Oct 252015 Posted in Just Words6 Responses

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 Words8 Responses

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 Jeans2 Responses

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 MotherHood6 Responses

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 Words1 Response

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 Baby2 Responses

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 Words0 Responses

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.

May 292015 Posted in Dear Beautiful Girl5 Responses

Dear Beautiful Girl – Mama, Bare

Dear Beautiful Girl –

There was a time, a long time, before you, when I belonged entirely to myself.  Sometimes I sit and remember that girl – the careless way she traveled through the world, the ease with which she made plans and changed them, her fearless daring heart that jumped and risked and broke and stacked up sleepless nights like they were nothing but fuel for her mischievous fire.  Some days I miss her terribly, miss her like a limb or a purpose or home.  Some days I envy her freedom and her callousness and her vanity.  Some days I sit for long minutes and simply wonder where on earth she has gone.

You are the sort of thing that bends time, my beautiful, precious you.  Even as I remember the girl who was before you, I can’t wrap my heart around a time when you weren’t with me, as though you were something always carried, somewhere in my girlhood and my singleness and our early marriage, something always waiting to come and break and mend everything all at once.  I remember the velvet, other-worldly softness of your newborn body, your wide open eyes that came firm with the knowing that now there would be only after you, that from now on everything I am would be tied to the simple truth that you are.

You are.  You are, and because you are, I will be something other than the girl I was.  My fate, from the moment of your birth and with all of my heart, is tied to the fact of you.  It’s a beautiful truth – one that heals, and bends, and breaks, and challenges, one that I have raged against and clung to and been grateful for with a depth I couldn’t imagine before you.  You are, and because you are, I am altered.  You are, and because you are, I am yours.

Mama, Bare - Girl of Cardigan

I am learning to make space for the pieces of the girl that I was.  I am learning to introduce her to you, to our life here, to let you grab onto her ambitions and her selfishness and her gorgeous careless soul with your perfect little fingers that leave your perfectly indelible mark.  Because it’s us from here on out – because the girl I was and the girl I am because of you and your sweet smile are the puzzle pieces that make up your mother, and we, all of us, belong to each other.

I will give you all of her stories, all of mine, and we will write ours.  I will give you the most beautiful things that I know, I will love you with all the ferocity I can muster, and I will be your mother.  I have been her all along.

It is my absolute privilege to have these words joined with the words of dozens of other raw and gorgeous mamas in Mama, Bare – a book curated by my sweet friend Kristen Hedges.  These stories belong to all of us, and I am deeply proud to be a voice in this collection.  Download the free ebook at Kristen’s website, and grab a paperback copy on Amazon for the newest, loveliest, fragile mighty mamas in your life.  

Girl of Cardigan

Apr 082015 Posted in Just Words15 Responses

Things Made of Love

When I was 21, I stripped all of my beliefs and definitions down to their barest bones.  I was a shattered reputation and a broken heart and lost somewhere between learning to trust my instincts and believing my instincts would always, only betray me.  I was a blank slate, and facing a lonely and daunting future, and so I did what all sane humans do when they are craving love and companionship – I got a dog.

I got a dog.  This is a eulogy.

I’m not sure what I believe about dogs and their souls and heaven, but I believe there is a well, or a current, of love that exists beyond what I understand. We touch it occasionally- the first moments after the birth of a child, meeting a stranger who seems so familiar, a glance across a room that speaks a thousand words in a few seconds time, the faces and voices that appear in our deepest dreams- I like to believe a good dog is something borrowed from that holy place. A bit of that perfect love given temporary limbs, that we might understand something new about what it means to love wholly, selflessly- that we may feel seen and held and cherished.

Caper was my safe place this side of heaven.  Through the most unsteady, sleepless years of my life, he anchored me to something unmovable and holy and true.  Where I was, he wanted to be, and whoever I became, he adored.  The hundreds of nights I came home defeated to an empty room, empty apartment, lost-gone on wanting things I could never have, he greeted me tail wagging, caught tears, and slept by my side.

It sounds silly, but it simply is – Cape was the way I was loved, and he helped me rebuild.

