Thank You?

On Christmas Eve, I received a stack of cards from people in my church family. When I got home that night, I plugged in the tree, turned on the fire (yes, we’re cheaters), and collapsed on the couch to read the cards.

You know those days when you feel like nothing you do really matters and no one cares about your hard work and you might as well put in only half the effort you usually do because no one notices when you tweak something for the umpteenth time anyway? And then, just for fun, you get all swallowed up by self-doubt and you reach the only logical conclusion, which is that no one likes you? Yeah, I hate those days. But have you ever been having one of those days—or a whole string of them—and then someone does something so remarkably thoughtful that all that Yuck evaporates and the sun comes back out and suddenly you’re petting a unicorn who’s just delivered to you a bouquet of your favorite flowers and an ice cream cone?

That actually happened to me on Christmas Eve.

The cards I received were so beautiful. People wrote the sweetest, most affirming messages. Were many of the cards attached to plates of homemade goodies? Oh, yes they were. And did many of them contain gift cards? Oh yes, they did. I was floored.

I was still thinking semi-clearly—despite the long day and big emotions that come with unexpected generosity—so as I was opening the cards, I was jotting down whom I needed to thank and for what. Brilliant!


Except I only wrote people’s last names. And two families in our church have the same last name. Both gave cards. One contained incredibly affirming words and has found its way into my “look in here when you’ve decided no one likes you” file. The other contained a Starbucks gift card. And I had no earthly idea which was which.

I was taught that thank you notes should be specific and heart-felt, so I wasn’t going to just write:

Thanks so much for your encouragement. Happy holidays.
Winner of the 2014 Lame Thank You Card Award

I was also taught that it’s ridiculous to send a card to someone who’s sent you a card. (I’m still not sure I agree; gracious words are a gift, as far as I’m concerned, and the Bible agrees with me, so I’m obviously right.)

I considered this:

Dear Wonderful People,
Thank you for the Starbucks card. If you gave it to me, I mean. Otherwise, thank you for the message you wrote.
The Queen of Dorkland

But that didn’t seem quite right either.

Know what I did? I decided etiquette-schmetiquette and I emailed one of them and asked. Yep, I sure did—with the subject line “Awkward Question.” And she responded. With more kindness.

This may seem like a trivial situation, but here’s what it got me thinking: Authenticity breeds kindness. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Either way, if you’re real with people, they’ll be real with you. Eventually, we’ll all realize—and accept—that we’re all just a little—or a lot—messed up. At that point, there will be nothing left to do but extend kindness to one another. Can you imagine?

The other thing I learned: “Thank You?” notes are now a thing.

Me Too

CS Lewis said a lot of beautiful things, but this is one of my favorites:

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another:
‘What! You too! I thought I was the only one.'”

I don’t have many friends. Now, don’t go feeling sorry for me; it’s by choice, really. (I think, anyway. Maybe I’m just in denial.) I’ve moved around a lot (until my recent entombment in suburbia), and it’s exhausting to start all over again in a new place. I’m also horrible at small talk and more than a little shy—characteristics which land me squarely in Camp Socially Awkward.

While I have few friendships, the ones I have are fierce. And they all began with one of us making some sort of quirky confession and the other of us saying, with enthusiasm just this side of teenage-girl-at-a-One-Direction-concert, “OH MY GOSH ME TOO!”

Now, combine that CS Lewis quote with another I’ve seen floating around the interwebs:

“The reason we’re insecure is that we compare our behind-the-scenes
with everyone else’s highlight reel.”

I recently confessed to my favorite friend that my master bathroom is often a disaster. I mean disaster. I’ll put it this way: On most days, if you were a guest in my home and the only available bathroom were that one, I’d drive you to Quiktrip. “Me too!” she responded.

