Monthly Archives: September 2013

A Thousand Words

“A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away.”  
– Eudora Welty

I have a friend who is a photographer.  And a great one, too.

(Hey, wanna check out her stuff?   Her name is Iman Woods.  Click here for her new family photography Facebook page, and here for her pin-up photograph website.  You can also click here to check out her blog.  Her stuff kicks butt.)

So, yeah.  Photography is her thing.  And that’s awesome.  She uses photos to capture a story.  And each one does just that.  And quite beautifully, I might add.  After all, she’s an artist.

Me, on the other hand?  While I love photos, and never hesitate to snap them whenever I can, my ‘art’ is a little different.  We’re all artists, you know.  All of us.  We just have to find our medium.  My medium?  Words.  Without the talent to capture photographs or to paint or to draw, etc. etc., I fall back on the art that I think I have discovered that I’m somewhat good at.  And that is creating an image in people’s minds using the written word.

This weekend, however?  This weekend was a different story.

This weekend I have discovered a new appreciation for Iman’s work.  Because sometimes, it’s the picture that tells the story all by itself…and no words are able to do it justice.  Sometimes you just have to show people what your words cannot seem to adequately express.

A few of you regular readers may remember a blog I posted a while back about my premature twin nieces entitled Week-Old Miracles.  Well, this weekend, I got to spend a few days with those now six-month-old miracles.  And while I’m no photographer by any means, please take a look with me at the mixture of humorous and touching moments that have touched my heart over the past few days with these little angels.  And check out some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way as well.

Photo Lesson #1:

Watching this:


…turn to this:


is a very beautiful thing.  Wow.

Photo Lesson #2

Not many things in this ol’ world will fill your heart with as much love as filling your arms with twin babies.


Photo Lesson #3

Watching a teenager bond with a baby makes your heart smile.


Photo Lesson #4



Photo Lesson #5

Sleeping with a baby in your arms is a very peaceful feeling.  (And having your teenage daughter think to take a picture of it is a pretty sweet deal in and of itself.)


Photo Lesson #6

Not many things in this world are as sweet or as enduring as a mommy’s love.

Six months ago:




Photo Lesson #7

Watching grandma dress a baby after a bath is so darn cute.


Photo Lesson #8

Babies haven’t quite yet learned to mask their facial expressions. When it’s the first time they’ve ever met someone, you’re gonna know it.


Photo Lesson #9

It sure doesn’t take a baby long to decide you’re pretty cool…


(And p.s.: Hearing your boyfriend refer to himself as “Uncle Richard” to your niece, gives you a feeling of “rightness” that words can’t begin to express.)

Photo Lesson #10

Duck face pictures are stupid.  Unless they’re done with a 6-month-old.  Then, they rock.


Photo Lesson #11

If you’re an adult, you should live your life in such a way that you’re caught in the background of a picture playing at a playground all by yourself.


(*giggle*  That’s Richard back there.  Bless him.)

Photo Lesson #12

It’s impossible to look at this and not smile.


See?  Smiled, didn’t ya?

Photo Lesson #13

The smile on your face while holding a baby can’t possibly be faked. 


Photo Lesson #14

Witnessing your Alzheimer’s-ridden grandmother meeting her twin great-granddaughters for the first time is a moment that makes your heart climb into your throat.


Photo Lesson #15

Seeing that grandmother with a smile on her face again, after what seems like forever since you’ve seen it, is a moment that makes you know that some things never change.  My grandmother is beautiful.


My aunt Joyce commented on one of my photos on Facebook with, “Thanks for letting us live your day in pictures!”  I hope this blog allowed you to do that – and hopefully helped you to see what I saw.  To feel what I felt.  Maybe it might even make you turn around and look at your own family, your own little miraculous works of art in your life.  And maybe it will make you get down on your knees and thank your lucky stars that you’re alive.  You’re alive.  You know?  Get out there and capture these moments. before they slip by.

After all, you only get one shot.



““The Earth is Art, The Photographer is only a Witness ”  
– Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Fix Your Face


She was not one for emptying her face of expression. ”
– J. D. Salinger

I have a pretty bad habit.

My face shows everything I’m feeling.  Everything.

And you know what else it does?  It shows everything everyone else is feeling too.

My daughter Kelly has often made fun of me for this.  We’ll be watching a movie and I’ll catch her looking at me instead of the screen.  When I turn to see what she’s looking at, she breaks out in hysterical giggles and says, “You’re doing it again.”  Apparently, whatever the person I’m watching is feeling, I display it on my face.  They’re laughing?  I’m smiling.  They’re crying?  My face is all scrunched up.  They’re singing?  (Oh, Kelly loooooves this one….) My forehead is creased and I’m straining to reach the high notes just like they are.

