Friday, December 24, 2021

Christmas wishes

I wish every single child on Earth could wake up and experience the magic of Christmas. That every single child was loved and wanted and respected. That no children goes to bed hungry tonight or any night. That every child everywhere has the opportunity to grow and learn and have whatever life they want to have.

 I wish we had this house when Jonathan and Megan were small. I can imagine them running down the stairs to the fireplace- a real fireplace instead of the stockings hanging on the t.v. stand. Not that we have a need for a real fireplace in Eastern North Carolina, but still. They are almost 24 now and there are so many things I wish I could take back. So many things I wish I had done better. So many things I wish I could fix.

I wish Ginger was still alive. I miss her so much my heart aches sometimes, even though it's been nearly two years since she left us. How can it be almost two years already?

Oh yeah.

I wish this damn pandemic was over. I wish things could go back to the before times.

I kind of wish that. Not exactly because a lot of the before times was also terrible. 

I just wish.


I wish that I didn't struggle so much with my body. I wish I didn't have to convince myself every single day that there is something redeeming in who I am. That my weight, whatever the number on the scale, doesn't define me. I wish I didn't struggle with food and eating. I wish I didn't feel like I have to work out three times a day.

I wish I didn't feel like I have to do everything all the time. Like I constantly have to prove myself. Like if I ever, ever stop then someone will figure out that I don't belong and kick me out.

I wish I wasn't so scared of the wolf at the door. I wish I didn't live in constant fear of the next domino falling and everything coming apart.

I wish my husband didn't have epilepsy. I wish he'd never had a brain injury. I wish I didn't feel him slipping away sometimes. I hate it. I hate it so much. Even though our marriage has evolved into something really lovely, sometimes I really miss who he used to be.

I wish I could go back sometimes. 

I wish I didn't want to go back. I wish I could trust myself to change the outcomes if I did. 


I wish I could tell five year-old Stephanie and twenty year-old Stephanie that life would get better. That the hard times don't last. That there will be people, maybe only a few but people, actual live, real people who do love you. Maybe if I could tell five year-old and twenty year-old Stephanie then 46 year-old Stephanie wouldn't still find it hard to believe.

I wish.


I wish there wasn't so much hate in the world. I wish the vast amount of conspiracy and misinformation that is turning families against each other didn't exist. I wish people who claim to be followers of Christ and outwardly shout hate and discontent and cruelty would just stop. 

I wish I wasn't so lonely. I wish it wasn't so hard for me to be myself. I wish everyone could know the me who does elaborate dance routines in the privacy of her living room, with only the dog as an audience as much as I wish people could know the vulnerable woman who sometimes sits in her car and wails in anguish at how damn hard everything is before drying her eyes, walking inside, and getting every hard thing done. I wish I didn't have so much absolute fear of what people would think or do if they knew the real me. I wish I didn't have so much confirmation of how much people hate the real me.

I wish addiction wasn't a thing.

I wish my son would find a woman who loves history (and talking about history) as much as he does.

I wish my daughter could find a full-time job.


I wish America could get it's proverbial shit together. I wish there wasn't so much hate and division and stupidity. I wish every teenager, every police officer, and everyone serving the country could come home safe tonight. 

I wish people would learn to listen. I wish people would stop thinking anyone gives a shit about whether or not Santa Claus is a man or woman or what Dr. Seuss books were pulled off the shelf and start talking about things that actually matter like children not having a decent education or food to eat or a stable home to live in. Like people in jail forever for minor drug offenses and people who have money buying their way out of jail no matter how many crimes they commit. I wish everyone could feel loved and seen and heard and valued. I wish people talked about what matters instead of yelling about nonsense.

I wish I could find the peace I only find when I'm walking in the woods, talking to Jesus. 

I wish I knew what was so awful and horrible and repugnant about me that people in my family and people that I considered good friends decided that I wasn't worth talking to anymore. I still have no idea what I did wrong. Maybe it doesn't matter- maybe I just don't even need to know. It does hurt though, and I wish it didn't.


I wish you love and peace and grace and wisdom. Today and always.


I wish.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Life update or whatever I guess.

 I don't know who I am anymore.

