Author Archives: Melissa Edmondson

Motherpluckers

“Yes, Mother. I can see you are flawed. You have not hidden it. That is your greatest gift to me.”
– Alice Walker

This post is a short ode to the motherpluckers of the world.

I salute you.

photo You know who I’m talking about, right?  Motherpluckers.

The women (particularly moms) who still find the time to pluck their eyebrows and stuff like that during their uber-busy lives. (Wait…what did you think I was saying?  That’s the name for them, right? Motherpluckers?  Well, sheesh, what do you call them?  Anyway….)

Let me just say that you chicks amaze me. I don’t even have small children anymore, but Richard and I have three teenagers and one pre-teen between us and let me tell you – getting myself ready to go anywhere falls LAST on the priority list. By the time everyone is up, fed, bathed, and clothed, I’m usually standing in a towel with dripping hair while the rest of the family is wondering why I’m not ready to leave.

If I manage to get out of the house with pants on, I’m doing good.

How do you ladies do it?  How do you have the manicures and the highlighted hair and the perfect makeup?  TEACH ME, OH WISE ONES!

Eh, I guess I’ve made it this far with my bushy eyebrows and frizzy hair, so I suppose I’ll be alright. But still – it’s hard not to look at you guys with the adoration that my teenage daughter reserves for boy bands. I’m in awe. Mesmerized. Obsessed.

Jealous.

But, I’m guessing those same women may look at me and wonder how I find the time to run, don’t they? I’m sure they wonder how I squeeze that into the day – and sometimes I wonder that myself.

busy_moms_prayer_postcard-r4f6031192de84898be9b22dcb21a3867_vgbaq_8byvr_500I guess all of we moms wish we had more time for the things we can’t seem to fit into our busy lives, don’t we?  I suppose I should just look at it like this: If we’re all finding time to do at least something just for us – whether it be running, plucking, reading, or whatever else makes us feel better about ourselves – then I’d say we’re probably doing alright.

“Get busy living, or get busy dying.” as my buddy Stephen King says. As long as we’re living, we’re not dead. If I manage to leave my house with two daughters with French-braided hair and two sons with their bellies full, then I guess my bushy eyebrows are a small price to pay.

Hey, at least I’m wearing pants.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have things to do… ;)

***

“The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.” – Jessica Lange

Tales of a First-Time Novelist

“Writing means sharing. It’s part of the human condition to want to share things – thoughts, ideas, opinions.” – Paulo Coelho

I am awake at 3:00 a.m. to write this blog post. Why? Well…see the quote above. It’s my “human condition.” I can’t help it. I have something I want to share.

As some of you may know, I am in the process of writing my first novel. The idea first popped into my mind over a year ago, and it has taken me this long to crank out the first nine chapters. Why? Heck, I don’t know. I’m a writer. Writing is my thing. It’s what I do. But writing fiction?  Whoa. As they say in Oz, that’s a horse of a different color! 7dbbefcc1a588d2c161143a661a1019d

Fiction is hard for me. It engages imagination. And that’s something that I think I might still be somewhat lacking in. Now, seeing and capturing reality on the other hand?  Oh yeah, I got that one down pat.  There are so many real things out there that we walk past every day that beg for their stories to be told. These are the things that capture me and won’t let go until I obey their commands and immortalize them onto a computer screen. Thus, this blog you’re reading. (My first published work, Lessons Abound is exactly that as well – a collection of essays that stem from everyday life events.)

But fiction?  Well, fiction doesn’t quite work that way, as I’m learning. There are no reminders. No smorgasbord of random, everyday events. Nope. You have to choose one story line and stick to it. And where does that storyline have to come from?

Sigh.

Me.

That’s it. Just little ole me.

I have to pull all of this stuff out of my head. And this is quite new for me. While I definitely still draw inspiration from the life around me, most of what I’m writing in my fiction novel has to be drawn from the recesses of my own mind. I’ve recently shared the first nine chapters of my novel with a few willing, and extremely helpful readers. While I’m waiting on feedback, some of the early thoughts that have trickled in have had this somewhat common theme to them:

“Is your story autobiographical?”

Ha. Oops.

So, no. The story is not autobiographical. But I’m a nonfiction writer, man. This fiction stuff is hard. While I’m playing around with my imagination for the first time, I’m having a teensy bit of trouble letting go of reality in order to do so. So I had to find a compromise. I’m making these characters into people I know by making them all pieces of me.  Does that make sense? In order to write a story that people are going to believe, as the author I need to know these characters. I need to know their surroundings, their upbringing, their hopes, their dreams, their fears. I need to know what makes them tick. And right now, while I’m still trying out my fiction sea legs, I’m going to keep one tiny little foot anchored on the shore of reality. I’m giving these characters lives and personalities that I know and understand. Heck, even the “bad” guys in the story are going to possess some of my not-so-endearing qualities. They almost have to. They come from me, right? You-only-learn-to-beIs this what all authors do?

