May 032016 Posted in Dear Beautiful Girl

Dear Beautiful Girl – Pop and the Pickle Jar

Dear Beautiful Girl –

Metaphor is the blessing and the curse of the writer.  It’s the tool that gives us the ability to voice the un-voiceable truths, open the doors inside of other humans and air out all the unspeakable things, and also the crutch that makes us insufferable in an argument and pretty much the worst when all you need is a straight answer.

Our deep love, deep need for metaphor also renders us exceptionally vulnerable to the profundity of the everyday, to the lightning strike of inspiration in the darndest places.  It’s the reason you’ll find me tearing up in the produce aisle, or lost in a day long reverie around the symbolism and strength in the way we interact with coffee cups.

Or pickle jars.  Today, it was a pickle jar.

I’ll be the first to admit that I often cast my husband in his gender binary role as “Household Jar Opener.”  Sure, I can open jars – I haul a three year old around on the daily, so arm strength and I are on pretty solid terms.  But he’s better at it, and faster, so I rarely bother with the jar struggle.  I hand them over and preserve my pretty little precious lady fingers.  Or whatever.

But today I needed to open the damn pickles, having just arrived home from the store with neither the time nor the mental energy to sort out an alternative snack for a pickle-demanding toddler.  Game on, girl verses jar, and that sucker was stuck.  I did the whole “bang it on the counter cause sure that does something” trick.  I did the “make a loud sound because clearly loud people are stronger” trick.  And then I dug my heels in and twisted as hard as I could, for just a few seconds longer, just a tiny bit harder than I thought I was capable of doing.


And then I stood there, in the kitchen with an open pickle jar, and sank into the weight and the beauty and the love in my broken-hearted soul for metaphor.  Because how many times – how many times in my life have I experienced the magic of this same simple sequence?  

Try harder.
Quit again, declare that I simply cannot – I don’t have the arm strength or the stamina or the heart space or the will anymore dammit.
Try, and this time try just past the point I am actually capable of trying – try right into something that is beyond me, something bigger than my mental and physical and emotional limits.  Try beyond where I was 100% sure I was able to go.


Labor.  Late night baby wrangling.  The early sting of an alarm clock, the last mile of a marathon, the box I couldn’t lift, the project I was afraid to start.  The friendship that seems to hurt more than it heals, the belief that feels broken, the longest day, the edge where the wind and the fear and the pain are the strongest.  Love, god, always love, love and every other place we meet each other.  The challenge of community, the way we can break and burn, the way we wound and heal.  The paralyzing feeling that you’ve gone exactly as far as you have the strength and the courage and the will to go.

And the moment when you keep going.  Keep going.


Pop, and the newborn miracle arrives in your arms.  Pop, and you somehow are awake for another day, another hug, more laughter.  Pop, and the hurt is mended into something deeper, and you find a belief that is rooted and strong, pop and you jump and you fly and you love and life, all of life, all of the best of it – the sweet salty pickle jar magic of living your whole wide open life – all of it is right on the other side of that place just beyond the last of your strength, the end of your courage, the shattering of your will.

I stood in the kitchen with my pickle jar and wondered how much of my life I’ve been living just shy of that moment.  How many times have I quit just before the magic kicks in, surrendered to my own definition of limit at exactly the wrong moment and shorted myself by inches of all kinds of improbable beauty?  How often have I sacrificed potential by writing off wonderful in the moment just before it happens – when it’s simply too damn scary, too damn painful, too damn hard?

How often am I too tired or terrified to wait for the pop?

I’ll tell you one thing: pickles are delicious.  And you are stronger than you know.  And just beyond whatever you are sure you can’t accomplish is life.  And you are worthy and ready and more than enough for that.  You deserve all the pickles.  You deserve all the life.

Keep going.  Keep going.

Wait for it.


Girl of Cardigan


Feb 142016 Posted in Just Words, Love

Love More

I wrote this piece a while back for my lovely friend Amanda, who is the creator of The Love More Shop, which is basically the most perfect thing you could possibly check out for Valentine’s Day.  Go read about her beautiful heart and buy yourself a beautiful shirt.  And Happy Love Day – here’s a not-so-typical love letter for you.

The surest road home from heartbreak has always been love.