Well, that last example happened at church Sunday.  The choir was singing one of the most beautiful songs ever, and I was feeling it to the core of my being.  My face was singing right along with them, when I feel a little elbow go into my side and I hear,

“Mom.  Fix  your face.”

Fix my face??  What the…. [wait, I’m in church]…crap is she talking about…?

Oh.  Oh yeah.  That again.  Grrrr.

Ever since she said that, I’ve been thinking a lot about it.  While, no, I don’t want to look like an idiot, and yes, maybe I do need to work on ‘fixing my face’ sometimes to avoid just that – the deeper meaning behind why I do that maybe isn’t such a bad thing at all.

See this quote?

“All that is in the heart is written on the face.”
Ritu Ghatourey

Well, I believe that.  And I think that the fact that my face reflects what others are feeling is a pretty good sign.  I think that shows that I’m empathetic.  That I don’t just look around at my fellow members of humanity, I actually take the time to really see them.  I feel them.  I put myself right in their place and go right along with them on their journey, even if it’s just for a few seconds.

That’s kinda cool, right?

Even if I do look like a complete idiot in the process.

There are a lot of things that we teach our kids when we don’t even realize we’re doing it.  I’m sure I have some habits that I’d like for Kelly to overlook (which I’m sure are the ones that she’ll remember best, unfortunately), but this in particular is one of them that I’m not too sorry to pass along to her.  Feel for each other.  You know?  Feel your fellow man’s pain, his happiness, his struggle, his triumph.  Anything that happens to another member of humanity, is also happening to you.  We’re all in this thing together.  Recognize that.

Wouldn’t this world be a much better place if we all did that?  All the time?

Well, it would also be a much funnier place if everyone showed that on their face all the time like I do.  Kelly sure would get a kick out of it.  So, maybe you could just be that way and try to hide it a little better than I do.  That might be a better idea.

So, note to self:  Yes, listen to your daughter.  Fix your face.  But your heart?  Yeah, that heart is probably right where it needs to be.

No worries.


When you start to develop your powers of empathy and imagination, the whole world opens up to you.
– Susan Sarandon


“Any fool can have bad luck; the art consists in knowing how to exploit it.”
– Frank Wedekind


Ok, so you know those people, right?  The ones who seem to have everything going for them.  Who seem to skate through life with no noteworthy negativity [How do you like that alliteration??].  Everything just seems to go their way without them even having to lift a finger.  *sigh*  Must be nice.  As some of my graceful, elegant family members used to describe it, “They walk around like they have a horseshoe stuck up their butt.”

(Ok, maybe “butt” wasn’t exactly their choice of words…but I digress…)

Well, me?  Yeah, I am NOT one of those people.  Especially when it comes to vehicles.  While those people get to have horseshoes stuck up there, I apparently have an albatross that climbs up mine every time I get behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Now, maybe blaming it on luck isn’t exactly fair.  I’m sure some of it may have to do with my own carelessness.  Maybe.  But seriously, a lot of it just really isn’t my fault.  Really.

Let’s look at the past five months, shall we?

Some of my regular followers may remember that I had an accident back in April.  I totaled my car.  (Missed that blog?  Want the gruesome details?  Click here.)

[Ugh…ok, I’m lying.  There aren’t any ‘gruesome’ details.  That was just a shameless plug of an old blog to get you to read it.  I’m a jerk…]


So, I totaled my car.  And that sucked.  Yes, I guess you could say that was my ‘fault’ (at least my new insurance premium screams that loud and clear), but in my defense, a freak, unexpected winter storm hit us out of the blue while I was on the road.  A new layer of snow on a curvy road doesn’t make for the most favorable road conditions.  So, fault or no fault, I guess you could say a little bad luck was at play.  That is, if you believe in that kind of thing.  I call my boyfriend Richard and he comes and picks my car-less self up and takes me home to take care of me.  (Awww.)

So, fast forward a few days.  I finally feel able to drive again.  (Now, nothing was all that wrong physically, mind you, other than my slight concussion – it was more of a mental barrier to wanting to drive again after flipping down a rocky bank…)  That sweet, wonderful boyfriend of mine and his generous mom offer me a spare family vehicle to drive until I get the insurance stuff straightened out and get another car of my own, and I gratefully accept their offer.

So, here we go.  Vehicle #2.

The *first* day I get behind the wheel of this borrowed car to drive to work, I’m about ten miles from home and out of nowhere comes a turkey.  Yes, a turkey.



