8.14.17 Boxes Because: A Bella Grace Post

9

Screen Shot 2017-08-14 at 5.44.20 PM

Surprised? Me too! I just received a message telling me that Bella Grace Magazine’s blog Grace Notes picked up a piece of mine that I’ve been wanting to share with everyone for some time, Boxes Because. From a trunk of letters to a tiny box only big enough to hold a secret, you never know what delight they’ll hold.  I hope that you click on the link and respond what “fills” you. In the mean time, I’m going to be trying something for the first time!

Brian Tracy once said, “You can only grow if you’re willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” I’m heeding this advice by feeling very awkward, and uncomfortable! Below is my first VLOG! A video-blog snippet. It’s only one minute, but it is a start. Remember that boxes are only beautiful when you are filling them – not trying to fit into them.

Can’t wait to hear from you.

Elle

 

7.8.17 Bella Grace Blog Hop: “The Magic of Birthday Wishes”

47

I am so excited to share that this post is a part of the Field Guide to Everyday Magic Blog Hop! Bella Grace Magazine’s newest sister publication! The Field Guide is pure delight wrapped in pages of golden images, inspiring writing prompts, and ways to make your imagination sparkle and shine. Be sure to comment and share this post with others for a chance to win a complimentary issue! I will be choosing the winner at random by next week’s post. Also, in anticipation of my: This Quotable Life Boutique, opening on my site this fall, I’ll be sending a little something wordy and wonderful as a personal thank you for being a faithful reader! Best of luck dear ones! Read on.

***

“Make a wish …” 

Could there be any sweeter imperative than this? To be ordered to wish? To dream? To believe that all it would take to achieve what you most hope for would be to think it, close your eyes, and blow out the drops of light before you? What an enchanting command, and one I am more than willing to obey – year … after year … after year.

Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 2.25.13 PM

Birthdays have always been a grand source of celebration in my family. My mother believed in the power of birthdays the way some people believe in holiday traditions – reverently. Each year, no matter how old my sister and I were getting, she would decorate the house, post notes on our mirrors, and make a thematic meal and cake to commemorate the day this earth was graced with our singular presence. How then could I, as a mother, do any less? Each year, our son and daughter’s summer birthdays are enveloped in confectioned delights and filled, moment-by-moment, with friends, family, and plenty of candled opportunities to wish. My husband once asked me when I thought we’d “go easier” on our birthday capers, to which I cast a wide-eyed reply of, “Never.” As long as this world has you in it – we must celebrate.

Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 2.25.24 PM

I think very few people today realize that dreams are a renewable resource. We get so stuck in the ordinary expectations we set for ourselves, that we forget to imagine that there could be more – that we could be more. I am always especially bothered when it comes to birthdays, and the underwhelming perceptions people have of themselves on this once-a-year, you-alone celebration. Flippant comments like, “I don’t even remember how old I am,” or, “It’s just another day,” chip away at my heart like paint fading on something once considered beautiful. When did this one precious life ever give you permission to stop being grateful for it? Even in the darkest of times, there is something to be thankful for.

Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 2.25.36 PM

Maybe that is why candles are so much more enchanting in the dark – because they shatter any chance at remaining there. Flickering flames dance in anticipation of the light they represent – the hope. So regardless of the number of birthdays you’ve been blessed with, you go ahead and make that wish. Make as many wishes as there are candles on your cake, and if you have no cake, light a candle anyway … just to have hope for what might be … just to believe in yourself and the power of your beautiful, renewable dreams. That is the true magic of birthday wishes after all, believing in what is yet to be.

Elle

Share a wish in the comments section with me now, or on Instagram @elleharris82 for your chance to win the copy of Field Guide to Everyday Magic that was destined for you! Much love darlings!

Bella Grace Magazine - Love the Life You Live

8.1.17 Not With Words

0

IMG_5809

Not With Words

Sometimes I chase words

like fireflies on summer nights

and they are elusive

but beautiful enough to pursue –

they enchant me

entice me,

and echo, “Come and play”

teasing me into the dark to find them

 

Sometimes words chase me

regardless of the time of day,

how weary I am,

how in need of rest –

they peek-a-boo into my thoughts

subconsciously

tickling my mind toward

something I can’t quite put my finger on

but can’t possibly ignore

 

Like a mirrored merry-go-round,

I see them,

and they see me,

and we spin around one another,

revolving in the sacred place between

almost

and

already there

 

Nevertheless,

I write on …

on the hide-and-seek days,

on the tag-you’re-it days,

on the waking dream,

more or less than you seem,

penned in moon or sunbeam days …

I write on

 

So our games of merry pursuit will continue,

and I will give,

and they will take,

but the magic of meeting always wins in the end,

because there is no end,

there can’t be

not with words

 

7.24.17 I Shall Cannonball

2

Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 4.35.19 PM

I am an imperfect parent. Did I ever mention that? I’m pretty sure that I have, because as much as I love the picture-perfect-moments I might capture for Instagram, I in NO way, EVER want people to think that these snapshots of my life mean we don’t struggle. We do. I do. All the time.

