2.11.20 Damsel in a Ditch

6

IMG_8140

“I’m a damsel, I’m in distress, I can handle this. Have a nice day!”

– Meg, from Disney’s Hercules 

So I very, very rarely post twice in one week let alone two days in a row, but today warranted a post my friends! Trust me.

I love the picture above because it is the story of my life. No … there’s nothing wrong with your eyes, it is a blur, because that is the speed of life, and in my experience, trying to focus for even a second doesn’t really seem plausible. Today was no different. Maybe someday my memories will be in focus, and when they are, I hope I remember today.

So I dashed home from work to get home on time for my son’s personal tutor (he wanted to learn Japanese … GO HIM! So we hired someone wonderful to come once a week). She was pulling in as I was pulling in. He had lesson, and as soon as she left, we needed to get to soccer – but my daughter wasn’t done with her shower on time (she never is). Then, she was ready but he was “getting his socks.” That took another five minutes and so we were running behind.

Fast forward to thirty minutes later … we are nearly to the soccer field (new place, far, far away) and Google Maps tells me to do a U-turn. No. I did not miss my turn, this state I live in just has the absolute WORST road infrastructure and U-turns are as common as turning right or left. Let me back up and tell you now, most practices were canceled today because of the EXTREME rain we’ve been having. There was no track, no after school sports, no girls’ soccer … but oh yes. We still had boys soccer. Back to the road. I take my U-turn, knowing that my wheel will dip a smidge past the asphalt to the grass, but I see a few tire tracks and assume (yes, I know what assuming does) that it’ll be fine. So I get a bit of grass in my wheel.

Nope.

I got stuck. BIG TIME! My left-front wheel immediately sinks in about three inches below the lip of the asphalt. I try. And try. And try some more, furthering my predicament at every acceleration. My son, at this point says, “Oh no. Mom. Don’t worry. Are we stuck? Should I text my coach?” I told him sure, not knowing until later that he texted the entire team, “We are in a ditch.” Awesome. I’m that parent. The “ditch” parent. The “we-were-already-going-to-be-late-and-now-we-are-late-from-being-stuck- in-a-ditch,” parent! Here comes the damsel!

While I don’t like playing this role in the least … sometimes it is just true. Everyone needs help sometimes. This was my time. And you know what? God delivered. I wasn’t there more than two minutes when an angel in a Subway t-shirt walked across this suburban street. “Hey there,” he said, “I saw you through the window of my house right there,” he pointed behind him, “and I thought you might need help.”

I told him I wasn’t sure what to do and he said, “You get in and I’ll push.” He tried and tried some more and asked me if I had anything like a book or magazine I could put under the wheel. I gave him the one flimsy magazine I had, but nothing doing. Then he said, “I might have a piece of wood back by my house, I’ll put it under for some traction.” He just wouldn’t leave me alone and I could have cried. At that moment, a truck pulled up and another man jumped out and said, “I have some rope if you want, I think I could pull you out.” Then he signaled another truck filled with guys he worked with.

In a matter of minutes there were six men pushing my car up over that lip. I never wished more that I had something to give in my astonished gratitude. A whole host of angels descended and graced me with smiles and “no problems,” like they saved damsels every day. I promised to pay it forward and this is my first attempt to do so.

Be strong enough to accept when miracles happen – they’re among us, in Subway t-shirts, and muddy work boots. In tired, over-worked faces of men who stopped simply because they knew a damsel when they saw one, and had too much integrity as gentlemen to stand by and watch.

Thank you to my heroes.

Thank you God for miracles.

Thank you life for making me a damsel in a ditch.

 

Go be someone’s miracle today,

Elle

1.22.20 7 Magical Intentions

4

Screen Shot 2020-01-22 at 6.56.39 PM

  • On January 22nd, I was featured in Grace Notes, Bella Grace Magazine’s beautiful blog. This was such a fun assignment as I was asked to think about “7 Magical Intentions to Set at the Beginning of the Year.” I wish everyone thought magically …  about enchantment and things that feed into whimsy and dreaming. Please take time to check this post out and share which of the seven intentions you intend to follow! Or better yet … how do you remain magically minded in a world that demands we stay rooted in reality?

