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

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Maybe I’m Amazed

Catching up on my DVR tonight I saw this performance on The Voice and I was blown away! This is everything.

The artists performed with such passion and conviction – but, of course, this song is fabulous to begin with so they had a great canvas from which to work from.

The lyrics just slay me. When I read novels I like to read about how people deal with human conflict – love, loss, mourning, elation, etc. That’s generally what I write about as well, either here or in my poetry. It’s fascinating to me how people react and handle their life events. The amazing thing about this song is the story that is told in just a few lines:

Baby, I’m amazed at the way you love me all the time,
And maybe I’m afraid of the way I love you.

Maybe I’m amazed at the way you pulled me out of time,
You hung me on the line.
Maybe I’m amazed at the way I really need you.

Baby, I’m a man, maybe I’m a lonely man
Who’s in the middle of something
That he doesn’t really understand.

Baby, I’m a man,
And maybe you’re the only woman who could ever help me.
Baby, won’t you help me to understand?

He loves her, appreciates her, but he’s scared. Nothing new in that, except he admits what he can’t do; he lays his soul bare, opens his heart and says “help me, you’re the only one who can.”

Passionate, communicative and admits when he needs help? Swoon.

Enjoy, my friends.

Xoxo,
Stef

This ain’t your mama’s broken heart

Oh my lord, I wish I had been familiar with this song earlier in my own grieving process. But, still, some of the sentiments hit pretty close to home! Luckily my crazy is pretty well contained in my head, other than the odd messaging impulse now and then, and thankfully my crazy has absolutely nothing to do with matches.

“Mama’s Broken Heart”

I cut my bangs with some rusty kitchen scissors
I screamed his name ‘til the neighbors called the cops
I numbed the pain at the expense of my liver
Don’t know what I did next, all I know I couldn’t stop

Word got around to the barflies and the baptists
My mama’s phone started ringin’ off the hook
I can hear her now sayin’ she ain’t gonna have it
Don’t matter how you feel, it only matters how you look

Go and fix your make up, girl, it’s just a break up
Run and hide your crazy and start actin’ like a lady
‘Cause I raised you better, gotta keep it together
Even when you fall apart
But this ain’t my mama’s broken heart

Wish I could be just a little less dramatic
Like a Kennedy when Camelot went down in flames
Leave it to me to be holdin’ the matches
When the fire trucks show up and there’s nobody else to blame

Can’t get revenge and keep a spotless reputation
Sometimes revenge is a choice you gotta make
My mama came from a softer generation
Where you get a grip and bite your lip just to save a little face

Go and fix your make up, girl, it’s just a break up
Run and hide your crazy and start actin’ like a lady
‘Cause I raised you better, gotta keep it together
Even when you fall apart
But this ain’t my mama’s broken heart

Powder your nose, paint your toes
Line your lips and keep ’em closed
Cross your legs, dot your eyes
And never let ’em see you cry

Go and fix your make up, well it’s just a break up
Run and hide your crazy and start actin’ like a lady
‘Cause I raised you better, gotta keep it together
Even when you fall apart
But this ain’t my mama’s broken heart

In craziness,

Stef

Bad days

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You ever have those days that are perfectly lovely and parts are even beautiful, but emotionally your heart is a little wretched?

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I know in my heart of hearts that there will be joy, love & happiness again. I know it because I do experience it regularly from the wonderful people around me. I just wish I could shake this feeling of malaise. This undercurrent of sadness ebbs & flows, higher & lower. But when high I feel like I could drown.

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I feel unloveable.
I feel ridiculous.
I feel betrayed.
I feel broken.
I feel like a failure.

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But, you see, I know that tomorrow will probably be better. I know that. Knowing that doesn’t help the present though.

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I have a few loving people in my life that I am so grateful for, but I take them for granted. I don’t want to do that; it’s a self-preservation thing right now. There’s only so much I can handle, only so much heartache, only so much frustration and superfluous details that I can take into my brain right now.

