"If a life could have a theme song…mine is a religion, an obsession, a mania…" ~Ayn Rand

Eulogy: The Music and the Wave

This is a eulogy for my mother. I shared it with family and friends during a gathering in celebration of her life on August 7th, 2016. In time I want to expand upon it as I continue to process the grief of losing her. For now though, I want to share it as is once more in written form so that if they want to my dad, my siblings, or anyone who loved my mom can visit this page and read it.

I’m not sure if sharing a eulogy in a blog post is at all appropriate or keeping with proper etiquette. If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past week though, it’s that I don’t think that there is an appropriate way. We move forward and deal with things as we must. While this eulogy was a send off and a gift for my mother, I would like to think of it also as a gift for my family. This belongs to you. It is here for you to read at anytime. I hope that the sharing of words and memories of mom can provide some small measure of comfort and peace for all— especially for Dad, Kelly, Kevin, Michael, Jimmy, and Billy.❤






For the past week I have been looking through old photographs of my family. They range from about ten to fifteen years old and go all the way back to when my mom and dad were kids. Some were even from when my grandparents were young. I found these pictures in a trunk at mom and dad’s house, where they were stored for safekeeping until someone could get around to organizing them into albums and frames. The person who I  know for sure must have had plans for these pictures was my mother. I know because when I opened the trunk I smelled the lasting scent of smoke and singed paper. Some of the older pictures inside survived a house fire that happened when I was about six years old, and they did because of her. After she made sure we were all out of the house she stayed behind to throw albums, baby books and framed photographs over the deck railing from the second floor of the house. For years my mothers actions that day were a puzzle for us all. Though we understood the significance of old pictures, they were only that. Pictures. How could she have even thought about them at such a time? The house went up in flames almost as soon as we got out of it. I wondered why she would have risked herself for things which, though precious, were only things that could still be held in our memories and told in stories.

Just as soon as I opened the trunk on July 31st 2016, I looked down at all the many pictures as though they were buried treasure. For the first time in my life I truly understood why those pictures were worth saving, and it is one of many reasons why we owe mom more thanks than we could possibly ever give her.

Since that day I have looked over photo after photo. The smell of smoke lingered and


Wedding Rings: Mom and Dad’s wedding day.

followed me home like an old ghost as I spread them out across my living room floor. These were the earliest ones— baby pictures, baby books, my parents’ prom, wedding day, and honeymoon. Others were more familiar and memorable to me, and these were from after we moved to the big brick house in Marion. I thought for the first time in a while about what our house was like back in those days. I remember walking in the kitchen door after school and seeing mom standing at the sink, table or island making a delicious dinner of lasagna, pork chops, macaroni soup or any number of other delicious favorites. She would often have scented candles lit, and there was almost always music playing on the huge five disc CD player and stereo in the dining room. She was a country fan, but sometimes mom liked to


Mom dressed as Alice Cooper for Halloween

listen to oldies; usually in the summertime when we went garage saling. Other times it was rock and roll— Alice Cooper or the Doors. I felt a keen connection to mom through her music, and often noted the patterns of what she would listen to based on her moods or even time of year or day. I liked a lot of the music that she did but sometimes I would try to get her to listen to bands and singers that she didn’t know too well. She was stubborn and always insisted that nothing could top the music that she had known and loved for years. Still, she would always listen to a new song when I asked her to. Mostly I would get a nod of approval or a headshake if it was a flat “I don’t like this.” Right now I can only think of one 90’s band that she really liked. It was Oasis, and one night we listened to “Be Here Now” all the way through from track 1 to 12.



“These guys are good,” she said at one point. “So what, are they like The Beatles of your time?”

“I’m not sure, but no. I don’t think so.” Is what I said.


Sounds, sights, smells, music. They all came back to me with every picture that I flipped through. The candles, the food, the smell of leather, tack, coats, boots and hats that we got after mom and dad bought the horses, the trip we took to Niagara Falls. There were so very many heartwarming memories which I hadn’t thought of in years. When she was well mom was the light of our house. It was both of my parents wish to see us living out a happy childhood and together they succeeded; but mom was the artist in her vision and at the helm of every family adventure. She was the listening ear, the silly laugh, the knowing smirk. She was the reason why sometimes when I was at school and had a sniffle, I wanted to go home even though I wasn’t all that sick. She was the shoulder I cried on after a bad day, and the “I love you” after every phone call.

