Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Quiet reading
Quiet reading

Our family has been resting and recuperating from various illnesses, and for the papa, surgery.  I managed to avoid all of it until the very end when everyone else was finally on the mend.  I guess all that extra caring for babies and hubbies can wear a gal out.  Thankfully, my children love to quietly entertain themselves occasionally and give mama a break.  I love how much these two are book readers.  If I can't find them and begin to wonder at a patch of silence, this is often what I find them doing.  I love it.  Not that they don't get up to their share of mischief!  But here is a quiet moment from us, to you.  I'll be back tomorrow with pictures of the cutest pirate and princess ever. 

Monday, October 29, 2012


Papa, Mama and Cora
My dearest little girl,

You turn 4 today.  I can't think how that happened.  The days have run swiftly by and that tiny girl we brought home is so big.  Four going on fourteen or forty-five, depending on the day and the color of your attitude.  My old soul.  You ponder the deep questions as we snuggle in the big recliner in the half hour before the boys wake up.  Life, death, God, a hope for a sister, how things work, and what is your place in the world.  Those big blue soulful eyes peer up at me and you offers your endless stream of why and where and how, your silly jokes (How does a pig sneeze?  "Oink-choo!"), your fierce independence, your gentle heart.

Cora - on her first birthday
I love to watch who you are, even if I see too much of myself in you and it scares me.  No mama wants their girl to hurt, but I cannot save you from everything that will come your way.  You want to do so much and be so big, but the scary shadows move on your walls and still you come to our bed to seek comfort.  You are, at once, so big and still so small.  I forget that and expect you to be bigger than you are, and your reminds me, sometimes loudly, that you still needs your mama.

A seeker of accompanied solitude (I'm in the room, but we work on our own things), a doer of small things, a lover of the lovely, you live to make and dream and play and pretend.  I watched you play with your new paper dolls for 2 hours the other day and you never broke concentration, never asked for help, never decided that this wasn't interesting enough for you.  I see you grow in kindness and friendship with your brother, even though some days you boss the life out of him.  I hear your heart's yearning for a sister, although I can tell you from experience, she won't let you boss her around either.

You run and play and dance your heart out and then are quiet and still.  The beauty of your heart shines through you and my love for you gets bigger every day.   We have our struggles and we may butt heads often, but you will always be the most amazing little girl I have ever known. 

Cora, age 4
Thank you for just being you.  Happy Birthday, my girl.

 Your mama

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

An open letter to Amy Krouse Rosenthal - concerning the Beckoning of Lovely

  I wrote this letter to Amy Krouse Rosenthal recently and although I mailed it to her, I wanted to put it out there on the internet in case others feel like I do.  Read on, fellow lovers of Lovely.

Dear Amy,

On 11/11/11, I arrived at an old bungalow home on Douglas Avenue in East Nashville.  In the yard stood a nearly naked maple tree that had recently let go of its beautiful, leafy coat of gold, the remains of which covered the ground.  I, along with nearly thirty other women, sat in the small living room of a woman named Alice Smith.  You may not know her at all, but around here, she is a connector of lives, a gatherer of information, and a finder of beautiful.  Not necessarily in things.  Mostly in people.  It’s her gift.  She saw it in you from afar.  She introduced me and many others in East Nashville to your books, youtube videos, and finally, the “Beckoning of Lovely” movement.  On that night we watched your film.  I left my friend's home, literally inspired and lifted.  I left full to bursting with my own ideas that had been touched off by the things I had seen.  I almost didn’t want to speak for fear they would be lost in the noise of my own voice. 

I have often felt like the lovely has been dragged out of me forcefully by the grind of daily life with small children.  If it does appear, it is often focused on them and must be finished and packed away by the end of naptime.  I used to be a song writer, back before babies and the “baby brain” that comes with it.  I used to make beautiful things for more people.  I know I will again and that this is just a season, but when I’m in the weeds, it’s hard to remember that. 

I shared your movie link with everyone and talked about the beautiful thing you had made.  I read your book – Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life and laughed at the small things and the magical things.  I read how you liked to write to authors and so, this is my letter to you. I just have this one thing to say.

I’m not sure what happened to the film, but I wish I could watch it again.  You said you took it down to make it more polished, but for me, the point was made.   You came together with others and made a beautiful thing.  It was, in truth, lovely.  It was lovely, as is.  It didn’t need more.  It needed to spread like wildfire and grow beautiful things in others as it did in me.  It had impact. 

