It’s all about the lyrics, baby 

I’m such a lyrics person. But of course, right? I write poetry. I was an English Lit major. Words speak to me. I love a clever turn of phrase. I love repeating it and twisting it around my brain. 

A few weeks ago I turned the car on and when the radio turned on I heard this, “is she not more than the curve of her hips? Is she not more than the shine on her lips?” And before I knew it the song was over but I was hooked. Downloaded it and listen to it daily. 

If you don’t know this song you absolutely should: 

True Sadness by the Avett Brothers

Listen to it more than once. Let the words settle into your bones. We all have it within us. 

Have a gorgeous Saturday, dear friends. 

Xoxo,

Stef

I went to hell last week (and lived to tell about it)

It’s 12:50 am on Wednesday, March 1. I went to bed 45 minutes ago but my brain is churnin’ & burnin’ and can’t be contained. I’m happy! Why?? Because I feel 90% normal again. Normal!! I never thought normal would be my ideal, but last week I thought I’d never get back here. We really take our health for granted, don’t we? But let me go back …

Several months ago I started attending a holiday survival fitness camp. It was one night a week of high intensity interval training (hiit) in a small neighborhood studio plus we could attend the other scheduled classes during the 5 week session. I did, I got hooked, and I joined. Attending these classes have made me feel stronger, body & soul, and helped me in confidence and just general fearlessness! It’s been so great. 

So two weeks ago today I started to feel a little pain in my left flank. We had recently worked out our obliques so I naturally thought I was just sore. I popped a few ibuprofen Wed-Fri as the pain came on, usually in the afternoons. But Friday night it wouldn’t go away. It woke me up 3 times in the night. I went to class Saturday morning and told my trainer. We took it easy on my obliques that day. Several hours later the pain came on with a ferocity that had me writhing on my bed, and the ibuprofen & acetaminophen I was alternating wasn’t touching the pain. I called my health insurance’s ask a nurse line and she was like get thee to the hospital. So I did. 

Alone. My boys stayed home because what could they do with me at the hospital? They’re young teenagers. Better off to make frozen pizza, play video games & wait for my call. So I drove myself because I hate inconveniencing others. Stupid trait. 

As you may have suspected by now, my pee indicated an infection of some sort and I was hooked up to all kinds of things to take blood, measure heart rate (fast), and blood pressure (high), but thankfully I was given an painkiller as well and, oh Lord almighty, was I happy. Four prescriptions later and I was allowed to leave to go wait at the 24 hour pharmacy for my lifeline of drugs. 

Sunday the vomiting started. The pain was merciless. The Norco took the edge off but there was no doubt the pain was horrific. 

Monday was a holiday. Tuesday I called my doc & was asked to come in, and ordered to have a ct scan. Meds switch on the antibiotic & a stronger pain killer – Percocet. Oh yeah, baby!! I remember Percocet from my c-sections and that’s the good stuff. But, no, it STILL just took the edge off. 

The next day the doc’s office confirmed: a kidney stone currently in my left ureter and almost to my bladder. 

I don’t remember Monday-Friday very well. It was a pain fog cycle. Sleep, lamaze breathing, take meds, eat jello, vomit, have sweaty fever-induced hot flash, sleep. I was also mothering my kids in there as well. They were mothering me more than a little. I still helped them get out the door every morning but then I collapsed and cried/slept/vomited the rest of the day. They made their own dinners. They brought me water & meds & hugs on demand. My goodness, I love my sons. 

Friday I went back to the doc. Blood draw. Some things don’t add up. The kidney stone was in my bladder now so why am I still in pain? Why can’t I keep anything down? Why do I feel like my body has betrayed me? 

Friday I stopped all meds except the antibiotic. I’d had enough of this pain fog/vomit/sleep cycle. I suffered through residual pain over the weekend. Slept. Rest. And started to feel better. 

But where was my head? Not in a good place. I felt demoralized. Weak. Diseased. Incapable. I felt I would never feel like myself again. I got winded walking around Winco & almost had a panic attack. Driving was hard. Standing. Walking. Impossible. I was broken. 

