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Melissa Maldonado

Berlin, Germany


Piercing Through The Cloud Of Confusion

quote-openIn an age when social media is so often used to disseminate insults and disparaging commentary, my friend took to her keyboard and pulled me out of my darkness by shining her beaming joyful light!quote-close

Melissa had just quit her job, ended her relationship and settled on taking a possibly permanent break from the country that had been her home for the past 15 years. Her family were thousands of miles away and she was choosing to leave her friends behind as well.

When all the pieces of the life puzzle get tossed about, it is terrifying. Uncertainty is a fog that seeps into your thoughts leaving you with confused, muddled, skeptical doubt that continuously threatens to rob you of your perseverance, at best, and your sanity, at worst.

There were may days Melissa spent questioning her choices. And the closer she got to her departure date, the louder and more persistent the voice in her head became. It told her that stepping outside the bubble of her life to find true happiness and purpose was nonsense. The voice began to consume her, telling her that she was naive and inadequate.

But all it takes is one bright ray of sunshine to pierce the cloud. For her, it came in the form of an unusual friendship. A girl she met about 10 years ago. They only saw each other in person for a few days when they worked together but remained in contact via e-mail and then through social media. Melissa had told her friend about her plans and fears. About her choices, the trip and her future.

She probably looked startled because he looked away and said, “I just thought you should know. I guess that was weird.” He started to walk away.

And this beautiful soul, who I have not seen in ten years, decided to lift me up by dedicating her Facebook status to me. This was her status:

“Just wanted to give a shout out to a fellow New Yorker, dancer, creative thinker, traveler, writer, photographer, and so many endless other qualities and talents, that’s taking on a walking trip in Spain for a few months starting in May. That trek, that reason, that upheaval, you know that this will change you in many ways, but it will also solidify you, nurture and cradle you. I am bowing to that spirit within you that carries out the ideas it sets out to. Thank you for the inspiration. It’s always noticed and ever remembered. Be safe! And conquer your fears. What is a life without inspiration and friends that inspire you? I say it’s no life at all. Thank you and I and everyone that will like this post will wish you a great journey.”

– Edited by Soumya John

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Ann Rosen

Westfield, USA


An Unexpected Compliment

quote-openSomehow someone thought I was beautiful just as I was, in the middle of Target!quote-close

Ann clearly remembers the moment that she decided to make a conscious effort to share compliments, positive thoughts and kind words as they occurred to her.

She was in the pharmacy section of Target, pushing her youngest daughter, Tatum, in a cart loaded with flip-flops, diapers and Band-Aids adorned with cartoon characters. She had my face pressed up close to her daughter’s as they sang “You are My Sunshine” to each other. They both had big smiles.

It was otherwise just another weekday morning of running errands and Ann was wearing a nightgown she had mistaken for a summer frock. It was an oppressively hot, thick summer day that made her want to wear something that felt like nothing. Tatum liked to pick out her own outfits, so she rocked a dainty floral pattern of one color scheme with a loud plaid of an entirely different one. Her wispy pigtails were beginning to go a summer blonde and her sandaled feet swung happily from the cart.

A man walking by them smiled at Ann as he told her, “You are beautiful.”

She probably looked startled because he looked away and said, “I just thought you should know. I guess that was weird.” He started to walk away.

“Thank you,” she said, starting after him. “I’m sorry. I just wasn’t expecting that.”

He smiled and said, “It’s true.”

It was a strange feeling to receive a compliment like that in the middle of a regular day. Ann didn’t feel particularly beautiful. In fact, she thought she was downright bedraggled, trolling around without a stitch of makeup in flip flops and, unbeknownst to her, pajamas. She was a mom, still working on the baby weight, checking little things off my list and living life. The idea of being beautiful at such a moment was mystifying to her. She had to stop and process it. And that is exactly why that compliment had been so special.

As they returned to singing our song, his words rang through her mind like a lovely bell. It occurred to her then that what she felt most in the moment that this stranger had chosen to highlight was “happy”. She had been truly in the moment, connecting with my little girl. She wondered whether a person really could radiate the beauty of a moment.

Since then, Ann decided that everyone can radiate beauty and tries to acknowledge and appreciate it. At the very least, it gives energy to things she wants to see more of in this world. And it feels good to notice.

– Edited by Soumya John

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