If you need further proof, take this letter as that.  Here I am, nearly a year later, thinking of it and wishing I could see it again.

In the (nearly) last year I have begun painting.  I have begun writing (in earnest).  I found my voice again and have begun playing music again and have begun singing more than bedtime songs.  I am taking up the fiddle and enjoying my photography as an art rather than merely a documentation of my small ones’ march from birthday to birthday.  Your film was an impetus. 

I don’t know the reasons you took it down, but I wanted to encourage you to put it back out there.  Yes, the magic day is passed and there will never be another 11/11/11, but the beauty is still there to be shared.  Please send it back out into the Universe.

Ariana Evans – mother, musician, maker of lovely.

p.s.  Thank you.
p.p.s.  Forgive the scratchiness of my writing.  I've begun to write with a pen and ink nib to help me stay in the moment.


If you don't know who Amy Krouse Rosenthal is, here is a primer.
(from her bio on

"Amy Krouse Rosenthal is a person who likes to make things.
Some things she likes to make:
Children's books.
Grown-up books.
Short films.
Connections with the universe.
Something out of nothing.

Hop on over to her website and be amazed.  Go on...hop!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

You and Me plus three - A love letter

For better or worse
For richer or poorer
In sickness and in health

We said those words together on that chilly spring day, bare feet on a brick path, and little did we know what we were in store for.  It's not our anniversary, it's not your birthday, or my birthday or any other special day today, but this is a day that I tell you how much I love you.

We've had our ups and downs, sorrows and joys, have been broke, living in a one bedroom upstairs apartment where the winter winds whistled in through the cracks.  We've been together.  We've been apart.  We have been crazy about each other and have driven each other crazy.  We have been wildly in love and wanting to spend every moment together and we have come as close to hatred of each other as two people who are married should ever come.  Maybe a bit too close.

We reached an equilibrium after a whole lot of work and had a good life, you and me.  It wasn't peaches and roses all the time, but we were together and it was pretty great.  Then the life we knew and the plans we made got turned upside down.  Babies, losing babies, crappy cars, crappy jobs and layoffs, and a leaky old house that drives you crazy and drives me to daydreaming.  It has been a wild last 4 years!  Sometimes it's seems as if we are just holding on with eyes tight shut until the wind stops blowing and the waves stop pounding us, praying we make it through the storm.  But this storm isn't a storm, really.  It's life.  And without you in it, I would have been swept out to sea a long time ago.

I don't say enough how great you are.  How thankful I am that you have put aside your dreams to take care of our family, even though the way you have had to go about it is soul crushing work.  How I wish it was different for you.  How happy it makes my heart to see you run and play and love on our children because I know how much you love them.  And how hard that is for you and hard earned, since you didn't have a dad around to show you how to love them.  How content I am to just hold your hand as we sit across from each other at our favorite coffee shop, enjoying a stolen moment alone, feet entangled under the table and you open your heart to me just a bit more and I marvel at the things you show me.  You have a deep love for me and our family and for others that I sometimes forget but sometimes get a glimpse of and it wows me.  It shocks me.  It surrounds me.  You love with a fierce love.

When I lay there pale in the hospital bed and you were brave for both of us.  Both times, brave for both of us as I came unraveled.  You were a rock for me.  And then when I got my breath back, you cried for our lost babies.  I love you so much for that.  

We are so different and sometimes it frustrates me, more from a lack of understanding (and a big dose of fear) of how two people who are so polar opposite in occupation and hobbies could come together and stay together.  Perhaps it is the sameness in substance that binds us.  Your joy, even if sometimes it's covered up in the weight of family life.  Your tender heart, even if you hide it, I know it's there.  Your Faith in our Father.  Your loyalty.  Your depth of character.  All those grey hairs you have earned in the last 8 years, caring about things.  Your generosity to not just your friends and family, but to strangers.  Your kindness to find good in me and others when we can't find it ourselves. 

So life may send the 'sickness', the 'poverty', and the 'worse', but I'll take it as long as you are in it with me.  I'll stand by you always.  I'm so grateful you carried my guitar all those years ago and let me ramble on about degreasing my engine.  You pursued my heart and wrapped it up with yours, healing wounds I didn't know I had.  Who you are is a blessing.  Thank you.

All my Love,

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