1/10/22 Does She Know?

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This poem is for all of the women in my life who make it a little easier to breathe … to laugh … to cry … to be myself. If you’re wondering if you are one of the exquisite souls who inspired it – you are.

Does she know?

 . . .

She is a wonder

an apothecary of magic

weaving words that draw

and settle

and heal 

places of your spirit 

you didn’t even know were raw

until her brilliant stardust of diction

falls into the cracks

mixing with molten hope until 

you become, once more,

a priceless paragon 

liquid gold filling you … 

making you stronger than you ever were

before you realized you were broken

She is not afraid of scars

but welcomes them in … 

tracing their storylines –

drawing silver strands forth 

crisscrossing beautiful strings of prose 

until all that remains 

is a dreamcatcher of renewed wishes

She is a wonder

the embodiment of all that is good

and worthy

and precious

breathing life into lost dreams

and lost dreamers alike

She is a wonder

a curator of fragile memories

a keeper of secrets too heavy to hold alone

a kindred confidant 

a borrowed gift of heaven 

. . . 

Does she know? 

12.31.21 Twenty-Two Things to Look For

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“I’m going to make everything around me beautiful – that will be my life.”

Elsie de Wolfe

I can’t believe I am sitting only hours away from 2022. I can’t believe it because I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing one year ago today, and honestly … I don’t feel like much changed in 2021. Sometimes, I expect more from myself than what I accomplish and it makes me feel ho-hum, and then I see a sky like this one … like the one I was blessed enough to witness a few weeks ago and I think maybe, sometimes – I’ve missed the point entirely.

I’ll bet there are a million moments in my day that are this brilliant, this bold, but in my search for whatever I think I’m supposed to be trying, or doing, or achieving: I miss them. After thinking about it, I don’t want to focus on goals or self-improvement this year so much as I want to focus on twenty-two things to look for and appreciate every day. What about you?

Twenty-Two Things to Look For

  1. The wide-open sky, filled with sun, and storms, and wishes
  2. The smile someone is waiting to share with me
  3. Eye-contact with whomever I’m given the opportunity to speak to
  4. The comfort of familiar places
  5. The recognition of a precious memory in a photograph I’ve framed
  6. The opportunity to make someone feel important
  7. God in the details
  8. The sound of nature making itself known
  9. The moment given to me in which I am allowed to dream
  10. The gratitude I should feel for my body
  11. Hope on the smallest and grandest of scales
  12. The love that I wake up and go to sleep beside
  13. The hug someone (most likely me) has been aching for
  14. The ability to fall into my imagination freely, at will
  15. Words that I hear, read, and feel
  16. The attention I am given when someone listens to me
  17. The positions of wife, mom, daughter and friend that I am able to adopt in a single day
  18. Miracles abounding in plain sight
  19. The moments I am needed
  20. Something that makes me genuinely laugh
  21. Prayers of my past coming true
  22. The chance to get it right again tomorrow

12.20.21 He Said, She Said 2021

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Years and years ago now, I had what might’ve been my best idea ever. I decided to write down all of the funny things my kids said throughout the year and compile them into a, “He Said, She Said,” on my Christmas cards. Well, life being life, my Christmas cards will be late this year, but I DID finish my favorite part from my favorite people … my son and daughter. I hope this peek into their, “Merry and Bright,” personalities makes your holiday a little lighter. Love and peace to you and yours. Remember that heaven is never farther than a prayer away.

12.8.21 Chasing Beauty

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“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” 

― Marcus Aurelius

A few days ago, I was driving home – and when I crested a nearby hill, I immediately sucked in a breath of complete and utter awe. Before me, hung low in the almost-twilight sky, was the most brilliant, pink setting sun I can ever remember seeing. It was unearthly and huge. Foreign and heart-achingly familiar. Stark and arresting and perfect. For a moment, I could do nothing but hold my breath and dwell in the space of magnificence.

The experience left me breathless. Transfixed. It was the kind of beauty that stopped me in my tracks … that overwhelmed me to the point of still, and I wanted to stay, to live in that frozen moment of aesthetic peace, and beauty. I wonder what life would be like if we, in our hurried humanity, spent a spell more time in search of breathless beauty. If we contemplated the choreography of the stars … took the time to translate the sigh of a breeze … or analyzed the crystalline points of a snowflake – how much more in tune might we become?

