12.12.17 Someone Who Can Remember

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“Never say goodbye, because goodbye means going away, and going away means forgetting.” Peter Pan

I have been faced with the very unpleasant reality that my children are growing up. It seems everyone’s are. Like an unmistakable epidemic, every day, little dears and darlings are getting one day older, and wiser – closer to reality, and farther away from the subtle safety of pretend.

There is beauty in knowing, and there is heaviness too. I know it is the way it is supposed to be, and yet some part of me clings to the idea of little hands in mine, and tiny feet making big sounds that echo down my hallways. I feel like a hypocrite, because all I ask God for is their health and their ability to grow into who they are meant to be, but now here we are and I want just a few moments more to collect in pretty imaginary bottles to store on the shelves of my memory.

I am not sad.

At least not for any significant lengths of time.

Because I am blessed – blessed to have someones to admire as they question, and wonder, and begin to understand. I wish at times (all of the time), that I could protect them from so many truths of this torn world, then, slowly, I recognize that that would be the very worst kind of love.

True love is to meet in, not guard from. It is the “I’m here and you’re here and it’s hard, but I’ll love you through it” kind that matters most. My mom and dad loved me that way. They love me that way still, and a love like that has power.

But just as significant as it is to step into what is real, is the necessity to keep the ability to dream close by. Imagination is like a friend we can call upon whenever the business of life gets just a little too heavy to carry all at once. This belief is at the core of my parenting, of my teaching, of my writing. It is at the essence of what I hold most dear. God has planted a wondrous escape, an intentional diversion, an enchanting haven for our minds to find rest and rejuvenation.

My daddy and I love Neverland. I have spoken of it often in previous writings I know, but it isn’t the place, so much as the ability to recall the memory of magic. Of happy. Of wishful thinking. And when we become overwhelmed, he and I remind each other of J.M. Barries most beautiful words … “You know that place between sleep and awake, the place where you can still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting.”

As a mother. As a daughter. As a teacher. As a friend. I promise to forever try to be someone who can remember the light of a star …  the wish wrapped in the penny cast … the hope that tomorrow really will be better than yesterday.

In my thoughts, in my prayers, and in dreams for my children, and for every child of the world – including precious you – remember to cling to wonder … even if you have to bottle it to remember. Put joy on your shelf. Re-introduce yourself to the idea that growing up and remaining forever young aren’t mutually exclusive. Find love in every age; enjoy every day – even the hard ones. For there is good in the opportunity that every new breath brings.

Knit gold into the fabric of your being. Silver-line each impending cloud.

Always love,

Elle

12.5.17 Believing Anyway

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“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.” Hamilton Wright Mabie

It was over a year ago now, that much I remember, when I fell asleep crying because I knew that someday, I’d have to tell my son the truth about Santa Claus. I remember it distinctly, because the moonlight was bright, and my pillow was salty and damp with heavy tears continuing to stream and soak in as I silently continued to weep. It was the idea of someday that pained me – the idea that someday I’d have to make him grow up just a little bit more … and it hurt, but I carried on and calmed myself with the solace that “someday,” was not today.

A few days ago, “someday” came. As a child I never understood the term bittersweet, or when people tried to tell me that pain could be beautiful. But now? As a mother? I understand.

He came to me on a Friday night, after school, after piano lessons, rumpled and boyish and wonderful. “Hey mom?” he hedged, “I know that Santa is real, but I just wanted to ask you, because … well … he is right?” And as much as I wanted to, as many times as I had before, this time was different because this time, his eyes begged to dispel a truth he already half-wished he didn’t know. Every time I’ve ever had to have a difficult conversation with my children, I’ve prayed God would just let me know the right time – and this was his.

In a series of too-short moments, I explained that Santa was a real and wonderful man. I spoke of his history, and his mission, and the way that he helped people believe in the beauty and love of giving. I said I believe in Santa, because I believe in his mission, and the magic and wonder of his mission lives on through us.

And he cried.

And I cried.

And I lifted that beautiful, long-limbed boy into my too-small arms and cradled him for just a moment. In the stretch of tears and sniffles, he turned to me with a weak smile on his now, somehow older face. “I understand mom,” he said, “and I believe in his mission too.” Then his expression shifted to something of worry and he asked, “But last year mom, when I got the new video game system – it was so expensive … I’m so sorry!”

