16 years

I’ve been a mother for 16 years. It’s absolutely the best thing I’ve ever done. My sons are both taller than me, and funny, sweet, and they love Star Wars and Marvel and their momma.


We’ve been working hard to create an escape, a peaceful refuge, in our backyard in time to host a birthday party and SUCCESS! This is phase 1. More to come with time, patience, and money.


Still werkin’. Same place, but these are from two different events on either coast back to back: SF & NYC. One of my HS BFFs met me in NYC for shenanigans. Well, we both worked, had Starbucks, pub food, and alcohol. So 40’s shenanigans. Plus my favorite Sales colleague in the last pic.


I dunno. Sometimes life just goes and you sort of float along with it until you can plant your feet and walk with intention again. I’m planting my feet.

Mucho grande amor, amigos!

Xoxo,

Stef

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I don’t have the words

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 

Let’s get back to basics

When I was a kid I played with Legos a lot. Back then we didn’t have themed sets and all kinds of specialized Lego pieces. I had one set, basic colors, and a few windows & flowers & fence & roof pieces. By default, I always always built a house. On top of the typical green square base I’d choose my base bricks, often going for the thicker double Lego to have a stronger house. Then – and this was the most important – I had to layer the bricks in a staggered fashion in order to have a solid house that wouldn’t easily fall apart upon torpedo (by some ridiculous “friends” who thought tearing my house apart was fun). In this way, this Lego house metaphor, I’m building myself back up, one layered brick at a time, weaving in the bricks, big and small, wins, losses, and lessons learned.

Sometimes it’s small bricks, tiny wins, as a mom, daughter, professional, and homeowner – every time I mow the lawn (since I was 38 before I ever learned to do this), or when I present my professional work as a keynote speaker, or when I call my mom (something I’m not very good at), or when my son’s teacher tells me how much she just absolutely loves him. Those little wins layer in and fortify me; they make me stronger, more confident and better able to weather the storms.

Then there are big victories and big losses. These are the big, 2×8 bricks that shore up a whole side of my house. These are the game changers. The life adjustments. The this-is-so-hard-but-I-just-have-to-do-it things. The difficult decisions. The hard things in life. You’d think things like this would tear a hole in your defense that isn’t easily patched, and sometimes the repairs do take a while, but then you build it better, stronger, more able to take a beating. Sometimes you think that hole will never heal and then, miraculously, you’re whole again.

I’m repairing my foundation. Shoring it up. Making sure it doesn’t easily crack or crumble during the next air raid, if there is to be one.

 

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Life is hard, dude.

Build yourself up, be strong, weather that storm.

Don’t forget to love. It’s why we are here.

 

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Don’t forget the people who care. They may not always know how to help. ASK THEM. (I’m trying to be better about this!)

Don’t take advantage. No matter how much people love you, they are not responsible for you. Be strong. Build yourself up. Make sure you are proud of what you have become.

 

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At the end of each church service when my pastor gives the benediction she puts her hand up and I can visualize this golden ray coming through her hand to the top of my head when she says, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all, today, and every day.” When she does this, I feel a surge of blessing pouring down my head & neck & flowing out to my extremities. It’s the grace. To me, it means so much; it boosts my strength, power, humility, understanding and self-awareness. It’s in this way that I want to offer you grace so that you feel the higher power – God, if you believe, or just the collective power of our human race, together – surge through you and help you in your life every day.

With grace, hope & all positive things,

Stef
xoxo

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#nyc #blogpost jour deux

I’m home now, but wanted to close out my whirlwind 48 hour NYC trip with some follow-up pics.

First, on my way to Macy’s at Herald Square (AKA the mothership) I walked right through the crowd at Good Morning America and had this lovely encounter, quite by accident:

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Saw the Empire State Building:

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Then had to do some work, get dolled up and head to a work event where I was speaking to a group of clients & prospective clients. It was exciting & nerve-wracking for me, but I got through it!

