When skin gets thin


I cannot change the moods or the behavior of others.  I can only control how I let those moods and behaviors affect me.   Today, however, was a glowing example of how that ideal can radically fail.

If I were superstitious, today would have been my Friday the 13th.  My black cat was the neighbors dog, who, first thing this morning, managed to soil, not one but, two pairs of my shorts on my way to work.  The ladder I walked under was the exit door from my house.  And the broken mirror was the negativity that continued to rain throughout the day like the shards of glass falling from that broken mirror.

I am usually very thick-skinned.   Most of the time I can deflect negativity and remain blissfully unaware of the antagonism that tends to eddy in the normally calm waters of my life.  But the vortex of that disapproval became too much.  I, without my life-preserver, was pulled under and was out of breath.


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A little positive reinforcement can go a long way.  As an adult with a great deal of life experience under my belt, I know life is unfair and the wheels can fall off the bus at any given second.   But to focus solely on the loose lug nut that made the wheel come off is negating the safe driving before that wheel fell off and the work that the bus driver had to do after its liberation to safely get that bus to the shoulder of the road.

Thick skin can actually be quite tenuous and a little praise goes a long way.   If criticism is deserved, than criticism should be administered.  But if praise is deserved, it should be just as easily passed from the lips of the people who need to say it to the ears of the people who need to hear it.

The Church of The Fish

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Times have certainly changed.   When I began my career in the hospitality industry, food allergies were not even a blip on the culinary radar.  The kitchen was, for Chefs, a playground with no rules.   But all of that has changed.

These days, I make a point of asking each person making a reservation at the lodge if anyone in the family has any food allergies or food restrictions that we should be made aware of before their arrival.  The answers always weigh more heavily on the ‘yes’ than the ‘no’.  And although some of the guidelines we are made to adhere to are more preference than necessity, the kitchen now has to deal with a list of these instructions for each week of our summer season.

Now, while I completely comprehend the severity of an ingested or inhaled allergic reaction to a food, it does not negate the fact that I am more than moderately amused by the inability of our Sous Chef to pronounce one of the more prevalent choices in the current realm of dietary options.  A Pescatarian is a person who does not eat meat but will eat fish.  And each time I have the opportunity to add that choice to our “allergy” list for the week, my smile cannot be missed.   As I walk into the kitchen with that list, I calmly await the moment that she will read the list aloud and say the word “Pescabyterian”.

church of the loaves and fishes

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According to Karina, somewhere there is a church for vegetarians who occasionally eat fish.  And this latest hotel guest, this most recent addition to our list of dietary anomalies, is a member of its congregation.  Each time she reads the list aloud, the words Pescatarian and Presbyterian become intertwined and I am reduced to a public school version of myself, unintentionally (not really) laughing at the combination of the two expressions.

Pescabyterian – a member of the religion of vegetarians who consciously choose to eat fish.

It may be juvenile, but this marriage of words helps alleviate some of the stress of our summer.  It gives us the freedom to laugh at the increased amount of tension in an already volatile environment.  And it allows a break for laughter in a scene that is meant more for drama, creating an oasis of calm in a sea of chaos.

One simple word, whether Webster chooses to recognize it or not, has the power to change the trajectory of our day.   Let’s hear it for the Pescabyterians!





Remembering the things I forgot

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Earlier today, a friend inadvertently reminded me of one of the greatest things about writing.  It’s not just for the melodic overture that silently plays as words form sentences and transport themselves from my brain to my fingertips and onto the screen.  It’s not the myriad number of ways I am able to express myself.  It is simply the fact that I am allowed to engage with people in a way that brings me joy.

When I post a blog, I certainly look at my stats to see how many people have stopped by to read what I have written.  But somewhere along the way, I have disconnected from the truth behind those statistics.  Those numbers represent people who have taken the time to ingest my words, who have possibly connected to what I had to say and who may share the same thoughts that I have shared.

hugging words

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I was reminded today that my words have an impact on people.  It’s not just looking at statistics on a blog.  It’s realizing that I am able, through my writing, to make a connection with people on a level far greater than I imagined.   I can reach people who I cannot see.  I can engage with people I know or even people I may never meet.  I can speak to people without uttering a word out loud.

Writing this blog has not only allowed me to connect with the hidden parts of myself, it has enabled me to become a part of so many other lives.  This morning, this friend told me she spent an entire day thinking about a post of mine that she had read in the winter.  Her words gave so much worth to my words and this blog post is my way of thanking her for giving me the kick in the pants I needed to get back to writing more frequently.   Thanks Erin!


