The Road to Finders Keepers: My Starting Gate New Play Festival Journey

The Director and Cast of Finders Keepers

Straight Out the Starting Gate

Back in April, I applied to be a playwright in the 2020 Starting Gate New Play Festival at Talking Horse Productions. I submitted my one act play, St. Joan of Druthers, as my example after it had been well received at the Mizzou New Play Series. Shortly after applying, I received an email from the Selection Committee. The pandemic had made the process more challenging and there were more submissions than any other year. Towards the end of May, it came as quite a surprise that I had been chosen as one of three playwrights to participate in the Festival. I had been on the phone with my father before I got the good news. I called him back immediately.

He was ecstatic.

My dad showered me with compliments filled with pride. My dream of becoming a writer was coming to fruition. And this was proof positive.

I familiarized myself with the Festival guidelines. Playwrights were required to develop two original ten minute plays using the dialectic Blessing/Curse, interpreting it as they saw fit. Each play was expected to encapsulate its own voice and style and encouraged to focus on story not spectacle. Plays would be limited to a single scene. There would be two workshops and then auditions, rehearsals, and a performance in November. Thrilled to be a part of the Festival, I began to entertain ideas, eagerly writing rough drafts and scribbling notes, determined to write my best plays yet.

And then suddenly, my father died.

In June, I flew to California to face the devastating reality of my loss. I was uncertain whether I would be back in time for the first workshop, let alone have time to complete my two plays. Enveloped in sadness and overwhelmed by everything I had been through, I returned to Missouri in July. Twenty-four hours before the workshop, I scrapped the first play I wrote and started from scratch.

And that’s where Finders Keepers began.

*Fun Fact: The line “straight out the starting gate” in Finders Keepers was written as a nod to the Starting Gate New Play Festival.

A Theme is Born

I knew I wanted to incorporate my father’s memory into the play. I also knew it was too soon and I was too vulnerable to write about him. I somehow had to find a meaningful way to include him that wouldn’t emotionally devastate me. I also had to take into consideration that with twenty-four hours until the first workshop, there wasn’t much time for research so I needed to write about a subject I was highly familiar with. As I pondered the dialectic Blessing/Curse trying to come up with an idea, I reflected on how blessed I was to have so many friends reach out to me over the loss of my father and how much that meant to me.

Friendship quickly became the theme of my yet untitled play.

Character Development

The dynamics of friendship have always fascinated me. I was intrigued by the idea that even after death relationships can have a profound impact. Losing someone catapults your own mortality into consciousness. It makes you relentlessly obsess over what will happen after you die. Going through my father’s belongings made me realize that one day someone will be going through mine. This became the backdrop of my play.

The ten minute time constraint and the threat of Covid-19 kept my cast number at a minimum. While my characters aren’t based on anyone in particular, they reflect the archetypes often found within circles of friends. The Jennifer character, for example, is the voice of reason, the peacekeeper, and solver of problems. Rebecca, on the other hand, embraces the “enough about me what do you think about me” mentality, concerned mainly with herself and her own outcomes. Betsy falls somewhere in between the two.

All I needed was some conflict to stir things up.

The Homecoming Crown

About the time I became a part of the Festival, I was reading Glennon Doyle‘s book Untamed. In the chapter Tick Marks, Glennon reveals her experience rigging her way to the Homecoming Court during high school. It made me consider what being a Homecoming Queen meant and the influence it might have on a person. I began to explore the idea of building your life around something that didn’t exist. This became the conflict of Finders Keepers. While the ten minute parameter didn’t allow me to develop this idea to the extent I had hoped, it posed the question: “Is it a blessing or a curse to discover you aren’t actually the person you thought you were?”

The Fireproof Safe

After my father passed away, I found myself in unfamiliar territory (and still do). Like a Jenga game with a missing piece, I was wobbly, unstable, ready to come crashing down at any minute. In an effort to separate myself from the unbearable feelings I was experiencing, I became obsessed with getting my affairs in order in the event of my own untimely death. Things I had put off, like having my advance directive readily available, became of utmost importance. If I was going to die tomorrow, I was determined to be prepared for it.

