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

3.13.21 Beyond

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Sometimes I wish that we lived in a world where there weren’t quite so many conventions … so many “unwritten” rules of decorum and what is or is not: expected, accepted, or normalized. This is where children have it right. They rush into conversation with reckless abandon, all tangled hair and thoughts … all colorful, vibrant questions. I want to meet someone and push beyond the “getting to know you” phase immediately. I want to grab their hand, look directly into their eyes, and ask them if the ocean calls their spirit like it does mine. I want to know if they too feel magic in the wind and believe in the possibility that Fate and Destiny like to play.

But those are not ordinary questions, and so instead, I fear many of us remain on the surface … knowing, but also not knowing each other fully. I want to live in a world where those kinds of questions don’t end in a quandary of someone looking at me as though I am not “fully sane.” Why can’t we know? Why can’t we ask? Why can’t we feel fully and cannonball into grand discussions edged in gold, instead of politely tiptoeing around generalities that keep us shallowly acceptable?

Can I just say … I’d love to fight normal? I’d love to wrestle the glass barriers of the mundane in preference of the glorious, curious questions I wish I could ask. What invokes passion in you? What draws you to the edge of yourself? Do you believe our mortal bodies contain immortal relevance and what in this glorious, terrible life has led you to your conclusions?

Albeit to say, I would irrevocably love to push beyond to the good stuff … but the world might have to spin a little faster (or maybe it’s slower) before that happens. And yet, if you find yourself in need of a little bit more … of a little bit deeper … just know there’s someone out there who feels the same and is happy to follow your wondering, wandering thoughts. Beyond seems like an awfully enchanting place to go.

Come with me?

Elle

1.20.21 The Beautiful In-Betweens

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“In a paradoxical blush of cool hands and warm cheeks, warm nights with cool breezes, winter makes her entrance with dramatic grace and patience. There are so many beguiling experiences that, like the coming of a new season, only live in the in-between places of ourselves.”

I am honored to be featured in Bella Grace Magazine’s Winter Issue 26! From start to finish, this bookzine is filled with delighting in the magical aspects of the every day. My article focuses on looking at those in-between places in our lives that transition us from here to there. I’d LOVE to hear if you read it, and if so, which in-between time resonated most with you.

All my love,

Elle

7.30.20 Tomorrow

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As a writer who focuses on the whimsical, deep, and beautiful … who tries to surround herself with elements of faith, and wonder, and magic … can I just say it’s a bit of a reality check when life happens?

Last night I captured this image of a halo moon. I imagined the incandescent symbolism behind a night sky lit with a golden echo. It was magnificent. It was a moment I was so, so blessed to catch because tonight … well … tonight I need to hold onto the truth that the moon is still out there, even if it is hidden by the clouds. The wishes I wished were still spoken … even if today they seem farther from coming true than they ever have. The feeling of peace was real then … even if I don’t feel it now.

Today was hard, and then harder … but the moon is still out there, and the stars, and a piece of peace I’ll chase again tomorrow.

Love. Always love.

Elle

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

 

4.16.20 All in All

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It’s been a week. A rough one … filled with: soap in my eye, choking on mouthwash, typos, miscommunications, my 110 lb. dog stepping on my foot and badly bruising it, past-midnight work emails, too-early alarms, what’s for breakfast, lunch and dinners, bought the wrong percent of milk, missed a call, forgot to call, laundry eating-me-alive, other dog ate a notebook, forgot to water the Hydrangeas, sinus headaches, don’t -have-time-to-finish the chapter, battery died before I could finish the slideshow, what’s that smell in the fridge, who’s mess is this, coffee spilled on a white chair, two spiders in my bathroom, is that a hairball, where did these feathers come from, no you can’t sleep on the couch, fine you can sleep on the couch, wake up and take your contacts out, no hun – you’re not going blind … you didn’t put your contacts in, I think I’m losing my mind, why would you do that are you crazy, dog ate a rice crispy treat, fish died, where did this hive come from, is this allergies or Covid, why are your showers fifty minutes, congratulations you’re out of soap, and now we’re out of paper towel, just used the last of my sugar, no you didn’t put the seat down, I’m so proud you took care of that zit by yourself, what do you mean why should I wear my glasses, cut your fingernails you look like a alley cat, caterpillars everywhere, wind broke a tree in half, we have more weeds than grass, that costs how much, no you cannot have another treat, fine have another treat, are these pickles still good, why does the pizza taste funny, hey mom … never mind, give me five more minutes, I mean ten more minutes, sorry guys – I know it’s been an hour, is my hair getting thinner, is my waist getting fatter, are my wrinkles getting deeper, it’s too hot in here, it’s too cold in here, my order arrived broken, the store is STILL out of toilet paper, yes I see the dog has dreadlocks, no they’re not taking grooming appointments, I’m sorry for trying to shake hands, ewww the dog just farted, you are not allergic to bees, yes you do need to reapply deoderant, please practice the piano, please STOP practicing the piano, no your sister cannot watch that show, yes your brother does need some time to himself, please let out the dog, please let in the dog, well … go find the dog, no you cannot eat Ramen again, what do you mean your digital music class asked you to drum, why are you working as long as I am when you’re in fifth grade, EAT OVER YOUR PLATE, don’t interrupt my meeting to ask for something in the Amazon cart, what do you mean you think you brushed your teeth today, I have four meetings in a row, I think I’m going blind from all the screen time on my computer, is this what date night looks like now, no I don’t want to talk about our budget, I think I need some frosting … no, don’t bother with the graham crackers – just bring a spoon, stop touching her, get your foot out of my face, did you pray, well you’d better, no I don’t know what that Japanese word means, yes of course I’d like to see another magic trick, don’t worry I’ll put the kids to bed since you passed out at seven, yes you can have another last snack of the night, go read the dog a book, can’t stop yawning, eyes are burning, I think I’ll take a bath, if I took a bath I’d fall asleep and drown, oh my goodness … it’s already midnight again, I’ll read one last email from a student I had six years ago

Mrs. Harris: Photo above attached, “Best teacher I ever had was …”

Him: “Without a doubt you! Miss you.”

