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

Mimi

Mimi. That’s what my grandkids call me. People say “having kids is the most rewarding thing in life”. No. That’s a lie. Raising kids is fucking hard! Having grandkids is the most rewarding thing in life!

I got pregnant the summer I graduated high school. I had no idea what I was doing and I’m not sure I really have a grasp on it now. A few years later, I was married and had my second little boy. I was 22, married, with two kids. I was a bartender and their dad worked at a machine shop. We struggled financially and in our marriage, but all in all, we were pretty happy. It was hard raising two little kids on limited funds but you somehow get through it. Their dad worked 2nd shift and I worked weekends, so time together with the boys was definitely hard to come by. But you do what you have to do, even if at the time, you don’t know that’s what you’re doing.

We raised our young family as best as we knew how. Married and divorced to each other twice but somehow managed to remain pretty good friends and even better co-parents. But as I look back, it all seemed really hard. I always say “thank goodness i was forward thinking and irresponsible, because now I’m in my 40’s and my kids are grown.”. I know- solid advice right. You’re welcome. *takes a bow*

So fast forward to today. I’m literally sitting in the delivery room waiting on my third grand baby to make her appearance. I have two grandsons now and this little one will be the first girl in my family! I have two sons, two step sons and two grandsons. What do I do with a girl?! Yikes.

When I found out I was going to be a grandparent with my first grandson, I was terrified. Wait. Is that too harsh? No that pretty much sums it up. It was unexpected for sure and I wasn’t sure how to feel. (There’s another story behind that, saved for another day) I was recently divorced, 40 years old and felt I had raised my kids fairly well by this point. Almost as if I had started a new chapter in my life. Was this little kid here to wreck it? I kid, I kid. *Whispers “But was he?”

It was the exact opposite. He became the love of my life. You never think you’ll love anyone as much as you love your own kids- until they have kids. About 4 years later, another little grandson came into our lives. Your love doesn’t get divided, your heart grows.

With my grandkids, I feel like I get to enjoy them more than I did my own kids. One day, while putting my grandson is his car seat, he saw a leaf blowing around in the drive way. So, I let him chase it while I patiently waited. I never would’ve done that with my own kids. It was always “hurry hurry hurry” and “let’s get going”. It was at that very moment that I knew I was going to get to enjoy being Mimi.

When you’re a new mom or dad, you put your head down and get through it. You work hard and try to keep from losing a kid in the store. At the end of the day, as long as everyone is safe and fed- it’s a win. As a grandparent, you get to slow down. You get a do-over, if you will. You aren’t in a hurry, you have them on your time and when you’re ready for a nap, you text their parents and ask “what time are you coming to pick him up?”

Maybe some of you had or have it all together when you raised your kids. That wasn’t me. I did my best, no doubt. But there’s always regrets and “ah ha” moments you wished you had known. With grandkids, you get to experience the things you probably looked past with your own kids. You get to see the excitement or sadness that you may have missed just trying to keep your kid alive some days. Who knew a leaf blowing across the ground was so special? But it was.

Now, as I sit here waiting for little girl Lane to appear, I hope she loves me like her brothers do. Because I can already feel my heart growing for her with every hour that passes. I look at my son, asleep in the hospital recliner and feel my heart full of pride. He’s a good man and a good father. And I’m so glad I didn’t lose him in a store when he was little.

Stacey

Freedom 5k- a million miles

This is something I wrote on Facebook, (almost) post-depression in July 2012. The words I wrote back then never escape my memory when I recall significant moments when I stepped out of the darkness and into the light. Kind of like an emotional hibernation.

I had fallen into a very deep depression. Looking for something to make me get out of the house, literally, I found running. I don’t know why I chose running. I knew nothing about distance running. Zero. My aunt & her daughter, my cousin, were runners and that was the iota of motivation I needed, I guess.

I texted my best friend Stacey and asked her to start with me and she agreed! (She still doesn’t know what the hell she was thinking). It started us on a journey that we’re still on today. We would soon become “Team Stacey”. Looking back at my old posts from this time, I had so many people supporting me. I didn’t realize how powerful that was until just now. *Revelation*

Since then, we’ve ran in more-than-I-can-count 5 & 10k’s. But looking back, the first 5k seemed like it was a million miles. The race was the Freedom 5k, our City’s annual July 4th race through the park. Freedom…

These were the thoughts I had the night before my first race:

So tomorrow is the 5k. I know to most of you it’s no big deal but to me it’s more than just a race. I feel like I have been through the ringer over the last year. A lot of personal obstacles to overcome. I’ve always been a strong & independent person but this last year really knocked me down.When you are depressed, it can be a slippery slope and if you’re not careful- it can do a lot of damage. I knew I could sit down and do nothing or I could keep moving. I chose to keep moving. So I started to run. I knew it was a goal that I could focus on and stick with- especially since I had told all of you :D. Everyone kept saying “you look great” but I didn’t FEEL great. There were days I just wanted to go home, pull the covers over my head and cry…but I didn’t. I went home, changed, put on my running shoes and ran. Don’t get me wrong, there were days that I did go home, pull the covers over my head and cry and there were days that I cried while running. I have slowly become not only physically stronger but mentally stronger too. The 5k tomorrow is more than just 3.1 miles- to me it’s an end to the insecurites & self doubt I carry around. I could blame others for my insecurities but that would be giving them credit for what I’VE accomplished. I own it. You really find out a lot about people in your life when times are tough. It’s funny how it weeds out the unimportant people you really thought you could count on & shows you people who are in your corner and you never even knew they cared. I’m thankful for the people who stuck by me when all Hell was breaking loose because without them- I’d still be laying in bed crying. But I’m not, because they supported me and I chose to keep moving.

