19: Storytelling

“Before television and radio and modern technology we were all storytellers. We sat on living room floors and huddled around campfire flames and shared our talents and perspectives with each other. We were all poets and all writers and we all had something to share.”

On a June night, five years ago, Dave Stringer shared his love for chanting with a packed house at Zuda Yoga in Sacramento. It was the night I fell in love with the Sacramento yoga community. We sang and danced and sweated our asses off. We held hands and raised the roof and the next morning at teacher training, Bill Prysock reminded us that  “just in case you ever go to another one, Kirtans don’t typically go down like that.”

I felt deeply connected to every, single person in that yoga studio. My dear friends and soul-sister teacher trainees and the total strangers who were dancing inside those four walls for the first time. We shared a heartbeat. Every one of us. When I got out of bed the next morning I had the worst energetic hangover of my life. Like the spirit and beauty of all those people had run straight through me like a big, mac, truck.

Through the blur of moments and memories, it’s Dave’s words about storytelling that remain the most powerful, the most clear.

 

In eight years as a camp counselor, I told hundreds, maybe thousands of stories. I was the best version of myself, crouched low in the fresh-cut grass, with ten or twelve tiny, captivated faces staring up at me, locked into the world, the images, the characters I was creating. It came so easily to me. The adventures and identities and the plot-twists they never saw coming. Sometimes I’d team up with my best friend or my summer-camping soul-mate to add dimension, and detail to the story.

I could spin imagination into words all day long, but when it came to sharing my own, real-life stories, I tensed up, hesitated, and mostly held them in.

And I have a feeling, I’m not the only one.

Somewhere along the way, we all learn to censor ourselves. To edit out the heartbreaking details of struggle and failure and anger and hurt. To fill up the space with “I’m o.k.” and “things are great” and countless versions of what we think other people want to hear from us. When we do share, we choose a beautiful image or a shortened, spruced-up, well-practiced synthesis of what really happened or how we truly feel. We bury the truth in the comfort of politeness and casual conversation. When the story is a good one, we shy away from the fullness of its celebration. Inside we feel victorious and triumphant, but instinctively we limit our outward expression, trapped and constrained by the fear of judgement, or rejection, or a million other made up thoughts about how we’ll be perceived.

Last Thursday night, I stood in front of 300 people, mostly strangers, and told my story.

About fear and anxiety and saying no. About living my life in a tiny box of strict limits and well defined boundaries. About all the ways I was held back by an unwillingness to take even one small step outside my comfort zone. What I didn’t say, is that sharing myself with other people is the biggest, baddest, boldest boundary of them all. That to tell the truth about who I am and how I feel and what I’ve been through, is harder to do than anything else. To feel exposed and unmasked are, to me, the worst of the worst of uncomfortable feelings.

That night I heard eight other stories from eight, beautiful, brilliant, inspiring people. Each of them filled the room with tears and laughter and heart-bursting honesty. Genuineness. Vulnerability. Courage.

The whole place vibrated with connection. We shared a heartbeat. Every one of us.

My dear friend Lyndsey gracefully narrated the event, reminding us, over and over, that we are all the same. That the purpose, the value, the beauty of our sharing is in the opportunity for all of us to witness ourselves in the eyes of the storyteller. To hear our own hurt, our own triumph, our own struggle in the words from the brave mouth of the person speaking. We share to connect. We connect to remember our oneness, in our oneness we are reminded that we’re all this together.

 

We are all storytellers. We are all poets and writers. We all have something special, something important, to share.

 

18: For Life

I’ve had the same best friend since I was thirteen. Before we could drive, we ordered in pizza on Friday nights. We used disposable cameras to snap pictures with the delivery guy and giggled through the aftermath of his reaction. We played Mario Kart in the back bedroom and threatened to call the boys each other liked.

Almost two decades later, every Friday night, we meet for dinner at one of three restaurants in our hometown. We talk about grown-up jobs and our Facebook friends who are having their second baby. We end the night at my mom’s house, raiding the cupboards for homemade dessert and cracking each other up, sprawled across big, leather couches.

We look a little older and occasionally sound a little wiser but everything feels the same as it did 17 years ago.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I mate for life.

With my friends and my summer camp family and what I eat for breakfast.  I’ve bought the same groceries every week since I was 22, and I have a meltdown every time Whole Foods stops selling my favorite peanut butter. I call my mom at the same time every day and we have, pretty much, the same conversation.

I hate change and I fear loss and when something feels right, I do everything I can to make it last forever.

