2015 Brought Great Momentum…Bring on 2016!!

Statistical gurus at WordPress.com pulled together an annual report full of data that will only lead to bigger and better things in 2016…take a look…and stay tuned..

Thank you so much for helping make this an awesome year!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,000 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 17 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


A Virtual Reality Check…Living Life Untraditionally

JCJ_Column_Published_Jul_08_2015-croppedPublished in the Jersey County Journal
Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The future is upon us, whether we like it or not. Yesterday’s, today’s and tomorrow’s technology has catapulted us into changing the way we live our daily lives—despite many deeply heartfelt attempts at stopping it. The “traditional” way of doing things is no longer carried out with methods set forth by the baby boomers or the generations that came before them.

The reality is that every day is now set on a virtual stage. The Millennials, with help from the Gen Y generation, are taking the lead and taking over. The rest of us will have to change our perceptions of (and our practices in) the real world today if we want to continue to have meaning in our very existence.

We are not our parents; we are not living in our parents’ time. Just as we refused to become our parents, so now are our children. And while there is much value to cherish from the generations before, we also know there is much value in change (indoor plumbing and electricity come to mind for starters).

Why do I bring this all up now? Well, it’s got to do with what I like to call a reality check of a virtual nature I encountered in both my professional world and in my role as a parent—almost simultaneously.

From a few “professionals” in my field, it was recently suggested to me to consider leaving my Master’s degree off my professional profile. They recommended this because of its non-traditional nature, as well as because of the university from which it came and its current negative image. When I first read the words of the messages from these “professionals,” I was just shocked. The more I read about their words about how a more “traditional” pursuit would have more prestige, the more frustrated I became.

The hard work, perseverance, and mastery of the knowledge contained in my non-traditional program were just as rigorous, viable and valuable as any obtained through “traditional” methods. My education is a highly significant part of who I am; my graduate degree will remain a visible part of it.

My oldest son recently completed his Master’s degree “traditionally” at a “prestigious” school. His reality now is, in the highly competitive and very limited field of fine arts these day, those things weren’t quite enough. The prestige, the reputation, the beautiful campus, the network and the knowledge acquired: they all have value. And soon he will be paying for it, but while likely working in another field.

As a student, a parent, and an educator, I know firsthand that the “tradition” of a physical classroom where a student reports to from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. doesn’t work for all learners. Realistically, isn’t it more important for a student to learn what they need to know to become contributing members of society than it is for them to simply follow “tradition”?

I think it’s time we start looking at life more closely through our children’s and grandchildren’s eyes. They are our current and future leaders. Life lived online is the new reality, for them and for us. It is just as vital, educational, profitable, inspiring, and brutal as living the way our grandparents did.

Often I hear people saying that kids today don’t know how to communicate. Maybe the reality is that we’re the ones that don’t. The world is changing every second…perhaps it’s time for all of us to silence ourselves, open our minds, and listen more closely to what the future is saying…

Mom, memories, and the miles between

JCJ_Column_Published_Jun_10_2015Published in the Jersey County Journal
Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Over the last year, nearly 800 miles has been put between my mom and me. My mom, the single most important woman in my world, still resides in Jerseyville while I have made my way to another small town out in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. And although my husband and I seriously want her to come join us, we haven’t been able to convince her…at least not yet.

So the number one priority on my bucket list has been to keep building memories with Mom until I can’t anymore, no matter what the distance.

One such memory I continue to build upon with her over all these miles is the shared viewing experience of the movie, “The Lost Valentine.” If you haven’t seen it and you don’t mind stories about lifelong love, loyalty, and patriotism, it’s worth a look. Maybe even more than one.

The storyline unfolds at the start of World War II. When the war calls, separating a young couple on their one-year wedding anniversary on Valentine’s Day 1944, Navy pilot Neil Thomas makes a promise that he isn’t sure he can keep to his expectant bride as he boards the train—to return safely to her.

A Western Union telegram later delivers the news that the Navy pilot has been declared missing in action. A young Caroline, holding the son his father never met, says to the messenger, “He’s not dead…I mean they don’t know. Missing isn’t dead. My husband’s not dead…missing is not dead.”

And over the next sixty years, Caroline Thomas (portrayed most excellently by Betty White) keeps the promise that she had made back to him when he was leaving; she waits each Valentine’s Day at the train station for him to come home to her.

Eventually a young television journalist (played by Jennifer Love Hewitt) gets the assignment to cover the story. In doing so, she helps bring Caroline’s lifelong love back home to her—on Valentine’s Day 2004—what would have been the couple’s 60th wedding anniversary.

For my mom, it brings back memories of her Uncle Bill, who also went missing in action in World War II. He was never found. She was close to her Uncle Bill, and has missed him ever since. It also reminds her of the love she shared with my stepdad for all their years together and what it’s like for her living without him now.

For me, having married the love for the rest of my life on Valentine’s Day a year ago, it makes me think of what it would be like to live without him. It also makes me think about what Mom must be experiencing now as she moves through the rest of her life without the love of her life to share her “everydays.”

Most of all, it reminds me that memories can continue to be made, even if there are hundreds of miles between them. Lifelong love is kept alive through those memories, despite the distance or the years.

