles Upon Miles of Yellow Ribbon.

I’d string the trees in Central Park with Yellow Bows for you.

Fresh Yellow Bows. To remind the World that a Foot Soldier Came Home.

That a Foot Soldier with Blue Eyes Came Home.

And so who will fetch the water to clean the mud from his tired boots?

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Filed under For a Better World, God, Passion, Poetry, Poverty, Simply Living, Thank You

Show me a girl with pencil shavings on her forehead and an imaginary cousin by her side and I’ll show you a fireworks display more smashing than July 4th.

Picture a girl in elementary school, legs as thin and long like two yard sticks holding up a torso, anxiously rubbing pencil shavings onto her forehead in the girls’ bathroom before running out the door to meet her imaginary Italian cousin at ballet class.

It made me terribly uneasy to know that my peers got an entire holiday to put ashes on their foreheads and then proceed to whine about not being able to eat meat on Fridays.

I was envious that their mothers made them give up soda or that they wore white communion dresses and got a second middle name halfway through life.

And I was especially jealous that they had all these cool prayers to repeat as if each one were a secret pass code to a club I would never be invited to: The Catholic club.

I am convinced that a normal child would ask questions and then get over it. Embrace the nondenominational religion she was given.

Go back, reread several posts of mine, and then say this to yourself, “She was not a normal child.”

Hence my decision to rub the lead from my unicorn pencils on my forehead to blend in with my soot headed peers and then proceed to spend the next forty days grumbling the loudest over not being able to have soda or chocolate.

You don’t even like soda and you are allergic to milk chocolate,” I could remember my best friend saying to me.

She wasn’t Catholic, wasn’t getting ashes, wasn’t eating fish on Fridays and (GASP) didn’t care!

“You don’t understand, at least you still get to be Italian.”

And so, when refusing to talk to my best friend whose life was easier for being Italian or the God who made me into a pale mess of Irish freckles and German roots, I turned to Gabby.

My Italian cousin.

Had we been in the same fifth grade class I would have told you about Gabriella Vacaldo or you would have found her on my family tree. Gabriella was my Italian cousin and a star gymnast. She was the best in her class at pottery and she had long curly brown hair. Her parents gave her a cell phone at the mere age of 12 so she could call me anytime.

I imagine she would have called me all the time, if only she existed.

Yup, I made up a cousin in the fifth grade and I probably rubbed lead on her head as well. But in all fairness, everyone knows there is nothing cooler than having an Italian cousin to hang out with after school; at least there was nothing cooler at my lunch table.

So. as all the other kids scuttled off the black top at 3 p.m. to go play with Vinnie and Antonia, I was “making a call to Gabriella.” Translation: Lead head Hannah going off to play by herself, all the while kicking the dirt over the fact that she wasn’t Italian or Catholic. Tough. Life.

Both these stories fall into the chapters of my life spent trying to fit in. To fit the mold instead of break it. To make plea bargains with the gods of normalcy that they would remove any trait that was a) distinguishable b) unique c) quirky d) different, so that I could slide through life being happily ordinary and blissfully average.

We could very easily do this for the rest of our lives. We could an entire 365 days out of our years fitting in and never pouncing on any plan that might make us stick out from the crowd.

We just need to ask the question and then assume the role: Leader or Follower? Leader or follower, baby?

Take it from someone with experience, wads of it. I spent a good 76% of my life on the path to being a follower and there isn’t much excitement in it. The footprints to follow are already in place and it tends to get very boring, especially with huge ideas keep chit chattering in your head like gossipy freshmen. Someone did the something we dream of doing before us, yes, but do we really want to spend our lives playing in their shadows?

Wait, wait, wait.

Still one more option to hurl on the table. Before I sway you into being a leader. Yikes.

We could just wait until tomorrow instead of starting today. We could wait for a better time, a more manageable schedule, a better support team. But we might be waiting for a while. Waiting Forever. You cool with that? You down with being labeled as a time waster?

A dear friend of mine, and a huge role model to boot, sent me an article today that was all about the notebooks we keep, bursting at the spirals with brilliant ideas. Except, after a certain point, we can exhaust the world with our blabbering about this good idea and that amazing idea.

After a while we need to actually put the ideas into action. Become, as Katy Perry would tell us all, our own firework in this world. We only need to glance upward to see that a million others have already started bursting and they would never choose to sink back into line again.

