4.16.17 She Still

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 “She made broken look beautiful
and strong look invincible.
She walked with the Universe
on her shoulders and made it
look like a pair of wings.”  – Ariana Dancu

Recently I’ve been thinking just how lucky I am to have so many strong women in my life. I would list you here on this page, but you know who you are. You are the “she” that keep me going – that keep me running … and just like clockwork, you always know right when it is time to wind me back up again, when my tick-tock-self is almost worn out. I feel unmeasurably blessed by you, and this is to let you know.

She Still

She still knows when I need her –

without my asking,

or even hinting why or how

She calls me

and talks me rationally through my

ever

irrational

fears

It is her smile that carries my spirit

and whether in photograph,

or in person –

even a glimpse is enough …

to reassure my choices,

to soothe my chaotic mind,

to protect my wounded heart from anything it can’t handle alone

When the world presents itself in a tempest of fury,

her voice is my focal point

When I’m trapped in fractured pieces of a memory,

she reminds me of who I am,

not where I’ve been

Her laugh makes me laugh

Her sadness is mine

Her success is my win too

And though the dark will come,

and the storms will rage,

and the choice won’t always be ours,

she still guards my heart,

and gives me her light

and somehow we make it through

There is no way to tell

at times

who carries who,

but whether by crawling

or flying

it is she –

still,

who brings me back to who I’m meant to be

and who I’d never have known

without her

 

 

 

 

 

9.15.16 Black Sunshine

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American business man Frank Lane once said, “If you want to see the sunshine, you have to weather the storm.” Well, today, I think I was the storm.  Exhausted after another seemingly endless day, I dragged myself and the kiddos to the grocery store, pretty much letting them buy whatever they asked to throw into the cart because I was too tired to say no.  So what did we end up with?  A whole lot of food with impossible-to-pronounce, genetically-engineered crap for ingredients!  That’s what!

You see, starting a new school year, a new job, and a new slough of practice schedules while trying to maintain a house, and writing ambitions isn’t going so well. I’ve got about ten baskets of laundry I’m notoriously hiding under my bed, and an overweight Bernese Mountain Dog in need of more than a quick walk around the block.  To top it off … my awesome husband has found a perfect time for himself to work out daily, and has come home from work refreshed and fit, as his office has a built-in gym. Needless to say – if he tells me about one more “great workout” he’s had, he’ll be sleeping alone. I can’t seem to find thirty minutes to call my own, let alone three miles worth!

So today, after grocery shopping, and starting laundry, and taking care of the pets, and making dinner … I was feeling a little feisty.  As soon as my husband got home, I threw on the first clothes I could find and announced, that I needed to go workout before I, “lost it.”  Looking at me as if I already had, my husband grinned, reading the t-shirt I had on, “You are my sunshine.” Laughing at the irony of my stormy personality, he said, “Aww, you’re my little black sunshine.”

And you know what … it is okay. Today I am a little black sunshine.  I am happy, but in a bit of a thunder-cloud mood.  I’m ready to joke around, but am also ready to misinterpret or read into comments at will.  I am at peace with the fact that peaceful is not the way I feel … and if I had to define myself in one word at the moment … spitfire might be the one I’d choose.

There are plenty of things I don’t love about myself in this very moment: my new blemish (aka: zit), my cramped muscles, my straw-like hair, my nicked nail polish, my pile of to do’s, but that’s alright. Because I’ve decided, that just for today, I’d like to agree with Marilyn Monroe when she said, “Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” So I’m going to focus on what I do like about me right now instead.

I like my witchy-purple nail polish that’s just a shade too dark.

I like that my broodiest moods still involve lots of laughter, a bit of glitter, and “I forgive you’s.”

I like that while putting away groceries, my husband and I turned up  rap songs and danced in the kitchen until our kids came in from the yard and we ran to push, “mute!”

I like that even on a school-night (as a teacher) I let my kids stay up until way too late because it was the first time my daughter requested to watch Star Wars.

I like that half of my dinner tonight consisted of spoonfuls of peanut butter, and sea-salt chocolate caramels.

I like that my sister and I took a few minutes on our long-distance phone call to pretend that we lived closer, and even planned out what movie we’d watch if she were here.

I like that even on a day like this … when I’m an absolute troll, my mom texted me, “Goodnight beautiful.”

I like that tomorrow is another day … and I know it’ll be even brighter.

And I like that I should be sleeping, but instead am up typing to you … whoever you are … in the hopes that you relate, and find a likable list about yourselves too.

Carry on my little black sunshines – carry on.

Elle

9.8.16 Thirty-Four Wishes

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So it is my birthday.  My thirty-fourth birthday to be exact.  I know I’m not supposed to tell you that.  I am well aware that when you are no longer twenty-something, age is not supposed to be something that you share … but I’m sharing it anyway, because I’m grateful.  I’m grateful that in these thirty-four years I have memories that keep me in good company, regardless of the number that is growing ever on.  While I may not want the visual affirmation of decades of candles on my cake … I do like what my mother believes about wishes.  She says you get a wish for every year, for every fire lit sparkle that keeps hope dancing above the frosting.

