The story of your life.

As you read this, I want you to envision how I would probably appear if I were standing in front of you, holding out a cup of tea and offering up an appreciative smile for having the courage to come back after the massive five part series adventure of last month.

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I am probably bleary-eyed, brain-fogged, and dressed in the same war-torn, weed-hacking, stiff with mosquito repellant clothes I’ve been throwing on for the last four days simply because I’ve no time to take the extra few steps into my closet and find something fresh to wear. Time is ticking exponentially faster with each glance I make at the clock, and I can’t seem to stop it.

These are the last few days I’m helping to prepare (read—preparing) my daughter for her shove off from home and toward the land of her personal Edutopia.

University looms in front of us.

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Hitching a ride with the rising buildings of academia are the rising fears of what lies beneath the phrases I’ve been shouting lately:

Have you finished your orientation registration forms?

Did you fax your immunization records to the Health Screening Office on campus?

What are all these boxes of clothes for? You’re moving into a dorm room the size of large broom closet. All you need are pajamas and a lab coat!

Yeah, there’s fear here. And excitement, and panic, and tenderness and uncertainty. Volumes of emotional exposure.

But these chapters are what make up life. The living part of life—not the hiding from it.

When I look back at the last few years of raising my children—no, these two young adults who still occasionally come to me for food, money, transportation and every once in a blue moon advice–I clearly see the one thing I wanted both of them to become:


This is a description I’ve encouraged them to develop for as many years as they’ve been drawing breath. I do not want a safe life for either one of them—nor for myself. I want them to acknowledge their fears, discover their weaknesses, and expose their raw and shatterable insecurities. I want them to stumble, to fall and to fail. And I want them to do this wholeheartedly with an openness to adventure and a liability for results.

And then I want them to repeat this process until they draw their very last breath.

For only by doing so will they touch upon the magnificence of courage.

I don’t want to see these two people standing on the sidelines. I want them inside the game. Sitting at the table. Winning and losing, losing and winning. I want them to show up, knees knocking with nerves, a heart hammering with upheaval and a stomach fluttering with butterflies. I want them to be brave enough to know that even though they may be rejected, they will never look back with ruefulness and self-reproach because timidity held them back.

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Another year of school begins for both of them next week. My messages have been steady and repetitive:

Be hungry, but feed others.

Listen and lead.

Don’t hide, unmask yourself and try.

Get up, get up, GET UP.

I know it’s a lot to ask. I know it’s fraught with embarrassment and pain and mounting self-doubt. It’s an accumulation of scabs and scars and long-healing wounds. But the alternative is bland. It will never leave them breathless. It has a bitter aftertaste. It is an all-encompassing folding in and shriveling up. It is effortless—and my coaching has been all about living an effortful life.

The world is a series of doors waiting not for a tentative knock, but for a hand that tries the latch. It is a succession of thresholds—those moments where you are on the brink of something, but only if you make the necessary, scary steps toward the edge of the precipice. Life is a giant leap of trust into a glistening pool of risk. It is cold and brutal, shocking and raw—yes, but it is also triumphant.

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And what do our children truly need to accomplish these directives? This chalk talk for the game of life? These instructions that promise them a life profoundly lived?

Nothing more than vulnerability and curiosity.

Nothing more than pajamas and a lab coat.


PS. As shortly I shall be neck deep in all things dorm room and parent orientation related, and as Robin has worked his pencils down to the barest of nubs and is in search of replacements, the show will go dark next week. But we will return the following weekend, full of stories and full of life. Fully written and illustrated for YOU.

Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all talked about down in the pub. Plus, you can see more of Robin Gott‘s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone.

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102 thoughts on “The story of your life.

  1. This is spectacular, Shelley! As I read this, I realized that these incredibly moving and inspiring words, full of your wisdom and love of life, apply not only to those leaving the nest and setting off on their own for the first time, but to all of us. No matter what our ages, most of us can benefit from taking more risks and being more vulnerable. What could we accomplish if we weren’t afraid to fail, if we simply looked at failing as part of the learning process? So many of us (myself included) are held back by our fears and all the “what-ifs” that whisper in our ears. We are afraid of failing, when we should be afraid of never making the attempt. You’ve raised two fantastic human beings who will go out and speak when others are silent, will work to make a difference when others wring their hands in helplessness. Your wise words encourage them to not settle for mere existence, but to make a life. What better gift could you bestow upon them? You have given Chloe the solid foundation she needs; now she’ll use it to go out and make the world a better place. Hugs to you, Shelley, during this time of change. I’ll miss your post next week, but I’m so glad you’ll be there for Chloe. No matter how many years pass or what she achieves (and I have no doubt she will achieve great things), she will always need her mom. ❤

