Day 26: On Dreams. And Courage.

It surprises me, I have to say, how aware of it I feel sitting here by the pool in this most lovely courtyard in Key West. I am alone, you see, traveling alone, something that is not necessarily new to me. And still the solo nature of it all has heightened every sense I have. The wind, tropical but January-cool, carries the sound of the leaves all around that blow and wave and rub. Each is a different green, and the late morning sun shifts the colors moment to moment, the canopy above me a changing show of dance and light. The Hemingway cats, six-toed and fat, stretch and meow and saunter. And in a marvelous twist on all that is represented by this island’s hedonistic brand, in the distance I hear church bells ringing.


Why is this? I wonder. What is it about spending (nearly) a week alone that turns up the volume?

I know, of course. I’m making good on a promise to live more courageously, to be more adventurous, to go more boldly. And while the story I repeat to myself is that it’s solo travel, the honest truth is I am here to realize a life-long dream of studying fiction writing with my favorite of favorite authors, Lee Smith at the renowned Key West Literary Seminar Writers’ Workshop.

(It took a shot of bourbon for me to apply for this coveted spot and another when I received word I was in.)

I take my first dive this afternoon. And for the next four days, I’ll push every writer comfort zone boundary I’ve developed–and more than one solo traveler fear. I’ll do so with this familiar mantra in my head:

You don’t serve the world by playing small.*


Live courageously. Be more adventurous. Go boldly.

Mantra, please serve me well!


*from one of my favorite writings/prayers/meditations by Marianne Williamson

30 Days of Joy


Day 24: in january

on Bickley's Pond
on Bickley’s Pond

There is something to love about each season, every month, those nearly imperceptible day-to-day shifts in nature that keep things changing, time rolling on. I believe it to be one of the universe’s most brilliant design characteristics—a gentle nudging that keeps us mere mortals (who can tend to become a bit set in our ways) always moving forward. It’s true in bud-rich Spring, on that we can easily agree. But it’s true in January, as well, this time of quiet gray and soft light, this month in which the world around us whispers Take a breath. Take a moment. Take stock.

How I love January.



30 Days of Joy


Day 23: Playing Favorites (or Six Things I Learned During Christmas Break)

the whole gang, New Year’s Eve at the SC Aquarium

There was a complicated set of circumstances that resulted in them all being here at the same time, these college friends: family holiday travel, a fabulous New Year’s Eve party in Charleston, move-back-in day at Clemson. Low and behold our house is situated right here betwixt and between so many of these goings-on; it just made sense for our place to be the layover spot.

New Year’s Day! (the girls and Little Bit)

How lucky for me.

Because for two nights and three days, I got to chill with Eliza and her best college buds, watching movies, playing games, and generally hanging out, holiday break down-time style.

a competitive game of Clue

The whole episode served to remind me of some things buried under a layer or two of grown-up life work, worry and busyness.

  1. An entire day on the sofa in your softest clothes can be a very good use of time.
  2. There’s a valuable bit of perspective to be gained surrounded by friends who tell you God’s honest truth about whatever it is you’re remembering/considering/discussing.
  3. Play. Play cards, play games, play let’s try on every hat at Mast General Store! Just play.
  4. Free food is good food, as Eliza explained to me before they arrived. But a really good meal served in a candle-lit dining room is magical.
  5. Laughter is contagious.
  6. Our world will be in very good hands one day.



30 Days of Joy

Day 19: Secret Gardens

Heartbreak, I tell you.

That’s what happened when I got my hands clutched tightly around Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book during a rather competitive Christmas White Elephant gift swap at the Party Barn. Judy brought it, and then I got it, and then someone STOLE IT, reminding me of the life lesson:

Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.



And so I rejoiced to see not one, but two copies of the book, along with a gigantic pack of colored pens, under our sparkling tree Christmas morning.




pensHow fun it has been to share the joy of a grown-up coloring book with my grown-up daughter.

eliza-cropcoloringowl(She’s a much better colorer than I, I’ll tell you that.)

There will be hours and hours and hours of joy. Thank you, Judy. Thank you, Johanna. Thank you, Santa!



30 Days of Joy

Day 18: Road trip!

Do you love a road trip like I love a road trip?

First, there’s Eliza and Little Bit in the back seat.

travelin' buddies
travelin’ buddies

Second, Tim drives.

Which means I don’t have to.

Which means I get to knit.

The whole time.

(There may also be a really good audiobook involved.)

Third, the scenery changes moment to moment.

I really love that.

(It’s the very best part of a road trip, don’t you agree?)

Which leads to another of my very favorite pastimes:

Fourth: #carwindowphotography

december sky, yes


Oh, I do love a road trip!


30 Days of Joy


Day 17: Christmastide

IMG_1753 - Version 2
chez coles

Is this a new thought for you, as it is for me?

Good news to all who woke a bit blue this morning. Christmastide is here! Christmas is a season, not a day. Advent asked us for many days of watching and waiting. Now Christmas asks us for 12 days of joy. Party on. Take time and eat well. Enjoy the ones you love. See good movies. Take walks. Give the kids a little extra space. Pray for peace and goodwill the world over. Save a little gift for a surprise later. In all, thank God for all the joy.

How grateful I am to Winn Collier for this generous offering on Facebook. How happy I am to have 14 more days of joy here on The Daily Grace!



30 Days of Joy



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