I don’t know. But I’d be willing to bet maybe so. Especially in the beginning. Maybe as fiction becomes more second nature to me, I’ll learn to loosen that grip on a reality just a bit more and let my imagination take over the reigns. For now, though, yes; you’re going to see pieces of me in this writing. Some of them may be things you already know. Some of them may surprise you. But trust me – while you may see me in this story, the events are still 100% made up.

Clear as mud? Well, good. Glad we got that settled.

I’m so grateful for the brave souls who have dedicated their time and energy to reading the first draft of my first nine chapters. Writing is a very lonely process.  I sit at a computer screen night after night and do this alone. Some nights a few pages will flow out. Some nights I add a comma in a sentence somewhere and then go to bed. I never know if my muse is going to show up or not, but I keep trying. And sometimes I feel like I’m doing this for nothing. I’m a writer. I write so it can be read. And if I’m the only one reading it, what’s the point?  So, thank you, early readers. I hope you know how much this means to me. Truly. The readers are just as important as the writer in bringing a story to life. More so even. I couldn’t do this without you.

And now that I’ve gotten these characters’ personalities set up in a way that I know and understand, let’s start getting that imagination cranking and make them do some crazy stuff.  Shall we? ;)

***

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
-E. L. Doctorow

Drama Break

 “Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.”
– Isaac Asimov

Last month was a month of  many changes for me.

If any of you are regular readers, you’ll probably notice that my posts have dropped dramatically lately. In fact, I only posted one last month, which was in honor of the death of a friend.  I’ve had many things to write about – too many, in fact – but I just couldn’t seem to find the words.  Everything that was happening was big stuff. Big changes – some good, some bad. Lots of “blog bling” as I like to call it….but the words just weren’t rising to the occasion.  And I couldn’t figure out why that was.

liz

Meeting Elizabeth Gilbert…Squeeee!

But then I stumbled across some notes I had taken last year when I went to a talk by my favorite author, Elizabeth Gilbert.  Something she said had resonated with me at the time, so I jotted it down. She said:

“I have found that I cannot write drama while I’m living drama.”

Oh.  Okay, I get it now.

How right she was about that. I’m the same way. When I write, there has to be calm. The room has to be quiet, the chores have to be done, there can’t be anything pressing that needs my attention…there just needs to be calm.  And my life lately?  Heh.  There’s not much calm going on here.

mePatty

Patches – February 6, 2015

First of all, on February 7, I lost my beloved cat, Patches. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ve probably heard about Patches a time or two. In fact, she helped me make it into Chicken Soup for the Soul for the second time with the article I wrote about her and her “step-brother” entitled Tattle Tail. Patches was my girl. She had been with me through a lot over the past six years. She was a rescue kitty and I wasn’t exactly sure how old she was when I got her – but her age had really started showing in the past few months. And on February 7, she gave up the fight…while laying in my arms.

There was so much I wanted to write about Patches. I lost my little buddy – surely she deserved a blog post, didn’t she?  But I just couldn’t find the words. Me – the person who has “words” for everything, had no words for the loss of my sweet little pet.

And to add to the “drama” – see this picture?

meLenny

This picture was taken literally within an hour of my losing Patches.  This is Lenny – the rescue pup that we were on our way to pick up from animal control when Patches died in my arms. Talk about drama. My emotions were all over the place. I had to switch emotional gears in a way I don’t think I’ve ever had to do before. To go from such grief to such happiness within minutes…it was just too much.

meLenny3

Lenny and I on the car ride home

But Lenny helped me out.

See, Lenny was scared too. And confused. He had no idea what was happening. We practically had to drag him into the car because the poor little thing didn’t know what was waiting for him. Once we finally got him in, I climbed in the back with him – teary eyes and all – and he immediately just made his way into my lap and snuggled. We both needed that. No excited tail wagging or licking or any of that puppy stuff – nope. Just calm, confused, scared snuggling. Oh, how we needed each other that morning. I’m not exactly sure who saved who, to tell you the truth.

(By the way – once Lenny got home and settled, that puppy nature came out full force!  He’s such a happy boy and our lives are so much happier with him here. Ain’t he a cutie?)

meLenny2

Lenny lovin’

So, here I was with another major life event to write about – a new little furry member of the family – and still…nothing.

