Thursday, April 4, 2013

Squander Your Love, Starling....

"Cultivate interior life as though it were a garden sanctuary. Give away what you can. Squander your love." - Frances Mayes

A deep online discussion with a dear love prompted me to plunge the depths of this phrase, "Squander your love." I fell hopelessly for it when it crossed my path while reading Frances Mayes' A Year in the World.  It sounded incredibly reckless and it spoke to a certain element of wildness that I've felt growing in me recently.  (Lock up your guns, girls J)  So, what can this strange and seemingly careless phrase mean.  Is it truly as irresponsible as it sounds?

When Little Starling asked, "what do you think this looks like for our crew?" I spouted off several scenarios that included: 

Holding your phone on your chest all night and getting three hours of sleep so you can be there when the other one needs us.

Talking me down from an anxiety attack via phone or text or FaceTime when I can’t see my way out of the darkness.

Holding each other virtually or physically when sorrow or tragedy hits to close to home.

And seeing the massive flaws we all possess yet finding that they only make us more beautiful to each other.

Another cupcake, looked into my soul recently and said (he claims J) jokingly, “You’re kinda broken, aren’t you.”  He saw me.  Identified my incompleteness.  Yet recognized I’m working through it.  I’m healing.  And all the loves that surround me, faraway friends, close familial ties, new acquaintances, and virtual space families are making that process continue to unfold.  They may not know they are doing it, but every encouraging word, every overlooking of my multitude of flaws, every hug and virtual wink is a tiny reckless bit of squandered love on me.  And I’ll take it.  Every single careless bit.  And you better believe I’ll be doing the same.  Watch out IRL (in real life) friendlies, Twitter, FB, random strangers at Starbucks, because I am getting ready to squander my love all over you….

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Isn't it funny how we take physical objects and tell them what they are going to be and then sometimes they become that?  "This is my new "my life will never be the same once we finally meet" dress."  Yes, its purple, which I never wear and has satiny bits hanging off it, which I also never wear and I'm wearing flats with it....which I normally wouldn't be caught dead in.  But it doesn't always seem to matter how wrong the outfit may be for the occasion or how dirty the yellow piece of yarn worn knotted around our wrist in remembrance of someone gets, what matters is the faith we put in these objects.  They are our talismans.  They hold the power with which we endue them.   

I stack the too-big turquoise and silver ring that I haven't gotten around to getting sized under the spiraling silver spoon ring with the scarab beetle carved into the end of the handle.  The turquoise my father spent far too much money on at a souvenir shop near the Grand Canyon and the spoon ring is the first gift my husband bought me when we began dating.  

Next, I slip on the silver Michael Kors watch outfitted with the date, a timer, and another circle I haven't quite figured out how to use.  It gives a satisfactory snap as I close the clasp and immediately slides towards my elbow.  It has been sized, but I can't seem to get it small enough for my abnormally tiny wrists.  This piece was a Christmas gift from my brother, and I can't help thinking that he gave me the gift of order.  Dad's gift was of beauty, color, creativity and even space.  And, Todd's gift, though incredibly beautiful, it more than anything promotes stability....keeps the beauty, color and creativity in place.  

On my right hand, I place another spoon ring...this one copper also bought at the Grand Canyon, but paid for by me.  I add a couple of copper bracelets to my right wrist.  Gifts from my mother who doesn't wear jewelry but purchases it for me.  The copper warms me and glows sunshine and strength which my Vitamin D deficient body and soul so desperately longs for.  

The final talisman I wear also slides on to my right wrist....a grown up multi-colored friendship looking bracelet I found at Farmer's Market and purchase for myself and two good friends.  I look down at it, praying that it holds together firmly with the double knot I've tied and that this friendship which has caught me unaware will be tighter for the three of us and not just two.  I think of all these things as I dress for the day.  These pieces, they are my sacred things...guarding against fear, intimidation, and despair, just ordinary objects till I told them what they were.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Introspection from the Interior

I'm a city girl to the core. I love the energy that flows up through the soles of my boots as I take brisk steps on the bustling streets teeming with people.  I sense my own "otherness" yet know completely that I am a significant piece of this puzzle.  Inspiration is forever revealing itself in the sea of faces that envelope me.  Every crumbling facade, tarnished brass door knocker, and tower of steel and brick call to the magic in me.   Yet the power of the Interior speaks to me, as I stare up at the tiny summer waterfalls that cascade down the crevices of the massive mountains.  Here, I recognize my place in the universe. These swollen rivers, dignified Spruce, and endless stately mountain ranges have no need of me.  They stare down Mother Nature and me with their vast systems of roots that continue to perpetuate their story.  Someone called it their "indifference" but I think rather they are teaching me what it means to thrive. Two halves of the whole, I think I need them both.  To contemplate the world around me.  To know myself.  To recognize the next step, or where this part of the journey ends.  Elemental and terrestrial.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Alaska - Haiku for Mindy

light, suffused with you
glisten strong conqueror of
rock and mud and me

Friday, July 20, 2012

Fierce Sunlight

I have to relax in Scottsdale the sun shines so fiercely it yells at my attention to me...there is no time for you...only I exist. I see the large manhole cover the steam rising from its tortured lid and think of it as a gateway to other more magical worlds.

