I remember the first thing that ever made me feel independent and beautiful, and that was a piece of furniture: a pale yellow writing desk from the 1940’s.
It was pushed out on the street next to bags of trash and lawn clippings. I was eighteen years old and trying to furnish my rented room, which had precisely two things in it: a bed and a bureau.
Two nights prior I had finished my waitressing shift and bicycled home on a rusty borrowed bike through the dark silent streets of my new town. My coworkers had migrated to the bar next door to drink beer and play darts into the early hours, but I just wanted to go home and write until dawn.
I was in the springtime of my life and everything was possible. I got home and put a kettle on. I stood in the doorway of my nearly-empty room and thought how lovely it would be to have a writing desk. It was an indulgent thought, as my money went to rent and food and shampoo. But I did stand there, my apron bulging with tip money, and thought it would be possible to start saving for one.
Two days later I found the pale yellow writing desk on the street. There was a youngish guy in the front cutting the lawn and he saw me inspecting the desk. He said, “You want that? You can have it. The side drawer’s busted though.” I did want it, so badly. But I was embarrassed that I didn’t have a car to transport it home. So I kept looking at the desk awkwardly, fingering the edges and inspecting the crippled drawer trying to come up with an explanation.
Handsome Lawn Cutter read my mind and said, “You can’t be too far from home, as you’re on foot.” He reversed his pickup truck out of the driveway and put the writing desk in the back. He drove to my apartment and hauled it up the stairs to my room. Shall I discuss the dimples or the muscles first?? We went on a date the week following and then he left for the Marines. I wrote him letters from that desk and opened his there too.
This event would be the harbinger of many miracles to come in my life. It taught me that a beautiful life could be created by simply knowing what I wanted and keeping my eyes open for the evidence of it. I learned that simplicity, minimalism, and elegance go quite well together.
I’ve always taken pleasure in organizing my home and creating weekly to-do lists, being productive, and investing the time in my own self-development. I’ve done this while raising a family, enjoying many years as a wife and then a dozen years since being single. I’ve moved to New York, started my business, and am embarking on a concurrent secondary career as a full-time writer.
I tell you all this because I want to confess: Little about my early years predicted that this would be my life.
So much has been possible because of clarity, organization, and a certain confidence in divine timing. I don’t have a traditional university education, but I’ve been self-studied my whole life and that has opened doors for me. I’m not religious but I live like there is Something that loves me entirely and profoundly, and is helping me every day. On a practical note, I have far exceeded my own expectations of what I can accomplish – and through my writing and workshops, I want to teach you how to do the same.
The Marine and I continued to write letters over the next several months until they faded with the onset of Autumn. I learned he married a girl in Japan where he was stationed. I was so in love with him and couldn’t bear to sit at the desk and think about him anymore. Of course he would marry – how could I blame him for wanting a familiar person with flesh and blood to go home to every night? So that holiday season I found myself shooting darts and hanging with my coworkers under the ambient din of the bar lanterns. I had a blast with them and as soon as the last bits of heartbreak were fading from my awareness, I would meet my first writing mentor – a New England-born retired professor with a staunch commitment to the Oxford comma and a semi-sour disposition. I took to him right away and with his inspiration, returned to my writing desk. Have you ever had an auspicious meeting that changed your life?
Let’s talk more about these things. Post in the comments and tell me what you want out of life right now or what you’ve been doing lately to make yourself happier. I want to know!
While we’re on the subject…
I am inviting you to join me for The Beautiful Life Project. It is a 3-month program that will teach you to do what I’ve done: organize your living space, create calm routines, blossom in self-care and kind rituals, create a happy work life, write your 1-5-10 year plan, and focus on communication. By the end of our time together, you will have a life you truly love and be well underway to achieving something you’ve always wanted to do. Perhaps a new career or a new romance? What have you been wanting that you just haven’t been able to say, “I’m ready”? Let’s find out and make it happen for you.
Put yourself on this list: THE BEAUTIFUL LIFE PROJECT
I’ll send you a gift: My Daily (at-home-with-the-cat-and-candles-burning) Winter Workout Routine.
Are you into stuff like this? I write about modern spirituality, love, communication, generosity, and how to run a sustainable small business (while keeping your sanity). Put yourself on the list and you’ll never miss and article or a workshop. xo