Tag: Pema Chodron

promises: those we keep, and those we do not.

11th Anniversary

fresh scratch, ring box

Today the jeweler tenderly cleaned my wedding rings for the last time while I cried right there in the middle of the shop where we had purchased them years ago. Here is the box, wrapped up with a bow and awaiting the day I pull them out and give one to each of my girls. Because this is what they wanted me to do with them.

“Here is a promise that I made. This promise gave me you,” I will tell them.

This summer my husband and I decided that not every promise should be kept.

Our invitations to this decision arrived around the same time for us both and in the form of a simple knowing. A knowing that this long season of doing life together for over fifteen years had taught us all it could.

At first, my invitation scared me – I put it in the drawers of my heart and tried to forget it. I did the hard work to show that invitation that I ALREADY HAD MY OWN PLANS, thankyouverymuch. But, like the beginning of the Harry Potter series, the invitation started to find me everywhere. It wouldn’t be ignored. That knowing – which came as a lump in my throat or a little voice deep inside – simply couldn’t UN-KNOW.

It wasn’t an invitation away from something, but rather toward the next adventure, even though we don’t know exactly what that adventure holds. And so we each decided {with tears! with not always nice words! with frustration! with all. the. feelings!} to RSVP a “yes.”


We will leave this party and make our own way to the next one.


We will let this go.


We will be honest.


We worked very hard to keep this together and – yes – our marital therapist made a gold mine off of our regularly-scheduled sessions the last two years. But we already knew: our lifeboats were coming, and we weren’t going to be sitting in the same one together.

It’s not a tragedy, so we are trying our best to not treat it as such. Was telling our girls the worst thing ever in our lives? Yes. Do I cry about it? Yes. I mean, poor Mr. Jewelry Store today, see above.

But it’s because beginnings – all beginnings – are scary. And I cry because I worry about the ways this will change me and my girls. I don’t know exactly what we will be like on the other side of this knowing. But I have hope.

And when you have hope, you don’t need to despair {much}. Cheryl Strayed said of children, “If we rise, they will rise with us every time, no matter how many times we’ve fallen.” I have to believe her.

So hope is getting me through. Honesty is getting me through. And, damn, my people are getting me through. I was pretty sure I had a tribe of keepers, but there is no denying it now. I have the best friends and have never felt so much like so many have my back. When people say yes to honesty, others see that. They want to keep you moving toward the light. They cry with me, they know when to bring me pie, and their trust in my heart makes me endless amounts of humble and grateful.

Every time I’ve met you here, I have tried to give you something: a pretty picture, a laugh, some sass, a recipe, something. A thank you for showing up. Today is no different. I wanted to tell you this news, yes, but I also wanted to share the things that are helping me through this huge transition, just in case you or someone you care about is leaving one season for the next. Really, fall is here, so aren’t we all?

This podcast.

This quote.

This amazingly brave book.

And this quote from the wonderful film Benjamin Button, which I hear in my head always always always spoken in Brad Pitt’s voice:

I hope you live a life that you’re proud of, and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start over.

Sometimes breaking the promise we have made to someone else is the biggest act of courage, because, in doing so, we are keeping a more sacred oath to ourselves.

Thanks for your patience while I’ve been trying to figure out how to share this with you, and thanks for your support as Matt and I continue our most important work together: raising our girls to be strong women.

What’s next? Cross your fingers that my offer on a new house gets accepted…it has the greatest kitchen in which to bring you some new, butter-laden recipes.


ms. fresh scratch







it’s graduation day!

My students graduate from high school tonight. T minus thirteen hours. I am starting to become known at work as, “The lady who LOVES graduation.” I get – I don’t know? – bouncy there. I don’t know if it’s the fact that my grading is done or what. But it’s always something to which I look forward. Here’s a post from a couple of years ago that I changed up a little for you this year.

Each spring, when I slip on a graduation gown, matching theirs, and attend graduation with the rest of my staff, I feel so nostalgic. I spend most of the ceremony waxing poetic on my own graduation (in my head, not out loud), thinking of how my life has turned out versus what I thought it would be on that night years ago, and looking at these beautiful people so full of promise, wondering if they really know it and hoping that they are being present.

My High School Graduation
Ahhh, yes. 1995: yours truly, receiving her high school diploma.

Do you know I had given the Salutatorian speech just before this picture was snapped?


I wrote it in Washington State History class – that class was clearly so exciting.

After the graduation ceremony was over, the principal pulled me and my prom date Paul – who had just given the Valedictorian speech – aside with a grimace. He told us that there had been an error that they had discovered the night before, but it had been too late to change the events or re-print the programs.

I was the Valedictorian. By .001 percent.

And that’s what I remember from my high school graduation.

Well, that and the fact that my mom and I were not speaking, but that’s another story. I recall trying to straighten my hair earlier that day (see above picture; it didn’t go so well). I know I arrived at graduation in my friend Michelle’s green Dodge Dart. And I remember my first love apologizing to me for dumping me at my locker that January…on Friday the 13th. I remember I wore jean shorts and black converse low-tops and a beaded necklace. I remember being in the middle of a horrible love triangle (oh, the drama) and spending most of the week crying. I remember that my dad gave me a pearl ring. I remember that I stayed up all night and watched the sun rise the next morning on a lonely desert hilltop in my small, eastern Washington town.

This year on my seniors’ last day, things felt different. I had bigger things to tell them. I drew a big “20” on the board behind me. I told them that the night after their graduation I would be off celebrating with my class of 1995 – 20 whopping years out in the world. 20 years up on them to have a few things figured out.

I mark my years more by Septembers to Junes than Januarys to Decembers. And this year has been a doozy in the world of learning life lessons. Must be the weekly sessions with our therapist? Whatever it is, here’s what I had for them:

Say yes to the things that will make you happy. Even if you’re scared. Even if you’re worried that you won’t be good at it. Let it be fun and messy. As long as you’re not saying yes to crack.

And if you fail at the first thing, say yes later. It’s never too late to live the life you’d hoped for. Ever. You get this life one time.

Stay Golden, Pony Boy.

But I am still learning. I haven’t accepted this next part enough yet to share it with the 18-year-olds in my life, but I’m going to work on living it for a while and we’ll see where I’m at next June. I read this a couple months ago {on Pinterest, of all places, naturally!}, and wanted to share it with you. It’s about surrender, I think. But more about being present and feeling all the feels. It rocked my world:

In life, we think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem. The real truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together for a time, then they fall back apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that.

Personal discovery and growth come from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.

Suffering comes from wishing things were different. Misery is self inflicted, when we are expecting the “ideal” to overcome the “actual,” or needing things (or people or places) to be different for us so we can then be happy.

Let the hard things in life break you. Let them affect you. Let them change you. Let these hard moments inform you. Let this pain be your teacher. The experiences of your life are trying to tell you something about yourself. Don’t cop out on that. Don’t run away and hide under your covers. Lean into it.

-Pema Chodron

What do you remember from your high school graduation? Do tell!