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This morning, though, something amazing happened. At my church, the hugely talented & wonderful pianist played “Hey Jude” and the congregation sang along and it was fabulous. It brightened my morning so much and I’m trying to think of that right now:

Hey Jude, don’t make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better

Hey Jude, don’t be afraid
You were made to go out and get her
The minute you let her under your skin
Then you begin to make it better

And anytime you feel the pain, hey Jude, refrain
Don’t carry the world upon your shoulders
For well you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool
By making his world a little colder
Nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah

Hey Jude, don’t let me down
You have found her, now go and get her
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better

So let it out and let it in, hey Jude, begin
You’re waiting for someone to perform with
And don’t you know that it’s just you, hey Jude, you’ll do
The movement you need is on your shoulder
Nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah yeah

Hey Jude, don’t make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her under your skin
Then you’ll begin to make it
Better better better better better better, oh

Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude

So wonderful. Such a lovely, unifying moment. I’m trying to make my own sunshine in thinking about that moment, and others like it.

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I will survive this with love, patience, kindness, faith, and, last but not least, good words & music. Amen.

With love & gratitude,
Stef

Defying Gravity

Do you remember Ally McBeal? I’m totally aging myself but, hey, who cares? I used to love, love, love Ally McBeal. My best friend and I lived a couple states apart and we would call each other during the commercials to talk about the show – silly? Yes. A fabulous memory? Oh yes. But that’s not the point of this blog post. (But I should get back to that, at some point).

Ally used to have theme songs. Depending on what was going on in her life, she would adopt a song that she could mentally conjure up that would give her strength, or courage, or comfort, right when she needed it.

Well, I’ve been doing the same thing. Blessings on Ally for the inspiration. Last fall it was David Guetta’s Titanium, with lyrics like:

“I’m bulletproof, nothing to lose
Fire away, fire away
Ricochet, you take your aim
Fire away, fire away
You shoot me down but I won’t fall
I am titanium
You shoot me down but I won’t fall
I am titanium”

It was exactly what I needed to get through some excruciatingly hard months.

Over the last several weeks I’ve recognized that I’m transitioning into another phase in my life and/or another phase in the life cycle of my heartbreak. I’ve been mulling that over and trying to understand what I want/need right now. What’s next?

Then I went to see Wicked (again, because, duh, it’s so awesome) and words were put in my head that have been resonating with me continuously for a couple weeks now. I’ve realized my new theme song, the song that defines this next stage is, has to be, Defying Gravity: (edited for brevity & relevance)

“Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes and leap!

It’s time to try
Defying gravity
I think I’ll try
Defying gravity
And you can’t pull me down

I’m through accepting limits
’cause someone says they’re so
Some things I cannot change
But till I try, I’ll never know!
Too long I’ve been afraid of
Losing love I guess I’ve lost
Well, if that’s love
It comes at much too high a cost!
I’d sooner buy
Defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye
I’m defying gravity
And you can’t pull me down

So if you care to find me
Look to the western sky!
As someone told me lately:
“Ev’ryone deserves the chance to fly!”
And if I’m flying solo
At least I’m flying free
To those who’d ground me
Take a message back from me
Tell them how I am
Defying gravity
I’m flying high
Defying gravity
And soon I’ll match them in renown!
And nobody in all of Oz
No Wizard that there is or was
Is ever gonna bring me down!”

I don’t always feel strong, but in those times of weakness I just need to be Idina Menzel in my head and belt out this song. I’ll remember then just how strong I am! And when I’m sad this song will cheer me because it’s an anthem to make me believe what my heart & my head knows, but forgets, that I can do anything I put my mind to, and I can live the life I want. I CAN do it.

With love,
yours in insomnia,

Stef

Struggling

I’m reclining in my bed, drinking a delicious mix of Alka-Seltzer cold medicine & Emergen-C while my boys are in the living room apparently trying to bring the house down around us.