He loved who I loved.  He hated kids.  He lived for table scraps and couch snuggles.  He was the least dog-like dog I’ve ever known.  He’d raise a cynical eyebrow across the room at you one minute and be huddled up in your lap the next. He made space for a toddler who climbed and tugged and adored him, because she was mine, and so his also.  He waited in the living room every night, always, until I went in to bed.  We were always the last two souls awake in this place.  My nights feel still.

Caper died this week, his head in my hands as I whispered “You’re a good boy, buddy,” again and again and again.  On that last ride to the vet, he lifted his tired head to rest it on my arm, and we drove as we’d driven for the last decade, and I rolled down the windows and sang him made up songs.  He knew where we were going.  I knew it was time.

I’d be wrong not to tell you that I feel a bit untethered – he was the keeper of all of my secrets, and now he is gone.

So I’m sad, friends.  But here is what I believe about joy- open all the windows, and it comes in to find you. Unexpected doorstep offerings from lovely friends, sweet baby kisses, good food, long walks- joy finds its way through the cracks in the sidewalk, takes your sadness by the hand like an old lover and sits by silently, stirring up gratitude, settling your soul.  Water and fire.  The bread and the wine.

I will think of him having returned there, to that well beyond my understanding.  I will think of that love now reborn in first smiles and deep kisses and soulmates and old friends. Because all things made of love are eternal, and isn’t that everything?

Things Made of Love - Girl of Cardigan

Goodbye, old friend.

Girl of Cardigan

Feb 112015 Posted in Dear Beautiful Girl, The MotherHood, Wear Your Baby7 Responses

LILLE Love Letters – On Love

As part of my partnership with LILLEbaby, Fabes and I are participating in the #LILLEloveletters series.  I’ll be writing to her on different themes throughout the year.  For this first installment in the series, the theme is “Love.”

LILLE Love Letters: On Love - Girl of Cardigan

Dear Beautiful Girl –

What can I write to you about love that hasn’t been written a thousand times before?

You are teaching me, every day, the width and breadth and depth of love – the limits it will stretch toward, the tired way it laces your hair through my fingertips after a long day of toddler battling, the ache it anchors in the squarest center of my chest, the wounds it is carving on my soul.

We speak of love as though it were an independent thing, a wonder that forces itself on us and comes and goes at whim, a fickle magic that cannot be cultivated or captured.  We speak of love as though it turns the world easy, the days giddy, the months short, the years golden.

LILLE Love Letters: On Love - Girl of Cardigan

I want to tell you a different love story, tiny beautiful girl.  I want to tell you that love is the bravest thing, a stubborn thing, the grip of strong fingers onto precious arms, a steady voice humming lullabies while hurricanes swirl overhead.  Loving you is the most natural thing I’ve ever done, and also the hardest and most impossible, because love opens us up to loss and fear and the tension of living with something we long for.  Loving you means allowing my heart to break in my chest when you cry, or hurt, or rage.  Loving you invites your pain and makes it my own.  Loving you sacrifices a piece of me, gives it to live and ache and die and mourn with you.  Loving you means I no longer belong only to myself.

LILLE Love Letters: On Love - Girl of Cardigan

Love makes us vulnerable, for we are made of breakable stuff – we are beautiful mistake-makers who betray and hurt and fail.  I will fail you, more times than I care to, and we will fall apart and fall back together, but let me tell you this: Loving you is the best work I have ever done, that I will ever do.  Loving you is so much more than worth it.

LILLE Love Letters: On Love - Girl of Cardigan

Love is our battle cry in the broken places.  It is the bravest thing, and the hardest, and a fierce and mighty weapon against the forces that would rob us of each other.  Love is a conquerer, and it is yours to choose, to cultivate, to celebrate, and to give.  Love is the way we belong to each other, the way we carry each other, and the thing that carries us.  May you love with ferocity, beautiful girl, with reckless grace, with wild abandon, with all of your heart.

LILLE Love Letters: On Love - Girl of Cardigan

And I will whisper to you, as I have done every night since the night you were born:

I love you bigger than the sky

I love you deeper than the sea

I love you wider than the world

I love you taller than the stars

And you’re my best girl.

Girl of Cardigan


This post has been edited to include affiliate links.
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