I love the hell out of people, but only once I know they’re a keeper.

Three years ago, on a Friday night, I decided to marry my best friend. Not the lunatic from the pizza delivery photos, the handsome, funny, stylish law student I met in the lobby of the UCLA guest house, two weeks before the start of my second year. That morning, through a slurry of F-bombs and dismissive remarks about the legal profession, I made the worst first impression of my life. My mom, a witness to the disastrous interaction, scolded me for my lack of sophistication, and colorful vocabulary.

“If you want to get a boyfriend, you better clean up your act.”

Months later, Nick forgave me for my unruly mouth and unconventional social skills. We bonded quickly over the perils of growing up wealthy and our shared respect for the virtues of stay-at-home-moms. I made the marriage decision while  sitting cross-legged on his couch, watching him sing and dance through dinner preparation. When he wasn’t looking, I closed my eyes and pictured our life together. Our house was a little bigger, the music louder and there was a dog in my lap.

But it looked and felt just like it did, that night.

And it’s been hard to imagine anything else, ever since.

Year thirty is teaching me about change, flexibility and impermanence. About surrendering, and accepting and learning to “go with the flow.”

Like when I leave the most stagnant profession on earth to explore the wild world of possibility, mobility and a career path I can dream about, but can’t guarantee . Or when I make friends for life at lululemon, then, months later, watch them move across the country, and around the world.

Last week, I spent twenty-four hours with my would-be husband. Seated across from him, on a rustic, sophisticated arm-chair, I remembered the future I’d attached myself to, three years earlier. I looked around his open, neatly appointed, ultra-fancy loft and watched myself disappear from it. I felt myself get swept away in the changing tide of career aspirations and adult values. The life together I saw so clearly, was suddenly foggy, clouded by the people we’d become and the lives we were currently leading.

Tucked into a corner seat on the airport shuttle, I caught up on my work email and reflected on my brief adventure. An uneasiness came over me, like that feeling I get when I first dip my knife into an experimental jar of peanut butter. Newness and expectations and a terrifying sense of “who knows what happens next.”

I tilt my head back on the seat, take a deep breathe and make space for the unknown.

I sit uncomfortably in the emptiness and try to stay open.

For life.

Called Out.

Nothing lights me up more than friendship with bold, powerful women. The kind who don’t take shit from anyone, who want a life of humor and adventure and no-less-than-absolutely-fucking-awesome. The ones who call it like they see it, shoot straight, walk the talk, be the change, play big, go hard, sprint to the finish.

So. Lyndsey Fryer, you got me.

This beautiful bad-ass challenged me to dust off my keyboard and write something, immediately.

8 questions to celebrate my blog and my life and our partnership. Lyndsey is pure soul and creativity. She is the reason I had the courage to leave my lawyer job and join her team at lululemon. I knew if she was a part of something, it had to be the real deal.

And I was right.

Here’s to you Lynds, and all of the other exceptional women in my life who show up and demand the best of me, all of the time.

1. What do you want to be known for?

My leadership. Even when I was little I had the sense I was destined for a big life. Like the first woman President or Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. People followed me, even when I was really young. In my teens, and early twenties, I felt great pride in my powerfulness. I felt I could walk into a room and own it, like I was the only voice in the room that mattered and the only perspective people listened to.

A little older and a tiny bit more humble, I think of my leadership differently. I want to be the woman who opens space for other women to find their power and share their perspective. I want people to remember me as a woman who made them better, smarter, more capable, who made their voice stronger, and elevated their potential.

I want to live a big life, not for the bigness of it, but for the bigness it creates in others.

2. What inspires you most about others?

Vulnerability. And selflessness.

3. Share something you are proud of?

Camp have-a-lot-of-Fun. My best friend Amy and I built an empire. From the awkwardness and insecurity of 40 strangers, most of them teenagers, we created a beautiful, loving family where everyone is accepted and celebrated exactly as they are. My CHALOF kids (who are now, in many cases, adults) remind me what we are all capable of when we choose laughter over judgement, courage over fear, love, above all else.

4. A snapshot of my life in 5 years.

It’s a Friday in April and I’m on my front porch drinking strong coffee as the sun comes up. I’m wrapped in three blankets and a down jacket because I’m still not used to this “not California” cold. I’m waiting for my mega-babe boyfriend to bust through the back door, sweaty and sexy from an early morning mountain run. He’ll fix up a delicious, organic breakfast and I’ll wonder how I fed myself properly before him.

