This is 42

"Barn's burned, now I can see the moon."

-Mizuta Masahide,  17th century Japanese poet and samurai

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Photo credit: Lindsey Tillman

Last night I was taking out the recycling and caught a glimpse of the moon reflecting in pools of water in the road. "Thank you," I thought.

For the past year I've been asking myself the question, "What's next." The next, for me, is here, in so many areas of my life.

Today I'm sharing a new look and feel for my site. It is a work in progress, but much more reflects who I am today. I slashed and burned, deleted a lot of the old posts that tried to answer that question, and kept only what reflects who I am today. 

There are a lot of new things in my world, particularly professionally. I'm not quite ready to talk about everything yet, but will say: I am so thankful for where I am now. For being able to use all of my skills and experience in some very meaningful ways. 

For now, I'm going to kick off this year with a list of gratitude for the things that happened during #41, my in between year. All of these things, each and every one, were blessings from a power far beyond my own design. All of them happened because of a couple simple factors: I showed up, did the work, and surrendered. 

That's all.


During 41, I did these things. Not ranked in order. I'm not listing them to be self-aggrandizing, but because a)I am thankful b)I want other people to know that there is so much life beyond the one we can imagine for ourselves.

No, seriously. On my last birthday I felt so "in between." During this past year I learned to sit with that discomfort and also trust that life was unfolding exactly as it was supposed to. I hear they call this faith. It grew by leaps and bounds.

  1. Wrote on an index card on January 1 the following guiding word for the year: "Identity." 
  2. Thought about what I wanted my life to look like, and what kind of work I wanted to do, professionally and personally.
  3. Interviewed from some jobs around conference room tables that made me think, to quote Elizabeth Gilbert, "Not this!" 
  4. Drove Alabama backroads in search of velvet paintings at the World's Longest Yard Sale
  5. Dropped off and picked up my son from sixth grade nearly every day.
  6. Spent time with my niece and nephew. 
  7. Helped redesign and guide an independent, hyperlocal restaurant site (What To Eat in Birmingham)
  8. Learned that I am physically strong, making and keeping commitments to move every day
  9. Confronted every old story about myself and made new ones on the Pilates reformer, doing things I never thought were physically possible for me. 
  10. Celebrated my mother's 70th birthday with every member of the JazzHandsFamily
  11. Was a fairy godmother to a sweet two-year old friend, spending a week with her in Washington D.C.
  12. Saw "Hamilton" (finally!)
  13. Tried to pray every morning. Some days failed and scrolled through Facebook. Other days quieted my mind and felt God's enormous love. 
  14. Witnessed my brother marry the love of his life in a field in Tuscany. Cried tears of joy watching my father perform the ceremony.
  15. Wrote two stories for The Washington Post. One was about a poop train. 
  16. Got to take my son to the Washington Post newsroom for a tour, by a former writer of mine. Stood on the roof with them and experienced profound gratitude for this life of words.
  17. Shared my recovery story openly and freely, understanding that this is in part why I was put on this earth. 
  18. Was interviewed for four podcasts and one video series (getting better at this and the secret is it involves breathing)
  19. Launched a movement to help people have tough and important conversations around alcohol and alcohol messaging aimed at women. Tell Better Stories brings me so much joy, mostly because I get to encourage folks every single day to show up, do the work, and surrender
  20. Spent time making my home more comfortable and right for us now. Yes, this included getting an adjustable bed and a dryer that plays a little song when it's finished.
  21. Was a better wife, mom, daughter, sister, and friend (I hope).
  22. Spent time with my cherished lifelong friends, including seeing three of them in one week in one city.
  23. Made so many new friends, friends who talk about real issues and vintage clothes and movements of women who are changing the world. Some live in my city and others live around the world. This network of women are people I can call on any time day or night.
  24. Realized that the prayers that didn't come true were really blessings of protection.

As for 42? Well, I have some ideas. But mostly it's just continuing to show up, do the work, and to surrender. Oh, and probably to buy a new vintage dress or two. 

With gratitude,