Monthly Archives: December 2013

A Year of Quotes

quote

“I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself.”   – Marlene Dietrich

So, it’s no secret – I LOVE quotes.  If you’ve read even a few of the stories on my blog, I’m sure you’ve figured that out.  And, as irony would have it, the above quote describes just exactly why I love quotes so much.  It’s just such a comfort to see someone put what I’m feeling into words.  It provides a sense of connection – a reminder that we’re really not all that different.  Whatever you may be feeling, someone else probably felt exactly the same thing, and had something wise to say about it to remind you that you’re not alone.

As I wrap up 2013, I have decided to go back through my blog and list the quotes that I’ve used over the year.  Beside the quote, I’ll post a link to the blog entry that I used it in.  Maybe you’ll see something that speaks to you, and then want to read more about what was said about the topic.  That’s my hope anyway.

I want to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart for being a reader of my blog.  Thank you for coming along with me on this crazy journey that all started back in February 2013.  This blog has changed my life, no exaggeration – and I have you to thank for that.  Your feedback has given me courage.  And that is the best gift a writer could ever ask for.

I hope you enjoy these quotes as much as I have.

Happy New Year to you and yours!  Make 2014 the best year yet, my friends!

***

December 2013

  • “No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.” – Hal Borland [Seasons]
  • “Nothing lasts forever – not even your troubles.” – Arnold H. Glasow [Seasons]
  • “I have never felt more beautiful in a dress and I was denied the opportunity to wear it. Instead of leaving it to hang alone and dejected in my closet, I took it out and wore it. I wore the hell out of it.” – Vanessa Schilling [Vanessa]
  • “Four things greater than all things are, Women and Horses and Power and War.” – Rudyard Kipling, “The Ballad of the King’s Jest” [Vanessa]
  • “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” – Henry David Thoreau [Remember Me?]
  • “Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.”  – Benjamin Franklin [Remember Me?]
  • “We do not need more intellectual power, we need more spiritual power.  We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen.” – Calvin Coolidge [Mike]
  • “Believers, look up – take courage.  The angels are nearer than you think.”  – Billy Graham [Mike]
  • “If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much.” – Mark Twain [Tattle Tail]

November 2013

  • “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” – Eckhart Tolle [November 1]
  • “In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray Love [November 1]
  • “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” – Winston Churchill [Bus Driver]
  • “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 [Writing]
  • “Writers are like other people, except for at least one important difference. Other people have daily thoughts and feelings, notice this sky or that smell, but they don’t do much about it. All those thoughts, feelings, sensations, and opinions pass through them like the air they breathe. Not writers. Writers react.” – Ralph Fletcher [Writing]
  • “Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” – Gloria Steinem [Writing]
  • “You know what your problem is, it’s that you haven’t seen enough movies – all of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.”  – Steve Martin [Movie Night]
  • “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” – Flannery O’Connor [Movie Night]
  • “I believe that two people are connected at the heart, and it doesn’t matter what you do, or who you are or where you live; there are no boundaries or barriers if two people are destined to be together.”  – Julia Roberts [Movie Night]
  • “The obsession with running is really an obsession with the potential for more and more life.”  – George Sheehan [Mayberry Half Marathon]
  • “Running is not, as it so often seems, only about what you did in your last race or about how many miles you ran last week. It is, in a much more important way, about community, about appreciating all the miles run by other runners, too.” – Richard O’Brien [Mayberry Half Marathon]
  • “Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what it’s all about.” – Patti Sue Plumer, U. S. Olympian [Mayberry Half Marathon]
  • “The willingness of American’s veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude.”  – Jeff Miller [My Veteran]
  • “We never know the love of a parent, until we become parents ourselves.”  – Henry Ward Beecher [My Veteran]
  • “Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them.  You will find that they haven’t half the strength you think they have.” 
    – Norman Vincent Peale [Get Over It]
  • “Press on.  Obstacles are seldom the same size tomorrow as they are today.” – Robert H. Schuller [Get Over It]
  • “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward [Grandma]
  • “For it is in giving that we receive.” – Francis of Assisi [Grandma]
  • “Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.”  – Vera Nazarian [Books]
  • “It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.” – Isaac Asimov [Books]
  • “I find the family the most mysterious and fascinating institution in the world.” – Amos Oz [Family Tree]
  • “If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.” – George Bernard Shaw [Family Tree]
  • “Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.” – Samuel Johnson [Selfies]
  • “By seeking and blundering, we learn.” – Johann Wolfgang von  Goethe [Moving Forward]
  • “We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.” – Rick Warren [Moving Forward]

October 2013

  • “Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?” –  Glinda, the Good Witch of the North [Off To See The Wizard]
  • “What a world, what a world!”  – Wicked Witch of the West [Off To See The Wizard]
  • “Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”  – Oliver Wendell Holmes [No Place Like Home]
  • “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 [Roles]
  • “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 [Roles]
  • “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson [Roles]
  • “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 [Chasm]
  • “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 [Being Ignored]
  • “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 [Being Ignored]
  • “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 [Journey to Mayberry]
  • “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 [Journey to Mayberry]
  • “The giving of love is an education in itself.” – Eleanor Roosevelt [Love Language]
  • “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”– Mother Teresa [Love Language]
  • ”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 [Maw-Maw’s Smile]
  • “Love is, above all, the gift of oneself.” ~ Jean Anouilh [Braggin’ on the Hun]
  • “The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.” – Benjamin Disraeli [Braggin’ on the Hun]
  • “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 [Compliments]
  • “For once, you believed in yourself. you believed you were beautiful and so did the rest of the world.”  – Sarah Dessen, Keeping the Moon [Compliments]

September 2013

  • “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 [Um, what?]
  • “There comes a time when you have to stop crossing oceans for people who wouldn’t jump puddles for you.” – Anonymous [Instigator]
  • “I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.” – Henry David Thoreau [Escape]
  • “Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.” – Charles Bukowski [Writer’s Block]
  • “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.” – Maya Angelou [Writer’s Block]
  • “Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite: “Fool!” said my muse to me, “look in thy heart, and write.” – Philip Sidney [Writer’s Block]
  • “Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.” – Ray Bradbury [Writer’s Block]
  • “You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.”  – Stephen King [Liebster Award]
  • “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 [Liebster Award]
  • “Any fool can have bad luck; the art consists in knowing how to exploit it.” – Frank Wedekind [Luck]
  • “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 [Luck]
  • She was not one for emptying her face of expression. ” – J. D. Salinger [Fix Your Face]
  • “When you start to develop your powers of empathy and imagination, the whole world opens up to you.” – Susan Sarandon [Fix Your Face]
  • “A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away.”  – Eudora Welty [A Thousand Words]
  • “The Earth is Art, The Photographer is only a Witness ”  – Yann Arthus-Bertrand [A Thousand Words]

