The last few years seem like a big ol’ blur, intense and jarring and confusing. I’ve emerged from the tunnel of these years with the prevalent thought, “What the *** was that???”


When I compare the person I was a few years ago to the one I am now, I’m faced with startling contradictions. Somehow it feels I’m in exactly the same place—emotionally and physically—and at the same time a completely different person. I’m crankier, yet more empathetic; weary, yet full of wonder; terrified of everything, yet ready to barrel past the fear.


So there’s no clarity in any of that.

For these last few years, this blog has been simply a series of one or two travel posts a year, with a year-end wrap up for good measure. It’s been in flux—just like me. I’m trying to figure out who I am after decades of work, and not much play, left me feeling like there had to be more to life. It’s been an interesting and challenging time.

I thought a lot about love this year.

Mostly, I thought about how you can fall out of love with your life and not realize it. When I look at the writing I’ve done over the last few years—which, admittedly, hasn’t been much—I see my struggle with this. I’m constantly saying how I’m living in the in-between space, in that middle place between the person I was and the one I will become. It’s unsettling, this feeling of not knowing what lies ahead.


I’ve also begun to see the barriers I put up against love. It’s been eye opening to notice how I don’t let people in, and how I resist allowing them to really get to know me. Which is funny for a person who “sees” love everywhere I go.

Maybe all those signs of love are heavenly reminders that a life without love isn’t really much of a life at all.

Love in Marzamemi

I already have a vulnerability hangover just writing all of that.

When I think of all the interesting things I’ve done over the last few years, almost all of them began with the word no.

As a former people pleaser (and thank goodness THAT part of the program is over), I had to learn how to say no in order to put up healthy boundaries. I like the word no; it makes me feel in control. The thing is, my no’s don’t all mean the same thing.

Sometimes it means, “oh, hell no!” Or as I like to say in texts, “nooooooo.” But other times it’s an internal “hmmmm.” Much less definitive. As in, I don’t know how I feel about that, and I need to think about it. But for right now I’m gonna say, nope. 

It’s taken me almost half a century to understand this about myself. The place of no is how I process new information.

This summer, I had a series of conversations with a friend that always ended with me lamenting how I didn’t know who I wanted to be or what I wanted to do. I was in the middle of a transition, and I didn’t know how to get to the other side. One day, she finally stopped me and offered incredibly wise advice.

She gently suggested that maybe I stop the hustle. That I let go of the notion that I had to achieve something to be a valid person. That I stop trying to define my life and just go live it. That I give myself that space to just be.

This was life changing. And so, I gave myself some room to just live. And to start saying yes more often.

If on January 1, you had told me I’d travel to Paris, Rome, and London (with a couple of stops in Sicily) within the span of twelve months, I’d have thought you were insane. And yet…that actually happened.

How one says that without sounding obnoxious, I don’t know. And yet.

Sometimes life presents situations you could never have imagined yourself being in. And the only thing standing between you and an unimaginably amazing place is your ability to say yes.

This year I said yes more often than not. To myself. To my friends. To adventure.

And I ended up seeing Europe’s greatest hits.

Paris: You already know I fell in love with Paris. (Click here to see the post, if you haven’t.)

Paris Ferris Wheel

Paris Window

Italy: My first love. This year we got to know each other better.

Colosseum Sun

Colosseum Detail

Should you find yourself in Rome and willing to go off the beaten path, venture out to Aventine Hill. You’ll find a line of people at a nondescript door, looking through a keyhole…which sounds insane. But when you look through it, you’ll see it’s perfectly lined up with St. Peter’s Cathedral at the Vatican. No matter how many times I’d seen it on the internet, when I looked through it in person, I gasped.

The Keyhole

I’ve been to Sicily four times in the last couple of decades, each time visiting a different region, and each time I go, I discover a new side of it.

Ortigia Plaza

Noto Wall.jpg


Modica Church

We have lots of traffic in New York City, but not once has it ever been because of a goat herd.

Sheep in Sicily

London: It’s been a dream of mine to see all the lights around London at Christmas time. To say I was not disappointed is the understatement of the century. It was magical.

Angel Lights.jpg

London Angel 2


Plaza Lights.jpg

Life doesn’t always feel of full of goodness in the midst of a day. But when I look back on all that I was lucky enough to do and see over the past year, how can I feel anything but grateful? Perhaps the key to life, and love, is saying yes, even just a little more.

Can we start the new year by making a few promises to ourselves? First, can we give ourselves a break? If you’re like me, you’re really hard on yourself. And it’s exhausting. It also blocks the fun. Can we invite in the fun??

Can we feel afraid and uncertain and uncomfortable, and move forward anyway? Can we open ourselves to the possibilities we don’t know exist? Can we trust that life holds good things in trust for us, and they can be ours if just give them some room?

Let’s begin by saying yes to ourselves. Magical things are waiting for us on the other side of it. Here’s to a life well lived and well loved in 2019.

xo, with goodness and grace.


No one wants to hear me drone on about Paris. They don’t say this, of course, because most of the people I know are (sort of) polite. But I can feel the inward roll of the eyes when I start talking about it yet again. I think they’re tired of me yammering on about its magnificent beauty.

Jardin Tuileries

I fell in love with a city. You know that feeling when you fall in love with someone and all you want to do is talk about that person? And no one wants to about hear it, again? And again. And yet again. That’s me, currently.

For a long time I didn’t want to hear it, either. I thought of Paris as something too far out of reach, unattainable. I didn’t feel fancy enough for it.

IMG_0585Lounging in the Tuileries

I was sitting in my apartment on a cold January day, fully in a funk and having a hard time pulling myself out of it. So I started asking questions. What experience did I need to have? What dreams haven’t I fulfilled? Where could I go???

Paris came to mind. It’s always been on my list of dream places to visit, but I never thought I’d actually go. Friends would try to convince me I should go, but I would poo poo the idea. I don’t speak a lick of French, and all the clichés about the French had settled into somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain.

I realize now how much of my trepidation came from other people’s notions and someone else’s fears.

And so when I felt excited at the prospect of going this time around, I booked a trip for early spring.

Cherry Blossoms in Paris

I arrived in full New Yorker mode, all wound up and wearing my self-protective attitude. This meant immediately challenging the taxi driver about the fact that he didn’t have a taxi light on the top of his car (my internet research warned against getting in cabs without one), and then about the lack of a meter once I got in the car (which turned out to be on his cell phone). Being New Yorker means being perennially paranoid, and acting accordingly.

Is this your first time in Paris? he asked.

Yes, it is.

Ah. That explains it.

I still don’t know what that meant, but it made me chuckle.

