Want What You Already Have, Be Who You Already Are


My mother-in-law is here from Brazil. Her mission is two-fold: take care of me and make me better. So far she’s done well. She’s been tough when she’s needed to and soft when she’s wanted to. She’s made parmesan potatoes and corn soufflé. She’s made beds and folded laundry. She’s washed dishes and hung curtains. She’s sat with me, pretending to understand American TV. I’ve sat with her, pretending to understand Brazilian politics. She’s made me laugh. I’ve made her cry (good tears). And sometimes—just a few times—she’s made me crazy. Those moments fade though…

My love for her never does.

We have a quiet understanding. Our hearts’ songs are the same. I was reminded of that last night as we chatted in the darkness about life and love. Hope and dreams. Betrayal and forgiveness.

She told me her greatest deceptions. And I told her mine.

She reminded me of her childhood. How she was nursed by a maid because her mother was too busy with her siblings. And how she never formed a bond with her afterward.

How her father, a handsome German who saw life from the bottom of a bottle, fired his pistol into the night sky to scare his children into submission. Or scare himself into sobriety. She wasn’t sure which.

How she led a small army of children through Criciuma, setting tires on fire and climbing impossible trees. How she played Hide-and-Seek in the caskets lining her mother’s funeral parlor and once saw a dead child there, thin and fragile like an eggshell. How she snuck off to visit the gypsies—she loved their skirts and scarves—and learned to eat glass and swallow fire from the traveling circus performers.

How her mother all but sang, “When I catch you, Estela. Oh, when I catch you.” And what happened when she finally did. She should have been scared. Really.

How she married too young, became a mother too young, was traded for another too young. And how she spent four years in bed grieving a marriage and a life that never was.

A person she never was.

And how finally…

she. woke. up.

At nearly 70, she answers to no one, which, according to her, is both a blessing and a curse. She wishes her marriage had lasted. She wishes to have someone with whom to share dreams, a bed and a homemade chicken dinner.

Because alone is lonely. She reminds me of that. And in the same breath tells me marriage is a flower that needs the sunlight of hugs and kisses; the pruning of patience, kindness, and forgiveness; and the water of love and respect.

Then she tells me my heart seems lighter and asks if I’m truly happy. I tell her I am. And I realize it’s not a readied response. I mean it. And I love that I do. Because every day I remind myself to want what I already have and be who I already am. Not to wait for greatness, but to make it. Not to fall prey to the idea that I’ll be happy when…

I have an L-shaped couch,
thinner thighs,
a baby in the nursery.

Because those days might never come. And maybe (although I can’t see it) it’s to my benefit that they don’t.

Maybe it’s a horrible lie that: If you want it badly enough and work hard enough, it’ll be yours.

Maybe the truth is: Some dreams aren’t meant to come true.

And what if you wasted all your time, thoughts and tears on the illusion of “when”? What if you rented out all the precious space in your heart and waited…

and waited…

for your happiness to simply (or not so simply) show up?

My mother-in-law did. For a long time. And I think we all have, in one way or another.  We have all been plagued by the gracelessness of dissatisfaction, the deep pit of discontent.

So now, in those heart wrenching moments, I imagine my mother-in-law as a child, climbing the towering trees and dancing with gypsies.

I remember my own past: playing baseball and Kick the Can on Tiverton Court, catching fireflies and praying for the streetlights to sleep just a bit longer.

I also remember my present: deeply loved and richly blessed.



  One thought on “Want What You Already Have, Be Who You Already Are

  1. Danielle de Luca
    April 6, 2014 at 7:52 pm


    • April 12, 2014 at 3:45 am

      Obrigada, Dani ❤

  2. Jenáe Goede
    April 6, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    Beautifully inspiring! It is amazing how simple, truthful words can breath new life into us. Thank you for sharing your love, life, and journey….I am deeply blessed to be your friend!

    • April 12, 2014 at 3:46 am

      Thanks, J. I’m so glad you enjoyed it and know you can appreciate the tidbits shared (since you know and love Estela).

      Missing you!!

  3. April 7, 2014 at 4:52 am

    Love this. Love you! Love that you have your mother-in-law with you taking such good care of you. Hope you are feeling stronger and stronger. xoxo

    • April 12, 2014 at 3:48 am

      Thank you, Ginny girl. She really is such a big help. I’m SO much better. Thank goodness!!

      Hoping to catch up with you soon…

  4. April 7, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    So well said . . . hauntingly beautiful. Thank you for putting those words to “paper.”

    • April 12, 2014 at 3:50 am

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Jane. I truly appreciate it.

      Blessings ❤

  5. April 11, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    This is beautiful, Danielle… blessed Easter to you all, and ENJOY this time w/your mother-in-law… what a blessing it is that she can be with you guys!Yours,Dawn

    • April 12, 2014 at 3:55 am

      Many thanks, Dawn.

      It’s funny…I find myself already missing her, although she’s still here. That must say something…I am very lucky.


      Beautiful Easter blessings of renewal and love to you and yours.

  6. April 12, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Sometimes coincidences are strange. My daughter is Danielle and although she has no relatives from Brazil, my wife does. Her brother is from Rio and his mother is about 70. Bill Dwin owns 20/20 in Boca Raton. We brought him over from Brazil in 1970 and he has done well here. He speaks three languages and is quite a success story.

