You know how you hear a song and it’s just the right song for that moment? The lyrics speak to you on a soul level as if the singer is in your head and giving life to your deepest thoughts. That happened to me today.

I’m a huge fan of Spotify and their weekly Discovery playlist. I was having a bad day and decided that I needed some new music, so I decided to listen to Spotify’s suggestions while I was driving. The first song to play was “that” song. I nearly pulled over to the side of the road just so I could let the lyrics wash over me completely. Instead I grabbed the pen I keep handy and scribbled the name of the song and artist so I could explore them later. So far today I have listened to the song at least 20 times. Each time I get lost in the experience.

How is it that a song can reach a part of you that nothing and no one  else can?  It’s the perfect healer – music and words. I have relied on songs to save me for much of my life. On any given day a song will rescue me from despair, or give wings to my joy. I feel weightless when the right song comes along. I close my eyes and fly, each note lifting me higher and higher to a place that is beyond whatever emotion I’m feeling. The song somehow takes me further into the feeling. And for that I am forever grateful. Music has always saved me.

Ever since I can remember I’ve chosen the music I listen to as a soundtrack to my life. Maybe we all do that subconsciously, but I do it very deliberately. Always have. I find a connection in the perfect pairing of words and music that transcends the limits of my own mind. I soar.

I’m not a religious person, although I was raised and schooled in the Catholicism. I am, however, very spiritual and have very strong beliefs that are, no doubt, influenced by my upbringing in the church. In my opinion, religion is manmade and spirituality is innate. But that’s not to say that I do not have a connection with the tenets I was raised to believe. I’ve just chosen a different, less regimented, path – a path that is not tied to any one particular religion, or belief system.

That said, the song that touched me so deeply today happened on the day known as Good Friday. The song is “Flight” by Lifehouse, a band that is often considered a Christian band. For me, today, the words hit home in a very spiritual way.

I’ve been struggling with severe bouts of depression lately. On any given day I am nearly crippled by the waves of sadness that wash over me.

I’ve been under water/this storm has been raging/These nights are not sleeping/My dreams are now strangers to me/And I need you now/There’s too many miles on my bones/I can’t carry the weight of the world/No, not on my own.

So when I heard these words, and connected the dots, I felt like it meant something. Something big. And it does.

No matter if you’re religious, spiritual, or other this song is one you should hear. In this world today, we all have so much weight to carry, so much baggage. It’s a good reminder that, whatever your belief system, you don’t have to shoulder the burden alone. It’s too much. Reach out to the Universe, to God, to someone or something. Just don’t be alone. Find your place to be. No more falling. No more fear. No more hurt.

Only flying.

Lifehouse – Flight

On Being 16

Straight from my Journal

Straight from my Journal

Recently I sat down with my old spiral journals from high school. As a writer, I was doing some research for a novel I’m working on where the main character is a 16 year old girl. Having been one of those myself, I was, for once, thrilled that I had regularly written in a journal that documented what, apparently, was a fairly miserable existence.

To further my research I reached out to my NaNoWriMo group and asked all female Nanners to elaborate on what being 16 was like for them. What did they want most? What did they fear? Imagine my shock when I realized that there seems to be a universal law that states no matter the circumstance each and every 16 year old is required to be miserable, even if outward appearances suggest otherwise.

Who knew? As a 16 year old, some 32 years ago, I was certain that everyone was living the dream, except me. Instead, responses like I wanted to not feel invisible anymore, and I just wanted someone to love and understand me, proved me wrong. What the what?

Many years ago at one of my high school reunions, I brought this topic up with a couple of girls who, in my opinion, had everything going for them. Guess what? They were miserable too! Just think of how much better we would all have felt if we could have all been miserable together! I mean they say misery loves company, and here I was all alone with my journal on a Saturday night, listening to Lionel Richie’s Hello looped on a 30-minute cassette tape!

It’s high time we share our misery with today’s generation of angst-ridden girls so that they won’t feel so alone in their loneliness. And just because I care, I’m going to include a photo of a mix tape I was making on one of my lonely Saturday nights.

