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Poem: What it is is Beautiful

Don’t we all ask ourselves: How can I be more present? How can I find more enjoyment in these days, right now? How can I appreciate what I have, before trying to rush on to the next stage of life?

I wrestle with these questions all the time. I want everything in my life to line up with my ideals, so I tend to attack each day as if it were a project to manage. But isn’t life supposed to be a feast of experiences to taste and savor, instead?

Having kids has reminded me that imagination is transformative. Everything doesn’t have to be as we think it is. We can see the trappings of our lives differently.

This, for me, is the point of all poetry. It’s a small and seemingly insignificant thing — but in that concision, it can deliver a potent shot of perspective.

The following poem is the title poem from my book. Its title is a reference to a LEGO ad from the 1980s. I chose it because it’s the perfect reminder: It doesn’t matter what type of chaos we’re looking at — we can choose to see this life with new eyes.

What it is is Beautiful

I’d really had it with the mess,
the way there wasn’t a single clear surface
to deflect the meager winter light,
but only piles of haphazard papers
made up of macaroni crafts
purporting to be flat.

Clothing was flung on the floor,
from jackets in the front hall
to a trail of socks and sweaters
as the kids molted
on their way to the kitchen.

I stalked through it,
seething over the futility of a to-do list
featuring anything other than
Pick up after people
— when the corner of a toy
dug into my foot.

I staggered, and blinked,
and then it was in my hand,
my arm wound back,
ready to hurl the offending plastic
straight into the trash—

but something stopped me.
Maybe it was the thought of my child
careening through the house,
wearing a million-dollar smile
and this lego creation on her head,

or maybe it was just my usual exhaustion.
I flopped down on the sofa,
raised the toy to my face,
and peered through.

The makeshift lenses
were sticky and clouded
and smelled suspiciously of banana.
But a vision of the room entered in with a glow,
and I leaned forward,

A massive bear
stood where our dining table had been,
offering his broad back for our daily rounds
of dinner and homework.

Below him,
the floor was a slick pane of ice
spread out in all directions.
As I watched, one of the kids
came running in from the hall,
then did a swift drop
and slid the length of the room
on her knees.

I laughed and stood up,
set the goggles on a shelf:
dinner wasn’t getting made
by this magic, and my ice skater
would soon be clamoring for a meal.

So I picked my way across the cold floor,
kicking lumps of clothing into corners
to clear the rink, and stopping only
to give our messy table
an affectionate pat.

I considered attempting
a knee slide right up to the stove,
but instead drew a long breath
and stepped to my post —
to undertake a task from my list
and forage in a fridge of leftovers
for items I could transform
into a feast.

© Sarah Dunning Park, from What It Is Is Beautiful (Peace Hill Press), 2012. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Win a Copy

wiiibAs part of our monthly book series, Sarah would like to give TEN Simple Mom readers a copy of her new book, What it is is Beautiful. To enter your chance to win, leave any comment below this post. (If you’re reading this post via email, please click over to the original post and leave a comment on the blog.)

This giveaway has ended. Check tomorrow’s weekend links to see the winners!

Reading Time:

3 minutes





  1. Sarah m

    Such lovely imagery! I, too, love poetry and have found that with my mom-mush-brain I haven’t been reading it as much as in my former life sans kids.
    Would love to read more.
    Molting–isn’t that the truth?!
    Sarah M

    • Jessica Canfield

      Imagination is so wonderful. You can go any place, be anything or anyone if you have imagination. It is also in reading and writing. I once was asked by a co-worker why I
      read every chance I got and I told them because I can be anyone and go anywhere I want and still be at work. They stared at me then shook their head and walked away. I felt incrediousless then very sad because they were missing out on so much. Thank you for your lovely poem.

  2. Wendy

    I don’t usually think of myself as a “poem” person, but I find myself looking forward to these! This poem spoke directly to the events in my day today. Thanks!

  3. Maggie H

    I love this beautiful poem about real life!

  4. Cat

    So lovely. And nice to know that others have those moments of wanting fling a toy in the trash! Thank you for your beautiful words.

  5. Bev P

    That poem brought tears and encouragement to my eyes. I would LOVE to win a copy!

  6. KarenDV

    I. Need. This. Book. so I can wallpaper strategic spots with its pages. (To wit: above the kitchen sink. Near the washing machine. On the music stand. On the steering wheel of my car. Anyplace where I have shaken a fist about the travails of parenting without remembering how vast the benefits to me.)

  7. Judi

    Your poem describes my house too. Thank you for helping me to see the blessings!

  8. Southern Gal

    I’m so glad I was introduced to Sarah’s poetry through your blog. It’s real life, nitty gritty and I love it.

