#bebrave


Searched for words of bravery tonight and these resonated. 

I did one of the two brave things I need to do just a few minutes ago and I’m hoping to accomplish the second soon. 

Don’t underestimate your ability to both handle shit and kick ass. It can be done no matter how weak you sometimes feel. 

So many XOXOs,

Stef 

Feel it (Alive) 

A poem: 

Lifted up the gun and fired the shot

Hit wild, ricocheted (in my head)

Turning, swirling, stomach in knots

Reaching blind, pulling, fall out of bed

 

Adam Duritiz is lonely; I know

The difference between lonely

And just being alone, not low

Feel it always, up & down, so me

 

Fallen on the floor, hard wood

Because that’s what I do

Feel it, the pain hurts, so rude

Are these nightmares true?

 

Crawl to the window, low moans

pull up, feel it, with all my might

Feel it, soak the rain in my bones

Realise, know it, I’m alive all right
Xoxo,
Stef

A Violation

Processing pain is a weird business. 

Sometimes you rationalize pain & hurt until it seems like nothing; trivial, locked away by a facade. De-escalate it, minimize it. We women all do it, don’t we? 

Everything is good. Everything is fine. 

Then a casual conversation, a mention, and it gets in, chipping away at the facade. 

Distance provides clarity. 

– – – – – – – 

A Violation

A fate worse than death, they say

Death is the absence of pain 

Unless you can rationalize it away

Say you chose with a stranger lain 

I went to a climbing gym that day

Met a man & his sweet son

It was easy, fun, a time for play

No foreshadowing of to come 

Come watch the game, he said

My son will be asleep, no worries

First date, no talk of bed

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy 

Hope, she had, 

Arrived, snacks in hand

Bottle of wine to share

No worries, no care

strong arms 

pulled me down

kissing kissing

hands whoa 

naked

what how 

no stop 

ow

tears

shaking 

I have to go

What just happened

to me?

Did I want that?

No, no, no

But he’s a nice guy

Right? Right. 

I think so

I thought so 

I’ll go out with him again

Because then it’s something 

Something more

not just this

I must be wrong 

Did I give the wrong signals?

I shouldn’t have kissed him

Or come to his house 

How could I be so stupid? 

He probably didn’t hear me

When I said no

I don’t want to

Right? 

– – – – – – – 

We hide it, the things that happen to us. We make it like it didn’t happen. Or like it’s okay. We minimize what it does to us, our psyches, our emotional health and our ability to trust. 

Rape culture is pervasive. It happens every day. It happens to people you love. 

Ladies, I care about you. Don’t accept that shit and I won’t either. You are more valuable than you give yourself credit for – make him earn the magic that is you. 

Xoxo,

Stef

I have cobwebs on my ceiling

Warning: expressive, explicit language. 

Sometimes I sit in my living room and look up at the cobwebs on my 20 foot ceilings and I think, man, I should clean that. I must be a terrible housekeeper. That must mean I sort of universally suck, right? Then I remember I don’t have a telescoping ladder and I feel even further defeated. How the fuck am I supposed to clean the ceiling now?

I recently fell in love with “Say Yes to the Dress (Atlanta).” Mostly it makes me laugh & smile, but sometimes … when the love is so real, so heartfelt … it makes me cry.

Sometimes the loneliness is palpable. And when the kids are gone, and some lady on tv is glowing with love, I think, man, is this it for me? Is this my life now? Alone, with dirty ceilings and no mechanism to make them better.

The boys have been with their dad all weekend. I miss their voices when they’re gone. I did have a lovely weekend, though, and I even had a date(ish thing) recently, but … then I get to Sunday night.

My house is quiet. My phone isn’t making the sounds I desire to hear. The walls are closing in. The cobwebs mock me. The full to bursting gutters, the hole in the wall, the loose faucet .… they haunt me. And I think, what am I doing? I can’t do this. I can’t manage this on my own. Then I remember that I AM actually alone, and likely will be for the rest of my life.

So this is what’s going through my head, and then it gets worse.

Because I’m short & chubby, with terrible legs and I snore, and my big boobs point down rather than out, and I’m stubborn and a control-freak and I always feel like I have to be right, and I have to do right, and live right, because if I screw up then I’m a fuck up and a failure.

So that’s what I am, right?

Because look at those damned cobwebs and my short, fat legs and how the fuck can I be good at anything if I can’t keep my ceiling clean? Nobody is going to love me. In fact, the man I thought could love me decided, nah, not going to do it. And why would he? I can’t even figure out how to clean the ceiling in my own house.

So it’s Sunday night and I’m folding laundry. I’m watching a miserably sappy movie about love, faith, and doing the right thing. I’m sad. And my phone is stubbornly fucking quiet and I think, you pathetic moron, what does it even fucking matter because your time has come and gone. Get used to this, fat ass. Fold your damn laundry and just focus on being a mom because you don’t deserve shit.

