1.22.23 2:00 am Friend

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“… and she embraced the chaos as it painted her life with purpose.” – J.H. Hard

It was 2:13 am

and we’d talked for four hours

(four hours and nine minutes)

and the funny thing is …

it wasn’t enough

We could have kept on talking

until the moon and the sun switched places

again

Everything and nothing at all

tears

and tantrums

confessions

and conundrums

secrets

and surreptitious truths

Each of them weighted equally

as the minutes ticked

as the clock struck

done

All I could think, was how grateful I am

to have this gift in my life

a kindred

who knows both what is possible

and unlikely

but trades dreams … and wishes … and prayers with me anyway

Therein lies the true magic

the believing that four hours of life shared in conversation

changes things

because it does

It allows us to carry on

to keep moving forward in both the mundane and miraculous

May each one of us be so lucky

as to have a four-hour-conversation

and a 2:00 am friend

12.31.22 Hopeful Expectancy

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“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me … Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” 

– Shel Silverstein

Here upon the dawn of a fresh new year, I wanted to write you poetry. I wanted to write you dreamy, sweet, recollections. But yesterday, I called my sister in tears, and so instead, I decided to write you truth. Here it is. Being a dreamer … a wisher … a doer, is sometimes overwhelmingly heavy. Waking up each day with stories you know need to be told, but don’t have the time to tell–stepping into new days and weeks and months that pass without your permission or intention–finding that there were so many meant-to’s still in a wishful pile of haven’t done’s … it’s a lot.

This year, I have been a mom to two teenagers. I’ve been a wife (albeit one who owes her husband about a million date nights). I have started a new job teaching an entirely new level of (high school). I’ve continued my blog. I’ve been a guest speaker. I’ve written for my favorite magazine for another year. And yet, oh friends. Yet, I am the farthest thing from satisfied that I’ve done enough.

So I called her, my sweet sister, in tears. I’m not much of a cryer–until I am. Then, it seems, I have no choice but to let it all out. I called to confess that I have so much more to do, so much I’ve not done, so much I started without finishing. I told her I wanted to be someone my kids could be proud of for chasing and pursuing and “making” something of herself. I asked her why I have so many words in my mind, spinning and itching to be sent and spoken. I asked her why I can’t get farther. I asked. And I cried. And I muttered, “Why can’t I get farther?”

“Oh, sweetheart,” she said. “It’s because you’re not arriving. You’re already there.” She went on to explain (in the patient way that only sisters can) that the standard I hold myself to is not the same version of me the world sees. She told me that my children, my husband, and my family are already proud of me … and that the only one who isn’t, is me.

The truth, it would seem, is just as heavy as all of those other feelings. But where self-doubts seem to weigh me down, this spoken truth, was more of a blanket statement … settling over and comforting the parts of my heart and mind that are so often restless.

Dear ones. I wish you many things in this new year. I wish me many things too, but more than anything, I wish you truth and hopeful expectancy. May you hear the words that need to be said. May you feel the prayers that need to rest on and stay with you. May you allow yourself to be loved exactly as you are, not as you think you should be.

Here, on the eve of a brand new shiny turn about the sun: my fears have been cried, my tears have been dried, my wishes to heaven have been sent, and my busy brain has begun plotting and planning without strings attached. Maybe things will work out … maybe something better than my own plans will come to be … maybe nothing what-so-ever will change. No matter what, it is with a tenacious heart and winged-spirit that I step into 2023.

Ironically, or not so ironically, this particular verse popped up on two different apps of mine, two days in a row. “God’s timing is perfect,” Ecclesiastes 2:11. Work on believing it with me.

Delight and unabashed joy for what was, what is, and what will be, or won’t. Regardless of circumstances, sparkle and shine. Smile and trust. Love and be loved. Peace and optimism and effervescent hope be yours!

Elle

12.26.22 Gold, Frankincense, & Myrrh

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“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11

A few weeks ago, I was asked to speak a Christmas message to a group of mothers. I was so honored to be able to reflect on the joy of the season, and also the night Jesus was born. As a mom, I think that mysterious night … that holy night captures my imagination, and pulls at my heart. I think about the ways that I utterly adore my children, how I loved them before they were born, and how, the moment I became a parent, nothing was the same.

What I often try to reflect on, that I really struggle with, were the gifts of the Magi. As a new mother, everyone brings you gifts that promise hope, and a future filled with fun and love – but those weren’t the kinds of gifts Mary received. She received gold, a gift fit for kings; frankincense, a gift offered to the gods; and myrrh, a gift offering for death. Regardless of your faith, of your religion, of whom you dedicate your life to … I wonder if just for a moment, you can imagine this mother’s heart. Can you imagine the weight on the shoulders of this young hope-filled girl knowing that her child was destined for things she couldn’t fathom?

I think there is so much we as people can learn from this story, about ourselves and our place in this life. There are gold, frankincense, and myrrh moments we all face. I invite you to watch my speech on these things, and I’d love to hear any thoughts you might want to share on the gifts you face in your life.

GOLD LINK

FRANKINCENSE LINK

MYRRH LINK

I wish you and yours a beautiful and blessed holiday – one filled with life, and light, and hope. You are all worthy, and known, and loved. I appreciate you so much in my life … you are who I write for.

Elle Harris

9.18.22 And Then, There’s Bella

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My favorite thing about being a writer is hearing back from readers. I adore knowing which lines transcended the page and found their way into a heart, or a mind, or a memory. I love imagining my words as tiny, gossamer threads, weaving themselves in and out of the consciousnesses of others. When someone shares that something is, “exactly” how they feel, my heart alights at the wonder of it all … at this shared experience of life, and the living of it.