I soon found myself overwhelmed by the dauting task. I became paralyzed and unable to do anything but binge watch Netflix in my pajamas while concurrently missing my dad and agonizing over not having a living trust.

And that’s when my friend Jenni came by.

*Fun Fact: I dedicated Finders Keepers to Jenni

After twenty plus years of friendship, she can assess my needs on any given day better than I can. Swooping in to save me is one of her super powers. She must have sensed my need on that particular day because she not only came bearing condolences, she also brought a fireproof safe. I had been wanting one for ages but never got around to buying one. As Jenni began helping me organize the important items I needed to put in my new safe, I remembered the body bag.

The Body Bag

*Fun Fact: The actual bag Jenni gave me is the one used in the play.
After filming, I put it in my new fireproof box for safekeeping.

The Christmas after my divorce, Jenni gave me a Christmas tree storage bag with my ex-husband’s name on it as a gag gift. She had been assisting me with the heartbreaking process of dividing up all my Christmas ornaments and wanted to provide me a much needed laugh. I have kept it all these years not because I wish ill will on my ex-husband but because that bag continues to bring a smile to my face every time I see it. It was a ray of light at a very dark time in my life and I will always be grateful to Jenni for that moment.

Beloved Spatula

There are several times I tip my hat to my father in Finders Keepers and those who knew him will know exactly where those moments are. For those who didn’t know him, I will give you this example.

*Fun Fact: This is Beloved Spatula!

Since I can remember, I have always made singing and dancing a priority. While living with my father during my senior of high school, I incorporated using a spatula as a microphone while my friends and I danced around the living room singing Madonna songs. It became affectionately known as my Beloved Spatula.

It remained at my dad’s for all these years where I would lovingly dote on it when I came to visit. Several years ago, I victoriously declared to my sisters that I was stealing Beloved Spatula fair and square (with my father’s approval of course) and it now resides proudly in my kitchen.

*Fun Fact: I gave these to the actresses and the Director as a token of my appreciation.

The Starting Gate New Play Festival

The title of the play, Finders Keepers, organically evolved. The dialogue you hear in the play is dialogue you can hear in any given living room at any given moment in my life. I literally wrote this play straight from my heart as a tribute to the friendships I have cherished and the losses I have suffered.

It has truly been an honor to be a part of the Festival. I am forever grateful for this opportunity. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend rehearsals because I had to return to California this Fall to finish settling my father’s estate. While I was disappointed, I knew my play was in good hands under the marvelous direction of Dana Bocke and her extremely talented cast.

It wasn’t until the night of filming that I finally had the chance to see Finders Keepers. As I sat there watching my characters come to life, listening to the words I had written that were sprinkled with reminders of my father, tears streamed down my face. It didn’t turn out how I imagined.

It was better.

*Fun Fact: You can click here to purchase tickets.

My dad would have loved Finders Keepers and I hope you will too. The 2020 Starting Gate New Play Festival will premiere online Friday November 20th at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $10.00 each and will be available through the end of November.

Me and My Daddy

If We Were Having Coffee…

beverage break breakfast brown
Photo by Pixabay on

If we were having coffee…it wouldn’t be in person because we are under a Stay at Home order due to the Coronavirus so we would have to meet online. It would take us a minute to get connected because we’re not super savvy with technology and would have to figure out how to navigate ZOOM or Hangouts which would probably involve a password or two and, well, we know how that goes. When our makeup free faces finally did pop up on our screens, we would squeal with delight not just because we figured out how to hook up virtually but because we’re so happy to see each other. We would laugh at how we used to complain about technology and now we are clinging to it for dear life because it’s the only thing that keeps us connected to the outside world. We would joke about how many days it had been since we washed our oily hair and then we would admit that sometimes we stayed in our pajamas all day.