By the end of the hour-and-a-half long ride—which was almost an hour longer than normal because a rail strike forced more people into their cars-—we’d become fast friends. He showed me points of interest as we passed them and gave me tips on navigating the city. We had interesting conversation about politics and our leaders, and we talked about our families. When we reached my hotel, he kissed me on both cheeks, told me I was hilarious, and thanked me for the fun ride.

So began four days in the city of love.

Love locks

It had been a while since I’d explored a place on my own, without a friend (or five) with me. I’d almost forgotten how to do the thing of learning a place through my own lens. I’d forgotten the freedom of setting my own agenda.

Freedom, I think, is the thing that travel gives you. It frees you from the daily routine, the list of have-tos, the endless rounds of meetings and conference calls and brainstorms. It releases you from responsibility.

And when you travel on your own, once you get past your own discomfort of being alone, it puts you in touch with what lights you up.

So I wandered more than I have in years, to the point of exhaustion. I loved every second of it.

Lest you also begin to roll your eyes as I wax poetic about Paris, I’ll pipe down a bit and show you some pictures.

Door detail

This was one of my favorite places.

Sacre Coeur

Sacre-Coeur Basilica, in the Montmartre hilltop neighborhood, sits at the highest point of Paris.


If you venture up the 300 stairs that lead to the top of the dome, you are rewarded with the most spectacular views of the city.


Love is everywhere. Especially in this city.

I explored the bridges along the Seine River. This one, Pont Alexandre III, is a masterpiece. A Parisian later told me the bridge had been a gift from Russia to France.

Pont Alexandre Trois

I don’t have many photos of it for two reasons. 1) I couldn’t get over how ornate and intricate and beautiful it was, so I just stood on the bridge for a long time trying to take it all in. 2) There were so many people—wedding parties in particular—it was hard to take the pictures I had in my mind.


What you can’t see is another bridal party on the other side of this couple.

By the way, if I’m patiently waiting to take a picture and you insist on planting yourself for a personal photo shoot, I’ve now decided to just make you part of the landscape. For example, these girls.

Girls on the bridge.jpg

They stayed like that for so long. I bet they are still there. But I digress. 🙂

I visited a handful of museums, and YOU GUYS. The buildings were just as awe-inspiring as the art.


The Picasso Museum. I don’t have much to say, except—Look. At. This.

Picasso Museum

At the Musée de l’Orangerie, Monet’s water lilies circled two rooms.


And of course, the Louvre.


Louvre Wide Shot.jpg

And, as one does when in Paris, I made the pilgrimage to Mona Lisa.

Mona Lisa

The French people were, for the most part, kind and full of good humor.

Wine Shop and Strangers

And, the food. Because, Paris.

Of all the drool-worthy food I ate, I think it’s slightly hilarious that one of my favorite meals was a small plate of fried chicken. Though, to call it a small plate of fried chicken is to undersell how delicious it was. In my research before my trip, I’d read that Ellsworth had arguably the best fried chicken in the world. It’s something I rarely eat, but I immediately felt the need to try it.

It didn’t disappoint. Served alongside a buttermilk dipping sauce and house made pickles, the chicken was crispy, succulent, juicy deliciousness.

Ellsworth Poulet Frit

I’m mostly gluten free at home, but there was no way I was going to France and not eat everything.

Like this chocolate-pistachio escargot. It’s the thing you are supposed to get at this particular bakery, which of course meant I wanted something else. (Insert emoji eye roll.) Please hear me when I say this: if you are ever in Paris, you need to go to Du Pain et des Idées. Get this. Full stop. And yes, I am bossing you around.

Chocolate Pistachio Escargot.jpg

You’re welcome.

Also, aren’t these asparagus gorgeous?

White Asparagus

Probably the most magical moment was on my next to last night. Sitting in my hotel room, legs throbbing from all the walking I’d done, I felt to pull to go back out.

So I did.

Eiffel from Afar

As soon as I walked out of the metro station, the skies opened up.

Eiffel Tower

It didn’t matter. The rain only added to the drama.


Sometimes the touristy thing ends up being the most majestic.

That’s the thing about this city—magnificence is everywhere. It wasn’t until I visited that I realized how colorless my life had looked. How mundane everything had begun to feel. Paris woke me up. It made me feel alive again. It embodies beauty, and the spirit of why beauty matters. Because the world is a vibrant, glorious, enchanting place.

It’s why I don’t mind if no one wants to hear about how I fell in love with it. Renewed in spirit, I returned home able to see my own city with fresh eyes.

It was a good reminder that life is beautiful, and so are we.

Life is beautiful, and you are like her

xo, with goodness and grace.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this last year and what it meant to me. But I find myself not wanting to recap or rehash or relive any of it.

Instead, I’m thinking about what I want from the next year.

On Christmas Day, I hunkered down on my parents’ sofa as we flipped through old photo albums. I came across a picture of me from when I was about 7 or 8, and it stopped me. That was a girl I hadn’t remembered.

I recall the day vividly; I was roller skating on my block, as I often did, and my dad came outside, armed with his camera. (I inherited my love of photography from him.) We had an impromptu photo shoot; me skating and posing and being goofy, him documenting it all. I wore a purple plaid pinafore, accessorized with my blue and yellow skates and a Reggie Jackson pin. I loved baseball—actually my brother did, which in those days was the same thing—and I loved #44 on the Yankees.

There were a series of pictures from this shoot in the album, and seeing them now makes me laugh. I was open and funny and spirited, at that beautiful age before self-consciousness sets in. But I kept going back to that one photo.

I’m looking off camera, most likely at my dad, hands on my hips, slight smirk on my face, eyes steely and certain and probably annoyed about something. I’m sassy, feisty and unafraid. I’m in command of myself.

I turned to my dad, incredulous at this picture of my younger self. When was I this person? He laughed and then heaved a sigh full of humor and weariness. You’ve always been that person.

How can we get ourselves so wrong?

I once had someone challenge me about my personality. What is it with you and being nice? I didn’t understand what she meant at the time; in fact, I was slightly offended by it. I know now that I confused being nice with being kind. I understand that wanting to be viewed as nice often leads to a contrived persona, built so people will like us. But instead we betray ourselves as we dumb down our truest essence.

Now I know that sometimes I am kind. Sometimes I am flippin’ furious. And that’s okay. It is possible for both things to exist in the same person. We can be many things at the same time. Soft and rough around the edges. Courteous and demanding. Understanding and challenging.

So much of our lives is consumed by what we’ve been told to want and need—and who we should be. When I think of what I want in 2018, I’m pretty sure of what I don’t want. I will not start a diet on January 1. I certainly will not be in the gym bright and early on that day, nor any other day that week. I will not deprive myself of my feelings. I will not buy into any of this ‘new year, new you’ nonsense. I’m fine just as I am, and I’m guessing you are, too. I will not waste anymore time with resolutions based on who everyone else thinks we should be and all strive towards becoming.

