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

 

3.23.20 Small Fib

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Dear Grandma:

Hello to you one of my all-time-favorite people in the history of ever and always. Grandma, there is SO much happening here on earth, and I wish for all the world you were here because I could really use some of your jubilant nature … some of your can-do-moxie, and one of your famous don’t-let-go hugs. But in the same breath, I am relieved that you are nestled in the grace of heaven, far from any more trials.

If we were together though, I know what you would say … and that is the blessing of knowing someone as special as you for so long … you’ve imprinted on my very spirit, and I can still hear you. If you were here, I’d start to cry. You would sweep my hair aside, put my head on your shoulder, rub my back and call me dolly. You would not only let me cry, but you would cry with me, wiping my tears just as fast as they fell, and planting kisses on my cheeks.

I would tell you how hard it is to be away from people I love, and you would remind me of the many people you had to say goodbye to. You would tell me that it is because love hurts, and sometimes pain is good. I would tell you that hiding and feeling trapped isn’t fair, and you would remind me that there was a time in history you lived through where people had to hide for much worse reasons than sickness. I would ask you how to deal with the dark thoughts and feelings that come, and you would tell me that joy is a choice, and it is about high time I start doing something fun.

If I were the me I imagine … the one who always came to you when I was feeling sad or scared, I know exactly what you’d do next. You’d scoop me onto your lap (even though I was nearly always taller than you) and you’d swing me back until our legs reached the sky and we dissolved into a fit of giggles. Then, you’d suggest we try on some of your jewelry … the best pieces you kept tucked in the boxes beneath your bed. I’d ask you to tell me all of your love stories, and you’d tell me small bits and pieces … just enough to keep me wondering at the girl you were, who stole hearts without meaning to, just by being you.

Grandma do you know how much I love you? How much I miss you? Still. Always. I love that you found a way to balance mischief and melancholy. You did not have an easy life … but somehow, you always found your way into another “dandy” time. I promise to do the same, and I promise to take as many with me as I can on each frolicking adventure into my imagination.

If I were with you, I’d ask you to never leave Grandma … and you’d squeeze my hand white-knuckle tight (like you always did) and you’d lie to me and say, “I’m not going anywhere.” Maybe just for today Gram I’m going to pretend that you’re not SO very far away … I might tell myself that I got to see you yesterday, and I can’t be so selfish with your time today. Do you think it’d be okay just this once to lie?

“It’s just a small fib,” you’d say. “No harm in that dolly.”

Oh Gram, meet me in a dream soon okay? Maybe tomorrow? So we can go bumming? So we can have a laugh and “get along real good,” like you always said we did. I know I just got to see you yesterday … but I might need tomorrow too.

I love you. I miss you. I need you still.

Tootaloo!

 

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

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

10.27.19 Do. Say. Love. Now.

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There is an old saying that I really love … “There are seven days in a week, and ‘someday’ is not one of them.” I think I love it because I so ardently believe it’s true. There is no such thing as someday – there is only now, and now is fleeting.

Lately I have been second-hand to several tragedies that have left me more than a bit stirred emotionally. This week alone I have heard of five deaths within the outer circle of my inner circle and though they do not affect me personally … they affect me … personally. Because I love. Because I hurt. Because I am cursed with compassion and I cannot disassociate what and who were, for who are no longer.

Sometimes when I hear about death I am afraid, not to die myself, but to miss living somehow. I think of how many days run into other days that spiral inside of my ever-running life that runs me. And though I try to be intentional about time spent with friends and family and faith – I know I fall short of the depth I believe my spirit was meant to pour out.

And so I apologize. I apologize for every time I put off reaching out. Holding on. Staying put. Making time. I apologize for failing to recognize the beauty before me. Above me. Beneath my feet. And all around me. I apologize for using words that weren’t always kind. Or thoughtful. Or respectful. Or necessary.

I need the world to do. To say. To love. And to do so now. There may not be tomorrow, and there is not much left of today, but I will certainly try to be more for the time that remains.

All my love,

Elle

10.5.19 More of Her

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“Nothing makes a room feel emptier than wanting someone in it.” Calla Quinn

No one is perfect. There’s no denying that … and yet it seems some are a bit closer to it than the rest of us. Missing someone seems to wear the edges off all of their imperfections too. So at this point – both my memory and my heart have nearby made her perfect.

I know I’ve spoken of my grandmother before, but sometimes I feel I need to talk about her just to bring her closer to me – to the forefront of my mind as if she is present company and not past.

