Everything Miz Meliz

A Nice Complexion

Posted on January 17th, 2012 by & filed under A Year With Myself, Everything Miz Meliz

Sara Blackthorne says: “Who are the women in your story, the ancestors, who have walked the path of their own true stories? How do you find your beautiful reflection in the world? How do you tend and nurture your core story, as you would tend a tree in the forest?”

Have I “found the answers to my seeking heart?  Have I learned that witnessing—the silent watching of our actions and adventures” adds value to my life?

When I was young, I was told that I had a beautiful complexion.  That was usually followed by the words, “if you only lost some weight, you would be very pretty!”  It took a long time to discover that I was pretty the way I am, just not perfect in the eyes of others.  And it took a little longer to realize that in the eyes of some, I was quite beautiful just the way I was.  And to one person in particular, I am the most beautiful person he has ever seen, because of the way that I am – inside and out.  He and the children that we made together out of love, are the only ones that count.  Their love feeds my soul.  Their love is pure and unconditional. 

I learned at an early age the importance of loving oneself.  I attended Catholic schools since 5th grade and I believed what they told me, “You are loved!”  “God doesn’t make junk!”  “You are unique and special.”  I knew my talents were gifts and that my existence on this Earth had purpose and value.

My mother had me later in life.  Not too late by today’s standards.  She and my Dad had two children within the first few years of marriage.  13 years later, I came along.  They called me “their surprise baby.”  They always corrected people if someone said that I was an accident.  My Mom told me that I was a blessing and that I came at a time in her life when she needed me most.  She said I kept her young.  She also said on occassion, that I would be the one to take care of her when she got old.  And I did.

Being the youngest in my family and also in my generation on both sides, I wasn’t sure where I fit in all the time.  I typically stayed in the shadows.  I watched and listened to what my brother and sister did, how they acted, and how my parents reacted to what they did.  People said I was shy.  I just kept quiet most of the time, taking it all in.  I observed everything.  My family was fun, loud, boisterous, outgoing, friendly and loving.  I didn’t have a voice to match all the adults and their personalities!  But I was just like them.  It wasn’t until after I was married and had children of my own that I felt that I completely fit in. 

When my brother got married in Washington D.C. years ago, my husband and I attended with our small children.  It was your typical exciting family wedding, festivities coupled with sightseeing and meeting the new in-laws.  My parents were there and we all stayed with my brother and sister-in-law to be in an old three-story brownstone in the city.  They got married on Thanksgiving weekend, so it took a lot to coordinate a two-family Thanksgiving, the rehearsal dinner, and the wedding.  Jennifer’s family lived in Alexandria, VA and we came from California, so everyone was out of their “element.”

On the day of the wedding, I helped by making sure everyone was in the right place at the right time.  Jennifer’s father made an observation and statement that has stayed with me from that very moment on.  He said, “Melissa, you are the glue that hold’s this family together.”

I am the glue.

That is an important job.

That is my purpose.

I didn’t realize it up until then.  I needed to hear it.  I hadn’t quite figured out my role yet.  I am grateful for Dave’s witness.  It was the first time I became aware of someone outside my immediate family “silently watching my actions and adventures.”  I love the analogy, too.

It is a blessing and a curse to be the “glue.”  You have to be fluid and pliable, while maintaining your strength.  In my family, and typically with my friends and at work, I am Switzerland.  I remain neutral.  Because of this I am the one everyone opens up to and comes to with their problems.  My ability to observe and keep my opinions safeguarded has made it possible for me to see all points of view.  People can count on me not to judge them and to provide honest, thoughtful advice when asked.

My gift has helped me with my parenting skills as well.  I am fair, yet strong with my three sons. I believe they are comfortable coming to me when they have questions or problems.  They value my opinion and respect me.  I had a similar relationship with my mother once I was in my twenties.

I turned to her for everything.  I called her many times a day.  I could tell her anything.  I shared all the best and worst moments of my life with her.  From childhood on she gave me wonderful advice and calmed me when I was worried.  She was the youngest in her family too.  She understood about age differences.  She guided me through life having had the same perspective that I do in so many aspects.  She warned me about boys and other dangers.  She counselled me about relationships.  She empowered me to explore and have adventures.  She showered me with love and acceptance.  She was bright, kind, proud and beautiful.  I hear myself saying things that she said.  I feel her presence constantly.  I do believe I am a reflection of my mother.  And I have been told often, “You have your mother’s complexion!”

