Stop apologizing. Stop it.

So, I have this problem~I say “I’m sorry” way too much. I could’ve written the above meme from real world shit. I’ve apologized to the cat for getting in his way….yes HIS way. Me: reaches over the cat to get something from the counter “oops sorry kitty.”

In the grocery, at the end of almost every isle, I am constantly saying “I’m sorry”-for someone running into me. I do it over and over. I always say, “I’m not saying I’m sorry anymore.” Or “Oh ok! Nooooo, excuse me”, this is of course, after I’ve apologized and continue to do throughout the store.

I understand there are social graces and maybe it just sounds like normal social graces. But after this last year I’ve begun to wonder- Why do I continue to apologize for….stuff? Life. Do we actually forgive people or are we secretly keeping score?

Last year when my kids lost their dad, my ex husband, it was something none of us had been through before. The pain and changes are so indescribable, I now know, it’s something you can only feel through experience. I say “feel” because I don’t really recall being able to think clearly, I could only feel what was happening. It was obviously a very trying time for our family and also to those close to us.

Before the tragedy, I had an issue with a friend of mine that I was working on. She didn’t know and i hadn’t had a chance to talk about it because I was still working it out. She’s important to me and part of my squad but I feel things changed over the last year because I had an unresolved issue, life was interrupted and changed, and that became unimportant. Today, it’s something I feel bad about because I had given her the cold shoulder and she had no idea why or if it was all in her head. It wasn’t. I was mad. I hope I get a chance to have coffee with her and talk to her about it.

I missed a lot of family functions this past year. I just couldn’t. I didn’t want to go and I gave myself permission to stay home and not feel guilty about it. To my family, I’m sorry. It’s not that I don’t love you, I’m just still healing and figuring life out. I love my husband, my kids, my grandkids and I have an all around great life. But there’s been loss. And we’re still trying to navigate the new path. I wanted to be home just in case my boys needed me. I wanted them to know, I’m home base. This is where we can gather and be together. It’s important for them to have that going forward in life. They’ve always split their time between their dads house and my house on holidays so it became important for me to be home to give them stability, safety from the sad days.  Maybe things will be better this year.

When this happens to you, you come out on the other side changed and a little dazed. You look back as if you were in a dream. Feeling like you’ve lost chunks of time, it’s just gone. During this lost time, you’ve missed saying “Happy Birthday” to friends and family, you’ve missed church, you neglect the most important people in your life, you probably didn’t say “thank you” enough or acknowledge someone who helped you. Many unreturned phone calls and responseless messages.

So, why would I apologize to complete strangers who are rude to me but I haven’t said “I’m sorry” to the people who are most important to me? I don’t know, really? I wish I had a good reason, hell- even a good excuse would do. Even though, I’m not sure that I have to apologize for any of these things?

Full disclosure: I couldn’t find the right words to finish this article and it was very frustrating. I know that when I get stuck like that, that I’m not really saying what I want to say. The paragraph above was written last night and stopped short because I just didn’t have a clear direction. Until today.

In fact, when I started writing this, my intention was to apologize for all of these things because I do feel bad that alot was lost on me this past year. I’m not usually like that and I try to be thoughtful concerning everyone. But the more I wrote, the words just weren’t coming out. At then end of almost every paragraph I had written “I’m sorry”. Did I really feel that way or did I feel I HAD to say it in order to make everything ok with those around me?

REVELATION

This morning I was listening to Steven Furtick’s message Trapped in Nazareth. If you’re not familiar with him, check him out-he’s a pretty cool pastor. Anyway, I’m working away at my desk listening to the sermon and something he says stops me in my tracks. He says “Don’t you apologize the rest of your life for a weak season!” AHHHHH the clouds have parted and I’ve seen the light! I’ve struggled so much with feeling like I need to reach and out say “I’m sorry” but it just didn’t sit right with me. Not that I’m above apologizing, because I’m not (see the first paragraph where I said sorry to the cat…). I’m sure my family and friends probably felt neglected along the way but the ones that know and love me understand and they don’t need an “I’m sorry”. They’ve probably been more forgiving to me than I’ve been to my self. I’ve probably agonized over it more than anyone else has even thought of it. Thank you anxiety. You’re a real pal *eye roll*

I had a weak season. I’m not proud of it nor ashamed of it. It was a year in the life….