I didn’t.

In an hour, I’ll head to the airport. I’m flying to London for my dream job as a training manager at lululemon. My mom will call me on the way to reminisce about my childhood as “the worst flyer on the planet,” as she marvels at my traveling career.

She does it every time.

Life when I’m home is beautiful and simple. We hike and ski and play soccer. We cook and dance and laugh, constantly. My boyfriend is manly and sweet and insanely smart and I when we argue,  I never let him forget that “I used to be a lawyer,” even if I barely remember it.

5. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given and by whom?

Before I went to law school, I met all of these incredible, older women in the Sacramento yoga community. For a year and a half I was surrounded by power and grace and wisdom and my whole life is better for it.

One of these lady goddesses once told me, about tough decisions: “You’ll never know before you make a decision whether it’s the right one or the wrong one. In most cases, you won’t ever know. The important thing is, you make it. Commit to something, and be brave.”

Christine was brilliant and successful and always grounded me in “what I already know.”

6. What’s the best/worst purchase you ever made

Best: My law prom dress my third year of law school. It was a magical night the memories from which are still so alive I can smell them. It was so perfect and so awesome I don’t even feel bad about the ridiculousness of attending a “law prom” in the first place.  I didn’t buy the dress. I rented it. But that night I owned it, all the way.

Worst: So many tanning booth packages and tiny tanning goggles.

I used to hide the goggles in the center console of my red 4runner because my mom would lock me up if she found them.

I want to die just thinking about it.

7. What word makes you cringe?

Amongst.

I loathe myself for grammar snobbery.

8. What is your signature dance move?

My signature dance move is that I’m the first on the floor and the last one to leave it. Having a wedding? Worried about awkward social guests and on a limited liquor budget? Invite ME! I dance my ass of under all circumstances and drink very little. I can lighten up even the most serious, sober crowd. I think I was an NBA mascot in a past life and I’ve got the energy to prove it.

Find me here. On Facebook. Email me or just show up where I live.

Down to travel. Will bring my own date.

 

17: The loves of my life

A week ago I had a dream about the boy I loved most in elementary school. In the dream, I’m certain he’s a grown up but his face is blurry and the perspective is distorted, so I can’t tell what he looks like now. I last saw him two weeks after my sixth grade graduation. He was a mischievous blonde with bright blue eyes. I’d look straight into them every time we talked. We were the same height, small for our age. He’d inch up close to my face like he had a special secret to keep only between us. He always winked at me with a half-smile.

How an 11 year old knew to work it like that, I’ll never know.

He was kind of a low-risk bad boy. Smart and funny and only a tiny bit edgy. The type that teachers loved even though they hated and disciplined even when they laughed out loud at the cause of it. Confident and adventurous. A smooth talker and a good listener and a lady killer, I bet, at every stage of his life.

A type that later became my type, and remains so as I write this, at age 30.

When the dream ends, I wake up and think about my love life: 30 years of schoolyard crushes, unrealized high school dance expectations and more “guy best friends” than I can even count. My first love, and my second. My post-college life as an untouchable, independent woman. The law school era I dedicated to covertly wooing the man at the top of the guy best friend list.

A couple of terrible first dates and a handful of hopeful, magical ones.

Countless almost love stories that all ended with “it just didn’t work out.”

In a moment between self pity and the creeping anxiety that my relationship status at my last birthday signifies permanent, romantic failure, I catch a glimpse of a different type of memory:

It’s July 10, 2013 and my face is squeezed between the faces of two of the boys I’ve loved the most, as an adult. One is an eighteen year-old leadership prodigy who got the keys to the camp-have-a-lot-of-fun kingdom the summer before he left for college. The other is my friend Peter, whose birthday we’ve celebrated, on this day, for the last, 10 years. My best friend Amy is on the outside of Peter, and together we make up the best hug I’ve been a part of in years.

My feet are wet from early morning moisture in the grass. My patent leather flats are stashed away in a giant, black lululemon bag, and my worn-out flip flops are providing a temporary escape from my real life where I sit at a desk all day and argue with people for a living.

I feel no love for the legal field.

Slowly, like the last sunset on a beautiful beach vacation, the picture softens, then fades, then transforms, completely.

Now it looks like a Tuesday evening in 2005. It’s almost dark and I’m presiding over organized chaos at Perloff quad on the campus of UCLA. There are 80 young people running and yelling and sweating and smiling. Smiling, so, big. I’m like their mom, and their school principal, but also that one white lady with the loud voice and important instructions. These are my babies. This, is my baby. When I take a deep breath I can still smell the smells of giant oaks and the nearby food court.  It sounds like the unmistakable mix of joy and love and enthusiasm.

