Out with the Old, In with the New

Beginnings, change, Happiness

“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”
T.S. Eliot

It’s the end of the year, it’s the beginning of the year.

I have never really understood the statement “Out with the Old, In with the New”.  Life is a continuum, an ongoing metamorphosis.  There are no clear lines between old and new.  A date in only a symbolic ending and beginning.  It is not real.

As I reflect on the past 3 years of dramatic change in my life, I realize this even more.  I cannot commit to a beginning and end of something related to a date on a calendar.  Idealistically, I would love to say, “it’s a new year, therefore I will lose weight, build stronger relationships, start over,” but the old year stays with me.  The old is not bad, the old is good.  The old is lessons learned, people met, old loves lost and new loves awakened. The old is music heard, books read, mountains climbed. The new remains unknown, but anticipated.

Without fear, with joy, I am ready to build on the end to find the beginning.

Wherefore Art Thou, Inspiration?

Art, creativity

I’ve been thinking a lot about writing.  Really writing, not just blog writing… which is really writing, but it’s not…if you know what I mean…

I want to write a short story or a novel or something like that.  I looked into a creative writing program at Emory, just to get me started and you have to have a portfolio of things you have written to get into the program…Which seems kind of counter intuitive, since you’re supposed to be learning to write.  But OK.  So I thought perhaps I could include this poem that I wrote somewhere around 1988.

Ode to Toes

My Mom tells me her woes

Of her oh so broken toes.

Sometimes a chair

Gives her a scare.

Sometimes the doorframe

Is to blame.

She may seem like a twit,

But she’s really having a fit.

“Oh, Oh” she cries, “the pain,

Its making me insane.”

She cries an awful lot

And her clumsiness makes her hot.

But someday her toes will heal

And she’ll say, “What a good deal.”

An original piece of creative artwork by:  Melanie

I am fairly certain that this could lead to my writing stardom, right?
Creative inspiration…where does it come from?   
I know I have many creative friends out there…song writers, comedians, musicians, writers, artists…what inspires you?  Your mom’s broken toes??

Sweet Muse

Love
Sweet Muse 

Savoring the silence

knowing it’s just for now;

Tomorrow the world finds it’s way back

Inside my head.

Right now it’s me and you and

kisses sweet and salty

The breeze singing though our every movement

Telling each other of the dreams and music

That fill our souls

with a night of inspiration.

Moonlight dancing across your silver hair

And shining in your eyes.

Making the years fall away

So I see the boy you once were.

Finding you here in my heart and

Pulling you into my future

Wishing for forever and knowing

it’s but a moment.

Carry your own damn backpack

Friendship, Happiness

I’ve read a lot of online dating profiles, and I mean a lot.  There are some common themes I am noticing…

  • Men like to post pictures of themselves with really big fish.  Why? Do they think this is attractive to women?  Are they compensating for something?  I find it odd.
  • Every man in Georgia believes they are the last of a dying breed — the southern gentleman.  If they are dying why are there so many of them?
  • Every man’s children are the center of their universe…second only to football, hunting and camping
  • They, there, their.  You, your, you’re.  Why is it so hard?
  • Most middle aged men should stop taking shirtless bathroom selfies…it doesn’t help their cause. (With the exception of those triathletes or cross fit junkies…they should for sure keep posting…wow!)

The other theme I have noticed is that men don’t want drama and/or baggage.  I get the drama thing…the last thing I’d want is some insecure chick begging for attention.  But the baggage I find baffling.  We are in our late 40s, mostly divorced or widowed…if we didn’t have baggage we wouldn’t be here.  Everyone has baggage.  Right? 

The key is the size of the baggage and what you do with it.

Are you dragging around a trunk? Do you pull a 27″ wheelie case with you? An overhead storage size bag? Or a backpack?

My philosophy is that I don’t want someone who doesn’t have baggage, they would be boring… Baggage is what makes us who we are, it forms us.  It is where we store the things we have learned and the things that have caused us pain, the things that make us happy.  Not having baggage would be like going hiking without taking a backpack with the supplies you need– water, food, sleeping bag, fork, compass, mascara, you know, the most important things… But you only take things out of the backpack when you need them…and you don’t ask someone else to carry your backpack.  It’s yours.  Sometimes you might get tired of carrying your backpack and put it down, or if you’re with a really nice person, maybe they will carry it for you for a few steps.  But it’s yours, and yours alone, to carry. Maybe there are something’s  you can leave behind to make the load a little lighter, but all-in-all it contains the things you need to keep moving in life…

One of the challenges many of us have is that we want to carry everyone else’s backpacks…but truth is you can’t carry someone else’s backpack for long.  It wears you down and it makes your own backpack heavier. And I think that is what people mean when they say they don’t want baggage.  They really just want you to carry your own damn backpack.