Instead, my hope is to show up—as me. Not some made-up and idealized version of myself, but who I really am. That person is messy in so, so many ways. (My brother loves to tell a story about a donut and my desk drawer. But, a tale for another day.) The real me has big emotions and is learning to express them. She gets angry. If you are annoying her, chances are she will blurt it out a little too quickly and very loudly. This may hurt your feelings. But she feels love deeply, too. She loves to laugh. She thinks comedians are rarely funny, but real people are inherently hilarious. She looks for beauty in the world every single day. She will point at the moon as it rises and tell you, Wow…you need to see this! If you dismiss it, she will know that you’ve unlearned wonder, but she trusts you will find your way. This is the person I was when I was born, and she is the person longing to be fully immersed in the world every day. I know intellectually that I am enough, but maybe it’s time to start living like it.

Wishing all of this, and all beautiful things in this new year.  Let’s make ourselves proud.

xo, with goodness and grace.

Listen, are you just breathing a little, and calling it a life?  — Mary Oliver

Taking a late summer stroll through the winding streets of Panarea—a magical island north of Sicily—I was talking to my friend about my writing.


She’d asked me why I wasn’t blogging anymore. My goal had always been to maintain a positive outlook in the blog no matter what was going on, but that had begun to feel inauthentic. I was thinking about this when she asked her question—and instead I blurted out, “Since the election, I haven’t been feeling very positive.”

Now. I don’t share that to get political. Like, at all. I share it because it startled me, and I’ve been trying to make sense of it ever since. I’ve voraciously consumed the news over the last year, thinking I was merely staying informed. What I hadn’t realized was how deeply the rollercoaster of events was altering my worldview. I hadn’t understood how much it changed me.

When we’ve lost our way, how do we return to ourselves? 


I have always been someone who feels deeply.

The page has always been my safe place for processing all those feelings. I don’t always know how to express them in person—if I’m quietly thinking, I can be seen as aloof and withholding; if I’m vocal and opinionated, it can come across as overbearing. But on the page, they find meaning and hope.

Until now. Now the words are stuck. The emotions feel big and complicated and aggressive in my body, but they won’t work their way out into the world. They just sit there, stuck in sludge, unmoving and unable to find a way out. So instead of writing, I read the news. Endlessly. And then I watch it on TV.

A few months after that Sicilian conversation, it occurred to me that I was in an abusive relationship with information. Too much of it isn’t helpful; it can actually feel toxic. But I like being informed, so I wrestle with balance. How can you stay connected to the world around you, while somehow managing to be completely disconnected?

I don’t know. But if you’ve figured it out, I want to hear about it.

Aside from that, life just feels so complicated. And exhausting.

Shopping in Whole Foods a couple of months ago, I found myself trying to pick up a dozen eggs on the way to the cash register. I stopped and stood in front of an entire wall display of eggs. There must’ve been 50 different varieties, each labeled with one of four classifications. Cage free. Pasture raised. Outdoor access. Mobile houses on pasture. (Wait…do chickens have mobile homes???) I was confused. Which was better for the chickens? Who had the best quality of life? What’s the difference between a pasture and the great outdoors? I wanted to be a good person, to make the right decision.

But. There. Were. So. Many. Eggs.

I became overwhelmed with indecision. I began to breathe heavily, and perspiration started to bead on my forehead. I felt ten seconds away from the onset of a panic attack. So I walked away, egg free.

Our lives are so complex. We have too many choices. I’m not sure this multitude of options is adding quality to our lives.


Even my relationship with food—long my simplest and easiest partnership—is complicated. I’m allergic to everything. (Okay, not everything. But, so many of the things. How can you have creamy coffee when it seems you are allergic to dairy, almonds and coconut and aren’t supposed to have soy?) I took a break from my beloved cup of caffeine for two weeks and then, craving a steamy hot latte, I returned to it one Sunday morning. It made my heart race so fast I thought it was going to pound right out of my chest. I took a break from coffee and, in return, coffee quit me.

I find new gray hairs every time I visit the office ladies room, and a new wrinkle greets me each morning in my home bathroom mirror. Who is this person reflected back at me?

Can you return to yourself when you no longer recognize yourself? 


All of this left me overwhelmed and wondering how I could ever feel hopeful again. I seek to make meaning in my writing, but sometimes I question whether it’s possible anymore. Did the optimistic l part of me move on, as people we know sometimes do? Or is she still living in me and just on a break, off somewhere recalibrating?

At the resort in Panarea during our Sicilian excursion, there was one young woman working in the cafe who took care of us every morning. Her joy was palpable, infectious. I asked her what her secret was—why was she always so joyful? Her eyes widened. She stretched an arm out in front of us.


“Look where we are! How could you be anything but happy looking at this every day?”


She had a point.

Months later, sitting at my desk, feeling spectacularly grumpy, I emailed a friend to discuss the foul mood I couldn’t seem to shake.

She wrote back, bossy with instructions. She ordered me to take my camera and go outside—that very minute—and to not go back to the office until I’d documented something beautiful.

All I can say is, I hope you have friends like this.

I did as told, ending up in Central Park for a brisk walk. The heavens did not part; rainbows did not magically appear in the sky; Moses did not part any sea. But on a cloudy and cool day, I found a respite from city life, if only for twenty minutes. My mind calmed down as I took in the fall landscape. Trees letting go of their auburn leaves. Birds swooping and soaring. Lake water flowing in a singular direction.


Life moves on. The seasons change, and so do we. And we can focus on chaos and nonsense, or we can search with another purpose.

And so I am left with this: I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. I don’t know who I have become or are on the road to becoming. I don’t know when hopeful words will once again flow on my laptop. But there in the midst of the uncertainty and the rage and the questioning, beauty is lurking. It may be right in front of me at every turn while on vacation, and it may lay hiding in the dustiest of corners. But it is always there.

Beauty persists.


And as I make my way back to myself, I persist, too.


The rain is softly falling outside. I can always tell when it’s raining, not from looking out the window, but by the whoosh of tires from cars racing against the road. Right now, I can also hear the faintest sound of birds singing in the tree under my window. I’m guessing they are always there, chirping away, but I’m usually too preoccupied to hear them.

I love the peace of early mornings before the city hits full speed.

It has been almost six months since my last post. I’ve barely written anything during this time; this felt necessary.

I took some time off at the beginning of the year, and it wasn’t until I stopped that I realized how much I needed it. We don’t appreciate this in our non-stop culture, this thing of taking a breather. But I’m beginning to believe it should be required every few years, if not sooner.

Something funny happened during this time: I got to see what a normal work day looks like from an outsider’s perspective. And, it was shocking. We live like crazy people, you guys. Faces in phones, racing against time. Bodies pushing against others, needing to get where they are going—and fast. Humanity everywhere but in the moment. Is this normal?

