Author Archives: Melissa Edmondson

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

Open Letter to the Grayson County School Board

“I don’t care what kind of pressure to win that you face from the administration. If winning is your primary goal as a coach you have significantly lost your way and as a consequence, you’ll actually win less.”
Alan Goldberg, PhD

[Before reading and commenting on this, please see announcement here. If you have already commented and your comment is not showing up, you may want to take a little gander as well.]

Dear Superintendent:

Although you have already been made aware by telephone of this recent situation at the high school, I wanted to proceed with providing something in writing for the files.  I am copying all parties involved.

Last week, after a boys’ varsity basketball game (another loss), my son pulled his coach outside the locker room to speak to him privately.  He asked him why he and a few of the other upperclassmen were constantly remaining on the bench while the coach allowed the younger, recently promoted JV players to play instead. This behavior had been taking place throughout the previous nine games of the season.  My son had not mentioned anything to the coach prior to this particular night, and had handled his disappointment with a maturity beyond his years.  All parties will agree that he also handled this private conversation with the coach in a very mature, calm manner as well. The coach, possibly upset because of the recent loss to add to many others, responded to my son with, “They get to play more because you’re not as good as them.”

[Let me interrupt here by saying that, (1) this is absolutely not true. My son and the other benched players have the same set of skills that the others do and twice as much heart.  And, (2) no coach should ever…EVER…speak to a child in that manner.]

So, after hearing those words from his coach, my son (who’s heart and soul was in this team and his fellow players), fought back tears and shook his coach’s hand and told him to have a nice rest of the season.  He then came upstairs and told myself, his father, his step-father, and his grandfather what had just taken place. He was in tears, which is a rare occurrence for a sixteen-year-old boy, as I’m sure you can imagine.

And, as I’m also sure you can imagine, this did not sit well with his family.

[Let me interrupt here yet again with a story. One day I stopped at a gas station on my way to work. A sweet little black dog started to come up to me. Thinking, “aww, he loves me,” I bent down to pet him. Instead, he walked straight past me, proceeded to pee on my tire, and then went back to his spot and lay back down. This, my friends, is what had just happened to my son.  But, I digress….]

After hearing of what happened, I proceeded to go downstairs to speak with the coach. I remained outside the locker room waiting for him to come out. I was approached by the athletic director and two of the assistant coaches, who all told me that any incidences that happen in a game have a mandatory 24-hour wait period before they can be discussed. While I did understand this rule, the incident in question was not something that happened in the game. It was something that happened after the game, when my son was humiliated by his own coach. So, I remained where I was waiting to speak to the coach. Once we realized that the coach had actually snuck out the back door of the locker room to avoid speaking to me (cute), the athletic director offered to call the principal to discuss the matter. I took him up on that offer. I spoke to the principal, to the assistant coaches, and to the athletic director about the situation, but not to the coach, who had snuck away to avoid facing his actions.

While on the phone with the principal, she offered a meeting during the day the next day at the school. I explained to her that I work out of town and that timing would not be convenient for me. So, she suggested (as a first step) to speak with the coach and my son privately first thing in the morning, to which I agreed.

However, this is far from what happened.

My son’s grandfather called the high school first thing in the morning to arrange for him to be at the meeting due to my son’s father’s physical limitations that make it hard for him to get into the school. After a series of holds (one of which exceeded 20 minutes), my son’s grandfather was told that he was not “allowed” to attend the meeting. The school then proceeded to have the meeting, which did not in fact take place just between the coach and my son, but which included the coach, an assistant coach, the principal, the vice-principal, and the athletic director. And my son. Alone, with no one on his side. The principal insists that they were “all there for my son,” but that is highly unlikely due to what took place.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

During this meeting, the coach first blatantly lied and said that he did not say that to my son. He then proceeded to imply that “if he had,” then “isn’t that what coaching is all about?”  (The principal also suggested this when speaking to me on the telephone later…that every child has a “role” on the team. Apparently my child’s role was to be told that he was no good and just be there as a practice dummy for the “real” players during practices.) Well, Mr. Coach. And Ms. Principal – let me explain something to you.

No, that is absolutely NOT what coaching is all about.

I have been a coach myself. I just recently coached a running team that consisted of all girls…all of varying speeds and abilities…and I would never, EVER, look at one of them and tell them they weren’t as good as the others. No, a coach’s role is to nurture their players, both mentally and physically, and help them become the best players they can be. Telling them they are not “good enough” and keeping them on the bench where they can’t get any experience are not the way to do that.

But look at me digressing again.

