Today I Lived and You Did Too

before today ends

Today I was awakened by the sound of shuffling feet.
It was my early-bird riser in her big sister’s pajamas that drug across the floor.
I wanted to pull the covers over my head and feign sleep.
But instead I got up and made toaster waffles that she said tasted “divine.”
She kissed me with syrupy sweet lips.
Getting up wasn’t my first response. But I did it.
Today I lived.

Today she lost her shoes for the 37th time in two weeks.
It was right before we needed to head out the door.
I wanted to scream, to scold, to throw my hands in the air.
But instead I held her. I held her. My shoeless girl.
Together we found them wet with dew in the backyard and she whispered, “Sorry, I am forgetful, Mama.”
Being calm wasn’t my first response. But I did it.
Today I lived.

Today the birds chirped noisily through the open back door.
Their cheerful chatter seemed to accentuate the deadlines, the laundry, the mess piled up around me.
I wanted to slam the door and silence the temptation; there was so much to do.
But instead I put on my running shoes and my favorite hat.
With each step, I got closer to what mattered and farther from what didn’t.
Letting go wasn’t my first response. But I did it.
Today I lived.

Today I stood in front of the mirror sizing myself up.
It was apparent that stress and lack of sleep had left their mark.
I wanted to dissect each wrinkle, pinch each layer of soft skin
But instead I looked away and said, “Not today. Only love today.”
Loving myself wasn’t my first response. But I did it.
Today I lived.

Today I threw together a simple dinner and scooped it onto the plate.
It looked pathetic and unappealing.
I wanted to question my worthiness based on my cooking skills.
But instead I hollered, “Let’s eat outside on the porch! Everything tastes better outside.”
Offering myself grace wasn’t my first response. But I did it.
Today I lived.

Today I was on a mission to tuck my child into bed as quickly as possible.
It had been a tiring day, and I just wanted to be alone.
She asked if she could listen to my heartbeat.
Reluctantly, I lay down beside her and she drew her head to my chest.
“We have the same heartbeat,” she announced.
“How do you know?” I asked expecting some child-like reasoning, but instead her poignant response brought me to my knees.

“Because you are my mom.”

And there it was. My confirmation.

To choose to stay when I want to retreat.
To choose to forgive when I want to condemn.
To choose to love when I want to attack.
To choose to hope when I want to doubt.
To choose to stand when I want to fall.

Today I lived.
It wasn’t my first response.
But I share the same heartbeat with two precious souls.
And that’s enough to get me through the day.

I will choose to live again tomorrow.


Today I Lived



When I sat down to write this piece, I intended it to be a Mother’s Day tribute. But in its completion, I clearly saw that this message was not just for mothers. It is for anyone who shows up when life is hard. It is for anyone who can be counted on time and time again. It’s for anyone who loves even when love is not the first response. If you know someone like this, please send it to her or him. And if you find this message to be hopeful and healing, please share it with the world. I think we can all agree — the world could use more love.


*Friends of The Hands Free Revolution, thank you for showing up for me. Your faithful presence and loving comments encourage me to continue sharing my struggles and triumphs to let go of distraction and grasp the moments that matter in life. 





  1. 8

    Becky says

    You did it again. You touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes…..were you at my house last night? :) Thank you for sharing your gift of words that bring about more hugs instead of yelling.
    Happy Mother’s Day to you!

  2. 14

    Paul says

    I am sending this to my wife – She NEEDS to read this as much as any Mother on the world wide web.

  3. 18


    From a mom whose only child passed away a few months ago, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this. We so often forget to treasure all of our moments as parents, as human beings, and this is such a poignant reminder of what we should do every day. Thank you.

    • 19

      Jeaneen says

      I’m so sorry you lost your only child. My heart grieves with you. I can’t even imagine the pain and emptiness you must feel, and yet you wrote something so encouraging and tender to another. Bless you.

    • 20


      Thank you for blessing us all with your inspiration, strength, and heart. I am humbled by your words and feel incredibly blessed to read your powerful message. I am deeply sorry for your loss. I hope you can feel the love and peace I am extending to you tonight, dear one. I think you are quite amazing.

