Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I stopped "tri" ing, but haven't given up

Holy heck...two posts in one day!

I have the good fortune of working with a very international staff. The nature of the project draws people from all over the world and, while it is nice to be "blessed" in many languages after a sneeze, sometimes things get lost in translation. While I am usually the one helping translate for my esteemed colleagues, this time they made some things abundantly clear for me.

You may remember me stating publicly that I would be training for a triathlon. Not an IronGirl, but Ramblin' Rose. I have spent most of my life on a bike or in athletic shoes. While I am in the water every chance I get, I have never been a strong swimmer. But. I'm always willing to face a challenge head on. I started running first, thinking the biking would be a breeze. I was dreading the swim portion. After arguing with someone one evening, I wisely chose to go running instead of something self-destructive. And, I felt free. I have run almost every day since. I will never be an elite runner, but I am steadily improving. And the running community has been very supportive and encouraging.

While running, I often pass a younger, fitter colleague that is also tri training. And she rocks it. I didn't feel like I was competing with her, but somehow my heart wasn't in it in the same way. A few days ago. another colleague came in with a bib on from a 5K. I asked him how it went. He grimaced and said something I didn't quite catch. But, what he said next really resonated. He said he enjoyed the camaraderie and it was for a good cause, but that he is a swimmer not a runner. He was happy he did it, but he doesn't plan on doing it regularly.

I am all about stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things. Like the day one of my fav teachers sprung hot yoga on us. I live in a place that is like a sauna a good chunk of the year. Why would I go in a room and sweat on purpose? Just not my thing. I love the beach and a good long ride. But I fear I would come to hate swimming and biking if I forced myself to train for a triathlon.

I am a runner. That is clear...even through a language barrier. So, I've revised things a bit. I don't plan to run a marathon, though. I am only half crazy ;)

Thoughts on Coming Out

I have a lot on my mind and heart, which will be revealed in the near future, but suffice it to say I'm often a bundle of anxious energy. Even now, I can't decide whether I should be resting, running or organizing. Or maybe one last beach day? I digress.

As usual, I have neglected my writing. And reading. And all things that fulfill me. My running has improved, but mostly because I can take out my aggression on the pavement. I have been reading/skimming my blog reading list daily. Last night, I came across something on Up Popped a Fox that really helped clarify things for me. The writer mentioned a few things that happened when she "came out." No, that is NOT my big revelation. But, those who know me well know I am a strong ally. And, after reading the post, I realize that sexual orientation is not the only thing that can be closeted.

I have written about it here and I struggle daily with my strained family situation. It is really awful and I take responsibility for a lot of things I did wrong. But, if I had to do it over again, I think what I regret the most is wanting to please everyone at my own expense. I have hidden my beliefs, toned down my personality, and even wished I could change myself to fit into a mold that would make my family love me more. Or a guy to look my way. Or the cool kids to invite me to a party. I didn't see myself as good, pretty, smart, funny, or worthy of love. I was raised to believe not to be boastful, not to put myself out there. That led to years of abuse by others and, worse, my own self loathing.

Somewhere along the way, I gained confidence to be myself. I "came out" and found that people like me just the way I am. I have people in my life that support me, challenge me, and just plain care about me. They listen without judgment. They console and empathize. They compliment me. They not only accept me, but they celebrate me.

I know it is idealistic, but imagine how wonderful it would be if we all celebrated each other instead of seeing differences in race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. I may appear very different than the lovely writer that inspired this post but, after contemplating her thoughts, I realize how very similar we are at heart.

Friday, October 17, 2014


I will admit to being a little "different" as a kid. I preferred to go antiquing; watch old movies and musicals; eat vegetables; read; and dress as literary or  historical figures for Halloween. Even today, I could read _A Tree Grows in Brooklyn_ or watch 'Little House" any day. Or sing show tunes. Or, if I were to have another child she would be Cordelia, a "perfectly elegant name" according to _Anne of Green Gables_. And, especially when I am sick, I want to watch " The Little Princess" or "Pollyanna."

Pollyanna. I had an antique "Glad Game" when I was younger and still, somewhat, play this game today. I am not a super perky person and can even be quite cynical and pouty. But I don't see the need to be unnecessarily so. Being negative and grumpy only makes things worse. I am quite tired of apologizing for my disposition.