The timeline of the pictures from the trunk came to a scathing halt at somewhere around ten or fifteen years ago. I’ve been sitting here frozen for some time now trying to put into words the years that followed, and just how much I came to realize the powerful effect my mother’s health and state of being had on our home down to every last family member, frame, fabric, and brick. As she changed, so too did her Household. That was how powerful and intense my mother was. All that was internal for her was echoed outwardly into every facet and fiber of her surroundings, no matter what stage of life she was in. Though the past decade was not without its moments of joy and happiness also, I cannot talk about them without getting into the complicated, multi-layered nature of mom’s illness. Today as we gather to celebrate her life, we will remember instead her vibrancy, her light, her love. We remember her Rock and Roll, her laughter, her hugs. We remember the smell of her cooking as we walked through the door after school, and her favorite candles. We remember Thanksgiving turkeys, Easter egg hunts and presents piled high under the tree on Christmas morning. We remember heart to hearts on the porch as powdery moths fluttered at the light and listened to long conversations on summer nights. We remember coffee and cigarette’s, we remember chicken soup and tea when we were sick, we remember the parrots, parakeets, horses and baby deer that she sought to love and save. We remember the person she was, and for us her children we remember her as a parent as well. Dad has always been the rock and anchoring beat, but she was the music and the wave who moved us. Until we meet her again someday, we are now tasked with learning how to dance without her.

Always remember, “Though she be but little; she is fierce!” I never thought in a million years that Shakespeare would be who I would quote to remember my mother by, but fierce is exactly who she was; transcendental and far reaching. My mother knew how to make herself known. As long as we keep her in our hearts, she will echo back at us with every beat.


On Wellness <3

I think that when it comes to change, what it all boils down to is being really, truly ready for it. Over the years I read dozens of books, joined a handful of gyms, bought GNC supplements and protein powders, went on juice fasts and detox cleanses, tried out a few diets and enrolled in fitness classes all in the pursuit of weight loss and adopting a healthier life style.

If all of that that sounds miserable to you, then you’re absolutely right. It was. But an important thing I’ve learned through all of this is that not only did my back and forth with some of this stuff screw with my body— as well as my self esteem, as I failed to maintain any of it for very long— but being healthy simply doesn’t have to be so hard. It’s just not. True I don’t have a glowing, impressive weight loss “before and after” number or picture for you. I am only just starting out— but I can tell you how I feel, and it’s really amazing! My energy levels and mindset have improved; but it’s also incredible to feel as though I’ve broken through a cycle finally and come to certain realizations about things which have been a long time coming.

I’ve only recently learned the importance of taking time for myself— taking time ON myself, and caring for myself. When I tried to get healthy before, it was all for aesthetic. I had this image in my head of being lean and strong and standing tall in an athletic, intimidating body and that somehow, achieving that would make me happy. It would make me feel invincible, which was appealing during times in my life when I felt totally vulnerable. I’ve always had this way of putting myself at the mercy of other peoples opinions. I was a person who cared very much about what others thought of me, and to some extent I still am and probably always will be. I’ve always been perceptive of the nuances in what people say and how they say it— I’ve always been sensitive, easily hurt and eager for the approval of others. No one likes to admit that about themselves in a world that values alpha attributes and the “fuck it, I don’t care what anyone thinks” attitude; including me. Honestly I don’t think I’ll ever be that person, because I do care about what people think. I genuinely value the insights of other people and if something is wrong for them, then I want to know what can be done to reach a mutual solution that makes everyone happy.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being that way— but being too much that way is extremely stressful, because it’s impossible to make everyone happy. What’s more is that you put your own happiness on the backburner while trying to appease everyone and that just sort of kills your spirit after a while. A really great thing about growing up and getting older though is that you learn that you simply can’t make everyone happy. Not everyone is going to like you, or agree with you and vice versa. Not everyone is going to return the same feelings that you have for them and vice versa. Not everyone is going to appreciate your viewpoint— like everyone, you have a personality and for some people, your personality will be extremely annoying and aggravating. Eventually you’ll encounter people who will take advantage of your trust and kindness and screw you over. You will never understand why, and it’s going to hurt. Badly.

