I didn’t see it coming. I really didn’t. Maybe in hindsight I may have had an inkling it was a possibility but for the most part, I was in complete denial.

Sometimes we rely on truths we believe will always exist in our lives and we take them for granted. But sometimes Life rips the carpet out from underneath us, snatches theses truths away and leaves us gasping for air.

I never expected in a million years that my children would go and live with their father. An entire year in court battling over custody, and never once did I entertain the thought that they might move 3 hours away from me.

I just didn’t believe it was a possibility.

So when it happened, I was completely unprepared. They were here one minute and gone the very next. I hadn’t had time to get used to the idea, to adjust to this major change. I found myself floundering in a sea of remorse not knowing what the hell had happened or how to deal with the feelings of loss I was experiencing.

Nine months later, I’m still adjusting to this new life I have acquired. For more than 20 years, my children have been the center of my life. They have gotten more from me than anyone else on the planet, including myself. I’m so grateful to have had them in my live for as long as I did. And, if I’m honest with myself, I’m grateful that their father has taken over the responsibility of parenting full-time because for a very long time I carried that responsibility all on my own.

My children wanted to try something different. They wanted to see what life was like living with their dad and his new family. My fear of change kept me clinging on to them which only made them want it more. I was afraid to let them go because so much of who I was was defined by having them in my life.

I didn’t know who I would be without them.

I still don’t know, really. I’m just trying to figure it all out. The good news is there’s a world of possibility standing in front of me and it’s pretty exciting. At 40 something, I finally have the opportunity to answer the question I’ve been asking myself my entire life:

What do I want to be when I grow up?

And then the excitement dissolves into fear and the world of possibility suddenly becomes shrouded in a veil of uncertainty.

What do I want to be when I grow up? I’ve spent so many years helping my children accomplish their goals while setting my own on the back burner that now that my time has come I’m….well, uncertain.

Uncertain which direction to go, uncertain which avenues to pursue, uncertain who I want to be.

I’m now faced with opportunities that have never been available to me before. I don’t have to worry about putting my oxygen mask on first so I can take care of others, I get to put my oxygen mask on first because I’m the only one here.

The Universe has opened its doors and set out the Welcome mat for me. I’m scared to death, terrified actually, but I’m not going to let this opportunity of a lifetime pass me by.

15 Things I’ve Recently Learned

  1. Laughter is often the best solution to any given problem but arguably not always the most appropriate one.
  2. Examining my role in certain situations and accepting personal responsibility for my actions takes more effort than assigning blame to someone else but it’s the right thing to do.
  3. Things generally do work out for the best even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time. Often, what I believe would be the best outcome actually ends up being quite the opposite.
  4. The best intentions can have monumental consequences you never even considered.
  5. It is important to gather as much information as possible when making a decision. Equally important, is accepting only having access to the information available at the time of making that decision and not second guessing yourself later. There’s a reason hindsight trumps foresight.
  6. Allowing toxic people to remain in your life is a choice.
  7. Resources are essential to your well being. Resources give you options. Without resources, other people get to make decisions for you and they don’t always have your best interests in mind.
  8. Regret doesn’t change things. It just puts a damper on the present.
  9. Whatever I feel, when I feel it, is valid. There will always be people better off than I am and worse off but that doesn’t negate my feelings. They are my feelings and I am entitled to have them. Being compared to someone with a worse plight in life doesn’t make my feelings disappear.
  10. Hands down, doing something nice for someone else is the BEST feeling in the world.
  11. Opinions can change. Times can change. People can change. It’s crucial to accept these realities.
  12. Being judgmental is a nasty and very necessary habit to break.
  13. If you want something, you have to put in the time it takes to achieve it. There are no shortcuts. If you want to lose weight, you have to put the time in at the gym. If you want to be a writer, you have to invest time in writing. It’s that simple.
  14. Gratitude is EVERYTHING. Without it, we’re doomed.
  15. Despite our differences, we are all connected. Like it or not.

Bonjour, World! C’est Moi, Melle!