[**Note.  This is not the actual turkey.  But this is an accurate portrayal of the look that was on the little jerk’s face as he barreled towards me.]

He side swipes me and…rips off the driver’s side mirror.

Are you freakin kidding me??

Yep.  A turkey just tore up my borrowed vehicle.  So, of course I make what I feel like is the hardest call I’ve ever had to make to Richard and, through my tears, ‘fess up.  And what does he do?  Laughs.  A lot.  It’s not funny!!  I borrow a vehicle and break it in the first ten minutes!  How is that funny??  Still.  He laughs.

Oh, he thinks that’s funny, huh?  Let’s fast forward another two weeks.  Really.  Two tiny little weeks later, I’m driving along in the same borrowed car, now complete with a brand new driver’s side mirror, and what happens?  I turn the wheel to the left going around a curve and…ready for this?…it FALLS OFF.  I’m not exaggerating!!  Ok, I’m exaggerating a little bit.  It didn’t completely come off.  But it fell over.  Apparently this is known as a tie rod end breaking.  Call it what you want, but I call it “Oh crap!”  (And again, maybe crap wasn’t the actual word being used, but no point in digressing yet again…)

So, here comes call #3 to Richard.  (If you’re keeping track, call #1 was totaling my own car.  Call #2 was the turkey.  And now call #3 is telling him his wheel fell off.  And this is all within a matter of 2-3 weeks.  *sigh*)  He didn’t laugh as much this time.  But he did have to come get me.  Again.

Well, after some pretty hefty repair work and Richard driving me to work every day in the interim, I manage to drive his car for a few more weeks without anything else falling off.  And eventually I am even finally able to get the insurance mess worked out and get a car of my very own.  Yay!  After the first few days of a random ‘check engine’ light malfunction (don’t EVEN tell me there’s no such thing as bad luck…), the dealership got everything taken care of and all was well.  Smooth sailing with Vehicle #3…

Until today.

Trash pickup day.

Now, most of you know I am a runner.  I just ran 8+ miles yesterday while working my way up to my second half marathon in November.  You read that, right?  I ran EIGHT miles yesterday.  But you know what I apparently can’t do?  Walk my trash down to the end of my driveway.  Ugh.  It’s sooooo far.  (Read that with your internal whiny voice, because that’s exactly how I just said it.)  Nope.  That 100-foot walk to the end of my driveway is apparently too much for this chick.  Instead, I feel the need to drive it down and drop it off as I leave for work.  And, well, it’s a bag.  Of trash.  I don’t want to put that nasty thing in my cute little car.  Gross.  So, what do I do?

I leave my driver’s side door propped open and back down the driveway holding the bag of trash out of the car.  You with me?  You got the mental image?  You see me backing down a slight declined driveway holding a bag of trash out of my door?  Ok, now picture a huge mound of dirt that I forgot was there.  And then picture my drivers side door catching on that mound of dirt.  Picture me not noticing and continuing to back down the driveway…and picture my door bending BACKWARDS and practically breaking completely off.

Seriously??  SERIOUSLY?

Call #4.  “Richard?  Um.  I just broke my door off of my car…”


Goodbye, Goldie Sue.  (It’s a gold Subaru.  Isn’t that name clever?  Yeah, like that matters to this story…)

IMG_20130924_184206 (2)

So, here we are again.  Richard had to come and get me and take me to the same borrowed vehicle from before and once again save the day by giving me something to drive to work until I get mine repaired.

Story should end there, huh?

Oh no.  Not for Melissa.

On the way home today, the passenger side mirror on the borrowed vehicle that had been just a tad loose all along, decided to go ahead and snap all the way off.  Of course it happens while I’m driving it.

Call #5.  “Um, Richard?  You know that mirror that was loose?  It just broke off.  But it’s NOT MY FAULT….”


I’m betting not many of you are going to want to ride with me after reading this blog, huh?  Well, join the club.

Hey, at least I have one living creature that will still come along for the ride…

IMG_20130924_162736 (2)

Bless her heart.

Well, there you have it.  Confessions of a Bad Driver, Volume One.  I’m sure there will be plenty more to come….

Hey, if you can’t laugh at yourself, what can you do?  You know?  Yes, I have some seriously bad luck when it comes to vehicles.  That albatross has apparently found a nice comfy home.

But you know what?  That bad luck only applies to vehicles.  Because look at the rest of my life.  Look at this story alone.  I have a wonderful, patient man who is always there to help me pick up the crazy pieces of my chaotic life and calmly put them all back together.  I walked away from a totaled car with barely a scratch, I have a cute little dog (ok, it’s the neighbor’s but she doesn’t realize that) who loves to go along on car rides with me, and I have wonderful readers who read this blog and come along on this crazy ride and laugh right along with the silly happenings of my never-a-dull-moment life.


