Moving Through Water and Time

Filed Under All Posts, Melissa Howden, Seasonal | 10 Comments

—For Melissa, an emotional winter gives way to the surprise of new growth—

If one pays the closest attention it is possible to see the turns of the seasons in particular the arrival of Spring. Here in Northern New Mexico the seasons are showy, dramatic and distinct rituals accompany them.

I’ve been here for the last two and a half months having arrived early in February to be with my father during his time in a rehabilitation hospital as efforts were made to get him back on his feet after a particularly “killer” series of chemotherapy treatments. I’ve seen him released from the rehab hospital only to be admitted to another hospital a couple of weeks later and to hear the Doctor say “he is dying.” I’ve participated in the first meeting with the hospice doctor. I was present to hear the doctor say, “It’s true I am a hospice doctor, but I also have hospice graduates and I think its possible that a year from now you will be one of my graduates.” With this possibility held out to us we all, the whole family, became singularly focused on my father’s weight gain and his tours up and down the hall with his walker. We have gone from the place where my father’s friends came ostensibly to say goodbye, to the pleasant surprise of ongoing visits. Read more

Battle of the Flesh

Filed Under All Posts, Beauty, Melissa Howden | 14 Comments

As Melissa’s mind and body challenge her conceptions, her father faces the inevitable

There are wars waging. If it is not bad enough that the GOP war on women continues unabated, I am at war with my own body. My body has become a battleground. As a Feminist I am embarrassed to confess this fact. But then again maybe this is the absolute prerogative of a Feminist—to admit to personal war with his/her body. It is after all my own, and currently I am miserable in it.

I heard a talk show host say the other day that there are parts of her body she loathes. My thought at the time was, “Right now I kind of loathe the whole dang thing”. My physical self feels like a fickle lover, a phenomenon I am all too familiar with. She is one thing then another. She is here, then she is there—she is high, she is low. She loves me. Loves me not. Read more

Mining Bits of Goodness

Filed Under Health, Melissa Howden | 16 Comments

green plant grows in between crack in concrete

Melissa works at creating a personal survival guide for the tumult of the times

These are tough times. This is the one thing we all can agree on. At this juncture, I am forced to acknowledge that personally things are also rough and ragged. This could be a chicken and egg question, “Is it the state of the world that is making me sad or am I just sad which is affecting how I see the world?” Does it really matter? It’s perilous out there and its perilous in here. So what to do? The very wise ones say that it’s not what is happening that is important rather how we respond and relate to what is happening.

With this in mind I’ve begun to make some changes – they may seem superfluous and shallow but I’ve noticed immediate improvement in my outlook. I have blocked the posts of people on Facebook who persistently lambast. It depressed me. Truth be told I’m limiting my FB time and when I am there I find I am looking for inspiring stories and cute animal photographs of interspecies bonding and acceptance. These things lift me up and contribute to an overall feeling of well being. Read more

As the Wheel Turns

Filed Under All Posts, Melissa Howden, Reinvention | 14 Comments

Melissa reflects on truly living life, moving from wishes to action with a brave and open heart

My yoga teacher Peggy has been known to say during class,
“Triangle pose is like a little black dress. You can take it anywhere.”

As my birthday month comes to a close I have been ruminating on all, like the triangle pose, that is wise, helpful and transportable. Even more so than New Years, my birthday has become a time of reflection and review. Like my closet, my life gets a spring cleaning at every year when the wheel turns toward my birthday. “This gets tossed, this stays, this needs cleaning and that needs altering.” Although this year has been rife with challenges, I am not immune to the good news and that is the wheel is still turning. And with each turn of the wheel I garner new pieces of wisdom to add to the mix and I become myself and push my brave tender heart toward the promise of a new day.

Recently I read a blog titled “Inspiration and Chai” by Bronnie Ware. For many years Bronnie worked in palliative care with the terminally ill. As such she was privy to the intimate revelations of the dying. Bronnie noticed that there were common themes as people voiced their thoughts about living and dying, and what they wished they had done differently.

The most common regret was,“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” Read more

WANTED! Truthtellers. Apply Within.

Filed Under All Posts, Melissa Howden, Relationships | 19 Comments

When Melissa’s trust is broken, she examines past and present with hope for the future

Here a lie, there a lie everywhere a liar, liar pants on fire.

When someone loved and trusted lies, its hurtful and makes me feel as though I am not worthy of the truth. Trust is so precious, and yet we take so much of the universe on trust. Having my trust violated leaves me feeling lonely and kind of empty. Ironically, it’s also kind of lonely to try and stand strong and sure in my own truth and experience.

In the third grade, my teacher Mrs. Randolph gave the whole class a word problem. Something along the lines of, “If ten monkeys hiked to the peak in search of one banana, but two of them took the bus half way, and had to wait for the bus for 30 minutes, and the bus travelled at 20 miles an hour and the rest of the monkeys high tailed it, who got to the banana first?” Mrs. Randolph instructed us to remain at our desks until we had the answer to the problem. When we thought we knew the answer we were to come up to her desk and whisper it to her. I came up with the answer right away and in front of the whole class Mrs. Randolph called me a cheater — except there was no way I could’ve cheated. In effect Mrs. Randolph was lying but calling me the liar. At eight years old, it was challenging to hold on to what I knew was true even as my teacher was abusing her power. I knew in my heart that I came up with the answer and that was an early lesson in trusting myself. A year later I read in the newspaper that Mrs. Randolph had been arrested for shoplifting, which somehow proved my case. Read more

Pondering the Nature of Duo

Filed Under All Posts, Melissa Howden, Relationships | 20 Comments

Positive Negative, painting by Jesse Rinyu

In an effort to understand her mother, Melissa peels back layers of her own heart

In the summer of 1963, my mother left my father. I was just six and my brother turned three a few short weeks later. Thirty-six years, several boyfriends and one more divorce later, my mother admitted to me that the love of her life had been my father.

My mother’s admission about the love of her life was stunning and surprising. I asked her why; given that my father was the love of her life she left him? She replied, “He was young and stupid and always had something to prove.” I wondered what 20-something (man or woman) is not young and stupid with things to prove?

A year after this conversation my mother died. I discovered then the only things in her safe deposit box were the letters my father had written to her asking, and then pleading with her to come back. I cried then for my mother, not for her death but for the fact of her pride — the pride, which kept her from the love of her life for most of her life, which by all measures was not a particularly happy one. Read more

The Heart of It

Filed Under All Posts, Melissa Howden, Relationships | 14 Comments

Corazon by Mark Carter

Melissa reflects on the legacy of separation and the ways in which we cope

Some week’s back, the cover of The New York Times had a picture of two young boys tearfully clinging to their father who was returning to one war zone or another after a leave. The look of panic and pain on the younger boy’s face haunts me.

I have a similar photograph from 70 years ago on the day my grandfather left to go to war. In the photograph my eight-year-old father appears more stoic than the boys in the NY Times but I know from letters and first hand reports that the one photograph of that day does not tell the whole story.

I will always wonder if the father in The New York Times photograph comes home. I know my grandfather didn’t and that legacy of separation has been passed down in my family. This is the story of countless families throughout history, changed by the legacy of loss at the hand of war, economics, borders, political posturing and empire building. Read more

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