Me

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Remembering Karen

Posted on January 11th, 2012 by & filed under Everything Miz Meliz

My Soul’s Compass

Posted on January 10th, 2012 by & filed under A Year With Myself, Everything Miz Meliz, Poems

My Soul’s Compass

Point me in the right direction,

may I have the best intention.

It guides me,

it pulls me.

My soul’s compass is within,

it allows me to begin

(again. . . and again.)

Where do I want to go today?

About how long shall I stay?

Spin the dial,

take a chance.

My compass isn’t just a guide,

my soul is open for a ride.

My heart beats,

today I dance.

Don’t get lost deep down inside,

beware not to run and hide.

Sometimes it spins,

it always wins.

Do not fear in case you fall,

just pick up and walk tall.

Alive in spirit,

from high above.

Your soul’s compass will do it’s part,

you will find it in your heart.

Like a dove

you’re meant for love!

– – Melissa Reyes, 1-10-2012

What Does Joy Mean to Me?

Posted on January 9th, 2012 by & filed under Everything Miz Meliz

Celebrating Joy

I didn’t feel joyful for a long time after my dad died suddenly, just two years after my mom died of a long illness.  I slipped into a depression that was difficult to overcome.  I finally sought help and went to a counselor.  I took in a picture of me from before my parents died and showed it to her.  I told her. . . “I want to be this person again.”  She listened to my concerns and told me I was clearly depressed and asked me to have my thyroid checked.  I was morbidly obese and was gaining weight and had no motivation to diet or exercise much less do anything at all.  I felt like – “okay, if it”s medical I can fix it”.  But it wasn’t going to be easy.  She wanted me to see my general practitioner, my ob-gyn and a dietitian.  I needed a team!  That’s how bad it got.  But I realized then that it wasn’t just one thing.  It wasn’t just my emotions, just my weight, just my health, just my mood. just my outlook, just my habits, it was everything.  Everything was out of sync.  And I needed a major adjustment.

I was so unhappy.  I didn’t know why really.  I was at my breaking point, barely able to manage going to work.  I couldn’t wait to get home and get in my pajamas and get into my safe warm bed.  Why was this happening to me??  It turned out not to be my thyroid, however my liver triglyceride levels were high.  I had more tests and it was discovered that I had a moderately enlarged liver.  This was scary for me since my mother died of liver disease and my sister was on the liver transplant list, suffering from the same affliction.  I refused to accept that I was to be diagnosed with liver disease at 39.

My counselor helped me so much, because she gave me a focus.  With baby steps I started to get motivated, first to discover that I had a health issue that was adding to my depression, then upping my antidepressants to a level that helped me to feel normal again, then adding some exercise to my daily routine.  Just getting out of my chair and moving was a big step!

I had so many big steps to take.  I wanted to improve my health and I wanted to move on with my life.  I knew I needed to lose weight and get in shape and I hoped that this would help my outlook as well as improve the condition of my liver.  I started to do research.  I read anything and everything I could find on the internet about liver disease, fatty liver, cleansing the liver, anti-cancer diets, healthy diets such as the Mediterranean diet, and super foods.

I started cutting and pasting articles into a word document.  It was getting too hard to remember what foods were good and what bad things to look for on labels of foods that should be avoided.  So, I started a list.  I worked at it every chance I got.  I went grocery shopping and stocked up on everything on the good list.  Things that are easy to digest by the liver, things that promote cell growth and are helpful to maintaining a healthy liver, anything that would make me healthier and fit.  I decided to only put things in my mouth that were healthy for me.  I didn’t think of it as a diet as much as a regimen, my medicine. Little did I know that I would be so successful, not only at lowering my liver test results, but at restoring the joy in my life.  I was taking charge, I was doing something good – for me and for my family.  I was looking better and feeling better.  I was gaining strength and fortitude.

