Do you remember the 1998 movie You’ve Got Mail, when Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly were both so darn PSYCHED to read their email?

For all their differences, the characters had this in common: They loved logging onto AOL, hearing those dulcet dial-up tones and the voice saying, “You’ve Got Mail!”

And after they deleted the spam, typically they only had ONE real email waiting for them.

I woke up with that image in my mind the other day: An near-empty inbox.

Just one message that really meant something.

In one sense, the one-message inbox is obsolete. For most of us who work online, email is an integral tool. And yet, there’s something about the metaphor of a one-message inbox that feels important, even compelling.

Do you know what I mean? Amidst the hustle and bustle, have you felt that longing for simplicity? Do you wish for clarity of purpose?

Or does the thought of a one-email inbox scare you?

Either way: Me too.

So often we believe that gaining clarity involves adding MORE. Do this, buy that, master this, learn that.

But what if the most effective route is to subtract? What if it’s about letting go of the layers that have built up around the clarity in our core?


Thanks to a terrifying nightmare, I woke up on Monday morning with a tremendous sense of clarity. In the nightmare our healthy baby girl was – there’s no good way to put this – suddenly no longer living.

This is my mind’s Worst Possible Thing. When I woke up at 4am, horror pressed on my body like a physical force. I did the thing we all do, mentally chanting, “It was just a bad dream, just a bad dream, not real, not real, not real.”

It took a long time to fall asleep again. In that interval, I became aware that while I felt awful, I also felt very focused.

The usual stressors and worries that might arise at the start of a work week had fallen away. My entire being was swept up in wishing for our baby to be alive.

Wishing for what was already so.

The nightmare served a positive purpose. As I moved through the Monday morning routine with Baby Girl, I was fully present. I held her. I changed her diaper, wiped applesauce off of her face, and pulled her out of the cat’s water dish.

And I understood on a visceral level that these repetitive, relentless tasks – the beautiful drudgery of being a parent or caregiver – were not distractions from my “real” work.

They have purpose.
They have meaning.
They are all part of a single (albeit really long) message that I’m sending our little one.

It’s the same message I hear whenever I “log on” spiritually – that is, when I drop in, get still, and listen. It is the “one real email” from the Universe.

To be sure, we need to sift through the spam to find it. We need to set aside the distractions and heal the traumas. We need to pay attention to what resonates, what connects us to our core.

In case you’ve forgotten to check lately, the “one real email” goes like this.

Dearest one,

You are safe.
You are loved.
Don’t be afraid.
Everything is for you.

PS – I love you more than you know.


What’s the one message you most need to hear today? Join the conversation in the comments below!

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  1. Dorothy M Copps April 27, 2020 at 10:21 PM - Reply

    I haven’t read one of your posts for awhile. Not sure why not! I enjoyed reading about your finding clarity after a devastating dream.

    take care and love, Dorothy

    • Caroline McGraw April 28, 2020 at 2:11 AM - Reply

      Dorothy Copps! It is always a delight to “see” you. Thank you for being someone who communicates the message of the “one real email” just by being herself. Sending you a very big hug. <3

  2. Tam April 28, 2020 at 3:47 PM - Reply

    All the chills in the best best way. Thank you! ♥️

    • Caroline McGraw April 28, 2020 at 4:33 PM - Reply

      You’re so welcome, Tam. I’m glad to hear that it resonated with you, that means a lot. <3

  3. Bridget April 28, 2020 at 8:11 PM - Reply

    I hate that nightmare, and the one where I lose spouse and kids all at once in a car accident (or something). It is amazing how it can make you focus though. I’ve been working on the digital clutter in my inbox, and the physical clutter in my work areas. Maybe it is time to work on the spiritual/mental clutter too.

    • Caroline McGraw April 28, 2020 at 11:08 PM - Reply

      Oh Bridget, I’m sorry to hear that you know exactly what it’s like to have that nightmare! I agree, it really can clarify one’s priorities.

      That’s exciting to hear that you are on a clutter cleanse! Sounds like you are making space, and that is a powerful act of faith.

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