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.

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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

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

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. 

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

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 

Falling down the rabbit hole

Are you familiar with that term? Its origin is from Alice & Wonderland, of course, but I’ve heard it used a lot lately in reference to research or some other absorbing activity from which it’s very difficult to be extracted.

Recently I have started DVR’ing this show called Intervention. It’s where they shadow a drug addict on the premise of making a documentary on drug addiction and show culminates in the actual intervention with the family & an interventionist.

Tonight I fell down the rabbit hole watching this show. This show is entirely fascinating to me. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been into drugs. They scare me. The thought of being out of control, the thought of being addicted, being a slave to it, or of living that lifestyle – it’s way outside my comfort zone.

But what gets me the most are the back stories; finding out what drove these people to their present level of addiction. Discovering why their inner demons needed soothing from the drug. Sometimes I cry my eyes out during the actual intervention part of the show; just seeing the raw emotion from the addict & their families. So much hurt & pain; so much abject fear of losing their loved one.

Sometimes I associate with those people far more than I could have ever imagined. Their pain is so acute they could no longer function without self-medicating. I know pain like that.

I don’t run to the medicine cabinet though. I throw myself into work, or I distract myself with the TV, with mothering, with cooking, with crafts. Yes, some of that is certainly therapeutic, but it’s also avoidance. I feel sometimes it’s a constant battle keeping the demons at bay; keeping myself from dropping down a rabbit hole, an emotional spiral, of sadness and depression.

We hear the word “triggers” a lot these days. A Huffpost article about striving for body perfection may have a trigger warning for people who suffer from eating disorders. An article about rape may have a trigger warning for those grappling with the emotional trauma of a sexual assault.

There is no trigger warning for most of life’s heartaches, though. We can’t insulate the world from every bad thing. The show Intervention triggers an emotional response in me, but I have to wonder if that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Do we want to go through life only dealing with the easy? Nope. We can’t only have good. If there was no bad then we would never appreciate good.

– – – – – – – – – – –

I wrote the above a few days ago, and then I got in a car accident tonight. My goodness, that certainly punctuates taking the bad with the good, doesn’t it? I’m upset about the accident, but so relieved no one was hurt. Things like that knock us down a peg and remind us that we’re only human. We make mistakes. We get holes in our bumpers, it happens.

One of my favorite sayings is to be kinder than necessary because we’re all fighting some kind of battle. I try to keep that in mind, always; some times it’s harder than others. When I watch the behavior of addicts on Intervention all I can think of is how much their people must love them to endure it. Thank God for that love. I’m so grateful for the people who love me unconditionally.

Love & light to you, and remember to take it easy on the self-blame. Just do better next time.

XOXO,

Stef

Busy work

Oh boy. Guys, I’m beat.

I was in California for 8 days, 6 of those days for work. A delayed flight got me home at 2 am Monday night, but then my Autistic dude didn’t sleep all night at his dad’s so I got to hang out with him the next day. No napping for either of us! Work & errands beckoned because my oldest had a choir concert that evening and had grown out of his pants & shoes. So I have been sprinting ever since – between the choir concert, soccer practice, Disney on Ice, the Boise vs. Fresno football game, and the last soccer game of the season, not to mention going to work every day, this worn out girl has had very little downtime!

No surprise I came home from the soccer game today, made lunch for the kiddos, and promptly fell asleep on the couch. Zzzzzzzzzz.

So, since I can’t form any coherent thoughts at this point, I’ll show you a few pics from the last week – from my high school (go Bullpups!), sunrise on my Amtrak ride, my 6 hour time killer at the OAK airport, and some fun stuff with the boys after I got back.

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Emotionally, if you’re wondering, I’m tired, sad, content, lonely, mad, frustrated, thankful, grateful, and occasionally happy. You didn’t think it would be simple, did you?

All my love, light & hope,

Stef

Handcuffed & duct taped

Warning: this is not a happy post. This is an angry post. There is language. There is emotion behind everything I’m expressing here. But If I can’t express it here, at least the emotion of it, on MY blog, where can I?

I am so angry. I want to express that anger. I want to let it fly. I want to spew it and all the reasons why all over anybody and everybody who will listen.

But I can’t. I can’t even do it in this blog. I can’t do it on Facebook. I can’t do it at work. I can’t do it on Twitter, or Instagram. It’s not just one thing. It’s 3 things. 3 distinct things that have all built up to a volcano sized eruption today but it has nowhere to go.

I’m mad about things I can’t talk about, except in whispers to a friend.

(Note to self: somewhere in-between work & mothering, make more friends. Local, preferably, for weekly sippin’ & bitchin’).

Social Media is the easiest, right? Stop, drop an explosive bomb, relieve the spleen, then walk away. But there are inherent problems with that scenario. Hurt feelings, sometimes rightfully, sometimes imagined, or those people, usually those least involved in your life, who plead for more information or offer the worst possible advice.

Or you can leave the cryptic, “I’m so angry right now I could just explode” comment that just irritates the living crap out of anybody & everybody who actually has an interest. No, can’t do that. I detest those posts.

So I’ll sit here and fester. I’ll feel hurt. I’ll feel rejected. I’ll feel overwhelmed, unloved, unsupported, overworked, under-appreciated, and it will just fester.

Maybe I should be more ruthless. Maybe I should care less. Maybe that would make all this easier.

But, fuck, I don’t know HOW to care less.

So this is my vent. My rant. My rage. This is all I can say.

And maybe just this: My love language is acts of service. When people do things for me, things that make my life just a little easier, that’s how I feel loved. I mean, I like touch & affection, gifts, and all that as well, but it’s acts of service that brings me to my knees. This is true in all relationships, romantic or otherwise, at work, and just in life in general. But when you do the opposite, when you make my life harder, when you hurt me and you make me angry, when you discount me, it’s like a slap in the face. Selfish bastards.

No hugs and kisses, or light and love from me today. I’m trying to let it go. Trying, trying, trying.

 

-Stef