Dear Friends, I know I haven’t been writing much lately. Just a quick update – I met someone and we got married in February. Things are hectic as we are preparing a move to a warmer place. I will be writing soon. Sending a hug to one and all!
I was recently watching the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” where the main character, Elizabeth, and her friends were discussing if cities and people had one word to describe them. While each person seemed to know the perfect word, Liz couldn’t come up with what seemed a good fit. Her friend said “Maybe you are a woman in search of a word.” That stayed with me, because a person in search of a word is in search of who they really are.
I have had many words that described me over the years: wallflower, hopeless romantic, creative, nerd, free-spirited, stubborn, bossy, generous, loving, efficient, adventurer, introvert, single, married, divorced, etc. Each of these words has described facets of my personality, but none of them have ever quite hit the mark. I don’t know if there is a word that could completely describe one person, but I believe there might be a word or phrase that seems to describe different stages of life.
Having just recently had a milestone birthday, I realized I’m a woman in search of a word. But a new word takes time to develop. It must incorporate the old ones that described your past stages and life lessons learned along the way. It should bring together the inevitable cracks in your walls and the random wild flowers that bloom in those new spaces. It must merge the weather-worn and fiercely polished stones with that one brilliant piece of gold that shines when the sun hits it just right. It is past, present and hopeful future blended into one superlative description that seems to just cry “You!”
I don’t know yet what that word will be, but whatever it is, it will be beautiful.
This year has been the absolute worst for most of the world. Though I personally have had tougher years, I watched the pain, the sorrow, the anger, violence, destruction and grief hit person after person. My heart has ached for the lonely, the people who have lost businesses, jobs, homes, and above all…the ones they love. Rarely a day has passed when some new grief afresh has not bewildered us all. Many wondered how they could keep going and many have given up the fight.
I have prayed and fasted with millions around the world for the end to the pandemic, to the violence, to the isolation, to nature’s destruction, to save the life of another or to ease the pain of a loved one. All these prayers have been answered, though some may not have been answered in the way I thought was best.
But if 2020 has taught me anything, it has taught me that God’s will is not always our will. That He does have a plan and sometimes we just may not understand how everything fits into it. But it is because of this year and its tragedies that I have learned more humility, more kindness, to love more deeply, to be more grateful and how much I need my Savior Jesus the Christ. How much we ALL need Him. I have learned that He understands and sees into the dearest wishes of our hearts and it is there that He comes…so quietly…as He did on a night more than 2000 years ago.
In the midst of the grieving darkness, the confusion of the storm, the heavy heart at the side of a grave or the whispered prayer that accompanies streaming tears, I have found peace and solace in only one thing…the King that was born on that night so long ago. Like the shepherds did, I look forward to the day I can kneel at His feet. I rejoice with the angels in my own silent heartfelt song that has no words other than these: Thank you, Savior, for the peace that surpasses all understanding. His burden is light…His peace is, indeed, upon us.
Last night as I watched the “Christmas Star” light the Western sky, I felt it was Heavenly Father’s sign to us all that He is still there, that He still hears us, and that He still wraps His arms around each one of us in love even when we can not feel it.
Merry Christmas my dear friends. May 2021 bring you peace and joy that surpasses all understanding…
"Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.
For all is hushed,
The world is sleeping,
Holy Star its vigil keeping.
Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
'Tis the eve of our Saviour's birth.
The night is peaceful all around you,
Close your eyes,
Let sleep surround you.
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
'Tis the eve of our Saviour's birth.
Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.
While guardian angels without number,
Watch you as you sweetly slumber.
Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come."
It’s late autumn in the mountains and the glorious colors of the leaves have faded. They fall with the lightest touch and the ground is a carpet of varying patches of color. The hills have turned different shades of pale yellow and brown. Touched with frost, few colors now grace the landscape other than a few muted yellows, grey rocks and dark brown grass. The tree branches have turned dark…starkly outlined against the sky. It is almost a somber scene.
But as I stand here surveying, I look up. Under a storm grey dome, a gentle snowflake, white and pure, glides softly along the breeze landing on my black glove. For a moment, it’s a delicate picture before it melts away. Another moment, another snowflake lands on my nose, tickling the skin. I glance up to see the skies begin to fill with a thousand white feathers and I watch…
Last Friday, the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Russell M. Nelson, gave a beautiful message about gratitude. He asked each of us to post one thing on social media that we are grateful for each day for seven days.
The night before I saw this message, I was not feeling very grateful for anything. I have been financially struggling for several months. Add that to what seems a semi-permanent state of singleness along with a few other choice 2020 events and I was not in the mood to be grateful for anything.
Yet, I was looking forward to this message. I didn’t know what it would be about. I have to admit I cringed a bit when President Nelson said it would be about gratitude and how it can heal. But instead of shutting it out and continuing my own private pity party, I opened my heart to listen.
