Who Am I

Personal reflection journal who am I


My name is Melody Cole-Gates, I was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, where I have lived almost all my life. Well, except for that one year I spent in Louisville, Kentucky when I was nineteen with my mother, doing nothing but chilling, working for Micky D’s and hitting the club scenes, so that doesn’t really count, right??

I graduated from Colonel White High School in the 90’s -Go Cougars! Before that I went to Belmont, Roth and Weisenborn to name a few, so, I guess you can say we moved around a lot, but in the process, I made a few good friends, still to this day.

After high school, I took some college courses… I was doing well in all my classes, then due to unforeseen circumstances I ended up taking a long break from school…until now.

Over the years, I held jobs as a Customer Service Representative at GE and National City Mortgage. I also worked in the assembly line at places like Honda and GM. When I was laid off from my past employer over ten years ago, it became a blessing in disguise.

Instead, of beating the pavement to find another “real” job (as some would call it), I took my savings and invested it into becoming a full-time, professional self-taught artist. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I have been fortunate enough to have sold my paintings and drawings across America and overseas. I have met, talked to and/or worked with some some great people from Downtown Dayton Partnership, Dayton Visual Arts Center, Living Dayton, Dayton Daily News and others. I even had my own art studio downtown at one time which was my dream.

I love painting people, landscapes and abstracts. It makes me happy to know that I can spark joy or a special memory in others through my artwork or just liven up their living or office space. Although painting has become my passion, it happens to be creative writing that is my first love.

It’s like, ever since I can remember, I have always wanted to be an artist and a writer. Some might say writing and art are both my calling. Though, I know deep down that my writing needs a bit more cultivating to help it grow to its fullest potential. That’s why I am here (in school). So, I can be an artist who not only Paints People’s Pictures (say that 3x fast), but also the amazing writer that I know I can be. God willing.

“Telling a story is an art in any medium.” -Professor M.

Melody Cole-Gates

English 1101, Semester 1

Professor M.

23 August 2017

Path to Creativity

Personal narrative of a memorable childhood moment

Back in the day of funky melodies, octagon shaped Afro’s and tight corduroy pants my family and I would load up the old station wagon and head somewhere out-of-state to visit one of our delightful relatives every summer. Though, we always had fun on our little escapades from Dayton, I remember the summer right before my third grade year, we took an unexpected road trip from Ohio to California. As you can imagine, it was the longest trip of all time. I sat in the back seat with my older sister and younger brother for what seemed like centuries, instead of days. Most of the drive was spent smoldering under the high desert sun like strips of turkey bacon in a frying pan. In between playing pat-a-cake games and trying to braid Barbie’s freshly-snipped hair, I would lightly tap Mama on the shoulder to gain her attention from whatever book she was reading and ask the dreaded but much-needed question, “Are we there yet…Are we there yet?”

Mama would turn her neck sharply and give me the death stare while she bit down on her lip, “No, not yet, Mel Mel.”

“But there’s nothing to do”, I’d echo back hoping not to sound too demanding for an eight year old child –which might have warranted, “the look”; or a seat on the side of the road. Instead, Mama just sighed and handed me a piece of blank paper that I assumed was torn from the back of the book she was eagerly turning the pages to. Oh yes! She knew I loved to draw. I grabbed my jumbo pack of crayons from under the seat and sank into the leather cushion.

As I stared out of the window, making honking motions to passing truck drivers, I suddenly noticed how incredibly blue the sky was among the cotton laced clouds. And how the mountains cascaded around us blushed with the brightest red I had ever seen. I folded my paper in half and began to color the bluest sky, the reddest mountains and the fluffiest clouds. I even drew our golden station wagon beaming down the road against the unforgiving sun. I thought my neatly colored landscape was absolutely awesome as I danced the drawing back and forth in front of my siblings. When I was satisfied with my impromptu art show, I carefully tucked my drawing away safely under the seat.

After a few days of hotels, fast food and the occasional pit stop, we had finally made it to our destination, unscathed but chafed. During our visit we enjoyed the great California Beaches, beautiful clear skies, monumental sites, “celebrity” sightings, good food and great times with family. And I had the pleasure of illustrating it all down in my trusty handmade art journal!