Seven years later I was back at Perfloff quad on an unusually hot spring day. It was my law school graduation and throughout the ceremony I wished I’d petitioned the Dean to move it. I narrowed my eyes on the podium to keep those old, sweet, memories intact.

The images come faster now, one-by-one.

My college roommates. The sisters I never wanted but couldn’t live without. The women who taught me the value of sisterhood, and the power of female friendship. The four people who inspire me most. Who hold me accountable to  be the best I possibly can for the world and the people around me. Who remind me, every day, what it means to be selfless, and strong and resilient and loving.

My mom, who loves me, and every one else, so much, there isn’t space for anything else.

My Unicamp co-counselors, and the brave kids we did our best to lead, and mentor. Eight years of camp have a lot of fun, the adults, the teenagers and the tiny ones. The River City Magic and my new team at lululemon. My mom’s dogs and my elementary school teachers and childhood friends I thought I’d forgotten.

Before long, the scene in my mind is crowded, then overflowing, with love.

So much I feel myself squeezed by it. Completely surrounded.

The feeling softens and I land back in a pile of rumpled sheets and too many comforters, alone in my bedroom.

It’s the same, dark space as when I first woke up, but it’s filled with a new sensation.

Gratitude. And abundance.

Less like “what a failure” and more like “how remarkable.”

It’s clear for all the times “it just didn’t work out,” there were so many more when it did.

The people and the moments that tell a love story I never knew I was writing. A love story I couldn’t see through the judgment of what I don’t have and the analysis of why I don’t have it. It comes together in pieces of overlapping moments, and phases, of my life. Some chapters have complete narratives. Beginning, middle, end. Others end abruptly, then pick up years later, then disappear again. There are those that feel whole, and complete, and comforting. And those that I’ve yet to resolve. There is deep connection and vulnerability and uncontrollable laughter. There is brutal heartbreak,  sadness and anger. There is forgiveness and healing and opening to love again.

There are times when my heart is so full I want to seal it in, freeze time, and keep the feeling forever.

All of the components of an epic love story.

Written, and titled, “the loves of my life.”

16: Until You Don’t

There’s a mixed CD floating around that I made in the early 2000s. It’s a compilation of powerful, female country artists singing from their broken hearts. There are eighteen tracks. Songs about revenge and sadness and desperation. Lyrics about healing, and recovery and the first time you see your ex. Moments of “I’ll be o.k.” and “I’m moving on” and then, with complete honesty, “I’ll never, get over, you.”

I made it two years after my first, real heart break. I put it together for my college best friend who was on the rebound, from the same guy, for the third time, in four years.

He’s on the short list of people I refuse to forgive, even after ten million hours on my yoga mat.

Two years after that, my best friend since I was thirteen ended a relationship with her live-in boyfriend of five, almost six, years. Theirs was a slow, painful death. It was the kind of disaster that shows up first, way-off in the distance. You see it coming, but refuse to believe it. The dark cloud of the inevitable creeps over the horizon of the rest of your life, constantly threatening to descend on the foreground. Lingering, hovering, dangerously close to ruining everything you know to be true and real and safe.

When it finally arrives it’s like the meteor that killed the dinosaurs.

And you’re the last surviving pterodactyl, climbing out of the wreckage.

Amy needed the prehistoric Red Cross, not Martina Mcbride.

But I gave her the CD anyway.

And several years later, she passed it on to someone else.

There’s nothing like a broken heart.

I was twenty-one the first time I felt the big hurt. The pulsing nausea right in the pit of my stomach. The sleeplessness and the loss of appetite. Sneaking around the back patio of Luvalle commons, down the backside of campus, along my secret escape route, because just laying eyes on him, made me sick.

Crying on the phone in the back of my walk-in closet, whispering to my mom so my roommates wouldn’t hear.

The days where it doesn’t hurt as much as it did yesterday and then suddenly, it hurts twice as much as it did any day before.

The getting back together and the breaking up again.

The reliving, and re-telling and the promising myself, I’ll do better next time.

Heartbreak is the feeling that marks the intensity of every other feeling I’ve ever had.

It’s the biggest and the baddest and in the thick of it, I know it will last forever.

But then, it doesn’t.