Maybe I’m actually a pretty lucky lady after all.

Well.  That is, if you believe in that kind of thing…


“Not many people have had as much bad luck as I have, but not many people have had as much good luck, either.”
– Tig Notaro

Liebster Award

“You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.”
– Stephen King

So, I got a notification earlier this week that I had been nominated for the Liebster Award.  Woohoo!  The Liebster Award!  Awesome!

Ok, um, the what?  I have no idea what that is.

Having my German heritage that I do (ok, I just lived there for three years as a military brat.  But still…), I recognized the word “liebster.”  I always thought it meant ‘loved one’ or ‘beloved’ or something like that.  So, I did a little research, and it turns out that I was right.  The Liebster Award is given by fellow bloggers to up and coming blogs in order to call them out and recognize them for their merit.  In other words, to show them that their blog is a ‘loved one.’  And get them a little recognition in the process.

How cool is that?

Dave Cenker is the awesome person who nominated me.  (If you’d like to read the post where I was nominated and where he so eloquently describes the Liebster Award process, click here.)  Dave, thank you so much for this. And I’ll be honest with you – when I first did the research and realized what was involved, I didn’t think I wanted to participate.  Being in the ‘blah’ mood that I’ve been in lately, I didn’t feel like putting forth the effort involved in accepting this award.  I know that sounds awful, but I just haven’t been myself lately.  I didn’t feel ready to “pay it forward” because I wasn’t even sure that I deserved it myself.  And besides all that, I wasn’t really ready to answer all those personal questions about myself.  (As you will see, part of accepting the award involves answering the questions that the presenter poses to you.)  So, at first, I had the idea to just silently thank Dave for the sweet gesture, but sweep it under the rug and hope it was soon forgotten about.

Well, that didn’t last long.

As my mood started to improve, so did my attitude.  As I started thinking about the award (and realizing what a true honor it really is to be recognized by a fellow blogger – especially one whose work I so highly respect), I started thinking about who I would nominate as well.  And in the process, I went and checked out their blogs again and realized how little I have appreciated the works of my fellow bloggers.  I am honored and humbled to be among such talented writers in the blog world and am proud to pass their blogs along to my readers.  Check them out when you get a chance.  You won’t be disappointed.   I hope they know how grateful I am to be considered a part of them.

So, without further adieu, the following is my list of nominees.  (The “rules” vary on this award and I’ve seen differing figures regarding how many blogs to nominate.  I’m going with five.  Once you’ve been nominated, should you choose to accept the nomination, the requirements are to 1) Link back to the author who nominated you; 2) Answer the questions presented by the author who nominated you; 3) Nominate five other authors for the award (or whatever number you choose); and 4) Ask ten questions of those you nominate.  Clear as mud?)

liebster award

Blog Nominees

1. Rampant and Golden – This is a wonderful blog full of beautiful poetry that never fails to inspire me.

2. Victorious Val – My fellow “Chicken Soup for the Soul” contributor who blogs about her victory over breast cancer.

3. Jenna Reinvented – A wonderful blog that I stumbled across full of wit and humor that never ceases to amuse me.

4. Beth Runs in RI – One of my favorite running bloggers whose unique “sign offs” on each blog always give me a chuckle.

5. Perpetual Ramblings – I love her “confession Thursdays” and creative use of “lists” to convey her subject matter.  Very intriguing.

(** And an honorable mention goes to Jill Haymaker.  Jill just had her work published for the second time in Chicken Soup for the Soul.  I’m always proud to find fellow Chicken Soup contributor blogs!)


And now for my answers to Dave’s ten questions.

1. If you could choose one mode of preferred transportation, what would it be?  Easy.  Boat.  If I could get everywhere I had to go in a boat, I’d be a happy woman.

2. You have the opportunity to lead any corporation, organization, or charity. Which one would you choose and why?  Oooh.  That’s hard.  I’m not sure I’m the “leader” type, but if I had to choose, I think I would like to be involved with the Muscular Dystrophy association.  My children’s father has Becker Muscular Dystrophy and my daughter is a carrier of the disease.  It would make my heart happy to see a cure found before it’s time for my daughter to start having children of her own.

3. You have a $20 bill in your pocket. What do you do with it?  Hmmm.  If I didn’t have to worry about anything ‘practical,’ I’d probably go buy some frozen yogurt and a book.