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After the work event, I went with some co-workers to the rooftop bar at the top of the Dream Hotel. Met some lovely people, chatted, and generally had a great little diversion.

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Thursday morning I only had a few hours before I had to head to the airport, so I moseyed up 6th towards Radio City Hall & Rockefeller Plaza, got a coffee & cake at Magnolia Bakery (really freakin’ good) and went to the Today Show taping.

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I had started to not feel good the night before but by Thursday morning I could feel the flu coming on. Every time I see that pic of myself at Rockefeller Center I can tell how miserable I was from the look on my face. But just after that my kids called, Facetimed, on their way to school so I was able to “show them around” the plaza and the Today Show windows. That was fun.

All in all, it was a great trip. Traveling home while having respiratory flu symptoms just absolutely sucked, but the flights were uneventful (on 9/11) so I’m grateful for that.

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And, oddly, I saw so many celebrities either on the street, through the GMA or Today windows (but so close!) and even at the airport ticket counter: Connie Britton, Harry Connick Jr., James McAvoy, Jeff Goldblum, the GMA & Today Show casts, and Austin Pendleton (the stuttering lawyer from My Cousin Vinny (among many other things)). I just saw Jeff Goldblum at Dulles in the Spring so I think it’s really funny I saw him again, same year, different city.

There is nothing like NYC for a little excitement, or to make me appreciate coming home to my quiet house and two boys waiting with hugs.

See the world & have safe travels!

xoxo,

Stef

(Ridiculous) #NYC #Selfie #blogpost

Hi! I’m in New York City! (NEW YORK CITY?!?)

This isn’t a real blog post. This is just a bunch of silly pics & selfies to prove I’m in the awesome City of New York. As if my Instagramming & Facebooking haven’t provided enough proof! I swear, it’s all about documentation and “look, look, look where I am!” I think it’s crazy, but I do it too.

Though, in contemplating this, I have to admit that I’m more of a social media whore when I’m alone than when I’m with a crowd. I stood in the middle of Times Square tonight, awed, soaking it in, but there was no one to share it with. I’m on business travel so that’s the way it goes sometimes but, man, I wish sometimes there was someone there just to say, “are you seeing this? This is amazing!” And then we’d take a duet selfie (OMG, that should be a thing (if it isn’t already!) #duetselfie for everyone!! Except me, when I’m business traveling. Apparently. Le sigh. Moving on).

So, long story short, no #duetselfie means I took copious pics & a vid and vomited them on IG & FB. Here’s a few for your viewing pleasure. Or not; don’t tell me, I don’t want to know.

(No, I have not been drinking).

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I didn’t see the spooky woman until later when I was looking over my pics. Maybe she’s my guardian angel? That’s a nice thought.

Aloha, from the Big Apple!

Stef

I have something to say and you may not like it

A couple years ago I went to the gynecologist for the first time in 5 years. There were two reasons (TMI alert!):

  1. My periods had become heavier, longer, and I sometimes had debilitating cramps that radiated throughout my mid-section and caused digestion distress as well;
  2. I wanted to get cancer screened.

My doctor recommended putting me on birth control pills (BCP). Hmmm. I hadn’t taken those in 10-11 years, but if it helped I figured I’d try it out.

Tangent: calling them birth control pills is a bit of a misnomer because they actually help with so many other medical issues. Maybe if we called them them something like “hormone therapy,” regardless of the reproductive side effect, then we wouldn’t be in the situation we are in today.

Can I just tell you what a Godsend those pills have been? No cramps. None. Lighter periods. No IBS-type of distress at the same time as having a heavy flow and awful mid-section pain. I can’t tell you how much those pills improved my quality of life one week a month. (That’s huge! 25% of my time?? Incredible!)

The added bonus was improving my skin significantly. I used to get a cystic pimple every month around my cycle. I haven’t had a single one since I started the pill. Lifesaver!!