All of my senses felt the shock of rush hour without anywhere to rush. No wonder I needed a break.

So exactly how did I recharge my psychic batteries? I started off with an overpacked schedule of cocktails and dinners, bracketed by wall-to-wall news. My advice? Don’t do this. It will not refresh you.

Sleeping in helps, though I rarely did. But the following things were my biggest helpers.

Art. It became my lifeline. I think it should be a habit to explore something artistic once a week. In museums, in the streets, in the park—wherever. Just to get out and see someone else’s perspective.

Georgia O’Keefe is my everything. I fan-girled at this exhibit—and then I went back. A few times.

Georgia O

Irving Penn blew me away with his striking images and fashionable eye.

Irving Penn

Chihuly inspired with color, curlicues and creativity.


Travel. My friends invited a few of us to accompany them on their family vacation to Denmark. At first I said no. I was on a break from work, and it wasn’t practical. They made me go anyway.

Everyone should have friends like this. Without them, I wouldn’t have hiked to castle ruins…


Castle Walls.JPG

…walked through the forest amongst Danish cows…


…seen these magical trees everywhere (and if anyone knows what they are called, please let me know!)…

Danish Tree

…eaten the best fish & chips I’ve ever had (curiously, in an aquarium!)…

Fish & Chips.JPG

…seen all the colorful buildings…

Danish Yellow Building.JPG

…or walked through the Rainbow Bridge atop the ARoS Museum in Aarhus.

Rainbow Bridge

I’m the luckiest girl.

My takeaways from the trip? The Danish are perhaps the kindest people I’ve ever met—not one rude person did I come across the week I was there. Their 7-Elevens are spotless and the food looks so fresh I bet you could have a delicious four-course meal in any location. (No, I didn’t try this.)  There is a civilized way of living in the country—no less productive, but slower paced and more deliberate—that I aspire to incorporate into my own daily life.

Wandering. Back home, I wandered around my city, now in full bloom. New York is never more beautiful than when she is coming to life in spring. She’s such a show off.


Beauty reminds me about the simplicity of life. When I acknowledge it, and drink in its exquisite gorgeousness, it brings me back to myself. I’ve learned when I’m feeling frazzled and rundown and uninspired, it’s time to seek out beauty.

What about you—how do you recharge? I’d love to hear.

To my friends United States, however you choose to refresh on this Memorial Day holiday, please take a few moments to remember all of those souls who devoted their lives to our country. We may be one gloriously dysfunctional, divided mess of an American family, but we still live under one flag. Remember to honor those who have fought for our rights to enjoy freedoms we so often take for granted. That bravery is the epitome of beautiful.

xo, with goodness and grace.

I’ve written several drafts of this end-of-2016 post, trying to make sense of a year that made no sense. Nevertheless I’ve plodded along, stringing sentences together that were angry or incoherent or sappy or whiny. Or all of the above. But when I looked back in all my drafts, there was a single theme threaded throughout.

My year was weird. Maybe yours was, too?

For me, it was the most bi-polar 12-month period ever. Here’s my story of two very different years. One was super duper ugly, and the other was, dare I say, pretty good.

PART I: The Ugly

This part was all about the storms that rolled in.


It wasn’t just the election. Though, much of it was—and what it revealed. People are angry. Though underneath all that fury, I think people feel vulnerable and scared and unsure about so many things. The world can seem frightening and uncertain, and because so many don’t know what to do with all those feelings, they lash out at the low hanging fruit. Which may be you.

Can we just pretend like all that didn’t happen? No? Mmmkay.

This year wore me out, you guys. I’m tired. Like, a Rip van Winkle kind of tired. Only, I also have insomnia and can’t go to sleep. (That’s a true story.)

I’m over everyone’s political opinions. Enough. Basta. Callate. Please. It’s nice that so many people are interested enough to have opinions, but good lord…do I need to hear every single one of them?

I’m also tired of being accommodating to everyone’s feelings. Now…I know this is not a Goodness, Grace and Grub kind of sentiment, but when I’m tired I get real. Too many times I’ve watched the quieter, tentative, thoughtful voices begin to express opinions, only to be resolutely shut down and shut up. I’ve seen it, and I’ve experienced it—and I’m done with that. So I’ve had to get used to speaking a little louder and a little more forcefully. Sometimes I forget to be polite; I talk over people when they are in mid-thought. Sometimes I speak just a little too passionately, where it makes people uncomfortable and they quickly change the subject. But you know what? Everyone needs to get over it. Because I’m all about owning my version of the truth, and it’s time for people to hear it.

So there’s that.

I’m emotionally exhausted from holding it all together. It takes a lot to make a life—patience, courage, grit, fortitude, and EFFORT, with a loud-mouthed, shouty E. Sometimes I just want to stay under the covers, jar of Nutella and spoon in hand, Food Network on the TV, easy summer read (even though it’s winter and I still haven’t finished it) somewhere in the sheets.

I literally can’t even with walking behind certain people on New York City streets—you know the ones, those who shuffle along with their heads stooped and eyes mesmerized by their phone, fully oblivious to the fact they are all up in my way. Is that you in front of me? Please stop. Because your life isn’t in your phone. It’s when you turn it off and look up.

I can’t handle losing any more icons. George Michael…what can I say? You were my adolescence. I still remember the day I heard your group Wham! was breaking up. I was 15, in the car with my mom, driving down the 405 freeway in Los Angeles with the radio on when the DJ made the announcement. At the time I thought my heart couldn’t be broken by a pop star any more than that. Now I know that isn’t true. Thank you for leaving a legacy of music; it means you can still be here for all those important moments in our lives.

I’m exhausted from all complaining, my own included.

But. I’m beginning to see all this as a blessing. Even the anger. Especially the anger. This year I felt all the feels, and I got in touch with deep dark rage hiding in the recesses of my everything. A few years ago, this would have made me uncomfortable, and I would have giggled the rage away. This year, not so much. I’m saying goodbye to all that. The anger and the rage and the fire in me burned bright and loomed large.

My good girl persona is learning how to co-exist with big gnarly feelings. I think it’s about time.

PART II: The Good

There was so much to be happy about. Really. And the good wakes me up when I’m exhausted.

First came Goodness. I traveled more than I have in years. The more I travel, the more I think it’s necessary. When you get out of your own neighborhood, you begin understand life more. When you see the world, it isn’t some big idea outside of yourself. You become part of it. You learn new ways of seeing life. Even in Vegas, baby.

After my trip to Portugal (see post here), I spent two days on my own in Madrid. Not gonna lie, it was tough. I missed my friends. None of my elementary school/high school/college Spanish came back like I thought it would, making it tough to communicate in a city where most people don’t speak English. Restaurants I wanted to dine in were closed, as so many places in Europe are in August. And I got lost on the way to virtually every place I tried to find.