By the time my family and I had arrived back home to Dayton, school was already in session. Mrs. Cook, my third grade teacher, stood in front of the chalkboard as she adjusted her over-sized spectacles and said, “Children, I want you all to write a one page story about what you did over the Summer. And you’ll have to read your paper aloud in the class, so be ready!” Although, I wasn’t too keen on standing up and speaking in front of my classmates, I was anxious to get started on my writing assignment. I knew I had the perfect story to tell.

As soon as, I got home that day, I gathered up all of my rainbow colored crayon drawings and decided that each scene showcasing our sweet summer vacay in California needed a short caption detailing the events along with some warm, friendly dialogue. Then, I thought, it would look really nice if I glued the folded pages together, added page numbers, a front and back cover, a title page, and inserted a blank page at the end. When my spontaneous DIY project/essay was completed, I had my very own hand-crafted, work of art, which I dedicated to Mama.

In hindsight, I have the slightest idea of what made me go as far as to create my own picture book at such a young age, when all I needed to do, was write a one page story. Maybe it’s because there was no Facebook or Instagram back then. I don’t know. But, I do know that my parents, teacher, and classmates thought my book was just a dynamite idea. So much so, Mrs. Cook entered my little glued-together book of torn papers, fittingly titled, My Trip to California, into a city-wide scholastic competition, with permission from my parents of course.

When I received the news that I had won the competition, I was happier than a kitten with a ball of yarn. I walked, wide-eyed, up on stage in front of a packed auditorium of strangers cheering me on as the principal pinned a blue ribbon on my puffy white blouse and handed me a plaque with my name inscribed in big, sparkly gold letters. That’s the moment I realized what I wanted to do for the rest of my life…as an artist and a writer. And when my mother smiled at me from ear to ear with tears streaming down her cheeks…I knew it even more.

So, what if my family and I had never gone on that trip to California? What if my mother never handed me that piece of paper? Or how about my teacher never asking the question, “What did you do over summer vacation?” I figure, no matter where your creativity, skills or inspirations come from it will manifest within its own time and in its own place. Because the passion is already instilled in you to find, pursue and accomplish your dreams.

My path to creativity has been exciting, rewarding and sometimes exhausting, but I have learned from my past mistakes and continue to press on towards my aspirations as a writer with a never-ending flame from childhood lighting my soul on fire.

Melody Cole-Gates

Eng 1101 – Semester I

Professor M.

5 September 2017

It’s Spring Break

Woo Hoo it’s Spring Break!

dancing girlWoo Hoo it’s Spring Break dancing girl

Hey, what are y’all doing next week on Spring Break? I’m gonna dance the week away, literally. Catch up on my Yoga and Zumba workouts. Maybe even do a little painting which I haven’t done in a while. And do some spring cleaning. Also, I plan to work on my novel…hopefully : )

Have a good spring break!

10 Simple Steps to Start your WordPress Blog Today

Do you want to start a blog, but find it hard to get going? I began blogging several years ago, when blogging was all

Do you want to start a blog, but find it hard to get going? I began blogging several years ago, when blogging was all the rave. Back then, as a new artist, I wanted to get the word out about my unique, soulful modern paintings (that I still paint to this day) and blogging was the best way to do it. At first glance, it was a little difficult to understand WordPress, but through trial and error I learned how to create this blog and other blogs with ease. In doing so, I found these ten simple steps to be the easiest and quickest way to set up a new blog on WordPress.

