4.21.20 Tenacity

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“Carry each other’s burdens.” Galatians 6:2

My favorite illustrator and great friend, P. Marin, once posted her word of the year … I fell in love with it and, after seeing it, asked if she could illustrate my favorite word on commission. Thus, this delightful little creature was born! P. Marin said, “It’s you,” and I’ve never been so flattered!

So … from her and I … hang on friends … this won’t last forever and we believe you’ve got all the grace, moxie, and tenacity to carry on. If you’re feeling weak or overwhelmed, send me a note and I’ll send some words to shield you. I’m hanging on, and until you can strengthen your grip, let others help carry you. All my love.

Elle

 

4.2.20 A Stranger’s Smile

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I fell asleep with my son, putting him to bed last night. I woke up this morning by falling out of his bed. I realized, in that cold, hard moment on the floor, that my predicament was quite the metaphor for how I’ve been feeling lately. Every day I wake up with a bit of a shock, a little rocked and shaken, a little dazed – needing a moment to reorient myself before standing up again.

Anyone else?

I asked a student of mine recently how he was doing and he said, “You know, I think this is going to be one of those things that changes you for the rest of your life. My great grandparents went through the Great Depression, and for the rest of their lives they were really careful with money and lived a simple life. I feel like this is going to be our big life event that changes us, and someday I’ll scream at my kids to ‘wash their hands better,’ because they just can’t understand what I’ve been through.”

Wisdom. I think he’s right. I think that this event is unlike anything the world has known in my time of living on it. In some ways I appreciate the pause, the time with my family, the dinners and walks. But in other ways Spring Break felt more like a Spring Breakdown … becoming acclimated to working remote from jobs that were not designed that way, and realizing that even outdoor escapes like parks and preserves are closed.

One of my closest friends said, “I hate that it’s called ‘social distancing.’ It should be called physical distancing. We shouldn’t be trying to make ourselves less social.”  It’s weird for everyone. It’s hard for everyone. So be gentle. Be kind. And don’t forget to be humane in your humanness. I feel like when I have ventured out for my weekly groceries, people cast their eyes down and look away from one another … like everyone is a potential threat. Stay six feet apart, but SMILE!

There was an elderly gentleman at the grocery waiting in line like me, and we got to chatting. I told him my frustration with people’s social ineptitude, and he said, “You know, someone took a picture of me the other day and said they couldn’t recognize me because I was scowling. I didn’t even know I was.”

“Well you’re smiling now,” I said. “And I’m honored you spent your smile on me.”

So, like me, you might be feeling a little rough-around-the-edges and sore. Life has taken us for a tumble … but don’t forget to be yourself, don’t forget to care about the smiles of a stranger that might be your job to bring about.

All my love and prayers,

Elle

2.26.20 The Hardest Part is Loving You

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Dear Little Girl:

I think it’s time I tell you that being a mom isn’t always easy … there are many difficult parts of parenting – but the hardest part is loving you.

I don’t mean precious, that you are hard to love. The opposite in fact. Just to know you is to love you. Who couldn’t fall for that smile? I have been proud of every step, jump, and twirl of your life. I have applauded each role, whether minor or lead. I am excited about every new concept you master and every new idea you form. You are a wonder in my world. And that is why loving you is hard. Because love hurts … and I love you fierce and full.

When you are hurting dolly, I hurt – and when you are the age you are, and life is what it is, and society does what it does, I wish, for you, that I could change it. I wish I could erase every confusion that twists your perfect smile into a worried frown. I wish I could wipe every concern from your furrowed brow at trying to understand things that make no sense. But I can’t, and that is unbearable – to know it is my job to protect you against shadows I can’t catch.

Sometimes I look at you, and I see me. I see a little girl who is afraid of a world she can’t explain and worries she can’t clear her mind of. I travel back in time and feel the too fast beat of my heart and fluttery nerves that come with anxious thoughts. And in those moments, it’s like I am no longer the woman whose outgrown her adolescent fears, but am instead walking through them again … only it’s worse … because it’s you – and I love you more.

There is no solution to this problem of growing up … there is only a promise I can make you that it’ll all make sense someday. There will continue to be personal mistakes, world problems, and difficult issues to learn about. There will never be a day when everything you do or say is just right. You will disappoint and be disappointed. Sometimes you will feel pain and sometimes you will cause it. There are things you cannot change, even when you want to. This beautiful, messy life is not easy … but living through the bumps and bruises gets you to the other side. The side I’m on now – the side that gets to love you.