It’s funny that she even sings those lyrics, to proclaim the fact that we are all fireworks. What a scary thing to be… it means we need to be willing to gear up for an explosion. It could be  fantastic but the thought of lighting the match is quite petrifying.

You see, that would be a point of no turning back. That would really set us apart from the rest of the world. That would really make us stand out.

And so we must ask ourselves if we are ready to swap out the firework display that has been playing in our minds for years for the real deal.

That could be a real risk.

But, secrets told: I want to be one of the ones shooting up in the sky and yelling back down to the hesitant ones on the ground, “Baby, get up here! It’s something worth living out loud!”

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Filed under Big City, Big Dreams, Humanity, Passion, Thank You

To a woman who leaves a trail of adoration wherever she goes like the glitter upon greeting cards that always ends up on your Fingers. Your Dress. Your Face. Your Notebooks. Your Collar. Your Lap.

Sashay.

The word is sashay.

It might be the only word in all of the dictionary brave enough to take on her way of walking.

The only word without knocking knees when it comes to embodying enough potential to describe the poised motion of my mother as she floated from crowd to crowd at her surprise 60th birthday party this past weekend.

Sashaying across the floor as if she were still 22.

I was on the way to the doctor the other day because of chest pain that thankfully was just reflux,” she told the group of nearly 100 guests . “And I am driving and panicking, wondering, ‘Did I tell everyone that I love them? Did I?’ But you are all here tonight and I have chance to tell you now!

My mother is rare in that sense.

In the sense that she is given a party and she uses it as a chance to let others know that she loves them.

In the sense that her own world could be finding ways to crumble and she’ll stay wondering if the people around her know themselves loved enough.

She is rare in the sense that she will have you tripping over Piles of Love on your way out to the grocery store; in the sense that you will end up making a list of all the people in your life that need to hear “I love you” today instead of remembering to put the apples in the cart or check granola bars off the list.

She is rare in the sense that she could point out just how many times in a day we may say “I Love You” but that it really pales in comparison to showing it. In order to love, and love really, we sometimes need to ditch the words. Leave the Love Letters Behind and Raise Up Our Hands To Love In Action Like Shadow Figures Upon the Wall. Bring Love Forth With Presence. Awareness. Kindness. Understanding. Loyalty. Patience. Even when we would rather just say three words and move on for the day. Especially when nothing inside of us brews with an inclination to show love to others.

She is rare in the sense that she only needs to move three steps before she is shaking love off through her sway and leaving others absolutely wrapped with her easy companionship. A woman who leaves a trail of adoration wherever she goes like the glitter upon greeting cards that always ends up on your Fingers. Your Dress. Your Face. Your Notebooks. Your Collar. Your Lap.

She is rare in the sense that she only needs 30 seconds or so to prove to you that “to love” is to Love in Color. Love Out Loud. Love in Silence. Love in Motion. Love Regardless. Love Unconditionally.

She’ll make your fingernails ache from loving others.

She’ll make your elbows sore from loving so fully.

And she will give you every reason under her bright, bright sun to believe that you don’t need a holiday or a box of chocolates to begin right now.

 

Happy 60th Birthday Mom.

Short & Sweet. But as I wrote before: it is not so easy to find words confident enough to represent you. After a good deal of coaxing and bribing words out of the crooks of the dictionary I was able to find a few. Regardless, it is already very clear: There are no words when it comes to you and all you have instilled within me.

Love & Miss you already.

 

 

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Filed under Happiness, Live with intention, Love Is..., Love Yourself, Thank You, Uncategorized, Women

One day I will be able to say to my Little Ones: “This is how your Mommy came to write 207 Love Letters to 207 Strangers”

via weheartit.com

We sat in over-sized Alice chairs admiring the spouts of our teapots, appropriately short and stout, as they poured a sweet elixir into the bottom of our antique cups. We clinked our tea cups together and we made a toast. A Toast to Loneliness, Calluses and Love Letters. Two Months of Loneliness. Two rounded calluses on my writing hand. Two Hundred & Seven Love Letters Written.

Signed. Sealed. Delivered. I’m Yours.

I sat across from my Best Friend this weekend, a girl who has shown me a whole new dimension to what it means to miss someone in the last four months. We entangled the sharing of three cups of tea with dozens of Stories in one of my favorites spots in New York City. I moved my hands with each story, motioning all around me, to show her what I have learned from living in this Big City.

I think I have learned Loneliness best,” I told her.

