Saturday, February 17, 2018

Wedgies and Weight Loss

Have you ever seen a person with a wedgie? Not your garden variety undies bunch, I'm talking about the kind that could be pulled out of the back of the poor sucker's throat. Yesterday, at my gym, for a stout hour, I watched a man run on the treadmill with the largest wedgie, ever. The kind that makes you check your own sweet cheeks. Phantom wedgie pangs are no joke, ma'am. I couldn't help but wonder why he could let something as intrusive as bunched boxers continue to fester.

On the way home, I surmised I needn't stare at stranger's posterior. The jury is still out. The second thought was, maybe the good man was trying not to trip, wipeout, faceplant, die, and simply remember how not to smear his face on the serpentine belt of a Nordic Trac. A lofty goal, well worth running towards. He did better than me, any day of the week. I don't run. Running is not something I do. I was built for comfort, not speed. When puberty hit, the boys in 6th grade did not call me "toes." I'm a cuddler. I love to snuggle. There will be no running. If someone wants to catch me, they will. There was one instance when I lived in Indianapolis, I actually ran for my own dear life. I outran a nutjob in shorty shorts, top knot, no bra, and a Goodwill sweatshirt. The rest of the dirty details, I'll spare you. Your retinas can remain intact. Suffice it to say, the Good Lord was on my side.

Perhaps the wedgie is symbolic of an underlying thought I've wrestled with for a good year. When the whole world crashes down around you, everything can't be saved, you have to learn to live the uncomfortable and intrusive facets of life. Since my parent's house fire, I've been "running" with a litany of "wedgies". Learning how to live again, when all I've wanted to do since the death of my father is lie down beside him in the dirt, has proven itself to be a formidable opponent. Just sprinkle some dirt on my head at old 6 Mile Cemetery. Let me see sweet Jesus. Let me go with my dad, please?

I believe we all have seasons of wedgie treadmill running. A time when we give it all we've got. tongue out, dogs barking, britches in a wad, dying for a drink, sweat pouring out, all of the gut-wrenching stuff. At times we are going for all we are worth. It means trying not to face plant in front of creation. The pain reminds us we have been in the darkness before. Even if it passes like a Kidney stone, it still shall pass. We are better for the lesson. More tender despite the ache of our heart.

 Aside from the devastating loss of my father, my weight loss has been the most uncomfortable facet for me to tackle. I would only go the gym and wear an old t-shirt with all of my makeup done and not talk. Sidenote, I am not at the gym for friends. K? Thanks. I'm not here to socialize. I'll smile, I'll nod after my heart snaps back into Sinus rhythm. I don't care what protein powder you use. I won't even photobomb your selfies. Yesterday, I noticed a seismic shift in my own struggle. There I was on some machine to bust my muffin-top in shorts, rebar lined sports bra and a tank top. If the truth gets told, I may or may not have belted out a few bars of the Spice Girls in between reps. Say it loud, say it proud!

I can't tell you how much this past year has hurt. No words to articulate the sorrow that has befallen me. By the same hand, it's been a lesson I know by heart now, it all will work out for my good. I can not tell of my sorrow without telling about the all of the unexpected ways I have also found soul-anchoring joy. I pray for my brothers and sisters walking their own road. Trying to let go of broken dreams, empty promises, or the aftermath of loss. Struggle well. Give it to Jesus. Go to the gym. Storm heaven gates for the wisdom to know when to go tongue out, wedgie in. Ask for guidance when it's time to shake the dust. If you see me at the gym, feel free not to say hi. I'm cheering for you. I am on your side. Won't even mention your wedgie I would love for you to pick.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Radio Silence

How are you, baby? I've missed you.

It's been over 3 weeks of no Facebook post with a witty status about my interaction with the Target cashier. No photograph of whatever organic, grain free, no sugar, hippie food I've whipped up. Nary a peep about my most recent projects and potions. Where is the barrage of Horsecrappery that littered Facebook & Instagram? Bueller?...Bueller?... Bueller?

