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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Whoa Fall!

It’s been a super weird couple of months, hasn’t it?

I look at people’s lives on Instagram or Facebook and sometimes it just seems so normal. Gathering materials for Christmas decor and making gifts, hosting an elaborate Thanksgiving meal with custom-made centerpieces, or planning & taking trips … it’s just so normal!

In meantime, I can’t find my iron. I’m troubleshooting getting local channels with the digital antenna LIKE I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING, and I still don’t know where to store excess linens in this house.

So let’s just look at these gorgeous flowers instead (because flowers can start the healing process for all sorts of wounds):

Did I mention that I started renovations on my kitchen too? Because one can never have too much going on. It’s fun living in a house with no cabinets & all the utensils are spilled across the dining room table for 7 days all at the same time your 15 year old son is starting driver’s ed & training and needs to be picked up and taken to school at odd times 3 days a week. That’s fun. Let’s do it again.

But, my goodness, look at those cabinets. Worth every stinkin’ penny.

We WILL do the chaos again as soon as I’m ready to replace the countertop. Soon. Ish.

But, hey, I decorated my living room!

And Nigel the Australian handyman is the bomb dot com. (My son tells me I’m aging myself when I say that. I told him to make like a tree and get out of here). Nigel calls me “mate.”

But, hey, I got new lipstick so WINNING. I got a new book too. Thank goodness for books. And lipstick that makes a woman feel like a million bucks. Or at least half that.

But there’s this. Both above & below. Being realistic means never finding the love again I thought I had. Being a romantic means never losing that hope.

So, also, see below, there’s a couple things in one of my boobs being watched. Every 6 months for 2 years, I think. Have I mentioned my sister died of cancer a little over two years ago and that cancer originated as breast cancer??? But she’s not blood so I wouldn’t share that through family blood with her, but I don’t want to share it through experience either. So far, so good. Knock on wood.

The pic below was just following a boob ultrasound. (Plus new lipstick. A MUST when dealing with this adult shit).

The above pic is of a new little enclave of friends that I’ve been sucked into, willingly, and surprisingly! The dude on the right is a chef. He’s also become an incredible friend. The woman between us is his life partner. The bottle is an awesome brainchild! A new flavored whiskey. I helped bottle the first batch! I touched every single bottle that day and it was an incredible experience.

See above? Fancy hair. That’s really the only remarkable thing about that night.

I spoke recently for law enforcement in the LA area. They gave me this. Experiences like this are fantastic and I think, sometimes, how is this my life?

My boys are … unusually & exceedingly peculiar and quite impossible to describe! And beautiful, loving, sweet, and they keep growing. I never sanctioned that.

But, honestly, how did I get this lucky?

This last one, this little meme, is not for me but for you. You, my friend, my estranged (and sometimes strange) friend, plus all of you who I don’t know, I am praying for your happiness. Your peace. I want nothing more than for you to have peace in your heart, and I want that for myself too.

I pray for your happiness, for your peace, and for your joy, like I pray for my own.

Xoxo,

Stef

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

Happy Earth Day my fellow Earthlings!

We went to church today (a relatively new thing for us as a family) and the message was all about the importance of taking care of the Earth we all live on because the eco-system is fragile, it’s breakable, and this is the only Earth we have. The church member speaking about Earth Day pointed out that the overall goal is not to allow our global temperature to increase 2 degrees.

Doesn’t sound like much, right?  She also informed us that a change of only 4 degrees in the opposite direction brought on the last Ice Age. Umm, yikes.

Another scary bit of info: the water run-off from the Himalayas is the primary drinking water source for 40% of the Earth’s inhabitants. The polar ice caps in the Himalayas are being hugely affected by global warming which could severely affect the drinking water to some of the poorest nations on Earth. Scary, scary stuff.

See, the thing is, I don’t want my children to inherit a bigger environmental mess from us. I don’t want them feeling like they are cleaning up the mess their parents’ generation left. How can we get things going in the right direction for them?

