When I look back on my childhood I remember being a creative and precocious kid. I also realize I may have been borderline weird. I watched opera on PBS and sang gibberish at the top of my lungs, convinced my talent matched the star soprano. I wrote stories and acted them out to a captive audience of Barbies. I wrote poetry. Lots of hilariously bad poetry. Once I learned what a haiku was I could no longer be confined to a rhyme.
I was the only kid in my Catholic elementary school to show up at career day dressed as a “psychic poet.” I wore a flowy Stevie Nicks-esque sundress of my mom’s safety pinned at the shoulders with a black wig because clearly that is what a psychic poet must look like.
Rock on gold dust woman.
My point is simply that when I was a little kid I was creative, funny and uninhibited when it came to expressing myself.
Even in junior high and high school I gravitated to the artsy stuff. I loved English, debate, theater and creative writing. I auditioned and won parts in school plays, attended arts camp in the summer and wrote for the school newspaper in both high school and college. I reveled in any opportunity I had to write. I wrote long letters to pen pals when I was 12, long distance boyfriends in my teenage years and a letter every week to my grandparents when I was away at college. Be it personal, opinion or for a grade I was confident I could communicate anything I wanted by putting pen to paper.
And then something changed.
Somewhere in adulthood my songs, stories and letters gave way to marketing plans, corporate bios and POV memos. I traded my long letters for emails, smart phones and texts. I can attribute much of my success over my career to the fact I can write, but truth be told, I considered writing a chore. Where I used to be able to sit down and write easily, it didn’t come naturally anymore and it certainly wasn’t fun.
But on Mother’s Day a year ago I had a little epiphany.
I had no inspiration as to what to get my mom. Favorite flowers or expensive candle? Blah, boring. Clothes, handbag or jewelry? No. I went shopping for inspiration but nothing called her name and I didn’t want to buy something just to fill a gift bag. Time was running out.
Then it hit me.
I was going to write my mom a letter.
I stole a moment away from my kids and sat down with stationary card and pen, nervous that the words wouldn’t come.
But, they did.
I wrote about how much I love and appreciate my mom. I thanked her for teaching me patience, compassion and the importance of good mascara and an eyelash curler. I wrote how I now understand that marriage and parenthood are really hard work. I wrote how humbled I am now as a grown up with a family of my own, that we are doing the best we can every day with the tools that we have and sometimes those tools feel as useless as a decaffeinated latte.
Seriously, what is the point of a latte with no caffeine?
I wrote to my mother, on Mother’s Day, that if I could be half the mom to my kids that she has been to me, this would be my greatest success in life. I watched my mother as she read my words with laughter and tears. When she finished she looked at me with the utmost sincerity.
“Melissa, you are such a good writer.”
I quickly dismissed the compliment and said I simply wanted to tell her I love her and to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. But she interrupted my humility to say again, “No Melissa, I mean it. You are a very good writer and I am going to treasure this note forever.”
Writing that letter and the reaction I got from my mom made me remember something about myself. I am still creative. I can express myself in words and that I still like writing.
Fast forward to the day Jeanette asked if I would partner with her for Lore and Little Things. My initial reaction was, are you crazy? NO WAY. I didn’t want to put myself out there. I didn’t think I would be interesting or funny enough. When it came down to it writing for a blog just sounded hard.
But, then I thought back to my mom standing in the kitchen on Mother’s Day holding my letter, “Melissa, you are a really good writer.”
I thought of the creative and funny kid I used to be and how I loved to write songs and poems for the fun of it. And maybe I owed it myself to explore and nurture my stories again.
I admit I still have reservations about putting myself out there, especially on the great wide internet. I struggle with what to say and worry that I’m not interesting or funny enough to readers. I share my writer’s block, fears and frustrations with Jeanette who is quick to comfort and then dismiss my whining, always reminding me, “Melissa it’s only hard if you make it hard. It’s just storytelling. Plus, people should be allowed to listen in on our conversations because we are hilarious.”
Even though writing for Lore does feel a little like riding a bike for the first time without training wheels, Jeanette is right.
It’s only hard if you don’t pedal.
So, rock on gold dust woman.