Melissa Balmain

Melissa Balmain


5 Great Reasons to Read Books Aloud

By Melissa Balmain | September 11, 2015

“Fuming, Harry descended the stairs to Snape’s dungeon… ” Moments ago in my family’s car, the 10-year-old and 16-year-old were bickering about whether the 10-year-old sings with a fake Scottish accent. Now they sit silently as, in the front passenger seat, I read aloud from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I pause for…


6 Life Lessons from Mom That Have Inspired and Guided Me

By Melissa Balmain | August 13, 2015

I was a buck-toothed, knobby-kneed kid who thought for years that “finding a parking spot” meant parking on a spotted part of the street—one with bird poop on it, say, or bubblegum. None of that stopped Mom from discussing my writing as if I were a full-blown adult. “This is really nice,” she would say, before…

How Beauty-Inspired Awe Can Boost Your Mood

By Melissa Balmain | July 10, 2015

Like any self-respecting Netflix junkie, I wasn’t thrilled by a recent study linking TV binges to depression and other health woes. True, researchers hadn’t yet proved that watching back-to-back episodes of Orange Is the New Black would turn me into a miserable lump. But sure as Piper Chapman’s next cold prison shower, that pronouncement was…

How I Turned Weeping into Purpose in Mom’s Last Days

By Melissa Balmain | June 12, 2015

Decades ago, my mother and I had kayaked together in choppy seas. We had zipped through dense woods on a dogsled. We had rafted over rapids, climbed swaying ladders up sandstone cliffs and hunkered in a tent 5,000 feet up a mountain during a thunderstorm. But we’d never felt half as daunted as we did…

The Creative Benefits of a Little Goofiness

By Melissa Balmain | May 1, 2015

Midafternoon. A windowless basement. One hundred sixty solid minutes of classroom time. With all these strikes against us, is it any wonder my humor-writing students and I sometimes feel as sharp and creative as a drawerful of socks? Good thing I always smuggle in my favorite stimulant. I’m speaking, of course, about goofiness. This isn’t quite the…

32 Nuggets of Wisdom (with a Twist)

By Melissa Balmain | April 5, 2015

The upside of being a columnist faced with a milestone birthday—or so it seems from pieces I’ve read by other columnists—is you get to spout some of your vast accumulated wisdom. But what if your accumulated wisdom is only, as the punsters would say, half-vast? I’ve thought a lot about this question, now that my own dreaded…

Why You Should Devote a Few Minutes to Aimless Joy

By Melissa Balmain | March 8, 2015

If you pass my front yard on a snowy morning, you might spot a scene straight out of Winnie the Pooh: two bundled figures trudging around and around. I’m Winnie, the big one in earth tones. My daughter, Lily—smaller, in pink—is Piglet. Our feet are busy stamping the ground with “snow circles,” the cold belt’s answer to…


Why Doing Less Is More Fulfilling

By Melissa Balmain | February 18, 2015

On the day you die, what will you hope you did on this one?

How to Use Sad Visions for a Happier Now

By Melissa Balmain | January 25, 2015

While watering a perky rowof daisies on my patio,I dread October’s freezesand picture every stem turned brown,each shriveled leafstalk hanging down,each petal gone to Jesus… It’s a lame habit, all right—one that’s wrecked countless moments of my life: Instead of savoring the happy present, I find myself looking ahead to an unhappy future. Show me a cute…

3 Things to Do to Make This Your Most Efficient Year Ever

By Melissa Balmain | January 8, 2015

Ari Meisel gets things done—and so efficiently that if you hadn’t seen photos of him (friendly smile, lean physique) you might suspect he had 10 hands. He coaches individuals and groups on how to “make everything in life easier” through a system he calls “Less Doing, More Living.” He consults on green building projects. He develops…