Pages in Memory

For as long as I can remember, books have always been a constant presence and staple in my life. As a young toddler, I can even recall wandering through the house with my little, square “Golden Books,” in hand, desperate for someone to read to me, often leafing through the pages myself and scribbling new words and ideas into them. Reading for me, was always a comfort and escape, providing me solace, room for imagination and an adventure to call my own. As I grew older, I ravenously read through each Babysitters Club book and Sweet Valley High series books, in addition to countless others. Many times, I can recall visiting the library for their various events and visits throughout the week, leaving with a stack of books heavier than I could manage to hold in my small hands.

Reading quote

When I was a teenager, I befriended a classmate who would become one of my closest friends through the years of high school. She and I spent much time together, sharing a lot of similar interests; reading and writing, in particular. One day, in 9th grade, she mentioned she had a book she’d recently finished reading and felt I would enjoy it, informing me of the “unexpected twist” towards the end, aware of how I always sought to find intellectually-stimulating stories/plots. A day or so later, she placed the book in my hands, “The Last Time They Met,” by Anita Shreve. The title alone was alluring and I was eager to begin reading. That same day, upon arriving home from school, I began reading and within several hours or a day, the book was completed. What an adventure it was, weaving through the intricate verbiage and plot twists, leaving me desperate for more. After completing the book, Anita Shreve, an author I’d never heard of before, became one of my favorites. Eager to read more of her books, I asked my friend if she knew of any of her other books and she happily informed me she had yet another one of her books she could lend me by the name of, “The Pilot’s Wife.” Similar in its composition to her preceding book, it left me intrigued and shocked as I worked my way through the pages.

Anita Shreve

To be able to write in the way Anita did is a true indicator of talent in itself. Her unique and careful way of weaving a story without faltering, leading the reader to believe one way, only to completely dismantle those beliefs midway through the novel, is enticing and suspenseful. The only other author I can recall sending chills down by spine beyond Shreve is Paula Hawkins, the author of “The Girl on the Train.”

The Last Time They Met

With all of this being said, yesterday in the midst of readying myself for the day, I briefly paused to check my Twitter feed, only to see a shocking tweet by one of my other favorite authors, Jodi Picoult, which read: “Mourning the loss of #AnitaShreve – a remarkable storyteller who brought me hours of reading joy.” Upon reading her words, a lump gathered in my thought as I quickly closed out of Twitter and tapped by Google app, feverishly typing Anita Shreve into the search bar. What appeared was a vast listing of death notices, articles stating her cancer diagnosis and passing in recent days. Immediately, nostalgia overwhelmed me and I was transported into my 9th grade social studies class, sitting with my friend as she handed me my first Anita Shreve novel.

The Pilots Wife

Sometimes I think it was Anita Shreve who inspired me to want to write even more than I already did. Her talent and writing ability was immeasurable, one I always hoped to emulate someday. The emotions were often palpable through the pages as I leafed through them. Like author, Jodi Picoult, I do am truly blessed and honored to have been able to read her stories and am so grateful for her sharing these talents with the world. How lucky am I to have been able to read her stories and be able to enjoy them time and time again. It is my hope Anita will rest in peace knowing how much she positively impacted lives – especially mine.

“A book is a gift you can open again and again.”

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Poem of Life

Good Morning and I hope your weekend is off to a pleasant start. If you’re not currently following my blog on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/MelissasMorningMusings/) you may not have seen a poem I shared yesterday; a poem which resonated with me and that I found to be quite illustrative of my life experiences, thus far. Therefore, I felt it necessary to share this poem in hopes that it may inspire another, or that whomever may be reading might find strength in this poem, as I did:

Last night as I drifted to sleep, I stumbled across a poem by Mary Oliver, shared by an author I follow on social media. As I read it, her words deeply resonated with me, finding much meaning and strength in the premise of the poem. To me, it means, we always have the inner power to take control and color our own lives, no matter how beyond our control it may sometimes feel.

When we listen to our inner voice, allow ourselves to be vulnerable and sometimes even do something we’ve never done before, but always wanted to, it leaves us empowered and forever changed. Throughout my life, I’ve had to summon the strength to begin again, often times when I felt I couldn’t. As I soon approach a new decade in my life, this begins a time of reflection for me and there is no better time to share this poem, which speaks volumes.