  4. 21

    Jenna says

    The other day I saw a post on Orange Rhino from “Hands Free” and I thought it might be you. Today your post reminds me so much of what I read daily at Orange Rhino. Then your picture with your girls all in orange. Today has been a rough day! We woke up early and the bickering began. Daddy had to leave early and me to it alone for the whole day. Thank you for your reminder to love more and yell less! Have a wonderful day! Time to don everyone in orange and go for a walk.

    • 22


      Oh Jenna, I love the Orange Rhino! This makes me so happy to know that her messages and my messages are helping you through the challenges of parenting. I love what you said about the girls and me in our orange. I was so glad my husband captured that moment of happiness on Sunday morning.

  5. 24

    Tristan K. says

    Love this. Beautifully written and I will tuck it deep in my brain and take it with me when my loves can’t find their shoes. :) Thank you for reminding me that calmness is a choice.

  6. 29

    Nicole says

    This one really hit home! BEAUTIFUL! Thank you for the lovely reminder. You and The Orange Rhino help me through everyday of this amazing journey called Motherhood. Happy early Mother’s Day wishes!

  7. 31

    Olivia says

    You make me cry happy, heartfelt tears every time you write something. Beautiful! Always such a wonderful perspective on life. I always say my #1 focus is to find, take in and enjoy life’s little moments. Your words always capture just how to do that. Thank you!

  8. 35

    Danya says

    Today in my chaotic, overwhelmed world I was feeling so stressed! After reading this I felt a calm come about me. I don’t have it all together today but I have it all. I am blessed with a happy marriage and two beautiful children who have my heart. Today I will live. Thank you for the inspiration that you give with each piece that you write.

  9. 37

    Sandy says

    A beautiful reminder that I can choose how to respond even when it’s not my first response. Learning to be more gentle with myself and others. Thank you.

  10. 39

    Rashmi Sheth says

    This is exactly what I needed to read today! I am going through a tough time in my life and sometimes I find it hard to “live” and this brought me back to appreciate the fact that I choose to “live” because of my 3 boys! I will continue to get up each day and live for the even while I’m struglling.

  11. 41

    Jen says

    If I weren’t at work right now, I’d be bawling. How can it be that a complete stranger that lives many, many miles away from me could write nearly the exact scenarios that I’m struggling with RIGHT NOW?? Because we’re given what we need when we need it. I’ve said before, your writing is like my toolkit for being what I want to be. Thank you for giving me the tools, helping me to know it’s ok to forgive myself, that I don’t have to be perfect, and that it’s ok to let go and be real. Now if I only I weren’t at work and could go run through the grass with my son. :)

  12. 46


    Thank you. This morning I woke another year older. Started to feel sorry for myself that no girlfriends were scrambling to spend time with me. I shook my head, grabbed a book, and took myself to a wonderful breakfast out and had a delightful time.

    Today I lived too. Thank you for showing me how it’s happening in my life also! ((hugs))

    • 47


      Yep. That’s is what I call “letting go to grasp what really matters”! Thank you for sharing how you “lived” and happy birthday, friend. You sound like someone I would love to hang out with. :)

  13. 48

    Jennifer says

    “We have the same heartbeat” 5 little words. You say they brought you to your knees. They did the same to me. And while I was on my knees I thanked God for you and your heartfelt words. I share the same heartbeat with 3 wonderful kids and I thanked Him for that too. Many blessings to you today Rachel. Thank you for sharing your remarkable gift.

  14. 50


    Wow. I came across this via a link shared in FB, and am so glad I took a minute to read it. This is absolutely beautiful. Thank you for living, and for sharing.

    • 51


      Thank you, Lisa! I am humbled at the way this message has been shared by so many today. It has been a real gift to meet so many lovely people just trying to love their families the best way they can.