And I cried again. Here this boy. This wonderful, God-given gift, who I would have done anything for just to give him one more day of believing, was selfless enough in his own heartbreak to worry about our bank account. After telling him it was nothing, that we gave from Santa’s spirit of giving, he looked at me with his deeply-watering eyes and hugging me said, “Thank you so much.”

I have experienced many a treasured Christmas, but this understanding, his ability to love beyond disappointment – that was a gift beyond words.

Wherever you are in the realm of the magic of Christmas … of first wishes, fond memories, or once-upon-a-snowflakes, I wish you the delicate, yet miraculously shatterproof love that keeps a broken heart beating … a tear-streaked face smiling … and a spirit believing – anyway.

Elle

 

 

11.27.17 Come Boutique With Me!

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Tis the season … you know the one – BLACK FRIDAY, CYBER MONDAY, and every other ridiculous Christmas sale in the world! But you know what? A small part of me kind of loves it. I realize that this might seem inauthentic coming from someone who usually posts pictures of nature and family, but I’m just being honest, and a little bit girlie … shopping is fun.

Marcelene Cox once said that, “The quickest way to know a woman is to go shopping with her.” I’d say that is true half of the time. To shop for necessity is very different than shopping for fun, and this is the season of fun. This is the season of long layers, of high boots, and cute (not functional) hats. This is the season where stores present their A-Game, trying to entice, impress, and woo you – and who doesn’t like to be wooed? I love that this is the time of year when someone is hired just to say hello to me when I walk in. I love the displays that obviously took weeks to install and set right. I love the familiar melodies, the dash-of-pine and cinnamon scents, and the feel of warmth in every article of clothing artfully displayed for me to try on.

Shallow though it may seem, shopping actually holds some pretty precious memories for me. I remember being a kid and having my dad take my sister and I out to the mall at just about this time of year. Every store was literally bursting with colors and sights, sounds and smells; I’m pretty sure my dad couldn’t wait to get out of there, but he came anyway – for mom.

“Alright girls,” he’d say, “you need to help me find something special for your mom because she’s one special lady.”

One holiday season, I stopped at a jeweler and pointed to a matching pearl earrings and necklace set. Though my memory has faded out the pristine details, my dad tells me that I absolutely refused to accept any gift for my mother besides that set. Now, twenty-something years later, she still wears it.

Another milestone of holiday shopping was with my mom, sister, and grandmother. While they’d be scanning the aisles for deals, I would sometimes look right along with them and just as often ride the cart down those same aisles (regardless of the furtive glances tossed my way) just so I’d not have to walk another step. My mother always teared up a little when she saw the “generations” just being girls together.

Regardless of whether you love it or hate it, shopping is an intimate gesture, and usually done with those we love and trust the most. Sadly, though I have an abundant blessing of friends and family, I often find that they are scattered across the country and I am left to shop alone. My mom always says, “I don’t mind being alone, I like my company.” Most of the time (for myself) I agree, but sometimes my own company simply isn’t enough. That is when I find a great opportunity to make what I call “insta-friends,” random-strangers that I call on to tell me their honest opinions about whatever it is that I’m considering purchasing. You’d be surprised how many people are willing to be a friend in a pinch!

Speaking of friends, I want you to know that this is what you have been to me – all of you. You, my readers, are my silent company … my writing support system … my team, and I thank you for that. The realization of this, that you are my confidants, has made me realize that I wish I could shop with all of you! While that is practically impossible, I was inspired to start a mini-boutique on my site. THIS QUOTABLE LIFE BOUTIQUE is my attempt to put words into gifts. If there is an interest, I plan to grow the baby business with PayPal and an increased product line, including collaboration with other witty, wordy artisans, jewelers, and crafters. We shall see, and time will tell, but I am so excited for you to take a peek, share with your friends, and express your desires and wishes for what you’d like this to be.

Some come boutique with me! Let’s make this moment, this itty-bitty start our own holiday shopping memory. If you have interest in a product, simply contact me through the CONTACT ME PAGE, or on the THIS QUOTABLE LIFE BOUTIQUE page!