Hugs and happiness,

Elle

1.4.19 The Serendipity of Words

2

IMG_8154

Today I was checking my Instagram feed and came across this lovely tag from a woman I’ve never met named Debbie. Her post said, “A small line from a most beautiful poem written by Elle Harris, which inspired my journal page today.”

Can I just say I’m so, SO very humbled. Any of you who have followed me for awhile know the story of myself and my friend Michelle. We met because Michelle’s best friend, Katrina, was very sick with cancer, and in her final days, Michelle said that she read one of my poems to Katrina over and over again.

Nothing in my writing career has ever come close to mattering more to me than this story, because nothing in the world could ever compete with serendipitously being “there” to help comfort the journey of one’s spirit from this world to Heaven itself. From that time on, Michelle and I became very close and when she told me the story of Katrina, I wrote a piece for her, that eventually ended up in Bella Grace Magazine.

Fast forward to today. Debbie found the poem and used a line of it in her journal. When I messaged it to Michelle, she said that it came at a perfect time because this season marks the third anniversary of  Katrina’s passing. How like the Holy Spirit to tie all of the threads of these disconnected lives together. How like destiny to lace and weave time and space for such a moment as this. How like fate to know just when a whisper across worlds needs to be heard. What a gift that Katrina still speaks.

Sometimes it is so very easy to feel that my words are rootless … sent out into the void of space without direction … but on days like this … I remember that isn’t true. And if my simple words have found a way to matter this much, I shall write on.

Thank you Debbie. Thank you Michelle. Thank you Katrina.

You inspire.

All my love,

Elle Harris

11.19.19 Not Alone

3

IMG_7171

“Life’s under no obligation to give us what we expect.”
Margaret Mitchell

Sometimes I think that I have it all figured out … and then I realize that I absolutely don’t. I’m not sure if I’m caught somewhere between fate playing with destiny, God trying to teach me a lesson, or the devil trying to mess with me. Am I alone in finding it difficult to tell the difference? Like the weather that is forty degrees different from one day to the next, so too are the waxes and wanes of how my days progress. I can feel like I’m completely “there” one moment, and completely “lost” the next.

Maybe it’s a way of staying humble? Maybe it’s a reminder that we are dependent on more than our own strength? Maybe it is just life! Regardless of what it is, or who it is, I want you to know that if you are too tired to fold the laundry … you’re not alone. If you are about as mentally capable as a celery stalk … you’re not alone. If you are thanking the Lord for the invention of frozen pizza on a Tuesday night … you’re not alone. If you are maybe grateful for the STILL leftover Halloween candy because you just need it today … you’re not alone.

Never.

No matter what your mood.

No matter what the weather.

No matter if you are a million miles away …

… my friends … thank you for being at the other end of this post, reading my silly strand of words and reminding me that I’m not alone either.

Elle

10.5.19 More of Her

3

IMG_6353

“Nothing makes a room feel emptier than wanting someone in it.” Calla Quinn

No one is perfect. There’s no denying that … and yet it seems some are a bit closer to it than the rest of us. Missing someone seems to wear the edges off all of their imperfections too. So at this point – both my memory and my heart have nearby made her perfect.

I know I’ve spoken of my grandmother before, but sometimes I feel I need to talk about her just to bring her closer to me – to the forefront of my mind as if she is present company and not past.

My gram loved the beach. She loved it, I imagine, for the same reason I do … because looking at it makes the world seem big, and our problems seem small. I think the water-washed shore and scrubbed sand gave her peace in a way that ordinary days could not. She loved seashells and the color peach. Hawaii was her dream-come-true. She loved too-loud music and bending the rules without breaking them … well … maybe just a few.