Learned to greet Loneliness as if it were an old friend. Kiss it on the cheek and allow it to kiss back. Soft & Warm. Somehow Soft & Warm.

I never knew that Loneliness could be such a comforting feeling until it propelled me to write 207 Love Letters.  Thank You, Loneliness, for teaching a lost girl just how to script her Sadness into Love.

As you may remember, two months ago I began writing love letters to strangers on the 4 train. I became quite accustomed to the thrill of writing to strangers and leaving my letters behind as if they were my own personal trail of bread crumbs. Central Park. Grand Central Terminal. A Slew of Diners claiming to have the World’s Best Coffee. Through these letters I learned to pour out my heart to perfect strangers as if it were the same fine brew that spouted from my teapot. Leaving Letters Behind. For Some Romeo. Some Juliet. Some Heloise. Some Other Soul Who Needed Words That Day.

But the true gift behind these letters unveiled itself when you became involved. When we all stopped talking about Love Letters and we just started writing them. Asking for Them. Yes, yes, it all began when you pulled up a chair at my Love Letter Tea Party. Sitting Snug Between Ink, Stationary, Loneliness and a Cluster of Forty-Four Cent Stamps.

I never imagined on the day I promised a Snail Mail Love Letter to whoever emailed me their address that I would find my inbox full that night. Full of Requests from All Over the World. From Japan to Utah. From Canada to California. Some with Stories Tied to the request. Some Sad. Some Happy. Some in Desperate Need of a Linkage. Over 200 Love Letter Requests.

So what are you going to do now?” My mom asked me on the phone that night, knowing that I was already quite overwhelmed by promising a handwritten note.

I’ll start writing,” I told her. Because as much energy as it takes to write over 200 full pages of letters, I think it takes a lot more courage to ask a complete stranger to write you a love letter. I sent up a prayer to God for Strong Fingers, Strong Words and a little extra help on the postage, and then I began writing.

Anywhere. Everywhere. Each One Different. Giving me great practice in seeing all the ways one can dress up a single word. Love.

Some days writing Love Letters allowed me to tuck away my own Loneliness. Other days my Loneliness did her own little Macarena all over the stationary. And on the best days, my Loneliness unearthed itself from Behind the Ink & Signatures. Emerging like an extreme makeover contestant, coming out looking Radiant. Looking Like Love.

To all of you who asked for a letter, thank you for giving me the chance to write to you. To shatter the word “stranger” 207 times. That is an absolute dream come true for a girl adores any chance to shed the skin right off of that word. That is the best Christmas Gift I could have ever hoped to receive. You gave my Loneliness a purpose and for that reason I will never regret a single swooping of my cursive.

Many of You wrote your own Love Letters and allowed me to do the honors of sprinkling them all over Manhattan. Thank you for letting me pick the perfect spot. The perfect chance for someone else to hold that letter well & good. A Table in a Cafe. A Shelf of the NYC Library. A Pew in St. Pat’s Cathedral.

And a few beautiful souls sent stamps. They supplied the fuel for those Love Letters to do their own globe-trotting. Thank you for those stamps in the mail. For Pulling Out a Faded Book of Liberty Bell Stamps, Sitting Folded & Pristine in Your Wallet, and Handing Them to Me. Trusting I would put them straight to work in the corner of some envelope.

But one person in particular deserves the largest thank you of all. I have never been driven so quickly to try to tame my tears as when a box showed up at my Bronx apartment. Addressed to “As Simple as That”.I knelt down in my hallway, and opened the unaddressed package to reveal a Full Box, Bulging with Brand New Toys.

This is to the guy who sent a box full of toys to my class of preschoolers who might not have had Christmas gifts otherwise.

You attached a message that said you were not one for writing love letters. I hope you see that you wrote the very best Love Letter of all.

You taught me with your Gift that we all can write Love Letters. Some with Pencil. Some with Generosity. Some with Ears that Listen. Others with Hands that Hold. One way or another, we all have great potential to send a Love Letter off into this world. To Write Our Lives Into  A Love Letter, with the steps we take and the lives we touch.

I grew up saying that I would one day become a Professional Love Letter Writer and maybe I have finally reached that point. After setting down 207 final points of punctuation, I think I am finally there. And what have I learned from the calluses, the loneliness and the inbox full of requests?

That we are all in need of a Love Letter from time to time. A reminder that we are doing o.k. We are doing just fine. That someone, somewhere is sending us Light & Love. Be it from the Biggest City or the Smallest Town. With the Loudest Voice or the Quietest Whisper. To the One With the Toughest Exterior or the Most Broken Interior.

