Sunday, June 30, 2013

"Always Make New Mistakes"

Today I see a fun magnet in a bookstore. It simply says, "Always make new mistakes."

I smile because it's exactly the kind of mindset that sets someone free to do extraordinary things.

My youngest considers the strange advice, and I can tell she's wondering about this. Normally, she hears advice to do her best, accomplish more, and earn good grades. But this? This tells her to commit herself to a particular kind of failure.

This kind of failure gives you permission. It sets you on a no-holding-back kind of adventure. Go, child! Get out there and make incredible mistakes as you live the fullest life possible. 

This, I can do.

I imagine us waking up tomorrow and breathing a great sigh of relief. We're implored to get out there and make some new mistakes.

I plan on making some marvelous ones.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Rose-Moles All in Stipple

Today I see the trout that Gerard Manley Hopkins describes in his poem Pied Beauty. For many years, I've taught students about the "rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim," but I've never actually seen them myself. (I never knew what "stipple" meant. It's an artistic term for marking something with little dots.)

We're on a hike in the mountains, and right there in a little mountain stream, I see them. If you look closely, you can see them in the water.

Like Hopkins, I proclaim, "Glory be to God for dappled things!" Yes, a Clever Artist stippled these fish to blend right into the stream bed. Their strange beauty--dappled and counter--is perfect for how they were meant to live best. Enjoy the poem below and delight in your own dappled, strange, fickle self:

GLORY be to God for dappled things—
  For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
    For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
  Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;        5
    And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
  Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
    With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:        10
                  Praise him.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Breaking a Voice

When my daughter was just a toddler learning to speak, her older sister would constantly interrupt her. The little one would say, "Stop breaking my voice!"

I've been thinking about my problem of interrupting these past few days. I have a terrible problem with interrupting people. Part of it is rooted in a good thing; I love what you're saying and want to comment on it all. I think quickly and love to verbally synthesize (great for teaching, terrible for friendship conversations).

But the other part of this problem is an excessive self-focus; what I want to say becomes more important that what you are saying.

I have places I want this conversation to go, so let's get on with it. I have things I want to say, so let me just insert myself right here. 

Last night, a wise friend reminds me to give people a long, long, long time to answer completely and get out everything they want to say.

Let them finish. Let them finish! 

Then wait. Then wait some more. 

Then wait more. 

Then comment. Then ask a question or offer your thoughts. 

I'm working on this. My friend lets me practice with her. It's so hard!

I don't want to break anyone's voice today.

What advice do you have for interruptors?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Your Spacious Place

Lately, my oldest has been around so many people in lots of small spaces. As an introvert, she's feeling distressed, overwhelmed, and in great need of space.

She wants to be alone in a spacious place.

(I think of Psalm 18:19: He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.)

Spacious: vast in range and scope; generous and broad; ample.

I think about the space she needs both physically and mentally. I think about the space we all need, both physically and mentally. My friend tells me that in her tiny apartment in Brooklyn that she shares with her whole family, she goes on long walks alone every day. Getting space, for her, means walking, but it also might mean reading, writing, cooking, or sitting still on the couch.

Blogging, believe it or not, is my spacious place. My garden, too. My cutting board, my book on my bedside table, my conversations with my husband, my purring cat---these bring me space.

Today I realize our need for spacious places. We asking God to bring us there--both physically and mentally.

How do you find spacious places?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I Stand Corrected: Emotional Well-Being Isn't the Goal. Intimacy with Jesus is the Goal.

This summer, I'm speaking on emotional maturity and well-being in leaders. I've accumulated over ten years worth of research in therapeutic settings on how people can achieve well-being and happiness.

But something doesn't seem right as I talk about boundaries, creativity, toxic relationships, balance, and all the other tricks one learns to protect oneself from anything distressing or negative.

I've gone too far. I realize how much I miss out on in the name of "emotional well-being." I realize what I won't allow, what I resist from God, where I won't go, and what I won't do in the name of my own emotional health. It's too self-protective. It's too self-exulting.