Yesterday was a beautiful day through and through. My family’s only plan was to be together. I made chocolate-chip pancakes. We got coffee. We went to a trampoline arena. We ate out at a favorite restaurant. We got caught in the rain and quite literally danced in it. Splashing and sloshing and carrying on. Then we took bubble baths. We watched a new movie. We had our cake and ate it too … literally! It was awesome.

But then Monday happened. My husband went to work. I started prepping my classroom and got more nervous than if I would’ve just left it alone. I was instantly overwhelmed at all I needed to accomplish that I didn’t have time for. Then, I had a few stressful phone calls, and a few more stressful texts. My son had a momentary melt-down, (he never melts-down) my daughter snapped, (she never snaps). I got so sick of the mess in the living room that no one but me cleans up that I threw a tiny stuffed animal across the room and it (of course) hit my son’s milk cup which poured all over him. Did I mention he had just gotten out of the shower and had on the cleanest of clean clothes? Sometimes days kinda suck, and as important as it is to acknowledge the amazing days, is as necessary as it is to admit – NO – today wasn’t the best, thank you very much!

I was at the pool with my kids, headed to the bathroom alone, when a random kid stopped me. “Hey!” he said brightly.

“Hey,” I smiled back.

“Have you gone down the blue slide yet? Because if you haven’t you should and then curl up into a ball at the end and you’ll go in like a cannon ball,” he said in a totally serious dish of vital information.

“Well okay. Thank you for that tip!” I replied.

Can I say that I loved every second of that one minute conversation? Because apparently, I still look like the kind of adult who will plummet down a slide without my children just for the fun of it. I loved his faith in me that I would, and sometime before the summer is over – I will. I must!

So the truth is, we are fickle beings. The melancholy way we humans bounce between emotions is much akin to pinballs lighting up the different bands of color. Happy, happy, frustrated, sad, angry, happy, frustrated, happy, tired, tired, happy. I don’t necessarily anticipate that these whims or “pings” will change, because as life happens, so will moods. Toby Mac once said, “The only one that can truly satisfy the human heart is the one that made it.” So, in this life, at least, we will bounce between dispositions fluidly. It’s okay. You’re imperfect. I’m even more so! But, for today at least, I will hold true to the fact that yesterday, we danced, and someday very soon, I shall cannonball off of a bright blue slide.

Go jump in,

Elle

7.17.17 Than Me

3

IMG_6838

“I promise you this, no matter who enters your life, 

I will love you more than any of them.”

– Clarise Fuentes

For ten years boy, I have known you

and I would say I have loved you,

but I believe I loved you much longer than that.

Before you were even mine,

before you were

blue eyes,

and tousled hair,

tan skin

and scraped knees,

I loved you for the dreams I imagined you might be.

And now that I have you

and see you

mischievous dimples,

and too many opinions,

lanky limbs,

and curious mind,

I know

without a moment’s hesitation,

that I will love you longer than ten lifetimes,

because your spirit is of my spirit,

and the memories you give me outweigh even the most significant ones

I ever had before you.

There is power in that kind of love

you know?

There is power in knowing that regardless of any

heartache,

or mistake,

problem,

or bad decision,

you can know with certainty that you are always wanted –

you are always enough,

because you are the very fiber of what family means to me.

There is nowhere you can go,

no height you can grow,

and no place in the world that will ever be far from me,

because you carry the best of my heart within each beat of yours.

And though I will mess up,

and make lots of mistakes,

and even make you a little bit crazy sometimes –

know that I’m trying my best,

and please be patient with me –

because there is no one who will ever fight for you,

be more proud of you,

or live more for you,

than me.

To my son … Mommy loves you.

Elle Harris

7.7.17 Publication News

7

Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 1.59.22 PM

I wrote this piece some time ago with the hopes that someday it would find its way off of the shelf, and IT HAS! Live today on Bella Grace Magazine’s  blog Grace Notes, you can read my newest publication, Love Letter to a Single Friend.

I pray that you will share it with everyone that needs to hear it … because they do … they need to know how singularly they are loved – how treasured they are to you, and to this world that needs their spirit so desperately. Help me spread this appreciation, help me gift this love.