From a pharmacy perspective, I pick up 5 prescriptions a month for my kiddos. My pharmacist’s assistant knows me, my name, my kids’ names and even has a nickname for me. Prescriptions are a budgeted expense at my house. Imagine my surprise when I picked up my first month of pills and the ‘script was FREE!! Free, free, free. The only ‘script I’ve ever gotten for free. Thank goodness for insurance.

(Of course, it’s not really free – a buttload of cashola comes out of my paycheck every month for my insurance premiums, and I’m fully cognizant of that offset).

But you know what’s weird? I felt guilty. Because I could pay for them. I could cover that co-pay … but I know there are a lot of women out there who can’t afford it – either because they don’t have insurance or their insurance doesn’t cover BCP. I felt guilty.

When Obamacare went through I was so pleased to know that other women will have the ability to get on the pill regardless of finances – whether for medical reasons or birth control. It felt like the right to control & fix our bodies was in our hands again, something to be discussed with our doctors rather than bureaucrats. Every woman should have access to the relief I felt from taking those pills. Every woman should also be able to prevent pregnancy through whichever type of birth control they and their doctor agree is best for their bodies.

Every person, man or woman, should be deeply disturbed by the SCOTUS ruling allowing employers to pick & choose their medical coverage due to their religious leanings. Everyone. If we opt-in for insurance – through private pay or working for an employer who offers health benefits – then we should be able to have the medical coverage we need. Period. Regardless of your opinion, or yours, or yours, or yours.

I need allergy medicine so I can breathe, I need prescription eyeglasses (and sunglasses) so I can see, I need prescription cream so my Herpes Simplex 1 sores go away more quickly (cold sores, if you didn’t know), and I need hormone therapy (BCP) for my menstruation. These are my medical needs. Why would medical insurance only cover 3 out of 4 of my medical needs?

I’m so sorry that we, as a country, cannot pull our heads out of our asses long enough to figure out when we do or do not want big government dictating our lives. It seems that both the left & right use big government to suit their needs – regulating guns, abortions, birth control, marriage, etc – but then other times we get on our lofty high-horse and eschew big government in favor of self-autonomy. At some point we need to agree when and where big government is relevant and where it’s not. Hint: it’s not welcome in my vagina!

Bye bye Hobby Lobby.  I have to do my small part to protest your hypocrisy. If you’re willing to let your employees suffer over your claimed beliefs then I’m willing to stop buying your made in China (a country who sanctions, nay, dictates, abortions) crafty, knick-knacky crap.

I am just livid.

-Stef

Here is what you do when you are grieving

Yesterday, as I was getting ready for bed, bone-tired, I absentmindedly scrolled through Facebook one last time before sleep (because, you know, what if a catastrophe happened and I didn’t know for 6 hours?) As I scrolled, the title of a Huffpost article caught my eye: Here Is What You Do When You Are Grieving.

I’ve read lots of grieving articles. They’re usually about death rather than heartbreak, however heartbreak is very much like something is dying.

In my sleepy haze I clicked, what the hell, and decided to read a few lines. Then a few more. This was not like the other articles. OMG. But … but … but that’s how I felt! That’s what I went through! It’s was my very actions, my very thoughts & feelings, my coping. It was as if the words came from my mind – however I’m not nearly as good of a writer to have stepped outside myself to portray my heartbroken grief so accurately.

I was in tears, bursting out, audible sobs. This, yes, this. Somebody else felt this too. They knew this pain. It was a humanizing experience. I was not alone in this grief.

I can’t just say all that and not share it with you, right? So this is shared without permission but I’ll take it down if requested. But these words should be shared. Everybody should understand the death that comes with heartbreak; the mind-numbing grief.

Read these words:

Here Is What You Do When You Are Grieving
by Katherine Fritz

You spend some time curled into tiny spaces. They are useful for this. Big, open rooms give you too much space for your wild thoughts to tangle and knot. If you curl yourself into a small place and sit there, you will ultimately feel cramped or foolish or angry enough to leave and make yourself a cup of tea.