I, myself, would like to become a chaser of beauty – an explorer of moments visible to the eye but often hidden between the time it takes to look up, and the passing of a would-be opportunity. In the case that you are a kindred spirit, and would also like to collect memories of breathless beauty, I invite you to an inward journey of shifting your focus … of softening your eyes and opening your attention to what awaits.

Below are five places to search for and catalog beauty. Remember it is always a thing most precious to behold, not take. After each starting point, reflect on the brand of beauty you discovered, and let it transfix you into your own moment of still. 

  1. Sky. Glance up, into, and beyond. Scan the heavens and trace the patterns of lacy, see-through clouds. Follow the dense emotion of plumb and navy storms as they swell. Catch the glimmer of every constellation you can name, and assign a wish to. Study the expanse of endless possibilities above. 

2.   Earth. Listen. Look. Feel. From soil to snow – leafless, enamel glazed branches to

      thickly dressed pines and petal-laden trails – appreciate each collective piece of the mosaic.

      Notice where the Earth and horizon line kiss … where she blushes sunset-crimson … where

      she blooms, and climbs, verdant green … where she settles and chills opalescent white. 

3.   Water. Let every shade of blue wash over you. From the frozen depth and hush of ancient ice

      sheets, quietly standing guard of history’s secrets, to the tumult and chaotic allure of the

      restless, rushing sea … there is resplendence in every tone. Call forth the river’s impatient, 

      rock strewn path. Draw near enough to appreciate the ripple-free glass of a still lake’s

      surface. Dive into a dream, come up for air, and dive again. 

4.   Humanity. Watch and be amazed at the variance of what it means to be human. A myriad of 

      faces, perceptions, expressions, and echoes of generational legacies: we are wonderful,

      unique, and unattainably complex. Take time to meditate on each freckle and scar. Consider

      what parts of one’s inward-self are visible in the curve of a smile or the lingering hold of a 

      particular set of fingers laced with your own. Beautiful knows no bounds in form or feature.  

5.   Emotion. Don’t try to control which feeling comes when. Just feel. Don’t try to explain, or 

      theorize, or determine … just experience, contend with, and endure. Examine love, even

      when it’s painful or deep. Review hope, and its divine, endless supply. Drench yourself in 

      sadness, when it has meaning – and anger, when it is justified. Then come back to love once 

      more … for the incredibly simple, and impossibly complex truth that love is always the

      point. 

11.29.21 “Hope Spots”

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I was listening to a friend of mine, Dr. John Bruno, give a presentation recently about the state of coral reefs. He is a remarkable human who has given his life to inspecting and protecting this fragile, yet tenacious Earth of ours. John would call himself a Marine Ecology professor at UNC … I would call him a warrior. His studies have taken him around the globe to study the state of the reefs. In a matter of a few decades, the seafloor has reduced from 50-15% … and yet … stay with me … breathe – Dr. Bruno said that one thing scientists look for are, “Hope Spots.”

This term was coined by Dr. Sylvia Earle, and while I know that they are places in the natural world where nature is thriving and restoration is audaciously possible … I got lost in the beauty of the term and how it translated in my mind.

What if we, flawed and broken, fragile and fractured humans that we are – what if we focused on our own personal hope spots? Where would they be? Are they external places in which we reconnect with our former, stronger selves … or could they be internal, only a memory away? When I heard about hope spots, these were immediately the kinds of questions that came to my mind and skipped and stuttered across my subconscious.

After a great deal of reflection, I think, for me, hope spots are everywhere. They are anywhere I can feel myself coming back to life. There is one in the curve of my daughter’s smile … another in the twinkle of my son’s eyes. There is one that can only be found in the palm of my husband’s outstretched hand. One that resides in my mom’s voice, and another in my dad’s arms. They are in my scars, those I still see, and those I still feel. They are anywhere I let the light in, floating on the faith of a prayer. Skipping on the whim of a wish.

What about you? Would you be willing to share a spot? Maybe someone will be able to find one of their own from your words. Soon our world will be so littered with brilliant bits of hope, that an incandescent path will form and light the way for us all. It could happen … expect a miracle and you just might find one.

So what do you say? Hope with me?

