Monthly Archives: October 2013



“Like most girls, Emily can’t take a compliment.  Around here, if you don’t show outward signs of hating yourself by the 5th grade, everyone calls you conceited.”
– Brian Strause, from the novel Maybe a Miracle

Ok, so am I the only chick on the planet that absolutely can NOT take a compliment?

I saw the above quote in a novel I was reading a while back and it was like a spotlight shown around the sentence with big flashing neon arrows pointing to it saying, “This! This! This!”  One little seemingly innocent sentence tucked away in the middle of a paragraph hidden deep inside a novel seemed to be the answer to this conundrum that had plagued me all my life.  Maybe that’s why I can’t take a compliment?  Maybe it’s just that it has been ingrained in me from an early age not to because I might appear conceited?

Hmmm.  Something to think about.

Are you like me?  Do you get all weird when someone says you look nice?  Do you “pssssssh” it away like I do?  I’d be willing to bet you do.  Well, let me tell ya a story.

This past weekend, I ran a 10K race early Saturday morning.  And, if you don’t mind my saying so, I did pretty darn awesome. mebrrr (Heh…no worries about sounding conceited about that one, huh?)  I didn’t get any medals or place in the coveted top 3 of any of the categories, mind you (in fact, I was dead last in my age group if I’m going to be honest), but ask me if I care?  Go on, ask me.  What’s that?  Do I care?  NOPE!  Because you know why?  The only person I was there to beat was myself.  And not only did I beat myself (not now, secret 12-year-old-boy alter-ego-self, this is not the time to make your childish jokes…let me finish my story…), but I blew my old record away.  I generally run at an 11-12 minute pace (yes, I know, I’m slow), but my average pace for this race was 10:10, with the first 3 miles all being in the 9 minute range.  Dude, I was booking it!  And you know what?  I was pretty darn proud of myself.

So, fast forward a little later in the day.

My boyfriend’s kids were in a play at the local theatre, so I had rushed home after the race, showered, straightened my hair (that’s what I consider “getting dressed up”), and hit the road again to go watch the two back-to-back performances.  Now, as most of you know from my previous blogs, the theatre is my home away from home.  I know so many people there, and most of their kids were going to be in this production.  So, walking into this little mini-reunion, I started running into people I hadn’t seen in a while – at least not since our last production a few months ago. And, in those past few months, I have been training my hind end off this upcoming half marathon next weekend.

I was immediately greeted with compliments.

“Wow, that running is look great on you!”  “You look fantastic!”  “Oh, Melissa, you’re just glowing!”  “Look how toned you’ve gotten.”

It was like a compliment smorgasbord.

And, oddly enough, instead of blushing in embarrassment like I normally would, I just graciously accepted their compliments.  I genuinely thanked them (no ‘psssssssh’es allowed) and let the compliments do their intended job – make me feel good.  Later, I thought about that, and wondered why I didn’t have my normal response.  Why was I able to accept compliments this time with such ease and gratitude?  Before long, it finally dawned on me.

I accepted their compliments….because I believed them.

That was the difference.  running2I have been working hard for the past few months.  I have felt my pants getting a little loose and saw the number on the scale dropping slightly.  Although those things are not at all the purpose for my running, they have been a nice bonus.  And, this particular day, I had put forth a little effort on my hair and makeup, and was probably still riding on the high from my race accomplishment earlier in the day, which probably showed on my face.  I was feeling pretty darn good about myself that day and accepted those compliments with open arms.

Boy, wouldn’t it be nice if every day was like that?

Hey, I have an idea.

Let’s make sure they are.

Let’s all make a silent little promise to ourselves to try to make every single day a day in which you are proud of yourself.  Let’s make every day a day that you believe the compliments that are tossed your way.  Seriously.  Let’s do it, people.  It may not be all that easy at first, but with practice, it may start eventually coming natural to you.  Just like my running.  I didn’t start out with the ability to crank out a 10-minute pace 10K.  It took lots of time and effort and, most importantly, belief in myself.  That’s all we need, right?

Easy peasy.

So, get out there in this big ol’ world and strut your stuff today, why don’t ya?  I mean, you’re looking all good and whatnot, so you might as well, right?  Come on, beautiful people.  We’ve got some work to do!


“For once, you believed in yourself. you believed you were beautiful and so did the rest of the world.”  
– Sarah Dessen, Keeping the Moon

Braggin’ on the Hun

“Love is, above all, the gift of oneself.”
~ Jean Anouilh

Ok, I need to brag on my honey.  [I know, I never do that, right??]

Here he is.  Ain’t he purdy?



Ok.  This blog is not just about how cute the little booger is, so I’ll get to the point.

Let me just start this out with a simple little 100% true and accurate statement.  I am NOT an easy person to love.  Oh, it’s true.  When I’m mad, I’m FURIOUS.  When I’m upset, I’m DISTRAUGHT.  When I’m a little irked, I’m FULLY ANNOYED.  You get the picture, right?  No little responses to anything – everything is temporarily grandiose.  And, as you might guess, this little teeny tiny eensy weensy flaw sometimes leads to some turbulence in the relationship.  Now, it’s not all me, mind you.  My boyfriend Richard has a teeny tiny little flaw too.  He despises conflict.  (I know, right?  *WEIRDO!*)  And when said conflict arises, his fight or flight response is always…always…’flight.’  Well, for this ‘fighter’ that he’s in love with, that crap just don’t fly.

