Alyssa Sellers


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Ready to Write

2014 Rose Fest and  more 116

When I was leaving full-time professional ministry for the second time I read Fahrenheit 451 for the first time. A speech given at the end of the novel pretty much summed up what I felt about my existence at that moment (I’d say spoilers but it’s on you, this bad boy’s been around for decades):

“Now, let’s get on upstream,” said Granger. “And hold onto one thought: You’re not important. You’re not anything. Someday the load we’re carrying with us may help someone. But even when we had the books on hand, a long time ago, we didn’t use what we got out of them. We went right on insulting the dead. We went right on spiting in the graves of all the poor ones who died before us. We’re going to meet a lot of lonely people in the next week and the next month and the next year. And when they ask us what we’re doing you can say, we’re remembering. That’s where we’ll win out in the long run. And someday we’ll remember so much that we’ll build the biggest goddamn steamshovel in history and dig the biggest grave of all time and shove war in and cover it up. Come on now, we’re going to go build a mirror factory first and put out nothing but mirrors for the next year and take a long look in them.”*

I’d written a memoir about surviving physical and emotional hurricanes and had secured representation by a reputable Christian literary agency and hoped that it would only be a matter of time before my manuscript was published.   Continue reading

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Single in the Summer is the Worst

single in the summer squareBeing single in the summer is the worst.

Sure, the Christmas/New Year combo could vie for the title of Worst Season to be Single. What with the constant barrage of songs telling you that Christmas just ain’t Christmas without the one you love and all the parties you have to attend solo with the faces of other happy families reminding you that you are a family of one.

Stealthy summer wins because of its tricky sneak-attack of sadness.

At first, the physical freedom from outerwear mixed with extended hours of daylight provides a certain kind of euphoria. Soon, however, you discover you have a tad too much time.

In the dead of winter, it’s dark all the time and you have no place you need to go so you feel no guilt staying in on a Saturday night watching an entire season of some show on Netflix. But in the summer, the sunny outside world beckons with promises of road trips, camping adventures, ball games of all sorts, hikes to majestic views, naps in lush meadows, seaside rambles, and so forth, you know what I’m talking about, you feel me. Continue reading


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Defining Faith and Becoming Dependent

faith: verbThe largest app on my phone is the Merriam-Webster dictionary. It takes up a ton of space, but I absolutely love it. I use it all the time because I’m a word nerd. This is one the things I’ve begun admitting to myself.

I love words. I love everything about them; what they mean, how they are used, where they come from and sometimes, because of this love, I fall down the rabbit hole.  Like when I discovered argy-bargy is a synonym for altercation. It’s British. It comes from argle-bargle under which M-W states: reduplication of Scots & English argle, alteration of argue . Isn’t this exciting?!

Somehow I got to here because I looked up the word faith.  The current definition of faith is listed as a noun; as if faith is something you own.

I think faith is a verb; it is only real if it is active. Continue reading


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Translating Thanks

TranslationWe don’t have enough words to express gratitude in the English language.

About five weeks ago I severely sprained my right shoulder and have been unable to use that arm effectively since. This means I have been in pain, out of work and, consequently, pay.

As a single woman, this could be an overwhelmingly frightening experience.

However, during this time I have experienced an incredible amount of generosity. A wonderful menagerie of friends have taken me to visit urgent care, physical therapy, and the emergency room, provided me with lunch, dinner and brunch, washed my dishes, swept my floors, vacuumed my rugs, listened to my rambles, taken me on random low-key adventures, and occasionally allowed me to convalesce in their air conditioned abodes. These people have extended kindness and love in beautiful, practical, and necessary ways and I am immensely grateful.

I have struggled to express my gratitude accurately; saying thank you doesn’t seem like enough. Continue reading


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Sing, Sing A Song

Elvis Thumb War ~ Nashville, Tenn. ~ September 2010

I often speak in sounds effects and song lyrics so for my first 12 months as a blogger all of my entry titles were song lyrics that continued to play in my head as I wrote my entries. To celebrate my success of one year of semi-consistently blogging, I’m listing out all of the songs and artists to which they refer.  Yep, I’m THAT kind of nerd.

Post Title: Song Title: Artist

  1. Express Yourself: Express Yourself: Madonna
  2. Ch-Ch-Changes: Changes: David Bowie
  3. The Shot Heard ‘Round the World: The Shot Heard ‘Round the World: Bob Dorough for School House Rocks 1976
  4. Dream On: Dream On: Areosmith
  5. Blame It On The Rain: Blame It On The Rain: Diane Warren for Millie Vanilli 1989
  6. Seasons Of Love: Seasons Of Love: Jonathan Larson for the musical Rent
  7. So This Is Christmas: So This Is Christmas: John Lenon
  8. Christmas Time Is Here: Christmas Time Is Here: Vince Guaraldi Trio for A Charlie Brown Christmas
  9. It’s Not Easy Being Green: Bein’ Green: Joe Raposo for Kermit the Frog (Jim Henson) 1970
  10. What You Waiting For: What You Waiting For: Gwen Stefani
  11. I Say A Little Prayer: I Say A Little Prayer: Burt Bacharach &Hal David for Dionne Warwick
  12. Would I Lie to You: Would I Lie to You: Eurythmics
  13. Let Your Colors Burst: Firework: Katy Perry. (You can judge me. I’m OK with it.)
  14. Fascinating Rhythm: Fascinating Rhythm: George Gershwin & Ira Gershwin
  15. Little Things: Little Things: Good Charlotte & Little Things: Bush. (My mind shuffled back and forth between the two.)
  16. A Time to Dance, A Time to Mourn: Turn! Turn! Turn!: The Byrds
  17. Time Is On Your Side: Time Is On My Side: Rolling Stones. (This is a testament to how I sometimes mishear and/or misquote lyrics. And how for the entry, I liked my version better.)
  18. Time Is Wastin’, Time Is Walking: Time: Hootie & The Blowfish
  19. They Say the Neon Lights are Bright on Broadway: On Broadway: George Benson
  20. Life is What Happens to You While You’re Busy Making Other Plans: Beautiful Boy: John Lenon
  21. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell 1966
  22. I Sing Because I’m Free: His Eye Is on the Sparrow: Charles H. Gabriel & Civilla D. Martin 1905
  23. Hazy Shade Of Winter: Hazy Shade Of Winter: Simon & Garfunkle
  24. Let The Sun Shine In: Curtain Call –Let The Sun Shine In: Cast of Hair
  25. All You Need Is Love: All You Need Is Love: The Beatles
  26. The Weather Outside Is Frightful: Let it Snow: Jule Styne  & Sammy Cahn

