My Conversation Heart

Everywhere I turn, I’m constantly looking for inspiration, even in the smallest forms and yesterday, while innocently reading, I stumbled across a potential source of inspiration I hope to experience soon:

As someone with a deep connection to magazines, yesterday while reading the April 2018 issue of Glamour Magazine, I stumbled across a short article with book suggestions specific to “Self-Help.” The concept of self-help books has always been of interest to me, so I paid close attention to their words.

Glamour April

Released during the February/March timeframe, “Heart Talk,” by poet/writer, Cleo Wade, is one that stands out to me and is now on my “to-read” list. In the article detailing her book, Glamour specifically mentions a poignant quote closely resonating with me:

YOU are the only person who truly decides who YOU are. If you want to be a singer… think like a singer, say you ARE a singer, and of course, sing your song. We spend so much of our lives waiting for others to qualify us. Authorize YOURSELF. Step into your power right now; give yourself your own credentials, and you be the one who qualifies who YOU are.”

Cleo Wade

This quote rings true to me in more ways than way. More times than I care to admit or acknowledge, I’ve waited for others to qualify me – former bosses, friends, guys I’ve dated, even family, believing I needed them to TELL me who I was. As I grow older, I realize more and more this is the furthest from the truth. Nobody can tell us who we are – unless we allow them to. Even if someone attempts to tell us who we are, or how they believe we are, we don’t have to believe them. We don’t have to accept their supposed “definition” of us. For me, it takes effort to reclaim power over myself, though over the past ten years, it’s been a work in progress; most important things in life require some amount of effort and I recognize that. There have been many times where I’ve been told, I wasn’t worth what I was being paid in a job, or that I’d “be prettier if I wore my hair up,” or that I lacked the ability to navigate the concept of mathematics in school and was ridiculed for my struggles in the middle of the hallway. During this occasions, sometimes I’d crumble into a ball, crying myself to sleep in my room, punishing and isolating myself for being what I felt was a “misfit”. Though, as I grow older, my perspective shifts and I realize their thoughts only have power over me if I allow it; they are not facts, they are opinions.

Who am I? I’m Melissa, a woman on the brink of entering her 30’s in a couple weeks, a writer who yes, sometimes is too wordy or uses too many adjectives (what can I say, I love words), who wears her hair down because she likes to, wears heels and wedges because they boost my confidence and make me happy, and loves to help others because everybody can use a helping hand or listening ear; all of this – this is who I AM.

Therefore, my hope is that during the times when others attempt to tell you, whomever may be reading this who you are, or who they think you are, ask yourself, Who am I? Only you know that truth.

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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

Unwritten Pages

Happy New Year! A new year is now upon us and has been for the past several hours. The next minutes, days and months ahead are all unwritten pages, waiting to be colored by our choices, chances, decisions, actions, thoughts and beliefs. It is filled with chance and possibility; anything can happen at any moment – this I believe is true, as it was proved me numerous times this past year. Reflecting back, much of 2017 was painful, losing Oliver, not simply a dog, but my family. He is still very much a missing piece to the puzzle that is me. I still sit here looking at the places where he used to lay, wondering if he’ll be back, I still keep the furniture in the same place, thinking he’ll try to crawl between the small spaces, as the inquisitive mind he was. He still lives within me though, encouraging me to continue on, to keep loving animals and dogs like him as much as I can, to go after my goals and my dreams and to simply keep going in spite of the pain of his absence. I know someday the spot where he lay will be filled again with another grateful dog to love, but until then, I’m keeping the spot warm for him/her.

New Year Quote 3

Another truth I learned this past year is we don’t meet people by accident. I’d heard this quote mentioned to me many times in the past, but I never believed it to be true until these past weeks. We meet others for a reason – sometimes I feel it is a lesson, maybe it teaches something about ourselves, perhaps it is a reminder of how far we’ve come or vice versa. Maybe it gives us a new perspective or lease on life, maybe it is a gentle reminder of how insightful we’ve become, or maybe it lets us know that we’re truly doing okay or will be okay. Regardless of the reason, we meet others at a time when we need to and whether we learn the reason why or not, our lives are still impacted, no matter how long it takes us to realize it.

I’d like to conclude this brief post with a quote and sentiment I recently stumbled upon while reading a magazine. It was in the editor’s note to readers and the words she stated were some of the most poignant I ever read, therefore, I couldn’t let it go unmentioned. Here is what she said:

“Years ago, I applied for an internship at the US Supreme Court. During my interview – when asked if prisoners ought to be taught technical and life skills while serving time – I repeated something my mom used to tell me: The ideal way to grow people is the same way you grow tomatoes. A tomato plant can nourish itself with water, air and sun, but without the right support system (like room to grow and a trellis), most tomato varieties won’t survive. In the same way, even though everyone has a personal responsibility, it’s our duty as citizens to set up an environment where people can acquire the skills they need to thrive in a community. When we do this, we all benefit; when we don’t, we all stand to lose.”

She finishes this thought with a statement from Jean Nidetch: “We all have the power within ourselves to create positive change in our lives; once we do, it is our duty to help others find power and strength so they can live the life they want to live.”

For me, when I hear/read these sentiments, they deeply resonate with me. We can’t always help others in the way we want to, but when we seek to guide, advocate and support others, the most important part in this is our intention – whether they choose to accept our words, help and guidance is ultimately their choice, but they can’t choose if we don’t give them the choice. So this year, it’s my goal to be open, to tell my truth and to help others tell or find theirs; lastly, don’t wait for others to be kind, show them.”

New Year Quote 2

Happy New Year!

