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

 

 

6.26.18 Broken Angels

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“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” Michael J. Fox

Today I had the privilege of meeting a fresh from heaven darling for the first time – the beautiful daughter of my sweet friend, only two-days-old. I was immediately drawn into every detail of the encounter and tried to memorize the feeling of just being in the presence of this special moment. I took in every thread of their growing tapestry … from the way her daddy smiled a new smile, seemingly reserved just for her, to the way her toddler sister bragged about her new baby, to the precious handful of nicknames her mommy designated with each tender cuddle or kiss. It was holy, this love. It was pure. It was family in the way family should be. She was an angel born into a home that adored her. How I wish this was always the case.

A few weeks ago, I experienced quite the opposite. I was in a restaurant with my mom on a trip. I had just come off of an interview for a piece I was writing and I couldn’t wait to tell her every detail. But just as we both got our waters, a family was seated at the table behind us, and my concentration to the conversation was shattered for the next forty minutes. The family of five was soon to be six, as evidenced by a supremely uncomfortable and exhausted looking wife. She had dark rings under her eyes and did not smile once in the entirety of their visit. I’m not sure why she would however, as her husband was constantly berating the three kids whose ages ranged roughly between two and six. Between arguing about the expense of things, to nitpicking the way the oldest son was eating, to refusing to get his child a refilled drink, to displaying annoyance at having to cut food into pieces, or push up sleeves, or pick up a fork that fell … it literally hurt to witness such distain, such anger.

I kept losing my place in conversation and had to apologize to my mom over and over again for my distraction. She understood of course – the whole restaurant did at that point. My stomach turned in knots as I wrestled with determining what bothered me more … the fact that the three small children barely looked up from their plates out of fear, or the fact that another young life was being born into this already love-starved family. And as simple as it sounds to state it – I was so mad! I was so angry at the absolute disrespect this man had for the lives he brought into this world, and at the woman who not only allowed him to speak with such force, but then reinforced his words with her own jabs of disappointment and criticism at the children.

I hate doing nothing. I loathe when people say, “It’s not my concern,” because it’s just NOT true. Statements of copping out due to social graces are a weak excuse for doing the right thing. Being humane is everyone’s concern. Being kind is within everyone’s capability. After having taught for the past fourteen years, can you guess which type of family I see more of? Can you imagine why I might desperately wish to adopt so many of the past students I’ve taught? Do you understand why I spent as much time nurturing their emotional health as their educational growth? Because by the time so many of these middle school children reached me they were broken angels … and I had to wonder how long it had been since they had someone absolutely adore them. If ever.

Before leaving the restaurant that day, I stopped at that family’s table and took a moment to gush over the kids. I said how well behaved they were. I talked to them. I looked them in the eyes. I chatted about how I bet they were so excited to be great helpers to their parents with the new baby and how lucky their mom and dad were to have them. They looked up. They smiled and sat up a little straighter. And that was it. It was nothing … but it was everything I could do within that moment not to cry – not to yell, “How dare you,” to a complacent set of parents who didn’t realize the triple blessing before them. Hearts, after all, only turn hard to protect what once craved the love they weren’t given.

As for tonight … I am going to focus on this morning. I have to. I am going to see the sunlight that filtered into a room littered with new baby toys, with big sister joys, and with a mom and dad overflowing with tired exhilaration at the fact that their hearts just multiplied the amount of love they thought they could hold. I am going to imagine tiny, perfect breaths, rosebud lips, twitchy smiles brought on by invisible memories of heaven. And I am going to do my best to dream the impossible dream, that every child will be loved the way they deserve to be loved, appreciated for the miracle they really are, and found before they are ever lost.

Love fiercely, protect just the same … whether they are yours, or not.

Elle

6.1.18 The Last Time

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“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go – and then do it.” Ann Landers

So tomorrow is the last day of my son’s fifth grade year. This is monumental for many reasons, but the greatest of which is because he has been in my class all year. Let me begin by saying with emphatic resonance that I WOULD NEVER, EVER CHOOSE THIS. It was supremely difficult for numerous reasons I’m sure you can imagine, but mostly because I was paranoid for a YEAR that I was going to screw him up (even more than the poor kid is already likely to be with having me for a mother).

Imagine having your mom see you in your most formative time of social development on a daily basis. Imagine her seeing the way you interacted with friends, with less-than-friends, with girls! Half of the year I just wanted to close my eyes to give the poor kid some privacy and the other half I wanted to give him a, “What do you think you’re doing” death stare. Either way – it is supremely unfair. I was way harder on him than I’ve ever been with anyone else in my fourteen years of teaching. And I was way harder on me too.

