Wednesday, July 31, 2013

on writing and the most amazing gift ever


I knew it was coming in the mail. A hand-made gift by my talented and dear friend Carol but until I opened the mailbox and saw the package wedged in-between all the bills and junk mail, it didn’t feel real.


After all, why should I be the recipient of such a touching act of kindness?

What exactly had I done to deserve this? Let’s see…hmm...ah…well….

O.k. absolutely nothing. Not really.

Despite the fact that Carol had written this post explaining her gracious gift to me the truth is, I felt like I’d done nothing to deserve such a kind gesture.

Did I say kind? What I meant to say was that she mailed me an incredibly beautiful, hand-crafted journal that was THE most perfect gift for me. Ever.


If you write. If you blog. If you dream of publishing something that feels like a tender-baby-bird- piece of your heart on paper

If you love opening up an old book and closing your eyes while you inhale the rich, musky scent of paper… If you love the sensation of losing hours of your life while you languish inside a delicious book

you will love this gift.



If you love running your fingers over tattered, cloth-bound book covers because of the strange sensation of time travel .. If you love discovering quirky used-bookstores while you’re supposed to be looking for street signs

you will love this gift.

If you love the torturous, slow-drip brain freeze that is commonly called writer’s block because sooner or later it leads to that exhilarating moment of break-though or,

If the idea of having free time for writing gets you drunk with excitement


If you can relate to any of these book-induced moments you are my friend.

And you will love my new gift.

Look inside, isn’t it a work of art?

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Not only did Carol painstakingly put together a journal for me to write in…she added sweet nudges of encouragement. Words that made me smile and feel hopeful about someday finishing my personal collection of stories.


Carol actually remembered that I had posted about my grandfather’s typewriter and she included this symbolic tag inside. What a thoughtful touch!

He was the person who encouraged my love of reading and books. And I keep his typewriter in my office today.


Writing in a journal or notebook helps me appreciate the smallest details of my life.

Joan Didion is a notebook devotee and some of her writing has brought me to my knees. Especially THIS book.

Click here to read: Joan Didion on keeping a notebook.


Here’s one of my favorite tags.

Everything happens for a reason. I love how these words evoke a certain peacefulness about the ebb and flow of our lives.

Someone recently left a comment on one of my posts about how she felt sad when she thought about the person she used to be. And when I read her comment I wanted to reach through the computer screen and hold her hand. I wanted to offer her a cup of coffee and sit down and listen to her long enough to understand her sadness.

Because sadness deserves that kind of attention.

And I wanted to share with her that when I look back at the woman I was in my twenties I shake my head too; I remember painful struggles when I was desperately trying to carve out my own identity against a tidal wave of resistance. And I wanted to tell her how different I feel today from the young woman I was back then…


Would it make her feel better to know that I made a truckload of mistakes along the way?

Except now I wonder. Were they “mistakes,” or were they simply signposts on the-road-to-ME?  Aren’t mistakes really just decisions that end up helping us figure out who we are and what we want in life?

I think we have to embrace our past—and love all the messy parts too---because

whatever we’ve experienced so far…. has shaped us into the person that we are.

Right now.


By the way, did you know it took Mark Twain thirty five years to complete his autobiography?   He also had thirty to forty “false starts” with his writing before he finally completed his book but what I love most about Mark Twain is what his persistence teaches us. 

Never give up on your dream. With hard work good things will happen.


After all my years in the eating disorder field, I think this might be my life motto:

Embrace imperfection.

How did Carol know?


Anne Lamott has a chapter on perfectionism in her book Bird by Bird which every aspiring writer should read. That book is my writer’s bible, I love it and I have a mad crush on Anne Lamott too.


If you don’t know how funny and wise and cool she is click HERE to read her commencement speech at UC Berkeley. It’s just her being her.

But grab a cup of tea or coffee first so you can enjoy it.

In the meantime let’s look at Carol’s work.


Even this. Is perfect.

I married a man who makes me laugh every day and luckily humor has become part of the air we breath in our house. I think I used to be much more of a serious person. But living with someone who has the capacity to see the funny in the mundane literally transforms your perspective on life.

Do you know what I mean?




at all the details


and the time that Carol took.


I’m just so incredibly grateful and touched that she did this for me.

Just looking at this little journal makes me so happy. 


If you liked this post please take a moment to stop by Carol’s blog and tell her. It would be so nice of you.

Now tell me …

have you fallen in love with any moments lately?




I’m linking this post up with these friends please stop by:



Friday, July 26, 2013

on balancing blog life…




I haven’t been good at balancing my blog life lately.

I find myself going on runs with Stella and returning with a hundred blog topics at the forefront of my mind and lots of photos ready to share because July has been such a jam-packed month of happenings.

But somehow I’m not finding the time to blog about them.

Instead, I’ve been enjoying the impromptu moments around the house and staying out in the main room with the family instead of blogging. The irony of trying to experience things more fully is that it often means not grabbing the camera. And not having time to sit in front of the computer. Have you noticed this too?

Although I do keep a personal journal.


And I do try to get keep current in my journal because truthfully, I no longer trust my memory.

I mean seriously, most of the time I have to work hard to remember where I parked my car so getting bits of conversations down so I’ll remember the little things is important to me.

Like this conversation the other day when I was telling Jim about my face fiasco.

About how I was rushing around trying to get ready to head out to San Francisco with Tracey and Mary and Kirsten and of course I wanted to remove my old nail polish (because god-knows-I never-seem-to-have-my-nails-done) so I grabbed the nail polish remover and my facial astringent and cotton balls (more multi-tasking) out of the bathroom and hurried down the hallway…and while I was talking and walking I dipped the cotton ball into the astringent and applied it all over my face. But suddenly in mid-sentence, I noticed the stark lemony smell and looked down and realized I’d just covered my entire face with nail polish remover!