 

This photo was taken after church today. I’m quite sure that Earth Day was designed to be in Spring (in the U.S.), when everything is at it’s most beautiful.

 

In honor of Earth Day I have lifted this list of “6 Surprising Earth Day Statistics” from the Reader’s Digest. Here’s the link if you want to go to the full site: http://www.rd.com/slideshows/6-surprising-earth-day-statistics/#slideshow=slide1

 

Green Driving

Roughly 1.5 million hybrid cars and SUVs were sold in the U.S. from 2004 to 2009. Despite bumps caused by the recession, sales of fuel-efficient vehicles are on the rise.

1 in 50 adults traded in their vehicle for a more fuel-efficient hybrid, electric, or alternative fuel vehicle in the past 6 months.

1 in 1.02 adults did not make the switch.

 

Turn Off the Lights
The energy-conscious are urged to switch off lights if they are going to be out of a room for longer than 5 minutes.

1 in 2.17 adults claim they always keep unneeded lights off or turn the lights off when leaving a room.

1 in 50 adults did not make the switch.

 

Recycle, Reduce, Reuse
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, recycling creates jobs, reduces pollution and energy use, and conserves national resources.

1 in 2.38 adults claim they always recycle.

1 in 20 admit they never recycle.

 

Trash Can
The average American produces 1,600 pounds of garbage a year.

1 in 3.7 adults claim they always reuse things instead of throwing them away or buying new items.

1 in 25 admit to never reusing things.

 

Running Water
The average American uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water a day.

1 in 3.85 adults claim they always make an effort to use less water.

1 in 16.67 admit they never make an effort to conserve water.

 

Vampire Power (not the sparkly or Bon Temps variety)
The electricity used by appliances plugged in but not in use is estimated to account for 1% of global C02 emissions.

1 in 6.25 adults claim they always make an effort to unplug electrical appliances when not using them.

1 in 6.67admit they never make such an effort.

 

Now, go forth and make the world a better place, por favor.

xoxo,

Stef

The Mourners

Every day on my way to work I pass a rather large cemetery. Sometimes I can see gravediggers doing their job and I know that somebody will be buried that day. If I drive by during a service and I see the mourners hugging, kissing & crying it breaks my heart a little bit. I feel for them. I feel for their families.

A few years ago I was driving past the cemetery and I saw a women laying next to one of the graves on her side with one arm propping up her head. She appeared to be talking to the grave. Talking to the grave as one would to someone laying in bed next to them. It was a very intimate moment. I can just imagine her lover, or a close relative, like her mother, buried there and it struck me as so sad – so touching, but just so, so SAD – that she had to come here, to where the soul’s vessel was laid to rest, to feel close to her loved one. I only saw her there once.

Over the last several weeks I’ve noticed something strange at the cemetery. Well, not strange per se, but it caught my eye and has me intrigued.

First I saw a small group of people, 3 or 4, sitting on a blanket on the grass nearest the road at the cemetery having a picnic. I didn’t think they were mourners. I thought maybe they had stopped there looking for a convenient place to sit under the trees and eat. Something like that.

Then I noticed they were there again. And again. And a grave near them was growing a small shrine of sorts – flowers, flags, the usual thing.

Last week I noticed several people around the grave. Maybe 5-7 people. And balloons. And more trinkets.

And then I noticed a couple of little teddy bears had been placed around the grave.

Now I can’t stop thinking about it. Through the course of my day I will naturally drive past the grave 2-4 times. Sometimes the family is there and sometimes they aren’t, but the little shrine is always there.

I want to know the story. Whose grave is that? Is it a young child? What happened? I see a young woman there the most – is she the child’s mother? AND WHAT HAPPENED?

I’ve wanted to stop and look at that grave but I almost feel like it would be an invasion of their privacy to do so.

It tugs at my heart every day. I even thought about taking a different route to work – but I think seeing that cemetery every day, and the people in it, inspires an appreciation for my life and maybe fills me with a sense of, what? Humanity, maybe? Every day on my way to work.

