Last year, a family friend who is really an affectionate aunt, even though I’ve only ever addressed her by her first name (as far as I remember), sent me a hand-made fabric bowl (decorative, it sits on the side table in my living room) and a bracelet of prayer beads from Nepal.

I wear the bracelet a lot, sometimes because it fits my mood, sometimes because it fits my outfit, and sometimes because I want a connection, however tenuous, to the person who sent it. She’s a person who, often without knowing it, has provided me with a lot of guidance during my life, a person who (to borrow a phrase oft-used by Aaron Sorkin, who, I’m certain, found it elsewhere as well) causes me to pay more attention to the better angels of my nature.

I don’t generally sleep in it, but the other day I had company and was wearing it when they were here, and then I took it off and left it on the bathroom counter, where it doesn’t belong. Then, yesterday, I picked it up, intending to put it in my jewelry chest, but instead, I put it back on, and went about the rest of my day, eventually falling asleep.

Today was a day of no work (I should have been writing, but hormonal lethargy meant I had NO BRAIN), and much rest (with resultant weird dreams, but that’s another story) partly because of the horrific cramps I always get on Day One, and partly because the lateral muscle I strained was bothersome (I slept wrong last night, I think). When I woke up the first time, I noticed that the markings on the beads had imprinted themselves into the flesh of my wrist, much like the lines I used to get from cable-knit knee-socks when I was a little girl.

There’s nothing strange or unusual about this, of course, except that I’m reading Anne Lamott’s Help, Thanks, Wow right now – intentionally slowly – and so I’m thinking about what prayer is.

I find the notion of having prayers imprinted on my flesh oddly comforting, but I also like the fact that these are not indelible, but will fade within moments of the bracelet being removed for any length of time, or, you know, within five seconds of applying lotion.

Lost and Found

So, I have a new cousin.

Well, not a new cousin. She’s thirty-five.

A new-to-me cousin.

I don’t want to ‘out’ her by mentioning her name, and her story isn’t mine to tell, either, but we’ve exchanged texts and become Facebook friends, and hopefully in a few days when things are a bit less overwhelming, we’ll get to actually talk, because she seems like a neat person, and as someone who is (biologically) an ‘only’ child, I have a special fondness for finding family members.

So, my message to her was just to welcome her to my crazy, smart, diverse, stubborn, loving family.

Of course, our family is not without its share of angst.

Whose is?

But I’m not part of the angst in this case, merely an outside observer, but today that distance, that detachment put me in the position of offering comfort and advice from someone from whom I’ve often sought solace for myself.

It’s odd, this role-reversal that happens as we get older. I sat down intending to write about all the strong women – both in my family, and in the greater world – that I’m privileged to know, and instead I find myself marveling about my own inner strength, and musing about paths untaken that I’m still considering.

I love that I find new things about myself and about the world every day.

And I love that lost and found don’t have to be opposites, because both conditions share a similarity: they represent change.