Stroke of Midnight

champagneWe sat in the faint glow of the television, our little black dresses and freshly pressed suits swathed in blue. Clutching full champagne flutes between our fingertips, the bubbly mixture making us laugh, the air full of static electricity, an energy that could not be confined by the gold streamers covering every inch of the ceiling. Everyone basked in those final moments as the countdown began, jumping up to clang glasses in exclamation. Well wishes were shared as the glittering ball dropped from its high perch in Times Square, and all around the room, people were kissing, hugging, laughing, shouting. The most carefree we’d be all year.

You asked me then what my resolution was. I gulped down a long swig of champagne to avoid the question. In my silence, you prattled on about aspirations and desires, techniques and tactics, about how you would label the year ahead with a word, using that word to define you and your actions until we met again for this particular celebration. You asked me what my word would be.

But I didn’t want words.

That stroke of midnight feels like an initiation. It’s the finish line for the idea that you have survived another 365 days of this thing called life, and it fills us with possibility and perseverance. And yet, we immediately make amends to alter the blank canvas we’re presented with, to fill it up with things that will make us better. Goals and plans and lists are made, and too often than not, we’re left with disappointment in our eyes when we look in the mirror the next year.

I didn’t want plans. I didn’t want labels. I didn’t want to shove my whole year into a very specific box before it had really even begun. I wanted more laughter. More sunrises. More cups of coffee and conversations with friends. More time. To be more of myself. And maybe, just maybe, to have a little more of you.

Perhaps the simple solution was that I just wanted more.

I wished that I could have captured your smile right then and placed it in a jar, a souvenir of sparkling, pearly teeth to carry with me, to gaze at and to be reminded of that infectious feeling of hope that comes solely from the ticking of a clock. I wished I could open up that jar on the next New Year’s Eve and show you what you had been hoping for, that you had indeed succeeded, that what you wanted so badly was inside of you all along. I wanted to prove to you that you didn’t need to be anything but who you already were, that it’s okay to just be unapologetically yourself.

Because there really isn’t any specific word to define a life well-lived.

Scripting Love to Emma

In the spirit of the holiday season, More Love Letters annual “12 Days of Love Letter Writing” campaign is 12 days packed to the brim with love letter requests, social media mayhem, giveaways, holiday cheer, and (of course) non-stop scripting of handwritten letters for individuals around the world who are so deserving of some extra holiday cheer. Join in on the fun from December 9-20, 2013; grab your cocoa and get more details here!

i love you cocoa and cursive

The holiday season is most importantly about spreading love and kindness. Sometimes, when we get caught up in the stress of buying gifts and meeting deadlines, we forget that there are simple ways to spread joy to those who need it. So in honor of day eight of #12DaysMLL, I need your help in scripting words of encouragement to a beauty of a girl named Emma.

Below is her story, written and submitted by her mother:

“Emma is traveling through the teenage years and is finding herself struggling with the usual suspects of acceptance, body image, relationships, parents, siblings, and school success. After an amazing first year of high school, Emma is finding herself floundering and her usual coping mechanisms are not working, so she has engaged in some less positive coping mechanisms. Emma is a dedicated competitive swimmer and an awesome volunteer swim coach to young swimmers. Emma loves music. She is a writer with two NaNoWriMo novels under her young belt. She needs to know how important she is to her family, her friends, and her swimmers. She needs to know these trials of the teenage years are not permanent and she will make it through. She needs love.”

letter to emma

My letter to Emma:

“Most lives are not distinguished by great achievements. They are measured by an infinite number of small ones. Each time you do a kindness for someone or bring a smile to their face, it gives your life meaning. Never doubt your value, little friend. The world would be a dismal place without you in it.”
— Lisa Kleypas


There were plenty of days in high school when I felt like I didn’t quite belong, days where I was very unsure about my place in this world. I felt like I didn’t quite fit in. My thoughts about who I was supposed to be changed every. single. day. and there were times when I gave in to the pressure and acted like someone I wasn’t. But all of that uncertainty led me to find exactly who I was supposed to be; it made me become more comfortable in my own skin. You, Emma, are a blessing to many— your family, your friends, yourself. You have a beautiful light inside you that will radiate for everyone to see— sometimes it just needs a little polishing, a little reminder that you are worthy of every piece of happiness this life has to offer you.

