1.30.14 Falling In Love & Being In Love



Falling in Love & Being in Love
So … I am coming up on my ten-year wedding anniversary! I began dating my husband over twelve-years ago, and though time (knowing no other way to travel) truly flies…I still think this is an incredibly long time to be with someone. A hopelessly, hopeless-romantic at heart, I cannot say that I have made things easy on him. As an avid reader of romantic stories, viewer of romantic movies and observer of romantic holidays, my poor husband never really had a chance. I know that my views are often idealized in respect to love, but I am not sure that my, white-knight, sweep-me-off-my-feet version of what should be will ever fade.
Some of you might think this is unfair of me, (I’m certain my husband does) but I would argue that it isn’t unfair…it’s optimistic. I hold myself accountable too! In my mind I imagine I will be this adorable, desirable version of myself when he gets home and that we will talk until the sun comes up like we did once upon our time. Unfortunately, this is my fantasy, and we don’t exactly live there. Reality sadly comes from the root word “real,” and that little idealized picture of myself isn’t completely in focus. It’s hard to give 100% of yourself when you’ve already given it away to the other people in your day that demand it from you.
Often times I think this is why people break-up. They see exhaustion as a lack of interest; I know I have. But when I’m being practical (which I rarely am, so take note!) I think that viewpoint is the dramatic one. Love isn’t lost, or lazy, its just been given a strong dose of life to go with it. People like to quote the passage, “Love never fails,” at one another, but nowhere does it say, “love never changes.” Someone very wise once told me that there is a difference between falling in love and being in love. And he was right. Falling may have been the more dramatic, rising-action portion of our story, but being in love brings resolve. And so, to the one I love, I choose to continue loving you…because the greatest love story of all time is the one I get to live.
Literarily yours,

1.28.14 Fragmented



So one of my favorite children’s book author/illustrators is Peter Reynolds. Both for his whimsical art and witty, thought-provoking stories, I feel like he really, “gets it,” when it comes to life. One of Peter’s works is called So Few of Me. It is a delightful story about a little boy named Leo who wishes that there were more of him to get more accomplished, only to realize that more of him makes more to do.  And this is something I can relate to.
Lucille Ball, in her infinite wisdom once said, “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.” This is the truth, because sometimes I swear, the more that I take on, the more I put on my plate, the more I am asked, expected and assumed to do by others and myself. I think that there have literally been days when I could have laughed in the face of someone who asked, “Got two minutes?” NO! I don’t! As a teacher and mother and wife and–did I mention we have a puppy? NO! I do not have a minute, a second even it seems at times to add another thing, and yet I do.
I push and I pull, onward and upward, fragmenting myself into tasks and checklists until I’m not done (never done) but close. Then all of that work becomes a collection of pieces I can sweep together, becoming an unclear memory of productivity that doesn’t seem to amount to as much as I hoped it would.
So what’s the point? Exactly. What is!?! What is the point of rushing and running and panting and praying just to get through a list of tasks that will automatically refill itself while you’re sleeping? Wouldn’t it be better instead to take a breath? Read a book with your kids? Read a book for yourself? Call that person you’ve been, “meaning to call?” Or, heaven forbid it, sleep!
In truth I am an awful hypocrite; I’m honest enough to tell you what to do but keep on running Raggedy Anne-style tomorrow. But … I have identified the problem, and “they” say, (whoever the illusive ‘they’ are) that identifying our problems is the first step toward a solution. So here’s to the fragmented works-in-progress. I’m right there with you.
Literarily yours,

1.27.14 Kite Strings



Kite Strings

So over the years I have found that I am exceptionally awful at letting things go. Be it as insignificant as a comment that I took the wrong way, or as life-changing as someone passing – I just don’t let go. I’m sure someone, somewhere could psychoanalyze this for me; and I’m sure it means that in a way I am constantly battling an issue with control, self-esteem, abandonment or another label…but I’m not actually sure that the reason matters as much as the actuality of it all.

I get frustrated with myself because some people are so “water under the bridge,” about everything. They flick comments off their shoulders as nonchalantly as if they were a pesky fly. When something tragic happens they have this amazing resiliency and find immediate ways to cope instead of wallow. I like to think I’m like this, but when I tell myself the truth I know better.