It's an idol, really. At least for me it is. Emotional health trumps everything these days, and it feels wrong.

It's good--in moderation--to apply boundaries and techniques for balanced, happy living, but when it comes right down to it, that's not the primary goal of my life.

The primary goal of my life is to know and love God. It's to learn the secret of being content in every situation--which, I'm ashamed to admit, isn't the happiness philosophy of the day. The secret is that we can "do all things though Christ who strengthens [us]."

If God leads us to distressing places, we don't resist to protect our emotional health. If God leads us to a hard-to-love person or a difficult circumstance, we don't shy away in the name of our own need for comfort.

If God leads us to sorrow, a lack of balance, depression, anxiety, or pain, the first question isn't, "How do I get back my emotional health?" The first question is, "How can I be with Jesus in this? How can I find the strength of God here?"

I have so much more to learn.

Do you think we've gone to far to protect our emotional health?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Great Parenting Advice: Find the Strength in the Weakness

I'm sharing with another mother all the ways I've had to correct my daughters lately. She reminds me that every presenting weakness in character is a strength disguised and misdirected.

If I can remember the strength behind the weakness, I can celebrate it and then reorient the weakness back toward the strength.

I suddenly feel more like a cheerleader and less like a cruel task-master.

For example, critical and judgmental attitudes find their roots in wise, discerning hearts. Flattery comes from encouraging impulses gone overboard. Highly organized, efficient people might tend towards overbearing control.

Everything I don't like about others (and myself--myself especially) hides a particular strength. When I see it this way, I recalibrate weaknesses back to strengths.

I'm not, therefore, disciplining children all day long to change. I'm inviting them to use their strengths in the right way.

Have you found that every presenting weakness is a strength disguised and misdirected?

Monday, June 24, 2013

We Do Not Know What We Do Not Know

I stop and notice the veins on the tree leaves this afternoon.

In darker leaves, one can't always see the intricate nutrient delivery system within the leaf. On these lighter leaves, you can. And on these particular leaves, the venation is reticulate. Leaves, apparently, can have one of many kinds of vein patterns with different names.

I had no idea.

Suddenly, I think that I should go back to school for more and more degrees. I want to study leaf veins. I want to learn about leaf anatomy--the sinuses, petioles, midribs, and lobes. Did you even know such words existed in leaf terminology? Have you ever even read the word venation before?

The world is stunning in its beauty and complexity. We simply do not know what we do not know.

What would you like to study if you could?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

She Records Her Acts of Bravery

My youngest--who is actually shy and nervous-- decides to record her acts of bravery in her journal. 

I love this idea so much! I ask for her permission to tell you all about it.

She knows God is with her, so she's challenging herself to be very brave this summer.

Rattlesnake confrontation, rock climbing, meeting new friends, walking behind a waterfall. . . 

Each day requires bravery for something, and she's excited to face whatever comes.

Were you brave?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Amazing Power of a Tiny Ritual

I'm reading the Harvard research study on the power of rituals, and I recall the very day my husband and I instituted a little ritual that's become a huge part of our marriage.

The research shows how rituals increase happiness, meaning, and enjoyment of the day. Our little ritual is gathering around the coffee pot in the morning and sharing a delicious cup of coffee. The children aren't awake. The house is quiet.

It's just us--with our coffee ritual.

My husband, by the way, was never a coffee drinker. He became one for me. He decided that we could share a little morning ritual that had nothing to do with our children or our work. It happens the same way every single morning. The same order. The same cups. The same coffee.

Even when we travel, we find a way to have our ritual.

A ritual, technically, is a kind of ceremony; it's a series of actions you perform in a prescribed order.

Rituals lend a particular significance to whatever event you decide to ritualize.

Maybe it's something before a meal. Maybe it's a bedtime ritual. Maybe it's a mid-day pause to slow down and think about how you're living and why you're doing what you're doing. Some of us have writing rituals, praying rituals, cooking rituals, eating rituals, or sleeping rituals.

I'd like to think more about ways I can have special rituals in friendship, marriage, and parenting.