Sweet girl, you are worthy of the world.

With love + hope,

How to send some cheer to Emma:

1. Grab your favorite pen, a pretty little piece of stationery, and script a letter full of heart.

2. Seal the envelope with care and add this address:

Emma’s bundle
c/o Laura A.
2217 Dufferin Road
Regina, SK S4S 5B5

3. Stamp it up and drop it in the mailbox by December 20th.

Don’t forget to snag some photos of your letter to Emma and share them with the More Love Letters community. Include @moreloveletters + #12DaysMLL on Twitter and Instagram.

Fellow Day 8 Bloggers:

Carrie (Chasing Big Dreams) + Kristin (My Life As A Teacup)

Where to Find the Real Magic This Holiday Season

christmas presents

There are plenty of things I love about celebrating Christmas: the songs that grace radio stations just once a year, the surprise of receiving season’s greetings in the mailbox from friends far and wide, and the streams of wrapping paper that litter the floor on the morning of December 25th, to name a few.

Everything from taking pictures with Santa to shopping for the perfect gifts holds a special place in my heart, but my absolute favorite moments of the holiday season are the ones that have become solidified traditions.

It starts with spending a weekend away in the mountains to cut down our Christmas tree. We spend a few hours trudging through fields of evergreens in the biting cold in search of the perfect Douglas fir to decorate in our living room. I couldn’t imagine starting the month of December any other way.

And then there’s the act of baking cookies. This is usually considered a marathon event, where the kitchen is splattered with dough and icing and sprinkles for an entire week. My mom and I make every variety from chocolate chip to gingerbread men, and I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up some of her secrets after years of watching her execute baking miracles. (Seriously, our family members fight over her cookies. They’re that good.)

But I’d have to say the best is Christmas Eve. We wake up and know that it’s the last day; everything we’ve anticipated is within reach. We take the daylight hours to tie up loose ends: slip extra bows on packages, bake a last batch of peanut butter cookies, and run to the grocery store to pick up the forgotten cranberry sauce. And then, as nightfall creeps in, we deck ourselves out in Christmas pajamas and clamor into the car to drive through neighborhoods of lights. We ooh and ah over illuminated reindeer and sleighs wrapped in holly before driving home and reading The Night Before Christmas. We leave a few treats out for Santa, along with a full glass of milk, and then arrange all the gifts under the tree, in hopes of little surprises the next morning.

And come December 26th, it doesn’t matter what high-tech gadget you may have received or that the sweater your grandma knit for you is intolerably itchy. It matters that you gathered around with loved ones and that you laughed together. It matters that you cherished every single moment spent in the company of those who are most important to you. heart

Those are the memories that will last you a lifetime. That’s where all the magic lies.

An Attitude of Gratitude

list of things i'm thankful for

This Thursday, we’ll gather around the table with intentions of piling our plates high with turkey and cranberry sauce. Our nights will include gobbling down heaping spoonfuls of green bean casserole and sweet potatoes and topping everything off with “just a little more” gravy. We’ll get to the point where we’re way past being full, but we’ll top it off with dessert anyway, because who could resist a slice of pumpkin pie? But most importantly, we’ll count our blessings and and exude gratitude, just like we did last year.

Today I’m thankful for…

  • friends who constantly + continually show up.
  • family who always makes you laugh + never backs down.
  • rainy November days.
  • the impending Christmas season + all the traditions that come with it.
  • quiet mornings with mugs of coffee.
  • books, + the countless adventures they hold.
  • an exciting new age to look forward to.
  • cuddling with my cat every night.
  • hanging out with my mom.
  • white chocolate mochas from Starbucks.
  • to-do lists.
  • oversized sweaters.
  • writing.
  • TiVo + Netflix.
  • possessing a creative gene.
  • encouragement.
  • the confidence of new possibility + fresh starts.

What are you thankful for?

