TGIF: A-P-P-R-E-C-I-A-T-I-V-E-L-Y

Frankly, My Dear… had a facelift. And a tummy tuck. And, well, pretty much a complete chassis overhaul. Inn’t she purtty? From the inner workings to the aesthetic design, I am overwhelmed at the difference between yesterday and today.

While yesterday I had a blog… today I have The Blog. Designed to tie in with the New Inklings Press website, FMD is growing up. I’m amazed at the difference a few subtle and not-so-subtle changes can make.

I’d love to say I had the help of a great web designer, but the truth is, I made a few suggestions and he ran with it. What you see is his doing. Completely. You’ve heard the expression, “Newer isn’t always better!”? That may be true for things like one-size-fits-all vitamins and synthetics vs. organics… but don’t you believe it about The Blog! Frankly, My Dear… has stepped out of the woods and into the light!

Rainbow sunrise through trees.

First Morning

I thought I might miss a few things about the old version. The formatting. The photo banner. The many categories and sub-categories and sub-sub-categories. Guess what…

I was wrong!

I don’t miss those things. At all. I see now how chaotic the design was; how distracting and at times either overwhelming or just “ehh…”

But now. Now it’s New. And I couldn’t be happier.

I just needed to get out of my own way and hand the reins over to One Who Knows and let him work his web magic. And I just had to give him a Great Shout Out for all his hard work!

I’d tried designing the Blog myself. I did my research. I viewed other blogs and websites. But I’m a writer. Not a designer. I had no idea how to code this or format that. I know words. This coding thing… yeah. I’m about as efficient as a fish holding a baseball bat.

But my designer. He gets it. He gets me. He gets design. As I live for the words, he lives for the codes. And Frankly, My Dear… we wouldn’t be here without him.

And now all things are new again.

Baseball on Pitcher's Mound. Frankly My Dear, If You Build It, They Will Come.

Field of Dreams

I’m rediscovering my honest love for writing. Not just because it’s what I do. Not just because it’s who I am. Yes, it is and it is. But it’s also what I love. More than anything. And I can’t imagine ever doing anything else.

I received a wonderful email from a friend just this afternoon:

“I know how hard it is to will anything into existence (well, will and a lot of work)! … You have so much going on – just keep doing what you’re doing.”

And so I shall. Because I can’t not be surrounded by words.

When I was in 8th grade, I was in the School-Wide Spelling Bee. Yes, I was one of those students. Teachers called me “Quiet”. Teachers called me “Sweet”. And teachers called me “Smart”.

From a very young age, I knew that Words would be my Life. One way or another, no matter what else I did, writing would always be a part of me. And that meant knowing how to spell.

I was pathetically shy back then. I couldn’t look anyone in the eye unless my family was with me, and even then, notsomuch. That’s why I loved books. I could be a daring cliff-diver or a humble seamstress. I learned to ride horses, fly airplanes. I built the first campfire and knew how to time-travel. I did it all. Through books.

When I was in 8th grade, my English teacher didn’t like me. This was new territory for me. I mean, he really didn’t like me. He lived down the street. And he would make a point of stopping at our house, unannounced, and often on breaks or mini-holidays, to complain how poorly my brother and I were doing in our classes. Considering we both studied hard and received A’s and B’s in nearly every class but his… Considering he bent the rules for other students but not for us… Considering he tried to rummage through my purse before class even began… well, you get the picture. He just really didn’t like me.

And in 8th grade, he was one of the monitors for the School-Wide Spelling Bee. We were down to the Finals. There were ten students left. We lined up against the blackboards and one by one were tasked with correctly spelling out those words from a list that contained four-syllable combinations and homonyms and other great wordsmithing. It was my Personal Nirvana.

When my turn came, it was my English teacher from 7th grade who presented my word. She smiled widely as I spelled it out correctly. At least she liked me and wasn’t afraid to show it.

After nearly another round, I was four places down the line when The One Who Hated Me took the reins. “I’m going to do something a little different,” he said, looking hard at the list. His eyes lit darkly when he found what he was looking for. He looked at me and smirked. “I want to skip ahead to Molly.” The other teachers were puzzled. Was this in the rules? Can he do this? It seemed wrong. It seemed… personal.

I stood tall as he spoke. “Spell… ” and he gave me my word. I met his gaze. He had the satisfied look of one who has beaten another, that sneer of arrogance and pride.

I held his gaze without blinking. As I felt the injustice and anger rise inside me, I clenched my fists and through a delightfully fake smile I began to spell my word. “A-P-P…” I stopped to swallow, and gather my wits. I was meant for this. And I will not lose in spite of him.

I began again.

“A-P-P-R-E-C-I-A-T-I-V-E-L-Y.”

As I casually looked away, betraying the pounding in my heart and head, I caught the glimpse of The Good Teacher. I saw her smile affirmingly at me. A smile of “Atta girl!” and a glance toward him that warned he’d better not try that again. In another round, I was one of the Finalists. And he was Finished.

That’s a memory I used to want to forget. How someone, an authority figure, could without cause bring havoc and turmoil to a student’s life just for the sheer enjoyment he received from doing so… the world is often unbalanced and this was my first real taste. The shame and confusion he laid at my feet for me to pick up and carry with me throughout my student life and into early adulthood… Did I deserve this? Did I present myself in someway that he felt he had to bring me down to size? What was it that I did to make him try to fail me in class and in life?

