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▪️PURSUE YOUR PASSION

Finally she paints a portrait

I just finished a Hallmark Channel movie that was a bit odd. At one point during the storyline the main character, a female (of course) painter, paints a vision board where the vision she paints begins to take shape in her life.

The mysterious guy in her painting, her “Mr. Right” in the future, becomes the real life object of her vision. Then she realizes even though he’s real and has everything she wants, she has no feelings for him.

Then she paints a new board with a new guy and he breaks her heart. This causes her to ruin her painting and subsequently ruin her chances at her big career break. (Don’t worry, it’s a Hallmark Channel movie.)

Then finally, she paints a portrait of herself.

She follows that up with some other life decisions, salvages her opportunity to show her painting in an art show, which bails her out of destroying her chance at a big career break (remember this is a Hallmark Channel movie), and ultimately gets together with guy #2 who does end up being her “Mr. Right.” The movie ends with a Hallmark Channel movie kiss, which always gets delivered in the last 5 minutes, guaranteed!

Why am I bringing this up you ask? Well let’s go back to painting number three, the self portrait.

Pursuing our passion is like adding brushstrokes to our self portrait. It gives others something to look at that helps them know what we love. Living our lives full of colorful passions gives inspiration to those who may be staring at a blank canvas.

It takes courage to show the world what you love.

The lead in the movie needed to learn that someone else couldn’t fill the void of an unrealized dream. That could only be done by pursuing her own passion. If you’re not pursuing your passion friends, try some things, slap some paint on the canvas of your life, who knows you may end up with a Jackson Pollock.

You owe it to all of us to be strong and courageous.

▪️PICK YOUR BATTLES

What if our realities collide?

You would think since we now live in the same neighborhood that we would be spending more time together, sadly it hasn’t turned out that way. Last week there were close encounters as we played tag via text, and another day as I was rounding the street to return home from my walk I caught a glimpse of her jogging the other way. Friend-ships in the night I guess. We finally accepted our lot and settled for a phone call while we tried to multitask some of our routine responsibilities.

We never quite get through our list of “life stuff to discuss with _______” I think we both keep a running mental account with one another’s names included.

We were gracious and allowed each other a fair share of the talk time to catch up and cover most of our agendas before she interjected “new business” to our meeting.

Question, have you ever felt like you had investigated something thoroughly and are ready to pull the trigger on the decision, only to discover, just after you were certain, “Houston, we have a problem?”

Well, that’s exactly where she found herself. This can be unnerving. How can we be so certain we are moving forward in the right direction only to realize that we’ve hit a headwind straight into a danger.

After she neatly unpacked all the details of her quandary, we began to analyze.

Of course we were both able to take our seats up in the clouds, as we pulled apart the situation attempting to see it all from God’s point of view, no judgement of course. I can honestly say that we were fair and kind, even though we did not agree with the actions that had transpired. However, there would still be danger ahead for my friend so I advised she launch some preemptive counter measures.

“Call her back” I said.

She had just given a verbal “yes” to a year long commitment. However, with this new information now in play she was dismayed. “It took courage for me to go in and tell her I would commit in the first place” she said, “now I have to call her and bring up these issues.” She knew she had to do it.

It takes courage to seek the truth.

Whether we like it or not, all of our perspectives are building toward a future reality. What if our realities collide? Some of us will like the new reality and some of us won’t. Seeking the truth of someone else’s perspective can help us know which battles are worth fighting.

I’m betting that if someone else’s perspective is going to impact my future reality, that I better fight for my perspective to be considered.

Isn’t that how most conflict occurs anyway – opposing perspectives?

She’s one of us. She’s full of courage. I have no doubt that the next pocket of time we have to debrief on life, I’ll get the rest of the story.

Maybe so will you.

Until then, be strong and courageous friends,

▪️PAIN HAS A PURPOSE

Relying on the boy who’s bottom I used to clean

My husband said I looked like a pro athlete limping off the field as he watched me shuttle through our front door. I was in pain.

First the pain was physical, as days then weeks unfolded it was the emotional pain that swept in like a tidal wave.

I’ve had fits and spurts of exercise habits. In this particular season it was roller blading that was keeping my body in motion. I had been chastised more than a handful of times for not wearing ALL of the protective garb.

Helmet check.

Knee pads check.

