FullSizeRender (2) A few months ago, I wrote this post.

It was all about direction and discipline, about taking small steps to achieve big goals.  And I'm glad, so glad, I did this.  I'm grateful I took the necessary and so often overlooked time to sit down, set aside to do lists and should lists and have a conversation with myself.

Because sometimes, we just need to sit down with ourselves and ask some good, honest questions.   

"What I am doing right now that is life-giving?  What makes me come alive?"

"What hurts?"

"How am I feeling?  Like really.  Not how I want folks to think I'm feeling.  How am I doing in the thick of it?

When I asked myself questions like these, the steps to take just sort of fell out of my head.  So I wrote them down, I laid my heart out, I gave it my stamp of approval and said, "Alright, enough talk Maeve, go do it.  Go be it."

But don't hold on too tight.

You see, looking back, those steps sort of boxed me in.  And I hate boxes y'all. Not like pretty ones with bows.  I'm talking about the ones we put ourselves and other people in. The ones where we think we have folks all figured out and don't give them a chance to be anything more.

Oh, you work a 9-5?  You must be pretty boring.

Oh, you write and post about happy things all the time?  You must have it all together. Your life must be pretty darn perfect.

You only eat organic?  You must be one of those crunchy, granola types.

We make folks one dimensional.  When really we're layered and multi-faceted, we're emotional and creative.

We work a 9-5 and paint at night.

We fight for the goodness in the dark.

We eat kale and french fries.

So I took these steps to heart, I weaved them into my day.  And looking back, three months later, I can say - I didn't fully accomplish them.  And the funny thing is, I think a few years ago, maybe even a few months ago,  I would have been upset by that.  I would have been so hard on my tender heart.

There you go Maeve, starting something you didn't finish. AGAIN. 

But I don't think goals of the heart ever really have a firm start and end date.  We don't simply arrive.  We evolve and change and mess up and grow - every minute of every day.

Every second we get a choice.  A choice to start fresh, to say we're sorry, to look shame and guilt in the eye and say, "You're not welcome here."

When we let go of being so strict, we make room for growth and purpose and intention.

I made room for actually reading my bible more.  Sure, I wasn't always on track and would run over my two week deadline, but sometimes, you can't fit a book into just two weeks. Sometimes, you need time to praise God AND to wrestle with Him.

To go from, "Why would you ever let that happen Lord?" to "Okay, I see it now, I see your goodness."

You can't put a deadline on that y'all.

Did Matthew and I stick to our date night each week?  No, not always.

But more often than not, I remember the times we needed to be there for people, we needed to reach out and welcome them into our home.  We needed to respond to the needs of our tribe.  We needed to finally invite our neighbors over for a meal.

As for exercise, as for wanting to sweat each day.  That didn't really happen either.

BUT in between the gym time and walks I found a new appreciation and love for yoga.  I found myself not being so scared to go to a class because I struggle to touch my toes.  I found myself saying yes to a lot more poses - even the ones that hurt.

And I listened to myself when I needed sleep, instead of waking up early to sweat.  I listened when all I really wanted and needed was to cook and write.

Don't get me wrong folks, motivation and direction and goals are good.  I believe that with all my heart.

Although, when we forget to listen to our mind, body and spirit - because we're so busy achieving and performing and doing - I think it hurts us.  I think it does more harm than good.

And maybe that's you too?  Maybe you needed to hear: unclench your fists and give in to what you need in this moment, right here and now.

Is it rest?  Do you need more rest?

Is it a home-cooked meal?  Make yourself something really tasty.  And, if you don't know how, find a friend who cooks really well and ask them to teach you.  [It'll bring them joy - trust me]

Itching to be creative?  Get out the paintbrush, the canvas, the camera, the music book, the journal, the thank you cards.  Whatever it is - just do it.  And trust that even on the days you might not feel creative, you are.

No more excuses.

No more - I'll get to that thing I really want to do tomorrow.

No more boxes.

Dear Mom,

Lauren Gay Photography I started this post late Tuesday night with hopes of publishing first thing Wednesday morning.  And now it's Thursday.


But with my head spinning over the fact that my sweet sister, your dear daughter, became a mother, I just couldn't get my words to fall into place.

Plus it was 10:30pm and I was slowly turning into a pumpkin.

So I didn't finish these words on your birthday.  But, who cares?  Lets celebrate all week. You deserve it.

It's hard to sum you up Momma.  It's hard to pinpoint all the many parts that make you brave and bold and loving.  Because here's the thing, you're an all the time, tell it like it is, hug ya when you need it, powerful woman.

You're one of the few people who can read me.  You know when I am actually completely terrified while I pretend to be cool as a cucumber.

You know full well I'm lying through my teeth on the phone when I say, "Yes Mom, I'm fine".  When Lord knows I'm not.

You're always the first one to call or text or apologize when we've had conflict.

I can be so prideful.  But you?  You just forget about keeping score or who was right or wrong. You just love and forgive and let go.

So much of who I am is because of you.  How do I know?

I struggle to arrive anywhere empty handed.  Be it a plant, cookie tray, or bottle of wine, I need something, anything, to show folks I am so touched to be in their home.

Because you always insisted we bring something.

I  believe a good ol' fashion thank you card never goes out of style.   I can hear your voice ringing in my ear, "Maeve, did you call so and so for that sweet gift?  Did you write them a card?"

I ache to be a good neighbor and friend, even when it might feel awkward or inconvenient.

You're the first person to bring a loaf of bread to a new family that moved in down the street.  You call and stop by when a family has lost someone really important to them.  You check up on the elderly neighbor who lives alone in case they need something.  You invite the neighbors kids over for a swim in the pool.  You babysit your daughters friends kids.

I believe, with all my heart and soul, that all we are and do and believe starts in the home.

You made sure we always ate dinner together as a family.  Even when life was crazy. Even when you and Dad worked full-time jobs and grandma moved in and Jess played field hockey and I played..cheerleading.  Our table was a sacred place.  And that could never be broken.

I believe marriage is hard work.  I know it's something you have to fight for, each and every day.  You've shown me it's about taking a leap of faith and choosing commitment.  It's about standing next to your man when he becomes choked up giving a speech.  It's about always giving each other a kiss when you leave for work. It's about choosing to talk at the dinner table, not read the newspaper, when the kids go away to college.

I also know when a really good song comes on you get up and dance - immediately.

Lauren Gay Photography

I'm constantly in awe of you mom.  Constantly inspired by your love and gratitude and generosity.

I know life has changed drastically.  I know it must feel strange to retire, to see your two little girls all grown up, to see your oldest daughter become a mother too.

But I am so excited for you.

I'm excited to see how you grow and dream and love, even more deeply.  I'm so excited to laugh and dance and sit around the table with you.

Cheers to your life, in all it's beauty and change, in all it's grand adventure, unfolding bit by bit, moment by moment.

Happy [belated] Birthday sweet mother.

I love you dearly.

-your daughter