  9. Katie

    Thank you for sharing this poem! Beautiful and true. I would love to win a copy of your book and plaster your poetry on my sticky walls as another reader wrote.

  10. Laura

    I’d love to win. Thanks for the giveaway!

  11. Heather

    Just what I needed to read this morning!

  12. keely

    Ah, the power of perspective. Thanks for this!

  13. Georgia

    Wow, what wonderful writing. I would love to read more of this book.

  14. Kelly

    I would not describe myself as someone who reads poetry but this spoke to me, brought me to tears actually. A good way to begin a new morning!

  15. Victoria

    Love it! The clutter and mounds reminds me of my own home. The Lego I can totally relate too. I find that stuff in the back yard, in the bathroom, in the laundry, in my SUV, in seems to penetrate all of my life. Yet again so do my children, and I am blessed by that.

  16. Lisa

    Love new books and this one looks great. Thanks!

  17. Katie

    I’m not generally a poetry person, but I absolutely loved this! I hope to read more soon 🙂

  18. Amy S

    Beauty in the mundane, loveliness in the difficult, and glimpses of something other…I love reading your poems. They send me back to my own routine with new eyes.

  19. Jerrica

    I really needed to read this poem today! Would love towin this book!!

  20. Brian

    I’d love to win. Thanks for the giveaway!

  21. Amy

    Thankful for Sarah’s reminder this morning to see the messy and mundane with new eyes.

  22. Emily

    This is beautiful, and encouraging. I often find myself wondering where all these messes appear from, what a different perspective!

  23. Aimee

    So true!

  24. Manasi Prasad

    I could feel tears in my eyes while reading that lovely poem. it reminded me of all the times my little son was narrating his stories ….and I was only half listening, my mind preoccupied with the incomplete chore at hand. This poem reminds me to stop and listen not just with my ears but with my heart,wipe out that frown line from my forehead , laugh more with my two boys and yes…..those little toy cars scattered all over the floor aren’t that catastrophic after all!!

  25. Kate

    I’d love to win this!

  26. Kaytee

    Love the poem, and would LOVE the book. Sarah’s poems always seem to come straight from my own life. She makes me happy to realize the beautifully unbeautiful parts of being a mom.

  27. Lisa

    Through these roller coaster years of child rearing, it is “beautiful” to hear the story of our days through such poetry. Just reading your poem above has lighted my step today and I would grateful to have that feeling each day!

    Yours truly,
    small town mom

  28. Robin from Frugal Family Times

    Thank-you for that poem, Sarah. It’s hard to see the beauty in among the tyranny of to-do lists. I would savour your book of poetry like chocolate.

  29. Cheyenne

    Love this poem…so encouraging!

  30. Jessica

    Love this poem. It’s so beautiful (and relevant).

  31. RP

    Great reminder!

  32. Pat

    I am a lot older than you, and have raised 3 sons to be warm, caring adults. I remember the legos and the star wars figures, and the Ninja turtles! Your children’s childhood is a magical time, enjoy it – it passes way too quickly!!

  33. Lois

    Would love to read more of your work. Great poem. I am almost finished reading One Thousand Gifts so am learning to see the beauty and joy in the mundane. Thanks for that reminder today.

  34. Michelle Blanco

    Thank you for your awesome words of wisdom.

  35. Valarie

    Life with triplets…great reminder…organized chaos reminds me what a gift my children are. Thank you for “speaking” to me this morning.

  36. Amy

    Sarah, your poetry makes me take a breath. And on the exhale, I find myself saying ‘Yes.’ You write accessible poetry without compromising what poetry is, and by making it look easy, I know you are a woman of craft. I have a copy of your book in my amazon cart if I don’t win…and will probably order multiples so I can share, if I do. Thank you!

  37. Michelle

    I love this. We have tried to set up a new “everyone pitches in to clean” system at our house but no one except me seems to be doing it. I think these thoughts almost daily and I try to remember the point of the poem always (especially when I’m about to lose it).

  38. Angie

    That was really lovely!

  39. Micia Rogers

    You have captured my feelings exactly. I have become so frustrated over messes and “molting” from my kids that I thought I could burst! Yet, my kids usually makes me laugh, smile, and vow to have more patience, before it actually happens.

  40. Kristi Veitenheimer

    Great poem! Would love to win the book!!

  41. Laurie

    A good reminder of how fleeting this time in our life is. With young children and a running to-do list you real have to remind yourself to be in the moment.

  42. Aimee Greenman

    So real. So beautiful.

  43. Liz D.

    would love to read this book!