  15. 54

    allie says

    I want to thank you. As Mothers Dayapproaches i feel full. I have been spending so much time with my 3 little ones, doing what MATTERS, just loving them, playing with them, seeing things from their perspective. You have given me a great vision for distraction free living. I get it now. I don’t just do it for them either, though they are so worth it. I do it for me too. I feel so much more fulfilled and joyful when i am away from my phone. Your thoughts stick with your readers :) you have greatly influenced me and you have impacted generations already… Not just your readers but their children and grandchildren and on and on the family line.. Because love and memories and time together stick with people! My third child (,5 months right now) had really taught me this too… To just let go of the temporary things and focus on the souls entrusted to me. Love is so fulfilling. And you know what, even when you play all day, everything somehow still gets done!! :) Amazing. Rachel, you are awesome. What an amazing blog. God has used you in my life.

    • 55


      Thank you, Allie. I am in the process of editing my book that will be out early next year. It is a long, challenging process that feels like it is never-ending at times. But then I read your comment and I am refueled. To know my words have touched your life and your heart is divine confirmation to me. I am inspired to keep going, chapter by chapter, so more people can live Hands Free like you and me. Thank you so very much for taking the time to write. It touched me so much that I shared it with my editor. :)

  16. 56

    Joanne says

    Really well written. A fantastic reminder for us all. One to pin on the mental noticeboard for days when we need reminding of that.

  17. 58

    Melissa says

    Your writing coincides with my life in an uncanny way. I was beating myself up last night because I feel I am to hard on my oldest. Today I woke up, forgave myself and wore the first necklace he made for me. Your writing is a true gift and Even though you are miles away I appreciate all that you do to improve your life, your family life, my life and so many others out there. Thanks again for the inspiration!!

  18. 61


    I haven’t been doing a great job at the patience part of motherhood lately, due to a pinched nerve in my shoulder that has been a source of pain and has been making me irritable.
    There was one moment in particular which was particularly eye opening that I want to write about.
    Today I took the time for some snuggles in bed after school, and it felt great. Luckily, children are quick to forgive!
    Have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

    • 62


      Oh yes, Jen! Isn’t it wonderful that children are so quick to forgive? They just want our presence and our love. I am so glad you took time for snuggles–not just for the children, but also for yourself. I hope you feel better soon, friend.

  19. 65

    Ellen says

    Sometimes, especially for parents with young, demanding kids…just getting through the day without losing it is an accomplishment. I can see by reading the others’ posts how reassuring your eloquent words always are. Most of us fail to have an appreciation of what’s in front of us until a crisis hits…and maybe it’s too late then. And you do this, Rachel..naturally! I think many of the parents following your blog, including you, are too tough on themselves. kids need to see their parents stumble, lose their patience, cry, all things that make us human. And then, they can watch how we recover. Here’s a big toast to all the moms out there: Happy Mothers Day! Enjoy a guilt free day!!!!

    • 66


      Thank you, Ellen. You have great insight. I love this: “Kids need to see their parents stumble, lose their patience, cry, all things that make us human. And then, they can watch how we recover.” That is so uplifting and empowering! Thank you so much for taking the time to share this gift.

  20. 67

    Tanya Offerahl says

    Beautiful, perfect words. Impeccable timing.
    Thank you for your mother’s day gifts you give me with each of your words in every post you write.
    A very happy Mother’s Day Rachel!

  21. 69


    Oh, I love this so much. Beautifully written. Thank you. I think I may have to bookmark this one and come back to it from time to time! :)

  22. 71

    Mary V says

    Beautiful! I hope everyone who reads, listens. I lost my son to a car accident last year the week before Mother’s Day. He was 23 years old. There’s always the wish for one more hug, one more “I Love you” one more of anything and everything. If you can say the best thing out of the accident, was my husband and I were able to make it to the hospital (even though he had already passed) and hold him, kiss him and talk to him. He was a donor and was able to help over 60 people. Hold your children, parents and loved ones. Never regret a second chance!! Thanks for listening!

    • 72

      Amanda says

      Mary; prayers for you and your family as the first anniversary approaches. We all need a sobering reminder to not take each day with our children for granted. God bless you and sustain you!

    • 73


      Mary, the tears are flowing as I read your painful, beautiful, and powerful words. Thank you for blessing us with your strength and wisdom. I will tuck your words in my heart and refer to them often when I need to remember what truly matters each day. God bless you.

