Tag: Beauty



We’ve reached the best moment–the drowsy hum just after a huge Italian lunch but before espressos. The scent of coffee is already twisting through the air in those soft, bohemian swirls artists love to paint, and sunlight settles warm and heavy on our eyelids. Now, a deep breath, a half-hearted effort to stay awake… One more nibble of dark chocolate…

It’s a time machine, this moment, like a Dear Diary peek into the future. It’s a snippet of home video, showing our girls grown up into their own beauty and our little family traditions as familiar as furry slippers. It’s a glimpse into the connectedness we share, hot coffee together after lunch in twenty, thirty, forty years.

Maybe it’s just a drowsy mid-afternoon daydream… but I’ll take it as my fortune. Any day.



It happens the first time in complete darkness. The cell quivers, stretches, and divides itself in two. That’s all, but it’s everything–the hint of beginning life, deep in the secret shelter of your belly.

The second time it happens is under bright lights, expectant faces all around. Your cells waver, strain, hesitate like water droplets on the tip of a leaf. Then, in a rolling burst of released tension, you find yourself divided eternally in two.

I believe there are few aches in this world as profound as having a baby, and none as glorious. I’ve always felt that ache to a small extent at the symphony or the museum, feeling my heart lift out of my body, simultaneously wanting to call it back and wanting to relinquish it to that more-beautiful realm. That’s what the instant after giving birth is like, magnified to an unfathomable degree.

You gaze at her cotton-candy cheeks, her precious blip of a nose, her watery eyes. You can’t stop gazing, trying to find that part of yourself that separated with her. It’s there, of course, but only for an instant. Your features and her dad’s pass in and out of hers like a mirage, but in the end, the only face you see is her own. You nuzzle that warm crease where her neck will one day be, and you relinquish your heart to this more-beautiful place. Eagerly.

Of course, real life has a way of diluting wonder, or maybe just coating it in a layer of explosive baby poop. Your little miracles track ketchup across the newly-mopped floor and throw up all over your favorite sweater and WON’T GO POTTY!!! and scream because a milk-dispensing device is not in their mouth at that exact instant. They dump out a box of marbles behind the sofa and wake up before you’re ready and horrifically mistreat their diapers. You find yourself experiencing mother-pattern baldness.

The precious ache, though? It’s never gone–not really, not in those quiet moments when your mind runs wild with What Ifs. What if she never wakes up? What if she gets hurt by a friend? What if she drifts away from me one day? And oh, what if she had ended up with some other family? What if she had never been mine, my little princess? That’s motherlove, the real, painful, cosmically-magnified ache. That’s how you know your heart has settled in the more-beautiful realm for good.



Today is the most perfect tribute to springtime I’ve ever experienced. Those of you still slodging through gunmetal winters, take a deep breath and imagine…
Pastel-tinted sunbeams bounding through your open window.
Tufts of sky-scented breeze rolling end-over-end like cotton balls at play.
Ice cream swirls of pink and white dripping from shy tree buds.
Bird chirps like flutes and oboes and tinkling celestas, piping grace notes over the mid-day traffic.
Fresh laundry line-dancing (ha!) for the joy of warmth and light and newly unfolded air.

Springtime in Texas, where I grew up, is really more a melty form of winter. The sky takes on the surly color of old pipes, leaking gray water continuously until summer hits it suddenly with a wrench. Texas never really gets cold, but its Februaries and Marches suck out inner warmth like zombies, complete with the drooling and the clammy outstretched fingers and the diseased-cow moaning. (“Uuuuunnnnnnnhhhhhhhh.” I have no nostalgia whatsoever for the sound of spring.)

This winter has been a rodeo for me… and not just me, I suspect. One of our friends told us the other night that he has two wives–a cold-weather one and a warm-weather one. I understand, though I often wish I didn’t. Surviving winter can be a fight, a constant bundling and layering and gritting teeth; it’s a struggle to unclench, a struggle to thaw. However, when the outside world suddenly softens and blooms, I feel myself relaxing. My pent-up tensions drift away on a stray breeze. I lighten up.

There may be a month of winter left, but my mind is bursting ahead into spring. I’m already thinking in terms of strawberries and open windows, flower pots and Easter egg hunts, swinging with Natalie and picking daisies with Sophie. I’m taking the heavy blankets off our bed and planning picnics, and oh, it’s a much-needed loveliness.

What springtime hopes are warming your minds today?