She lived ninety-six years and I don’t think it was nearly long enough, because the world needed more of her. More giggles. More late-night movies. More wonder. More awe. More long hugs. More confetti kisses. More lullaby songs. More kitchen waltzes. More being her granddaughter.

I feel an immense responsibility to live with intentional joy because of her. I know my mother feels it too … and what a grand commission she inspired. I hope someday I’m half the fun she always was. Equal measures of sugar and spice – today I just want more.

7.23.19 I Wish Him …

4

 

AD28AE73-D098-4C67-B935-27354E73661A

There are some wishes-come-true that are too powerful not to have come straight from heaven. He is, and has been, my most precious wish. I remember, twelve years ago today, meeting a tiny blue-eyed wonder who stole my heart with a single sigh. My heart, heavy with the fears that accompany infertility, suddenly found its way back to beating … and the breath I’d been holding in hope became a thousand colorful balloons finding their way to the sky.

I know he’s nearly a teenager now … I know we are supposed to butt heads and grapple with misunderstandings. I know that I’m not supposed to “get” him, and he’s not likely to care about what his mom thinks – but that’s just so not us. This boy … this wonder … is truly one of the best friends in my whole life. He’s intelligent, considerate, and kind. He’s protective and intentional in conversation. When I’m happy, chances are he’s the source of my laughter, and when I’m sad he won’t let me off without acknowledging whether or not I’m okay. We love pirates and pretend, random facts and Neverland. I love the way he loves his sister. I love the way he looks up to his dad.

I love him. Simply – and infinitely complex.

On this … his twelfth birthday, I thought I’d make a few wishes for him … one for each candle he blew out today.

  1. I wish him effervescent joy like he brings to others.
  2. I wish him confidence in times of chaos and calm.
  3. I wish him the freedom to always escape to his imagination.
  4. I wish him a lifetime of Sandman-sweet dreams.
  5. I wish him truest friendship in and of every age.
  6. I wish him the love that has no barriers or boundaries.
  7. I wish him fulfillment in each of his pursued endeavors.
  8. I wish him a thousand unexpected adventures.
  9. I wish him tenacity when life does what it does, and tries him.
  10. I wish him experience that leads to both humility and wisdom.
  11. I wish him accomplishment that bears pride in helping others.
  12. And most of all, I wish him faith borne of heaven’s wings.

 

6.18.19 Slipping Into Summer

0

IMG_3729

“I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days – three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.”
John Keats

Isn’t that a wonderful thought? To live three days as a butterfly, flitting and flying free in the warmest of summer breezes? Delighting in the presence of the present moment and never giving credit to a future you couldn’t plan for if you tried. It is that feeling that gives summer its magic and glory. Summer days have a way of lengthening and stretching twilight to dawn with minimal effort. The sun shows herself off brilliantly, complimented by her suitor moon, glowing brighter at the mere reflection of her.

It is a beautiful, anything-can-happen time of year and I encourage you to embrace each glittering moment of it! The summer Bella Grace Issue #20 is an absolute delight! I am featured on the cover! Please join me and read, “25 Whimsical Ways to Enlighten the Light of Summer.” I would absolutely love to hear how you are planning to delight in the days before you.

Be glitteringly fabulous and enjoy every fleeting butterfly-wing breeze,

Elle

5.12.19 I Find Myself Whole

2

 

