Being Fearless

When I was young, some family members called me “fearless.”

I leapt with faith that I would always land softly.

What happened to that fearless girl?

She comes out sometimes, when she has to get on stage. Vulnerability & bravery colliding.

I CAN do hard things. I CAN be fearless.

The bad self-talk will not prevent me from living and loving and being loved. I will not stand for anything less than what I am worth; and eventually I will trust that someone can actually fully & respectfully love me.

So there.

Xoxo,

Stef

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An Ode to Moms

Mom

She walks in the door, kicking off shoes, dropping purse, and putting hair up simultaneously, while checking on her minions as she goes.

Weariness settles in her bones like the caked on lasagna crust from the three day old dirty pan in the sink. “We’ll soak it one more day,” she says.

She wears her hair up at home because vanity is only for selfies, work, and the occasional night out. Hair up, soft pants, no bra; the uniform is complete.

Putting her feet up, “I deserve this,” she says, as she turns on reruns for 4 hours (that was only supposed to be one).

Small victories are meals made at home that have two components and an element of health, “tonight I made pork loin & veggies: go me!” she cheers.

At night while the kids are sleeping she tries to be entertained by the tv & her Internet-tethered phone and is often disappointed.

Time to go to bed, she reckons, and she’s wondering if she should talk to God tonight, or will her mind allow her to sleep.

To sleep dreamless nights of sweet oblivion, resetting for the marathon of one more day.

Full moons & Promises

Do you ever sit back and and really look at your life to see if you are living it in keeping with your core values? My pastor would call it the “growing edges.” Are we recognizing those spaces where we could have done better? Where we can learn from it? Or where we have improved?

Do you think about the little adjustments you can make to improve your life or do you just make sweeping changes that end up failing later? I have a suspicion the little changes will adhere better for the long term.

I’ve been thinking of the full moon tonight. I read that in my sign, Libra, it’s recommended to embrace change. Let endings end and new beginnings start. Embrace the small changes.

I believe there are things that exist in this world that I cannot see and I cannot prove. I believe there is magic & mysticism & spirituality that most of us will never witness. That doesn’t mean it’s not there. I believe in deja vu and no such thing as coincidences and I talk to my deceased grandparents, my sister, and a dear dead friend. They hover over my bed, their disembodied souls, and they listen to me talk when I need to talk to God, and they feel me cry when I need to get it out, and they see every side of me and they love me. I have no proof except the peace I gain from that conversation. That I not only “give it to God” but I rest it in the hands of those who love me.

Since my marital separation I have fallen for two men. I have wrestled with these loves, these broken hearts, for far too long. No more. It’s time to forgive them the hurt they caused and to let go of the burden of bad decisions I made. Forgive them, and forgive myself.

One of these men helped me immensely during such a hard, desolate, confusing time. He was patient when I held him at arms length. When I was confused & careless with his feelings he just stayed there, steady, waiting. It wasn’t until I fell for him that he backed away. He left me hanging and never explained why. I stumbled across his online profile the other day and realized he’s been in a committed relationship for awhile now. I am happy for him; it does appear she is probably a better fit. More outdoorsy than I am. But I have never stopped wondering what I did wrong to lose such a loving & good man. I must have pushed him away. I was such a mess then; still learning who I was going to be. I feel like I constantly owe him an apology and, at the same time, I’m constantly sad & hurt by him too. I am letting him go tonight. I honor that he was in my life for a purpose; a season of learning and growing. You will always be special to me, SJL. I wish you every happiness. Thank you for the love you gave to me.

The second is complicated, but not, and stupid, but not, and, fresh, but not. I fell for someone inappropriate; someone who doesn’t value me, who doesn’t love me, and who doesn’t want to be with me. Except when he wants to. It’s been going on for multiple years and it has to stop. I’m stopping it. In fact, I’m making the little adjustments I need to further build that gap. I will be strong. I will conquer this. I am deserving of love. I have so much to give and I want to give it to someone who equally cares for me. Help me to cut off this power, this obsessive, controlling mindfuck, so I can move on and find the joy I deserve. Help me be strong. To be the badass I know I am and walk away from this undeserving man and stop listening to the BS he feeds me every time he feels me pulling away from his chains. I will not be his to manipulate anymore. Goodbye SJW.

