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Melissa Sparks

Unapologetically Me

unapologeticallyThis past year has been full of changes, struggles and soul searching. It was quite possibly the best year of my life.  And, here’s why:

I’ve learned to forgive …

I’ve forgiven myself for not being the perfect wife.

I’ve forgiven myself for not being the perfect friend.

I’ve forgiven myself for not being the perfect neighbor.

I’ve forgiven myself for not being the perfect hostess.

I’ve forgiven myself for not being the perfect guest.

I’ve forgiven myself for not saying the perfect thing.

I’ve forgiven myself for not having the perfect body.

I’ve forgiven myself for not having perfect hair or skin.

I’ve forgiven myself for not having perfect jewelry or clothes.

I’ve forgiven myself for not having a perfect lifestyle.

I’ve forgiven myself for not being liked by everyone.

I’ve forgiven myself for not liking everyone.

I’ve forgiven myself for making mistakes … lots of them.

I’ve forgiven myself for having an opinion.

I’ve forgiven myself for openly expressing those opinions.

I’ve forgiven myself for being passionate.

I’ve forgiven myself for being unpredictable, scattered, and spontaneous.

I’ve forgiven myself for wanting to engage in deep and meaningful conversations with others.

I’ve forgiven myself for wanting to engage in silly and meaningless conversation with others.

I’ve forgiven myself for being self-introspective, ideological, and actually believing I have a purpose in this world.

I’ve forgiven myself for not knowing exactly what my purpose is in this world.

I’ve forgiven myself for making life-altering changes to discover my purpose in this world.

I’ve forgiven myself for searching for symbolism in everyday events… it fuels my passion and excitement in life.

I’ve forgiven myself for trusting and acting upon my instincts.

I’ve forgiven myself for wanting to live a meaningful life.

I’ve forgiven myself for expressing my hopes, dreams and passions.

I’ve forgiven myself for being honest and true to myself.

I’ve forgiven myself for showing others my true and honest self.

I’ve forgiven myself for enjoying this journey in life and not knowing where it will take me… but, knowing it will be great.

I’ve forgiven myself for not doing all of the above sooner.

I’ve forgiven myself. ***

I’ve forgiven myself for being imperfect.

I’ve accepted myself for all that I am, for all that I believe, and for all of my imperfections.

I’ve embraced being a perfectly imperfect and unique individual … and I will no longer apologize for that.

It’s so liberating to know and accept exactly who I am and to finally listen to and trust myself. I’m free from the gut-wrenching worry and notion that I have to live my life in order to please others.  I’m no longer reliant upon anyone else or anything to prove my worthiness.

Finally, I embrace my mistakes and fumbles and see them as growing pains… not death sentences.

I’ve learned that my weaknesses are also my best assets: intuitive; quirky; expressive; awkward; passionate; compassionate; unique; opinionated; silly; introspective.

This newly found liberty has allowed me to open myself up to many wonderful new people and experiences. I’ve formed new open, honest, and meaningful friendships that I could not have possibly had if I was not honest with myself.  No doubt they would still have been my friends, as they are amazing women, but, if I wasn’t honest with myself, I would not have built the deep connections I now have with them.

In fact, it all started about two years ago, when I kept having re-occurring dreams.  The dream was of us (my family of three) living in a new home where we were completely happy. In the dreams, this place felt like a Utopia and it was very euphoric.

I acted upon my instinct. The place we had called home for 10 years no longer felt like home.  It was time for us to move on and find our hearts in a new place.  So, I urged my husband to agree on searching for a new home.  Shortly after our search began, we found a house we loved in a place we could call home.  So, we ended up right around the corner from where I grew up as a teenager. It is a place of beauty and a place I have always found strength in during hard times.  Once we moved into our house, the feeling of being home was real and immediate.

Although we found our true home, and I met wonderful new friends… something still didn’t feel authentic. I knew it was my career. It no longer suited me, my lifestyle, or, my passion for doing something more meaningful.