For a horror-stricken moment I imagined strolling down the picturesque Union Street with a red blotchy face and I tore into the bathroom and began maniacally splashing water all over my face...

(don’t you hate when this happens?)

Anyway these things happen to me when I don’t have my glasses on and I when I’m going 100 miles an hour. And I always end up laughing out loud at myself.

Literally. I will stand in one place and find myself belly-laughing so hard just thinking about some of these things I do.

And so I’m telling Jim this story and he laughs and gets this amused grin on his face and he says,

“I don’t remember you being such a character Les.”

And of course my literary ears perk up at that word.

A character? Like what do you mean…a character?”  I say.


And I’m envisioning the beautiful, spunky Elizabeth Bennet with her flowing mane blowing in the English countryside and I share this vision.

And he says, “No… actually I was thinking more like Lucille Ball.”


Hey watch it. I love Lucy!

Before I go here’s a snapshot of some special moments from the last few weeks.

This month we’ve been blessed with visits by dear friends; we saw Steve and Grace after so many years and they brought two of their grown up boys (now men) along for a wonderful evening of catching up.

Steve and Grace and Jim and I all waited tables at the same restaurant during college and we have so many fun stories and memories. We met our spouses at the restaurant, although Jim and Steve also grew up together and I have to add that they are two of the funniest guys I know.

Unfortunately we don’t see them much because they moved their family to Oregon twenty years ago.


the old guys against the young ones courtesy of my cell phone..

We drank the best red wine and the guys played ping-pong and the years just seemed to melt away. It’s like that with old friends, don’t you think?

This month I also had some wonderful birthday moments.



This text came from Tracey who is one of the most thoughtful people in the world, and I’m serious.

I had planned on doing an entire post about this amazing trip to San Francisco with the girls but of course, I haven’t yet.

But here’s a few photos to give you an idea of our trip.

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IMG_3808This was the first place we stopped for coffee. We ad-libbed pretty much everything, which I loved.

How about you? Do you like your getaways to be planned or impromptu?


What I love most about San Francisco are the charming little coffee houses, bookstores and flower shops everywhere!



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I lost track of how many shops we stopped in.

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Here’s my dear friend Mary who cannot take a bad picture. We made her model this $500.00 dress while we were shopping on Union Street. I like to brag about her because she’s so darn humble. Last weekend she completed a five mile race at an eight minute mile pace, isn’t that impressive?

( not a bad pace for a 53 year old!)


I love car rides because you can have the best conversations during them…


I discovered the most yummy beer ever!

It’s called Blanche de Bruxelles

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It’s hard peeking into a nine million dollar home….

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But we had fun admiring the exterior.

By the way…


If you’re interested in starting a journal or writing about your life, here’s one of my favorite books on memoir writing by the wonderful Abigail Thomas.



Last night

watching Bourne Identity with Jim--instead of blogging--because I love anything with Rachel Weisz

And finally.

How are you balancing your life this summer? I’d love to hear.


Wishing you a big fat belly laugh in your future.





linking up at these lovely places:


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

rustic plank table & chairs (and a Gratitude place setting)


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Thank you to all my readers who had such nice things to say about the rustic plank table my Dad and I made out of a pile of sun-bleached wood. If you missed it, you can click HERE to see how we made it.

I really had fun sharing this project and today I thought I’d give you an update on my outdoor seating for this table.


Personally I love the combination of wicker and wood in the patio, and if you remember I already had two thrift store chairs to use so I splurged and bought these four wicker chairs (on sale) at Pier I Imports.

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After I painted the wood chairs with a batch of homemade chalk paint, I removed the seats because I wanted to put this blue and white ticking on them and replace the foam.

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Honestly, I didn’t take photos of this part of the re-do because I thought it was going to be so easy and too boring for you.

Little did I know.

I ended up having a terrible time with the foam. I bought the wrong thickness and when I tried to cut it with scissors it was messy and slow.

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Thank goodness I have some incredibly talented readers like Robyn, Sandra, and Violets are Blue who let me know about using an electric knife with foam. It was the answer.





I know it’s not as fun to look at plain old tables so…

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… I added a place setting to give you an idea of what dining on this table might look like.

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I think the blue ticking seats look perfect with the weathered wood.

What do you think?

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In case you’re curious about this place setting, I simply snipped a piece of fresh rosemary and tied it with twine. I printed the word “Gratitude” on the computer, tore the edges and ran them over a sepia ink pad.

Then I mod-podged the word onto a tag.

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Here’s a close-up of the white-washed planks.


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And this is my gratitude place setting

Because this is my word lately.

Gratitude is such fascinating experience, don’t you think? It seems to grow the more we focus on on appreciating those simple, tiny details of our lives which interestingly, end up being the important stuff.

Like sitting around this table last night with my parents and suddenly realizing that everyone in that moment was healthy. My parents. Jim. Me. God, that felt incredible.

And realizing that Michael has no more surgeries ahead of him. And Patrick hasn’t fallen on his head and had to go to the emergency room lately. And realizing I have friends. Amazing ones who took me to San Francisco to celebrate my birthday.

And a husband who went shopping with me over the weekend and bought me a dreamy birthday present. OK, I’m digressing now…but I can’t help it cause I’m sooooo excited about what I got this weekend….

one more thing to be grateful for….

Here’s a few teasers.

Hint 1: it’s something to sit on

Hint 2: Belgian linen.

stay tuned for more….




I’m linking this post up with these friends:



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