Stop sleeping with liars.

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First things first, stop sleeping with liars.

Stop crawling into bed at night, pulling the covers over your body, and letting liars hiss inside your ear: you’re unworthy. You’re not good enough. You’re falling short. You’re a burden. You’re alone.  

These liars take up room. They snicker and grow when you give them credit. They hold tight to your ankles. They make you feel like less: less of a lover. Less of a mover. Less of a shaker. Less of a person.  Please– for the love of lovelier things– do not fling away your life and feed it to the liars in your head that tell you you don’t add up.

You need to stop holding yourself back. The pity party must cease and you must de-invite the little liars to your darkest parts. You need to stop thinking you have never deserved good things for your life. 

 

It’s a relentless grind to figure out the point of this life but life is not a puzzle.

It is not a race. It is not a mystery to be solved by human hands. Life is a dance. A hands-all-in, feet-all-in sort-of dance that we start living the second we stop pulling it apart for answers.

And sometimes life (mentioned above) is just too short to buy groceries. Or do the dishes.

We all have a life we didn’t live. It’s there. It exists. It grows with every choice we didn’t make. I want to say the golden spot in all of this is reaching the point where that life you didn’t live can be surveyed without regret.

Not everyone in life is going to care about you, your favorite breakfast foods, or your pet peeves. Don’t even try to make them. Just appreciate those who come into your life and do care.

Find the line– the one single line of poetry or prose or song lyric– you would tattoo to your face. No, really. If someone came up to you and was like, “Today you MUST get a face tattoo,” you should know what pretty little line would inked on your face for all of eternity. If you don’t know yet, go out there and figure it out.

Self-pity doesn’t have an expiration date. That should terrify you.

Keep a diary. A real diary. And write down silly little details like the way his jeans were ripped or how the air seemed to smell on the morning after you two broke. You’ll want the memories later. You’ll never regret that diary on the day you crack it open and get to say, “I wrote it all down. It’s all right here.”

 

We’re all trying.

Really, we are. We all want to matter. We all want to count. We all want to be seen. So there’s your purpose for the day: Want people. Count on people. See people.

Tweets that get stuck in draft form are a sign from God that you weren’t supposed to write them. Don’t send them.

You already know the truth. It sits inside of you like a rock. Give yourself more credit. Stop saying you don’t know. You know. You know. I repeat, You. Know.

Not everything will be okay. And you know what? That’s okay. Sometimes you’re gonna lose. You’ll be a loser. And you’ll join the loser club, just like all of us. And then you’ll win again. It will be great.

Don’t write fear a love song. Fear has never deserved your love songs. 

It’s hard to leave. It’s always going to be hard to leave. It’s like there’s something stitched in our DNA that makes it feel nearly unbearable to let people and places go. But, at the same time, hard stuff is important. And sometimes you know it is time to leave. Don’t deny your feet when they tell you it is time to walk away.

Either life will be an adventure or it will be a waiting room. You pick.

Stop waiting for someone to come along and tell you that you can do something. You can. It’s already within you. You’re getting lapped by the people who never waited on approval. Hustle. It’s a real thing. This is your tough love siren going off in the distance: if you want it, step up. Stop telling yourself weak stories and just step up.

They might not change. You have to be willing to see that. People don’t always change. Even though we want to. The takeaway from that is this: People aren’t projects. They’re just people. We don’t get to fix them. You can’t build a life around an idea of person. You have to build your life around real things. Real and good things.

Write poems. Without rhyming or worry about iambic pentameter. Without judging them. Just write poems because they are groovy. Write poems because life is poetry. We’re the poems.

Drink hot chocolate. Abandon chairs to sit on counter tops. Screw the calorie count every once in a while. Find an author whose words are like truffles for you. Sit on the countertop, drinking hot cocoa, screwing calories, and reading Neruda out loud.

 

Not everyone will be your cheerleader.

Not everyone will understand. Let people think you are crazy. Crazy is a good thing. Wild hearts are necessary.

Stop waiting for someone to come along and tell you’re brave and capable and ready and here. Don’t hitch your life and all your hopes on someone coming along and telling you you’re brave and capable and ready and here. Sometimes people will tell us those things. Sometimes they won’t. Proceed believing in them anyway. You’re brave. You’re capable. You’re ready. You’re here. Do something about it.