As I did so, the words reminded me of how much I had to be grateful for. By the end of the short 10 minute message, I felt humbled and instantly said a quiet prayer to thank Heavenly Father for what I did have. I have since taken on the challenge and as each day passes, I have noticed a sweet healing in my heart.
President Nelson is correct…gratitude does heal the heart. Instead of focusing on what I lack, I focus on how much I have and it has brought me peace. It’s a lesson I already knew, but it was one I very much needed to be reminded of.
Tonight I spilled sugar on the floor while making a cup of homemade hot chocolate. My normal reaction would have been one of frustration and resignation as I cleaned it up. But tonight, after an initial gasp of surprise, instead of getting upset, I smiled and thought “Well, at least I have sugar to spill.” And as cleaned up the mess, I thanked Heavenly Father that I had the ingredients to make a hot chocolate.
As I write this post, with my cup of cocoa, candles burning and soft music playing, I am so thankful for a wise prophet and leader who remind us that it is love and gratitude which heals us. My hope is that we can all continue to heal our countries, our world, and our homes with a continued appreciation to our Heavenly Father and Savior for each blessing in our lives.
This is just a quick note to say that if you are ever hesitant about commenting on my post because you don’t want someone else to read it, please just put “Do not publish” at the beginning.
I feel that someone out there wishes to say something to me, but is holding back. Feel free to leave your email and I will not publish the comment. I will write you as I always love to hear from my readers. (And should you be “the one” I’ve been waiting for, well hurry up! Haha!)
And I promise that more poetry, nature, spiritual and holiday posts are coming! I apologize for the long drought. I will do my best to get a few posts in over the next two months. My love to you all!
(I wrote this while listening to the music below. So quiet, so relaxing…so full of Fernweh.)
I just discovered a new word…Fernweh. It’s a German word that basically means that you are homesick for a place you have never seen. It sounds silly, doesn’t it? How can one feel such a wistful desire for a place you have never been? But as a confirmed Hopeless Romantic, I can verify that Fernweh does exist. I have known it…many times.
It is difficult to describe, but when you hear a certain piece of music or see a photo or a maybe a scene in a movie, you are suddenly overwhelmed with a nostalgia and yearning that envelopes you. I have often found myself standing on an ocean beach or a windy hillside looking out over the distant scene and feeling that slightly sad and wistful yearning to go “home.” But home to where?
Ah…therein lies the secret. For in each person, our “soul home” is different for each of us and can sometimes change over the years. For me, it has been the same since I was a little girl. I listen to the music below and I yearn to stand on the faded glory of yesteryear’s castles looking at a storm sweep up a green hillside. I can see myself…in clothes of a bygone era, hair blowing freely, staring at the distant horizon waiting.
Why does my heart know this place? Almost like a memory, it is imprinted on my mind like a faded dream. When I wander the timeworn stones and pathways of a crumbling English castle, I have stepped back in time and can hear the sounds of ancestors’ voices. Was that the sound of horse’s hoofs on the cobblestoned bridge? Is that distant merry laughter from the ruins of the great hall below? I hear the melancholy notes of a Celtic flute and I’m instantly transported. I am reluctant to leave. I close my eyes and my soul trembles slightly brushed with that haunting desire.
Yes, I know and understand Fernweh, but I believe most do. For in all of us, there is a memory of a spiritual home. We may not fully acknowledge it, but we all hear that distant music. Someday we will all find our soul’s “home” and finally be able to lay aside that quiet yearning for something more.
Of course some will say “Melissa, don’t be silly, it’s all in your head.” But as Dumbledore said in Harry Potter, “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” (― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)
It's a full moon
I'm dancing with the fairies
sipping honey wine from a flower cup
made of moon dewdrops
and silver rainThe golden haze of the Autumn light
Opening a door to the other world
of halcyon dreams
and glowing Aurelian wallsThe cool, free winds
blow cobwebs away in my soul
brushing away old, dusty memories
as I find little me
leaping with the eternal stars
This song and the video below represent to me the amazing qualities we have in all of us. I saw these beautiful, imperfect people standing tall and proud and brave and the tears poured down my face. I have my own insecurities, and I often feel like the words in this song. “Run away they say, no one will love you as you are…”
But these beautiful children of God show me something different.
I am imperfect, bruised, broken, beautiful, strong, courageous, and…loved.
I am the wallflower, but I am whom I’m meant to be…this is me.
“I am not a stranger to the dark Hide away, they say ‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars Run away, they say No one will love you as you are
But I won’t let them break me down to dust I know that there’s a place for us For we are glorious!
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out I am brave, I am bruised I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come And I’m marching on to the beat I drum I’m not scared to be seen I make no apologies,THIS IS ME!”