The point is, there are a million and a half reasons why you simply will not get along with certain people. It is impossible to jive with everyone and be friends with everyone, and your interactions with people— no matter how hard you try— will not always end well. For those who are sensitive and peacekeepers by nature, I’m convinced that after a while of feeling rejection and failure to communicate with all the intensity of a knife through your ribs; something or someone might eventually drive you over the edge. You’ll loose it for a while and it’s going to suck. But if you really want to, you’ll get through it and you will realize that you simply cannot lower yourself to feeling that way for what is essentially your own feelings of powerlessness.

I keep writing “you” but this is of course all me. I’m speak to those who might feel the same at times, but will never presume to speak for you.

My point is that no matter what it is that eventually takes you down and sends you into a SPIRITUAL WELLNESSdescending spiral, it gets easier once you learn to let it go. Not bury it or pretend like it doesn’t exist or never did for you; but really truly come to a place where it no longer has power over you— whether it was a toxic person, a traumatic event, a negative mindset or all of the above. You take whatever measures you have to in order to start taking care of yourself. You begin to heal, and then you grow. I believe that that is what happens when we allow ourselves to move forward and that’s what I feel is finally happening for me now.

I know that our tendency to throw around words and phraseology like “letting go”, “healing”, “personal/spiritual growth”, “self love” and the rest sound tedious, impossible and even stupid when battling depression, anxiety, anger or any other low vibrational feelings which make us feel drained and hurt— buy they are real and powerful things if you allow them into your life, and they are key to being well, both physically and otherwise.

I cannot stress enough that it is not my intention to preach— only write about my experiences and how I’m coming along lately. Either way; looking back on how I felt through the majority of my twenties it’s no surprise that I wanted a body like Jennifer Garners! Lol— I’m sure that subconsciously my desire to be strong on the outside was stemming more from some need of internal strength more than anything else.

This started out as a post on fitness and I’ll tie it all in later. For now though; I have to get to work so it’s time to wrap this up.


Much love, best, and to be continued. lol.😉


Achieving Healthy Habits Over Time: Thoughts on Repeating Old Routines and “Health Kicks”

Before I started making some recent changes in attitude about food and exercise, my days were generally very much the same as far as what I ate. I’d grab a bagel or a breakfast sandwich for breakfast while I was at work— sometimes whole grain cereal if I got up early enough to eat it but usually not. I would have a slice of pizza or a sandwhich for lunch, and a dinner of meat and vegetables. I would feel bored and hungry when I watched TV so I’d make myself a plate of cheese, crackers and grapes with a glass of red wine or eat chips, candy or popcorn. Sometimes these things would be just a quick, small snack and in which case, no big deal. Othertimes though, not so much. Netflix marathons are dangerous things! Once I got a little too comfortable with watching too much TV regularly my snacking habits went hand in hand in excess with that. I would get home from work, shower, then plop down on the couch and barely move for the rest of the day, and I didn’t think twice about any of it until very late at night. I would wake up with anxiety over something or other, and my thoughts would eventually go back to what (and how) I ate that day, and how I chose to spend my time.

Why did I do that again? I would think. I’d resolve to make better choices through the next day and most of the time, I did. Eventually though I ended up right back on the couch, watching episode after episode of some show or another and wondering why I was doing that as hours passed me by.

I fell in and out of healthy diet and excercise kicks many times before this, and while that in and of itself can be an unhealthy pattern I think that each time I did it I learned something new. I learned about what my limits are as far as excercise and starting right off the bat when I’m not in shape. I learned about what activities I loved and which ones would ultimately leave me feeling bored, and introduced better and healthier foods to my


Recent food prep: red leaf lettuce, plum tomatos, cucumbers, red grapes, beef strips, brown rice, vegetable mix and winter squash.

palette each and everytime. So even though I eventually fell back into old routines and poor eating habits, I still gained some new and better ones which overtime gave me a leg up.

For instance— through most of my teenage and young adult years, I never really cared for vegetables. I didn’t hate them, but if I had other options I would always chose something else. After changing it up and eating more vegetables though, I began to enjoy them and actually crave them. I have a wide range of foods that I like and am at the point now where it’s more a matter of cutting certain things out or cutting back on them rather than introducing whole new foods into my diet, which I think is much harder to do— but worth it!