August 2013

  • “God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.”  – Voltaire [34]
  • “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” – Oprah Winfrey [34]
  • “Love is when you like someone so much that when you look at them, you just want to kiss their face.” – Riley, age 12 [The Kiss]
  • “A man’s kiss is his signature.”  – Mae West [The Kiss]
  • “This is the hardest of all: to close the open hand of love, and keep modest as a giver.” – Friedrich Nietzsche [One-Sided]
  • “Yeah, I’m a giver.  I’ve learned to be selective of the people in my world, because if I love someone, I will give them my blood, whatever they need.  In doing so, one can end up with little left for themselves.” – Brittany Murphy [One-Sided]
  • “We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.”  – Thích Nhất Hạnh [Chicken Soup]
  • “If you wish to be a writer, write.”  – Epictetus [Chicken Soup]
  • “I never exactly made a book. It’s rather like taking dictation. I was given things to say.” – C. S. Lewis [Muse]
  • “…Call it an angel, Call it a muse,  Call it karma that you’ve got comin’ to you / What’s the difference? / What’s in a name? / What matters most is never ever losin’ faith / ‘Cause it’s gonna be alright / You’re not alone tonight.” – Keith Urban lyrics [Muse]
  • “The race does not always go  to the swift, but to the ones who keep running.”  -Anonymous [Happy Badges]
  • “We humans have lost the wisdom of genuinely resting and relaxing.  We worry too much.  We don’t allow our bodies to heal, and we don’t allow our minds and hearts to heal.”  –  Thích  Nhất   Hạnh [Nothing]
  • The most valuable thing we can do for the psyche, occasionally, is to let it rest, wander, live in the changing light of room, not try to be or do anything whatever.” – May Sarton [Nothing]
  • “Nothing’s better than the wind to your back, the sun in front of you, and your friends beside you.” – Aaron Douglas Trimble [Cool Story]
  • “In union there is strength.” – Aesop [Cool Story]

July 2013

  • “We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.” – W. Somerset Maugham [Anniversary]
  • “If you meet somebody and they love you when you are your true, awful, not-ready-yet, boring, not cool enough, not handsome enough, not pretty enough, too fat, too poor self?  And if you love them back so much that it makes you calm? And they have flaws and you do not mind a single one of them?….If you found that, you found it.” – Augusten Burroughs [Anniversary]
  • “Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.” – Jose  Ortega y Gasset [Attention]
  • “A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes.  It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.” – Wade Boggs [Attention]
  • Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi [Attention]
  • “Standing outside the fire / Standing outside the fire / Life is not tried it is merely survived / If you’re standing outside the fire” – Garth Brooks lyrics, Standing Outside the Fire [Through the Sunroof]
  • “Criticism is something you can easily avoid by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Aristotle [Criticism]
  • “Criticism really used to hurt me.  Most of these critics are usually frustrated artists and they criticize other people’s art because they can’t do it themselves.  It’s a really disgusting job.  They must feel horrible inside.” – Rosanna Arquette [Criticism]
  • “I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand / Not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand / Life is good today. Life is good today.” – Zac Brown Band lyrics [Toes]
  • “Into every life a little rain must fall / And that’s the way that it will always be / But you seem to think you can keep the hurt away / Just by pretending you don’t see.” – George Jones lyrics [Naked Eyes]
  • But these rose-colored glasses / That I’m looking through / Show only the beauty / And hide all the truth.” – John Conlee lyrics [Naked Eyes]
  • “People have told me ‘Betty, Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with old friends…’ At my age, if I wanted to keep in touch with old friends, I’d need a Ouija board.” – Betty White [This is one of the MANY quotes from the blog entitled Facebook.  Looking for a quote regarding Facebook?  This is your spot!]
  • “What a laugh, though.  To think that one human being could ever really know another.  You could get used to each other, get so habituated that you could speak their words right along with them, but you never know why other people said what they said or did what they did, because they never even know themselves.  Nobody understands anybody.” – Orson Scott Card [Me]
  • “Walk with me for awhile, my friend—you in my shoes, I in yours—and then let us talk.”  – Richelle E. Goodrich [Me]
  • “Before we can forgive one another, we have to understand one another.” – Emma Goldman [Me]
  • “The greatest weakness of most humans is their hesitancy to tell others how much they love them while they’re still alive.” – Optimus Prime [The Significance of Insignificance]
  • “Learning to trust is one of life’s most difficult tasks.” – Isaac Watts [Trust]
  • “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” – Ernest Hemingway [Trust]
  • “Take a rest.  A field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” – Ovid [Burnout]
  • “”Sometimes in sports there are times when it is best to wait for another day and try again, at least for me. I see life as the race and I see no honor in reaching the finish and passing out or crawling across the finishing line. In Costa Rica, we have a saying: It’s not about being the first to finish, it’s about how you get there.” -Roman Urbina [Burnout]

June 2013

  • “All life is an experiment.  The more experiments you make, the better.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson [Warrior Dash (or, as I like to call it, “Hell”)]
  • “It was being a runner that mattered, not how fast or how far I could run. The joy was in the act of running and in the journey, not in the destination. We have a better chance of seeing where we are when we stop trying to get somewhere else. We can enjoy every moment of movement, as long as where we are is as good as where we’d like to be. That’s not to say that you need to be satisfied  forever with where you are today. But you need to honor what you’ve accomplished, rather than thinking of what’s left to be done.” – John Bingham [Time to Chill]
  • “Maturity is the capacity to endure uncertainty.” – John Finley [Uncertainty]
  • “The one permanent emotion of the inferior man is fear – fear of the unknown, the complex, the inexplicable. What he wants above everything else is safety.” – H. L. Mencken [Uncertainty]
  • “Be courageous and try to write in a way that scares you a little.” – Holley Gerth [Writing Scared]
  • “Writing is painting your deepest thoughts, fears, insecurities, sadness, happiness, and everything else in between, onto a canvas of words – and then, turning it around to face the world, hoping someone sees that canvas as a mirror.” – Melissa Caudill [Writing Scared]
  • “A healthier way of thinking and acting is to allow yourself to receive the help and love you need.  You weren’t designed to live alone.  You have limitations on your strength and abilities.” – Michael Barbarulo [Help!]
  • “Yes, sometimes it’s tempting to think of what could’ve been. But what you really need to think of is what ‘would’ve‘ been. And that’s when you realize you’re exactly where you need to be.” – Richard Edmondson [Here and Now]
  • “I thought about one of my favorite Sufi poems, which says that God long ago drew a circle in the sand exactly around the spot where you are standing right now.  I was never not coming here.  This was never not going to happen.” – Elizabeth Gilbert [Here and Now]
  • “Everything happens for a reason.  That reason causes change.  Sometimes the change hurts.  Sometimes the change is hard.  But in the end, it’s all for the best.” – Rita Ghatourey [Writing Pays Off]
  • “Did you ever know that you’re my hero? / You’re everything I wish I could be / I can fly higher than an eagle / Because you are the wind beneath my wings.” – Bette Midler, Wind Beneath My Wings [Tomorrow] * The night before Annie! opened…with my baby girl as the title role.

