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A New Home

September 28, 2011

In her iconic book, Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott writes,

I want people to who write to crash or dive below the surface, where life is so cold and confusing and hard to see. I want writers to plunge through all the holes–the holes we try to fill up with all the props. In those holes and in the spaces around them exist all sorts of possiblity, including the chance to see who we are and to glimpse the mystery. 

The first time I read this, I nodded the Oh-My-Gosh-every-word-of-this-resonates-with-me-Nod and starred the passage. Then, with a purposeful stroke, I bracketed the words with my black uni-ball pen. And then I dog-earred the page for good measure. I flagged it because that’s me. Too often, it’s easier to use the props. I often stay on the surface, catching glimpses of the mystery raging in the currents below.

With dramatic flourish, I want to knock all the props over and leave them in a shambled pile. When I allow myself and my words to delve into that rumpled heap of experience and emotion, well, that’s when I tap into the Universal Grit.   And that’s when the good shit starts to happen.

Welcome to my new home, Universal Grit.

I find that my deepest and most resonant connections are those I share with people who are willing to delve into the nitty and the gritty of their lives.  These universal threads link us all together and help me feel normal. It helps me to know that we all experience highs, lows and in-the-middles.

I started my first blog, Musings de Mommy four years ago. When I started writing there, I focused on experiences with my children (who were, when I started writing, 4 and 1.) I wrote in hopes to let other mothers know that the experience of motherhood is full of every emotion–I remember feeling isolated when my unpleasant and unexpected emotions smacked up against my  image of motherhood–and my preconceived ideas of what I should feel and when.

As my children grew and matured, I continued to write about them, but my writing shifted to the broader expanses of my life. My observations. My thoughts. My challenges. My efforts to live presently. The ups. The downs. The middles. The grit. I knew I needed a bigger canvas in which to express myself. That’s when I created this blog.

While pondering the new name for my new blog, I read a blog post by Dani Shapiro titled On Exposure. In this post, Dani writes about her memoirs, and about her readers’ perceptions that she may feel exposed after “putting herself out there”.  This same fear–a fear of overexposure–has thwarted my writing (and my life) many times. I commented on Dani’s post saying:

I find that the grittiest pieces I write resonate the most with others. There are parts I’d like to share, but I don’t, because I’m afraid. Because my story has always been too shrouded in privacy and fear. Each day I get better. But I must continue to circumvent the fear to be able to write it well. 

Dani, in her wisdom, replied,

Sometimes what we think of as the “grittiest” may well be the most universal.

Thus, Universal Grit was born. A place where I can explore the gritty and the beauty of living. (I’ll continue, by the way, to be a mom who muses.) I believe that sharing my grittiest parts levels life. It helps us all quiet that little perfectionist asshole in our minds. We can all then say,

Me too.

Me, too.


32 Comments leave one →
  1. September 28, 2011 12:41 pm

    And I am here, excited and delighted by it all. Onward indeed! I’m cheering you on.

    • September 28, 2011 12:46 pm

      Thank you for visiting! You’re my first commenter on my first post. Thank you, friend. xo

  2. Elizabeth Clark permalink
    September 28, 2011 12:55 pm

    Look forward to more of your writing, especially the gritty stuff! Love, Elizabeth

  3. September 28, 2011 12:58 pm

    Yay!!! Love the site, love your words, love YOU. Can’t wait for more. xox

    • September 28, 2011 4:47 pm

      Remember when, 6 or 7 months ago, I emailed you and asked what you thought about this new name??? xoxo

  4. Elizabeth permalink
    September 28, 2011 12:59 pm

    So happy to be here! You have such a wonderful flow to your writing and I enjoy your insights very much. I feel less alone.

  5. September 28, 2011 1:31 pm

    I’m here, nodding my head right along with every word. So glad to see you here in your new space. Can’t wait to follow along on your new adventures.

    I’m raising a glass of Diet Coke to you, mama! xo

  6. September 28, 2011 1:56 pm

    Found you via Motherese (on twitter, probably) and am excited to embark on this new journey with you, even though I have yet to “meet” you virtually.

  7. September 28, 2011 2:51 pm

    Loves it! What a beautiful new site and – as always – beautiful words. After 28 days of grey sky and rain, I am feeling the universal grit. Thank you SO much for your constant reminder that we are not alone.