I arrived in Portland nearly eight years ago, a wide-eyed wreck of a girl with a life I had loved and lost, with a man I liked, but knew probably wasn’t the one.  Behind me were two years spent in my parents’ big wild backyard, walking the woods and reclaiming myself from a failed marriage, a painful rejection, and the loss of so many words I’d used to define home.  Behind me was the entirety of the plan I’d had for my life, and so I arrived here untethered, uncertain what I believed or where I was going, unclear on whether love was a word I’d be able to use again in present tense.  I arrived here broken open, and I fell in love.

Portland, OR is a city with a rhythm – a whine and a pulse and a beat echoed in raindrops and bike gears and coffee sips and hipster eyerolls.  Something in the soggy pace of this place began to sink into the baggage I carried, began to rot away the walls I’d painstakingly erected to protect my still-aching heart.  A little hope leaked into me, a little moss began to spread over my aging excuses, and Portland began to teach me to love in the smallest ways – to love like a stepping stone, like a whisper, like taking hold of a hand.

Here is how to fall in love when your heart has been broken:

Begin with leaves.  Crush just a little on the magic of a wildfire fall, the red and yellow swirling, the fluttering rush.  Take long walks under sun-shadowed canopies and let the sound of them soothe you – trust them, even though you know they are only temporary.  Let yourself rest in the beauty of leaves, and once you have loved them, just a little, just enough, love more.

Surrender to the patterns of city streets, the sweet swell of them, the bustle and chaos.  Count cobblestones and coffee shops, read street signs aloud until you learn them, watch for moments of beauty drawn in sidewalk chalk.  Write poems to the strangers you pass there, and when you have loved the streets and the strangers just a little, just enough, love more.

Dare your eyes to meet the eyes of others as you pass them – look there for connection, for loss, for a common ache.  Meet strangers eyes on the train and in book shops, and when this stops terrifying you – when the gates of your heart stop slamming shut at every new face, try smiling.  Let the smile that begins at your lips work its way to your hands, to your voice, and extend them.

Put yourself in paths where your people may find you, and when they find you – when strangers become acquaintances and you start to love them, just a little, just enough, love more.

Begin to take chances.  Test the holes in those heart walls by shoving little love notes through them.  Let yourself be fascinated by someone’s hands, or the way he laughs, or the way she cares for others.  Teach yourself to start using old words with new landing places, words like friend and best and together and possibly even home.  When the walls start to crumble, when they threaten to fall, push them mightily with true stories and long dinners and longer term plans.  Throw parties and share secrets and invite everyone in.  And when you find yourself loving them all just a little, just enough, love more.

Fall in love with a season, then a place, then its people, then something holy, and let it all heal you.  And when your trust falters, begin again, begin always again.  When your roots grow deep and wide, when there is a man and a new marriage and a child with a wild heart and your eyes, and you love them too much, or just enough, love more.  Love hard and fierce and stubbornly more.

When they fail you, when you fail them – when the landscape changes, when your heart breaks a thousand more times, on the days when the grit of the city and the struggle and your tired mama soul rise up in protest – gather your courage and love just a little, just enough – then love more.  Begin with the leaves.

The surest road home from heartbreak has always been…

Girl of Cardigan


Feb 022016 Posted in Dear Beautiful Girl

Dear Beautiful Girl – Mother, Imperfect

Dear Beautiful Girl –

I rarely carry you these days.

You run, and climb, and walk, and jump – you are a whirlwind and a force and so much your own person. But I feel, I carry, the weight of you, especially lately. The weight of your wide open eyes, our long, weary winter days, our early mornings and your beautiful, stubborn independent resistance. The weight of the lessons you’ve yet to learn, the bruises that will rise and fade and rise again on your knees, the many times your heart will break and mend, the promise to teach you what is true, what is good, what is right, what is home.

The most precious burden, my most cherished responsibility, the joy and the gratitude – and still there are days I am simply lost for what to give to you. Days that feel heaviest. Days where the weight of being your world is as much as I can carry. Days when I need to ask someone else to carry me.

Days when I am desperately carving space for the wandering girl inside me who is always trying to conquer the biggest questions and solve the hardest truths.

I keep dreaming about deserts – all that wild endless space, and the silence, and the time. All that open air and dry heat to sweat and solve and feel out all the aching places, all the tired muscles, all the lost pieces and mended holes. How to be the mother you deserve when my soul craves solitude? How to hold you when I am tired of being touched? How to be your solid place to land when the ground all around me is shaking?