Wrist guards…well there was my demise.

I knew it was bad even before my eyes connected to where I had braced my fall. It’s an incredible truth that our instinct to protect ourselves takes action without the direction of a thought from our minds. Human nature is real.

In the split second that it took my eyes to lock onto the elephant sized bulge that was once my wrist, the shock had already sedated my pain.

There are baskets full of moments that I collected from this pain that still continue to teach me various lessons. It was a season where I felt I lived outside of time, each painful turn of the saga seemed to last an eternity. What was the story being told? If you’ve experienced acute pain of any kind, physical or emotional, I hope you’ve found its purpose. A pragmatic acceptance of pain will keep you in kindergarten.

It takes courage to glean life lessons from our pain.


One of those lessons for me was humility. It’s an interesting exercise to survey the definition of humility from those you know. I was of the camp that humility was the absence of pride at the time, that was until I gleaned from the classroom of life.

Now having incapacitated my right arm from my fingers to elbow, daily chores had me in tears. I loathed my need for help. That was until I really needed it.

I can’t recall the circumstances exactly that put me in this bind, what I do recall was the need for a bath and washing of my hair. I must have been in dyer need for a good scrub to ask for his help. And by his I’m referring to my son who was 12 years old at the time. I thought I could do it myself, only to find out midway that I needed some help. So there I was, in all of my naked frailty, relying on the boy, who’s bottom I used to clean, to help me wash my hair.

Now I possess a new definition of humility. An experienced definition.

I define humility as our humanness exposed with dignity. A human who’s suffering is wrapped with dignity is humble. Humility is our strength controlled for meaning and purpose.

Suffering is a part of life, why not winnow our suffering for courage and allow our pain to have purpose?

For those of you who are in pain, don’t let it go to waste.

Be strong and courageous.

▪️FACE YOUR FEAR

Tribe security.

I am convinced that insecurity is a breeding ground for fear.

Security comes in many shapes and sizes. Financial security, do I have enough resources? Physical security, am I safe? Emotional security, do I have a tribe?

Am I loved, accepted, and known? Tribe security.

While tribe security yields abundant benefits such as interdependency, identity, and love. It can also be the most disloyal companion of all the security blankets we borrow from. People can cause the deepest fears within us to brew until we lose all control .

While this truth has rooted itself deep within me I find its foliage needs pruning. The reality is, I can’t be sure how the “people” will respond, but I need them anyway. Paradoxical.

Stepping out and exposing all of my vulnerabilities will tax the system of the tribe.

By the time this post has been published I will know if the tribe created an environment of security for me or not. I’ve allowed unexpected schedule interruptions and delays to pop up long enough. It’s time to get up there and break the ice.

The “Ice Breaker” speech. It will be my first formal talk at Toastmasters. This tribe has promised to provide encouraging and helpful feedback designed to develop my public speaking skills.

I’ve learned from my impetuous youth, this time I’ve eased into my participation. I’ve been evaluating their ability to keep this promise.

The waters have been tested, I must now take the plunge.

It’s a shame that all of life cannot follow this course. Insisting the tribe demonstrate their commitment to the code. Code violations can be damaging to the human spirit.

For me the fear is not in the speaking. That is just an evaluation of a skill. Skills can be honed. Skills are not the person.

The fear is will they accept me. My perspective. My uniqueness. My personality. Will the tribe invite me in or push me away?

A secure woman has courage.


Are you insecure? Is this the result of relying on other people’s approval of who you are as a person? In the most loving tone I have to offer, I say “I hope not.”

I have a few people pleasers in my life and I’ve seen first hand how this tendency has incited the worst of all fears. Tribe security.

Now, I don’t recommend that you follow my overly protective, independent, self sufficient path to loneliness, however I do want to leave this crumb of advice with you. It’s my summary statement to all of the wonderful people I know who bear this tension with painful inner conflict.

Please don’t ever prostitute your emotions to solicit someone else’s affections. You are loved, accepted, and valued. Don’t chase it down.

There I said it.

If tribe security is one of your fears, face it. Walk in the extraordinarily individual nature of who you are, and if they don’t appreciate your beauty – grab your lunch tray and choose another table.

I know you’re afraid – do it anyway.

You are strong and courageous.

▪️DON'T QUIT

What if this time I don’t quit.