Here is the bloody, bloody truth, social media was too distracting for me. Last year, when my dad took his last breath, mine went with him. I've toiled something fierce with a lonesome ache. A feeling only understood in a way that's unfathomable to anyone not in the struggle. You are blindsided but what you can't know. Social media has been my safe, meticulously crafted way to interact with the world. A way to dip my toe into the proverbial pond without getting wet. A picture is worth a 1,000 words, but it never told the whole story. How foolish to believe it ever could. 

The heavier my social media usage, the harder it was to have joy. Happiness is,"I am happy until my cherub fingers frantically scrabble around a disappointingly empty, greasy Mcdonald's French fry container." - Stephanie Marie. (Preach) Joy is a much more deeply rooted, intentional practice. I'm about 47 lbs down on a 100 lb weight loss goal. It's been an amazing journey with a rebar-supported sports bra & sweet sweat. A journey fraught with set backs, sickness, and broken bones, I'm a little less muffin top. When I would root & rummage through social media hashtags about weight loss, I would beat myself because I wasn't where I wanted to be.  A little old picture of someone's sliver of a story, would send me on a self-pity party. I don't care what Fergie said, big girls do cry. 

Another reason I walked away was because my FB & Insta were always on the back of my mind. If this interaction only makes 25 people laugh, why can't it make 50 people laugh? What is wrong with me? The real question is, WHO CARES? Me! but, WHY?  Facebook and Instagram had me living and dying with each post. I've always wanted to be a writer. Means get my duff off of FB & start typin! It's a year of culling what doesn't serve me. It's a year of cultivating what does. My hashtagged, as all get out, Insta posts, don't have a lasting impact on people. Why spend irreplaceable moments arranging my latest project for strangers to tell me I am creative and talented? Filters are not our friends. They keep us lonely. The ugly truth is rather beautiful. Even when it breaks your heart. And your can't see past your own nose.

My connections haven't changed since my ether hiatus. If anything, I remember why I love the ones I love. Social interactions aren't relegated to likes or comments. I cook for my shrinking muffin top. The nourishment comes to my soul and body when I spend time in my kitchen. That is enough for me. I need to walk away from self aggrandizing behaviors and practices. Hope for me yet. Much in store. Stay tuned! 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Neither Merry not Bright

Thanksgiving is in a few days.


Couple few years ago, Aaron, my older brother, adored by me since day 1, liberally slathered his turkey and taters in caramel sauce instead of gravy. Now, to understand the hilarity of the situation, Copernicus didn’t take one bite, surmise something was amiss, and assess. No sir, McCormick’s don’t do half measures. He devoured the sweet sauced food without commotion or complaint.  Every bite gone. Nary a morsel or a sweet scrap left.  After the family had polished off the stuffing and bird, we go for the good stuffs. Aaron inquired why everything tasted cloyingly so sweet. Bless.

 Aaron is one of the best people I’ll ever know. No contest. A cherished Thanksgiving memory that will surface in a few days. My family will need this happy memory to carry us through the first holiday season without our dad.  If we all don’t drown in our river of tears first.

Last year, at this time, between mom and dad’s house fire, my move from Chicago to the camper at the KOA, back to Chicago (wish I was making this up) dad’s job loss, heart attack, impending leg amputation, and rapidly declining health, “The Holidays” sucked.

Putting it mildly.

Our faith is the only way we survive the dark days. Walk by faith not by sight. What we’ve seen has been horrifyingly heartrending. We knew dad’s time was drawing near. An unspoken misery.

There is a time to be born. There is a time to die. Ashes to ashes. The circle of life.

We carried on secure in the knowledge, when we die, we know where the others are going. Someday, the circle won’t remain unbroken. If you don’t know where you will be going when you die, better get right with the Lord. There will be hell to pay. That’s it. It’s all the hope we have. It’s all you need.

Now more than ever, I understand why people dread this time of year. The lights are blinding. The songs & sleigh bells sting.  Pictures of togetherness make me more lonesome.

 I might jack slap the next punk who blasts Michael Buble’s Jingle Bells, especially if it’s before Thanksgiving. I’d like to ring his bell. I’ve cried every day for the past 6 weeks. You’d think about some point, you would run out of tears.  

Mariah Carey got it right,"But then I miss you, most at Christmas time." 