Also– you’re human. That’s it. You’re not super human. You’re not subhuman. You’re just plain human. You make mistakes. You don’t scale walls. You hurt people without ever intending to. You get your heart ripped out of your chest. Some days the only language you can endure is tears and you’re like, “I’M SO FLUENTTT IN TEARSSSS. WHATTT ISSSS WRONNGGG WITHHH MEEE???” Like I said, you’re human. Go with it.

There is a time to tell the truth. And then there is a time to do anything but tell someone the truth—you have be so careful over the things you’re willing to let someone carry for the rest of their life.

There is an underlying storyline to all of us. It’s common and it’s overlapping: we all want to belong somewhere. For that very reason—be kind. Be graceful. We are all just trying to make our way home to one another after time on a road that left us tired and wanting for someone to ask us to stay.

Stop waiting for someone to come along and tell you that you can do something. You can. It’s already within you. You’re getting lapped by the people who never waited on approval.

We all have a life we didn’t live. It’s there. It exists. It grows with every choice we didn’t make. I want to say the golden spot in all of this is reaching the point where that life you didn’t live can be surveyed without regret.

 

You’re a vault.

Don’t let anyone tell you different than that. You’re a vault. You’re deep. You’re an onion with all the layers intact. Give yourself that credit. Don’t let people belittle you into acting like you are less than worthy—you are equal to everyone else on this planet.

Suffering is a real thing. I wish I didn’t have to type those words. But it’s real and it is, a lot of times, secret. Be kind to people. You don’t know the secret suffering they take to bed with them every night.

When you reach a point in life where it is nearly midnight and your friend asks you to go on a boat ride– to see the lake at night– you’ll be tempted to weave towards your bed instead. You’ll make some comment about how old you are getting. Hold up. Rewind. Accept the offer. The night will kiss you with stars. You’re gonna feel so small and lovely.

Accepting yourself will prove to be one of the biggest journeys of this lifetime. Pack the bags. Bring the toothbrush. March for the door and go. That journey is worth taking.

We make choices every single day. That’s what we do. Life is just a stacking of yes and no questions. Yes, I want this. No, I don’t. Yes, this is worth it. No, it isn’t. And each choice takes us farther and farther from away from the person we did not end up becoming. You make the choices though. And you get to pick the person who will stand in the rear view mirror. You get to decide if you’ll miss that person you didn’t become or not.

We live in a world where it’s easy to associate being single with missing pieces. That’s a tangled little lie that doesn’t deserve the energy it takes to untie it from itself. Being single doesn’t mean you are missing pieces. Single serves a purpose that has nothing do with the hunt to find someone else. In your own singleness, you can kick some serious ass. Don’t miss the chance.

Be open to criticism. Let it come from the lungs of those who want to see you better and thriving. Guard yourself against haters. In the words of Taylor Swift, the haters gonna hate. It’s up to you to shake it off.

Ban Adele. Not forever. Not for always. But in times when you feel low & down & insecure, Adele doesn’t help the situation. She enlarges the wound with her haunting language of loss. She makes us want to gouge our eyes out with pencils because WE. FEEL. SO. MUCH. If you are fragile right now, pump the brakes on Ms. Angel Pipes for a little while. Find some rap music. Listen to jams that reek of baller-status.

The quest to believe in something is personal and sacred. It’s a battlefield and a pilgrimage, all in one breath. And people will believe in a lot of things: God, boyfriends, altars, plane tickets, the works. It might not be your job to dictate to a person where to go or how to open up their hands. Some people will want your roadmaps. And some people will only want to know that you’re the reliable kind, the kind to stand at the front door with the light on– promising to be there waiting when they find their way home.

 

Love is a severely underestimated word.

We don’t give it enough street cred. That word should have you crawling on your knees in a struggle to just get better with it. You should surround yourself with people who challenge you on that word. What better honor in this lifetime than to be surrounded by people who make you constantly think and say, “My god, I want to learn how to love you so well.”

Turn your whole life into a quest to be good to those people. Like, make your whole life into a quest to figure out how to show up for them. At airports. On birthdays. On days where you know there is a decision lurking around the corner and they’re scared and wondering. Those good people are your people—fight for them.

And again, it’s worth repeating: stop sleeping with liars. 

There will be them days

There will be them days when all that will seem reliable is a sapphire blue dress hanging in your closet that, to your knowledge, has never let you down before.

On them days, pull the blue over your head, tie the sash on the side and invest faith in stitching and cool cotton on a summer day.

