Lately I’ve been rewatching the show Nashville [super soap opera drama, super addictive, makes me seriously consider buying rhinestone-studded cowboy boots] and there’s a song the characters sing that I’ve added to my “All the Feels” Spotify playlist – it’s called A Life that’s Good.
Sittin’ here tonight
By the fire light
It reminds me I already have
More than I should
I don’t need fame
No one to know my name
At the end of the day, Lord I pray
I have a life that’s good
Two arms around me
Heaven to ground me
And a family that always calls me home
Four wheels to get there
Enough love to share
And a sweet, sweet, sweet song
At the end of the day
Lord I pray
I have a life that’s good
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what makes up a good life – about family – the kind you choose and the kind you’re lucky enough to be given.
A month ago, I spent a weekend away at the beach with three of my dearest friends. There was literally one weekend all summer when we were all free – between work and kids and family commitments, finding time is always a challenge. By some scheduling miracle we found 48 overlapping hours, and we spent it camped out at a family beach house, leaving our chairs only to refill our coffee cups or toast another slice of Greenlee’s cinnamon bread. We talked about everything under the sun, and I walked away from that weekend with a full heart, thinking about how deeply grateful I am for these women – for the memories and history we share and for the gift of doing life with them year after year, through all the good, bad, challenging, unknown, weird and wonderful.
A few weeks ago I spent a heart-filling few days back in NYC, walking down memory lane [literally and figuratively] with friends I did so much life with in my twenties. It was a gift to walk by my old apartment and the restaurant where Liz had her birthday dinner and the grocery store I used to shop at and reflect on all that’s happened in my life since I left New York. It was a gift to be reunited with Liz and Lori and HQ and stay up way past my bedtime laughing and reminiscing and eating the best acai bowls and ice cream and arepas New York has to offer. It was a profound gift to hold Anna’s 6 month old twins and have giggly conversations with 3-year-old Sean and catch up with Anna’s husband – aka my birthday twin – and marvel at the life that has unfolded over the past decade since we were just trying to survive grad school together.
Last week my Auntie Helen passed away at the age of 92, and my family is gathering in Hawaii next week to celebrate her life and the legacy of love and family she left behind. When I think about her the words that spring to mind are “unconditional love” – she loved all of us so whole-heartedly and so well. When I would see her, she would smile big and grab my hands tight – her grip strength belying her tiny frame [4’10 and maybe 90 pounds sopping wet] and say my name with such delight and such love. When we hugged goodbye she would say “you take care now” with an intensity and fervor- not a polite nicety, but stern marching orders, born of love.
I’m turning 34 tomorrow, and feeling reflective, as I always do on my birthdays. I’m thinking about time, and how it really does pass more quickly the older you get. I’m thinking about life, and what matters most – the people you love who love you right back.
I’m thinking about how relationships – with family by blood or friends who are like family – take time and intentionality – they don’t just happen. I’m thinking about how I want to spend the next 365 days of my life going deep not wide – spending more time with the precious people that I’m lucky enough to call my loved ones. I’m thinking about how I want to do the hard work of speaking the truth in love, asking for forgiveness when I mess up, repairing bonds that are broken and strengthening the ones that are solid.
I’m thinking about a phrase my parents and I used with each, a running family joke – “I love you and I like you.” I think that perfectly expresses the nature of family, of all close relationships – of course you love them, but liking them – not everyone is so lucky, and it takes time and work sometimes to get back to that place.
I’m thinking about how time is the most precious resource any of us have, and I want to spend mine wisely – investing in the relationships that make up a life – that make a life that’s good.