But somehow, after all the prayers, and the tears, and the what if’s … I’m sad that tomorrow is it. I’ll be honest … my son is amazing. His nickname from day one was Mr. Handsome Face. He gave me hugs whenever I asked for them and even sometimes when I didn’t. He forgave me a million times for embarrassing him. He told me he’s learned more this year than ever before … me too.

I learned that this boy is courage personified.

I learned that this boy has integrity, just like his daddy.

I learned that this boy does know when to fight for what’s right, he does defend the weak, and he does put the needs of others before himself … even when mom “isn’t” watching.

I learned that this boy isn’t afraid of asking why history had to be that way, and if there’s really a chance we won’t need to repeat it.

I learned that this boy internalizes way more than I thought he did, that he most definitely cares what mommy and daddy think, and has more stress to live up to an invisible standard than I gave his little heart credit for.

I learned that this boy deserves my respect, my defense, and always, my love.

I learned a lot in fifth grade.

Sometimes I look back at pictures when he was nothing but a bundle of gurgling smiles. Other times I can’t bear it because it hurts too much to think about the times I might’ve missed a “last time” without even noticing. When was the last time I lifted him into the sky for an “airplane ride” at my feet? When was the last time I played pirates in a bubble bath? When was the last time I tucked tooth fairy money under his pillow when he still believed? When was the last time I rocked him to sleep?

Did I know it was the last time?

Did I even realize it was close?

Or was I too busy DOING motherhood instead of BEING his mommy?

Well … tomorrow is a “last time.” I can’t miss it even if I tried. Tomorrow is the last time my son will raise his hand to talk to me in class. It is the last time he’ll give me a mischievous grin across the rows of desks at some private joke only we understand. It is the last time I’ll have a son in elementary school. It is the last time I’ll be afraid that “Mrs. Harris” didn’t measure up to mommy and vice versa.

I always struggle with the end of the year – with students moving on, and beyond the memories we’ve formed toward those awaiting. I hate goodbyes. And it is surreal that somehow, though I’ll take him home with me in the afternoon … I think it is my son … this beautiful fifth grade boy … that I will miss the most – for the last time.

My heart hurts a little – okay a lot.

Elle

4.5.18 Embracing Weakness

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“It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.”  – Saint Augustine

There’s nothing wrong with your computer or phone. I’m aware that the video is sideways. It’s on purpose. When I originally took the video, my camera was not aligned and I tried to fix it, but then I remembered what my husband (an unbelievable skier) always tells me, “Skiing when it’s snowing is like being tipped in a snow globe.” And you know what … I like it this way. I’ve stopped trying to “fix” the video, because watching it makes me feel like I’ve been placed in a safe, slow, bubble of glass protected and stilled – visible only in the perfect way that memories preserved in a globe portray.

TRUTH? I’m awful at skiing. I take that back. I’m not awful, I’m just not awesome. My entire family is awesome at skiing. My husband was a competitive skier, wowing me from the start with flips, lincolnloops, spins, stealth, and speed. He has taken our kids on the hill since they were three, so both have had well over five years of practice. Me? I went (when I had to) with my husband before kids … then I had a blessed reprieve during pregnancy and the early years. Now that my kids and husband are all out there – my excuses are gone.

We spent Spring Break in Colorado, and I was literally near tears as my children and nieces whizzed past me saying, “Great job!” They waited for me on every lip of every run, and I was so frustrated, not at them, but at my own weakness. The more my family encouraged me, the more desolate I became until I literally asked to spend some time alone to get my bearings on the mountain. My son wouldn’t hear of it. “I’m going with mom,” he said with authority. Though trying to talk him out of it, his resolve would not be moved. He spent the next hour tree-skiing next to me as I sailed down the green runs where I was most comfortable. “Look at me mom, look! Watch this,” he would shout above the wind.

Within a few runs I felt God tapping me on the shoulder saying, “See … it was never about you.” I struggle with this; I’m admitting it. Though I wouldn’t necessarily have thought it before, I realize that I am an inherently selfish person. I didn’t want to ski because I wasn’t the best at it. In fact, I was the worst. It wasn’t fun for me to be last, when as a teacher and mother and writer, I’ve become accustomed to being “good” at things. Not. Needing. Help.