There will be them days when you wish you could pull sentences from the sky, make words out of treasures you’ve found while sifting through the Lost & Found bin, to tell a person how you really feel. But all that will come out are fragments.

Incomplete.

Sentences.

You.

Don’t.

Know.

How.

To.

Complete.

On them days, find a sweet rhythm in the stuttering and the stammering. Delight in the person who makes the simplest syllables–I miss you, I love you, I need you– the hardest to recite. Maybe even say this: You Make All the Letters In My Alphabet Shake. The Q’s Quiver. The R’s Rattle.

There will be them days when the only adoration you get is from a John Mayer song that he recorded seven years ago about daughters. And you’ll think to yourself, Wouldn’t it be lovely to be the girl who puts the colors inside of the world? On them days, keep your earphones plugged in until the end of the song, until Mr. Mayer tells you straight, “boys would be gone without warmth from a woman’s good, good heart.”

There will be them days where the Missing gets thick.

Thicker than molasses. Thicker than the chocolate current that took Augustus Gloop down. You’ll curse songs on the radio that bring him back. Your bones will ache for conversations where his name sits beside more than just some past tensed verbs.

On them days, let the Missing keep you.  People will tell you not to look at old photographs or cry over love letters;  I say, get your salty groove on but promise to let it go at the end of the night. For your own good. For the doors that need to close before God props open that window people always talk about. We are human beings… looking back is laced somewhere in our DNA, even if sometimes it holds the nutritional value of chewing gum.

There will be them days when all you will wish for is someone who knows your name.

You’ll grow tired of being The Girl on the Train. The Young Woman in the Cafe. On them days, give people a good mystery. Find that man with the notepad and glasses. Sit down right on his lap, swipe a hand across his cheek and put a pencil between your teeth. And then get up. And walk off the train.

Give people a reason to write you into story lines and poems that gets recited in the underground coffee shops of Chicago. Make him wonder if your  name is Clare. Rita. Siobhan. Rachel. Anything but the letters your mother stacked alongside one another to call you home when the street lights came on.

There will be them days when all you have the strength to do is sit–square in the middle of the kitchen table that still holds your initials from childhood– and pair spoonfuls of peanut butter with a carton of vanilla bean ice cream. One more bite, that’s it. Just one more bite.

On them days, go for creamy until the gentle reminder pushes inward: Food won’t heal you. Food won’t fix you. Put the Big Spoon down, Little One. I love you too much to watch this pain.

There will be them days when you’ll scrape the polish right off of your fingers. Freckles of Gold and Blue falling to the floor of the car. And you’ll look down at your hands in discouragement. What do you want of me? The question will sit in your throat. What am I here for?

On them days, take out a piece of paper and write it down. All The Places Your Hands Have Been. The letters they’ve written. The wrists they’ve touched. The wounds they’ve bandaged. The children they’ve held. The stories they’ve grasped in their Tiny Palms.

And marvel… just marvel at the good Two Hands can bring to a world in need.

Then place those Hands of Yours upon your hips. Straighten out the creases in your sapphire blue dress. Go outside. And face the world.

23 Candles: A handful of pearls from the 22 women who took my 22nd year and grew it into something Memorable.

I have never been good with birthdays.

They make me squeamish. A little queasy. I really should be donning a crown and beating the pulp out a watermelon pinata but really I am always left wondering if I have packed enough learning into 52 weeks, done enough with 12 months.

And so here I am, newly 23, and wondering what the purpose to 22 really was.

Come on, I make symbolism out of my morning coffee, there was no way I was going to let a whole 22nd year slip by without looking for the life lessons behind it.

So…After 365 extraordinary days, 365 days with so much life packed tight into them, I can confidently say that my 22nd year was one shaped by 22 young women who have crisscrossed my path with theirs at some point this year, leaving me with arms full of wisdom, courage, and inspiration. My life would not be the same without these 22 women and they lessons they taught me in a span of twelve months. On this special day, I would like to share those lessons with you.

I would like to dedicate this pearls of wisdom post and my 22nd year to these world shakers who made me the person I am today. Thank you for teaching me with your light, your love, and your life.

Find that place in this world that fits you like an over-sized sweater. Find that place that makes Ruby Slippers seem totally practical if it really means clicking them will bring you back there again & again. Find that place that will always take you back into its arms, borders and intersections no matter how far away you travel or how long you have been gone. —Stephanie Rushford. Stephanie is a freelance politics writer who allowed me to see New York City from her own eyes. I will always remember a night this winter spent roaming the financial district near the 9/11 memorial and hearing from her what it means to be young and in love with a City that Knows Her Name.