If we were having coffee…our conversation would be saturated with new terms that have become a part of our everyday lives like droplet transmission, self-quarantine, PPE, essential activities, mitigation, community transmission and Novel Coronavirus. We would wonder how our world could have transformed overnight into something so unrecognizable and how we were doing our best to adapt to ever changing circumstances and new information being hurled at us in every direction on a daily basis. Over and over we would shake our heads and repeat phrases like, “Did you ever think something like this could happen?” and “Can you believe we are living in the middle of a global pandemic?” We would comment on this new world we find ourselves living in and try to make sense of it, noting how drastically our priorities have shifted along the way. But we wouldn’t dig too deep into that conversation because right now we’re simply treading water, trying to stay afloat in a sea of uncertainty. 

If we were having coffee…we would talk about how grateful we are to be able to stay at home and do our part to try and flatten the curve and we would understand how very fortunate we are to be able to do so. We would agree for the most part that we are happy to be at home, and feel safe there, but we would also recognize the different emotions we have been experiencing over the last few weeks that we have been in isolation. We would reveal that we have felt scared, helpless, afraid, depressed, angry, uncertain, frustrated, confused and hopeful sometimes all within the span of a single afternoon. We would worry about how people are coping and discuss measures we’re taking to protect our own mental health. I would tell you I go for walks in my neighborhood and before you could say anything, I would assure you I have been practicing physical distancing keeping six feet apart from people by zig zagging back and forth across the street. I would mention that while some people wave and smile back at me, others glare and how I have no idea what that’s all about, but I keep smiling and waving anyway. We would agree they are probably anxious and admit we are too. Then you would remind me the CDC recommends everyone wear a face mask out in public and I would realize smiles were one more thing we lost to the Pandemic of 2020.

If we were having coffee…we would discuss which friendships we think will survive being in quarantine and which will ones need proximity to survive. I would tell you how many friends I have already had to social media distance myself from and we would laugh about it momentarily, knowing there is nothing funny about losing friendships but also recognizing many friendships won’t endure what lies ahead. Then I would take a moment and thank you for being one of my people. We would talk about how much we appreciate those on the front lines and how frightening it must be to be a healthcare worker in this day and age and how no one could have predicted that restaurant and grocery store employees would become instant heroes and how much we rely on them for our survival. We would debate whether it is necessary to disinfect our groceries after they had been delivered and to what degree and then we would talk about how ridiculous it was that everyone hoarded toilet paper and how that became its own epidemic. We would express our admiration for Dr. Fauci and what a comfort he has been during these unpredictable weeks and go so far as to say he has been the father figure we have so desperately needed to help us cope with this nightmare. While we would feel confident the handshake will eventually make a comeback, we are certain Anthony Fauci is a national treasure and when this is all said and done, there needs to be a statue of him in every State Capitol. And we would promise to make that happen.

If we were having coffee…we would joke that we have stayed inside for so long that we are going to shrivel up like those kids in that book Flowers in the Attic and that would remind me how much I miss the library. We wouldn’t reminisce about the places we can’t go anymore because there isn’t any point. We know how important it is that we stay at home right now to try and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Especially with the lack of testing available. But we wouldn’t even go there because we have already consciously distanced ourselves from the anger we feel about it and know how negativity can be detrimental to our health and well-being especially when we are in isolation. Instead, we would talk about what shows we are binge watching on Netflix and give each other our recommendations. We would have both purchased Contagion online and watched it multiple times. We would agree that movie seems to provide the clearest picture of what we are experiencing in our world right now. We would wonder if the kids from This Is Us will be all grown up by the time they are allowed to go back to filming and speculate about what series we may never see again. We would marvel at how quickly the Coronavirus was incorporated into commercials but we might also be slightly skeptical that social distancing was actually practiced while those commercials were being filmed.

If we were having coffee…I would confess that the reason I haven’t reached out to you sooner is because I’m scared. I would tell you that I’m not as afraid of getting the virus as I am about losing loved ones to it. I would tell you how frightened I am to be living so far away from my parents and my children and that I am terrified of the thought that people I love could die alone. I would also admit that I have been going through a mourning period lately and how heartbroken I have been that I never got a chance to say goodbye to the world that used to be because everything changed so quickly. Tears would fill my eyes because the life we knew no longer exists. I would assure you that in my heart I know it won’t be like this forever, but I also know when we do emerge on the other side of this, things will look very differently because every single person will have been affected by the Coronavirus, even the ones one don’t get sick. Then we would take a sip of our coffee and share a moment of silence, acknowledging our world will never be the same.