I have no idea what this new year holds, but I wanted to mark and welcome it with a bit of a retrospective peek into who I’ve been, and what each year has held for me so far.  Me in  time-capsule-doses.  This life has been ordinary magic … and I thank so many of you for quite literally bringing my wishes to life.

Year One: I was blessed with an exceptional mom and dad, who inspire me still.

Year Two: My sister decided to love me, and has never stopped.

Year Three: My best-cousin and I become life-long partners.

Year Four: I believe with every fiber of my being in Santa Claus.

Year Five: I met the boy next door, who pretty much shaped my sister and my play days ever summer thereafter.

Year Six: I discover that not all teachers should be.

Year Seven: I become enamored with dinosaurs.

Year Eight: I discover the fun of Halloween (matching Pandas mommy and me).

Year Nine: I move for the first time.

Year Ten: I lose my dog … my first best friend.

Year Eleven: My kindred-spirit grandmother moves in.

Year Twelve: I meet my best friend.

Year Thirteen: I am immersed in the power of sleepovers!

Year Fourteen: High school begins, and all that goes with it.

Year Fifteen: I become a dancer.

Year Sixteen: I fall in love for the first time … and recognize the influence of a heart above all things … even sense.

Year Seventeen: I meet someone who calls me back to myself.

Year Eighteen: I go away to college with the best roomie a cousin could ask for.

Year Nineteen: I meet the man I am going to marry, who picks up and protects my heart.

Year Twenty: I enter into the School of Education to become a teacher.

Year Twenty-One: I graduate, get married, and get lost in Europe with my new husband.

Year Twenty-Two: I get my first teaching job, and become a first time auntie.

Year Twenty-Three: I experience infertility and the heartache that goes with missing something you’ve never even had.

Year Twenty-Four: I graduate from graduate school, and we drive the Romantic Road in Germany.

Year Twenty-Five: I get to know the wonder of my world … my son.

Year Twenty-Six: I choose to stay at home with my son and begin to write.

Year Twenty-Seven: I get to know the second wonder of my world … my daughter.

Year Twenty-Eight: I am diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease.

Year Twenty-Nine: My parents move, and my grandfather dies … and I feel the last bit of my childhood taken from me.

Year Thirty: We get our first puppy, who now weighs 100 lbs.

Year Thirty-One: I get my first children’s book published.

Year Thirty-Two: I taste a fairy tale and meet my husband in Cannes, France for the weekend.

Year Thirty-Three: I get published by my favorite magazine in the world twice.

Year Thirty-Four: Yet to be determined, but sure to be an adventure!

My wish?  Tell me about your most memorable year!  Share, post, comment! Give me the gift of words … they’re my favorite treat!

Elle

7.13.16 You … Yes You!

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Today is my friend’s birthday, she is turning 34 and we have been “best” friends since we were in 6th grade and she hated me.  I think it as a good a way as any to begin a friendship.  She thought I was a matchy-matchy, goodie-two-shoes … she was right.  I thought she was exciting and a little bit scary.  I was right.  And somewhere in the middle, we decided to give one another a try, and then I was hooked.  Like Jane Austen once said, “There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends.  I have no notion of loving people by halves.  It is not in my nature.”  And for the past twenty-three years, I have loved every “whole” crazy minute of our friendship.

In honor of her, and just how much she means to me, I am therefore willing to embarrass myself (and by extension her) just to prove the everlastingness of our bond through a top ten memories list.  So … to Rebecca …

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10. First sleepover.  When we were eleven, and taking turns having crushes on the five suitable guys in our class, you came over and made me laugh SO HARD I peed my pants!  I couldn’t even blame it on the fact that I had children … or some weakened bladder disorder!  You were just THAT funny!

9. Tripping practice.  We thought if we could just practice enough, it’d all be alright if we fell in public because we would have learned to fall gracefully.  How did it end?  With you “practice” tripping me on the playground as I ran away from you, thus making me rock with momentum when you did, in fact, trip me and I went face first into the concrete!  (Emotional and physical scars still healing from that one!)

8. Softball game.  I had to pee, you had to pee, so we decided to climb the fence in our softball uniforms, but mine was too big and I got caught on the fence at the top!  What did my best-ie do?  Help me down?  NO!  Laugh her butt off as I stayed stuck for a good three minutes, trying my best not to cry, have an accident, or fall off the stinking fence!

7. Cutting hair.  Never a good idea, this one.  And though I have you to thank for growing out my ridiculous bangs (that took three consecutive sleepovers to do) I don’t think either of us was particularly adept with the scissors.  I just remember, “Wholly crap that’s a lot shorter than I was planning,” followed by a, “Yeah, but it’s still not straight … just a few snips more and it’ll be good.”  It wasn’t!