You can imagine how our disagreements go.

1. Something happens (Richard’s fault, of course).
2. I get IRATE.
3. I fling accusations and demand responses.
4. Richard runs.
5. I get MORE mad.
6. Richard stays quiet.
7. I get even more dramatic because of the lack of response.
8. He gets even more quiet because of my increased level of crazy.
9. Time passes.
10. I get tired and chill out.
11. He comes out of hiding and remembers that sometimes I’m not crazy.
12. We talk. We kiss. We make up.
13. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Get the picture?  Here, let me give you a literal picture in case my words weren’t clear.


Yep.  That’s us.  Well, sometimes. 

(And honestly, it’s really not all that often.  And heck, while we’re being totally honest here, that dude and chick in the picture need to be switched….) :/

(Ok, one more parenthetical.  If our relationship sounds a little too familiar to you, you may be in a turtle/hailstorm relationship too.  What the heck did she just say?  Here ya go.  Read about it here.  We’re a textbook case, and you may be too.  Pretty fascinating stuff.)

Ok, let’s get back to the bragging I promised at the beginning of this story.

Nope, our relationship is not always sunshine and roses, that’s for sure.  But then again, there are times like the past few days.

As some of you may have read in my last blog, my Alzheimer’s-ridden grandmother had a little mishap at the nursing home, and was found on the floor.  What they thought to be a broken hip from an initial x-ray, ended up being an old injury from before (poor little lady) and she didn’t end up having to have surgery after all, thank goodness.  But before we knew that for sure, we were just told that she was being transported to the medical center in Bristol, Tennessee, and was being prepped for surgery on her frail little 85-year-old hip.  So, naturally, my mom dropped everything and traveled here to come be with her momma.  And, also naturally, I dropped everything to go be with my momma.  I worked it out to miss work on Tuesday, and I left Monday after work to go stay in a hotel with her, at least for the first night, so she wouldn’t have to be alone.

And what did Richard do?

He dropped everything to come be there for me.

He drove me there, stayed with us, drove us everywhere we needed to go while we were there (that’s one thing my mom and I definitely have in common – we hate driving in areas that are unfamiliar to us).  He went and got drinks and coffee for the family as we waited, and sat right there with us as the hours drug on while we waited for news, and listened to my poor little grandma as she moaned in confusion and/or discomfort (it was hard to know which was which).  Without technically being “blood” family, Richard played a role in this just like the rest of us did.  He did everything he could to be there for the one that he loved.  Me.

And boy, did I notice.

My little Richard sure can be hard on himself sometimes. Maybe it’s because he has a fiery redhead fussing at him all the time?  Naaaah.  Surely, that doesn’t have much to do with it….  But, seriously.  I think it’s important to remind him every now and then how very much I notice and appreciate these little things that he does for me.  The past few days would have been a whole different story if I, and my mom, hadn’t had Richard along for the ride.  These “small” things will one day be the big things as we look back over these years we spent together.  I hope that we will be one of the lucky couples that make it to the very end.  And, if (when) we do, I hope we look back on our life and see the moments like yesterday.  Not the fights, not the nights in the ‘doghouse…,’ but the moments like these.  The ones where we sacrificed ourselves to each other during our times of need.  Because that is what love is all about.

This is the “us” that I’ll remember most.

I sure am in love with a great guy.  Thanks for letting me tell you about him.



“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.”
– Benjamin Disraeli

Maw-Maw’s Smile



”Those with dementia are still people and they still have stories and they still have character and they’re all individuals and they’re all unique.  And they just need to be interacted with on a human level.” 
– Carey Mulligan

My family has just been introduced to the world of Alzheimer’s/dementia for the first time.  My sweet grandmother – a mother of nine and grandmother and great-grandmother to so many that we have lost count – has forgotten who she is.

But we haven’t.

My sister gave birth to twin baby girls earlier this year.  The babies were premature and were very close to not surviving.  But after months of intensive care at the hospital and even more intensive, above-par care from their mommy, they were able to come home.  This past weekend, they made their first trip to see their Great- “Maw-Maw” in her new home in a nursing care facility.

And, let me tell you – it was nothing short of magic.

Some of us in the family had almost forgotten what it felt like to see Maw-Maw truly happy.  Surrounded by new faces in a new environment, anyone would be a little confused at first.  But poor little Maw-Maw can’t seem to break out of the confusion that is plaguing her.  Every few minutes she again asks where she is and why she is there.  She has witnessed many family tragedies in her life, including the most recent loss of her husband, and can’t seem to remember any of them.  Watching her face as she re-learns the family’s sad news over and over again has been very hard on our family, to say the least.  As she hears, yet again, about the losses we’ve suffered for what seems to her to be the ‘first’ time, we too feel the sting all over again.  Her inability to remember translates to our inability to forget.  This sweet little lady who has always managed to see the bright side of things, now seems to have fallen into a darkness that none of the rest of us can understand.  Sadly, this is the truth to Alzheimer’s.