4. You may live your childhood during any era since the dawn of human civilization. Which one would you choose?  I’m pretty happy with the era I was born in.  Things are a little too crazy now, and I’m not crazy about the stereotypes that went along with the woman’s role in the home prior to my era.  So, I’m fine right where I am.

5. What is the most played piece of music on your digital player of choice?  Well, I listen to music when I’m running, so I’d say the most played song on my list is “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child.  There’s just something about that song that gets me moving.  When I’m not running, I always turn to the Matchbox 20 Pandora station.

6. You are able to ask one question about anything and know that you will get a truthful answer. What question do you ask? I would ask what people think of me.  And in most cases, I’d probably be sorry I asked that.  But I deeply believe in open honesty and would really like to know what I’m doing right and wrong.  Some things maybe could not be changed, but some things could.  And I’d like to know what they are.

7. If you could invoke any one law that society is required to follow, what would it be?  No bullying.  Period.  Just be nice to one another and accept each other exactly the way we are.  Differences are beautiful.

8. What is the one thing that you do each and every day that has the biggest impact on the quality of your life? I can’t say that I do this “each and every day,” but I would say writing has a huge impact on my life.  I express myself in ways that I might not otherwise do, and that release is extremely important for someone with my personality.  I can’t hold things in.  Ever.

9. What book are you reading now, or are planning on reading next?  I just finished Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (LOVED it!), and am currently reading Kill Alex Cross by James Patterson.  Next up: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh at the suggestion of my dear book buddy, Connie.  I always have at least one book going at any given time – sometimes two.  Even three on occasion.

10. What inspirational quote best defines you?  Wow, what a hard one!  I ADORE quotes, as can be seen by my blogs.  Hardly any of my writings are not centered around the words of a quote.  But if I had to choose, I suppose I’d say it’s the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote about success.  It is what I strive for, even when I don’t consciously realize I’m doing it.  It’s why we’re here.

“Success: to laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

My Questions to the Nominees

And here’s my ten questions for any of my nominees that choose to accept their award:

1.  How old were you when you first realized that you were a writer?

2.  If you had to choose one person in your life who was your biggest inspiration – good or bad – who would that person be?

3.  What do you consider your biggest vice?

4.  Your biggest virtue?

5.  What do you consider your biggest passion (non-human passion, that is.  If you’re a parent, the standard answer is your children, I get it.  But I mean, what is your biggest passion)?

6.  What’s your favorite quote?  And why?

7.  What’s your favorite book?  And why?

8.  What’s your fondest childhood memory?

9.  Have you ever been published?  Do you want to be?

10.  How often do you write?  Do you wish you had time to write more, or do you feel like you spend too much time writing as it is?

Thanks for ‘playing’!  And thank you all for the inspiration you continue to provide through your words.  Keep writing – never stop.  It’s a gift that you were blessed with.  Even when you feel like no one is listening, they are.  I promise.  And your words will resonate in ways you can hardly imagine.


“I must write it all out, at any cost.  Writing is thinking, it is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.”
– Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Writer’s Block


“Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.”
– Charles Bukowski

So, here it is.

I suppose I knew it would happen eventually.  Apparently, it’s finally my turn to get to experience it.  The thing that all writers dread.  The looming creativity sucker that waits patiently to strike your pen when you least expect it.  The ever-dreaded writer’s block.


Honestly, I’m not sure it’s ever happened to me before.  My problem has never been not being able to write – it has always been not having time to write.  Give me a few uninterrupted seconds and a keyboard, and this girl will hammer something out in a jiffy.  It may not be something good, mind you.  But at least it would be something.  And to a writer, most days ‘something’ is enough.

Lately, though?  Nothing.

Just nothing.


To be honest, though, I’ve had a rough couple of weeks.  Nothing major has gone wrong really, but a lot of little things had started adding up and I got to the point where I was just overstressed and tired.  So very tired.  My passion was on hiatus.

I was talking to my friend Zoe about this and while I don’t exactly agree with her deeming me ‘amazing’ (but hey, that’s what friends are for, right?), I have given a lot of thought to something that she said.  She told me,

“Being so amazing has its down side.  There has to be periods of recovery… it’s not sustainable otherwise.”


Again – not calling myself amazing.  But you know what?  I do a lot of stuff.  Or, I did a lot of stuff.  I have been putting forth great effort lately to cut back on the amount of things I have put on my life plate.  And while I know that will be a good choice in the long run, you know what I’ve noticed?  This transition has not been as easy as I thought it would be. This ‘period of recovery’ wasn’t feeling so great.

