Hello, everyone --

I planned to write about something completely different this week, but then I sneaked out the door for an early-morning walk. As Leo and I tromped the snowy sidewalks, the sunshine hit his coat and I became aware of how he *glows* these days.

This glowing goes beyond the coppery highlights that have popped up in his chocolate fur. He actually seems to be embellishing his own coat from within, particularly around his neck, adding something resembling a mink collar in front and dense, wavy hair across his shoulders. It reminds me of post-slumber party hair, when we would comb out our braids.

I had never before seen this side of my dog, this being our first season braving subzero cold, day after day … after day. (It was -18 degrees F when we left the house yesterday, and we don’t expect to hit 0 again until Tuesday.) Where I am bundled head to toe in pounds of gear, Leo continues to wear what he always wears: his collar. Of course his body would be triggered to make some alterations. Forget evolution—he’s adapting in real time!
It struck me as we walked that this is how our lives go as well. We encounter changes … challenges to our status quo, threats to our dreams … and we have little choice but to address them, whether that means fighting or adapting. (Or denying. But that’s a whole other story.)

And what happens when we wrestle—whether with disappointment, strife or the unexpected? We adapt. We change. A new type of beauty emerges: It might look like perspective. Or a wry sense of humor. A generous heart. A sense of optimism. A graceful acceptance.

Since the turn of the year, I’ve been teaching and coaching writing online, helping people identify their own stories, draw them out of their heads and put them into words. Many of these stories involve a challenge of some sort, and in sharing them, their writers reveal the inner beauty they have evolved in response to these experiences.

This past year has brought challenge upon challenge. Some of these trials have threatened our lives. Others have tested our endurance. New situations are changing our beliefs, our understandings of the world around us, our hearts and our appearances (hello, gray hair!).

But I don’t believe these hardships are only bringing trouble. They also are prompting us to adapt and to grow. I choose to believe they are guiding us toward a more beautiful version of ourselves, as individuals and as a society, inspiring in us greater capacities for love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (apart from dark chocolate consumption).* 

So those are my thoughts, this Valentine's Day Eve. Next newsletter I’ll try to get around to sharing my obsession with masala chai and the quick and easy recipe I make and savor every morning!

Take good care,

*Galatians 5:22-23 ... with apologies for the chocolate aside!

Leo speaks out

I admit it: My dog has become my muse. Didn't see that coming, but here we are.

Just for the record, it isn't all one-sided. He spoke out last week on my blog -- in Norwegian!

Who knew?

You have something to say

This is detail from the wallpaper I have installed on my smartphone: 
Can I get an “amen”?

It's the artwork of Morgan Harper Nichols, a mixed-media artist, whose e-newsletter I enjoy. She's been sharing wallpapers weekly.

I installed this reminder on my phone's lock screen not only because it’s what I need to hear (although I often do) but because it’s the message I want to emanate as I walk through life:

"You—yes, you!—have something to say. You running the till at the grocery store. You delivering my packages. You checking me in for an appointment. You, my family members and friends."

The first step in storytelling is listening, whether to our hearts or to those around us. And that’s why I started offering storytelling classes and coaching this year. Each of us has a story, and sometimes it helps having a place to start telling it, an ear to start hearing it.

If this sounds interesting to you, more details are on my Memoir Moments webpage.

Thank you for your support!

I recently learned that Amazon doesn't always show reviews from other countries, so I was delighted to learn of this one from the U.K. I deeply appreciate the continued support of my story, The Same Moon.
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