Then, there are moments like this past weekend.

This weekend, the darkness cleared even if just for a few moments.  As Maw-Maw took both of those beautiful twin miracles into her arms, her face lit up.  And there before us was the infamous smile that we had all come to miss so much.  For a few moments, she was yet again our mother.  Our grandmother.  And now, as evidenced by the love in her eyes as she stared down at the new additions to the family, our great-grandmother.  She was back.

And it was beautiful.

I guess that’s the key to dealing with these situations.  Yes, the family is suffering.  Yes, we are going through a hard time and we feel like we’ve lost a loved one, even though she sits right there in front of us.  And yes, most of the time, the circumstances are going to be sad ones.  But there will be silver linings.   There will.  And those are the moments that you have to hold on to with all of your might.  Take snapshots – literally and figuratively.  Remember these moments and cherish the fact that the person you love is still there.  They are still with you.  And for a few brief, shining moments, they are still themselves.   And those moments will be the ones that will serve to help heal you both.

So grateful for one more glimpse of Maw-Maw’s smile.


Love Language

“The giving of love is an education in itself.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

So, I noticed something interesting about my daughter this week.  I suppose I had noticed it before, but this week it seemed to really catch my attention more than usual.

Kelly experienced a pretty big disappointment a few days ago.  I won’t get into the details (that’s her story to tell, not mine), but just know that it was a pretty tough blow for my super strong daughter.  She handled it with grace, as she always does, but she couldn’t hide the fact that she was temporarily heartbroken.

So, I did what I always do.  What comes natural to me when I see someone I love in pain.  I reached out to hug her.

Whoooooa, Nelly.

Not cool.

See, I completely forgot who my daughter is.  That hugging thing?  Nuh uh.  When she is upset, she wants to be left alone.  She doesn’t mean to be cruel about it – she’s not trying to hurt anyone – she just needs to be left alone.  A hug does not help.  Not for her.  She’d rather deal with it on her own.  Now, talking – she’s fine with that.  Saying I understand how she feels?  I think that helped some.  Showing her one of my old writings about disappointment to remind her that it’s not the end of the world and that her time to shine will come again soon?  Yep.  She appreciated that.

But a hug?  No way.  Not cool.

And see, I know that.  I do.  I just forget.  She’s different than me.  When I’m upset, I want to be hugged.  I want you to wallow in the misery with me.  “Come on over here and snuggle and feel my pain, people.  FEEL IT!”  But her?  Nope.  “I got this.  I don’t want your sympathy, I’ll be fine.”

This little incident this week reminded me of a class I took once.  Well, a class I was sent to through my job at the time.

I was having trouble getting along with one of the attorneys I worked for at a large law firm.  She was only a year older than me and the two of us just seemed to butt heads non-stop.  Although neither of us “told on” each other or anything, the fact that we didn’t get along was pretty well-known.  Well, occasionally the firm would send the employees to various seminars here and there, and I was chosen by the human resources department to go to one entitled, “How to Get Along With Difficult People.”  Ha!  In your face, boss lady.  See?  Seeeeeee?  Everyone knows how hard you are to deal with.

So, I took my smug self to the seminar and guess what I found out?

I was the difficult person.

Heh.  Oops.

But no, seriously, this seminar was awesome.  We were all paired into groups and did surveys to figure out what our personality types were, and which certain personality types were the most non-compatible.  Lo and behold, my personality type and boss lady’s personality type?   Exact opposites.  And the great thing about the seminar is that it showed the pros and cons of every single personality type and the “whys” behind the head-butting with the certain types.  As I listened, I heard so many examples of scenarios that my boss and I had been through and it became glaringly apparent why we weren’t getting along.  We just didn’t know how to treat each other.  What she needed was a foreign concept to me because it was nothing like what I needed.  And vice versa.

And the solution?

Well, it was pretty simple actually.  They bent the golden rule a little.  (Please don’t tell my Grandma I just said that – she’ll disown me.)  They said instead of the old standard, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” maybe it needs to be tweaked a little.  Maybe that’s not what you need to do at all.  Maybe you need to get to know that person’s personality, know how they operate and know what they prefer and what they don’t, and then…”Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.”

Make sense?

Yes, I like to be hugged when I’m upset, but Kelly doesn’t.  I shouldn’t impose my personality onto her.  It’s not what she needs.

I know I’m not saying anything new here.  Most of you know about the “love languages” idea by Gary Chapman (read about it here if you don’t).  This kind of thing has already been discussed in depth.  You can answer a bunch of questions on the website (or in the book if you have a copy) and through a scoring guide based on your answers, you can find out exactly what “love language” you speak.  What things make you feel the most loved.

And although I think it’s fascinating, and super cool, maybe…just maybe….it doesn’t have to be quite so complicated as that.  No scoring system, no survey, no quiz.  Maybe it’s as simple as what I just learned with my daughter.  Don’t give them the kind of love that you know how to give.  Learn who they are, what they need, and then give them the love they want to receive.

And hey, you know what?  It’ll probably end up working both ways.

Take Kelly for instance.  Although she’s not the huggy/kissy type, she knows that her mom is.  And so, she’s been known to concede every now and then…


And that sure does make for a happy momma.