Thank you God (literally) for giving me perspective on this sunny, Tuesday morning.

Thanks for reading,

Stacey

A Letter to My Younger Self, Fantasy vs Reality

stacey2

Dear Stacey,

There are some things I want you to know and try to understand before you head out into the world you think you know. You won’t always take the easy path, you won’t always be liked, you will get your feelings hurt, and life is harder than what you’ve been told. No one will prepare you for the real world. Looking back, I can’t believe I went into the adult life with a baby on my hip and no idea how to balance a checkbook. The only things you know about adulting are fantasies you’ve created in your head based on hope- not fact. Oh Stacey, Stacey, Stacey. You are in for a reality check sister.

 

Fantasy:

Your 10 year plan in your Senior book will include: getting married to your high school boyfriend, having 6 kids and working for the FBI.

You’ve had a boyfriend ever since you can remember and for some reason they’re all so serious. You never just date. This will come back to haunt you, so slow down. Your senior year, you and your best group of friends are going to have a picture taken together but you’ll want to skip it because you and your boyfriend are fighting and all you care about is him. Take the picture with your friends. You’ll regret it if you don’t. Trust me.

You do well in school, fairly popular (given there’s roughly 70 kids in your senior class), and you play volleyball and run track. You haven’t taken much seriously to this point and soon you’ll tell your volleyball coach that you couldn’t come to practice because you had a dentist appointment. She finds out you’re lying, calls you out and puts you on the JV squad. Out of pride, you’ll want to quit- don’t. This could be your first lesson in taking responsibility for your actions but it won’t be, if you quit the team like I did.

I know, right now, you think you and your boyfriend will be together for ever. You won’t. I know you think that you’re going to get your own place and it’ll be cute and super fun. It won’t be. You’re going to move to Scott street and realize you  made a mistake when a lady gets shot that lives about 6 houses down from you. But it’s yours and your roommates are ok. It has to be better than being 18 and living at home, right?!? No. Stop it.

 

Reality:

Fast forward to marriage and babies. Everything you see will tell you that having kids is cute and wonderful. And it is, at times. But it’s a freaking job raising little humans. It’s tiring, expensive and a job. They are the first people you love unconditionally and you will scratch somebody’s fucking eyes out if they hurt your babies. They don’t call us mama bears for nothin’. But it’s hard. You’re disorganized, your car will be a disaster and so will your house. It’s ok. So is everyone else’s. They just make you believe it’s not. Don’t make anyone make you feel like you’re not doing a good job because you are. At times, your best won’t be good enough but it’ll still be your best. Your kids are happy and you are being the best mom you know how. You’ll grow and learn from mistakes- even though it’ll take a few times to learn every now and then. When your kids get older, they’ll tell you you’re the best mom in the world. Believe them.

Marriage. Geez. It is not a lovey, dovey, constant cuddle. Your husband is not going to lay his coat across a mud puddle. He isn’t going to carry you either. If it’s raining-he’s going to run to the car just as fast as your are. In rain, it’s every man for himself. There will rarely be breakfasts in bed. It’s not entirely a myth but it’s pretty close. Your husband will not just get up and help you clean, you’ll want to stomp around and let him know you’re pissed. Don’t. I’ve learned all you really have to do is- ask for help. And lastly, the Unicorn of all myths: Your husband isn’t always going to console you or “understand” you when you’re upset. More than likely he won’t get why you’re so upset and he most likely isn’t going to care enough to “talk about it”. He’s afraid of your emotions and how in some way, whatever you’re feeling is going to require him to take the blame. Whether the tears are about him or someone else, it’s going make him uncomfortable. Don’t take it personal. It’s not just your husband, it’s the way God made man. Marriage is not what you see in movies. Its not The Notebook. Most men aren’t going to follow you around begging for a date and then wait 10 years for you. Just because your husband doesn’t do or rarely does any of these things does not make him inadequate. It’s just not reality. Get a grip Stac. You’re no prize all the time either.

