9.19.21 You Will Rise

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” … If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools …”

– Rudyard Kipling, “If”

This week, a precious friend confided the difficult reality that sometimes, life hurts. Right now – her pain is acute. And although no one goes through this existence completely unscathed, there are times that will shake you to the point of an internal tremble. I’ve been thinking about her all week. Praying for her. And while I hate that I cannot fix it, I want her to know … I want you all to know, that Hope is an ever-present promise, even when all else fails. I wish I could take away the trials, but for the time being, all I have to offer is a small collection of words I gathered in the midst of this trial. May they bring you back to a point of knowing this is not the end of the world’s story … or of yours.

Life isn’t always what it seems

what you thought it was,

would, or even should be

Sometimes, when the clouds come

they stay

stagnant and unforgiving

relentless and roiling

In the dark, the questions come

doubts intermingling with leftover pieces of dreams …

as though everything you thought you knew to be true

is backwards, a broken, mirrored reflection of what it once was

sharp shards revealing every tear

Even then … in the moments where Destiny feels defective

and reality is rent with defeat,

even then there is light

Fractured bits of faith remain as glittered dust among the debris

incapable of being gathered and disposed of fully

Just as embers might once again be fanned into flame

Credence is worthy of reflection

And while chaos is deafening –

Hope speaks in constant whispers beneath it all …

a steady undercurrent, present below the pain

What is anguish but an inverse reaction to love?

What is devastation if not proof that devotion was present?

So be angry dear heart,

there is room in this space to be angry.

Be sad if you must,

there is room in this space to be sad.

Ask questions, have doubts, be aware of the darkness …

because I know,

even if you don’t –

even if you can’t –

that you are made of stardust and promises …

and your heart is branded with infallible truths

This life has no claim over that which is eternal

You may be shaken but you are not shattered

You might well have fallen, only to prove

once again

you will rise

4.21.21 Joy of the Unexpected

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In truth, I almost didn’t write tonight. Again. It seems that every night, I am too much or not enough of whatever it is I feel that I need to be to contribute to the world in the way I want. And yet, I have a simple story – so short it is more an occurrence, but a sweet one nonetheless.

I was walking during my daughter’s dance practice, looking up as I normally do on walks (as the sky entertains in a way feet cannot). As I rounded a corner, I saw an older man walking his dog. I looked down long enough to smile at him and wave, and he said, “What an unexpected pleasure.”

That’s it. That is my sweet snippet, and yet when I reflect on this day … it was my blossom. To think that seeing a smile from the other side of the road, from a total stranger could bring this man such joy, brought me joy just to think it possible. We both continued on smiling. I went back to looking up, he went back to walking forward, but he was right, it was an unexpected pleasure. Being given the gift of a smile, one intended specifically for you, is a tiny treasure – a golden moment I tucked into the pocket of my heart.

I hope you found something that warmed you today … something small enough to keep your travels light, and bright.

3.24.21 Springing Forward by Looking Back

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“In a year that has felt both impossibly long and frozen – an immobile collection of repeating days – it can seem difficult to look forward. A new season is upon us and yet it is the same season when, for many of us, this entire shift of ‘the world as we knew it’ began. So what are we to do with spring? How can we advance bravely into the possibility of what we hope for when things appear no different? It’s simple – we look back. Take a bit of time to dwell in your ever-present treasure of memories. Spring is a time of reflections, new directions, and growth. Let the garden of your mind harvest sweet blossoms, and make yourself an enchanting bouquet of thoughts.”

– Excerpt from Springing Forward by Looking Back, Bella Grace Issue 27

I hope that you will take some time to explore Bella Grace’s Spring Issue! It is filled with all things lovely and has so many refreshing suggestions to reset your spirit! As always, it is an honor to write for my absolute favorite magazine in the entire world!

Happy Spring my darlings! Here’s to new beginnings!

Elle

2.28.21 Somedays

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I have several friends who suffer from chronic illnesses, and honestly, I hurt for them in a place I can’t feel, but feel nonetheless. So this is for you my brave warriors. This is for the days your body becomes a cage to the spirit within you that knows peace is waiting for you someday. I love you. I hear you. Carry on precious … one more day … one more hour … one more breath if that’s all you can commit to. This is not all – you are more, and nothing, not even this pain can make you less. For you, dear ones, are made of beyond. Until then, I bless you for enduring now. I would be lost without you, and I thank you for not letting me get lost. 