Learn how to love each other, people.  It’s worth the time it takes, and makes everyone just a little happier.  And isn’t that what we’re all here for?


“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”
– Mother Teresa

Journey to Mayberry

“As an athlete, when you least expect it, you may find yourself standing on the threshold of an accomplishment so monumental that it strikes fear into your soul. You must stand ready, at any moment, to face the unknown. You must be ready to walk boldly thru the wall of uncertainty.”
– John Bingham

It’s time to talk about running again.

So, as you may remember, I’m currently in the middle of training for my second half marathon on November 9.  And, training with me, is my training partner from afar, Zoe in Australia.  (Read that Cool Story here.)  As a quick recap, Zoe and I met online through this very blog and have decided to train together for her first and my second half marathon.  Mine is an “official” race (the Mayberry Half Marathon – a small race in Mount Airy, North Carolina), and she will be running on her own there in Australia.

Well, let’s do a quick update, shall we?

We are officially 17 days pre-race.  Yikes.  SEVENTEEN DAYS.  That seems so soon….

I have spoken with the race director and he has pulled some strings and worked it out to get me a bib to send to Zoe so that she will have an official number to wear as she races (and she better wear it too – you hear that, woman??) 🙂  Here’s a picture of it before it is shipped off to Australia to its rightful owner:


Goodbye, little bib.  Enjoy your journey halfway across the world.

Once I have completed my half marathon (which I will do – and hopefully with a time of less than 2:30), I will be awarded two medals.  One for myself, and one for Zoe.  I’ll ship her medal, together with her t-shirt, of course (hey, we all know we only do this junk for the t-shirts…) to her in Australia as well.  Eeek!  Sounds exciting, right?

Well, it is.  But it’s also scary.

This little “project” of mine has put a lot of pressure on both of us to succeed.  And let me tell you – this process has not been an easy one.  She and I both have been through quite a bit getting to this point.  At the beginning, we had our training plan all laid out…4 runs a week with gradual increases in pace and distance…we were ready to ROCK this thing.  Stick to the plan…no variances.  Go team!

Yeah, well.  That hasn’t happened.

We’re both thirtysomething-year-old moms.  While it’s easier on me having teenage children; her, not so much.  She has small children that she has to arrange to have cared for so that she can squeeze in her training runs.  And on top of all of that, she has battled the head cold from hell…TWICE.  I, too, had said head cold once myself.  (Hmmm…wonder if you can catch a head cold from 9,000+ miles away?  Ahhhem…excuse me…15,000+ kilometers away.  Google’s “miles to kilometers” function is my new best friend these days…)  And, on top of that, I got an acting gig that I hadn’t been expecting to get during training (read that blog here if you missed it), which took a little chunk out of my training…  Oh heck.  I could list a million things here, but I’ll give it a rest.  The point is this…

Life has happened.

It just has.  And it’s always going to.  There have been times that even if we were able to squeeze in our runs, we weren’t able to go as fast or as far as we had planned.  Mental ability is just as important as physical ability…and some days it just hasn’t been there.  For either of us.

But you know what?  We’re still here.

We both still have our training plans in front of us every day.  We both still check in with each other, and build each other up when we’re feeling down.  We give gentle pushes when needed, and give the little e-hugs when a push just isn’t going to cut it.  We have understood each other’s frustrations and virtually held each other’s hands, not only through the not-so-great runs, but also through the reasons that have accompanied the not-so-great runs.  In other words, we have become friends.

And that’s pretty awesome.

So…seventeen days from now, I certainly hope to report back here and tell you that my friend and I have finished the Mayberry Half Marathon.  Together.  And, if the sickness prevails with Zoe and she’s not able to complete it on November 9 as planned, then I’ll come back here and tell you on November 10.  Or November 11.  Or however long it takes for it to happen.  Because it will happen.  (And I’ll be holding her medal and t-shirt hostage until it does!  Yep.  Holding the coveted T-SHIRT hostage.  That’s runners’ blasphemy right there, but you do what you have to do…)

The point is this.  She’ll be ready.  Sometime in the near future, my friend Zoe will have completed her very first half marathon.  And she won’t have a giant group of people to run with and to cheer her on.  She’ll be doing it entirely on her own.  Her own course, her own pace, her own journey.  And that, blog-readers, is some serious bad-assery if I’ve ever seen it.

So, thus ends my “Cool Story” recap.  Tune back in here in a few weeks for another update.  And until then, whether you are a runner who is training for your next race distance goal, or just a human being training to get through whatever struggle you’re currently facing, remember these words:


Keep moving forward, friends.  We’re all in this race together.


“It’s important to know that at the end of the day it’s not the medals you remember. What you remember is the process — what you learn about yourself by challenging yourself, the experiences you share with other people, the honesty the training demands — those are things nobody can take away from you whether you finish twelfth or you’re an Olympic Champion.”
-Silken Laumann, Canadian Olympian

Being Ignored


(Poor wittle ducky…)

I don’t know about you, but I can TOTALLY relate with that duck.  Been there, done that, did not, however, buy the t-shirt.   (I mean, seriously, who wants a souvenir from that crap?)

You feel me?