Don’t let the universe regret you. —Azure Antoinette. Azure is a spoken word poet recently spotlighted by Oprah who helped us run our poetry workshop in Brooklyn this April. We spoke for about an hour on the phone and yet it was one of the best 60 minutes out of the whole year. Azure amazes me daily with her poise and grace, and her fervor for all of life. I am beyond ready for a musical July with her.

The world will try to get you to quit believing in fairy tale love. Don’t let it win so easily. Believe in frogs. Lost shoes. Carriages made from pumpkins. Pixy dust. And falling hopelessly, so hopelessly, in love. –Audrey. Those who know my blog know that my best writing is forever indebted to a four-year-old diva with a serious Princess Complex. Only two feet tall, Audrey showed me how to relive my whole life in one summer, three feet shorter and looking at the world through a pair of rockin’ pink shades.

The job that you want and will delight in doing for the whole of your life probably doesn’t exist out there just yet. You are going to have to create that job. —Lindsay Pollak. The ultimate expert on careers and the workplace, Lindsay is someone who will have you itching to network and map out your dream job in seconds. I owe this young woman a great deal of thanks for the inspiration and pushes she provided me with while job hunting in the last few months.

Adventures are guaranteed to come knocking at your door. Keep your ears perked for that Adventure’s rapping on the wood; get up out of bed in slippers and pajamas and greet the adventure whenever she arrives.Christen Brandt. Director of She’s the First, Christen is not only someone I love working with but also someone I love sharing life adventure’s with. I am constantly in awe of the readiness she holds in nearly every situation tossed her way. I am looking so forward to our future adventures…

Whatever role you play, play it with every ounce of yourself. Walk away at the end of each chapter knowing that you made your heart breakable for a very good reason; so that you could scatter it and leave it with others who needed it more in the moment.Carleigh Baldwin. I am lucky to call her a best friend, Carleigh is an individual who I look up to and respect for so many reasons. And I am absolutely ready to see her rock her first year of law school.

In all that you do, ask yourself “why.” From your morning coffee to your route to work, ask yourself “why” and if you cannot uncover the answer then have the courage to reevaluate.–Halle Butvin. I interviewed Holly back in 2010 and this piece of advice has stuck with me since. Founder of One Mango Tree, a fair trade company that helps bring women in Uganda out of Poverty, Halle is a role model who I absolutely admire for her endless efforts to be the change she wishes to see in the world.

Allow yourself to be the Rare, Limited Edition, Version of yourself that really, truly are. Don’t ever belittle how very beautiful you make this world.Nikita Marie. Confessions: I want to be this girl. You should be friends with this girl. You will NEVER, EVER meet a more stellar individual. Of this I am sure. Nikita is a serious world shaker who inspires me to paint beautiful pictures out each of my days. Seriously, spend fifteen minutes with this young woman. You. Will. Be. Glad. You. Did.

Serve a purpose in whatever you do. You are here for a reason, don’t let the opportunity slip.–Carla Blumenthal. If you could only meet one more person for the whole of your life, I wish it would be Carla. I am extremely honored to know Carla and to call her a great friend. In a short span of time in the Big City, Carla filled my pockets with her wisdom on every aspect of life, to doing the work you love to growing spirituality in an ever-growing city.

Leave time in your day, every.day, for the following things: inspiration, love, symphonies, glitter, friends, fine art, prayer & Gloriosity.–Chesley Turner. This young woman reads me like a book and I thank the Good, Good Lord for her always. Inspiring, moving, poised and passionate, Chesley is someone I look forward to growing old with, chatting about the days when we were young, fabulous, running wild around New York City in mini skirts and heels that defied the borders of “spectacular.”

Make space in your life for people who surpass wearing their heart on their sleeve. Carve out special room for individuals who walk around this world with a staple gun in hand, stapling their heart to the sleeves of others. Lauren Lankford. I am honest in saying that I would love nothing more than to sit beside Lauren and talk about all things under the sun until the sun herself went down: Life. Love. God. Mistakes. Grace. Creativity. Founder of the Good Women Project and Love Drop, I never can seem to pick my jaw fully up off the ground over how much of herself Lauren has given to others. Selfless. Selfless. Selfless & Remarkable.