When In Rome

When in Rome…

Breathe slowly under the ancient weight of the Colosseum. Inhale the centuries of legend engraved on its stones, the faint anxiety that history waits to repeat itself in this place. Exhale under its watchful shadow, now the keeper of Metro stops, busy streets, and bustling gay bars. Breathe. Stand. Marinate in your smallness.

Colosseum portals - Picasa remix

Let your heart race at the sudden sparkle of turquoise on white, the Trevi Fountain against a backdrop of stars. Caress the sculptures with your eyes, following each curve, each breathtaking intricacy. Kiss for the camera, but really for love. Close your eyes and intoxicate yourself with lips and tingling breath and the sensuous rush of waterfalls at night.

Kissing by the Trevi Fountain

Navigate the mid-morning crowds surging toward the Vatican. Weave in and out and around and through–the tourists with their guidebooks and cameras and perpetually open mouths–the devout Catholics with their quick, reverent footsteps trailing determination like a wake–the vendors with their wiry glances and blatant flouting of personal space. Join a line inside the gates, a line like an eternal wave, carrying you around and up and crashing down finally in the most sacred spot on earth.

St. Peter's Basilica 3

Forget about nonessentials like speaking and thinking and breathing the instant you step inside St. Peter’s Basilica. Just see, look, gaze. Let your eyes understand lavishness for the rest of your body, at least until they overload on gold scrollwork two minutes in. Give yourself mental vertigo by realizing that people, real, living, human humans made this gargantuan cathedral, this redefinition of opulence. Get goosebumps.

Bronze canopy in St. Peter's

Ride the Metro plastered in graffiti. Wander through the open market. Take pictures of funny signs. Ascend slowly to reality; decompress. Come, see, conquer, and leave dizzy with the hope of returning.



Q & A

A: To remember.
To validate.
To appreciate.
To inspire.

I suck at talking, really. Just ask my husband, who usually has to pry my head open with a crowbar to find out what’s on my mind. I could quote someone eloquent and witty, like C.S. Lewis or House, M.D., and the words would still sound ridiculous coming out of my mouth. (Imagine a kindergartener who’s just swallowed a bottle of vodka and six helium balloons. Classy.)

When I write my thoughts down, though, I feel like they matter. I can actually convey my meaning without all the squeaking and the slurring and the drunken-five-year-old stammering. Often, I’m not even sure what I think until it slips out the ends of my fingers onto a page, and only once it’s written can I see its etchings on my personality… and then I feel a million kinds of validated. Maybe even a kazillion.

Writing does all sorts of lovely, warm, hot-chocolatey things to my emotional center as well. It makes me slow down enough to see the beauty in everyday life and scrapes calluses off my heart until I’m madly in love with everyone I should be madly in love with. I suppose it’s a way to both preserve and cultivate the precious pieces of my life. This might make me certifiably insane (that is, if I weren’t already, ::cough::), but I would take a day on a comfy couch with my laptop over a day at the spa. Or a day wearing plaid atrocities and hitting little white balls with sticks. Or whatever else real people do to relax.

I don’t really try to inspire–you should know by now that I consider myself as inspiring as Cream of Wilted Lettuce–but every once in a while, a bit of my heart on a page connects with a bit of someone else’s heart. Those tiny moments of relational electricity keep me buzzing for days. I’m learning to loosen up, to take personal honesty a little more public, and I love that it matters to others. Even at my most lettucesoupy, I want my words to matter to others.

Q: Why do you write?


That’s Why

Why? you ask, in gurgles and coos, through stretches and wiggles and dream-drenched yawns.
Well, I answer, in smiles and hums, through kisses and cuddles and heart-full hugs,
It’s your feathery duckling head, smelling like silk and serenity and baby girl secrets.
It’s your milky rosebud mouth, full of curiosity and bubbles and half-asleep giggles.
It’s your wise mirror-lake eyes, shining with newness and knowing and shy peek-a-boos.
It’s your squeaky kitten cry, resonating with innocence and milk-memory and heartfelt littleness.
It’s your soft blanket-wrapped snuggability, curled in my arms like marshmallows and puppy-love and a ball of dandelion fluff.
It’s your velvet honeybee breath,
Your dimpled button toes,
Your priceless sunbeam smile,
Your luminous butterfly soul.
That’s why, baby mine, that’s why.

Your fingers squeeze OK as you drift back to sleep, still and safe next to my skin. I love you too, Mommy mine.

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