At this time I felt like I was getting less support from my regular supporters – but also getting more notice and more encouragement from those who had been less involved in my trials and tribulations.  I think the regular supporters were getting used to the sad old me and were too close to realize that something had seriously gone awry.  For months everyone close to me enabled me to sink into this hole I was in because they knew I was grieving.  I am still grieving.  I miss my parents so much.  Even now.  But I knew there was something else, something wrong.  I couldn’t be joyful.  I couldn’t be myself.  I didn’t enjoy the things that make me who I am.  I didn’t feel like me at all.  I walked in my shoes, I resembled myself, I was able to make everyone believe that I was okay – and I was, just barely okay.  I never got suicidal, I never got to the point that I wasn’t able to function – I just felt bad, all the time.  And I wanted to feel good.

I have every reason and every right to feel good.  I am healthy.  I have a great relationship with my husband.  I have wonderful kids that I am so very proud of.  I have a good job and we make a decent living.  We own our home and our vehicles.  We eat right, most of the time.  We travel, we have friends.  We are in good relationships with our family.  Why wasn’t I happy?  Why wasn’t I doing projects, scrap booking, planning parties, entertaining, writing, doing any of the things that I used to enjoy?

I began feeling better when I changed my diet.  I cut out cold cuts, dairy products, red meat and white processed grains and refined sugar.  That’s a lot!  I ate small meals almost every hour to curb my hunger and to keep my sugar level up.  I had a dependency on sugar and bread.  I used to drink a coke every afternoon to keep from getting that shaky feeling.  Now, I eat fruit, vegetables and nuts!  After I did this for a few weeks, I noticed I needed less snacks to get me through to meal times.  I enjoyed full fat dressings with my salads and loaded them up with nuts, beans and fruit.  I drink tons of water and V8 juice.  I exercise when I can, walking mostly.  I switched to soy milk and I don’t remember the last time I had a burger or a piece of pizza!!

And guess what!  I feel joy again!  I sing, I hum, I walk with a spring in my step now!  I walk with the determination that I had before my parents died.  Someone actually commented recently that the sound of my steps (in high heels) sounded like someone with authority was coming down the hall!  A far cry from the shuffles my tired feet were making in my slip on loafers a few months ago!

Joy to me is that spring in my step.  The feeling of “what’s next?”  Looking forward to things.  Having a positive attitude that things will get better.  Loving each moment and considering it a blessing to be here.  I was worried at first when I began to feel this way again.  I asked my counselor, “Is this drug-induced?  If I forget to take my pill, will I crash?  At some point might I come down from this?”  And she simply said, “No Melissa, what you are feeling is joy.  This is how people feel all the time.  It’s normal.”  Wow!  I am normal again!!!  Thank God!  It feels good!

So, what was wrong with me?  Anything serious?  Not really.  I wasn’t abused as a child, I never experienced sexual abuse or neglect.  I had a very normal childhood and a good teenage experience.  I married relatively young and I had three great birthing experiences.  My husband and I have dealt with some marital problems, but have emerged better and stronger and more in love than ever.  So – why the deep depression??  Why did I get so low??

My feeling is that I was addicted to all the yucky foods that caused my liver to get overloaded.  I loved eating burgers and fries, pizza, fried chicken, cake, candy, sodas, donuts, Danish, all of it.  There were times that I realized I hadn’t had any vegetables or fruit for over a week.  I thought that drinking diet soda or Crystal Light drinks were helping me keep my calorie intake down.  Really it enabled me to eat more junk and contain harmful chemicals and preservatives.  Combine the poor diet and weight gain, lack of exercise, the hormonal imbalance, with clinical depression and the severe losses I suffered and you are left with a shell of a woman who was once vibrant and fun.

When I was sad, I would tell myself not to worry about what I was eating or the lack of exercise, I didn’t feel like adding it to my woes and I would get around to it eventually.  I let myself go for a few years.  When I got to the point that I had gained so much weight I didn’t think it mattered if I dyed my hair or had a manicure, I knew I had hit rock bottom.  No one noticed when I stopped wearing makeup.  No one said anything when I was breaking out with zits all the time and wearing my hair up to hide the gray.  I was weepy all the time and people irritated me.  I wanted to be alone.  I was intoxicated with junk in my body.

