Two months ago I was standing on a beach on the other side of the world, too scared to go into the water.

“What if I do this wrong?”  “What if I get hurt?”  “Sitting on the sand is good enough.”

And then I remembered.

You are here because you traveled across the Pacific Ocean by yourself, going on your honeymoon almost two years after your marriage abruptly ended and you started your life over in a new time zone.

You are going in the damn ocean.


whatever happens,

you know how to save yourself.

Twenty years ago today my niece was born.

I remember my mother calling me at home, I was on summer vacation between third and fourth grade, and saying, “YOUR SISTER IS DELIVERING.”  I was so new at everything that I remember getting super excited that my sibling, 13 years my senior, was bringing me pizza.

We zoomed up to the hospital and stayed there for the next several hours.  My mom, dad, brother and I wandered around, got locked out, and didn’t find the luxurious waiting area for those participating in the Miracle of Life until just before she arrived, at 12:45 a.m.

My niece is the first baby I held.  The first (and only) baby I dropped.  The first time I felt maternal instinct.  The first time I taught someone.  The first time I protected someone.

She enters her 20s today, as I prepare to leave mine.  This is the first decade I have experienced where I can look back in awe at its fullness.  I can feel every one of those 10 years, like tally marks etched into my bones from inside the cell.

So I feel both obligated and completely unqualified to tell her:

You deserve it.  Whatever you think you don’t deserve at work or in a relationship or when standing in front of some donuts — you do.  Knowing this may make you feel alone at times, but you are never alone.

Being assertive, being grateful, having a point of view: these things are essential and take lots of practice.

Love what you love.  Embrace your weird playlist and quirky hobby and bizarre snacks you eat in secret.  Your people will love you anyway.

Whatever comes your way, you are never stuck.

You know how to save yourself.

Christmas, 1999