SARK, one my favorite inspirational gurus, writes that there is a great difference in life between telling the world about the tree you have drawn in your mind and actually showing the world that tree. Have enough courage to cease talking about the tree, walk outside, and plant it. —Tammy Tibbetts. I simply cannot string together enough good sentences to say how much I admire Tammy and how remarkable of a mentor she has been to me since first meeting her. Founder of She’s the First, a tree planted deep in my own heart now, Tammy has shown me the importance of letting your dreams live outside of your walls and the potential they hold when unleashed out into the world. I am blessed to call her a good friend.

Be the person who enters into the room with a smile on her face, wine in her hand, and a good story waiting to dive off into the crowd. In six, simple words: Be the Life of the Party. –Lauren Albert. Lauren teaches me daily what it means to embrace the spontaneity and hidden potential within each hour, second, and minute. She is my go-to gal, a dancing queen, a heart-to-heart companion always ready for a deep conversation and a glass of chardonnay. And , for all of these things, I am lucky to be so close with her.

Take time to sit down and map out what you want out of life. Gather up those who support and love you best to make those dreams and desires into the very best reality. —Selena Soo. I first met Selena at a power girl brunch but since that first meeting she has helped to sculpt me into the professional and world shaker I long to be. I will forever thank her for challenging me to design my dream job, it is because of her that I know I am inching towards it. Closer & Closer each day.

Be present to people. Give to them your time, your energy, your shoulders, your hands and your ears. When you are there, be sure to really be there. And when you are here, Be Here. —Laura Collins. Anam Cara is the Gaelic term for a “friend of your soul.” Laura challenged me, pushed me, and changed me in eight months of living with her. The greatest gift she gave me? The Gift of Presence, something I know she will continue to give as she heads off to Peru this winter.

Let life court you. Allow it wine & dine you. Let life get down on one knee, pull out a big ol’ diamond ring, and slip it onto your finger. —Mackenzie Filson. I don’t play favorites all that often but there is no denying: this girl is on the top of my list. I believe she and I have covered our souls with very same wallpaper… A coffee date lives in our future; this makes it nearly impossible to resist begging the future to get here now.

Tell others when you admire them, when they have changed you, when they have pushed you and challenged you and held you up at times. Chances are, if you have not told them yet then they have yet to know it as true. —Kaleigh Somers. Reasons why I adore blogging: this girl. Kaleigh has shown me, over and over again, why I wake up everyday to write out into the world via this blog. I cannot help but thank her endlessly for being a source of inspiration, an honest critic, and one of my biggest fans.

Don’t just bend backwards for friends you love. Bend in any direction they need of you. Front. Back. Side. Up. Down. Just be there to bend when they break. Becca Provost. I had the pleasure of watching and learning from Becca for eight months this year. From the very start, I admired the attention she gave to those who mattered most to her and with what delicateness she treated her friendships. Anyone would very fortunate to know this young woman… extremely fortunate to call her a friend.

Befriend creativity. Let it swim in your veins. Keep you up at night. Leave you lost in Central Park, sitting on a park bench, plotting story lines until the street lights come on. And after you befriend creativity, befriend the stranger sitting on the park bench beside you. —Libby Segal. She calls herself an “aspiring director.” Let’s all get real and just start telling the truth: Director will only be the beginning to what this girl will accomplish in her lifetime. Watch out world, this one is going to shake you. Big. Time.

Read your heart out loud to the ones you love. Read your heart out loud as if it were your favorite novel. Celia Fox. My very best friend, this girl has shown me and taught me what it means to read my heart out loud. I find it hard to tell her with real words how very proud I am and how excited I am to see her chapter in Kansas unfold… And how pumped I am to make endless Dorothy comments towards her. Love you St. End!

“Agape means that we love a person for what they are. Every person has an infinite mystery within themselves. Agape means that we never confine the person to what we know of them.  To love anyone is to hope in them always.” –Lindsay Field. If you do use Google today, use it to look up this word. It is a life-sculpting word that Lindsay introduced me to throughout the year. A strong young woman, I am beyond excited to see the next chapter of her life unfold as she heads to Equador for the next year.

Wake up and look around. The sights are too good to be missed at any time of the year.Britt Blicharz. A best friend, Britt teaches me this always and often. That no matter what time of the year it is– winter, spring, summer or fall–there is reason to stop what you are doing and breath in the air. Smile. Laugh. Maybe even cry. And thank God you are alive…

Life becomes a true teacher the second we stop counting grades and getting A’s: Things I know to be true.