Well, check out this fascinating excerpt from an article about ostracism that I happened to stumble across:

“Being excluded or ostracized is an invisible form of bullying that doesn’t leave bruises, and therefore we often underestimate its impact….Being excluded by high school friends, office colleagues, or even spouses or family members can be excruciating…When a person is ostracized, the brain’s dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, which registers physical pain, also feels this social injury.”
– Kipling D. Williams, a professor of psychological sciences

Well, how about that.  Being left out or excluded or…the word I absolutely despise…IGNORED, can actually cause physical damage.  It makes your ‘dorsal anterior blah-blah-blah’ hurt.  Seriously – it makes you feel like you are experiencing pain.  Real, legit pain.  And further in the article is another observation by Dr. Williams that I think is an even more interesting tidbit.  After a study of 5,000 participants, it was noted that:

“The effect [of ostracism] is consistent even though individuals’ personalities vary.”

Well, there ya go.

If you’re like me, being ignored can make you feel like you are a Class A bona fide crazy person.  You probably feel like there is something wrong with you – that you’re weak or needy or clingy – and that must be why it’s bothering you so much.  Well, guess what?  You’re not.  No matter what kind of person you are – whether you are tough as nails or cry at infomercials – your brain is still going to have the exact same physical reaction to having someone turn their back on you as the next guy.  You’re not a freak.  You’re HUMAN.

So, stop feeling so bad about yourself.

And hey – if you’re reading this and you’ve never experienced this?  Then maybe you need to ask yourself if you’re the giver of this kind of the treatment rather than the recipient.  And check this out.  I’ve got news for you, too.

It works both ways.

“[To] exclude another person leads most people to feel shame and guilt, along with a diminished sense of autonomy, explains Nicole Legate, lead author of the Psychological Science paper and a doctoral candidate at the University of Rochester. The results also showed that inflicting social pain makes people feel less connected to others. “We are social animals at heart,” says Legate. “We typically are empathetic and avoid harming others unless we feel threatened.”
– From Science Daily (Read full article here.)

So, let’s cut all the scientific mumbo jumbo down into layman’s terms, shall we?

Stop that shit.  It hurts.

There.  Seems pretty darn simple, doesn’t it?

Seriously.  Stop it.  No one wins.  Don’t you see that?  Analyze why you’re doing what you’re doing and find another way.  Is it a family problem that you’re avoiding facing because of the discomfort?  Well, stop it.  Find out what it is that makes you uncomfortable and tell them so.  Start there and see where it goes.  Is it a friend that you don’t want to be friends with anymore so you just ignore them rather than telling them so?  Well, stop it.  You’re hurting both yourself and them even worse by just ignoring them.  If the friendship isn’t working, say so.  Is it a relationship you don’t want to be in anymore?  Same idea.  Stop it.  The pain inflicted by ignoring someone far exceeds the pain from knowing the truth.  Do you both a favor and stop playing games.  Life is just too short for that junk.

Stop it.

And hey – is it maybe that it’s just a little time and space that you’re needing to sort things out?  Well, here’s a wild and crazy thought.  SAY SO.

(I know, right?  I’m a psychological genius.)

Nothing is more painful than feeling like you’re unimportant and forgotten.  No, I don’t have an article to post or a resource to quote to back up that statement.  It’s just a Melissa-ism.  And it’s 100% accurate.   Why am I so sure about that?  Because I say so.  That’s why.  (See above psychological genius reference.)

Good grief, people.  This life is hard.  It’s so tough to figure out how to interact with all of these fellow human beings that float around us at any given time.  We’re such a beautiful, assorted, mixed array of personalities that it’s amazing that we are able to co-exist at all.  But we do.  And we can.  And we sure can make it a lot easier to do if we just learn who we are, what we want, and stop the passive aggressive B.S.  As John Meyer puts it, “Say what you need to say.”  Do it.  Just say it.  If they don’t understand, then fine.  That’s their problem.  But do your part and don’t be a bully.

Is that really so much to ask?

And back to you receivers.  If you find yourself feeling like the little ducky in the picture, just allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling.  Don’t make yourself feel worse by trying to stifle it or by telling yourself you’re weak or that you need to be tougher or stronger.  You’re going through pain.  And pain hurts.  It’s ok.  It’s life.  There’s nothing wrong with you.  You’re just a human being.  Just like me.  Just like everyone else around you.  And, most importantly, just like the person who is ignoring you.  (The big ole jerkface….)


Hang in there, my friends.

If we could all just do our part to get along with each other, this world sure would be a nicer place, don’t ya think?

Hey, a girl can dream…


“Our prime purpose in this life is to help other.  And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” 
-Dalai Lama




And then, just like that,
It happens.
Up ahead, you see it.
The path is splitting.
Your companion takes no notice.
They follow on their path as if nothing has changed.
As if nothing looms ahead.
But you.
No.  You’re different.
You’ve always been different.
You see what others do not.
What they will not.
Your paths are not the same.
You know the other path is not the one for you.
The things that please others do not please you.
You find your contentment among books, words,
Children, footsteps on pavement.
But not there.
Not where that path leads.
The loudness, the chaos, the fake laughter, the mornings after.
No.  No, those aren’t for you.
You have stepped over to that path in the past,
This is true.
But it was fake.  Not the real you.
You hurriedly made your way back to the path where you belong.
Where you felt safe.
Where you are content.
Where your footsteps make sense.
Where your smiles are genuine
And there is no pretending.
But now.
The distance between the paths is getting wide.
The chasm is no longer traversable.
Reaching out to hold the hand of your companion
No longer seems possible.
The path is splitting.
You hold on for as long as you can.
Until fingertips are all that connect you.
You stretch.  You reach.  You strain.
It’s no use.
The distance is too evident.
Too much.