I cannot deny that the last few years haven't been all rainbows and unicorns. I have made some missteps, had some unfortunate occurrences thrown at me, and am still struggling. But I do not spend every day wallowing in self pity. I have grown quite strong. realized value in good relationships, learned to count my blessings; and have attempted to find something good in every day.

In essence, I play the "Glad Game."

I try not to make this is a space where I spew hatred on those that have wronged me and there are some things and people I hold close to my heart. But, as the saying goes, "you catch more flies with honey." I simply have no use for negativity. I am all about sharing joy and love. Celebration, and encouragement. Empathy and support.

It's not a contest. My choosing happiness does not mean I don't care or that I am not hurting. I don't negate your feelings. I welcome everyone to join me in peace and harmony. It sure beats being miserable.

I am very thankful for things and people that sustain me. And I will not be dragged down by those that don't.

Just call me Pollyanna.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Church Alone?

I have resisted the urge not to post amusing stories about my wild child so that he a) doesn't hate me as a teen and b) the handful of you that read this don't stop because...well, we all know people don't often find funny stories about other people's kids funny. Sully makes me laugh constantly, but his antics yesterday...geez. Could. Not. Stop. Laughing.

As many kids do at his age -- for me it was Grease 2 -- he will watch the same movie over and over. This week it's Home Alone. He seems intrigued by the fact that lil Kevin McAllister can not only fight bad guys but also survive for days without any parental guidance. Hold that thought.

As many of you know, my former spouse and I disagree on many things. We are both, however, pretty reluctant churchgoers. He does a lot with his Methodist parish, but doesn't attend services. I'm a  recovering Catholic turned "Whiskeypalian." You know, rituals without guilt (thanks, Robin Williams). I am all about the pew aerobics; thees and thines; and, yes, we serve real wine. But, I also got dirty looks when I unknowingly walked in on a lesson about of the creation of the solar system and started singing the "Big Bang Theory" theme song. Anyway, you get the picture.

With that in mind, we all have enjoyed attending a few Presbyterian churches. Yep, the "frozen chosen." We have been to several events at a particular church but never a service. Our little Presbyterian knows the drill: kids are called to a brief sermon and then attend kids' church while parents get some quiet time. Right before going to the altar, Sully asked if we could go sit in the balcony. I whispered "next time" and ushered him to the front. After the sermon, he smiled as he whizzed by...following some little girls (as usual). After a longish service, I went back to the vestibule to pick up some information.

As I am putting papers into my bag, I hear a little voice say "Hi, Mommy. Where was kids' church?" I respond "uhh...didn't you go the room where I helped with Vacation Church School?" Nope. He didn't go at all. Instead, he walked up to the balcony and remained there for the entire service.

Aside from obvious safety concerns, I was both mortified and proud. My independent boy made a decision to do what he wanted in regard to church. And my little Kevin McAllister did so without fuss, as nobody stopped the service to complain about his behavior. And, holy heck, on the day before his first day of kindergarten and he is already cutting class!

So, don't hate me. I just had to share this funny little story. Happy Monday, y'all.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Cross the Bridge

I've written before about my adoration of the Ravenel Bridge. Not only is it great exercise to walk 5 miles, but I also get to witness a beautiful sunrise every morning. It also has become my thinking place...or where I sometimes go to escape my thoughts. You may think I have always found this to be my happy spot. But you'd be wrong.

When I moved away at 17 -- unwillingly -- I always saw the Cooper River Bridges (bonus points if you pronounced "Cooper" correctly!) as a symbol of home. Growing up, I learned how my grandfather had worked on the Grace Memorial (aka "old bridge") and knew all too well that my mother became a 21-year-old widow with three small children when her late husband's tanker jackknifed at the base of the Silas Pearman (aka "new bridge"). I recall being homesick in college when I would see Hootie and the Blowfish's "Time" video, which featured the bridges.

The bridges were so much a part of me that I literally wept at the thought of them being replaced. I was okay with the idea of an alternative with the construction of the Mark Clark Expressway, but I still wanted the option of going over the spans and smelling the pluff mud. Or the paper mill(!). I thought the new bridge to be ugly and, most of all, found the concept of change uncomfortable.

