My name is Melanie – and I have always loved my name, and loved my namesake – Miss Mellie from Gone With The Wind. I would like to be as sweet and innocent and kind and accepting as she was, but I’m afraid I’m a little more human than that.
Here’s a quick bullet list I use to describe myself on my Squidoo page:
- A wife
- A Mother
- An Artist
- M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) sufferer
- A follower of Jesus
- An Author
- An Artist
- An art Collector
- A Tea-aholic and reviewer
- Friendly… Spunky… and Fun-Loving!
Bill and I married in 1984. We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in Kauai, 2009, thanks to our dear oldest daughter.
Bill has been one of the Pastors at Gateway Community Church since 1995. He is very creative, enjoys photography and gardening. Most of all, he is my very best friend!
We have 3 grown children – 2 of them married. Marie, our oldest was homeschooled in 8th grade and graduated from Vancouver School of Arts and Academics with honors. She and her husband only live a half hour away so we get to see her pretty often.
Ellen, our middle daughter, has danced since she was 6. In 8th grade, she was gone from home from 8am – 10pm and we decided something had to give. Our solution was to chose to homeschool her 9th – 12th grades, while she danced in the pre-professional company of Columbia Dance in Vancouver. The following 2 years after graduation, she continued to dance with Columbia Dance, and danced several principal roles. After moving back home to save up some money to buy a house, she found the love of her life and got married! She and her husband live in town so we get to see them a lot too!
Chris is our baby. In High School he became an accomplished guitarist and he played several summer gigs at our local Farmer’s Market – playing and singing many songs that he wrote himself. He is now a college student at Multnomah University where he studies music, bible and theology. He also leads the youth worship band at church, and rotates with other leaders leading worship on Sunday mornings.
I am a Christian – a follower of Jesus Christ. I have had a personal relationship with Jesus for many years and try hard to keep my life focused on 2 main things – Loving God, and Loving Others. I am a published author in several magazines, including an article on helping children deal with fear in Discipleship Journal published by NavPress, and I am a part of a collection of authors in a book published for Pastor’s wives by Jill Briscoe. I spoke at Women’s Retreats and Conferences, mentored and discipled women in crisis at our church and partnered with my husband in offering premarital counseling to many couples in our home.
For fun, I played tennis, took dance classes myself, danced the part of Mother Ginger, Party Mom and Clara’s Mother in Columbia Dance’s Nutcracker Ballet for many years (including the year my Ellen was Clara). I have a B.A. in Early Childhood Development and an Elementary Teaching Credential, and I was invited to join the faculty at Columbia Dance to design and implement a preschool “developmental” creative dance program.
All of that, except for being a follower of Christ, changed in Dec. 2001. I came down with a severe virus that has developed into M. E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis). This illness has been mistakenly called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but it’s not just a fatigue issue. As a part of the M.E., I have Partial Dysautonomia which means my Autonomic Nervous system is damaged and causes something called POTS, and Gastroparesis (among many other bothersome symptoms).
By June of 2003 I was barely holding on, teaching dance from a chair. I knew then that I had to quit. Thankfully, a wonderful new teacher came along and the program that I had started has more than blossomed under her direction. But I was left unable to do anything I had been doing the past 15 years of my life!
I won’t go into the long hours of wrestling I had with God, but I will tell you that he continually pointed me back to my 2 life goals… to Love God, and Love Others.
I began to learn how to Love God while not being able to “do” anything. This is when the artist in me rose up and awoke! I began painting with watercolor and it became my way of “Loving God”. I’ve now been selling my artwork for… wow… I think it’s about 7+ years now!
I remain a very friendly, fun-loving person. As my illness progressed, and I yearned for my past activities, there were times I felt like I was a butterfly all wrapped up in a cocoon – struggling to let my wings spread and fly! This is why, when my husband lost his parents, he spent a portion of the inheritance they left him, on a convertible Miata for me! For many years it my “flying” time. When I could get out in it, my soul would soar. I would drive with the top down whenever possible – and have even driven through a sudden downpour (laughing all the way) and in light snow (it felt like I was skiing).
Sadly, in the past year, my brain functioning has made it very difficult to drive much. I can drive short distances, but it takes so much focused concentration to stay alert and remember where I’m going and how to get there that I tire very quickly. Sometimes I can drive us to an outing across town (too see my daughter or the pharmacy), but I’m way too tired and sick to drive home. So I rarely go out alone now. Most often, I opt for my husband to drive, but he’s learned to enjoy the top down too, and even if it’s too cold for him, he will let me put it down.
I love books, but now, due cognitive changes cause by M.E., I find things like writing and reading very difficult to do for very long. Sometimes I listen to books on tape. I am also a fan of the TV show LOST and I really enjoy documentaries and movies made from classical literature!
As for tea… well… I always wished I was Scottish when I was a little girl. That transferred to a love for everything British as I grew, and I fell in love with literature from Charles Dickens, Jane Austin and many others. In 2000, my Dad took me on my dream trip to England (my sweet husband stayed home with the kids). I had already enjoyed “proper” tea, but I came home addicted to tea – so much so that my morning coffee gave way to tea! (It’s a good thing too, because, with my illness, I can not have coffee anymore)
As I got sicker, I found I had to have a good dose of fluids before I could even stand up out of bed in the morning. So now, it’s a daily ritual for my husband to bring me a pot of tea each morning. He has always been a tea drinker and perfects everything he does. My friend from England said he drinks his tea more British than she does!
As I have sought for things to do, and am often stuck at home, reclining on the couch or sitting up in my recliner, I spend some time online. I’ve made a lot of friends, joined a lot of forums and groups and love the social world I can still have even though I’m mainly housebound. I am finding, though, as my illness continues, that my mental capacity to keep up is waning. I’ve left a lot of groups. Full articles are impossible to read. Some days I have lots of online conversations. Other days, I can barely read people’s Facebook status’.
One of the really fun things I’ve found are tea review sites! For over a year I reviewed teas for one site, and just recently, I have changed to reviewing tea for TeaViews! I’ve been exposed to all kinds of tea… white teas, Oolong tea, green teas, red and green rooibos and a variety of herbal blends. My taste for tea has greatly expanded past my morning pot of black tea and, as it turns out, these teas are very healthy for me too! I also enjoy spending time on Steepster which is just a fun website for tea lovers.
I really hope and look forward to getting to know my readers and those who are interested in my art. I hope you’ll leave me lots of messages to say Hi and let me know if you have a blog or a website you’d like me to visit!
I hope very much that this blog/website reflects me… friendly and fun!