An acquaintance of mine posted on Facebook the other day that we should all hug our kids more and longer. I found out he and his wife are going through something quite traumatic and personal. Maybe that’s why this grave is haunting me so much this week.

I don’t know if I’ll ever stop to look. I don’t know if I really want to know. Maybe I WILL just hug my kids a little tighter and enjoy their company a little more – BECAUSE I STILL CAN.

And so can you.

EDITED TO ADD:

Mystery solved, I’m upset, angered and altogether put-out, to say. I was having a lovely time with my son on Sunday. We had to run some errands. I drove past the cemetery on the way to the shops and saw the mourners there. On the way back they were gone. So I said, “Son, I’m going to take a detour here to look at a grave,” and I pulled into the cemetery. He was very curious so I explained about seeing the shrine and mourners. I warned him that it could be a child’s grave and that he could stay in the car if he wanted. No, he said, he wanted to go with me. So we did. I almost wish I hadn’t. I mean, now I know – but I almost wish I didn’t.

Born Nov 2007 and died May 2011. She was 3 1/2. My son asked me why she died and I didn’t know. He was very curious so I told him I would see if I could find out. I quickly Googled her name on my phone and, boom, a ton of results. I saw the first result and instantly knew who she was from the headlines back in May. She died very tragically.

I lied to my son. I told him she had been sick with a disease and he peppered me with questions the whole way home. He said, “I thought kids couldn’t die. How come she died? Can other kids die?” I tried to explain about accidents and illnesses and how they can affect anybody. Parenting fail – I probably should not have taken my son with me. On the other hand, he needs to know that sometimes people die when we aren’t prepared. I just didn’t have it in me to explain to him that sometimes they are the victims of violence as well.

When we got home I pulled my husband into our bedroom and told him the whole story. Then I sobbed for that little girl while he patted my back.

I’m happy I know where she’s laid to rest. I can drive by and know exactly why her mom sits at her grave every day. Every single day my heart will break when I drive past that grave. Every single day.

If you want the whole story you can get it here, but I’m warning you – don’t read this if you are easily affected. It stays with you.

RIP little Natasha.

Ode to Idaho in IG


We moved here almost 6 years ago. We left a congested city, a small house, bad air pollution, and, the only bad part, my family. There have definitely been ups and downs, good and bad, but overall I’m so glad we made that move.

We have such a better living environment here. For reals. Bigger home, better neighbors, better feeling of community. It’s safer. It’s a healthier lifestyle for the whole family.

I miss my family terribly at times. It has gotten easier with every subsequent year, though, and I have found that I (mostly) get my fill of family time in our regular visits. It’s tough to miss the good things – like visits with my grandma, holiday celebrations, weddings, or baby births – but missing the drama, the inevitable family bickering or gossip or intrigue that happens with a close family, really balances things out nicely.

Here’s some IG to prove Idaho awesomeness:

We bought wood on the side of the road coming home from my in-law’s one evening. Just grabbed a bundle and put $3 in the money box.

Yep. NBD.

As the hubby was grabbing the wood, I snapped this pic. Farmland sunset. Hello? Gorgeous. This was taken 5 minutes from my house. And, okay, maybe I could get this same pic back in California but I didn’t. I got it here, in Idaho.

The drive-in. The only drive-in in the area and it’s about an hour outside of town. It’s extremely family-oriented, clean, and has been run by the same family (who live next door to the theater) since the 70’s. Oh, and all the bathroom stalls have doors. This is a step up from my hometown drive-in, believe it or not.


I live in a beautiful, community-minded city. This is a pic of the Saturday Farmer’s market. It spans 2 blocks one way and 3 blocks another way and it’s ah-maz-ing. Good food, good people, good vibe. I love that the downtown area is essentially shutdown for foot traffic only for like 5 hours every Saturday. Awesome sauce.

There’s so much more. The river that bi-sects the city. The 30+ miles of greenbelt. The Shakespeare Festival. The gorgeous parks.

I miss the ocean & the beaches of California. I miss Disneyland.

I can still visit those places, but I can really LIVE here.