If we were having coffee…we would consider that while we may currently be living in very dark times, we would also notice there is a glimmer of light shining through all that darkness and that gives us hope that in the end we will be okay. That light that is shining on us right now is creativity and the world is absolutely bursting with it. From Italians singing to teddy bear scavenger hunts and hearts in windows to sports alternatives to families creating  incredibly entertaining You Tube videos and everything in between, people have been sharing creative ways to cope and we have enjoyed watching every minute of it on our computer screens. We would express our faith that all this creativity will be used in innovative ways to lead us into our future and define the new world we will be embracing. And maybe when the destruction of this pandemic settles, we will look back on this time and realize we truly did work together to get through it all.

If we were having coffee…the economic uncertainty we both face would make us mindful that our free forty minutes on ZOOM were almost up. We would tell each other how thankful we are to have been able to spend this time together and vow to never again doubt the awesome benefits of technology. We would remind each other to be sure we had written down our passwords so we can do this again while assuring each other that one day, hopefully, in the not too distant future, we will have coffee again in person.

And when we do, I can’t wait to give you a great, big hug.

Melle Signature


Be That Neighbor

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to take advantage of the lovely weather we were having and go for a walk. My day had been decidedly disappointing and I needed to burn off some steam. I have often found the quickest cure to feeling bad about something is to walk it off.

So I grabbed my ear buds and set off into the neighborhood.

Along the way, I came across an older gentleman picking up what looked like broken glass from a car accident in the middle of the road. When I asked him what happened he said there had been a couple of teenagers that got in a fender bender and this was what remained. We both agreed the most important thing was no one was hurt.

I’d be remiss if I said I instantly jumped in and started helping him clean up the shards of what ended up not being glass but just plastic from the side mirror. I didn’t. I put my ear buds back in and kept right on my merry way.

I was, after all, walking off my bad day. 

But the more steps I took away from the sweet old man cleaning up the street by himself, the more guilt I felt.

Why wasn’t I helping? What on earth was the matter with me?

I went back and offered to lend a hand and he passed me a plastic bag. I was shocked at how many people stopped to ask what happened, got the information and were on their way. I silently wagged my judgmental finger at them (nevermind I had just done the exact same thing) and swallowed my bitter pill of disdain (after all, this wasn’t my street but I was helping out!) but it didn’t seem to bother my neighbor. He just went about picking up the broken pieces as though he were pulling weeds from his own garden.

We politely chatted, as often strangers do, exchanging information in an effort to get to know each other. All along, I had assumed we were in standing in front of his house but it turns out he lived across the street from where the accident took place! I marveled at this man’s dedication to cleaning up debris from someone else’s yard without complaint.

As our pleasant conversation continued while picking up the shattered pieces, all the crappy stuff that had been bothering me throughout the day melted away. So what if no one else was helping. It felt good to be doing such a random good deed!

Fast forward to Trash Day. I take a quick walk and along the way, I pick up random trash on the street that had fallen out of cans and place it in the receptacles (never thought you’d see that word outside the movie theatre, right?) On my way home, I discover broken glass all over the street a few doors down.

I quickly take my neighbor’s lead and head home to collect my broom and dustpan so I can rectify the broken glass situation. I don’t post it on social media, claiming fame to my good deed, I just do it. It felt good. It felt right. My neighbors will never know there was broken glass in their driveway. I was stealth. I took care of it. Broken glass no more!

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting any Pay It Forward reciprocation. I just wanted to be the kind of neighbor like the one I stumbled upon on my walk, the one who doesn’t care where the yard lines are drawn.

But when I came home from an exhausting day and saw the dead opossum in the street in front of my house, I did want Pay It Forward reciprocation. I wanted to claim “Broken Glass this Morning!” in hopes the Universe would instantly address the opossum situation.

But of course the Universe has more important things to deal with.

I realized in an instant my kind neighbor wouldn’t have wanted anything in return for cleaning up broken glass and yet here I was demanding the Universe take care of the opossum on the basis of by golly, what goes around better darn well come back around.