There’s been a lot of trial and error as far as exercise too, and I’ve found that I am happiest when I am outside hiking through woods, swimming in lakes, oceans and pools and climbing hills and waterfalls. I’ve tried the gym memberships a few times and I always start off loving them. Eventually though I get bored with 40 minute elliptical sessions and lifting weights, and those activities start to feel like a chore.

For me, excercising outdoors never feels like a chore. It feels like play and that’s what I love about it. Yesterday when I went to one of the wooded parks where I live I ran, walked, jogged and sprinted my way through it until I had gone about 3 miles. I checked my Fitbit and between my run around the park and some walking that I had done earlier in the day, I was almost up to 4 miles.

Why not go for 5 before I leave? I thought, so I did. I stayed close to the front of the park and took a couple laps around the shorter trails, sometimes vering off the path to sprint up steep inclines. It was such a beautiful day! A little humid as it sprinkled on and off; but a pleasant temperature and nice breeze which would sometimes kick up to a stronger wind.

Being outside makes me feel happy and energized. I will seldom go that extra mile (literally!) on a treadmill or elliptical. But if I’m outside I’ll do it everytime. Again, it’s just a matter of making sure that I choose one activity (excercise) over another (marathon Netflix).


Healthier changes always make me feel better— so what is it that causes me (and others I suspect, though I will not at any point pretend to be an authority on this stuff) fall off the wagon and return to bad habits which always end up making me feel tired, miserable and ultimately unhealthy? I’ve had a lot of thoughts (and breakthroughs, which have been the result of a couple years of hard work) as far as mindset and mental state recently and I’ll delve into that later. I have a feeling that it’s going to take up a lot of space so I’ll save it for the next post, lol!

Some parting thoughts before I go, though. If you’re like me and you tend to fall in and out of excercise and healthier dietary “kicks”, be easy on yourself about it. While these changes are better for us and necessary if we want to improve our quality of life, like everything else it’s about learning, and that takes time. Changing our minds and our bodies takes alot of effort and it’s a process, because those two things are not exclusive if our goal is to be healthy. They go hand in hand and more often than not it’s about healing than it is about kicking our own butts until we’re fit. It’s true that there are people who are able to get up one day and resolve to change all of these things about themselves at once and that is incredible and wonderful! We hear about those stories all the time on TV and in magazines, but I suspect that that is actually pretty rare and not a very fair expectation for ourselves.

Still, for me I’d rather that not be an excuse to dabble in healthier exercises and never really make an effort to change, either. That would be really disappointing after a while. If you feel that way also my suggestion is that as you learn and grow, focus on what you’ve gained in your efforts as far as knowledge and habits no matter how small; even when you lose sight of them at times. They’re there and you’ve aquired them— I think it’s just about how willing we are to focus on the the positive takeaways rather than some of the less than desirable routines we might fall back into along the way.

Much love always;

On Health and Fitness: Maintaining Daily and Weekly Goals

I started my day by opening up my planner and jotting down some notes and goals for the week— I haven’t always exactly been Type A in my habits, but since I’ve started keeping an agenda for myself there is something almost meditative about the process of getting up in the morning and planning out my chores, exercises and to-do lists over my first cup of coffee. It’s really rewarding to go back to my planner and cross off all of the 13628361_564938033677368_1524879850_nthings I get done, too!

As of today I’ve just about depleted my stock of fresh fruits and veggies so tonight I’m shopping and prepping meals. I’m working a mid-shift today so to me, that’s really perfect timing. I’ll have just enough hours in the day to stock back up on fresh produce and grains then get home and prep everything. I usually get more done when I have smaller windows of time. Maybe that sounds backwards, but I’ve found that on my days off when I have whole hours stretched before me to do all of the things I have planned, I tend to dawdle more. I’ll get up and tinker on my blog and Instagram, browse through Facebook, watch T.V, putter around and then before I know it I’ve wasted whole hours of the day without having completed much at all.

I’m ok with that though. They’re days off for a reason so as I’m trying to build up my schedule and get into habits which are more fulfilling than how I’ve generally lived over the past few years—which consisited of going to work and waiting to go back to work— I don’t mind letting somethings slide if I lose track of time. The problem is that what I usually let slide are my chores, so laundry tends to pile up and my apartment isn’t as tidy as how I kept it at first. But the way I see it is that those things can be done at anytime. As long as I’m doing enough to where I’m not living like a total slob, it’s more important to me now to stick to the things which will bring me closer to my personal and creative goals. Cleaning can wait if it has to.