In situations like this, I discover so much about myself, like how I react when I feel out of my element—and how I talk to myself during those times. (Spoiler alert: It isn’t good.) I was constantly challenged—hot and sweaty and cranky and tired and lost and unsettled—but I made it through. And then, I was rewarded with perhaps my most magical night of the year.


Chasing the sun in another country is fun, y’all.

Then came Grace. This year, I found community. It came to me when I wasn’t looking, as most good things in life do. I now have a group of people in my life who are always supportive of each other, make me laugh, and don’t run when I say crazy things.

I made new friends. I reconnected with a few old friends. I strengthened bonds with people who’ve been in my life for ages.

This year, I found my people.


And there was Grub. When I look back on this year, I realize I don’t write nearly enough about food.

My favorite meals of the year were colorful and full-flavored, yet homey and simple.

There were these clams.


Oh, these clams. One of my favorite places in Manhattan is Via Carota, in the West Village. The menu is Italian-inspired, but I don’t really like to put a label on the food. It’s just good. The menu changes in tandem with the season. The clams—with corn, tomatoes and shallots—were one of the highlights of my summer. I know this sounds very dramatic. But they were gooooood, perfectly capturing essence of summer. Food tastes different when ingredients are at their freshest.

I’d say these were my favorite thing I ate all year, but then I remember this dessert from Wildair on the Lower East Side.


I don’t remember what it was called, but the bowl held an airy panna cotta topped with what I can only describe as strawberry snow. Refreshing, cool, creamy, crunchy. Delicious.

The dessert wine was selected by my server. All I can say is, when you eat in a place known for their wine and you don’t know what to drink, put yourself at the mercy of your server. Their expert recommendation will not disappoint.

I think this is a good lesson for other areas of life, too.

How do you sum up a year so full of contradictions? You don’t. You keep living a life, one full of angst and confusion and joy and clarity—because the contradictions are the fairy dust of life.

Here’s to saying goodbye to a big glorious mess of a year, and hello to a new one where we get to try it all over again. Whatever you do in this next year, just make sure you LIVE it.

As always, thank you for being part of the Goodness community. Wishing you a beautiful 2017 full of dreams come true. Happy New Year!

with goodness and grace, XO.

If I had made a list of dream places to visit, Portugal wouldn’t have made it. So when my friend said she wanted to take a trip with a small group of loved ones for her milestone birthday, I was surprised to hear the country was at the top of her list.


Portugal has been an under the radar destination for some time, making it a more affordable option to places like France and Italy. But travel seems to be on the upswing. Over the last two years, I’ve noticed a good many people I follow on social media posting about travel there, with mixed reviews. Some worshipped it, while others felt a deep indifference.

I fell into the former category, happily. But here’s what you need to know: Portugal is not Italy. Italy is easy to love, mainly because she can be aggressively romantic and lusty with her demands for you to love her instantly. (And, I did.) Portugal is its own locale, and it deserves to be judged for what it is. So, as with any new lover, you have to surrender the need for comparison. You have to arrive with no expectations and let Portugal show you why she deserves your love.

Lisbon, where we were based, is a shabby chic town. It is hilly like San Francisco, and much of the city is under construction. But, five minutes wandering through a Lisbon neighborhood charmed me; five days had me in the full bloom of love.


When I arrived, my friend Dana was already at the hotel and eager to show me around our neighborhood, called Alfama.


The first thing I discovered is art is everywhere. It is embedded into the fabric of everyday life in Lisbon. We ventured into an area filled with graffiti, where artists were encouraged to create works of art within the landscape. It was magical.




We stopped in the Palacio Belmonte, an exquisite hotel in Alfama. There was unexpected beauty in every corner.



When the rest of the group arrived, we took a food tour of Lisbon. Experiencing how people eat is such a great way to know a place. We stopped at the Mercado da Ribera, which has served as Lisbon’s main food market since the 1890s. Today the market is divided in half.


One half is a traditional market that sells fresh produce, meats and fish to consumers, as well as local restaurants and bars.



The newer section houses the Time Out market, an awesome food hall with a dizzying array of options.




We drank copious amounts of vinho verde (or “young wine,” a refreshing white wine as light bodied as water) and sampled many delicious things on our tour…


…but my favorite was the most famous dessert in Portugal: custard tarts.


The tarts, also known as pastel de nata, were developed by the nuns who used egg whites to starch their habits, which left them with an abundance of egg yolks. Rather than discard them, they created this heavenly confection. Ours were from Manteigaria, reported to be some of the best in the city. While many bakeries use margarine in their crusts, Manteigaria uses 100% butter. The good news is they are only 120 calories per tart, so when you have more than one (and you will!), there’s no need to feel guilty about it.

The beauty of traveling is you dive deep into life—and eat two or three (okay, four!) pastries—with not one ounce of guilt. You meet yourself in the sweet spot of pleasure, happy to wander for hours on end. I like who I am when I’m traveling. I begin asking myself the big questions of life.

Like, why does my laundry never look this cute?


I loved the people everywhere we went. Sweetness abounded, and while most people spoke at least a little English—a taxi driver told me the United Kingdom once ruled Portugal, so English is generally taught in schools—they were bowled over if you tried to speak Portuguese, even if only a word or two.

I can confidently say three things: bom dia (good morning), sim (yes), and obrigada (thank you). If you are a man, people were always eager to tell us, then you’d say obrigado.

Also charming were the tiles, or azulejos, we saw everywhere. They are traditionally embedded into the architecture throughout Lisbon.




But then again, I found mostly everything to be sweetly enchanting.






After our first cloudy morning, I realized my hotel room faced east. The light chaser that I am, I wondered if I would be able to see the sun rise each morning.

And boy, did I.



Each morning the sun lit me up with excitement for unexpected pleasures of the day ahead.

I can’t wait to go back.


Bom dia, with goodness and grace. xo

How do you name what is unnamable? I don’t know. Except, it is profound.

I find it difficult to describe it in the way I can give meaning to other emotions. My anger is full of fire; my irritation, a constant hot friction; my annoyance, ever-present and something I’d like to flick away.

But joy, instead, presents itself with subtlety. It whispers. If you are paying attention, though, you know when it is there. It passes through like a beam of light, illuminating everything, permeating every cell and hair and curve of your body. It is a resounding yes in a world full of nos.

My word of the year is joy. I plucked it from the ether, hung on the hopes of beginning again. It sounded lofty and unattainable. I tend to choose things like this because they are hard, because achieving them means I have done something. It means I am living a life and not simply taking up space.

But you cannot achieve joy, any more than you can achieve love. Nor can you possess it. It simply arrives one day, and then it leaves, sometimes all on the same day.

This summer has not felt like summer in all the ways it is supposed to feel. I’ve had exactly zero beach days and precisely the same amount of time to meander aimlessly through my city with no obligations. The things I love about summer are ones I haven’t had time to embrace.