My gram loved the beach. She loved it, I imagine, for the same reason I do … because looking at it makes the world seem big, and our problems seem small. I think the water-washed shore and scrubbed sand gave her peace in a way that ordinary days could not. She loved seashells and the color peach. Hawaii was her dream-come-true. She loved too-loud music and bending the rules without breaking them … well … maybe just a few.

She lived ninety-six years and I don’t think it was nearly long enough, because the world needed more of her. More giggles. More late-night movies. More wonder. More awe. More long hugs. More confetti kisses. More lullaby songs. More kitchen waltzes. More being her granddaughter.

I feel an immense responsibility to live with intentional joy because of her. I know my mother feels it too … and what a grand commission she inspired. I hope someday I’m half the fun she always was. Equal measures of sugar and spice – today I just want more.

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.

 

6.12.19 Love Looks Different

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“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.”
Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets

I was married at 21. I remember people telling me I was really young and I remember thinking they were crazy. We had been together three years by that time, and when you’re 21, three years is a lifetime. Today is fifteen years from the day I said I do. And somehow, though back then three years seemed SO long, five times that has gone by in less than the blink of an eye … the beat of a heart … the length of a song.

I’ve often shared that I’m a hopeless romantic, and it’s true. I apologize to my husband because I know how unfair and unrealistic it is to be the way I am … and yet … I simply cannot help it. I love love. I even have a Pinterest board called that and pin romantic images. The thing is, after fifteen years, love looks different. At this stage it isn’t all sweeping gestures and classic eyes-closed kisses … but that doesn’t make it less … it makes it real.

For us at 36 and 37, with two kids and two dogs and two cats and two fish and two full time jobs … love is lived-in and a bit nicked up in places. My favorite home decor style is vintage romantic, and maybe that’s why … because it is still lovely, but aged … somehow sophisticated in its imperfection as if it has survived many stories worth telling. This is our love.

For us now:

Love looks like going to a coffee shop instead of a romantic dinner (neither of us have a huge appreciation for overpriced food).

Love looks like saying yes to acting classes and summer camps instead of get-away vacations for two.

Love looks like choosing to visit family every time we have a holiday.

Love looks like emptying the dishwasher, making the bed, and rinsing out the sink after shaving all without being asked.

Love looks like sacrificing Saturdays for soccer games and choosing your son’s travel league as your favorite sports team.

Love looks like saying yes to another dog because (at this point of fur) what’s the difference?

Love looks like stolen kisses at midnight because it is the only time our daughter might actually be sleep.

Love looks like laughing at old jokes … remembering first kisses … and being secure in the fact that regardless of the potholes life throws our way … we’re under construction together.

So yeah … our love looks nothing like my Pintrest board. It doesn’t sweep you under like a romantic novel or entrance you like a classic film … but it has stood the test of time; it is vintage and lovely, worn and comfortable. My love story, and the children who have come out of it, are the greatest accomplishments of my life. My husband is my living, breathing, there-for-me-when-I’m-being-a-weirdo, dream-come-true and I hope he knows it, even when I forget to thank him as I should.

Wherever you are in your love story … I sure would like to hear about it! You know I’m a sucker for romance after all … even when love looks different.

Hugs and kisses,

Elle

6.4.19 Esse Quam Videri

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“Esse Quam Videri” 

So our family is about to embark on a new adventure … we are moving from one part of these amazing United States to another. We’ve never before been out of the Midwest and now? We are about to be Southern y’all! The problem is … I love people too much – fiercely so, and with moving comes goodbyes; and goodbyes wreck me.

This past week I needed to say goodbye to my school … my students (present and former) and my friends. Do you know that the word goodbye actually comes from the 1500’s when the standard greeting was, “God be with thee.” I wish we still said that … a prayer in parting instead of a single word ringing with finality. I’m blessed enough to be going from a place that believes the same. I was grateful to be sent off with a jar of words … glitter … and a motto to live by.

Esse Quam Videri means, “To be rather than to seem.” Authenticity, love, and intention have always been my primary ambitions, and I am ever-so-enchanted to know that in this place … among these people, I have been nurtured to be myself, and encouraged to be more than I ever thought I was worthy of becoming – a bringer of hope, a believer in change, and now a dreamer of what lies ahead.

In these next days and months there will be a great deal of change for my family and myself, but one thing is for certain … wherever I go, I want to be, rather than seem … and I never want to say goodbye to anyone I’ve had the chance to know.

Please pray for me; I need you readers … your encouragement carries me more than you know.

All my love and God be with you,

Elle