    I stopped drinking diet coke a while ago, but I bought one today and thought of you. It was fabulous! (but not as fabulous as this post or this new blog post or your lovely voice.)

  8. September 28, 2011 3:00 pm

    Love the new site Denise. And I am here too. Cheers lady for debuting Universal Grit!

  9. September 28, 2011 3:59 pm

    congrats, Denise. I hope you will find everything you want in this new place.

    • September 28, 2011 4:50 pm

      Thanks, friend. Remember our conversation at Kripalu about this very topic?? Love, UG xo

  10. September 28, 2011 5:49 pm

    Love it. I did think your use of the word bitch in all caps in your comment the other was gritty. And it made me smile, I suspect the same will be true here.

    • September 28, 2011 6:04 pm

      Do you know that I hesitated for a moment before using the word BITCH in my comment….but then I used it (obviously) because i meant it in the most complimentary ways. you are gorgeous, lady.

      Thanks for coming by The Grit.


  11. September 28, 2011 5:59 pm

    Yay! And here we all are, we grit lovers, just waiting to see what wonderful words you weave here.

    I’m so happy you are back, and so glad you took your time to untangle all this.

    Love to you,


    PS. I am getting ready to start answering the questions you asked in your “visit”….

  12. Lara permalink
    September 28, 2011 8:08 pm

    Congratulations on the new blog! Love all your writing and musing so am looking forward to your new adventure!

  13. Julie permalink
    September 28, 2011 9:00 pm

    I love this D. I can’t wait to read more. We should all talk more about the grit in our lives. I am sure it is therapeutic. Quite hard to go there though. Miss you. How long has it been now?

  14. September 29, 2011 9:40 am

    I look forward to reading more of your grit, chica.. Welcome to your new digs. Dig right in! I am hoping for something truly gritty soon.



  15. September 29, 2011 9:44 am

    Bowing to you, Denise.
    This is awesomesauce. Proud of and THRILLED for you!!

    I miss writing. I’m eager for this pregnancy to be over so that I can kind of get back to my “normal” self, my writing self, but for now I’ve been pretty sapped.

    I love your new space, and am excited to see what’s coming our way—YOU GO, GIRL! p.s. I love Bird by Bird. LOVE.

  16. September 29, 2011 9:45 am

    CONGRATS on this new journey!
    Mommy bloggers are not supposed to be sugar coated, those would be fairy tales, not blog posts …
    look forward to the good, the bad and the ugly nitty gritty with your full blown honesty.

  17. September 29, 2011 3:01 pm

    “The grittiest is also the most universal” – ain’t that the truth. I find that when I’m more open about myself and about my life on my blog, which means exposing wounds and admitting to struggles, more people tend to respond and relate. I think when we’re honest with ourselves and with others, we leave the door open for more honesty.

    I love that your new space is dedicated to do just that. I can’t wait to read more. Congrats on this move my friend.

  18. September 29, 2011 6:03 pm

    I remember when you first went public with ruminations about changing the name of your blog. I’m so glad to see you’ve followed your instincts and created this beautiful, augmented platform for your voice. I’m excited to see what you and, in turn, what we uncover and discover. Gritty is good!

  19. September 30, 2011 10:59 am

    I love the title – it seems so appropriate for life. In the end we’re all mucking through the same stuff.

  20. September 30, 2011 2:15 pm

    Love it. And Universal Grit is an absolutely PERFECT way to frame it.

    • September 30, 2011 2:43 pm

      Thank you! I’m so glad you stopped by and looking forward to reading more of your writing again soon (I took a big blogging break this summer). Hope all is well with you!

  21. November 8, 2011 11:24 pm

    I understand this so well. The grit. The shroud. You may know that it’s been many many months since I blogged with any regularity. In all this time away I’ve done some very big, soul-searching work. And I’ve withdrawn from the sharing of life. Sharing on blogs. With friends. Etc.

    The sad about about my absence is that I wholeheartedly agree with Dani that the grittiest parts of us and our thoughts are likely the most universal. I find myself trying to put words down now and it’s just a rusty practice, first and foremost. But even more than that I struggle with what and how much to share.

    Anyway. I’m with you. True grit is universal. I’m glad you’re here!

Give me your grit.

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