2.28.21 Somedays

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I have several friends who suffer from chronic illnesses, and honestly, I hurt for them in a place I can’t feel, but feel nonetheless. So this is for you my brave warriors. This is for the days your body becomes a cage to the spirit within you that knows peace is waiting for you someday. I love you. I hear you. Carry on precious … one more day … one more hour … one more breath if that’s all you can commit to. This is not all – you are more, and nothing, not even this pain can make you less. For you, dear ones, are made of beyond. Until then, I bless you for enduring now. I would be lost without you, and I thank you for not letting me get lost. 

Somedays

Somedays are dangerous things

they tease and taunt

and ease and haunt

the imperfections of our current state

of being

of wanting

of waiting

And on days like that …

the Somedays 

when the magic of stardust and wishes call

when the perfection of heaven echoes in the loves we lost

when the sea and the sky brim at a capacity greater than any earthly ambition

my heart aches with a craving I can’t satisfy

at the freedom I see

but don’t have

at the wonders of when

but not yet

at the whims I imagine

but can’t

make

real

Some days,

when Someday comes

my skin feels too tight

and my tears fall just right

and living 

is heavier

than it seems it should have the right to ever be

because beauty is in the eye of the beheld

and I wish to be held

by something lighter

than gravity

Someday

Reflections to Consider

1. Who do I know that might be depending on “Someday?” 

2. How can I make today worth their struggle to stay? 

3. What words, quotes, poems, or songs might I cover them in?

4. If I were to pray for them, what would I say? 

5. What wildflowers, free and blooming might inspire their view of today? 

6. What memories could I share to remind them of better moments in time? 

7. What does hope sound like? Smell like? Feel like? Look like? Can I catch some to share? 

8. If I visited, what activities could we do together where we were equal and free? 

9. What movies and books define our relationship? What else could I add to a care package that would enable and empower? 

10. What are ways to love them purely, as they are, and were, and will be … without filter or flaw? How can I show them that they are still them? And I am still me? And we are still us? 

2.7.21 One of Those

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Oh my, but it was a week … one of those that go from bad, to worse. The kind that make you question yourself, and then the world, and then yourself again. An eternal optimist, I must say I was really challenged this week to remain so. Still – I choose.

I choose happy even when it doesn’t make sense. Even when I can’t sleep because my heart is pounding in time to the ticking-ticks of the never slowing down clock of the race I didn’t ask to be in. I choose joy even when I don’t feel it, or see it, or hear it … even when I can’t tell where it has gone, or when, or if it will return. I choose hope because without it – friends: how would we dare to carry on?

So I am asking you to do me two favors.

  1. Pray for someone else. Because my guess is … they need it. Give some space for grace and calling out to the heavens on behalf of someone who may have lost their voice, their faith that tomorrow (for better or for worse) is on its way.
  2. Tell them.

If each person who read this post did that … could you imagine? It might just have the power to turn “one of those” weeks, into a holy revolution!

I’m praying for you,

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

1.12.21 Missing Light

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Her name was Lucy

which, not-so-ironically, means light.

And OH, but she was.

Fiery and feisty,

she taught me what it meant to be made of 

perhaps

a dash more spice

than sugar …

though her sweet tooth was never fully satisfied.

She loved life

and laughter –

so

much 

laughter.

She loved fancy

and flirting

and the color red.

When I was a little girl,

she taught me songs the world forgot,

but I remember still  … 

songs about “Elmer’s tune,” and “The Man in the Moon,” 

songs my children now know the words to.

I loved the way she called me “Dolly,” 

the way she didn’t over-apologize the way I do,

the way she shamelessly said

what-so-ever crossed her mind,

whether it was mindful or not.

Living nearly a century, with immeasurable loss,

she had every right to be hardened – to be jaded, or sad.

But she wasn’t. 

She lived in a world of her own making, 

dressing up her goodbyes as “too-da-loo’s” 

somehow making every parting more sweet than sorrow-filled.

She chose joy, 

and taught me that even now, even without her – 

because of her … 

I can too.

1.4.20 A Single Word

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I have never really been a person to start a year with a single “word.” I have favorite words … too many, and I suppose that is why choosing one to embody an entire year never seemed sufficient enough. And yet … I betray myself, because recently, I realized I do have a word. But before telling you what it is, I have one story, and one confession. 