So, after the highly inappropriate meeting of many members of “authority” ganging up on my son, he was sent back to class and nothing was accomplished.  He was still off the team and the coach still insisted that nothing was ever said to him to cause all of this.

Our family was irate. I spoke with the principal who, as I implied earlier, reminded me that “even if the coach had said that to him, that is a coach’s role,” and then my son’s father followed up with a phone call with regards to his disapproval of the way the situation was handled.  He went to the school and, very painstakingly, made his way to a repeat meeting that included the same people, minus my son who did not want to miss his first day of classes in the new semester. At this meeting, nothing was accomplished either, and the coach was the first to get frustrated and get up and leave – before the meeting was officially over.  Mature behavior? I think not.

There were two more games last week that took place after these events. My son attended them to cheer on his team.  Talk about maturity. At both of these events, while all other parties involved spoke to my son (including the athletic director and assistant coaches), the coach did not. In fact, at one game, he was walking towards him, saw he and his grandfather standing there, and proceeded to physically turn around and head the opposite way to avoid having to speak to him.

Is this the kind of person we want leading our children?

In the days following this incident, I have heard a few things that may shine some light on the happenings of last week. I have learned that another sports team was caught doing something that was against the rules, but were allowed to resume. Perhaps a punishment was enacted, but the team members continue to play. Most notably, however, I have also learned that the principal and the coach have been “buddies” since high school.

Now, you have to understand, I didn’t grow up in a small town. I grew up as an Army brat. So, this small town “good ole boy” politics is something that is brand new to me. And it is something that does not sit well, to say the least.  I will not allow this to lie dormant.

Something must be done about this situation. What we, his parents, want is this: we want our son’s position reinstated on the team and we want the coach’s and the principal’s behavior in this situation to be addressed by someone in a higher position. We want our child to be believed and treated with respect. We want everyone involved to act as maturely as our son has and put this situation behind us, with a better understanding of what a coach’s role should be.

I will anticipate a speedy response to my request. I am making this letter public on my blog because, while I may not be able to enact a change, I can definitely enact awareness of the situation. My next step is the local newspaper (with names inserted), but I’m sure we’ll be able to come to an understanding and a compromise before it has to go that far.

Sincerely,

Melissa Edmondson
(A highly upset and fiercely determined mother)

actions

One Day This Won’t Matter

“I have no right, by anything I do or say, to demean a human being in his own eyes. What matters is not what I think of him; it is what he thinks of himself. To undermine a man’s self-respect is a sin.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I know. I know.  One day this won’t matter.

One day, I’ll look back on this situation that infuriates me and I’ll realize that life went right on. No one died. The earth didn’t stop spinning. The sun didn’t stop coming up every morning.

I get it.

But by God, today is not “one day.”  Today is today. And today…it matters.

Without giving specifics (which I want to do sooooo bad), I’ll just say that I’ve had a “disagreement” with my kids’ school recently regarding the way some of the people in authority have handled a certain situation. I have tried so very hard to raise my kids to respect authority (heck, I even blogged about it), but sometimes…sometimes authority is just blatantly misused. It really is. Sometimes, just because someone is wearing the “I’m the boss” hat, that doesn’t mean they’re in the right.

My child took a chance and courageously spoke out against the way he and some friends were being treated by the coach of a sports team. And what was the result?

He is now no longer a part of the team.  And not only that, he got sent off with a little jab about his own abilities and aptitudes in the sport. Great coaching, huh?

Now, granted, with the way things were being handled on the team (politics, politics, politics), I’m not entirely heartbroken that he doesn’t have to be a part of it anymore. But you know what? He is.

And that sucks.

Where do you draw the line, people? How do you raise your children to respect authority, and yet also teach them to stand up for themselves when the authority is corrupt?  It’s such a thin line…such a gray area. Where’s my parenting handbook?  Anybody got one I can borrow?

*sigh*

So, no. One day this won’t matter. One day we’ll look back on this moment in my son’s high school career and we’ll laugh about the insignificance of this particular incidence to the rest of his adult life. One day.

But today? Today I have a heartbroken kid who just got a cruel life lesson handed to him the hard way. Sometimes, even though you are doing the right thing and standing up for injustice, it may not work out. You may have to suffer the consequences for it.

So, the question to ask yourself is this: Are the consequences worth taking the risk?

courageI’m proud of my son and the courage it took to stand up for what he thought was right. I just hate that it sets the example for other kids to sit back and shut up because if you say something, you’ll be punished. That’s not what these kids need to learn. That’s not what the world needs to see.

