Just livin’

It’s a deplorable state of affairs in our nation, isn’t it?

I find myself wanting to immerse myself in the news, in writing my lawmakers, in sharing all the details that I’m so scared people won’t see and assimilate. They need to SEE IT ALL. If they do then they will understand. They will see how horrible it all is. They’ll see the hypocrisy. The cruelty. My goodness, they’ll see it, right? They’ll see the blatant crimes against humanity. They’ll stop accepting the lies. They’ll RISE THE FUCK UP and fight this disgusting monster making a mockery of our government.

That’s what I want to do. But I can’t. It sickens my soul to wade into the disgusting morass. People are so polarized. Listening to and believing sound bites. Tweets. Partial truths or full-on lies. What have we become? I feel like a foster child with abusive foster parents.

It’s just SO HARD to be real right now. So hard to face it all. At the same time, we have to keep living, working, raising our kids, and trying to eke out some enjoyment in life. We have to. For our sanity.

I’m trying to live my best life. I’m working. I have wonderful sons. I can watch NCIS reruns when I need normalcy & predictability. It’s a comfort. I’ve been re-reading my favorite book series. It’s a comfort too.

Remember when I was like, hey, I’m 42 and that’s a magical number, the answer to the universe and everything? Well it’s been a year of intentional change. Sold my house and bought another. By myself. BAM. I got a meaningful tattoo. BAM. I bought myself a car. BAM.

There were a couple other things I wanted to happen in my 42nd year and, with 3 months left, I’m not sure that’s going to happen but I think that’s okay. I think it’s going to be all right, no matter the outcome.

I’m working on my health. My age is starting to raise a hand and say, hey, recognize me and do something about it.

I’m enjoying my sons. They are so big, maturing like crazy, smarter than they should be, and wonderful. My oldest started his first job. My youngest started shaving. Wtf.

I love so many people. I just love them. I love so much. I love them whether or not they love me. It sucks sometimes. But I’d rather love than not. I’d rather feel love than hate. Yes I get walked on, taken advantage of, and sometimes discarded. But, dammit, what is this life if you can’t lead with love & trust & good intentions? I would rather feel it all than be safe – when safe means lonely, distrusting, and too cautious.

I’m still loving live music. I’m still writing poetry. I’m still trying to be the best me, and be faithful to myself and my heart. I hope you are too.

Here’s a sample of our last few months:

Turned over 100k. And promptly started worrying me with its oil consumption.
Oh hey Redfish Lake!
The new hot & sexy ride

5K for Dravet! It was a family affair
One school year. ONE.
At Live & Counting Crows!!

Let’s just keep lovin’ and livin’ and voting and writing or calling our lawmakers and let’s do it all with balance. To live and survive and thrive with a clean conscience. If I’m doing my part then I feel better. If I’m reading my book before bed every night I feel better. If I hug the people I love I feel better.

DO ALL THINGS WITH LOVE. Intentionally.

Xoxo,

Stef

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New Home Feels 

My sons & I have a new home. The tree in the front yard has turned yellow with the season, like some awesome blessing upon the house.

I didn’t fall in love with this house like our last one. That one was unique; this one is s little more cookie cutter than I would typically like. But it’s so damned live-able! Less maintenance = easier life. Plus it’s in a fantastic neighborhood, and that ended up being the deciding factor for me.

This house has peace woven into the carpet, painted into the walls, nailed into the frame, and its wafting from the vents. PEACE.

Physically, it’s an easy house, quiet location, and keep-to-themselves neighbors (though everyone was super nice who came to the door on Halloween!). But beyond the quiet, easy living, there’s something else. There’s no pain. There’s no memories. There’s no “oh that’s where the hole in the wall was after someone got angry” or that’s where I was when this, or that, was said or done. Not that I’m without fault. I threw the fondue pot once. It was empty. I threw a cup once. That was a bad time. Then it got better. Until it wasn’t.

Bad memories, good memories – both are painful. I need my own house. I need my space, my very own, made by me, to reflect me, and my soul, my heart, my joy, and my love. This house is built with love, peace, and joy.

It’s not my dream house … except it is!

#42 checklist: ✔️ buy new home by yourself.

Never stop working towards the goal, even if it’s not always clear. Dream sideways when you can’t see in front of you.

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. 🙂

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

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 

The thing is …

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

Literary comparison: a sad story

Once upon a time there were two people who fell in love. They met, they kissed, and they knew the other was “the one.” Bride & groom walked down the aisle, had babies, and their life rolled on with good times, and a few bad times … but then more bad times. And more after that. Pain, hurt, and resentment grew. Then came separation and, 2 years later, divorce. 16 years, beginning to end; 15 years married and two wonderful children to show for it. 

The bride … she often misses the good. She misses her best friend. She misses the man who made her laugh. The man who held her perfectly when she needed to be held, and often held her when she didn’t know she needed it. She misses his silliness, his kisses, and their shared history. She misses the man she still sees in pictures holding their babies. She misses that man with an ache that rattles her soul and makes her shake with pain, sadness & regret. 

But then there’s the bad. The yin to the yang. The flip side.