Before, I had been running on all cylinders.  Full steam ahead, no time to stop and think, just go, go, go.  But then when I consciously forced myself to just stop that – I think I got a little confused.  Suddenly, everything was different.  I was no longer ‘needed’ in all the areas of my life that I thought couldn’t function without me.

Here. Maya Angelou said it better than I ever could:

“Every person needs to take one day away.  A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future.  Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence.  Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”

Well, Ms. Angelou, that’s what I did.  I withdrew.  And suddenly I realized that what she said was right – everyone could exist eternally in my absence.


I’ll be honest, that first realization hit me hard.  There I lay on my couch at home and life was continuing all around me.   Races were taking place without my name on the roster.  The next theatre show’s rehearsals continued without my being a part of the cast.  Blogs were still being published without my name on the byline of any of them.  And so on and so forth.  I felt like a face in the crowd.  Just a tiny, unimportant blip in the history of humanity.  What was my purpose?  If my active participation didn’t affect these events, then why had I ever done any of them to start with?

But then.

Well, I don’t know.  Slowly, I think I started to realize something.

Maybe this is not such a bad thing.

We all want to feel important.  We’re lying if we say we don’t.  But I think I spend my life searching for importance in places I didn’t need to be searching.  Yes, it’s fun to be a part of things – to have hobbies and groups that we’re a part of.  But when it comes down to it, you really, truly aren’t going to be missed if you bow out every now and then.  And as someone who tends to lean a little too far to the ‘control freak’ side, it’s actually somewhat freeing to realize that.  I don’t have to do everything.  I really don’t.

Wow.  Who knew!?

So, here I am again.  Climbing my way out of my misguided pit of self-pity and back into my life.  Only this time, that life isn’t going to be quite so cluttered.  And that’s a good thing.

I’m still not exactly sure what I want to write about now that life isn’t filled with so much chaos.  Chaos definitely inspires creativity, that’s for sure.  But I guess this blog entry was a start, right?  Writing about the absence of clutter.  Writing about writer’s block.  Writing about newfound simplicity.

Hmmm.  Well, that wasn’t so hard.

“Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.”
Ray Bradbury

Ok, Ray.  I hear ya.  I’m gettin’, I’m gettin’….


“Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite:
“Fool!” said my muse to me, “look in thy heart, and write.”
– Philip Sidney




Crawl into the corners of
Your own mind now and then
Find out what is hidden there
Meet your closest Friends
Listen to the Silence, dear
She whispers what you need
Clear the chaos that surrounds
Let yourself be freed
Make a date with Loneliness
Do not shy away in fear
The stories she will have to tell
Are ones you’ll want to hear
Knowledge – she awaits you
Take her hand and just be still
Savor the warmth of her embrace
As the wounds begin to heal.

© Melissa Halsey Caudill, 2013


“I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.”
– Henry David Thoreau


in·sti·ga·tor: a person who brings about or initiates something.


I’m an instigator.

Now, I know that the first thought that pops into your head when you hear that word is a negative one.  And it’s true – that word can be, and usually is, seen in a negative light.  I’m well aware that I probably fit a lot of the characteristics of the negative aspects of this word (as many people in my life will tell you – well, assuming those people are still in my life at all after this blog….), but I don’t really want to concentrate on the negative connotation of the word right now.

Look at the definition I posted above.  An instigator is not necessarily someone who starts “problems” per se.  No, it’s someone who ‘brings about something.’  While yes, that can be something negative, I don’t think that’s all that it means.  It just means the person who gets the ball rolling.  Who makes things start.  Not just bad things – any ‘things.’

Well, by golly, that’s me.

As the oldest of six (yes, six) kids, it has always sort of fallen on my shoulders to be the ‘leader,’ so to speak.  I was substantially older than my next sibling, so I was always somewhat of a second mom to them more than just an older sister.  There was no one to baby me, or do things for me – I was the one doing things for everyone else.  Unfortunately, that trait has followed me into adulthood.  As a mother, of course, that trait is necessary.  You have to do things for others – it’s your job.  But as my kids are starting to get older, I have a confession to make.

I’m sick of this.

I am.  I’m just flat out sick of it.  I no longer “have” to do things for them anymore, but I still do.  Because it’s ingrained in my brain.  And sadly, it doesn’t just stay at home in the areas of motherhood.  It spills out into all of my life.

A friend get-together?  You betcha I’m the one who arranged it.  A family outing with the boyfriend and kids?  Yep, my idea.  An email checking on a friend you hadn’t heard from in a while?  Never the recipient, always the sender.

