Tag Archives: pictures

Laughter

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”
– e. e. cummings

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about our dog, Lucy, and a lesson I learned from her one day.  Well, apparently, Lucy hasn’t hung up her teaching hat just yet – she had yet another tutorial for me this week.

lucy3If I didn’t describe Lucy well enough in my last blog, let me give you a few more details.  Lucy is one seriously happy dog.  I mean…seriously.  That girl LOVES everything.  She loves me, she loves my boyfriend Richard, she loves our kids, she loves squirrels, birds, the mailman, the UPS guy, the cats….(ok, that may be pushing it a little – she loves torturing them, does that count?)

But I noticed something else about her the other day that made me smile.  Apparently, Lucy’s happiness isn’t just dependent upon someone or something else being around.  I was walking through the house and just happened to glance out the window and there stood Lucy in the middle of the yard – not looking at anything in particular, not doing anything noteworthy, just standing there – and that tail of hers was just wagging to beat the band.  No one else around, and Lucy was just as happy as she could be.  Just because.

I told Richard about it later and said, “I want to be just like Lucy. I want to be so happy that I wag my tail even when nobody’s looking, don’t you?”

He laughed and agreed, the subject was dropped, and we went on about our business.  Situation forgotten.

Until a few days later.  I was driving along in my car listening to the audio books that I always listen to when I’m traveling anywhere, and I realized that I wasn’t retaining much of what I was hearing.  I was just stressed and distracted and not in the mood to try to follow along with a book.  So, I ejected the audio book CD and started looking for something else to pop in, when I came across a CD that my ex-husband bought me the other day.  Yes, you read that right – my ex-husband bought me a CD.  Ok, it was a $1 CD that he saw at Goodwill, but still.  It was nice of him to think of me. What was the CD, you ask?  New Kids on the Block’s greatest hits.  Yup.  He remembered that I used to be an NKOTB freak (their last known fan actually – I have a tendency to hold on a little too long), and he thought I’d like it.  Up to this point, I hadn’t listened to it yet, but I just decided to go ahead and throw it in the player and see what they sounded like after all these years.  And boy, was I glad I did.  I was immediately transformed back to the late 80s/early 90s and I still remembered just about every word to every song.  Before long, I was signing at the top of my lungs like nobody’s business – and with a goofy smile on my face to boot.

That’s when I noticed the car that had pulled up beside me at the red light.

And what did I do?  *sigh*  I turned the music down, wiped the smile off my face, and sat staring straight ahead until the light changed.

Now, what the heck did I do that for?

Isn’t that dumb?  What’s wrong with wagging my tail when I thought no one was looking, you know?  I was just so darn afraid of how I looked to someone else.  Why are people like that?  It’s just plain silly.  I don’t even think I gave it much thought at the time – I think it was just instinct to pull it together and look like a decent, non-crazy, non-NKOTB fan girl and make myself ‘presentable’ once I knew I had an audience.

I so need to stop that.

I’m like that with pictures too.  I am the queen of “Wait – don’t take the picture yet, I’m not ready.”  Or, “Ew, that one looks like crap, let’s take another one.”  My family just loooooves that too, let me tell ya.  And my boyfriend Richard and I couldn’t be more different when it comes to that kind of thing.  He is crazy about the candid photos – the ones that no one knew were coming or that we weren’t exactly ‘ready’ for.  Me?  I think I look like a doofus.  Especially the pictures where I’m laughing.

laughter2See this picture?  For some dumb reason, I never posted this picture on Facebook or had it framed.  I wasn’t “ready” when the picture was taken.  Instead, I posted the version where we were standing up straight, both looking at the camera, smiling, with just one arm around each other.  I even have it framed and sitting on my bookshelf at home.  But this one?  This one was just sitting on my phone as one of the ‘mess ups.’  I ask myself now, “What the heck were you thinking, woman!?”  I mean, look at that picture.  My daughter is all snuggled up to me and I’m laughing.  I think I had told her to stand closer just before the picture was snapped, so she bear hugged me being silly.

