Cubicle Wars


It all began in 1995. I decided to decorate my office cubicle for Christmas.

Before I knew it, the smack talk had begun.

“Oh isn’t that cute? It looks like a first grade classroom,” taunted my coworker.

I added fake snow and built a chimney and fireplace up the cubicle wall. I smiled with competitive satisfaction.

The night before judging, my coworker, all the while plotting my demise went into winner mode.

I came in the next morning to a light display around his cubicle that most assuredly raised the office electricity bill and most likely tripped the breaker.

A dome of blinking colorful lights arched over his entire cubicle.

I felt the taste of defeat.

Do I stop trying?

No – never, never give up.

Once again – I have a cubicle.

Once again – there is a cubicle decorating contest.

The smack talk has begun.

My son goes with me to scour dollar stores for creepy zombies and blinking skulls.

I will not go down.

I will taste victory.

I imagine it tastes like caramel corn and sweet tarts.

Bwa – ha – ha – ha



All or Nothing


I’m lucky enough to have enjoyed creativity in my work. I’ve directed plays, taught Creative Writing and designed web sites. In my current position, I take photos, write success stories and film videos.

For a time, I dropped out of the 9-5 world to pursue freelance writing and published my first novel.

For me, it’s always been all or nothing. I wanted the ultimate creative life or I took the safety job and stopped pursuing my own writing.

Both roads have lead to depression. No matter how creative, the safety job always leaves a sadness. My soul wants to create its own vision – not someone else’s – and when I don’t listen, I feel a persistent inkling that something isn’t right.

In contrast, the freelance life offers freedom  – but also so much risk. The burgeoning creativity is subjected to criticism. Mistakes cost money. Catering to employer whims is replaced by catering to client and audience whims.

Could there be a middle ground?

Do I need to sell my soul?

Or could I let it play for a while?

Let it grow?

Nurture it daily until it flourishes before subjecting it to the harsh wind and rain?

Gently, simply – one day at a time – write the words and let the story write itself.


Frank the Duck


I have a new friend at work. His name is Frank.

A few steps away from the office is a pond where a flock of ducks live. Frank is a black and white duck. The rest of the ducks are brown. At last count, there were fifteen and two baby ducklings. I named the ducklings Sally and David.

When I get stressed at work, I walk on down to the pond and talk to Frank.

He gets it.

Sometimes he quacks in support.

Frank likes to do his own thing. I’ve seen him swimming around the middle all by his lonesome while the other ducks rest on the shore. At times, he follows the other ducks, but at somewhat of a distance.

My friend Nicole and I have taken a break to feed the ducks a couple of times. Frank likes peas. It’s fun to watch how excited they get about food.

It’s kind of like watching me eat.

But, mostly I like visiting the ducks because watching how happy they are in the present moment helps me.

Frank just paddles around in the same pond day after day.

If his feathers get wet, he shakes it off. He isn’t worried about deadlines and meetings.

When everyone at work is in a frenzy, I can go see Frank and know that really everything is O.K.

Don’t worry about fitting in.

Just keep swimming – and every once in a while, shake your tail feathers.




Kindness Rocks


What a beautiful day to be outside! Sunny, 75 with a slight breeze – that’s my kind of day. The kind of day where I like to take a walk.

A friend of mine recently told me about Kindness Rocks. It’s a nationwide movement where people paint rocks and leave them for people to find. I love this idea and I’ve been doing it the last couple of days.

Every time I take a walk (good for me and the dog), I mindfully look for a nice rock. I pick up a nice one and take it home. When I have time, I paint a rock and then return it to where I found it. Then I get the added joy of either seeing my happy rock the next time I take a walk or feeling the joy of knowing someone else took the rock.

My walks have become a game. My neighborhood has become an adventure. Sometimes I have to play with my mind to do what is good for me.

It’s always more fun that way.

For more info on Kindness rocks, visit

Baby, You’re a Firework


I forget who I am all of the time.

I’ll walk around thinking my life has somehow been done to me.

I have to…grumble, grumble.

They’re making me…grumble, grumble.

I can’t because so and so…grumble, grumble.

I read a line in a book today about reframing obligations as conscious choices.

I have to tell you – I think that might make life more enjoyable.

Yes, I have obligations – but suffering is optional.

I bought a $5 drink holder for a grocery shopping cart – revolutionized my Saturday.

I wear a cozy cardigan so I’m not cold in the grocery store. I get me a nice beverage to put in said drink holder. I tool around Kroger like I’m on a shopping adventure.

Sure beats thinking, “Darn it – I HAVE to go to the grocery store.”

We’re not here to agonize day in and day out.

Life is too short for that business.

Find a way to make the things you HAVE to do, things you WANT to do – or at least more pleasant.

Dance in the kitchen while you do the dishes. Drink your favorite coffee at work.

Instead of watching the news, go out and catch some fireflies.

Your smile might just light up the sky.


Ten is Terrific!

tenNick (after noticing his birthday decorations):

“Mommy, Thank you. You’ve worked really hard.”

Who is this young man with compassion who thinks of others?

Ten is a golden age. The tantrums are fewer. The understanding is greater.

He knows more about science and math than I do. He tells me so, too.

