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He was someone who lived big, and the last time I saw him, when I told him that I was anxious about this motherhood business, anxious that no one would ever want to publish my work, he replied, "You just have to get out of your own way." I had to write what I had to write. By investing others with the power to dictate who you are, you rob yourself of an opportunity to truly grow.

I had to stop worrying about what kind of mother I would be. You shortchange yourself by devaluing the experiences and knowledge you've banked, all those things that have been making you, you.

That principle inspired the best wedding present my husband and I received: a set of Groucho Marx glasses/noses/moustaches to be donned in moments of marital discord.

It's been 20 years since I met my husband and 14 since we were married.

We watch movies in holey sweaters and old socks, and when we fight, we don our Groucho glasses and get through it.

We've lost a mother and a father between us; we've lived in six cities, worked countless jobs, survived autoimmune disease and smoking cessation.The meaning is something like "intended": the person who was meant for you.We're not talking about a soul mate, though modern usage often spins it that way; the original meaning is more complicated.Instead of writing about what I knew, I spent my 20s imitating others (drunks, junkies, French philosophers) and shying away from what obsessed me, which was the inner lives of women.I thought writing about those things would brand me as either a frivolous lightweight or one more hysterical female. I had a baby girl, and my father, after a 16-year battle with cancer, died at 56. I didn't want my daughter to see it in my closet and think it was a part of every woman's wardrobe.

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