The opossum was eventually taken care of and inspired by my neighbor’s good deed,  I continue to pick up trash on my walks. I’m just a Good Neighbor-in-Training, not quite the Master like the lovely gentleman who lives down the street.

But hey, it’s a start.

And if we all start somewhere, I willing to bet it will amount to a whole lot.

Mastering the Art of Meditating

I was so excited when I got the email from Oprah and Deepak inviting me to another Free 21 Day Meditation Experience. I promised myself this was going to be the time I meditated all 21 days in a row.

I got off to a good start. Day 1, 2, and 3 went really well. I could feel myself finding the lightness in my life and I was beginning to become emotionally balanced, I’m sure of it. But then I began to taper off and Days 10, 11, and 12 were all completed back to back on the same day. And then…well.

It’s just that meditating isn’t exactly my forte. I want it to be but I don’t really get it. My mind wanders all over the place and it kind of stresses me out just sitting there trying to focus on my breathing.

My typical meditating process goes something like this:

While Oprah gets me motivated with her words of wisdom, I organize myself in a very meditative position complete with thumbs and middle fingers pressed lightly together, face up on my knees (Deepak says I just need to make myself comfortable but sitting like this makes me feel like I know what I’m doing). I close my eyes and take a deep breath. All is well as I follow along with Deepak, repeating what he says out loud to be sure I have it before silently doing it in my head.

Then it’s time to meditate on my own. Deepak assures me he’ll mind the time. I’m good to go at first but it isn’t long before thoughts of all the shit I need to get done begin to fill my head and my heart starts racing. I try to bring myself back with my centering thought but I can’t remember my centering thought even though Deepak just said it. I try to recreate how it sounded when it rolled off his tongue but it vanished. (Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?)

Relax, I tell myself. Stop freaking out. My centering thought will come to me…wait, maybe it’s the mantra I’m supposed to be repeating. Crap! Frustration begins to set in and all the shit I have to do comes flooding back into my mind. Centering thought, centering thought–wait! It IS the mantra I’m supposed to be repeating but the hell was the mantra? I think it was Om something. Deep breath. I got this. How essential is the mantra, I wonder? I think it’s the breathing part that really matters but concentrating on trying to remember my centering thought/mantra surely must count for something. Right?

Namaste? Is that it? No, that’s the end part. I could probably use Namaste, though. At least I’d have something to focus on other than all the shit I have to do and trying to remember my whatever the hell it is. Wait, what if Deepak isn’t minding the time? Inhale panic, exhale panic. Repeat. Maybe I should start over so I’ll know what the mantra is–maybe even write it down– but I can’t start over because there isn’t time. Deep breath. Deep breath. Do people really fall asleep while meditating? Is that even possible?

And then Deepak rings the bell and tells me to open my eyes when I’m ready, (which is immediately, obviously) and I’m not sure if I’ve meditated or had a panic attack but I know I don’t feel very relaxed and I still have a lot of shit to do.

I think that’s probably the reason I’m not very consistent with meditating.

Two seconds after I’m finished “meditating”, my mantra comes to me.

Om Supra Niti Swana

And my centering thought isn’t far behind.

I am guided by my self awareness.

I’m very aware that I haven’t mastered the art of meditating but that’s ok. I’m going to keep at it so that next time the Oprah and Deepak Free Meditation Experience comes along I’ll be ready to give it another go and maybe, just maybe, I’ll complete all 21 days in a row.

And you know what? That counts for something.


What Kind of Museum Does Your House Hold?

Spring is in the air! Well, more or less. Warm weather, coupled with Elizabeth Gilbert’s Question of the Day, motivated me to open the windows, let in the fresh air, and begin some serious Spring purging.

While taking inventory of what to keep and what to toss, I discovered quite unexpectedly, that I haven’t been living in a Museum to Grief, as Liz suggested, but instead a Museum of Failure. Every broken thing I haven’t gotten repaired is one more thing looming on my To Do List. Every outfit in my closet that doesn’t fit is one more pound I haven’t shed. Every reminder of a life that no longer exists keeps me in a holding pattern of What No Longer Is.