It’s a time to draw near. A time to pull in close. How do you do that when what you want to draw near to is gone? The eternal question. My heart aches for my loved ones wanting to draw near, but what they want to draw near to slipped through the cracks. For whatever reason. 

Loss is hell. Death, divorce, wayward children, you name it. 

An empty place at table.  An even bigger one in my heart. There is still much to be thankful for. Prayers still reach God’s ears if you have tears in your eyes.

I’m going to buy a real tree this year. I’m going to sit my family. We will watch the kids run around. There will be laughter. There will be tears. There will be a void. Dad is always in our hearts. His humor and faith will sustain us, when it’s not merry or bright. 

The sweet babe that came to save us all means more to me now than ever. Thankful for that home birthed cherub all those years ago. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

It's Like A Dagger Through the Heart

I’m bad at blogging. I think about it. I quite like my little (War & Peace length) FB update statues. You is welcome. The central theme of these last 9 months has revolved around my dad, namely, his earthly departure. The expanse of my emotional depth goes from dolor to rage & every other emotion under the sun. A reoccurring notion has been I’d like to put my 2 cents in the bucket held out for the Great Unwashed. While it’s not sexy or fun, it’s imperative. Let’s talk about grief. Ladies choice.

                Told you. Are you uncomfortable yet? Do you regret clicking on this link? Are you muttering, “Stephanie, Stephanie, Stephanie!” under your breath? Good, now I have your attention. It’s perfectly fine for you to recoil at this taboo topic. Perhaps your think flowers and funerals. Or  weird memories of your great aunt Mary lying in a casket with a downturn smile because of an overzealous mortician. Still gives me the shakes. You had your warning. I gave you a chance to opt out. I’m a sold-out believer who knows discomfort is paramount in learning. Wise words that still bring a smile to my face, from a youth pastor many moons ago, “Start living or start dying.” – James Matchette
                I spent the last 5 nights of my father’s life sleeping in the 3rd floor waiting room at Lutheran Hospital. These were my creature comforts. Hospital blankets with a scarf. A  generous  gift from a previous nanny family. Seemingly innocuous items to sustain me while the light was draining out of my father’s eyes just yards away.


It’s the little things that still take the air out of my lungs. It’s like a dagger through the heart. The question remains, how do we deal with grief? I don’t have an answer. But how we deal with it now is sorely lacking. I fully intend for Grief to be my topic of study for Grad school. What I offer instead is, a humble suggestion. I have been earlobe deep in research from renowned experts on shame, grief, loneliness, and isolation. The 4 Groomsman of the Grief Apocalypse. A humble suggestion purposing we do a little less talking and a lot more listening to those in the throes of their loss. Ranging from death, divorce, or amputation. Loss is loss. Sucks.

In my own walk down this long road, there is an overarching mantra of perceived ungratefulness. When I disclose I miss my father, typically it is retorted with,” Well, you have many nieces, nephews, siblings, and a mother, most people don’t have.” “Really?! Say what?! Get clear out of town. Still don’t have my dad. K bye.” Rude. Ticks me right off. The loss of my father does not mean I am not grateful for what I still have. It means, the loss of my father shattered my whole heart into a million-teensy weensy small bits. GO AWAY, jerk. Thankfully, my parents taught me to not say every little thing I think. Eh, they did the best they could with what they had. Bless.

“The loss of one does not replace the company of many.”- Unknown. Give whomever came up with that wisdom a big, fat, wet one from me.  I’m 30 & single. Sigh. The most important male figure in my life, now resides at Six Mile Cemetery with an upturned face.  Be gentle, please? Don’t tell me it’s ok. He isn’t suffering, or, wait for it, he wouldn’t want me to be sad. Let me be. Hug me. Pray for me. Tell me something funny he did. If you got nothing,  a genuine smile does wonders for the soul.

Grief takes on many forms throughout life. The loss of my father was compounded by my parent’s house fire. Most things from my childhood didn’t survive, again the infuriating mantra was, “Be thankful your parents made it out alive. The rest is just stuff.” False. I am all for less crap & stuff, but childhood photos are not stuff. My old teddy bear was not just a thing. It’s a thing with value to me. Again, the loss was totally mitigated. It’s a special kind of hell to sit in the charred remains of your loved one’s house inventorying burnt remnants of a life.