Somedays

Somedays are dangerous things

they tease and taunt

and ease and haunt

the imperfections of our current state

of being

of wanting

of waiting

And on days like that …

the Somedays 

when the magic of stardust and wishes call

when the perfection of heaven echoes in the loves we lost

when the sea and the sky brim at a capacity greater than any earthly ambition

my heart aches with a craving I can’t satisfy

at the freedom I see

but don’t have

at the wonders of when

but not yet

at the whims I imagine

but can’t

make

real

Some days,

when Someday comes

my skin feels too tight

and my tears fall just right

and living 

is heavier

than it seems it should have the right to ever be

because beauty is in the eye of the beheld

and I wish to be held

by something lighter

than gravity

Someday

Reflections to Consider

1. Who do I know that might be depending on “Someday?” 

2. How can I make today worth their struggle to stay? 

3. What words, quotes, poems, or songs might I cover them in?

4. If I were to pray for them, what would I say? 

5. What wildflowers, free and blooming might inspire their view of today? 

6. What memories could I share to remind them of better moments in time? 

7. What does hope sound like? Smell like? Feel like? Look like? Can I catch some to share? 

8. If I visited, what activities could we do together where we were equal and free? 

9. What movies and books define our relationship? What else could I add to a care package that would enable and empower? 

10. What are ways to love them purely, as they are, and were, and will be … without filter or flaw? How can I show them that they are still them? And I am still me? And we are still us? 

2.7.21 One of Those

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Oh my, but it was a week … one of those that go from bad, to worse. The kind that make you question yourself, and then the world, and then yourself again. An eternal optimist, I must say I was really challenged this week to remain so. Still – I choose.

I choose happy even when it doesn’t make sense. Even when I can’t sleep because my heart is pounding in time to the ticking-ticks of the never slowing down clock of the race I didn’t ask to be in. I choose joy even when I don’t feel it, or see it, or hear it … even when I can’t tell where it has gone, or when, or if it will return. I choose hope because without it – friends: how would we dare to carry on?

So I am asking you to do me two favors.

  1. Pray for someone else. Because my guess is … they need it. Give some space for grace and calling out to the heavens on behalf of someone who may have lost their voice, their faith that tomorrow (for better or for worse) is on its way.
  2. Tell them.

If each person who read this post did that … could you imagine? It might just have the power to turn “one of those” weeks, into a holy revolution!

I’m praying for you,

Elle

11.4.20 Lost and Found

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The worst possible reality was hers – she had just received the news that her daughter died. Had just gone through the funeral. Had just tried to return to something as “normal” as a soccer game … with the deep seated reality that nothing would ever be normal again. That was where I found her.

After the awkward, fragile niceties, I broached the impossible question, “How are you?”

“All I want to do is talk about her,” she said. “People don’t know if they should bring her up or not, but I want to remember everything. She was my best friend.”

I had nothing to offer her aside from my tears – my tears and a memory.

“I’ll never forget the first time I met her,” I handed over my words gently, wrapping the moment in my softest tone. I remember her eyes – hungry with hope, with desire for any fragment of a memory I could give her. “She climbed in my lap and touched my freckles. Then she told me I had a lot of polka-dots.”

And she laughed.

And I laughed.

And I knew it was the bereavement gift she needed.

I believe the most precious commodity we have to give, to trade, and most importantly to keep, are memories. The immeasurable value in giving a hidden chapter to a story you thought was over … what could possibly matter more than that? What could ever replace the value of another page? Another line? Another word spoken from a “voice” you never thought you’d hear from again?

I’m writing to ask a favor. Please share a memory … no matter how small or insignificant you think the interaction might be. Send the picture, share the card with their signature, and always tell the story. Keep trading the hope of memories lost, and found.