Monday I vomited my breakfast. I attempted to go to work. It was hard. I cried. My doc called & said my bloodwork showed several abnormalities and they wanted me to continue to rest & push fluids. I was ordered to work from home as I recover. 

And then today came. The pain in my belly is gone. I feel like I can get up & down without pain, or fear of pain. Oh good Lord am I happy to feel almost normal again! I was still careful with my food today, and my tummy is still a little unsettled, but the pain is entirely gone and I couldn’t be more ecstatic! 

And yes there may be other things going on but I think they are improving too. I can’t help but feel positively about this. 

I have to say, the psychology behind pain & demoralizing depression is not familiar to me, but I felt it last week. I felt like I was no longer myself. All my positivity about life was gone and there was only pain. I’m thanking God, my doc, and my lucky stars tonight for the relief I feel today. 

Yours, in pain & understanding,

Xoxo,

Stef

Mourning & Marching

On Friday I mourned. 

On Saturday I marched! 


With my two sons by my side, in a crazy snowstorm. 

The boys & I talked about the election a lot that day. Why we were marching. Why we *needed* to march. 

We watched the news together Saturday evening and saw the new press secretary insist this inauguration was the largest in history (easily disproven) and watched the new president lie & awkwardly, unsuccessfully try to manipulate members of the CIA in front of their memorial wall. With nary a glance at it. Instinctively I feel like President Obama would have looked at it, referenced it, and felt the full gravity of it. Bygones. 

After the news my oldest said, “mom, turn it off! And don’t get on Facebook anymore! I don’t want to see you cry.” But I didn’t, then. I kept reading. Facebook, Twitter, CNN (because they all up in his bizness now!) and I saw the magnificent march, the largest protest in U.S. History! And I knew it had fallen on deaf ears. He doesn’t care WHY we marched. He only cares that we got a bigger turnout. 

And I saw the ridicule. The jokes, from lawmakers even, about how ridiculous it was, how useless. 

So then I wrote this note below, posted it on Facebook and then deleted the app from my phone. Poof!

* * *

My friends – I’ve heard a variation of this several times today: 

“Whiny libtards protesting because they didn’t win. We didn’t react like this when Obama won.”

Words matter. 

The Women’s March was to remind the new president that women’s rights, and minority rights, are all human rights. There should be no distinction by gender or skin color, or other distinguishing factor. Fundamental human rights for all humans. This was not a protest of hate but a show of solidarity and strength, to remind those who may harm our rights that we are here and won’t be silent. 

By the way, some of you did protest when Obama was elected – with fake lynchings, don’t you recall? And still to this day call the Obamas monkeys because of their skin color. Oh? You don’t like being lumped in and generalized with your neo-nazi, white supremacist brothers? Well neither do I like being lumped in with far-left violent protesters. I’m just a 41 year old single full-time working mom with two sons and I want the same rights and autonomy with my body, and the same pay rate, as the white males I work with everyday. Why is that so hard? 

Give the new president a chance, you say? How many? I heard more lies and hate spill from his very mouth today, his first full day in office. He has said nothing to unite; only further encourage the divide. At what point is it enough? 

Christians, Jesus lovers, is this the president that you wanted? He couldn’t be more unlike Jesus if he tried. Constitutionalists, if you allow him to disregard multiple amendments then how can you continue to argue that the 2nd should be followed without exception? Why are you holding on to this incredible double-standard, allowing a multitude of sins, conflicts of interests, & ethical dilemmas, from him that would never, ever normally be forgiven? 

I will not encourage hate or disrespectful rants about him (though it’s his favorite mode of communication, I will go high) but neither will I sit quietly while our rights are flagrantly dismantled in front of us. As U.S. citizens, and patriots, it’s our charter to hold our government accountable. My children’s futures are at stake and what kind of mother would I be if I didn’t advocate for them? 