You know the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde story? Dr. Jekyll was good, kind, benevolent. Mr. Hyde … well, he wasn’t. Mr. Hyde prioritized his hobbies & friends over his family. He willfully chose to live separately, and to live with minimal responsibility. Mr. Hyde shrugged off financial concerns, to be handled solely by his wife; he saw the burden this caused, the pain & stress, and increased it rather than trying to ease her burden. He ignored repeated pleas for engagement, involvement, for partnering. Mr. Hyde stayed up until all hours, raged with drunken belligerence, and terrified his kids & wife. Mr. Hyde was not a family man. 

Nobody would ever guess that the public Dr. Jekyll was so often controlled by the narcissistic Mr. Hyde. Preening & posturing for his audience, selfishly focused on his appeal to others rather than any recognition of his loving needs at home. 

Poor Dr. Jekyll, he missed out on so much; Mr. Hyde guaranteed that. 

A sad story, isn’t it? The bride is sad, disappointed, angry & resentful … but she still often misses her Dr. Jekyll. The man he was before he allowed Mr. Hyde to guide his life. 

Lesson learned, time to move on. A new chapter is dawning for Mrs. Jekyll, a blushing bride no more. 

Xoxo,

A former Mrs. 

5 things about me, today 

Short & to the point, my lovelies. 

1. I don’t make friends easily & I never have. That’s why I tend to hold onto and treasure the friends I do make, going back to them time and again, even after they’ve broken my heart a little. Breaking with someone completely and willfully is probably the hardest thing for me to ever do. 

2. Can I be blunt? I never cheated on my husband. In my marriage, I never had a boyfriend. I never met up with some dude for a weekend romp. To be even more explicit, there was no sex outside of my marriage. For anybody who thinks or has heard otherwise I’d advise you to open your mind to other possibilities. 

3. This year, to date, has been the worst year of my life. I’ve lost 3 people I deeply cared about, my dream of marital bliss has seen the final nail in that coffin, and my work has been pretty damn brutal this year with no relief in sight. I’m exhausted from the constant loss.

4. I have nightmares now and I never used to. Most of the time they are nightmares of betrayal; seeing people who I thought loved me yelling, screaming, and humiliating me. Hurting me until I wake with my heart racing. 

5. And yet … 

I have hope, still. 

I believe in love, still. 

I believe I have a purpose. 

I believe there will be light. 

Plus this, this is real: 

I’ll take equal parts of awe, some for me & some for him.

He’ll love me not for my svelte figure (because I don’t have anything svelte, except maybe my hair), and not for my money (duh) but maybe for the liveliness of my mind instead. (As Jane Austen says). 

HOPE. 

  
Xoxo,

Stef 

We all have stories

You don’t get to this age (in my case, banging on 40’s door) without having stories.

Your stories shape your life, your experiences, how you react, how you cope, how you LIVE.

I have tried to live my life in a cautious manner. It’s inherent to who I am. I don’t make snap decisions, I don’t “shoot from the hip,” and I try to retain my calm even when I’m screaming, crying, gnashing my teeth inside. Unleashing the anger beast doesn’t solve anything, and often leads to more hurt; hurtful words can often cause more problems than hurtful actions.

Lord knows I’m not perfect. I haven’t always been cautious. I have reacted emotionally. I have sought immediate gratification and soothing for my pain rather than thinking it out and processing it rationally. I’ve tried to keep those experiences to a minimum, especially as I’ve gotten older. As I’ve learned what helps long-term and what simply complicates things more.

I think that is where our stories come in. They illustrate our experiences in human nature. Experiences to learn from – learn from the people, learn from the emotions that resulted from that moment, learn from how we grieved or celebrated after.

Nobody ever knows your stories but you. Maybe they can ask? If they are curious.

You’ve heard that saying, right, that for every story there is your side, their side, and somewhere in the middle is the truth? Because our stories are skewed by our experiences and our emotions. What was minor to one person may have been major to someone else.

My experiences have brought me to where I am today. My stories have shaped how I respond and react to my experiences. I’ve tried to be cautious . . . . I AM cautious. I try to hold my tongue, not lash out, to react with love and understanding more than anger, frustration and betrayal. It’s hard. It’s hard to feel misunderstood.

My stories tell me that time changes everything. How I felt 13 years ago is not how I feel today. My experiences dictate that. Every decision we make, every deep conversation we have with a friend late at night, every argument, every resentment, every pure joy moment – all of these impact our future.

I was hurt one too many times. My experiences built on each other until I had the Berlin Wall of resentment nestled in my heart. I was trying to knock it down, brick by brick, but recent experiences have told me to shore it up again. And here we go again – more pain, more hurt, more betrayal.

Lady Justice’s scale is tipped to the negative right now, and I’m treading water to stay afloat, but I know the scale will tip back before too long. The positive will outweigh the negative. There will be healing. There will be joy.

These are my stories, built on my experiences. There is value (and weight & impact) to each one of them, the good and the bad. There is growth from every experience.

These stories will be be the sum of my life, but my novel is not nearly complete.

Peace, love and understanding. It’s the way to go, and I’m trying.

MORE HAPPY STORIES.

xoxo,

stef