    • Dear Miranda, I wish it were possible to reach through the monitor and give you a massive hug. Your words are always, always, ALWAYS elevating. You’re one of the most genuine people I know, and I don’t even know you. 😉
      Most important for you to understand, is that you are one of the ways I feel I’m walking the walk and not just putting pretty words on paper. Coming to your blog and reading your prose is an intellectual exercise that continues to challenge me every week. Understanding poetry is hard for me–it’s not something I seek out. So simply attempting to connect to your work is work, but joyous work in the end. The knees knocking part comes from putting my thoughts down next to the comments of the slew of literary scholars that weigh in. That’s vulnerable. But I still do it, because you need the other end of the spectrum represented. 😛
      So thank you for allowing me to be a small example of how I’m encouraging my kids to behave. It means the world. ❤

      • Wow, Shelley, you just can’t begin to know how much these words have moved me. I never would have guessed that commenting on my writing makes you feel vulnerable, but the fact that you do, and you continue to comment, makes me respect you even more. (And I just want you to know that your comments are invaluable to me. They make me laugh, and they make me think. And they reveal not only your wit but your compassion. It’s obvious that every word comes from your heart, and that’s why I treasure them.) Since we’re being vulnerable here, I’ll share a secret with you–as much as I love interacting with fellow bloggers, sharing my thoughts–on my own work or that of others–can be a very intimidating experience for me as well. Do you know how many times I’ve read your posts and comments and thought, “How does she do it? How does she always know just what to say?” Sometimes I read someone’s post, or a comment on my blog and find myself with fingers poised over the keyboard, frozen. I want to contribute something useful to the conversation, but I’m afraid it won’t come out right, or someone else has already stated it much more eloquently and succinctly than I can. I’m very lucky to have connected with such talented folks here, and sometimes you all make me see my writing in a completely different way. It’s a bit discombobulating at first, but ultimately a thrill, to gain new insight into my own writing as a result of a reader’s comments. And for what it’s worth, I’m in the same boat with you a lot of the time in that poetry can be hard work for me, too. I’m not going to admit the number of times I’ve come across a poem here or elsewhere, and I’ve been delighted at the word choice or imagery or cadence, and overall I just love it, yet I still scratch my head and think, “But what the hell does this mean?” (I might have told you an experience I had in college, where my English professor wanted us to find a poem that resonated with us and pretty much dissect its meaning. I found one in a contemporary literary journal that I just loved. And I wrote this in-depth essay about what I thought each line, each image or symbol in the poem meant. I was damn proud of that essay. And then I got the essay back with a comment from my professor: “I don’t think this poem means what you think it means.”) Thanks for sticking with me on this writing journey, Shelley, and offering your comments and insight. And now I wish I could reach through the screen and hug you, too, dirty clothes and all! (But seriously, you need a spa day when things settle down. You’ve earned it after this chaotic summer!) And I also want to issue an apology to your other readers: Dear fellow readers of Shelley’s witty and enlightening words, I’m sorry that my comments are nearly always longer than her actual post. I know you probably get tired of having to scroll down an entire page in order to bypass my ramblings. But I can’t contain my enthusiasm for what she shares here. I’ll try to keep my comments a little more succinct in the future, but I can’t make any promises.

        I hope you and Chloe have a fantastic week, Shelley! ❤

        • I don’t know what to say, Miranda. I can tell you how I feel though: joyous, thrilled, encouraged and thankful. The list could actually be nearly as long as your comment, but if you simply fill in a thousand variations on those four descriptive terms, I think you’ll have the faintest idea.
          All I can summon word-wise, is that I am so very glad to have met you, Miranda, and this epistolary friendship we are engaged in is more important to me than you may ever know.
          Thank you, thank you. ❤

          • Likewise, my friend. (And now I promise I’m done clogging up your comments on this post! But just on this post. No guarantees about any others. 😉 )

  2. Outstanding advice. Much wisdom you show,young lady. The advice you give to your children is one of the most important legacies that you pass on. The other is the way you live your life. It would seem as if you are passing on a priceless inheritance. Life is never a spectator sport. As my late older brother often said. “Do something,even if it’s wrong.” No one should take a called strike. Always take a swing. Good luck and keep smiling. PS. Come on change the clothes already.