My body absorbs the heat and calls for more. Between the sun and the desert winds, my soul is wicked dry of anxiety and fears.

To live in a place where the door is turquoise because I made it so...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

marry a man who will feed you....

My dears, this is for you.  Marry a man who will feed you. 

I visited him for the first time the day after Thanksgiving.  Upon my arrival there was an awkward but tight hug, as we were “just friends” and both a little nervous about where this was or wasn’t going.  Next on the agenda was the Hollidazzle Parade.  Friends, family, random Facebook stalkers, if you have never been privy to the glories of the Beloit Hollidazzle parade, you have never truly lived.  People turn out in 28o weather in their best jeans and hoodies holding their non-gloved small children to do the Wave while the high school cast of The Grinch stroll by shivering and throwing candy canes.  It was a slightly different than what I was accustomed to, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.  And then he said magical words, “I know the perfect place for dinner.”  I braced myself for the long cold walk back to the car, but I found he had turned around to the building behind us and was holding the door open for me.  If Trader Joe’s and Luke’s Diner from Gilmore Girls had a love child, Bushel and Peck’s would be it.  Since I have a deep and abiding love for both of those places, I was enthralled.  A fresh, organic meal with two of his wonderful friends, who have since become my friends too, fed my stomach and my soul.  There was life outside of my little world, and it was good.

Two days later, as I was getting ready to head off to Milwaukee with a couple of the girls, he showed up with a Styrofoam box of piping hot whole grain cinnamon apple pancakes from Bushel and Peck’s.  “I know you can’t really eat fast food, and I wanted to make sure you ate.”  If my heart had not already been his, that moment would have clenched it.  This beautiful man wanted to take care of me, no one besides my family and some good friends had ever given the appearance of wanting to do that.

The first time he cooked for me was dark wintery Wisconsin evening and his creation was a perfectly square sunny yellow omelet with a tiny bit of cheese sprinkled on top.  Placing it precisely in the center of the plate, he presented it to me.  This was the first time a man had asked if he could cook me dinner.  Though it lacked salt and pepper (in his nervousness he had forgotten them), it was one of the best meals I had ever eaten.  And somehow, my heart was lighter…happier.

February came and he was struggling with the idea that his future was finally here, whether he was ready for it or not.  I was tired of the how he loved to take care of me and spend time with me, yet didn’t want to commit.  I decide to take matters in my own hands….my dears, do NOT try this at home.  In my love-addled brain I had come to the conclusion that if I kissed him it would be awful and I would finally be able to move on.  So, one day I got all dressed up, tried to make myself as beautiful as possible and I met up with him.  “Look,” I said nervously, “we can’t continue on this way.  I’m going to kiss you and it will be awful and then I’ll be able to move on…..and you don’t have a say in this matter.”  So I kissed him, I mean REALLY kissed him, and he kissed me back.  It was intense and when I pulled back I expected him to say something about the fact that it WASN’T an awful kiss!  “Did that help?” he asked instead anddddddddddddddd I wanted to punch him.  I didn’t know what to say.  I had been sure that this would help me move on, instead it cemented the fact that I was completely and totally in love with him.  “Oh, yeah….sure,” I said, not meaning a single word.  “I can still come over and cook pasta for you tonight, right?” he asked worriedly.  What is a girl to do?