I took a leap of faith and quit my job. It was not ideal … it was a sacrifice of losing some income.  However, I did not feel guilt … and I have never questioned my decision.  That’s a sign that it was the right choice.

Through all of these great changes, no longer do I constantly look back and feel utter remorse over my mistakes…no longer do I constantly replay every social interaction while desperately searching my memory for something I said or did that could have been frowned upon by others.

Now, I’m eager to move forward and take on life’s joys and battles, armored in my own self-knowledge and worthiness.

January 2017 marks the last year of my life as a thirty-something.  I am not scared, sad or apprehensive that I am leaving another decade of my life.   Instead, I am comforted, ecstatic and empowered knowing that I’ll be entering my forties with confidence and knowledge of exactly who I am … eagerly waiting to find out what I can do.

Unapologetically.

 

*** (Please note I have not forgiven myself for not being the perfect mother. I am constantly questioning if I’m a perfect parent for my son or if I could have done something better to make him more confident, successful or happy. I’m not sure, but… is that part of being a mother?  I may need to write a separate post on that, as that is a constant worry for me.  I love my boy sooo much!!).

 

 

 

 

 

My Vote

This is a song I just made up, taken from the music behind Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” – My Shot

 

MY VOTE

I am not throwing away my VOTE

I am not throwing away my VOTE

Hey yo, I really love my country

And I don’t want to go hungry

And I’m not throwing away my Vote

 

I’m ‘a get a ballot to make my educated choices

I feel so blessed that we Americans can use our voices

The problem is we got a lot of noise but with no polish

Candidates holler just to be heard

And with every hateful word, we’re losing knowledge

 

This election has been rough, it’s been a long road,

But we’ve got to use our freedom to vote … it’s unimpeachable

 

I’m a mother and my son’s getting older

These rallies are getting colder, and bolder

Every email, every disadvantage

Candidates have learned to manage to make claims so outlandish

Has common decency been banished?

 

The plan is to fan this spark into a flame

But damn, it’s burning out, so let me spell out our name

We are the A-M-E-R-I-C-A

And we have a duty to vote today

 

A country that runs independently

Meanwhile, uneducated posts keep coming up endlessly

Essentially, damaging democracy relentlessly

A time when a candidate goes on a tweeting spree

He aint never gonna let the media be free

So there will be a female president in this century

Enter Me, Hillary says in parentheses

 

 

Don’t be shocked when your hist’ry book

Mentions he or she

We are laying down our vote for our democracy

Eventually, we will continue our ascendancy

 

And I am not throwing away my VOTE

I am not throwing away my VOTE

Hey yo, I really love my country

And I don’t want to go hungry

And I am not throwing away my VOTE

 

Vote, vote, vote …. Vote … vote, yeah!

 

 

 

 

 

Sign Language

One morning this past spring, something funny happened to me …

OK, let me stop you from reading for just a moment.  I feel this story needs a preface to get the full picture.

So, here’s the Preface:

When this happened, I thought it was simply a funny story, nothing more.  You know…  take a picture for show and tell … maybe share it with friends a couple of times… have a few laughs, or maybe not (it’s really not that funny) … then, be done with it…  move on and wipe it from the ole memory bank (trust me, I need as much free storage space as I can get in there).  

Looking back,  I think of it as something much more than just a funny story.  You know … dig around to find that picture I took…. maybe share it on my blog… have a few tears, or maybe not (it’s really not that sad) … then, keep it… reflect on it and save it in my heart forever (trust me, I need as much spiritual guidance as I can get in there).

If I told the story back in May, it would have a different tone to it.  Of course, my heart was in a different place back then as well, causing the point-of-view to change.

So, here’s the Story:

One morning this past spring, something very spiritual happened to me…

As I walked into my house after a morning walk with my Goldendoodle, Teddy, I heard a frantic fluttering noise.  The sound was coming from a huge picture window in our family room that overlooks a wooded preserve.  I looked over in that direction, and didn’t see anything at first.