With all my heart,

Elle

7.3.17 To Be Free

0

IMG_6359

“Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature.” – Benjamin Franklin 

To Be Free

The will to be free is innate

and though we honor in days

in commemorations

and spectacles of light and color

the truest form of celebration is that of the soul

When your spirit is enraptured with light,

with peace

and with the tranquil understanding that

nothing can tether or tie you

but that which you choose to bind yourself to

By lifting your humanity to heaven

by humbling yourself to divinity

you will come to believe in the worth you were born into

Finding you are not owned

you are not enslaved

you are not ensnared by the grip of this world

not to conformity

not to addiction

not even to self-persecution

not to worry

not to acceptance

or a nagging fear of what may be

There will always be wars

and the battles will be endless

Some will be won

and in turn,

many will be lost

But freedom is not to be purchased into

or sold out of

To be free

is inherent in the plan of creation

and its grace washed over you with the light of your first breath

The genuine gift of freedom

is realizing that though life may assign you a value,

priceless

is the only identity

you have any right to claim

 

 

 

 

6.26.17 It’s a Good Thing I Don’t Believe in a Bad Summer Day

6

IMG_6183

“Dear Life, when I asked if my day could get any worse, it was a rhetorical question, not a challenge.” -someecards.com

So, I am a fan of the belief that every day has a silver lining. There is always a bright side. And that nothing is ever as awful as it seems. But some days still kinda suck. It’s summer, so I know that this cannot be, because the sun is shining and the sky is blue, the wind is tickling the leaves and making them dance. I don’t believe in a bad summer day. And yet, here I am … a list of “are you kidding me” moments making up my morning, and afternoon. It is late now, and if this day wants to redeem itself, it sure better hurry up and change quickly, because the sun is well past halfway to setting.

It started off with waking up … feeling cramps … and going back to bed. Waking up for real a short while later, I discovered that the laundry fairy didn’t come (though I dreamed and wished for her to) and began to sort the precarious, leaning tower of doom. I emptied the kitty box (because my husband DIDN’T even though we agreed I’d give the cat her medicine if he would do the litter), only to walk out to our garbage and see that  a raccoon had torn into our bins the night before, scattering God knows what all over! Then, my dog decided to loot this treasure and display its remnants all over my yard! I hobbled over (still in my pjs) put on some gloves and dug in. Sometimes I think I’d like to ignore dirty messes and pretend I don’t see them so one of the other members of my family will do it but then I know (from past experience of having tried) that they will just shout to me when they do find it.

After the garbage with the garbage, my kids and I took a trip to Hades, I mean, the post office (which I’m pretty sure is the same thing). I must tell you that I loathe the post office, not because of the office itself, so much as the instant downfall of my children the moment we enter. It’s like the second we go in, some magnetic pull from the automatic door messes with their moral compass, making it spin haywire, simultaneously turning their usual, awesome composure and manners to wild monkey status! He began with spinning the card display, and the red-faced, white-haired postal clerk asked him to stop. I, of course, looked like a negligent mother, blowing hair out of my face to look up as I hog-wrestled packaging tape and a box to the ground. He later got yelled at by the other postal clerk for writing on the desk tablet. “What on earth?” I looked at him with dagger eyes.

“I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to,” he replied.

“Really? You didn’t know you weren’t supposed to write on a desk? Do you write on a desk at school?”

“No.”

“Well then what the heaven!?!”

“I don’t know why I did it.”

Wrath.

Some cute old man came in, and I could see him smile at both of my kids as I flustered about with another box and more packaging tape. (I think that if there were video footage of my box packaging, I could send it in to the professional wrestling organization and instantly make the team.) Usually, I would stop, and chat with someone like this cute old man, I’d take all the time in the world to make a connection, but just as I thought about doing so, my daughter needed a kleenex. I didn’t have a kleenex. She began to drip. I took the edge of her sleeve and … well … you can paint the rest of that picture yourself. Needless to say, I was feeling pretty judged by said old man, and he shuffled off with a look.

When I got to the counter, I mailed a package to Pennsylvania, and the clerk said that because it was three pounds, I needed to either pay $35.00 or it would take four weeks to get there! In four weeks I could walk to Pennsylvania and deliver the box myself! I mailed a package to Georgia. “That’s not the right zip code.”

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“Oh wait, it is. But what does the address say?”

“Busbee.”

“Is that a place?”

“I guess so?” I said, showing her the address slip.

“Oh, yeah,” more typing into her computer, “I guess it is.”

“I hope so.”

$59.50 for TWO BOXES that weighed less than five pounds together!

More wrath.

Later:

My sister and I finally stop playing phone tag – the doorbell rang.

I had a meeting with a house repair man – my dog jumped on him.

I was trying to have a professional conversation – my allergies flared and I couldn’t stop sneezing.

I made my kids lunch  – my son shoved his elbow in the peanut butter.

I told my daughter not to do something – she cried.

I was feeling super bloated and gross –so  I ate more!