Someone must step across.

Or let go.


“Look at every path closely and deliberately, then ask yourself this crucial question:  Does this path have a heart?  If it does, then the path is good.  If it doesn’t, it is of no use.”
– Carlos Castaneda


“Actors do tend to get pigeonholed.  People want to know who you are so they can put you in a box.  It’s lovely to be known for such diametrically opposite roles.”
Tom Hiddleston

I was just sitting here reflecting over last weekend at Oz (read that blog here if you missed it) and something dawned on me.

This has been a year of some awesome roles for me.  (And quite diverse ones, at that!)

I’ve been an actor for a long time, and it just occurred to me that most of my very favorite roles and on-stage moments have happened in 2013. This has been quite a year!

Here are a few examples:

Started the year off as Elvis.  Yep, you read that right.  Elvis.

Ok, so I was a country hick trailer park chick dressed up as Elvis for the “Elvis and Jesus: A Tribute to the Kings” nativity scene.  In July.  In Florida.  (Did ya get all that?)  Oh yeah, you have to check this play out if you’ve never heard of it.  Radio T.B.S.  It’s a hoot.  And, incidentally, this was the first time I’ve ever received an ovation mid-show.  My Heartbreak Hotel was apparently awesome.  Or….hilariously bad.  Eh, either way, they clapped.  Booyah.


“Mother” in the show Life With Father.

Pretty awesome role.  Even got to do a TV interview for it.  (Read that blog here if you’re interested.)  Yep, very cool stuff.

Then, I got to play a flooz.

You just can’t beat that.  (Gloria Rasputin in Bye, Bye, Birdie.)  Even had to tap dance and do a split.  Well.  Sort of…

And then last weekend, as my regular readers know, I got to be both the Wicked Witch and Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, at the Autumn at Oz festival in Beech Mountain, North Carolina.

Yep.  As you can see, this has been a year that I have stepped “out of the box” somewhat.  I have been blessed with these varied roles and have enjoyed every minute of becoming someone completely different each and every time I’ve donned a new costume.   And, not to toot my own horn or anything, but I’ve actually enjoyed watching myself blossom as an actress as I’ve stepped into these roles.  I wasn’t so sure I had it in me, but apparently I do.  I’ve been kinda proud of myself.  How about that?

Pretty cool stuff.

But you know what’s even cooler?  Knowing that at the end of the day, after the costumes are neatly put away and silence drowns out the applause, I get to step into a few even better roles.

This one, for example:

“Of all the roles I’ve played, none has been as fulfilling as being a mother.” 
– Annette Funicello

I get to be these awesome teenagers’ mom.  How freakin’ cool is that?  Just like all of the other roles I’ve been blessed with, this is another one that I wasn’t sure I would know how to play.  And sometimes I still falter, sometimes I don’t always follow the script or get my lines right, but all-in-all I think I’ve managed to do a pretty darn good job.  I sure have some awesome little co-stars, that’s for sure.

All it takes is to turn on the radio or the TV and within minutes you are hearing some new horror story about the awful things teenagers are into these days.  Each time this happens, I say a silent little prayer and thank my lucky stars that I have the kids I have.  Now, I’m not saying they’re perfect – far from it – but the problems that we have are just normal, everyday problems.  Nothing drastic and severe like some poor parents have to go through.  I hope my kids know how proud I am of who they are, and who they are becoming.  And I hope the role I’ve played in their lives has had a little something to do with that.  I like to think it does.

Another role I’m pretty blessed with?

Being the one this guy loves.

“If you age with somebody, you go through so many roles – you’re lovers, friends, enemies, colleagues, strangers; you’re brother and sister. That’s what intimacy is, if you’re with your soul mate.” 
– Cate Blanchett

My gosh, I sure do love this dude.  We have been through many phases in our relationship – and I think that’s why the above quote speaks to me so much.  We’ve been all of those to each other at some point, and we just keep going strong.

When it comes to love, I’ve tried out quite a few roles.  I tried being the submissive wife.  I’ve tried being the girlfriend who gives up everything she really loves to try to keep the peace.  I’ve tried sacrificing who I am to make someone else happy.  None of these roles seemed to fit.

And now I know why.

“I’ve had disappointments and heartbreaks and setbacks and roles I didn’t get, but something always came along that either made me better or was an even better role.” 
– Lee Majors

Finally, I get to play the best role I’ve ever played.


It has taken me a long, long time to finally get to enjoy this role.  Took some trial and error, I admit.  But finally, finally, I think I’ve figured out this role pretty well.  And it sure is nice to be allowed to play it.

I think I’m right where I belong.

This is the role I’ve been waiting for.

Are you playing the role you’re meant to play?  Make sure you are.  Life is just too short for anything else.  Trust me.