If I had not been clinging to the act of “fitting in” throughout the fifth grade, I would have known much sooner that it is perfectly normal to adore the boy in school that everyone else thinks is strange.

Even if the first time I stroked some new kind of courage to finally speak to him, he introduced himself to me as the person who assassinated JFK. Actually.. It is probably a good thing that he didn’t like me back.

If I had not been so busy wrapping my neon painted fingernails so tightly to“belonging” in the sixth grade, I would have admitted that it hurt much sooner. Those words in the hall. Hurt far more than when my own mother sitting me down, week after week, letting tar sink into my scalp before she ripped away at the debris of a skin disease I couldn’t hide.

You would have known those words hurt like hell but I put them in a diary beside my hope to one day stitch some form of “beautiful” beside my name. “One day,” I begged God. “I wont even ask for it today. But one day, please don’t forget to turn me pretty.

If I had not been so entranced by “clueless” in the eighth grade, I would seen sooner that pretending to think the United Kingdom was in Africa, in front of a whole geography class, was not cute. It was stupid. Dumb. And only made boys think you were an air head.

That I should have just admitted my knowing there were 50 states and, surprisingly, 50 capitals to go with each one. That I wasn’t just failing geography to make brown-eyed boys like me; I was failing myself.

If I had not so adamantly squeezed myself into “desirable” in the ninth grade, I would have recognized earlier that the things about me that a man should desire reside no where between the space where my low-rise hipsters and tank top forgot to meet. That my mother was right for making me trudge upstairs and change my clothes. So Right.  That my worth would never come in the form of too-tight jean shorts and tube tops, ESPECIALLY if I didn’t at least know my fifty states.

If I had not clung to “building walls” in the eleventh grade, romanticized by concept that Dawson and his creek pals left me digesting daily at the breakfast table, I probably would have told him much sooner. I would have had a good speech, the kind you see by the creek. I would have said, “Listen, the world shakes when you weave your fingers into mine.

I sing Christmas carols in July over you.

People play some sort of Houdini act when you walk in, as if they have been practicing for years. They disappear and I am left standing next to you.”

If my tears weren’t so reluctant to loosen their ties to “being strong and in college,” I would have thanked her much sooner. For driving two hours. For picking me up from my first  dorm room. For putting a plate of chocolate cake before me. For sleeping on the floor that night, listening with me to the sounds of the night I had never heard before. The Unfamiliar Cracks & Breaks. The Sound of a Heart Breaking for the First Time.

Thanks Mom.  

If I wasn’t so attracted to “going with the crowd” in college, I would have said it sooner: Beer leaves a putrid taste my mouth. I think these heels were made for the ground, not the top of the bar. That I would much rather wrap myself around Maya Angelou’s poetry, a glass of wine, and a good friend’s storytelling than trudge to a party where no one will remember the conversations we held in the morning.

I would have admitted to myself much sooner that it gets quite exhausting to perform two choruses.

That I should just stick to lyrics.

To words unknown and never repeated. To words my own and never deleted.

To Acts like Spreading: avocado on toast. Peanut butter on bread for the homeless. Love on, and all over, everything.

Wearing: the whole of Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” on my sleeve ( the very best line in the crook of my elbow: “You your best thing, Sethe.”) Clothes that are timeless and would be Luscious result of a shopping trip with Jackie O, Katie Holmes, and Audrey Hepburn.  My own beliefs like a reliable bag or a pair of oversized sunglasses, like beliefs not bound to ever go out of fashion.

Listening: to loved ones. Silence. In between the lines.

Searching: & Defining my Own Capital Letters. & Stumbling. & Writing & Rewriting without any hope for perfection. & Grooving. & keeping my ears perked for dialogue that means something. & Seeking Lessons for my untrained heart.  

Admitting: that I am small but powerful. Fearful but willing. Trying my hardest. Pretty lucky. That some kind of beautiful does reside beside my name. That tomorrow life will shift and throw us off, and we won’t ever be ready for it, but we should be able to stand firm in what we believe in. In what we know about ourselves. In things we know to be true.

‘Thank you’ is the very best phrase in the world: Sunday Morning Pearls from a Pile of Preschoolers.

It was the first, but the best, green pentagon and red square sandwich that I will ever eat. Blue American Cheese. Yellow Oval Ham…

Thank you!” I said, after each shape she placed into my hands. A pile toppling over with love.