Good grief, Me.  Get it together.  *These* are the memories you want to hold on to.

laughter3Or, how about this one?  We were trying to take a ‘selfie’ just before we had gotten all dressed up to go to the theatre together.  It took about 30 shots before we finally got the ‘right’ one – you know, the one where we’re both smiling sweetly and looking straight the camera.  This funny, goofy one where I was laughing so hard my eyes disappeared was never posted.  This shows so much more of our personalities than the one that I did deem ‘post-able.’ Kelly being silly, me laughing like a dork – this is ‘us.’

But I was just so afraid of it not looking ‘right.’  Not looking good enough.  Not being posed and ‘perfect.’

Silly, silly me.

So, today, I ask you this – are you like me?  Do you make sure the picture looks ‘just right’ before you take it?  Do you hold back on laughing so that you don’t like an open-mouthed hyena?  Do you stifle your happiness so that you look decent and presentable to strangers that don’t even matter?  Do you only publicly post the pictures where you’re smiling perfectly and everything is in order?

Or are you like Lucy?  Do you express your joy, no matter the circumstances…laugh until you cry when you see the ones you love…stay so happy that you wag your tail even when you’re alone?  And for Heaven’s sakes, not stop just because someone is looking?

Well, here’s my advice.  Be like Lucy.

We only get one go-around, you know?   Just one.  Don’t waste it.  Wag your tail, people.  Just wag it.

Life sure is a heck of a lot better that way.

Thanks for yet another lesson learned, Lucy dear.

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Movie Night

“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

So, last night, I made my honey watch a movie with me.

Ok, I didn’t “make” him.  That’s a total lie.  But it made me sound powerful, right?  Like I’m one of those “I am woman, hear me roar!” types.  I figured that sounded better for the blog than the actual truth.  You know – to help with my whole ‘online persona’ thing I got goin on.  Because honestly?  Well, honestly, it went a little more like this…

Me: “Honey, is there a game on tonight or anything?”
Him: “Well…”
Me: “Oh, ok, never mind.  It’s fine.”
Him: “What were you going to say?”
Me: “Oh, nothing.  It’s fine.  Really.”
Him: (*sigh*) “Melissa.  What. Were. You. Going. To. Say?”
Me: “Welllll….I have this movie I was wanting to watch…”
Him: “Ok, that’s cool.”
Me: “Are you sure?  We can watch the game if you want.  It’s fine.”
Him: “No, let’s watch the movie.”
Me:  “But it’s kind of a chick movie…are you sure?”
Him: “Yep. Let’s watch the movie.”
Me: “If you were really wanting to watch the game….”
Him: “Melissa.  Go. Get. The. Movie.”

(See how this works?  I laid down the law, right? I’m badass.)

Ok, so anyway, back to the topic.

So, we watch the movie and something about it just resonates in me.  I can’t really explain it.  I’m sitting there watching what is supposed to be a comedy (which it was, with some laugh-out-loud moments that you may not want to have your kids around for…), but yet somehow the underlying meaning of the whole thing was just hitting me like a ton of bricks.  And so what do I do?

I cry.

No, I don’t just cry.  I SOB.  The waterworks would. not. stop.  I mean it.  The tears, the hiccups, the snot….we’re talking the whole nine yards, people.  I mean, what the heck was up with that?!  And poor Richard….

Him: “Why are you crying?”
Me: “I’m fine.”
Him: “Is something wrong?”
Me: “No…”  *hysterical sob* “…really, I’m fine…” *hiccup*
Him:  “Melissa, what is wrong?”
Me:  “Nothing!”  *sniff*  “I’m fine!”

(Thank God I don’t date women.  That crap would drive me crazy.)

Ok, so for poor Richard’s sake (and for mine too, I suppose), care to join me as I try to figure out what the heck was going on with me?  (This should be interesting…)

So, the movie is “The Five-Year Engagement.”   Heard of it?  Seen it?  From what I’ve read, the reviews weren’t all that great, but I don’t really understand why.  five year engagementI thought it was a great, real look at a couple trying to figure out what the heck they’re doing together.  What was supposed to be a quick wedding after a short one-year relationship, ends up turning into a five-year long “planning” session that just can’t quite seem to come together.  You know – that pesky little thing called life just kept getting in the way of their plans.  (Pssssh.  That never happens, right??)  What was supposed to be a happy time, ended up turning into a real, gut-wrenching look at the question, “Who the heck are we and is this really what we want?”