My carefully planned mix-tape

My carefully planned mix-tape

And just to round out this whole post and give you a complete picture of my misery, I give you a full page from my journal. Those who know me will immediately know who this is about and understand the yearnings of my soul.  Those who don’t know me, will simply think me pathetic, which is okay too.  Just keep in mind that this story has a happy ending, it just took some time.

Straight from the Misery Files of Michelle Collins

Straight from the Misery Files of Michelle Collins

Stealing My Thunder Back


Me (age 10) Daddy (age 35) right before his heart attack

When I was ten, through no fault of his own, my father stole my thunder. You see, I had just gotten out of the hospital after having had a tumor removed from my mouth. Until after the surgery, my parents had no idea whether or not the tumor was cancerous.

That night my 35 year old father had a massive heart attack and had to be rushed to the hospital. At the hospital the next day, after hearing that I had also been in the hospital, my father’s cardiologist remarked, “Well, it looks like your daddy stole your thunder.” At the time I’m sure I had no idea what that meant. Now I get it. As I was recovering and probably seeking to be babied a bit, my father now had all the attention.

It was difficult. I don’t remember being jealous at all. I don’t remember feeling like my thunder had been stolen. All I remember feeling is scared. Daddy made it through that scare for the most part. He was not expected to make it, but he did. Maybe my thunder saved him.

I’ve had my thunder stolen several times since then, by various people. Some intentional, others not so much. One that sticks out was the time that I was so proud of a self-portrait that I drew and gifted to someone I cared about at the time. I spent hours erasing and redrawing hoping to get it as perfect as I could. And in my mind I did.

But the boy saw things differently. When I went to visit I found the drawing and saw that he had erased the mouth and was redrawing it to his liking. Boom. Crash.

So yesterday was a HUGE day for me. I put myself out there in the form of my art. I approached a local shop that I have loved for some time. If I could I would buy every single thing in there. So I decided that of all the places I would love to see my art for sale, this place was the one that would be perfect.

To say I was nervous, would be akin to saying that unicorns are real….duh, obviously! But I wanted this so badly. As it turns out, it was not hard at all. The shop owner was absolutely awesome and so easy to talk to. And…she said YES!

The day was shaping up to be a Spongebobesque best-day-ever! And then it wasn’t. Just like that my day took a turn for the worse. What happened doesn’t matter. What matters is that all that excitement, all that hip, hip, hooray, went hip, hip, horrible all too quickly. Boom. Crash. And I’m sad about that. Because, for me, that validation and acceptance from someone in the art community – someone who is not family – was a turning point.

Maybe I’m selfish. Maybe I just need to get over it. Maybe I need to go all Frozen on this shit. And I will. Soon. But I needed to vent.

So Boom. Crash.

 And that, my friends, is the sound of me stealing a little thunder back for a minute or two.





Tongue Twisters are the Best Medicine


Okay, so those of you who know me, know that I am velcro when it comes to emotions. Things stick to me whether they belong to me or not. It’s not something I like about myself, but it’s something that has always been a reality for me.

With everything going on in the news lately, there are days when I don’t want to get out of bed. This world makes me sad. I do my best to stay “uninformed”, which to some might seem wrong, but it’s simply a matter of self-preservation.

Recently I discovered a great way to relieve some of the heavy stuff that gets in my way. Tongue Twisters. Yep. A good old she-sells-seashells-round or two and a certain lightness settles in. If you don’t believe me, here’s the proof.  Give it a go! I’d love to see your own video!

Dented in Denim


Here’s an old piece from my Moxie Momma days. I was reminded of it today after a being “rearended” in Rite Aid. For obvious reasons there will be no photo to represent the contents of this essay. Instead, please enjoy this completely irrelevant photo of a piece of my artwork.

BadBoysNow for the essay….