Turns out the world really does need more Love Letters and it looks like we have only just begun writing them.

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Filed under Humanity, Life Lessons, Loneliness, Love Letters, Love Yourself, Thank You, Uncategorized

Perhaps blogs cannot blow out candles but they can certainly wear party hats and make wishes.

“Do you understand how there could be any writing in a spider’s web?”
Oh, no,” said Dr Dorian. “I don’t understand it. But for that matter I don’t understand how a spider learned to spin a web in the first place. When the words appeared, everyone said they were a miracle. But nobody pointed out that the web itself is a miracle.”

Charlotte’s Web

This time last year I was surrounded by a clutter of Christmas decor, volunteer applications for my year of service, empty coffee cups already branding their rings upon the table, and a few of the girls in my life who have my heart pretty much memorized.

I can list to you the things I knew in that very moment: One) I did not have any clue where I wanted to go after graduation. Two) I was really very happy in the moment with these good friends of mine(though its easy now to think I took it for granted). Three) I did not want to be a blogger.

Blogger. The very word made me shiver. Sent me fleeting for the nearest pillow to shove my face into so that I could scream shrilly without alarming my roommates. I never set out to be a blogger. And when I started out, I knew for that reason, I would never be good at blogging.

The first few posts felt quite similar to an old home movie where a little girl with a head full of curls anxiously tries to jam a plastic Jelly onto her foot. It would not fit. No matter how hard she tugged and pulled, the world around the little girl knew- the perfect pink Jelly would not fit.

It was not until one of the Memorizers of my Heart felt the Harsh Words of Mean Girls did I feel prompted to use my blog, my icky sticky blog, to write something to console her. And in that moment of stitching stories & sentiments together to give to a dear friend, I became hooked on the idea of using my words to Spin Together the Feelings We All Sometimes Have. The ones for which we proclaim, “there are no words.”

For a girl who adores words more than pumpkin pie and hot apple cider, I find it very hard to articulate what this year of writing at As Simple as That has meant to me. This blog has become my very own nook of goodness on the web, a place that I have turned to time and time again in the past 365 days, only to find that you have never turned away. When I think of the web its no longer some abysmal hole of information tied together by http://www.’s and .com’s but rather a spiderweb of remarkable people who bare their souls to the world on a daily basis. Through a post. Through a comment. Through a thought. Through a word. Webs. Webs. Brilliant Webs.

I really must say to anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis and grows nervy over the thought of writing their own blog, do it. Absolutely, 100%, no questions asked, do it. Is that even a question? I am practically jumping up and down, using this blog as a trampoline, to push you to start lacing stories. Testing your Passions.

If I will one day tell my children that there was a moment that changed me for the good and for the better, it was the day I realized that your heart can have a place on the internet, that you don’t need a niche to make yourself grow, that you can start your own drumbeat when the world just doesn’t give you one that you can lay your hands to. That you can meet strangers over a computer screen and let them surprise you, as they become some of your greatest comforts at the end of the longest days.

It has become somewhat a cliche of my own to use but I do believe that there are people in this world who make “thank you” seem like too small of a word. You are those people to me. Thank you for reading. Thank you for giving me that first comment. Thank you for being mentors to me in the “blogosphere.”Thank you for showing me just how beauty looks with a .com attached. Thank you for writing love letters and doing so much more than that. Thank you for giving me stories to share. Thank you for always sending a text message after every post, without fail, to give me your feedback (Car- that one is for you).

But one last thank you, perhaps it could be the only one. Thank you for making it clearly undeniable that all of you, the web and the life of this site, are the miracle at hand.

Here’s to a wonderful year of what I would like to call soul-searching upon a page. Without you, I would have never found the words. Because of you, I am left without more words to say.

 

 

 

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Before any Seamstress of Stories, there comes the one who taught them how to sew.

It’s at the very top of my “Not the easiest thing in the world to explain…” list.

Right there, the top of the list.

Numero Uno: Explaining to a 4, 7, and 9-year-old why you have two plastic skeletons dressed in ballet tutus and oversized Barbie heels on their skeletal feet hanging from your rear view mirror.

The 4-year-old adored the skeletons, or so I thought. She would ask to keep them on a daily basis.

“When they break, can I have them?”

Audrey, why do you want the skeletons so badly?”

“Well….” A long pause. “I don’t really want them, I just want the Barbie shoes.”