Maybe it is selective memory, but I don't recall when I decided to give the bridge a chance. Was it on a trip to my beloved Sullivan's Island? Or the lovely waterfront park underneath? Or maybe I was just swayed by the pedestrian walkway? I may never remember what it was that allowed me to fall in love with the bridge. I am just happy I gave in to to resistance and have gained so much pleasure from the experience.

As I have alluded to in this space, the last few years have not been easy. I am at a point now where there is a lot at stake and some major decisions will need to be made. I may fear the unknown, but at least I know that change may lead to something even better. And, though the view may be different, home is still where the heart is.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Lesson From My Own Little Yogi

“You can always take child’s pose.”

I have heard those words spoken so many times in yoga class but have never heeded. I always think of yoga as part of my fitness regimen and, although it goes against so much of the non-competitive yoga credo, I always seem to push through my (physical and emotional) pain.

This past Saturday, I found myself in my beloved Winston-Salem with my “wild child.” A new studio in my former neighborhood was offering community yoga and kirtan. Sullivan has been to yoga many times and has a strong interest in music (instruments especially) so we opted to go. I was a little concerned, however, because he just started a new daycare program in advance of kindergarten starting next month. He is busier during the day and has no nap. Add a lot of other issues brewing in our family and you have one discombobulated five-year-old.

Sullivan started out well, but I told him he could go sit on the bench outside if he got tired. About halfway through the class he whispered that he was done. Instead of leaving, I suggested he lie his head down on the blanket and rest. He very quietly and respectfully complied. Side note – love that kid!
At the end of class, the teacher commended Sullivan. At first, I was apologetic. After all, he petered out quickly. But he didn’t interrupt anyone’s practice and was quite social with some friends who had also attended. We left before the kirtan got fully underway and I tried my hardest to stay in my zen state.

It wasn’t until the next day, however, that I learned quite a lesson from this yoga class. Sullivan – of his own accord -- proceeded to show his dad how to sit in lotus. He then did a beautiful down dog and standing split. What I didn’t realize the day prior is that Sullivan had not taken a long, early savasana. Instead, he had absorbed most everything. He was not only reverent but also observant. He took it all in and applied it later…when he needed it.

I then understood what my yoga teachers have been trying to tell me. I don’t always need to push myself to the limit. Sometimes being contemplative and strategic is a much better option. So today, I am taking a break. I went to the beach, spent time enjoying things I love, read, and rested. I hope this makes me rejuvenated for all the things I need to accomplish. I don’t need to be on the go all the time, as that may not help me be successful in the long run.

Sometimes I just need to take child’s pose. Namaste y'all.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I still don't shop at Hobby Lobby

I realize that my POV on this issue may not be popular amoung my friends -- neither the more liberal nor conservative -- as my lawless libertarian beliefs rarely are. But, as usual, I feel the need to write them out as a way to process.

Unless you've been under a rock, you are likely aware there was a weighty decision leveraged by SCOTUS regarding Hobby Lobby's desire to not cover certain medications and procedures for their employees. "Conservatives" laud this as a victory, while "liberals" act like it's the end of the world.

First, let me say there is often a difference between my personal beliefs and what I believe should be legislated. I tend to believe that people should be able to do as they please, as long as nobody is being hurt. Why do we continue to lock up people for prostitution and pot possession? I don't partake, but I don't have a problem with people doing either. Abortion? I am personally against. So I won't have one. Simple as that.

The way I look at this decision, it is very similar to a few years ago when it was decided that the Boy Scouts of America organization was within their rights to exclude gay members. Now everyone knows I am a big-time straight ally. I have very strong beliefs about equal rights for the LBGTQ community and have done numerous things to push for those rights. But, if BSA members feel differently, who am I to tell them who to accept? Legislation will not change people's minds. I can guarantee you, however, I have VOCIFEROUSLY made a point NOT to support them, their causes, or their events. Don't agree with Hobby Lobby? Don't shop there. Don't work there. Same for Chick-fil-a or any other company whose policies are not in line with yours. I am happy to live in a country where I have the right to choose.

I personally see this as a victory. Right now, there are companies operating in states that do not yet recognize same sex marriage but extend those benefits to their employees. Because they are private companies, they can! So, I don't see this as much as a religious or conservative argument, rather it is a proclamation that private industry can decide their own policies just as they decide their hours, dress code, or what snacks to have in the break room. I'm personally glad I can eat a cupcake or bag of chips without government intrusion!

