Just over 2 years ago I woke up to possibly the biggest shocks of my life when the phone rang and I learned a dear friend had taken her own life. I had experienced death before, even the tragic, nonsensical kind. I offered my condolences to the family, prayed, did anything I thought I could to help her family and moved on. I attempted to put it behind me but regardless, of my efforts for business as usual, that day changed me. I don’t think a day has passed that I haven’t rewritten history in my mind to be there for her. Someone I loved had become a stranger. The girl I knew very, well would never have done that to herself or her children. She was lost, I knew that. She was off, not herself, acting, doing and saying things that where out of character. When it got personal and hit close to home, and my business, I just figured, we all get lost now and then, I’d give her grace and time and she’d find her way. If she needs me she’ll ask….right? Wrong.
She was sunshine, she was a dark day, brightener. She gave hugs and hope and wasn’t afraid to bust out a goofy face, crazy pet name or dance move. Anything necessary, with zero shame to turn a frown of someone she cared about upside down. She was human, she got sad, mad, disappointed but she always came back to herself. She was authentic, real and vulnerable in a world so full of pretenders, we judge a persons character based upon their facebook status. I still don’t understand. Maybe I never will. I know she was hurting and all I offered was advise that made her feel to judged or looked down upon to ask for help. I know this was the girl who made me scrapbooks of my kid when I was in too big of a self pity puddle to do it myself. I know this was the girl who left her family to come sit beside me, at my sons preschool graduation and held my hand, so I didn’t have to sit alone. She wasn’t embarrassed of me, I sure as hell was, but she was just my friend, there, by my side, regardless, of what all the perfect preschool families around us thought. That’s friendship. I know she was worth more then dying alone on the bathroom floor, the same bathroom where she dyed my hair and made me laugh so hard beer came out of my nose, because that day I thought going from a blond to a brunette might make me like who I saw in the mirror a little bit more. I know she was worth more then she knew and more then I gave her and I know I wish I would have tried harder to help my friend.
We all live in a world that is exactly what we make it, I know that is true, even on the days, I’m making myself a helpless victim to my circumstances. We all live in a world that shows us what we want to see, wether we choose to admit that or not. Miracles happen to each of us every single day and tragedy strikes sometimes when we least expect it. I am convinced the ebb and flow of life is simply the universes way of keeping shit real and assuring us we don’t become complete robots. At the end of it all, our lives here, are 100% what we chose for them to be, we create the story we tell. We get an opportunity with each circumstance we live through, to be a victim or to be a hero. Even not dealing with our circumstances, is making a choice that will change our perspective and will create a ripple effect of circumstances in our lives that effect us.
Learning that Kate Spade took her own life has brought up many raw emotions for me. First off, I didn’t know her, I never heard her voice, truth be told, I didn’t even know what she looked like until after she died and her picture was blasted all over my newsfeed. (Gotta love algorithms to kick you while you’re down, sigh) So to have all these feelings about her death seemed to me to be well, dramatic or ridiculous to say the least, either way about as legit, as my sons meltdown over Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder, that I gave exactly, umm let’s see, zero merit or compassion to. ( I know, I know… calling therapist now for the shitty, insensitive mom fail, save that for another blog devoted to unscarring my scarred children) Regardless, of my relationship or lack there of with Kate Spade, I feel wounded. Her art unbeknownst to both of us, made me smile on the inside.
Let’s go back a couple decades…I had just moved to Omaha NE, a huge city in comparison to where I came from. On one of my explorations as a brand new city girl, I came upon the most incredible hand bag. Cherry red and 200.00 bucks of freaking fabulousness. I thought about that bag for weeks and weeks. I cut my exploration short to run home and tell the only person I knew within 200 miles, my husband at the time, all about this beautiful piece of glorious, fabric stitched, heaven right here on earth. (Bless his heart, he acted like he cared, but couldn’t have cared less and I’m sure couldn’t wait until I made a friend in the new zip code to share these life altering events with.) Try as I may, I looked and wanted to find something more affordable that evoked that same emotion but was unsuccessful. Finally, I saved up my money the old fashioned way(this was before my rise and fall with instant gratification and being plastic rich) and with cash, I made Katie all mine! EKK! Probably seems super stupid or materialistic but it made me smile on the inside, where it counts, so judge on if you must. Working for that bag made it even more beautiful, it made me feel proud, when I showed up with Katie on my arm, I felt like I had arrived. The bag was just magnificent, the most radiant color of Red, with the softest most shimmery material I’d ever seen. That bag made me feel like a princess, like a movie star, like nothing could stop me. The pride came from loving myself for probably the first time I could recall in my life, from working hard, from feeling like I had arrived and had found MY success.