Do any of us ever stop asking these questions?

Deconstruction is beauty that feels like a wound. It’s a hopeful autopsy – perhaps, if we tear away this bluing flesh and rusting bone, cut sharply the most tender places, we can uncover the deep-beating heart of this thing. Deconstruction is the true-trusted voices calling you back from the edge “Stop! It’s too close and too far and you’ll fall” and the newborn, trembling courage to call back “I love you, I feel it, I know, how I know – but this canyon and I have our business to finish, and I need to see all the way down to its floor. I need to toe up to the edge and let the wind hold me. I need to trust whomever it was who promised to carry us home.”

It’s a long look into the face in a clear mirror, asking her what remains if you simply aren’t the girl you thought you would be.

To be your mother, as I dissect and unwind and unpack and disassemble the building blocks upon which I have created a space for us, as I look into the eyes of the truest things. To be your mother, as I am undone and redoing. To be your mother, as I am rebuilding her, rewriting her, exploring her edges, exploring the space in between. To be your mother, imperfect. To be your mother, wide open.

I am weary of being right. I am weary of being sure.

What remains if I am simply not the mother I thought I would be?

Beautiful, magical, wonderful girl – I love you, I love you, I love you so.

Here is what I know:

Grace is a door left swinging, the mutinous value pressed into unworthy spaces, the endless echoing wonder of your laugh. Grace is the given, the holy, the only remaining. Grace is the eyes that see and the ears that hear, the deep inner knowing, the heartbeat still drumming here under, here always, here now. Grace is the hand the grasps and the heart that opens, the freedom to hold loosely, the rush of the wind and the sense of belonging. Grace is you and I learning, and holding, and making each other. Grace is the unmovable root of the thing, and whoever God is and wherever we’re going, grace is enough.   Grace is most certainly, always enough.

I will give you your mother, imperfect, to hold, as I hold you.

We will falter, and laugh.

We will walk boldly, and learn.

We will fold into grace that will carry us.

We will let it sing us through the desert.

We will cling to it all the way home.

Girl of Cardigan

A quick note to those sweet among you who will read this and worry – yes, this is a dark piece.  Writing is often the best way for me to process darker things, and writers are often keen to see and tell and share the darkness a bit.  It is a dark piece, but not a dark life.  We are full of hope and gratitude, and beauty is abundant and recognized around here.
Oct 252015 Posted in Just Words

Hey, You – A Manifesto for Living

Let’s promise each other we won’t be wasted.

Maybe it begins with making our beds in the morning, opening a window, holding the silence for a moment to reflect.  Maybe it’s the whir of a blender or a cup of coffee, a long stretch, the deliberate reaching for a hand.  Maybe we stay quiet long enough to let ourselves notice, or maybe we aim to fill our eyes or ears with the early morning wisdom of poets – maybe it’s an intentional orientation toward beautiful things.  Whatever it is, let’s begin it.

Maybe you are tired – I’m certain you are.  I’m tired too, but deep in us somewhere is the spark of a fire, the smallest celebration, the origin of joy.  Let’s find it, and feed it, nudge it forward just a little.  Let’s stubbornly muster enthusiasm, let’s be relentless instead of cynical, let’s wink at the world like we know all its secrets, and when they accuse us of being too silly, let’s toss them into a swimming pool.  When the room is dark, we’ll be the ones holding a candle or setting off a firework, or yelling “Boo!” until everyone dissolves into fits of giggles.  There is a gift in us for laughter, a place that keeps and calls it – let’s strap it to our shoulders and wear it like armor into the world.

Maybe we can poke and push and prod the creative spaces in each other, the spaces that dream and long and break open.  Maybe we can give flesh to the bones of all our ideas, show up for each other’s projects with hammers in hand, offer our muscles for the heavy lifting and our sincerest applause for the effort made.  Together, maybe, we can make all kinds of beautiful things.

Maybe it won’t be perfect.  This place is long days and hard work and a thousand compromises, but let’s refuse to be victims.  We can challenge life to a duel, to a bettering, to a wager, a game – we can love others wildly and wonderfully enough to inspire them to fight, and gamble, and play.  Maybe we can walk into the places where the magic is lacking and bring it with us.  Maybe that’s been the only secret all along.