I don’t like help. I like helping. There, I said it. And even though it is the truth, I realized this trip, that it isn’t a good truth. When the rest of my family rejoined my son and I for lunch, my sister-in-law pulled me aside. “You know it means a lot to my brother that you come out here.”

“I feel so awful,” I admitted. “I’m just slowing everyone down.”

“It’s not about that for him,” she said. “It’s about his wife being out here, standing beside him and doing what he loves. I know how proud he is just to be with you.”

More truth – I’m happy to say that our trip was wonderful. I grew (not necessarily as a skier) but as a human in my IMPERFECTION which needed some reminding. There is something amazingly beautiful about stepping into humility … as Saint Augustine said, ” … that makes men as angels.”

My halo’s pretty tilted at times, like a snow-globe tipped sideways. So here’s to embracing our weaknesses angels. I’m right there, flying slowly with you.

Elle

3.6.18 I Write.

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“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou

I am deliriously happy to announce that I have a new piece in Bella Grace Magazine. This poem was really special to me because it epitomized what it means to find rest … not always the easiest of pursuits. “Because of Sundays,” is about delighting in the times you can wake up, just to fall asleep and dream again. I hope that you are able to visit Bella Grace online to purchase a copy, or, like me, steal away to your nearest bookstore just to see this lovely publication on the shelves where she belongs.

I have to say that the happiest moment of this particular piece was stealing away to see myself in print at the bookstore before receiving my copy. There was a sweet lady who was interested in what I was reading, and I told her all about a magazine that wasn’t filled with adds or tabloid stories, but pure, real pieces from the heart of writers, photographers, and seekers of living life with intention. Watching her shuffle away with her copy felt like extending a tiny legacy in some minuscule, but meaningful way.

It’s not always easy. Writing. There are endless rejection letters … pieces that go unfinished because of the reality of living between imagination and Mondays … and the ridiculous business of revising things you could’ve sworn you got right the first time. Still, I cannot seem to shake this love affair with words. And though it is ever-so-much more a give than take kind of relationship, it is one I am willing to work on for all of the reasons I relayed in the poem below. Please let me know your thoughts dear ones!

All my love, from my pen and page to yours,

Elle

I Write.

I write.

To hear the sound of a pencil speaking to it’s page.

I write.

For the hope that a story that needed telling gets told.

I write.

To connect my whispered thoughts to fellow dreamers across the world.

I write.

For the undiluted joy of marrying words that belong together in a line.

I write.

To share memories my mind is too slippery to hold on its own.

I write.

For the beam of radiant thought I cannot ignore inside me.

I write.

To hear the promises of better things I will into being by creating them.

I write.

For the God who commanded my heart to dance at the sight of words.

I write.

To reach for the immortality of lines that will outlive me.

I write.

For the ones I have raised with the truth that stories hold power.

I write.

To feel.

I write.

For joie de vivre.

I write.

To inspire.

I write.

For there is simply no way I could not.

 

 

1.24.18 Not a Bad Day’s Work

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Whenever a year ends with my students, and they get sad about leaving, I tell them that I am like Mary Poppins. I am there to be with them until the wind changes, and when it does and they no longer need me, they will forget all but a pleasant memory or two. Sometimes the truth of this fills me with a bit of melancholy, but then I have days like today …  and moments like this one … and I am overwhelmed with the reason that I continue to teach and do what I do every day.

My job as an educator usually falls quite short of anything that could be compared to glamorous. On a daily basis I adopt the duties and occupations within my classroom I’d never have chosen to sign up for. Between endlessly picking up garbage, redirecting misguided behaviors, and repeating myself constantly, I too have moments of, “What am I doing here.” And then – just like that, I’m brought back to the reality that there is no job more rewarding than this one.

Today my fifth graders and I were scheduled to finish reading the novel Peter Pan, and if you’ve never read it, may I say you are missing out incredibly. This is NOT a story for the light reader. It is filled with symbolism, allegory, and thematic resonance. I can think of many adults that would miss what it is truly about, but not kids.

For as long as I can remember I’ve tried desperately to hold onto my youth simply because children are smarter than adults, and I want to be THAT intelligent. Kids see things without the eternal fog of pessimism. They inadvertently understand truths that we adults would no longer consider in our jaded state of “prove-it-to-me.” They believe simply because believing is enough. I am witness to their ability every day, and oh how I wish I could promise them Neverland, but even the end of J.M. Barrie’s masterpiece cannot do that.