I can tell you what marriage IS. Marriage is making some else coffee, or arguing over cholesterol, making fun of each other and at times not speaking for a few days. You’ll  live alot of years believing that when you fight with your spouse, it’s critical every time, all or nothing. It’s not. You’ll learn this with Robert. You’ll both have reasons to quit on each other but you won’t because you’ve learned it’s worth it to stay and work on things. You’ll both be stubborn and steadfast but eventually you’ll come to understand that there is a way to solve things other than divorce. Divorce. It’s an easy word to throw around and once it’s said- it sticks. Even when you make up, it hurts. Don’t say it.

Marriage will never be the fairytale you think it is. It can be better than that- because it’s yours. You may not get butterflies when you see your husband but you will be happy when he gets home. He may not bring you breakfast in bed but he will take you out to breakfast. And it’s ok to ask him to take you! Don’t sulk because he doesn’t come up with great, romantic ideas for a getaway- it’s probably going to fall to you to make the arrangements 1) Because men are easy and just want you to be happy and 2) You really want to make the decisions anyway. *shrugs* He may not put his coat over the puddle but he will drop you off at the door or bring the car up to get you. Sometimes you might have to say “Dude. Go get the car!” But he’ll get the car so you can stay dry. It’s still sweet and charming- just in different form than what you’ve read in books. He may get on your nerves but he’s yours and he loves you even though you can be a crazypants. Please let go of what you think marriage should be and let your marriage be what it really is. Because that’s where the good stuff is.

Be easy on yourself. You will do the best you can. You’ll have regrets, no doubt, but you’ll realize when you’re older that you are bold enough to try new things, old enough speak your mind and you’ll be the most honest version of yourself you’ve ever been. You will learn through mistakes and failures. Most things are only learned through personal experience, the human eog’s fault, I suppose. We think we can do it better or differently than the advice we’ve been given to avoid the pitfalls in life. You won’t listen, although you should have at times.

Forgive yourself. I mean, you didn’t kill anybody but you’ve definitely messed things up at times. (whispers* I won’t tell your secrets) Then- forgive everyone else. Girl, if you keep holding onto everything everyone has ever said about you or any time someone’s done you wrong- you’ll waste a lot of life. Let it go. It’s really that easy. Just.Let.Go. Once you really let go of the past, it’s freeing. It’s starting over with yourself and making yourself happy. Don’t put that responsibility on someone else. It is up to YOU to handle your happiness or lack thereof. If you count on other people to make you happy, you will constantly be disappointed. It’s no one else’s job to give you joy, except you & God. Learn to love yourself, do things that make you happy and start by being kind to others. It’s amazing what happens to you on the inside when you just let go of hurt and pain and are genuinely kind to other people. It builds joy in your heart. You will learn to embrace your faults and… own them! There’s a certain level of happiness that comes with being able to make fun of yourself about the things you used to feel self conscious about. Don’t let other people have that kind of power over the value of your life. I wish you wouldn’t wait until you were 40 before you learned his secret- but you learned it and that’s what matters.

Lastly, your friends matter. You won’t be BFF’s with your high school friends but you will remain in touch (mostly through Facebook). You will go through a period of feeling like you don’t have any friends or not in the same place in your lives and it’ll hurt. It’s ok. It’s normal growing pains. You’ll meet new people at a job, you’ll meet new friends through old friends and become close with a group of awesome women. This core group of women you have in your squad are freaking awesome! All of them different in so many different ways but each of them are powerful, strong, smart, generous and encouraging. Women that are good to other women. That’s your tribe.

Love yourself,

Stacey

Advice for My Nieces That Only Your Aunt Can Tell You

To my nieces, the daughters I never had,

If I had had daughters, I’d want them to be just like you two. I love you both very much and I feel it’s my duty, as your favorite aunt, to give you 9 pieces of advice that your mom can’t quite tell you.

1) Don’t be a groupie. So many people love to follow “celebrities” and try to emulate what they wear, how they act and how they live. You don’t need that, make your own life. Most of the famous athletes and celebrities are only famous for dumb shit. How many nice guys have you seen on a cover of a magazine or caught on tape doing something nice? Don’t be on a magazine. And no one has to catch you being nice, just be nice. Chances are you will never be famous nor rich. So, be smart, be brave and for fucks sake- think for yourself! Never base your decisions on someone you don’t even know.