The research shows that ritualizing--even in small ways--affords huge benefits.

Do you have family rituals?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Advice for the Homesick

Today I remember something I learned back when I served as a camp counselor for six summers. When dealing with a homesick camper, you have to remind them that it's perfectly OK to have a great time and miss home.

You can feel both things at once, and that's OK.

Sometimes little campers didn't think it was right to have so much fun at camp and miss their parents. They felt like they had to choose.

Once they felt the freedom to hold both emotions in their hearts at once, they settled down into their reality.

This morning, my youngest tells me that when we leave home, she misses her cat.

"I know. That's OK. You can miss the cat and still have fun here. You can do both at the same time."

She tilts her head to one side and smiles. This hasn't occurred to her young mind before.

My husband reiterates later that one definition of emotional maturity is exactly this: You can live in the tension between opposing emotions. 

My own homesick heart--the one that longs for a spiritual home I will one day have (but not yet)--holds  longing and joy at once.

Enjoy conflicting emotions today!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

How Do You Have Time to Write?

People ask me this question sometimes, and lately I've asked back in response, "Well, how do you have time to eat?"

Nobody asks me, "How do you find the time to eat?"

You eat when you're hungry. That's what writing is like for me. If I don't write, something feels starving inside, and I must feed it.

If you're trying to find time to write, maybe seeing it like mealtimes would help. You wouldn't skip dinner--you wouldn't dare--and you wouldn't skip a writing session because you need the nourishment that badly.

Writing, like eating, doesn't have to happen formally. You rarely set a full table setting and bring out the linen napkins to eat your cheeseburger and sling back your coffee, so why not think of writing with the same on-the-go informality? A quick sentence here, a slosh of a paragraph there, a nibble into a chapter, and you're on your way. And, like eating, you can do it while doing others things (believe it or not). You've got laundry going, rice cooking, children playing. . .

And then there's you, typing out a line of dialogue you've had in your head all night.

Sometimes, like in fine dining, great things must simmer and come out with all sorts of pomp. But not every day. Everyday writing, especially for anyone with other jobs and the responsibility of family, might just have to function like drive-thru fast food.

Maybe, for most of us, that's the only way it happens.

How do you find the time?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Smallest Act Sanctified

Today I remember the beauty of small, humble living. I'm reading Thomas a Kempis' The Imitation of Christ, and I'm reminded of simple acts of love that reflect the glory of God.

And it just so happens that both my daughters are sick today (one with a stomach bug and the other with an infection), and I find myself going about the unglamorous tasks of cleaning a toilet, serving tea, and simply pressing a cool hand against a hot forehead.

Nobody sees. It's quiet here. We're all alone.

But suddenly it feels holy--like Jesus is here with me. It feels like His love is here, and I'm to extend it to these little ones with every whisper of comfort and act of service around them. That's the grand calling for today, and I accept it gladly.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

How a Mom Spreads Cheer in Walmart

My friend posts on Facebook about her stealth mission in Walmart.

She and her children secretly put googly eyes on various items. Are you laughing? I am.

I'm laughing for two reason: First, it's just silly. Second, I think of exhausted parents shopping with tantrum-throwing children who suddenly see Paula Dean with bugged out eyes or the Pillsbury Doughboy staring--wide-eyed and whimsically--from aisle four.

I think of the smiles on otherwise worn-out faces. I think of diapers that cause giggles and bananas that send children searching for more hidden eyes.

Why doesn't every store do this? I love anything that turns the mundane into the marvelous.

Sometimes, a mom just has to spread some whimsy in the fruit aisle.

Her children take the photos, so all credit goes to them.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Lean Way, Way Back

On a walk early this morning, I spy the biggest tree I've ever seen in my life. I literally have to lean way, way back to see it fully. This picture is really only half of the tree! I can't contain it!

Enormous trees are sobering, humbling, and perspective-giving. They remind me that so much has gone before me, and so much will come after me. I'm a small thing here, for a small time, in a small space. I want to be a blessing while I can, however I can. I want to love deeply and beautifully.