But, in lieu of days that end with sand in everything, perhaps I’ve discovered something better. It has been a season of friendship. Of reconnection. Of community. I have found myself bonded in all ways, unexpected and humbling.

I remember the January day when I struggled to find a word, the idea of what this year would represent. I settled on joy—if you can settle on such a thing—and it felt right. Last year (and the year before that, and the year before that, and maybe even the one before that) was one long slog through emotional mud. Maybe I’d earned a bit of joy.

And then I went on with life. Every now and then I’d check my joy barometer. Nope, not yet, was always the answer.

Throughout the year, I manage to maintain a sense of wonder about the world. I look up and see clouds in wispy, angelic formations, sun rays beaming between buildings, birds playing and swooping in flight. Wonder is my thing.

But joy? Not so much.

And then, the fault lines of my inner landscape began to shift.

On the last morning of a fun birthday weekend a few weeks ago, I sat down for a meditation. Almost immediately, I was overwhelmed as gratitude washed over me, ebbing and flowing like the ocean at high tide. I felt humbled by the love I’d been shown.

I felt such deep gratefulness for the old friend who spontaneously asked if I wanted to meet for a cocktail, which turned into a fun evening where I’d felt more seen and understood than I had by anyone in years. For a generous friend I deem my fairy godmother, who gifted me with a birthday evening with more champagne and fun with a group of strangers than I thought possible. For girlfriends who make a day of wandering through new neighborhoods ridiculously fun. For co-workers who are kind and funny, always laughing in spite of the craziness of what we do for a living.

When I was done, I even felt a profound appreciation for the pigeons who take a breather from the summer heat on my windowsill.

This gratitude opened a doorway to joy. It didn’t shout its presence; it crept up slowly, kindly. Joy welcomed me, and beckoned for me to sit with it awhile. Maybe it’s always there, lurking just underneath the layers of irritation and annoyance.

I’ve wondered, how do you hold onto this thing, so blissful…yet slippery? The answer is stunningly simple: you don’t. You allow it to sneak up on you and, when it does, you let it permeate every cell and hair and ounce of you.

And then, you wait until the next time.

I have fallen in love with trees.

It began with a trip to Savannah, Georgia, a place new to me and my six traveling companions. Almost immediately, I was charmed by the slower pace, the architecture, and the way everything was framed by majestic trees.

Obsessed with the stature and curve of their branches and the dangling Spanish moss so foreign to me, I regularly interrupted conversations to say, Oh, look at this tree! Then I would stop and have a personal photo shoot with my new muse.



At one point, my friend Claudia eyed me pointing my camera phone at yet another set of trees and, with sweet sunshine in her voice, staged a one-woman intervention with her words. Okay. We get it. You love the trees. I think you got your picture already. Maybe something else? 

So I kept snapping images, but only in my memory.

During a walk through Forsyth Park, I spotted a tree trunk so massive it had to be a few centuries old. I felt deeply connected to its roots, a gravitational pull moving me to stand by its side. I resisted the overwhelming urge to hug the tree.

I mean this quite literally.

Back home, joy filled me one morning when I saw the tree underneath my window about to burst into leafy bloom. My favorite color in the world is the fresh green of a newly born leaf, so vibrant and bright and full of life.

New leaf life always makes me think of the winter just past. What a marvel it is for a tree to have shed old leaves and to devote an entire season to creating new life in their place. How it looks so bare and forlorn, and how the lack of life on the outside always makes me sad. But, that sadness is misplaced. In reality it is still full of life, though it lives beneath the bark.

I think this is true for people, too.

I think this of me, in the middle of a transition difficult to name, even to myself.  The old life—and its stagnant, stale, and unnecessary parts—has fallen away, and the new life is not yet fully formed. In this space of becoming, I chase the things captivating my attention, which I now understand is a way of rebuilding. The muse highlights what really matters. In seeking the things I love, the things that love me back, I am able to begin again. Rebirth is inevitable, and I’m excited to see where it leads.

In the meantime, I will let nature have its way with me.


xo, with goodness and grace.

I’ve come down with a case of the Who am I…?-itis.

Perhaps you’ve had it, too.

You know, the voice that comes chiming in from time to time? When you’re all full of confidence and lofty dreams, and you’ve made grand plans to fling yourself into something new?

That voice that says, Who am I to think I can do that?

Making my Who am I…?-itis worse—someone unfollowed me on Instagram. As I write that sentence, I know it is the silliest thing ever.

Someone unfollowed me on Instagram.

It should be noted that if someone I knew uttered those words to me, I would absolutely, unequivocally say to them, “REALLY? Maybe you should get a real problem???”

Sometimes I get judgey.

Is judgey a real word? (See.)

Anyway. The person who unfollowed me, it wasn’t a person I knew. It was someone I briefly met at an Instameet, where people from the Instagram community gather at one place in a city for the sole purpose of taking pictures. 5:30am, standing on a subway platform in the chill of a windy early spring morning, about to chase a sunrise. We greeted each other, as strangers in a ridiculous situation do. Hi, I’m me and Hi, you’re you. We exchanged Instagram handles, so we could follow each other and see our pictures from that day. And that was that.

Over the months that followed, he would often “like” my pictures. Whenever I would see his name pop up, I would feel a small amount of pride. This person, with a sizable social media following, likes my pictures! It felt like validation. Like, okay, maybe I can take a decent picture. Maybe I have something to say.

And then the other day, I realized I hadn’t seen his name in a while. So I did the thing you should never do if you ever want to maintain any sense of sanity anywhere in the vicinity of the world of social media. I checked my list of followers. And his name was gone.

The Who am I…? voices got even louder. I mean, there are REAL photographers in the world. You probably take too many pictures of your food—and who cares what you ate/are eating/cooked/are cooking, anyway? And there are people who are REAL food photographers. And REAL cooks.

Who am I to do any of it?

The things we put ourselves through.

A day later, I was waiting on the bus stop, en route to see a friend. I was on my phone, doing goodness knows what, when a woman walked up to me, sighed and said, Hi.

My New Yorker guard went up. Hi, I said tentatively.

She asked me how to get to a certain cross section, the location of a hospital. She’d had surgery on her brain and hadn’t felt right, so she wanted to get checked out.

I told her where she could get a ticket for the limited service bus, which she should take since it would get her there faster. She didn’t have any money, she said.

This was one of those city-specific moments; as she was talking, I was wrestling with how long I would continue with this conversation. A reality of urban life is encountering people from all walks of life, all with very real (and some not so real) problems. As a sensitive person, I am like a sponge for everyone’s emotions. I’ve learned the art of putting up invisible boundaries in order to protect my own sense of well being, particularly in this city where everyone wants something from you.