Suddenly, I saw a beautiful female cardinal flapping her wings alongside the picture window.  She was bobbing up and down and looked desperate for me to help.

Poor girl – she was probably confused by her own reflection on the glass of the window.  I’ve seen it a few times before where birds fly into windows when they see their reflections on glass.  Unfortunately, I’ve seen some bird fatalities from these situations.  So, I rushed towards the window to tap on the glass, hoping it would startle her and cause her to fly away back into the woods.

The cardinal started to settle down as I moved towards her.  The rays from the morning sun created an ethereal glow, and a hazy light was shining all around this bird as she perched on the window sill.  It was surreal.  This angelic light almost formed an opaque film over my eyes and I felt like wiping it away from my eyes so that I could see clearly. After a few blinks, and a few steps closer, I realized this cardinal was inside my house.

For some strange reason, it took a few moments to register that this cardinal bird was actually calmly sitting on my window sill… inside my house.

For some strange reason, Teddy (who was only a 4 month old puppy at the time) remained calm.

For some strange reason, I remained calm.

For some strange reason, I no longer had a sense of urgency to save this bird.

For some strange reason, I knew this beautiful cardinal was OK.

For some strange reason, I knew that Teddy was OK.

For some strange reason, I knew that I was OK.

For some strange reason, all three of us were calm in a sudden moment of silence… looking at each other.

For some strange reason, I immediately knew what to do to get this cardinal bird safely back outside.

So, I went into the kitchen, got the barely used grilling gloves that my husband got as a Christmas gift, put them on, walked slowly back into the family room and up to the bird and stopped to pick her up.  She didn’t move.  Teddy didn’t move.  I moved.  I bent over to pick up this bird, and she miraculously stayed completely still while I effortlessly scooped her up into my gloved hands.

Although there was a true feeling of peace among all of us, I did have the worried thought that this poor bird may have broken a wing, and that was the only reason she was so calm.  Still, I had great hope she was OK.

So, I walked out the door adjacent to the picture window and stepped onto the balcony that overlooks the wooded area.  The cardinal was resting in my hands and Teddy was sitting at my side.  Then, I gently swept my hands up in a swooshing motion, and the beautiful cardinal peacefully flew from my hands, gave a few chirps, and vanished into the woods.

I knew she was going to be OK.  I knew I was going to be OK.  I knew that Teddy really didn’t care.

I just told the story exactly how it happened.  However, as I mentioned in the preface, I view it in a different light months after it happened.  Here’s how it’s different:

I have always been a spiritual person.  Not religious.  Spiritual.  In my core, I believe that we are all spirits that create energy, and that all our energy affects everyone else on this earth … and probably way beyond.  In my heart, I want to believe that everything happens for a reason and that there are spiritual guides and angels looking over us and guiding us throughout our lives.  I actually believe that some people have an amazing ability to feel the energy from these angels and spirits and, in different ways, communicate with them on some level. I believe I am one of those people.

There are countless times when I have thought of something, said something, done something, or even dreamed of something, later to find out that it was something somebody else was thinking about at the same time, or something that happened in the past… or, in the case of dreams, something that happens in the future.  Nothing weird or voodoo like.  Just things that others may consider as coincidental.

But, I am a spiritual person, and to me, life has much more meaning and purpose when there’s a comforting sense that a loved one, that has physically passed, still reaches out to you, and that you can hear them.  That their spirit lives on in you and that you can continue knowing them and loving them after they are physically gone.  Knowing that they are actually present, and not really gone.  That you are not alone and that something average and mundane can actually turn out to be heavenly and extraordinary.

Which brings me Back to early this spring, when I was visited by this cardinal…

I was lost.  Something happened and I stopped believing.  I felt like my spirituality was equivalent to being crazy.  I started listening to news and politics and heard about so much evil in the world.  I started to feel that if there were angelic spirits, then, how could these horrible things happen?  I stopped believing that I was somehow connected with loved ones that had passed away.  I began telling myself that being spiritual was a sign of weakness and a way to ignore the hard facts and science behind our living world.