“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”  
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

No Place Like Home



I’m baaaack!

Ok, so actually I’ve been back for four days already. And each and every one of those days, I have started to sit down and write about my weekend in Oz, only to find myself at a loss. There’s so much I want to say, yet no words have managed to break the surface that would be adequate enough to accurately do this experience justice.

If you’re just joining me, I wrote last week about an awesome gig that I stumbled upon – I was asked to play both the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, at the Autumn at Oz festival in Beech Mountain, North Carolina. (Read that blog here if you missed it!)

While I enjoyed every minute of my one day as the wicked witch…

AngelaDBowles   (Photo credit: Angela D. Bowles)

… nothing compared to the thrill I got from playing the role of Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, for the rest of the festival.

JeremyMaxHalsey (Photo credit: Jeremy Halsey)

I had no idea how much I would fall in love with that role.  And this was not your run-of-the-mill stage acting.  This was interaction.  Talking to the kids.  Getting down on their level.  Stepping into their imaginations and letting yourself get transported back to that time when you yourself believed in that land “behind the moon, beyond the rain…”

kidcollage(Photo credits – Left: Jeremy Halsey, Top Right: Vanessa Schilling, Bottom Right: Megan Wrappe)

I have never felt myself come alive more than I did when I waddled down that yellow brick road in that massive pile of tulle.  I’ve asked myself what it was about it that got to me so much.  Was it being a ‘princess for a day’?  Was it getting to feel pretty?  Was it regaining that feeling of innocence for a short while?  Was it just the overall feeling of being transported into a world where anything is possible, fairy tales really exist, and good always trumps evil in the end?

Yep.  Probably all of that.

But mostly – it was the kids.  Oh my gosh, those kids!

I saw some of the cutest sights I’ve ever seen in my life this past weekend.  So many adorable little kids came dressed as their favorite Oz characters.  We saw everything from little tinmen, scarecrows and cowardly lions to wicked witch wannabes and little Dorothys to…my favorite…little mini-Glindas.  (And not to mention quite a few adults dressed as their favorite Oz characters as well – there is definitely no age limit to the love of all things Oz.)  I so wish Glinda could have whipped out her camera and snapped pictures of all of this, but something tells me it wouldn’t have seemed very natural to have a cell phone stashed in her pretty pink bubble.  (I was already called out once for my non-authenticity when a sweet, precious little girl came up to me and asked, “Glinda, is your wand real?  Does it really do magic?”  To which I responded, “Of course!” Same sweet, precious child then threw that little hand on that little hip and with a voice about 10 decibels lower than before, stated, “Show me.”  Yikes.  What’s a good witch to do, ya know??)  So, yeah, Glinda with a cell phone?  That was a no go.

Thanks to Facebook, though, and one of my co-Glindas (there were more than one of us working the weekend shifts), I was able to snag a cute one of the Lollipop Gang kids that showed up…

TerrilynnBellCollins (Photo credit: Terrilynn Bell Collins)

Is that not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? We should have hired them on the spot!

Unfortunately, these little cuties showed up on the one day (Saturday) that I was dressed as the wicked witch, and therefore, I didn’t get to have much interaction with them. Although I think I did a pretty good job of being ‘evil,’ it definitely didn’t last for very long periods of time. As soon as one of the kids expressed any fear whatsoever, I immediately broke character and explained that “it was all pretend and I wasn’t going to hurt them…” (To which one adorable little boy responded, bottom lip poofed out and all, “Y-y-y-you’re not gonna hurt me? Pwomise?”) *sigh*

So, contrary to what the men in my past will tell you, being an evil witch did not, in fact, come natural to me.  Who knew!?

Heck, even Toto wasn’t scared of me….

WendiWagers (Photo credit: Wendi Wagers)

The weekend ended with three performances for school groups on Monday morning.  With these groups, rather than just walking through the park in character, one full cast performed a shortened version of the movie for the guests.  A wonderful review of our performance can be found by clicking on this link.  Katie Hodges did an excellent job of describing the process and was very complimentary to our acting abilities as well.  You’ll see some great photos of the show as well in her review.  I know each and every one of us were thrilled to read this and very humbled at her kind words.

All in all, I’ll have to say this was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.  Like Dorothy, I made some wonderful friends along my trip down the yellow brick road, and it is a time in my life that I won’t soon forget.  Hopefully, we’ll all keep in touch and maybe even be able to do this again next year.  If you missed it this year, and want to come see what all the fuss was about, keep your eye on the website for Autumn in Oz.  Tickets sold out fast this year, so bookmark this site and start checking back in August 2014 to get your tickets for next time!

It’ll put a smile on your face, just like it did mine…

BeckyMillerZaragoza (Photo credit: Becky Miller Zaragoza)

So blessed to have been a member of such a fantastic cast.



dual (Above photos by Megan Wrappe)



JeremyMaxHalsey2 (Above photos by Jeremy Halsey)


MeganWrappe3 (Above photos by Becky Miller Zaragoza)

castfour (Photo by yours truly)

Whew.  Tired of pictures yet?  If you’ll notice, that Glinda sure is a diva.  She was even taking selfies in the bathroom…

me (Photo by:  Oh heck, you know….)


