Let It Go

The long weekend was an ongoing gathering that paused only while we slept. Everyone arrived early to the beach, staking umbrellas, lying on blankets, passing out strawberries and cherries while the kids played and swam.

The toddler who won’t wean settled her sandy body into my lap and tugged at my bathing suit. I nursed her to sleep, which bought me an uninterrupted stretch of time to talk with my cousin Kathy, writer, teacher and all-around incredible person. We are kin and we are kindred. Conversation flows the same way it did when we were kids, walking the double cul-de-sac near her house, talking endlessly.

Beneath the shade of the umbrella, we spoke of family dynamics and the bittersweetness of returning home, where the loss of her mom is felt more acutely. We talked about writing, about being brave and being vulnerable, about navigating boundaries, about all that’s left unsaid.

Later we gathered for the annual barbecue at my dad and stepmom’s house, once my grandparents’ house. This summer marks the 70th year. I’ve lost count of the little cousins running wild in the grass.

During dinner, my cousin Eileen came over to chat and I noticed her bracelet, a leather band with a silver plate engraved with the words “Let It Go.” I touched it and said, “Everyone should have those words tacked on their body.” She smiled and unsnapped the bracelet from her wrist. I began to protest, but she stopped me, saying, “This is how it works. You wear this as long as you need to. And when you feel like you no longer need it, pass it on.”

The bracelet hasn’t left my wrist since. There is so much I hold onto. So much outside of my control. Big and small. I hold on tight. The last two days, when I look down at my wrist, I feel myself exhale. My jaw relaxes, my shoulders drop, my palms open. And I just let go.

(Post 168 of 365)





Natural Rhythms: 49/365

This morning Isabella woke early. I reached for my phone and turned it on to check the time. She began to nurse and I instantly succumb to scrolling, first the weather, then I’ll move on to pages of unread articles. Except this morning our internet was down. So I put my phone down. I basked in the quiet and looked at my little girl’s face.

Soon we were bouncing out of bed and starting the coffee and scooping plain yogurt and frozen blueberries onto a plate, sprinkling cinnamon on her yogurt. Sentences are already springing from my brain. I silently repeat a couple of ideas like mini mantras in an effort not to forget them. Normally I would steal a few minutes at the computer while she eats her breakfast, the two of us occupying the same table, together but apart.

Today the computer wasn’t an option. So I got my mug of coffee and sat down next to her while she ate, watched her pinch fat blueberries between her tiny fingers and deftly spoon yogurt into her little heart-shaped mouth. We chatted contentedly. She fed me blueberries, saying, “here you go, honey, you eat it.” Amidst the chatting and blueberry-sharing I reached for a pen and managed to fill up one page, catching the ideas I didn’t want to lose.

Technology runs insidious interference on our lives, seeps into every quiet gap creating a low and steady buzz. White noise, like the whir of a fan. I have a thing about white noise, especially the sound of a fan. It makes me tense and itchy. If a fan’s been running and then finally turned off, it’s the biggest relief. That’s how this morning felt. No interference. I was able to hear the natural rhythm of the morning and we moved to it in sync. I even got a little writing done.

Workspace: 38/365


This is my current workspace a.k.a. dining room table, which is actually located in the living room, the heart of the house. This afternoon when I snapped the photo, it was in a fairly tidy state, but it’s always in flux. Books, crayons, paint, dollhouse people, a tube of Neosporin, rubber stamps, my handwritten notes on whatever scrap of paper happens to be available. And of course we eat dinner here too. I’m not sure when the stuffed dino climbed atop The Chronology of Water – note: when I love a book very much, I keep it close for a long while even if I’m not actively rereading it – but I’ve loved having him peeking at me from behind the screen this week.

Wild Geese: 28/365

Tonight a poem, well known and beloved. Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese. I keep this one on the side of my fridge. I love poetry. I love to hand copy poems, slow it down, become intimate with each word. There’s something sacred about it.

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the

desert, repenting.

My whole body exhales. Relief. Guilt runs deep and thick in my Irish Catholic family. I feel it in the marrow of my bones. Just recently I realized that part of what this project is is claiming myself. Maybe that’s what the whole thing is about. And as I claim myself, I release guilt.

You only have to let the soft animal of

your body

love what it loves.

Yes. Motherhood has taught me that.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will

tell you mine.

This is why we write. And why we read. And how we love.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear

pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the

clean blue air,

are heading home again.


Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your


calls to you like the wild geese, harsh

and exciting –

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

Doesn’t she just leave you breathless and peaceful?