2) Go to your mom. With anything. I know you’ll want to keep your life private, I get it. I kept things from my mom and looking back, I wish I had went to her for help. There’s so many things she could’ve helped me get through with minimal damage instead I took some roads of destruction. But I promise you, your mom won’t judge you, she will only want to help you and after the crisis is over- she will make sure you’re ok. I know it’ll be scary but no one has your best interest at heart more than your mom. She will understand more than you think she does. Whether it’s sex, boys, or friends- she’s been through it herself. She’s the smartest woman you know and she’ll know what to do. Full disclosure: she will probably talk to me about what’s going on but just know it never leaves our sister circle of trust. Moms need a shoulder to lean on too.

3) Don’t dismiss older people. These people paved the way for you to have more than you need. Everything you have and mostly who you are, is because of the influence you’ve had in your life from your mom, dad, aunts, uncles, grandmas and grandpas. You may be smarter than them but never wiser, grasshopper. Experience beats education every time. You get wisdom through experiences not tuition. Treat your elders with respect. They have been through more than you’ll ever know. I don’t care if it’s grandma or a random elderly person, if they’re telling you a story- put down your phone and listen to them. If they’re walking through the door, hold it open for them. When they say “thank you.” (And they will) Reply with “you’re welcome.” Not “Yep”, “you’re fine” or “uh-huh”, say “you’re welcome”- like you have some home training.

4.) Don’t be intimidated. Do not let people mistake your kindness for weakness or your composure for compliance. You don’t need to “find” courage or “get” courage. You were born with it. You, my dear, are fucking amazing. No matter how #blessed people seem to be, find your own happiness and blessings within yourself and through God. That’s where you’ll find the blessings and joy that is meant for you.

5.) Love someone. Love a man or a woman, as much as you want. But protect your heart. I’m sure you’re mom has and/or will tell you to never let a man (or woman) put their hands on you. I’m sure she’s got that covered. If not, come see me- I’ll handle it.🤨 What I want to say is, as a mom of boys, respect your boyfriend or husbands relationship with his mom. She’s not the competition and she’s not judging you. She just wants to make sure it’s safe to hand him over to you. A mothers son is loved just as much as a mothers daughter. I know my sons’ girlfriends have called them “mamas boys” because of the things I do and have done for them. But please think of all of the things your mom has done for you, it’s no different. We want our sons to be happy with a kind and loving person. We worry just like your mom does. So if he dotes on his mom, don’t take it as if he loves her more than you, it’s a different kind of love. A love only a parent and child can have. One day, you too may have your own son- you’re own “mama’s boy” and it’ll be wonderful. And when he gets older, you’ll understand.

6.) Think. Never play dumb to make someone else feel superior. Not your friends, lovers or bosses. No one respects a push over or a purposeful idiot. You’ll lose said friends, lovers and maybe a job or two because of this advice- so I’m sorry in advance. But fuck that noise. You are too intelligent to be made to feel inferior just to boost someone else’s ego. When you speak your mind, be prepared to be called a bitch, bossy, pushy, over bearing and controlling. Those are just words to make you shut up. Don’t. If you’re right, then stand on principle alone. Seek peace but be prepared to go to war.

7.) Look out for each other. A sister is one of the most important relationships you’ll have. Kait, I know you’re 12 years older than Sami and it will somewhat fall to you, at times, to take care of her. Your mom has always been my keeper. And being the oldest, that responsibility will fall to you- it may seem like a task now but later in life you’ll find she’s one of your biggest priorities. You’ll be the only person that can confront her and ask her “what the fuck are you thinking?!”. She’s Sam and she won’t be pushed around, but she’ll respect you and listen to you because she knows you’d never lead her wrong. Sam is strong minded but will always feel like your little sister when she needs you. Be there for her.

8.) Despite what your mom has told you- you cannot be anything you want. You can be what you’re good at, you can be what you work hard for but you cannot just pick any profession and think it’s for you. So that unrealistic thing we tell our children is just bullshit to give you confidence but I want you to know this advice now. Maybe it’ll save you years of frustration. And to save you the suspense, no one will give a fuck about your feelings. It’ll hurt sometimes but the workplace is just that- work. Never let it be more important than your family. Unless you are literally saving lives- some things can just wait until Monday. Oh, and you may not have it all figured out yet and that’s ok. You don’t have to know “what you want to be” at 21 years old. I don’t care if your friends seem to be on the fast track to wherever they’re going, trust me, they are just as unsure and confused as you are. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’ll figure it out along the way, I promise.