Insurance isn’t always the answer. With some accidents you just don’t have enough coverage.
No matter how careful I am not to follow too closely, I can’t seem to protect myself from being rear-ended.
It’s a common occurrence these days what with all the low riders cruising around town. On any given day I am involved in several accidents and the police are never called.
Just the other day I was minding my own business sitting on the benches at the mall soft play area that I frequent with Nicholas, my three-year-old.
As I searched for a potential momversation partner, my eyes settled on a most disturbing site.
I spotted a very bad accident and found myself drawn to it like a rubbernecker. Parked on the flesh-colored bench across from me was a mid-size woman tucked into a pair of sports car jeans and spilling forth from them was all the junk in her trunk.
I made a conscious effort not to stare. What I really wanted to do was go over and say, “Really? Are you serious? You put these jeans on today and said to yourself, oh yeah, that’ll do?” There was barely enough denim to cover one leg much less the entire package.
I was amazed that this was the fashion choice she made and for display at a playground, no less. Where, oh where, has modesty gone? Out the car window apparently.
Then, much to my dismay, it happened again. Same mall, different location, same scary visual. A girl putting together a window display at a clothing store had a very revealing display of her own. Once again, I was the victim of a rear impact collision.
These accidents are even more difficult to endure when my 11-year-old is involved. We always wear our seat belts and even though it’s the other person who has chosen to go belt-less and nearly pants less, we are the ones who sustain the damage by having that image forever dented in denim in our minds.
I think it’s about time we rolled up the rear window or put up a moon shield or something. Close that trunk and hide that junk, people, because I’m tired of being rear-ended. If only there were fashion police to ticket these offenders or at least give them a new pair of Levi’s.  If only.

Jake – my not-so-ordinary miracle


This is my oldest son, Jake.

When he was six he was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome and OCD.

He has overcome many challenges.

At times his tics were debilitating and very painful, occurring hundreds of times a day, oftentimes non-stop.

Today, they are gone (a rare occurrence for TS patients).

At times his OCD controlled what he could and couldn’t do. For example, he couldn’t touch anything unless he had three pairs of surgical gloves on. Three.

Today, the first day of his first job, he is bagging groceries for complete strangers.

Take a minute to think about what a huge deal that is for someone like Jake.

Don’t ever tell me that miracles aren’t real – I gave birth to one two.


P.S. Don’t forget to tell me about your mOMments. Be sure to snap a picture.


It’s so hard to believe that the last tIme I heard your voice was 29 years ago. Sadly, I have difficulty recalling the timbre and lilt of your words. It’s funny the memories that go quickest are the smallest ones, the ones that are taken for granted and, as it turns out, the ones that are missed the most.
I do know what you would say to me today if you saw my multiple tattoos, my nose piercing, and my purple hair. You were a man of few words when your conventional, traditional values were disrupted with my neverending desire to be my free-spirited self.

“Goodness.” Said slowly and with a bit of a headshake and sigh. Simple enough. But being your daughter I knew what that “goodness” really meant.

It meant – what in the world were you thinking? If God had wanted you to have purple hair, you would have been born with purple hair. However, I think deep down he was smiling. I mean really deep down. Smiling at my need to just be me. After all, I am told that as a fiesty three-year-old my dad would walk around with his baby bottle in the back pocket of his dungarees. Eddie was going to be Eddie no matter what.

I’ve been giving some thought to what I might say to him, given one more chance to talk face to face. Of course I talk to him all the time, but face to face what words would give me the closure that I was robbed of 29 years ago when he died suddenly?

It might go somethng like this:

Daddy if I had only known what was coming, I might have acted differently towards you. Loved you more. Talked with you more. Listened to you more. But then again, I was only 18, so I have learned to forgive myself for letting those things slide. Of course, you know I loved you. I just wish that I had showed it more.

But I do want you to know that I remember the time that we were riding in that Godawful silver Gremlin with your tools loose in the back and an occassional can rolling onto the front floorboard when you asked about what I wanted to be. At the time I was so bent on going into the music business industry (glad I dodged that one). I’m sure you were thinking about something a bit more mainstream, but, then again, it was me you were asking. Anyway, you engaged in the conversation and were truly interested and supportive. I remember that.

I also remember the times you and I went fishing and crabbing together – of course now being vegetarian, I have different views – imagine that 😉 . But those were our times. I remember once as you trudged out in the marsh in your 98 cent, 7-11 flip flops, Kool Mild 100 dangling James Dean style from your lips. I was perched atop the Mustang Ghia – Momma’s baby – catching a few rays with my boombox blasting Rick Springfield, when you would have much preferred Barbara Mandrell. As the sweat dripped from the tip of your sunburned nose, you offered me a crooked Popeye smile. I remember that.