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”
—Thornton Wilder

Turning 24

birthday cake

This weekend, I’ll be celebrating my twenty-fourth birthday.

When I was a teenager, I had plenty of ideas of what life would be like at this age. I had an entire plan laid out for myself which included graduations and careers and marriage and children and white picket fences.

Suffice to say, I don’t have all of that. And now that I’m here, on the cusp of turning twenty-four, I can confidently say that I’m glad my plans haven’t worked out as I originally imagined.

I have a pristine framed degree on my wall, but other than that, those dreams didn’t come true yet. I’m still searching for a full-time job. I am nowhere near walking down the aisle. I’m totally not ready to have a baby. And I don’t even know the first thing about putting up a fence.

But since my days of high school dreaming, I have learned a few things about being in your twenties:

  • You don’t have to have it all figured out. You can make all the plans you want, but they’re going to change. Life isn’t perfect; it’ll throw you a curveball or two and you’ll have to reevaluate everything you thought you knew.
  • Nothing is set in stone. You have the freedom to change your mind when it comes to figuring out what path you want to take.
  • An open mind is an asset. You’re in the thick of thousands of possibilities. Don’t rule anything out. Don’t keep your head down and end up missing something.
  • Success is in store for you. It might not come knocking on your door tomorrow, but it’s always just around the corner. Meet it halfway; show up and do hard work.
  • Happiness is all around you. Those things you’re wishing for? They might make you happy someday. But what you’ve got in the here and now is beautiful, too. Appreciate everything.

I know twenty-four will bring only more happiness. I hope it has plenty of successes and failures, luck and hard work, lessons and surprises.

I could make plans for the year ahead, but they’ll change before I’m even done writing this post. Whatever’s in store is the plan for me.

November Rain

sneakers and leaves

The dawning of November is my favorite time of year. I meet her at the doormat with a sweater draped off my shoulder and anticipation in my eyes, for she has come right on schedule, the month of limbo after the ghoulish nights of October and before the joy and jolly of December. A month of transition: from jack-o-lanterns to cornucopias, from fall to winter, from gratefulness to cheer. She is my month of reflection.

Her rain boots will be muddied and her hands will be shoved in pockets. She’ll say that she’s glad to be back, and I’ll agree that I’m glad to see her. We’ll clump through soggy streets full of wilted leaves. The oranges, yellows, reds will be duller, but the air will become crisper. Soon enough, coats will be pulled from closets and eyes will wait for the first sign of snow in the forecast. The days will be counted down until Thanksgiving break, and then items adorning Christmas wish lists will be checked twice.

And in that time, we’ll relish the feelings of coziness together: fireplaces and flannel pajamas, mugs of hot chocolate and shelves of good books, long sleeves and plaid scarves, pumpkin pie and extra cranberry sauce. We’ll comb through all the moments since her last visit, and she’ll ask me about the milestones: the resolutions, the dreams, the losses, the laughter, and the tears. She’ll nod her head with every story and ask only the important questions: “How are you feeling?” “What are you thinking?” “What will you do next?”

She’ll leave me eventually for her cousin December to step in with packages and bows tucked under his arms, an evergreen trailing behind him on the stairs. But my mind will be reeling with everything she’s stirred up inside of me: the inspirations, the tranquility, the closure. And the hope for another fulfilling year ahead. heart

A Detour On My Dreams

Sara Brink quote
Image via

A year and a half ago, I sat on a grassy football field surrounded by my fellow classmates. With graduation caps perched on our heads, we listened to the overflowing advice of the keynote speaker, who was rattling off prepared prose about the accomplishments and dreams that the future would hold. We clapped as each name was called and each student shook the hands of the university officials, and we eventually threw our caps into the air with a cheer at the possibility of what tomorrow held for all of us.

When I graduated from college, I imagined that I was headed into a life of a 9 to 5 job, with my own desk to decorate and paycheck to cash. I pictured all the experiences that would come with that: moving into an apartment, going to happy hours with friends, saving a little bit of money, and making even bigger plans. My mind raced over all the things I was going to do in the “adult world.”

Continue reading…