9.) Trust your gut. A woman’s intuition is her super power. If your gut says “get out of there”- then leave. If your gut is telling you something isn’t right- it’s not. I can’t explain it, but it’s there, looking out for you when your head or your heart may be somewhere else. At times you’ll find it was nothing but most of the time- you dodged a bullet. It’s your super power, use it, get to know it, and learn to listen to it.

I love you girls very much,

Aunt Stacey

My Thoughts on Being an Introvert

I wish I could be insincere, it would make life a lot easier. Society & I label me an introvert. I didn’t realize that’s who I was until the last couple of years. I used to think it was a side effect of my depression or anxiety. And I guess maybe sometimes it is. *shrugs*

Being an introvert doesn’t mean you’re shy. I’m not. I believe most people that know me would say I’m far from shy. I generally speak my mind and have an obnoxious laugh. I’ve been told that people think I’m stuck up, a bitch or plain scary. I’m not any of those things. I’m just really uncomfortable talking to people, especially people I don’t know. I don’t make new friends easily, although I think of myself as a pretty good and loyal friend. My social relationship status: It’s complicated.

What I’ve noticed, when I look past the “reasons” I like to be at home is- I really like being at home. I enjoy spending time alone. For most of my life I would make excuses (true or not) why I couldn’t, shouldn’t or wished I could go to a party, game, dinner and a thousand other reasons people invite you out of the house.

Being an introvert comes off somewhat narcissistic when you try to explain to someone why you “are the way you are”. Or do I just think that because I’m an over thinker?I’ve taken my fair share of questions, jokes and guilt because I don’t go or show up to someplace where I’ve been invited. It’s never about the person inviting you and you inevitably apologize over and over for not going. Ugh….I used to feel so bad when I was invited but said I couldn’t go.

And then, I started feeling good about my choice of being at home alone. I felt I could just be myself and have my own space. When I embraced that, it became easier and easier to tell people no. Just no. One of my friends texted me and asked if I wanted to go to the basketball game. It was the high school we had graduated from and they had gone pretty far in the season. “You want to go to the boys game with me this week?” I replied, “No, I don’t want to.” She laughed. When I noticed she wasn’t upset by my response, I gave myself permission to just say how I felt.

I read an article about people who are introverts have a hard time with small talk. And that’s exactly how I had been my whole life! I struuuuuuuuuuugle with small talk. It makes me so uncomfortable and it shows. I either say something weird or talk to someone for an hour about something I don’t even care about. All because I don’t know how to walk away after an appropriate amount of time. It’s the worst. Imagine the awkward hug at the end of Step Brothers…that’s what it’s like. I shared with a friend, about a scenario I had gotten myself into and how I couldn’t escape. She said she had a trick that would get me out of situations like that and would tell me later. I need to get with her.

I find small talk tedious. Even talking on the phone. I’ll be on the phone with my husband, who isn’t a talker to begin with, and I will say “ok I’m gonna go.” about 4-5 times before we get off of the phone. I don’t know if raising boys, and how you have to relate to them as a mom, is part of my character now? They don’t talk a lot. So if you are one or date one- you know boys and men have very little to say. And if you mention feelings, everyone scatters. You get used to not talking a lot at home, so that coupled with being an introvert- makes for very uncomfortable “hellos”. I can talk about deep things, controversial things, or laugh with a small group of friends but I somehow can’t get a handle on the small talk with strangers or even people I know.

Per social graces, I try to sound sincere about whatever you’re talking about. But it’s hard for me to be insincere, I have a hard time faking much. I would just rather be honest and say how I feel or give my opinion, without having to lace it with niceties. Not because I want to hurt anyone’s feelings, I don’t. But because it’s easier for me to talk to someone matter of factly. Of course different people experience different interactions with introverts but generally- we just want you to stop talking to us. Again- it’s not you, it’s me.

Introverts aren’t lonely, we just like being alone. It’s not that we don’t want to come to your get together, we just really want to be at home more. It’s our safe place, it’s comfortable and we feel like we can breathe. Don’t get me wrong, I like (and do) get out and go do things. But I just prefer most of my time to be spent at home. When I was younger, I felt a sense of responsibility to show up or stay at places I had been invited. But the older I get, I’m much more comfortable saying “No thanks.” I don’t feel compelled to give you 1-2 reasons on why I can’t make it.