I picture in my mind all of the little spirits or souls or whatever you call them, all standing in line waiting to be placed into bodies.  God (or whoever) calls out, “Ok, listen up!  All of you who want to be ‘go getters’ stay where you are. If you want to be the one who is always in control of everything – who always does all the work as far as emotional relationships are concerned – and who never gets to just relax and let someone else take the reigns – you’re in the right line.  Now, the rest of you – the ones who want to just kick back and relax all through life and know that someone else will take care of everything and you won’t have to lift a finger to make it happen – yeah, you guys move over into a line to the left.  But, hurry – spaces are limited.”  You know what happened to my little spirit/soul thingy?  It had every intention of running over the line at the left, but someone behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Did you hear that?  I wasn’t listening.”  And while I took the time to explain to the little irresponsible soul thingy what had been said, I missed my spot in line.  And you know who got it?  The little twerp who wasn’t listening.

Story. Of. My. Life.

So, here I am.  The one who does everything.

Am I feeling sorry for myself by writing this blog?  Am I whining?  Am I complaining?

You bet your ass I am.

Why?  Because I’m tired.  So incredibly tired.

How late is too late to switch teams?  Can I get a do-over?  Hey, keeper of the soul thingies, can we go back and try again??  Can I have another chance?

I know, without a doubt, that there are relationships in my life (I can count a bunch of them right now) that would fizzle and disappear if I stopped making them happen.  If I just decided that I’m going to kick back and let someone else do all the work with regards to communication and plans for get-togethers and all of that other relationship ‘maintenance,’ those people would disappear from my life completely.  There’s not a doubt in my mind.

I was speaking to someone about this very topic and they commented with an interesting story.  She said she had a friend that would fall in this category I just described.  Once, they had somewhat of a disagreement.  After the disagreement, she decided that for just this once, she was going to let the friend be the one to make the call to try to mend things.  And you know what?

Seven years later, she’s still waiting on that call.

I don’t want to play this game anymore.  I’m so tired of making things happen.  I need a change.

Yes, I know I generally try to keep these blogs positive.  But someone forgot to put her Happy Pants on today.  Sorry about that.  It’s just that sometimes – you really need to step back and take stock.  Realize that all of this one-sidedness isn’t fair.

Realize that enough is enough.

That time has come.  I need a break.


“There comes a time when you have to stop crossing oceans for people who wouldn’t jump puddles for you.”
– Anonymous

Um, what?



Shewwww.  I could sit here and blog for days about that topic and you and I both would still be just as confused as we were before I ever started rambling.  And the same goes for any other blogger or self-help book author or psychologist or preacher…or WHOEVER.  You know why?  Because NO ONE understands this mess.  No one.

Oh, you may think you do.  You may be floating along in your relationship bliss thinking you have it allll figured out, silently looking down your snooty little “look at me, I’m in an awesome relationship” nose at all the peons below you who can’t seem to figure it out, when suddenly…Bam!  Something comes out of left field and knocks you right back flat on your not-so-know-it-all a… um, butt.

Oh yeah.  Been there.

So, I’m not even going to sit here and pretend that I have anything any more figured out than the rest of you do.  Don’t worry.

But I am going to tell you one thing.  And I am 110% sure that I’m absolutely correct on this observation.

Some of the songs that are being put out there for today’s youth to listen to?  Yeah.  They are NOT helping.

Holy crap, have you heard some of this stuff?  And yes, I’m blatantly aware that I sound like my mother right now, but ask me if I care.  Go on, ask me.  Because I’m not referring to anything like bad language in the lyrics or the decibel that the songs are played at (although I do wish my kids would turn that crap down…that can’t be healthy…).  No, this isn’t the typical “the world is going to hell in a hand basket” rant.

Ok, let me give you a few examples.

I Want Crazy – Hunter Hayes

Who cares if you’re all I think about,
I’ve searched the world and I know now,
It ain’t right if you ain’t lost your mind
Yeah, I don’t want easy, I want crazy…
Yeah, look at us baby, tonight the midnight rules are breaking
There’s no such thing as wild enough,
And maybe we just think too much
Who needs to play it safe in love?
Let’s be crazy!

[Oh no – you certainly don’t want to ‘think too much’ or ‘play it safe’ when it comes to choosing your life mate, right?  That is, like, soooo totally uncool.]

Please Don’t Leave Me – Pink

I don’t know if I can yell any louder,
How many times have I kicked you out of here
Or said something insulting?
I can be so mean when I wanna be,
I am capable of really anything,
I can cut you into pieces,
When my heart is broken.
Please, don’t leave me
Please, don’t leave me
I always say how I don’t need you
But it’s always gonna come right back to this
Please, don’t leave me

[Oh, don’t worry, sweetie.  Surely to goodness he wouldn’t leave you just from something silly like yelling, throwing him out of the house, or continuously insulting him, right?]