You make yourself a cup of tea. Even if you don’t particularly like tea. Warm liquids are good when the back of your throat is burning like you’ve smoked a thousand rotten cigarettes and you can feel the weight of your mistakes trickling down into your fibers and your muscles and burrowing underneath your eyes, your breasts, your heart, your bones. You wrap your hands around the cup and you press your cheek and your eyelids to the side of the porcelain mug and you focus on what warm feels like, you remember the word ‘warm,’ you think it to yourself, quietly, because small thoughts are useful right now.

You learn to trust who you talk to. The best ones will comfort and pretend to understand even if they don’t. The best ones will understand if you want to be alone, and will understand if you change your mind about what you want. The best ones will not make you feel foolish for appearing vulnerable and weak.

Weakness and vulnerability are not the same. In case you’d forgotten. It is sometimes helpful to remember this.

You spend some time with distractions. I like drinking, and I like television, and I like sex, although that can be tricky because it is easy to mistake one particular kind of intimacy for another. Distractions are useful. Most people like distractions. Many people spend their entire lives with such beautiful, such glowing distractions. I can see why.

You think about soft things, like cotton sweatpants, and fleece blankets, and flannel sheets, and creamy pasta. You indulge. People who are grieving do not want to put on high-heeled shoes and mascara. They do not want to wear tummy-slimming pantyhose. They do not want to order salads.

You turn your brain into a film projector. You replay the movie you’ve unwittingly starred in, again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again until you think you might understand the sequence of events, if not the meaning. You replay it endlessly, at night, at breakfast, while reading, on the phone, while looking at the Internet, while picking at your nails, while shopping for toilet paper, again and again and again and again.

You remind yourself how breathing works, how sleeping works, how going to work works. You teach yourself basic lessons as if you were a child: It is time to clean up after yourself, time to take a shower, time to behave, time to leave the house today. You notice the circles under your eyes, and you buy some makeup in an inexpensive mirrored compact, and although you do not think anything of it at the time, it feels significant, when you reflect upon it later.

If you are phenomenally lucky, and I know that I am, you wake up one day to discover that you very much feel like moving your legs off the bed and placing them on the floor. You feel like lifting your head from the pillow and swiveling your torso and moving to an upright position and maybe even splashing some water on your face and brewing some coffee. You notice that you want to wear a brightly-colored sundress because it will look pretty on your skin; you discover on your commute that there are windows and doors and telephone wires and flowerpots and building placards and crumbling sidewalks that you’ve seen a thousand times but never really noticed. You watch a family in a park and you think you might start to cry, but not for any reason that can be explained, and then you are not crying, you are smiling, or maybe you are doing both, and then and then and then in a sudden release, you start to notice everything. You notice your fingertips. You notice your heartbeat. You notice your body and it all feels like your own. You notice other people. You notice everything. You wonder how you’ve never seemed to notice just how big everything is.

You start to think it is all so impossible. You start to think it’s all incredibly possible.

You start to think that maybe you’re okay.

Thank God for words. For wordsmiths. For poets. For lyricists. Thank you, Katherine Fritz.

ETA: I found the original blogger and blog! So, giving credit where due, here’s her blog and this posting: http://iambeggingmymothernottoreadthisblog.com/2014/06/25/here-is-what-you-do-when-you-are-grieving/.

Remember, you are not alone.

All my love,
Stef

The passage of time

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Tracking dates is sometimes very important to me and I’ve been wondering why. Is it because it helps with my obsessiveness? Because I can then say it’s been 1 year since such & such happened?

And what’s the significance of a year anyway? Just because it’s been the time it takes for the sun to complete its orbit should have no significant impact on the activity in my life or reflect my feelings at all.

But it does. Suddenly when you say it’s been a year then that designation carries more weight. Conceptually, the thought process is that the further distance you get from a hard event the easier you’ll feel about it. But it just gives further fodder to my tendency to obsess over those precious, catalytic events in my life.