I still cry…. but after I finish crying- I run.

______________________________________

Thanks for reading,

~Stacey

But why the name?

When I first told a few people about starting a blog & what I’d call it, the initial reaction was “That’s awesome!” “Good for you!” “You’re so brave!”, followed then by a few different forms of “But why the name?”. When I first started kicking around the idea of taking the leap into writing in the blogosphere, I was trying to organize my thoughts & jotting down story ideas in my phone. I kept going back and forth on what topic I’d write about. I came to realize that I just wanted to write about the people and things around me. Nothing in particular, just life. Sometimes in life I have big news, sometimes I have a snippet & most recently a couple of close people in my life who have passed within the last year.

I can remember writing since I was little. Poems, songs, stories~ whatever I was thinking at the time. We’ve all had the question presented to us: “If you could be or do anything you wanted, what would it be?”, mine was always a writer. So when I decided to start a blog, I decided I would do it my way, write what I wanted and push the fear of being judged out of my mind. Whether anyone read it or not, I still gave fear the finger and put myself out there. So, I can’t explain how proud of myself I was when I woke up this morning knowing that I had published a story on a blog and people actually enjoyed it. Not just my freaking awesome family & friends but people I didn’t even know! Now listen, I’m obviously not a professional writer & let me save you the suspense: everything I write isn’t gonna be a gem. I’ll write about things you couldn’t careless about or you may find meh…BUT- I accomplished something I’ve always wanted to do. As small as it is and it only cost me $48 to have my blog – I did it. If I never published another story on here, I would still feel that I accomplished something that I’ve always wanted to do. When I’m nearing the end of my life, I won’t look back and say “Damn, I wish I had written something for someone.”

So, now I pose the question to you- what is one thing, just ONE thing that you want to do that you’re afraid to do? Is it attainable? If the answer is yes, then what do you need to do to accomplish it? If it feels unattainable, what’s the first step you can take to get a piece of it? Maybe someone around you can help or encourage you. I probably wouldn’t have tried this had my sister and husband not encouraged me. Leave a comment or email me in the contact page and maybe I can be your encourager.

So why the name? Because I said so. (Total fucking mom move)

Stacey

Like my mom

8BDE7C50-45AB-4138-ABB0-1DDDCAEDB61FAs a kid, I was always pretty independent. My mom worked a lot, she was a single mom so my sister was left in charge of me. My sister is almost 5 years older than me and the last thing she wanted to do was babysit her little bratty sister. So, I was home a lot by myself and growing up in what I thought was the best place in the world- our trailer park. There were so many kids my age and we had 2 big playgrounds. Now that I look back, I’m pretty sure they were just open areas with a swing set and probably not that big. But regardless, it was awesome! So I didn’t mind being at home without much supervision.

I always felt my sister, Tammy, was closer to our mom. Our parents divorced when I was 3 and our dad never really maintained any relationship with us after that. So I was what they’d call now as a “latchkey” kid. I never felt like I developed that mother/daughter closeness with my mom. Being independent and making a lot of bad decisions as a young adult, I never really went to her for advice…I think because I was ashamed? Or maybe didn’t want to feel vulnerable? I don’t know. But don’t we all say “when I grow up, I’m not going to be like my mom!”? I did. I thought she could’ve done a much better job raising me, attending my sporting events and being more present.

I’m 46 now. My sons are 26 & 23. By the time I was their ages, I was married, had 2 little boys & on my way to my first divorce. Life was so much harder for me than it was for my mom, right? I was young, divorced and a single mom. Oh shit. Wait. So was she. But I managed it all in a better way, right?

REVELATION: why did it take me 46 years to appreciate my mom? My first realization that I was my mom was so small. It was about a year ago, I had stopped by her house to visit and before I left, she put food in containers to make sure I ate. Even though I said several times “you don’t have to do that.”, she did it anyway. When the father of my kids passed away tragically, she was the first person I needed at my house- she was there instantly. When we moved into our new house, she did all of our laundry and helped me deep clean the entire house. A few weeks ago she was leaving and I told her to be careful and she said “I will honey.” THAT was the exact moment I knew I was like her. I say “honey” to my boys all of the time. I send food home in containers for my oldest son, put a plate in the microwave for later for my youngest, help with their laundry, dote on them (even when they don’t want it), and always drop whatever it is to be there for them.

I feel as though I’ve always been a really good mom. The sacrifices are second to none for mothers. But we do it. We put our heads down, get through it and all we care about at the end of the day is that everyone is fed and ok. No matter how we all got there. It’s exactly what my mom did for my sister and I. She was teaching me how to be a good mom but I couldn’t see it until I went through it. Is that how my boys will feel? Will they be 40 and realize how awesome I’ve been all along?! *fingers crossed*

Is this the circle of life for all of us? I’m at the age where you start to discover who you are, what you’re not and what really matters. I look at my mom and I see where I get my strength, my love of writing, my sense of humor and ability to tough it out. I don’t think I can make up for the 45 years I didn’t appreciate her, I think what I can do now is tell her how much I appreciate her and what an impact she had on who I became. I could not have survived this far in my life without learning from her. She’s a strong woman, not to be pushed around. I’m pretty sure she gets that from her mom, my grandma. I’m proud to say I come from a family of strong women. I’m proud to say: I’m like my mom.

Text your mom and tell her how awesome she is and thank her for dealing with your nonsense! 🙂

Stacey