Maybe we can fall in love, a hundred times a day, with places and moments and strangers and possibilities, with life and loss and each other and time. Maybe we can train our eyes to notice details that inspire us and our hearts to open to breaking and dissolve into grace.  Let’s make long lists of the complicated quirks and beauties of the people we meet, store them away like an arsenal, then sound them like a battle cry in all the perfect moments.  Let’s be wild and unpredictable.  Let’s ask the hardest questions.  Let’s break all the rules and shatter all the expectations.

Maybe we can hold each other accountable to the magical tension of the middle – the place where we can be where we are, but never settle, hold what we have, but always seek.  Let’s keep pushing without running, and rest without going numb, and let the adrenaline of a life lived in tightrope balance flow through our aging veins and keep our weary hearts pumping.  Let’s walk the line, and celebrate it.

When we feel stuck, when we are shattered, let’s whisper true things until we believe them.  I will carry hope for you if you’ll hold it for me.  Let’s see the light in each other and call it out as many times as necessary, maybe more.  Let’s hold ourselves to the wildfire business of actual living.  Let’s tend to each other’s burns, light more matches, carry on.

Let’s promise each other we won’t be wasted.

No more excuses.  This is our one and only life… let’s make it sing.

Girl of Cardigan

Oct 102015 Posted in Just Words

When I Am an Old Woman

When I am an old woman, I will stand bare-skinned in swimming pool locker rooms, wrinkle-folded, freckled, raw and so beautifully beyond the thoughts and glances and criticisms and fear of the young eyes that will stare for a moment before looking shamefully away.  I will listen to the singing cool of water evaporating, I will wait as the air and the passing of time whisper the droplets skyward.  When I am dry enough, laughing, I will wear clothes that soothe me.  I will smile at a toddler.  I will be on my way.

When I am an old woman, I will waste no time worrying if the words I am saying are the right ones.  I will speak boldly in the awkward moments when injustice is obvious and I am surrounded by painfully held tongues.  I will sprinkle the kindest things into the ears of every stranger, unconcerned by their rejection, because we all grow scales against rejection in time.  I will tell the lovely they are lovely, and the brave that they are brave, and the young that they are mighty, and the lonely that loneliness has a rich well of beauty just its own.  I will sing loudly on trains and at bus stops if it suits me, and wink in the direction of curious passers by.  If my legs are willing, I will dance.

When I am an old woman, I will tell my darkest stories with a shameless, wistful tongue.  I will speak guiltlessly of the mistakes and the losses and the passions and the wounds.  I will count sacred the risks and the arrows I took for love, recall them as the moments most lived and the tales most worth telling.  I will let my eyes sparkle at the scandalous human stories we are all writing, let my heart laugh for the humor and beauty of it all.

When I am an old woman, I will choose my apologies carefully.  I will stop being sorry for what I am not, or when I require care from others, or the places my weaker self shows through.  I will spare you my excuses for crying when stories are heartfelt, or wearing the same hat as many days in a row as suits me, or being a few minutes late for lunch.  I will love the things I love loudly, regardless of how hip or current or worthy you think they are.  I will eat and listen to and carry close whatever it is I like.

When I am an old woman, I will dedicate days just to watching – just to slowing and collecting new words for new observations, new ways to notice your hand resting just so on a table, a new wrinkle in your forehead, the way a leaf colors and changes and falls.  I will cultivate space and time to fall in love with everyone and everything just enough to bring them to life – I will love purposefully, and often, and mostly, and more.  I will love grocery clerks and crosswalk attendants and mail carriers and stray cats with a diligent grace and a generous vocabulary.  I will listen to their stories, because stories are the soul of everything, because stories are where we are born.

When I am an old woman, I will be careful with time and reckless with love.  I will spend long days with exactly the people I’d prefer to be with, will make no apologies for craving their company and their touch and their voices.  I will sleep when sleeping suits me and read when it doesn’t.  I will take stiff limbs on long walks just to rest on your porch steps, to watch your children’s children play on your lawn, to waste away hours just being near.  I will welcome accusations of eccentricity, because life is long, and only, and we are always just what we are.

