11.11.18 I Go

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Sometimes it is hard to take myself seriously and I don’t know why

or I do

It’s because of the honesty I can’t hide from myself

though at times I wish I could

because it would be easier

It would be easier not to have to face the insecurities

the what ifs

the let downs

It would be easier to hide the past and present failures

attempts to be what I want to be

but haven’t found my way into 

yet

I look back on my life and I’m happy

but I wonder 

if my path wasn’t riddled with quite so many hesitancies … 

… would I be farther down it?

Would I be on the same route at all?

And one question leads to another

another maybe

another might

another should I have tried

before?

But wishes are wasted on the past

forward is the only direction for dreamers 

and so I venture on

though often I can hardly say even where I’ve been

I am going somewhere

of this I am sure

because I am not where I was

and neither am I in a place I to stop

or stay

ever on –

with a pocket of words for company

I go

11.4.18 Creating a Bank Account of Cozy

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Salted caramel hot chocolate. Thick, warm slices of buttered toast. Snuggles under a new, warm blanket. Reading a classic while it’s raining … bright colored leaves painting the sidewalk. The first fire of the season, logs snapping as amber shadows dance on your walls. This is the Danish concept of Hygge – dedicating oneself to the pursuit of coziness and comfort.

I was honored to be asked by the editors of Bella Grace to discuss what cozy looks like. November first, this special edition of Bella Grace Magazine came out and is available at Barnes and Nobles, or online. Tonight I finally took the time to dive in and I was instantly neck deep in seasonally sweet ideas and ways to slow the pace of my racing days. From creating oil-infused baths to hosting a Scottish “Cookie Shine,” I am tempted beyond all reason to fill my antique teacup and crawl into bed to read the rest.

I hope that you’ll take a moment to read “Creating a Bank Account of Cozy,” my article and journal prompt and tell me one cozy aspect involving each of your senses. As a sneak peek, I’ll share one of mine.

Taste: Warm pumpkin muffins fresh from the oven

Sound: Strong wind that wrestles the last leaves off trees

Smell: The thick smell of melting chocolate

Touch: Layers upon layers of fleece, cotton, and wool

Sight: The brilliant encore of Maples and Oaks in the finale of Fall

Your turn to turn on your cozy! I’d love to hear your thoughts on how the Danish concept of Hygge might affect you as the season turns.

Be well and stay comfortable friends,

Elle

10.28.18 All That’s Left Unsaid

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I dream in ochre gold and brilliant red

enchanting leaf-lined swirls that round my head

and in-between the passing wind through trees

there breathes a hint of magic on the breeze

This time when nights grow long and skies grow dark

when flicker-flames dance boldly from a spark 

silent stars look on a little brighter 

spirits rest – our souls somehow feel lighter

I walk into imagination free

my conscious open to all I might see

the bed of dew and leaves become my trail

I lose myself as space and time prevail 

As beasts of nature and of mind lie still

I find my strength beside my own free will

and in the tempest storms where none could save

in near defeat I finally find my brave

The glisten and the glitter of what may

remind my wandering feet at once to stay 

to feel and deal with feelings as they come

experiencing everything but numb

I dream in vibrant orange and deepest green 

a wonder-waking clarity foreseen

delicious stories waiting to be read

in all that is and all that’s left unsaid 

10.18.18 But First …

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“Seeming to do is not doing.” Thomas Edison

Sometimes I get so frustrated with myself because I haven’t figured out how to do it all. I try. Trust me I try. But somehow … busy and busier is never enough to accomplish everything – or sometimes anything of value.

I find I’m at the, “But then/But first,” stage of my life. I have to finish that email, but then I have a meeting at four, but first I need to talk to so-and-so about such-and-such, but then I need to get my daughter to her haircut, but first I need to get home to let the dog out before she gets a U.T.I., but then my son has soccer, but first I probably need to feed him something … OH YEAH! I need to go pick up the groceries I ordered online this morning since I knew I wouldn’t have time to actually go – but then I’d make him late for his practice, but first I’d better make something out of the nothing groceries I’ve got left.

And on. And on. And on.

I’m a bit tired if you couldn’t tell. And my friends, I hope you aren’t. I hope you have a wealth of sleep-saturated nights and lazy-day mornings. I hope that your first “thing to do” isn’t until eleven o’clock. I hope your laundry is somehow magically done without your having done it, and the dishes put themselves away. I hope that when you get up you find that you still have two more hours to rest. And when your day ends, I hope there is nothing on your to do list but a checked-off load of accomplishments. I wish this reality for you … because at this point in my life … that is a fantasy.

My sweet husband (aka: the cute roommate I have that I think might have a crush on me sometimes when our eyes happen to meet as we pass each other every other day) fell asleep putting my daughter to bed. There she was wide awake as daddy breathed just a little too evenly beside her. I left him there because jealousy is a sin and I’m trying to be virtuous … that and if he stayed, I’d get to workout without interruption.

It is late, and tomorrow is dangerously close to today. I need to get to sleep myself but then, this whole circus will start up again so first I had to reach my typing fingers out into the world to assure myself I am not alone. Right? Are you with me exhausted friends? If so, carry on weary soldiers. If not … God bless you and keep you where you are.