May 2013

  • “Tears streamed down my face as I crossed the finish line. I was a new person, a runner.” – Thomas King [The Wait]
  • “Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” – Napoleon Hill [The Wait]
  • “Running is not, as it so often seems, only about what you did in your last race or about how many miles you ran last week.  It is, in a much more important way, about community, about appreciating all the miles run by other runners, too.”  – Richard O’Brien  [Community]
  • “The further you can get away from yourself, the more challenging it is.  Not to be in your comfort zone is great fun.” – Benedict Cumberbatch, actor [So Long, Comfort Zone]
  • “Magic is believing in yourself. If you can do that, you can make anything happen.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe [So Long, Comfort Zone]
  • “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” – T.S. Eliot [I Did It!]
  • “The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” – John Bingham [I Did It!]
  • “There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” – Beverly Sills [Now What?]
  • “A lot of people don’t want to make their own decisions.  They’re too scared.  It’s much easier to be told what to do.” – Marilyn Manson [Decisions]
  • “It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes.  What matters most is getting off.  You cannot make progress without making decisions.” – Jim Rohn [Decisions]
  • “We could love and not be suckers. We could dream and not be losers. It was such a beautiful time. Everything was possible because we didn’t know anything yet.”  – Hilary Winston [Griffins]
  • “Never make your home in a place. Make a home for yourself inside your own head. You’ll find what you need to furnish it – memory, friends you can trust, love of learning, and other such things. That way it will go with you wherever you journey.” – Tad Williams [Griffins]
  • “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” – Edmund Hillary [The Bear]
  • “It is such a happiness when good people get together — and they always do.”  – Jane Austen [Destiny]
  • “We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet… I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things… all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness.’” – From the movie, Shall We Dance? [Destiny]
  • “A woman under stress is not immediately concerned with finding solutions to her problems, but rather seeks relief by expressing herself and being understood.”  – John Gray [Titles]
  • “Relentless, repetitive self talk is what changes our self-image.” – Denis Waitley [Self Image]
  • “I love working with an audience.  I love working with actual people who, you know, if they’re moved, you see it.  If you say something they’re stunned by, you see their jaws drop.  If they’re amused, they laugh – that kind of reinforcement, I totally adore.” – Jane Pauley [Reinforcement]
  • “Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” – Voltaire [Reinforcement]
  • “A photograph is usually looked at – seldom looked into.” – Ansel Adams [Dear Me]
  • “Beauty is simply reality as seen with the eyes of love.” – Evelyn Underhill [The Beholder]
  • “Changing our bodies isn’t as effective as changing our minds.” – Iman Woods [The Beholder]
  • “Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” – Kahlil Gibran [The Beholder]
  • “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.  Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow.  Let reality be reality.  Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” -Lao Tzu [Winds of Change]
  • “When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.” – Chinese proverb [Winds of Change]
  • “Endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” – Socrates [Dress the Part]
  • “I think I’m chronically exhausted.”  – Hilary Clinton [Some Days Suck]
  • “Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit.” – Peter Ustinov [Moments]

April 2013

  • “To lose balance for love is part of living a balanced life.” – Elizabeth Gilbert [April Fool]
  • “She’s got her freedom, but she’d rather be bound / To a man who would love her, and never let her down.” – Alabama [April Fool]
  • “Believe that you can run farther or faster. Believe that you’re young enough, old enough, strong enough, and so on to accomplish everything you want to do. Don’t let worn-out beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself.” – John Bingham [10 Miles]
  • “A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.” – Carl Sandburg [Week-Old Miracles]
  • “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers.  You will always find people who are helping.’” – Fred Rogers [Helpers]
  • “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” – John Bunyan [Helpers]
  • “There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…” – John Lennon [Just Like That….Again]
  • “Here is the test to find out if your mission on Earth is finished:  If you’re alive, it isn’t.” – Richard Bach [Reflection]
  • “For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever that answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” – Steve Jobs [Reflection]
  • “Running is a big question mark that’s there each and every day. It asks you, ‘Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?” – Peter Maher [Back in the Saddle]
  • “I run because it’s so symbolic of life. You have to drive yourself to overcome the obstacles. You might feel that you can’t. But then you find your inner strength, and realize you’re capable of so much more than you thought.” – Arthur Blank [Back in the Saddle]
  • “You can pour your soul out singin’ a song you believe in, Then tomorrow they’ll forget you ever sang. Sing it anyway.”  – Martina McBride / lyrics to Do It Anyway [Sing Anyway]
  • “Everybody is a genius.  But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein [Sing Anyway]
  • “The finest clothing made is a person’s own skin, but, of course, society demands something more than this.” – Mark Twain [Fully Dressed] **my first award-winning writing!
  • “Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak” – Rachel Zoe [Fully Dressed]
  • “My heart leaps up when I behold a rainbow in the sky.” – William Wordsworth [Rainbow]
  • “There’s a rainbow in the sky all the time – don’t be blind.” – Ziggy Marley [Rainbow]
  • “It is wise to direct your anger towards problems – not people;  to focus your energies on answers – not excuses.” – William Arthur Ward [Excuses = Fuel]
  • “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, keep moving.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. [Boston]
  • “You need to let the little things that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you.” – Andy Warhol [Little Things]
  • “Half the joy of life is in little things taken on the run…but let us keep our hearts young and our eyes open that nothing worth our while shall escape us.” – Victor Cherbuliez [Little Things]
  • “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” – Mahatma Gandhi [And Still]
  • “The huge problems we deal with every day are actually really small. We’re so focused on what bothers us that we don’t even try to see our lives from a clearer perspective.” – Susane Colasanti [Problems?]
  • “Remember, if you are criticizing, you are not being grateful.  If you are blaming, you are not being grateful.  If you are complaining, you are not being grateful.” – Rhonda Byrne [Problems?]
  • “Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it’s a small price to pay for living a dream.” – Peter McWilliams [Uncomfortable] ** A shortened version of this one was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game
  • “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” – Henry Ford [Brutal Beginnings]
  • “When you make peace with authority, you become authority.” – Jim Morrison [Authority]
  • “Men are respectable only as they respect.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson [Authority]
  • “I firmly believe that doing what you love involves doing what you once loved as a kid. That thing you were good at. That thing you’d sneak away from your chores to do. Your history tells you everything you ever wanted to know about living your dream.” – Catherine Hughes [I Am A Writer]
  • “The dream was always running ahead of me.  To catch up, to live for a moment in unison with it, that was the miracle.” – Anais Nin [I Am A Writer]
  • “I don’t remember deciding to become a writer. You decide to become a dentist or a postman. For me, writing is like being gay. You finally admit that this is who you are, you come out and hope that no one runs away.” – Mark Haddon [I Am A Writer]