Marry You – Bruno Mars

It’s a beautiful night,
We’re looking for something dumb to do.
Hey baby,
I think I wanna marry you.
Is it the look in your eyes,
Or is it this dancing juice?
Who cares baby,
I think I wanna marry you.

[Oh dear God.  That is all I have to say.]

The Way I Loved You – Taylor Swift

He respects my space
 And never makes me wait
And he calls exactly when he says he will
He’s close to my mother
Talks business with my father
He’s charming and endearing, and I’m comfortable
But I miss screamin’ and fightin’ And kissin’ in the rain
And it’s two a.m. and I’m cursin’ your name
You’re so in love that you act insane
And that’s the way I loved you
Breakin’ down and comin’ undone
It’s a roller-coaster kinda rush
And I never knew I could feel that much
And that’s the way I loved you
He can’t see the smile I’m fakin’
And my heart’s not breakin’
‘Cause I’m not feelin’ anything at all

[Oh, T-Swizzle, how I hate to put you on this list.  I’m the last adult alive that still defends your music and your songwriting skills, but I have to call you out on this one, kiddo.  Wow.  Really?  Here, hun, I’ll tell ya what.  You don’t want that guy you described at the beginning?  I, along with the rest of the women on the FACE OF THE EARTH, will gladly take him off your hands.  Are you insane??]

*sigh*  I can’t list anymore examples.  My brain hurts.

So, you see a theme here, right?

These songs (and basically just society in general if I’m going to go ahead and lay it all out there) are teaching our kids that if love isn’t tumultuous and dramatic, then it’s not love.  If it’s not wild and reckless, it’s not love.  If there isn’t knock-down drag-out screaming craziness, then it’s not love.  If there aren’t grandiose breakups followed by tear-filled reconciliations filled with syrupy sweet background violins playing, then it’s not love.

Um, what?

No.  NO.  Just, no.

That crap is not love.  You know what that crap is?  That crap is a soap opera.  A movie.

Speaking of movies, my daughter and I watched another of your typical contemporary chick flicks over the weekend.  “27 Dresses.”  Cute movie, don’t get me wrong.  But it was soooo predictable.  And quite like the rest of it’s kind.  Entertaining, yes.  But realistic?  Ok, so you meet some guy – you’re super incredibly mean to him – and yet he still follows you around like a puppy, calls you incessantly (which you eventually find cute rather than filing the restraining order on him that you should have from the start if this were actually happening), and sends you flowers on a pretty much daily basis until you finally, against your better judgment, agree to go out with him.  Oh, and by the way, he’s drop dead gorgeous of course.  Of course.  (Have I sighed yet in this blog?  *Sigh*)

Well, in the middle of watching this movie, my boyfriend shows up at our house with food.  I knew he was coming, so we paused the movie and ate a quick lunch with him before he had to head to work for the rest of the night.  Now, mind you, this guy lives 30 minutes away from me.  So, bringing us lunch involved an hour’s drive round trip – all before going in to work a busy night shift as a bartender.  My daughter, being the inquisitive thinker that she is, just point blank asked me why he would do that.  So, I told her.

It’s because he loves us.

No, there are no flowers showing up at my doorstep every day.  No, there is no screaming at 2:00 a.m.  (Ok, well, maybe there was that one time…)  [Kidding, kidding…]  And no, we are not going to get married because ‘it’s a beautiful night and we’re looking for something dumb to do.’  So, sadly, I guess there aren’t going to be any contemporary hit songs written about our relationship any time soon.

And thank God for that.

But I am proud to have been able to allow my daughter to witness one moment of what a relationship should be.  Of what a relationship – a good relationship – really is.  And I hope with all of my heart that she goes on in life and remembers that day that Richard brought her and her mom lunch before he went to work.  No, our relationship isn’t perfect.  Not by a long shot.  But it’s real.  And that’s what I want her to see.  That is the standard I want her to use to base her future relationships on.

Sadly, I haven’t always shown her the example of a good relationship.  And I wish I could go back in time and undo that.  But, for now, and from this point forward, I hope she can watch and learn what I wish I would have learned a long time ago.  Relationships aren’t about the drama.  They just aren’t.  They’re about the quiet, tender times.

No fanfare.  No explosions.

Just an unexpected, love-filled lunch brought to you in the middle of a chick flick.

Just….sweetness.  You know?

Simple, pure, boring ol’ sweetness. That’s it.


“Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.”  
– Louis de Bernieres, Corelli’s Mandolin