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?

. DSC_0061use

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:




Blondie's Journal said...

Leslie...this is yet again such an incredible post that resounds within me on so many levels. I feel like everyone's life is a book in the making...maybe that's why it took Twain so long to write his autobiography. And I, too, often look back at my twenties, the formative years before we've "settled down", and yes, there were mistakes, for me not so much decisions, but almost like taking the wrong turn on a road, some that I could find my way back, others that were a dead ends that I had to live with.

I love your love for journal writing. I have to look at the link you gave for Joan (?---sorry!), and the other who wrote the book that touched on perfectionism. if there is anything in life that holds me back, it's perfectionism and if it's not perfect, it's a failure rather than a chance I took.

I will definitely visit Carol's blog...what a kind heart she has. I hope you feel the faith we have in you to write your heart out!


Art and Sand said...

Oh my! What a beautiful post - and I don't mean because you mention me. You did it again by making me think and giving me ideas. I will go back and watch the Anne Lamott video and look for her book. I will read about Joan Didion.

A serendipitous event occurred as soon as I opened your post. When our Dutch door is open it means drop in to visit. A neighbor who lives in Sacramento - I think the area is called the Fab 40 - and has a beach house on our lane, brought us a book. Their son teaches writing and literature at American River College and after 10 years of writing, he has published his first novel - Let the Water Hold Me Down, by Michael Spurgeon. I came away from the door and there in your post you talked about sticking with it.

I am going to leave you with a link I sent to another blogger who wants to write - more. I love the Maisie Dobbs books and enjoyed reading about Jacqueline Winspear and her thoughts on writing.

You are too sweet and I am selfish. I make the books because they give me pleasure and I give them away because that also gives me pleasure.

Thanks for stoking my ego.

Madonna/aka/Ms Lemon of Make Mine Lemon said...

Lovely post, lovely friend. I have a food blog and find such therapy just writing about food - you would think I have no problems or cares. :)

Daniela @Frugal Aint Cheap said...

As we were getting ready for our massive yard sale, I found a box full of letters and cards, mainly from my college days. Also I had saved 10 journals from that time. Yes, I used to write, on paper, before my life got just a little too busy. I still do on occasion. My grandfather wrote in his journal each night, for 30 years. Hope my family didn't throw those journals away.

Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. said...

What a truly special gift from the heart! And just so perfect for you! ... And as always, you have taken me in a direction that I didn't see coming. You have this knack for getting inside my head and I know I'm not the only one! ... You have such a special gift Leslie, just keep writing!

Sarah said...

Another beautiful post, Leslie. The journal is truly a thoughtful gift made from the heart. You are going to smile each time you open the pages of this journal to record your writings. I admire you! I have kept a journal off and on, but can't seem to get a rhythm with my journal. It languishes on a shelf.
Thanks for introducing us to Carol.

Unknown said...

Have I fallen in love with any moments lately Leslie???
THIS MOMENT - this exact moment while reading your post actually -
I have fallen in love THIS moment -
What an incredible post
And that journal is over the top amazing!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Darling Leslie,

Our paths have delightfully crossed thanks to our friend Carol, who also blessed me with one of the most beautiful white and gray books. Her work is a treasure, and to have a private little space to put your thoughts into, a book that a kind friend MADE is unforgettable. Thank you for coming to visit me; to dwell on Emerson's quote today, "...drink the wild air" is what I hope to do. Memories whether in the shadows cast by the sun or in the light found only in the dark are who we were, are and hope to be. REJOICE for the air we breathe! Anita

Burlap Luxe said...

So glad you round me, and your visit joyed my heart.
The gifting of this beautiful journal is one heartfelt I am sure. You are such a beautiful writer in yourself, I hung onto every expressive word you wrote and Carols talent in journal making is amazing. There is truly nothing better then words, to then write them down to follow.

Thank you for your words left behind when you visited me.
Keep inspiring your beauty.

Ann Jones said...

What a beautiful homemade journal! I love journaling and this looks like something I would love :)

Glamour Drops said...

What a wonderful gift and gesture! So very thoughtful.

Unknown said...

Hi Leslie....I'm always humbled by how beautifully you write and how each post seems to hit a note with me....

I'm so glad I've lived the life I have with all it's ups and downs of which there have been many. Now in my late 50's, I look back on that girl of twentysomething and think that I could have lived life better then. But know in my heart that if I could go back, I would still be the same person. Because that is what makes me the person I am today. And as my husband says.....I'm not perfect, just perfect for him. Which is all that truly matters.

Enjoy your new well-deserved journal. I imagine you will fill it quickly with all your thoughts and ideas.

The Divorced Lady's Companion to Living in Italy said...

How absolutely beautiful. What generosity of spirit and of mind. Now I am recalling the girl I once was who handmade a book for a child - I wrote the story, bound the pages, illustrated. And to think for the last of my kids I hardly did any of these things.
And yet, here we have painted this house and made it into the place we love and share - when people come and fall in love with it we are proud.
I guess you are right about moving on to become the people that we are destined to be, that things don't so much fall away as evolve. So much better to think of gain than loss.Again, thanks. Xcat

Unknown said...

What an incredibly lovely gift and a beautiful post to share it. You have a gift for evoking emotions and memories Leslie. I'm always intrigued with the concept of looking back at life and how each chapter can be so different. I feel like I have lived nine different lives in some ways but I wouldn't change a thing for where I am today. My post today was a reminder of a particularly painful time in life yet I wouldn't change where it has led me. Journaling is an amazing way to keep in touch with ourselves at all different stages of life.
Enjoy your new treasure!
xx, Heather @ Stylemindchic

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