A few weeks ago, I was in a cohort of teachers and was asked the question, “If you could speak any language fluently, what language would you want to know how to speak.” I listened to the others choosing beautiful languages that had always been on my list, but when it came to be my turn to answer, I couldn’t pick any. Surprising even myself, what came out of my mouth was “respect.” 

I went on to explain how I wish that I could speak the language of respect fluently to all people, because I have come to learn that as “alike” or “different” as I believe myself to be from anyone else, every single person in the universe speaks and feels respect differently. As humans we have nothing if not a consistent margin for offense, mis-intended communication and accidental conflict. It’s exhausting, actually … especially for those of us who feel everything and care perhaps a little too much.

Now, onto my confession. As I was thinking about my wish to speak respect fluently, a small voice in the back of my mind asked me very, very clearly … “Is respect the language you speak to yourself?” And guess what my answer was – nope. Not often. Not even once a day sometimes. Here I try and try and bend to the point of breaking to love and honor and respect others (albeit imperfectly), and I don’t even really try to return the favor to myself. 

I point out her flaws. I tell her of her shortcomings. I expect more and more out of her with less and less time, encouragement, and praise. I am not very nice to her at all. I am demanding and harsh and critical. Professionally. Personally. Physically. I tell her she is not enough. How’s that for honesty? I’m a bit ashamed to admit it, but how will I ever become fluent in respect if I don’t start with telling myself the truth? So that is my intention this year. I hope to mend our relationship a little … or, a lot maybe. I want to give her a bit of grace, a bit of encouragement, and maybe even a long-deserved apology. 

My word for the year is RESPECT. I’m thinking it might take me awhile to get it right, but self … I’m sure going to try. 

12.5.20 Loneliness Knows No Age

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“All great and precious things are lonely.” John Steinbeck

I think people forget, sometimes, that loneliness knows no age. It doesn’t settle for the old, or the young but satisfies itself only in any and every. If this pandemic has taught us anything as a people, it is that we are not meant to be solitary creatures. We cannot thrive alone. We cannot survive alone. And we shouldn’t have to.

Though I don’t talk about it often, I am a teacher, blessed with 105 middle school minds this year. They are snarky and sarcastic. They are witty and wonderful. They are tired and grumpy, excited and funny. But most of all … they are lonely.

In a world where the satisfaction of an answer is instant, and the gratification of working something out over time doesn’t exist, it can be hard for any of us to feel value beyond the moment. When you are twelve and thirteen years old, your brain is first becoming capable of metacognition … of thinking about thinking – of registering your feelings and taking stock of what to make of them. Now imagine doing that when your parents are working, when you can only see friends through a screen, and your teachers aren’t only a hallway away. This is the reality we are in. Balancing safety with sanity. There is no right or wrong … only stuck – all of us in a purgatory of waiting for we don’t know what, or when exactly.

It is hard. It is hard not to hug. It’s hard not to squeeze a shoulder or toss a smile freely that isn’t swallowed up by a mask.

Nearby, there is a thriving retirement community … filled with amazing individuals with stories that span a generation. Tucked inside of brilliant minds, behind silver strands, are thoughts and wisdom just waiting to be imparted on any ears that would have time for a story.

My students were asked to write a letter, to take a chance on a multigenerational friendship. Now, over two hundred letters later … I am reading hope, personified. I am reading the curious questions of children who are stretching and reaching for answers from memories and hands that are willing to write them. From tales of what school was like eighty-seven years ago, to new and old book titles recommended. No matter how many letters pass through my inbox, no matter how long it takes me to read and send, read and send, I cannot stop smiling as each word, each hope, and each wish is shared.

Loneliness knows no age, and these sweet pen pals, some over eighty years apart, are forming friendships that also know no age. Author Tom Bodett says, “They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.” Can I just say how blessed I feel to see that one assignment has covered all three?

Go love someone by giving them the time to hear a story, or share one of your own … no matter what their age.


11.4.20 Lost and Found

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The worst possible reality was hers – she had just received the news that her daughter died. Had just gone through the funeral. Had just tried to return to something as “normal” as a soccer game … with the deep seated reality that nothing would ever be normal again. That was where I found her.

After the awkward, fragile niceties, I broached the impossible question, “How are you?”

