11.26.22 Gratitude

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“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy

To be grateful

honestly grateful

is not as familiar a posture as I wish it were

I say the right words

“I am thankful for …”

but do I live it?

Do I truly dwell in not just satisfaction

in temperance and tolerance

but actual gratitude?

Mind over matter – yes.

Logic wins. I am healthy. I am happy. I love.

But if I’m being completely honest

(as is rare for me to even be with myself)

I could work on my attitude of gratitude

Sometimes my prayers become a disjointed list

instead of an intentional offering

Sometimes my “thanks” are bottled and boxed …

saying sweet tidings

without animation

without spirit, or life

And I’m sorry.

Because this gift I’ve been given,

this life and these people

these days and relationships and serendipitous encounters

they deserve more

I’m ashamed to admit it might take me some time

this rearranging my posture –

I believe there might not be anything more important

than to saturate myself in appreciation

ordinary and otherwise

The brilliance of a sunrise and the miracle of one more breath

should be regraded with equal measures of requited adoration

I don’t want to say,

“I’m grateful,”

I want to remain in a state of being so

regardless

11.9.22 Cliche

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“I’m a cliche,”

she told me through her tears

she told me through mine 

I took in her tired eyes …

too tired to cry

I took in her straight-edge shoulders …

strong from the weight they’d proven they would continue to bear

I wonder if telling someone new hurts worse

than keeping it inside

Do the spinning, recurrent, stuck-on-play thoughts

pause 

when shared – giving peace to the weary,

world-beaten mind that must endure them?

Or does saying them out loud

again

open just-barely healed scars?

I hated that all I could do was listen

because listening doesn’t feel like enough

And yet the set of her chin 

the clench in her jaw

told me she was not waiting for the right words

(she knew no one would ever have)

she was not waiting for anyone to fix

or heal

or save

Listening would never be enough

but being heard … 

was 

Somewhere between the “I do’s”

and “I don’t anymore,”

between the “Until death do us part’s” 

and “I’ve got nothing left,” 

lay the infinitesimal

(albeit shattered) 

portion of hope

waiting to be stumbled upon in the dark 

And even though the dark remains

ink-stained as the document signed to revoke a promise that

paper should never be strong enough to change –

she’s going to make it

she is

Undeniably.

Somehow, slowly, 

crawling will become standing

on her own precious feet

on her own grounded terms

Pinpricks of light will begin to shimmer and wink into existence 

wish-worthy as a constellation

Feather by broken feather

her wings will knit together

her thoughts will calm, and quiet

and she will find peace 

among the pieces of what was

Though she can’t know it yet

she will

she is not a cliche

she is not a tragedy

she is a phoenix

and my but I wonder at the beauty that will be born

from her ashes

10.24.22 Good Witch

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I’d like to be a good witch

If magic were a choosing

And brew and bottle lovely things

To lend for life’s perusing

From gentle breeze to inkling

And wisest wish to whim

I’d sprinkle pleasant daydreams

Filling stardust to the brim

Then with whispered words of musing

I’d find ways to charm the day

And leave some room for Fate and Chance

To twirl and run and play

Then when the day’s bright mischief ends

When sun succumbs to stars

Before the dark could take its claim,

I’d catch sunbeams in jars

And whenever one felt lonely

or they hit a snag or glitch

I’d help and soothe, brew joy and hope

If I could be a witch

10.2.22 Your Company

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Sometimes I think you found a secret passage way into my soul –

a back door

or an open window 

that no one else took the trouble to look for

or check on … 

to know for certain that there was a part of me

that wasn’t actually locked

or closed, so much as un-searched for. 

How did you know to do that?

To go there? 

To find me? 

How did you know those were the questions that needed asking?

Those were the silences I needed to stretch in, 

the pauses between conversations that gave me the space

I didn’t know I required,

to open up.

You surprise me.

Still.

And perhaps that is the grandest gift –

the key that you are to me … 

No matter how many words are said or unsaid,

no matter how many days and weeks and months

lapse between our conversations,

I am always still looking forward to “next.” 

Because I know there’s more of me to find with you,

beside your quiet heart

inside your busy mind

with or without reason or proof of anything 

apart from my liking myself more

for your company.

9.18.22 And Then, There’s Bella

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My favorite thing about being a writer is hearing back from readers. I adore knowing which lines transcended the page and found their way into a heart, or a mind, or a memory. I love imagining my words as tiny, gossamer threads, weaving themselves in and out of the consciousnesses of others. When someone shares that something is, “exactly” how they feel, my heart alights at the wonder of it all … at this shared experience of life, and the living of it.

And then, there’s Bella. Bella Grace comes in all her majesty, robed in the scent of ink on thick paper, and I dwell in the magical reality that this publication has linked me to so many. So many minds. So many stories. So many effervescent opportunities to merge one story, one life, to another. This fall, I wrote, “Dear Life, You are Not What I Planned,” for Issue 33. I really, really hope you have the chance to pick up a copy and let me know if any lines crossed your conscious and settled there.

“Whether playing hands with Fate or Destiny, or crafting conversations with God, you, Life, lead us on a path written in invisible ink.”

Please share a line that resonates.

All my love,

Elle

9.11.22 Alternate Reality

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“I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?” 

― John Lennon

I’ve heard it said, 

that everyone has a different version of reality –

because no two people can live 

even the same experience

the same way

Some people would call this a lonely thought

because if true …

then no one can ever understand you

fully

But the way I see it,

it’s a blessing, really,

because if no one else can ever experience what you do

the way that you do …

how can you be wrong?