The small circle of friends I have today, have come to know and accept this about me. Which also says a lot about the women I hang with. My squad. They aren’t offended when I don’t come to their get togethers or social functions. They still invite me. although generally they know I won’t come. Those are my people. And I love them.

So if you find yourself engaged in small talk with someone who looks super uncomfortable, let them off the hook and tell them you’ll see them later. Because if not, you and I may end up talking for an hour about insurance and billing. And not in a “The Office” kinda way.

*stares at camera*

Thanks for reading,

Stacey

Generation Y

Gen·er·a·tion Y

noun

1 the generation born in the 1980s and 1990s, comprising primarily the children of the baby boomers and typically perceived as increasingly familiar with digital and electronic technology.

As a mom raising millenials, I feel that I have a pretty good grasp on Generation Y. My sons are 26 & 23. They’ve grown up their whole lives with technology. As a senior in high school, I was playing The Oregon Trail in computer class. Generation X. That’s me. So there is definitely a gap in relating to millenials, as there probably has been in every generation to the next.

There’s no need to get into the stereotypes that some people think of when it comes to millenials. Frankly, some of those assumptions and accusations are true. I can vouch for that. But what I really want to talk about it how they going to change the world.

These young adults come from so many different backgrounds, classes, races, genders, sexualities, and religions. As the generations before them but they have somehow united together as a whole, and are fighting for not only their rights, but the rights of others. Because it’s right. This is a generation where a kid who grew up privileged, isn’t afraid to speak up and out for the rights of others less fortunate so they may have the same opportunity as the next person. “Talent is distributed equally, opportunity is not.”

No matter your stance on guns, school shootings or why they happen- these kids and young adults are fucking.fed.up. They want…no, they are demanding, the civil rights and liberties that were promised to them. They’re strong, intelligent, thoughtful and they’re not asking for your permission.

We live in an era that a school shooting is headline news for a couple of days and then it’s gone. Gone from the tv and gone from your mind. If these students weren’t protesting, most of you would’ve forgotten about the Stoneman Douglas high school shooting a month ago. Myself included.

I see news reports, opinion articles and just a general observation of people wanting these kids to shut up. I believe one news anchor said these protestors weren’t citizens and the best reply I heard was from Trevor Noah~ ““Wow, now American kids aren’t even citizens?” Noah asked. “Get the fuck out of here man. If kids are old enough to be shot, they’re old enough to have an opinion about being shot.”

Neo-Nazis marched the in streets of America, carrying (tiki)torches, chanting ‘Blood and Soil’ (which was a nazi slogan), telling Jews to ‘go home’ and of course, plenty of racial slurs towards black people. Disgusting, vile things. Yet, people barely batted an eye and didn’t want to get involved, couldn’t get far enough away from it but didn’t really speak out against the Nazis parading in their streets. But these young people stand up for themselves and everyone is losing their minds. Telling them they shouldn’t “be bullies”, as if in some way, suggesting they deserve to be shot. No. Stop it. Comparing gun rights to abortion laws. Seriously? What in the actual fuck?

We have been tricked into thinking that we only have two choices. For everything. Black or white? Guns or no guns? Police officers or mayhem. Everyone is too afraid to make the wrong choice for fear of backlash, that they often just continue to sway to the cadence of complacency. Come on people, think! Be purposeful in your thoughts about the issues going on around you. You can respect police officers and still not be ok with police brutality. You are not limited to one or the other. Because we have been led into the slaughterhouse of thinking, we are trying to force the next generation to do the same. They’re not having it.

I’m not here to debate guns versus no guns. I carry a gun. I have for about 8 years. It’s personal protection and I feel safer with it. That’s my personal choice. But in no way does that or should that convey that I’m ok with gun violence. And no one will make me feel that way. I’m here to say- back off and let these kids have a voice, listen to them and support them. Teach them. They are trying to make a better way for all of us, more importantly, for the generation after them. My grandchildren. Yes, they are young and may not understand all the ways of the world yet but that’s where we, as older adults, can help them by sharing our experience and wisdom- that only comes with age.