She kept talking. And because I am polite and she seemed like a kind person, I kept listening.

She was glad to be alive. She had been in the service and saw things that changed her. That no one should see, go through, be immersed in. She enlisted after her mother died because she needed a purpose.  She was in the military for 7 years. After she came home and dealt with her head trauma, after surgery, she said the military wanted her for another tour. This made her laugh. She was thankful to laugh and to be alive and to have breath sigh out of her lungs every day.

I listened, and I nodded, and I smiled when it was appropriate. I was moved by what she was saying, but I was desperately trying not absorb the energy of it.

The regular bus came, and I needed to be on my way. I told her to wait for the limited bus because she could get on in any door and chances are they wouldn’t check for tickets.

God bless you, she smiled.

Bless you, too, I smiled back.

Thank you for talking to me, she called out, as I started towards the bus.

Those six words, so open and vulnerable and honest, almost made me burst into tears right there on 2nd Avenue.

Whether we are wrestling with head trauma or social media rejection, we all really want the same thing.  We all just want to be seen.

There’s that saying, the struggle is real. It makes me laugh every time I hear it. The store was out of Nutella…the struggle is real.  

But you know what? IT IS. And so, maybe our job in life is to bear witness to the people around us. To acknowledge each other’s hardships and sadness and struggles.

We have these moments of “Who am I…”-itis, where we feel less than and not entitled to dare to dream of a circumstance better than the one we’re in. Who am I to dream?

With breath in my lungs and health in my body, who am I not to?

As for my Instagram unfollower? He had his reasons, whatever they may be. Ultimately the people who are supposed to witness how I see the world and my musings, will.

Like you. 🙂 Here’s one of my favorite photos from this week.


We don’t always know where we’re going, but our deep selves will get us there. Who we are is infinitely braver than any of us can imagine.

xo, with goodness and grace.

I have a number of things rattling around my brain and trying to hit the page. Separately they seem random and not at all connected.

Bear with me as I try to make sense of them all.

Thought #1: When I woke up this morning, the first bit of news I read in my email was of the passing of David Bowie. It immediately gave me a pit in my stomach. Now, if I were being honest, I wasn’t a super fan. But I did have an appreciation for his artistry and some of his music.

When I think of him, I think of a very specific time in my life. Junior high, me at 12 and 13 years old. Let’s Dance, China Girl, Modern Love. These songs, at a time when I was awkwardly transitioning into another phase of life, were pure joy. At a time when MTV was beginning to flourish, those videos were alive. I would stand in front of the TV in my older brother’s room—because my parents wouldn’t yet let me have cable TV—lip-synching and dancing as the videos played.

If there was one thing I learned in my adolescence, it’s when life gets tough, when you really don’t fit in, when you feel like a misfit, lock yourself in your room, and dance. To this day, when I hear Modern Love, I stop what I’m doing…and I dance.

Have I dated myself yet?

Thought #2: Over the weekend, one of my Facebook friends put up a very poignant post on Oprah and weight loss and how we feel about ourselves. (You should very definitely read it; click here. You’re welcome.)

In her essay, she mentions how she’s heard the phrase “get your life.” I’ve heard it before, but something about the way she uses it kept it stuck on a loop in my mind.  It can mean a lot of things (some not so positive), but it can be a simple as ‘get it together.’ Or, go out and get the life that you want. At least that’s how I’m choosing to spin it.

I want to get it.

Thought #3: I don’t believe in making resolutions. For me they are the equivalent of waiting to start a diet on Monday—and a set up to disappointing yourself. (See the link above.) While I love taking stock at the year’s end, I prefer to begin anew, with the months ahead feeling freshly scrubbed, all shiny and new.

I asked myself what I wanted from this year, and the answer was pretty simple. Joy. (See thought #1.)

I also think sometimes we make life more difficult that it needs to be. So, I simplify.

Instead, I’d rather ask myself who I want to be.

This year, it’s pretty simple. I want to see more sunrises and sunsets, and feel reverence in the miracle of another day. I want to laugh more—though, even when it gets hard, somehow I can always manage a giggle. I want to say a big YES to all the things I have wanted in my life, including some that are as spooky as a haunted house.

I want joy. I want to dance. I want to get it.

Look at me. Somehow, I managed to tie together three disparate thoughts.

As I figure out how to do and be all of those things, I may write less here or I may write more. We’ll see. There won’t be, for this year at least, weekly posts about what was good. Because I’ve decided, it’s all good.

Now, go get it.  I’d love to hear what you want from this year. Share in the comments below!

xo, with goodness and grace.


“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” — Seneca

The year that was.

Have you ever had a year so challenging it made you question everything? Where you were stripped down to the core in all ways? Emotionally, physically, professionally, and spiritually?

I began the year with lofty intentions. It was to be the “Year of Me,” where I would finally set myself on a path to being the woman I always wanted to be. My word of the year was freedom. Somewhere along the way the refrain let go of what no longer serves you took up residence in my brain and wouldn’t leave.

All I can say is, be careful of what you intend.

Why, you ask? When you set intentions, the universe will rise up to meet them. It will gather the sun and the moon and the stars in a special council meeting to figure out ways to help you get what you’ve asked.

This I learned in some epic ways. Because, people, the events that follow are not always pretty. Sometimes the special council says, Nope…we gotta tear the whole thing down and start all over again.

Crazy happened, in many ways and in multiple areas of life. The days went by, and the crazy got crazier. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, throughout the year I did my best to see the blessings in advance. To say, oh yes, here’s why this happened. I GET IT, dear universe. I’m good. 

But, actually, no. It doesn’t work that way. You can’t avoid the hard and difficult and weird by “spiritualizing” your way out of it. You cannot pre-pave the pain in the hopes of avoiding it.

The only way out is through. 

At the end of the day, y’all, you need to care for your heart’s longings. This—not a 401(k), not health insurance, not a promotion, not a corner office—is all you really need. Those other things may be necessary, but they are not a life.

But, fear gets in the way.

Fear makes us do funny things. Fear can make you build a foundation for a home in a place you didn’t know you’d end up—and exactly where you never wanted to be. Fear encourages you construct a life on shoulds. Fear leads you to the long conversation with your doctor, as I had a few months ago, where his prescription sounds like this: “You need to be committed to living a clean and pure and health-driven life, and you need to be committed to getting the crazy out of your life.”

This advice also led me to a summer of drinking rosé like it was blush-colored water. (Which, I admit, was pretty fun…but, I digress.)

Fear will also make you blind to changing things because it gets in your way.

But, here’s the deal. If you don’t deal with things, they will deal with you. You end up living a life by default.

This is not soul satisfying…nor the reason why you are on this earth.

