8.17.18 I Can’t Believe She’s Mine

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“You wanted everything for everyone, and you wanted to know it all and learn it all …”  – Julia Quinn, To Sir Philip With Love

This one’s for my baby … my even-as-I-write-this little lady who captures every heart she meets. I have never met the likes of her, nor could I have dreamed her into being. My thoughts are simply not capable of the wonder that she is. She is a singular treasure. A divine gift. A paragon of what kindness truly is. Happy birthday to my little dolly. Knowing her is the privilege of a lifetime, but being her mommy is nothing short of a miracle.

 

Brighter than starlight

and made of the same radiance

she emanates compassion

she breathes empathy

and she feels – everything

Wonderstruck eyes at the world she yearns to know more of

yet enchanted with the reality of pretend

she travels her deepest thoughts

curiosity her constant companion

only outshone by her desire to be:

what everyone needs –

never realizing that she already is

There is not a day where charm doesn’t chase her

smiles and compliments are ever in her wake,

still she tries, failing to realize her effortless magnetism –

obliviousness to practical perfection allowing her to remain blameless

She is art personified

a walking masterpiece

the crescendo of emotion

the chorus of a beautiful song …

With effervescent giggles, she twirls with me

and doesn’t walk but cartwheels place to place

She creates

She delights

She seeks

She finds

And every day I can’t believe she’s mine

 

 

5.23.18 Brave

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I want to be brave 

because 

I so 

admire 

the way it looks on other people

There are times in my life that I thought I was … 

but looking back –

the reflection of those memories seem much closer to 

seeking adventure

than requiring bravery in its truest form

which is – Necessity

Brave isn’t a character trait, 

it’s a state-of-being

and the bravest people I know don’t get credit for life

they just live it

So to:

The under-appreciated, marginalized, minorities in society

The citizens of nations who didn’t choose to be born unblessed by geographic happenstance 

The ill of body or mind in a world that makes you feel disposable for being “un-perfect” 

The overstressed, single parents who didn’t ask to do it alone

The children who’ve become accustomed to seeing themselves as an interference

To me? 

You  

are 

the 

brave 

ones. 

And I’m sorry. 

I’m so sorry that every day you don’t have a choice

but to be brave.

This wasn’t the way the world was supposed to welcome you

This wasn’t the life to which you were intended …

Precious little though these words might do

I want you to know

that I recognize the weight of your armor 

and when I see your tired faces

weary with

expectations

insinuations

and constant

degradations

I wish I could 

be 

more

So that I could 

do 

more

for you.

But I’m just me

and I’m not brave

because life never trained me

on battlegrounds like yours

Still, I want you to know

I see

I care

And the one thing I can offer – the truth?

God didn’t plan this part

In no cosmic design were you ever meant to be

less

than the children of divinity 

you are

Your purpose has a place 

and the cartographer of the stars in the heavens Himself

has charted the course of destiny you were meant for

But we are fallen

and life

is acutely unfair

I still want to be brave 

because 

I so 

admire 

the way it looks on other people

I’m just sorry

that wearing brave

was never a choice

you were given to make

 

Always,

Elle

5.17.18 Pack Your Own Sunshine

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This week I was inspired by my friend, author Bibi Belford. This past year she published another children’s book called, Crossing the Line. It is a fantastic novel about race relations in Chicago post World War I, and the courage it takes to “cross the line” between what is right, and what is easy. And while I encourage you all to read it for its fabulous themes, rich historical context, and the ethical challenges it sparks – this was not why I was inspired by Bibi. 

Next week she is traveling to my school to do a speech for my students, because this week … tonight in fact … she will be receiving the 2018 Christopher Award in literature. This amazing award is founded upon the ambition to, “Make a positive difference in the world by the use of their God given talent.”  The ceremony is in New York, only I just found out, Bibi will now, not be able to attend. This morning, due to inclement weather and a litany of flight cancellations and no potential standbys … she cannot get there in time. My heart literally broke for her. Here is the opportunity of a lifetime, and because of something as mundane as weather, she cannot be a part of her moment. 

After receiving her email, I replied immediately, and this is what she said, “ … It’s alright. Never know what disaster we’ve been blessed to miss …” I was shocked. Awed. Impressed. Humbled. Honored to know her. Honored to call her my friend. So often, the smallest of inconveniences can seem to sway my day, and in an instant I’m whirling like a tropical storm. Here, in the midst of a true storm, in the face of utter chaos, Bibi chose to see what she had, instead of what she was missing. It is no wonder this amazing woman won an award dedicated to morality and strength of character. If you care about education, inspiration, positive social change, or a dose of positivism, I challenge you to follow her on Instagram @authorbibibelford or Twitter @BarbaraBelford or even Facebook as Bibi Belford. She is worth associating yourself with, I promise!