  23. 76

    mom25girls says

    I love reading your posts. I’m trying to raise my children differently than I was raised, and oftentimes that is hard. I so badly want to do things differently, but struggle sometimes in knowing how. Your examples were very helpful in showing me how I can choose to respond differently to frustrating everyday situations. I have 5 precious daughters, ranging in the ages of 12 and 3. Sadly, the more children I had, the more I found myself hopelessly overwhelmed, and needing to escape more, when they needed more of my attention. Its hard to focus more on what’s really important, but I ‘show up’ as you say, every day and am recommitted to doing my best. Thank you for sharing your gift of writing and truly living and loving with us! :0)

    • 77


      I am so happy to know my words lifted you. You are truly a hero in my eyes, and I have a feeling there are five little girls who see a hero when they look at you. I pray you can see it, too. Thank you for accompanying on this journey.

  24. 78

    Sarah says

    As always, the right words at the right time. Thankyou for always calling us back to what really matters. God Bless you.

  25. 80

    Amanda says

    Thank you for the gentle reminder and encouragement! As a homeschooling, SAHM of 4, it’s so easy to fuss, scold, skip the beauty of the day, rush the kids to bed, etc. I have to be on guard because those can become an automatic response and that’s not the mother I want to be. I’m so overwhelmed by the logistical stuff that has to happen to run our home and school that I have to be intentional in keeping my focus in the right place: the fleeting moments, the heart issues, extending grace, showing kindness, patience and love. So THANK YOU for a beautifully written reminder!!!

    • 81


      Thank you, Amanda. You are doing so much for your family! I hope you will take a moment and reflect on ALL that you do and celebrate it. Happy Mother’s Day, my friend. Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

  26. 82

    John Hopkins says

    A friend forwarded me a copy of your mother’s day posting. It is really beautiful. I am forwarding it to both of my daughters. Will check your site often…you know what are the true priorities in life! JH

    • 83


      Thank you, JH. I was hoping this message would be passed along to loved ones in celebration of their daily acts of showing up. Thank you for letting me know that is precisely what you did! I appreciate your kind words about my writing!

  27. 84


    This brought tears to my eyes…. It comes at a sorrowful time for our family as we lost our Papa just last night. You beautiful words have now become one of my favorite reads and I’m sure I will be coming back to them (in my head) time and time again.
    Your philosophy, attitude, and beautiful energy are so similar to mine, my blog & my family. Please check out my page….

    You can say No, but we must ask…
    We usually have a charge for someone to be our Guest Blogger, but we would honored to feature your post on our site. We will broadcast your incredibly well written art-with-words all over the place. Email me if you’re interested.
    You’re a bright, beautiful soul!! Thanks for being you~
    Going to follow you now!
    <3 Amanda*

  28. 86

    Brion says

    Thank you Rachel. Yesterday you wrote this while Katie and I celebrated our seven year anniversary at the ocean in Santa Cruz. We were also simultaneously taking a much needed rest from constantly serving the many people in our church and community while both working full time jobs. Lately ministry has been taking its toll on my body in a severe way. My sobering fear is that ministry would physically take me away from my wife. We set out to drastically change how we live our lives and in the process asked our church to begin financially supporting us as their pastors. Your words, as usual, are timely and poignant.
    Though ministry is important, pastoring will never be more important that my family (my first and greatest ministry).
    Though helping people is important, my wife needs and deserves my help first, and if I can help others after, then praise God for that.
    Though I know I am called by God to expend my life for others, my greatest sacrifice need always be my laying down my first response of selfishness, apathy, and/or anything else that would usurp God’s leading and in their stead reach for what so many of us wish others would do for us.
    I will show up for Kates if everything else on earth must fall.
    I will show up for our future kidlings when providing for them materially will tempt me to believe that this in itself is enough.
    And I will continue to direct folks to your incredibly honest and heart waking posts.
    You have succeeded in inspiring two tired yet tenacious ministers in California to love God first, then love each other second, and from these two secure foundations love the rest of the world unashamedly and fervently.

    Thank you Hands Free Lady for the reminder.

    Thank you.

    • 87


      Thank you, Brion, for your heartfelt response to my post. Your faithful presence and encouraging words on this journey are always a blessing to me. I hope that you and Kate have gotten even more clarity as you take time to reconnect and rejuvenate.