Sometimes I find that I struggle in this same way with God. I attach kite strings to my prayers, never offering them up fully because I have some inane need to feel like I’ve got a handle on it all! So just in case GOD can’t handle things, I’ll be able pull them back down and add them to my “to do” list. It is quite ridiculous. Seeing it in print here before me confirms that, and I imagine myself swinging about in the wind holding on to situations I have no control over, no matter what powerful list of productivity I place them on.

I think ultimately, when it all comes down to it, I’m a bit of a perfectionist, a problem-solver who likes to wrap life in neat and tidy packages. I organize and speculate – I keep comments and conversations, friendships and family in beautifully, color-coded files in my mind. And when any of these items, big or small has an issue, a smudge or a tear, I think that if I try hard enough, work long enough or think smart enough I can fix it. But I can’t.

The truth is, sometimes letting go is the answer. It is the deep breath, grown up way of accepting the fact that we are not (and never have been, though I refuse to tell myself this) been in control.  I think it is a matter of faith really, and my not always having enough of it. The English poet William Blake once said, “I myself do nothing. The Holy Spirit accomplishes all through me.” What a statement. What a relief. When I think about the truth that all good comes from God, and anything I do is of Him anyway, it makes this letting go a whole lot easier. You can’t not fulfill your purpose if you move over and make enough room for God. It just isn’t possible.

So here’s to cutting kite strings, and letting go of the things that we are holding back from fixing.

Literarily yours,

1.25.14 Nearly, Just About To & Almost



Nearly, Just About To & Almost

So today I was at a birthday party for a little girl in my son’s class. For a bunch of six-year-olds, things went quite smoothly. There was plenty of running around, mind you, but all was well until (during cake) this little guy started singing a very inappropriate song. If I am to give him any credit, I must admit he was a creative rhymer, but aside from that, it was offensive. Most parents were too busy talking to one another to even check-in or register that something was going on, but one mother’s widened-eyes caught my own and we raised our eyebrows simultaneously.

I was trying not to be that mom; I was trying to wait for the song to just end,  but when it did, he started another. The little lyricist began a new jam that was even worse than the first! Here’s where I stepped in, looked at the boy (and his entourage of gigglers) and told them it was not nice to sing such songs and he should pick a new tune. The fellow eye-raising mother was near me and whispered, “I was just about to say something,” and that got me thinking how often we all fall back on words like, “just about to,” or “nearly, or “almost.”

These words are the absolute epitome of vindicating ourselves from any real form of accountability and THAT is what this world is now sorely lacking. Whether it is kids at a party that we choose to ignore as opposed to confront, estranged family members we stopped trying to get through to or our own resolutions and goals we’ve set aside, we have become a nation of “letting it go.”

Arnold Glasgow once said, “Make your life a mission – not an intermission.” I love this, because it calls for action. We talk and we anticipate and we plan what we will do, which becomes what we might do, and later turns into, maybe someday. And “someday,” is the most dangerous word of all because I think, if we’re being honest with ourselves, we all know that someday has a tendency not to come.

So I guess, in a way, I’m asking you to be brave…to confront and not conform, to point out and not pretend, to be truthful, even if it might not always be the most comfortable choice for you. We owe it to ourselves, but more to those we care about to stop enabling and start empowering–to hold this life to the standard for which it was meant to be lived. No more nearly or just about to, no more almost…only action.

Literarily yours,


1.23.14 Opinions



    I’ve heard it said that an opinion is what you ask for when you already know the answer, but you wish you didn’t. I guess I agree. If, (on a very brave day) I ask my husband for example if I look fat, his always generous perception of, “Not at all hun,” doesn’t really matter because I’ve already decided that I do. Even so, I still think that opinions are valuable, just not in the way we pretend them to be. Instead, I think opinions are really inside-out or upside-down confirmations of the response we’re looking for.
     Let me clarify–some people (and by ‘people’ I mean me) like reaffirmation. If I do something or think something or wonder something, I want to know that I’m not doing, thinking or wondering alone. I like to know that someone, somewhere (and this ambiguous person usually happens to be my husband) has done, thought and wondered the same thing. Thus, his opinions are an inside-out answer to my questions, reassuring, reaffirming and vindicating me. But, for the people who love a great debate, (pot-stirers so-to-speak) an opinion is fuel for the fire. Opinions are asked merely to be debated, and each confirmation or negation is turned upside-down to be “proven” otherwise.
     Sometimes I think I tend to heir on the side of, “Oops…did I say that out loud?” and I find that my thoughts are generally much louder than even I think thoughts need to be. People are always telling me I’ve got too much to say, but when someone asks my opinion–its like a green light after I’ve been waiting on red too long. Inside-out, upside-down or somewhere in between…an opinion is something I’m oh-so-happy to share. I don’t think one version of opinion-seekers or the other is right or wrong in their pursuit…and in the end it really doesn’t matter because opinions are opinions after all, and as long as there are questions, there will be opinions to go with them.