I remember watching you paint a mural for mom on the wall of the dining room at our house on Biscayne Avenue. Her favorite, a lighthouse. I was 10 years old. You turned to me, handed me a paintbrush and asked if I wanted to help. Together we painted clouds. On the wall! I was so happy standing on the ladder next to you that day. I remember that.

I remember the Stageside party I threw at the house – your last house. It was St. Patrick’s Day. All my friends were coming. Lisle was coming. I was excited and nervous. Mostly I was nervous that you might embarrass me by talking to my friends. My fears were soon realized when I walked around the corner and saw you in the rocking chair with your high school annual talking to Lisle. I wanted to shrivel up. You were talking to him about running track in high school. I think about it now and I smile. I get that you weren’t doing it to embarrass me. In fact, it had nothing to do with me at all. I am thankful that I had a father who was nice to my friends. Anyway, I remember that and now it’s a good memory.

You were always good to me. You and mom worked so hard to provide me with what I needed and most times what I wanted. I want you to know that I get how hard it must have been for you being given a death sentence at the age of 35 and then 10 more years to think about it as you tried to find work to support your family.

I want you to know that I noticed you. I noticed the things you did. I noticed how hard you tried to live and how hard it was for you. I noticed that you did whatever it took from selling your and mom’s wedding bands to picking up old tv’s from the side of the road and fixing them to sell at the flea market. I noticed that you sat for hours making roses out of bread, glue and food coloring to sell at the flea market, your large hands pressing the molded dough so delicately into shape. I noticed but I didn’t understand because I was afraid that my friends would judge ME.

I want you to know that now I understand. I understand so much. You had so much to give and you were denied so much, but you didn’t stop. You taught me that. You taught me to give and give until there is nothing left. You taught me to give everything, but not give up.

So, Daddy, today I only have one word to say to you, goodness. Because that is what you brought into my life more than anything else.

Missing and loving you today and always.


Hope is the thing with feathers

Hope is the thing with feathers – mixed media art journal page

If you saw me today and asked me how I was feeling, I would say with a smile,   “Hopeless. I feel hopeless.” And then I would tell you that I am so thankful to have learned the power of hopelessness.

You might walk away confused and certain that my last marble finally rolled away. But if you stayed and asked me what I meant, then I would share with you the book that my amazing, under-appreciated (by me) husband gifted to me because he knew it was just what I needed. Apparently, he knows me better than I know myself.

So what’s this incredible, life-changing book that is taking away all of my hopes? And why in the world would I continue to read, and enjoy a book that leaves me feeling hopeless? I thought you’d never ask.

In the midst of a personal crisis of mine, in walks Pema Chodron, an American Buddhist nun, who just happened to have penned the words that my soul needed to hear. Those of you who know me, know that I don’t read without a pen in hand. I write in my books and I encourage you to do the same. I underline, write notes in the margin, draw smiley faces and arrows – nothing is off limits. To me, a book, especially one that is meant to teach us, needs to be made personal. My notes make my books my own. And this book is heavily lined.

Before I divulge the name of the book I want to explain something. I’ve read a lot of books in my life. More specifically, I’ve read a lot of self-help, spiritual books. My shelves are lined with plenty of fiction, but are tempered with an equal amount of books promising answers. And I’m always looking for answers.

This book is different. Many of the other books that I’ve read have given me hope, promised me peace and happiness in x amount of steps. This book does not. In fact, this book encourages me to give up. Yep, you heard me right. Let go of hope. This is hard for me because I have always believed that hope is what keeps me going.

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times. The book that is challenging my way of thinking. The book that tells me that when I “hold onto hope” it “robs (me) of the present moment”.

I am reminded of one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets, Emily Dickinson.

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops at all.

Now as I think about the words Chodron writes, I reconsider Dickinson’s poem. If “hope is the thing with feathers” then that suggests that it is fleeting – here one moment, gone the next. In other words there is nothing permanent about it. Life is nothing but impermanence (another topic in Chodron’s book), and rather than waste time ,seeking that ray of hope to hold onto, knowing it will soon be gone, Chodron suggests instead that there is nothing better. There is nothing that is more. There is only now and that is enough.

Where there is hope fear will always exist. Chodron explains, “Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something; they come from a sense of poverty. We can’t simply relax with ourselves.” We are all living in a state of constant fear. What ifs. In order to alleviate that not knowing, that impermanent state that is our life, we string ourselves along on hope.