As I stand in the full moon tonight and admire the beauty & grace it gives, I also relinquish these painful ties upon my soul. You are forgiven and released to live your lives in the way best suited for you. I will do the same. My grandma and grandpa and my sister and my dear friend all hold my hands and help me, lords of my silent prayers, every day to find my way.

I will be true to my true nature.

I will love unabashedly but with caution.

I will not be fearful. I will take chances.

I will learn to be more diplomatic but still a force to be reckoned with (a fine line if ever there was one).

I will be strong & capable.

I will not be negative; negativity serves no one.

I will honor my body and what it needs.

I will love myself first so I can then give that love to others.

Do all things with love, my friends. We only have ONE life. One. It’s ebbing away every single day. Love as much as you can. Do not hate. Hate kills your soul. Offer forgiveness. Extend a comforting hand of love to those who are struggling. But honor yourself first. Put your oxygen mask on so you can assist others.

Give yourself grace to be human and move forward from a place of joy & contentment.

I am a good person. I may not ever find romantic love again but I will continue to open my heart and be there if & when it does come. I will operate with integrity, mindfully, going forward.

I’m here, Cupid! Wtf are you?

Happy New You, my friends.

Xoxo,

Stef

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

BAD. ASS. ♥️

I got a tattoo! My first.

On my hip, and it hurt like a mother forker!!

But it means a lot to me, for a variety of reasons that are close to my heart. The pain was momentary, and worth it!

I chose my hip because this tattoo is for me, and me alone. I want it as a daily reminder of who I am; I don’t want to forget what I can do, how strong I am, or how worthy I am.

Also, in regard to the divisional matchups this weekend: GO EAGLES! #flyeaglesfly

Xoxo,

Stef

What kind of year has it been part 2

I tried this a couple weeks ago and it went off the rails in one particular direction. Oh dear. Let’s take romance, or lack thereof, out of the equation.

You know how football teams have rebuild years? That was this year for me. It was all about transition and growth this year. Acceptance. Hard truths. Change. Gearing up and preparing for what comes next.

What does come next?

Well, a new job, I think, inshallah. I’m working on my resume right now. 12 years later and I feel like I don’t know how to characterize what I’ve done in that time.

My youngest will be 14 here in a second. My oldest will be 16 soon. He’s getting his driver’s permit in a few weeks.

I need to figure out how to continue the workouts regime I had started last year. My wonderful trainer isn’t offering regular classes anymore and since the move started this past summer everything had just dropped off. I’ve only worked out haphazardly but, truly, I love the classes. They help me so much.

Job first though. I don’t know how to solve for two life-altering problems at one time. I truly do not.

But – this is the big one – I need to fix my mind. My outlook.

I am so cautious. So afraid. So scared that I will make a mistake. It paralyzes me sometimes from making necessary decisions.

When I was young my aunt said I was fearless. I want to be be fearless again. I want to be undaunted. I want be that woman that when she wakes the devil says, “uh-oh, she’s up!”

How do I become a badass again?

I said I wasn’t going to talk about romance but I have a quick thought: what I thought I wanted was false. What I want is yet to be found, but I feel like it will scare me and intrigue me and lighten my soul when it does happen.

I am so worthy of love. And I do want to give that love in return. I have too much to give for someone not to gravitate to my heart & my arms eventually. I need to hold that faith hard and focus on making myself the best version of me that I can possibly be.

I’m so scared as I step into 2018 but I’m trying desperately to shake off that mantle and step bravely ahead. I know there’s joy & contentment there if I just put a little elbow grease into it.