He still wants to snuggle – but not in public – and don’t tell anyone, Mom.

He’s nearly up to my nose. In a couple of years, I’ll be looking him in the eye. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

He wants to know when we can go on more adventures.

Many days, he comes comes home and wants his video games.

But, more often, he wants to have a hose fight in the backyard, swing on the tire swing and play Legos with Michael.

Mommy gets pink in her hair and he rolls his eyes.

But, he still wants to tango with me.

He has suddenly noticed girls. He’s in love with a girl named Addy. He wrote her a note with a broken heart on it when she chose some other boy.

“Mom, how do you get girls to like you?” he asks as he’s falling asleep.

The clothes I pick out for her him are no longer cool enough. He wants Nike and Adidas. He wants to fit in with the cool kids.

The struggle for independence has begun.

But he’s still a child. His belief in Santa is strong.

He’s more than half grown. My letting go process must begin.

But just a few moments longer…please.

The Roaming Gnome

gnomeWanderlust – a strong, innate desire to travel or roam about. Mine started with the Travelocity commercials or perhaps the movie, Amelie.

I wanted to be that gnome sipping a pina colada on the beach, skiing down the mountain, causing all kinds of mischief and shenanigans while my “owners” sat dumbfounded wondering about my whereabouts.

I tried to sneak out of the house once in high school. I had the back door open, felt the warm air on my face – and then the grip of my mother’s hand on the back of my neck. She’s stealth when she wants to be.

I feel that hand on the back of my neck every time I want to escape and can’t. Those days when the hours at work drag by so slowly that you can hear the minutes click on the clock. You look out the window, see the leaves fluttering in the breeze and think, “I have to get out of here.”

My gnome wants to be in New York City walking past Times Square at night. It wants to sit on the beach and listen to the ocean waves. It wants to sip chocolat in a Parisian cafe. It wants to go whitewater rafting and go hiking on a long trail. It wants to do yoga with goats.

One day soon my gnome may just up and go do these things.

Where does your gnome want to go? #gosmelltheroses

Staying Flexible


I injured myself in January. It was either my gung-ho full-on Melissa attitude toward my New Year’s gym resolution or typical Melissa clumsiness falling over a gate. Either way, for months, I’ve been unable to sit cross-legged or move my thigh to the left.

For a person who likes to do yoga and play with a rough and tumble 9 year old boy, this doesn’t work for me. More than once, I’ve had a flying child land on me as I scream in agony.

I went to physical therapy today. I kind of enjoy being told to bend this way and that way while people take notes. I feel like a circus performer or a research subject.

“You don’t use your core muscles,” she said. “You are overcompensating with your back.”

I had a lot of time to think as I laid there being poked and prodded.

Core. What is the core?

The core is defined as “the central or most important part of something.” How often in life do we find our strength from our core? How often do we overcompensate by using all of the other parts of ourselves until they are weak and depleted?

I know I overcompensate a lot. I could draw my strength from my core power, but I don’t. I try to do it a million other ways.

Where are we stiff? Where do we need movement? Where is our thinking rigid and locked into place? Where are we open? Where are we not?

I think the body mirrors the mind. Often when part of my mind tightens up, there has been a tightening of my mind around a certain issue for a long time preceding it.

Oddly, as the therapist rotates my leg around in circles, I felt more hopeful and more free.

Connection? Perhaps. Either way, something to think about. That – and not tripping over gates.



Seek and Ye Shall Find

SeekI love finding unexpected items. I was reading a book from the library the other day and a card fell out. I picked it up and it had a quote written on it. I smiled like I had found a treasure.

When I take walks and I truly look at my surroundings, I find flowers I hadn’t noticed before, feathers, heart-shaped leaves, woodpeckers and baby deer.

When I was teaching at Transylvania University, I walked into the bathroom one day and there was a paper hanging on the mirror that said, “Take what you need.” It had little slips of paper hanging from it that said “faith,” “hope,” “love,” “courage.”

The person who hung that up had no idea how much I needed one of those slips of paper that day.

I was talking to a group of friends a few months ago and mentioned that my word for the year was “flow.”

My friend pulls a book out of her purse called The Power of Flow. My jaw hit the ground.

When we seek magic, we find magic. When we look for the good, we find good.

Sometimes when we are not finding magic, we need to create a little magic.

Maybe we give someone else a little hope. Then magically, hope finds its way back to us.

What are you seeking?

What magic will you create today?

Into the Forest


I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

When I was a kid I used to lead the neighbor children into the forest. I would tell them we were going on a grand adventure to meet fairies and princesses. I would inevitably get into trouble when the parents came looking for us.

But, there is something mysterious about a forest – as if it contains secrets of its own.

In movies, there is always danger lurking in the forest – giant Harry Potter spiders or Lord of the Rings orcs.

But I have always found the forest to be a sanctuary – a place of quiet where one can return to the self.

This week I am starting my own adventure – a 10 Week Journey to Discover Fun & Inspiration in Your Own Backyard.

Once a week for ten weeks, you will receive an email with that week’s adventure. You’ll shop, dine, create art, bathe in the forest and explore some literary divination among other adventures.

Sign up at and come into the forest with me.