Now if I could just convince Mom that we could make a lot more memories like that much more quickly if she just jumped in the van and came with us…

It’s not all about the money…but it is a bit

JCJ Column Published May 13 2015

Published in the Jersey County Journal Wednesday, May 13, 2015

This is the time of the year for Moms and for graduations. And for me this time around, I am lucky enough to celebrate both. While my youngest still has a way to go on his degree, my oldest will receive his Master of Fine Arts degree from Washington University St. Louis in just a few days. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate all the rewards that come with being a mom!

A young professional artist now, he got his start in the arts right here in Jersey County. Unfortunately there’s not much of the evidence of the fine arts left in public education anymore where he can serve as kindling for the fires of the next M.C. Escher, Patrick O’Rourke…or Jeremy Shipley. Therefore, the challenge ahead of him now is to secure gainful employment in his now limited and highly competitive field that keeps his fire ignited while also keeping Sallie Mae happy. Not an easy task…regardless of your chosen path.

Erica Galos Alioto, a senior vice president at Yelp, recently posted an article on LinkedIn entitled, “Don’t Take a Job For the Money or Prestige.” I thought it would be particularly applicable to highlight some of what she shared as we enter the graduation season. It is the same sage advice I have given my sons and to anyone else who’ll listen.

In the article Alioto talked about how she knew for most of her life that she wanted to be a lawyer when she grew up. She shared that she had dressed as a lawyer for her fourth grade career day. In high school she campaigned for, and won, the spot of top prosecutor on the mock trial team. And at 22, she entered her first year of law school.

Soon though, she found that the classes and her writing exercises were not very exciting. She also found that she didn’t enjoy the environment of being surrounded by overeager law students who saw success as a zero sum game. She found her work as a summer associate at a top firm to be mind-numbing.

But in the end, the money and prestige of going to a big firm won her over. She took an offer with a great firm where she was paid well and had the prestige of belonging to a top firm. She stayed there for four years, until her need for fulfillment could no longer be quieted.

When she finally left, she ended up at a start-up. She took a huge pay cut, but she went to work excited every day. There was very little money or prestige, as the company was virtually unheard of at the time (I think the company she is a VP for is a little more well-known these days).

I have always been much like Alioto. I pursued the spark, the fire, the passion…even after my Master’s degree, money was a secondary thought. As an entrepreneur for well over a dozen years now, I wouldn’t change a thing. But it has also made for some difficult times along the way. Doing a bit of what I don’t enjoy nearly as much had to become a part of my reality.

So, here’s my keynote address to all the graduates out there—a condensed version:

As you begin down the path of the real grown-up world where there are no extensions, GPAs, or a syllabus to inform you of others’ expectations, keep running down that path of your passion with your torch brightly lit. Just be sure you can make those student loan payments too…

Melissa Crockett Meske has served as a guest columnist for the Jersey County Journal since 2006. She is a professional writer and an organization catalyst. Follow her at mcmeske.wordpress.com.

My Take on the “Game of Love”: The Meske Review


Author: Ara Grigorian
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Re-Release Date: May 4, 2015
Cover Artist: Eugene Teplitsky
Find Online: Amazon | Amazon UK | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble

“The only moment that counts is now. We’re better together than apart.”

Book Summary:

Game of Love is set in the high-stakes world of professional tennis where fortune and fame can be decided by a single point. Gemma Lennon has spent nearly all of her 21 years focused on one thing: Winning a Grand Slam. After a disastrous and very public scandal and subsequent loss at the Australian Open, Gemma is now laser-focused on winning the French Open. Nothing and no one will derail her shot at winning – until a heated chance encounter with brilliant and sexy Andre Reyes threatens to throw her off her game.

Breaking her own rules, Gemma begins a whirlwind romance with Andre who shows her that love and a life off the court might be the real prize. With him, she learns to trust and love…at precisely the worst time in her career. The pressure from her home country, fans, and even the Prime Minister to be the first British woman to win in nearly four decades weighs heavily. As Wimbledon begins, fabricated and sensationalized news about them spreads, fueling the paparazzi, and hurting her performance. Now, she must reconsider everything, because in the high-stakes game of love, anyone can be the enemy within…even lovers and even friends.

In the Game of Love, winner takes all.

The Meske Review: rating star rating starrating starrating star (4 out of 5 stars)

Game of Love is a well-written contemporary romance novel that will appeal to all the diehard romantics in our world. “Courtship” takes on a new meaning in this game of love, as Gemma and Andre have been tainted by players of their pasts. As I read it, and then re-read it, the story to me was reminiscent of the big-screen love that comes to life after all avenues of resistance and denial were exhausted between the characters of Rachel Marin and Frank Farmer, portrayed by Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner in The Bodyguard. While known typically as a skeptic of the romance genre, this story of “Choices and action” gives me hope, and inspiration. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. To learn more about author Ara Grigorian or for more information about Curiosity Quills Press, click here.

You can win eBooks, paperbacks, a $25 Amazon gift card or the Grand Prize, which includes a Game of Love T-Shirt signed by Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka, an autographed copy of Game of Love, & your choice of a secondary character’s name in the author’s next novel.

Click on the graphic to enter…

Game of Love Release Giveaway