So much will come after us. When I stand under this tree, I remember the passage of time. I think of the verse in Psalm 90: "Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."

I lean way, way back, and I remember a truth about our lives.

Do you think about time when you look at trees? What else makes us think about time like this?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Danger in Beauty: The Rattlesnake and the Waterfall

Today we hike to a waterfall, and I see my very first rattlesnake on the way.

I repeat: I walk into a rattlesnake!

We stare at one another. He rattles. They actually rattle. It's loud and scary as he sticks that snaky tongue out and uncoils.

I toss a rock near it, and it slithers away.

We're all stunned, really. And no, I don't have proof in a photo. Some things you shouldn't try to capture on film. You just mind your own business and get out of the way. Besides, we have beauty to find:

Like the people you love most in the whole world walking on ahead of you to a waterfall.

The little one is running because she just saw the rattlesnake.

Now she's running because there's a waterfall ahead, and we are hot and tired.

The oldest climbs the mountain to get a better look and cool off in the shade and mist.

And then she guides her little sister through the waterfall.

True, rattlesnakes lurk in the rocks and on the trail, but every beautiful thing hides a bit of danger. We shouldn't be surprised at this. That's what makes things sublime after all: fear and wonder both.

On this day, I remember that on this quest for beauty, there's danger indeed. We press on, follow the path, and keep our wits about us.

Have you seen poisonous snakes on your hiking adventures?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Best Definition of Freedom: 4 Things

I'm reading Ruth Haley Barton's Longing for More: A Woman's Path to Spiritual Transformation in Christ. She writes in the introduction that "the whole spiritual journey could be characterized as a journey into freedom."

I've got my pen poised above the book as the early morning sun shines on me. I'm ready for this. I want to learn more. I love the pause in summertime when I ask questions towards my own spiritual growth.

The writer considers how when Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:17 that "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom," this means something deeply profound.

It means, according to Barton, "the freedom to be completely given over to God and to others in love in any given moment. It is the ability to live from an inner security, freed from self-interest, self-consciousness, and self-protection. This is the freedom to live a life of utter responsiveness to the Spirit of God within us. . ."

Completely given over to God and others in love. 

Living from inner security. 

Free from self.

Utterly responsive. 

This is my prayer in my journal today. This is the best definition of freedom, and I'm excited for God to work it out in me. At any given moment, I pray for utter responsiveness and that kind of authentic love.

Do you feel utterly responsive?

Friday, June 14, 2013

When a Tree Goes Through Your House

First of all, it wasn't my house. It was my neighbor's house:

A crowd of us gather after the storm to check in, care for, and --oddly--crack jokes to lighten the mood. My daughters climb up to the attic and touch the tree.

It seems amazing: a tree shot straight through the house.

Nobody was hurt. In fact, we begin to count all the ways this could be worse.  There's this strange yet obvious spirit of gratitude for what wasn't lost.

I think about this attitude all day and night. I want to cultivate the kind of thankfulness that remembers what is still here.

Perhaps that's what storms do best.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

When the Problem Is You

Today I read in the book of Isaiah the command to do away with the pointing finger and the malicious talk. 

I've been thinking so much about my own pointing finger this week. I like to blame others for the way I feel. I often consider how I'm being let down. This is an absolutely horrible way to live.

What if I remember that the only real problem (insofar as I cannot control anything except my response to my circumstances) is me

I put my pointing finger away and read the rest of Isaiah 58:

If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.

If I'm busy spending myself on the needs of others, I'm too gloriously busy to point a finger at somebody. I'm too involved in God's work to think or speak maliciously.

Yes, I put away the pointing finger today. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Just Enough

Each new morning, the strawberry patch offers up a bowl full of ripe strawberries. It's just enough for smoothies, parfaits, a cobbler, or a pie.

Last year, we had to thin out the patch. We had so many berries that they rotted on the ground like Israelite manna stored up.

This year, I'm thankful for the just enough that neither rots nor boasts. 

God knew that a simple, daily supply would keep me coming back. He gives just enough, and I'm thankful.