So the time has come to ask myself, why in the hell am I keeping all this shit?

First off, I came to the realization that if something was in need of repair, I was kidding myself that it was ever going to happen. The fact that I had lived without it meant one thing: I didn’t need it. I tossed that failure right into the trash, and, man, it felt good. Larger items got stored for the upcoming Spring Clean Up where, I am quite certain, someone will snatch it up off the curb, repair it, and make it their own.

Moving right along.

My bedroom closet ended up housing an alarming number of clothes waiting patiently to be worn but that no longer fit. It occurred to me that when I look for something to wear, I come face to face with clothes I plan to fit into “one day”. On a daily basis, I am unconsciously reminding myself that I have failed: Failed to lose the weight, failed to fit into something I once wore, failed to reach a goal I set for myself. I needed to accept those clothes weren’t ever going to fit me again and to give them to someone who could use them. And that’s exactly what I did.

Then came time to address the things I have desperately clung on to that simply had to go.

At the top of the list was the terracotta pitcher I received at my bridal shower from someone who meant the world to me. I had convinced myself if I kept that pitcher, I would be able to hang on to the friendship. The truth is, some friendships rely heavily on proximity and this was one of them. I decided to sell it on Varagesale. When the woman who bought it from me held it in her hands as if it were an Academy Award, I knew it had found a good home.

The multicolored chairs I loved so much and where so many important conversations in my life took place were the next to go. They were designed for the life I created while I was married and had no business being in my new home. Not only did they not match anything, they served as a constant reminder that the life I spent cultivating didn’t work out. It pleases me to no end knowing they went to a lovely couple who lost everything they owned in a fire right before Christmas.

The more I purged, the more I wanted to purge! Things that had been haunting me were no longer around and had found homes where they could be appreciated. My Museum of Failure had turned into a House of Great Rewards! I not only felt emotionally rejuvenated, I had some cash to boot.

From now on instead of surrounding myself with things that remind me What Could Have Been or What Might Be or What Isn’t, I am going to start living in a place of What Is.

And, of course, be grateful.

What kind of museum does your house hold?








A Canopy Bed

Writing Prompt: What was the one thing that a friend had that you wished you had when you were little? 

I can’t remember ever not wanting to have a canopy bed. From the moment I laid eyes on the very first one I ever saw, I wanted one.


I wasn’t a foofy girl growing up but I sure wanted a foofy canopy bed.

It reeked of femininity (something I lacked as a young girl) and somehow I felt that owning one would make me pretty, and I so wanted to be pretty. The girls I knew who had canopy beds were more poised and graceful and I was convinced it was because sleeping in a bed fit for a queen turned you into a princess overnight. If I had a canopy bed, I was certain the feminine qualities I lacked would miraculously materialize – as if by osmosis – and I would be transformed into a beautifully poised and graceful princess.

Or at least I would no longer be the lanky, awkward girl that I actually was.

My mother probably thought it was some fanciful phase I would grow out of but I didn’t. I never stopped wanting a canopy bed. Not ever. The desire to own one followed me through my childhood. It was a dream never realized, a longing never fulfilled.

That beautiful canopy bed I wanted looked something like this:

Pink Canopy Bed

Years later, when I was married, my husband built me a canopy bed out of some plans he found in a Home magazine. His creation didn’t look anything like the picture but I appreciated the effort. The canopy was not billowing pink ruffled material, but a green dust ruffle stapled on top that was always crooked. The center of the dust ruffle always drooped down so he added beams across that he neglected to stain to match the rest of the bed. It lacked continuity and I was not decorating savvy enough to fix the blemishes. He most likely used treated wood (even though he assured me he didn’t) and that probably shaved years off our life.

