Monday Melancholy

Vacation***

I’m typically not one to dwell in malaise and melancholy, but this morning, I’m feeling a little bit of it.

It’s July 10, and vacation is over for our family. We had a great time, enjoyed spectacular weather, got to visit Charleston then spend time on the beach in Hilton Head. We ate at fantastic restaurants, the boys played golf, the girls rode bikes and relaxed on the beach, we hit a jazz club, played putt putt, and ate way too much ice cream.

I really shouldn’t be complaining.

But my son turned 17 yesterday, and now I feel like all I’m doing is counting down the days until he leaves for college and holding on to the days we have left.

Stupid, really.

I should be happy that we’re all good and happy and enjoying some time off this summer, but there’s that melancholy feeling that creeps in now and again which leaves me feeling just a little bit uneasy. Like life is passing me by. Like life moves really, really fast, and if I don’t stop and take it all in, I have the capacity to miss it.

I mean, really miss it.

Sometimes I feel as if I’ve missed things. I work a lot. I spent two years getting an MFA degree while working full time and missed some quality time with my kids when they were little. I spend time on side projects, like writing books and getting involved in the community. I try to see my friends every now and again amid the crazy, hectic schedules we all seem to keep.

So what happens? You wake up and realize another week has passed you by.

I don’t mean to be depressing, especially on a Monday morning, but really, the time is now. Breathe in. Enjoy life.

Take those vacations and go out with your friends. Spend quality time with your families. Before you know it, you’re middle-aged and thinking about retirement, not the beginning of your career.

Honestly, one of the reasons I love teaching at the college level is because the students keep me young. I’m forced to hear about their interests and their activities. I may be older, but I can still related to most of their predicaments and successes.

We all like to feel young.

I’m sorry for this jagged little post. It’s not as coherent as I would like, but it represents my chaotic thoughts this morning.

They’re messy.

And maybe that’s just how life is meant to be.

It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to enjoy every second of it.

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

 

 

 

Thanks for Leaving Me Melancholy, Mr. Selfridge

Mae&Harry
Harry Selfridge (Jeremy Piven) & Lady Mae (Katherine Kelly)

Whoa. Last night, my husband and I finished watching the final season of Mr. Selfridge. We’re a little behind the rest of you who watched it unfold each Sunday night in real time. We recorded all the shows and spent the last couple of weeks watching an episode about every other night. A big fan of Downton Abbey, we also watch Grantchester, Call the Midwife, and Poldark all on PBS. The quality of programming and the level of acting in these series are superior.

I’d taken the liberty of reading about the real Harry Gordon Selfridge, the American business man who opened the department store Selfridge & Co. in London, and knew much of the show was fabricated for television. Characters were invented or reinvented for added drama. The writers were able to make the show incredibly entertaining, and even though I was expecting the “real” and “true” biographical ending, they delivered on part of it, but not wholly. Thankfully, they gave us a little bit of hopefulness tossed in with the devastation. However, it’s Katherine Kelly’s character of Lady Mae that offers some sort of happiness for Harry (played by Jeremy Piven) despite the fact that Selfridge’s was in dire straits. And truthfully, after a while in this season, the Dolly sisters were making me wince.

There’s something about watching a man build something from nothing and then watch it all come crashing down that just leaves you a bit melancholy. This season was action-packed, and the episodes moved quickly with three main characters dying, and Miss Mardle, Kitty, and Mr. Grove, along with Harry Selfridge, facing hardships and crisis.

Mr Selfridge
Photo credit: PBS

In the end, it was all worth it–it was entertaining television with great sets and costumes that rival Downton Abbey. And unlike Downton Abbey where the final season put everything into place nicely and tied it up with a big “happy, happy” bow, Mr. Selfridge did not end that way.

For that, I think I’m happy.