    • Benson, your comment made me grin from ear to ear–partly because your words deeply connected with me, and partly because you’ve made a good point. It’s time for a shower.
      I am going to hang on to your brother’s brilliant phrase, “Do something. Even if it’s wrong,” and make it a new mantra of mine. And I love the baseball analogy. Everything you said today has truly resonated with me. This is one of the things I love best about blogging–the constant learning from others. These connections are part of that priceless inheritance you speak of. Consider your sage words to be passed on through me. Thanks, Benson. 🙂

  3. Take this as a compliment from an archetypal reserved, inhibited, stick-up-her-arse variety of middle-aged Englishwoman – that’s the pep talk everyone of every age should be lucky enough to be given. Recent happenings have brought me to the brink of a new life & you’ve just given me everything I need to go and attack it with gusto.
    That was so beautifully and passionately written, thanks so much for sharing. Best wishes for all the changes you’ll all experience as your daughter starts uni. 🙂

    • Well, I think this would be a good time to die, as I can’t imagine that waiting around any longer will produce a string of more plauditory words about me. You want to go out on top, right?
      I will carry your incredibly kind comments with me, knowing that somewhere, my put-down-on-paper thoughts have touched another person who needed them. Thank you so much for letting me know.
      And thank you for the well wishes for school. Adventure awaits and a new chapter begins!
      Cheers to you. 🙂

  4. Bloody brilliant. Had just said to our 7 and 10 year old boys today (when they were playing a fraught game of Monopoly), that you need to take risks. You sometimes win and you will sometimes lose but this will happen for all of your lives and you have to get used to it. (The School of Life according to Boardgames.) They are lucky sproglets to have you as their Mum. 🙂

    • Thank you, little Cheergerm for your wonderfully sweet remarks. It’s clear we’re speaking from the same book when offering up our tiny pearls of wisdom to our kids. I love the ‘School of Life according to Boardgames.’ That just makes so much sense. I wonder if I can squeeze in one more game of Monopoly (or Risk) before we pack up the car?
      And I bet there’s a pretty full bucket of gratitude with your name on it receiving deposits from your three fellows (the yak included), as it is more than obvious you are one dedicated mama yourself. Cheers!

  5. You brought a tear to my eye, as you frequently do, only this time I’m not laughing. Well said. I’m sure I was never this articulate with our daughter but somehow she seems to have gotten the message and is off having her own life. I even go for a couple of days at a time without hearing from her. I practice never giving her advice unless she asks for it. And I always tell her, I’m only an airplane ride away if she needs me, though that is more to comfort me than it is her. It is a terrible wrench when your daughter leaves home, but life goes on. xxxx

    • Oh, Ardys, I have no doubt you communicated these words in myriad ways to your daughter. She’s a superb example of what I hope for both of mine. There’s an eloquent confidence that comes from having grown such a sturdy backbone–and from the little you’ve said about her, it sounds like she stands ten feet tall. I wish that for my kids too.
      I’ll have to get used to the feeling of having lost an arm, but I’ll do my best to bone up in other places. Life goes on. Thank you, Ardys. ❤

  6. Another terrific post, and so very true.
    In the words of Michael Caine ‘Why do we fall? So that we can get up’ (or something like that in his Alfred role in Batman).
    Parents are naturally anxious for their offspring, but part of being one is knowing when to step back, slacken the protective reins, and eventually let go, yet still being their Rock to turn to when things go belly up (thus sayeth someone with no kids apart from the fostered variety in the 80s).
    It’s all very well to shield kids from the nasty things in life, but in doing so, they won’t learn to be independent . Making mistakes is part of Life’s learning curve. I’ve made some crackers, managed to turn most of them on their heads into a positive exercise, and can honestly say I regret nothing.

