Dear Mom,

I can remember when my friends I wrote each other letters. We were teenagers then, and talked only of school and boys. I can remember, too, when you told me that, growing up, you used to write to Grandma Wood. I have to say, I love the intimacy of a handwritten letter, something both writer and recipient touch. These days, people have allowed themselves to be swept into social media. I, too, am guilty. Within the last year, though, I've seen a turn. Bloggers I've followed for five years have stopped blogging, in want of privacy. Or because they outgrew their "little corner of the Internet." They want to slow down. They want to experience the world without having to see thousands and thousands of images that tell them who to be, how to be, what to wear, how to decorate, where to go, what to do. And then there are the individuals who have downsized the number of Facebook friends they have, or have cut back on the number of people they follow on Twitter. They simplify.


It's a both a word and a trend that's popular with the hipsters and the creatives I'm friends with. Simplify. Purge. Organize. Live. Be. Put people first, and be nice. Always. 

Lately, Indianapolis has felt like a small town. I recognize faces at the grocery store now. And I've learned the name of the man I often encounter on the Cultural Trail (it's Adam). I have extended conversations with food truck owners, rather than the casual, "Hello. Having a good day? What would you like?" I recognize faces, explore places. It's starting to become my city.

I have a nagging suspicion, though, that just before Indy feels like "home," I'll want to leave. To me, Iowa is home. It still is; it always has been. And I guess I don't want to run the risk of finding a new "home," one that isn't Iowa. But there's more, of course. As you know, I'm a daydreamer who wants something to chase. But unlike Matthew McConaughey--who apparently chases himself--I'm chasing my wanderlust. But the commonality between the Oscar winner and I is this: we may both fail at catching what we seek.

I said in a recent Instagram post that, "When I was 10, I filled out a worksheet that asked me what I thought I would be doing in 15 years. I said, 'Married, with two kids, a boy and a girl, and living in a house. I will have a job too.' Fifteen years after I filled out that sheet, I have woken up, rolled over, flopped around, gotten up, eaten cereal, watched two squirrels, and typed a paragraph."

This isn't what I pictured myself doing. But I'm enjoying it--time goes too quickly to waste it being miserable. Just because we don't do what we originally planned to do doesn't mean we're wrong. ... This certainly isn't what I planned to say in this letter. I guess I'm just trying to ... explain.

 I love you,


  1. Such a nice post!! Always well-written. I must admit that when I was younger, I never thought I would be getting married and having kids. In fact I pictured myself doing the complete opposite. I saw myself as this career-driven woman who would never have time for kids or a man. I'm still a bit career driven but I also like the idea of getting married and having children. Its interesting how we change in 15yrs.

  2. I guess one of the upsides of spending too much time online, looking into other people's lives & over-sharing is that, sometimes, something like this heartfelt rumination of yours comes up, and one feels lucky to be allowed in—to have met you, Dawn, perfect stranger!

    I get often worked up (into incredible levels of frustration!) whenever I think of how much time we all used to have before we had online commitments. When there wasn't a virtual life to nourish & maintain, just the one life with phone calls and neighbors.

    Anyway, I never put into words the things I expected from life at this stage, but I'm going to do just that, right now: world travel & the mastering of a skill. There! You heard it here first. :)

  3. beautiful letter, i feel so nosy reading it since is for your mom, but still, i couldn't stop. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  4. Yes, slow down and simplify. I feel as though that was always how my life worked, and then I became a teacher. That was no longer a possibility. After I quit teaching this past June, I've finally been able to do just that. I wrote about a new perspective this past October after my husband and I had a huge revelation while traveling in Australia. We weren't where we thought we would be at this point in our lives not because of our careers or our family or what have you, but rather because we were not living the lifestyle that felt right for us. I never imagined that I would be a teacher or that I'd eventually be making greeting cards for a living, but sometimes you have to do one thing to know that it wasn't where you were supposed to be in the first place.


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