March 2013

  • “Our running shoes are really erasers. Every step erases a memory of a past failure. Every mile brings us closer to a clean slate. Each foot strike rubs away a word, a look, or an event that led us to believe that success was beyond our grasp.” – John Bingham  [Secret Weapon]
  • “My runs always remind me of what life is; always putting one foot in front of the other, even when I’m exhausted. It’s about running up the hill, however daunting, and congratulating myself for not stopping. Life, like running, is about getting up and pushing on ahead, even if I’ve tripped on a pothole. It’s about keeping the rhythm and setting a pace. It’s about minding my injuries and allowing myself time to heal, but not letting injuries get the best of me. Running is like life; it is a glorious, albeit sometimes painful, act of always moving forward.”  – Luci L. Creery  [Secret Weapon]
  • “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato  [What If?]
  • “Either you run the day or the day runs you.”  – Jim Rohn  [Just Do It]
  • “It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.” – Erma Bombeck  [1,000 views]
  • “Being raised as a military brat has a way of making things blur together, simply because of how often you have to move. Friends come and go, clothing is packed and unpacked, households are continually purged of unnecessary items, and as a result, not much sticks. It’s hard at times, but it makes a kid strong in ways that most people can’t understand. Teaches them that even though people are left behind, new ones will inevitably take their place; that every place has something good – and bad – to offer. It makes a kid grow up fast.” – Nicholas Sparks “The Lucky One”  [I’m a Brat]
  • “Never be ashamed of a scar.  It simply means that you are stronger than whatever tried to hurt you.” – Unknown  [Scars]
  • “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” – Khalil Gibran  [Scars]
  • “You are stronger than you think.” – Leigh Cooper Wallace  [Stronger]
  • “As I get older I see that running has changed for me.  What used to be about burning calories is now more about burning up what is false.  Lies I used to tell myself about who I was and what I could do, friendships that cannot withstand hills or miles, the approval I no longer need to seek and solidarity that cannot bear silence.  I run to burn up what I don’t need and ignite what I do.” ~ Kristin Armstrong  [Stronger]
  • “Find a place inside where there’s joy,  and the joy will burn out the pain.” – Joseph Campbell  [Letter to My Shin…No Seriously]
  • “I was single-minded and I had tunnel vision.  Now it’s time for a change.” – Evelyn Ashford  [Tunnel Vision]
  • “Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power…You are free.” –  Jim Morrison  [Fear]
  • “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” – Mark Twain  [The Gift of Forgiveness]
  • “He who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones first” – Chinese proverb  [My Rock]
  • “I ran and ran and ran every day, and I acquired this sense of determination, this sense of spirit that I would never, never give up, no matter what else happened.” – Wilma Rudolph  [Milestone]
  • “The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep,  and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.” – Robert Frost [Milestone]
  • “Methinks that the moment my legs began to move, my thoughts began to flow.” – Henry David Thoreau  [Favorite Race…So Far]
  • “Hello world, how you been? /  Good to see you, my old friend /  Sometimes I feel as cold as steel /  Broken like I’m never gonna heal / Then I see a light,  a little grace, a little faith unfurl /  Hello world” – Lady Antebellum, “Hello World” lyrics  [Just Like That]
  • “Choosing to be in the theatre was a way to put my roots down somewhere with other people. It was a way to choose a new family.” – Juliette Binoche  [Life With Father]
  • “I love acting. It’s so much more real than life.” – Oscar Wilde  [Life With Father]
  • “And thou shalt in thy daughter see,  This picture, once, resembled thee.” – Ambrose Philips  [Ounce of Strength]
  • “I don’t believe in failure.  It is not failure if you enjoyed the process.” – Oprah Winfrey  [“Failure”]
  • “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live life in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt [“Failure”]
  • “It is the still small voice that the soul heeds,  Not the deafening blasts of doom.” – William Dean Howells  [Still Small Voice]
  • “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” – Mark Twain  [Still Small Voice]
  • “If I were to remain silent, I’d be guilty of complicity.” – Albert Einstein  [Divisiveness]

February 2013

  • “Two are better off than one, because together they can work more effectively. If one of them falls down, the other can help him up . . . Two people can resist an attack that would defeat one person alone. A rope made of three cords is hard to break.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9 (TEV)  [Valentine’s Day]
  • “Life becomes easier when you learn to accept an apology you never got.” – Robert Brault [Apology]
  • “Write while the heat is in you. The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with. He cannot inflame the minds of his audience.” – Henry David Thoreau [The Day After Valentine’s Day a/k/a Blah]
  • “…And you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes ahead / With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.” – Veronica A. Shoffstall [Rejection]
  • “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end.” Denis Waitley [Rejection]
  • “Once you’ve accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you.” -Unknown [Flaws]
  • “Keep your heart above your head / And your eyes wide open / So this world can’t find a way to leave you cold /And know you’re not the only ship out on the ocean / Save your strength for things that you can change /Forget the ones you can’t / You gotta let it go.” – Zac Brown Band lyrics [Follow Your Heart]
  • “One of the cruelest, most selfish things you can do to another human being is to use them to fill a void. Having learned this the hard way by being on the receiving end, I vow to never ever do that to anyone myself. The cycle ends at me. The next person I am with will get the full, complete version of me, and will not have to live in another’s shadow. This may take years to achieve. So be it. Until you are complete, you have nothing to give to anyone else. Remember that, and this world will be a happier place.” – Melissa Halsey Caudill [Here Goes Nothin’…(Literally)]
  • “Don’t be scared to walk alone; don’t be scared to like it.” – John Meyer [Here Goes Nothin’…(Literally)]
  • “When I was your age, we had to walk to school uphill both ways…” – Every Older Person There Ever Was [Uphill Both Ways]
  • “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” – Dalai Lama [Loyalty]
  • “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: but it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”  – C.S. Lewis [Allowed to Breathe]
  • “Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” – Oprah Winfrey [Passion]
  • “Next time I’ll be braver / I’ll be my own savior / Standing on my own two feet.” – Adele, Turning Tables lyrics [Passion]

***

See you next year!

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Tattle Tail

“If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much.”
– Mark Twain

“Ok, what is it now, Patches?”

Patches, my fat little calico, was once again trying to tell me something – something of utmost importance, mind you.  A usually quiet cat (other than her incessant “I’m so happy” purr), Patches would only get vocal when she needed something.  The food bowl is empty?  “Meow, meow, meow” would resonate through the home until I would finally obey Princess Patches’ commands and follow her to the kitchen to replenish.  CATpaw1Time to go outside?  Again, meows would echo off the walls until I made my way to the front door, where she would be sitting with her paw up on the door waiting for someone with thumbs to come along and release her.

Granted, I was aware – and appreciative – of my cat’s intelligence.  When she wanted something, she would make it happen. (I’d like to think she got that from me.)  But honestly, the needy meows would sometimes border on the annoying side.  And this particular morning was no exception.

Patches and I had just made a move.  The sweet man in my life and I had just decided to combine our homes and take the next step in our future together.  And although he and I both knew we were ready, one little question remained hanging in the air.

How were our cats going to take the news?

CATsnuggleHe, too, had a ruler of the roost.  A muscular, sleek, gray cat named Mittens.  At first glance, you would think Mittens was not a very nice little fella.  The first time I ever saw him, I almost laughed at the irony of such a sweet, cuddly name as Mittens paired with such a fierce looking tiger-like cat.  But I soon learned not to judge a book by its cover.  Under that fierce exterior, lied the sweetest, most cuddly furball I’d ever met.  Falling in love with Mittens didn’t take long at all.

Would it be that easy for Patches?  Well, we were about to find out.

The inevitable came.  After moving everything else I could think of, it was finally time to pack up Patches and move her as well.  CATtravelShe was none too thrilled with the 45-minute drive (no more little quiet kitty, that’s for sure), but, much to my surprise, once we arrived at the home and I put her down to wander through the house, she seemed to be immediately at ease.  She sniffed around, circled the perimeter of every single room, and eventually made her way to the living room where she found her favorite resting spot on the radiator, and promptly went to sleep.  Wow.  That was easy.