The little one with lime green glasses that magnified her big brown eyes laughed wildly with every addition to the Colossal Plastic Sandwich.

In that moment, I knew a thing or two as true: ‘Thank you’ is the very best phrase in the world.

When not dissecting issues of poverty and human trafficking at the UN briefings, I volunteer as a master of wiping noses and the Itsy Bitsy Spider. A substitute preschool teacher.

As we all know by now, I have a huge chunk of my heart carved out to serve as a treasure chest for the pearls of wisdom that come my way. A third to the pearls of wisdom series, I would love nothing more than to show you all what I have gathered from the classrooms filled with three-foot tall gurus and little life coaches wearing Children’s Place sweat suits.

‘Thank you’ is the very best phrase in the world.

Compliment people whenever you can. No one opposes being told that they are pretty & beautiful, or that they look like a princess.

Take time to learn the names of others. Better that you ask twice than to go on not knowing.

Marvel at the world around you and then ask questions. Never stop asking questions. Never demand answers though.Take pleasure in that uncertainty.

Another note on marveling, marvel at the seasons and how they change. How the leaves shimmy out of their summer wear to find a Garb of Golden Colors. Shimmy away from your old self as well. Reinvent yourself, start fresh. Make fall your own personal New Year.

Bring extra smiles in your pocket wherever you go, extend them to whoever is in need today.

Along with bringing smiles, bring a sweater for when the temperature decides to play limbo. You will be grateful when the goosebumps come..

Carve out time to sit with a good book each day, even if you only read a chapter or two. Open your eyes up to the possibility that sits restless on the pages of a bound beauty.

And remember, ‘Thank you’ is the very best phrase in the world.

Ask people about their favorite color. They won’t be expecting it but they will wonder, as they continue their subway commute or writing over a cup of brew, when is the last time that I really thought about the color yellow?

The key to beauty is not a popular shade of lipstick or the best hairdo. Wear laughter, a good smile and an internal glow and the world will wonder how you hold the word “beautiful” so well.

Be good to your friends; save them spots in line, put your arm around them and leave the extra animal crackers for them.

Speaking of animal crackers, take time to bite off the arms and then the legs and then head, as we all did when we were three feet tall. Indulge in the Elephants. Debate: Is it a hippo or a rhino?

High Fives are a universal language. High Fives are a language all of their own.

Grasp onto universal phrases: Please. I love you. Good Job! Thank you.

After all, ‘thank you’ is the very best phrase in the world.

Once in a while, more the while than the once, treat the world as if it were your playground. Find your own set of monkey bars in this world, whether it be a run on the beach or a night by the fire. Smile inward the whole way through.

As we grow older, we encounter less then person who has forgotten their snack for the day. Find the person who is missing something today: a companion, a hot meal, a loved one. Comfort them.

If you admire someone, tell them. If you miss someone, tell them. Tell them. Tell them. Tell them.

Sometimes we all need a time out. Sit quietly, (hands in the lap is optional) and think about how to reenter the world in a more positive and constructive way.

“No Llores,” is a golden phrase, “No tears.” No tears.

But of all the phrases, ‘thank you’ is the very best phrase in the world.

Find the silliness in love & crushes. Giggle over them. Tell them you like their sneakers. Sneak a hand hold before the end of the day.

Make it your mission to find a killer accessory that completes every outfit, whether it be a big white bow or a chunky bangle. Leave people thinking about that one accessory, but moreso, the person who wore it well.

Send gratitude up to heaven for allowing God to let you read these words. Reading is a great privilege. Being able to find meaning between the sewn “A”s and “K”s of this world is a great blessing. One that we too often take for granted.

Never wish a moment away. Fair warning: It won’t come tumbling back towards you. It will be lost for good.

Talk about what you love: your mom, your cat, your Dora backpack. Give words and hand motions to whatever you love deeply in this world.

Stick close to the true friends in this world. The ones who run to hug you after a 12-hour separation, the ones who write you letters often and make you wish the word “separation” never existed.

Glow a little bit over your accomplishments. Look back for one reason only: to see how very far you have come. But don’t become too prideful. Rejoice in Every Step.

Turn on the music, your favorite song to be precise and sing. Sing loud. Sing softly. Lip sync or scream. Look up the lyrics, even if you know them by heart, and follow them the whole way through. Let your mind ruminate over every word.

Take every encounter to meet new people as if it were a puddle given graciously to you on a rainy day. Jump in it. Laugh over it. Kiss the skies for it.

