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

 

 

10.9.18 Picturesque Song

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Every once in awhile, when I quiet my busy long enough to feel – life finds another way to bring me back. Sometimes it’s in the unexpected shift in the clouds that reveals an iridescent promise. Sometimes it’s the smile you didn’t see coming from the person who never does. And sometimes, it’s the words you didn’t know you needed to hear until you heard them.  Lately there’s a song that I’ve been loving called “Testify” by the band Needtobreathe. Although all of the lyrics speak to me, there is one line … isn’t there always … that draws me in and holds me.

“Mist on the mountain, rising from the ground – there’s no denying beauty makes a sound.” 

Doesn’t it just make you breathe slower? Close your eyes? And hear it?

What does beauty sound like to you?

I’m not sure I ever thought about it before, but now that I have, I often find myself wondering at what beauty sounds like, and little by little, my list grows.

Beauty sounds like the recession of a wave, pulling back the might of a swell.

Beauty sounds like the contented breathing of love sleeping evenly beside you.

Beauty sounds like the rustle of leaves … the hint of change swirling underfoot.

Beauty sounds like the quiet voice urging you one more time, to carry on.

Beauty sounds like a chance.

Beauty sounds like a choice.

Beauty sounds like a prayer, offered up without anything but remaining hope.

 

What do you hear? I’d love to know what beauty sounds like to you dear ones. Let’s make our own picturesque song.

Elle

9.16.18 Choose You

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In his book, Choose Yourself, James Altucher says, “Only think about the people you enjoy. Only read the books you enjoy, that make you happy to be human. Only go to the events that actually make you laugh or fall in love. Only deal with the people who love you back …” in other words … choose you! 

I find this somewhat difficult to do. At times, I feel like unless I am being productive, achieving something (regardless of how menial it may be), or pursuing accomplishment, I am wasting time. More and more I am realizing that both society and I have been lying to myself. Sometimes … more than sometimes, we need to do nothing more than refill our own cups, renew our own spirits, and realize our value comes from being, not doing.

In her infinite four-years-older-than-me-wisdom, my sister bought me a fabulous book for my birthday (and dress and boots to wear while I read it!). More of a journal really, it’s called 3,000 Questions About Me, and I absolutely LOVE it. More often than not my sweet family and friends and anyone who is stuck in my vicinity for more than twenty minutes will hear me chime in, “Hey, let’s play the question game.” This means that from would you rather to what’s your favorite, let’s pretend, to what if … I will pretty much ask you questions until you turn blue in the face from answering them all. (Sometimes I secretly applaud myself for choosing my occupation of teaching so I have an educational excuse to pepper those little angels with as many questions as I want to!) The thing is though, I rarely ask myself to answer the questions I ask, and this book has been giving me permission to do so.

So Friday night, my family went to a fun park, and I chose myself. I did some housework, I grocery shopped, and then I gave myself forty-whole-minutes to answering questions about me. Honestly, I didn’t know the answers to quite a few of them, and in some ways this thrilled me. Choosing you is like giving yourself permission to meet and interview the parts of yourself you’ve not really paid attention to recently – or ever. I don’t know what my most marked characteristic is … I’ve not decided what the next wonder of the world should be … I don’t know my Chinese zodiac sign … I’ve yet to explore what food best describes my personality … but the good news is, if I choose myself a few more Friday nights, I might begin to, and the better I know myself, the better able I am to be authentically known by others.

Choose you – because in doing so, you are allowing more of yourself to be open to the world that longs to know you better.

Elle

9.8.18 Today, I Shall Make-A-Wish

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“I wish that every human life might be pure transparent freedom.”                     Simone de Beauvoir

Today I shall make-a-wish. It is my 36th birthday, so I suppose I am owed one officially, but in reality I actually make wishes on a daily basis. I wish on stars. I wish on prayers. I wish on eyelashes. I wish on the clock when it says 11:11. I am a supreme believer in the power of a wish, and even more so because of all the wishes-come-true I’ve experienced in my 36 years.

I am loved.

I am a mommy.

I have the best of best friends and family.

I have readers who care and actually look forward to what I say!