The red pen


My writing has become the focal point in my life.   So much so that I have been consciously willing to share a few of the chapters of the novel I have so carefully crafted with a select few who will unabashedly share their opinion of my writing.  It is a big leap of faith and one I needed to make to get over my fear of rejection.  Turns out, it was (thankfully) much less painful than I anticipated.

A very endearing couple recently checked into the lodge for their third visit.  We were making small talk about how they would spend their week and she gushed about the trilogy she had brought with her to read.  We talked books and authors and I blurted out that I was writing a book.  After giving her a brief outline of the plot, she seemed intrigued.  I took the first step off my cliff of fears when I asked her if she wanted to read some of it.  My second foot followed off the cliff when I actually printed a few pages and timidly handed them to her.

Her excitement completely contrasted my feeling of nausea.  She left with my soul on a few pieces of paper as I sat in my office, slowing curling into the fetal position, wondering what I had just done.

Hours later she came back to the office with a smile on her face that I have yet to define with words.  But what really grabbed and held my attention was the red pen in her hand.  For those who embarked on their scholastic careers before technology took over, the red pen was a symbol of doom and I began a staring contest with the inanimate object.


Her voice circled around my head as I tried to pull my gaze from that red pen.  A few of her words burrowed into my brain, slowly connecting with the tissue, and my heart almost stopped when I heard “Mel is a retired English teacher”.  It was over.

But then it wasn’t.

After going over a few corrections which made complete sense to me, the red pen no longer felt like a threat and became something else entirely.  They were entertained by the plot.  They enjoyed the phrasing of my sentences and they were captivated enough to want to keep reading.  That red pen was the prophet that delivered the word “love” beside two of the lines that they enjoyed the most.

Somewhere during our conversation, that red pen became the pump that reinflated my confidence.  It didn’t say ‘you failed’.   It screamed ‘keep going’.  Thank you Jean and Mel for the kick in the pants I needed to climb back up the cliff and get ready to take that leap over and over again.

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When words just don’t feel like enough



I love words.  I devour them like plants absorb the sun for nourishment.  I feed on their ability to convey so many emotions, to give us countless ways to describe the essence of who we are and to capture all the wonderful nuances in life.  Words are simple in their nature but intricate in their distinction.

But sometimes words fail.  There are so many things we want to say, so many emotions we want to share and words just don’t do justice to the feelings we are trying to express.  There have been moments that I have had so many words hovering on the precipice of being spoken aloud but those words seem to pale in comparison to the message I really want to send.

It is not often that words are not my ally.  It is an uncomfortable moment when the things I love seem to leave me when I most need them.  Where once was a plethora of idioms, a bottomless chasm of silence resides.  My inability to use words to their potential precludes me from saying the precise thing I want to say.

But those words are sometimes delivered even though they are unspoken.  Those muted messages find their way through the silence and are easily understood as they soundlessly fall on the ears intended to hear them.

As as writer, I rely on words to accurately convey how I am feeling.  I use those words to express myself.  But sometimes I forget that the words I don’t say, the words that are felt and not heard, are just as loud as the ones I speak.




Nothing compares to u, v, w, x……


It’s been seven hours and fifteen days……okay, that may be a slight exaggeration (and a very cheesy song reference) but it feels pretty close to the truth that I have just faced.  I looked at my blog posts for the last 27 days and I have posted 6, a measly 6, blog posts during this 27 day period.  I have never been this bereft of creativity since I began my blogging journey.

And once those two words settled into my brain, I felt the familiar pull I feel when I write.  Calling it a blogging journey doesn’t really do it justice.  It doesn’t truly encompass the creative path that I have carved for myself since I became a member of the WordPress writing community.  In this world, I have discovered many who share my passion and I have uncovered a deep part of myself that was grossly underutilized.

We all find things that give us a sense of freedom, moments that we can savor the state of true abandon from reality.  Writing gives me that indulgence.  It permits me to leave the rest of the world behind and go where the words take me.  Nothing does compare to the pleasure I get when I tune out my inner critic and just let the words say what they want to say.  Writing is the one thing in my life that I not only give complete freedom to but also allow it honesty without the constraints of censorship.


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And although I know considerable chunks of time have seeped into the cracks and pushed the chasms of my imaginative spurts further apart, I continually stand on the precipice of inspiration, ready to seize any opportunity that the writing Gods see fit to send my way.




The first to break eye contact


I stared at the beast.

It gazed back at me,

its eyes filled with the same intensity.

It hummed with a quiet curiosity

as I pondered over the best approach.

We both remained reticent,

neither willing to concede a loss

in the staring contest in which we had become engaged.

We both sat,

watchful of each other,

waiting for the other to make the first move,

until the warmth of my skin

finally touched its cold, hard surface.

The keys began to move under my fingers

and the writing process began again.