  1. Go to wordpress.com. Create an account using your email address. Check your email to confirm that you just created an account with WordPress.
  2. Pick a WordPress theme for your blog. Choose any theme you like, because you can always go back and change it later. I chose Twenty Sixteen.
  3. how to start a blog4
    Update Settings

    Open My Sites’ tab at top left (if not already), scroll down and click ‘Settings’. Set the name for your new blog and add a catch phrase that tells in one short sentence what your blog is all about. If you want to brand your blog, upload a site Favicon/image (usually modified to 16 x 16 or 32 x 32 ico. file) which will stand out at the top of browser tabs, so your blog can be identified amongst other open tabs. https://www.wpsuperstars.net/add-a-favicon-in-wordpress/

  4. how to start a blog5
    Share on Social Media

    If you’re on social media, you can link your blog to your accounts. Allowing your family and friends to get a notification every time you make a post from your blog. To do this, go under ‘Configure’ and select ‘Sharing’. Connect with as many pages as you would like to share your posts with. For example, if you want to share your posts to Facebook, click the ‘Connect’ button and a new window will pop up (make sure you are logged into Facebook first). Choose the profile page you want to give permission to and click connect again, now all posts will be shared automatically.

  5. how to start a blog7-2
    Update Profile

    Let everyone know who you are. In the top right corner, click on the little “round avatar”. This is where you’ll update your profile information. Include the name you wish to display publicly. Write a short and sweet bio and upload a nice profile picture of yourself. This information will be included under every post, so write something quick, fun/witty and interesting about yourself.

  6. how to start a blog7-1
    Add About me page

    So, you can stop here and start blogging now (go to step 7) or you can add your own “About me” page. Under ‘Manage’, click on the ‘Add’ button next to ‘Site Pages’. Title your new page and write a bit more about who you are, what you do, where you are from and why you decided to start a blog in general. Or you can include any information you would like for your readers to know. Then, hit ‘Publish’. The “About” page will show up in the main menu of your blog site.

  7. how to start a blog8
    Publish Blog Post

    Now, that your blog is all set up. It’s time to publish your first blog post! Click on the ‘Write’ button at the top. You’ll want to come up with a catchy title. Next, write your content (essay, poem, article, etc.) which should be approximately 250 words (equals one page for my English 1201 class) or more. You’ll find your post settings on the right. If it’s not showing up, click on the little “faucet knob” symbol next to ‘Preview’. Right click the arrow under ‘Categories & Tags’, then go to ‘Add New Category’ in blue. Here you can create main categories and sub-categories to keep your posts organized. To add a Parent Category, just give your new category a name and click ‘Add’. You should see the new category in the list. To create a second level category for your posts, go back to ‘Add New Category’. Make sure the ‘Top Level’ check box is deselected, and this time, select a Parent Category from your list for the subcategory to go under. If you would like to delete one of your categories, go to ‘Settings’, click on ‘Writing’, next ‘Categories’ and delete from there.

    how to start a blog9
    Add a subcategory
  8. Be sure to tag your post with words related to your content. Choose keywords or tags that you think people would search for on Google to find your specific topic. You can use words already in your post. But not too many, cordially nine to ten tags will be sufficient. Next, write a short excerpt under ‘More Options’. You can take the first couple of lines from your post. This will be the “description” used when your post is shared across the web or to your followers in the WordPress reader. Readers are more likely to visit your blog when they have a good idea of the content it contains. Also, adding a ‘Featured Image’ to your blog, along with a few relatable pictures throughout your post is a great way to gain new readers.
  9. Read over your post to make sure it is free of mistakes and reads smoothly (use the spell checker).
  10. Now, you’re all done, so, hit that pretty, blue ‘Publish’ button at the top, then the green one. You can also choose to ‘Publish Immediately’ which allows you to set a time and date for your work to be published. Then, you’re ready for the fun to begin…Enjoy Blogging and Good luck!

I hope you found these ten simple (but long :) steps to be an easy and quick way to set up your new blog on WordPress. If anyone in my English 1201 class, would like help setting up their blog and tips on how to manage it, please let me know, I’d be happy to help. Also, if you’re reading this post, please leave a comment below if you thought these tips were helpful or you have any questions.

Thank you for reading!

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It Started in the Kitchen – real life story

When we moved into our big beautiful townhome, I never expected to succumb to its terrifying fate

009When we moved into our big beautiful townhome, I never expected to succumb to its terrifying fate.