Once I cleaned up my act, I felt so much better.  I realized that my hair wasn’t falling out any more.  It used to come out when I brushed it or even ran my fingers through it.  It was shinier and healthier.  My nails were stronger, not soft and brittle.  I had less aches and pains, less stiffness in my joints, fewer headaches.  I hardly ever need to take pain medication which I had been using daily for arthritis pain.  I had much more energy.  I even reduced my caffeine intake by waiting to have that first cup of coffee until after I have my morning oatmeal or yogurt.  I find that I rarely finish the cup now.  I get the energy I need in the morning from the protein instead of the caffeine.  I don’t mind my husband seeing me naked anymore.  I am still fat – still overweight, but I don’t feel as heavy!  My heart isn’t heavy, my mood isn’t heavy, my body isn’t as heavy!  My face cleared up.  I am wearing makeup again and my face looks thinner.  I look like the person that I had hidden, perhaps buried, deep inside once again.  I had been trying to bust out of my depression for so long.  I have arrived!  I now care about how I look and I am enjoying wearing clothes that hadn’t fit for a long time.  It’s like having a new wardrobe.  I actually wore a belt the other day!!  I needed it because my jeans are getting too big!  That is so cool.  But it’s not the only reason I feel joy.

I think the chemicals in the processed foods I was eating were bogging me down.  Weighing me down and eating away at my energy.  I think it was giving me negative thoughts and messing with my emotions and hormones.  The super foods that I eat daily now, make me feel good.  I feel younger, energized, even more loving and peaceful!!  I am the person I wanted to be, inside and out.  Being joyful means being hopeful.  Having hope means looking to the future.  I am now anticipating what might happen next, wondering what exciting interesting and beautiful thing is coming my way.  I love myself and I love my family.  I love my life and truly enjoy each moment.  I can see the beauty even in the darkest moments.

Oh joy!

12-15-07

Gifts of Time

Time brings a kind of wisdom

only the heart can understand.

We come to learn that life’s journey

is about the pursuit of our dreams,

That beauty is found in moments shared

and that the joy of loving

is the real reason we are put upon this earth.

      –Flavia

Rain, A Poem by Melissa Reyes

Posted on January 8th, 2012 by & filed under Everything Miz Meliz, Poems

http://instagram.com/p/eB3mA/

Tonight I did my very first public poetry reading.  It was at the Unurban Cafe in Santa Monica.  There is a Velvet Guerilla Cabaret there on Wednesday nights with an open mic.  It was a terrific experience.  After a good night’s sleep, I will write more about it.  Here is the poem I read. . .

What is that sound I hear?

Softly tapping,

lightly rap-a-tap-rapping?

Pop

pop

pip,

mildly crackling.

Drip

drop

drip,

clapping and smacking.

It’s raining outside.

I can hear it rain outside.

The rain sounds so sexy.

It’s getting more intense.

Coming down harder and faster.

Everything is getting wetter.

Very wet.

The air is thick

and I can feel

the dark

heavy

rain cloud

over me.

It’s moist and dense,

and very intense.

I take a breath.

A very slow

deep

breath.

I can barely breathe.

It takes my breath away.

The rain is coming down very hard now.

Slip

slop

slip,

swishy,

swashy and splashy,

very fast.

I hear very big waves of water

in the distance

as they

wash in

and out.

The cloud is moving.

It is moving inside me.

The cloud is moving the rain away.

The sound of rain begins to mellow.

Slower

slower

slower, still.

Motion,

yet not as loud.

Falling

falling

from the cloud.

Quietly falling

like a shroud

over me.

Lighter now

softly now

pitter

patter

splatter.

Misty rain

lightly falling,

whispering my name.

Soft kisses

caresses

lightly touching

fingers through my hair.

Breath on my skin,

breathing it all in.

Tickling

ticking

pip

pop

smattering

dropping and dripping

drip

drop

draping over me

like soft, wet lips

kissing,

caressing my eyelashes.

The air is cold and moist.

I am warm.

Everything is quiet now.

No sound

at all.

My thoughts are filled

with the words

I want to hear.

Say you love me. . .

Say that you love me.

Say to me the words I long for.

The rain is gone

but I am here.

Soft mist

lips kissing

fingertips caressing

silent glances

romances

and I hear it!

What is that I hear?

Soft whisper in my ear.

“I love you.”

He loves me!

Hearts beating

rap-a-tap rapping

like rain,

sexy

steamy

loving

dreamy

rain.

by Melissa Reyes

2-5-09

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