Poem

Power to Prom: “Promenade” without Limits

With the Spring season beckoning upon the horizon, it brings not only increasing warmth (hopefully!), sunshine (fingers crossed!), an abundance of blooming flowers (highly anticipated) and throughout much of the U.S., Prom season! Perhaps the memories conjured by mentioning prom are pleasant, neutral, or an affair to forget, though with that being said, where I hail from, prom is not only considered a pivotal high school event, but also a community event, involving/summoning an array of residents, if they so choose. The local school district where I reside within, Pennsbury, is highly-regarded as the “best prom in America”, which would honestly be a challenge to debate given the media uproar and coverage it summons each year.

Prom Night photo                     Prom Disco

Arrivals at the Pennsbury Prom span well-beyond the scope of traditional limos, vehicles or “party buses.” For Pennsbury students, prom preparations and the actual Prom event often involve hours of effort and preparations, ensuring the event transpires without a hitch. One-by-one, students arrive in unique, outlandish vehicles such as fire trucks, fancy cars, and even homemade parade floats. The high school gym is decorated so impressively that open walk-throughs are held the day of, so that other members of the community can check it out. Media coverage of the prom is often expansive, with local news stations staked out, hoping to capture the exhilarating arrivals and now with the expansion of social media, arrivals and the prom event are bound to be “live-streamed” on one medium or another. Once inside, students are often treated to performances from famous entertainers such as Ryan Cabrera, Questlove, and John Mayer. Given it’s uniqueness and rising popularity, back in 2004, senior Sports Illustrated writer, Michael Bamberger even wrote a book  (Wonderland: A Year in the Life of an American High School) about it!

Prom Wonderland              Party-Dancing-Vector

Having one’s prom be made into this big of a spectacle may seem fun, but it also can place a vast amount of pressure on teens who feel that they need to live up to the hype or go beyond what has ever been done before. Planning for prom night can be stressful enough without having to worry about when you should start designing your “arrival float.”

Prom Choice

Reflecting back on both my junior and senior proms, personally, I did not attend either.  Having attended a rival high school to Pennsbury (I grew up in a town about 20 minutes away), my reasons for choosing to not attend prom were not completely centered around how I was going to arrive, or actual prom preparation, per se, though the pressures of how I would look and plan for the evening definitely contributed to my decisions. Now, there are plenty of ways to make planning the night easier, from booking rides to renting suits online. Back then, many of the preparations often felt too overwhelming. Coupled with issues with friendships and health issues sidelining me for much of my senior year, I opted out of each prom.

Dance on Your Own

Like many high school teens, at the time, I was often consumed by what others thought of me and placed significant undue pressures upon myself as far as appearance, academics and personal friendships/relationships. This lead to feelings of inadequacy in comparison to others who, on the surface, appeared to be gliding through life unphased by any and all hardships or at least, could handle and channel them better than I could. Of course, now as an adult, I realize that everyone faces their own struggles and that these people may have been dealing with theirs in different ways. Though for me, and perhaps others can relate to as well, when you’re in high school, it’s often hard to see things through any other lens.

Prom 1
If asked if I regret my decisions for choosing to not attend prom, I’d say in some ways I do, though I try my best to not have regrets about it. Back then, I felt it was the appropriate choice for me and I made the choice for a reason. Rather than look back and judge myself, I try to be kind to my high-school self and recognize it was my right to act upon what I felt would work best for me. There is no sense in berating myself for the choices I make, but rather I can offer my experiences to others and acknowledge how to perceive our situations differently.

Prom 2

With that being said, sometimes I feel that attending prom, my junior prom in particular, could have been a pivotal point for me; giving me the chance to stand my ground, own my individuality, and embrace what makes me uniquely me. At the same time, having skipped each prom, I respect I made the choice I felt was best appropriate for me at that time given the circumstances and can only move forward from here and offer my perspective to others.

So to anyone out there who is prepping for prom season, take a breath, think about what you want, emphasize what is most important when it comes to prom; having fun; being who you are, feeling comfortable inside and out, not wearing something because it is popular or expected, not arriving in a form of transportation because it “looks good.” Rather, do what feels right for you, not anybody else. This is your time, your event, your moment – you’ve earned it. No need to worry if your “prom-posal” didn’t go viral; you are worth more than the price of a fancy dress or tuxedo. Have fun, be safe, and know that there are better things to come.

Enjoy Life