My Fitbit has been a huge help in keeping me motivated in staying on top of exercise and diet. I’ve got to hand it to the creators of that thing— I’m not OCD about most things but whatever tendencies are there, the Fitbit plays on them brilliantly!

On days that I work I tend to get anywhere from 15,000 to 20,000 steps in. I have a job where I’m active and on my feet the whole time so if that sounds like a lot to you, I don’t think that that high of a number is necessary if you have a desk job and are starting out with a Fitbit or any pedometer. I’ve worked that way for years and my body has become accustomed to being on my feet all day, so to me, the first 10,000 don’t really count for much. I usually hit that number right after my lunch.

Days off are a different story. When I first started tracking with my Fitbit I’d get all those steps in on days that I worked yet clock out on my days off at like 500 steps! Which of course was indicative of my generally sedentary lifestyle outside of my job. Those 500 steps where just slight meanderings around my apartment and not much else. So on my days off now my goal is to get out and either walk, run or both until I reach at least 10,000 steps. It may not be much now as I’m first starting off, but it’s much more than I’m used to doing when I’m not at work.

Yesterday was really hot and I almost called it a day after my 2500 steps or so around the block. But if I don’t meet my number goals it drives me crazy! So I went to a nice, shady park and hiked around for about an hour until I reached my 10,000.

Whether or not the Fitbit is a healthy way to stay on track is arguable. I know some people don’t believe in being number oriented in health and diet, but I think that as long as you don’t get carried away and can maintain a sense of balance in approach, it’s a really helpful tool in holding to your goals because you see exactly what you’re accomplishing. To me at least, that is a motivating and powerful thing.

Yesterday I almost gave up on my step goal because it was too hot for a run, and I maintain that that was practicing good judgement! I’m not a very fit person and am only just starting off with making some healthier changes. Running out in the hot sun would have likely been a disaster for me. I know from past experience that running in those conditions leaves me feeling exhausted and depleted of energy for the whole rest of the day. That is not what I want for myself— because I have learned through trial and error that after I feel like that I tend to avoid exercise; which results in me falling off the wagon once more.

But those steps, though! Those happy faces, green lines of accomplishment, and moments of activity tracked— I don’t mind falling short just a little; but when whole days go by and I’ve barely reached my goals then that feels like a problem to me. So I thought about it some more and figured that if I took to a shadier place (where I live is very woodsy so lucky for me there are lots of places like that!) and kept it to a walk I would be fine.

I reached my goals for the day and I felt great afterwards… which of course is the ultimate goal that will keep me going! There are always solutions if you want to achieve something, and I believe that they don’t always  have to including pushing yourself to exhaustion.


The day I almost gave up.🙂



I am very grateful for the life that I have and the opportunity to work on myself and building a life that I want and can be happy with. For a long time I worked multiple part time jobs, went to school, and kept myself busy with things which, though rewarding in their own way left little time for me to pay attention to how I was actually treating myself. It’s easy to say that if you put your mind to something you can do anything. I think that there is truth in that, but time is a real issue also and when we don’t have any to spare it’s understandable that we let ourselves go at certian points in our lives— both physically and even mentally at times. Our time that we have flucuates and changes as our lives and daily demands do. I’m trying to be mindful of the fact that I am in a bracet where I’m not working quite so much, school is on hold until I decide to go back (should I decide to) and there are no little ones to take care of. While all of those things are wonderful opportunities and blessings— especially having children, which maybe someday I will be ready for and lucky enough to have— I’m looking at the time I have now as a gift as well. I’m trying to make the most of it while I can and form habits which will help to keep me healthy and happy through most of my life. Maybe once I do, I won’t even need the Fitbit anymore to keep me at it! It will just be my life, and how I learned to live it every day.