Then I turn on a recorded episode of “Say Yes to the Dress (Atlanta).” Lori & Monte are packing up to go to a bride’s home. That’s unusual. Then we get the story. The bride recently lost her 8 year old son to cancer. Her mother & family conspired to put together a wedding & surprise the bride with a dress. The family is still so deep in their grief. For their son, and grandson. The bride doesn’t feel like she has the right to be happy with her son gone.

Well don’t I feel like a jackass?  Sitting over here being a crybaby because of a hole in the wall (that can be fixed) or some full gutters (that can be emptied) or the fact that I feel universally unloveable (which ebbs & flows). But what is that in comparison? That’s nothing to her pain.

I have two amazing sons. I have a good, challenging job. I have a home, cobwebs & all, that keeps us warm & dry. I have my family & a few friends I love dearly. I wouldn’t trade what I have for all the clean ceilings in the world.

Sometimes life hands us these little reminders so that we will shut the hell up and stop brooding over what we can’t control. Just a little kick in the ass.

Know better; do better. (And buy a telescoping ladder).

Xoxo,

Stef

I don’t have the words

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I’ve been thinking of this blog post for days and I don’t have it. I’m a jumble of thoughts and emotions, good, bad, angry, grateful, and everything in-between. I can’t untangle it all. 

I’ve had my heart yanked out of my chest and then it was danced upon by multiple people. Then someone stuck a knife in my back, twisted, and pushed it in further. Then I got kicked in the gut. 

I lost so much this year. People I loved. I learned that I can love people but they aren’t necessarily going to love me. I’ve learned that I shouldn’t always chase those that I love. Sometimes I should just let them walk away. 

I’m not trying to be dramatic. I’m trying to emphasize a depth of pain – a deep pain that I haven’t previously ever experienced. Like on a pain chart, except it was about a 45 on a scale of 1-10.

I’ve learned that the people I thought would be there for me when I needed them weren’t, but support came from a few unexpected places too.

I’m working on forgiveness. For my own sake more than others. It hurts. 

I’ve learned hard truths: I’m vulnerable; I’m wrong sometimes; I’m a better mom than I am a wife or girlfriend; I’m demanding; I have high expectations. These aren’t good things but knowing them is half the battle. (As they say).

I’ve learned that I’m strong – even stronger than I thought. 

I’ve learned some good things too. I’ve learned I can love harder, deeper & more than I thought possible. I’ve learned that loving is worth it – even if I’m not loved back. 

I feel like I’m searching for a missing piece. That I still have a gaping wound in my side and I’m trying to patch it up. It makes me hurt, weak, emotional. 

Sometimes I say or do the wrong thing based on an emotional response. If I have done that to you then I apologize. I’m trying to figure out how to be strong 95% of the time but I think I’m only at about 60% these days. 

I’m stronger when I feel loved. I have tried to love so much this year. I’ve tried to make love my tonic – thinking if I give love I’ll get love in return. Doesn’t always work that way, does it? 

So, you see, I don’t have the magic words. This year doesn’t fit in a box. It was full of extremes. Death, heartache, pain. It was full of new adventures – new job, new travels. 

I’m just going to keep trying. I’m going to be the best person I know how to be. I’m going to love my boys fiercely. I’m going to do my job as well as I know how. I’m going to try to be the badass I’ve been told I am. 

And I’ll hold out hope that maybe, if I’m lucky, someone will eventually love me fiercely too. 

Thank God for the new year, my sweet lovelies. You keep doing you, I’ll keep doing me. Be kind to each and every one of us. Spread kindness like glitter. 

Happy New Year! Bring on 2016, for heaven’s sake!

Xoxo,

Stef 

It’s what we do

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On Facebook the other day I was told by a complete stranger that I am responsible for the “dumming  down” [sic] of America. I thanked her for her comment, felt obliged to clarify the spelling of “dumbing,” and moved on with my life. 

Except it’s staying with me. Not that she called me dumb; she doesn’t know me, my job, my education, my background. She made a snap decision based on my political leanings; I’m dumb because she thinks people who believe as I do are all dumb.

What’s sticking with me is the assumption and accusation of stupidity that was railed at me though my statement was not provoking in the slightest – except for my political leanings. My statement was a plea for compassion. Is it irony that my plea for compassion is answered in the least compassionate way? I don’t know, because I’m an idiot. My English Lit degree taught me nothing, apparently. 

Except it taught me so much. I read books from different times, places & cultures. I visited a few different countries in my history as well, and I learned a little of how the Irish, the English & the Spaniards live.  