When Jake was diagnosed with Tourette Sydrome at the age of 6, then later with OCD at the age of 8, fear consumed me. What if he was made fun of? What if he never made friends? What if he never found someone who could love him for who he is? I lost sleep. I cried. I screamed. I fought every inner demon I could conjure up. Meanwhile, Jake was in front of me. He was playing, laughing, crying. He was living. I was not.

Nick came along and I hoped for him. I hoped he would be “normal”. I hoped I could love him enough. I hoped he would understand Jake. I hoped he wouldn’t feel second. I hoped, I hoped, I hoped.

But you know what, Nick didn’t hope for much of anything. He didn’t lack anything. He didn’t need anything more than what he had. He experienced moment to moment. He didn’t live in the future or the past. Meanwhile, here I was living everywhere but in the now. All because of hope and fear. How much have I missed out on because of these daydreams?

Fast forward 9 years. Here I am now, as usual, filled with worry and fear over things that haven’t even happened. Things that may not even happen at all. Why? Because I expect. Because I hope. And as a result I fear. Chodron’s book is teaching me that fear is not a necessary part of life.

By accepting that life is impermanent, that life is full of insecurity and pain, as well as joy and beauty and that is ok, we can settle into the idea that “hopelessness is the basic ground”, the foundation upon which we should all stand because it is the only way. It is the only truth.

As the Zen master Shunryu Suzuki Roshi said, life is like getting into a boat that’s just about to sail out to sea and sink.

Consider what that means. When we enter this life, set sail, we have that whole journey out to sea to experience. But inevitably, we all will sink. No matter what we do, we will sink. Knowing this, does it not make sense to make the most of every moment of every day, even those moments that are not perfect? They are still our moments. Still our journey.

In Chodron’s book, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, she teaches us to go against habit and expectation, and move directly into the painful situations with “friendliness and curiosity. It is there in the midst of chaos, that we can discover the truth and love that are indestructible.”

As I learn to give up hope, and let myself seek the wisdom of the present moment, I hope know that I will gain a deeper insight into who I am and learn how to fully experience my natural state of being human – joy.




A Dear John Green Letter

Jake, age 9, with Nat and Alex Wolff

Dear John (no, it’s not a breakup letter – I still love your work),

However, this is a letter I needed to write for my own peace of mind.
I am a huge fan of your writing. I love your wit and your ability to accurately describe emotions that don’t easily fit into a word or two. I love that you are a nerd. I’ve always had a soft spot for nerds – as a young girl I had a secret crush on Gilligan. Yes, I was that girl.

Anyway, to my point – I just finished reading An Abundance of Katherines. I read with my pen in hand, as I often do in case I find passages that resonate with me. And I always do in your work. And I began underlining on page four when Colin says, “It felt as if she’d taken the part of him that cried.” So very beautiful and spot-on.

I continued underlining and writing comments in the margins (because I am a word nerd that way), but I was brought to a dead stop on page 52 when Hassan made an unfortunate joke of a condition that hits home for me. “Pierre,” said Hassan. “He has the disease with the talking. The, uh, with the bad words. In France, we say it the Toorettes.”

I understand that the characters are teenagers and that teenagers can be notoriously inappropriate, but, in my opinion, I feel that this was simply a cheap joke to make. It didn’t add anything to the story or to the profile of the character. What it did do was effectively disappoint me. Let me explain.

I am the mother of a teenager who was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome when he was 6 years old. Prior to his diagnosis I was a person, like many, who didn’t understand the condition. A person who knew it only as the thing where people shout out bad words.
Sadly, this is a stereotype that has been perpetuated by the media because of its shock value.

In fact, only about 10% of Tourettes patients have coprolalia – “the disease with the talking…with the bad words”. My son does not have coprolalia, but my son has Tourettes (TS). Here’s a more common snapshot of Tourettes.

Imagine, as a parent, standing in the kitchen, just out of sight of your six year old, so that he can’t see that you are crying as you watch him sitting on the couch watching cartoons as he repeatedly punches himself in the stomach as tears roll down his face. Imagine watching him stick his finger down his throat hundreds of times a day because he “has” to. Imagine the helplessness you would feel as a parent who can do nothing to help your child. This is Tourette Syndrome on any given day. Fortunately, my son, now 17, is tic free, although he does suffer from severe, oftentimes, debilitating OCD.