                The lack of knowledge about how to converse with the hurting is sorely lacking in society. I want to study it, write about it, and offer what insight I’ve had. It’s been a cool drink of water on a hot day to talk with others who say, “Me, too!” Others have also expressed the same sentiments in being the proverbial turd in the punch bowl. I want to expand the narrative. Include those in the fold who are divorced, widowed, or parent-less. The better we understand grief, the better we can sit who those eyeball deep in it. Baby steps. Pain will not be ignored. In my attempts to understand my own, I pray someday it will help others with theirs.



Saturday, December 24, 2016

Keep your Buts, and Well, Ya Knows, && You Must Not Forget About So & So.

      I've noticed a troubling overarching, underlying, redundancy is frowned upon in Writing, theme sneakily creeping into our everyday dialect. This belittling trend has a startling impact on our fellow brothers and sisters. 

We've arrived at a place, in this society, where everything is mitigated and downplayed. I'll explain in a hot second. Perhaps it's the constant buzz of a constant stream of news on our smartphones, tablets, computers, WiFI-enabled cars, wrist watches that tell us when to move, and other chord chasing gadgets. Things & stuffs that suck up our attention spam, time, and, data.  Perhaps it's being globally connected to the free world in the waiting room of your local Jiffy lube, via a handheld device with the forbidden fruit that is a global brands logo? I'm not sure how. I don't know when. I don't know why, but it's go to stop.

Recently, a good friend's parent died. Said friend and I sat at dinner discussing the ends & outs of life over cheeseburgers and spinach dip. The general rigmarole of work, love, life, topics were discussed. The conversation turned to the heavier side of things. It was brought that my sweet friend has heard, from numerous sources, "Sorry, you lost parent X. You should be thankful you still have so. so, and so. My neighbor lost both parents at the same time. You can't even imagine. Be thankful you still have so, so, and so. 

Really? You are talking to someone who just lost said mama. You have the nerve to play the comparison game? Really? In what world is that helpful? Why don't we say, "That sucks. Tell me your mom's favorite thing to do on a lazy Saturday morning? Or was her favorite holiday? Or how about a hug? Or a warm smile? Perhaps, an interpretive dance  It's akin to you telling me your house burnt down to the crumbs & dirt. I respond with.' At least you still have the garage!" My aunt's house, garage, barn, and lean to all went up in smoke!" NO NO NO NO NO NO NO 

Does that help you pick up, inventory, appraise, and reorder all of your earthly possessions, toothbrush and clean underwear all back right square again? NO! Believe me, a fire is no joke. Or stroll down the beach with a wine slushie and a caramel tan. Perhaps all of this access to news reminds us to be thankful. I agree whole heartily. Also, I hold fast to to the belief you can't speak to what you don't know. I've never lost a parent. The thought alone just drops my heart out of my butt. I know it's a road we will all walk. And even that floods my eyes. 

This is all of these Buts, and Well, Ya Know && You Must Not Forget About So & So.  No on needs your opinion, Just your love. It's devastating in the middle of suffering to hear someone ignore your strife because they have a neighbor that lost parents instead of just one. We are to be thankful in all things, not for them. World of difference. I'm just as guilty as everyone else. Not by any stretch of the imagination am I waving my Dan Marino mitts in anyone's face. 

These cataclysmic events that happen in our lives might not seem like the world came crashing down, because we can google someone else's suffering in a nano second. I'm not saying tragedy doesn't befall us all. In this life we are promised heartache and strife until the close the lid. I'm no so sure it won't carry on for 3 days after the worms have creept in, but here is to hoping. 