Imperfectly, perfectly me

Uncategorized

I remember one summer when I was younger and still filled with the awe and energy of life without much sadness or stress or pain, I went to the beach with some sisters and Ed.  It was one of several trips that I will always, always remember.  My kids were little and we rented a house in Duck, NC.  We ate and drank and spent all day at the beach.  We had sunset happy hour, went skinny dipping in the ocean and lived a week of happiness and abandon.  We walked on the beach in the moonlight with the ghost crabs, we ran into the ocean not caring what anyone thought.  In my mind it is truly one of the happiest times I can remember as an adult.

Somewhere along the path of life, I lost the ability to be joyful to let go and just be in the moment.  I am pretty sure this happens to many adults.  We get saddled down with the cares of life, concerns of children, finances, relationships, and work and we forget what it means to really let go.  To really not give a shit what happens tomorrow or what anyone thinks about us.  We find ourselves mired down and unable to be free.

I have realized over the past two years that I have been carrying big burdens. And as I have been looking for someone to share the rest of life’s journey with me, I have been looking for someone to help me carry the burdens — Carrying these burdens together as we grow old.

This weekend, I had the opportunity to spend some time with two separate people who opened my eyes to something and it is an amazing revelation.  My friend, therapist Cheryl has been helping me work through some things I have come to believe about myself and my future and believe me, you don’t want to know the gory details.  But she said something that really resonated with me this weekend.  She reminded me that I don’t have to worry about having someone who I can build a family with or who can take care OF me financially or otherwise, but rather that I should look for someone who wants to care FOR me.  There is an important difference.  She also told me that I can let my burdens go — or at least lessen their grip on my heart and mind. I don’t have to be perfect, I can just be perfectly me.

I also spent a good part of the weekend with a new friend, Rex.  Friday night we sat by the firepit at his house and talked, and then when the blue moon came out around midnight, we laid on his driveway and watched it overhead for a long time, thinking about what an amazing thing it is just to lay on the driveway and look at the moon.  Sunday, I spent the day with Rex and some new friends on a great boat on Lake Lanier.  It was a gorgeous day, we ate, we drank, we swam, we sat on the beach, Rex was super goofy and laughing, he danced on the beach at Sunset Cove, not caring what anyone thought. Later he asked me why I didn’t come dance with him.  My answer was “I was too sunburned”  REALLY? That’s a terrible answer/reason.  The truth is, I was scared.  As Rex and I were leaving he pulled me out of the car, we were the only ones in the grassy parking lot.  He turned up the radio to the really loud setting and with some crazy awesome French music, we danced in the parking lot. It was silly and fun and we laughed and I remembered for a moment that time before…the time before all these cares were on my shoulders and I realized something really, really important.  I can let go of those things and allow myself to live.  To really feel, to not worry what anyone thinks, to give myself permission to be imperfectly me.

What I have decided is that I don’t want someone to carry the burdens with me, I have decided that I want to put down the burdens, I want to feel joy and peace and have someone to have fun with for the rest of my life.  Someone to laugh with and find pleasure in the small things, remembering that really those are the things that make you the most happy.

I’ve always liked the idea of a purple heart — symbolizing that we have all been “wounded” in the action of life.  We can chose to carry on with the burdens, or we can lay them down and remember what it means to live and love.

30 years!!! 30 years??? How can that possibly be?

college, Friendship, Happiness, Laughter, Time

I drove across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on a beautiful sunny day in August 1985 to begin one of the biggest adventures of my life.  I was a freshman at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland.  I had grown up my entire life around large Universities and spent the majority of my life in the desert.  This school was the complete opposite of everything I knew. It was in a tiny town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, surrounded by corn fields and situated on the Chester River, a tributary off the Chesapeake Bay.  It was founded in 1783 and was the first school to which George Washington gave his name.  There were just over 800 students and had an amazing sense of community.

George

Picture Courtesy: Debbie McMeniman ’88

Last Friday, I again drove across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on a beautiful sunny day to attend my 26th college reunion.  Although things have changed a little here and there, I remember every curve of the road, I remember where the cops sit, it is as if time had stood still.

But even more amazing was the opportunity to reconnect with friends, many of whom I hadn’t seen in long years.  The years melted away and we were kids again.  Dancing, drinking, singing, remembering fun times, walking through the time that had passed as if it were simply air… When you attend a school as special as Washington College, the connections are strong and real.

What is unbelievable to me is that it has been 30 years since I made that first drive to Chestertown.  I am in awe of how fast time has gone by and I started looking for a poem about time and I came across this one… Reverend Joseph H. Clinch not a poet that you may know…but ironically, this poem was first shared with the alumni of Washington College on 4 August 1841…  I am just sharing a couple of stanzas that really captured what I was thinking.