When I look around it’s utterly amazing to me that I have organized my quitting. I’ve actually financed it, dressed it, and created space for it. Folders with bright feminine designs and sturdy three ring binders – all stuffed full of my quitting.

I guess I had never really had this perspective before today. The collection of devotional outlines from miscellaneous group meetings, prayer guides, Bible studies, etc.

It was like visiting a writing graveyard. A wasteland of my quitting.

What if instead of all of these papers scattered here and there, gently tucked away, I would have kept to it.

Would I have a book by now?

Instead I have a glorious collection of false starts and a lack of perseverance.

Today I stumbled along a blog post in which the writer shared that after 12.5 years they were “pressing pause” on their blog. My knee jerk reaction, “I’ve spent just over 12.5 weeks blogging, 12.5 years, NO WAY!”

BUT.

What if on the other side of my weekly blogging commitment (to you lovely people) I have indeed written, published, and have a book to regard, not another frilly folder stuffed with outlines, story maps, and edits.

What if this time I don’t quit.

What if this time I make it across to the other side. I traverse the expansive evolution from writer to author. What if.

It’s hard to persevere when things get tough. It takes courage to envision your breakthrough.


I call this blog “Moments with Melissa” firstly, the practical, my name as a url was already in use, and secondly, I thought it would be easy to remember.

It ends up however, the blog knew what it would become, a passport to travel with me. We’re learning companions.

When I pause long enough to reflect on the moments of my everyday life, the moments that have created a ripple in the puddle of my emotions, I can learn something.

Where did I squirm? Where were the moments that with wet wings I found myself slowly emerging with the grace of a Monarch? Where did I find myself learning to roar?

Where was I cultivating courage?

Yes friend this is a learning. It’s an everyday, moment by moment journey to somewhere we are all destined to arrive. The commitment to cultivate the little bit of courage that each of one of us has received as a gift, is a daily journey to somewhere.

“No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this,
Never so much as imagined anything quite like it—
What God has arranged for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2 : The Message

Something has been arranged for us. Do we have the courage to find it?

Our courage needs to be opened, enjoyed, and put to good use. Courage is a virtue that makes each human full of potential. We shouldn’t leave it on a shelf collecting dust. We should employ it.

I know the working is hard.

We’re not quitters, anymore (if that’s been an issue for you), we’re finishers.

What is begging you to finish?

Household project? Legacy gift for your children/grandchildren? College Degree? Unfulfilling commitment/obligation? Personal Health/Fitness Goal? Paying off old debt?

Believe friends, believe in your breakthrough.

I come to you in honest companionship. With a deep sigh and faint heart, the quitting has kept me from everything I’ve always desired for myself and my life. But with great resolve and a smidge of courage, today I decided not to quit, I just showed up again.

Thank you for doing this with me 💛.

Look at your moments this week and share with us how you lived out the “finish what you start” mantra?

Until next week friends, be strong and courageous,

If you’d like a weekly spur to cultivate more courage, I invite you to join our community. Just share your name and email at the top of the page.

▪️COMFORTABLE WITH UNCOMFORTABLE

The discomfort preceded the destiny.

It’s been 4 years since my trip to India. Although my everyday life seems as distant as the geography is, my memories tend to keep this experience top of mind. You can image that the combination of being fully present to each moment I experienced and the sensory overload of an unfamiliar culture serve to preserve these memories like a travel journal of sorts.

HOT that might be the first word I would use when describing India. There we sat side by side forming a row across the stage glued to the plastic seating provided, we must have looked like a tribe of vagabond Westerners to the women we were facing. The mix of heat and immobility resulted in legs that were suctioned together, sweat dripping from everywhere, and I swore I could wring this amount of perspiration from my bra.

To me everything in India is riddled with irony, including the HOT chai tea we were served during the conference break that afternoon. I managed to get the recipe and have made it a few times over the years. Delish. Oddly enough we were there to teach, this notion was especially ironic.

Our “fearless” leader, who was really theirs, was speaking. Not knowing if the story she was telling was true or a magnificent oral tale of Eastern decent I found myself hanging on her every word.

This message was for me.

She told us a story of what eagles do to realize their full potential – the discomfort they endure to reach their maximum life span. She with great detail, and some hilarious facial expressions, illustrated the process they go through to live beyond the age of 40. Their life span could be 80+ years, the choice was theirs.