    • I wish we all had an Alfred in our lives–I’d even give up his laundering of my clothes and preparing of meals part if offered just the sage, wise and wonderful take on life always at my shoulder.
      It’s fairly apparent you’ve had some experience to speak of regarding kids, but I have to point out that I have come to see you and your husband as one of those individuals who have grabbed life by the horns and haven’t shied away from risk. I admire you so much for that.
      Thanks so much for sharing today. My continued wish for ‘smooth sailing’ for the three of you! 🙂

  7. I agree 100%. Life is in the doing, and nothing ever got accomplished before trying, first. Failure is a real possibility of that, but it’s not something to be ashamed of or afraid of. Failure is another mark of “I tried, and I am still trying”.
    Great post!

    • Oh, I love that phrase, ‘Failure is another mark of “I tried, and I am still trying.” Another tattoo worthy motto. I suppose as writers we are confronted with a bucketload of failure in the form of rejections of our words on a regular basis, but I see you as one with reptilian skin. I love your tenacity, Nicky. Long may this motto serve us!

      • I’m like an armadillo; hard on the outside, soft and insecure on the inside. But as long as I can curl up into a ball and keep on rolling, I’m fine with that. 😀

    • Well, at times awesome and at times human. I suppose there are plenty of moments where they could point a finger of hypocrisy in my direction, but shedding light there is probably the most helpful thing they could do for me too. It’s a process–this practicing who we want to be. I’m up for the challenge.
      Thanks, Joanne. 🙂

  8. Beautiful and inspiring, Shelley – “vulnerability and curiosity” – a great way to describe needed when on the cusp of life’s journey into the big, real world. Bland is bad.

    BTW, living on campus isn’t common here in Australia – we usually don’t ‘get rid’ of them till they finish uni! 😉

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the essay, Lee-Anne. Maybe while helping out in the “pairing down” and determining what’s essential, I’ve been doing a little pairing down myself. What are those most important things we need to lug around with us? That is an open-ended journey of exploration I think.
      And I can see the pros and cons to kids sticking around for college, but I suppose it depends upon whose glasses we’re peering out from, right? I think my daughter was reading for university somewhere around 8 or 9 years old. It’s been a strain holding her back.
      Thanks for the lovely comments!

    • Thank you for saying so. I keep wondering if it’s going to get any easier with practice, but that remains to be seen. Not yet, but perhaps there lies the value, right? The challenge of it all.

  9. Shelley,

    “Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” –Mark Twain

    I dreamt we both had a surreal dinner filled with insightful and spiritual conversation two nights ago with him. The irony and timing of this writing, for me. You were right. You are always right, thank you.

    Thank you for this Shelley, for me, this, is your best writing yet. I needed to hear this. You are such my inspiration.

    Off to the farm to pick tomatoes with the girls.

    Much love,


    • Ah, a dinner with Twain? ‘Twould be a worthy event. I’d like to schedule that for my last supper.

      And I’m glad the words served you in some way. I think we’re incredibly lucky to have a plethora of people’s words to surround ourselves with, to use them as supports or crutches, lifeboats or kites. They are there for us to grab onto and squeeze what we can out of them.

      And speaking of squishing, squeeze those delicious little girls for me, bud.

  10. Yikes, it seems like yesterday that it was YOU at this stage!! Really…. going off to KIDS camp was our own form of sticking us out in the world (before college!), all on our own (I remember WELL when my parents left me at KIDS camp for the first time and I was trying so hard NOT to cry and be scared…. but, well, look how great it all turned out). Is C. going to college THIS year, or next year? You are such a cool and inspiring Mom, they are lucky to have you. xx

    • Ah yes, I remember those days. The camp that turned you into a man–even for the girls. Rough stuff they ran, but what a product they turned out, right? A lot of life lessons learned during those years, and necessary ones, so I’m incredibly grateful for them. And it’s obvious you are too. 😉
      Yes, off to university at the end of this week. Big, long drive ahead of us, weighed down by all things soft and comforting. I suppose all that bedding will help to round off some of the sharper corners coming.
      And thanks, Jen, for the lovely opinion of me. You’re incredibly sweet to say so. (I know there are a massive handful of folks who feel the same about you!) xx

      • Yes – tons of life lessons, but that’s the way we learn, isn’t it? WOW – end of this week, I’ll be thinking of you. I can tell already your daughter is so much like you – when you were her age (I ALWAYS thought you were more mature than the rest of us!! Seriously). But I’m sure it will be hard, and you will miss her… Can’t wait to hear about it on your blog! 🙂

  11. Terrific piece as usual Shelley and I so agree – also as usual! – with your sentiments. I’ve always thought that regret is the most poisonous of emotions and that it’s a good way to judge whether to take the plunge and do something scary – will I regret it in years to come if I don’t have a go? I love the Mark Twain quotation above. Live life in full blazing technicolour whatever age you are! Have an excellent week 🙂 .