This is yet another reason I happily don't fall in the typical conservative/Republican or liberal/Democrat mold. It pains me to hear people say they want prayer in school but they really mean Christian prayer. Or people can talk about my right to birth control and abortion, but I can't defend myself by owning a gun.

Enough political talk for today. Carry on.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Breaking the silence

Sullivan is a writer. Those words both made me proud and stung at the same time. I have always been a writer. It’s how I process. Many people say I should’ve made it my career. But I fear my passion being stifled. That’s a lie. I am my own worst critic. I don’t want to fail. But I do recognize this gift I have passed along to my child. And I know my failures. Sullivan thinks I’m a superhero. Batgirl. The pink Power Ranger. A writer. A dancer. When I get down, I need to be doing those things. But I have not been writing. Nor have I been dancing. And it is to my detriment. So, here goes…

I won’t go into all the failures of our marriage out of respect for my former spouse (and best friend) and my child. Let’s just say it got ugly. I did things I’m not proud of. It cost me a lot…financially, emotionally, physically. But, in the end, we all realized family comes first. Sullivan is penultimate and his needs come first. So, we are doing our best to get along. It’s a struggle, but worth the fight.

Throughout our marriage – and in our lives before it – was a common theme. Both my ex and I march to the beat of a different drummer, so to speak, from our families. The difference is that his family accepts it. Mine does not. I never did things the same. The right way. Different church. Different political beliefs. Different style. Different interests. Hence, wrong. I was always an outcast. Shunned. Even our marriage was not accepted. I wanted so much for Sullivan to have his blood relatives in his life that I sacrificed. Maybe even my marriage. I was always close to my family…I even practically raised my nephew. Yet, I never quite fit in.
Fast forward a few years (yes, I’m intentionally leaving out loads of bs) and I am getting divorced. It is not taken lightly. There has been no intimacy…virtually no relationship for years. In hindsight, I see a lot of it is due to the strained relationship with my family. I want to be close. But not too close. Spouse wants to be far away. We fight. We all lose. Constant battle. Mostly with myself. In the end, divorce proceedings begin. It’s contentious. All on different sides. All out for ourselves. We all lose sight of what’s important.
After all the struggle – in bizarre fashion – ex and I grow closer. Maybe a better relationship than when we were married. We work it out. We’re all happy with the strange modern family relationship. We all move on. Or so we think…until…

In a nutshell, my family is suing us for visitation. I. Shit. You. Not. I – writer or no writer – can’t bring myself to hash out details here. But the basis is that they are not happy with the amount of time they get to see my child. I get it. The kid rocks. But, who doesn’t have people they want to see more often? Heck, can I sue my ex so that I still get invites to all the parties I attended when we were together? Can I sue friends who live far away to come visit? Can I force a hot guy to hang out with me? Can I sue the government for deploying a loved one? Can I demand that I pick the college for the nephew I cared for as a baby?

My family just basically doesn’t agree with how we do things. I work a frivolous job. We eloped. We divorced. I had sex outside of marriage. I’m not a Republican. We go to art shows. I practice yoga. We don’t believe you have to see your family every day…or that family only means blood relatives. We are not horrible people. Or bad parents. Just different. And, despite our struggles as a couple, on the same page with regard to how to raise our child.

Consider this. Can I countersue? My family should get out more. Attend cultural events. Be involved in the community. Eat better. Exercise. Dress differently. Change careers. And religions.  Meet me for my sunrise walk or yoga. Preposterous? So is this lawsuit.

The attorney is so perplexed he even blogged about it. He says the law is on our side. Unless they prove that our child is not being cared for properly – that we are unfit – they have no rights. They didn’t even suggest that in their pleading. Yet, a judge did not dismiss. The attorney did say I gave a very compelling argument and missed my calling (go me!) but we still didn’t win. So, as it stands we are being forced to comply with the judge’s request for discovery. Lots of money. And time. And effort. We are requesting they drop the suit. If they lose – which our attorney believes – they will have to pay our fees, which continue to rack up daily. It will also likely be a year before trial. And we have ceased contact in the meantime.

The worst part for me – that we are all losers. They say they are doing this for Sullivan. But how is that possible? If they win, we either risk not fulfilling a court order or losing precious time with our child for their selfish desires. If they lose, they will never see any of us again. Family is not blood relations. What they have done is unforgivable. They threw us under the proverbial bus. My mother – who admittedly lied to police, as well as legal and mental health professionals to supposedly protect me – has lost all credibility and sympathy in my eyes.