As Peter Pan comes to a close, Wendy chooses to grow up, and Peter comes back one more time to visit, not knowing she had fully aged to an adult. The narrative tells of how Wendy wishes she didn’t have to tell the truth to Peter, “Hello Peter,’ she replied faintly, squeezing herself as small as possible. Something inside her was crying, ‘Woman, woman let go of me.” At this point in the story my students and I stopped and discussed how we all have a childish heart inside of us, wishing to draw us back to simpler times when we were unafraid and sure of everything we now question. And in that fragile moment, on the verge of tears, these amazing students got it. They understood the beauty of the age they are both a part of and transitioning from.

We went on to discuss how there are things we wish we didn’t know, but do, and other things wish we did know, but are no longer able to believe. As I read the conversation between Wendy and her daughter, the kids were silent.

“Why can’t you fly now mother?”

“Because I am grown up, dearest. When people grow up they forget the way.”

And I saw it in their eyes. The moment of recognition that this isn’t just a story about a boy not growing up, this is a story about the choice to believe in everything childhood stands for. In the story Peter describes himself, “I am youth. I am joy.” My students and I talked about that being what we carry away from this novel. Joy is a choice, youthful imagination is something to covet and protect. And teaching, with its many challenges, is still the most magical profession I can think of. Where else can you carry a child’s understanding from one age to another? Where else can you see the wonder alight their senses from a classic story? Where else can you impart to them the value of their precious time being young?

So today, I am not necessarily winning any breakthrough awards. I am not making much money or traveling to exotic countries, or influencing the masses … but I got to converse with the smartest people on the planet, I got to travel to Neverland and back, and I got to feel (for a moment) like the world was a little bit brighter because of the sparkle of wonder in my students’ eyes. Not a bad day’s work after all.

1.17.18 The Reality of Nerdy Weirdos

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“Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century.” – Barry Humphries
So sometimes I can be a bit of a perfectionist. I, like every other human on the planet, like things how I like them. To me the problem isn’t that I strive to do things well, it’s that in the pursuit of a job well done, I find that I start to care more about how people perceive me than I should. I’m a people pleaser, and while I’m not ashamed to admit it, I am afraid that I can easily get carried away with liking the idea that people are developing a higher opinion of me than I deserve.
I love writing and poetry, deep conversations and thought provoking questions. Most of my publications are meant to inspire, and while that is good, I never want it to seem that I am on a pedestal of any kind. (I actually cannot stand pedestal speakers; I wish they’d trip off their high horses and get grounded from time to time.) Hoping that this is not the way I present myself in person or in print, I asked myself what to do about it. My answer? The only fair thing to prove how imperfect I am is to share a few laughable quirks and expose myself for the nerdy weirdo I can actually be.
Here goes … please don’t judge too harshly.
– Sometimes I’m afraid my teeth are shifting after years without braces, so every time I chew a new piece of gum, I first bite into it and check my tooth imprint to be sure it’s not too off line.
– Leaving the house in sweatpants makes me nervous; I even go to Walmart in jeans.
– I don’t believe in claiming places. To this day my husband and I switch cars frequently, don’t assign places at the dinner table, and switch sides of the bed every couple of days.
– I can’t stand when people waste kleenex just to be dainty when they blow their noses. I am the least ladylike nose blower you’ll find. My signature nose blow is a decibel or two above most men.
– If I start writing a page and make a mistake in the first paragraph, I start the whole thing over … sorry environment … I just can’t write on a bad juju page.
– When I get a massage I secretly worry that I’ll get a ring around my face from the head cushion or that he’ll push too hard on my back and make me pass gas. It is both relaxing and terrifying.
– If I go more than two days between working out, I am no longer nice. I get edgy and snippy and my husband almost always invariably figures it out and says as gently as he can, “Hey, why don’t you go exercise.”
– I love animals … sometimes more than people. We have four pets and shedding like you wouldn’t believe, but if someone came to me with another puppy or kitten I’d be like, “Yeah, we can take it.” But then my husband would make us go to couple’s therapy as he is a bit less keen on the furry-tile floors we’ve grown accustomed to.
– I have a hard time saying goodbye or letting go of any kind words, so I store emails in a file called, “Want to Keep.” I’m pretty sure it is now in the high hundreds.
– I hate whistling. I know it is a happy sound but it grates! No one whistles well except Julie Andrews and even her whistling annoys me.
– I like to believe in things I cannot explain like Bigfoot, mermaids, or fairies because I just think … why not!?!
– I love peanut butter. Like – a lot. Sometimes I just grab a spoon and go. I have Celiac’s Disease and cannot eat anything with: wheat, rye, barley, or corn, but I’d rather have that ANY DAY than a peanut allergy.
– I am a rubbish cook and gardener. I feel embarrassed because some of my dearest and most treasured friends and family can single handedly grow an Eden or cook for royalty and I’m just like … “It’s too much work!”
– I’m afraid my husband will age better than me. I use lotions and oils and primers … still the fear remains and the struggle is real. I have an expressive demeanor, and I’m conscious of the lines on my forehead, so when I’m stressed I realize I subconsciously rub at them like that’s going to help!
– I use any and all excuses to attach the new fairy emoji to my messages as it is a secret ambition to be thought of as one (the cute, nice ones, not the sass … okay, a little bit of sass but not too much).
– Sometimes when I’m afraid I’ve been too honest in a text or email I’ll slap on a smiley emoji to lessen the edge. I’ve been grateful on more than one occasion for the softening a digital ball of sunshine can render.
– I cannot sit still very well and am always trying to multi-task. This once got me yelled at by a speaker on a field trip as I tried to send pictures to the parents of their children during her speech. She told me I needed to be, “An example of listening to the children.” She was right. I was mortified … but I still don’t know how to do only one thing at a time.
So there you have it. I’ve realized that I need to just laugh already and stop trying to pretend like the quirks aren’t there. They are prevalent and multiplying the older I get, so here’s to the real me … the real you … and the reality of nerdy weirdos like us.
Please share a quirk with me! I’d love to laugh WITH you too!
Elle