VIII.
On hastes Time’s current, with perpetual sweep,
Spurning all interruption:—Strength may fling
His rocky barriers in its torrent deep-
Pleasure’s bright flowers and rank weeds clustering
May seek to check its progress. Fame may bring
Her garlands to its eddies, and essay
To plant them in the waters, till they spring
Into far spreading palms—and Wealth may lay
Broad dams of golden sand, its onward courst to stay.

IX.
All, all in vain:—in’foamy letters traced
Jjobitur el labeter tells its tale,
And man, borne downward by its ceaseless haste,
May e’en outrun the current, for the gale
Aids the descending voyager—but to sail
Upward against the tide to none h given ;-
The strongest anchor in the stream is frail,
And none may pause—all, all are onward driven—
Happy, whose compass points unremittingly to Heaven.

This weekend reminded me of one of the happiest times of my life with some of the best people I have or will ever know.  It also reminded me time is precious and friends are true treasures and I commit to never letting so many years go by without reconnecting with the friends of my heart.

river

Am I Wrong?

Career, Emotions

Am I tripping
For having a vision?
My prediction
I’ma be on the top of the world
Walk your walk and don’t look back,
Always do what you decide
Don’t let them control your life, that’s just how I feel oh whoa
Fight for yours and don’t let go,
Don’t let them compare you, no
Don’t worry, you’re not alone, that’s just how we feel

I’ve been thinking a lot about being half way through my life.  What have I done?  How have I made a difference?  What do I have left to do?

I’ve spent the past 26 years working for companies — mostly large, really large, publicly traded companies. I’ve helped those companies to better understand their markets, competitors and customers.  I’ve helped the shareholders to become wealthier — maybe some of that trickled down to my retirement portfolio. (maybe?)  If I try to tie back my work to a higher purpose, I guess I could say I’ve helped consumers and small business to get access to credit that helps them enrich their lives and drive economic growth or I’ve helped to create more time in the life of a mother with an easier to clean oven.  Really reaching here…I need to have meaning.

But I have a vision for the rest of my life that is different.  I may continue to work for “the man” for a while longer, but in that time, I am going to focus on making a difference to the people I work with and our customers.  I am going to focus on the higher purpose and when the time is right, I am going to quit. I am going to walk away and do what my heart desires and stop doing what I think I should do, I am going to do what I MUST do.

Lyrics from Am I Wrong?

Songwriters
DERY, VINCENT / SEREBA, NICOLAY / LARSEN, WILLIAM WIIK / JALLOW, ABDOULIE

Published by
Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC, SHAPIRO BERNSTEIN & CO. INC.

Read more: Am I Wrong Lyrics – Nico & Vinz | MetroLyrics

Hello? Are you awake in there?

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I disappeared for TWO years.  A lot can happen in two years.  A lot. And when you are waking up it can seem like it goes by in the blink of an eye.

When I started this blog I called it Waking Mel because I felt as if I had been sleepwalking through my life.  I hadn’t really been living, I’d been existing. Barely.

The problem with being awake is that you feel things.  Sometimes more acutely because you have been numb for so long. So happy is really happy and sad is really sad and anxious is really anxious. What I can tell you is that I am awake, with the good and bad that entails.

Many changes in my life in two years.  Old relationship is over, we’ve both moved on after 22 years, but stayed friends. New relationship started and stopped and started and stopped.  New home, new car, new body.  Work challenges, kid challenges, dog challenges, cat challenges, food challenges, commute challenges. I’ve had a lot of sadness in the past two years, times I felt like I couldn’t cope and that I’d be better off somewhere else or dead, times I’d have like to have given up.  But I have also had a lot of joy in the past two years, adventures to new places with new experiences, seeing my son begin to blossom, and the unending, unconditional love and generosity of my family.

Even though it is hard at times — through it all, I have learned some things.

  • Being awake is way better than sleepwalking through life. The hurts may hurt more, but the joy is real.
  • I am 100% worthy of being loved and respected and treasured for the person that I am.
  • Change is hard and can be painful, it is always hard work and sometimes the outcome seems cloudy, but it is the ONLY way to move forward.
  • Today, I am stronger than I was yesterday and tomorrow I will be stronger than I am today.
  • I am truly, truly blessed to have my sons, mom, dad, sister, niece and my dear friends (oh and Emma the dog too).  I honestly can say that as I went through the past two years, it is they who pulled me through and without them, I would not have made it.

I have decided to bring this blog back to life. I thought about changing the name, but honestly, if you think about it, we are all always in the process of waking, so I think I will keep it as it is.

