• Friends,  Fun in Knoxville,  Something That Could Change Your Life

    Friender Bender

    I love my car. Wait, let me correct that: I LOVE MY CAR, in BOLD and ALL CAPS. I’ve been driving this Buick Regal GS for five years (Day One pictured above), and you know how usually there’s a honeymoon phase with a new car but after a while your eyes start to wander in the direction of newer cars? That hasn’t happened with me and this vehicle. I mean, my Dream-Car-Since-I-Was-Sixteen is coming up next, but I’m in absolutely no hurry. That’s because this gorgeous red car is so *mwah, kisses fingers* with its sunroof, power everything, leather (and heated) seats, adaptive cruise control, heated steering wheel (just to…

  • Childhood Memories,  Confessions,  Family Fun,  Reflections on Parenting

    Photographic Evidence

    If you know me even just a little bit you are aware that when I take on a project I truly put everything into it (“go big or go home” and all that jazz). While I can annoy myself along the way, I’m rarely disappointed at the end. In fact, Jim reminded me of that just last week. I’m making a Blurb book (just for me) out of all the letters I wrote ahead of my fiftieth birthday last year and decided to add photos. The problem was going to be finding what I needed: like needles in a house-sized haystack. I was talking to Jim about stopping my hunt…

  • Confessions,  Something That Could Change Your Life

    A Body Positivity Story in Two Pieces: An Update…and a Strategy.

    You might remember that I suddenly “lost my mind” last July and started wearing bikinis (the bottoms having fuller coverage because, ahem.) rather than my normal tankinis to the neighborhood pool after not having worn bikinis since I was about six years old. If you don’t remember, let’s get you caught up. Click here, and then come back. I’ll wait. After I jumped in with both feet, so to speak, I wore the bikini tops a lot for the rest of the summer. I got used to how it felt to have less of my body covered in front of other swimmers and was very proud of myself. Still, I…

  • Am Reading,  Motivation,  Something That Could Change Your Life

    Read This: The Power of Moments

    Normally I would not devote an entire blog post to a book I have just completed. I’d write up my happy little review on GoodReads and then move on to the next one. This time is different. I just finished The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by brothers Chip and Dan Heath. My brain is buzzing, not only because I loved the book but also because of the clarity it gave me. The Heath brothers write about creating memorable, impactful peaks in our lives and the lives of others. These peaks can be simple acts like complimenting someone on a job well done or shoveling an…

  • Amazing People,  Tough Questions

    I’m Certain Laverne Defazio Never Had to Wonder Like I Do.

    Last week we were in Milwaukee, visiting our younger son. Always on the hunt for fun activities to do with the boys when we are together, I was thrilled to find a place that offered mini bowling. Jim and Jason were up for it so we headed out. Mini bowling is played the same way as traditional bowling, but the pins are smaller and the lanes are more narrow and much shorter. The balls have no finger holes, are similar in size to small coconuts, and come in one weight (about three and a half pounds). Because of the type of balls used, it feels a lot like Skeeball when…

  • Travels

    Using the Roadside America App With Intention

    I learned about the Roadside America app from my friend Vikki almost exactly a year ago. I’ve used it sporadically; sometimes I forget that I have it and don’t think to look up roadside attractions near me until it’s too late and I’m already at my destination. Also, I can’t really use it when I’m on a solo road trip because I usually think about it when I’m driving and unable to use my phone like that, rather than when I’m stopped at a gas station. This week, however, I used the app differently. I accompanied Jim on a work trip to Cleveland and not wanting to languish in the…

  • Travels

    Local Appreciation Society

    “The grass is always greener,” they say. I don’t know who “they” are, but “they” have truly made up dozens of extended quotes that start with that featured statement. Most of us know that the grass isn’t actually greener: it just looks that way depending on our situation and that of the person whose yard we’re coveting. Many of us know that if we took care of and appreciated our own grass, it would be just as green. Actually, that’s where I’ll be heading here. I have a fascination with palm trees. It’s so intense that anytime I’m in an area of the country where they grow, it becomes a…

  • Travels

    Meet More People: Travel Alone.

    Last night I returned home from a trip to California. I flew out there with Jim, who was participating in a four-day bike camp. He thought I might want to come along and do my own thing during the day while he was riding 30-50 miles each day around the San Diego area with his group, and naturally I jumped at the chance. Although technically this was not a solo trip for me because we ate dinners together and shared the hotel room, I spent most of each day alone, which is always amazingly fun (no offense to Jim or any of my other occasional travel companions!). I love not…

  • Food,  How To,  Something That Could Change Your Life,  Travels

    How to Remove Coconut Meat Without Losing Your Mind

    One of the highlights of our visit to Maui last November was a tropical plantation tour. We learned about so many of the delicious fruits and flowers grown on the island; seeing pineapples, mangoes, avocados, bananas, and many others in their natural habitat was fascinating and we enjoyed the afternoon tremendously. One mind-blowing moment came when our tour guide pulled the tram over so she could demonstrate how to break down a coconut. By the way, I absolutely love coconut but I do not love all of the steps involved in breaking them down. I can gleefully poke a skewer into the eyes and pour out the water, and vigorously…

  • Best Thing Ever,  Childhood Memories,  Friends,  Music,  Travels

    My Name Is Melisa and I’m a Born Again Fanilow.

    When I was a kid in the 70’s, Barry Manilow was totally my jam. He was the first artist I truly loved; I collected his record albums (real vinyl ones, kids!) and played them so much I’m surprised the needle didn’t wear the grooves down. Is that even possible? Never mind. I was a Child Fanilow. Exhibit A: When I was 7 or 8 I was taking ballet classes every week. One week, my ballet teacher announced that we had an upcoming Parents’ Night and we were each tasked with picking a song–any song of our choosing!–and choreographing a routine for that special evening. I chose Barry Manilow’s “Mandy,” and…