What you see is what you get


Seeing this ordinary life of mine.

Seeing the sacred that’s strung in between the many, many mundane moments.

Seeing the holiness that exists inside those prosaic, everyday things.

This seeing has been a preoccupation of mine for a long time.  I searched my archives and found pages of posts that featured either photographs of or stories about my life’s small moments.  The “grout in between the tiles” of life, as I’ve called it.  Which is where all the magic resides, I’ve found.

In her essay titled Seeing, Annie Dillard said, what you see is what you get, imbuing those familiar words with a new layer of meaning.  Pay attention, and your life will be rich.

Lately my friend Aidan been writing about noticing the small moments in her life.  The messy, the in-between, the oft-overlooked experiences that, in fact, add up to life itself.  She’s one of many, many people who I know who are out there, noticing and stringing pearls onto the strings of their days, one at a time.  What they – and I – are building is a masterpiece.

This blog began as a catalog of these small moments.  I wanted to remember all the things I knew I would forget in those first exhausting, chaotic years of Grace and Whit’s lives.  And as I kept blogging, and kept noticing, I realized that the practice of writing about the divinity in my days had actually changed the way I existed in the world.

Now I can’t stop noticing.  Every day I trip over pieces of beauty, unexpected, unanticipated, often unimagined.  This is really what Instagram is, for me now: a gathering of the tiny, sparkling shards that glitter in my days.  I would love if you would find me there!

One thing I know for sure, as I barrel towards my 40th birthday, is that these things, these details that I notice and observe, these moments that pierce me: they are my life.  With that in mind, here are some things I have noticed lately:


Watching Grace and Whit ascend a rock wall with grace and grit.


Last week was one non-stop, breathtaking, outrageous sunset after another.


Grace’s fifth grade class is participating in NaNoWriMo.  In the afternoons she likes to sit on the floor of my office and write while I work.  I can’t wait to read her novel.


Whit doesn’t make his bed, but every single morning, without fail, he lines these three (Beloved, Bear, and Beloved’s Brother) up against his pillow.  I like to go in there during my work day and every single time this sight brings tears to my eyes.

What are you noticing right now?



9 thoughts on “What you see is what you get”

  1. I’m always interested in hearing about how others notice the finer detail of everyday life (your notice walks? YES!). Amanda Blake Soule (SouleMama) does this in a lovely way too. I do this myself also, even before my daughter came along. I always feel something akin to profound privilege to witness things like a cardinal flying across the yard while I’m doing dishes, or like now, the scenes of my daughter’s life unfolding before me. Much like the “wordless Wednesdays” and similar memes that many bloggers do, I had done a series on my blog for 25 weeks leading up to her going to Kindy, just chronicling the sounds/sights of each Thursday because I was so afraid I was going to forget it. I missed doing that once she started school, capturing the “mundane” that is, that I eventually started a new series recently to remember the things I see and hear in her life. And this is all why I am SO tempted by Instagram…I’ve yet to make the leap though. I fear it will take over my life if I love it too much!

  2. The curves of the girls’ faces are fading, the plump cheeks and gentle chines are giving way to taut jawlines and echoes of my own stubborn chin. I cannot look away, and yet, sometimes I have to.

  3. Noticing makes us better writers and better mothers. I also feel it slows us down and allows us to savour life. Lately I have been noticing my son stretching. It seems as if every day he wakes just a tad longer and more gangly. I notice my daughter’s eyes level with mine when we speak. I notice that I now have to rise up on my toes to put my arm around her shoulder.

  4. As so often happens it seems, my post today is along the same lines! I wrote about how taking pictures has caused me to pay so much more attention to the everyday things and how much richer my life has become for it…

  5. Tonight is the Thanksgiving feast for my son’s class. The children prepare all the food and the parents are the guests.

    This is what I am most looking forward to this Thanksgiving as we will not be spending actual Thanksgiving together this year.

    I’m excited to be among the “family” that he spends his days with in true recognition that he spends more time with this “family” than we get to spend with one another.

    I went to wake him up this morning and said, “Guess what today is!?!” but I know that I am just as excited, if not more excited than he is.

    This morning they were hand-shaking butter, which is what he was most excited about. I can’t wait to taste it.

    I will be taking in and savoring each moment of this evening and will be hanging on dearly to it through the remainder of the week.

  6. Your small moments have added up to so much, including so much for inspiration for your readers.

    Grace looks so much like you! That could be you with that computer!

  7. I too have been noticing moments like this. Once I started seeing the light at the end of the grief tunnel, I realized how much I was missing. Since September, I’ve been posting similar moments and it’s fun to look back each month and realize it is the little things that bring the most happiness.

  8. I love, love that essay by Dillard! I find myself always looking for the tree with the lights in it–isn’t that what she calls it? As it so often does, your writing has helped shift me back to center. Thank you, once again. xoxo

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