My world was so dark and lonely without having my spiritual connections.  It actually depressed me.  I did not like feeling that way.  Not being spiritual was not being my true self.

So, although the story of the cardinal bird was based upon facts, I had left it at that … a story to tell with no special meaning.  Thankfully, that perception recently changed when I started believing again.

When I say recently started believing again … I mean recent.  It all starts with a story about a cardinal.  Here it goes:

One afternoon this past weekend, something very spiritual happened to my son…

My husband, my in-laws, my 7 year old son, Teddy, and my in-laws’ dog were all taking a walk on a trail in the wooded area behind my house.  Suddenly, my son stops, looks up, points upward and gleefully tells us he sees a “red robin” dancing up in the tree.

We looked up and scanned the trees for several minutes as my son kept laughing at this dancing bird.  So, after a few more minutes, we gave up looking, and assumed he was exaggerating or telling a silly story for attention (trust me, these things can happen with an imaginative 7 year old boy).  

Right as we started to walk away, my husband said, “Oh, I see it now.  He’s way up high.  It’s a cardinal”.

I started to think back on something I had learned since this past spring’s last cardinal incident… cardinals have significant spiritual meanings.

Anyways, I didn’t think too much of it, and walked along a little more,  then, we turned back on our way home.  As we approached the same area my son saw the cardinal, we heard this crazy cardinal chirping.  I looked straight up, and it was the red cardinal.  He seemed to want my attention.   I saw him.  There was an ethereal warm glow of sunlight illuminating him and the branch from which he was perched.  It was surreal.

Later on that weekend, something else happened (unrelated to cardinals) that sparked my internal need for believing in spiritual signs.  I then knew that my son and I had been visited by two special spirits, each one at different times, both in the form of a cardinal.

On that morning this past spring, I believe the female cardinal was simply a spirit telling me to trust myself and my own inner strength.  To be calm and appreciate all that is beautiful and spiritual.  I just didn’t know it at the time.

On that afternoon this past weekend, I believe the male cardinal was my Granny’s spirit.  You see, she passed away since that story back in the spring … she passed away in July.  I believe that cardinal was my Granny’s spirit dancing once again for my son, as she always did when she was physically here, and to tell me that she is still with me.  She wanted me to notice her.  Her spirit, in the form of that bright red Cardinal, was telling me to look for the signs, listen for the meaning and to feel her spirit.  She, too, believed deeply in spirits and spiritual signs.

They were both spiritual signs, each telling me the same thing in different ways and at different times.


My spirit cardinal visiting me this past spring. Sitting on my window sill ... inside my house.
My spirit cardinal visiting me this past spring. Sitting on my window sill … inside my house.

 

My spirit cardinal remained peaceful and calm.
My spirit cardinal remained peaceful and calm.

A very random thought process that lead me to think and look up Civil War era signet rings. Sent a text asking my mom if she had one ... the response from my mom could be looked at as coincidence. However, I like to believe it was another way my Granny was communicating with me.
A text message between my mom & I.   I had a very random thought process that lead me to think about and look up Civil War era signet rings on the Internet.  It sparked some sort of memory.  So, I sent the above text message asking my mom if she had one of these rings… the response from my mom could be looked at as coincidence.  However, I like to believe it was another way my Granny was communicating with me.  This happened after my son saw the red cardinal this past weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy the Silence

Enjoy the Silence

Remember the old Depeche Mode Song, “Enjoy the Silence”?  I do.  I loved it growing up.  I’ve recently recalled the lyrics and found a parallel between them and a lesson I’m in the midst of learning.

Words like violence.
Break the silence .
Come crashing in, into my little world…

I’m learning that turning off unnecessary noise creates inner peace.

This is not necessarily a new concept for me.

Long before 24 hr news, internet, Facebook, smart phones and all other things social media,  I spent my free time writing in my journal, taking walks and listening to my inner thoughts .  I was in tune with my natural self and felt at peace.

That was many, many years ago.

Fast forward to just a few months ago…

Painful to me,
Pierce right through me…

I was surrounded by noise.