So I signed up for the WordPress online course, Blogging 101, and the very first assignment was “Introduce Yourself to the World.” I chuckled to myself, piece of cake, as I scrolled through my blog to the part that said Much Ado About…Who? I fully intended to copy and paste (a skill I have nearly mastered) and have my first assignment under my belt.

That line of thinking quickly came to an abrupt halt.

The Much Ado About …Who? description had been written in 2012. A LOT had changed since then.

Deep breath. I got this.

I promised myself when I signed up for Blogging 101 that it wouldn’t end up in the pile of all the other commitments I had made to myself. It wasn’t going to be the step class I paid a month in advance for but only attended the first class; it wasn’t going to be the pact I made with myself to actually read the Book Club selection rather than Google the Spark Notes summary ten minutes before the meeting; it wasn’t going to be the promise I made to consistently post on my blog…

By signing up for Blogging U., I would be held accountable for the question I have been asking myself since, well, 2012. “To Blog or not to Blog.”

So my moment of truth has arrived and it’s time to get on with it. Shall we?

Who am I and why am I here? I’m Melle Richardson, a forty something mother of three who was born and raised in the state of California. Nearly two decades ago, I was transplanted to the Midwest via proxy of marriage. Originally, a stay-at-home-mom, I became a single mother and then ultimately an empty-nester. I am currently trying to navigate my way through a very technology based world in which, against all odds, I misplaced the very necessary directions. Equipped with a positive attitude and an awesome sense of humor, I am determined to succeed at whatever I do even if I’m not completely certain what it is I want to do. My immediate goal is to graduate from Blogging U. at the top of my class.

We live in hope...To Be Technology Savvy

We live in hope….Ah, To Be Technology Savvy!

Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal? I do keep a personal journal but it’s time to branch out and become part of the Global Conversation. As the singular member of My Own Worst Critic Committee, I am willing to risk it and branch out into the world, haters come what may. (They can’t be any worse than Me, Myself, and I) —(Right?)

What topics do you think you’ll write about? I’d love to write about current events and how they pertain to me (of course) but I would have to be savvy enough to figure out the configurations of my blog and write something–anything, really– before the topic I was writing about was no longer trending. (I feel confident Blogging 101 will provide me with the necessary tools to make this dream a reality.)

Who would you love to connect with via your blog? OMG! Who would I love to connect with via my blog? Elizabeth Gilbert of course! We would Eat good food, Pray about me figuring out the logistics of my blog and Love every minute of it! CAN.YOU.IMAGINE.???

“Let’s cross over” in Italian from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Eat, Pray, Love. Photo via Instagram.

If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you have hoped to accomplished? If I blog successfully throughout the next year, God willing, my blog will be made into a movie and I will be played by Julia Roberts. No wait! If I blog successfully throughout the next year (and by this I’m guessing the Blogging 101 people mean I will be able to post my own blog without any outside assistance), Liz Gilbert will write a screenplay in which Julia Roberts and I can play two super technology savvy sisters who blog their way into Happily Ever After.

So there you have it.

Enough about me, right? It’s time for you to decide what you think about me.

Let’s do this!

In the Blink of an Eye

Back to school

Today marked the day of three of the most dreaded words in the English language: Summer Is Over. Back to school went many of the children across the state of Missouri, including mine. I proudly plastered photo collages of my children all over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. As unbelievable as it seems, my baby is in high school. High school. It doesn’t seem possible and yet the reality is undeniable. It seems like just yesterday the tiny faces in those pictures were looking up at me and now all of my children tower over me. It went by in a heartbeat. A millisecond. In the blink of an eye.

Twenty-one years ago, when I first became a mother, I was living in northern California in a small town near Napa. Once a month, there was a Tea Dance at the Community Center. The young and old would co-mingle for an afternoon of refreshments and ballroom dancing. It was delightful! My very best friend Mimi (we met at a Lamaze childbirth class; she had her daughter shortly after I had my son) and I took our newborns to one of these Tea Dances. I can remember sitting in the lobby, breastfeeding our little babies, two timid first time mothers trying to navigate our way through unfamiliar territory. Two elderly ladies came over to us. They smiled knowingly, women who had been there, done that, but long ago put those tee shirts away. They heralded experience and were anxious to share with us things that were good to know.