10.8.20 Somedays: A Tribute to Those Living with Chronic Illness

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Somedays

Somedays are dangerous things they tease and taunt
and ease and haunt
the imperfections of our current state of being

of wanting
of waiting
And on days like that …
the Somedays
when the magic of stardust and wishes call
when the perfection of heaven echoes in the loves we lost
when the sea and the sky brim at a capacity greater than any earthly ambition my heart aches with a craving I can’t satisfy
at the freedom I see
but don’t have
at the wonders of when
but not yet
at the whims I imagine
but can’t
make
real
Some days,
when Someday comes
my skin feels too tight
and my tears fall just right
and living
is heavier
than it seems it should have the right to ever be
because beauty is in the eye of the beheld
and I wish to be held
by something lighter
than gravity
Someday

8.11.20 Prayers of a Teacher

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So aside from writing I am a teacher, and I teach because, quite simply … it inspires. When you’re an educator you have the amazing privilege to see the future … to know that it will be bright because you see who’s in it. Today, in a prep meeting, our administrators asked us to write a letter to our students explaining our, “Why?” I am sharing mine with you both to show you a side of myself I rarely speak of, and also to prompt you to pray for the educators who are around the world being asked to do something very hard that they’ve never done before. Whether in person, masked, and six feet apart, or digitally and even farther … teachers are trying to prepare, engage, and love on kids without their usual modes of communication. We teachers are huggers. We are high fivers. We laugh and we joke and we cry with our kiddos. We are relational, conversational, of-course-I’ll-explain-it-again, and sure I’ll walk with you at recess kinds of beings who are now forced into separation. While I know safety is everything, please pray with me and for us that our hearts and minds creatively: heal the gaps, make the connections, and continue to champion the future leaders of this world.

My Dearest Students:

When I was eleven, my parents moved me from one school to another in the middle of my sixth grade year. I was nervous and awkward. I had terrible bangs, huge glasses, and a smile full of braces. As I navigated the uncomfortable transition, there would have been no way that I could have known at the time what an astounding blessing that decision to switch schools was for me – because that same year I met my two best friends and they are STILL, more than twenty years later, my best friends today. 

When you are “stuck in the middle” sometimes people look down on you … they equate middle school to be the leftovers of childhood … but I disagree. Did you know that your age is the first time you are able to metacognate? HUGE word, but it means, “thinking about thinking.” What an amazing new superpower, to not only hear what you’re told and commit it to memory, but think about it …  feel about it. I always tell my students that it is not my job to teach you what to think, it is my job to teach you HOW to think, and my darlings, no matter how you come into this year with me, you will leave it more confident, articulate, and most importantly, loved. I love you … already, because you were chosen to be mine, and together we are going to find a way to make this year something spectacularly and singularly yours

When I was a Freshman in high school, my history teacher had a quote on the board from the philosopher Spinoza that said, “Whenever I have confronted that which was unfamiliar to me, I sought neither to praise, nor to condemn, but only to understand.” It’s kind of heavy, but what it means is … I want to be open minded and open hearted. A lot of people think I’m crazy when I say I teach middle school, and maybe they’re a little bit right, but a brilliant man named Oscar Levant once said, “There’s a fine line between genius and insanity.” So it will be a crazy year my friends, but if you open yourself to the possibility, it just might also be genius

All my love, 

Mrs. Harris

8.4.20 Shattered Jar

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I am missing some loved ones a great deal lately. This piece is short, but sometimes … feelings don’t translate well to the language of words. This is my attempt at translation.

Death is picking up a shattered jar

and seeing each

translucent piece fitting into a whole

that can never

be put back together …

But sometimes

when you look 

very carefully

you’ll see it –

the reflection of a memory 

the glint of a golden moment

you’ll single out and pick up

even if it’s broken

Because painful as the piece is to hold

somehow keeping it

keeps you

from shattering too

7.14.20 Beyond the Brink

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There has been an edging darkness

a coming storm

that just

keeps

coming

Thick clouds spiral emotions that

pour and pound

persisting and insisting on pushing us

to a brink we can’t see beyond

to a reality we don’t recognize

Inconsistency is currency

as the powerful veil truth from the powerless

ever searching with blinded eyes

ever listening with deafened ears

eager to climb, to cling or comply

to anything that offers more

than the absence we’ve now intimately known

There has been an edging darkness

a coming storm

and it might keep coming

But The Light is still behind each laden cloud

and gilded margins become radiant sovereigns

when given their chance to rise

So whether or not you believe you can carry on –

Do

Whether or not you see the end –

Stay

If you can’t see … feel

If you can’t hear … imagine

Defy the ache and the ebb

with audacious joy

with ineffable hope

with resilient conviction

Until you wake to the glorious morning

after the storm