Or less?

Or not enough?

If what you experience in this life is yours alone, 

then you, 

precious one,

are a limited edition –

the rarest of finds, 

a treasure who can never be deemed insignificant.

How might the world transform

(glitter-bright with blameless, shameless curiosity)

if people could accept this about one another?

How might this life awaken,

dream-drenched with charm and adoration

if we could accept this about ourselves?

9.3.22 An Inch Away From Forty

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“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of the people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”

– Sophia Loren

So this week, I am going to turn forty … and like anyone approaching a milestone, it has caused me to reflect a great deal. Upon my rumination, I’m ashamed to admit that I am still riddled with insecurities. I think it’s easy, as we gloss over one another’s lives by an Instagram scroll or Facebook feed, to imagine that everyone’s got it all together. That our days consist of nothing but the polished, filtered photos and bright string of smiles tying one story to the next. It’s not often we get to hear the truth of what complexes lurk beneath the surface of each other’s digitized reality. So, I figured a bit of honesty was in order.

INSECURITIES:

I worry about my accomplishments, and how much farther I think they should be – whether or not my writing will reach the right audience.

I worry about my waistline, and my hairline, and my wrinkles. I am afraid I won’t be able to see past them, and then I am ashamed of myself and my vanity.

I worry I’m not smart enough.

Or relevant enough.

Or interesting enough.

I think about all the things I should make time for, but haven’t, or know I probably won’t.

I’m not great at cooking, or plants, or fixing things.

I wonder if I’ll ever feel like I’m “there,” like I’ve arrived … or if I’ll always be striving, and searching.

It’s a lot – enough to keep my mind spinning and reeling and honestly, I think I thought that by now, I’d be a lot closer to resolved on most of them. But then, I think about the three things I actually am secure on.

My faith.

My family.

My friends.

And just like that … the litany of my previous, ever-growing list doesn’t seem so daunting. There might be a lot that, at forty, I still don’t have figured out, but I know, imperfect and insecure as I am, there are a few things that I do.

8.15.22 Thirteen

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Dear Thirteen,

I remember you. You, who was full of sugar, and spice, and salt, and sass, and lots and lots of questions. Yes … I remember you well indeed. You were kind and cruel and curious. You taught me a great deal about myself, and others, and the world, and my temporary place in it. And while I might not have the “right” to ask you, I am going to do so anyway. Do you think that you … the queen of the in-between, neither here nor there, unsure and awkward – could just be awesome for her instead? That just this once, instead of lessons learned and humbled by experience, you could be only sweet? Only gentle?

I’d really appreciate it because, you see, this girl here? She means the world to me. More than the world, actually. And believe it or not, whether or not she should … she already feels too much. She finds a way to absorb the beauty around her, but also the pain. She wears the weight of the world on her tiny shoulders without being asked to carry it. Compassion should come with a badge of honor, in which case, she’d already have a purple heart. So go easy, Thirteen. She is bright, and brilliant … a tiny star in a world that challenges her light, but does not extinguish it.

Be kind to her.

Be soft.

Please.

8.3.22 The Art of Dreaming

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“I dream. Sometimes I think that’s the only right thing to do.” 
― Haruki Murakami

Teach me the art of dreaming …
of the spaces and places between intentional thought and wonder
Share with me the masterpiece of mastering peace – where it comes from, where it hides
and why
Enlighten me on the ability to wish resolutely
with honesty and conviction
aspiration converging with inclination
until there is nothing left of me
but belief
Give me the talent of trust
of knowing that not needing to know is enough
faith without agenda or vindication
hope in the raw
Teach me the art of dreaming …
with reckless abandon
with relentless pursuit
with passion

and purpose
and implausible serenity

too tranquil to fathom too perfect to question

7.23.22 Fifteen

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“She did not believe he could have really gone, because for her, to leave the person you loved was impossible.” Jodi Lynn Anderson

Dear boy,

Today is your birthday, and I am on the other side of the world. I have never, in all glorious 15 years of you, been away from you for as long, as far, and as monumental an occasion as the day God gave you to me. My, but love hurts.

Even though I’m not with you, there are a few things you should know … fifteen things actually.

1. Your kindness humbled and astounds me.

2. I love the way your mischief smile trails a wake of dimples across your face. No one has a chance against that smile.

3. Your passion for people is inspiring. You make others comfortable just by being you!

4. I love the way you love your sister. Fiercely. Protectively. And with best-friend-status joy.

5. You have your daddy’s sense of calm measure. It will and has already served you well.

6. I adore that you love board games as much as I do, even if I never win.

7. The way you carry on a conversation brings me such pride. You are charm itself.

8. Every time I tell someone who didn’t know I was your mom, that you are my son, they literally tell me how awesome you are. I glow. What else can I possibly do?

9. Your curiosity is contagious and wonderful.

10. Sometimes, my favorite thing is just a hug from you. Somehow, they’re never long enough.

11. I truly believe the world is better for having you in it.

12. I love seeing your tenacious and audacious sense of hope and possibility. Nothing keeps you down.

13. Your sense of purpose in this life is wise beyond your years. I wish I could bottle your character.

14. You are always polite. No one can say that, but you seem to be the rule’s exception.

15. Being your mom is ultimately, irrevocably, and inarguably, my greatest gift.

I wish, as ever, to slow time … to be with you without the constant knowing that the moments, and minutes, and days carry on. It would seem, birthday boy, that not all wishes come true … but God, I am so grateful for the wish-come-true of you.

Love you to Neverland,

Mom