Easter arrived and things came to a head with a simple invitation for Easter Dinner.  He had taken me out for breakfast for my birthday the week before.  He had also accompanied me to dinner with my parents in Schaumburg one evening, which had ended in an awkward and confusing hug.  Two days later, he asked for space.  Anddddddd, I gave it to him.  I didn’t answer his calls or texts.  I ignored him at church and ate with others or alone.  After three days of this alone time, it was time for our Easter production and I knew I would see him.  However, I promised myself that I would find others to talk to and spend time with.  After the performance was over, he approached me.  “I’d like you to come to Easter dinner with me at my family’s house.”  I stared at him in confusion.  “We need to talk first,” I said, “Its final decision time.”  And then came the conversation that would change both of our lives forever.  I knew that if need be I could move on, eventually my heart would heal, but I could not stay in this half state of spending all my time and emotion with him.  I knew I couldn’t allow my stomach, heart, and soul to continue to be fed by this man if there wasn’t a future for us.  Turns out, ignoring him was the best thing I could have done.  “These past three days have been awful,” he said looking completely worn out, “I realized that you’re the person I always want to talk to….to be able to tell what happened in my day and find out how your day went.  You’re the one I want to spend my time with.  And, I want to be able to sit down to breakfast with you for the rest of my life.  I love you.”  I had always said I wanted to be best friends with someone and then one day they would realize they wanted to spend the rest of their life with me.  The process was a lot more painful than I thought it would be, but the end result was exactly what I wanted.

Two months later, on a sticky June evening, we found ourselves back at Bushel and Peck’s.  It was the annual Art Show weekend and he was one of the featured artists.  I had ran around all day making business cards, helping set up the table and the artwork, and trying to figure out the best pricing for each item.  He seemed a little more quiet than usual, but I put it down to exhaustion and nervousness at how his art would be received.  Many of our friends came by to check things out and we talked to a multitude of characters that Beloit is excellent at attracting.  The night wore on and the place began to fill up.  All the regulars were there, Mike the teddy bear-like foodie, Jim the lonely photographer, and many others.  Live music was playing and then Greg, the emcee, stepped up to the mike to inform the crowd that the band would be taking a short break.  Recorded music began to play in the background.  I had just begun explaining a few business ideas that had come up, when I noticed that he was shaking.  Beads of sweat stuck out on his forehead and his face was paler than I had ever seen it.  “Are you okay,” I asked, “You look like you’re going to throw up!  Hey, this is that song you played for me the other day….the one about The Question…..OOOOHhhh,” I said finally understanding.  He got down on his knees, reached in his pocket and pulled out one of those little plastic containers from gumball machines that hold tiny metal rings.  It was very familiar to me because every time we ate at Domenico’s I would finish the meal by asking for a quarter in order to purchase one.  Then, nervously with tears in his eyes he asked.  And my heart sang.

Three months later, I sat in our honeymoon suite.  He had run out to find a dessert for me that didn’t contain chocolate even though I had told him repeatedly it wasn’t a big deal.  “I want you to have something you can enjoy,” he had said.  Finally after what seemed like an eternity of waiting….Click, the door went and there he stood, arms piled high with boxes.  “I wanted you to have choices,” he said smiling sheepishly at my wide eyes.  I melted. 

This Saturday, it will be a year since we promised to love each other forever.  There have been gut wrenchingly painful moments and perfect, irreplaceably happy times.  We have begun to learn how to really love each other on another level that neither of us were very aware of.  Daily we teach each other about life and love and how to deal with small victories and sometimes catastrophic losses.  He has taught me how to truly feed another person.  Sometimes I cook and sometime he cooks, but every day we work at feeding one another’s minds, hearts, and souls.   Though I have much wisdom to learn, I do believe wholeheartedly that if you will marry a man who will feed you and whom you desire to do the same for your hearts will never hunger for something other.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Pain and Beauty

Sometimes letting go of the past is a just a matter of speaking the words that give shape to the picture in your mind causing your heart pain.  Last night I had a moment of memory, one of those beautiful perfect suspensions of time that is crystalline in its clearness.  Yet it brought with it such overwhelming sadness that shocked me with its depth.  The very core of me seemed to mourn at this precious experience and the passing of it.  Since marriage is a constant teacher on the necessity of communication, I knew I needed to share this with my husband.  However, it seemed so profoundly personal, that I found difficulty even describing it out loud.  I laid there in bed and replayed over and over bringing with it other less than happy times.  The pain of my heart grew until finally I decided to share.  As I began haltingly to try and describe it, he wrapped his arms around me and heard me.  “It was just…I just felt like….” I said as tears poured down my face, unable to speak that defining word.  “You felt like…” and he said it.  He spoke that title that had caused fear and anguish to fill me and the dam broke.  “Yeeees….” I wailed between sobs which rocked my body and as the tears fell, I felt peace fill me.  Just looking the past in the face and being genuine about pain and beauty can heal bits.  One more tiny piece back in its place.  One more step toward wholeness.  I can look back on that jeweled moment now and smile.  It’s a journey.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sliver of Light

Ya know when you step out side on a sunny day and out of nowhere a ginormous rain cloud crashes open right above your head.  You stumble a couple steps trying to find shelter from the torrential downpour and instead trip into a massive pothole that has managed in those few seconds to fill up with mud and bugs and more water.  You are directly in the middle of the storm and not only does every bone in your body hurt from the fall into the hole, but you're also filled with disgust at the muck and mire now covering your once clean body.  And where is everyone, what had seemed before to be a street teeming with life is now deserted and there isn't a helping hand to be found.  The longer you try the climb out of this pit the angrier and more frustrated you become.  