Speaking of puddles, own a pair of rain boots that speak to you. And actually use those boots, yes, jump in puddles. I repeat, Jump In Puddles.

Realize that you are not too old and you are not too young, you are perfect just the way you are.

And one final thing, remember, no matter if you are 4-years-old or 68, ‘thank you’ is the very best phrase in the world.

Want to trade pearls on this beautiful fall morning?

Share your own here.

I swear this post is NOT about Emily Dickinson. Pinky Promise… Just keep reading.

I straddle a line between wishing I could slap Emily Dickinson in the face and wanting to make her my best friend forever.

The thing about Em (Can I call her Em? I will call her Em) is that the majority of her works, the ones that make her the Angelina Jolie of Literature, were not discovered until after her death. So what’s the main debacle with the majority of your poetry meeting publication after you are six feet under? You are not around to explain it.

Em is a literature lover’s dream. We could tackle hours and ages’ worth of ambiguity in her punctuation and the intention behind her words. We could wrack our brains over who she addressed her poetry to and what she really was trying to say. But I used to fight the urge to stand atop my desk in lit classes to state, “Maybe Em was not all that misunderstood. Maybe she just wanted to produce beautiful poems.” Oh goodness. What would happen if we stopped dissecting them for a moment and took them for what they really are? Radiant Imperfect Pieces of Perfection.

I am known to go at life with a magnifying glass. Often my friends and family remind me that I should stop to be in wonder of this world instead of always trying so hard to understand every little thing. Every nook and cranny of each person I encounter, place that I visit, and experiences that I stumble upon.

Life Lesson #__Insert grandeur number here__: This world is too big. The number of people and their purposes are far too wide. We will never have it all figured out. Ever. No matter how hard we try.

Sometimes we need to throw out the books that remind us to not sweat the small stuff or the ones that teach us how to lead a more fulfilling life. Instead of “learning” how to live we might just want to try living sometimes.

I think about dying a lot. Not in a morbid sense, really, I swear. I think it’s smart to muddle over the topic from time to time. We are all going to die eventually. But that is not the point of this post either. I wonder about my bedside and the people whom I would want to surround me in my final hours. And bring me flowers. And kiss my forehead and hold my hand. And I realize that it is just that: People That I Want.

We have become so wrapped up in this notion that everything and everyone comes walking into our lives with a reason trailing behind them and lesson to teach us in their arms. Don’t misunderstand my message, I think all of this is very true. However, where is the balance? When does someone stop being a person we need to learn from and just start being a person we want to learn with?

I once had someone ask me not to turn him into a life lesson. A strange request. At first I didn’t understand. And I also wondered why he would ask that, seeing as I practically survive on life lessons. If they were food I would be morbidly obese. Trust me.

People don’t want to be life lessons in our books as much as they simply want to be in our books. To Play a Part. To Have a Role. To have made a difference with their presence, a difference that made us always want them to be there. Even if we knew it was not possible.

You see, life lessons are good. But People are Better. I would much rather lay down with someone under the night sky and its blanket of stars and together we could get great practice in wondering about this lifetime. In Trying to Wrap Our Heads Around Our Place In This World. I would much rather do that than to watch someone slip out of my life because I turned them into a lesson instead of a friend. Because I held too tightly to the things that they taught me instead of remembering to reach for their hand.

We should probably all surrender. Hold up our white flags and turn in our magnifying glasses. Admit that we don’t have all together all the time. That we cannot explain every aspect of our lives. The more I think about doing this, the more I realize that the walls would not come tumbling down and the earth would not meet an apocalypse with this declaration. The world actually might look wonderful with less mysteries for me to solve. And more mysteries for me to marvel at.

I don’t even believe I would want to figure everything out. What would be the point? Who wants a life that they understand so well that they can tuck it into their back pocket? I have yet to meet the individual who wants the life so little that they see and understand every bit of it.

I would rather stay convinced that we are all just walking around. Hungry. Thirsty. Confused. Content. Wondering. Wandering. But then we Bump. Bump. Bump. Extraordinary Bumps Into One Another. And we hold tight to hands and find companions in this world. Soul Mates. People we declare to be partners to us instead of just a passing lesson, a speed bump along the way, on our journey to the bigger picture.

So share with me a mystery of your lifetime, something you cannot comprehend but you love it just the same. But then stick around for a little while. I want to believe this life makes more sense with people sitting by our sides.