Someday you will have your own little you. You will marvel at every baby sigh, and spoken word, and made-up song. Your heart will ache at a small hand that finds yours through the first steps, and millionth dances, and bad dreams. You will catch glimpses of yourself and wish against wish that you could pave every path smooth and cast every obstacle to the depths of the sea you’d swim clear across just to keep her from tripping. You will love beyond bearing it … and it will hurt terribly … because you will love with a mother’s knowing.

Hold on little one. I can’t move the mountains you might have to climb, but I promise to walk them with you one step at a time. Because dear girl, I love you … and it’s a pain worth every moment I get to spend at your side.

Mommy

2.11.20 Damsel in a Ditch

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“I’m a damsel, I’m in distress, I can handle this. Have a nice day!”

– Meg, from Disney’s Hercules 

So I very, very rarely post twice in one week let alone two days in a row, but today warranted a post my friends! Trust me.

I love the picture above because it is the story of my life. No … there’s nothing wrong with your eyes, it is a blur, because that is the speed of life, and in my experience, trying to focus for even a second doesn’t really seem plausible. Today was no different. Maybe someday my memories will be in focus, and when they are, I hope I remember today.

So I dashed home from work to get home on time for my son’s personal tutor (he wanted to learn Japanese … GO HIM! So we hired someone wonderful to come once a week). She was pulling in as I was pulling in. He had lesson, and as soon as she left, we needed to get to soccer – but my daughter wasn’t done with her shower on time (she never is). Then, she was ready but he was “getting his socks.” That took another five minutes and so we were running behind.

Fast forward to thirty minutes later … we are nearly to the soccer field (new place, far, far away) and Google Maps tells me to do a U-turn. No. I did not miss my turn, this state I live in just has the absolute WORST road infrastructure and U-turns are as common as turning right or left. Let me back up and tell you now, most practices were canceled today because of the EXTREME rain we’ve been having. There was no track, no after school sports, no girls’ soccer … but oh yes. We still had boys soccer. Back to the road. I take my U-turn, knowing that my wheel will dip a smidge past the asphalt to the grass, but I see a few tire tracks and assume (yes, I know what assuming does) that it’ll be fine. So I get a bit of grass in my wheel.

Nope.

I got stuck. BIG TIME! My left-front wheel immediately sinks in about three inches below the lip of the asphalt. I try. And try. And try some more, furthering my predicament at every acceleration. My son, at this point says, “Oh no. Mom. Don’t worry. Are we stuck? Should I text my coach?” I told him sure, not knowing until later that he texted the entire team, “We are in a ditch.” Awesome. I’m that parent. The “ditch” parent. The “we-were-already-going-to-be-late-and-now-we-are-late-from-being-stuck- in-a-ditch,” parent! Here comes the damsel!

While I don’t like playing this role in the least … sometimes it is just true. Everyone needs help sometimes. This was my time. And you know what? God delivered. I wasn’t there more than two minutes when an angel in a Subway t-shirt walked across this suburban street. “Hey there,” he said, “I saw you through the window of my house right there,” he pointed behind him, “and I thought you might need help.”

I told him I wasn’t sure what to do and he said, “You get in and I’ll push.” He tried and tried some more and asked me if I had anything like a book or magazine I could put under the wheel. I gave him the one flimsy magazine I had, but nothing doing. Then he said, “I might have a piece of wood back by my house, I’ll put it under for some traction.” He just wouldn’t leave me alone and I could have cried. At that moment, a truck pulled up and another man jumped out and said, “I have some rope if you want, I think I could pull you out.” Then he signaled another truck filled with guys he worked with.

In a matter of minutes there were six men pushing my car up over that lip. I never wished more that I had something to give in my astonished gratitude. A whole host of angels descended and graced me with smiles and “no problems,” like they saved damsels every day. I promised to pay it forward and this is my first attempt to do so.

Be strong enough to accept when miracles happen – they’re among us, in Subway t-shirts, and muddy work boots. In tired, over-worked faces of men who stopped simply because they knew a damsel when they saw one, and had too much integrity as gentlemen to stand by and watch.

Thank you to my heroes.

Thank you God for miracles.

Thank you life for making me a damsel in a ditch.

