DESIGN YOUR LIFE: melissa of ‘so about what i said’


Recently I got a very nice email from Melissa of So About What I Said. Of course I promptly responded and checked out her site. I immediately found myself in awe, inspired, and excited to invite her for this week’s DESIGN YOUR LIFE.

As you will read, Melissa has overcome incredible adversity with grace and a great sense of humor. Reading her intentions you can tell, she’s done some incredible designing in her life. Her authenticity is palpable.

I hope you enjoy her interview. I think it’s one that’s going to stick with me for months to come.

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Melissa of “So About What I Said”

Make it a great day or not – the choice is yours


My mother is a sixth-grade teacher, and a few years ago, the school principal began saying this every morning at the end of the morning announcements. I scoffed at it for years, but it really does make sense. We sometimes can’t control what happens to us, but we can control how we react.

Surround yourself with the people (and cats!) you love


I’ve been blessed with an incredibly supportive group of family and friends. They’ve stuck by me. I know everyone says this, but I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for my mother. She’s been an incredible rock of love, support and comfort. I’m amazed at how she does it sometimes. And, of course, our two beautiful cats, Harry (the orange tabby) and Stella, make every day an adventure for us.

Keep going in the face of adversity

Having a physical disability (Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome), I’ve faced some pretty touch times. I’ve had 27 surgeries, been hospitalized more times than I can count and could probably recall every medication I’ve ever taken. But you know what? Those moments, even the ones where I felt hopeless and frustrated and “just wanted to be like everyone else,” pushed me even harder to keep going. I was determined to live my life and wasn’t going to let my disability stop me.

Write for you


I graduated college in 2005 with a major in journalism. I’ve always loved writing and the power of creative expression (my mom claims I wrote my first beautiful piece, a poem, in third grade), and have since been a freelance writer. In addition to writing for magazines (I’ve just had a featured accepted by SELF magazine), I’ve been a weekly newspaper columnist for almost 3 years. Writing has a way of being very therapeutic for me. I’ve been able to put my story, my life, on paper and not be afraid of what people will think when they read it. There’s something incredibly freeing about that. I’ve made a vow with myself that I won’t shy away from anything in my writing, remain true to myself and above all, write with honesty.

The greatest love affair you’ll ever have is with…yourself

I’ll be the first to admit that my physical disability has impacted my love life. At first, I kept wondering what was wrong with me: Do I scare guys away? Is there some inherent flaw within me? But then it dawned on me: I wasn’t comfortable with myself, in my own skin. The moment I stopped being so self-conscious of my body and started really loving myself for who I was, suddenly, I wasn’t so eager to find The One. And I also realized that any guy who can’t handle my disability isn’t even worth my time in the end.

Be happy

Two simple words, but they’ve been the hardest for me to integrate fully into my life. After my father’s suicide in 2003, I became very angry. Angry with my dad. Angry with my life. Angry with the world. I just couldn’t even envision a time when I could ever be happy again; I closed my eyes, and all I saw were the happy times my father and I shared together, like the hours he’d sit at the kitchen table with me as I struggled through high school chemistry or the long walks we’d take together just talking. Those times were gone, I thought. Forever. I would never, ever be happy again. And now, more than six years later, I’m finally starting to feel some of that happiness again. I’ve had to let some of that anger go, but it was necessary to make room for my happiness. Because even though my father is gone, I’m not. And I want to live a life filled with laughter and smiles. I know deep down that he would want that for me too.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

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  1. Julie

    LOVE LOVE LOVE what Melissa had to say in Design Your Life… I still have so much to learn and practice throughout this life of mine. Thank you for reminding me Melissa! Congratulations on your Self article getting published WOW!

  2. pve

    Love that Melissa. She is a gifted writer and I had the best chat with her. It is all about doing what you love for you! Go Melissa, you ROCK!

  3. Rebecca

    Great interview and simple, but impactful advice!
    I have checked out her blog and i love it! OH boy… i have tons of catching up to do.

  4. Katy

    What a coincidence! At the end of my middle school’s morning announcements they would say “Have a great day or not, the choice is yours!”. We too made fun of it. A few years later, I’m sure some people still do.

    The entire article is written beautifully and incredibly inspiring. I can’t wait to read your SELF article! That’s exciting!!

  5. Jess

    @ All: So glad you all enjoyed Melissa’s wonderful intentions. And I say as well, Bravo for the SELF article!

  6. Melissa

    Hi, and thanks for the sweet comments! It was really a pleasure working with Jess — isn’t she amazing? 🙂

  7. Jess

    @ Melissa: So glad you liked working with me, I have to say: the feeling is mutual!

  8. jules

    I loved reading this. Such wonderful words to live by. Thanks to both of you!!

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