Now, on to the hard part.

Patches, meet Mittens.

We let Mittens inside, and he immediately knew something was ‘off.’  He made his way through the home sniffing around until he finally found the culprit – a massive pile of sleeping multi-colored fluff resting on ‘his’ radiator.  CATradiatorPatches woke up – and thus, the fighting began.  The hisses, the growls, the shrieks.

Sigh.  So much for love at first sight, huh?

Over the next few weeks, the cats seemed to slowly come to a truce.  There was definitely no love lost between them, but at least they were learning to coexist – even managed to share from the same food bowl (just not at the same time, mind you!).  As long as no blood was shed, we considered the status quo a success.

Which brings me to this particular morning.  The incessant “meow, meow, meow” could be heard throughout the whole house.  I was getting ready for work so I didn’t immediately go to find out what was going on.  I figured whatever it was would pass.  But the meows started getting closer, and soon there stood Patches in the doorway of the bathroom staring up at me with that “hello?  Didn’t you hear me calling for you?” face.  “What, Patches?  What is so important?”  I knew her food and water bowls were filled – those were the first things I had taken care of when I woke up that morning.  CATwindowI knew she didn’t want to go outside (Miss Lucy, the sweet, playful outside doggy took care of making sure Patches would now, and forevermore, be considered an ‘inside cat.’)  So, what on Earth had my little fat cat in such a tizzy?

I let curiosity get the best of me (I guess I learned that one from her), and decided to stop what I was doing and follow her.  We made our way down the hall, with her looking back every second to be sure I was coming, and ended up in the kitchen.  Patches made it there first, and calmly and methodically sat down on the floor and looked up at the counter.  And there, up on the counter, chomping down on last night’s leftovers that were mistakenly left out and not put up in the refrigerator, was Mittens.

Patches had just told on Mittens.

I immediately busted out in laughter.  I mean, yes, Mittens was doing a bad thing and was definitely eventually shooed off of the counter and scolded – but seriously?  He got told on?  By a cat?  Once my giggle fits finally subsided, I realized that there was a deeper meaning to be taken from this whole thing.  Yes, our kitties were learning to coexist; yes, the fighting had stopped; and no, there was no cuddling or playing between the two, much to my dismay.  But, finally, there was ‘this.’  This incident told me all I needed to know.

Mittens and Patches had now become brother and sister.  Tattle “tails” and all.

Mission accomplished.  Our happy little family was complete.

CATs w Rich

Mike

“We do not need more intellectual power, we need more spiritual power.  We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen.”
Calvin Coolidge

So, as most of you know, one of my stories was just published in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book.  Now, once you’ve been published for the first time, this strange thing happens.  It sparks this urge inside of you to do more…to write more, to submit more.  In other words, I’m addicted.  Yep, I admit it.  Addicted.  So, with this being the case, I have been unashamedly scouring the Chicken Soup website keeping an eye on their “upcoming topics” list to see if I have anything new to submit in whatever particular category pops up.

Well, one such category that has been sitting there for a while has been the one called “My Guardian Angel.”  Each time I come to that one, I quickly scroll past it looking for something else…anything else.  Why?  Well, this one deals with spiritualism.  Mysticism.  All of that stuff that makes me…well…uncomfortable.  Let me write about the everyday, realistic events and I’m a happy camper.  But tell me to write about anything that delves into the unexplainable?  Nope.  You lost me.  Can’t do it.

angelsAnd yet….

Yet, this story just kept popping into my mind.  This memory of an unexplained event from when I was 18-years-old.  Each time I scrolled across that “Angel” category, this memory nagged at me.  Should I write about it?   *sigh*  How could I write about something that even I didn’t understand?  Something that very well could have been just a coincidence.  Ya know, just one of those things.

But finally, I figured it had gnawed at me long enough.  I was going to do it.  I was going to sit down, start typing, and just see where it went.  And before I knew it, the story had told itself.  I really didn’t have much of a say in how it came out – that’s kind of how this writing thing works for me.  Somewhere down in there I already know what I think and what I feel.  I just don’t realize it until I see the finished product on the page before me.  And this was one of those times.

So, with the Christmas season upon us, I have decided to share what I submitted.  Hey, who knows?  Maybe some of my fellow skeptics could use a story like this once in a while.  Maybe you’re like me and a little dose of spiritualism could be just what the doctor ordered  to get you out of this real world funk right about now.

And so, without further adieu, here’s my story about Mike.

Mike

Stop worrying, Dad!  The car is FINE.  I’m going!”

These are those ‘famous last words’ that you’ve heard tell of.  They were being uttered by the stubborn 18-year-old version of myself as I was flying out the door to head to my first college party.  The year was 1996 and I was just finishing up my first semester of community college.  Being the frugal person that I was, I had opted to get the first two years of general education classes under my belt at the more affordable community college before transferring to a university in my junior year.  The closest community college was thirty minutes away, so I lived at home with my dad and commuted.  Thus, since a commute was going to be involved, I had to have a car.  After a few months of borrowing my dad’s vehicle, we had finally – much to my delight and glee – decided it was time for me to own my very first car.

Now, again, I was frugal (and so was my family) so we headed straight to the used car section.  I found what I thought was a great deal on a cute little car, but my dad had his doubts from the start.  He wanted to get it thoroughly checked out before we agreed to purchase it, but not me.  I was in a hurry.

“Daaaad.  We can’t give every car the third degree.  Let’s just pick one already.  I want THIS one…”

So, he gave in.  Yes!   The cute little car was mine!

And pretty much no sooner than we had driven off the lot – the problems started.  First, the constant overheating.  Next, the ‘knocking’ sound coming from the engine.  But oh no – I was not to be deterred.   Not Miss Fancy Pants College Girl.  I had my own car!  So, the needle went to the “H” every now then?  Big deal!  I just wouldn’t look at it.  So, there was a pesky little sound coming from the engine?  Hey – I could just turn up the radio.  Problem solved!

So, here I was, smack in the middle of this multitude of warning signs screaming for my attention, preparing to head out the door to a Friday night party in my college town.  I had been looking forward to it for weeks and had been shocked that my dad was going to allow me to go without much whining and cajoling from my end.  But as the night arrived, along with an unexpected winter snow storm to boot, my dad started having hesitations.  The snowy roads combined with the problems that were plaguing my car were enough to make him speak up.  But I was not listening.  I was an ADULT, thank you very much.  I was not about to miss that party.

So, off I went.

I swung by and picked up my friend Carrie and the two of us started on our thirty-minute drive in the snow.  Just as we hit a long stretch of somewhat deserted highway, the evitable finally happened.  My precious little cute car spit and sputtered its final breath…and died.  Luckily, I had just enough time to allow it to coast to the side of the highway, just barely over the line onto the shoulder, before it came to a complete stop.  And there we were.  Two 18-year-old girls stranded on the side of the road on a snowy dark night.  Now, remember, this was 1996 – this was before the time of cell phones.  There was no whipping out the cell and calling my dad for help.  No, we were stuck.  Really, really stuck.