Generation Y, the millenials, are the smartest people we’ve ever had on the planet. They will not only take the world to new places technology, they will redefine what it is it be more human. They have taken my generation’s “tolerance” policy and turned it into acceptance. They have had it and have made it very clear that they are the new and future voters. We’ve all been waiting on a change, with every president in every election. I believe this generation will be the change we’ve all been looking for.

Thanks for reading,

Stacey

Fish or cut bait

So many times in life we find ourselves “hanging in there”-waiting. Waiting for the relationships we’ve invested in to turn around. And by relationship, I mean anyone or anything you’ve given a part of yourself to.

In today’s world, everything is instant and immediate. Gratification, sadness, knowledge, and any other feeling you’re looking for. But it’s all surface. Rarely deep or connecting. We all have a million “friends” or “followers”, but the real friends, family, church, or career we’ve cultivated over the years- those are the things that matter. But at what point do you decide to fish or cut bait with these relationships?

Some of you may be thinking “what the hell does that mean?”. Fish or cut bait. It means to keep investing your time (fishing) or let it go (cut the bait off the line). Hanging in there, for me, is much easier than letting go. Once you cut bait, that’s it. It’s done. Of course there are times when it’s not so absolute, but how many times have you ever cut bait with a relationship that you loved and it ever returned back to the way it was?

I find that the older I get, that it’s becoming easier to let go. I’m not sure if it’s because- things I’ve held on to for so long are waning or if I’ve learned how to discern relationships quicker? Maybe it’s a combination of both. Most things are easily decided but the things that matter-REALLY MATTER, take internal fortitude.

Why? Because there will be consequences with either choice. Either choice leaves you open to regret, which we all know, is the fucking worst. For example, there’s a relationship I have right now that wasn’t good from the beginning but over the last couple of years, I’ve tried to cultivate it. The reception has always been luke warm and interactions seem forced. Why am I trying to nurture this relationship? Out of love & understanding. And right now, I’m not sure if it’s worth it, but it’s too soon to cut bait. It’s a relationship that I want to work, just not at the expense of losing a more important relationship that links us together. I’ve been on the fence but I’ve decided to give it my best, cast my line and fish.

I guess that’s why I think hanging in there is easier. For me, personally, I’ve always been the one to hold onto a relationship- even well past it’s shelf life. I’ve only ever “left” a few relationships, most of the time the relationships leave me and all that’s left are bones. So, when I do make a definite decision and the time comes for me to move on, I usually have no regret.

What relationships do you have that the time has come to fish or cut bait? Sometimes we all need a little push to move forward. The first step for me was letting go of relationships that I felt indifferent about. You know, the ones you put off even though you have good intentions, but they just aren’t a priority. The relationships that quite frankly, aren’t worth it. You may feel like a jerk at first but once the weight of “I need to get to that” is gone- it’s freeing. I don’t mean to sound as if it’s easy peasy to cut bait, it’s more of an act of- living on purpose.

I challenge you to take that first step in letting go of one relationship that you feel indifferent about. It can be anyone or anything that’s taking up space in your head where there’s no longer room. Give yourself permission to simplify your life.

Email me some feedback on who or what you let go of and we’ll breath a sigh of relief together *woosah*

Thanks for reading,

Stacey

From Mourning to Remembering

I’ve been debating on how to approach this story. Every time I try to form it in my head, I almost immediately lose…the words. Even now, it took me 10 minutes to finish that sentence. I guess I’ll just jump in and rely on the fact that I can edit before I publish.

On March 13, 2017, my ex husband, the father of my kids- was in a fatal car accident. His sister called me shortly after I got home from work. I didn’t answer because I had just changed into my pj’s and sat down on the couch. No one really calls anyone anymore so when they do call, it’s a little alarming. But still, I wanted to relax for a few minutes before I called her back. She immediately called back, I answered. My life would change forever.

Herbie & I met in 7th grade. We had a bus safety drill and when I jumped off the back of the bus, he was standing there looking at me. He said that was the moment he fell in love with me. I’m not sure that’s true, but we became fast friends and ran in the same circle. We went to a really small high school so it was hard not to see everyone all the time. His sister, Stacey, became one of my best friends so Herbie and I spent a lot of time around each other.