Love you darlings, and as always, thank you for your love and support,

Elle

11.20.17 Somewhere

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“Imagination often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it, we go nowhere.”   C. Sagan

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It is often that I find myself longing to return to a place that I don’t even physically travel to … but whenever my mind hasn’t wandered there for too long, back to that sacred, holy place of peace – I am sure to be less than the whole of myself. This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for God’s having given me such a strong imagination. I’d love to know your thoughts, and your thanks this season. Enjoy your “Somewhere,”… here’s how to get to mine. 

Somewhere

Somewhere between the here

and now

and the now

and then

there is another place

a place where there is room

to breathe

to pray

to imagine

and to wonder

wondrously

It is sometimes a secret

sometimes a lost place

seemingly far away

just barely on the fringes of our memories

and yet

intrinsically

we cannot forget

our desire to find it again

To follow the invisible compass

back to the song

of the spirit

that makes sense

it is there

quietly

but sure

placed in a place

we could never truly lose

without losing ourselves

completely

So somewhere between the here

and now

and the now

and then

find the beat of the heart

the pulse of the mind

the light of the soul

and return

Somehow

(I promise)

you already

know the way

I hope that you take a moment to nourish your ability to imagine. Be thankful as I am so thankful for you.

Elle 

11.13.17 New Creation

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Today was a little tough. Okay … a lot tough. There was nothing particularly awful, no singular tragic event or definitively difficult set of problems. It was just the sort of day that left me feeling defeated, deflated, and a little worse for wear. Scrolling through my Instagram feed, I came across the passage in 2 Corinthians 5:17 which says, “You are a new creation.” What a beautiful thought – a new creation. After days like today, after strings of monotonous moments that didn’t go according to plan, I wonder, at times, what God designed me for and if I’m very far off from his original blueprints. 

Was I really created for deleting a string of unwanted emails? For buffering stress-inducing conversations and scenarios? Is my purpose to have less time than I’ve ever had before to be instead of do? For some reason, I don’t think so. I don’t think that was meant for anyone. In his infinite wisdom I don’t believe that God handcrafted us with unique talents just so we could waste them in the pursuit of mediocre days where one is indistinguishable from the next. 

So how do we downshift? How do we recycle and reclaim our spent hours? Honestly? I have no idea. But I think it has something to do with attitude. In her infinite wisdom at ninety-five, my grandmother said, “It’s just so easy to be happy.” And you know what? She’s right. No one, not one single person on this earth has it easy. We are all struggling with past pains, present dangers, and future fears. There is not one among us who is unscathed or scarless. We each have crosses to bear and burdens we cannot share. Still, I agree with my grandmother. Even with the weight of your own small world on your shoulders, it is possible to be happy. Happiness is an action, a state of being, and a calling on your life. So. Be. It.

Right now, right here, writing to you … the hour is much too close to tomorrow. My blinks are drawing themselves out, my eyes burn beneath sleepy, lavender lids, and my body has begun that tingly stage of quiet revolt against another long day that isn’t done. Still – I decide, here and now, to be that “new creation” I think I was designed to be.

She is confident, this version of myself, and her smiles are given freely. She is stronger than she looks, but sensitive enough to know when to be real. She is creative and caring, and she never lets the opportunity to make someone’s day go by, even if it costs her the most precious gift she has – time.

She is happy, this girl in the blueprints. And even now, so am I.

Be a new creation, and introduce me to who you were designed to be! I can’t wait to meet you. Can you?

Elle 

 

 

11.3.17 “Wordless” a Bella Grace Post

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There are some experiences in your life that absolutely change you. This post, “Wordless” on Bella Grace Magazine’s blog Grace Notes is just such an experience. I would argue that it was one of the most significant journeys my writing has taken me on, and has bloomed into one of the most precious friendships I’ve ever had. Please read. Please share. For myself … for Michelle … and most especially, for the memory of Katrina.

Some stories have the power to change the world. This story changed mine.  I pray it will inspire yours.

Sparkle dear ones, and let your presence of light hang heavy over the sky like fireworks.