In reality, I wish I could just move the eff on already. I don’t like being obsessive. I don’t like holding on to all this life-sucking emotion.

But still, I sit here and say – a year ago today this happened and I felt like this and how did that year get me here? And could I have imagined that? What should I have done differently?

Over-analyze. Obsess.

Hindsight = clarity, sometimes acute humiliation and recognition of the forest when, during the event, you can only see the trees.

I started my first job on March 5 many, many moons ago.

I my heart broken for the first time on September 18. Same year.

I moved out of state Nov 15, 1997 for the first time.

I made a decision that altered the course of my life forever on September 25, 1999.

I was 6 weeks pregnant with my first son on September 11, 2001.

In 4 days it will be 16 months since my beloved Grammy passed away.

On July 14, 2014, I will have been married 14 years.

It was around this time a year ago that I altered the course of my life again.

I don’t take these events lightly. They impacted me significantly and contributed to who I am today.

Dates and the passage of time define our activities, our events, our milestones. But they don’t actually reflect the heart, do they?

Time is not a barometer of emotion. It’s simply the measurement of how long I’ve been happy/sad/hopeful/miserable. It’s the ruler to know how long it’s been, my penance, my joy, my pain. An instrument of reflection.

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Maybe it’s time to move on. Time to stop the obsessing. Time to recognize and appreciate these events for what they really are: life experiences!

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Move on? Move forward.

With love,
Stef

On Writing Blood

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Hemingway. HEMINGWAY. A man of unfettered passion. He lived his life fully, he wrote from his vast experiences; he dominated his life.

I was having a conversation with a friend last night about the poetry I write. I generally don’t share it because it is often intensely personal. I write it when I’m feeling strongly. I write it from experience or longing. I write it when I HAVE TO GET IT OUT.

Hemingway has a quote, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” To which I say YES. YES.

I write from my heart. It’s not going to always make sense to somebody else. Sometimes it barely makes sense to me – these mutterings that sometimes only resemble coherent sentences – but they are the words that cascade from my heart, tripping through my brain and down through my finger tips.

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I want to live my life and feel every moment and then I want to write about it. Fully. I don’t want to apologize for the things I felt. I don’t want to hide what I felt and not be honest. I want to say this is what I did and, dammit, this is how it felt! And I’d do it again. Or I wouldn’t, because it hurt too damn much, but at least I felt something. I didn’t hide away and forget to live my life. I want to love and be loved. I want to feel and experience and when I’m 90 I want to say, boy, I can’t believe I did that but it sure was fun!

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I’m so practical. I’m so inhibited, most of the time. But I’m also such a romantic and I can be very creative – but I bury it. Because.

Because . . . why? I’m scared. Of doing the wrong thing. Of hurting others. I’m scared of judgement & condemnation.

I want to live without apology. Without guilt. Without worry. I want to LIVE. Why should I apologize for wanting to make the most of my life? To celebrate life? To love, to dance, to kiss. To have Wednesday afternoon dance parties with my sons. To have midnight walks with friends. To have adventures. Why should I apologize for that?

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Hemingway. I want to be Hemingway.

 

With love,

Stef

 

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Recent Inspirations, part deux

Hello my lovelies!! Happy Sunday! Happy Spring Break! Happy vacation!

I’m feeling a little giddy because I have the next week off and I’m looking forward to fun, fun, fun with my little men.

I’ve had a lovely weekend and, honestly, I’m feeling much stronger than I have recently. I’m so thankful for the support I get from friends in both small & large ways; you never know what a difference a quick text, FB message, blog comment or a hug can do. Just having that support, YOUR support, makes all the difference!!

Here are a few awesome things I’ve seen recently that I loved:

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I hope these nuggets of wisdom help you like they have me. It may seem small, and even silly, but the reminders are so helpful to me.

Be kind to one another. We need more kindness and less pain & misunderstandings. I wake up everyday with good intentions and the desire to give & get love in return. I hope most of us wake up and say, “what good thing can I do today?”

Love,
Stef

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