In some ways, I have never felt so worthless or hopeless. In hindsight, I see that so much of what has transpired the last few years has been due to my family. They want to “help” as they see fit…and as long as I do things exactly according to their plans. They said their goal was for Sullivan to be happy and healthy. He is. I have never intentionally kept him from them. We just don’t do things their way. We are just busy living our lives the way we see fit. As a family.

So, goodbye hopeless and worthless. As the shirt Sullivan gave me says, I rock. I am Batgirl. I am the pink Power Ranger. I am Mommy. We are a family. Sullivan is happy. Healthy. A joy. A writer. A dancer. And so am I.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

Flower for Tony

Apologies ahead of time for the stream of consciousness, but that's how I roll...

I have been tied up with a bunch of things and, although Sullivan turned 5 a few weeks ago, I have yet to sit down and write out his birth story. Since we are super excited to attend the Shepard Fairey and Jasper Johns show at the Halsey on Thursday, however, some aspects were on my mind. So, here goes:

Lyndon and I attended an opening at our friend Andrea's store/gallery, the now-defunct Plum, on April 21, 2009. We spoke with Karen Ann Myers, then the director of Redux, telling her would likely miss her next show that opened exactly one month from that day. Sullivan was due May 9 and we didn't think it possible. We then went to dinner at D'Allessandro's, a Philly-style pizza joint that I adore. The next morning, I woke with what I thought was indigestion from the calzone. Not hardly. I am known to have a high tolerance for pain, but I thought I at least would know when I was in labor. Ha. Sullivan was born just hours after leaving an art opening :)

At 3 weeks, he was taken in a carrier to my beloved Drayton Hall. The same week he went on his inaugural visit to the Halsey. And, at one day shy of a month old, he went to that show at Redux after all. The beautiful and talented Karen Ann Myers was there to greet him...and seemed very pleased that we brought a baby. In a sling. To a quite loud art opening. She instantly became an artistic fairy godmother to Sullivan. I have never been particularly close to her but, especially now that she is a deputy director of the Halsey, it has been fun to follow her career and show her how much Sullivan has grown from that initial meeting.

Fast forward a few years. I am back in Charleston and still enjoy art openings. I have also found other things I love, including walking the Ravenel Bridge. It has become a great place to reflect and meditate...and just enjoy the beauty of Charleston. A few weeks ago, I noticed this:

It is certainly a beautiful lily, but I questioned the placement. Was it graffiti? Part of a project? Was it even legal? I then learned the reason behind it. And it floored me.

Karen Ann Myers came to Charleston for many reasons...the art community, the atmosphere, etc. But her partner was a fellow artist and educator here. They created a beautiful life together that many would envy. He painted an entire series of "Flowers for Karen" and lilies were her favorite. They walked the bridge at sunset, which became the subject of many of his paintings. Maybe they also saw the bridge as a place of enlightenment and peace. And one day, he jumped to his death from the very spot where Karen has painted a lily.

When I learned of all this, so many emotions were stirred. Quite simply, it is always difficult to read about anyone taking their life so suddenly. So young. So sad. What were the reasons? I may never know and it's really not my place to question or judge. I don't know Karen well, but have always felt connected to her. I hurt for her. What she must be going through just breaks my heart.

I have also been a strong supporter of mental health initiatives for as long as I can remember. My confirmation saint, Dymphna, is even the patroness of those who suffer from mental and emotional disorders. I have long fought for the stigma to be lifted...for people to take care of their mental and emotional well-being just as they would a physical ailment. For people to stop hiding their scripts and whispering when making appointments with their therapist. For people to stop judging and comparing themselves to a strange concept of "normal." Was Tony suffering? Was he afraid to seek help? Did he try to just "feel better" and "get over it?" Did people tell him he had a great life and had nothing to worry about? I may never know and, again, it's not my place to question. It just hurts to see so many people losing their lives this way. There are all sorts of campaigns to end drunk driving, gun violence, etc. Why do we view suicide if it's the person's fault? Just makes me even more passionate...a story for another day.