Elle Harris

10.29.17 Believing Will Have to Be Enough

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I believe that better days are coming

that tomorrow really might be better than yesterday

that although every cloud may not be lined in silver

some are backlit by gold and are worth the wait to find them

and if that makes me naive,

then I believe in the authority of naivety too

I believe in positivity

even when I don’t feel it

even when I don’t see it like I wish I might

even when I hear negativity

in some place stronger than my senses, I have hope

and if that makes me a dreamer

then I believe in the capacity of dreaming too

I believe that there is more to us than we might think

here in the shared space of quiet and chaos in our minds

here in the heart full to breaking

here in the hands that write, and make, and do – we are capable of endless somethings

and if that makes me over-confident

then I believe in the auspiciousness of confidence too

I believe in the power of touch

that hugs can heal a multitude of pains

that a kiss on the forehead redeems us

that bruises and scars have nothing on the hand that reaches out to hold yours

and if that makes me a blind optimist

then I believe in the integrity of optimism too

I believe in faith that there really is someone greater 

picking us up when there is nothing left of us but pieces

that somehow, even then, we are being miraculously transformed

into better versions of ourselves than we could ever be alone

and if that makes me a fool

then I believe in the folly of foolishness too

 

I believe. 

And for today, believing will have to be enough

 

What do you believe? Please share this piece with as many people as you think need to hear it. Then, send a comment to help brighten the weariness of this world to something tangibly worth holding on to.

Love and grace and peace to you all! I cannot wait to hear from you.

Elle

10.19.17 I Think I’d Rather Pee My Pants Vlog and Blog

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“Always go to the bathroom when you have a chance.” King George V

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Have you ever had the magical experience of realizing that you have to go to the restroom SO BADLY that you are left with the last resorts of either: a) peeing your pants in public or b) succumbing to the unhygienic, degradation of using a Port-O-Potty at the park? If not, YOU, my friend, have led a very charmed life indeed.

Today, I just so happened to have such a dilemma. Do I self-implode, or hang my germaphobic head in shame and go to the portable toilet? Why didn’t you just go to a nearby gas station you might ask? Fantastic idea, in theory. But my friend had chosen today of all soccer parenting days to request I watch his children while he ran some errands. It seemed like an easy yes … until the reality of a copious amount of water mixed with an hour and a half practice and my walnut bladder created the perfect storm.

Eventually, quite near to the, “Oh my word I’m going to have an accident,” stage, I gathered the essentials and waddled toward the horror! Seeing me armed with my keys, phone, (in case of emergencies) a full box of kleenex, and a large hand sanitizer bottle, the kids shouted, “I thought you hated portable bathrooms.”

“Not so much a choice today,” I sing-songed back with a manic pitch of hysteria creeping in!

I was almost, slightly less-than-devastated when I approached and saw a sign that said, “Ladies,” on the box to the right. After passing the first challenge of grabbing  the bacteria-ridden handle, I realized not everyone read the sign as posted, because my second challenge was to LOWER THE TOILET SEAT LID! Hello!?!?! Ladies? It said Ladies people!!!

Still, I knew that I was in no position to abandon my quest for relief. Even though there were flies, AND stink-bugs,  (oh, the irony) not to mention see-through toilet paper, my personal favorite was the eight inch gap between the bottom of the door and the ground. Whether a woodland critter or peeping Tom had a hankering to get a good look inside the abominable “lavatory,” they wouldn’t need to work very hard to do so. After layering enough invisa-wrap to secure a mummy in the afterlife, I shut my eyes and hovered … hoping it would all be a proper nightmare I’d soon be rid of.

As fate would have it, I survived. And the funniest part of all? When my friend returned, he said, “I wanted to grab something for you at the store as a thank you for watching the kids while I ran out. This is all I came up with.” Right then and there he held out a brand new pack of anti-bacterial wipes. It was as if my own personal sanitation angel descended, telepathically knowing I’d need just such a gift.

So what is the moral of this little trial? I’m not sure I could say. But if you ask me now, hours later whether or not I made the right decision to go or not to go … I’d say the jury’s still out, but next time? I think I’d rather pee my pants.

I’d love to hear your best/worst stories! Share with me in the comments below!

Happy sanitation!

