Beauty Everywhere: A Portable Gallery by Jolie Guillebeau

Jolie Guillebeau,

We all have stories we are born into, stories we are handed along the way, and many of them aren't easy.

But some people rise above the hard stories, some become more than the stories other people started for their lives. Jolie Guillebeau is one of these people, which makes her one of my personal heroes. I've said before that the story you are writing with your life is the most important thing about you, and the story Jolie is writing every day with her life is a story of resilience, courage and hope. I'll be honest: witnessing her do it sometimes takes my breath away.

Jolie's work, her friendship and her life are living proof for me that there is another chapter after this one, and that even the stories that others start and we are given are stories that we have the opportunity to end however we choose. That we can rise with grace and even sometimes with frailty, but in the rising is our strength. In the rising is our courage.

Now you can have a whole collection of Jolie's stories, which come alive through her words and paintings, as your daily companion as you bravely write your own.


This is a limited edition collection, signed and numbered by Jolie. When they're gone, they're gone, so order yours while you can.

BONUS: Order before next Wednesday, 5.2.12, to receive one of Jolie's 5x7 fine art prints FREE with your order.

Beauty Everywhere: A Portable Gallery by Jolie Guillebeau

*100 Daily Paintings and the stories behind them

*8.5 x 5.5", Full-color throughout  

*92 pages, Double wire bound

*Unique easel-style back allows for easy display

$45 USD, ships free worldwide

Update: Listen to Jolie's interview on the Retrospective podcast (Released 5.15.12), where she talks about rewriting the stories we've been given and her journey as an artist.

Now it is time

Photo by Stephanie Roberts, www.littlepurplecowphotography.comWhen a Rwandan woman named Odette asked Jen if she could use her phone, so many months ago it's now been years, Jen's intuition told her, "This one will cause you trouble."  We joked about that last week, calling it the understatement of the century.

The road she's been on ever since that day--reuniting Odette with her two daughters--has turned her life so upside down and inside out that the internal workings of her heart and her soul are nearly unrecognizable.  She would be the first to say that this is why she has received more from this adventure than anything she gave.

When the rest of us were invited into this story, we were welcomed into it in the same manner.  Many of us have felt surprise at how much room in our hearts Odette and her girls have inhabited.  How deeply we've cared, how strongly we've longed for this famly to have a happy ending.

But Odette's gifts were for all of us, as well.  She gave us long stories, and the kind of friendship that only comes from long telling and long listening.  Her stories kindled our hope and fueled our dreams.  They fed our belief in love, especially the kind of love that can turn strangers into sisters.

A community of hope was born through this story, and now, along with the longing, we all get to share in the knowledge that we do not hope in vain.  That we ourselves can be a source (and when we are in need, a recipient) of the kind of fierce love that hears, This one will cause you trouble, and says, Yes, anyway.  This love could break your heart--I won't lie--but it has taught me that in the end, it always gives more than it takes.

This journey has lifted us, sobered us, humbled us, and at times brought us to our knees.  It has pushed up against and then broken down the boundaries we constructed around love, the ideas we had about how much was too much to give to, or too much to receive from another person.  We will never be the same.

Now it is time to join our hearts and hands and give thanks.

Love always wins.

It's not too late to help cover the costs of this amazing reunion.

before you're ready

dance party, photo by Dustin

Just in case you were beginning to wonder, I've been quiet offline, too.

My sister, Meg, and her husband, Dustin, have been visiting for the holiday.  We've had some amazing moments.  But my husband has missed many of them.  He flew out to see his father, who is dying, and to be with his family.  So I've been tethered loosely to my body, inhabiting liminal spaces--not fully here or there, together or apart.  The snow falls, the girls snuggle close and giggle with delight, keeping joy clasped firmly to one hand while sorrow holds the other.

You should post some of these holiday photos, I chide myself. They are so bright and cheery.

But they only tell half of the story.  No one is crying for the camera. 

The same can't be said for the pillows.


Small  children demand that levity stays present, so you relegate the heaviness to your chest, where it stays until they ask you about coffins and funerals while they eat oatmeal out of bowls perched on the kitchen windowsill.

Even then it is given a short audience.  The words sound almost matter-of-fact as they travel from where you're sitting on the kitchen floor, waiting for your guests to wake.

Then it's back to capes and dance parties and scissors making a flurry of paper on the floor.  And the love that is so clear and big that you feel like you're swimming in it.  You think, maybe your friends are right--maybe love can carry you, can hold you.

And you hope that it's holding him right now. That it won't ever let go.

Before you're ready, it's time to run the bath. To make the meal.

To wait for the telephone to ring.

Podcast: On Hope and Heartbreak

photo by Jen Lemen, mondobeyondo.orgThis photo was taken last spring by Jen Lemen, who breaks the bad news with more tenderness and love than anyone I know.  Time and again she unravels me completely with hard truths, and then stays by my side while I slowly, sometimes tearfully, put the pieces back together in a way that is stronger. More true. 

Here are some early, improv-kind-of thoughts about hope and heartbreak, and the ways that I'm slowly learning to hold it all.