She narrated how they would find a place to hide, a cave of sorts, high up in the mountains, a place where they could be safe in their vulnerability. It would be in this place where they would painstakingly pluck out some of their heaviest feathers, in order to lighten their plumage.

They use their hard and mangled beaks to pull out their talons one by one, for newer sharper talons to grow in. And at the final stage would crack their beaks agains the hard stone until the old came away and a more youthful beak could grow back in its place. All the while they faced near starvation in the process. Discomfort would be a slight to depict the pain of this molting.

I was 39 at the time.

I struggled with feelings of unfulfillment. I just didn’t feel like I was living my full potential. I had allowed life to push me around to the point that I wasn’t really sure who I was, what I was made for, and where I was going.

I was aching for purpose.

She implored her audience. “Do the hard work, you’re meant to be eagles.”

I wasn’t the only Westerner who was opened mouthed at the way she was addressing her girls, excuse me, I mean female leaders. She caught all of us off guard.

“Why are you acting like chickens just pecking around in the garbage?”

All I could think was, try selling tickets to hear that at your next women’s conference or retreat. But she was right, if we’re not out there enduring the discomfort to reach our maximum potential – we’re chickens.

I don’t know about you but I would rather be an eagle than a chicken. And my biggest take away from her talk was understanding this principle.

The discomfort preceded the destiny. And it takes courage to believe in yourself. Believing you’re an eagle not a chicken is half the battle.


This is especially true when you’re an adult. There are not many people offering to tell you how awesome you are and how much untapped potential you have. You’ve got to push yourself outside of your own comfort zone…and keep on pushing.

Friends, that’s what this community is about…pushing one another along as we all go through the painful process of reaching our full potential.

Eagles or chickens? Cast your vote.

Who’s ready to do the hard work with me?

▪️PURSUE YOUR PASSION

AND…

It was a dreamy Sunday morning. The sky was clear and the breeze provided respite from the bright Florida sun. It was the weather that caused me to linger.

I took a few steps in her direction and could tell from the glance she gave that my company would be a welcomed distraction. I found my place across from her as I took a seat on the picnic bench.

We’re just getting to know one another. We live in a town where people migrate, as they chase their dreams. Helping people converge their chase with their need to experience community seems to be my calling lately.

I can identify, I was her just 8 years ago.

Recently, my dreams have been mired by unwanted reminders of my past. Some realities are inescapable I suppose, yet I find myself struggling against this harsh reality. I petition for an alternative path. 👣

“Lord, if only I had…Space. Distance. Freedom. Then I could pursue my passion.”

This is an immature perspective.

These are the things I beg for, these are the crutches I insist that I need. If only she knew how right her choice of words was when she said “AND.”

We had been commiserating about our trials. Life’s unexpected and unwanted twists and turns. The things that we insist prevent us from experiencing the life we’re striving to create for ourselves.

The obstacles to pursuing our purpose – living our dream.

Her highly capable self had just missed a flight. She was still in a state of disbelief, “how could I get the date of my vacation wrong?” “How could I have dropped the ball on something so important?”

Juggling a cross country move, the holiday season, and a family of 6 is excuse enough to have this kind of misstep if you ask me. Nevertheless I know how she feels.

Out of empathy I shared with her the tragic details of the problem I’ve been walking through for nearly 2 years all the while sustaining the demands of motherhood and managing the details of our business.

However, in the course of it all I snuck it into our conversation. It was an aside, I thought it would go unnoticed. But when you are pursuing your passion it’s impossible to go unnoticed.

“I’m writing.” That was it. The little secret I shared.

She immediately recognized that I’m doing life “AND” pursuing my passion.

I finally realized that life is NEVER going to stop and give me SPACE. DISTANCE. FREEDOM. enough to just pursue my passion. It would only happen through AND.

When we dare to pursue our passion against all the odds of life we show courage, and courage is contagious.


Friends, this is what this whole blogging thing is about. Pursuing your passion. Writing is mine. What is yours?

My humble hope from each week’s post is that you get just the tiniest bit of encouragement and inspiration so that you might pursue your own passion.

ATTRIBUTE #6

PURSUE YOUR PASSION

This is your week to share 🎤

What’s your passion? What’s your dream?

Your response will encourage me to continue.

As always friends, be strong and courageous,