What is Beauty?

There is beauty in knowing when not to compete. There is beauty in knowing when to dig deeper and there is beauty in knowing when to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. There is beauty in observing and there is beauty in diving right into the mess. There is beauty in not knowing anything but the deepest knowing which is all will be well. There is beauty is being able to see that the disease has you locked down or fired up and there is beauty in just watching it all unfold. There is beauty in feeling it loosen its grip on you and there is such profound beauty in the rest granted as it leaves. There is beauty in stillness and there is beauty in movement. There is beauty in acceptance and there is beauty in saying I DO NOT ACCEPT THIS. Had I never watched a commercial, read a magazine, or scrolled through the internet, I think I might have come to all this a tad bit sooner for all the messed up messages given about what beauty is and yet? There is beauty in understanding things take the time they take.


Below is a photo I stopped to take when I had no business taking it. I was running late for work, my tires were screaming for air, and the gas tank was on empty. It was -10, but I could not stop looking at the sky, watching it unfurl before me. There is beauty in doing the wrong thing anyway and feeling grateful even later when you know how it ended. I had to borrow money for gas because I left my purse at home, I had to stop to get my tires filled, and all of this made me one hour late for work. I was the only adult in the writing center that day and when someone pointed that out, I laughed because I knew better.

Project Letters

In October, a friend asked me what I'd planned to do for my 50th birthday. At that point, I hadn't given it a ton of thought but I did know this: I wanted to somehow show my gratitude for people who have shaped how I see the world and/or for how they show up in the world leaving me inspired and better for knowing/meeting them.

And so I decided I would write 50 letters before I was 50.

It was a lofty goal because writing letters if done well, takes time.

I set about making my list, thereby taking a trip down memory lane which found me all the way back in elementary and Sunday school.

I ended up going through each decade of my life. I have moved five times and held twice that many jobs. I have always noticed people. It's just who I am. I am naturally curious about what makes people tick and anyone who goes the extra mile or has gone a bit out of their way, not just for me, but for a cause or someone else is someone I tend to remember. And so all of these things combined made it not that hard to come up with well over 50 people and the list grew. In fact, I have the determined I will not really be done. Why should I end showing my gratitude, my observation of a job well done, a moment of inspiration, or even just a simple communication that says 'I see you.'

But this was never about numbers. It was about just taking a bit of time to mark the fact that I have not made it to this decade without a little help and whole lot of inspiration from my family and people I've only met online and people I spent an intense amount of time within the trenches of work or parenting or school or some combination of the three.

I think my favorite thing about this whole experience is what I call "the pause". When I am writing a note by hand, I have to think carefully before I write. It's very different from just throwing words down as fast as I can on my keyboard. I like that pause, the thinking before crafting the words. And I like how it takes me back to the person and for just a bit, I am with them again. I like seeing a person in my mind and trying hard to express what I see in them with words.

I might be a bit weird and I am pretty ok with that.

The unexpected joy of this experience has been the little notes and pieces of mail I have received in return. To have someone say, "Thank you! You made my day!" was the icing on my 50th birthday cake.

The truth is I had no idea how selfish of a project this was. It has been me who has benefited the most by simply recognizing people who have shown up on my path who had something to teach me simply by being themselves. Each time I see this, it is me who grows a little bit braver in getting closer to the person I want to be.

It was never supposed to be about me, and yet again, I was wrong.