Fail.

As for the two older boys, they could not wrap their heads around my skeletal passengers either.

It is called el Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead. It is around the same time as Halloween. Many people in Mexico celebrate this holiday, taking the time to honor their dead and remember them.” I had to pump the brakes on this cultural lesson for the little tykes on their way to laser tag. I could have probably spoken about the picnics that take place in the cemetary and the candy skulls but Calder interrupted.

But death is a sad thing.”

He’s right. Death is a sad thing. I have yet to come across the person who is opposed to this little boy’s statement. You could rattle on about celebrations & fiestas & parades but regardless, Death is still a sad thing.

This post is not about my love for el Dia de los Muertos , my two little skeletons that I found shoved into my center consul by my brother this weekend, or the fact that my mom fully stocked my closet with dresses that would be absolutely perfect for any fiesta when I was a little girl. (If you ever get to see my school pictures, you would know exactly what I mean). It is actually about a lady named Dee. A woman who taught me that Death is a very sad thing. But that Life Well Lived gives Death a massive run for its money.

 

It begins happening around this time of the year. As the Leaves Fall, the Weather Chills & People Begin Googling the word “Cornucopia” and coming up with those silly bugles full of harvest foods. And I start recognizing the pockets of this earth that still keep her. The memories that hide, like little children, behind any Frank Sinatra ballad or song accompanied by bagpipes. A first chord and I am swept into a mess of tears, nostalgia and gratitude as a swarm of Little Memories tug at my sweater.

I received an email the other day from a reader. She wrote in the email, “How did you become such a good writer?

The question puzzled me.

I picked up my cup of coffee and walked around the apartment, wondering how I became a writer, and a supposed “good one” at that. Then it caught my eye, a black and white photo of a strikingly beautiful woman. She is looking towards the camera and she is holding my mother in her arms. My favorite picture.

There was the answer. I am a good writer because when I was a very little girl my grandmother told me that she would one day see my name at the front of a bookstore, dancing along the spines and book jackets of hardcover wonders. She told me of days when strangers would wait for my words, find solitude and peace in my syllables, uncover strength in my stories. And that is all it takes. It only takes a single lady who tells you that you will one day be a very good writer to turn you into a writer that is very good.

If you go back and look closely at all my posts, she is there though more Hidden than the most Stealthy of Waldos. Behind every word that attempts to manifest “passion” or “love,” she is there. She showed me that love is an action and a way of life and I am doing best of packing the wonder of that action into my every word. Be it upon this page or in conversation.

I live a life of love and that will make a writer very good, very good indeed.

I like to think we all have people in our lives, dead or alive, like this. Someone who makes you believe that you are not so crazy, not falling short, but Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. And as for the ones who have passed, I find it very important to celebrate their lives. To Eat Delicious Foods For Them. To Do a Little Jig For Them. To Remember Them, not as they are right now but as they were.

To remember the little things: how they loved the color blue. How they found great happiness in filling little notebooks with novels they had read. How they convinced every person they came across of their Native American roots (it is still up for debate if she was actually an Indian or not).

And to honor them in little ways: by buying ridiculous singing cards, by always dancing to Danny Boy and by having Google updates sent to your email on the JonBenet Ramsey case (even though it is 14 years old) just to keep her well-informed and in the loop of the greatest unsolved mysteries that she always loved to solve on her own.

And of course, by moving forward with the gifts she helped you foster: a knack for prose, a special talent for story telling.

Because stories & words & memories are that much more powerful when writing for a beautiful woman, the biggest of big fans, named Dee.

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Filed under Big Dreams, Holidays, Humanity, Life Lessons, Simply Living, Thank You, The Tough Stuff

Sara Bareilles would not write you a love song but I want to write you a love letter… Seriously.

via weheartit.com

It really is no wonder why Nicholas Sparks seems to have reserved seating when it comes to the New York Times Best Seller Lists. The man has found a fruit that most cannot ignore and he wrings out the sweet juices in almost all of his books.

The art of letter writing.

Let’s be sincere. We love it. We adore it. We absolutely devour this idea of the soldier in his tent at night rereading the letters of his girl back home. Smelling Her Scent Between The Punctuation Points. We tear into a tub of chocolate ice cream as we sigh over the Two Lovers who forge communion in waiting for the post man to arrive.

A college professor of mine once told the class the tale of how she and her husband fell in love. They met one another at a time in their lives where Distance had a cunning plan to keep them apart. But, even being thousands of miles apart, they fell in love. Somewhere Between the Capital Letters and the Paragraph Breaks.