And then, there’s Bella. Bella Grace comes in all her majesty, robed in the scent of ink on thick paper, and I dwell in the magical reality that this publication has linked me to so many. So many minds. So many stories. So many effervescent opportunities to merge one story, one life, to another. This fall, I wrote, “Dear Life, You are Not What I Planned,” for Issue 33. I really, really hope you have the chance to pick up a copy and let me know if any lines crossed your conscious and settled there.

“Whether playing hands with Fate or Destiny, or crafting conversations with God, you, Life, lead us on a path written in invisible ink.”

Please share a line that resonates.

All my love,

Elle

9.3.22 An Inch Away From Forty

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“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of the people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”

– Sophia Loren

So this week, I am going to turn forty … and like anyone approaching a milestone, it has caused me to reflect a great deal. Upon my rumination, I’m ashamed to admit that I am still riddled with insecurities. I think it’s easy, as we gloss over one another’s lives by an Instagram scroll or Facebook feed, to imagine that everyone’s got it all together. That our days consist of nothing but the polished, filtered photos and bright string of smiles tying one story to the next. It’s not often we get to hear the truth of what complexes lurk beneath the surface of each other’s digitized reality. So, I figured a bit of honesty was in order.

INSECURITIES:

I worry about my accomplishments, and how much farther I think they should be – whether or not my writing will reach the right audience.

I worry about my waistline, and my hairline, and my wrinkles. I am afraid I won’t be able to see past them, and then I am ashamed of myself and my vanity.

I worry I’m not smart enough.

Or relevant enough.

Or interesting enough.

I think about all the things I should make time for, but haven’t, or know I probably won’t.

I’m not great at cooking, or plants, or fixing things.

I wonder if I’ll ever feel like I’m “there,” like I’ve arrived … or if I’ll always be striving, and searching.

It’s a lot – enough to keep my mind spinning and reeling and honestly, I think I thought that by now, I’d be a lot closer to resolved on most of them. But then, I think about the three things I actually am secure on.

My faith.

My family.

My friends.

And just like that … the litany of my previous, ever-growing list doesn’t seem so daunting. There might be a lot that, at forty, I still don’t have figured out, but I know, imperfect and insecure as I am, there are a few things that I do.

7.23.22 Fifteen

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“She did not believe he could have really gone, because for her, to leave the person you loved was impossible.” Jodi Lynn Anderson

Dear boy,

Today is your birthday, and I am on the other side of the world. I have never, in all glorious 15 years of you, been away from you for as long, as far, and as monumental an occasion as the day God gave you to me. My, but love hurts.

Even though I’m not with you, there are a few things you should know … fifteen things actually.

1. Your kindness humbled and astounds me.

2. I love the way your mischief smile trails a wake of dimples across your face. No one has a chance against that smile.

3. Your passion for people is inspiring. You make others comfortable just by being you!

4. I love the way you love your sister. Fiercely. Protectively. And with best-friend-status joy.

5. You have your daddy’s sense of calm measure. It will and has already served you well.

6. I adore that you love board games as much as I do, even if I never win.

7. The way you carry on a conversation brings me such pride. You are charm itself.

8. Every time I tell someone who didn’t know I was your mom, that you are my son, they literally tell me how awesome you are. I glow. What else can I possibly do?

9. Your curiosity is contagious and wonderful.

10. Sometimes, my favorite thing is just a hug from you. Somehow, they’re never long enough.

11. I truly believe the world is better for having you in it.

12. I love seeing your tenacious and audacious sense of hope and possibility. Nothing keeps you down.

13. Your sense of purpose in this life is wise beyond your years. I wish I could bottle your character.

14. You are always polite. No one can say that, but you seem to be the rule’s exception.

15. Being your mom is ultimately, irrevocably, and inarguably, my greatest gift.

I wish, as ever, to slow time … to be with you without the constant knowing that the moments, and minutes, and days carry on. It would seem, birthday boy, that not all wishes come true … but God, I am so grateful for the wish-come-true of you.

Love you to Neverland,

Mom

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

5.4.20 A Poem for the Ageless

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Here’s to the ageless ones …

the ones who self-identify with feelings 

instead of years

The ones that triumphantly ride squeaky-wheeled carts in parking lots

and aren’t ashamed to order dessert first,

even if they’re eating alone

Here’s to the ageless ones … 

the old souls in young bodies

bursting with wisdom they yearn to give freely,

yet no one receives without cost

Here’s to the ageless ones … 

who sing and beat their steering-wheel-drum

chanting their anthems to the wide-open windows 

and passerby cars 

who carry on completely unaware

Here’s to the ageless ones …

to those captured deep-in-thought,

tangled in the philosophies they weave

theories stitched in time 

yet surrounded by those stuck in the shallow end

Here’s to the ageless ones … 

the running barefoot, hair down breeze dancers

who delight in the light that they chase

just to feel the thrill of releasing it back to the wild 

Here’s to the young

the purposefully naive … 

the dreamers who remember to play

Here’s to the old, 

the vintage souls …

the antique hearts whose beat is the rest in-between

To those who transform 

but refuse to conform their spirit to a number 

too small to fit into

or big enough to get lost in

Here’s to the ageless ones …

for the world belongs to you

4.21.20 Tenacity

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“Carry each other’s burdens.” Galatians 6:2

My favorite illustrator and great friend, P. Marin, once posted her word of the year … I fell in love with it and, after seeing it, asked if she could illustrate my favorite word on commission. Thus, this delightful little creature was born! P. Marin said, “It’s you,” and I’ve never been so flattered!

So … from her and I … hang on friends … this won’t last forever and we believe you’ve got all the grace, moxie, and tenacity to carry on. If you’re feeling weak or overwhelmed, send me a note and I’ll send some words to shield you. I’m hanging on, and until you can strengthen your grip, let others help carry you. All my love.

Elle