Lastly, learning the reasoning behind the lily made me think about my own life. The last few years have not been kind to me. I have struggled more than not. Thankfully, I have a great support system and have learned that self-care is not extravagant or indulgent. It is necessary. I have had times where I have felt extremely low, but I have developed ways of dealing with them. Looking at art. Smelling flowers. Getting outside. Walking the bridge. I am so thankful that Karen decided to honor Tony in such an amazing way. Turning something that could be so ugly and scary into a beautiful memorial for others to enjoy and reflect.

Rest in peace, Tony Csavas. And thank you, Karen, for the beautiful "Flower for Tony." May it bring peace to others so that your beloved did not die in vain.

Monday, April 28, 2014

My Crazy Kid

Thought I'd take a break from my usual thought-provoking, brooding entries to share some funny things Sullivan has said lately...because what good is a blog if you can't share cute kid stories?

1. S took the bookmark from my book and, with a diabolical grin, said "did you miss your page?"

2. After an Earth Day fest featuring how things grow, he flipped when he saw me eating sunflower seeds. He was convinced flowers would start sprouting in my belly.

3. Me: Watcha doin'? S: Watching tv. What else would I be doing...sitting on the ceiling?

4. S to L: Daddy you need to be more careful at workshop. You get too many boo boos. That saw will cut your fingers off.

5. S to me: Can we go to Sullivan's Island? I love my name. I love being Sullivan. I wouldn't want to be called Lucy!

For the record, I think Lucy is a great name...just not for Sullivan. And it slays me that he calls Chuck E Cheese "Chunkin' Cheese." Ok, that's all for now. Carry on.

Monday, March 31, 2014


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


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 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


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'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.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Randomness is next to godliness...or something like that

Well, alrighty. Here we are at day #2. I have decided to share some random facts about myself in case you didn't know them. I think I started the blog with pet peeves and, gosh darn it, I just don't have it in me to be negative at the moment. So, here goes:

1. I really never left the 80s. I wear Vans and Converse. Swatches. And how can we forget the music and tv shows? Man, if I could take modern technology with me, I'd so be back in the 80s right now.

2. I prefer button fly jeans.

3. I sometimes wonder if I am weird when I don't really like a book about which everyone else raved. I have never been the "trendy" sort, but I have to be such a square peg in a round hole? Speaking of "Square Pegs," see #1.

Pardon the interruption, but...GO DEACS! Sorry, had to give the love to my adopted (former) hometown.

4. I am a very neat person but I have never quite figured out the value in making my bed. I rarely do it.

5. My first word was "apple."

6. I usually get up between 5 and 6 am. Even on my day off. I was THRILLED when I could drive so that I wouldn't be stuck at sleepovers.

7. I AM NOT A HUGGER. Don't get me wrong, I can cuddle and be intimate. I just have no desire to hug random people I barely know. Yes, I want a nametag that indicates that so I don't have to deal with unwanted affection.

8. For as long as I can remember, I have been against the drug war. I haven't a clue why people are against marijuana, especially. Homosexuality, either, but that's a whole other can of worms. I have worked closely with PFLAG, NORML and SSDP. I am known as a "straight ally" in the LGBT community. But what the heck do you call someone who is pro-pot but has never so much as inhaled nicotine (unless you can't second hand since I was in utero)? Things that make you go hmmmmm......

I am stopping here. Why? Because I am a dancer and think of things in 8 counts. Wanna know more? Stay tuned...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Lent. As a "recovering Catholic," I grew up knowing this as the holiest time of the year. I was always fond of the discipline. Of giving up things. Purging. Doing good deeds for others. Then, the miraculous rebirth that came about with Easter. The return of "Alleluia." My favorite holiday (well, aside from Valentine's Day). Add to the mix that my son was born in late April and his birthday will often come near Easter, and the holiday does bring such great promise.

This past year has not been kind to me. Really, the last few years have been not so stellar. It wasn't even that I was terribly sad. Or moody. Or miserable. I was just emotionless. The joy had pretty much been sucked out of me.

Well, this year I pledge for it to be different. I am not going to let anyone or anything steal my joy. I am in charge of my emotions and, although I can't control the circumstances, I can choose my reactions to them. So, for Lent this year I am going to return to writing. I have been stifled for far too long. Words, for a long time, were my refuge. My way to communicate. My weapon. I need to write. Maybe they will be read. Maybe not. But, here goes. Forty days of blogging. Of baring my soul. Of becoming me again.