Call me every derogatory name in the book if you like, but I’m just like you – I have a belief system I refuse to deny. I’m genuinely terrified for our country in a way I haven’t been since 9/11 – except this time we unbelievably did it to ourselves. 

My son asked me tonight to stop reading the comments on Facebook and to turn off the news. He doesn’t like to see me upset. We’ve had a lot of frank conversations lately and, honestly, the kid recognizes right from wrong before I even have to say a word. Thank goodness for his love & compassion. 

So for everyone here I respect & love, I wanted to just put my thoughts on this out there – because I do prefer civility over name-calling, and I don’t like being ridiculed for standing up for fundamental human rights as if that’s somehow a bad thing. 

-Stef

* * * 

This week has progressed into even more of a nightmare. I can’t even articulate it, it would take too long, too many pages – but it’s even worse than I think we imagined it would be. The thin-skinned narcissism is even more apparent. This dictatorial style is right on point. Executive orders right & left reversing hard fought, much needed legislation. Gag orders. Media shutout & vilified. I have logged onto Facebook (via a browser) once or twice a day but it’s overwhelming. 

I am bereft. Scared. In shock & disbelief. I have felt paralyzed. What do I do? There’s no point in shouting it on Facebook. Everyone has become either numb or desensitized. We cannot be silent though. Our silence normalizes the actions of a mentally unhinged tyrant. 

Today I wrote my representatives. My senators and congressmen. All middle-aged or old white men, of course, because I live in Idaho. (God forbid we have a woman helping make decisions on female reproductive rights!) 

At least I did something. I contributed. It probably won’t help but I was as articulate as I could be, as patriotic as I could be, and appealed to their sense of duty & pride in our American culture, the tenets our country was founded on and the humanitarian and compassionate societal mores we have nurtured since we claimed our independence. 

Then I googled the best countries for Americans to easily move to – Canada, Mexico, the UAE, Sweden, and an island that is part of Norway call Svalbard, in case you were wondering. 

Heavenly creator, please unshackle our new president’s angel on his shoulder. Encourage just & right actions in our new leadership. Guide their decisions with our population as a whole in mind. Please help us to heal this rift and do better by all our people, all Americans, but also the global community who rely on America for strength and a steady heart. We can’t turn our backs on refugees. We can’t turn our backs on social justice, humanitarian causes, and compassion. Help our new president to learn humility, faith, how to employ the power of good. Amen. 

Good night, dear friends. We shall slog through this horror movie together and, hopefully, come out even stronger and more fierce on the other side. 

Love & light,

Stef

I just can’t talk to you right now 

I’ve been dodging texts. I’ve been scrolling through Facebook quickly. I’ve been avoiding certain friends and even some family. Because I can’t take one more thing. 

I’m struggling to explain it. It feels like a form of PTSD. And not just because I’m a whiny bleeding heart liberal. It’s because my hope is broken, and it feels like a gaping open wound. 

Smug, mocking words from gloating friends who don’t understand this pain is like salt in the wound. They aren’t trying to hurt me, I understand that, but what hurts is that they don’t see it. They don’t feel it. That they aren’t empathetic to what seems so obvious a problem to me. 

I’m going to try to make this connection. I don’t know how to articulate it very well though so please bear with me. 

Over the last 2 years I’ve been treated pretty roughly, pretty indelicately, and disrespectfully, by men. 

I’ve dated. I’ve been on dating sites. There was even a very short period where I was a little self-destructive or just less cautious, I let down my guard, and some bad things happened. I learned my lesson, but at what cost? 

I have met some very lovely, friendly men – but I have also met many, many who don’t care two shits about me, my life, my sons, or my story. 

“Show me your tits, babe!” 

“We’ll go out sometime – why don’t I just come over tonight so we can get to know each other?” 

“What’s your favorite position?” 

“Wanna see my big cock? I can’t wait to see your pretty little mouth on it.”

“Don’t worry, I like big girls.” 

That last one from the worst of them. A predator who doesn’t see himself that way. 