If You Want to Cry, Give These A Try

I’ve found myself in a somewhat melancholy mood over the last week. I learned that a friend of mine—more of an acquaintance, really—passed away unexpectedly. She was close in age to me, but still, news like this has that power to rock your world. It is an all-too vivid reminder that none of us will live forever. When I begin to feel sad about things, I tend to want to pay attention to sad movies or sad books. So, if you need a good cry (which sometimes helps bring us out of the realm of murkiness), I would suggest immersing yourself in some or all of the following:

The Fault in Our Stars
The Fault in Our Stars

1: The Fault in Our Stars. Either grab the book or the film, but either way, grab a box of tissues. While unbelievably depressing, the story does remind us of why we need love in our lives, no matter how many years of life we have to live. Hazel, Isaac, and Gus come to life as we bear witness to their daily dilemmas and struggles as cancer patients. I guarantee that it will be tough for you not to cry your eyes out.

The Painted Veil
The Painted Veil

2. The Painted Veil. On the rare occasions that I actually watch television, let alone hold the remote in my hand, if I come across the film The Painted Veil (based on the novel by W. Somerset Maugham), I stop everything. This film, featuring Edward Norton (who hails from Columbia, Maryland, and is a big fan of Cal Ripken) and Naomi Watts, is so deeply beautiful, yet hauntingly devastating, that you can’t help but to become riveted, and saddened. At the heart of the story is the theme of forgiveness, and how holding on to anger or a grudge can taint the way you see people. This husband and wife must learn the hard way about finding forgiveness, and when they do, their few moments of joy are cut short. I adore this film, the acting, the scenery, and the message. If it teaches you anything, it would be not to live with regret.

Unbroken
Unbroken

3. Unbroken. Former Olympic athlete and WWII veteran, Louis “Louie” Zamperini, is the subject of Laura Hillenbrand’s extraordinary non-fiction book. Tracing Louie’s early days as a runner who competes in the Olympics in Germany and who was summoned to meet Adolf Hitler after a stunning race (Hitler is quoted as saying to him: “Ah, you were the boy with the fast finish”), to his time in WWII and as a POW, this mind-blowing story is absolutely riveting. The book is a sweeping, epic tale of one man’s survival—against all odds—and the notion that perseverance, resilience, and faith can guide you. You will feel a tremor of unease and absolute disbelief as you hear Louie’s tale. Read it now before Angelina Jolie releases it in December on the big screen.

Letting Go.

Today, I hugged my students goodbye at the close of graduation ceremonies. It is not always easy. As a professor, I get attached to the students, especially those that I spend a lot of time with in classes, work together with through the public relations club, or collaborate on other events and projects that take place over the course of the semester. We spend a lot of time together. I will miss their smiling faces they wear, even as I layer on the writing projects and advertising pitches. I shouldn’t feel melancholy as I watch my students leave the nest, because, after all, it’s my job to prepare them to go out into the working world and become successful. And yet tonight, I do. Nevertheless, the primary reason for all this mild grieving is that it’s all a part of letting go.

Some of us are better at letting go than others. Some of us can let go of an argument and forgive quickly. Others of us let go by forgiving someone who has used our kindness and generosity. Some of us let go of hearing a belittling comment or whisper that was not intended for our ears. Some of us can let go of old loves, friends, and relations that cause us nothing but pain.

And still, some of us hold on.

We hold on to feelings of comfort, in knowing that our teachings have helped guide these students and mold them into what they may become. Some of us hold on to the pleasure of seeing that light bulb go off in their heads when a concept we’ve discussed finally makes sense. Some of us hold on to that one student who is determined to fight off that “C” and earn a “B” or an “A.” Some of us hold on to that email that says, “Thanks for making me read something I normally wouldn’t,” or “Happy Mother’s Day—you are like a mother to me.”

We have to do a lot of letting go in life. I often wonder how I will feel when my own son and daughter graduate from college and move along in their grown-up ways.

Yes, so often in life, we have to let go. It’s all part of the journey.

And I will let go. But today, just for a little longer, I’ve decided to hold on.