This past Fall, I stood over the casket of the principal's daughter of my school's baby girl. Katie was 9. She had brown hair and loved theater. It takes your breath away to even say it. Undoubtedly, he will know deep, unspeakable sorrow all of his days. He will never be whole until he leaves this world to be reunited with his love in the next life.  We were in line to greet the family at the viewing, and I overheard, "My feet hurt. I have piles of laundry in the dining room that is just sitting there. Ah, yes, like your dirty piles of Levis are such a troubling weight on your mind. Let's take care of each other? Can we? It took all I had not to punch the person in the face who popped off about the funeral line being so long. Heaven florid the worst day of someone's life interfere with your dirty underwear. When did taking care of our brothers and sisters become so hard? When did we forget how to just shut up and listen. 

Let's all agree, the next time we hear of someone's trouble. We will listen. We will care. If our big Buts, Well, Ya Knows, && You Must Not Forget About So & So, even pass through our tongue lets just put it right back where it belongs. Shut your mouth. Open your heart. 

Monday, February 29, 2016

Chin hairs & Mustache wax

Long time no see old friends.  I've been busy. Not so much busy, as I have been lazy. There I said it. Well, I'm back. Happy to join you. Writing is powerful. Words are profound.  Mustache wax is painful. Shall we?

I was diagnosed with PCOS at 18. Long, gross story short, I have problems with my womanly innards and hormones. I.e. Thinning hair, sprouting chin whiskers/ upper lip fuzz. Why get a cat that has whiskers when you can grow your own and save on Tidy cat? I rest my case.  Also, midsection weight gain. Basically a spare tire of flub you could smuggle Mexicans in. Hey, Grandpa Joe!  (Yes, these were the terms Web MD uses. I was shocked, too. How rude!- Stephanie Tanner. Long live the 90's)
Bla bla, medical words & heartache. I was put on meds to combat said ailment. FAIL.

Over the course of 6 months, things started to go awry. I was a bald walking pair of boobs. I lost about 60ish lbs. woohoo! The walking pair of boobs comes into play because that what I was.  As much as that is annoying at times,  you got to work with what your mama gave you. Suddenly, my spare tire went from Tractor tire to tricycle tire. Hay!

The problem was along with the weight also went my hair. big clumps or handfuls just it got thinner and thinner. Deb, who is a second mom to me, was cutting the remnants of what was my hair. She is loving and tender. We both knew the conversation that was bound to happen. I had a pit so deep in my stomach, I was sure it was big enough for me & all 7 of my hairs to crawl into and hide in forever. Solid plan.

It is devastingly painful to be half bald in your early 20's. A special kind oh hell fo sho. I'm as sarcastic and mouthy as the next Mccormick.  I have broad shoulders & mitts like Dan Marino.  But if someone was so much as even stare at the top of my head too long or ask me about what was wrong with my hair,  I could not stop the inevitable title wave of tears .  And it didn't matter that you were close to me or if it was a stranger I was just so uncomfortable and it was so hard I would just instantly cry . And even talking about it now I can still feel some of that old despair creep back in.

 I do believe authenticity is what we all desperately crave in a world that is so photoshopped & staged.  They call it the ugly truth for a reason. This is about as authentic as it gets.  I'm also aware that men struggle with hair loss .  I am by no means diminishing their struggle. As a woman I thought there was something particularly awful about this affliction. Meaning no one give me any crap about being insensitive or ignoring the plight of a balding man. Focus.

I went off the meds, on rogaine and all of that stuff. Read: craptastic results. Ida had more fun lighting the money on actual fire. All Rogaine ever did was drain my bank account & nothing to cross the great divide that was the chasm of my missing nothing to cross the great divide that was the chasm of my missing hair. I gained the weight back but not my hair.

 Fast forward 10 long years, and my hair is coming back. My kitchen is lab of organic experiments, teas, tinctures, balms, and bottles.  After a lot of research and book digging,  I created my own little hair serum. At seven weeks into my experiment,  I realize my results were astonishing.  I didn't tell anyone I was doing this .  I snapped a shot of my sparse part , and let the mixture work it's magic.
 My little bottle of sprouts has proven to be small yet mighty.

 I'm going to name the stuff Sprouts. I plan on selling it. Seeing how it goes, and then on from there.
 What I want more than anything,  is to help be able to hermetically seal shut that pit in anyone else's stomach that is carved out by what they have lost. Yes it's just hair. But I'll come take away half of it, and we will see how big the hole is in your heart.