I'll go out in the morning and gather more. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Greatest Ending Ever: How We Say Goodbye to Graduating 5th Graders

Every student, staff, and teacher lines the school hallways and extends their hands. They form a long and beautiful tunnel.

The 5th graders--who have graduated and will leave elementary school and journey on to Middle School--walk through the tunnel of cheers and tears.

It's the school's goodbye.

The 5th graders cry and hug. They are growing up, and they know it. 

My own sobbing daughter and I walk arm and arm for the last time out the very same school doors we nervously entered six years ago as a kindergartner and her crying mother. 

The thunderstorm has ended and the sun breaks through so the sky is part storm, part blue joy.

It's half and half, I tell her. Life is like this. You cry because something is over forever, but you're moving on to the new joy ahead.

Meanwhile, life is lined with that tunnel of hundreds who see you, love you, and are part of your growing. 

She's growing up, and so am I.

Monday, June 10, 2013

3 Kinds of Local

I find myself face-painting children this morning. Our elementary school has an indoor field day due to rain, and I'm on duty with paints and brushes. I'm enjoying every mustache, rainbow, flower, and cupcake on each precious face. 

Some of the fifth graders I've watched grow up from kindergarten. I rest my brush and ponder this.

I love this little neighborhood and this little school. 

Later, I harvest several quarts of strawberries from my little berry patch.

Then, I bring some treats to a neighbor who leaves for a vacation tomorrow.

Small, local things. 

Children, gardens, and neighbors: these have become a way to build a life.

What was your day like?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Mom, Have You Blogged About the Coconut Yet?

We're eating pizza at a local restaurant, and the very special dessert is coconut bread pudding--cooked and served in a coconut.

You know my problem with coconut: I love it!

After you eat the bread pudding, you can eat the baked coconut meat that still lines the shell. Then, you can take the shell home to use as something.

My youngest is overjoyed and full of amazement. She uses her coconut as a cup and walks around the house as she drinks from it.

For days, she asks if I've shared this glorious situation with the world. 

I forget what counts as amazing. 

I forget to think about life like a child. This beautiful earth produces coconuts! Alert the media!

What small thing currently amazes a child in your life?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

I Never Thought

I never thought that harvesting would be part of my day. 

But harvest I do. 

I love embracing what I never imagined I would ever have. I love seeing the fruit of an unconventional life that didn't go exactly according to my plan.

And now, we feast on fruit.

Friday, June 7, 2013

When the Deep Thing Escapes

I read in C.S. Lewis' Till We Have Faces a little statement:

"Child, to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you really mean; that's the whole art and joy of words."

One day, you'll say the thing you really mean. That thing deep within you that needs to be shared but that you can't articulate just yet--well, it's in there. One day, you'll match precise words to it.

One day, you'll find the phrase, and something that's buried deep will finally escape.

Oh, how I love writing!


Thursday, June 6, 2013

You Won't Believe What She Did

One of my neighbors absolutely amazes me. In her mid-50's, she decides to follow her dreams to start a brand new career. She asks my husband and me to pray about ways she can earn a living from her creativity. 

She's brave. She's inspiring. She's always, always imagining new and wonderful things for her life. Whether she's tending her enormous garden, teaching classes, working at museums, quilting, or dreaming up new novels, she always has something she's thinking about trying. I don't think she has a lazy moment. The older she gets, the braver she becomes.

When we walk together, I hear about her life of adventure. I want to be like this in 20 years.

Most recently, she launched a fine art photography website to display her incredible photos of her travels across the world. She now attends various art festivals and blesses the world with her particular aesthetic vision.

If you visit her new website, you will simply love what you see.  She's at Enjoy! (My favorite photographs are the scenes in Italy with the cobalt blue boats. These I want above my writing desk.)

This morning, I consider how--if she hadn't been brave, if she hadn't tried it, if she hadn't risked, if she hadn't taken that step into the unknown--the world wouldn't have these photos. She's teaching me to not keep art to myself.