Elle

11.11.21 Veteran’s Day

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Whenever I teach my students about the literary element of symbolism, I tell them that the American flag is like my wedding ring, and that it symbolizes a promise, not perfection. I tell them that even though I have this ring on my finger, and even though I love my husband, there are days that we mess up … days that we hurt each other with our words, or our too-busy actions – but it doesn’t minimize the promise of the ideal. Wearing the ring on my left hand reminds me, visually, every day, to keep trying, to keep loving, albeit imperfectly. Our flag should do the same. I am more than well aware that our country is imperfect, that sometimes, lots of times, those in power do not honor her as they should, but I also know that this flag symbolizes a hope for greater things than man can master. Just as love is personified in my ring, hope and justice are personified in her stars and stripes. And today, I honor all the brave people who choose to fight for what this flag symbolizes, not the inherent flaws, but the intentional desire to see America rise and represent all who choose to love her.

11.2.21 Wander Home

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Every so often,

but never often enough

I let my mind wander –

and where, and when

it goes here, and there

I wonder if my riddled, tangled thoughts

might someday collide

in a flash of brilliance

in a cataclysm of darkness

in a lazy, hazy in-between.

Every so often,

but never often enough

I let my mind wander –

and like nimble fingers sifting through a catalog of thoughts

I allow the well-worn edged memories to surface first

deserving,

once again,

my time?

Attention?

Intention?

Just like that, my thoughts are re-rooted

Do we always return home?

Do even the subconscious, ethereal parts of ourselves seek the familiar?

The comfortable?

Every so often,

but never often enough

I let my mind wander –

and I wonder … if I might see you again then,

and there,

just like I always do – 

just like home

10.17.21 Gratitude Pumpkin

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“At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” – Albert Schweitzer

A few weeks ago, someone sent me an idea they found of making a, “gratitude pumpkin,” for the season. The premise is that each day you put something you’re grateful for on the rind to decorate it. I bought a pumpkin for my classroom, and every day, when the students come into the room, they are able to write one thing they are grateful for. Within a day, I was so blessed to see that my name was on the pumpkin. Isn’t it amazing how one little ounce of gratitude can re-awaken your sense of place?

So how about this … let’s create a virtual pumpkin challenge! Please take a moment to share who or what you are grateful for. Share your moment of gratitude with the person who needs to hear it most. Ask them what they’re grateful for! Imagine the ripple effect! Imagine the spark.

10.10.21 Sometimes, I Miss You

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“Every time I look at you, you’re different.”

– Mrs. Foster, Tuck Everlasting

Sometimes

even when you’re right before me

even when I can see your smile, and all your attention is directly on me

I miss you

Even then –

because I don’t only know you and love you now

but then too

and I miss you then

and there

In the places between wishes and daydreams,

when your tiny fingers would catch my pinky and hold tight

I miss your un-prompted giggles and the way your hiccups frustrated you

I miss your mis-pronunciations and sidewalk-chalk smudges

I miss your “Let’s race,” and “So big,” and “I love you more,” words

spoken in a voice that is the same

and yet so different

I love you now

more than I ever have,

but less than I will even tomorrow

YOU

in your cleverness

in your silliness

in your wisdom

and beauty

and intelligence

YOU in your everything that makes me proud

I am grateful for every freckle earned dancing in the sunshine with you …

every smile fought for and given freely …

every fall-asleep hug, every on and off-key song, every rhyme and reasonless adventure

But even after all of that

even in all you will still become … and all I hope to still be for you –

Is it okay to be honest and say

that sometimes,

I love you so much …

that I miss you?

9.30.21 Where Colors Burn

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“And what once felt so predictable –
a canopy of breeze-tossed green
is now an explosion of brilliance …
colors that burn just to look at …”

If Fall were a woman, in the words of the eminent Jane Austen, “She would certainly be a fearsome thing to behold.” Imagine all of that brilliance … all of that passion … burning in one spirit, lighting up the world as quick as a spark and as memorable as the impression of fireworks’ afterglow. How I hope to hold a fraction of that light – that vivacity.

Bella Grace Issue 29 is filled to the brim with all things captivating. I was excited to see a throwback piece from Grace Notes of mine, “Fall is Made for Reinvention.” Please take some time this fall to listen slowly, love deeply, and soak in all the places where colors burn.

Wind chimes and wishes,

Elle Harris