An Insatiable Longing

It’s been several days and I feel the loss as though it is continuing to happen again and again. Sometimes, the thought of you is still there, but will fall deeper into my mind, but other times, it will arise with a vengeance and often without warning, summoning tears to flood from my eyes. My entire 29-years of life I don’t believe I’ve ever felt a loss as profound as this, the void seeming to grow larger each day. Where I often sit at home, in the living room with my laptop, I’ll look to the right, expecting to see your dog bed sitting there, with you inside, sleeping or relaxing. Other times, I’ll look up across the room at the other sofa, half-expecting to see you sleeping on the arm on the sofa, as you did years prior. Every time I look at your usual spots, however, it’s not you, but the memory of you I see, a memory I carry so deeply in my heart and mind. The longing sometimes increases with such intensity and I can think of little to quell it.

Grieving Quote

These days, some of the only things providing me solace are the several quotes I’ve found in relation to grieving, such as these:

“Grief is like the ocean, it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”

“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.”

More so than anything, I hope for my loved ones to heal; watching them hurt and me not being able to take away their pain is one of the hardest parts. Grieving is a process, an individual one for all of us, but I hope they know I’m recognizing their pain and hoping for a healing for all of us and that our Oliver knows how truly loved he was and will always be.

Dog Grief

 

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Today is Thanksgiving and this year, as I do every year, but even more poignantly this year, I have so very much to be thankful for. For the past 15.5 years, I’ve held the honor of being an owner of dog, my sweet Oliver, who I’ve written about countless times before. He was not a dog to me, but my family, my support, my strength and my constant companion. This morning, because I was unable to last night, I shared on my personal Facebook about his pathway to the Rainbow Bridge, where he plays today, free of pain and discomfort, delighting in all of his favorite foods and toys. The following is my post:

Yesterday, as the sky cleared and the sun began to emerge from the clouds of darkness, you were carried over the Rainbow Bridge, the bridge where you are greeted by the others waiting for you, where you can run, where you are free of pain.
 
As you departed, I held you in my arms as you nestled your body close to mine and I could feel your soft, curly fur and your shallow breaths. For a moment, your eyes fluttered open and gazed into mine and it was then I let you know you were safe and it was okay. For a moment, I could feel your dry nose against my skin and I could still hear the familiar sounds of your breathing I heard for 15 and a half years.
 
Then as you lay before us, we held your paws and each other, as you departed just as we first met. We didn’t say goodbye, but rather see you later, as we know we will.
IMG_4493
 
Oliver (March 10, 2002-November 22, 2017)
“Even when the dark comes crashing through
When you need a friend to carry you
When you’re broken on the ground
You will be found
So let the sun come streaming in
‘Cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again
If you only look around
You will be found.”
Happy Thanksgiving to whomever may be reading this today.

Every Healing Has a Paw

That day stands out to me like no other. It was May 20, 1997, a warm, humid day, in late Spring. As a newly-minted 9-year-old, it was customary for me to ask the same question each day after school as I approached my mom, who would be waiting for me at the end of the hallway in the school building at just about 3:30pm; how is Grandmom? Since the preceding October, my maternal Grandmother diagnosed with Leukemia, was in and out of the hospital, receiving chemotherapy, shortly going into remission in the Winter, only to experience a relapse in early Spring. Her prognosis was grave, but we were still hopeful as she underwent another round of treatment. The early activities of the day are blurry to me, but I remember arriving home and sitting at the kitchen table with my sister, as we so often did, but this day, the room was filled with silence instead of music radiating from MTV’s Total Request Live. It was a sunny day, the sky a pristine blue, with a gentle warmth in the air, but sadness and fear engulfed my family and I. I remember thinking it was strange, seeing my dad home during the afternoon, watching him sitting at the table, expressionless. We all sat there at the table for awhile, until out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a flash of golden fur from outside, catching it reflecting off the sliding door.

Dog Healing

Merely minutes later, I came to know his name was Darby, a young Yellow Labrador Retriever, owned by a young couple who were fairly new to the neighborhood and unbeknownst to us, living directly behind us.  Before meeting and becoming accustomed to Darby, I hadn’t known much about dogs, except the fact that I believed them to be cute and friendly. My extent of experience with dogs had been reading Clifford books or watching them on TV. In person, I’d never so much as played or pet any dogs – until this moment, that is. That particular day, I was filled with a sadness I’d never truly known, and was unsure how to silence it, or at least alleviate it. Seeing Darby, I asked both my parents, if it would be okay if Hope (my sister) and I went outside to play with him. With their approval, we made our way outside and asked his owners if it would be okay for us to play with him. Within minutes, Darby, Hope and I were running together through our respective backyards with frisbees, laughing and delighting in the cool breeze, our worries quickly slipping away. Sometimes, I’d stop to run my small fingers through his soft, golden mane, or to let him happily lick my arms and face. Seeing his happy, carefree smile filled me with a joy I’d never truly experienced before until that moment; the moment my love of dogs was cultivated. From that moment on, I knew I was meant to be a dog owner. Though I didn’t become one until my 14th birthday, Darby created for me, the ability to love another, canine and human, igniting a healing from a pain no 9-year-old child should ever have to experience.

Dog Quotes             Dog Quotes 2

Looking back, I owe Darby a lot for that day. While he might have only shown up, by doing so, he helped me heal and taught me the meaning of selflessness, of taking life one moment, one laugh and one smile at a time. I’m grateful for that day, because no matter how painful it was, it taught me that “We don’t always need advice. Sometimes all we need is a hand to hold, an ear to listen, and a heart that understands. Sometimes all we need is a dog.”

Paw Prints Heart