Much of the advice bestowed upon new mothers is the kind which suggests doing things a certain way. Make sure they sleep on their tummy, don’t let them have the bottle in the crib. But these veteran mothers had a different message. It was simple and to the point. Mimi and I didn’t completely buy into it at that particular moment in time. In fact, it may have seemed a little far fetched. But from where we are standing now, it all makes perfect sense.

Mimi and Me

Melle and Mimi All Those Years Ago

They told us to enjoy every single minute. That was their advice. Enjoy it all because it would go by quickly, before we even realized itthey assured us. They promised us that in no time at all, we would be standing where they were, giving new mothers the very same words of wisdom.

I’ve never forgotten that because it DID go by fast. I never expected it to, never believed it was possible. In a blink of an eye, my babies grew up. Now when a baby announcement pops up on Facebook, the first thing I always tell new mothers after “Congratulations” is “Enjoy every minute!”  I savored every moment just as I promised those ladies I would all those years ago at the Tea Dance. I’m so grateful to them for pointing out such an important part of being mother: It goes by fast. Enjoy!

Halloween: Fact for Treat

Halloween CandyIn my neck of the woods, October 31st marks the day when children get dressed up in costumes and venture out into the neighborhood hoping to earn some candy for their efforts. In simpler terms, it’s Halloween. I’m never certain from year to year if another one of my children has fallen off the Trick or Treat bandwagon and decided to say goodbye to a piece of their childhood by claiming to be “too old” for such things. Last year was no exception.

When my children were little, buying a costume was the only way to go. They ran the gamut: Buzz Lightyear, Teletubbies, Blue’s Clues, Bob the Builder, Spiderman, Batman…you name a superhero and at least one of my boys has donned that cape. But as the years rolled by, their interest dwindled and they began devising their own costumes from scratch. To me, this was the best part of Halloween. Creativity at its finest! My youngest son did not disappoint last year. He and his friends banned together and not only came up with costumes depicting them as characters from the hit TV show The Big Bang Theory but they also created a skit which they performed after ringing the doorbell in search of treats.

Big Bang

Me with “Leonard”

As is standard fare in our neighborhood on Halloween, the sidewalks were jammed packed full of costumed children, bouncing around excitedly in anticipation. Little voices shrieking, “Trick or Treat!” could be heard a mile away. I balanced between being close enough to my group of middle schoolers to keep an eye on them and far enough away to keep from embarrassing them. They cracked jokes in character with Leonard this and Sheldon that as people who passed by laughed with understanding.

About halfway through our escapades, we came across a house swarming with hordes of children. At the top of a long walkway was a porch where a man dressed like Abraham Lincoln was sitting regally. Upon further investigation, it turned out that in order to receive a treat, kids were asked to give a fact about our former President. (You can’t help but admire someone who put a spin on “trick” and sprinkled some education on top!)

abelincoln2So my group of kids marched up the long walkway and stood in the long line, awaiting their turn. Tempting as it was to join them and witness The Big Bang Theory entourage meet Abe Lincoln, I decided my choice of footwear for the evening dictated I would be better off watching from afar. As I waited on the curb with several other parents, a young family approached. The little boy, dressed up like the Blue Power Ranger, was probably about 5 or 6 years old. He was hopping around like the Energizer Bunny, undoubtedly amped up from candy he been sneaking from his bag while his parents weren’t looking.

“Now when you get up there, you are going to have to give the man in the tall hat a fact about Abe Lincoln.”

The Blue Power Ranger’s eyes grew big as saucers.

“You can do it!” the mother assured him.

Blue Power Ranger assessed the situation. I could tell he was trying to decide if it was worth it.

“Mommy, phleeeeze go with me!” he pleaded.

“You got this, buddy!” the father added a friendly shove toward the porch for good measure.

“I can’t!” the Blue Power Ranger whined.

“You’ll be fine.” At this point, the mom’s voice began to have a hint of frustration seeping through it.

“Daddy, phleeeze go with me!” Always good to have a back up plan.

“Just tell him he was the 16th President of the United States of America.” Dad suggested.

“Or that he’s on the penny.” Mom added, cutting it up into bite sized pieces.

