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It is a busy time of year. My favorite time of year. There are so many things to do and I want more than anything to enjoy this month, but it's hard, isn't it? I had a moment the other day. I was sitting in my writing room. I flitted back and forth between email and my manuscript and my calendar and countless other things. And I felt it.

Overwhelmed. Stretched to the limit.

I felt these things, and keenly, and I took my hands off the keyboard. I sat back in my chair. I closed my eyes and focused on the Christmas music I was listening to. On the pine scent wafting from the candle flickering next to me. I took a deep breath.

And then I came here. To this blog. And even though I didn't have time, I started assembling the following pictures and words. And as I did this, everything lifted and lightened and it occurred to me that this is - for me, at this time - the best kind of therapy. Sifting through images of this life I am leading, this nutty, beautiful, confusing, abundant life. Doing this forces me to stop. To slow down. To savor. To see.

And what I see is a busy and good life. A beautiful one. I see an existence that is full of magic and mayhem both, of color and of black and white. Even when I am not in the pictures, I see myself in them. In the scraggly branches on the trees. In the blue eyes of my sweet girls.

I have been doing a lot of thinking and writing and asking and talking with people. These are among my very favorite things to do. And I've been circling around this conclusion, one that is both wildly simple and utterly profound. The conclusion:

Life is both beautiful and hard.

Particularly at this time of year. Things are very bright right now in my little world. As a family of five, we are chugging along and there is a lot of joy in our days. But I have been through tricky stuff in the past and I know I will go through it again. Because that is how life works. And people around me, people I know well and less well, are struggling with so many things, guys. Marital strife. Health crises. Depression. Anxiety. Addiction. Loss. Money woes. Family dysfunction. Midlife crises. And more.

Adulthood, friends, is tricky terrain.

But. Adulthood and life and the holiday season... All of these things can be downright exquisite and I don't know about you, but I plan to work hard on my gratitude and my seeing. I am doing my best to look around and around, to breathe in bits of the landscape, to stop, to slow, to just be.

I look through the following photos and oh how I smile. It's impossible not to. Wherever you are, whatever you are dealing with at the moment, I wish you good moments and the ability to see them.

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En route to Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving. The babe with her mustache paci. We will get rid of it, but not yet. Not yet.

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The girls making themselves at home in Grammy and Dad-Dad's family room.

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Rowley girl feet.

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Girls, get on that bench and pretend to look out the window so Mommy can get a picture.

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The Rowlets in their recycled Christmas dresses on Thanksgiving day.

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An early morning with my babes. I devour a beautiful book while the littles snuggle up and take in some cartoons.

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Family bowling. A surprising success.

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Bowling shoes. From tiny to large.

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My tiniest girl. Getting so big. Slow down, kid.

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The girls decorating Grammy and Dad-Dad's little tree the day after Thanksgiving.

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Hide & seek. Good spot that resulted in a filthy parka. Alas.

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Snuggling sisters.

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A requisite selfie. Love the reflections in my shades.

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The man I love. I met him 12 years ago tomorrow. In a bar :)

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The girls. Bundled up at the birdbath.

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The water had frozen.

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Checking out the bird feeder. We are all about birds these days.

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Running. Crunching leaves.

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She will catch up one day.

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All of us.

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Holding hands and happy.

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On the way home. Traffic was okay. The babe looks out at the Empire State Building.

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Before heading out to look for our tree, we do a little shoot of our Santa Babies on the front steps.

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On a mission.

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At around 10pm, two really nice tree guys deliver our monster and help Hubby put it up.

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The next morning. Hello, Tree.

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Yes, there are a lot of ornaments at the bottom.

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The girls cozy up for our annual photo shoot. The photographers are perfectly silly and get the girls riled up.

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Major league goofiness ensues.

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But also some serious sweetness.

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Does looking at pictures you have taken make you smile? Do you have moments of overwhelm at this time of year? How do you cope with these moments?

ADR Friday Loves 12.06.13

Let's Name the Twins!