We remained close after high school, I had a son and by the time we were 21 & 22- We were married (1994) had a baby that same year and he adopted my oldest son shortly after that. Between 1994-2012 were married and divorced twice. (Full disclosure: that is the super short version, there’s lots of stories in there that maybe I’ll get to one day)

This story originally started out with me feeling like I wanted to honor him on the 1st anniversary of his passing. But I’ve taken time writing the story out in my head and feeling so frustrated at the loss of words-until now.

*Revelation*

As I kept searching for the words, I’d go into more of what I thought of Herbie rather than thinking about our lives. I realized that the story I wanted to tell, right now, wasn’t what we had been through but rather about who he was and how we should grow from this point forward without him.

Losing someone suddenly is- tragic. It feels like a bomb went off right next to you, but you lived. You’re broken, you can’t hear, you can’t breath and you’re walking around in a daze. Which, once I came out of that, felt like coming out of a dense fog that you’ve been driving alone in for months. Then, reality sets in and you realize your life was changed in literally a matter of minutes.

He was my ex-husband, my friend but most of all- my partner in raising our boys. When he died it felt like I was a chair that lost two legs. My kids were devastated. There are actually no words to describe what happened to them and I could never do them or their feelings justice by trying to describe what they went through. Seeing your children suffering, does something to a parent. You go into a subconscious survival mode. Nothing else matters except making sure they’re going to be ok. We put our heads down and struggled through the first year. Please don’t let the common word “struggle” fool you. When I say struggle, I don’t mean “we had some bad days”. I mean “we are drowning & trying to reach the top of the water to get a breath”- kind of struggle. We had all of the “firsts” after someone is gone. Birthday, Father’s Day, thanksgiving, Christmas etc etc. We made it.

My husband, Robert, has been the most patient man over this last year. He kept me steady when I was lost and gave me space when I needed it. He understood my feelings of grief and felt the heaviness of the loss that my kids were dealing with. It was time and mind consuming for us. It wasn’t easy for Robert, I’m sure. I had neglected him and our marriage while dealing with the aftermath of the explosion. But he stood by me, accepted my apologies along the way and always backed me when the kids needed something and their dad wasn’t there to go to. He loved me and continued to love me even thought, at times, I wasn’t the easiest person to love.

Herb lived his life 100% how he wanted to. We divorced and went he into the Marines at 26 years old, toured all over, was in combat in Iraq, did his service, came home, started a construction business, coached, went to college, became a teacher, started another construction business and was booming at the time of his passing. He did all of this and so much more, without apology. Now, as I reflect back on who he was and how he lived his life, it helped me to realize that I can’t let my kids stay stuck in what feels like an endless well of grief. Sure, its ok to not be ok and take the time to be sad or cry. I’m not sure if grief ever goes away? But we were all stuck. First in the moment of the blast. And then, in the “how do we move?”. Not really sure what to do or how to move forward. But we couldn’t live like that every day. Herb didn’t. Why should we? He lived. Really LIVED! It used to annoy me honestly, it seemed selfish at the time but now I realize that’s what life is about. Going for it, betting on yourself, being true to who you are and creating your own happiness.

I feel as if this conscious way of thinking gave me a sense of “permission” to tell my kids that it was ok to be happy too. That they can move forward, make new memories and adjust to life without their dad. It’s hard, I think it’ll always be hard. He won’t be far from their minds but it’s ok to keep going, to be free. To be free from the heaviness and ride the waves as they come- not anticipate them. We have great memories but we have to let go of the past and move forward to new memories and happy times. I understand when it comes to grief, forcing yourself to move on may make you feel like an island by the people who aren’t ready yet, but I just knew I couldn’t let myself or my kids live in the despair any longer. What good am I to them if I curl up in a ball and don’t handle business? They needed me. They needed me to be encouraging and to bring some normalcy back into our lives. Another stage of surviving, I suppose.

*What I want my boys to know*

Its time for them to step into their own manhood. They could try to fill their dad’s shoes their whole lives and never be able to do it. Not because they’re not enough, because they are. But because they hold their dad with such a high regard and respect, they’d never feel like it was good enough. I want them to embrace the parts of their dad that they are but to also be the man, husband and father that their own kids, family and friends will hold in high regard. I want them to know it’s ok to step into to their own shoes and grow from the roots in which they came.

“Family~ like branches on a tree, we all grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one” -Unknown

Thanks for reading,

Stacey