Going forward, some titles may be song lyrics it the description fits. Like today. The Carpenters.


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They Say the Neon Lights are Bright on Broadway

Look, Ma, a Tony!

Summer may be officially three days away, but in my world it starts when I view the Tony Awards show. It was live on Sunday night and I missed all but the last 10 minutes, but, thanks to CBS.com, I don’t have to live lost in a time vortex.

The Tony’s are my most favorite awards show. And I like me some award shows. I suppose, I like qualifying things; putting things in categories and ranking them. Even within an award show. Here are my favorites of the night:

Most Adorable Couple:
Hugh Jackman and his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, when he received a special Tony Award for his extraordinary contributions to the Broadway community. Watch it, it’s precious.

Most Inspiring Moment:
“When I was around 5-years-old running around telling everyone I wanted to write Broadway shows, it didn’t really occur to me that it would take 56 years to actually accomplish that, but it was worth the wait. Look, Ma, a Tony!”
—     Jack Feldman, Lyricist of Newsies, in his Tony acceptance speech for Best Original Score

Most Articulate Explanation of Theater:
“There are those rare people who can look at the world and see things that the rest of us don’t see until they show us: these are the writers. There are those special few who can take that vision and turn it back into a world: these are the directors, designers. There are fearless beings who live in that world and show us who we are: these are our actors. There are dedicated people who know why that world matters so very much: crew, theater staff, producers, investors, managers, marketers. And then there are the people who step forward and say, “Show me this world. Open me. Change me.”: these are our audiences. And when all of these people come together and say, “Yes,” there is theater.”
—     Jordan Roth, Producer of Clybourne Park, in his Tony acceptance speech for Best Play
 
Best Explanation of My Life:
The Opening Number featuring Neil Patrick Harris
“What if life were more like theater?
What if everywhere you went you heard a band? And then apropos of nothing there were crazy dance routines.”

Let me stop you right here, NPH. I can answer this, because this is the world I inhabit and it’s…wait for it…legendary. On Sunday a friend said to me, “You are the only person I know who comes out of the bathroom singing and dancing.” That’s probably true considering that for most of my childhood I got ridiculed for this involuntary trait. But, friends, as an adult, it is a fairly fabulous way to live. When you think about it, what’s the alternative? Take it away, Neil.

“No, life is bleak and brutal and we carry from the cradle
 the awareness that it is futile and invariably fatal.
We muddle without respite through the sadness and confusion,
or we huddle in the cesspit of our madness and delusion.”

“What if life were more like theater?
Life wouldn’t suck so much.”

Show I’m Most Excited About Seeing When it Comes to Portland in Two Years:
“Once”and not just because it won Best Musical. I will see it because I had been living in Portland for around four years when the original movie came out and felt this town claim it as its anthem, as if it were really about us. Because, I went to the sold-out concert that Glen and Marketa held at the Keller, the largest audience for whom they had ever played. And, yes, in part because Glen said, “Hi, lovely day isn’t it?” in and ADORABLE accent to me and my three friends at the corner of SW 3rd and Clay on his walk to the backstage door with Marketa. Because in that moment, I knew that Portland was becoming something close to home. Oh, yeah, also because the music is wonderful.

Most Interesting Coincidence with My Life:
The multiple musicals featuring the music of brothers George and Ira Gershwin. Recently, I’ve been revisiting my love of this musical duo. (There will be more on this in a later post. Stay tuned.) Turns out, the Broadway Community has too. The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess won for Best Revival of a Musical and the new musical Nice Work If You Can Get It was also a winner.


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Fascinating Rhythm

A few nights ago I video chatted with my brother and his family. My four-year-old niece, Claire, cracks me up. Over the past year, every time we video chat she says, “Auntie Lys, turn into to an apple.” Every time I reply with, “I’m sorry, Claire, I can’t turn into an apple.” To which she replies, “Well, what can you turn into?”

There was a twist during this chat because earlier Claire asked if I was fascinating. “Well, I like to think so,” I replied. “Are you fascinating, Claire?”

 “No,” she giggled, “what does it mean?”

“Well, it means that you are interesting and people want to know more about you.”

Claire & Macie ~ September 2011

So when Claire asked me what I can turn into, I said, “I can’t really turn into anything. All I can be is me, but I’m fascinating.”

“You are beautiful, Auntie Lys. You are beautiful and bright.”

“Thank you very much. Claire, you are a beautiful, bright and very fascinating girl and I love you very much.”

Children repeat what they are told. I am incredibly thankful that my niece is being told that she is beautiful and bright and funny and fascinating, and, perhaps most importantly, that she is loved.

How different would we be if we were constantly affirmed with the words of who we really are? And, even more so, if we believed them?