Are we Americans so egotistical that we assume we are so much better than any other population of people? We are all just clustered at different spots on the globe; because we were born there, in most cases. We usually are raised with certain cultural or societal mores & tenets, and as a adults hopefully we learn to question those. We either solidify those beliefs or we learn where the flaws are and we choose our own path. This is the American, Catholic, Muslim, black, white, redneck, English, Swahili way; it’s called growing up. We learn, we think, and then we decide what settles best within our souls. 

We Americans have never had our cities, our homes & our neighborhoods destroyed by war. We’ve never had to flee a terrorist regime. We sit in our comfy houses, with central heat to keep us warm, with multiple electronic devices telling what to think or do, or what we should believe. We very casually say, “no, don’t let the Syrian refugees in HERE! They might be bad and kill us.” What if it were the other way around? What if we were fleeing because our city was in tatters, our loved ones gone or dead, no job, no money …… what if it were us? Do you think it’s appropriate for another country to judge our admittance base on the Planned Parenthood shooter? Or the kid who shot up the church? Or the movie theater? Or Columbine? What if Canada closed their borders to Americans because we have too many radicalized, angry young white men with guns? 

When we let fear overcome compassion then they have won. 

When we refuse humanitarian aid because one of the refugees may become radicalized then they have won. 

When we refuse to share our bounty, our abundance of blessings, then they have won. 

When we refuse to save lives … well, you know. 

America was founded on the tenet of religious freedom. America was founded by refugees  who were fleeing an oppressive religious regime. (Yes, I’m speaking of the Europeans and not the native Indians who already had this land – that’s a whole different topic). Have we become so cold, so calculating, that we can’t recall our roots? Why are we here today? Because our ancestors were refugees! 

It takes a village to raise a village. When I see a kid get hurt I’m going to comfort him until is momma can. If my neighbor is out of flour I’m going to give him some. If there is no heat for some then we provide them warmth. It’s what we do – as humans first, Americans second. 

It’s what we do. Without compassion we are nothing. 

Peace, love & every ounce of good cheer,

Stef

P.S. My statement that provoked the dumbing down comment: 

I never said I was unconcerned about the terrorist incidents. I just don’t think preventing aid to refugees is the answer. The vast majority of them are families. I think compassion should dictate we help. The refugee process isn’t quick. There is a significant vetting process before people are allowed to come here. I’m concerned with any stereotyping that all Muslims are bad and I think we need to be careful about that. In my job I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with many Muslims over the last 10 years. They are honest, loving Americans. Some born here, some not. One went to MIT & is now the CEO of a startup. Another is a neurologist. Another was in our Navy. They are all raising their families & loving America. These are just examples, but I think it’s important to humanize them so we don’t lump them all into one category. Every religion produces zealots, like Westboro Baptist, but the radicalization like the San Bernardino shooters, is going to happen regardless of the refugees. Yes, I would feel the same if a loved one of mine was there. I think saving thousands of refugee lives is just as important as fighting extreme radical terrorists. Without compassion we only have fear and that means the terrorists have already won a major victory.

The thing is …

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It’s tough love time. 

You have to make your life work for you. Things aren’t just going to fall in line and you *have* to accept what happens. You are in charge of your life. YOU. Not your husband, your kids, your parents, but YOU. 

Is life hard right now? Why? Figure it out and change it!

Yeah, I know it’s not that simple. It never is. But I also know it won’t change unless YOU change it.

Also … be realistic. You are one person and nobody (but yourself) expects perfection. You go be you. Be a badass. But be realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure because that’s being a jackass instead of a badass. 

Also, and I’m guilty of this sometimes, keep in mind that people have their own sob stories and have very little time & energy to rescue you from yours. Then you just become somebody who needs rescuing and, I don’t know about you, but damsel in distress doesn’t suit me. I can take care of myself, thankyouverymuch. (I want love, caring, & hugs, but not pity!)

I would have loved, loved, loved to be a stay at home mom for a portion of my kids’ childhoods but that wasn’t the hand I was dealt. So I chose to be realistic, accept it, and guess what? They are thriving anyway. They go to, gasp, public school and they are smart, funny, well-behaved, good-hearted boys. It was okay. It was better than okay because they get life lessons in school that I wouldn’t be able to give them sheltered at home. Kids are resilient. They don’t break easily. Give yourself a break.

Life is hard, dude. I totally get it. But be you, be realistic, and just do it. Conquer the shit out of it. None of us are getting out of here alive and I want to always look back and know I made good, strong, thoughtful & decisive decisions with the time I had in this one life I’ve been given. 

Love hard, play hard, work hard. 

I’m proud of how hard I work and the ethic that drives me to succeed. I’m proud of these two amazing boys of mine that, honestly, only need steering & a little guidance and they do pretty well. I’m proud of the strong, capable woman I am. 

Stop being such a woe-is-me and be an of-course-I-can kind of gal, okay? Nobody will love you less, but they may admire you more. 

Xoxo, 

Momma Stef