When I am an old woman, I will dare those at the beginning, with lives wide and stretching before them, to cling to things that make them feel alive – to build their homes in the uncomfortable wild spaces, the places full of desire and gratitude and hope and flame.  I will urge them to love as deeply and as wholly as they can, and when they cannot love further, I will suggest they love more.  I will whisper to them again and again that they are only beginning, that they are writing beautiful broken stories, that there are many, many, so many adventures yet to start.

When I Am An Old Woman - Girl of Cardigan

When I am an old woman, I will wonder why it took so long, so many years and so many lessons, to arrive there.  I will wonder at the bare-skinned shame of my youth, the young body and the beautiful truths and naked failings I fought so hard to hide and cover and erase.  I will regret only the years wasted holding back.  I will regret only the words I never said.  I will regret only the stories I was never quite brave enough to tell.

Youth is only wasted on the young.

photography by the generous and lovely Nancy Noble Barnes

Aug 122015 Posted in Fashion Remix, Mom Jeans

That Time I Finally Tried Stitch Fix and Didn’t Hate it After All

Hi there.  I’m Karyn, and I’m a Stitch Fix avoider.

Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s a fabulous idea.  I love surprises.  I love packages in the mail.  I love surprise packages in the mail.  I’ve been Stitch-curious for months – I’ve watched videos and read blogs and almost clicked that schedule button so many times, but you know what has been holding me back?  Pink chevron.

Wait.  I’ll explain.

I feel like there’s a particular Stitch Fix blogger style that, don’t get me wrong, is adorable – it’s colorful and chevron-y and full of lovely feminine embroidered things and sunshine and smiling faces – and it’s so, so not me.  I’m Pollyanna through and through, but I dress like a rain cloud – it’s gray tshirts and dark jeans and plaid button downs around here, clean, simple, no pink, no chevron.  Could Stitch Fix hang with my picky, depressing, dark Portlandy self?  I was skeptical.

I really don’t love pink chevron.

But August is my birthday month, so I thought heck – let’s try it.  I answered all the questions, I pinned lots of dark, leather-trimmed things, and I wrote my stylist-to-be a very detailed note about specific events and my stormy preferences and please oh please no pink chevron things, and I scheduled a Fix.

For those who don’t know, Stitch Fix works like this: You give them $20, they send you five handpicked items they think you will love, you try them on, decide what you’d like to keep, and send back what you don’t want.  If you keep anything from your Fix, your $20 is applied to your purchase and they charge you the rest of the balance.  If you send it all back, you’re out $20.  If you keep it all, you get 25% off.  And no, I’m not sponsored by Stitch Fix – I bought my box myself.  I’m pretty sure they heard about my pink chevron thing and saw how awkward I look in clothes-modeling pictures and thought “Um, no, we’re not going there.”

Let’s get to it, shall we?  Here’s what was in my box:

Stitch Fix Skeptic - Girl of Cardigan

Okay.  Okay.  I’m actually really pleasantly surprised here.  Justine, my stylist?  Guys.  SHE GETS ME.  No pink chevron, no perky floral things.  I tried to make myself sound super edgy by mentioning that I had, like, art openings and CD release parties to go to (TRUE.), and maybe it worked, because girlfriend nailed it.  Mostly.  My expectations were absolutely exceeded.

I was surprised to see the earrings, since I was pretty sure I’d set my Fix settings to “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO NOT SEND ME JEWELRY,” but there they are.  More on that later.

This is the part where I model these things for you, right?  Super.  Here we go.

Stitch Fix Skeptic - Girl of Cardigan

I really, really liked this top.  The cut was cute – boxy but not overwhelmingly so – and I loved the little peekaboo trim action down the front.  Black and white is always a win for me.  Justine.  Girl.  Yes.

Stitch Fix Skeptic - Girl of Cardigan

This one was disappointing – I LOVED it when I pulled it out of the box, but on me, it was just too tent-like and boxy and just really, really not flattering.  But I absolutely would have taken this off the rack in a store and tried it on.  So kudos to Justine again.

I’d apologize to you for the less-than-stellar quality of these pictures, but I have a toddler and a house to clean and I put on entire outfits for you, love bug, like a champion.  I changed my pants four times.  I’m not sorry.  I also didn’t sweep the floor.  Deal with it.

Stitch Fix Skeptic - Girl of Cardigan

Gahhhhh this cardigan.  I love everything about this cardigan except the way it zips.  The fabric is heaven.  The cut is adorable.  Asymmetry is my JAM.  But the zipper sticks and the layer of fabric underneath gets really bunchy because there’s no way to secure it, and for $68, I just can’t hang with fiddly.  Which is the saddest, because oh man.  So soft.  So good.