To really understand why or what that means to me you would have had to of known me the 20 years before, or watch Sweet Home Alabama and take it down 1000 notches. No….Not the love story, no Patrick Dempsey closing down Tiffanys New York to buy me a diamond here, but the other story, the real love story. The young women who had to leave the ceiling of suffocating judgement she’d adopted as herself, to find herself. The part about the bad decision maker, no self esteem, bad seed, judged Melonie Smooter that part… that was me! Entirely different circumstances but same back story. Then we went out into this great big world, where we had a clean slate and no judgement or expectations & we found we where actually smart, capable, worthy women. WHO KNEW!! She became a famous successful New York Fashion designer and I became a women that got promotions, praise from my bosses, a contract with a salary, and the means to buy a Kate Spade! The little gal from podunk Iowa who barely graduated High School and ditched school to smoke cigarettes and avoid the bully had transformed from that rejected dark chrysalis of loser to a successful, esteemed butterfly that had companies making me offers, executives from New York visiting my market to see what I was doing and creating positions to keep me. Buying that bag, somehow in part made that real for me.
That was a lot of years again, it sure wasn’t my last big win nor did I ride off into the sunset whole, happy, healed and full of bliss. That was just the beginning of me finding and loving me but it was a start.
As a person who feels a lot of strong emotions, I just want to remind you and myself that the grief, sadness and all the bad stuff that would push ANYONE to take their own life doesn’t see fame, worldly success or dollar signs. It doesn’t see socioeconomic classes, it doesn’t see what the rest of the world sees. The grief that steals life, just sees judgement and a perspective that takes away sunshine to make everything dark and hopeless. I think it just feels lost without a compass of hope to guide it back. I’m still here so obviously I don’t completely understand what it feels like in those last moments. I do not intend to offend anyone who does with my opinions. What I do understand is how it feels to feel like a fraud, to feel lost and feel like the world is caving in. I know how it feels to fake a smile because the shame of my feelings or circumstances are telling me to grow up, no one cares, no one wants to hear it. I’ve heard the self talk, “You made your bed now lay in it, or welp you should have known better, or blah blah blah”. Luckily for me, I have so far had a safety net. After I finish the self pity wallow of whatever mole hill I’ve made into a mountain, I find my hero. Sometimes in a stranger who says just the right thing, at the right time, sometimes in a friend, or my kids, or a song, sometimes in a client, something I read that touches me, there are many ways I find my miracles and deliverance from hell and back on solid ground. I remember, I am strong and worth fighting for even if it’s just me fighting. I am able to fight for me because even on my dark days I can call on the smile, the real one, on the inside no one else can see on the survivor that lives inside of me. My friend I talked about earlier gave me a book once that called these saving graces, “God’s Winks”. Whatever you call them, I call them miracles.
I hope where ever this finds you, you admire, YOU. I hope that you not only FEEL like you have arrived but you KNOW, with your whole heart, that you have! I hope that no circumstances, big or small can ever shake that knowing. I hope you love every screw up, hand out, hand up, let down, put down, heartbreak, miraculous serendipity, injustice that got you exactly, here. Right here, in your own little miracle. I hope you love yourself and you know the value of you. Just YOU, stripped of all the failures, all the successes, all your titles, possessions, assets, accomplishments, people, problems, just you, just the soul that God brought you into this world with and the same soul God will one day, in his time, on his terms, take you out of it with.