 

Go be someone’s miracle today,

Elle

2.1.20 Let’s Be Tired Together

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So … I came across an unknown quote recently that really resonated with me. It said, “Even though I carry it all so well, doesn’t mean it’s not heavy.” And life is isn’t it? Heavy. Messy. Rough. I am fully aware that not all weeks are created equal, and this week was further vindication. So instead of laying it all out there … this post is an invitation. Let’s be tired together! Let’s rest in knowing that all of us need a little more rest, and maybe too … a lot more encouragement!

Carry on warriors. Breathe in and then out, and then laugh a little because it is good for the soul. I love you. I’m with you. I’m here.

Elle

 

1.4.19 The Serendipity of Words

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Today I was checking my Instagram feed and came across this lovely tag from a woman I’ve never met named Debbie. Her post said, “A small line from a most beautiful poem written by Elle Harris, which inspired my journal page today.”

Can I just say I’m so, SO very humbled. Any of you who have followed me for awhile know the story of myself and my friend Michelle. We met because Michelle’s best friend, Katrina, was very sick with cancer, and in her final days, Michelle said that she read one of my poems to Katrina over and over again.

Nothing in my writing career has ever come close to mattering more to me than this story, because nothing in the world could ever compete with serendipitously being “there” to help comfort the journey of one’s spirit from this world to Heaven itself. From that time on, Michelle and I became very close and when she told me the story of Katrina, I wrote a piece for her, that eventually ended up in Bella Grace Magazine.

Fast forward to today. Debbie found the poem and used a line of it in her journal. When I messaged it to Michelle, she said that it came at a perfect time because this season marks the third anniversary of  Katrina’s passing. How like the Holy Spirit to tie all of the threads of these disconnected lives together. How like destiny to lace and weave time and space for such a moment as this. How like fate to know just when a whisper across worlds needs to be heard. What a gift that Katrina still speaks.

Sometimes it is so very easy to feel that my words are rootless … sent out into the void of space without direction … but on days like this … I remember that isn’t true. And if my simple words have found a way to matter this much, I shall write on.

Thank you Debbie. Thank you Michelle. Thank you Katrina.

You inspire.

All my love,

Elle Harris

12.11.19 Being “Bella”

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Being “Bella” is a state of being that I have embraced since the birth of Bella Grace. I have never been so fully captivated by a people group, perspective, or purpose than I am every time I hold these stories, poems, images, and emotions in my hands. Bella Grace has satisfied a longing within my writer’s spirit to contribute to a larger body of voices that empower, inspire, and protect dreamers such as me.

If you too have coveted being a part of a community … let this be your tribe. Join the writers, photographers, idealists, and storytellers. Join the relationships, romance, beauty, and promise of something magically beyond the scope of the everyday. There is a reawakening that happens when you belong to more than that which fills your days – overflow them with grace personified in pages.

This Bella Grace’s winter issue is as enchanting as the season itself. I’d love to hear your thoughts on my piece, “Winter’s Undoing.” Please drop me a line, as you, dear friends, have become some of my most precious.

All my love Bellas,

Elle

11.19.19 Not Alone

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“Life’s under no obligation to give us what we expect.”
Margaret Mitchell

Sometimes I think that I have it all figured out … and then I realize that I absolutely don’t. I’m not sure if I’m caught somewhere between fate playing with destiny, God trying to teach me a lesson, or the devil trying to mess with me. Am I alone in finding it difficult to tell the difference? Like the weather that is forty degrees different from one day to the next, so too are the waxes and wanes of how my days progress. I can feel like I’m completely “there” one moment, and completely “lost” the next.

Maybe it’s a way of staying humble? Maybe it’s a reminder that we are dependent on more than our own strength? Maybe it is just life! Regardless of what it is, or who it is, I want you to know that if you are too tired to fold the laundry … you’re not alone. If you are about as mentally capable as a celery stalk … you’re not alone. If you are thanking the Lord for the invention of frozen pizza on a Tuesday night … you’re not alone. If you are maybe grateful for the STILL leftover Halloween candy because you just need it today … you’re not alone.

Never.

No matter what your mood.

No matter what the weather.

No matter if you are a million miles away …

… my friends … thank you for being at the other end of this post, reading my silly strand of words and reminding me that I’m not alone either.

