Dear NEEAAReSt and Dearest,

Mother’s Day is always difficult for me.

It often seems like a cocktail of grief and sadness with a twist of regret. A few years ago on Mother’s Day I decided to start writing a weekly “letter” (blog post) to you, the young people in my family. They are my NEEAAReST and Dearest posts. Not having given birth to a child, understanding my path to motherhood is wide and expansive and inclusive, and loving to write, I decided writing a weekly “letter” to you for a year was one place I could channel my motherly thoughts and musings and love. Once a week for 52 weeks, I write down a few of the things I want to say to you from the bottom of my heart. I have covered everything from the first day of school, to apologizing, to competition, and much more. (I am not sure how many of them you all have actually read, but I hope you someday will.)

Counsel From Your Ultimate Teacher

I took a writing course a few years ago, and one of our assignments was entitled “Counsel From Your Ultimate Teacher.” Martha Beck, the course’s teacher, views our ultimate teacher as our inner truth. This assignment is a universal invitation to celebrate Mother’s Day, and the end of my NEEAAReSt and Dearest writing challenge, by thinking about what I have learned this year about my inner truth.

Here is what my ultimate teacher taught me this year.

Keep a soft heart.

In this world that might seem to reward hard edges and fake veneers and fast pace, make sure your heart stays soft. A soft heart does not judge. A soft heart giggles. A soft heart is vulnerable. A soft heart offers fear a warm embrace. A soft heart’s love is fierce and sacred. Find safe places to crumble and cry and be angry and cuss and fail. Find safe places to dance and listen and think and smile. Those places are where real strength lives and grows and blooms.

Gratitude matters.

I have been writing about gratitude for a long time. I have only shared a bit about what I have learned about gratitude in my NEEAAReSt and Dearest posts. What I know for sure is that living gratefully has changed my life. I am able to see the beauty in my world in ways I did not know were possible. I have seen acts of gratitude multiply and ripple and change the essence of relationships. I have seen cruelty in a cruel times fall away when embraced by gratitude. One of my favorite prayers, from Meister Eckhart, says “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you. It will be enough.” I believe that with my entire being.

Know your truth.

Thinking about my truth was not something I did consciously when I was your age. (That is not to say I did not think about things like right and wrong, telling the truth or telling lies, and treating others like I want to be treated.) My truth has always been carefully protected and when I violate it I have always felt sick. My head and my heart actually hurt. I am at a place in my life that when I don’t live truthfully I right my ship as quickly as I can. Righting the ship is important. My hope for you is that you know your truth, live by your truth, and share that truth with the world. It needs it.

Forgive often.

I have recently come to the conclusion (as Don Henley once sang but I know you are too young to know about Don Henley) its about forgiveness. Our capacity to forgive ourselves and others sets us free from so much of life’s crap. Our capacity to forgive is an original blessing, in the truest sense of the word blessing as an offering of love to ourselves and others. I am not trying to make forgiveness sound easy. Forgiveness can taste like sour milk that has been left outside in the sun on a hot afternoon. Uttering words of forgiveness can feel absolutely painful. I am simply saying forgiveness is worth it. Forgiveness and truth dwell together. Forgiveness offers hope in an imperfect world.

To Our Mothers

As we start another year around a post-Mother’s Day sun, know that you each are seen and loved. To my Mother, my Grandmothers, and Mothers of all definitions, Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.