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I have been trying to smile when I wake up in the morning. Not the big, toothy, glad-to-meet-you smile, but a quiet smile, an inward-facing smile. It is not as easy as it sounds, by the way. In fact, it’s downright difficult. What I learn very quickly is that I naturally wake up with a bit of a scowl on my face.

While this effort to smile feels a little stupid, something shifts. Instead of cycling through my list of worries and woes -- election complications, planetary destruction, my aching body, bills I must pay -- I notice the quality of light in the room, how it bleeds from beneath the window shades. I notice the framed needlework sampler I keep on the mantle -- it belonged to a great aunt and dates from the 1800's. Someone, a girl, cross-stitched flowers and vines and each letter of the alphabet onto this slip of burlap. Who were you, I think? The sampler is signed by its maker but also bears the weight of an untold narrative.

Thank you, I think, for letters, for stories, told and yet untold. Thank you for setbacks and for progress. Thank you to all women, who have always created work more profound than needlepoint samplers. Thank you, I think, and I rise to meet the day.


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