Could I be more blessed? I think not. One of my greatest faults, I think, is that I am a bit too much of a forward thinker … a “what’s next,” eager soul jumping at the chance for tomorrow. But what matters most, I think, is today. Bella Grace Magazine, just published the most beautiful September issue, and I hope you will read and embrace it. I have a piece in there about the beauty of friendship and the importance of relationship NOW.

Ironically, I am also published in Grace Notes, Bella Grace’s affiliate blog with a piece on “Living Our Legacy Now.”

Don’t wait precious friends. Love who you need to love. Make wishes when they present themselves. Make that lunch date today. Be your best self, right now.

My wish today is all of you,

Elle

8.2.18 Crave

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I crave that creative place

where my mind 

is free to wander 

just a bit

to dabble and dance

in and out 

of a memory or two

lingering in places particularly sweet

and allowing my heartbeat to quicken with reinvented remembering

I love to fall into a good conversation

where the words tumble over themselves 

in an effort to explore the emotions born with them

pushing past inherited perspectives and perceptions 

searching for what is true in your shared or borrowed states of mind

and heart

I wish time was a little less relative 

to everything

and everyone

that there would be more of it in the space of a day

or a moment that doesn’t necessarily need, but wants more attention

so that a detail

a look

or a longing wouldn’t have to go without

I crave that creative place

I love

to wish

7.25.18 Someone Like Him

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“Sons are the anchors of a mother’s life.” – Sophocles

When he was eight, my son looked up at me and said, “Hey mom, when I go to college … you’ll come right?”

“Of course,” I replied. And can I just say that until the offer is formally rescinded, I plan to find an apartment with a four-year lease, and keep my word.

Eleven. That is what this almost-as-tall-as-me charmer just turned, and my heart hurts with pride and pain at the clock and calendar that refuse to slow for me, regardless of my pleas. Ironically, he asked for a pocket watch for his birthday, and every few minutes, when he checks the time, I feel my heart racing the second hand as the visceral reminder that our time is fleeting. Emerson once said that, “Men are what their mother’s made them.” Though he may be a few years off from being a man, I can’t agree with Emerson, because nothing I have done in the past eleven years could have made a boy this good … this pure-hearted, or kind.

Whether it is right or wrong, a reversal of roles or even always appropriate … I depend on this little guy – on his perspectives, his judgement, his prayers, and even his bravery. He is a shoulder worth leaning into because underneath those mischievous smiles, there is a core of integrity and honor that can only be heaven-lent. I’m not sure how fair it is for me to need him at times probably more than he needs me, but there it is. My truth.

Just the other day I ran into a friend with a son the same age. She said she just finished running four miles with another friend of ours with another son the same age. After our pleasantries, I watched her sculpted runner legs leave and turned to my son saying, “Do you think it’s bad I’m not a runner mom? All your friends’ moms seem to run and I don’t. I rollerblade and walk and …”

“Mom,” he said, maturity washing over his little man features. “That’s silly. If anything they should feel bad because they’re all the same and you do things that are different.”

Cry.

There isn’t a day that goes by in this boy’s life where he doesn’t find a way to make me feel special … where he doesn’t make me believe that even if he could have hand-picked a mother, he would have chosen me. What in heaven’s reach did I do to deserve this? To deserve him?

We have our moments. But honestly … I can’t remember any of them significantly enough to even soften the halo around this post. I pray, with all my mother’s heart, that everyone have a someone like him.

Happy birthday baby boy,

I love you to Neverland,

Mommy (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

5.2.18 Would You Rather?

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Would you rather is a regular game at my house. So let’s play now shall we? Would you rather:

A. Die by choking on a turkey sandwich 

or

B. Die of embarrassment

Neither? Me too! But sadly, yesterday I was close to both! For the sake of it being one of the craziest weeks of my life in terms of commitments, forgive me, but I’m going to keep this brief. I work about a half hour from where I live. Technically, it’s like twenty minutes, but since I live in one of the worst traffic areas outside of a major metropolis, it’s ALWAYS at least a half hour. 

Well, yesterday was one of those, I’ve gotta get home to let the dog out, make something completely random on the fly for dinner, get my kids dressed, and back out the door in twenty minutes for their Spring concert days! Instead of getting dressed like I should have been, however, I was going cross-eyed looking at my phone while helping a high schooler do his homework even though – no, he is not my student, and – no, I didn’t know how to help without looking it up myself. But I’m a yes girl, and yes girls help out!!! 