Elle

10.13.17 “Team Moccasin” Give Away

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“I think perhaps love thrives on chance and unlikely circumstance. Life also thrives on these principles – and is life not love? And love not life?” – Brandon Boyd

Lately I’ve felt like there aren’t enough love stories in the world. We hear plenty of hate, and an overabundance of greed, anarchy, and discontent – but love? Well, she’s been a bit quiet recently. It seems as though anger has the loudest voice, but that doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to listen to it.

Do you know what would be utterly magical? Giving voice to love. Sharing stories that imbue delight, inspire the heart, and focus our minds back to their intended settings. My mom and dad just so happen to be such a love story, and although it may not be my tale to tell, I don’t think they’d mind, just this once, if passed along their unconventional narrative, for the sake of putting out a little more endearment into the world.

It all began when she was a teenager. Like any girl of her age, she loved to frequent the local mall with her friends, and there, was besotted by a boy with shoulder-length hair and playful blue eyes. He worked for an upscale men’s clothing store, and was “dressed to the nines,” so-to-speak. She found a way to make conversation, and she liked what she heard as well as saw. They talked and dated for a few weeks, and that was that. Smitten.

Fast forward another week or so, and to her surprise, who came off the bus but her handsome (who she thought was older but now realized was not) young man. Only he was not her young man at all. This kid had on a t-shirt and jeans with moccasins of all things! She was devastated that he was not the polished guy from the shop, but a local, every-day high schooler who had succumbed to the fad of wearing sleepwear out of doors! Regrettably, his charms were no match for the vanity of fashion.

And that was it. Their brief infatuation was crushed by a wardrobe malfunction.

If the story had ended there, (as most assumed it had) neither myself or my sister would’ve been born. As it is, God has a sense of humor, and He often uses fate to deliver it. A handful of  years later, that same girl happened to be at a party with the moccasin boy she’d all-but-forgotten.

That night (thankfully) he was fully dressed with socks and proper shoes, and his charms once again tempted her interest. Only her honor prevented her from accepting his number, as she had been seeing someone else for some time. Gratefully, her best friend also happened to be at the party, and she had no qualms about compromising my mother’s reputation. She promptly gave my father mom’s number, and a few days later, he called.

I’m thankful for the days without caller ID, because my mom, unknowingly, answered the phone that night, and talked to my dad for hours early into the morning. And just like that, within half a day, they’d both taken the first step into falling in love.

I happen to love their love story. Though my mom feigns embarrassment, it’s nice to know that even she wasn’t perfect once upon a time. My dad uses this beginning to win us all over every time he tells it. About a year ago, I told my own children, and they declared they were “Team Moccasin” from the get-go. We like to think it is a little bit of cosmic karma that we’re still able to tease about this story every time any of us wears our slipper feet out-of-doors.

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Mom and dad have been married over forty-years now, and whether in heels or sandals, Converse or construction boots, they’ve remained grounded in following the path of love worn in by a lifetime of walking in the same direction.

It would be an honor to hear your generational love stories. As an incentive to share, I will write a poem based on your shared love story for the commenter that my family votes “most swoon-worthy!” It will be my next post and (if you share your address through my contact me page) I will send you a personalized print of it.

I will also link all of the shared love stories to my next blog post so that everyone will get to read your precious words, thus spreading love exponentially around the world.

LOVE WELL …  for it is all that amounts to any value in this life.

Elle

9.30.17 Let Me Be Aware

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About ten or so years ago, I came across a poem that said everything I should say to my husband on a daily basis. I printed it out, and put it somewhere “safe” and then we moved and I lost it. All I remembered of it was a line … “Someday I shall wish … more than all the world, for your return.” And I remembered thinking that I never wanted to have that feeling, that relentless ache of NOT saying what I should have. 

Fast forward ten years, and miraculously, a friend gave me a stack of quotes as a gift. One of the quotes, as you might serendipitously guess, was the one I’d been searching and combing the internet for for all of these past years. I immediately looked it up, and this week, I was so very, very glad to have it, so I could read it to the man who not only has my heart, but has fiercely protected it since we met. 

Please share this video message, this poem, and this life with someone you hold just as dear.