Monday, March 31, 2014

Vulnerability

I've been ruminating on these words by Brene Brown lately: 

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.
Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves. Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.”


When it comes to relationships, past and present, I realize it has been my inability to be truly vulnerable that has caused many of them to fail. And I'm not just referring to romantic relationships, but also with friendships. I have had very few close friendships (and they're faithful blog readers, so what does that tell you?) and one -- no lie -- good romantic relationship. My high school boyfriend. Twenty years ago.

Vulnerability. That's what's been missing. Don't get me wrong. Not all my relationships have been unhappy. We each got what we wanted at the time and, in many cases, we ended up being friends. In fact, some of them were much more successful as friends. Why? Because it was then that I was at my best self.

In a strange way, I purposely chose people who were either overly affectionate and willing to please me or totally gave no regard to my feelings. No happy medium. No give and take. Sometimes it was just a physical attraction and I didn't have to open up about who I really am. Or it made them feel good to belittle me and I willingly took the abuse. In hindsight, I also see that I cast away good people who were truly interested in me. I felt undeserving. Unworthy. Unlovable. 

I have spent most of my life in relationships where I either held back. Retreated. Didn't make waves. Gave in. Or either I was just angry. Miserable. Shame? Disrespect? Blame? Betrayal? I did most of those things to myself. For the first time in my life I am not allowing myself to wallow in self-pity. Nor am I going to fall into the abyss of letting past hurts imprison my present and future happiness. I am vulnerable to my feelings.

And no, my dears, there is no back story here of a Prince Charming and a happily ever after. Instead, I am learning to rescue myself. If I can respect myself more, then I have a much better chance of building stronger relationships. And the one with myself is a good start. 




Saturday, March 29, 2014

Not a total failure after all...

Well, I haven't EXACTLY followed through on my Lent blogging plans. AT ALL. But, ladies and gentlemen, there are good reasons so I will not apologize. In fact, if it comes to matters of self-discipline and being hopeful for a reawakening come Easter...then I have done myself proud.

I realized the other day that I have four goals of late: make my bed, remember to take out the trash, stop starting sentences with "dude," and learn to think more highly of myself. I made major progress on the first three this week. But #4 is something I've struggled with forever. Despite the fact that I have had a challenging few years, I am actually at a place of peace. I not only accept what I've been through and where I am but, for the first time in a long time, I actually feel settled. Joyful. Happy.

For one, I seem to have found a great support system. I often joke that I take abuse easier than compliments, but I realized that was a really crappy attitude. And not funny. I really don't want to keep blaming my upbringing but -- as "they" say -- if it's not one thing it's your mother. I was raised not to be selfish or brag about myself, which I can understand. But the result for me is that I question anything I get (even if it's well earned) and I brush off anyone pointing out a good quality they see in me.

If I had to pin down a turning point, it was at a farewell lunch for a friend who is going back to Michigan after wintering in the Holy City. She has never missed an opportunity to tell me that I rock. She also brought me shoes and rum...icing on the cake. Maybe it was her gentle coaxing, but I finally have learned that I am where I need to be, doing what I need to be doing, with people I should be with.

I am sure I will have more profound thoughts as the rest of Lent unfolds, but suffice it to say that I may have failed on the goal I set. But, in the end, I am succeeding in the mission.

Namaste, y'all.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Blessed

One of my favorite things about visiting Winston-Salem -- maybe even more than apple fritters -- is everyone  wishing you "a blessed day." Now this is very different than "bless your heart" which could be a topic for another post.

On this particular visit, I really took this saying to heart. I have spent so much time focusing on the challenges and negative aspects of my life that I have not realized all the blessings. I also spent a lot of time doing things out of the ordinary. I had girlfriend time. I went places on the spur of the moment...just because. I reconnected with people and places that I had been missing far too long.

I truly had a blessed weekend. And I do lead a blessed life. I have had some wonderful opportunities thrown at me, from places I've visited to people who have graced my life with their presence. I could make myself miserable by counting my troubles. Or I can creative positive energy by counting my blessings. I choose the latter.

Y'all have a blessed day...



Saturday, March 15, 2014

Me, Myself and I

So, I've been thinking. Yes, I do more than take crummy photos on those early morning walks! I'm pretty sure most of you know that I have been going through a lot the past year or so. Ok, more like five. I feel like I've been a hot mess. Others tell me that they had no idea since I seem so upbeat all the time. Ah, well. Just another paradox of being Steph.

Unless you have been living under a rock, I am certain you have seen or heard a mention of the controversial "bossy should be banned" concept. I have never considered myself a feminist, but this really resonated with me. One of the things I have been considering a lot lately is how my life was shaped by how I was raised and how I choose to raise Sullivan. I've been a nanny/babysitter/mentor/teacher much of my life, yet it was like I started from ground zero with my own kid. But that's a story for another day.