I even had one guy, who provides Christian-based therapy to families by the way, yell at me, try to manipulate me by telling me I was throwing my life away, losing a fantastic opportunity, making a horrible life-altering decision (and thus I’m a stupid, terrible person) because I wouldn’t let him come to my house at 9 pm at night, with my sons at home, on a school night, during the very first conversation I had with him ever. He was personally affronted that I wouldn’t bend to his will. Men feeling like they can bully women, whether subtly or less so, is pervasive & it’s utter bullshit. I said no. I SAID NO. Why do you think that doesn’t apply to you? 

I have been used & abused. I have been insulted. I have been made to feel that there are no good, loving men out there – or at least none who could possibly care for me. 

So here I stand at the beginning of 2017. We are inaugurating a new President in less than 2 weeks. A man who, from my point of view, hates women except for what they can do for him visually or sexually. A man who has condoned reprehensible behavior and disrespect towards women. A man who, when I see him, I see the face of every man who has ever said, “hey baby, want to come sit on this? I got something for you and it’s really good. You’ll love it. You’ll be screaming for more.” 

He’s a host of other things too, of course. He’s not *just* a sexual predator. 

He’s not a real conservative; I’m sorry to all you hardcore conservatives who got saddled with this guy. I wish more of you had the balls to vote differently. He’s only in it for himself. He’s not a real patriot. He condones racism, xenophobia, and, this is the kicker for all you real conservatives, he’s dismissive of cultural & ethical mores that are inherent to our American history – including our reverence for the constitution. All you 2nd amendment diehards can’t fly that flag anymore when the president you elected is planning legislation that blatantly violates other amendments. 

He’s going to ban Muslims – well, I work with a bunch of Muslims and they are the kindest, most loving souls. Some were born in America. Muslim is their religion. This is their home. 

Every gay friend I have feels like their lives are a little more in jeopardy. 

The farmers from my hometown who voted for him so heartily because he’ll bring more water to the valley, they think – but should we calculate what the new tax burden will be for middle-class farmers? And building that Great Wall on the border to Mexico & deporting the illegals will be a double whammy to those farmers. Higher taxes to build the wall & they’ll lose a lot of their field workers. Poof! But maybe you’ll have water. I hope you have people there to harvest that crop. 

It’s like a never-ending series of blows. All of these things hurt. Grab them by the pussy. The media are idiots. Sore losers, he says. It’s not just because he won, you see, it’s not losing the battle itself, but it’s the fear of what he will do! He’s a bully on a big playground with thin skin and a penchant for beautiful women, and in his life he’s publicly enjoyed nearly all of the 7 deadly sins. Literally in public. He flaunted his skeletons and you judgemental, sanctimonious sheep all blindly normalized every one! Or passively turned a blind eye. 

And he hates women, and don’t we have it hard enough? Haven’t I experienced enough without all these imbeciles feeling like they are validated in their creepy, predatory behavior now? 

So though I mourn for all my minority friends who feel imperiled right now, I have to say this fear everyday is for myself as much as them. Will rapes go up? Maybe but how will we know since most aren’t reported and even fewer prosecuted? Our society doesn’t trust women. 

I am in fear that I will hear someone I like or love, praise him. That someone I trust will think he will do good in our world. I don’t want to lose respect for my family & friends any more than I already have. This election is tied to my heart, my physical well-being, in a way I can’t explain or even fully understand. I am scared. All the normalization of him as our next president is bothering me so much I can’t stand to think of it. 

My hope is broken. So I avoid certain friends who maybe want to good-naturedly tease me, but they don’t know what they are doing. They don’t know the pain they have caused simply allowing such a man to be elected. I feel personally offended, outraged, and resentful of every single person who voted for him. I feel abused, again. I feel like every vote for him was a vote against protecting women from sexual assault, from independence, from equality. 

So when I say to you, “please, not one word about the election, please!” It’s because I want to still like you. I want to still trust you. I want to still think that you have my back. There’s a reason I’m making this request. Please respect it. 

