You are what you love

My oldest son spoke this phrase to me, the title of a book he’s reading:

You are what you love.

That’s like being handed a toy for the mind. Something to turn round and round, to consider from every angle: What does this do? More importantly: What do I do with this?

I love my little granddaughters. But I am not my granddaughters. I am their Franna. No existential crisis here; we know who we are. We revel in each other.

I love books, but I am not books. Books might be me, however; their words, images, scenes, stories, live in my brain. They change me. They become part of who I am. They fuse themselves to me so that I carry them with me ever after. No, that’s the content. The stuff of books is me. Not the actual books. But I am neither of those.

I love birds, have always loved birds, even got a yellow parakeet for my sixth birthday. I watch for birds daily out here in the North Carolina countryside, especially hawks. Birds inspire me, lift my spirit, fill me with wonder. I write of them (and their symbolism) often. I’m not sure I could ever keep a bird in a cage again. But I am not birds, as much as my heart goes soaring after them or sings in response to them…and don’t even get me started on dogs.

I love my husband and am DEFINITELY not him. I love my home and…well, here maybe the lines begin to blur a bit. I can see where I might be my home, in a sense. I love my church. It’s a given that the people are the church, not the building itself. Some people love their work so much that they are their work, so there’s that.

I love my memories…oh, what a thought, me being my memories, my memories being me. Some great truth is at work here…

And now, just now, what comes to mind is a student at school who loves making little dragons out of paper. She gave me one recently along with a little paper tree (because “a dragon is nothing without his tree,” she said). Every day, more little paper dragons. She loves them. She is not them, although they’re enchanting and so is she, their creator. When she passes me in the hallway: Come and see my new ones. I have a butterfly dragon and I want to make a dragonfly dragon…look, this one is an ice-wing…they’re all colored with bright markers in superb patterns and one day she showed me a tiny paper dragon resting in a tent she’d made, somewhat like a royal litter, complete with tiny paper quilt.

She is not the paper dragons…but maybe she’s more than the artist. She loves creating the dragons. In doing so, she is creating something more of herself, within. Constantly.

Which brings me to writing.

I love writing.

Maybe I am writing. Maybe writing is me. I live in a constant state of composition as much as the girl making her paper dragons. A new thing unfurls in my mind (like you are what you love) and I am writing around it before I can get to a pencil or screen. The thing blooms like a rose, layer upon circular layer, grows like one of those capsules that expands after you toss it in water, waiting to see what shape it will take, what animal it will become. I don’t want the ideas, sensations, images, patterns to escape…they have meaning that I want to explore. Interconnected threads I need to follow. The snowy hawk perched on the power line, looking across an icy field. The cognizance in my four-month-old granddaughter’s eyes. The wide-flung arms of her six-year-old sister. The myriad notes from piano keys under my youngest son’s dancing fingers, the earnestness in his voice when he sings. Being on my corner of the couch, wrapped in a blanket, book in hand or laptop in lap. Dennis the dachshund burrowing under the blanket to snuggle close. My husband’s contagious, uninhibited laughter. The fragrance of cinnamon, like Christmas, and Vick’s VapoRub, like long ago, and memories, so many memories, that still live…

I really am all these things. They are me. Story is inextricable from life. Story goes on and on. We are story.

And that, I love.


with thanks to Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge every day in the month of March. This is my sixth year participating.

23 thoughts on “You are what you love

  1. This is one of those slices that leaves me happily sighing over how well crafted it is. I love how the piece moves from the little spark to the trying out of possibilities for what this spark could mean and then lands on the big idea. So many wonderful details throughout–those paper dragons! the snowy hawk! the constant state of composition! The powerful understanding that comes at the end and the punchy final line. What joy to read such a piece of writing before I even really start my day! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fran, the you of your and the not you of you is a post that captures the essence of all that we love about you! I read the other day: love is the degree of attention we pay to something. And I keep dwelling on that. Your books, husband, Dennis, granddaughters, sons – they are all blessed to have you and you them. And we are blessed that you share the you of your writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “A constant state of composition” is the true life of a writer. That dragon creator is an inspiration. I love how your slice is both an introduction and conclusion about who you are. I feel privileged to share this month with you and others. Here we go!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You are what you love.

    You are what you love.

    This mantra threads itself, like story, through my mind and heart. As you say – it unfurls. Sometimes, I think it tangles, as when it doesn’t seem to translate so very well, like for other things in life. But story…you’re right. It’s who we are, how we’re built. We are made OF story, and we are made to BUILD story.


    I am what I love.

    Next up? To love what I AM.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ooh, this was almost a tad too deep for me to ponder at the end of a day of book fair setup! Your turning phrase made me think of one of my own favorites from Tennyson:
    ” I am a part of all that I have met;
    Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
    Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades
    For ever and forever when I move.”
    We do carry pieces of all our experience within us…but there is always something more. And we’re thankful you keep writing about what you find. A grand beginning for this SOLSC!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Your very first Slice is going to stick with me & leave me to turn it over & over again in my mind for a few days. Very much like Sunday’s sermon about eliminating HURRY in our lives. I love when your Slices make me hit pause, sit back, and ruminate. Oh and hello old friend welcome back to another year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re so perceptive, Anna Maria. The phrase that inspired this post is actually the title of a theology book, subtitled “The Spiritual Power of Habit.” It is centered on worship, specifically worshipping well. I haven’t read it all yet but my pastor-son thought I’d like it, which warms my heart to its core. Thank you for your words ❤


  7. So beautifully and thoughtfully worked and scripted together! One of my favourite lines, I’m not sure why, “she is not the paper dragons..” Just so much to ponder and dwell upon. Thanks for a wonderful first slice!


  8. Fran,
    I love the lyrical quality of this essay. (I paused before I named the genre, but I believe it is a personal essay, of sorts.) My friend Stella was sharing the principles of an ancient African practice called ubuntu. One of the principles is “I am because of you…” I couldn’t help but think of it as I read your words about “you are what you love…” Perhaps it is a little twist on the same truth: Story matters—claiming our stories, telling our stories, listening to others’ stories. It all matters.

    Liked by 1 person

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