There's a world to bless with your particular eye. Please be brave and show us what you see.

Are you venturing out into a new thing? Let us know all about it!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Ignoring Your Most Basic Instinct

You would think I would just drink water all day long, but I don't.

I learn today that a large percentage of the population has a reduced thirst sensation (meaning they don't feel thirsty even when they actually are). We need water so very badly, and yet we don't drink it.

I used to often grab a coffee, a carbonated beverage, or a nice iced tea all the while dehydrating myself. The thirst signal goes away, but I'm still thirsty. These beverages don't hydrate; they're like negative water.

I'm thinking about these things because when we travel to higher altitudes this summer, everyone tells me to double my water intake. If not, watch out for headaches, fatigue, nausea, and moodiness.

Double my water? Oh no! I'm suddenly aware that I can go a whole day and not drink water at all. 

At all! This is crazy! 

I started to carry a water bottle everywhere and challenged myself to drink 64 ounces a day. What would happen? For me, it's clear skin, moist eyes that can finally tolerate contacts, deep sleep, energy, and weight loss. Others report alleviated joint pain, focus, and better health all around.

Water! It's water! We're thirsty, and we don't know it.

What's your strategy for water intake?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

How It Hits You

I arrive to the woods at just the right time of morning for the sunlight.  The leaves pose for prayer.

I love this walk to school because of how the light illuminates everything. I see average things in new ways--the shadows, the sun's rays, the greens, the yellowish undersides--because of timing. 

Just five minutes later, the magic is gone. The scene has changed that quickly. The sun that once brought so much pleasure now beats harshly on the path.

But for at least one moment, I saw something beautiful.

Timing matters. The same scene will look entirely different in just a few moments. The sun will set and rise, and what seems so banal in one big thicket now might just shimmer with joy by morning.

We just need right timing.

I think 8:15 is my favorite time of day!

Monday, June 3, 2013

On This Bench

My husband drives by an apartment I've never seen before and points it out for me to see.

"What am I supposed to be seeing?" I mumble back.

I look at everything and see nothing important.

Then, just as I turn away, I see on one porch a beautiful garden bench. I look again.

It's not just any old bench.

For months, I've watched a friend make this very bench for his new bride for their anniversary!  Completed in secret with some help from my husband and kept hidden in our garage, this garden bench is so lovely and meaningful. I know the story behind it.

It's beautiful. She'll treasure it always. They'll sit on this garden bench and grow old together. They'll watch their children play and hold grandchildren on their laps. They'll watch sunsets, eat ice cream, pray, share good news, and rest on this bench. On this bench, they'll live out a thousand ordinary days of deep breaths, quiet conversations, and daily decisions. On this bench, they'll read and laugh and mourn. They'll tuck their toes underneath themselves and curl up. They'll laugh and be together.

"I see it!"I finally report. I'm smiling and so happy to see this gift of love displayed. I love that I saw it come to be.

I love handmade things, and I love the design of this garden bench!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Whom Can I Love?

This morning in church, I realize I sometimes spend too much time wondering who loves me instead of loving others.

The very moment I take my eyes off of myself and look around to see who needs attention, I'm set free.

Whom can you love?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

What Oprah's Harvard Commencement Speech Taught Me

Yesterday, I read CNN's article on Oprah's speech at Harvard University's 362nd commencement ceremony.

I learned that in all of Oprah's interviews with famous people from all over the world--presidents, celebrities, businessmen, even criminals--she discovered they all shared one thing in common: they needed validation. 

After interviewing both the famous and the unknown, Oprah reflects, "They ask, 'Was that OK?' I've heard that from President Bush, I heard that from President Obama, I even heard that from Beyonce in all her Beyonceness. They all want to know one thing: Was that OK? Did you hear me, did you see me, did what I said mean anything to you?"

Was that OK? Was I OK? 

All of us share that need, and today, I remember the profound importance of validation. I hear you. I see you. What you share means everything to me.

You are OK.

(And Oprah concluded her speech by asking the crowd, "Was that OK?")

If you need validation today, remember you're not alone.