My daily life was inundated with passive-aggressive work emails, negative news feeds, Facebook rants, cell phone texts and honking cars during rush hour.  I topped it off by turning on the radio the moment I got in the car and the television right when I got home.

I felt toxic … like there was a dark, sticky substance within that was sucking the life out of me.

I became cynical, flat, tired and worn out by negative energy.  I felt stuck. I had determined that this was just being an adult … jaded.  I convinced myself that hopefulness and positivity equaled youthful naivety, and that those things were long gone for me.

All those toxic feelings were starting to take a toll and I felt depressed.

All I ever wanted,
All I ever needed,
Is here, in my arms…

My life is pretty good … It’s amazing, actually.

I am blessed with a beautiful family and friends that love me.  I live in a free country where I can express myself and do anything I want to pursue my dreams.

So, if I have everything I could need or want, why was I feeling this overwhelming sadness?  I knew I needed a change.

Shortly after I decided to quit my job, I began running outside more.  I remembered how much I enjoy running or walking outside in nature and letting my thoughts roam.  Then, as I came home, I stopped turning on the television.  I had more time to reflect on my life and all the good things around me.

I started to feel happy again.

I felt free!  I had clarity and found hope and peace again.  I felt less stressed, light, positive, confident and happy.

This new feeling of lightness and happiness opened my heart back up to welcome new positive people in my life.  I was able to stop thinking about myself and focus on others.  I started sharing these positive and peaceful vibes.

Words are very unnecessary…
They can only do harm.

Unnecessary noise can negatively impact our lives.

It’s so easy to surrender to the constant chatter around us.  I think our intentions are good when we become a part of social media.  However, one negative post can spread quickly and tarnish that innocence.

It’s hard not to listen to that negativity.  I’ve noticed some unassuming people even start partaking in it.  I’m always shocked by this. On the flip side, I think lots of people follow the old adage of “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say it at all”.  They may not say anything back, but, they heard what was said.  Even if the negative remarks were not directed to them personally, there’s a great chance it insulted their beliefs.

Gradually, our inner peace is drowned out by the background noise … and, in turn, our souls fade into the background.

… Enjoy the Silence.

I learned a lesson.

Turning on the television, logging into Facebook, constantly checking the news or having my cell phone on me at all times is the problem.

I control what I listen to and what I read. 

I’m slowly learning that I can enjoy today’s social media driven society by choosing how often I partake in it and who and what I want to follow.

I’m also learning that controlling the amount of time I spend listening to all this modern noise allows me to re-connect with my true self.

Simply put … Enjoy the Silence.

 

 

Digging for Truth

As I’m trying to discover my natural talents,  I thought of an analogy that seems very fitting:  Finding our true selves is like going on an archaeological dig into our own history.

You know there’s history and truth buried beneath the sands of time;  but, like a true archaeological dig, it takes passion, time, and focus to recover relics from the past.

There needs to be a reason or passion, to dig up the past.  In my case, it’s knowing that I have talents that I have not used in many years.  My dig is to uncover and define what those talents are and learn how I can use them to fulfill this passion I have for living a meaningful life.

Tracing back to our memories is like creating the map to locate an archaeological site and we can find where our true selves are buried.

As we begin digging, artifacts take shape in in the form of pictures, awards, letters, medals, home movies and year books.

Once we have unearthed all the layers of dust formed over the years, we can identify the most valuable artifacts of our past, and piece them together with memories and the emotions they provoke.

As we piece the puzzle together, we begin to find commonality between the forgotten things or attributes we once loved and those that we currently cherish.

We then realize what we thought was buried in the past is actually still a part of us today.  However, with fresh eyes, we can unearth our truth and use that as our guide to prospering in the future.  Much like how discovering forgotten history can shed light on how we have evolved into what we are as a society today.

By unearthing our own past, we find our truth.


This is a gallery of some of the artifacts I recently dug up from old boxes that were stored away for years.  Each one tells a story of my history.

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