So I’m ten minutes past when I want to leave, and I’m “gently urging” everyone to get in the car (did I mention my husband was on a business trip at the time?) and I’m still slipping on my heels. I whip together a turkey sandwich, because it’s honestly the only thing I could eat with one hand, and we’re off. Except we’re not actually, because the moment I pull out of my driveway, turkey sandwich literally hanging in my mouth, an Amazon delivery guy pulls in and stares at me like, “Where do I put your box now?” and I stare back like, “Hey right here is fine.” Only apparently me opening my window to hand it to me wasn’t clear enough with my mouth full of turkey sandwich (hands on the wheel, NOT on the sandwich, which is still hanging out of my mouth) because he asks, “So should I put it on the front porch?” 

STILL trying not to hit his delivery car while simultaneously trying NOT to choke on my wedged-mouth meal, I give him a cheesy thumbs up, and he looks at me like I’m crazy, which maybe I am, but who is he to judge? Did he just help someone with random homework he didn’t understand? Did he make two different meals for two different kids with two different dinner demands? Did he just throw off work clothes to put his tired feet into pumps to feel empowered by an extra two inches? I think not! Now for the frosting. If I didn’t feel dumb enough, right at that exact moment, the cute little teenage neighbor kids and their cute teenage friends turn into our cul-de-sac and see the whole awesome exchange. They politely try to stifle their laughter while waving at me, the semi-pathetic-but-obviously-trying thirty-something crazy neighbor. 

So yeah. We made it with two minutes to spare to the concert. All in all? I’d consider the night a win, wouldn’t you? Please tell me you can relate to me, even on a fractional level … I’d love to know I’m not the only thoroughly embarrassed, turkey-choking, Amazon fiend out there. 

Live well friends! And be safe! Who knows what people driving next to you are up to! 

Elle

4.25.18 Change Never Is

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“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a savior from there.” Philippians 3:20

In the past three days, I have been confronted with a series of challenging perceptions,  presuppositions, misrepresentations, misunderstandings, and multiple-perspectives on ethnicity, racism, and personal identity. From literary discussions to student issues, faith-based revelations to immigration conversations, it has been a heart-swelling week of looking hard at myself, my beliefs, my unintended biases, and my intentions. Revelation? I am still learning. Most importantly? I still want to.

My poem “Change Never Is,” is dedicated to every individual who maybe, like me, is still trying to discover how to be their best, most loving, undeniably compassionate self through it all, albeit imperfectly … and who is willing to step through the broken glass of shattered hearts, in the hopes of finding all the pieces to put us together again.

Go heal where you can,

Elle

Change Never Is

And suddenly … it’s different.

Just like that.

With the flip of a switch,

or the bat of an eye.

In the space of a heartbeat.

You realize something new about yourself.

Or maybe it’s old, but you wouldn’t admit it before now –

when actuality is staring back at you

clearer than the reflection of the mask you’ve grown so comfortable wearing,

you’d actually forgotten your own face.

You still might not want to deal with the truth of how you feel

but you do feel

and that’s the problem

(or some sordid beginning of the solution)

You can’t ignore it anymore –

and it’s jarring,

this knowing that you can’t go back.

Suddenly the innocence you had only just before,

is nothing more than a fantasy you can’t find your way back to

because reality demands accountability –

and there’s no longer room for the callousness of pretend.

We grow in stages,

but sometimes it feels as if a lifetime of lessons are hurled in our direction

faster than we can absorb the shock of their blows.

There is hardly a line between villain and victim –

the pain is dolled in equal measure,

whether it is deflected or digested? That depends on the user

and the used.

And as much as you thought that you knew who,

and how,

and what

you were …

everything can change

when you’re challenged to accept as fact

that what you wished was just the remnant of a bad dream.

You’re awake.

So now what?

There is no rest for you in dreaming … only in shaking off your slumber.

It’s time to breathe in slowly,

acclimatize yourself one fiber at a time …

There are thoughts to be sorted –

film reels of clouded memories to look at with new lenses.

The past may not align with the present,

but the future is yours to discern.

Endow a legacy stronger than pride.

Entitle yourself to an awakening.

That shifting in your bones … that thickening of your skin …

it’s not comfortable,

but darling,

change never is.