A Promise to Me

A Promise to Me


On a warm day last spring, as we sat sipping coffee under an umbrella at our local Starbucks, my daughter shared the news that her partner had decided to accept a spot in a PhD program in Vermont – some 25ish hours NE of home and an unfathomable distance from ME. I’ve spent the time between then and now diligently trying not to think of her leaving and I got pretty good at it – trying new things, entertaining family, making myself busy. But today I can hide no longer, they’ve driven away waving and promising to Skype and text and write and visit.


How does a mom say “so long” to a piece of her heart?  I’m not entirely sure yet, but here are a few things I’m promising myself as a way to maybe ease the ache…

  • find something to be grateful for every day
  • look for the magic in my everyday life
  • look for the poetry around me and capture it with my camera or my art or my writing
  • seek out adventures and experience them joyfully
  • write long, rambling letters and mail them to her in messy, painty envelopes
  • take long, thoughtful walks
  • listen to good audio books
  • cook good food
  • proliferate kind art in my community
  • listen to my heart and let it guide my life and my art
  • make things just for me – messy things, ugly things, beautiful things – appreciate whatever comes out
  • establish a morning ritual – a way to ease into my art/making process and make it a spiritual practice
  • find my way back to yoga
  • indulge in daytime bubble baths, no-reason massages, deluxe pedicures


A few years ago (hmmm, maybe more than a few), when my daughter graduated from high school, I made her a card that featured the quote below…

 “I want to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.”
~Mary Oliver

She now has a piece of this quote tattooed on her arm… just as it has been tattooed on my heart, because I know that the best way I can be in the world is to be someone who is “improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing” – not even of giving my daughter wings.



  1. Dearest Kelley – couldn’t help but shed a tear for you and at the same time say a prayer that you will refer to your list often and truly make those things happen for yourself and for Megan. Blair has been home a few years now but a Mother never forgets when there’s been distance between her and her child. Take care of your heart my sweet friend. You have a WONDERFUL list and it will help!! There is a new Yoga place at 150th and Western. Last Wednesday night was my first time back in years. It made me sad I didn’t keep it in my life after so many tough times. It’s called Hidden Dragon. My instructor is the next door neighbor of “Lisa” who met in two classes recently at MYHF. Shes wonderful. Big hugs!

  2. Oh, I can feel your Momma pain through this post, Kelley. Sending hugs to your tender heart. Your promises to yourself are a brilliant way to help you through this transition. Recording them this way will hopefully help you to remember the tools you have put in place.
    Be kind and gentle with your sweet heart.
    Best of luck to your daughter and her partner as they use their clever wings.

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