All in all … not a bad week.

 

4.2.20 A Stranger’s Smile

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I fell asleep with my son, putting him to bed last night. I woke up this morning by falling out of his bed. I realized, in that cold, hard moment on the floor, that my predicament was quite the metaphor for how I’ve been feeling lately. Every day I wake up with a bit of a shock, a little rocked and shaken, a little dazed – needing a moment to reorient myself before standing up again.

Anyone else?

I asked a student of mine recently how he was doing and he said, “You know, I think this is going to be one of those things that changes you for the rest of your life. My great grandparents went through the Great Depression, and for the rest of their lives they were really careful with money and lived a simple life. I feel like this is going to be our big life event that changes us, and someday I’ll scream at my kids to ‘wash their hands better,’ because they just can’t understand what I’ve been through.”

Wisdom. I think he’s right. I think that this event is unlike anything the world has known in my time of living on it. In some ways I appreciate the pause, the time with my family, the dinners and walks. But in other ways Spring Break felt more like a Spring Breakdown … becoming acclimated to working remote from jobs that were not designed that way, and realizing that even outdoor escapes like parks and preserves are closed.

One of my closest friends said, “I hate that it’s called ‘social distancing.’ It should be called physical distancing. We shouldn’t be trying to make ourselves less social.”  It’s weird for everyone. It’s hard for everyone. So be gentle. Be kind. And don’t forget to be humane in your humanness. I feel like when I have ventured out for my weekly groceries, people cast their eyes down and look away from one another … like everyone is a potential threat. Stay six feet apart, but SMILE!

There was an elderly gentleman at the grocery waiting in line like me, and we got to chatting. I told him my frustration with people’s social ineptitude, and he said, “You know, someone took a picture of me the other day and said they couldn’t recognize me because I was scowling. I didn’t even know I was.”

“Well you’re smiling now,” I said. “And I’m honored you spent your smile on me.”

So, like me, you might be feeling a little rough-around-the-edges and sore. Life has taken us for a tumble … but don’t forget to be yourself, don’t forget to care about the smiles of a stranger that might be your job to bring about.

All my love and prayers,

Elle

3.23.20 Small Fib

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Dear Grandma:

Hello to you one of my all-time-favorite people in the history of ever and always. Grandma, there is SO much happening here on earth, and I wish for all the world you were here because I could really use some of your jubilant nature … some of your can-do-moxie, and one of your famous don’t-let-go hugs. But in the same breath, I am relieved that you are nestled in the grace of heaven, far from any more trials.

If we were together though, I know what you would say … and that is the blessing of knowing someone as special as you for so long … you’ve imprinted on my very spirit, and I can still hear you. If you were here, I’d start to cry. You would sweep my hair aside, put my head on your shoulder, rub my back and call me dolly. You would not only let me cry, but you would cry with me, wiping my tears just as fast as they fell, and planting kisses on my cheeks.

I would tell you how hard it is to be away from people I love, and you would remind me of the many people you had to say goodbye to. You would tell me that it is because love hurts, and sometimes pain is good. I would tell you that hiding and feeling trapped isn’t fair, and you would remind me that there was a time in history you lived through where people had to hide for much worse reasons than sickness. I would ask you how to deal with the dark thoughts and feelings that come, and you would tell me that joy is a choice, and it is about high time I start doing something fun.

If I were the me I imagine … the one who always came to you when I was feeling sad or scared, I know exactly what you’d do next. You’d scoop me onto your lap (even though I was nearly always taller than you) and you’d swing me back until our legs reached the sky and we dissolved into a fit of giggles. Then, you’d suggest we try on some of your jewelry … the best pieces you kept tucked in the boxes beneath your bed. I’d ask you to tell me all of your love stories, and you’d tell me small bits and pieces … just enough to keep me wondering at the girl you were, who stole hearts without meaning to, just by being you.

Grandma do you know how much I love you? How much I miss you? Still. Always. I love that you found a way to balance mischief and melancholy. You did not have an easy life … but somehow, you always found your way into another “dandy” time. I promise to do the same, and I promise to take as many with me as I can on each frolicking adventure into my imagination.

If I were with you, I’d ask you to never leave Grandma … and you’d squeeze my hand white-knuckle tight (like you always did) and you’d lie to me and say, “I’m not going anywhere.” Maybe just for today Gram I’m going to pretend that you’re not SO very far away … I might tell myself that I got to see you yesterday, and I can’t be so selfish with your time today. Do you think it’d be okay just this once to lie?

“It’s just a small fib,” you’d say. “No harm in that dolly.”

Oh Gram, meet me in a dream soon okay? Maybe tomorrow? So we can go bumming? So we can have a laugh and “get along real good,” like you always said we did. I know I just got to see you yesterday … but I might need tomorrow too.

I love you. I miss you. I need you still.

Tootaloo!