Dear heavenly creator, thank you for this day! Thank you that I woke up, all my loved ones awoke, and they thrived in their joys. I laid in bed this morning feeling gratitude for the shelter over my head, my warm blankets, and my health, and the health of the people I love so dearly. Please continue to provide loving perspective to their actions and help guide them to their joy and happiness. Please help me to be humble, loving, compassionate, inspired, and unselfish in my desires. I want to be proud of everything I do.

AMEN.

I wish this all for you too. I love you, as I love the stranger sitting next to me at this bar (as I sip my chocolate martini and listen the the gorgeousness that is Blaze & Kelly strumming at their guitars and crooning into their microphones) and I wish each of you joy, success, and love in 2018.

If this is a rebuild year for you then please know you WILL get through this.

If you are stuck in your life please explore your joy. You’re not a tree.

And if you’re somewhere in-between, you have my support. Make your decisions with good, measured balance and you will come out ahead.

All my love, and all the light I can possibly muster!

Xoxo,

Stef

42

Today is my birthday. I don’t much mind the birthday itself. I think 42 is going to be a fantastic age, and a grand year in almost all respects. 

A dear friend once told me his philosophy on life. He said life is like a pie. It’s cut into 6 or 8 pieces and all of those pieces represent different parts of your life. One piece is for joy & satisfaction from your children. Another is job satisfaction. Another is spiritual peace. Another is sex. And so on. One is romantic love: the satisfaction, joy, & contentment from knowing you love someone with your whole being & they unequivocally love you back. That you are their person. 

He contended that as long as most of the pieces of the pie were full or mostly full then that made up for the pieces that were only half full, or a quarter full. I think, though, there are some pieces that are WORTH more. That instead of being evenly divided the pie was lop-sided. That having only a quarter of a big piece was more impactful than a quarter of a smaller piece because then you still had more of the whole. 

How much can we affect the value of each piece? Can I tell myself that I don’t need romantic love and convince myself to make that piece smaller? What about sex? Sure, I can get sex if I really want it but do I want to waste my joy & vulnerability on someone that I don’t have a heart connection with? No, I don’t. I think those two pieces are woven together tightly. They should be, at least. 

So as I sit here on my 42nd birthday, the year that will provide me the answer to life, the universe, and everything, I wonder what I can do to fill up my pie more in the other areas while lacking in the love & sex pieces. Because I don’t want to dither anymore. I don’t want to waste my time. I don’t want to keep hoping for what isn’t there. I’m 42. I’m strong. Dammit, I’m a badass. (At least I was told that once or twice). 

I’m not going to settle for less than I deserve. I’m not going to settle. Period. 

My darling dearest, you come at me with love, respect, and an open heart and I’ll be here. Until then, I’m going to rebuild, strengthen, and increase every other piece of my life until I am surrounded by peace & love & hard-earned prosperity. And then, my friend, you will wish you had me to hold. You will wish you saw this power radiating in me through your narrow vision before it was too late. I will not let you oppress me. 

I have it all within me. I just need to believe it, own it, and focus. I will not be swayed. 

This is 42. This is me. 

Xoxo,

Stef 

Alone

How do we feel about being alone? Love it? Hate it? Introvert? Extrovert?


I’m sitting at a bar by myself listening to a local band I love. I am alone. I had a meal. I had drinks. I chatted briefly with a neighbor before she joined a friend. But I am alone in my enjoyment of the music. 

This isn’t new. I do this on the regular. I’ve never had much of a social life as an adult living in Idaho. I was “just a mom” for a long time. I went to work and came home. Since my divorce and as the boys have gotten older I’ve tried to develop a social life, through dating or friends. Some of those times have been better than others. I have GREAT friends but they all have tighter friends, and my BEST friends are in other states and, well, that leaves me at a bar on Saturday night alone. 

I don’t have a boyfriend. If you read my previous blog you know I have a “friend.” But my friend doesn’t want me, not in this way, and he’s curmudgeonly and would never go see live music with me at the bar. 

Sidebar: wtf am I doing with this dude? Why am I allowing him this? I don’t know. But it’s only in the absence of something I miss that actually makes me feel lonely. Lonely is not the same as alone. 