There’s a healthy respect for authority. And then there’s a misuse of authority. It’s up to each of us as individuals to try our best to discern the difference.

And boy, that one’s a toughie.

One day this won’t matter. Really. It won’t.

Or will it?

***

“In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same.”
– Albert Einstein

Random Sparks

“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”
– Albert Schweitzer

So, if you’re a regular reader of mine, you know that I start each blog out with a quote. And I’m willing to bet that a lot of you just skim right over it and get right to the meat of the blog post. Am I right? Do you do that? Ha! Busted! (You didn’t know I knew that, did you? Surprise! I know ALL…muhahaha).

rekindleWell, that’s all well and good…you just skip all the quotes you want to there, buddy.  But this time – well, this time, you’re not allowed to do that. I’m putting my foot down, by golly. This time I’m going to make you read the quote. Go on now. Go back up there and read it and then come back. I’ll wait.

Are you back?

Did you read it?

Okay, good. Now, I wanted you to read that because this whole blog post is going to center around the concept that it presents. I’ve seen the quote many times before and it never occurred to me (until today, that is) that those encounters with human beings didn’t have to necessarily be “deep” or earth-shattering, per se.  They didn’t even have to be personal. In fact, sometimes you don’t even need to have known the person at all.

Case in point.

I had to go to court this morning. Now, hold your horses. Don’t go spreading rumors that I’m a criminal or anything. It was just an old humdrum run-of-the-mill court appearance for a traffic offense. Ya know, my usual. (If you don’t know me personally, or you missed this blog, let’s just suffice it to say that I’m not the luckiest gal in the world when it comes to vehicles.)  So there I sat, reading a novel that I brought along and waiting for my name to be called, when the person beside me struck up a conversation.

Her – “Is that a good book?”
Me – “Yeah, actually, it’s great.”
Her – “I’ve heard a lot about it, but I haven’t read it yet.”

This polite conversation eventually lead to my asking her about the book she was reading. (We were the only two people in the building holding actual books, by the way, instead of playing on our phones.) She told me she was reading a book about writing.

Me – “Oh, are you a writer?”
Her – “Well, yes, I guess you could say that.”
Me – “That’s great. Me too. Sort of.”

(You’ll always find that in writers…that hesitation to call ourselves a “writer.”  What is it about that title that seems so distant? So unattainable? Why do we feel so undeserving? Sheesh.)

So, this polite chitchat ended up launching us into what was to become what I am now calling an hour-long best-friendship. Together, we discussed all things writing…from the way writers see the world differently (we made up so many stories about people in that courtroom that it would make your head spin) to the pros and cons of certain kinds of publishing. As it turns out, my new random friend who was afraid to call herself a writer actually makes her living being a writer. She quit her job and started publishing romance novels on Amazon six months ago. The income she has generated from doing so has actually been enough for her to live on. Wow!  (And incidentally…she hates romance novels. That’s just where the market is heaviest right now and she wanted to get a good, firm foundation before diving into the stuff she really likes – young adult and fantasy novels).

By the time my name was called, I felt so “recharged,” it was crazy.  I wanted to run out of that courtroom and plop down in front of my computer and write and write and write. (Of course, I didn’t. I had to go to work. Sigh. But you get the idea…)  My inner spark had just been “burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.” How about that!?

All of this lead me to remember something. I had a favorite uncle – Uncle Jeff – who passed away from heart complications when he was only 33 years old. Just prior to his death, he underwent a fairly new surgery that placed a machine inside of him that would pump his heart for him. Had he survived the operation, he would have lived a “normal” life except for one small detail…he’d have to actually “plug himself in” periodically. Yep, you read that right. Thanks to the marvels of medical technology, people are able to live normal, healthy lives all while being kept alive by a man-made machine pumping their hearts for them – and my sweet uncle was almost one of them. I remember having a conversation with him just prior to the surgery. He said something along the lines of, “All I have to do is make sure I’m near an outlet and I’ll be fine.”

Hmmm.

Maybe my random hour-long best-friend was just that. An outlet. A power source. Something to re-charge me just when I needed it most.

So, as we bid goodbye to 2014 and say “howdy do” to 2015, I challenge you all to do just this…keep an eye out for those power sources. Got it? Recharge as often as you can…don’t miss a single opportunity. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t let a spark just pass you by without allowing it to do its job. Recognize it! Engage it. Talk to that stranger…spend time with that aging wisdom-filled grandmother…surround yourself with artistic friends…dive into those novels.  Let’s spend 2015 reigniting those flames, shall we?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a novel to work on…

Happy New Year!

***

“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke