Last week, my friend’s husband died unexpectedly, leaving two young children without a father. The same day, my neighbor’s bandmate and the bandmate’s fiancé were in a horrific car accident and are now in comas.
This news really shook me up. That life is short is hardly a revelation; in the past two years alone, I’ve lost several people close to me, all too soon. I know that as the years go on, tragedy becomes more and more common. But it never does become less painful, does it?
The saving grace in all this loss is that I’m reminded that every day on this planet is a good day. Even when my kids are up four times in one night and I can’t see straight the next morning. Even when I get a nasty email about me—which was intended for someone else—and it makes me feel like crap. (Yep, that really happened). Even when I find out something sad about a friend or family member.
With this in mind, I just bought myself a block print from an Etsy seller. It’s the last two lines from The Summer Day (below), a poem by Mary Oliver. I plan to hang the print in my office; doesn’t it exactly capture how important it is to savor every moment of life?
Savoring the summer
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
I’m excited to be featured on Women’s Fiction Writers today, talking about one of the things I think about (read: struggle with) most as a writer: worrying less about word count and more about whether I’m writing.
Read the interview here and let me know what you think!
photo by muffet
I don’t know when, exactly, I started cringing when I heard the word busy (yes, even when it was coming out of my own mouth). Maybe it was when I noticed that when I asked others how they were doing, they inevitably responded “busy” instead of “good.” Maybe it was when I began feeling like “busy” was shorthand for “I’m important/popular/successful.” (I’ve heard this phenomenon referred to as the cult of busyness, which seems about right).
Not actually busy.
Here’s the thing: I don’t know a single human being who doesn’t have a lot going on. It’s called modern life, and whether you’ve a stay-at-home mom, a work-at-home-mom, childless, single, a student—chances are, you’ve got commitments that multiply when you’re not looking. Everyone’s insanely busy.
Obviously, there are times when it’s okay—and even necessary—to say you’re busy. But saying it less often gives it a lot more weight when you actually need it. Here’s how I’ve been scaling back on the B word: [click to continue…]
Yesterday the New York Times posted a story on the divide between people who still use paper planners (like Dana Levy—the creator of an online juggernaut, DailyCandy.com!) and those whose calendars are entirely online (such as novelist Ayelet Waldman).
My iCal: Can't live without it
I used to be a strictly paper person.Because my days are filled with interviews for magazine stories (which often get re-scheduled again .. and again), deadlines and family appointments, I eventually realized that it was easier to schedule everything in iCal. The biggest benefit: the appointment reminders that iCal delivers to my email inbox. They’re a life-saver for this sleep-deprived mama, who’s become more than a little forgetful. [click to continue…]
Celebrating the six month mark
A few hours after I gave birth to my first child, my midwife—Abby Howe-Heyman, a wonderful woman whose name and face I will remember forever—gave me the single best piece of baby-related advice I’ve yet to receive. “If you feel off for a while, that’s okay. It usually takes about six months after your baby is born to feel like yourself again,” she said.
I nodded but in my head I was thinking, “I’ll be back to normal in no time.”
You know how this story goes, right? Sure, I plowed through work—as a self-employed person I’ve never really figured out how to take a “real” maternity leave—but I was consistently surprised by how long it took me to do even the simplest tasks, like cooking dinner, and I felt frustrated that no matter how I switched my schedule around, I just didn’t have time for a lot of the things I wanted to do (like running), nor the mental energy for others (like reading anything beyond light fiction or People magazine).
Abby was right, though. About six months later, I started to feel like I was back in the swing of things. I could leave the house with my daughter without it being a major production. I knew what to do when she spit up all over me in public. I had a little more free time—not a ton, but enough to exercise more often and get my hair done often enough that I stopped resembling a hobo. And so on.
So after my son was born in December, [click to continue…]