We started looking around to see if we could tell if there were any houses nearby.  Of course it was too dark to see anyway, but having driven this stretch of road so many times in the past few months, we knew that we had managed to break down in the least inhabited portion of the drive.  (Murphy’s Law, of course.)  Walking to get help was evidently not going to be an option. So, we decided to do the only thing we knew to do.  We got out of the car and started trying to wave down passing cars.

snowyhwy2As the snow grew heavier, the cars on the interstate starting becoming few and further between.  The few cars that we did see pass either didn’t see us, or were too worried about their own safety to try to stop on snowy roads to pick up two strangers.  After having no luck whatsoever, and starting to freeze in the frigid temperatures, we piled back into the car.  We hadn’t sat there long before – oddly – a truck pulled over to the side of the road in front of us.  Looking back, it never occurred to me how strange it was that he knew to stop.  We were no longer standing outside of the car and there were obviously no lights on inside in the car since everything had stopped working, so how did he even know there were people in the car needing help?  Regardless, there he was.  And boy, were we grateful.

Of course, we were hesitant at first to climb into a stranger’s truck.  At this point, however, we were cold and desperate.  The warmth of the truck was too inviting to pass up.  As we climbed inside, the first thing we noticed was a picture of what we assumed to be his beautiful wife and two smiling kids taped to his dashboard.  He introduced himself as “Mike” and asked where we were headed.  We explained our situation and where we were headed and, as luck would have it, he was heading that very way and would be glad to drop us off.  We felt an immediate ease with Mike.  He had a jolly laugh and had us giggling along with his family stories by the time we arrived at our destination.  As we piled out of the car, we asked Mike if there was anything we could do to repay him.  His only answer?  “Just be careful, girls.  Listen to your dad next time.”  And with a wink, he drove away.

Had I told him that my dad had told me not to drive that night?  I couldn’t remember.  I didn’t think I had…but surely I must’ve.  How else would he have known?  I shook off the thought, and headed in to the party.  I made the dreaded call to my father to explain the situation.  Since it was so late and travel was so treacherous, we made the decision to stay at the party host’s house for the night and allow my dad to come pick us up in the morning when the weather had cleared.  In the meantime, he would call the tow truck and have the car removed from the highway.

The next morning, my dad arrived to pick us up and told us where the tow truck had taken the vehicle.  We made a pit stop on the way home to drop by where the car was stored so that Carrie and I could pick up some personal belongings we had left behind in the car.  As we pulled into the snow-covered lot and rounded a curve, my jaw dropped open.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  There, under a thin layer of new snow, sat my car.

Demolished.

I was floored.  What?!  What had happened?  My father gave me ‘the look,’ to which I immediately responded, “I didn’t do that, daddy!  It didn’t look like that when I left it, I promise!”  Of course, I was wasting my breath telling him that.  Obviously, anyone could plainly see that I hadn’t been in the car.  Why is that?  Well, for one thing, the driver’s side was smashed in.  You couldn’t even see the steering wheel anymore – it was hidden beneath a mangled pile of metal that used to be my precious little cute car.

After a few phone calls and info from the tow truck driver, we soon discovered that after Mike picked us up off of the side of the road, a driver had fallen asleep behind the wheel of a U-Haul truck, veered off the road, and smashed into my car, totaling it.  The U-Haul driver, seeing that no one was in the car and realizing that his own vehicle was still in good driving condition, drove on and stopped later down the road to call in the incident.  And here’s the kicker.  After a review of the police report and the U-Haul driver’s statement, the estimated time of impact was able to be determined.  The time?  Approximately two minutes after Mike had picked us up off the highway.

Two minutes.

A mere two minutes later and my friend and I would have been sitting huddled in that car trying to keep warm as the U-Haul plowed into us.  There is no doubt in my mind that we would have not survived the impact.

After discovering what happened, Carrie and I asked around to try to find Mike.  We described his vehicle to everyone we knew.  We even paid for a small ad to be placed in the newspaper asking him to come forward so that we could give him our proper thanks.  No one ever turned up.  No one had ever heard of Mike.

Was Mike an angel?

I sit here eighteen years later reflecting on that night and I wonder.  Yes, maybe he was just a mortal man who somehow sensed that someone needed help inside a dark car on the side of the interstate in a winter storm.  Maybe that’s just all there was to it.  But somehow, somewhere deep inside me, I just don’t think that is the whole story.  Yes, I’m eighteen years older now.  I’m a rational, practical adult who no longer has her head in the clouds.

Yet still.  Still, down there deep inside of me, lies the part of me that still believes.  That still believes in things that are unseen.  Things that are unexplainable, mystical, spiritual.  Things that are beyond the capabilities of my tiny human mind to comprehend.  Somewhere down deep inside, maybe I do believe in angels.

And Mike?  Well, I’m certain he was one of them.

***

“Believers, look up – take courage.  The angels are nearer than you think.”
– Billy Graham

Remember me?

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”
– Henry David Thoreau

Well, hello there, Big Bad Blog World!  I haven’t seen you in a while.  Allow me to re-introduce myself.  My name is Melissa Halsey Caudill and I have not written a blog post in ELEVEN DAYS.  What?!  Eleven days??  Well, let me tell ya – these have been some busy eleven days.  I sure do miss writing on here…and I’ll be back to posting regularly pretty soon.  But, for now, I just wanted to pop back on here and give a quick update explaining my recent absence.

IAWLblog1Last week, I was involved in a play called It’s a Wonderful Life – A Live Radio Show.  This was the George Bailey story we all know and love, but with a slight twist in that it’s performed entirely as a radio show.  Set in the 1940s, a group of four actors, a radio host, and a sound effects guy all meet together to vocally perform this timeless classic while “live” on the air in front of a studio audience.  I was blessed to work with an extremely talented cast and crew to put this together in a very short amount of time.  I was blown away by the talent that surrounded me on that stage, and the ability of everyone to put together such a fantastic show in less than two weeks.

Well, as part of this unique theatre experience, an offer was presented to local businesses.  Rather than our performing the scripted fake commercial ads that are included with the show, we offered businesses the chance to purchase an ad spot in our show and we (as in I”) would write them their own personalized skit and jingle to be sung to a popular Christmas tune.  Much to our surprise, many businesses took us up on the offer and I found myself with about 20 commercial spots to fill in a matter of days.  Much to my relief, my female costar and theatre company owner, Kim-Noel, picked up the slack and, between the two of us, we met the deadline.  And, even if I do say so myself, they were actually pretty good!  Making sure to include lots of humor, yet keeping with the 40s theme while marketing current-day products and services, turned out to be a challenge – but one that we rose to and met.  I was so incredibly proud of the end result.  Watching my co-stars sing the words that I had written, and hearing the laughter from the audience because of it, was a thrill like no other.

So, while I have in fact been absent from the blog, I have not been absent from writing.  I hope my regular followers will stay tuned and keep checking back in for more work soon.  For now, I’m basking in the glow of the end to my week of furious deadline-driven writing and enjoying a much-needed respite.  But no worries – you can’t keep this mouth shut for long.  As said in my best Arnold Schwarzenegger voice, “I’ll be baaack.”

