Writing through it.

I’ve mentioned in various ways and at various times that this blog began at the beginning of the year following a period of time in my life that was what one can only describe as living through difficulty. I basically opened up a page on this blog, posted a picture, and wrote things down.

It’s what I needed to do to in January to get from one day to the next.

We only have this one life.

And the only one who can guarantee that it’s worthwhile–is you.

You’re the one who gets up every morning and decides how you’re going to live. Who you’re going to be. What you’re going to do. What the day will look like. What the end of the day will look like.

But sometimes despite all of the truths about self-directed self-destiny and writing your life down and being the best you can be, sometimes life, in fact, is about forgiving the moments when you couldn’t do anything at all about the outcome.

But it’s not about forgetting to put up the biggest fight of your beautiful life when it matters: When you can show up and do something meaningful, you should choose to do that, every time.

“Don’t ever mistake my silence for ignorance, my calmness for acceptance, or my kindness for weakness.” (Author unknown.)

I know these things about myself:  I like to plant things and watch them grow: Plants. Kids. Beauty. Happiness. STRENGTH. I have this inherent belief in work: It will get you from one day to the next. And I have an endless supply of goodness that is so full it overflows and spills out everywhere I go. I have so much goodness I could light up a city. I could even light up the world.

But I’m not here to parse out my goodness to the undeserving. I’ve had enough of that. Only the ones who deserve it get a piece of me. I will be choosier from now on. And I write this from a place of total and complete humility. I hope that by sharing this, you’ll have a moment when you read this and think, Yes, I have all that goodness, too. I’ll put it where it should go. No more misdirection.

I went to a talk by one of my literary heroes Barbara Kingsolver, and the handout about her talk included this perfect quote:


I remember sitting in therapy with one of my wonderful therapists this year (yes, I needed two of them to get through last year’s horror), and I said, “I have to get out and do things, but I am too sad and too scared. I want to plant the garden. I mean, I want the garden to grow because that was the plan for this year, but I can’t seem to get myself to plant the seeds.” Even getting out of bed, opening the door, and planting the seeds felt like too monumental of a task, and I couldn’t imagine leaving the safe haven of my house with its beautiful kitchen and its comfortable bed and its newly-installed house alarm.

He, wonderful therapist that he is, told me “Well, you just take it a day at a time. There isn’t anything else to be done. Plant the seeds. Watch them grow.”


It took everything in me, but I opened the door. I started building the garden beds. I did everything I could to just show up and do the work.


And while I won’t name the wrong or the event here right now, I think that in the time that you’ve known me, however short or long, you know that I, like many of you, work my way through difficulty by working hard, loving even harder, and believing in all the ways that truth wins.

I was raised to believe that the most important words are the ones that come out of your mouth, and the attentiveness you give to listening to the truth of another.

And if you make a mistake, apologize.

Tell the truth, every time.

Apologies and truth-telling have saved the world from war. Keep at it, do the work, tell the truth. Every time.

A well-written apology, when written from a full heart, has healed broken hearts and souls.

These are pretty basic tenets. They are, in fact, the keys to a happy life.

Above all, I believe in truth. Truth, as it turns out, is the only way to live.


We all have our ways of dealing with difficulty. For me, I have a few basic happy habits: I work really hard. I clean house; I cook food; I hug my kids and my husband; I walk or run; and I write. I write my way through it, knowing that at the end of the dark tunnel is a beautiful meadow filled with sunshine and dancing and goodness, the kind of impossibly good goodness that is saved only for good people.

I suppose it’s a bit like heaven, that place at the end of the dark tunnel.


It’s a place where when you are finally done with your long and beautiful and difficult and tragic and breathtaking and unbelievable life, you breathe in and look at the blinding light and know that you are going forward with a clean soul.

I believe in apology. In admitting wrongs. I believe in rallying cries for the righteous. I believe in standing up for what’s right. I believe in forgiveness. I believe in showing up for anyone, anywhere, who needs you to be there.

Do it, and it shall be yours. That’s a phrase that keeps going through my head.

Also, I heard this song on the radio the other night and have listened to it a bunch of times since. Has anyone here seen A Star is Born?  I haven’t seen it yet. Brian and I are hoping to see it this weekend. It looks awesome. Just look at this clip and this crazy-gorgeous song:

As I get nearer and neared to the end of this year, and a wrap-up of my first full year as a 41-year-old, I am ready to adventure again, to take on the world, one mountain and one leaf and one page and one continent at a time.

Will you join me? What do you want to do with your one beautiful life?

Can you tell all of us?

Is it making the best soup? Is it embroidering a beautiful pillow? Is it hugging a child? Reading a new book? Speaking in front of a group? Showing up at someone’s door and asking for something important? Voting for someone or something that matters to all of humanity?

In November of this year, I’ll just mark this journey with these huge goals: I think there are a bunch of books that still are inside me that need to be written, and a world that needs to be traveled, and a series of greats that still need to be uncovered and enjoyed.