Off to bed, but then someone has to turn out the light, but first I need to go wake him up to do it!

Dreaming of longer days,

Elle

 

 

10.9.18 Picturesque Song

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Every once in awhile, when I quiet my busy long enough to feel – life finds another way to bring me back. Sometimes it’s in the unexpected shift in the clouds that reveals an iridescent promise. Sometimes it’s the smile you didn’t see coming from the person who never does. And sometimes, it’s the words you didn’t know you needed to hear until you heard them.  Lately there’s a song that I’ve been loving called “Testify” by the band Needtobreathe. Although all of the lyrics speak to me, there is one line … isn’t there always … that draws me in and holds me.

“Mist on the mountain, rising from the ground – there’s no denying beauty makes a sound.” 

Doesn’t it just make you breathe slower? Close your eyes? And hear it?

What does beauty sound like to you?

I’m not sure I ever thought about it before, but now that I have, I often find myself wondering at what beauty sounds like, and little by little, my list grows.

Beauty sounds like the recession of a wave, pulling back the might of a swell.

Beauty sounds like the contented breathing of love sleeping evenly beside you.

Beauty sounds like the rustle of leaves … the hint of change swirling underfoot.

Beauty sounds like the quiet voice urging you one more time, to carry on.

Beauty sounds like a chance.

Beauty sounds like a choice.

Beauty sounds like a prayer, offered up without anything but remaining hope.

 

What do you hear? I’d love to know what beauty sounds like to you dear ones. Let’s make our own picturesque song.

Elle

Trepidatious Hearts 9.30.18

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“Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid, one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.” – Douglas MacArthur

I am a little anxious writing tonight because I so desperately want to get this right. For the past few weeks I have been confronted with a tangle of thoughts and quotes and words and perspectives that have all built to a feeling to speak … I’m still not sure I know exactly what to say, but I can’t ignore the itch to try, and I pray something will come that is worthy of sharing, worthy of feeling and passing on.

I have been loving a song lately called “Charlie Boy,” by The Lumineers. It is about a young man feeling compelled by the speech of J.F.K. to enter into the war, and to fight for something bigger than himself – freedom. And as such, it is about a mother who is forced to accept his decision to fight, and ultimately, to die. The lyrics sing to her, “… don’t hang your head, love should make you feel goodIn uniform you raised a man, who volunteered to stand.” Based on of a true story, I wonder how many brave young men and women have heeded a call I consistently choose to ignore. I crave safety, not the price of it. I yearn to be protected, not defend myself. Having children has only deepened this yearning for sanctuary, I think because I want to offer my son and daughter a promise that’s not mine to give – that they’re always going to be okay.

When my son was five and in kindergarten the Sandy Hook shooting happened. As a teacher, I always knew the threat was real, but when I had a son in a school, and I wasn’t with him – something shifted in me that has perpetually remained unaltered. I’ll never forget the months of shaking hands when I hugged him goodbye and sent him off to class … the way I looked back at the locked door thinking it wasn’t safe enough … the way I questioned the administration about the how they planned to increase the security measures of a small private school. Nothing seemed right for a long time, and every afternoon, when I picked him up, I realized that I’d release a breath I hadn’t known I’d been holding. It’s the same feeling I now have when I read accounts of families sold into slavery, of the Holocaust, of human trafficking  … to me they are all tales of mothers being taken from their children. And I can’t read stories as impartial accounts of history anymore, because all I hear is the injustice of a mother’s broken heart, and the empathy in me rises so that I can hardly breathe.

There is something about my son, my daughter, that have made objectivity impossible. I can no longer look at a situation apart from them, because they are my own precious version of gravity, holding my identity in this time and space in history. And I wish – I wish with every fiber of my being, that the world could understand this love … because if it could, I really believe things would be better. I’m reading an amazing book called Circus Mirandus, and in it, there is a section where a magician offers a little boy an illusion to see anything he wishes to see, as long as he understands it cannot be real. The boy wishes to see his father home from war, and in the illusion, the boy’s mother says something to him that absolutely wrecks me … and I found myself wishing, beyond all wishes, that it wasn’t an illusion, that it wasn’t a beautiful part of a beautiful story, because it is so very acutely the way I believe things should be.

“The war ended all at once and very calmly. It was as if, between one moment and the next, all the mothers of all the soldiers in the world had checked their clocks and realized that their children had been out playing for too long … The soldiers shook hands with one another and wished one another well. Then they raced back to their mothers or to their wives and sons.” – Cassie Beasley

And can’t you just see it? Can’t you see all the misunderstandings, the judgements, the hatred erased as if it were one big confusing game that has just gone on too long? Can’t you picture soldiers, gang members, politicians, and rivals shaking their heads in sudden confusion, bewildered at the mistakes they didn’t ever intend to go that far? If only everyone heard their mothers’ voices calling them back to themselves. If only everyone heard their father calling them home.

What a world we could promise our children.

What peace our trepidatious hearts could feel.