“All I want to do is talk about her,” she said. “People don’t know if they should bring her up or not, but I want to remember everything. She was my best friend.”

I had nothing to offer her aside from my tears – my tears and a memory.

“I’ll never forget the first time I met her,” I handed over my words gently, wrapping the moment in my softest tone. I remember her eyes – hungry with hope, with desire for any fragment of a memory I could give her. “She climbed in my lap and touched my freckles. Then she told me I had a lot of polka-dots.”

And she laughed.

And I laughed.

And I knew it was the bereavement gift she needed.

I believe the most precious commodity we have to give, to trade, and most importantly to keep, are memories. The immeasurable value in giving a hidden chapter to a story you thought was over … what could possibly matter more than that? What could ever replace the value of another page? Another line? Another word spoken from a “voice” you never thought you’d hear from again?

I’m writing to ask a favor. Please share a memory … no matter how small or insignificant you think the interaction might be. Send the picture, share the card with their signature, and always tell the story. Keep trading the hope of memories lost, and found.

8.18.20 Eleven is For …

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Eleven is made for wishes

for candied pinky-promises and bubble gum kisses

for glitter dusted falling stars and conversations with the moon

Eleven is made for flowered tea cups with sugar on tiny, silver spoons

for dreaming under Willow trees and listening to the wind

for finding shapes in silver-lined periwinkle clouds

Eleven is for giggling with friends at stories you’ve woven together

for blowing iridescent bubbles parading up to the sky

for strawberry frosted memories that taste sweeter every year

Eleven is for wildflower bouquets and whispered secrets

for campfire glowing toasted marshmallow stories

for crystal-eyed curiosity, and believing that magic still exists

Eleven is made for wishes precious

Eleven is made for you

8.11.20 Prayers of a Teacher

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So aside from writing I am a teacher, and I teach because, quite simply … it inspires. When you’re an educator you have the amazing privilege to see the future … to know that it will be bright because you see who’s in it. Today, in a prep meeting, our administrators asked us to write a letter to our students explaining our, “Why?” I am sharing mine with you both to show you a side of myself I rarely speak of, and also to prompt you to pray for the educators who are around the world being asked to do something very hard that they’ve never done before. Whether in person, masked, and six feet apart, or digitally and even farther … teachers are trying to prepare, engage, and love on kids without their usual modes of communication. We teachers are huggers. We are high fivers. We laugh and we joke and we cry with our kiddos. We are relational, conversational, of-course-I’ll-explain-it-again, and sure I’ll walk with you at recess kinds of beings who are now forced into separation. While I know safety is everything, please pray with me and for us that our hearts and minds creatively: heal the gaps, make the connections, and continue to champion the future leaders of this world.

My Dearest Students:

When I was eleven, my parents moved me from one school to another in the middle of my sixth grade year. I was nervous and awkward. I had terrible bangs, huge glasses, and a smile full of braces. As I navigated the uncomfortable transition, there would have been no way that I could have known at the time what an astounding blessing that decision to switch schools was for me – because that same year I met my two best friends and they are STILL, more than twenty years later, my best friends today. 

When you are “stuck in the middle” sometimes people look down on you … they equate middle school to be the leftovers of childhood … but I disagree. Did you know that your age is the first time you are able to metacognate? HUGE word, but it means, “thinking about thinking.” What an amazing new superpower, to not only hear what you’re told and commit it to memory, but think about it …  feel about it. I always tell my students that it is not my job to teach you what to think, it is my job to teach you HOW to think, and my darlings, no matter how you come into this year with me, you will leave it more confident, articulate, and most importantly, loved. I love you … already, because you were chosen to be mine, and together we are going to find a way to make this year something spectacularly and singularly yours

When I was a Freshman in high school, my history teacher had a quote on the board from the philosopher Spinoza that said, “Whenever I have confronted that which was unfamiliar to me, I sought neither to praise, nor to condemn, but only to understand.” It’s kind of heavy, but what it means is … I want to be open minded and open hearted. A lot of people think I’m crazy when I say I teach middle school, and maybe they’re a little bit right, but a brilliant man named Oscar Levant once said, “There’s a fine line between genius and insanity.” So it will be a crazy year my friends, but if you open yourself to the possibility, it just might also be genius

All my love, 

Mrs. Harris