Xoxo,

Stef

A Haiku for You

I have a cold. A stupid, mind-numbing, frustratingly incapacitating cold. I had some fun things planned this weekend. But in lieu of on-the-go, I stayed in and probably worked a little too hard Saturday, but convalesced like a champ most of today (Sunday), by watching White Christmas and football. My team lost, but Bing Crosby still got the girl. Thank heaven.  

I need love & light on the regular these days. I’m not going to talk about the f!&ing election, but suffice to say that,for the next four years, love & light, hope & prayers, and warriors for all that is good and righteous, will be working overtime to keep our asses, our sanity, our morality & our constitution intact! Dammit! I feel a rant coming on so I’m preemptively going to veer back into the left lane & floor it ……

I’ve been doing that a lot in the last 12 days. Come to the edge of the pain, skirt the side and then veer off before it’s able to suck me in. The grief is real, but it’s not my grief. I’m so scared of all the fear; fear does terrible things.

…… veering left again, hitting the gas ……

I took the boys their dad’s tonight. I felt too sick to drive but my ex is not kind to me. (Side note: he hasn’t been in a very, very long time; will he ever recognize his culpability, do you think?) So I knew I’d have to suck it up and drive the 20 minutes to his house & back, regardless of my health. A friend called, concerned, said I needed a hug, and please don’t drive. A friend who has never loved me but who feels more compassion for me and his dogs and other soldiers and his mom than he feels for most anybody else in the world. 

Side thought: Why is it, do you think, that I collect wounded men? My mother hen complex pushing out invisible tractor beams? Look HERE! A sucker for heartsick, hurt men HERE! I try to do what I can, because I try to love big, and sometimes I fall hard and I am then discarded, but sometimes, and more often, I’m able to recognize what is not for me and walk away. I don’t search for it. Honestly. I want kindness, compassion & understanding, and they usually have those things, but equally I want independence, responsibility, & ambition. I want it altogether, in one package, and then I want that person to also think I’m the f!&king bee’s knees. 

Because sometimes I don’t know how to accept flattery, or help, or friendship without embarrassment, distrust and various protestations. I am learning. Keep trying. 

Where was I? 

Oh yeah, I took the boys to their dad’s with a mix of relief & regret. Always both. Tonight more relief because I’m sick and it’s hard to be mom & patient concurrently. (Mom, I’m sorry you don’t feel well! Please get better! What’s for dinner?) I came home to my quiet home and watched a little of my comfort tv – shows so predictable they are soothing in their routine – and then I soaked in a bath with so many thoughts swirling around my head I got cold and pruny. 

The net result, and the subject of this post (yes, I’m finally getting to it) is that I’m more able to process the world and all her quirky machinations when I allow my brain to unabashedly skinny-dip into the pool of creativity. I so commonly stick to pragmatics: that which can be researched, substantiated & proven is logical …… but logic never moved hearts. Logic doesn’t allow for emotional influences that are so important to human functionality. Therefore in order to function optimally I must allow creativity to flourish. 

I’ve held my poetry for ransom. I’ve shut down my craft table. I built a wall around the comfort of pragmatics and I’ve stayed there. But over that wall I could see glimpses of fireworks & rainbows, a glow of light that changes colors and is enchanting me nearer. 

I soaked in the bath tonight and I rebuilt a bridge. A small one. A footbridge. I started with a few haikus, and they are for you – because my love language is acts of service:

********************
1

Troubles carried far

Pinballing across vast oceans 

Of thought in my mind

2

And when shall thou be

Mine; tis but a slip to know

But through wretched time 

3

Suffer not, want none

Though times are treacherous 

Compassion speaks most

****************
I actually wrote six, but I went deep and intimate with the other three and I think this is brave enough tonight. 

Let us sleep now. I pray for compassion, unfettered love, and creativity in abundance for you. Let it flow; we need it now more than ever. 