Yikes.

Over time, the two are starting to discover that life is taking them in somewhat different directions.  Their best-laid plans of what they thought their future would be aren’t exactly working out like they had hoped.  And as new things enter their lives (job switches, location changes, new ‘acquaintances,’ etc.), they start to feel like they’re no longer compatible.  Like they are totally different people.

Hmmmm.  (Ok, maybe now this is starting to make sense to me….)

So, not to give anything away if you haven’t seen it (which I’m sure it won’t take you long to figure this out as you’re watching it anyway), the two decide the differences are too much and they decide to take a break.  During this break, “Tom” (the main dude) has a somewhat uncomfortable, hilarious discussion with his parents as they divulge tidbits of their relationship from over the years that no child ever wants to hear.  But during the hilarity, a little snippet of wisdom spills out from his mother:  “Your father and I weren’t 100% compatible, heck we weren’t even 60% compatible.  But he’s the love of my life.”

*sniff*

Ok.  I think I’m on to something now.  Let me share with you one of my favorite writing quotes of all time.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”
– Flannery O’Connor

This is so incredibly true for me.  Sometimes I’ll just sit down at the computer with a random idea in my head and just let my fingers do the talking.  I’m often just as surprised at what it is here as the readers are.  Somewhere inside of me there is a knowledge that I only know how to tap into while I’m writing.  This time is no exception.  As I sit here and describe this movie to you, this relationship to you, I realize why it touched me so deeply.

It hit home.

Richard and I are very, very much in love.  But buddy, let me tell you something.  We are about as different as night and day.  This second year together has been a trying one for us.  New jobs, moves, you name it…we’ve faced it.  And sometimes, we haven’t done such a great job of dealing with it.  Sometimes we get frustrated and feel like what we want in life and who we are as people are so far apart that they stand no chance of being on the same page.  But then.

Oh, but then.

He looks at me.  I look at him.  And my heart melts.  It really does.  I’m not kidding.  This isn’t one of those sappy love stories (you people know me by now – I tell it like it is, no sugarcoating).  This is a real relationship, filled with hard times left and right, and yet – still.  We look at each other, and those butterflies are still there.  After all this time.  This man is the one I want.  He is truly the one I want.  And you know how that makes me feel?

Friggin scared to death.

Thus, the tears.  The sobs.  The hiccups.  The emotions.

Like the couple in the movie, we don’t know what the heck we’re doing either.  I mean, we are absolutely CLUELESS, people.  Picture someone handing a rare, precious, fragile object to two people – telling them to hold it in their hands and keep it from breaking – and then strapping them into an open-air Jeep and sending them on a 100-mile-an-hour cross country trek across boulders and ravines.  Yeah.  That.

That’s us trying to keep our relationship going in this crazy world.  And if I were a betting woman, I’d say that probably pretty aptly describes each and every one of your relationships too.  Am I right?  This crap ain’t easy, man.  Trying to blend your life with another person – another person who has their own thoughts, their own habits, their own ways of doing things – just can’t be expected to be easy.  But you figure it out.  Why?

Love.  That’s why.

Another quote from the movie:

“I don’t think we can figure out all of our problems before we get married, but I promise you that I will just love you every step of the way.”

That’s all we can do, right?  Just love each other through the mess.  Cry when we have to.  Scream when we need to.  And then…

merich2

Hold on tight and laugh and smile through all those great times that remind you why you’re still hanging on.  They are worth it.

So very very worth it.

***

“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

A Thousand Words

“A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away.”  
– Eudora Welty

I have a friend who is a photographer.  And a great one, too.

(Hey, wanna check out her stuff?   Her name is Iman Woods.  Click here for her new family photography Facebook page, and here for her pin-up photograph website.  You can also click here to check out her blog.  Her stuff kicks butt.)

So, yeah.  Photography is her thing.  And that’s awesome.  She uses photos to capture a story.  And each one does just that.  And quite beautifully, I might add.  After all, she’s an artist.