It was a cold Sunday afternoon, I had spent most of the day doing chores: cleaning, scrubbing, vacuuming, washing and rearranging anything that moved. After providing a clean and safe zone for my little ones to scrimmage around in, I longed to spend the rest of the day relaxing upon the sofa sprouted about in bright floral pajamas as I sipped pints of hot cocoa with toasted marshmallows and nestled between the pages of a good mystery.

Nonetheless, the instant my head sunk into that comfy armrest and the first three chords of ‘Star Trek, the Next Generation’ rung across the TV screen, my eyelids became like anchors on a ship. Abruptly, the calm turned into a whirlwind and I felt as though my body had been tossed overboard. My senses were simultaneously awakened by a faint and mysterious odor which crept into the living room from down the hall and out of the kitchen. I sprung to my feet and headed for the oven door. I thought, maybe it was the leftover lasagna we had for lunch that day over warming in the oven; that was not the case!

011Within minutes, the odd stench grew thick; yet I had not found its’ source. I opted to rely on experience, “They must be over there burning food, next door.” I assured myself and pried the living room window open to let in some fresh air.

Since, relaxing the day away, was no longer an option; I walked upstairs to check on my infant son who was sleeping peacefully inside his crib, snuggled up next to his favorite talking ‘Elmo’ doll, while the rest of the characters from ‘Sesame Street’ guarded his room proudly. 010In another bedroom, my two daughters were gearing up, ready to brave the wintry weather in honor of the first snow of the season; which to them meant you twirled around “really, really fast”, while catching snowflakes on the tip of your tongue.

001“Hey girls, are y’all finished cleaning up your room now?”

“Yesss, Mommm!” They sung out, eyes wide, smiling ear to ear.

“Can we go outside now?” the youngest echoed behind her big sister.

I gave their room a once over; all their toys and clothes were neatly put away and Dora the Explorer was spread across each bunk as best a six and eight- year old could.

“Nice job!” I said with hi fives and zipped their snow suits. “Put y’all hats and gloves on too…it’s kind of chipper out there.” Both chuckled at the word chipper as their ponytails and ribbons scurried past me then galloped down the stairs like wild horses in feathery boots.

“…and don’t run!” I bellowed.

I stood there for a second in the hallway smiling, admiring their enthusiasm for brisk Ohio weather; though I folded my arms and rubbed my shoulders at the thought. I was about to walk into my bedroom and grab my sweater off the headboard, when without warning, my oldest daughter called out, “Mom…come quick!”

My heart raced and my mind wondered as I soared down the winding staircase towards their frantic yelps. Once I turned the corner, it was all apparent; the mysterious odor had not been the remnants of “the bad cook” next door, but an unforeseen mishap that would change our lives forever.

White smoke had gathered high, along the living room ceiling, slowly escaping from behind the kitchen corridor. I hesitantly followed the ominous trail leading back to a small ventilation duct on the wall, which divided our home from the neighbors. At first, I thought there was nothing to worry about (the smoke detector was not even going off), but something told me to get my kids and go.

I screamed to my girls to run outside and wait for me on the sidewalk, while I rushed upstairs to get their baby brother. He was still sound asleep; I picked him up and swaddled him in my arms, snatched the comforter out of his crib and tucked him close to my chest. We made it down the winding staircase, past the fumes invading our cozy family space and out into the winters crisp air.

descriptionWhen I banged on the neighbor’s front door, no one answered, but it was slightly left ajar. I shouted in, hoping someone would answer me, only a shallow beeping responded profusely. I thought a fire must be brewing inside by now or maybe someone was hurt. I swung the door open. A cloud of black smoke poured from behind the neighbor’s living room wall.

“Oh, my God!” I called out to my neighbor’s once more. Still nothing. My knees felt wobbly as I cradled my son in one hand and closed the door back with the other.

The girls and I ran across the street to Mrs. Dianne’s house to call 911. As I was telling her what happened, I saw a tall slinky man and a woman with a short bob haircut, walking in the parking lot across the way about to get into a dark blue car.

“That’s my neighbor!” I pointed her out to Mrs. Dianne. She volunteered to watch my children and get them out of the cold while I tried to catch the elusive couple.