The rain drops hush the heat
Of an intense summer day
The night comes in gentle grey
With no sunset colors at play
All is one in unified silence
The midnight hour draws near
And the heavy burdens appear
The ticking of the clock
Accompanies the melancholy
Of her relentless thoughts
It is in the stillness of this hour
That her inner critic begins to sour
Every ambition, every hope
With sobering truths
Of cold reality
The clicking of the endless clock
Is the wordless march
Of impervious time
Dutifully doing its mechanical part
Stilling the wishes of her romantic heart
Another morn will come
and with it she will smile
For that is her duty
To pretend for a while...
Come and join me in one of my favorite memories and trips of all time…Paris. Let us wander the streets together. The streets walked by millions of lovers, artists and hopeless romantics searching for that elusive idea of “love.”
Walk where the architecture swoons with every curve and where the Seine is graced by slow moving boats. Stroll where a dress is a masterpiece of art and cuisine melts on the tongue. Why do visions of Audrey Hepburn standing in front of the Eiffel Tower call forth the ultimate in femininity and class? Why is Paris “always a good idea” as she once said?
Ah…Paris. The very name sends a little romantic thrill through my heart. When I was 12 years old, I saw a movie that was based in Paris and ever since then, I’ve been in love with it. After wishing, hoping and dreaming for over 30 years, I finally was able to travel there for a few days. It was both eye-opening and beautiful.
I remember being warned that it was dirty and not as romantic as many liked to think it was. Of course I saw the dirt, the graffiti, and yes, even some vermin (both human and animal). But I also saw everything that people love about the place. There was a boulangerie with fresh baked croissants and bread. Friends sitting with their coffee at charming little cafes, locals playing a game of Boules (a game that involves heavy balls), street musicians and entertainers, and beautiful locals passing on their bicycles. And of course, there was that stunning French flair for fashion that made me a wee bit envious of the beautiful women that passed by.
There were Gothic churches that swept your eye upwards to the sky.
There was opulence in every corner at the Palace of Versaille. From golden gates to painted masterpieces on the ceilings to the stunning gardens…no detail was left untouched.
But most of all, there was the Eiffel Tower.
To this woman, the Eiffel Tower was the ultimate romantic dream. It symbolized the idea of love for me. It was as if simply by being there, that one could find the love one had always hoped for. Throughout the years, hopeless romantic daydreams were often accompanied by the Eiffel Tower in the background.
The day I finally got to see it, I was completely surprised at my reaction. I left the subway and walked around the corner and up to the platform above it to get the best view. When it came into view, I was suddenly overwhelmed by my feelings. The tears started to flow and I couldn’t keep them back. It was one of my first long-held dreams that had come true. (Video below of me and my reaction.)
As the character Sabrina in the movie “Sabrina” said, “Only where the light is pink, does the song La Vie en Rose (Life in Rose) make sense.” Why? Because to see Paris is to see life through rose-colored glasses.
And during these days, when the world seems so full of confusion, pain and darkness, rose-colored glasses help me to find the beauty that still exists.
Well there’s a twist. The woman who has spent years writing about hope, endurance, courage, getting through trials and being strong is writing about giving up?! Yes, because everyone has those days. I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t feel discouraged, depressed and sad sometimes. And I want to acknowledge this.
There are days when you are going to feel like you have hit a wall. Days when you simply can’t face getting out of bed in the morning. Days where even breathing is hard. If we, as humans, didn’t have these days, we wouldn’t appreciate the good ones.
The trick is to learn how to not stay there.
Someone once likened these days to the valleys of life. When we reach these valleys of grief or mourning or just plain frustration, our natural inclination is to just sit down and build a home. But there is also an equally opposing force that tells us to get up and keep moving through the valley. It’s up to you to decide which voice you listen to.
When I was younger, I served a mission for my church in the Micronesia Islands. Though there were many wonderful memories and people I met, there were many days of frustration, exhaustion, intolerable heat, very large cockroaches (I can’t stand them) and other not-so-nice experiences. When it got the better of me, I would often refer to this little poem that was on a journal of mine.
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don't you quit. Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell just how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit—
It's when things go wrong that you mustn't quit.
After reading this, I would shed a tear or two…say a prayer…take a deep breath…and start over.
So to all of those who are frustrated, exhausted, angry, grieving or just plain feel like giving up, I say this…rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
We loved first in our dreams...
You reached from beyond
into my unconscious mind
and found me in the realms of fantasy
Falling in love was as easy as breathing
And we didwith an intensity that seemed
To brush the very tenets of my soul
Every spiritual nerve tingled
As we laughed at jokes
As you tenderly touched my face
As your arms reached around me
And we sighed in perfect contentment
It was a fullness of joy...
That still companions me
in my waking hours
You reminded me how to love...
Which I'm holding in my heart
Until we meet again.
We are doing something different today. So I was challenged by my sister to use some of these funny, crazy words in a sentence (they are in the picture). I love a writing challenge, so turned it into a silly poem instead.