I am an introvert. I can only stand people and talking for so long. But I love talking with people I love; my little circle of trust. Where are my heart-string-pulling loves? They are away, all far away. 

And now the band plays, “how I wish, how I wish you were here. We’re just two lost souls living in a fishbowl year after year …” 

Ahhh … how I wish you were here. To hold my hand and sing along with the music with me. To thrill over it with me, and rub my back in rhythm with the music. Oh, mythical partner, how I wish you were here. 

I feel unloveable a lot. It sounds pitiful to say, I know. I don’t mean it that way. I know I have value. But I don’t know if my value is in being a loving partner. I don’t know if anybody would fall in love with me again. I feel like the only people who can love me are those who loved me when I was young, fearless, and effervescent. (Was I effervescent? I hope so). 

Anyway, though, I only say that to say this: I’m becoming so comfortable being alone I don’t know if I could meld my life with someone else’s at this point. Just over the last 4 years of living alone I’ve become comfortable in my new norm. 

Being alone is okay. It’s do-able. It’s not the dream but it’s the reality, and it’s not horrific. I can control the remote, cook what I want, and be naked when I want. (Except that part isn’t as fun alone. Just sayin’).

I was reading this article on strong, independent women and how they value being alone. Here are some quotes: 

Cheryl Strayed

“Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren’t a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was.” — Wild, March 2012

Chelsea Handler

“It’s not just O.K. to be single for both men and women — it’s wonderful to be single, and society needs to embrace singlehood in all its splendiferous, solitary glory. Next time you see a single woman, instead of asking her where her boyfriend, husband or eunuch is, congratulate her on her accomplished sense of self and for reaching the solitary mountaintop by herself without a ring on her finger weighing her down like a male paperweight. Without single women and their impressive sense of self, we’d be without Queen Elizabeth I, Marie-Sophie Germain, Susan B. Anthony, Florence Nightingale, Jane Austen, Harper Lee, Diane Keaton, Greta Garbo, Jane Goodall and me, myself and I. Being single is delightfully more than it’s cracked up to be … if you can stand the horror of your own company, that is.” — Time, May 2016

I’m alone, and that’s okay. I like it most of the time. I’d like it better if I knew it wasn’t endless though. 

Listen to this bit of sublimeness, will you?Brandi Carlile, Looking Out

To all my lonely Saturday night girls, I love you and you’re not alone, you sweet little hearts. 

Xoxo,

Stef 

Big changes are coming – part 1

Where to start, my darling dears? Where indeed! It’s been awhile. 

I left you on a dark note back in May. I came back from London disheartened. I walked back into a work environment in disarray. So many changes are happening. At this point they aren’t largely impacting me too terribly, but there’s a chance they will. 

Last week I spoke in front of our North America Sales org and it went well. I’m praying for positive momentum at work! 

There are home changes too. Literally I’m going to be changing homes! I’m about to put my home of 12 years up for sale. It was not an easy decision, however it is necessary for a multitude of reasons I won’t get into here. The boys are somewhere between excited/sad/anxious/curious. They don’t remember our previous home. Don’t worry, my sweet little men, I’ll find a good home for our future. 

Where will we land??? That is a huge question. I’ve never bought a house without my husband. We bought two together. Will I know myself well enough to figure out the right house for us? 

This is an adventure. It’s part of the journey, right? We have one life. Every day gets us closer to the end (not trying to be morbid) so why waste time treading water? 

If you’ve been around my blog long then you’ll know I started writing to get myself back. I felt I had lost myself in my marriage. I didn’t even know what I wanted or liked anymore; it was about what they wanted, what they liked. 

This is (almost) 42, and I am going to *ducking OWN IT:


Every step along the way has opened a window onto my adult soul. It allows me to figure out what fuels my fire, drives my passion. I am unapologetic as I figure out who I am; it’s a journey and I try to traverse it with as much kindness & self-awareness as I can. There will be mistakes/mishaps/errors in judgement along the way. I’m guilty. I’m not apologetic though. 