    • Yes, yes, Jane–I’m so with you there on the thermometer reading: will I regret it in years to come if I don’t have a go? It’s perfect.
      And although I’ll not get her quote exact, Eleanor Roosevelt is a woman whose words I greatly admire, and she once said, “Every day, do something that scares you.” That is my litmus test.
      Thanks for your wonderfully kind comments, and I wish you a beautiful week filled with figs and frogs, and a camera always at the ready. 🙂

      • PS Wonder if you’ve seen my post from last week that I hoped you would see, Sunflowers, Kites & Kestrels – it was a bit more serious than usual for me and I wondered what you thought of it – hope you don’t mind me asking, I’m doing an ‘Eleanor Roosevelt’ – scary as I’m normally too shy to ask … 🙂 !?

        • Firstly, Jane, if you don’t stick your neck out occasionally, no one will see your inquisitive gaze and hopeful face in the sea of glazed expressions and half-hearted interest–the featured arrangement on too many individuals these days. It does take guts to ask for feedback, or at least, support. I’m glad you did. I would have been saddened to have missed such a lovely post! Secondly, what a beautiful essay, and so poignant. I am hugely affected by the weather, but strangely enough, sunny weather makes me grumpy, but cloudy, gloomy skies make me giddy with the urge to write and work. Go figure.
          It’s a treat to see your talents extend far beyond your camera lens, but I gathered that long ago. Please keep up the reports from the French fairy tale I long to read about. Your work is most definitely worthy of sharing, and I feel fortunate to experience it each week. Cheers!

          • Thankyou Shelley, both for reading and for the generous feedback, I truly appreciate your encouragement. I am also totally in sympathy with your feelings about the weather; the heat of summer is draining and soporific just when I wish to be active and industrious, a good autumnal or even wintry day is much more enlivening and in tune with my rhythms, unfortunately my ability for grumpiness is not in the slightest bit weather dependant…. 😀 Cheers! Jane

            • You? Grumpy? I wouldn’t believe it for a second. I shall have to take your word on it. But might I suggest that if, indeed, you find yourself out of sorts, take a spin through some of your prized photography. Those pieces never fail to leave me uplifted. 😉

              • Aww schucks, now you’re just being nice, but I appreciate it! No I really am very grumpy indeed at the moment, too many things to do, no sleep, no time out, but what the heck, I’d rather all that than be bored! Hope the preparations for the big departure are going well!? Have a great week 🙂

          • stee range. the cloudless sun-sucking-sapping sky is more-or-less ditto. this a.m., seeing the profusion of clouds in and of all profusion confusions, i think i was M O L versimilitood. strangely more alive than my somnabulent yooz yoo uhl..

    • Firstly, thank you kindly for your gracious comments. And secondly, how exciting! I hope it might be food-related? Although, perhaps in that department you’re all ready to teach and not study. Do tell!

      • I think cooking will remain as my hobby because my studies are not food related 🙂 Anyway, I am looking forward to your next stories and posts, they are always so interesting and splendid.

        • Well a huge hug of thanks for your incredibly kind compliments. And I’d bet a million bucks folks would be thrilled to hire someone with your skill and creativity in the kitchen. Maybe a little side money while in school? Lucky girl to be so talented and yet so young. The world is your oyster, or rack of lamb, or mushroom risotto. 😛

  12. Ah, so now I see your name! Shelley! Excellent. Shelley, I have to say that this post is just awesome! What grand ideas you’ve raised your children with….to live to the fullest, not to shirk back in fear afraid to try, afraid to experience, afraid to live. I’m so glad you got this down here in the blogosphere. It’s something that will far outlast any of us and those of us that find it should embrace it as our own and pass it on to our own…imagine if we had a whole world of people afraid to NOT live with gusto! It’s like the mentality we heard of on that last plane on 09/11 when the passengers overtook the plane and refused to go down without a fight. They did it their way and so too, hopefully, will yours!

    I don’t envy you this week, though. It’s a very hard time the University dropoff. I know you’re going to miss that baby bird, but you know there is a new horizon ahead for both of you and when she greets you as a friend from her new perch because she wants to and because she LIKES you, it gets even better. Promise.