Stitch Fix Skeptic - Girl of Cardigan

This was the only piece in my Fix that I thought totally missed the mark (sorry Justine).  I just don’t get this shirt – I’m not an open weave knit kid, the cut is strange, it’s way stretchy, the stripes are SO DANG adamant about their stripiness – nope.  But really, considering I was sure I was going to get a big box of pink chevron, one miss is pretty darn acceptable.  And I can understand why someone who looked at my Pinterest boards might choose this for me – I pin a lot of stripes.  Just, ya know, quieter stripes.

Seriously, stripes, calm the hell down.

So that was my first Stitch Fix!  And I owe Justine an apology, because even though I really liked so many things in this box, I only kept one thing.  I keep a tiny capsule wardrobe, so I can only buy things I really, truly love, and while a couple of these came close, they weren’t quite there.

Except the earrings.

Stitch Fix Skeptic - Girl of Cardigan

Touchè, Justine.  Touchè.

Closing thoughts: Consider me officially impressed.  Stitch Fix did a pretty darn good job of nailing my personal style, and the things they sent fit well.  The experience was easy and fun and a nice treat for $20, which then morphed into a cute pair of earrings that I’ll probably wear every day forever.

I’d do it again.  And if you’d like to try it, you can click here ——–> CLICKING HERE WILL TAKE YOU TO STITCH FIX AND SCORE KARYN REFERRAL DOLLARS SO SHE CAN TRY IT AGAIN.  (What?  I’m not going to lie to you.  You don’t have to use that link.  You can Google, and I’ll still love you.  But who doesn’t like free stuff, I ask you?  You’d do it too.)

Girl of Cardigan






Aug 102015 Posted in Dear Beautiful Girl, Faby Baby, Love, The MotherHood

Dear Beautiful Girl – Heart Stories

I never wrote about your heart.

Sometimes, when I try to write, my fingers hover over the keyboard and the words rise like a lump to the back of my throat and just stick there.  Sometimes, I wrap the words in story before they ever leave my body – name them too ungrateful, too insignificant, insensitive, unfair.  Sometimes, I stop them long before they can begin.

Dear Beautiful Girl - Heart Stories

I never wrote about your heart, because the tiny hole in your tiny heart felt small in the universe of wild and terrible things.  I never wrote about the hours I counted your murmuring heartbeats, or the way you screamed as they searched and searched the images of your tiny newborn chest, or the way my own heart stopped when the tech had to call in a second opinion, when we learned how your insides are a mirror, a reflection, nothing exactly where it should be and everything perfectly in place.

I never wrote about your heart, because somewhere another heart had stopped beating while yours continued, and isn’t it unfair, and aren’t we lucky, and who am I to lament the insignificant terror of your humble, healed and healing heart.  When I quantify loss, we have only gained, and so I deemed the story of your tiny heart unworthy, I silenced the fear, and I put it away.

Dear Beautiful Girl - Heart Stories

“Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine…”

We are creatures made to run from broken things.  Our instinct, in the face of our worst possibilities, is to flee to the safety of our apathy and our routine.  We have skins that itch with the silence and the sitting and the incurable necessity of grief, so we flee them – the massive losses and the smallest awfuls – we run.  We avoid.  We distract.

I’d argue also that we flee our joys.  We weight our moments of possible magic with our cannots and our should nots and our missing things and our regrets.  This would be perfect if only you were with me, this would be everything if only I hadn’t, I would be happy if only I could resolve this last only if only if I.  We hold certain memories in sacred light and convince ourselves that nothing can match them, we build our nests in our pasts and our futures, and in doing so, we forget simply to hold each other, to laugh, to look one another in the eye.

Dear Beautiful Girl - Heart Stories

I never wrote about your heart, but I mourned the dream of fearless first baby days with you.  A small grief, insignificant, but a grief that anchors me to the larger unthinkables.  Our grief, our joy, our ability to allow ourselves the very heights and depths of feeling – these are where we meet each other.  They are the place we can sit in the silence and the laughter, sit with the tears and the longing, the glory and the light.  They are the work and the reward of community, of living together, of knowing each others’ names.