  44. Michelle

    Can I ever relate!!!!! But as I prepare to re-enter the workforce after time off with my children, I become nostalgic. One of my kids had a birthday this week and I feel the loss of my “little” guy. He is growing up and it is going way to quickly. We must slow ourselves down and enjoy the little moments.

  45. Anne Y.

    Love this! Reminds me of my life sometimes……just need to remember to slow down and enjoy it no matter what it looks like at times.

  46. Ann : )

    Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder

  47. Kris Encarnacion

    What a beautiful poem! I would love to win a copy of her book!

  48. mjb

    I love how poetry makes me slow down and appreciate words for their beauty.

  49. Anna M

    I love your eloquent and encouraging poetry! Thank you for sharing!

  50. Nancy

    Thank you, Sarah, for your words.

  51. Rebecca

    What is beautiful to me is hearing my daughter laugh, watching her grow, and spring flowers.

    Thanks for the beautiful poem. lol.

  52. Rashelle

    Love the poem. Sometimes I get lost in the chaos and need a breath of fresh air to bring me back to embracing the present moments. Simple moms blos has been that breath of fresh air. I now lean onto these blogs like a good friend, to pull me through the challenging times. Thank you.

  53. Alison Hill

    It simply made me smile. Thank you 🙂

  54. Becky

    What a beautiful poem about what is so ordinary! It can be so hard to find the wonderful in the day to day of raising little (and big) people who make messes EVERYWHERE! Thank you for the encouragement while I go attack the mess my boys call a bedroom 🙂

  55. Danielle

    Perfect description. I think so many moms will read that and think, “that’s me!” I don’t think I’ve read any good mom poetry before, but yours certainly fits the bill!

  56. Kristina Morris

    I would love this book of poetry!

  57. Michelle Read

    Love it!

  58. Julianne

    Precious poem…would love to win this book!

  59. Heather k M

    Great poem! Would love to win this book!

  60. sarah

    I would love to read more too! Thank you!

  61. Stacy

    so very real to my heart. Thanks.

  62. Tanya

    So beautiful and so real! I loved it.

  63. Sandy

    Truly spoken

  64. kristen

    simply beautiful. would love to read 🙂

  65. Jane

    Made me smile with memories of when my kids were little…..those days go by so fast. 🙂

  66. Rosemary

    Yes. This is my everyday. I could relate to a book like this 🙂

  67. Libby H

    Had the pleasure of going to college with Sarah and she is every bit as fantastic as she seems. Happy Poetry Month! Thanks for the chance!

  68. Nina

    OK I will admit at first when you started posting poetry I was a little put off…and now I love it because, Sarah’s poems especially, help me to know I am not alone…oh thank goodness someone else has piles around the house and hate being the only one in the home picking them up, in fact, the only one who seems to see them! with all the pictures on the internet that people post of their perfect clean homes I appreciate the glimpse, albeit mental, of one that more closely resembles mine.

  69. Sandy

    Awesome — count me in.

  70. Bren

    I’ve already bought & gifted 3 copies of this book — it’s *wonderful*!! Would love to win a copy and be able to gift it to yet another friend. I’ll be buying more copies regardless. Sarah – when is the next volume coming out??? 😀 (Tsh – thanks for continuing to introduce us to such wonderful people and resources.)

  71. Megan

    This poem makes me stop and think. Love the bear/table!

  72. Katie

    beautiful poem!

  73. Renee

    I love your poetry, Sarah! It really cuts to the heart and the reality of motherhood, and gives a good smile and laugh, too! Thank you for sharing your gift.

  74. Sylvia

    LOVE it! Beautiful and a great reminder of what is really important.

  75. Rebecca

    Thank you for the reminder of what seeing with imagination can be like. My imagination has gone to sleep lately, but this poem at least made it grunt and roll over!

  76. JoAnne

    Great poem! I’d love to win a copy of the book.

  77. Tina/@teenbug

    “The makeshift lenses
    were sticky and clouded
    and smelled suspiciously of banana.”

    Haha! LOVE.

  78. Heather R

    Would love to win! Thank you!

  79. Tina

    It IS a beautiful mess, isn’t it, …motherhood? *smile*

  80. Beth Crawford

    I love poetry and being a mom. I need this book, and even if I don’t win, I’m buying it!

  81. Lisa L.

    I love Sarah’s poetry, would love to have the book.

  82. Darlene M

    Love Sarah’s poem! Isn’t that so true with every Mom. I’m a Grandma now but I can still remember a time like that.Would love to win her book. Thank you.

  83. jaime armstrong

    Love it!

  84. Melissa Smith

    What a lovely poem. I needed that today!