“He was honest!” I offered.

As with anything, the moment of truth finally presented itself and the Blue Power Ranger boy reluctantly made his way up the path. To him, it must have seemed like the endless hallway in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland.

endless hallway

After a few backwards glances at his parents begging for them to join him, the Blue Power Ranger boy disappeared into the crowd surrounding Abe Lincoln and his bucket of candy.

The waiting parents made idle chit chat, commenting on various costumes and other bits of conversations parents have while waiting for their children.

Then suddenly, Blue Power Ranger boy burst from the crowd and came barreling down the walkway. As he raced past the returning Big Bang Theory entourage, I felt certain his cold feet had gotten the best of him. Yet when he finally made his way to his parents, he was grinning from ear to ear.

You could have knocked me over with a quill pen. This was not how I expected this scenario to end.

Blue Power Ranger boy’s dad asked in a voice that indicated he shared my surprise, “Did you get some candy, buddy?”

“Yep!” the Blue Power Ranger beamed.

“Did you give a fact?” Mom asked a little disbelievingly herself.

“Yep!” he proudly exclaimed.

“Well, what fact did you decide on about Abe Lincoln?” I blurted out.

We all waited with bated breath.

And without missing a beat, the Blue Power Ranger boy informed us of the fact he came up with all on his very own.

“I told him he’s dead!”

Well, there you have it.

I have a feeling that may have been my last Trick-or-Treating endeavor for awhile. I’m sure glad it went out with a bang!

Children Trick-or-treating

“That” Time of Year

  ginger ale“It’s cold out this morning

You should be getting into bed

Can’t believe it’s that time of year again”

~Sick Puppies

To me,  “That” time of year refers to the time of year when you walk into The Dreaded Wal Mart and the first thing on display are green bottles of ginger ale and boxes of saltine crackers that look like a game of  Jenga in progress. It’s the time of year when your family gets invaded by a bug and it goes through your house like wildfire. You know what I’m talkin’ bout. Rumors of it circulate quicker than the latest gossip. People talk in hushed whispers about having had it, knowing full well they will be banished to the Quarantine Corner if anyone gets wind that they may be contagious. News of it sends us into a frenzy of alternating between hand sanitizer and Clorox disinfecting wipes.

It’s the Dreaded Stomach Flu.

Dun dun dun!

One thing I have grown to learn as a Universal Truth is the last one in the family to get the stomach virus, typically gets it the worse. I say that now from the catbird seat, watching the rest of my family stumble down the Road of Recovery, not quite well, not exactly sick anymore, but somewhere in-between. Paranoia rumbles in my tummy as the duel continues in my mind: I don’t have it / yes, I do.


Let’s face it. It’s statistically inevitable that I’m gonna get sick and we all know there ain’t no cure for the Stomach Flu.

If there was a Stomach Flu shot, I’d be the very first in line to get one each and every year.

And I don’t do needles.

My twelve year old has become my third leg, never wanting to leave my side during this epidemic (The Dreaded Wal Mart allows me to call it an epidemic with their display). I know he expects me to somehow make it magically go away and I would if  I could but all I can really do is assure him that it will be over soon and nag him to take little sips of his ginger ale and tiny bites of his crackers.

My teenager, on the other hand,  is very laissez faire when it comes to anything involving his mother.

Unless of course he needs, say, the keys to the car.

So he has kept pretty much to himself these past couple of days, only groaning at my suggestion to avoid dehydration by taking little sips of water (he doesn’t do Ginger Ale) and little bites of his crackers.

And that was where I made my cardinal mistake while sitting in the catbird seat.

What I should have said was “Honey, don’t eat or drink ANYTHING and you’ll be fine.”

Silly me to have forgotten teenagers need a whole lot of reverse psychology to get them through sick days, well days, and frankly any days that end in “y”.

Eventually, my family recovered from the Dreaded Stomach Flu.  I knew we were in the clear when my sons resumed fighting. I scoured everything with bleach like a cleaner in a mob movie. I disinfected our house top to bottom. I was spared this time but I am fully aware that the Stomach Flu lurks year round and does not discriminate.

But for now, we’re good to go.

Until the next time…