I missed my college boyfriend every day for a year and a half. Then, one morning, I woke up feeling whole again. I didn’t want to see him and I stopped dreaming of our future together. I took his pictures off my laptop and let go of  our old stories, especially the ones haunting my every attempt to move on.
I couldn’t predict it and I couldn’t explain it. There was no formula, or step by step.

It hurt until it didn’t hurt anymore.

Feelings, for me, are a challenging beast. I want to rope them down and control them. I want to push them aside when they’re interfering with my life. I want to move through them quickly, and when they linger, I  feel frustrated, and helpless, and impatient.

The raw, painful ones are the toughest. I don’t want to make space for the feelings that fill my whole body. I don’t want to “be in it” or “sit with it” or take bigger, deeper breathes. I want to displace them and be distracted. I don’t want to cry and and I don’t want to “talk to someone” about it.

I just want to feel “better” on my own terms.

I discover, over and over, that feelings are a wild animal, and can’t be tamed. They come on strong, or maybe slowly, but always without a formal announcement. They target my heart and the base of my belly, and migrate up my spine, and neck, then, down, deep in my hips.

Sometimes I feel sluggish and out of sorts. Or inexplicably angry at people who’ve done nothing wrong. Other times I feel energized by the  fear that if I stop moving, I’ll fall, immediately, into a bottomless pit of despair.

I struggle to get power over them.

But never come out on top.

In the summer of 2012 I call Amy to track down “that CD” I gave her. My friend just got dumped by the woman he planned to marry, and I’m desperate to throw him a life line.

He’s a broken-winger dinosaur and I am, once again, an inadequate emergency responder.

“I want to fix it, but I don’t know what to do for him.”

She reminds me there’s nothing I can do, for any of it. “It’ll hurt until it doesn’t hurt anymore.”

That’s the thing about feelings- The sad ones and the happy ones; the pure bliss and the darkest hours; the tingle of new love and the dull, low, burn of anxiety and dread. The ones you want to last forever and the ones you hope you never experience again-

You feel them, all of them. Until you don’t.

15: Time to Relax

My stomach is cramping and my eyes are teary. I can’t get out of the fetal position and every time I try to speak, I’m gasping for breath.

It’s like that, with me and my brother. We laugh so hard we cry, and hurt, and can’t move and can’t speak and can’t do anything, but keep laughing.

We’re in a motel room, during a rare moment of downtime, blocks from the entrance to Disneyland park. We’re watching Patrick Ewing being interviewed on T.V and making ridiculous jokes about the Main Street Electrical Parade. It’s the summer before seventh grade and my family is on the last vacation we ever took together.

None of us know how the next two, six, fifteen years, will change us.

We never do.

Every year of my childhood my dad planned an elaborate, intellectually enriching, family vacation. He had the same two weeks off every year, the last week of July, and the first week of August. They were the only consecutive days, all year where I saw my dad for both breakfast and dinner.  The only family movie nights and daytime adventures and father-son time spent without the yelling, and the homework.

We traveled for exactly ten days and covered between five and eight thousand miles, depending on the destination. We’d fly somewhere domestically, then put as many miles on the rental car as the company allowed, before we outright owned the thing.

We visited a museum dedicated to the artwork of Salvador Dali and another showcasing swords from a spectrum of historical eras and geographic locations. We walked inside Louisa May Alcott’s house and the one with the Seven Gables. We learned about the Salem Witch trials and how Francis Scott Key wrote the national anthem. There were dinosaur remains and scientific phenomena and alligators, eerily close to us, in the Florida everglades. Exotic fish and rare, northwestern mega-fauna, and every Smithsosonian there is, in a single day.

All before I was 12 years old.

In high school, when most of my friends failed it,  I got a “5” on the AP history exam for no reason other than I walked all two and a half miles of Boston’s freedom trail, in size 3 tennis shoes, during the summer of 1995.

We worked for the time we spent at amusement parks, and lounging on the beach. The activities and imagery that define most families’ leisure time, amounted to mere footnotes on our rigorous itinerary.

Every meal had meaning, and every minute had a purpose, and beginning on our visit to Lancaster Pennsylvania, my dad woke us up at Sunrise, every morning with a quote from the movie “Witness.”

“4:30, time for milking.”

Back then, all I knew about my dad is that he had a demanding job and a rare, eccentric personality. I figured our hyper-scheduled family vacations were more a product of who he was, rather than how he did things. To me, the bizarre destinations, long driving stretches and multiple lodging changes were an expression of his uniqueness, more than anything else.