  29. 88


    Wow! Love your posts. You are an absolute inspiration. Never stop loving and never stop living!

    “A good life is when you assume nothing, do more, smile often, dream big, laugh a lot, and realise how blessed you are for what you have…”

  30. 91

    Kathy Shaw says

    Thank you for this poem. You’re right when you said it’s not just for moms. I’ve taught elementary school for over 40 years. I’ve never had children, though I’ve tended to many another mother’s. Now I take care of my husband of 37 years. Yes, there are days I don’t want to get up, days I feel like screaming when shoes are misplaced, clothes are wet. Yet life goes on. It’s called love.

    • 92


      Thank you, Kathy, for all that you do. I was a teacher for 10 years before I had children and those students were my babies! I look at my children’s teachers with such admiration and respect. I know the work you do is incredibly draining and hard but that you couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I appreciate you so much.

  31. 93

    Jill says

    Beautiful and inspirational, just what I needed to encourage me today. I love how you normalize our often knee jerk reactions to situations in life but put a beautiful spin on our power of choice….

    • 94


      Thank you, friend. I came along way in this journey when I realized the power of choice in my life. I am thankful to know that comes through my writing. So happy to share this journey with you.

  32. 95

    Bea says

    Thank you. I have been struggling a lot lately with ‘life’ catching up to me and the endless things that need to be done. You have reminded me what really matters. I sit here in tears, which I will wipe away before I get up to live, and care for my youngest two who are hyper from a fever, and currently sitting on top of the kitchen table eating mini wheats and apples <3

  33. 96

    Michela Toaddy says

    I read this through a friend’s post on FB. Thank you for reminding me what is really important. The cell phone is not, my two beautiful children are. Thank you for writing such a touching piece that made my eyes well up so fast I looked around to make sure my co-workers werent walking in! Thank you for showing me that I am human, and not perfect but whats important is to be the mom I can be and to love with all of my heart :) Thank you!

  34. 98

    Shawna says

    Wow…this is beautiful. I’ve been having a rough time with my second pregnancy and I needed to read this. It’s easy to get caught up in your own problems sometimes and forget what’s really important. Thank you so much!

  35. 99

    Jane says

    Your writing is so beautiful and poetic, so glad you shared with all of us. I sent a link to your page to my sister and she wrote, “wow, loving isn’t the first response but the enlivened response . . . “

  36. 100

    Mom says

    To my daughter and son, who are now parents, too.
    I love you both, equally and separately. You’ve made my heart, larger than life!

    Love Always,
    Your Mom

  37. 101

    Nancy R. Nelson says

    Rachel, I do not know you but you must be a friend of Sarah’ Paullus I am her grandmother Nancy and Greatgrandmother to Evan & Ellie. I did not cry as some of readers did but all through it I was amazed and your wonderful words and thoughts. And the ability to put them down in such a beautiful way. Maybe one day we will meet. Much love to and your family this Mothers Day.

  38. 102

    Elizabeth says

    As the mom of a 15 year old with severe medical and special needs, an 18 year old with ADHD and blindness, a husband who is currently working on the other side of the country, and dealing with my own health issues – THANK YOU. I have been so blessed by this. I’m printing it and taping it to my bathroom mirror. May you be blessed the way you have blessed so many through your writing.

    • 103


      Thank you, Elizabeth. I am humbled by your words. What a remarkable woman you are. Thank you for the impact you make, not only in your family’s life, but in the world. God bless you, my friend.

  39. 104


    My almost-4 year old was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder 4 months ago, and the last few months have been hard. If I’m honest, it’s always been hard. I see so much of my daily self in the choices you outline above. I receive feedback from friends and family that I am doing well, that I am patient, that I am a good mom. I don’t believe that feedback most of the time. When I read this just now and thought about all the times I’ve chosen the hard thing (love) instead of the easy thing (child abuse- haha!), I realized I do have something to be proud of. I gave myself, juuuuuust for a moment, a little, tiny pat on the back. That’s the first time I’ve allowed that in my almost 4 years as a parent. Thanks for putting me in front of a mirror and forcing me to smile at the image. I needed it.