Elle

9.7.19 37 Already Wished and Answered

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“Wish on everything. Pink cars are good, especially old ones. And stars of course, first stars and shooting stars. Planes will do if they are the first light in the sky and look like stars. Wish in tunnels, holding your breath and lifting your feet off the ground. Birthday candles. Baby teeth.”
Francesca Lia Block

I believe in wishes … but what’s more … I believe in wishes that come true because, well – life! Is life and the living of it not a wish-come-true? Because every single day is a do-over, a do-better, a try-harder, a dream-bigger, and a chance to discover a finer rendering of your own superlative self!

Here, on the eve of my 37th birthday, I am captivated by the wonder of all the wishes of mine that have already come true. So on tomorrow’s set of candles … I just may send up a prayer of thanksgiving for all things already wished and answered.

  1. A husband I adore
  2. Two earth-dwelling children sent straight from heaven
  3. A mom and dad who are my #1 fans
  4. The perfect look-up-to-my-whole-life sister
  5. A cousin who’s closer than close
  6. Nieces and nephews galore!
  7. Best friends who’ve loved me forever
  8. New friends who want to invest in relationship
  9. Friends who live around the world, but somehow found me anyway
  10. Experiencing first love
  11. Healing from a broken heart, more than once, and finding who I was alone
  12. Getting proposed to in the most romantic way
  13. Receiving a second set of parents who are so much more to me than in-laws
  14. Walking on a green sand beach in Hawaii
  15. Meeting dolphins on an uncharted, drop-you-in-the-middle-of-the-ocean swim
  16. Holding a baby lion
  17. Discovering the wonder of literature and stealing time to read
  18. Having the time-of-my-life with my grandmother
  19. Having the honor to hold her before she traded this life for her next
  20. Becoming a dancer
  21. Having Lillies of the Valley in my wedding bouquet
  22. Owning our own home
  23. Getting lost in Italy
  24. Horseback riding in Umbria
  25. Climbing the Eiffel Tower
  26. Exploring the South of France
  27. Watching a Mediterranean sunset
  28. Coming home to a houseful of pets
  29. Becoming a teacher
  30. Getting a Master’s Degree
  31. Having students who still reach out to me
  32. Being told I made a difference in a life
  33. Building a relationship with my grandfather
  34. Writing for Bella Grace Magazine
  35. Having children’s books published and about-to-be published (Spring!)
  36. Waking up each day grateful to know God is holding my life in His hands
  37. Never having grown up or given up on the impossible possibility of dreaming

What wishes of yours have already come true? Words are my favorite gift … would you reply and tell me one of your best “already wished and answered?”

All my love and wishes,

Elle

7.23.19 I Wish Him …

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There are some wishes-come-true that are too powerful not to have come straight from heaven. He is, and has been, my most precious wish. I remember, twelve years ago today, meeting a tiny blue-eyed wonder who stole my heart with a single sigh. My heart, heavy with the fears that accompany infertility, suddenly found its way back to beating … and the breath I’d been holding in hope became a thousand colorful balloons finding their way to the sky.

I know he’s nearly a teenager now … I know we are supposed to butt heads and grapple with misunderstandings. I know that I’m not supposed to “get” him, and he’s not likely to care about what his mom thinks – but that’s just so not us. This boy … this wonder … is truly one of the best friends in my whole life. He’s intelligent, considerate, and kind. He’s protective and intentional in conversation. When I’m happy, chances are he’s the source of my laughter, and when I’m sad he won’t let me off without acknowledging whether or not I’m okay. We love pirates and pretend, random facts and Neverland. I love the way he loves his sister. I love the way he looks up to his dad.

I love him. Simply – and infinitely complex.

On this … his twelfth birthday, I thought I’d make a few wishes for him … one for each candle he blew out today.

  1. I wish him effervescent joy like he brings to others.
  2. I wish him confidence in times of chaos and calm.
  3. I wish him the freedom to always escape to his imagination.
  4. I wish him a lifetime of Sandman-sweet dreams.
  5. I wish him truest friendship in and of every age.
  6. I wish him the love that has no barriers or boundaries.
  7. I wish him fulfillment in each of his pursued endeavors.
  8. I wish him a thousand unexpected adventures.
  9. I wish him tenacity when life does what it does, and tries him.
  10. I wish him experience that leads to both humility and wisdom.
  11. I wish him accomplishment that bears pride in helping others.
  12. And most of all, I wish him faith borne of heaven’s wings.