• Screenshot 2023 11 07 at 9.34.24 AM
    Something That Could Change Your Life,  Best Thing Ever,  Blessings,  Childhood Memories,  Proud Moments,  Travels

    A Gratitude Story, 40 Years Long

    Part 1: June-July, 1982 and 1983 Starting in the summer after 8th grade, I was part of a student interchange program from CISV International. (“CISV was founded in the belief that peace is possible through building friendship and mutual understanding, starting with children.”) In 1982, a delegation of about a dozen German kids from the Frankfurt area came to America and stayed for a month in the homes of about a dozen Knoxville-area kids. The following year, we Americans went to stay with our interchange partners in their homes for a month. The idea was that the hosting families would both participate in large group activities as well as take…

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    Amazing People,  Blessings,  How To,  Something That Could Change Your Life

    Thanks, Healthcare Workers! (or, Here’s a Template for a Thank You Note)

    “You were all already heroes in my eyes way before this tragedy struck my family, but now that I know what I know from experiencing it, I am truly in awe of all of you.” I wrote a thank you letter last week, as did my mom and sister. I delivered them to the hospital staff who sit at a table just inside the ER doors, taking temperatures and evaluating people who want to enter the building. Those gatekeepers would deliver the thank you notes to the Nurses’ Station on the COVID floor for me, just like they delivered various things my dad, mom, and sister needed from home when…

  • Rainbow New Years Day 2021
    Blessings,  Pretty Pictures

    The Kindness of Strangers

    A quick catch-up for those of you who aren’t connected with me on Facebook: my dad, mom, and sister all tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-December. Dad was hospitalized immediately and passed nine days later, which was devastating. We haven’t yet begun to deal with the staggering level of his loss; Mom and my sister were admitted in the two days after Dad’s passing. Sister was discharged after about a four day stay: to be honest, I currently have to ask Jim or look at my phone to have any understanding of what time, day, or date it is. What is time, anyway? Mom was discharged after about a six…

  • Cards from friends
    Blessings,  Writing

    It Just Seems Write.

    Let me take a second to congratulate myself on a clever title for a post about writing notes to friends. See what I did there? Go, Melisa! When all of the self-isolating (or social distancing, physical distancing, quarantining, or whatever we’re calling it these days) started a couple of months ago, the vast majority of us resorted to doing whatever made us feel better. That is to say, in a time when we’ve had (and continue to have) to do something that is for the most part extremely uncomfortable—staying home most or all of the time—it seems only natural that we would choose to spend our time doing the things…

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    Amazing People,  Blessings

    Creative Ways To Connect and Learn While Social Distancing: A Guide to the Silver Linings

    Updated June 4, 9:40 am: Well, it’s time. After eleven weeks of updating my list of things to do, watch, and learn from home while everyone was self-isolating, I just updated it one last time and now I’m going to let it go. Or rather, I’m going to let it STAY. While I won’t be updating it any further, it’ll be pinned to the top of this site until the end of June. After that, you can easily find it anytime for eternity if you need something to do, by coming here and searching “Coronavirus list.” My final additions include more anti-racism resources, plus the fun videos and things I’ve…

  • Aunt Nancy quilting scaled
    Amazing People,  Blessings,  Childhood Memories,  Something That Could Change Your Life

    The Best Kind of Quilt

    Just like so many others in my family, my Aunt Nancy was an extremely creative person. She was an avid knitter and enjoyed lots of other crafty pursuits, but one in particular eventually took the lead and became her favorite: making quilts. She started quilting in the early 1980s, completing her first quilt in 1983. After that there was no turning back. For nearly four decades she pieced and sewed, gifting her creations to lucky friends and family members like me (I received a quilt for my college dorm room as well as baby quilts for my sons). For as long as I can remember, if she wasn’t holding court…

  • wedding day
    Amazing People,  Best Thing Ever,  Blessings,  Fun in Knoxville,  Jim Has Mad Skillz,  We Are An Awesome Couple

    On Getting Lost and Found

    The very first argument Jim and I had as a married couple was on our wedding day. We left the courthouse in Norfolk, Virginia and drove back to Knoxville; he was on leave from the Navy for the rest of the week. After a very long eight-hour drive, we got off the interstate and had to navigate through downtown Knoxville, which has lots of one way streets and odd intersections. It wasn’t long before we got completely turned around and totally lost. This was way before cell phones and GPS navigation (imagine that, kids!), and we didn’t have a map in the car. I wanted him to pull over so…

  • Melisa Cats cake 51
    Blessings,  Confessions,  Do I Really Want My Readers To Know This?,  I'm Apparently Old.

    I’m One Year Older and Here Are My Grievances

    I turned 51 on Wednesday. It was a much quieter birthday than last year; rather than spend my day on a plane headed for paradise I spent much of my day on the couch watching “90 Day Fiance.” Yes, seriously. Anyway, at my age I have a mental list of general life grievances that is growing just like it’s supposed to as we get older. I thought I’d make a list (not all-inclusive; that’s impossible) here so that when I’m still definitely blogging in ten years I can look back at 61 and think to myself, “Oh dear; I was so adorable back then!” Here are just a few things…

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    Amazing People,  Blessings

    Precious Time

    One evening early last year our friends were over for dinner and I was telling them that I wanted to put a water feature in our backyard, in between our bedroom windows. I thought it would be nice to lie in bed and hear the water when we were able to have the windows open. My friend’s eight-year-old—who, just like his mom, loves anything having to do with landscaping (weirdos)—spoke up immediately: “I could design one for you, Melisa!” I thought it was an excellent idea and told him to start thinking about it and we’d talk more about it later. Last summer went by in a crazy blur: they…

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    Blessings,  Fun in Knoxville,  Motivation,  Pretty Pictures

    Two Years.

    It was two years ago today when I moved back to Knoxville after 26 years of living in my beloved hometown (well, the greater Chicagoland area). First: I can’t believe it’s been two years. Second: I wish I could go back and tell the pre-move Melisa, who was terrified of the change and very upset about leaving the greatest city in the entire world, that not only was everything going to be okay but also that she could let go and be assured that this move would lead to a season of life that would be one of her happiest. Jim and I have had way too many adventures to…