    • 105


      Renee, you quite possibly gave me the best gift I could ever receive. To know that my words helped you affirm the incredible acts of love you perform each and every day … well, it just doesn’t get any better than that. Please come back and anytime you need encouragement, dear one.

  40. 107


    Wow! Rachel this is beautiful!! I love, love, love it! I saw a preview of it on Modern Hippie Momma and had to finish it! And I’m glad I did. You have got yourself a new follower :)

  41. 110

    Nicole Huber says

    I ran across this on a friends FB page and stopped to read. Tears flooded my eyes as I have been feeling so wrapped up in the to do list that I forget to pause and just love! Evenings are hard because I see the time and how much I have to do, if my boys would just go to sleep. I need to snuggle them more, they are getting older and I don’t want to wait until they don’t want snuggles anymore! This really hit home, I have been working on this lately and this just brought it back to my awareness! Thank you for sharing! Today I will live! I am touched and feel God’s embrace as I will embrace today and live. Each day it’s own!

    • 111


      Hi Nicole, I am so inspired by your honesty and your commitment to be present for the special moments in our everyday life. Awareness is everything, isn’t it? It is so easy to lose sight of what matters in the busy world we live in. I am so touched by your message and hope you will come back and update me!

  42. 113

    Elice says

    That is beautiful, thank you so much for the sweet reminder to focus on what really matters in life.

  43. 114


    Hi there rachel, love your posts. i find them very inspirational and i totally get where you are coming from! Your stories are so touching, you almost feel like i was there!! I have myself recently started blogging about mothering and the troubles i have faced. Any tips you have would be great, and if anyone wants to look then please feel

  44. 115


    This beautiful Rachel. You inspire me to continue write! You inspire me to hold on to not necessarily listen to the 1st response. Hugs to you for the amazing mom u are ! And for lifting so many many moms!

  45. 119


    Another incredible piece of writing. Add this to your post about the most important words to say and you have now written my two favorite posts I have ever read. Thank you. Thank you.

  46. 124

    Raymona says

    My daughter needed to see this today. I can’t be there at her side to help her today, but I’m sure after reading this, she will feel that as a mom first, she is the most important person in the world to her family. Thanks for sharing this and I will pass along to my friends too!

  47. 126

    teejay says

    Oh, that was beautiful! Having been separated from my kids for a few weeks while we relocate, doing those things seems easy and hard to imagine any other way of being, but I also know that my memory has become a little hazy! It is so easy to do all the things we shouldn’t and I know I have many times! Your piece has given me chance to realise how important it is just to do the right thing, rather than the thing we might want to do in the moment. Thank you for sharing x

  48. 127


    This was such a beautiful piece that I want to share it with all my mama friends. I didn’t notice until I went to copy a portion of it on FB, and direct them to your blog, that there was something that you may want to edit in your post. It is here:

    “To chose to stay when I want to retreat.
    To chose to forgive when I want to condemn.
    To chose to love when I want to attack.
    To chose to hope when I want to doubt.
    To choose to stand when I want to fall.”

    I’m sure you meant to say “choose” on each of those lines, and I am only pointing this out so that your readers only hear the beauty of your message. Thank you!

    • 128


      Thank you so much, Sandra! Boy, usually I do a much better job of editing my pieces! I appreciate you pointing that out–and so kindly! Thank you for sharing with your mama friends!

  49. 129

    Candice says

    This is absolutely amazing, and oh so true. I share a heartbeat with 2 beautiful little girls, and I am expecting a third. Thank you so much for sharing!

  50. 130

    Allison says

    This poem is a beautiful gift. Thank you for your authors note at the bottom, too. It deepened the impact of the message for me.


  1. [...] Now go on and read this absolutely beautiful poem, that a sweet Mama friend of mine shared . sniffle sniffle. Since I read it, I’ve read several pages of her blog and I am so in love with this woman that I just can’t even handle it. Her empathy really strikes me and I feel, through her words, what she seems to be feeling for her kids, students, experiences, etc. It’s quite profound to be able to connect with your audience like that and I am so happy that Laura shared this blog. If you’re out there – thank you : ) [...]

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