And then came even more changes.

A new job.

I have had a major commute for work for most of my life. In fact, the last time that I lived and worked in the same county, I was eighteen years old. EIGHTEEN. (Now, I’m not going to tell you how long ago that was exactly, but just trust me…it was a long time ago.) And suddenly, I was faced with the opportunity to switch jobs and take a position that was only 14 miles from home. It was such a hard decision to make – I loved my old job and loved the people there. But really, work was the only thing I had in that town. When I was faced with the opportunity to do the same work (with a bit more responsibility…which, for me, is a good thing) and do it closer to home, I just had to take it.

Today was my first day.

And, again, more blog bling. Loss of a pet. A new furball to love. And now a job change. Blog bonanza, man. And what did I have to say about it all?

A big fat nothing. *sigh*

So, I return to the words of my mentor – “I cannot write drama while I’m living drama.” Writing is a way for me to process things. I see things, I feel them, and then I process them through a blinking cursor on a blank computer screen. Sometimes, that process is a quick one. And then other times…the real times…the times that shake me up a bit – well, those are the times that may take just a bit longer.  And you know what?

That’s okay.

No more fussing at myself for not writing. For not running. For not reading. For not….well, whatever. Sometimes my heart just needs a little time to get back to its regular rhythm before it lets my brain in on the secret that it’s time to get back to normal. I’ll be back. Heck, I just wrote this. I guess I am back.

I just needed a little downtime, that’s all.

Thank you all for still being here.  I’m just human, I suppose. Life happens. And eventually, I get back in the swing of things and start putting those happenings into words again.  That’s the thing about writing. It never goes away. It’s there. It’s always there…just waiting on the green light from its human container.

Hopefully, traffic is flowing again now.

***

“I think what makes people fascinating is conflict, it’s drama, it’s the human condition. Nobody wants to watch perfection.”
– Nicholas Cage

Traces

“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
– Albert Pike

Traces

Leave behind a legacy, friends
Carve your names in stone;
Be remembered for what matters
For what is you and you alone.

For the artist, be remembered
For a canvas filled with swirls;
For the dancers, make your memories
Of pirouettes and twirls.

For the writer, leave the beautiful words
That you were born to say;
For the actor, leave those scenes to last
Far beyond the stage.

Musicians leave your music,
Singers leave your songs;
For when we leave behind these parts of us
We’re never really gone.

***

In memory of our friend and fellow actor, Michael Yelton.
Your legacy lives on.

***

“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

oliver2

Next up…50K

“The only limits are those we place on ourselves; and it is possible to overcome those limits to achieve more than we ever thought possible.”
– Chrissy Wellington

Okay. I’m gonna do it.

Me. The girl who almost died doing my first marathon back in November? Remember her?

Well, that dummy just signed up for Another Dam 50K.

No, really, that’s the name of it. Another Dam 50K.  See?

Dam50kSigh. What the heck am I doing? What’s my problem? Wasn’t 26.2 miles of torture enough? Why, oh why, do I want to add 5 more miles to it? What on earth am I thinking??

Save yourselves the trouble of asking because, trust me – I beat you to to it. I’ve asked myself the very same thing. Many times. And you know what?  I have the answer to it too. I finally figured it out.

The answer is this:

I have no idea.

Yep. That’s it. That’s the answer. No idea.

Why do I run? I don’t know. Why did I start running? I don’t know. Why is each added distance just not quite enough to make me happy? Eh.

I don’t know.

I really don’t. Am I crazy? Maybe. Well….probably. [But I’m not sure that has anything to do with running…] Am I a sucker for punishment? For pain? Well, no. I don’t think so anyway. So, what the heck am I doing?

Maybe that’s just it. Maybe there is no rational answer at all.

There’s nothing rational about pushing your body to the limit. Am I ever going to have to run 26.2 miles or more in my life? Ever? I think I can safely say that the answer to that is no. So, physically and rationally, there is no reason for me to learn to go that distance.

But emotionally?

Oh man. Emotionally…there’s every reason in the world for me to learn to go the distance, so to speak. As a military brat, I am the Queen of Temporary. Nothing ever lasts. Homes, relationships, friendships, etc… it all used to be temporary to me. New starts? Now, I was always good at those. But finishes? Ha! Let’s just say that going the distance wasn’t one of my strong suits. In a life where all was temporary, why learn permanence? Why stick with anything?

Until now.

Until running.

Running is something that I’ve found that I don’t want to quit. I don’t. Sure, I get frustrated now and then. I get injured temporarily. I get tired. But each and every single time, I get right back up and start moving again. I found something that I just can’t stop doing. No matter how much life tries to throw at me to keep me from it, I always manage to find my way back.