Since I work for a church and do some public speaking, people seem to think I have my stuff together. Well, I don’t. And because I’m an authenticity junkie, I figure you should see some of the mess. And so, I present to you 10 un-highlight-reel-ish things about me:

  1. I don’t pluck my unibrow. I shave it. (What? It’s faster.)
  2. I cuss. Not a whole, whole lot. Not even just one whole lot. But I do.
  3. Entire weeks can go by without me having eaten a single vegetable.
  4. My public, outward appearance is manufactured to a certain degree: I straighten my hair every day, and I won’t leave the house without my eyes on.
  5. I divorced a pastor.
  6. I’m taking an anti-depressant.
  7. I’m addicted to books. Not reading them: Owning them. I’ve spent an absurd amount of money on books I could’ve—should’ve—borrowed. Need numbers? Okay: At the moment, I own 56 books I’ve not yet read. I bought six of them in the last week.
  8. I’m in a little debt. And by “a little,” I mean, “lots of.”
  9. If I see someone in public whom I know, I’ll often avoid them. It’s (usually) not because I don’t like the person; it’s because I have an agenda, and that person isn’t on it. (Wow, that sounds mean. I’m just task-oriented.)
  10. I still like Alanis Morissette’s music.

Double-dog dare you to make your own list in the comments.

Morning People

The Dawgs

I am not a morning person.

My dogs, though? Morning people. And not reasonable morning, either. Reasonable morning is 6:30 am. If a full bladder’s involved, I’d even go 6 am. My dogs think 4 am is go-time. FOUR. AY-EM! Unreasonable.

This is how mornings go down at the Hartnett house:

Skittle, the high-anxiety, beagle-yorkie, jumps from the bed and heads for the bedroom door, where she proceeds to march in place. This wouldn’t be a problem if we had carpet, but we don’t have carpet. We have laminate flooring.

Click. Click click click click. Pause.

Is anyone going to do my bidding? No? 


Hey, humans. Get up. C’mon. Up. Get up. Get up right now. No? Fine. 


Given that the Earth hasn’t yet completed its full rotation toward the sun—because it doesn’t do that until reasonable morning—I can’t actually see Skittle at the door, but I’m certain she’s intentionally stomping her feet. Left-right-left-right, like that one part of “Thriller,” except without the catchy bass line and dead people.

By this time, Jack and I are both awake—and doing our best not to let one another know we’re awake. (Because that’s what people do when they’re in love.)

After several more rounds of click-stomping, Jack whisper-yells at the dog, who, just like your dog, doesn’t speak English:

“Skittle. It’s too early. Get back up on the bed.”

Ummmmm . . . no. Click. Click click click click.


Click. Click Click click click.

Then I try—but in regular volume, because whispering of any sort in the morning makes me want to hurt people (I don’t know why that’s the case, but consider it a warning):

“Skittle! Get back up on the bed!”

Eventually, she complies, and I don’t know what’s going through Jack’s head at this point, but I’m thinking, “Yes! I’m going back to sleep until she gets up again at 6:30 am.”

At approximately 4:10 am:


And this awakens Brooklyn, the Morkie, who nose-dives off the bed and proceeds to run wind-sprints between it and the door.

Now, the dogs weren’t permitted to come live with us until I presented a signed, notarized contract absolving Jack of any canine-related responsibilities. And yet there I lie, eyes squeezed shut, thinking, “Oh, please, Jack. Please get up with the dogs. I know you have to be up in an hour for work, but please please please just this once.” Every once in a while, he does.  Most of the time, though—and remember, this is fair because of The Contract–he doesn’t get up. Meanwhile, the dogs have added whimpering and whisper-barking to their repertoire.

So, I slip quietly out of the bed, gingerly open the door to let the dogs out of the room, and carefully close it behind us with hardly a click of the latch, just in case Jack’s really asleep and not just pretending to be.

Actually, I rather violently kick the covers off the bed, stomp to the bathroom (hoping Jack will decide to deal with the dogs while I’m in there), stomp to the bedroom door, fling it open, and pull it closed with a definitive thud. (Because that’s what people do when they’re in love.)

This morning, when I got to the stomp-to-the-bedroom-door part, I actually stomped back to the bed instead, where I pulled the covers over my head. Jack, with hardly a sigh of irritation, got up, put on his slippers, and somehow managed not to punch me when, sweetly and sleepily I said, “Oh, are you getting up with them? Thank you.

This is Not a Resolution

If you’re a writer, you’ll know this trick:

“I’m going to Barnes and Noble, and I’m going to purchase the best-feeling, best-smelling, most hipster-looking journal I can find–preferably with a wrap-around leather strap–and I’m going to write. Not like all the other times I’ve bought a new journal and used only the first three pages, but really, really I’m going to do it.”

This new blog site is the digital version of that pipedream resolution.