Life was going perfectly and now you're hurt, alone, dirty, in distress and questioning the pointlessness of this detour.  The question WHY rages in your mind as you reach out for something to cling there a lesson here?  Am I learning some important skill that will enable me to play the role God has designed for me?  Every thing seemed okay...I was on the right track, right?  I followed Your voice even when others didn't understand.  I left what I knew to do Your bidding.  Doing everything I was supposed to, making all the right decisions, being the perfect little soldier, so what the heck is going on?  God, where are you?  Are you there?  Are you listening? DO you even care anymore?  I have dedicated every part of me to you since I was a child I've done everything you asked, right?  Why do I lay here broken now?  So far from that "strong faith" I once thought I had.....and then the voice comes finally, speaking words so ancient and so full of depth and only a bit of understanding....Hosea 6:1&2 

 "Come, let us return to the LORD.
He has torn us to pieces;
  now he will heal us.
He has injured us;
  now he will bandage our wounds.
2 In just a short time he will restore us,
  so that we may live in his presence."

.....and for now along with a new task He's given me, they're enough.

Friday, January 28, 2011

the Ink

I’ve always thought of my life as a Story and yes, that is a capital S.  And, this is not just any old short story anthology sold on the bargain shelf at Borders next to the generic Pasta cookbook.  My imagination has, instead, placed each experience in its own chapter of what in the science fiction world can only be described as a space opera; a saga of such grand importance that it spans not only generations of time but also the vastness of space.  Every conversation, business introduction, failed relationship, letter written, so essential to the whole of it, that even a passing glance with a stranger is given weight when retold.  Of course I have considered myself to be the main character of said narrative and from a young age understood that my ability to perform flawlessly in the heroic role required of me was the only thing that kept the around me world from spinning off into oblivion.

 Fast forward to present day and here I sit.  I now am married to the perfect male character, so gentle and true yet beautiful and passionate that my readers can’t help but be enamored.  The retelling of our serendipitous meeting and surprising courtship has their romantic hearts quivering with contentment.   However, the Story has now taken a most unsatisfying turn.  My body has once again been taken over by a myriad of physical issues and I await yet another doctor’s appointment.  Because of the various symptoms, I’ve been stuck in the house for what seems like an eternity and yet in reality has only been a couple of months.  This brilliant adventure has ground to a halt and I find I’m living a Story that even I wouldn’t want to read. 

I find myself struck with the thought that not only is there the distinct possibility that I’m not the Heroine and I may not even be the Sidekick or wise Teacher.  What if I’m only the Bag Lady that is vaguely mentioned in the second chapter as the main character heads off to another crucial encounter?  This shock to my egocentric system has caused fear and anger.  Where is this Author anyway?  I ask.  Even through the critical dramatic moments that have caused my character to grow I have trusted Him, recognizing that it was all for the good of the Story.  Yet this plot gimmick makes no sense, the Story appears to be standing still.  This isn’t one of those tales that skip over years with the change of a paragraph or turn of the page.  And still there are no answers, only the clichéd endings that cannot satisfy such an elaborate epic even if I’m not central to the resolution. 

For the moment I sit, trying to think of a way to tunnel through the paragraphs to the next “good part” and yet it doesn’t appear to be up to me.  If it was in my hands, I would have moved on from this topic to fulfilling Dreams a couple pages if not a chapter ago.  I can only come to the conclusion that the Author’s hands hold the pen and I am only the ink with which He writes.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Living Room

The weak winter sunlight nudges against the blinds, firmly shut so as only to allow faded illuminations. Though slightly dim, the saffron walls infuse the tiny space with cozy warmth that penetrates the January chill that seems to seep through layers of wool, cotton, soft tissue, and bone all the way to the soul. Classic white molding with circular flourishes frame the room and lead the viewer back through time to a softer era. The décor itself is a hodge-podge of eccentricity enchanting and surprising the eye with unexpected delicacies. An oversized dark chocolate colored steamer trunk, complete with shiny metal hinges peaking through a layer of years and rust, stands in for a traditional coffee table.

