And I said, ‘What about a ring from Tiffany’s?’

We all know that I love jewelry and, like most people, attach a certain meaning to each piece I wear. Whether it’s a gift from a family member, friend, boyfriend or something I chose and created for myself, knowing that each piece has a story behind it — even if it’s only significant to me — is important.

So last fall, thick in the middle of a rather low point in recent memory, I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to visit California with some girlfriends last November. We all remember I was feeling low, dejected, bored and listless — frustrated that my life had gotten “off track.” Heading to Los Angeles (from my home in Maryland) was a really, really uncharacteristic thing for me to do, but it seemed like the right call. My hands shook as I purchased the plane ticket and asked for time off at work, but the gnawing urge to get away was too strong for me to ignore.

Once in L.A., my friends and I ambled along Wilshire Boulevard and looked at all the pretty storefronts full of shiny things. After window shopping for most of the afternoon, my breath caught as one of the ladies suggested detouring into Tiffany & Co. With my scuffed flip-flops and flyaway hair, I wasn’t exactly feeling like a member of the “elite” clientele — but I went in, anyway.

And when the girls started trying on rings, all of us admiring the way the silver flashed in the California light, I tried some on, too.

And when my friends began to earnestly ask the cost of some of the rings and share meaningful looks with me, seeming to ask me a question, I smiled back.

We all bought rings at Tiffany that day — something I would never have imagined myself doing. The silver band with tiny “xoxo” in a repeating pattern fits perfectly on the middle finger of my right hand, its home for the past four months. I wear it every single day and, despite having rarely worn a ring on that finger before, I now feel naked without it. Take a peek at any photo of me and you’ll probably see it — just a flash of silver on my hand.

Every time I look down, I remind myself of everything I want from life — and how I’m going to get it. It’s become a symbol of everything unpredictable and glorious about living, and helps me remember to take risks and step outside of what’s comfortable and familiar. Because I went to California, 3,000 miles away! I healed my broken heart! I kept living and moving and breathing!

Nothing could mean more to me than an expensive ring I own . . . and bought myself. In the most cliche sense imaginable, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

‘My thoughts create my world’

IMG_7526Since discovering Megan McCafferty’s Jessica Darling series in the spring, I’ve made absolutely no secret of my complete obsession with the novels. There’s something so serious, tender, and honest about them — I connected with Jessica and Marcus’s love story so much more than any other I’ve ever read! And since it was carried out over the course of five (big) books, it’s a good thing I was totally digging it. (Oh, I so was.)

Of all the wonderful passages and quotable quotes in the books, one really stood out to me above all others: “My thoughts create my world.” The saying first appears — and becomes important — in Charmed Thirds, the third book in the series, when Marcus Flutie gives Jessica her Christmas present.

We made gifts for each other. … Marcus is friends with a silversmith — yes, a silversmith — who taught him how to make a ring out of a quarter. He somehow soldered a message for me in teeny script: ‘My thoughts create my world.’

Jess takes the message to be some sort of commentary on Marcus’s burgeoning Buddhist ideals and lifestyle, and she can’t help but toss the phrase back at him when, shortly thereafter, they get into a huge argument about Marcus leaving town (again) and embarking on a journey of “silent meditation” — meaning no talking to Jess, or anyone. Bewildered and crushed that she’s going to lose him all over again, Jessica says:

I am so sick of your Buddhist wisdom! It’s bumper-sticker wisdom! T-shirt wisdom! My thoughts create my world. I’m so tired of being scrutinized through your goddamn third eye!

The ring is unceremoniously flung back at him, where Marcus safely tucks it away in a pocket. Time passes with Jessica still thinking about that tiny silver ring . . . and Marcus’s message (and desire to be devoted) to her. Memories flood back as she speaks with a mentor several years later.

“You have the eye of a reporter and the heart of a novelist,” he [Mac] said. “But you have much to learn, Ms. Darling. I’ll make sure you don’t throw away your gifts.”

For someone like Mac to believe so deeply in my potential, well, it nearly made me weep with gratitude. Even now, I don’t think he has a clue just how much his words have done for me. …

“What are your thoughts?”

“My thoughts?” I replied, before I even realized what I was saying. “My thoughts create my world.”

Mac sat up in his seat. He scrunched his curls with his hands, perplexed. “Who said that?”

I told him the truth.

“Oh, just someone I used to know,” I said, stroking the naked skin on my middle finger.

And even more time goes by before our heroine and hero are reunited — and the ring is returned to her, kept safely by Marcus the entire time they were apart. When he returns it to Jessica in Fourth Comings, it accompanies something enormous: a proposal.

You chewed on the leather to undo the knot that usually rested on the nape of your neck. You removed the ring from the necklace, took my hand, and put it on the fourth finger of my left hand.

“This always belonged to you.”

. . . All that time, you wore the ring, my ring, around your neck. You wore it in my absence, and then after our reunion. You wore it knowing that it would one day return to its intended, when the moment was just right.

Lately, I’ve been looking for my own “right moment” — a sign that great things are just around the corner and, as John Mayer croons, that “good love is on the way.” A friend recently showed me a gorgeous ring she bought for herself after parting ways with her longtime boyfriend, and I was touched at what it obviously meant to her. It was a sign of strength, a sign that she’s holding her heart close in preparation for giving it to the right person . . . at the right moment.

And I knew I needed my own reminder that I’m doing the same — and that I’m the one controlling my happiness, and the one responsible for my joy.

So I knew just what I needed.

My ring is silver, like Jessica’s, and also bears Marcus Flutie’s immortal words: “My thoughts create my world.” It arrived this morning, custom made by Samantha Bird of Nest In Bloom Design, and I couldn’t possibly love it more! I’ve slipped it onto my own ring finger, where I imagine it will stay for quite some time.

After all, it’s just the sort of mantra I’ve been looking for! Because I’m writing a powerful, moving, life-altering and emotional “coming of age” story, too — my own.