In my adulthood, I spend more time with my dad. We talk and email and share meals where I learn about his life through stories and reflection. I’ve pieced together my childhood memories of him: cleaning car windshields while our extended family is gathered inside around coffee and donuts and the Indianapolis 500; inviting my brother and I to accompany him to the hardware store, plant trees in the backyard or pick weeds from the garden on his days off; fixing appliances or building new toys at my grandparents’ house while everyone else is napping on Christmas morning; and, of course, his relentless pursuit of activity during family vacations.

My dad can’t relax.

He is constantly engaged in a project or challenging task. He only sits when he’s sleeping and he’s uncomfortable with small talk and casual conversation.

He lives to work, even when he’s not working.

Three months ago, when I left my own demanding job, I assumed everything in my life would slow down. I thought the free-time and the deep breaths and the lazy Sundays would show up, automatically. I was exhausted, and over-committed and in a constant state of fear that I was forgetting something important. I was answering emails, in my mind, on my yoga mat and rushing out of class with my head down, determined to avoid any conversation that would delay the checking off of the next item on my to-do list.

I was living to work, even when I wasn’t working.

Anytime I share something about my dad with my friend Parker, he has the same response:

“That nut didn’t fall very far from the tree, did it?”

And sure enough, two weeks after I stopped being a lawyer, I was still running, and running, at full speed. I was measurably happier but still incapable of rest and relaxation. I worked fewer hours but filled the space on my schedule with things to accomplish and energetically aggressive activities.

I mapped out each day with a rigorous,  ambitious itinerary.

I still do.

What I remember most about my family vacations are the sounds and feelings in the spaces between the scheduled events: Cracking inside jokes with my brother while we both rode patiently in the back seat; curled up on the floor of the hotel room, re-capping the days events; important life-talks at the edge of the Northern Atlantic Ocean, with sandy hair and half-zipped wet suits.

The uncontrollable laughter and the quiet comfort of recovering from an adventurous day.

What I remember most about my life are the sounds and feelings in the spaces between the scheduled events: Delirious conversations with my best friend, right before bed; sprawled on the floor with my college roommates entrenched in an important feminist dialogue, then suddenly wondering whether Foster’s Freeze is still open; circled up with my camp kids, reliving beautiful moments from another unforgettable summer. Sitting in the dark in Nick’s living room, laughing hysterically at each other, for no reason at all.

The tears. The silence. The long, deep hugs.

Most days it requires my patience, and focus and renewed dedication.

To live fully in the spaces between the demands of my life. To soak up the beauty, the value, the memories, created in the time to relax.

14: Every Day

Tonight, I hit a wall. I’ve been staring at the open computer screen for two hours, on and off. My best friend and I simultaneously played “What did the fox say” for eachother, while chatting on Facetime. We’re always late to the party, but we go really hard when we get there.

I looked at recipes on the internet then took a bath.

I toweled off and put on my pajamas and sat back down on the couch without so much as a glimmer of inspiration.

“Maybe I shouldn’t write from the couch.”

When I declared my intention to write for thirty days, it felt joyful and exciting. Like it would be beautiful and rewarding and effortless:

It’s daring and challenging and I shiver with excitement when I think about the surge of energy awaiting me at the end of it.

“What an accomplishment.”

When it’s over, I will write a heartfelt victory blog that’s both funny and inspiring. My friends, real and electronic, will undertake thirty day challenges of their own. They will post hilarious videos, or give a stranger a hug, or call their moms, or bake a month’s worth of inventive, cookie recipes.

They will write and sing and live their passion.

And when they feel discouraged, or pressed for time, or turned off by their most recent embrace of an unwitting hug-ee, they will read number fourteen of my thirty for thirty for thirty blogs and recommit to their effort.

I never considered how hard it is to do anything, for thirty days straight.

Make it to yoga and eat enough vegetables and be patient with people in traffic. Respond mindfully to irritating situations and apologize immediately when you don’t. Drink plenty of water and get out in the sunshine and tell the people you love, you love them. Walk the dog and practice gratitude and don’t take any moment of this extraordinary life for granted.

Floss, at least once a day.

In my life, I’ve wanted to give up on everything I didn’t do perfectly, the first time.

And most of the time, I have.

Tonight, I’m reminded that everything I want to do, I can, even if I don’t do it, moment to moment.

In the next breath, the next opportunity, I can begin again.

So tomorrow, just maybe, I’ll write something beautiful and moving and well punctuated.

Or I won’t.

And maybe I’ll let that be o.k., too.