For all of you, thanks for reading, again. I see the numbers when people visit, and it is heartening and it powers me forward to write and reach out to you.

What will you do with your one beautiful life?

I want to know. We all do. So, if you can, share it here. Whatever it is, it isn’t too big or too small for you. You can do it. I believe in you.

Thanks for hanging in there with me. I’m back to life and I’m going to roar my way through the next seventy decades. Because I will live for a long time and I hope you’ll be here with me. (110 isn’t that old. C’mon.)


12 Comments Add yours

  1. Colleen Robinson says:

    When my son was killed two years ago, l locked myself in my house, l didn’t drive for almost two years, l did however plant my garden and put in a memorial garden for my son, tended my chickens, watched my grandchildren until l have finally pulled myself out of the terrible grief, my son would not want me to be sad. Life is short, family is everything. I cook and bake, garden and can my vegetables. Plant lot’s of sunflowers, they always make you smile.

    1. Melinda says:

      Oh, Colleen, my heart is full of grief for you. Thank you so much for commenting and sharing. I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful boy. You are right that he would want you to find joy in every moment and hold him in your heart. I think a memorial garden is one of the most peaceful and rewarding ways to celebrate the people we loved and lost. He is alive in all of the plants you tend and grow. I will plant more sunflowers next year, and they will be for you and your son. Hugs and lots of love to you today.

  2. Kate Walton says:

    Oh what a beautiful song! Keep writing! <3

    1. Melinda says:

      Thank you Kate! 🙂

  3. Susan says:

    Oh, Melinda! Such profound and beautiful writing and expression. I am teary-eyed reading this. Thank you for your honesty and incredible ability to convey it through words.

    1. Melinda says:

      Thank you Susan! This makes *me* teary-eyed to read. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. It means SO MUCH to me!!! ❤️

  4. Sarah says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey.
    I like the quote “don’t judge a book by its cover”. There is always more to ones story.
    Your quote “the attentiveness you give to listening to the truth of another” is what I strive for. It’s not always easy to do, but it’s always worth doing.

    1. Melinda says:

      Thank you, Sarah. You are so right—we can never know what lies beneath unless we open our hearts, ask the questions, and listen. ❤️

  5. Laura OC says:

    You have such a beautiful heart Melinda – I love these words! 😘

    1. Melinda says:

      Thank you so much for reading and for *these* sweet words, Laura! A beautiful gift to wake up and read today! ❤️

  6. Kevin Schmidt says:

    Thanks for this. Thank you for sharing your journey so eloquently. I LOVED Star is Born. My friend Lukas Nelson was in the band and wrote a lot of the songs. Go see it!
    Lately, I am considering this idea: “What does life want to do through me?” And sure enough, meditating on that, feeling into that, I have become aware of a deep, abiding sense of where I go from here. And in a way, it is a circling back, because this is work I *used to* do, and, it’s also completely new, because the things I will be doing didn’t even exist back then. I know I am here to be heard. I spent years in radio, and advertising and my voice was heard far and wide. But I grew into other careers over the years. Now, I am returning to that work, but as a poetry reader, and video game character, and audiobook narrator. And my focus now is different. I had been heard far and wide. I choose now to be heard closely, deeply.

    1. Melinda says:

      Kevin, thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment so fully.

      That is SO COOL that your friend worked on the Star is Born soundtrack! It is amazing! I can’t wait to see the movie. I have “Shallow” on re-run on youtube in the background a lot these days. It’s so pretty.

      I love what you mean by this big and important question of “what does life want to do through me?” So often we quietly go through the motions until they become so comfortable that we forget to question our original discomfort with a particular path or direction or role that we took on early on in our lives that might not have been quite the right fit to begin with. I am reading this book called “My Friend Fear,” by Meera Lee Patel. She says: “All too often we self-censor in an effort to avoid being seen as Other. We suppress our laughter because we’re worried it’s too loud. We avoid answering honestly when someone asks us how we are because the truth makes us uncomfortable. The process of self-censorship eventually becomes second nature until it no longer feels like you’re actively hiding: your laugh was always this quiet; you always feel just fine. Over time, we hardly recognize who we are.” There is so much truth to this. I think about it a lot for our kids, because that’s when it begins, that’s when personalities begin to form, when a certain kind of role is taken on maybe because we get praise for it or maybe because it makes us feel safe. Then it takes years and years of work to get back to the place we were supposed to be, the place where we are full of the life force meant to flow through us.

      I love your different permutations now–the outdoor work, the one-on-one work, the organizational work and the poetry and narrator work! And I love what you mean about being heard closely, and deeply. There is such a thing as listening, and then there’s hearing and assimilating and understanding. That is, I agree, the fundamental goal and what keeps us loving our partners and searching for friendships that require fewer explanations and more celebrations.

      Thank you again for this thoughtful comment. I really appreciated thinking about these things today.

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