I have a no solicitous number – Honda called asking me to trade in my Kia!

The dryer buzzed – all the clothes were as wet as when I threw them in!

I told the kids to play outside – they hit balls over the fence.

I told my daughter to look before crossing the street – she said, “Wait both ways?”

I have a tummy ache.

I am tired.

And though we’ve only been home for two hours, it is now time to leave again.

Suffice it to say … it’s a good thing I don’t believe in a bad summer day – otherwise I’m pretty sure I’m having one.

So here’s to the moments you will laugh over later (probably, okay maybe not even then). I hope your summer day is everything a summer day should be, and nothing at all like mine.

Elle

6.19.17 Thank you Daddy. Thank you Dad.

5

     

It has taken me a while to write this post. Not because I didn’t have anything to say, but rather, too much. How do you put into words what your father(s) mean to you? How do you even begin? My father, and my father-in-law, have been the most influential men in my life aside from my husband. Married at 21, (and dating for three years before that) we have grown up together, and I feel that we have two full sets of parents that have blessed, influenced, and molded us. 

I realize that most of the world does not have the experience of a father the way I or my husband have. Often (especially in the lives of my students) I am exposed to the painful truths that most children experience some version of cool complacency with a father who was never really there. And for this … my friends … I am so sorry. I wish you could have had my childhood – one that was filled with encouragement, faith, and the safety of knowing you are well and fully loved. 

One of my favorite memories was falling asleep in my father’s arms at a Summerfest concert with Rod Steward wailing away. I must have been three or four-years-old, and I distinctly remember the feeling of curling into my dad, amid all the noise and chaos, and not waking up again until he was carrying me out of the car when we got home. It might seem a trivial memory, but to me, it was foundational. It was the beginning of my daddy nurturing my dreams, literal and otherwise. Since before I could even recognize it, my daddy has been growing my hope, teaching me to wrestle with my imagination, and pushing me to demand more of myself than I would have thought I was capable of. He is the hand I hold in the storms, and the nudge forward when I want to escape. He sturdies my resolve, and pushes me ever on. 

When I met my father-in-law, years and years later, I hoped to love and respect him, but didn’t think I’d need much, as I never had a void in the dad-department that required filling. I was wrong. Throughout the years, my relationship with my father-in-law has become one of a true, dad/daughter bond. When I first met him, his love language was that of service. Doing things like washing my car, and fixing broken things around my house were his way of telling me he loved me. Now he uses words, and oh, how I savor them. A lover of memories, like me, he writes treasures for us kids to savor – listing out scrapbook stories and pieces of childhood I almost feel like I was a part of. He listens to me. He reads everything I  write. He is proud of me as his daughter, and has long since adopted me into his family for real. 

One thing I have learned from both of my dads is what Marie Beyon Ray once said, “Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand – and melting like a snowflake.” They are live-in-the-moment men. Stand up, get knocked down, and stand up again men. They are I’m here for you, I’ll provide for you, I’ll show you how to do the same men.

I wish the world had more men like them. 

Both have epitomized bravery and courage to me. Whether battling occupations or health concerns, finances or relocations, they have remained men of faith and character. Neither has compromised his integrity in times when it would have been so much easier to take the “easy way.” They believe in hard work, in dedication, in family, and in this one, precious life the Lord gave them to live and journey through. I cannot imagine my or husband’s life without their guiding light and I am eternally grateful that God placed them as the pillars of strength in our family. 

Thank you daddy. Thank you dad. 

Elle

6.12.17 13 Years

6

IMG_5850

Once upon a time, there was a girl who met a boy with eyes the color of sea glass.

I cannot say whether he found her, or she found him, or whether the stars, the tides, or the winds from the four corners of the earth arranged themselves just so – but find one another they did.

Her curious spirit tended his intelligent soul.

He kept her grounded, and she set him free, and they found home within each other’s company.

Days stretched languidly into years and soon the boy asked the girl a question she only needed one word to answer.

Lengths of grace and lace and light accompanied them on the day simple words became divine promises.

And he had, and she held.

Since that time, in their story, there have been days of better, and days of worse … spans of richer and bouts of poorer … occasions of sickness, and stretches of health.

He has loved her, and she has cherished him.

In time two new heartbeats echoed the sound of their own. Two sets of hands swung between theirs, and two sets of feet stepped close to dance.

A new season brought sunlight-filtered smiles, sticky kisses and always, a golden glorious mess. In their most exhausted moments, he smiled a tired, secret smile, which she returned in a sleepy, happy daze.

Every day is imperfect, and beautiful for its mistakes. And every day the girl, who fell in love with the boy with sea glass eyes, is grateful for knowing the safety of his love.

This story has no end, only chapters that edge closer and further toward the brink of forever.