    • I truly love, TORRIE ( 😛 ), how you explained what I hope will be the experience in front of me. I can envision those moments in the future–the new levels of understanding and communication. Boy, do I hope to see all that come to fruition, but I know you’re speaking from experience, and those are the sources most trustworthy.

      Thank you so much for your generous compliments about the essay. I’m sure there are plenty of words I’d rather not have immortalized, but this grouping is something I plan to stand by for a very long time. And sit by. And lie by. And be buried next to. 😛

  13. For some reason, McAfee won’t let me access your site any longer. Even if I try to override, I get a notice that the page is unavailable. I wonder if anyone else is having the same problem. The last episode I was able to access was three and since then nothing.


    • Obviously, McAfee has an aversion to risk. They’re like a giant over-protective parent.
      I’m so sorry you’ve had trouble, John. How were you able to leave a comment today? Has the post showed up?

        • Understandably frustrating, John. If I were a computer whiz, I’d stand confidently over your computer and point out something in a symbol and numeric language and shout, “There’s your problem.” Then I sit back and laugh, shaking my head at the ease of problem solving. As I am not, I can only offer the second best option–and only one available to me: if you’d like, I’m happy to cut and paste whatever past blogs you’d like and email them to you until you’ve gotten some “official” computer mind to untangle this sticky widget of a problem. Might that be a temporary solution? Let me know. Cheers!

  14. Hi Shelley, I now have a new quote for my wall: “Life is a giant leap of trust into a glistening pool of risk. It is cold and brutal, shocking and raw—yes, but it is also triumphant.” Thanks for this inspiring post. I keep pushing myself to take risks, because I know otherwise I’d be that person sitting in the corner. And I want to be a role model for my son, just as you are doing for your kidlets. All the best to you and yours as you move into this new phase! Looking forward to hearing all about it when you come back to us. 🙂

    • Oh, Sue, what a delight to read that I’ve become a fridge magnet. That is such a goal of mine. My next goal is to become worthy of a tattoo. We’ll see. That one may take a while.
      I love that you keep trying to be the mirror image of that which you hope your son will become. I believe it’s the easiest way to find success in that department. Not an easy journey–full of peril and fraught with misstep–not unlike most of the sci-fi films you use to teach grammar and communication skills on your blog.
      I’d wish you good luck, but I think you’ll find you are well on your way to finding success and luck has precious little to do with it. Cheers, Sue, and here’s to a good, long swim in the refreshing pool of risk!

  15. What inspiring thoughts. They remind me of when I headed off to college (all scared and excited and anxious) and my parents reminded me that I was there to try new things, meet new friends, and have a great adventure. It was comforting to hear at such a tough transitional time. All the best to you and your kids in this new phase!

    • Thank you, Abby. I’m guessing it’s a common enough speech, but must be specifically tailored to each individual child as they head out in search of their lives. I’m not sure how much of the speech my own will hear, as she is mainly found with earbuds deeply embedded within her head. In fact, I think most of what she has heard from me during the last few years has been only that which she’s gleaned from lip reading. But there’s still a ten hour journey at the end of the week in which to stuff in as much as possible. I’ll endeavor to do my best and give her the confidence your parents left with you. Cheers, Abby!

  16. I’m sure I’m repeating what others have said, but I couldn’t possibly read all these responses, right? Your post is wise and lovely. I’m reading it as my first grandchild sleeps two feet away from me. It’s so rewarding and so much fun to be involved in your adult children’s adventures. The first step away from home to college, 600 miles actually, led us eventually to be able to see her and her husband fall in love with this this beautiful, golden baby, as we have also. Happy adventures to your children and to you!

    • I am often filled with a sense of wonder and glee at the future, knowing there is so much promise to come, BUT I’m doing my utmost to live in the present, and to appreciate the now, not the “then.” Still, I’m glad to hear from others who have made it a few steps ahead of me and who signal with waving, jubilant arms the message, “Come on in, the water’s fine!”
      Thank you so much for reading and for your lovely, comforting comments. Cheers!