Today, hearts are breaking, and mine will break for them.  Today, yours is beating, and mine will be grateful and full of a thousand questions, and relieved to know that grief, and joy, and questioning can be all contained within it.  We have hearts that can hold the deepest loss and the most marvelous victory and the largest doubts and the wildest laughter and come out living.  We just have to open them to each other.  We just have to open them.

We just have to anchor our feet and stay in the silence, awkward and wondering, broken and healed.

Girl of Cardigan


Jul 222015 Posted in Just Words

Kindred Montauk – A Tri-Coastal Wrap Review

Listen – I have a lot of feelings.  When you write to me that you welled up or dropped a few tears on your sleeping baby while reading a post, I can GUARANTEE you that I’ve nearly short-circuited a keyboard somewhere writing it.  A breeze, an open door, a package in the mail, a texture – all triggers for those massive feelings lurking just under the surface of my skin, waiting to get inspired and leak their way out in tears and words and wild trains of thought.

This is a wrap review, obviously, if you couldn’t tell yet.

Dear Beautiful Girl - Girl of Cardigan

I got a bit over-excited when I first heard about Kindred Wrap.  The idea of a wrap company born in the PNW and Hawaii struck a deeply romantic chord in me – there’s something so peculiar about that combination, and something so obvious, and something so deep in me that pulls always toward the sea that divides us.  I could lose myself for hours thinking of ways we are different, and the so many ways we are the same (thanks, Daniel Tiger), and of wraps dreamed up across all of that ocean space.  See?  Those feelings.  They’re just right there all the time.  You’d be tired, too.

Kindred Montauk is a beauty of a wrap with a name that ties it to yet another coastline.  It arrived here wrapped up like a birthday gift, winning oooohs and ahhs from a delighted Foof, who has been well trained to fully appreciate the delivery of beautiful textiles.

“A wraaa-ap!” she cooed, “Wif polka dots!!!”  That’s my girl.

My Caramel sample was so soft out of the box that I assumed it would never be supportive enough for my toddler cargo, as though motherhood hasn’t taught me a thousand times that strength and softness are at their best when paired.  It’s the deep sugared honey of sea-soaked sands, a color that marries the foam of Seattle lattes to salt spray and pineapple skins, the crusts of bread baking and the weathered wood walls of a Montauk lighthouse.  This is a color as at home bikini-clad on the beach as it is paired with sharp black skinnies for a trip downtown.  It is urban and rustic and magical and downright yummy.

It’s a world of yes.

Kindred Montauk Review - Girl of Cardigan


We spent two weeks on a Kindred honeymoon, wrapped up in Montauk (45% Tencel, 55% Cotton) for long walks and toddler nap battles.  Soft, dry, not too thick, it wraps easily, and I would happily suggest this wrap to a new wearer.  With careful tightening in a multi-pass carry, it held up against our toddler trials with impressive fortitude – comfortable, locked, and shockingly supportive for its density.  I’m a girl who likes a thick, hefty wrap, so Montauk was on the thin side for me, and I will be the first to admit I underestimated its ability to perform.  I stand corrected.  I repent.  I repeated the phrase “I gotta tell ya, I really think I’m coming around to this whole Tencel thing” enough times to annoy my husband.

Kindred Montauk Review - Girl of Cardigan

And everywhere we went, someone called out to tell us how dang adorable/chic/fabulous/OMG THE COLOR it was.  Every time.

Seriously.  Lattes and beaches and worn wood…oh my.

Kindred Montauk Review - Girl of Cardigan

Yes to the tri-coastal magic of Kindred Montauk.

Yes to the random polka dot placement that had us fascinated and saved my perfectionist soul from having to align them perfectly on my chest pass.

Yes to Tencel – I thought I’d never say it, but there it is.

Yes to colors that are flattering and versatile and just plain delicious looking.

Yes to all things that are as soft as they are strong.

Yes to palm trees and ferry rides and everything in between.

Yes to kin and kindred, to the oceans that separate and tie us, to the beautiful ways we are tied to each other.

And a huge yes to Kindred Wrap, who have come into the wrap scene with some very impressive offerings and completely exceeded the expectations of this toddler-wearing family.