Xoxo,

Stef

P.S. If my two readers actually get through this rambling journal entry of a post then please raise your hand for a gold star. 🙂 

Happy

The human mind is fascinatingly complicated and fantastically infuriating. 

Several weeks ago I really felt like I was sitting in a dark well. I felt bereft; there was no joy. I thought for the very first time that maybe this is depression. 

I talked to a friend about it and he advised speaking to a therapist. I made an appt for 4 weeks out, and proceeded to live life in the interim. 

I went to London on business, and saw great coworkers/friends there; when I came back I hung out in Fall, my favorite season, with my two favorite young men, and I decorated for Halloween. 

When the appointment came I was nervous. I told him some of my history; I told him what I’ve been feeling and why I thought I was there. We only got through a fraction. I left feeling unsatisfied, and a chunk poorer. 

The last couple weeks since then have been busy. Work, kids, Halloween, visitors, dinners, homework, laundry, dishes, rinse, repeat. 

Today a good friend reached out and said she loves me and misses me. I miss her too. I miss how well she knows me, and vice versa. We are the kinds of friends that interprets every word and feeling for the truth, and sees through the lies we tell ourselves.

Then I saw some new friends who care, who are getting to know me, and who have welcomed me, and I felt valued.

Finally, I spent the evening in the company of a male friend and, though he’s more friend than anything else, I’ve developed a comfort level with him that is wonderfully satisfying. 

Tonight after he left, as I sat here alone in my quiet house, I realized I was simply smiling. I felt happy in a very uncomplicated, basic way. 

Without knowing it, my mind has been working through all my baggage, unconsciously climbing me out of that well. Isn’t that amazing?

I feel heartfelt joy at this moment.

I don’t have everything I want, or thought I wanted … but I think that’s okay. I think I will be okay. 

Xoxo,

Stef

Some days you’re the bug

I’m 40. I’m divorced. I’m a mother of two fantastic sons. I have a good job. I’m learning how to date. Those are the basics.

I once didn’t know if my life would ever grow beyond my small circle, the family and friends who care and stuck with me. It’s a small group, most who don’t live near me. Some of the people I love and miss the most aren’t in my life anymore. But that’s okay, I’m learning. Because my life is GROWING. And those people who once loved me and were my everyday don’t have to be a part of my future. At least not an active part. I’m trying to let that go.

So today I offer you two perspectives. A bad night and a wonderful night, and I’m so happy to have experienced both.

A Bad Night

Repose for a dream
Of sunlight and daffodils
Not a nightmare of loss, death,
and aching despair
Sleep there, where it died,
Driven by silence, it kills
Sleep there, the bed that you made,
It’s yours to bear

Gnashing against the sheet
Soaking wet, tears trickle in waves
She wants substance, she said
But you had it
You ignorant, feckless fool
You simpering, selfish
Worthless girl
Flagrant flaunting of your worth
Ego run amuck
Destined to fuck it up

File it away for a later day
Give it to God, they say

Give it to God
Give it to God
Give it to God
Give it to God
Give it to God
Give it to God

__________________
Give me my sin again

It’s sprung from despair
At my urgent breath
Tingly, crackling air
You; accept no less

The penultimate moment
Panting, arrive in the knick
Filling the air, happy hint
Dive in, sweet caress, a lick

Sweetness, a divine embrace
Coming home, my familiar place
Leave me not, your loving face
Within your hand I’m forever laced

Pull me tighter, oh sweet love
My head tucked up in your neck
Chuck my face up, reach above
Tenderness in your soft peck

It’s the sun after a gloomy dark
The crash of a wave upon the shore
Genius start of an artist’s first mark
Your lips, metal too, I demand more

Let us walk, take my hand
Wind down this hall, hands blended
To bed, to sin, within my den
Oh give me my sin again

My lover’s embrace is merely the start
It takes faith, love, and a willing heart

_______________

I wish you all the love your heart can hold. Even in loss there is love, and stripping down to the soul of exactly what you need to carry with you.

xoxo,

Stef

#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 you 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