  17. darnayshun: i wuzz hopin’ to be one of the phurst to comment so i could ( in sew minnee werdZ) say “yahoo/good job/well said” but they ( /\ abuvv ) all said that. so, it’s like when the waitress came to our table yesterday (breakfast) and i said “four tequilas … and one for you!”. but they didn’t have any, not for sale, legally, at least. and what were we (b ‘n mee) like or feelin’ when our kids left? not near as philosophical. nuthin’ profound but yet in most ways we were identical to your sentiments: we knew (after all, we raised ’em) they’d get in the mix of things. stay busy, and when not busy, hard-core relax/re-charge.
    your clothing dilemma (moskeetowrepellent, yard clothes sticky w/all else) — dat’s been us, too. why bother changing when i’m gettin gunky again tomorrow? and only one shower at the end of the day even though i should shower, eh, 3 or 4 times.
    but, basically, your off-to-college daughter sounds like ours — and i don’t think she KNEW ANYONE at first at her school. sunny-boy did, and they started in right away with the mass quantities. but she done good, and so has he. and we’ll see ’em, both of ’em, two times this next 7 weeks. wish IT were more often.
    thanks for joggin the me(s)morey laying nodules ‘n such ~

    • Walking on a well trodden footpath can be a lovely balm to those of us hiking our way through life–especially to those who are all pins and needles about the myriad what-ifs. I’m fairly relieved that I don’t feel like a giant pin cushion of nerves, just aware of the changes ahead. Glad to hear yours still come home occasionally–and even nicer to hear you still want them to. 🙂
      Thanks for the wonderfully kind remarks, Betunada, I’m so glad it brought back a recollection or two.
      (bummer about the no tequila breakfast, tho!)

  18. Brilliant, heartfelt prose, Shelley. I hope this catches the eye of the Freshly Pressed crew. I’ve been searching for a way to recommend this post, but I guess they have to find you on their own. Drats!

    Best of luck to your daughter. I’m one year away from a college-bound son. I’ll be closely following your lead.

    • Wow, Alys, what a generous and gracious comment. You make my heart swell with happiness. Thank you so much.
      And I hope this year is filled with the most warm-hearted moments for you and your son. Those wings are just itching to fly …

      • I’m glad your heart swelled with happiness. I know you send that happiness out to others, so it only seems fair.

        As for those wings…I’m sure they are. I’m scared…but I know it’s almost time.

        I read the first draft of his college essay last night and was so moved.

  19. Congratulations to your daughter on her next big step! And I whole-heartedly agree with your wants for your children. It was how I was raised, and it only made me more driven NOT to fail, and to be all I can be ® . 😉 Hopefully, you’ll have something in line to keep the house from getting too quiet! That was my mom’s biggest complaint once we all moved out (all six of us…)

    • ALL SIX?? Oh, my godfathers, Alex. Your poor mum. What a woman. But it’s clear she raised at least one terrific cub. I’m going to guess the other five are likely inspiring young men and women too.
      And many thanks for your lovely words. I adore the quiet. In fact, there are times where I have to shush the hound for breathing too loudly. Thankfully, he’s rather forgiving of my delicate equilibrium as I’m in the constant search for silence. Especially if my apology comes in the form of half my lunch.

  20. Wonderful as always Shelley. I have always encouraged my children ( now 25 and 22) to push forward in life take risks and not to wallow in the disappointments along the way, i so enjoyed reading this post and then realised as i was reading that my tshirt of choice today has this slogan ” Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain” 🙂

    • Janice,

      Your quote from Vivien Greene is one of my favorite. From a woman, an author, poet and a beautiful human who lived just shy of 100 years through so many of life’s tragedies, she fully understood what it meant to live life to the fullest. I hope that someday I too will be able to reach that moment of euphoria.

      My best,

      Stoshu 🙂

      P.s. Miss you Shelley… my Sunday morning isn’t the same due to missing your new post. You’ve thrown off my Sunday routine as I feel I have a hitch in my step. I have my tea and morning’s bowl of fruit; yet going strait to reading The New Yorker and missing your new post is like trying to enjoy Paris from a postcard. If you vacation (and I know you’re moving Cleo to skhool), you’re still obligated to write. Consider yourself more important than the weather person, capiche? Niente piu pasti da Escoffier fino a quando ottengo il mio prossimo blog da te.

      Tanto amore e viaggi sicuri,

      Stoshu 🙂

    • Yes, Janice, I too agree that this is a brilliant motto for life. There are moments when you come across such sage words and have to pause to find a way to tattoo them to your soul.
      Thank you for reading, and always for the lovely comments!

  21. “I do not want a safe life for either one of them—nor for myself.”