I have had the most extraordinary examples of mothers in my life. My own mom is practically an earth angel … she is selfless and endlessly encouraging and taught me that joy is a choice that we must pursue with intention and passion. My mother-in-law is kind, and good, and does life with a family-first focused mentality. There has never been an instance where I’ve seen her make a decision without all of us in mind. My sister has always and forever wanted only to be a mom, and as her full-time job … she is exemplary at it … loving with an other-worldly patience, never hesitating for a second to let a hug linger, as hugs often should. My cousin is the dedicated, work and play mom. She bakes, and explores, gardens, and tutors. I never know how, but she does it all so well. Both of my sister-in-laws are full-time doctors, and both of them consistently put dance shoes and soccer cleats at the top of their list along with patient care and job performance. Their girls will be better for the example of their mothers’ tireless love, and nurturing spirit towards both their own needs, and the needs of others. My best friend epitomizes the verse, “Love never fails,” as she not only adores her own three children, but her gorgeous sixteen-year-old step-daughter with a fiercely, undeniable grace that could only come from a pure heart. There is my friend who doesn’t even have children, but loves each human soul she meets with such intense safekeeping of their stories, that it is undeniable to know God has given her a mother’s heart. Or my friend, who has faithfully become the surrogate mother her middle school students have needed all their lives. Then there are my friends that are the sweet mothers of young ones, who remind me of the tender snuggles, the fresh-from heaven dreamy stares, and complete devotion to their new and forever role as mothers; oh, how they inspire.

These are the mothers I look up too. These strong, beautiful, uniquely individual women who time and time again, put the needs of others before themselves. How can I ever thank them, or the hundreds of other mothers I wish I had time to name?

On the other side of gratitude, I want to thank the most precious ones of all … my two, gifts … my son and my daughter. I cannot ever properly deserve you, and sometimes I worry God trusts me too much to have put you in my care. I am so grateful that my husband is with me to balance all my insufficient, impulsive ways with his steady character and heart. Somehow, beyond my inability to cook memorable meals, or keep a plant alive, or build anything, or do laundry with any semblance of efficiency … they love me. They love my constant question games in the car and my addiction to chocolate milk (for me, not them). They love my belief in pretend and my absolute conviction that Neverland is a real place. They love that I write, and support my poems, and articles, and books with prayers. They are my greatest fans, and I love how they forgive my flaws for the simple fact that love has blinded them beyond recognizing fault.

I am a mother. I am imperfect and deeply impractical. I value daydreams over diagrams and whimsy over worldly success. I put my kids to bed way too late, and often, fall asleep with them because I don’t want that thief, Time, to steal one minute I was unaware of passing.

I worry. I pray. I play. I dance. I try. I cry. I fret. I fail. I love.

I am many, many things, but because of the women I so cherish, and the children who have given me my most important name … I am a mother … and in that … I find myself whole.

4.28.19 Even Then … Only Slightly

4

57809459841__F876A540-6D46-40F5-AF99-BF018425DF30

Lately I feel like my life is a little bit out of control. There is too much going on and I can honestly say that when we go through phases like this … seasons like this … that is when the most ill-timed circumstances find their way to me, becoming grand interruptions I don’t have time for. “You do it to yourself,” you might say. “You’re too busy!” Well, that might be so, but it isn’t the busy so much as the nothing-goes-smoothly-like-it’s-supposed-to that gets ridiculous!

Cormac McCarthy once said, “You never know what worse luck your bad luck just saved you from.” That is a sage piece of advice, but when you’re going through it? It sounds like something I’d like to see sewn onto a pillow so I could punch it! Right now, besides my husband and I working full time, our children are in a theater company and their first play is this coming weekend. Our daughter is in two different dance groups (both about to end, but about to and over are very different things). Then, our son is a travel soccer player. That’s not to mention regular things like school … or piano lessons. Or PETS! Don’t get me started!

You know how when you are going through a rough patch of luck, you look back on it later and it’s kind of funny? Well … I’m not there yet, because even then, even in retrospect, it’s only slightly amusing. At this moment though, I figured I’d share my luck so you could laugh and relate with me. If I knew someone was laughing with me, maybe I could push past the near-tears and laugh too.

Here we go –

We just cleaned our entire house! (Spring frenzy style!) We put all of our unwanted pieces in the garage, and when we called the company 1-800-Got-Junk to come and pick up the items we wanted gone, our garage door broke! We couldn’t get it open and needed someone to come fix it so the junk people could get the items out! That was a costly adventure.