The top of it holds dusty carved wooden bowls which each cradle a different treasure. In one stands the tiny iron Eiffel Tower, brought back from the City of Lights, now towering over a growing collection of tarnished coins. Another holds a matching ancient iron and copper incense burner topped with a conquistador style hat with a fleur de lis cut out on each side to allow the hazy perfumed smoke to exit. Balanced in the very center of the trunk on the Dominican landscape of a cigar box is the bowl which holds a most cherished possession, a miniature replica of the goddess, Nike. Carved from a single piece of alabaster, the feeling of the wind swirling the yards of her garment and rustling her wings as she prepares to take her victorious flight encompasses you.

Piled high on wooden tables, cream leather benches, even covering some of the mocha painted wooden floor are books of every shape, color, and topic. The black and white checkerboard version of The Real Mother Goose sits on top of The Book of Classic French Pastries while The Complete Works of Voltaire balances precariously on Ireland from the Air and Kate Spade’s kelly colored Style. Stacks of Vogue and Fast Company intermingled with Food Network and Wired spill out of a lopsided dark woven basket and into a haphazard pile beneath its table.

Deep wine and golden threaded pillows the size of couch seat cushions lounge intermittently among the feathery throws and down comforters that grace the arms of the couch. Overlooking this scene is a large painting that foamy green color copper turns when it tarnishes, splashed with fluid streaks of crayon box sienna brown. And on the thick wooden door ornamented with a large brass doorknob, complete with a skeleton key lock, hangs a peacock wreath strewn with shiny plum and cerulean balls accompanied by a sparkling rhinestone peeking out from behind the turquoise eye of one misbehaving feather. Dangling off to one side cheekily is a metallic trinket, daring its reader with a single word upon entering this marvelous room, dream.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Glorious Addiction

I have to admit the smell of a book is one of my most favorite things in the universe. I still remember wondering through our giant public library as a child and finding that perfect book. Climbing up into the car with my newly checked out book in my hand, I couldn’t wait to get home to open it. Garage door would open, the seatbelt would snap off, and I’d be shooting through the door and onto the couch. I would pull open the cover and the smell of paper and adventure overwhelmed my senses. It is not just the smell that captured me, but also the feel of a new book, never been read, in my hands. The story that awaits me, promising never before imagined excitement, a new tale. The truth is, there is nothing new under the sun. Every story is just a re-telling of the same ancient content that has been handed down since early days of mankind. Yet, the setting and the adjectives, the unexpected twists and turns of a re-imagined hero’s tale, is enough to send a quiver of expectation down my waiting spine. It doesn’t seem to matter that I can predict who the killer is, when the heroine will end up with the right man, or what the thief actually stole when prying in the secret desk drawer. It simply doesn’t matter because, yes, it is true, ladies and gentlemen, I’m a bookaholic. Let me rephrase that. “Hello, I’m Melissa, and I’m addicted to books. It’s been twenty-three minutes since my last sniff/touch/read.”

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Truth is more fascinating than fiction...

"That little smirk…" as he spoke his discomfort was palpable.

"Annoying, huh" she replied…the smirk deepening with the merriment she was experiencing from the distraught appearance of his beautiful face. Softly, so softly, the words she least expected were spoken, delicately, as if the sound of them could cause the façade of nonchalance to which he clung to fracture. "I love it."

Admitting is the first step.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Love: Fairy Dust and Land Mines

Love is battlefield. Full of hidden land mines. Shark infested waters when you can't swim and all you have are floaties. Love is a many splendored thing. Pink fairy dust, and poetry. An entire pint of Godiva Dark Chocolate Raspberry Truffle ice cream. Love is dishes washed, dinner cooked, stories listened to that would be incredibly boring if it weren't for the enticing eyes of the storyteller. Love is forgiving of flaws, embracing of reality, and a demolition expert when it comes to destroying jealousy that claws its way up from the pit of your stomach. Love gives time without expectation of acknowledgement or a thank you card. It doesn't come with a manual or podcast and even if there are instructions on they probably aren't accurate. Love is multi-dimensional yet simple. It's never having to self-edit, yet speaking truth with self-control. Love is scarier than any of the "Saw" movies, Cher's face, or the thought of being married to Kevin Federline. More joyous than a perfect ancient tree so massive arms don't fit around it. Full of peace deeper than the first step taken into the ocean as face is tilted to steal sunlight. Love is a place. I'm there.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Add Friend...

There is something mysterious and fascinating about getting letters from someone you don't really know...something almost intimate about a stranger stealing time out of their day to think of you and spend expensive bits of time and energy to share thoughts, dreams, ideas -asking questions...and then the feeling when you discover you're actually anticipating the next letter and you open your inbox to find it waiting for you...a whole new world to read. Thrilling. Surprising. Unexpected, yet comfortable