    And where to begin… to comment?

    I have been in ‘desperadous’ (Is that a word? Well Hell! Now it is), these past weeks and no, don’t ask.
    However, Hamlet said it best: “I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth.”
    And Thanks for making me smile out loud.
    Anyway, this ain’t, for once, about me.
    It is about you. Your writing is above top shelf (Stop me now if I have gushed here before and too often), but, but, but… too many butts not enough… if’s
    “Yeah, whatever.”

    How is it that I am not seeing you being interviewed on CNN? or (God forbid) on FOX? (Double God Forbid!) And this from an Atheist, Capital A

    Both of these ‘News’ stations frequently now, bring in ‘bloggers’ for ‘perspective’.

    You need some Cable Air Time my Friend. I would sit through the tease and the Slim Fast commercials with Marie Osmond, waiting for your fifteen seconds sound bite of fame.
    You know I would.
    Cheers My Friend
    Write On!

    • And… Oh! Sorry if I did not elaborate, but the only reason I put the link was to link with the lady’s blog blogcast from Gaza weeks ago and now she has grown dark and I do check everyday. She was interviewed on CNN and they cut her off and it pissed me off…and I am making no sense.
      Perhaps you can make sense of my disquietude.
      Here is the link to her blog:

    • Lance, you truly have one helluva way with compliments. I’m gobsmacked and dumbfounded. And so honored to read your incredibly kind comments.
      Thank you for making me smile like I haven’t done in years.
      I’m eternally grateful. 😀

      • Dear Shelley,
        Yup. I was gushing. I tend to gush when I read top-shelf. I am a student of literature and prose (and an underachiever in both)
        Yes, but, yet… I know talent.

        Gushing or not, I love the way you write and I will ‘Gladiate’ anyone who disagrees.
        You keep on writing Girl:
        You are very good at it.
        (Shades of ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ when Sundance said to Butch, “You just keep thinkin’ Butch; that’s what yer good at…”
        Cheers, My Friend.
        Go with your talent.
        “And jes keep on writin’. That’s what yer good at…”
        It is wonderful.

  22. Wow… how well put. Thanks for the follow, too. Sigh… my sons are 22 and 26 and I know all to well how you feel. I think though, you can breathe a bit of a sigh too, because anyone that asks those things of the beings they put on this earth can only be the same too, and really, our children emulate us. We don’t think so but they do. As hard as it was as a single mom and going through all the battles I had to with them, I knew I did it right when OTHERS told me what wonderful boys I have. Of course I thought maybe she never met them, lol, but no. As long as they are to the world what you only hoped, you did your job. Then, amazingly enough, you get further rewarded, if your really lucky, and get that little girl… in the form of a grand baby. Now thats a feeling I can’t wait to see how you put into words someday, since you put things so eloquently.perfect.. mom-wise, anyways. 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Laura, for your beautiful words. I’m such a believer in the whole village idea of raising kids, but also in the concept of mirroring the success of parents who are a couple of steps in front of me. So thanks for the heads up and the many things to look forward to.
      And you’re so welcome for the follow–I’m always attracted to other writers who make me stop with pause and consider the terrific things they have to say. Following you was a no brainer. 😉
      Cheers, Laura!

      • Please.. gonna make me cry again here. You guys in this community.. I’m so at home finally. Funny that you say the whole village thing.. its a draft I plan on finishing one of these days. Thanks so much for your oh too kind words friend.

  23. So I read this a long time back and tried to comment a number of times but WordPress was not allowing it. I think they thought I was spam or something! I have things fixed now, luckily.

    I really wanted to tell you how much this post inspired, challenged, and touched me as a mom. It is by far one of my favorite pieces I have yet to read and will not forget it. I tend to want to shelter my little loves, keeping them from all the failures and heartaches this life brings. Your words really challenged me, as they grow, to release them. How vital it is to release them! Thanks for this!!


      There. I just had my little rant.

      And what lovely, gracious comments, Sasha. Thank you for coming back to pursue the posting of your thoughts. Ultimately, I’m glad it meant something to you. As mums and dads, we all have so much to share with one another about our successes and failures with the raising of our kids. I continue to be inspired and open-hearted when listening to those who are a few steps ahead of me, and hope that I might be of service to others in the same, meaningful way.

      Cheers to you. You really are one mighty mother in the making. 😀

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