How many times have I said that over the years? I don't know. Hundreds? For sure. Thousands? Maybe. 

Yet here I am again.

 

The loneliness is overwhelming sometimes.  Oppressive.  The last 18 months have genuinely been the hardest of my life. I don't say that lightly, and if you are a long-time reader you know I have been through some serious shit in my life. I won't rehash it all here, but it's a lot. A lot. 

This year (emotionally) topped them all. In a bad, bad way.

I just want to feel okay. I just want a break. I just want someone to take care of me, just for a little while.There is so much responsibility in my life, every single day, and it's so exhausting. I don't know.

 

I just turned 46 and I am not who I was when I was 20. I am not who I was when I was 40.  I'm not even who I was when I was 45.

 

Honestly? It's terrifying.  I hate it.



 


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Every heart has a rhythm

 He has been to Hell and back; over and over.

More times than any one man should.

It is nothing. Nothing to him.

Death is nothing.

He has died over and over. A little boy who saw too much and felt too much. Who fell. Bruised and broken.

Head down on concrete. Shattered.

Gun down his neck, across his forehead. Purple and red. What could have happened next? I cannot bear to think of it. I wake up in the night sometimes drenched in cold sweat at the thought of that gun. The gun that shattered his nose and every bone in his face. The gun that could have ended his life.

There are so many scars on his body. So many scars on his heart.

So much is lost. He will never get back these memories. He will forget the beautiful experiences we have. I will be a stranger, sooner rather than later.

But…oh.

Oh.

He survived. Again and again.

He changed me.

He saved me.                                                                                                                                       

You have a purpose, I tell him. There is a greater plan for your life. You are a fighter. You are immeasurably strong.

What if, he asks, this is the plan?

This.

You and me. Coffee dates in the car. Kissing in the pool. Long talks and quiet hikes. Cooking dinner together.

Laughing. So much laughing.

What if what I am meant for is this and this alone? This ordinary, beautiful life.

If so, that is okay. I know this.

Sometimes I think this too, I say. That maybe his purpose was to love me. To make me whole. To help me recognize who exactly I was meant to be.

I bite my tongue. It sounds so selfish. It sounds so vain.

Who am I, anyway? I am no one. I am insignificant. I never mattered before. I never knew my worth before him. Before he held up the big, beautiful mirror that is his heart and said, see? See how worthy it is? See how you were meant to fit with me? See how we are two souls made of the same magic?

I was only the remains of all who have loved and broken me. I was only this until I knew him.

He is quiet, as he often is.

Thank you, he says, for saving me.

Monday, June 14, 2021

The ultimate deadlifter

 Nearly every week of my life, Monday through Friday, I go to Bootcamp. If you had told me 10 years ago that I would go to Bootcamp every day, and voluntarily pay for someone to put me through the toughest workouts I've ever done I would have laughed in your entire face, but here we are. I really love how we grow and change. I really love how we are not meant to be stagnant as people. I really love jumping up on boxes and slamming down heavy ropes. I love Bootcamp. I do.

On Sunday my Bootcamp is closed and on Saturday they only offer a couple of sessions and those are generally pretty early in the morning so on those days I go to my other gym. My $10 a month gym that has a bad reputation because of Tootsie Rolls.  

I also love this gym. 

I was thinking about why I love it, as I was walking in two Sundays ago. There was a small car  backed into a space close to the building (I'm not good with cars, but I think it was a Toyota Corolla or something similar), Every door of the car was open and they were playing music so loudly that I could hear it  before I even opened my car door. I park pretty far away too.

This isn't unusual I guess. Lots of people play really loud music. This music, however, was praise music. Really loud WE LOVE JESUS SO BAD kind of music. Someone in the car was shouting. It didn't sound like mean or angry shouting. It sounded like worship.

I walked over to the car (side note, Jason would absolutely kill me for admitting this, because he thinks I'm not careful enough. I try to tell him that I grew up in East Tennessee and it's completely my nature to stop by the side of the road and say, "Are y'all alright?" if I see anything out of the ordinary, but to no avail. He lost his mind when I got between a man who was loudly angry screaming at a woman one day in the parking lot at Wal-Mart, but that's another story for another day) and before I could say anything the man who was sitting in the drivers seat shouted, "GOOD MORNING! PRAISE JESUS!"