I am a Feminist

Career, change, Confience, History, Human Rights, Leaderhip, women

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution designed to guarantee equal rights for women. The ERA was originally written by Alice Paul and, in 1923, it was introduced in the Congress for the first time. In 1972, it passed both houses of Congress and went to the state legislatures for ratification. The ERA failed to receive the requisite number of ratifications before the final deadline mandated by Congress of June 30, 1982 expired, and so it was not adopted, largely because Phyllis Schlafly mobilized conservatives to oppose the ERA.

Source: Wikipedia

In 1982, I was in the eighth-grade. I was in an advanced Social Studies program and we had to prepare a debate– my topic: Why the Equal Rights Amendment should be passed. I am certain in was not an eloquent argument; however, I am equally certain that it was delivered with great passion. In fact, I remember being very upset and maybe even crying when my teacher told me to calm down over the whole thing.

To this day, I maintain a huge passion for issues affecting women. I consider myself a feminist and a social liberal. I believe that God created all people, (not just white men) and regardless of race, gender, sexual preference each human should be able to have equal opportunities to make money, marry, have children and live a full and complete life. I can’t imagine a God that would think that some people deserve those things and others do not.

I know I have a lot of friends who don’t agree with my political views and I mostly keep my opinions to myself about politics, most of you don’t know how I feel about the current tax rate or our foreign policy or regulation of the banking section. However, I would venture to guess that most of you know my opinions about gender and equality. And to me this isn’t about politics, it is about our basic rights as human beings.

“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights”

Gloria Steinem

While women have made great progress in the United States in the past 100 years, we are not on equal footing to men, in business, in athletics, in finances or in politics.

melw2

This picture from the National Park Service is of a rally of suffragette in Washington, DC in 1913, a full six years before women finally won the right to vote. They were brave women who passionately believed that they should have a say in what happened in their communities and the country. There are more women serving in congress today than at any other time, as the picture below shows.

132078552_11n

This is great progress, but there is still so much further to go.

This week the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act was signed into law. While it is important that there be laws to protect women from violence and to provide for care of those who suffer at the hands of an abuser, it makes me sad that women are not on equal footing with men, and that we need to have such a law.

There is also a bill pending called the Paycheck Fairness Act. If passed, this law will require employers to demonstrate that any salary differences between men and women doing the same work are not gender-related. Really? How sad is that? We have to have a law that allows women to earn the same money as men for the same work. Today, on average women earn just 77 cents of what men earn for the same work regardless of occupation or education. But passage of the bill was blocked last year…

Even since I have been in the work force (25 years or so), I have seen great changes in the opportunities available to women, some of the best bosses I have ever had were women; however, I work for a publicly traded company that has one female on our executive leadership team and one female on the board of directors. There is one female who has P&L ownership in the company. Prior to my current company, I worked for a company that made products for women, but had NO women on its Executive leadership team. What does this say to young women entering the work force today? Do they see opportunity or obstacles?

As women leaders, we have the responsibility to ensure that we are treating fellow women with the respect they deserve, that they are being paid at the same level as their male counterparts. We also need to ensure that we are empowering girls and young women to be confident in their ability to achieve. To encourage them to be the best at any and everything they do.

It won’t be long, I hope, until we have a female president and we can join with countries like the UK, Germany, Brazil, Chile, Liberia, South Korea in demonstrating that women are equal and can achieve anything they set their minds to. We need to demonstrate to the rest of the world that women’s rights are human rights.

 

Where’d you go?

creativity, Emotions, Friendship, Happiness

Where’d you go?
I miss you so,
Seems like it’s been forever,
That you’ve been gone.

She said “Some days I feel like shit,
Some days I wanna quit, and just be normal for a bit,”

Ft. Minor, Where’d you go?

It’s been a long time since I sat down to write.  It’s not that I haven’t had ideas or that I haven’t been thinking about it, but it’s almost like something inside me just didn’t want to do it.

So where have I been?  What have I been doing?  Nowhere, nothing.  Just living life, trying to keep the balls in the air and keeping on moving on.

Some days it takes all I have to show up at work and do what I need to do and come home and make dinner and take the dog for a walk and wash the dishes and do the laundry and the grocery shopping and talk to my kids and take them to the doctor and pay the bills and balance the checkbook.

Life sometimes feels like a long series of logistics, of getting from place to place, of making sure there is food to eat, running water and electricity.   It can be so exhausting.  And sometimes it all seems so pointless.

Until…I wake up and see an amazing sunrise or the spring flowers begin to show their colors or I get to spend a day with a sweet seven-year old girl.  And I start to think about how to make today count?  We only have an unknown number of days left.  What can I do to make it count amongst the chores and mundane thoughts?  How can I make a difference today?  Sometimes, it is as simple as letting someone in front of me at the grocery store because they only have one item.  Sometimes, it is more complex as I listen to a friend in pain and try to help or I try to capture fleeting emotions as you write.  But each day there is something to do that adds meaning to life.

I think I am back now for a while.