In the end, I found my freedom. It is mine to do what I will. I end the year on a blank page, holding a clean slate, and sitting in an empty room. This would have freaked me out a few years ago. Now—now that it’s all said and done—I understand the gift for what it is. I have the freedom of a future of my own creation; I have the ability to write my own story. Joy awaits on the other side of this newfound freedom.

At the end of this year, in all its difficulty and all its toughness, I am free.

Wishing you all beautiful things as the new year dawns.


Now, we get to begin again. Happy New Year, y’all.

xo, with love and light, goodness and grace.

Christmas is a holy, deeply spiritual time of year for me. In the cold (or spring-like warmth of this year), long days of darkness, there is light everywhere. It’s a happy time.

For anyone who has been to New York during the holiday season, you know it is a wonderland of lights and sounds and energy filled with the spirit of Christmas.

For anyone who actually lives in New York, you also know the holiday season can bring forth deep wells of rage you didn’t know lived within you.

Vulnerability alert. I often tumble into the latter category.

When I wanted to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center this year, I briefly thought about repeating my pilgrimage last year. I had to leave early for a day trip, so I got up a few hours earlier and ventured over, practically in the middle of the night. It was awesome: the hush of the early morning, just me and a few security guards nodding at each other to acknowledge the beauty. And I got great pictures—with no people in them.

But this year, I valued sleep more than the peace of sightseeing undisturbed.

Instead, I flung myself into the belly of the beast on a random weekday. In order to keep living in the city I love so much, I’m making peace with the fact I need to coexist with the millions of people who come to visit. Being among people (sometimes people who are rude and pushy or worse, oblivious that locals don’t function at their (enviably) slow and unhurried pace) has become my spiritual practice of sorts. There are over seven billion people in the world, so I should be able to function properly among 50,000 of them. All the yoga and meditation in the world doesn’t matter if I can’t bring some zen off the mat and into the everyday.

So I pushed myself into the world of Christmas and I managed to function like a normal human being.

And, the tree did not disappoint.




Wishing you a beautiful holiday season where you find ways to coexist peacefully with the situations you find challenging, and may you find beauty and light everywhere.

xo, with goodness and grace.

I have inspiration block.

It’s like writer’s block, but worse. I don’t really want to write. I don’t really want to snap photos. If I were honest, I just want to pick up my phone and aimlessly swipe. Swipe. Swipe. It’s mindless and strangely meditative. And it’s exactly what feels good right now.

Now, ever the picky Pollyanna, I’ve become swipe selective. Facebook is too full of political opinions and missing children and awful things you don’t want to know about your friends. Twitter, with all the news in my feed, reminds me of everything I don’t want to think about. All those dating apps? I literally can’t even.

No. I want Instagram. Pretty pictures. Pretty posed pictures pretending to be snapshots of a real life. Pretty pictures move my mind away from current events and crazy people.

So I swipe. Swipe, swipe, swipe.

But here’s the thing. When inspiration is napping, it’s important to keep moving. All of you, not just your fingers. You may want to give up, to think this is how it all goes down, that creativity and grace and beauty are gone for good.

Instead, find the courage to walk and walk and walk, and little clues suddenly litter the pathway. Answers—and inspiration—maybe, just maybe, find the way to the rightful owner.

Maybe they were always there, waiting to be discovered.


That’s my goodness of the week.

xo, with goodness and grace.

I am capable.

It’s funny, what we forget during those difficult times. We can forget we’re smart, or we’re kind, or we’re capable. Growing up I knew I was all of those things. I was most proud of being capable, an independent spirit who could do things.

But somewhere along the way, I forgot this.

As the temperatures dropped this week, a wintry chill breezing into town, I was reminded I needed to get my air conditioner out of the window. Every year I wait too long. Every year. Because I have casement windows—the kind with handles that open the windows out towards the street instead of up—I have a floor air conditioner unit. The air flows out through two hoses, so holes need to be cut into the window panes.  I have one of the handymen in my building install it when it begins to warm in the spring, and I have him take it out in the winter. But I always wait too long and I spend weeks freezing in my apartment.

This week, I had the idea to take it out myself. I’d found long-forgotten covers for the holes, so I placed them after I unhooked the hoses, and then I used duct tape on the outside to plug any drafts.

It was ridiculously easy.

I am capable. I can take out my air conditioner. I can cook dinner. I can hang a picture on my wall and I can hook up a DVR.

But. Can I create a meaningful life?

I’ve been thinking about moments. The small, sweet ones that make a day. The big moments that change a life. The fleeting ones, missed, never to come back.

But there’s one in particular I keep coming back to. That moment when you stand in front of the closet and think, there is nothing in here that feels like me. This is how it begins.


Many years ago on these pages, I spoke of standing at the crossroads. I had begun to feel some unknowable thing, certain only that something wasn’t working. Every day I faced the hours ahead feeling like I was wearing a sweater that no longer fit, as if it were two sizes too small.

In the following years, the metaphorical clothes kept shrinking.

Soon the physical manifestation began, which I wrote about earlier this year. Clothes emerged from my closet with new holes—sometimes days upon days in a row—some on the seams (seemingly from wear, but relatively new), some moth worn. Items began ripping, reminiscent of Bruce Banner when he’s angry and about to transform into the Hulk. It began to feel comical, like someone put a weird voodoo spell on my clothes. That, or they just didn’t want to be with me any longer.

And then one day I stood in front of my closet and it occurred to me. None of this represents me. Only I didn’t know exactly what me was supposed to be.

Sometimes you don’t know how to feel, and your sense of well being wavers from minute to minute.

It’s that time when you are in between two lives.

There’s the one behind you, near enough to still see in the rear view mirror. And there’s the one you’ve longed for so long—even if you aren’t sure exactly what you long for—not yet visible.

I’ve tried to make sense of this year, with all of its twists and turns and bends where it seemed there were straight lines. I’ve tried to preemptively see the blessings in the difficulties. I’ve tried to understand what craziness was trying to tell me, where it was trying to lead me.

But you can’t do that. I know that now. You can’t jump to the end of the story without having lived through the middle.

The middle is where everything happens. This is where life is lived. This is where you find yourself.

Once, in the throes of broken-heartedness, a friend gave me a piece of advice. The only way out is through. I’ve thought of that many times this year, when things seemed so hard I just wanted to go home, crawl under the covers, and stay there for months on end.

The truth is you have to keep going. You have to drive through the storm in order to see the sun again.

The storms of this year have settled and I’m left looking at what is left.  Once the clouds parted, what I expected to see was wreckage, debris everywhere on the ground, remnants still falling from the sky. Instead, in the middle of the space in between who I was and who I will become, what I see is a vast field of empty space.

Sometimes that empty field is overwhelming. So many possibilities in the space in between.

But then I remember what I’ve always known. I am capable. And I can build whatever I want on that field.


I can build a life of my dreams.

xo, with goodness and grace.

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