Literarily yours,


1.21.14 Mama Said



Mama Said

     “Mama said there’d be days like this…” a quote and a song accepted by the masses–but are any of us really prepared for the “days like this” that come? Really? I know I’m not. Days, “like this,” I am sad to say, come to me more often than I’d like to admit or live through! A woman named Jennifer Yane put it brilliantly when she said, “I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once.” I hear you Jenny! In my case, I sometimes feel that several weeks worth of work, worry, stress or mess have, in fact, buried me whole!

     I often find myself clawing my way out of things like:

laundry…(now wrinkled and sitting in a basket so long it could be washed again)

correcting…(I swear I could be a full-time teacher and never even have time to see a kid)

cleaning…(am I the ONLY one who can fold a blanket?)

electronic issues…(internet down, internet slow, internet fine but I’m down or slow)

house maintenance…(what is that growing on the side of the wall?)

car trouble…(is it bad when your brakes sound like snowplows?)

exercise…(you want me to bend where?)

memory problems…(why did I come in this room again?)

dog-training… (in or out–for real this time!)

kid-training… (don’t even look at each other)

husband-training…(no I don’t want to plan date night myself)

self-training…(I am not, cannot, and will never be Superwoman!)

   So mama said, there would in-fact, be days like this; we WERE warned. I just wish that mothers weren’t always so right. Here is hoping your day was NOT what mama predicted.

Literarily yours,





1.20.14 Gray



I think that sometimes it is easy for me to become a little blinded by my own perception of things. I don’t try to be short-sighted on the visions and perspectives others hold, but I know I am. I could blame it on a number of things: where I live, how I was raised, my career, my peers, society, etc. In the end though…each and every one of those is a cop-out. What I choose to see or think, or how I choose to respond to something really rests on me.
I’ve always been a bit of a “goody-two-shoes.” (I even won the class award for it in high school.) I often see things as black and white and I think that because of it, I sometimes give myself permission to observe arguments as one-sided when they aren’t. In a discussion about perspective someone once said to me, “Even the dragon is the hero of his own story,” I’m not sure why this simple truth shook my literary core, but it did.
I suddenly found myself retelling classic versions of stories from the other side and just as suddenly, discovered that black and white turned gray. And the right and wrong questions and answers to many of life’s big questions became maybes. In that realization I became deeply disappointed in myself for my lack of depth. I liked to think of myself as a well-rounded, outside-of-the-box thinker, when in reality, I found I might have been just as close-minded as other people, only in a more decorative package.
The good thing about self-reflection is this–it allows you to see yourself for what you are, not for the idealized version you pretended to be. I like to think that embracing the gray, and imagining each character of my life as “the hero of their own story” has widened my gaze just a bit. I may not have the panoramic view I someday hope to, but I do think I’m one step closer to stepping outside of my box. Here’s to the dragon, and hearing his side of things.
Literarily yours,

1.19.14 Young Eyes



Young Eyes
The other day I ran into Walgreen’s. It was two o’clock, I remember that, but what I needed I have no idea. Apparently it was incredibly important enough for me to stop for, but not enough to remember days later. In any case, as I entered, my kids in tow, we trudged down aisle after aisle looking for whatever it was we were looking for. A few strained minutes later and we were standing in the checkout lane, my son and daughter taking turns peppering me with, “Can I haves,” and “I want this or thats,” Between the barrage of questions, I took note of the elderly man before me, stooped with age but dressed and pressed and proud. His smile was gentle, softened no doubt by a patient grace that only comes to those who have seen time pass and learned to accept it.

