40. Begin Anywhere

I’m raising a hoarder.

My daughter. She is five and she is a hoarder. Not your typical five-year-old hoarder. She does not make piles of stuffed animals or Barbies or pink sparkly-things. No, she hoards empty paper towel holders, the cardboard dividers from Fresh Direct containers, wrapping paper inserts, old Kleenex boxes (we have 34 of those). We have a wall of toy bags filled with stickers she has found, used ribbons, and those crunched-up, triangle-shaped mounds of paper that live in the toes of shoes when you first get them (we have 22 of those).

She has all of these things for a reason. She is building a city. A kitty city. To be called — wait for it — Meowtropolis. For her stuffed cats (we have 143 of those).

Daily, we walk our metropolis. From school or a playdate or the burrito store, we walk and she spots the day’s structure she must make for the city. Which means we need to collect, keep, hoard, stash away more stuff.

“Awnings,” she injects matter-of-factly into our conversation one day, “Awnings. All different colors.”

“Awnings. Of course. Good call,” I swing her hand. “So when are you going to start actually building the city?”

“I’m not ready yet, Mama,” she replies, “Soon.”


Soon. That is what I have told myself often. About making changes, washing the sheets, writing a book, finding those perfect wedges to wear with everything. Soon is what I told friends when they ask about this. This. Where you are now. This blog, site, portal of…of…this. And I procrastinate because change, writing, trying shoes is all scary stuff.

I procrastinate on this, on everything. I find myself focusing on one element: The First Post. It’s paralyzing. It’s mind-warping. It’s impossible, I realize. Yes, soon-close-never is soon enough, for frak sake.

I’m doing the dishes. I love doing the dishes. It’s a perfect way to avoid doing, well, anything else, really. And I see it. Hanging over the sink, two words I framed a while ago. Black and white, basic, specific, not gray and vague like most things in this world.

Begin anywhere.

Fine. Fine. FINE I hear you. I will…maybe. No, yes, I will, yes, I will.


Three weeks later, Kiddo skips into the kitchen. “Mama, I need you.”

“Okay, I’ll be there in a sec.”


I shoot that look.

“Pleeeeasssseeeee can you come with me now.”

She takes my hand and leads me, skipping the 15 steps from the kitchen to her room. We stand in front of her wall of overstuffed bags, I spy six empty toilet paper rolls on the floor. My toe shoves a Kleenex box out of the way.

“You know, Mama, I think I’m ready to start my kitty city.”

“Well, great, babe,” I say, “Looks like you are ready.”

She stares at all she has collected. “Mama?”


“Where do I start?”

I look at her.

“Begin anywhere, love” I hear myself tell her, “Begin anywhere.”

And today, I listened.


This was originally posted on April 30, 2012