I’ve been sick with an off/on cold since the day after Christmas. So, essentially, for 2 months.

As I’m laying here, in the dark, I wonder if this sickness is a reflection of the illness in my soul. I’m struck with so much unhappiness right now. So much strife and negativity. So much sadness. So much parting of ways.

I hate this.

I’m a lover. Of people. Of good feelings. Of good conversations. Long kisses. Meetings of minds & souls. Sipping Starbucks together. Going on adventures together. With my friends. With my lovers (using that term loosely to mean people I love).

This ickness has invaded my heart & my soul. I was so hopeful last year. I felt that through, and after, all the pain we would, all of us, find joy and peace. A niche where we fit, where we figured it out. Where we made our own love & happiness. But through blow after blow I have just grown so weary, so sad. So bereft.

I wish finding the joy everyday wasn’t so hard.

I have some wonderful people around me who I’m so grateful for because, without them, I can’t imagine where I’d be now. I can’t imagine the pain if I didn’t have the relief they provide.

Laughter really is the best medicine. Smiling is a balm for the soul.

I am a very strong woman. I know that, and I’m so very glad for it. But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel “all the feels.” That doesn’t mean I’m strong enough to will the heartache away. I’m just strong enough to know right from wrong and stay on the right path as much as I can.

All the sad songs on the radio are for me. Not you, or you, or you – just me. Just a Fool, Drink You Away, Say Something, All I Want – these are the songs fueling my heart & soul right now. Sometimes I can’t bear it and turn on Gold Rush or White Walls just to get out of my own head. But the other part of me says, “yes, feel that pain. Let it permeate throughout your soul so that you know how this loss truly feels; when you come out on the other side you’ll be all the better for it.”

I loved so hard. Sometimes I think I won’t recover from it. The rational me says I will. My heart, though, is weeping over that gaping hole.

My, that was melodramatic! True, though, it feels. Thank goodness I’m not *just* a romantic.

Logical mind, please take over –

{{mental slap & a good shake}}.

It’s a 3 day weekend, my lovelies! Let’s go have an adventure and bury this heartache as much as possible, shall we?

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All my love,
Stef

Music is going to kill me

Frank Sinatra: his voice is like butter. Except I’m the one that melts.

I’ve had this song in my head for weeks, it seems like. I finally listened to it this morning. Early this morning. In the wee small hours.

(I always remember this song from Sleepless in Seattle and the sadness, longing, and despair from that scene. Then, the New Year’s scene when Tom Hanks imagines his wife and says, “Oh babe. I miss you so much it hurts.” That kills me.)

Love,
Stef

This is the story of a girl

Who cried a river and drowned the whole world

and while she looks so sad in photographs

I absolutely love her

When she smiles

Do you know that song? You know how you can hear just the words “this is a story” and you can immediately connect the lyrics and sing the whole song 500 times in your head (or out loud) after that? And then your husband (or boss, or teacher, or friend) says “AS I WAS SAYING this is a story about cattle futures and the stock market . . . ” Or, actually, my husband or boss or teacher (if I had a teacher) would never say that. Maybe “. . . about Edward Gorey” or “. . . about intellectual property, counterfeit product sales online and their crossover into phishing fraud.” Or something like that. Anyway – I LOVE THAT.

I find great comfort in the familiar. It’s soothing to me to hear a song I know and love. The cadence, the words, they all flow through my mind effortlessly and, if I love the song, it makes me happy. Like a hug (because hugs make you happy. Unless your heart is cold, black and shriveled up). The same with my favorite old tv shows or the same books I have thumbed through a dozen times or more. The characters are like visiting with old friends and the familiar words are like a salve to my metaphorical open wounds.

On a recent business trip I had to figure out a book to take with me.

(Yes, technologically adept as I like to consider myself I do still have an overwhelming affinity for actual books. I like to feel them in my hands. I like to dog-ear the corners. I fear the term “dog-ear” will go out of fashion in 2.5 seconds due to all the electronics permeating our society. I’m so conflicted).