My husband just put brand new dark mulch all around our house. Our white Great Pyrenees puppy really loves it. She also loves to dig. She also loves to rip the new drain pipe from the side of the house and carry it around like a trophy in the backyard. At six months old, she weighs fifty-six pounds and I had to hoist her up and carry her like a sack of potatoes across the house so her muddy feet couldn’t mess up my newly washed floor.

Our kids said they had a “little” homework left before bed on Sunday night. I said, “Okay but I want you in bed by eight because you have your play this week and will be out until past nine every night.” At 9:40 my nine-year-old is still at the table “finishing” her book report! ARGH!

This week I had to take our two cats to the vet for their annual check up. I also had to take the puppy to get her nails trimmed. Well, on the way there, one of the cats threw up. We found out one cat was severely underweight (Thyroid) and one cat was severely overweight (fat). The trip cost over three hundred dollars! Oh, and then the dog puked on the way home.

The pièce de ré·sis·tance? Well … Spring has finally come here in the Midwest – only not really. On Friday it was glorious and in the sixties with sunshine. We have flowers planted, and all is starting to bloom. On Saturday, we had a freak six-inch snow storm. My husband wasn’t home and asked me to find a way to protect the flowers, so between a tarp and a well-placed umbrella … we’ll have to see if they make it.

My friends … I am exhausted … and I realize that these are trifles in the grand scheme of things. And I know that someday (way in the future of next week) they might even be funny, but even then … only slightly.

All my love,

Elle

4.12.19 The Beauty of Slow

2

IMG_6268

Today I was asked to guest blog about “The Beauty of Slow” for Jamie whose blog is https://asnailsspace.blogspot.com so please visit me there, and while you’re there, check out this lovely soul! You’ll see a short introduction about how she found me, and then my piece (also found below) will be featured! Happy reading darlings!

The Beauty of Slow

There is a beauty to being slow … and it is a beauty that took me some time to appreciate. Slow, to me, is an acquired taste, and in younger years it was only bitter – not sweet. I remember so many instances where time was my enemy – every minute a wrestling match for what I could get done next or cross off my never-ending list. At that time, I wasn’t so much a human being as a human doing, and while I believe we were given hands and feet to do … more and more I am coming to understand that we were also given minds to reflect, lungs to breathe, and a heartbeat … slow and steady … with which we were meant to keep time. 

What a difference my life would have felt, and still would feel, if I only paid more attention to that heart – to that beat. When I do take the time to listen to the parts of myself that speak quietly, I hear a great deal of questions … questions I don’t know the answer to, but I want to. Like when someone asks me to tell them what I did in a weekend, I have to start backwards or I literally can’t remember. Why is that? Or when I was a little girl, I used to sleep like a starfish – open and free – limbs tossed this way and that haphazardly. Now, I sleep curled up on my side. What happened to that little girl? What am I protecting myself from? Sometimes I have a sense of urgency to accomplish more, and I run myself ragged from the first rays to the last, only to exhaust myself for those who want the best of me. Why do I waste those best parts on a thankless  day, instead of a precious night? 

As you can see – I’ve not genuinely figured it out yet, but I’m thinking, and I’m trying, because when I do get it right … the beauty of slow seeps in and enchants me. Slow looks like watching the sleepy dreamer beside me, whose chest rises and falls in peaceful rhythm to his unconscious reverie. Slow feels like stretching every limb to its limit as I walk, and hike, and run to explore the hidden magic of nature. Slow sounds like hearing the words behind the song – becoming a part of the melody itself as it reaches the deepest parts of me. Slow tastes like the sea-salt air, the lilac wind, the damp dew of grass, the whispered sweetness of lilies. 

It is the afterglow – the lullaby hum – the perfect contentment of still. And I may not have figured it out yet, but there’s one thing I know … there is never such beauty, as the beauty of slow.