My arms hurts today from a lot of manual labor yesterday. I’m tired. But I will press on. There will be joy after this trial. 

Sometimes it’s so hard but, I have to admit, I really love my life. I love being able to determine what I’m going to do, when, and with whom. 

(These guys are always my first choice).

So much love,

Stef 

* oh auto-correct. Don’t you know me by now? I hardly ever say “ducking.”

Love yourself 

Hello, my friends. It’s a hard topic today, I’m afraid.  

I’m in London on business and I had an unfortunate conversation yesterday. I stewed on it a few hours then took it to a powerful support group: my friends at my friendly neighborhood fitness studio. This is what I wrote, and thank goodness for their positivity & support. 

Here it is: 

Hi ladies. I had an emotionally hard evening earlier and I’m still bothered by it so I felt I should write it out. 

It’s my last day in London and at an after work cocktail party I was having a conversation with 3 other women. Two are vice presidents within the company, 46 & 48 years old, and the other is a manager like me, and she’s 40. All three are about a size 6. The manager also teaches body pump and is fairly muscular. The VPs started talking about how they’ve gained weight. How they have “ballooned” since last year due to stress & travel & dining out a lot & drinking a lot – as is often expected at these work things. They both started sharing horror stories about clothes not fitting, bathing suits where they have back fat where they didn’t used to. One referred to herself as having become “a fat whale.” It went on like this for several minutes. 
I was so offended. I felt it was such a distasteful, nasty, mean-spirited conversation on two counts: 

1. How dare they speak so horribly about themselves! And their wonderful bodies! I wanted to shake them and say don’t you understand the beauty & glory & honor it is to be uniquely you? Just as you are? 

2. I was standing there in my size 18 body, in the conversation, while one called her own body a fat whale. If she thinks that of herself then what does she think of me? Is she judging the size of my thigh? The jiggle of my upper arm? Does she think I am less capable than I am because I’m not slim & trim? 

I am sick of women who feel they have to tear themselves down. In doing so they tear down the other women around them. These are strong, amazing, successful women who just absolutely tore apart their bodies in a 5 min conversation, and, I felt, tore mine apart too.

The other manager and I both were silent. I think she has a healthy, realistic body image, as she should – she’s worked hard for it. 

I felt so uncomfortable, so awkward. Like I was, literally, the elephant in the room. 
I just wonder if women like them can hate their own bodies so much then am I stupid to be okay with mine? I mean, I’m *not* okay with it but I’m also doing something about it! And in the meantime I don’t have to hate it. I can celebrate it and the strength and amazing things it’s done for me over these last 5 months at the studio – plus the last 41 years of my life! But this conversation implied that I should hate my body unless it’s perfectly perfect and it made me so sad. It made me feel shame. Like how dare I love my body when these women don’t even like theirs! 

That’s not okay. 

It also made me wonder if I have to to be like them to promote further within my company? If so, then maybe I need a new company. 

I’m coming home tomorrow and I cannot wait to come back to my life. This got long so bless you if you read through it. See you all soon.

* * * 

That kind of talk is foreign to me anymore. I love my body and how hard it works, how it moves, how it keeps me alive. I think we need to change how we talk about ourselves. We need to love ourselves no matter our size. We work hard. We love others and we want to be loved so why is this so hard. 

LOVE YOURSELF. 

Xoxo,

Stef

P.S. Stop reading women’s magazines & celebrity magazines. It’s bad for your health. 

P.S.S. The pic is of me on stage speaking in front of 200 people earlier this week. Do you have any idea how hard that is for me? How self-conscious I feel? But I fake it. Hide the nerves. Put on my Spanx & a dress and just fucking do it. Because I’m smart, capable, and I know my shit. Nobody is going to dim my light. Afterward someone said they were in awe of my confidence and that I obviously really know what I’m talking about. I’m cute, I’m smart, I’m capable, I’m loving, and, oh yeah, I’m also fat. But it’s only a feature of my whole.