So I said, "The boot of your car is open". As you do.

BUT THERE WERE PEOPLE SITTING IN THE BOOT. THAT'S WHY IT WAS OPEN.

I am not kidding when I say there were approximately ten people in this Toyota. Praising Jesus. They came into the gym later and all got swole or whatever. 

Praise the Lord and pass the weights. 

I like it.

 

There was a woman on one of the treadmills recently wearing  a dashiki. I know it was a dashiki because I was afraid it was going to get caught in the treadmill so I touched her shoulder and told her. I also told her her dress was beautiful and she told me it wasn't a dress, it was a dashiki. I didn't know that. 

 She was lovely.

 

Blue jeans guy was there this weekend. He wears jeans on the treadmill, sometimes Haggar slacks. He wears loafers, not sneakers. He has a fanny pack. Sometimes during his power walk, he pauses his treadmill and pulls a protein bar out of his fanny pack. 

He seems nice.


There are still a lot of men at the gym who try to hit on me. There are a lot of women who give me looks. There is legitimately someone who runs up and down the aisles, literally right next to the actual treadmills. 


There is also a girl who works at the counter, who nearly teared up when I came in one day wearing a t-shirt that said, "Protect, support, and believe in black women". There was a lady checking in one day at the same time as me who told me  I was perfect and that she wanted to look just like me. Most people wipe their equipment down. Most people ask if you need help if you are doing something wrong. Most people would touch your shoulder if they were afraid your dashiki was going to get caught in your machine.

 

I don't know. It's not that deep. It's just life. The guy eating the protein bar on the treadmill is just doing his best, just like the rest of us.   I check my watch to make sure I've burned the calories I wanted to burn.  That guy might be making sure his blood sugar doesn't get low. The older ladies who walk super slow are probably just really proud they are walking at all (as they should be, I hope I get to be that old). No matter where we are, we can try. We can do a little more. That's all it is. It's a simple and as complex as that.

Yesterday, I walked past the praise car again. No one was in the trunk this time.

"Good morning," I said.

 "GOOD MORNING! PRAISE JESUS!" he replied.

 

 

I just think it's beautiful. Weirdly, oddly, and sweatily beautiful.

 



Saturday, April 24, 2021

Politically Correct

 If I had a dollar for every time I heard:


"I miss when people could TAKE A JOKE"

or

"Why does everyone have to make such a BIG DEAL about everything?"

or

"I wish we could go back to when men acted like MEN"

or

"Any other various horseshit along this same line"


then I would have SQUINTY BILLION DOLLARS.

 

I know that's not a real number, but you get the idea.


They call it being politically correct or PC or, lately, being a snowflake. I get accused of this a lot. Mostly because, spoiler alert, I'm a snowflake.

I said I didn't see any big deal when I saw an ad of two women holding hands (I swear to God I thought it was two friends holding hands, I didn't look at this print ad in the Sunday flyers and think LESBIANS WHO PROBABLY DO SCISSORING WHEN THEY ARE NOT POSING FOR JCPENNEY AND COMPANY. I simply thought, "Oh that's nice. Those ladies look like they are friends and I really like that one's dress). I got called a lot of names that day. None of them were as nice as snowflake.

I said I didn't see any big deal when someone included their pronouns on their email signature. I said, in fact, I see that a lot on a lot of people's signatures and LinkedIn profiles these days. I got a big sigh and "What's this world coming to!?" I mean...it's just pronouns. It's not like they had, "I HATE MEN AND I WILL KILL ALL MEN DEAD SO YOU BETTER NOT SAY HIM/HIS"  in their signature. That would have been a line too far, even for a snowflake like me. If someone wants to let me know they identify as a he, I appreciate the information. I don't like to accidentally hurt people's feelings. Also, I have no idea why that's offensive to literally anyone, ever. 

I hear a lot about how the world used to be a much better place than it is today. How women were supposed to be at home, caring for their children, and men were supposed to be MEN which apparently means...I don't know? They were out killing buffalo or something? Or working for the newspaper and smoking cigars and mowing the grass in their Haggar slacks on the weekend? I'm not sure. I'm bad at history.