1.3.18 Eighteen Thoughts for 2018

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“And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been”
– Rainer Maria Rilke

So here we are … a new year … a new set of 365 chances to do it better than we did before. This year will not be perfect, so don’t expect it to be. It will present its own set of challenges, but that doesn’t mean it will not be a grand and delightful adventure … so pack your bags … update your passport … and book a vacation for your imagination to plan the wondrous possibilities that abound. I’m speaking to myself here mostly. I tend to be the queen of fantastic plans that get booted out when the reality of my schedule comes trundling in – but this year I’m determined to do things differently. So here are eighteen thoughts (not resolutions) I will be thinking throughout the year. Let me know what number resonates with your heart. I’d love to know I’m not “thinking” alone. Be well dear ones. Be courageous as you march to the beat of your brave new heart this year.

  1. Be intentional when talking to people. Slow down enough to read their eyes and feel the theme of their story.
  2. Embrace people fully … hug with both arms and hold on with healing hands.
  3. Laugh without reservation. Giggle unashamedly and let mirth bubble over spilling into the lives of others.
  4. Listen without an agenda, timeframe, or plan to fix anything or anyone. Just hear the words that are said, and the ones that aren’t.
  5. Wait expectantly for the Holy Spirit to move. Be open to the reality of a faith that lives and breathes without my permission or direction.
  6. Allow pretend to be real enough to inspire.
  7. Be grounded. Be humble. Be real.
  8. Dance! Whenever and wherever the music moves. Disregard the audience or invite them to twirl along.
  9. Reconnect with nature. Breathe in the wind and tell the trees your story. Allow the forest to comfort you. Allow the water to wash your spirit clean.
  10. Sleep. Give up time to rest and refresh your mind in dreaming.
  11. Write daily. See what you say when you don’t force a story, push an article, or hurry a poem. Let words filter around you and catch only those that are willing to stay without a net or jar.
  12. Spend time with the stars. Be in awe and wonder at the majesty of ancient light.
  13. Talk to God. Speak to him as a friend. Interrupt yourself if needed with the things you’ve been longing to say … be silent together, as only the closest of friends know how to.
  14. Draw. Sculpt. Paint. Create. Don’t worry about finishing. Don’t make it perfect, just do. Try. Play.
  15. Reach out to that person … the one that tugs at the edge of your mind for the overdue attention you’ve been longing to give but repressing. They are worth your time, they are worth the effort of loving them. Call. Write. Visit. And go with the intention of easing the division you’ve laid.
  16. Love. Carve out time to be who you need to be … for you … for them … for the version of truth that can only come from unreserved affection.
  17. Discover justice in stepping in for causes that are small. They may only matter in the moment, but they matter. Don’t shy away or count them as trivial, walk intentionally into situations that may be uncomfortable, but that will lead to a greater change.
  18. Believe that this moment is your moment. Wait for no one’s permission to grow into the self you’ve been waiting for. Introduce yourself to the you of tomorrow and welcome the reflection you see.

Remember to tell me what number you’ll be journeying on!

All my 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