Well.  Now it’s time to go.

While it definitely was fun pretending for a while, and even helped me discover a side to me that I may not have even known had ever existed (especially that selfie diva side…sheeesh), it still always comes back to the same ol’ lesson that Dorothy learned.

“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard; because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.” – Dorothy, The Wizard of Oz

No matter how much fun it is to temporarily escape once in a while, and even though you may meet some wonderful friends along the way, you always end up finding your way back to where you belong.  With memories tucked away, pictures to remember it all by, and … finally … a blog written about my experience, I am back home.  Back where I belong.

There truly is no place like home.


“Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”
– Oliver Wendell Holmes

Off to See the Wizard


“Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?”
– Glinda, the Good Witch of the North

Well.  I guess my answer is, “both.”

A few weeks ago, I was asked to play Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, for the Autumn at Oz festival in Beech Mountain, North Carolina, coming up this weekend, October 5-6.  And then, a few days later, I was asked if I could also double as the Wicked Witch for a few shifts.

Um.  Ok?

At first, I had no clue what any of this meant.  I mean, yeah, I had heard about this festival way up on top of the mountain near where I work.  But I really had no idea what all the hoopla was about.  Now, I was pretty sure that I could pull off the split personality required to be able to switch between good and evil (heck, I do that all the time in my daily life…easy peasy…), but what did all of this really mean?  This isn’t your typical ‘play’ that I’m used to performing in.  No weeks and weeks of rehearsals, no constant run-throughs, not even a stage.  What was this festival all about?  I didn’t have a clue.

Well, now I do.

In my two-week crash course in learning about the festival, I have come to find out that this is actually kind of a big deal.  Back in the festival’s heyday (early 1970s), this thing was evidently a sight to behold.  The land of Oz has been recreated high atop a mountain in Beech Mountain, North Carolina, complete with a yellow brick road, Dorothy’s house (pre- and post-tornado), the Emerald City, and everything in between.  There were even ‘balloon rides’ like Dorothy takes at the end of the movie (which, for this ski-resort area was a modified ski lift).  Unfortunately, the combination of the owner’s death just prior to the park’s grand opening, and a mysterious fire only five years later, worked together to shut the park down in 1980.   (Click here to read an article that I’m not too crazy about, but that does give some back story.)  In 1993, the park re-opened, on a much smaller scale, and is now open to the public only one weekend a year with the name, “Autumn at Oz.”


And boy, is it popular!

This year, 6,000 tickets have been sold.  SIX THOUSAND TICKETS!  And they are completely sold out.  Apparently this is something you want to get tickets for well in advance.  (Click here to ‘like’ Autumn at Oz on Facebook and stay up-to-date with the information for next year if you’re interested in taking your own little stroll down the yellow brick road!)


As for my part in it – well, this is how it works.

On Friday, I get to leave work early (woot! woot!) and travel up to Beech Mountain.  A few of us will have a photo shoot for promotional purposes (upcoming brochures and whatnot).  For this, I’m Glinda.  (Yay! Somebody has to make me all purty and whatnot.)  Then, we all get settled into our condo for the weekend.  Saturday and Sunday, I will be the wicked witch working in 2 hours on/1 hour off shifts.  There are three of us (shhhh….don’t tell the kiddos that….) that alternate shifts as the wicked witch.  There are two places along the yellow brick road where the witch is situated – her ‘lair’ and the poppy field – so two of us are working at all times, with one getting an hour break.

Now, this is the part that scares me.

As an actress, improv has never really been my ‘thing’.  Give me a script, and I can be whoever you want me to be.  But tell me to do stuff on my own, and I freeze.  Well, guess what Saturday and Sunday is?  Improv.  Lots and lots and lots of it.  For two hours at a time, I have to “be” the wicked witch.  No script, no lines, no blocking.  Just be the witch.  Now, everyone who knows me well will probably say that shouldn’t be a problem for me.  I mean, come on.  Helllo?  It’s Melissa.  Mean Ol’ Witch?  Duhhhh.  Perfect casting.  But nonetheless, here I am.  Terrified.  What if I mess up?   What if I’m not scary enough?  What if I’m too scary?  What if a kid kicks me?  (Hey – it has happened in the past, so I hear.)

Well, I guess I just have to put my big-girl witchy britches on and just wait and see.

So, as of Sunday night, the public festival is over.  But not for us.  A full cast of characters (just one each this time) will remain behind and do two performances on Monday for a few school groups that will be coming through in two waves.

Now we’re talking.

This is when I’m Glinda.  And this is when I have a script.  Woohoo!  A script!  The kids will come through the park, stopping at the places along the yellow brick road that Dorothy stops at in the movie and the scenes will be reenacted for them.  How cool is that!?  After a few groups come through and our two performances are complete, there will be one more on-site photo shoot, and then it’s time to click our heels and head home.

Holy crap, I’m excited! 🙂


Check back here for a complete update when I get back.  Can’t wait to post pics of myself in all this garb (oh yeah, selfies shall abound…) and experience something like I’ve never experienced before.  New friends, new experiences, new memories….this is the stuff life is made of.

It’s time to head to Oz!



“What a world, what a world!”
– Wicked Witch of the West