Life Lessons,  spilling my guts


notesI lay on on the yoga studio floor in shavasana pose (aka corpse pose), finally relaxing after a grueling workout. Sweat trickles down my face and every part of me is damp from perspiration. I feel the solid wood floor press into my butt, my shoulders and the backs of my hands. Being tired from a workout is the best feeling. I hate it and I love it.  I am so so so tired but it feels good.

I try to clear my mind but my senses are heightened because my eyes are closed. I hear the tiny yoga instructor walking around me. I’ve nicknamed her Tinkerbell in my head because she is tiny and full of energy, almost to the point of being annoying. She was probably a gymnast or a cheerleader or a ballerina. Maybe she still is. She’s barely five feet tall, covered in tattoos and she wears those really cool black strappy bras that cost $50 or more. Her bleached-blonde hair is tied back tightly in a brightly multi-colored bandanna.

Suddenly, unexpectedly, I smell peppermint in the air or maybe it was tea tree oil. Something strong and pleasant compared to the sweaty guy next to me who smells like urine. Sometimes some of the yoga instructors fan you with a towel or open a door and let in the frigid morning air. It’s always a welcome relief from heated yoga and I smile and thank them silently.

Then as the class sits up and we go through our namaste/thank you’s, getting ready to leave class and go back to our individual realities, I notice a tiny note on the floor before me. I remember hearing paper being torn at the front desk before class. Tinkerbell had been hand-writing little notes to leave for us. Her bubbly writing gives away her age. Her youth and innocence suddenly wash over me and I feel so old and jaded.  How long ago was it when I did things like this? How I wanted to make an anonymous difference in someone’s day with a tiny handwritten note. I remember leaving notes on people’s cars in the parking lot, daydreaming about how I might make a difference in someone’s life. Maybe cheer them up. I wrote whole inspirational movies in my head.

Her sentiment hit me right in the heart.

Day in and day out my mind is a diatribe of negativity. Of course nobody knows this because I try like mad to overcompensate for it. I am enthusiastic about life and projects and goals. I spin things and see the good. But inside my head it does get me down. Some days feel like slogging through mud. Some days are the trenches.

Her note made a big impact on me and I thought about it for the rest of the day. I thought about all the notes in my life that have made a difference.

Back in the days of being married, Toby hated notes. It was a peculiar thing about him. I don’t know why he hated them. Maybe it was all the type-A personalities he had to deal with at work who left signs and notes nagging this or that. He hated people who watched the clock and came down on him for being late. I think when I left notes for him it was just one more person nagging and bringing him down so I stopped leaving notes. If I had to leave and run an errand and he wasn’t there to tell, I just didn’t tell him. I left. It was okay. He never really missed me when I was gone. He was an introvert and loved alone time. I could be gone for days and he wouldn’t miss me. Of course he would worry about me if I was in danger but I think he liked the freedom of knowing or not knowing where I was. I think the lack of communication between us was something he liked.

Of course I hated it. I hated never knowing what was going on. I hated having to wait for him to show up, never knowing if he was an hour late or four hours. He’s still this way and it still drives me crazy but I don’t hold it against him. It’s just the way he is.

But one day I was really mad at him for something. I don’t even remember what it was. I took a sticky note, a small one and wrote a little note. I wrote, “What are you, four?” and I stuck it to the top of the spice cabinet door on the inside. It was a really tall cabinet door and the note was easily three or four feet above our heads. He never saw it. But I did. Everyday I saw it and it made me feel better. It was my passive aggressive way of getting back at him and it gave me joy.  I’ll never forget that note.


Another note that I remember was back in US History class in, what was it sixth grade? Is that the year we take US History? I don’t know but I remember we had a teacher that I really liked. She was young and hip. It was her first year of teaching. She wrote everything on the board. Line after line of neat chalk handwriting on the board. This style of teaching worked for me because I love handwriting. Filling up page after page of notes was like creating art and I constantly tried to outdo myself in neatness or flourish. And I learned along the way. I think her stories were interesting, though I can’t remember a single one.

There was a new girl in class who sat in front of me. She was African American and it was kind of a big deal because I went to a predominantly white school with a handful of Hispanics. I didn’t know I was racist back then. I didn’t even know what racism really was because it never came up.  I want to say that I’m not still racist but over the years I’ve come to understand my white privilege.  For me my racism took the opposite form of what you might expect. I wanted to be this new girl’s friend just because she was black. She was strange and new. She talked funny and she was hilarious. Her style of speech punctuated her stories and made her even more interesting. She was quick and witty and called people out on things they did wrong. She did not like our teacher. And our teacher didn’t like her because she talked too much and was a distraction to the rest of the class.