I cannot tell you how often he was the butt of jokes. Jokes made to my face by ignorant adults who found the condition funny. In the beginning I would get so angry at these people. That is until my son, the same one who was being made fun of, told me in his beyond-his-years wisdom, “Mom, you can’t get mad at people like that because they just don’t understand. They don’t know any better.” How is it that a child can know so much more than a grown-up?

Ever since that day, some 11 years ago, I have learned that the best response to such ignorance, is education. We all need to learn. Even I needed to learn.

So, John, as I said, this is not a break-up letter. I will still continue to buy and underline your books. I will still continue to love your words. But I’m hoping that maybe I have enlightened you. As I realize this is an older book, perhaps you have already become enlightened. In fact, since you are friends with Nat Wolff, I’m assuming you have a different perspective on Tourettes already. His father, Michael Wolff (who has TS), was kind enough to invite my son and I to NY to visit him and the boys on the set of The Naked Brothers Band many moons ago. And it was an amazing experience.

Jake and Michael Wolff

I am constantly floored by your talents, as is my son who watches so many of your videos. Please accept this letter for what it is, simply a mom needing to stand up for her son and others who have TS. From one parent to another, I’m sure that you will understand my position. And from one writer to another, I hope that you will consider my words with the same respect that I consider yours.

Sincerely and with great admiration,
G. Michelle McGee

Aligning Myself


Do you see the heart?

Do you see the heart?


Yesterday I started reading This is Not the Story You Think It is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness by Laura Munson. The book has been on my shelf for months. I picked it up at a library sale because the title intrigued me. Plus I’m a sucker for memoirs – glimpses into the lives of others. I think that’s also why when I go on a walk at night I love seeing the inner glow of the homes and the suggestions of the lives inside. Is that bad? Somehow it’s interesting to me, knowing that each little box on the street has a different story being written inside.

Anyway, this book I’m reading is a pen-in-hand-book. I’m an under liner, a marginal note taker when I read. So as I was reading last night I came across this gem of a paragraph and got to work.

What a wonderful world we live in that a thing like beauty is subjective. Truly, in the eye of the beholder. There’s fathomless hope in that fact. I don’t care how a person sees beauty. I just care that beauty is beheld. Created. It’s something I take seriously and have passed to my children. Because when we’re creating beauty, we align ourselves with our Designer. When we’re receiving beauty, we’re receiving “the kingdom” in its best form. And in that divine-aligned act, we’re creating and receiving ourselves, not separate as us and them, or me and you or it. Maybe that is what it is to be truly alive. To love. To be in our true nature.

Wow. Right? Just wow. “When we’re creating beauty, we align ourselves with our Designer”. YES!!! When I write, or paint I do feel connected to a bigger part of me. Almost something outside of me. But the thing is that it is just the opposite – it’s very much inside of me and inside of you. It’s how we’re made. We are made to create beauty. But we tend to forget that we are the original beauty – we are the original design. Take a minute and chew on that. Chew slowly because it’s a mouthful.

If aligning ourselves with our “Designer” is all about creating beauty, then we should all be knee-deep in the good stuff – the God stuff. Because isn’t it when we are aligned that we feel like we can conquer the world. When we align we are superheroes. No Kryptonite can take us down because we are made of star stuff!

We shine brighter when we create. It doesn’t even matter what we are creating. A toddler creates a mess masterpiece with his pudding because he feels it. A musician creates a song with random notes because she feels it. A writer paints an emotion with words because he feels it. We are born to create. It’s innate because we were born of the Creator and we are meant to feel it.

I think so many of us run on autopilot that we have forgotten to create, or even see the beauty that is naturally created around us. Nature never stops creating in the hopes that we will all stop and take notice.

So here’s your challenge – today, tomorrow, whenever, stop and take notice of the beauty that is being created, whether it’s by you, someone else or nature. Just stop. Just notice. Just breathe in and align yourself.

If you feel so inclined post the beauty you witness or create on my FaceBook page and tag it #alignyourself.

Namaste, beautiful friends.