On a rickety front porch Sat one persnickety old man Who lived in the valley Of a town called Spokane
He grumbled and mumbled When the neighborhood children Would create another brouhaha With their ridiculous shenanigans
Their noise and laughter Disturbed his afternoon naps As he sat in his rocker Drinking his lemonade Schnapps
One hot day some rascally kids Decided to play an unkind joke They threw a glass of water On the sleeping old goat
“You young whippersnappers,” he called “I’ll wallop the lot of you! Skedaddle from my yard,” he yelled As he threw his old shoe.
Feeling bad for what they had done The young children decided to make Some gifts to say sorry So they picked flowers and made a cake.
On tenterhooks they crept up To the sleeping old man Laying down a pumpernickel cake, And flowers in a can
When the old man woke up And saw the presents before him He was completely gobsmacked And his frown turned to a grin.
So remember young ones When you have the choice Find the strength to be kind And share your compassionate voice.
Waltzing in your arms On the sifting sands Swaying to the rhythm Of the hushed waves As the colors of dawn Sang a silent song Only the winking stars And the rustling palms Had been witnesses To our fleeting romance
Our eyes sang a lyrical melody Our entwined fingers Played a symphony With a rising crescendo Of unspoken emotions Our lips met… Desire, passion, love, frustration And hopelessness crashed Into one unforgettable moment Of impossible longing
We watched the stars disappear As we held onto the night That could never last We fought farewell As the notes of our symphony Faded into a minor key With one last wistful kiss We watched the curtains fall on our dream As the rising sun of our new reality Made its melancholy debut
I wrote this a few years ago. Originally meant to be a song, I had an expert lyricist look at it and then tell me her thoughts. First she said it was a poem, not a song. She was correct on that. It is a poem, thus I have chosen to publish it here. She also said it was too sad, too “victim” and that no one could relate to it. Well, she obviously didn’t pay attention to the end, because as always, it turns around and gives one hope. Somehow I think she was wrong and that more people can relate to this than she thinks. And unfortunately, this is more true now than it was when I first wrote it, but I still see light at the end of the tunnel.
Nothing Left to Lose
Sitting on an empty floor Watching the window and the door Hoping that some inspiration Will come through this time
No money, no career, no lover, no home I’ve never felt so defeated and alone Don’t feed me some kind of cliche line that kind of fiction won’t work this time
I’ve got nothing left to lose Nothing left to prove Nothing left to confess No one left to impress Just me…
I have worked every job and moved every year Began a hundred times and cried too many tears Running a race that never seems to end Begging for something that would help it all make sense
I’ve got nothing left to lose Nothing left to prove Nothing left to confess No one left to impress Just me…
But I realize that maybe it’s time to try again So with quiet conviction and a shaky hand I push myself up off the floor Let my imagination roam once more I will build up from the ashes of my life And give my dreams at least one more try
I guess I do have something left to lose I do have one thing left to prove I have more that I want to express But only one person left to impress… Just me
In this turbulent world that seems to grow grimmer by the day, I wanted to write about one of my favorite subjects on this Easter Sunday…peace. As the years have passed, I have come to discover that my favorite emotion is being at peace…that gentle, reassuring, loving feeling that all will be made well.
It has come on a summer’s night listening to crickets and watching fireflies dance. It has come as friends sang softly by the light of a campfire. It has come as I watched a sunrise from my window or walked through the quiet of soft snowflakes falling. It has come as I lay warm on the sand listening to the ocean waves. It has come as I sat on a dock watching a sunset and listening to a dolphin sing. It has come as I held a baby, calming it and letting it sleep against my shoulder.
It has come to me in a empty room where I hid to stop the tears of a broken heart. It has come to me in my mother’s arms and it has come to me under my father’s hands as he has given me a blessing. But most often, it has come on my knees as I sought answers to desperate prayers. My racing heart slows, my mind grows quiet, I feel a calm warmth that seems to spread over and around me as I listen for those words “Peace…be still.”
As the night draws nigh on this holy day, I listen to the birds singing the sun down. The colors tint the sky like pale Easter eggs and the glorious words “He is Risen” echo in my heart. I know He lives…and that He loves us. The world may rage on, but in my soul, I have peace and that is enough for me.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:26–27).
I stand at my window Studying the elusive stars In a moonless sky Listening to the silence Of a sleeping world Cradling wishing dust in my hand In simple innocence I close my eyes…
I am wrapped in your arms Resting my head Against the strength of your heart Content in our joy Stillness in the moment Feeling without saying Knowing without words Loving in silent rhyme…
I open my eyes… I stand alone at the window Fairy dust clenched in my fingers I slowly let it go Whispering the closely held wishes Of a lonely heart I watch it disappear into the stars Still quietly hoping…