The plans for the bed my husband built looked something like this:

I might not have felt like a princess in the bed my husband built but that bed was full of memories. It’s the bed in which all three of my children were created. It’s the bed my children slept in when they were first born when I was too tired to get up in the middle of the night and pluck them from their cribs. It’s the bed where I straddled my toddler when he had pink eye and I had to put drops in his eyes. It’s the bed the kids came flying into on Christmas morning to demand it was time to wake up and see what Santa brought even though the sun hadn’t even woken up yet.  It’s the bed where I sobbed after I had my first miscarriage…and then my second. It’s the bed my son sat on when he had something important to say after a hard day at school. It’s the bed my children would crawl into in the middle of the night when they had a bad dream or they were sick. It’s the bed my children would jump on for hours singing about little monkeys. It’s the bed I slept in while my husband slept downstairs on the couch when things started to crumble between us.

Like our marriage, the canopy bed my husband built wasn’t strong enough to last. It was unable to endure all that we put it through. It wasn’t meant to be repeatedly taken apart and put back together again so by the time we moved into our fifth house, it was finally time to accept the days of lying under a crooked dust ruffle were over.

But at least I can say I once had a canopy bed.

A Word to Guide You

“What’s your word for 2016?” the text message reads.

“Still deciding.” I reply.


I text back an emoji sticking its tongue out. I chuckle as my eyes wander to the fridge where CHOOSE A WORD FOR 2016 has been residing on my To Do list for quite some time. I glance at the calendar. Over a week into 2016. Time to get serious.

What better place to find inspiration than the Internet? Sprinkled all over Facebook are images of words people have chosen to guide them through 2016. Some of my friends have drawn beautiful pictures of their word and pasted them on their Timeline. One of my favorite bloggers, Laura McKowen, even posted a video about her word for 2016.

And here I sit wordless.

The truth is I’ve never really had a word for the year, or at least one that I have consciously chosen. Take last year for example. Selecting a word for the year was the last thing on my mind. My two youngest children had gone to live with their father and I was heartbroken. I was just trying to get by until time healed my wounds or until I was able to accept that life had become what it had become despite my best efforts to make it the life I thought it should be.

Ultimately the Universe chose my word for 2015. It ended up being Survive.

2016 is going to be different. This year I want to chose a word that will point me in the direction toward the life I want to lead, the life I choose to lead. I want my word to inspire me and catapult me to new and awesome places.

Okay, maybe not catapult me but at least shift my focus.

So much of 2015 was spent focusing on what I didn’t have instead of what I do have.


Maybe I should choose that for my word.

Focus is a good word but since it’s something I struggle with in general, I probably shouldn’t set out to spend 365 (well, 356 now) days attempting to incorporate it into my daily life.

I continue to scroll through Facebook searching for inspiration.

Inspiration is a good one but a little open ended.

Abundance, Grace, Forgiveness, Truth 

These are also good words but none of them resonate with me enough to commit to putting them into practice for an entire year.

I come across Laura McKowen and Build again.

Build is a good one but I just got out of survival mode so I’m probably not ready to build anything just yet.

Love, Happiness, Faith , Purpose 

With so many possibilities to choose from, I instantly become overwhelmed and it’s clear to me why this task remains on my To Do List.

I take a deep breath. I assure myself it’s all good. I close my eyes. A word pops in my mind and I realize it has been the word I have been telling myself over and over again lately.


That’s it!


That’s my Guiding Word for 2016.

I want to feel grateful this year. I want to be grateful.

Grateful for Every.Single.Thing.

I want to be grateful for all the blessings in my life, both past and present, and show thanks for both.

I want to be grateful for all that I have instead of wishing I had something different.

I want to be grateful for whatever comes my way and instead of second guessing it, embrace it.

I want being grateful to be where I begin.

I want to be grateful right here and now.

So I am consciously choosing to be grateful throughout 2016.

Because Grateful is where I need to be.


What’s your Guiding Word for 2016?




To Copyright, or Not to Copyright; That Is the Question

I’ve been taking some online blogging courses through WordPress and some of the assignments ask you to go out and check out other people’s blogs. I started noticing that a lot of them had widgets with copyrights.

So I started wondering if I needed a copyright widget on my blog.

I asked the blogging community what they thought and got a whole bunch of feedback.

Ultimately, I decided to ask my lawyer friend, Steve, what were his thoughts on the subject.

Probably couldn’t hurt.

So I set out on the quest to come up with a copyright widget.