  85. Heidi @ Decor & More

    Wonderful and lyrical… thank you for sharing. 🙂

  86. Alison

    What an amazing poem! With 3 daughters under 5, I struggle with the mess. Love her perspective.

  87. Jenn M.

    I love this poetry beyond words. The images stay with me and often make me laugh! Thank you!

  88. Stephanie S

    Love this! I’ve seen signs on Pinterest that say “Please Excuse the Mess. My Kids Are Busy Making Memories”. I think that is the same sentiment and a great reminder.

  89. Jenn M.

    I love your poetry–so beautiful in a funny way. Thank you!

  90. Sarah

    Thanks for the perspective!

  91. Cori

    Lovely truth here.

  92. alyssaz

    Based on this sample, it sounds like a breath of fresh air!

  93. Tara

    Such a cool poem! Hope I win a copy of this book!

  94. Kara

    I love this poem. It made me think of how annoying all that Easter grass that the grandmas put in my daughter’s Easter basket was. It was everywhere and I was about to outlaw it permanently, but my daughter had so much fun for a week! It’s all about perspective!

  95. Jamie

    I’ve taken one wobbly toddler step into the world of motherhood. I’m sure this book would be a good way to cope 🙂

  96. Alissa

    If I don’t win a copy, could I perhaps win someone’s beautiful voice reading me these poems on constant loop in my house? I could use the imagery engrained in my brain. Lovely, lovely, Sarah!

  97. Julie

    i hope i win too!

  98. Kellie

    What a blessing! Just this morning I declined to have interstate inlaws over for dinner because my house is a mess (with 4 kids it seems it’s never anything else!) and I couldn’t face the tidy up. Today I’d rather wrangle our 4 kids at a restaurant than have people over. But I’ve thought about it and invited them for dinner on Monday, this is our reality right now and I just have to be OK with however things turn out on the day. Thanks for the reminder that it’s normal to feel the frustrations, but we don’t have to let that dictate our response. xx

  99. teresa

    Thanks for the opportunity to have more poetry in my life!

  100. Sara

    What a timely poem for me!! That truly spoke to me!

  101. Jessica

    Oh I so needed this poem today. My back went out this morning and the chaos of the day is laying all around me. Thank you! The book sounds great

  102. Krissa

    I would love to win! What a great poem!

  103. Kim

    I was going through emails and read a post from another blogger I follow, and she also had a poem from this book posted. Then I read your excerpt. Would love a copy of this book!

  104. Kimberley

    My past reaction to stepping on the dreaded random Lego is gone! Thank you for a beautiful vision of what that stinking random Lego means to my child.

  105. Bethany

    I love this! So glad that someone is writing poetry about the ins and outs of motherhood – and beautiful poetry at that.

  106. Sharon

    I adore poetry. Thank you. Helps to keep it all in perspective 😉

  107. sheila

    Molting on the way to the kitchen? awesome.

  108. Laura

    This is one of my favorites — what a fabulous writer she is!

  109. denise

    What a wonderful poem!

  110. Keerthi

    Beautiful! Would love to read more!

  111. marilyn

    The poem was beautiful – balm to my weary soul – picking up after toddlers all day.

  112. Becky

    Great poem…and reminder/reality check! Very timely for me as well. Thanks for sharing and for the chance to win!

  113. Jane

    Beautiful imagery!

  114. Marci

    Lovely poem. Thanks for the giveaway.

  115. BV

    Looking forward to reading the book!

  116. Angie

    Made me smile!

  117. Juliet Fajardo

    Thanks for though poem, it helps encourage me through the day with my little bundle of energy.

  118. GJ L

    Enjoyed your poem and could relate to every line with humor and delight!
    Sure hope to read more of your writing and win this book!

    God’s Blessings to you on this April day~!

  119. Heidi

    I just came home from the poetry awards luncheon given by our local women’s group, where my daughter was honored for her poem. Would love to share your book with her!

  120. Stacey E

    Great way to end the week. Reminds me to focus less on the mess and more on the beautiful. Thanks! 🙂

  121. Michelle

    Beautiful! Much needed too!

  122. Jessie

    I was drawn in by this poem, I would love to win and read more!

  123. Kelli

    This book looks like an amazing read!

  124. Cara

    I found Sarah’s poetry through this site and became a fan– it is so lovely. The book is on my wish list. 🙂

  125. Emily

    So true and thought provoking…I’d love to read more!

  126. megan

    Her beautiful work has such honesty. So very beautiful.

  127. Lisa

    What a beautiful poem! And yes, I’d love to win your new book 🙂

  128. Diana

    Would love to read this book!

  129. Jaime Hill

    Thank you. I needed that.

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