But that was apparently the good old days, even though black women weren't allowed to vote and schools were segregated and you could arrested if you married someone of another race and if you were a gay person? Forget about it. You couldn't even think of marrying the person you loved, you just had to hide in the closet and marry someone of the opposite sex and ruin their lives and the lives of any children you had. You know, for family values.


So, anyway, the good old days sound like some version of Hell to me, thanks.


My kids are adults now, but even when they were not adults I did not want to be a stay-at-home mother. Ever. I am not made for that. It is not among my talents and gifts. I am great at working. I am great at being a breadwinner. I am not great at being a stay-at-home parent.

Now don't get me wrong, I admire the shit out of anyone who is a stay-at-home parent. I know many women who thrive in this role. It's a valuable, important role and I don't look down on it- not even a little. It's just not right for ME. It was never right for ME. There were some days that I hated my job with the burning sting of a thousand suns, but that's just the job. Being a stay-at-home parent would have never been right for me, even if I was independently wealthy and didn't HAVE to work (which I always did, because I've never been independently wealthy). 

Even now as a 45 year old woman, I continually struggle with things like dinner. Why do we have to eat dinner EVERY SINGLE DAY?! Why do I only know like seven things to cook? People enjoy my cooking and I think I'm a decent cook, but it's just so time-consuming and taxing and it rarely sparks joy. I also eat a lot of chicken and chicken is delicious but it's just not that exciting. I'm sorry poultry-producers of the United States. It's just the truth.

I haven't ironed clothing in more than 15 years. I don't even think we own an iron. If we do, Jason knows where it is and is the only person who would use it. Because he does the vast majority of the laundry. Because we are REALLY BAD at The Good Old Days in this house. Really bad. 

So miss me with The Good Old Days. I am not interested in that BS.


If you are, that's fine. Cool. You might have been happier with the ways things were then, and that's FINE. I respect that, totally.

What I don't respect is you demanding that everyone ELSE be fine with what you want. What I am not okay with is you using the n-word or calling people "retards" because you did it when you were younger and NO ONE CAN TAKE A JOKE.

It's probably because using offensive language isn't funny. Weird.

You can miss those "good old days" when men were men all you want, but maybe just for a few seconds think about how much better life would be if men had been taught things that women were taught. Like how to cook and that it's okay to cry and that women are more than just holes to stick your penis in. How much easier and better your life could have potentially been if you had a dad who wasn't a task master or who wasn't afraid of feeling feelings or who felt like it was okay to be human and a little less than perfect. If you'd been able to see examples of men in your life who didn't feel like they had to work constantly to take care of everything and weren't angry at the world when someone suggests crazy things like equality.

Or maybe you could think about being a "non-traditional" woman such as myself and how much better and easier my life would have been if I hadn't spent the majority of it feeling like an abject failure because I didn't want to stay at home. How nice it would be to let women know that, yeah, it's okay to want to work. It's fine if you don't want to have 100 kids. It's cool to want to lift heavy weights and be strong. It's okay if you  and your husband have a partnership and you aren't looking for someone to rescue you. 

Think. Think how much money would have been saved on therapy. How far fewer anti-depressants would be floating around. How much happier and kinder and more sane people would be if WE. JUST. LET. THEM. BE.

How about if someone is born in the wrong body and struggles with it their whole life. They are miserable and sad and feel terrible. And you don't want to accept it. Because it doesn't fit your version of truth.

Guess what? You don't have to accept it. You truly don't. But what you DON'T get to do is make their life a living Hell because YOU don't accept it.

Political correctness is what us snowflakes call being "nice". That's it. I don't like everything I see out there in the world. Sometimes people have political conversations around me that make me uncomfortable. I walk away. I am at an age that I've given up on trying to fight people. You want to say or think something insane? Help yourself. Absolutely. Have fun with that.

I just want people to be nice. Just let other people live their lives. Even if it doesn't agree with what YOU think is the perfect way to live.



I just don't think is revolutionary. This just seems like...being human and kind. 


It's amazing how controversial being human and kind has become.