And yet… it was that word. That word. One of the hardest word on our 8th grade Spelling Bee list. And I’m the one who got it right. That’s what I need to remember more. That even though he tried to pull me down, I fought back. I climbed. I succeeded.

Today, I’m very thankful for struggles. It’s so true that character is borne of hard times. I’m so very appreciative of those who have come alongside me and encouraged me, and yes, even challenged me. I’m thankful that my parents taught me to be gentle even in the midst of adversity. And I’m thankful for endurance.

“There are far, far better things ahead
than anything we leave behind.”
~C.S. Lewis

I’m aware of those pinnacle moments in life when I could have chosen a different path. I could have walked away from Words. I could have let The One Who Hated Me cause me to stumble but instead I chose to climb over the boundaries he set for me.

I learned that day that it’s not what others think I can do. It’s what’s inside that makes me who I am. The day of the 8th grade Spelling Bee cemented in my innermost being that I belong with Words. They are my children, my nightmares, my joys, my soulmates.

“I write for the same reason I breathe:
Because if I didn’t, I would die.”
~Isaac Asimov

I’m thankful for the barriers that have been placed for my protection. I’m thankful for the boundaries I can stretch. And I’m thankful that I know how to jump hurdles when necessary.

“Don’t Fence Me In.”
~Gene Autry

Expand Your Horizons

Expand Your Horizons

And Frankly, My Dear… that’s all she wrote!

I Wore a Dress. And I Wore a Hat.

A few posts ago, I wrote about watching Under the Tuscan Sun and how I desperately want the white dress.

Well. I bought myself a dress. It’s not white. There’s no black belt. Am I’m a few sizes bigger than Diane Lane. But I bought a dress.

Molly Jo in a blue polka dot dress with straw hat.

I Wore a Dress. And I Wore a Hat.

And I love it.

I wore it for the first time today.

I’ve struggled with my hair since getting it cut last week. Melanie always does such an amazing job. But I couldn’t duplicate the salon style in my own home. Then we caught The Great Gatsby at the theater this weekend, and I became enamored with the abundance of short hair styles.

Today I love my hair. Even wispy after a long day and getting windswept just before this photo, I love my hair.

Gatsby Hair

It’s not always magazine-beautiful. But I like my short hair. Today, I love it. Tucked under a matching blue headband, I felt the part. I felt coordinated. I felt…

Confident.

I’m not a Size 0 or even a Size 6. I have an eczema flare up on my face that rivals any teenaged pizza delivery kid in town.

And today I wore a dress.

Molly Jo daydreaming.

Dreaming.

I felt strange. As though I’d been waiting for this moment. It was so much more than a dress. It was, as I thought it would be, an embracing of who I already am and letting what’s inside shine out.

A few months ago I wouldn’t have shared these photos. I wouldn’t have been confident enough. But today I am.

Today, I’m okay with being bigger than a Size 6. I’m okay with a less than perfect complexion. And I’m even okay with showing a yard that still needs some clean-up.

Because this is Who I Am.

And let’s face it: nobody’s perfect. Nobody’s even what you see. So much of us is hidden or ignored. That’s not to say I’m not going to strive for something better. But I’m not upset with the way things are.

How can I tell my daughter, “You’re Worth It!” if I example to her a lack of confidence or self-control? How I be a good role model for Dot if I’m constantly struggling with how I present myself or have a lack of willingness to participate in life?

Granted, you’ll (hopefully) never see a photo of me crawling out of bed in the morning… there are just some things y’all don’t need. Like a spider in the shoe or fingers on the chalkboard. I don’t want to leave you with that kind of experience. And me before coffee is exactly that. You’re just gonna hafta trust me on this.

Molly Jo and her empty coffee mug

There’s Nothing in My Cup!

Today was also about having fun and letting Dot take the lead. I simply handed her my iPhone and said, “Do your thing.” Inherently amazing behind any camera, she allowed me to be goofy and dramatic. I made a few suggestions of what types of photos I was hoping for, and she did the rest. Have I told you how amazing she is?

We had a time of fresh air, laughter, togetherness. And it was all free. And in my own backyard.

The legacies I leave my family are more than just my duties and responsibilities. As I’m putting energy into action to accomplish goals and dreams, I don’t want to lose sight of the “little” things. I don’t want to be so focused on writing that I forget to look. I mustn’t be so burdened with a drive to get to Italy that I neglect my own town. I can’t concentrate so hard on working that I forget how to play.

Molly Jo and Dot's Shadow

Going Places

Maybe someday I’ll have a slimmer body, whiter teeth, and a stamp or two in my Passport [Note to Self: get a passport]. Until then, I’m more than comfortable with who I am.

I’m confident enough to wear a dress. And a hat.

And Frankly, My Dear… that’s all she wrote!

Follow us on Instagram!
Hannah E. Realy: @herealy
Molly Jo: @TheRealMojo68

You may also enjoy reading:
She Wore a White Dress. And She Wore a Hat.
You’re Gonna Make It After All
Where are you, Paul Varjak?
As Long As You Love Me