007“Linda! Linda!” I called out jumping up and down, waving my hands in the air like a mad woman. Luckily, I caught their attention before the two pulled off to who knows where.

Linda walked towards me with her eyes wide open, “Melody, what’s wrong?”

“Hey, Linda!” I panted. “There’s a bunch of smoke coming from inside your house!” Before I could say anything else, she bolted towards the back patio and opened the sliding glass door entering the kitchen.

“Oh Jesus!” What was I thinking?” she said.

A black iron cast skillet had been left on the eye, atop the stove, burning at volcanic velocity as it canvassed the entire kitchen with its black fog-like rupture. Linda grabbed the fire extinguisher that hung on the wall beside her stove, she tried to squeeze the lever, but could not get it to function properly.

“Hang on! I’ll go get mines!” I told her. I flung my patio door back and stepped onto the sparkling black and white kitchen tile I had mopped by hand a few hours earlier. The furry pink bunnies that cradled my feet left a trail of melted snow and grit as I grabbed the extinguisher running to and fro’. I returned two minutes later with my giant red aerosol can, only to find out, I was too late.

003The small flame had grown into an enormous fire; it had eaten its way through the wood and plastic that surrounded its habitat. There was nothing else we could do, except to sit back and wait for the cavalry to arrive.

“I’m so sorry, Melody!” Linda said over and over.

As day grew into night, the firefighters, as brave as they were, were no match for the row of four townhouses sweltering like dry brush in a wildfire. I stood there, wide-eyed amongst the onlookers watching our livelihood go up in smoke, anticipating the moment when each of us (families) could walk back inside our cozy little nooks. Instead, I was redirected to a Red Cross truck parked across the street from our smoldering abodes, canvassed with a blanket and asked if I had a place where my kids and I could stay. I called my sister.

The next morning, I went back to my townhome alone; walked through my shattered patio door, stepped onto my black and white kitchen tile blackened with soot and littered with glass, then walked from the kitchen into the living room where my sofa was dripping wet and the air tasted as though I was stuck in the center of a chimney. I was amazed by the fact that we only had smoke and water damage to tackle. So, it seemed.

Not knowing what or who I might find, I treaded lightly up the carpeted steps with each watery squish to gather some of our personal belongings to take back to my sisters house. I walked into my bedroom, my sweater dangled untouched on the headboard. When I tiptoed across the hall to my daughter’s room, I clutched my chest. Rain and snow sprinkled down onto their neatly made bunk beds, from the damaged roof ruptured like a rotting oak tree. Scorched debris filled the room where my girls once roamed like wild horses.

I opened the door to my infant son’s room and simultaneously felt the devastation that laid before me. The wall where my son’s crib nestled against, was gone! I could see straight into the neighbor’s whole bedroom every damn thing they had in there was burnt to a crisp…. and so was my son’s crib. I thanked God right then and there that my children were safe and no lives were loss. But in the back of my mind, I wondered how something so tragic could have easily been prevented by the flick of an oven switch.

I wiped my eyes, raised up from the floor and felt something plush under my knee, “My name is Elmo!” it giggled. I smiled, picked up my son’s favorite toy and carried it down the winding staircase, past my cozy living room and out the front door of my big beautiful home.

002Years later, whenever I hear a fire alarm going off repeatedly or smell wood burning in the fireplace, I still think back to that cold Sunday afternoon when I spent the whole morning cleaning only to have our home in ruins by the end of the day. Yes, you never know what God has in store for your life or the changes He may put you through -for the better. Now, in our new home, my husband and I, regularly check the batteries in our smoke detectors and inspect the fire extinguisher to make sure all is working effectively and safely. In case, of another unforeseen mishap.

In hindsight, if I could go back to that day it started in the kitchen, I would only change one thing (besides the fire). Instead, of spending most of that day worrying about chores, I would have zipped my coat, put on my feathery boots, my hat and gloves and enthusiastically braved the wintry weather with my little ones (who are all grown up now) as we twirled around “really, really” fast while catching snowflakes on the tip of our tongue.