What kind of year has it been?

I could easily make this post about the atrocious politics we’ve witnessed in the U.S. this year. I’ve never experienced a time when the daily news cycle affected me so completely.

But I can’t think about that for the purpose of this. I need to reach within and find how I feel. That’s hard for me. I fluctuate between survival mode & joy. Survival mode is when emotion gets squelched as much as possible. It’s not that I don’t feel, but I consciously minimize it and reduce my reaction to it. Joy is when I’m so content I can’t find the negative. Or I choose not to see the negative. On second thought maybe that’s part of survival mode too.

But that’s not healthy. I have so much self-doubt. I have such a fear of making the wrong decision. This year has been, and is still, pushing me way beyond my comfort zone. I sold my house of 12 years and bought a new one. Was that the right decision? How do I know? How do I even quantify that answer?

I was so sad to leave the old house. So sad to walk away from the memories and the feeling of Home that house always gave me. I just have to keep telling myself it was the right thing to do. It was. It was, it was, it was.

***

I don’t talk about my work here very much and I’ll keep this brief: soon I very likely will not have a job. I am starting to look for a new one. After 12 years.

Man, when I turned 42 and I took that quote from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and adopted it as my motto for this year, I had no idea all THIS would happen. The ultimate answer to life, the universe & everything is 42. I had no idea that would mean a new house and, hopefully a new job/career.

If you pray, please pray. If you chant, meditate, or send positive vibes, please do so. Light a candle for me. I’m a single mom with only one source of income. I don’t get child support; I pay it. I just bought a new house. I’m still paying all the joint bills from my marriage. I need to not be out of a job and I’m so scared every single day right now I feel paralyzed. Note: Being paralyzed is not how to find a new job.

***

And with all this would it shock you to find out I’m still looking for love? I don’t know why I haven’t given up. I just need to believe that I am lovable. That someone will come along and see through my facade of bravado, see all my little broken pieces, and love me anyway.

He will:

  • When first meeting me, he will approach me with respect. He will feel compelled to meet me.
  • He will ask for my number. He will try to learn about me. He will be interested in the words that come from my mouth.
  • He will call or text when he says he’s going to. And before we sign off talking he will tell me when next I’ll hear from him. He’ll take the lead. He’ll tell me about his life. He’ll want me to know all the things that make him who he is.
  • He will be kind, compassionate, empathetic, smart, creative, thoughtful, loving, funny and generally a pretty happy and content person. A positive person.
  • When he asks me on a date, he’ll plan it or at least give me options. He’ll take my comfort & safety into account. If he brings me flowers I guarantee to be impressed and happy.
  • He’ll try to open my doors for me and he will good-naturedly roll with it when I open my own doors because I’m an independent woman, dammit. But he will keep trying. I secretly love that.
  • If we walk down the street he’ll make sure he’s closer to the curb. If I’m wearing heels he’ll offer his arm.
  • He’ll ask me when he can see me again before we even end the first date, and he’ll text me good night when he gets home.
  • When he meets my sons, which he will want to do, he’ll be inclined to love them because they’re mine, and because they’re wonderful.
  • He’ll love Friday night family movie nights, with pizza & popcorn.
  • He’ll call me on Saturdays at 8 AM and say get dressed, let’s go to breakfast & the Saturday market. Or get the boys and let’s go on an adventure! Let’s go find a hot spring! Or on a Saturday night, let’s go find a great spot in the country to look at stars, listen to music & kiss.
  • And he’ll want to walk with me in public, and hold my hand, and be proud to call me his partner.
  • And when I’m upset or sad or mad, he’ll tell me everything will be alright and we’ll get through this together. He’ll understand my mad is usually frustration. My sad is usually unresolved pain. My upset is usually a hurt. He’ll want to mend me because he doesn’t like seeing my frustration, pain or hurt.
  • He will be independent, strong, capable, and he will be good with fixing things because I think people who fix things don’t throw away value.

Does he exist?

I think he must. I know it’s a long list but, honestly, the things I want to be for him, to reciprocate, is an even longer list. I’m so eager to love & be loved it permeates my thoughts.

I wish I had him to talk about my work struggles with, or to share my concerns about our government, or to just try a new restaurant. I want him to know that I don’t like onions on my burgers unless it’s haystack onions, and I like my steaks medium rare. I’ll know that he doesn’t like tomatoes. He’ll know that my favorite type of frozen yogurt is Dole pineapple mixed with coconut. He’ll know that scary movies are no bueno, and that Eagles football is life Sept-Dec.

I want a partner.

And, as Frida says, I want to take a lover that looks at me like maybe I’m magic.

***

I moved my home. I’m about to change jobs/careers. I CAN do hard things. Alone. I can do hard things alone. I’m just tired & sad that I have to.

My marriage has been over for at least 4 1/2 years. I’m a good person. I’m a good woman. Where is he?

I wish all of you love & light & joy & stability in your life.

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

The Promise of Tomorrow 

Today was a hard day. But that’s okay. I will survive and keep going because I have hope. 

The Promise of Tomorrow

Bukra, inshallah: 

Tomorrow when I wake,

I’ll have the expectation of joy.

Tomorrow when I wake,

A smile at my lips will toy.

Bukra, inshallah:

I will remember these things:

Someone said that I am amazing. 

I will remember these things:

Someone said that I am deserving.

Bukra, inshallah: 

When my foot hits the ground

I’ll rejoice in the weight it holds.

When my foot hits the ground 

I’ll strike a dance like 20 year olds. 

Bukra, inshallah:

I will remember that love exists.

I will remember holding my children tightly. 

I will remember how laughter feels. 

I will remember the promise of tomorrow. 

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. 

Imma be me

You’re not my type

From the moment we met
I knew it wasn’t you
No way, not even on a bet
But what’s a good girl to do?

You see, the odd thing with me is
I’m not just what you see
Not just white & blue, but reds too
Not beige, or silly taupe, imma be me

Raised right, moral fiber strong
I know very well right from wrong

Wild streak? Not that brave
But my precious wants crave
For the challenge of your metal
I want every bite; I won’t settle

I don’t maim, kick, or ridicule
My heart bleeds … but imma be me

You’re my Mount Everest, baby
I gotta climb; hit that peak
Oh honey, I’ll be your lady
Come, give me what I seek

Be my right now, my today
But not tomorrow, okay?

You’re not him, I don’t think
You’re fire to this kindling
It shouldn’t be, there’s no link
Except this flame is not dwindling

You’re not my type
Never gonna be
But come kiss me
’cause imma be me

—————————–

Proffered without comment. *sigh*

-Stef

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