Kindred Montauk Review - Girl of Cardigan

Girl of Cardigan

The thoughts here are my own, and though the folks at Kindred loaned me a sample for this review, I was not compensated for my opinions.  I like beautiful wraps, and am always happy to introduce them to you.  
Jul 142015 Posted in Print Shop, Wear Your Baby

Dear Beautiful Girl – I Carried You

Dear Beautiful Girl –

Some day, when my bones are weary with age and your arms are full of your own babies, or perhaps their babies, I will pull your wrinkling face to mine and whisper to you about how I carried you.

Dear Beautiful Girl - Orange - Girl of Cardigan

Your fragile newborn self, your round-headed infant person, your laughing, squalling, joyful raging toddler limbs, your muscle and kicks and tears, your smooth-soled feet and your climbing fingers, the sweat of your curls on my back- I carried you.

Dear Beautiful Girl - Girl of Cardigan

My whole heart and your whole being, wrapped to each other, I carried you. On the days we paced dismal in each other’s failure, the days we climbed mountains, the days that were only just days- I carried you. Like a memory, like my own body, like every precious wild and temporary thing, I carried you, like the weight of the holy, like the deep grounding center of joy.
Today, you are sweetly sleep-breathing between my shoulders, and someday I will remind you, every day, where you have come from, where you belong.
I have always carried you. I will carry you always.

Dear Beautiful Girl - Girl of Cardigan

Friends – I am SO excited to announce the launch of the Girl of Cardigan Print Shop.  This piece, artfully designed by my gorgeous babywearing buddy Jill Smyth, is our first offering, either as an 8×10 print or a digital download for you to print as you will.  Click here to hop over to the shop and order yours!

I Carried You 8x10 - Girl of Cardigan

Girl of Cardigan

This post has been updated to include affiliate links.
Jun 032015 Posted in Just Words

Songs and Stories

I’m a lot of things, but I’m absolutely not a musician.

Before we go any further, let me warn you that this is not going to be a post about motherhood and villages and how very much I adore you.  We’re going out of the box a bit here, but I’m asking you to stay with me, because I’m really excited about this project, and you guys are my village.

Actually, in a way, this sort of is a post about motherhood and villages and how very much I adore you.

So. I’m not a musician.  I tried to be, for a little while, but guys… I suck.  I learn to play six chords on any given thing and then get hopelessly frustrated and abandon it.  It’s not pretty.  Which might be why my child keeps yelling “MAMA DON’T SING” at me in the car.  I digress.

I’m not a musician, but I love musicians, and I’m lucky enough to have surrounded myself with friends who are talented and inspired and often willing to sing songs with me for hours on end.  Which is the greatest, right?

My friend Brandon Pasion is one of those people.  I’ve been waiting for him to release an album for literally over a third of my life, and when he invited me to partner with him and do some lyrical work on a few songs, I just about died from happy.  Because I am NEVER going to be a songwriter on my own, but GUYS.  I got to help write songs.  How wonderful is it that friendship allows us to do all the things we never thought we could do as long as we’re willing to work together?  Collaboration makes me feel lucky.  The village makes me feel home.

Songs and Stories - Girl of Cardigan

This art print of some of the lyrics from the album, handwritten by the gorgeous Rachel Jacobson, is one of the Kickstarter incentives. And also totally going up on my wall.

I’m not a musician, and it has never been my dream to release an album, but it is Brandon’s, and I’m asking you, my village, to help me help him make it happen.  I’m asking you to go Brandon’s Kickstarter page today and consider donating $5, $10, however many dollars you feel moved to give.  I try to protect you guys and this space as much as I can – no adds, no monetization, no sponsors or sales pitches or click-bait – I write to you for the love of doing so, for the community we have, and for the beautiful wonder of this maddening journey we’re on.  But I’m asking you to consider backing this project.  He’ll reward you with an album full of beautiful songs that I believe you will love, a couple of which I even helped him write.  (GUYS.  I GOT TO HELP WRITE SONGS.  It’s, like, the coolest thing ever.)

(click that little K in the top left corner of the video to link to the Kickstarter page)

No pressure.  You know you’re always welcome here, and that I’ll keep writing to you with my whole heart, for free, for always.  But I would love it if you’d join me in this.  Let’s help make a dream come true.  Let’s be awesome. It’s Wednesday – Wednesday is a great day for awesomeness.

Girl of Cardigan

For more info, or just to follow Brandon’s progress as the project continues, find him on Facebook here.

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