It was really different during that time. You would spill your heart out onto a page, baring all your secrets and then you would drop it in the mail box,” I remember her saying. “The test was in the waiting. Waiting to see what he would say back, waiting to learn more about him with every letter in the mail.”

It is not just “mushy gushy” letters. It is any kind of letter where one sits down and dedicates the writing of words and syllables and sentiments with another in mind. I daresay, it is the most beautiful thing in the world.

It is knowing that someone, right next door or Miles Apart, will know themselves loved through just a few paragraphs and a signature at the bottom. Sincerely Yours.

If I have said it once then I need to say it ten more times: The world needs more love letters. More “Thank you for being alive today” letters. More “You are remarkable” and “You light up the world” letters. More “I think you will do great things” kind of letters.

***This is the part of the post where you take both of your hands and you place them on your forehead. Then you say out loud, “Oh no, Hannah. Where are you taking this?” Because, Lord knows, I never stop when idea comes into my head.***

Are you in position? Ok.

I am writing letters to people I have never met. Yes. I am finding it to be the best activity that I have ever taken up. A hobby, if you will call it, that delivers to me a smile every single time I place down a comma or a period.

It began on a train ride home from Manhattan, as most things usually do for me. I was feeling terribly lonely but almost comforted by the fact that everyone around me seemed terribly lonely as well. But instead of letting Loneliness trample all over commute, I pulled out my notepad and began composing a letter. To a person who I had never met. To a person who I can almost guarantee I will never meet.

It is a surreal feeling, to compose a letter to an individual that you have no ties to but at the same time you want the whole wide world for them. I wished them a bright day. A day full of laughter. I told them they were unique & special & really quite smashing. (I might not have used the word ‘smashing’ but I probably will in the next letter).

Really, we are not told enough, in a genuine noncommercial manner, how brilliant we are. How intriguing and wonderful we are. How much we should be commended for waking up today and deciding to take on the task of being human. It is not an easy task. It is not always fun. But it is wildly worth it. Better that we write all these things down.

And, with an anonymous signature, I left the letter behind on the subway. And on the sink of a bathroom. And on a table in a coffee shop. And scattered all over the place in NYC. Several anonymous love letters. The beginnings to many….

I have always wanted to live my life as a love letter. Why not do it with actual love letters? Who knows where my letters are right at this very moment. If they are sitting in the hands of some of corporate CEO as he sips his morning latte at his favorite coffee shop. Or if one is sitting on the desk of a woman who cleans that same coffee shop every single day to keep her children enrolled in private school. It makes no difference, I just wish for the individuals of this world to know themselves loved. And that means you. Yes, you.

So here is the deal…. If you send me your address, your legitimate “oh my goodness, I have to label an envelope” address then I will write you a letter. You will receive a genuine, handwritten, love letter in the mail. I promise you this. (Don’t worry: I am not about to get creepy lovey dovey all over the paper).

Either leave your address below or via email: HannahKaty@live.com

My poor little fingers might regret this promise when they find themselves cramped from all sorts of cursive, but even if I don’t know you that well, I think you are quite worth it.

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Filed under Love Is..., Love Letters, Love Yourself, Simply Living, Thank You

She knows my whole heart. And she does not judge me for any of it.

She is a friend of mind.  She gather me, man.  The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order.  It’s good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.  ~Toni Morrison, Beloved

There are days when I want to literally curl up into my Inbox and just wait. I could find a cozy spot between the sent items and saved drafts and just wait. I would even settle for making a bed with the piles of junk mail and deleted items. Just To Wait.

Life might be easier this way, if all we were expected to do with our days was wait to hear from our best friend. A friend who gets us completely.

My best friend and I email each other almost every day. Sometimes I have great difficulty in coping with the fact that we have the adjective “Long Distance” attached to our friendship for what could be a very long time. But we have a bond that I cannot explain. She Knows Me. I Know Her. And at the end of each day we cling to that understanding.

Our emails are a mess. A Literal Mess. Sure, you could uncover the paragraphs. The punctuation. The breaks and beginnings. But our hearts are splattered all over the messages. I sometimes think after I send an email to her that I should recieve a notification that says “Mailbox over size limit” because we pack so much emotion, hope, desperation, questions & answers, and an overwhelming love for life into each email. No gigabyte or megabyte seems justifiable.