Me, on the other hand?  While I love photos, and never hesitate to snap them whenever I can, my ‘art’ is a little different.  We’re all artists, you know.  All of us.  We just have to find our medium.  My medium?  Words.  Without the talent to capture photographs or to paint or to draw, etc. etc., I fall back on the art that I think I have discovered that I’m somewhat good at.  And that is creating an image in people’s minds using the written word.

This weekend, however?  This weekend was a different story.

This weekend I have discovered a new appreciation for Iman’s work.  Because sometimes, it’s the picture that tells the story all by itself…and no words are able to do it justice.  Sometimes you just have to show people what your words cannot seem to adequately express.

A few of you regular readers may remember a blog I posted a while back about my premature twin nieces entitled Week-Old Miracles.  Well, this weekend, I got to spend a few days with those now six-month-old miracles.  And while I’m no photographer by any means, please take a look with me at the mixture of humorous and touching moments that have touched my heart over the past few days with these little angels.  And check out some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way as well.

Photo Lesson #1:

Watching this:

Twins

…turn to this:

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is a very beautiful thing.  Wow.

Photo Lesson #2

Not many things in this ol’ world will fill your heart with as much love as filling your arms with twin babies.

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Photo Lesson #3

Watching a teenager bond with a baby makes your heart smile.

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Photo Lesson #4

Ditto.

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Photo Lesson #5

Sleeping with a baby in your arms is a very peaceful feeling.  (And having your teenage daughter think to take a picture of it is a pretty sweet deal in and of itself.)

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Photo Lesson #6

Not many things in this world are as sweet or as enduring as a mommy’s love.

Six months ago:

jenfeeding

Now:

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Photo Lesson #7

Watching grandma dress a baby after a bath is so darn cute.

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Photo Lesson #8

Babies haven’t quite yet learned to mask their facial expressions. When it’s the first time they’ve ever met someone, you’re gonna know it.

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Photo Lesson #9

It sure doesn’t take a baby long to decide you’re pretty cool…

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(And p.s.: Hearing your boyfriend refer to himself as “Uncle Richard” to your niece, gives you a feeling of “rightness” that words can’t begin to express.)

Photo Lesson #10

Duck face pictures are stupid.  Unless they’re done with a 6-month-old.  Then, they rock.

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Photo Lesson #11

If you’re an adult, you should live your life in such a way that you’re caught in the background of a picture playing at a playground all by yourself.

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(*giggle*  That’s Richard back there.  Bless him.)

Photo Lesson #12

It’s impossible to look at this and not smile.

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See?  Smiled, didn’t ya?

Photo Lesson #13

The smile on your face while holding a baby can’t possibly be faked. 

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Photo Lesson #14

Witnessing your Alzheimer’s-ridden grandmother meeting her twin great-granddaughters for the first time is a moment that makes your heart climb into your throat.

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Photo Lesson #15

Seeing that grandmother with a smile on her face again, after what seems like forever since you’ve seen it, is a moment that makes you know that some things never change.  My grandmother is beautiful.

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My aunt Joyce commented on one of my photos on Facebook with, “Thanks for letting us live your day in pictures!”  I hope this blog allowed you to do that – and hopefully helped you to see what I saw.  To feel what I felt.  Maybe it might even make you turn around and look at your own family, your own little miraculous works of art in your life.  And maybe it will make you get down on your knees and thank your lucky stars that you’re alive.  You’re alive.  You know?  Get out there and capture these moments. before they slip by.

After all, you only get one shot.

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***

““The Earth is Art, The Photographer is only a Witness ”  
– Yann Arthus-Bertrand

The Kiss

“Love is when you like someone so much that when you look at them, you just want to kiss their face.”
Riley, age 12

kiss

My boyfriend’s son and I were having a conversation a while back (we do that a lot actually – there’s just something about that kid…) and the topic of “love” came up.  I can’t really remember the details of what was said, but I remember asking him what his definition was, and his answer was what I quoted above.  You just want to kiss their face.  I jotted it down (that’s what we writers do) and knew that I wanted to use it one day, but just wasn’t sure how.  I mean, it wasn’t exactly “deep” or “meaningful” or anything – but there was just something about it that struck a chord in me and I didn’t really know why.