Best and with love;




About Writing: My First Memories

When I was in the second grade my class read “Number the Stars” by Lois Lowry. Our images (1)teacher read the story out loud, and I was so interested in how the characters’ story unfolded with every chapter. Annemarie Johansen was fictional, but through her story I learned that she was three years older than I was, and that she lived in a different part of the world, during a different time, under circumstances which were completely different than my own. There were a lot of things about her life that were nothing at all like mine, but some things were and that made me feel a sense of connection to the character and her story. I loved the flow of words on paper, and how certain passages or even short sentences were striking in their beauty, sound and subtleties. When we picked up our books for reading I gazed at the somber face of Annemarie Johansen, and sometimes wondered about the mysterious person— Lois Lowry— who wrote all of the words inside and made her story come alive for me.

“I want to write one of these someday,” must have gone through my mind during the reading of that book— because though I can’t remember one defining moment where writing became a career goal, it was in that same classroom where the teacher asked us to make a picture of something that we wanted to do someday. Or maybe it was something that we wanted to become?

Either way, while the class got to work with crayola crayons and construction paper, I grabbed a piece of white paper and a pencil and wrote:

“A girl named Melissa” and scribbled my name below the title.

I drew a big oval with two skinny lines on the side for hair and a frowning face. It wasn’t very colorful but the teacher said it was good so I took it home to show mom.

“Oh my god!” She said, giggling maybe because of the melodramatic image of my future biography. “Why do you look so sad?”

I can’t remember why. I’m not sure if I was mimicking the face on “Number the Stars”, or because of some sadness I was experiencing at the time, or if I even just figured then that life is long and there was sadness yet to come. Anyway I was always a bit of a melancholic kid and tended to express that about myself, even before the the second grade.

To give you some idea, this is the first story that I can remember writing. I published it in one of those little cardboard books when I was six years old.


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…Maybe that was why I was so sad; my first taste of literary rejection came so soon in life!

Even though “The Stereo That Flew” was written before the second grade, I remember second grade as being a big year for me as far as my earliest aspirations for writing were concerned. I’ll never forget the night when my sister—who was a teenager at the the time— took me out for a girls night. I think we just went to Wal-Mart and a movie or something, but those kinds of memories with her and my other siblings have always been gems for me. We went to the store and she told me that I could pick out something for myself. I grabbed a small, decorative notebook with lots of pages and purple lines. There were little


Me and my sister❤

folders on the inside too, which really sold me on this particular notebook (though I never figured out a use for them). I got to work on my stories right away. Sometimes I sat by my sister while she did her homework and drew on trapper keepers and notebooks, and I would mimic her artwork. There was this flower that she liked to draw that had four petals. I drew my own sloppy version and kept on drawing them in the margins next to my scribbled stories until I got really good at it, and I carried the habit of doodling that doodle with me all through high school and college.


When I wrote stories in the notebook that she got for me, I would always take them to class to share. I was never shy about my writing and was always eager to read it out loud to others when I was young. Like I mentioned in the slide show, I was a total ham about it! I often named my characters after my friends and asked for their advice about my stories and what they wanted to see happen, and while I’m sure that that kind of thing isn’t unusual for a kid that age— or telling in anyway about talent— I recall having other daydreams and career goals during that time in my life also. I was a big fan of “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego” and thought that being a detective was a viable route. My dad even set me up a little two tiered desk with an old magnifying glass that he got at an auction so that could I play detective. I also wanted to be a Jedi and learn to use the force!

I had a lot of big dreams back then; but it was only the writing thing that ever truly stuck with me through life.

Recently I went rummaging through a big trunk full of old photos, documents, and stuff at my parents house. I found a few old cardboard books inside. A couple were written by me and some were by my two younger brothers. I had to laugh at how simple mine were in comparison to theirs.

Before I go on, I don’t think it’s actually fair to flip through the works of children and compare them as “better than” or “worse than” because at that age kids are really just expressing themselves in their own unique ways… but really, as storytelling goes and what I’ve learned about it over the years? My brothers’ books were way more creative than my little “Stereo that flew”! Theirs were complete with artwork and clever titles and words that filled up half the page with description and detail and even poetry in some of them. So while it’s true that it’s not fair to compare, I think that it is also true that if one were to open up all of the little cardboard books that were written by me and my brothers and guess which one of us was the writer, I would have easily been the last guess.

I have never believed that I am a naturally gifted person. For me writing isn’t unlike the four petaled flower doodle— I just kept working on it until I got decent at it because I wanted to. Somewhere in that process it became a habit.


Recent free writes and draft ideas that I scribbled out at Writers and Books, ROC











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