Someone asked me the other day what was the best thing about my friendship with her. “She knows my whole heart,”  I said. “And she doesn’t judge me for any of it.”

I guess as we grow older we learn what is important and not so important when it comes to friendship. I once thought friendship was all about quantity. Lots of friends on the playground. Plenty of friends to sit next to at lunch. Too many friends on Facebook. Always people to text message. But sometimes having so many friends can make us feel so little in this world. Insignificant, as we cling to our generic messages and irrelevant friend requests.

I now see that friendship is about something much deeper than numbers like “7” or “12.”

My mother always warned me not to pick and choose my friends like colors out of a crayon box. She feared the ease I found in becoming bored with one and moving onto the next in such a natural manner. I always replied that it was best to have a lot of friends. “A lot of friends, Hannah?” she would ask. “Or real friends?”

She waited for me to learn (in the way no parent ever hopes for: The Hard Way) that friends, real friends, are there without question. They are not be seeking out the next best route to make us feel worthless or weak. Friends, real friends, are loyal to a fault. They lend relevance to the cliche “catching you when you fall,” as they know when to stop walking next to us and start walking close behind. Arms Out. Ready for the Catch. Friend, real friends, never give us a reason to ask if our secrets are safe with them. We trust the second that the deepest intimacies of our souls reach their ears they are tucked straight into the heart. Locked and Keyed. And there they stay.

Friends, real friends, let us Wallow, Cry, Scream, Be Mad at the World. They accept broken hearts and bad moods as currency to our friendship on some days. But they are real friends because they know when to tell us to snap out of it, to straighten ourselves up and get back out there in the world. Friends, real friends, know when our sadness is no longer an excuse for missing out on life, when our delusions have gone too far and when we need to smarten up before the World deals us a harsh lesson. Friends, real friends, are the kind who rejoice in our victories. We count on them. To Celebrate. To Commend. To Be Proud. They also give reality checks and bring us back down to earth when we get ahead of ourselves.

Friends, real friends, help us to uncover things that we were not meant to find on our own. Sometimes diligence. Other times passion. Sometimes kindness. Other times persistence. Friends, real friends, are a saving grace in a world that seemingly becomes scarier every single day. Because this world comes with a lot of potential for pain: bullies on the playground, broken hearts on the concrete, broken dreams in the gutters.

Sometimes there are no better words than this to describe a true friend: No matter where you are, in your hometown or a big city, someone, somewhere knows your heart. They know the pieces. They know the stories. They know the struggles. And they choose not to judge you for the mess that you are. Someone, somewhere, carries you in their heart wherever they go. And that will always surpass carrying around a number like “1,700 Facebook friends” or “300 followers.”

Someone, somewhere, never made you a number. An obligation. A project. A chore. They simply made you a friend and, in a world that seemingly requires so much to be happy, it became all you never knew you were even missing in life.

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Filed under Best Friends, Simply Living, Thank You, Uncategorized

Twenty-Two Candles: Spreading out my birthday wishes.

I am 22-years-old today.

Growing up I used to equate the number of wax candles sunk deep into the vanilla frosting with the number of wishes I could make. Turning six constituted as a long haul so I was rightfully granted six wishes. Turning ten was surviving a decade, I certainly deserved ten wishes that birthday. And though I am better informed today that you blow out the candle and make ONE wish, and although I have taken to finding wishes in other places i.e. pennies in fountains, wishbones, eyelashes and even resorting to “11:11″ when I really need it, today I want my 22 wishes.

Not because I need 22 wishes, simply because, I really don’t. My life is beautiful. My life is leading me in all the places I have always wished to go. I am blessed in every sense of the word. But even so, I am snatching up those 22 beautiful wishes, those 22 waxy trinkets that glow for me today. Trust me, oh trust me, I have places for to send these little wishes.

My first wish is for the friends who sew me back together time and time again. They know my heart. They know my dreams. They know, often more than I, what I am capable of. I wish that they will continue to live freely and happily, that they will love this life very fiercely but very delicately.

My second wish is for my family, those near and those far. May they each have all the happiness that this year can hold and may they know that I think the world of them, even when it does not always show.

My third wish is for those who have taught me the meaning to this life just by being in mine. My wish is that their happiness be doubled, their dreams be tripled and their blessings be quadrupled.

My fourth is for all of us. That we all forget what constitutes for “a birthday;” a date on a calendar, and all celebrate today as if it were our own. So let’s shun the challenges we may be facing today and take time to bask in the goodness of life, treat ourselves and stop to kiss the sky, if only for a moment.

