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The Good Bones Lens

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

a rustic wood floor

We believe names are important. They cast vision and set direction. Each of our three kids has an intentionally chosen name that wasn’t just cute (no shade if that was your only requirement!). And choosing a name for our small business was no small feat.

I (Steph) have always loved poetry. When I was 8 and couldn’t fall asleep, I wrote haiku in a notebook to try to keep my mind off scary things. And one date night over 7 years ago, I read Eli so many poems to try to teach him how to write a poem himself. We laughed a lot that night and eventually, Eli kind of figured out how many poems turn at the end to have a reflective moment (since then, he has taken off as a writer, even if it’s not mostly poetry!). One of my favorite poems of the past few years is Maggie Smith’s viral poem “Good Bones” from 2017.

“Good Bones” by Maggie Smith

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.

Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine

in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,

a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways

I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least

fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative

estimate, though I keep this from my children.

For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.

For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,

sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world

is at least half terrible, and for every kind

stranger, there is one who would break you,

though I keep this from my children. I am trying

to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,

walking you through a real shithole, chirps on

about good bones: This place could be beautiful,

right? You could make this place beautiful.

What I love so much in this poem is the turn. We want our kids, our friends, our families, and ourselves, to believe that the world has good things going on underneath everything horrible and ugly. We so desperately want to believe, “You could make this place beautiful.” We need that to be true.

When you walk through a house or apartment, you envision what could be. There are always flaws. Sometimes small and sometimes large. But the belief that "You could make this place beautiful" drives every person who signs on a place. To uncover the cozy nooks, find the peaceful space, and see how it becomes yours.

Uncover the good

So as a couple, we’ve tried to push ourselves to see the world through this “good bones” lens. That we “could make this place beautiful” because there truly is beauty here to uncover. Because, as Catherine Price says in The Power of Fun, “Your life is what you pay attention to.”

We want to pay attention to the good bones.

We’re not talking about toxic positivity. We don’t have to–and shouldn’t–ignore the bad. Call your Congresspeople, have hard but necessary conversations, fight for justice, and weep when it’s time to weep. But what we have learned through our short years aligns with what Price says. We will notice what we are looking for.

Terrible things in the world are easy to see. The mainstream media and social media have made sure we see more bad content in a week than an average person 100 years ago would have seen in a few years. So even when it’s hard, we want to find the good bones, build around them, and we invite you to do the same.

Ready to uncover the good with us?

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