One day this girl passed me a note and it said something like “Isn’t Miss What’s-her-name such a bitch.” or something like that. I don’t even remember what she wrote exactly but I know she wrote something mean because our teacher was kind of picking on her. I could see both sides. I felt bad for our teacher and I felt bad for the new student. The girl was being mouthy. I don’t know what should have been done. Maybe in the town she came from, the teacher would have mouthed back at the new student and put her in her place and she would have shut up and respected the teacher. But because our teacher was white and she was black it was an issue. Or at least it was in my eyes.

I took the note and pondered what to write back. I couldn’t defend the teacher, even though I partly sided with her because I was overjoyed that the new girl even wanted to confide in me. I wanted to be her friend. I wanted to understand her.  I wanted her to like me. But I did like our teacher. I liked them both and I was caught in between. After several minutes I wrote back something about our teacher being new and folded up my note and passed it back.

Of course our teacher caught us and I was filled with shame as I brought our note to her desk. She read it quietly to herself. I died a thousand deaths inside. I had just insulted a teacher that I really liked. It was terrible. There was no undoing it. From that day onwards every time I got anything less than an “A” I wondered if it was because I had insulted the teacher. I wanted to apologize and explain to her that I was just trying to be friendly to the new girl but there was really no doing that. I had thrown her under the bus because I wanted to be liked.

And that was that. I don’t know what happened to that girl. But I’ll never forget that note. Not what it said but what it stood for.

I’m sure there are lots of notes that have come and gone in my life that have not been so monumental. But when you think about it, how many notes have you come across that have been? I’m sure everybody has a story about a note that changed their life. Notes can be powerful.

So I’ll keep my bubbly Tinkerbell note and save it in a special place in my journal. She’s right. I don’t know who I’ll inspire. Just like she doesn’t know how much she’s inspired me. I’ve thought about notes for days.

Tell me a note story.


  • Jen Wilson

    “I wrote, “What are you, four?”” — I choked on my water when I read this.

    I can totally imagine what you must have felt like with that teacher. I cringe at the feeling. I passed notes all the time in high school, even in lip gloss containers and inside pens, and we got caught and never learned.

    When Preston was a baby and I babysat for a friend whose son was Preston’s age, I had a note over my doorbell that read:

    Ring doorbell
    Wake babies
    Lose hand

    It worked well. I also found a note recently that was between me and Kaylie’s biodad. It was from the days preceding us telling our parents that I was pregnant. I was kind of mean. Funny how reading old notes makes me see a whole different side of myself.

    And, honestly, you inspire me. Your writing is so raw and you say things that are inside my head but I’m too scared to write/say out loud.

  • Katie McMillan

    I love notes. It frustrates me sometimes that Jack won’t leave nice, impromptu, silly, loving ones for me. I ask. He leaves like, one, and then nothing for months. So I treasure them like little baby birds — I have a post it on my Nintendo DS from Jack, and it has been there for months. It’s tattered and starting to wear away, but I just love it. And it’s just a “I’ll see you later” note, essentially.

    In high school, Notes were so important. It actually breaks my heart a little that kids don’t write actual notes to each other any more. They have phones; they don’t need to. But it’s not the same. Maybe I’m this weirdo who thinks that your soul is in your handwriting… And that you have to take your words more seriously when you use your body to create them.
    I still have notes from high school from boys I loved — looking back, I think I was really lucky to have boys who liked to write notes as often as the girls did. And they were smart and funny and thoughtful.

  • Melinda

    I love notes! A coworker of mine has a tremor in his hand and it is really hard for him to hand write notes. It so strange to me to get something that I would dash off on a post-it in a formal typed format. I guess we all communicate a little differently.

    I love this post. Thank you for sharing. And you do inspire me often!

  • mamalang

    I love this!

    I had notes between a very good male friend and myself from high school for a good number of years. I had a notebook and we just wrote back and forth in it all the time. Unfortunately they were destroyed in a flooded basement incident. I would give a lot to have them back.

    This ties into love languages so much. Little gestures that tell me you are thinking about me mean more to me than anything else, and that is what a note is. plus handwriting a note is so much more rare.

  • Sarah

    I once found a Post-It note in an airport car park that read:

    Call Diane
    Gary ran over Bob in the Hoover bay

    And I still have so many unanswered questions about that.

    • Deborah

      In seventh grade, my best friend and I were compulsive note passers. We would pass notes all throughout class, whether we were sitting next to each other or whether we had to pass the note through ten classmates, it didn’t matter. We only got caught once. Our teacher was kind of a scumbag but also really lenient. He must have noticed many times before but only this once did he decide to do something about it. He dragged our chairs (us sitting in them still) up to the front of the room. He then began to read the note aloud in a high-pitched “girl” voice. I can’t even remember what that particular note was about (no doubt about a boy) but I’ll never forget that red-hot feeling of embarrassment and deep hatred at him for doing that.