I have no less than 7 books on my bedside table that I have barely started or not cracked at all, but when I turned to grab one none appealed. Why? Well, there’s a lot of newness in my work life and I just couldn’t stand the idea of embarking on a new journey with a new author and a new story to work through in my already clouded and over-taxed head.

What if I didn’t like it 30 pages in? What if it was sad and depressing? What if it didn’t hug my soul like a tried and true good book can do?

So I chose an old favorite. Through 4 “please watch the safety demonstration in the event of an emergency landing” monologues while “all electronic equipment is switched off” I plowed through my old favorite, smiling at the words, remembering the characters. I found myself immersed, once again, entirely in the movie in my head – how Amelia’s jetty black hair looked (via a bottle, shhh), her blushing indulgence to femininity in her crimson gowns and fancy undergarments, and her painful need to be right and strong ,and her huge heart and conflicted morality. Ahhhh. There is nothing like catching up with old friends on long plane rides.

Or is it catching up with yourself? I have a theory (supported by nothing except my second Diet Pepsi tonight) that when we connect with something from the past – a book, a movie, a song, even a fragrance – it can take you back to the old YOU. The person you were then, when you first loved it, and it can feel like a comfort because it makes you feel like, or connect with – consciously or not – the old you. That old friend that you knew better than anyone, foibles and all, before you went through the experiences that makes you the YOU of today.

Over the summer I made several long car trips by myself (or with my children, but with THEIR electronic equipment I may as well have been by myself) and I had this odd thing happen. On one trip I was in the middle of the Oregon desert, the boys had their headphones on and I resorted to mindlessly hitting “seek” in hopes of finding something interesting. There were 3 radio stations that came in; one was political news (not on your life), the other was in Spanish (and that gets old when you don’t speak it), and the third . . . just happened to be playing a country song I LOVED when I was in high school (and filled with high school angst, I might add). I found myself singing the words before I could even remember the name of the song or who sang it. I just knew that I knew the words and as I sang each verse and got closer to the chorus I remembered the full song and . . . tears. No kidding. Tears. Because that song comforted me when I was a teen and broken-hearted and here I was, so many years later, and BAM! It pulled at my heart and I was in tears. I don’t remember the who, what or why of that broken-heart – I just remember the emotion the song conveyed all those years ago.

It’s like that movie with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. Sleepless in Seattle? And she’s in the car driving and listening to him on the radio, in a bit of a trance, and he just says something that clicks with her heart (something her mother had said, about love & magic) and she’s crying. Just like that. Those things they reverberate in your soul.

Or is that just me? Bah. Maybe. But that’s okay. I can own it.

So – if you find me listening to the soundtrack for The Sound of Music in my headphones please don’t mock because I’m probably a major stressball and I’m just reverting to my childhood happy place as a coping mechanism. Back when my mom and I used to pop popcorn and watch this movie every year around the holidays when it came on tv and I felt loved and when I watched Julie Andrews sing and I could breathe and I knew ALL THINGS IN LIFE WERE POSSIBLE.

Ahhh. Sigh. Breathe. Repeat.

Mucho amor, mes amis!

Stef

(No, I don’t speak Spanish. Or French. It’s Frenish. Just go with it).

The Beach Boys & the Great Divide

Conversation with my husband recently:

Me:  What’s that Beach Boys song I love? The romantic one?

Husband:  Oh, you’re thinking of {singing} “wouldn’t it be nice if we were older . . . ”

Me:  Yeah, I think that’s it. Is that it? I think so. By the way . . . Good vibrations?

Husband:  Yeah?

Me:  Gives me goosebumps.

Husband:  What?! How come you never told me that before? This is important stuff.

Me:  Does it make you love me more?

Husband:  Yeaaaahhh, lil bit.

XOXO,
Stef