Bibi reminded me that in the trip of life, we need to pack our own sunshine. So this is my little digital suitcase … a list of instant “happiness” I can always count on to brighten my situation. 

Elle’s Insta-Mood Lifters

  • Nutella (just a spoon … no cracker or bread necessary or desired)
  • Romantic Comedies (I may or may not rewind the cutest kissing scenes like a thousand times … I love the fluttery feeling of love)
  • Peanut Butter (again … just a spoon … why tamper with perfection)
  • Calling My Sister, Mother, Cousin, Girl Best Friend, Guy Best Friend, Mother-In-Law, Sisters-In-Law, Kindred Spirits (there is nothing these individuals wouldn’t do for me, and don’t already just by existing; I love you all so much)
  • Books (old books, new books, haphazard stacks of books, books in rows, books on shelves, books for kids, books of art, books, books, books – did I say books?)
  • Rereading Old Letters (yep … I kept all the good ones, I don’t believe in burning a memory, even if it didn’t last)
  • Baby Pictures of My Babies (there is nothing like the remembrance of knowing the bubbly froth of giggles you inspired once upon a time)
  • Pizza (because yeah … enough said) 
  • Daydreaming About My and My Husband’s First Kiss (it was epic … best kiss of my life, so good I had to marry him) 

There are about a hundred more go-to’s, but these are my first string for a dose of sunshine. I pray that you are always able to pack your own light. Find the joy in every day, even if you need to use a flashlight between the cracks and fissures of chaos. I pray, that like Bibi, you’re able to hold on to your perspective, even when the world tries to warp it. 

Tell me how you keep your mood alight. What is your number one strategy to insta-boost your mood. 

All my love,
Elle 

12.12.17 Someone Who Can Remember

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“Never say goodbye, because goodbye means going away, and going away means forgetting.” Peter Pan

I have been faced with the very unpleasant reality that my children are growing up. It seems everyone’s are. Like an unmistakable epidemic, every day, little dears and darlings are getting one day older, and wiser – closer to reality, and farther away from the subtle safety of pretend.

There is beauty in knowing, and there is heaviness too. I know it is the way it is supposed to be, and yet some part of me clings to the idea of little hands in mine, and tiny feet making big sounds that echo down my hallways. I feel like a hypocrite, because all I ask God for is their health and their ability to grow into who they are meant to be, but now here we are and I want just a few moments more to collect in pretty imaginary bottles to store on the shelves of my memory.

I am not sad.

At least not for any significant lengths of time.

Because I am blessed – blessed to have someones to admire as they question, and wonder, and begin to understand. I wish at times (all of the time), that I could protect them from so many truths of this torn world, then, slowly, I recognize that that would be the very worst kind of love.

True love is to meet in, not guard from. It is the “I’m here and you’re here and it’s hard, but I’ll love you through it” kind that matters most. My mom and dad loved me that way. They love me that way still, and a love like that has power.

But just as significant as it is to step into what is real, is the necessity to keep the ability to dream close by. Imagination is like a friend we can call upon whenever the business of life gets just a little too heavy to carry all at once. This belief is at the core of my parenting, of my teaching, of my writing. It is at the essence of what I hold most dear. God has planted a wondrous escape, an intentional diversion, an enchanting haven for our minds to find rest and rejuvenation.

My daddy and I love Neverland. I have spoken of it often in previous writings I know, but it isn’t the place, so much as the ability to recall the memory of magic. Of happy. Of wishful thinking. And when we become overwhelmed, he and I remind each other of J.M. Barries most beautiful words … “You know that place between sleep and awake, the place where you can still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting.”

As a mother. As a daughter. As a teacher. As a friend. I promise to forever try to be someone who can remember the light of a star …  the wish wrapped in the penny cast … the hope that tomorrow really will be better than yesterday.

In my thoughts, in my prayers, and in dreams for my children, and for every child of the world – including precious you – remember to cling to wonder … even if you have to bottle it to remember. Put joy on your shelf. Re-introduce yourself to the idea that growing up and remaining forever young aren’t mutually exclusive. Find love in every age; enjoy every day – even the hard ones. For there is good in the opportunity that every new breath brings.

Knit gold into the fabric of your being. Silver-line each impending cloud.

Always love,

Elle