If you don’t, I hope you make it your full time job and work overtime to find that love for yourself, right where you are. Find your miracle and adore it. Love yourself so much that you unpack and live there in that debacle. Right there, in that skin, through good and bad, through easy and hard, through sunshine and shitstorms, for better or worse, marry that little piece of lovely heaven, the old fashioned way, that doesn’t quit EVER until death do you part! Don’t ever let anything or anyone make you feel like your arrival to self love wasn’t for real or worth it.
Arrivals are as permanent as departures, all the money, fame and making others smile doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t love & value YOU! Sure this self love stuff is work. Day in day out constant, relentless nagging, exhausting work. It’s just so much easier to put that job on someone else’s shoulders, to blame someone else for your own self defeat, disappointments and failure, but DON’T, just stop, DO NOT DO THAT ANYMORE! Do not give anyone the ability to control your happiness. It’s a trap, don’t do it! Do the work and let others do theirs! Loving yourself is the most important work you will ever do! It will spill out onto and into every single person you come in contact with and it will leave a legacy behind you that will heal the masses and others will reap the benefits from and are proud of. Do it and do it now!
If you don’t know where to start then start with just treating yourself like you would treat the person you think you love the most in the world. If you hate all humans then I know you have a pet that you talk to, all human hater do. How would you talk to them on a bad day? Would you ignore them and tell them to shut up when they share their dreams, struggles, joys, pains or insanely irrational tragic story with you? Then stop doing it to yourself! Earn your own trust, be your own cheerleader, chase your own dreams, give yourself grace, call yourself out on your bullshit, just be your own friend and build a relationship with the person who deserves it the most in your life. Y. O. U. YOU!
I don’t know how to heal the world from the epidemic of lack of self love. From suicide to sociopaths and everywhere in between, no one has been left untouched. I know I can only heal myself. My hope is by knowing better, I will do better. By loving myself enough to give myself grace and forgiveness, I will be able to give that gift away authentically and without strings attached to those in my life. My hope is that as I become a better friend to myself then I will become a better friend to those in my life. My hope is the next time a friend needs some help out of their darkness, the love I offer, outweighs the fear that would make them think I wouldn’t offer them pure love, and a nonjudgemental hug or glimmer of hope for a brighter day worth waiting around for.
I’ll say it again, Life is what we make it, nothing can ever make us happy, nothing can ever bring us real lasting peace, no one can give us enough, no one can love us enough, if we don’t already have all of those things for ourselves inside. You don’t have to be rich or famous to have permanently arrived at the door of success, in fact I think it might be harder for those who are. I sure would have felt safe in assuming, Kate Spade a little gal from Kansas City, who made it big with raw talent, grit, perseverance and handbags knew she had permanently arrived. I would have felt safe in assuming if she ever had any doubts about her worth or life long arrival to success she could be delivered from her negative self doubt, when she recalled she sold her name and brand to Coach for 2.4 billion dollars, but I was wrong. All that didn’t make her love herself enough to see value and worth for who she was on the inside. She couldn’t find that smile on the inside. I’m sure I’m not the only one who assumed she had it all, but all she had wasn’t worth the fight for herself when it really counted, at least not when no one was watching and the war was just between her and her.
We must all learn to love who we are, love your roots, love your wings and let them help you balance this teeter totter we call life, with your heart riding shotgun as the guide. No one is bullet proof, NO ONE! The only real protection we have is to truly love ourselves so we can have the grace, compassion and patience to sit with ourselves through whatever comes and somehow own a joy filled perspective on our short life on this planet that allows us to enjoy the ride.
To all those who have passed with broken wings, fly high into eternity.
To all of us finding our balance a few of my favorite reminders
“Beginnings are scary. Endings are usually sad, but it’s what’s in the middle that counts. So, when you find yourself at the beginning, just give hope a chance to float up, and it will.” Hope Floats
“You can have roots and wings.” Sweet Home Alabama
“This to shall pass” Author unknown likely King Solomon
“That Shit’ll buff out” Joe Dirt