  • Alison Z. (alibaba520 on IG)

    Notes were a big part of my life growing up. I remember the first time I passed a note was in the first grade! All through middle school we’d fold our papers all fancy and pass it to the intended during class changes. It was the texting of the 80’s! LOL. I don’t remember anything to share here, but I still have a box of folded notes from my best friend. I do write little notes for my husband and I recently found a drawer where he’s stashed them all.

  • Becca

    In school some friends and I created note books – we took spiral notebooks and filled them with notes back and forth to each other. I’d get the book to write a note in it for a period or part of the day or the weekend, whichever, and then pass it to her the next time I saw her and she’d write back. I still have them. I especially treasure the one of my best friend who passed at 16.

    And of course I have the specially folded notes with other friends and boyfriends as well. But the ones where I can read my responses are nice to have – to see how I’ve changed, what my plans were then vs now.

  • bethany actually

    When I was growing up, my mom always kept a notebook on the kitchen counter, right by the door as you were leaving or entering the house, and we all wrote notes to each other in it, like:

    “Dad, Tom Trusty called, meeting at church at 6”
    “Gone to Jamie’s, I’ll be home by 8, Love, Ben”
    “I work a split tonight, leftover pizza in fridge, see you guys when I get home at 11, Love, Mom xoxo”
    “Someone buy milk and paper towels please!!!”
    “Hi Debbie, stopped by to chat with Rich, sorry I missed you!”

    That notebook was how we communicated, with each other and ourselves. When we’d filled a notebook and moved on to a new one, sometines I’d flip back through The old one and it was almost like reading a journal. My parents still have a notebook on their counter for notes, since my dad is one of the last people in the US who still doesn’t have a cell phone. :) I still flip through it when I’m home, just to read the daily notes my parents leave for themselves and each other. And I leave notes too, when I’m there.

    A few weeks ago Troy took some of my apricot cookies to work, and one of his co-workers handwrote, Mrs. G, thank you for the delicious apricot cookies!” on a post-it and stuck it to the empty container. I stuck that on my fridge, and it makes me smile even though I don’t know the author.

    • Marcia at Organising Queen

      Bethany, I love this idea of the notebook. We have a notebook on our counter but it’s for communication between us and our nanny. It started when my twins were babies and we didn’t know which baby pooped, which had their bottle, which one slept, etc.

      But your notebook is much more fun!

  • SAJ

    What a cool idea. We used to have a piece of butcher paper taped to our door in college and people would write notes (and graffiti) on it. That was kind of cool too.

  • lynne

    I don’t think we have such a custom of passing notes in class in the U.K. I don’t remember doing it. I hope that mobiles are banned in the class room else there would be so much texting going back and forth! I think texts have superseded notes and its fun to scroll through them and remember days … until you get a new phone and loose them! Shame. That’s the thing about digital.

    I think my favourite note is a hand written one by my mother. I was a student & strapped fro cash. It had suddenly got really cold in London and my mother surprised me by posting a knitted scarf and hat set to London. She slipped in a little note ( she was’nt much of a letter writer) but it was so thoughtful and typically “Mam” thing to do. Always thinking of us. I have an “audio” note of my mother too, the last message she left on my answer phone before getting ill. The kindness in her voice and little message of love she left is so precious. I have her wrapped up inside my heart for ever but physical reminders are good to have. xxx

  • Julie

    My Nana (maternal grandmother) would surprise me while away at college. A card would arrive with $5 and a note telling me to go to for a burger or get myself some new socks or go for an ice cream. Later, when I had an apartment – she would send a favorite recipe along. After my son was born, she would help me out by doing a load of laundry. I loved putting away little baby socks and finding notes tucked in there for me.

  • Julie

    we had a neighbor girl (14) babysit our 18 month old for a few hours. I was at the mall and used a pay phone to call to see how things were going. She said she was tired of babysitting and I should come home. Of course I did! for weeks afterward I found little notes in drawers and closets saying “Peter is a weirdo” – Peter was my 18 month old! the mom would always ask why we didn’t have her babysit any more and I could never tell her the reason.

  • BeachMama

    I don’t think I ever passed notes in school, I was too afraid to get caught. I do however, keep notes all over the place in the house!! Or mostly just the kitchen and my office. I leave notes for myself, others in the family, or just take notes when I am talking on the phone. If I don’t take notes, I feel like I might forget something. I used to keep a spiral notebook near the phone and when we moved I found one that I hadn’t thrown away, it was fun to look back at all my little notes that were from 15 years ago! Needless to say I did toss it in the great purge but I had fun looking back.

    Your yoga instructor is insightful, her note to you is perfect. You do inspire others (so much!) and you don’t even know it half the time :).

  • DeeJay

    The grandbabes are growing up and resist telling me that they love me in front of anybody else. I find notes stating that they actually DO love me. I save as many as possible. : )

  • Evilisa

    These comments are fab. I’m inspired! I’m going to start leaving notes in the 15 year old’s book bag for him to find later in the day.

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