I’m not sure what’s more terrifying: Figuring out what to include in the copyright or figuring out how to make a widget.

But I’m all over it.


A common suggestion for becoming a better writer is to use daily writing prompts.

Or so I hear.

Let’s face it, after the epic fail signing up for the November Blogging Month contest and writing absolutely nothing, I can use all the help I can get.

But we’re not pulling up a chair for criticism this afternoon.

Instead, we are taking a deep breath and heeding this advice:

Brene Brown Quote

I love you, Melle. Now write something. Anything. JUST.FUCKING.DO.IT.

So I grabbed one of the WordPress writing prompts stuffed in the dusty jar sitting on my equally dusty desk and this is what it said:

“Today, share something you love about yourself–don’t be shy, be confident!–but that few people know about you or get to see very often.”

You’ve got to be kidding me.

I can’t hide my procrastination, that’s for sure. I think we’re all clear that I have perfected it. I’m so good at it, in fact, that if they handed out degrees, I would be Magna Cum Laude.

I decide to draw another writing prompt. What the hell? I can come back to this one in another post when I have had more time to think about it and come up with a super clever response.

“Tell us about a situation that was not funny at all while it was happening, but that you now laugh about whenever you remember it.”

This blog post? 


“Think about your day. Select one of your daily rituals and explain it to us: Why do you do what you do? How did you come to adopt this ritual? What happens on days when you can’t perform it.”

Daily rituals? 

The only daily rituals that come to mind are checking numerous times to be sure I unplugged the curling iron and making the bed (if you can call it that) in a frantic attempt to locate my glasses. My most consistent ritual, however,  would have to be…drum roll please…running late.


“One day, you notice a strange stat on your blog. Write a short piece of fiction or poem that describes what you see, and/or what happens.”


 What’s that? What’s that I see?                                                                                   Another person is following me!


“Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn but haven’t gotten around to? What is it and what’s stopping you from mastering the skill?”

Well, obviously I have wanted to learn how to blog. I could write an entire blog of excuses why that hasn’t come to fruition but the bottom line is the only thing standing in my way is, quite frankly, ME. I’m the hold up here, the road block, the one preventing this from happening.

So it’s time for me to get out of my own way and get this blog going. (Again).







Having No Idea

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m a curious soul. Plain and simple, I have to get to the bottom of things. I want to know the how and why of every situation because that’s who I am. I firmly believe, she who asks the most questions, learns the most.

My father, however, doesn’t share my passion for curiosity. Whenever we’re catching up, I always ask him questions such as  “Whatever happened to so and so” or “How did this or that ever turn out?”

Inevitably, my father’s response goes something like this:

I have no idea.

It makes me crazy that he doesn’t know the rest of the story but no matter how hard I pry or how many questions I ask, my dad’s answer remains consistent.

I have no idea.

My dad’s curiosity level about something ceases to exist the minute it is no longer in his immediate trajectory. He doesn’t give a shit about the couple who lived next door that moved away because, well, they moved away. That’s the end of the story for him. He doesn’t need to know any more.

My curiosity, on the other hand, is infinite.

I want to know what happened to the neighbors after they moved away.

Were they happier? What became of them? Do they miss having my dad for a neighbor?

I want to know all of it, whatever all of it is.

So here’s the ado of it, folks.

When it comes to this blog, I have no idea what I’m doing.


Wish I did. Hope I do one day but right now I’m just trying to figure it all out and determine what it is exactly that I want to say.

But for now…

I have no idea.

There’s this part of me that feels like I’m not being a very good hostess. Here I have invited you to come along and I haven’t been able to tell you what to expect or what kinds of things are going to happen here because

I have no idea. 

But, I can tell you this.

I’m going to figure this all out. I’m going to pry and prod and ask myself questions. I’m going to get to the bottom of what it is I actually want to say.

In the meantime…we’re going to have fun!

We’re going to have fun because we’re flying by the seat of our pants out here in Cyberland and even though I have no idea about the rest of it, flying by the seat of my pants just happens to be in my wheelhouse.

You’re in good hands.

So sit back, pour yourself a beverage and enjoy the ride!

Negative Space