    • April 12, 2014 at 1:47 pm

      They are strange! Do you call her Dani? I prefer to be called Dani and know many other Danielle’s who feel the same.

      Congratulations to your brother-in-law on his success. I’m sure there are many here who have similar stories of opportunity and accomplishment. Many Brazilians, for sure.

      Thanks for dropping by. And have a great weekend.

      • April 12, 2014 at 2:05 pm

        We call her Dani and she just ran the 5K at Legoland in Florida. Are you a runner also?

        • April 12, 2014 at 4:37 pm

          Oh, gosh no! I love walking and even dabble in jogging occasionally, but running…


  7. April 14, 2014 at 1:47 am

    I read your article, stunned that you were the younger one of the photos. What an old, wise soul you are! I especially liked this: “We have all been plagued by the gracelessness of dissatisfaction, the deep pit of discontent.” Incredibly beautiful and relatable. thank you for sharing your lovely story.


    • April 14, 2014 at 3:00 am


      Thank you for dropping by and for your kind words. I have been quite blessed thus far in life. I have learned a great deal from the ugly and beauty I’ve seen and the good and bad I’ve done. And I hope…I really hope…to be a better person each and every day.

      I look forward to learning more about you and your family and sincerely thank you for your sincerity and transparency.



  8. April 14, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    What a beautiful post Dani. You’ve really captured the dilemma so many of us face with illness and waiting for the time we’re better. It’s true that we need to be who we are now and to love our lives as they are. I learned this lesson of living life to its fullest while I can from seeing so many friends die unfulfilled from AIDS. It made me value my own life much more to see theirs too often wasted by waiting for a cure. There’s no time like NOW to live your life. Thank you for this lovely look at a dear woman and wonderful friend to you. You really bring her to life, and yourself too. 🙂

    • April 14, 2014 at 8:21 pm

      Thank you for such a kind comment, Steve. I was sorry to hear about losing your friends. That must be horrible. I have lost grandparents, great aunts and uncles, but no friends. Not yet. Honestly, I don’t know how I’d fare…especially for those whose souls are tightly knit with mine.

      Loss it always hard…especially for those left behind. I guess that’s why we need to make the most of the time we have and the people we love because tomorrow might just be a day too late.

  9. April 14, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Such a beautiful post! Thanks for sharing your heart xoxo

    • April 14, 2014 at 8:23 pm

      Thank you for reading, Caroline. I appreciate it more than you know… 🙂

  10. Heather Talken
    April 14, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Wow…what a life. I wish I could have a conversation with her.

    Love how your brain works…can’t wait to read more!

    Ps…Joslyn thinks the below pictures look like me. Hugs! Heath

    Sent from my iPad


    • April 14, 2014 at 8:28 pm

      I wish you could have a conversation with her too, Heath; she’s had a very interesting life, that’s for sure. I’m glad you’re up for reading more and venturing further into my thoughts and heart. And so glad you’re back in my life, friend.

      Much love.

      P.S. I think I may have to agree with Miss Joslyn 🙂

  11. April 14, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    Touching story. I agree with you, ‘Some dreams aren’t meant to come true.’

    • April 15, 2014 at 1:23 pm

      Sadly, so, Irina.

      Sadly. so.

  12. April 15, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Stunning post. I have also fallen prey to the “work hard and be a good girl” and everything will work out. Wow. Doesn’t that leave one with a sense of crushing responsibility for all the limitations in life? I am so glad you know your wondrous mother in law. I’m glad you found me online. I will learn from your example.

    • April 15, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      Thank you, Pauline. She is quite special and I am blessed to call her family.

      As far as examples go, I look forward to learning from yours, as well.

  13. April 18, 2014 at 8:11 am

    Truly touched by your beautiful words x

    • April 18, 2014 at 4:06 pm

      Thanks, Milly. What a sweet comment!

  14. April 22, 2014 at 3:13 am

    What a beautiful tribute that shines with love. Your post really touched me! Anita

    • April 23, 2014 at 1:14 am


      What a sweet comment. Thank you for taking the time to read.

      Blessings ❤

  15. April 23, 2014 at 1:24 am

    This was amazing.

    • April 23, 2014 at 1:28 am

      Thanks, sweetie.

      I’m glad you liked it and appreciate you taking the time to comment.

  16. April 25, 2014 at 2:01 am

    Thank you for visiting my blog. Your writing here has impressed me greatly. I will visit again. Take care.

    • April 25, 2014 at 4:47 am

      Thank you for such a kind comment, Robin. I do hope you’ll visit again. I will certainly visit you.

  17. April 27, 2014 at 8:08 am

    This was great. So well told from the heart.

    • April 30, 2014 at 5:11 pm

      Thanks, J T. I’m so glad you liked it and thank you for stopping by.

  18. June 20, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    The more I read your blog, the more I fall in love with your writing and your good heart. Thank you for sharing like you do. I’m off to read more of what I’ve missed here on your blog! 🙂

    • June 22, 2014 at 12:28 am

      Thank you so much for your kindness. I’m so glad that you’re enjoying your trip to the corners of my heart.

      SO glad!


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