“I ran, and kept running, because I had learned that once you started something you didn’t quit, because in life, much like in an ultramarathon, you have to keep pressing forward… I ran because overcoming the difficulties of an ultramarathon reminded me that I could overcome the difficulties of life, that overcoming difficulties was life.”
– Scott Jurek, ultramarathoner

Distance running has made me a better person. It has taught me how to make up my mind about something, and stick with it. It has taught me that sometimes working through the pain is worth it because of what lies on the other side. It has taught me that I’m tough. That I’m strong.

That I’m a finisher.

So, why do I want to run a 50K now?  Well, how about that?  Maybe I do know after all.

Because I can.

50K

50K. 31.07 miles. June 6, 2015. Let’s do this.

***

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
-T. S. Eliot

 

Araina

“Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.”
- Albert Camus
Meet little Araina.

araina

Araina is the daughter of our friends James and Angel and today is her third birthday!  In honor of this sweet little lady’s birthday, I’d like to ask a favor of you.

Please click here to read Araina’s story.

As you can see, precious little Araina needs our help. Let’s wish her a happy birthday by contributing to her future, shall we?

Please click on the link in the story (or just click here) to donate to her treatments. And after you do that, here’s how I’d like to thank you:

lessonsaboundFor every tax-deductible donation of $10 or more, I’d like to send you an autographed copy of my new book, Lessons Abound. This offer lasts until the end of this extra special birthday week, so you have until midnight on Sunday, February 1 to donate!  (And by the way, every dollar of donation goes straight to the family. Sara’s Garden retains no fees or percentage.)

Pretty simple, huh?  $10 tax-deductible donation…you get a book…and Araina starts on her way towards a bright and beautiful future.

After you’ve made a donation, send me your info at caudillmelissa78@yahoo.com and I’ll get a book headed your way. Or, you can find me on Facebook and send a message there as well.

Let’s do something beautiful today, shall we?

Happy Birthday, Araina.

***

“Obviously, you would give your life for your children, or give them the last biscuit on the plate. But to me, the trick in life is to take that sense of generosity between kin, make it apply to the extended family and to your neighbor, your village and beyond.”
– Tom Stoppard

Comments

Dear Commenters:

If some of you are wondering why your comments on my last blog are still saying that are “awaiting moderation,” I would like to explain what and why that is.

What this means is that I, as the blog site operator, can “moderate” what comments are allowed and which ones aren’t. And why are you receiving this message?  Here’s why.

I’m sick of it.

I truly am. I am sick of the bashing of a CHILD.

Now, I allowed many comments to go through that are against what I’m saying. That is fine…this is a highly controversial issue and I understand that many will not agree with me. You are welcome to your opinions, just as I am welcome to mine. Childhood sports is apparently a hot topic – a much hotter topic than I myself even realized. This blog has blown up. Am I sorry for that? Absolutely not. It’s a topic that needed to be discussed. Too many people sweep things under the rug and hope it goes away. I am not one of those people.

However, the comments from the people who actually know the parties involved – those are the ones that are really upsetting me. Why is that? Because they mention my son specifically. And the knowledge they have (or think they have) is only knowledge that would come within the school. Meaning: these are comments from faculty and staff of the high school.  Comments that are BASHING a student.

I have a message for you. I know you used “fake names” and “anonymous” for most of your messages.  But there’s this wee little thing about the WordPress site that you might not be aware of.  When I receive an anonymous message, I also receive this:

comment

To temporarily protect whichever staff member this one happened to be, I have blackened out your info. But I have it. I have your email address.  Oh, and in case it’s a fake email address, I also have your computer IP address.  Don’t know what that is?  It’s a little number that will track your message right back to your computer. YOUR computer.

And you know what else I have?  Techie friends. They’re pretty handy…you should get some of those.

I feel certain that the Board of Education for the State of Virginia would be thrilled to know what kind of staff members it has working at Grayson County High School. I’m sure they’d love to know that the staff is calling attention to one child’s past, and threatening to list the info (some true, some not) on a public, social forum.

And I can’t wait to tell them.

For those of you who have already commented – consider yourself informed.  For those who want to comment in the future in the same manner – heed my warning.

I’m sick of it.

But thank you for reminding me why this needs to be done. The corruption in this school is sickening.

***

“The fight for justice against corruption is never easy. It never has been and never will be. It exacts a toll on our self, our families, our friends, and especially our children. In the end, I believe, as in my case, the price we pay is well worth holding on to our dignity.”
– Frank Serpico