Until now.

I think I may have just figured it out.

In the past few weeks, I have seen two of my friends go through heartbreaks.  And in both of these circumstances, the men that were supposed to have loved them, have hurt them.  Deeply.  As I have listened to their stories (feeling my own heart break right along with them), I have come to realize something.  Something that humbles and moves me with a feeling that it is hard to even put into words.

I will truly never know what that feels like, ever again.

I mean, I’m the chick that blogs about hurt and pain all the time.  About rising from your circumstances and about forgiveness and about moving on, and blah, blah, blah. But as I have listened to what has happened to them at the hands of the men they loved, I know, deep in my heart, that I will never be using that kind of pain as my motivation for future writings.  Why is that?  Because I know, without a doubt, that Richard will never hurt me like they’ve been hurt.

I know what you’re thinking...yeah, right.  We ALL think that about the person we love, and then we find out something later on that shatters our illusions.  Everyone is going to hurt you, no one is perfect.  Get your head out of the clouds, stupid blogger girl.  

Ok, I get that.  Richard and I are going to hurt each other at times, there’s no doubt about that.  I hear what you’re saying.  But here’s the difference.

Richard would never intentionally hurt me.  Nor I him.

That’s the difference.

Let me explain. Any problems that he and I have had over the time we have been together (and there have been plenty) all seem to have this underlying theme to them.  If we took each and every one of our disagreements and misunderstandings and dissected and examined them, you would see that at the heart of each and every single one lies one common denominator: trying not to hurt one another.  In trying not to hurt one another, we have made some stupid mistakes.  We have withheld information, withheld communication, withheld necessary information at times – all just to try to avoid hurting the other.  And then, when this information is unearthed, it causes a problem.  Now, I’m not saying that this is exactly healthy, per se.  We need to work on that, I know.  Hey, we’re just as screwed up as the rest of the couples out there in the world are, I know this.  I’m not trying to say we’re not.  We don’t know what the heck we’re doing either.  But the major difference that exists here is this.  We never ever try to hurt one another.  You know?

And that is what I’ve seen my friends going through.

With both words and actions, these men have shown their women things that have crushed them.  Sure, the men think they have excuses for what they’ve done (don’t we all?), but the cold, hard fact is this – they have done something on purpose that they knew, without a doubt, would break another person’s heart.  And that really, really, sucks.

Which brings me back to where I started this blog.  12-year-old Riley’s quote.

“Love is when you like someone so much that when you look at them, you just want to kiss their face.”

Look at the relationship that you’re in.  Right now – take stock and look around.  Assess your partnership.  Get rid of all the stupid little details that don’t matter at all – throw out the things that just annoy you about him/her, or vice versa.  Throw out anything that has happened in their past before you ever came along.  Throw out any of the daily minutiae of money issues, work stresses, kid struggles…forget all of that for just a minute.  Just look at your partner with the simplicity of that 12-year-old and ask yourself this.

When I look at him/her, do I just want to kiss their face?

And maybe more importantly, do I think that when they look at me, they want to do the same?

There’s something so tender and gentle about kissing someone’s face.  It’s not like a full-fledged kiss on the lips.  For one, you don’t really get anything in return – the kiss is just for them.  It’s not selfish, it’s not passionate, it’s not greedy.  It’s just a simple show of love towards the person that has captured your heart. Whether it be a kiss on the cheek or a kiss on the forehead, either way it’s a kiss that is full of giving, not receiving.  And I think that’s so important to pay attention to.

Ask yourself if you are giving this kind of selfless love to the person in your life.  And then, if you’re in the circumstances that my sweet, heartbroken friends are in, ask yourself this same question as the recipient.  Are you receiving this kind of love?

Are you?

Turns out, this 12-year-old may have known what he was talking about.  Love is selfless.  It’s tender and gentle and would never ever hurt you on purpose.  Love is a gift.

Real love is a kiss on the face.

Do you have it?   Don’t settle for anything else until you do.  Trust me on this one.

***

“A man’s kiss is his signature.” 
– Mae West