I just had to take a page from Mr. Thoreau as he so eloquently put it in that quote I posted at the beginning of this blog.  It was time to stand up and live for a bit.  But you can bet your patootie that I’ll be sitting back down again here soon to write about it.

See you soon!

***

“Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.” 
– Benjamin Franklin

Vanessa

“I have never felt more beautiful in a dress and I was denied the opportunity to wear it. Instead of leaving it to hang alone and dejected in my closet, I took it out and wore it. I wore the hell out of it.”
– Vanessa Schilling

I spend a lot of time using this blog to tell my stories.  Today, with her permission, I want to tell you someone else’s.

As some of you may remember from a previous blog, I got an awesome opportunity a few months back to play Glinda the Good Witch at a weekend festival in Beech Mountain, North Carolina.  I could fill this blog for a year with stories from that experience.  It was just so friggin cool.  And, truth be told, I will probably reference various tidbits about it for the rest of my life. Therefore, allow me to go ahead and issue my formal apology right now for that and just get it over with.  In fact, may I suggest a drinking game?  Every time I say the word “Oz” or “Glinda” or “good witch” or “Darn it, I miss being a pretty pretty princess!!!,” just go ahead and chug. Hey, everybody wins!  I get to talk about Oz [DRINK!] and you get to put yourself in the mindset to put up with reading the rest of my blog.  Ok, wait.  Maybe I’m the only that wins?  Eh.  Either way…drink up!

Whew.  This blog girl sure knows how to digress….

So, back to the point.  One of the first experiences I had after just arriving at Oz [you paying attention?  DRINK!] was meeting a lady named Vanessa.  In fact, I have a photo from about 5 seconds after meeting her.  Wanna see it?

mevan

There you have it folks.  I kid you not.  It went pretty much like this, “Hi, I’m Vanessa, and I seriously have to get under that dress.  Hold still….”  Now, granted, that might not be the first time I’ve ever heard that in my life after just meeting someone, but I can honestly say it was the first time I’d ever heard it from a woman…

But in all seriousness, that story right there pretty much described Vanessa –  a funny, charming, risk-taking breath of fresh air who quickly became my friend.  She ended up being one of my roomies for the weekend and I found myself looking forward to just being around her.  No pretension, no formalities – you could just be yourself around Vanessa because she brought that out in you.  She was ‘real.’  And I liked that.

And along with being real, you wanna know what else she was?  About 8 months pregnant.  Yep, there were actually two people under that dress in that picture up there.  (And room for plenty more, to be quite honest…)  Vanessa, who usually played the wicked witch for this Oz weekend, was just along for the ride this time since it might look a little odd to have the wicked witch of the west with child.  Didn’t want to confuse the kiddies, ya know.

So, Oz weekend came and went and we all discarded our costumes (Darn it! I miss being a pretty pretty princess…[DRINK!]) and went back to our lives.  Thanks to good ole Facebook, however, we were all able to keep in touch.  I eagerly awaited the updates from my new friend Vanessa’s pregnancy and was excited to see that bouncing baby boy bundle of joy arrive a few weeks later.  Her military husband had just arrived from his tour in Afghanistan and her happy little family was complete.  

And boy do I wish this story could end here.

Unfortunately, however, as often is the case, Life has a way of stepping in and not letting stories end all tied up in the pretty red bow like we wish they would.  And this time is no exception to that sucky rule.  Just a few short weeks after Vanessa’s baby was born, her husband dropped the bomb.  He told her he wanted to end their marriage.

I sat and watched, helpless, as my friend’s world was falling apart.  I watched her go through the motions.  Sadness.  Defeat.  Confusion.  Fear.  Anger.  Anguish.  I could list vocabulary words for days and none of them could adequately describe the pain.  And I, like so many of her other friends, had no idea what to do to help her.  So, we watched helplessly from afar, hoping that our empathy could somehow reach through the technology waves to let her know that she wasn’t alone.  What else could we do?

I found myself thinking of Vanessa so often throughout the day.  This vibrant ball of energy had lost her spark.  And though I had only known her for a short time, it truly affected me to know that her spirit had been crushed.  And one of the posts in particular that she had on Facebook especially tugged at my heartstrings.

Vanessa had just gone shopping for  a new dress to wear to her husband’s formal military ball.  And, as a lot of us who have been mommies know, your body is barely your own after you’ve just given birth. We can all imagine just how thrilled she was when she found the perfect dress, post-baby body and all.  A sweet little red number that accentuated her curves to a tee.  She had found THE dress.  The one that was going to make her the belle of the ball.

Well.  There went that.

All dressed up, and no place to go.

As the date for the military ball drew closer, Vanessa’s hurt and pain increased.  This was supposed to have been her night.  Much like the feeling I had as Glinda during our Oz weekend – now it was Vanessa’s turn to be the princess.  To don the dress and watch the heads turn as she walked arm-in-arm with her prince.  She was supposed to feel beautiful again.  This was going to be night that fairy tales were made of.

Only the prince didn’t hold up his end of the deal.

And there you have it.  This sad story could have ended right there.  No ball, no dress, no fairy tale.  The end.

But no way.  Not a chance.

This was Vanessa.

Vanessa had a decision to make.  Now, most of us would understand if that decision involved sitting around the house eating a large tub of ice cream and staring at the beautiful dress hanging on a hanger in the closet, right?  Of course we would.  Heck, that’s probably exactly where I would have been if I was her.  But oh no.

Not her.

Tucked underneath all that hurt and pain and anguish was the same girl that had climbed underneath all that tulle only seconds after meeting me.  That risk-taker.  That fun-loving breath of fresh air.  That beautiful tower of strength.  And for a few hours, Vanessa made a decision that took the last bit of courage she could muster.

She pried open the heavy door of pain, and let the real Vanessa run free.

vanessa2

Armed with the combination of her incredibly talented photographer friend, Van Roldan, a gorgeous white horse, a sexy red dress, and an enormous well of strength that I don’t think she even knew she had, my friend Vanessa decided that she didn’t need the prince in order to be a princess.

Channeling all of that pain into something beautiful, Vanessa got that dress out of the closet and created her own memories. And then she decided to share the result with the rest of us.

vanessa3 vanessa4 vanessa5 vanessa1

I looked through these pictures this morning with tears streaming down my face.  This was it.  That display of human strength and resilience that I am constantly striving to put into words in this blog?  These pictures did it.  Vanessa did it.

vanessa6This girl is a survivor.  We are all survivors.  No matter what life throws our way – no matter how many times we are left sobbing on the floor feeling the world crash in around us – we always, always find a way to drag our sorry selves up off the ground, brush the dust off, and put one foot right back in front of the other and keep moving forward.  Even when we think the world should stop spinning, by God, it just doesn’t.  It just doesn’t.

So, we might as well just do what my friend Vanessa just did.  Hop right back on that horse and see what’s waiting around the next bend.  And hey – why not look sexy as hell while we’re doing it?

Thank you for letting me tell your story, Vanessa.  I am certain that someone out there somewhere needed to hear it.  I know I did.