After a few moments of shuffling for the exact change, he took his modest bags and left, but not before I saw his eyes. Liquid blue and piercing, his eyes betrayed his body, seeming much more likely to belong to a youth for all the twinkle and possibility they held. And as much for those sparkling eyes as his smile-worn trail of wrinkles, I was charmed. Leaving the store, I took turns buckling in my kids and saw the gentleman was parked beside me. He’d just finished unloading the small bags into his trunk and was on his way to return his cart. I offered to help, and though appreciative, that same pride he wore in his appearance crossed over his features as he politely said, “That’s okay, I’ll get there eventually.”
Right then and there I wished I could adopt him. I wished he were a part of my family…a distant uncle perhaps that I could honor by listening to the stories he no doubt had to tell. But that isn’t the way of random strangers, so I decided to give him the one thing I could…a compliment. “Excuse me for saying so,” I hedged, “but you have beautiful eyes,” I smiled at his blue-stare crinkled with delight as he laughed,
    “Used to get me into a whole lot of trouble too!”     
    “Bet they still do,” I played.
    “I sure try!” he grinned.

     And that was it. A small wave later and we were off…us on our busy, daily errands that will someday string together a trail of memories…the very kind, I realized, he was off to spend his day remembering.

Literarily yours,


1.18.14 The Character “Me”



The Character “Me”

Once upon a time, I was brave. I wasn’t afraid of failure…or success…and now find that at times I am afraid of both. If I fail, I let me down, and if I succeed, I have a greater capacity to let others down. I’m not a pessimist, (not a realist either). Believe it or not, I am an optimist who wants so desperately to believe in the “happily-ever-after” that I sometimes forget that first, a good story (sadly, even my own) needs conflict. I wouldn’t exactly call myself a “damsel in distress” more like a girl who dropped her book and can’t find what page she’s on. And sometimes, just when I’m sure I’ve found my place, life seems to disagree entirely with not only my chosen page, but chapter.

The good news is, time has shown me that regardless of the plot-twists life throws my way, I am not some pre-written character, trapped between pages. I am the author of my own destiny and thus, I may become as brave as I choose to be. Sometimes finding yourself lost is really where the epic adventure begins. In all great stories characters grow; they are shaped and defined by not only their circumstances, but their responses to them. I think all of us need to be encouraged by that very possibility–that we are stronger than we were at our beginning, and are undeniably on our way to becoming a better version of ourselves than originally written.

And so lost, or found, spinning in circles or moving on…I choose to embrace the possibility that right now, in this chapter, on this page–I’m exactly who I am supposed to be.

Literarily yours,

Elle Harris

1.17.14 Good Enough









Good Enough

John D. Rockefeller once said, “Enough is just a little bit more.” Now there is a scary thought for someone like me whose greatest fear is that I’m not. I am most definitely my own worst enemy and often see the character flaws in myself others would never notice. I think Taylor Swift put it into words perfectly for me when she said, “I’m intimidated by the fear of being average.” No one wants to be average. And in my limited experience at life I would argue that deep-down, we’re all striving to be just a “little bit more.” While I don’t think it’s a bad thing to seek self-improvement, I do think it is an incredibly slippery-slope to travel. (Sadly…I know from experience.)

“Kaizen” is an excellent Japanese word that embodies the meaning, “to improve thyself in some small way each day.” And while it is a beautiful word filled with healthy ambition, that isn’t really the way most of us approach self-improvement. As busy, self-important 21st Century-individuals, we strive to be perfect instead. And soon the “little” improvements we desire breed and multiply into an exhaustive, endless list of things we decide must change before we’ll ever be happy with ourselves again. Whether it is weight-loss or promotions or relationships or organization, we nit-pick and we hen-peck and we strategize and analyze and materialize our lives until one day, we lose sight of our original goal all-together.

In our attempts to be “just a little bit more,” we indefinitely minimize our worth until there is much, much less to who we are than what we started with. I don’t write this to discourage self-improvement, but to caution you…tread lightly and be gentle with yourself. Don’t depreciate the original value of who you are by only focusing on who you “could” be. Ordinary people do such things…and I don’t know about you…but I have never strove to be ordinary.

Literarily yours,