6. Cooking.  We decided to make breakfast for my family.  It was our first time making eggs, and they really turned out into little pellets of the hard, yellow, rubber variety.  I’ll never forget you looking at me and saying, “It is how they’re supposed to be right?”  and me saying, “Maybe we should just stir them a bit longer.”

5. Twins.  Convincing some guy at a party that you, dark-haired, golden-eyed you, were related to blond-haired, blue-eyed me … it took all of your inner strength not to laugh in his face, but you succeeded.  “And the funny thing is,” you told him, “she was the dark-haired baby and I was the blonde!”  I was in awe of you and your gumption that night.  You were always the brand of bravery that I craved!

4. Dating.  You were there for the thick of it all.  It began with sneaking-peeks at my sister and her boyfriend, though she always knew we were coming.  How?  We were so stealthy with your guffaw of a laugh!  After that, we progressed to our own relationships.  From you, patching up my confidence after being dumped in sixth-grade, to standing beside me at my wedding, there is not one significant relationship I was able to get out of or stay in without you!   Best relationship counselor ever.

3. Driving.  From tickets and getting lost to hydroplaning in a storm and using your dad’s van, you’ve always been the #1 most supportive co-pilot of my life.   Why?  Because where others might offer sage counsel or even some backseat driving advice … you proceeded to just laugh at whatever current predicament we found ourselves in, whether it was funny or not!  (Usually it wasn’t, by the way, but you got me giggling along like an idiot anyhow!)

2. Children.  I’ve always loved kids.  I went from babysitter, to nanny, to teacher.   You’ve always been slightly less tolerant of them, having taken care of younger siblings your whole life.  So isn’t it just fate that you’d have twice the amount of kids that I do!?!  God must be laughing at that little twist of our fates!  I can’t tell you how much I love that you think I know what I’m doing and call me with, “What do I do with her now?” questions when I barely have a clue for my own!  Still, I love the confidence you have in me, and I love the Godson you blessed me with!

1. Opposites.  Our entire lives we have always been 100% opposite.  You are bold and brave and hilarious.  I am a rule-follower, a goody-goody, and a dreamer.  You are decorative, fashionable and sassy.  I am a writer, a nerd and quirky.  We look at things from different sides, we see opposite angles, and you’ve always inspired me with your self-assurance as I still look to be that sure.  You’re one of my favorite things about myself.

I am proud of you … proud to claim you as mine.  And I love that out of all the middle school weirdos … you … yes you, picked me.

Happy birthday my crazy-amazing friend.  I love you forever.

Elle

 

6.15.16 Our Season

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“When I say I won’t tell anyone, my sister doesn’t count.” -someecards.com

I love summer for the same reasons that everyone loves summer.  I love the no-alarm- clock mornings, and the way-too-late-but-still-awake evenings.  I love the breakfasts for dinner (because why not?) and cold pizza for breakfast (why not again?).  I love that there is a time of year when everyone feels just a little bit younger, and tend (therefore) to bend and loosen the rules we usually place around our lives so snugly.  Summer is a time not only to relax, but relive a little bit of all those memories that taught us why summer was so great in the first place.

Summer used to be a time for scraped knees, swimming, and sunburns.  As I grew up, it was a time of friends, fireflies, and firsts.  More recently, as the circle continues to spin, it is a time of swim-shorts and little belly bikinis, goggles that only come in too-tight or too-loose sizes, and birthday parties galore.  While all of these things are true … when I think summer, the first thing I think of is my sister.

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Living about six states away, depending on the route, my big sister is entirely too far away most of the time.  Growing up, I did not anticipate that we would have “seasons,” but for better or worse, we do – and summer is our season. Early in June, either she comes here or I go there, and we bring our entourage of little self-reflections.  Still, the greatest reflection, the closest to my own, is that of my sister.  We don’t do anything special, and that is entirely what makes it so.  Because my sister listens to me the way no one else ever possibly could.  She listens with history of who I was then, and who I am now.  She hears both what I say, and what I leave out.  She can decipher the subtle cadences of my sarcasm or my sincerity.

With her I do not have to try at all.  I can just be.

Do you know what a relief it is to have someone like that?  Like her?  I wish her for all of you, but selfishly I would give not an ounce of her away.  I covet my time so much so that I rarely even answer my phone when she is here.  Who could I possibly have time to talk to when we are so busy doing nothing at all?  We eat too much, share too much, laugh too much, don’t sleep enough, and all is as it should be in the world … when I’ve got her here to take care of bringing my spirit back to where it needs to be – beside hers.

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P.S. We were both in this picture, but she looked better than me … so yeah, I did what any logical sister would do and cut myself out!

Go love your sister, biological or gifted to you from the world.

Elle