My fifth wish is for all those who are dying on the inside although they make everyone believe that they are happy on the exterior; they smile, they laugh, they hide the tears. May they find what will allow them to mirror that happiness on the inside and find ways to be whole.

My sixth wish for the bloggers who have inspired me daily with their words, their aspirations, their kind comments, and their daring to dish out their dreams to the world. There are far too many to name them all, but you have all taught me the importance of putting your heart out there on the internet. Thank you for always embracing mine.

My seventh for all who are searching. Some Aware Of What They Need. Some Unsure Of What They Seek. May everyone who is looking find what they need. And when they find it, I wish for them to hold it tight. So tight. On the brink of suffocating that little sucker, whatever it may be; inner truth. Beauty. Happiness. Love. God. Direction.

My eighth for those who have recently walked across a stage to take a diploma in their hand and put a new destination under their feet. This wish is for success in all that you do and pride in all you have already done.

My ninth wish is for all the little children in this world who are aching in their tummies for food. I pray that they are filled with life and energy and vitality and that they are one day known for the the notable things they are capable of. Not As A Tragic Statistic In Somebody’s Text Book.

My tenth is for those out there who are facing a tough time and need rest. May they always have shoulders to lean on and inner strength to get them through. I wish for their load to be lightened and their days to be brighter.

My eleventh wish is for world peace. Because you knew I was going to ask for it. And I am dreaming big today, so why not?

My twelfth is for those who dedicate their time to improving the world we live in today. If anyone is capable of bringing about the world peace, it is them. May their efforts always be noticed; in God’s eyes and in the eyes of everyone surrounding them.

My thirteenth is for anyone who is doubting today. Doubting a dream or a direction. Doubting A Friend. Doubting A Lover. This wish is for clarity.

My fourteenth wish is for all those have recently received clarity. May this wish give them the courage to accept the clarity and make the necessary life changes they need to embrace a new route or decision. And may they be contented so they can smile in an effortless manner.

My fifteenth is for any young girl or young woman out there who feels not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough. My wish is one that I made a thousand times all throughout my years of growing: I wish you feelings of beauty, independence and love that will give you the power to embrace yourself as “enough.” Because whether you know it or not, you are enough.

My sixteenth wish is for any person who feels stagnant today. Looking For Adventure. Itching For A Change. I wish, with eyes closed tight and breath held deep in my cheeks, that the change will come and you will adore the opportunities and seize them. Seize Them.

My seventeenth is for those who woke up today and realized they still have a broken heart. This is a wish so that they will know that they are not alone and that brokenness always leads to healing. Here is an invitation to come sit by me with your glue stick and we can help each other to put the pieces back in place.

My eighteenth is a special one. Perhaps the most important of all. This wish is for anyone who has a dream that they worry is too big, too impossible, too “unpractical.” May you forget all of those adjectives and adopt these words: Don’t let others belittle your dreams or tell you that you cannot achieve something. Your dreams belong to you for a reason and they simply want to be held by you for now. But one day, yes one day, your dreams are going to beg you to do something with them. This wish is a hope that you will.

My nineteenth wish is for all of us. I wish for us all to fail big. REAL BIG. (And no, I am not trying to be malicious in this wish). Only then, after failing a few times, will we really know how much this all means. But for when we fail, I hope we come back fiercer than ever, showing this life that we are strong and resilient and that stumbling is a precursor for our solid sturdiness.

My twentieth wish is for him. Out there. Wherever he is. I wish that if he is lost then someone will give him a map. And if he is making his way towards me, maybe he will pick up a coffee (iced with a shot of soy) (just kidding). But whoever he is, I wish he that he will know that I am eager to meet him and I cannot wait to be his best friend.

My twenty-first wish is for the world to stay young at heart. To Be Serious. To Be Geared Towards Change. But to wake up every single day and still search out the simple things in this lifetime; the smiles, the hugs, the kind words of a stranger, the dialogues, the tenderness of moments.

My twenty-second wish is for me. Mine, all mine. I wish for a year that leaves me with an energy and vibrancy that is contagious. I wish to be inspired by more and inspire more daily. And most of all, I wish to keep treating life as a tall glass of lemonade; sucking the juices out and finding the sweetness every single day.

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Filed under Happiness, Life Lessons, Live with intention, Love Yourself, Simply Living, Thank You