 

 

 

9.24.18 Knit Me Back Together

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Nature has a way with restoration

with piecing together the pieces of me

that have begun to pull apart

Stepping into a world of green

the interconnectedness of bough and root

remind me that no part of ourselves 

can be lost from the whole completely 

Silent steps on fallen pine needles

usher me into a place of contemplative quiet

where no burden of daily routines can find me

Why is it that the sound of rushing water 

doesn’t make me hurry?

Why does the blast of racing wind 

set my heart to still?

I think we have become so talented at crowding our senses

senselessly

Filling our minds and our hands with various forms of distraction 

from the beauty that most deserves our attention

Anxious thoughts can’t keep company 

with the tranquil breaths I breathe

My worried mind is finally clarified

when focus is paid to sure feet and steady hands

There is healing in the body seeking higher ground

as if heaven is somehow a tangible opportunity

rather than a far off, distant dream

And what enlightenment there is in realizing this side

can sometimes see holy too

In the promising curl of an infant vine

In the assurance of a rock that still stands so still

In the sacrifice of a fallen, sheltering limb

In the delicate bending of light between darks

Nature has a way with restoration

with piecing together the pieces of me

that had begun to pull apart …

but somehow knit me back together

 

Be well friends,

Elle

9.16.18 Choose You

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In his book, Choose Yourself, James Altucher says, “Only think about the people you enjoy. Only read the books you enjoy, that make you happy to be human. Only go to the events that actually make you laugh or fall in love. Only deal with the people who love you back …” in other words … choose you! 

I find this somewhat difficult to do. At times, I feel like unless I am being productive, achieving something (regardless of how menial it may be), or pursuing accomplishment, I am wasting time. More and more I am realizing that both society and I have been lying to myself. Sometimes … more than sometimes, we need to do nothing more than refill our own cups, renew our own spirits, and realize our value comes from being, not doing.

In her infinite four-years-older-than-me-wisdom, my sister bought me a fabulous book for my birthday (and dress and boots to wear while I read it!). More of a journal really, it’s called 3,000 Questions About Me, and I absolutely LOVE it. More often than not my sweet family and friends and anyone who is stuck in my vicinity for more than twenty minutes will hear me chime in, “Hey, let’s play the question game.” This means that from would you rather to what’s your favorite, let’s pretend, to what if … I will pretty much ask you questions until you turn blue in the face from answering them all. (Sometimes I secretly applaud myself for choosing my occupation of teaching so I have an educational excuse to pepper those little angels with as many questions as I want to!) The thing is though, I rarely ask myself to answer the questions I ask, and this book has been giving me permission to do so.

So Friday night, my family went to a fun park, and I chose myself. I did some housework, I grocery shopped, and then I gave myself forty-whole-minutes to answering questions about me. Honestly, I didn’t know the answers to quite a few of them, and in some ways this thrilled me. Choosing you is like giving yourself permission to meet and interview the parts of yourself you’ve not really paid attention to recently – or ever. I don’t know what my most marked characteristic is … I’ve not decided what the next wonder of the world should be … I don’t know my Chinese zodiac sign … I’ve yet to explore what food best describes my personality … but the good news is, if I choose myself a few more Friday nights, I might begin to, and the better I know myself, the better able I am to be authentically known by others.

Choose you – because in doing so, you are allowing more of yourself to be open to the world that longs to know you better.

Elle

9.8.18 Today, I Shall Make-A-Wish

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“I wish that every human life might be pure transparent freedom.”                     Simone de Beauvoir

Today I shall make-a-wish. It is my 36th birthday, so I suppose I am owed one officially, but in reality I actually make wishes on a daily basis. I wish on stars. I wish on prayers. I wish on eyelashes. I wish on the clock when it says 11:11. I am a supreme believer in the power of a wish, and even more so because of all the wishes-come-true I’ve experienced in my 36 years.

I am loved.

I am a mommy.

I have the best of best friends and family.

I have readers who care and actually look forward to what I say!

Could I be more blessed? I think not. One of my greatest faults, I think, is that I am a bit too much of a forward thinker … a “what’s next,” eager soul jumping at the chance for tomorrow. But what matters most, I think, is today. Bella Grace Magazine, just published the most beautiful September issue, and I hope you will read and embrace it. I have a piece in there about the beauty of friendship and the importance of relationship NOW.

Ironically, I am also published in Grace Notes, Bella Grace’s affiliate blog with a piece on “Living Our Legacy Now.”

Don’t wait precious friends. Love who you need to love. Make wishes when they present themselves. Make that lunch date today. Be your best self, right now.

My wish today is all of you,

Elle

9.2.18 Take a Breath Vlog

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“What would it be like if you lived each day, each breath, as a work of art in progress?” – Thomas Crum

I hope that this weekend you are able to breathe … that you take a moment to lounge in a bookstore, to read the last chapter of a long unfinished book … that you daydream your way into a luxurious nap. Make time for conversation with your extra day. Go for a walk, and take the long way. Sit down with those pets you love and talk to them for awhile. Make a new dinner. Find a new treasure. Just be.