Welcome to your new role as an inspiration.

vanessa7

***

Four things greater than all things are, –
Women and Horses and Power and War.
– Rudyard Kipling, “The Ballad of the King’s Jest”

Seasons

“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.”
– Hal Borland

Ahh. ‘Tis the season.

The holidays. The time for joy. The time for sharing. The time to look around and appreciate the ones you love – hold them close to you and thank your lucky stars that they are in your life. You know, all that warm fuzzy stuff. Awwww.

christmasAnd boy, it sure would be nice if that were all the holidays were about.  But unfortunately, it’s not.  Because, you know what else this time is?

It’s the time of year that makes it painfully obvious when one of those “people that you love”…is missing. And you know what especially stings?  When that person who is missing during this happy holiday season, is missing by choice.

I talk about my happy relationship a lot on this blog. And it is very much that…a happy relationship.  Yes, we have our ‘down’ times just like any relationship does. But, even during those times, we both know how very lucky we are to have each other. We are in a loving, committed, and most importantly, an equal relationship that makes us both feel fulfilled and excited and hopeful for a long future together.  And I wonder sometimes how other people see these things I say about our life together, especially those who are recently single or who are just generally ‘unattached’ for whatever the reason.  I’m sure they look at what I say the same way I used to look at it when other people would say it.  Which was, “Well yeah, that’s great that this happening for you, lady, but it’s not like that for all of us.  You’re just one of the lucky ones.  Every story doesn’t have a cute little ending, Miss Happy Pants.”

Well, guess what?  I’m with ya, sista. (Or brotha, as the case may be.)  I am – I completely hear what you’re saying.  And you know why?

Because it certainly hasn’t always been this way.

christmas09I was just looking through some old pictures from Christmases in the not-so-distant past, and I came across this picture of my kids and me from the Christmas season of 2009, just four short years ago.  We sure do look happy, don’t we?  But I’m gonna tell you a secret.  See that smile on my face?

It’s fake.

Yep.  It sure is.  It’s about as fake as a smile can get.  Now, I’m not saying being there with my kids didn’t make me happy.  It did.  But as you can tell from the way I have my hands placed on them, I was holding on to them for dear life.  They were my anchors in the storm that my life was going through.  Behind that smile, there was so much hurt.  So much pain.  So much uncertainty and confusion.  And most of all, so much sadness.  I was going through a time that I sometimes thought I was not going to make it through.

What was happening, you ask?  Well, it’s simple.

My heart was broken.

In one of my previous blogs, I referenced what I like to call my “breakup bible.”  It’s the book, It’s Called A Breakup Because It’s Broken by Greg Behrendt and his wife Amiira.  (If you’re hurting over the end of a relationship, go read it.  Like, now.  Trust me on this.)  So, in this breakup bible of mine, there is the following quote:

“Being brokenhearted is like having broken ribs.  On the outside, it looks like nothing is wrong, but every breath hurts.”

Holy crap, is there so much truth to that.  It’s hard to function in any of your day-to-day activities when you can’t even take a breath without pain.  And that’s how I felt.  People can minimalize the pain of a breakup all day long, but I’ll be the first to call “BS” on that nonsense.  Heartbreak friggin hurts.  Bad.  And that’s how I was feeling during the Christmas of 2009.  I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this on this blog before, but I’ve been divorced twice.  Yep, you read that right.  Twice.  My first marriage was to my children’s father, and that ended years ago, back when my babies were just little.  We were both young and got swept up in the family life before we were ready.  That kind of thing happens, ya know.

But my second marriage?  Yeah, I can’t blame youth on that one.  And I can’t blame getting married out of some sort of ‘necessity.’  No baby was on the way or anything along those lines.  Nothing was ‘forcing’ us to get married.  I also can’t blame it on poor planning.  We dated for over three years before finally deciding to get married.  To be honest, I can’t blame my choice to get married to him on anything other than the fact that I loved him.  I did.  I loved him, he loved me, and we thought we were going to build a life together, regardless of the statistical odds that we were facing.

Well.  We were wrong.

After all that planning, after those years of dating, and after all of the conversations about how we weren’t going to be one of the statistics, we became just that.  Another statistic.  And it hurt.

No, that’s putting it too mildly.  It didn’t just hurt.  It was excruciating.  This wasn’t just your run-of-the-mill relationship breakup.  This was the breakup of a marriage.  The breakup of a newly-formed family (we both had kids from our previous marriages).  This was a decision that affected us all to the core of our beings.  And that picture up there that I showed you?  That picture was taken about a month after I had moved out of the home we shared and into my own little trailer.  It was the only thing I could find that I could afford.  I was starting from scratch.  Again.  I sure didn’t see that coming on the day I took those vows.  (Do we ever?)

But now, let’s skip to Christmas 2013.  Four years later.

fampicHere we are.  Richard and I and our kids.  All together.  All healed and happy and ready to face the future.  Here I am doing exactly what I swore I’d never do.  Not only was I not going to fall in love again, but I sure as heck wasn’t going to fall in love with a man with kids.  You can read all the self-help books in the world about how it feels to lose a relationship or a marriage, but I can guarantee you that there isn’t much out there to help you through the pain of losing step-kids.  Once my marriage ended, so did my ties to his children.  And I was going to make certain I would never fall in love with a man’s kids again like I fell in love with them.

But I was wrong.

I think I fell in love with Richard’s kids before I fell in love with him, to tell you the truth.  And I’m not so sure it didn’t happen the same way for Richard with my kids.  And Richard had the same reservations I did.  He was hurting from a previous loss as well.  Even if he hadn’t told me, I could see it on his face.  He was just like me…he had made all the same promises to himself that I had made.  No more relationships.  No more commitments.  No more love.  It’s just too darn painful.

Ha!  Well, look how that turned out.

I don’t know you, and I don’t know your specific situation.  My readers are as diverse as any set group of individuals always are.  But if you’re one of the ones who is getting ready to face this holiday season alone after the end of a relationship, this blog is for you.  All I want you to know is this.

Pain ends.

It really truly does.  The future that you think you won’t have with anyone else?  You’re wrong.  It’s there.  That relationship bliss that you think is reserved for big-mouth redheads with their own blog?  You’re wrong there too.  It’s waiting for YOU.  Yes, you.  Maybe not today.  Maybe not tomorrow.  But one day down the line, it’s going to be your turn.  If someone would have told me that back during the Christmas of 2009, I would have said the same thing to them that you’re thinking right now.  That kind of thing is for other people, not for me.  And I would have been just as wrong as you are.

Just as wrong.

I am writing this blog with one particular person in mind, but as I have seen from many of the other things that I have written, we are never ever alone in our struggles.  For this one person’s pain, there are millions more who are feeling it too.  We are all connected and that pain that you feel is reserved for only you, isn’t.  The pain isn’t yours alone, and the happiness isn’t mine alone.  These are just seasons.  We all get a turn.  The world keeps spinning, even when you feel like it shouldn’t.

So keep on keepin’ on, my friends.  Your happy may be just around the corner.

Merry Christmas.

***

“Nothing lasts forever – not even your troubles.”
– Arnold H. Glasow