My formative years were also somewhat of a paradox. My parents weren't ultra strict, conservative, or fundie (shout out to Jenny for that term) and even encouraged me to explore other political beliefs, cultures, and religions. All was cool with them, I suppose, as long as I came back to my traditional beliefs in the end. It didn't exactly happen that way, though, and I have always been somewhat of the black sheep. I was also raised to believe that I could do/be anything I wanted. Astronaut, doctor, lawyer, etc. But, if I got married and had kids...forget it. That was all supposed to go out the window. Being a wife and mother would trump everything. My life would end. Having my own life? Selfish. Getting a babysitter for a date night? Nope. Getting my haircut or going to the doctor alone? Not gonna happen. Oh, and even if you bring home the bacon, fry it up, and wash the pan...daddy-o rules the roost. Throw in that divorce is not an option, especially if kids are involved. Suck it up, buttercup. And if you happen to divorce, just plan on not dating until the kids are grown. I. Shit. You. Not.

All right, back to my point. Yesterday, I introduced a relatively new friend to my idea of "me time." It's not like I am cooking meth or pole dancing. It usually means indulgent things like errands or yoga or an uninterrupted bath. Contrary to what I was raised to believe, I truly believe these things are necessary. Does Sullivan really need an anxiety-ridden basketcase for a mama? Rather than be a martyr, I would much rather model healthy behavior for him to emulate. I also think about flight safety guidelines -- put on your mask before attempting to help others. And it's not like I haven't been taking the kid with me since he was a few weeks old in a sling.

Yesterday I dropped Sully off late and picked him early after being the guest reader in his class. In the meantime I did a few things by myself that included a trip to Donut World. Call me selfish, indulgent, whatever you want. But I do not regret it. And I did share :)



Enough deep thoughts for this early in the morning. Over and out.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Good morning, Winston-Salem!

So, for those of you who follow my morning routine via my sunrise photos, you may notice today is a bit different. This morning I woke up to a cold morning and elbows in my face. I am in my adopted home town of Winston-Salem, NC. I spent close to 5 years here. Looking back, they were some of the best years of my life. I honestly don't know what could have possibly made me stressed, annoyed or aggravated. The golden years.

On the other hand, to borrow a phrase from the wonderful Doug Bohr, they were also the "golden handcuffs." The last 5 years have been a struggle, to say the least. But I feel like I am finally moving toward a place where I know myself more, I realize my blessings, and I am moving forward in a positive direction.

I will spend time this weekend with the best thing to come from my time in W-S....my beloved Sullivan. I will also visit some old haunts and see dear friends. I am certain there will be some sad and awkward moments. But I no longer feel ashamed and browbeaten. I am proud of just being me and will hold my head high as I go out and greet the day.

Good morning, Winston-Salem!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Blessed

I woke up to darkness this morning (blasted time change) with every intention of heading to church then work. Instead I walked the bridge. I heard the Martina McBride song "Blessed" on my old kool Sony Walkman...met a Theta sister...and saw a spectacular sunrise. It was the most connected and spiritual I have felt in quite some time. I could write volumes about the rest of the day, but I will leave it here. I wish, for all of us, peace and grace this Lent.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

I'm Steph and I'm addicted to watching golf

After a long day I didn't blog and drank too much wine. Way to not follow Lenten goals, Steph :)

So, I am blogging twice today. Similar to random things about me, I was thinking I'd share some of my guilty pleasures. Ready, set, go...

1. Bad tv. My co-worker just can't get past the idea that I do indeed watch Dance Moms, Kim of Queens, Duck Dynasty, etc. Ok. Yep. Bad.

2. Billy Idol. and Eminem. I love me some Eminem.

3. Breakfast cereal. Actually, a nutritionist told me it's a good source of fortified vitamins and minerals. And who the heck can eat it as a meal? Does not fill me up...it's a good snack.

4. Facials. I am not fru-fru. Not into bling, manicures, etc. But, holy cow. I NEED my facials.

5. Bread and cheese. I still have chocolate sitting in the cabinet Mom gave me months ago. I could forgo sweets any day, but don't take my cheese. And gluten-free bs be damned.

6. Sports. I have always been active, but my lack of hand-eye coordination did not lend itself to organized sports. But I was a soccer manager/ref and can be a spectator with the best of 'em.

7. Thriftiness. I love a good bargain. I also love doing things like updating fridge magnets or water bottles with stickers. And, my favorite two words in the universe: FREE BOX.

8. Reusables. I have an unhealthy fascination with lunch packs, reusable containers, bees wrap, etc. The one time it caused trouble...when our janitor was instructed to throw out stuff in the fridge but not lunches. I guess my cute, practical, Japanese-style, stackable food containers did not scream out "expensive seafood packed to eat all week." Yep, about $50 worth of food in the trash. Boo.

All right. Time to get going. Stay tuned for more excitement from my world.