The proof is in the tasting. Tastes pretty sweet. I'll post another progress picture in a month. Baby steps. From the absolute bottom of my heart, thank all of you for the love, support, and faith. There are no words to express my gratitude. 'Our deepest hurt will bring about our most powerful stories' -Amen

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Dire Straits

The original definition of courage meant to tell your whole story with your whole heart. Well, this is my story.

Panel is a big, huge, obnoxious, (very important & rightly so,) test that everyone takes at Columbia. I didn't pass this past May. I had too much on my mind and not enough skill to pass. I failed. (Truth is, I spent 3 days locked in my apartment crying & watching all 8 seasons of Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe, straight through) My proclivity for a middle aged, dark hair blue eyed host not withstanding, it's a fantastic show!  Between you, me, and the fencepost, If I'm going to be sad, might as well fix my eyes on something visually appealing. ( Hello! Mama didn't raise no fool ;) Hi, mom! <3 Love you!

The ramifications of not passing this Panel are rather serious. It meant I was forced to take a summer class, and possibly be held back a semester. (totally unacceptable! I got things to do. Those things would include moving on with my life, && graduating before I'm old enough to draw Social Security. Lofty ambitions).

My original summer plans of working, soap making, & chasing around  little yahoos, wouldn't go as planned. I needed help. Lots of it. * screwed, at this point, I am so screwed.* That meant I had to ask for help. I had to make myself vulnerable *gulp* . It meant I would have to find my courage.  I would have to ask for help because I failed.  I would have to tell the story of not passing an important test. Shoot me now. I didn't want to. It was embarrassing, and awful. It meant I needed help, and was only going to get that help,  If I asked. Shoot me now!

I don't like to ask for help. I speak a few languages, can handle anything in the kitchen & consider myself a whiz with old people & babies. (I am smarter than I look. Just don't ask me how many times
 I have fallen down the stairs, or burnt the stuffing out of myself on the crock pot, k?! ) *cough
cough* Me, stubborn? What's that you say?  pride cometh before the fall? BOOM. Timber. Crash. I will take my humble pie al mode, please.

The news of my failure couldn't have arrived at a worse time in my life. The past year had been one that broke my heart in a way I never thought it would heal. If I told you I had been lonely, miserable, and down right a nightmare to be around, it would be the understatement of the decade.  I had experienced indescribable grief, forced goodbyes, and now, glaring failure. Anything else, really? Oh, yes, the roommate from Hell. Sad. I loved my former roommate. She is a peach. Very much. Broke my heart when I had to say goodbye.

I swallowed my pride, and much to my surprise, something amazing happened. The people asked for for help, did just that. There was no judgment. It is an absolutely amazing thing to ask for help and
get just that. Initially, even talking about my seemingly impending doom made my brown eyes drip.
My tears were met with warm hugs, caring eyes, and a willingness to see me pass Panel, no matter
how daunting said task was. I was blown away. I shouldn't have been surprised though. I am blessed.

Summer would prove to be an adventure in new experiences & even a new language. (Braille! I love it!)  One of the people I met at the DeafBlind retreat presented a lecture about asking for help. I spent a week volunteering at this retreat.  It was stated that it is easy to ask for help when it is obvious you need others. I.E. a person breaks a leg, or has a house fire. Of course, you would need the aid of others if your house was no longer intact. But it takes real strength to ask for help when others see you warts & all. (Your pride prove its destructive capabilities in every aspect of your life until you learn to suck it up, Buttercup!) I learned this lesson the hard way this summer. However, it is one that will stick with me for the rest of my life.

You have to learn to ask for help when it is hard and painful. You must be willing to share with others things that you would rather keep to yourself. You must accept the fact we are not 
meant to do this on our own. 

I really appreciated everyone that helped me out this pit. I spent the summer interpreitng all over everywhere this summer. I just worked my tail off and it all paid off. I have an amazing mentor that was wiling to work with me. I just cannot ask for me. The plan is someday, to mentor someone who will find them-self in the same position I was in. In order to ever give love in any capacity, you must be able to receive it.  I am beyond bless to have such a wonderful group of people in my life. I love you all. I learned so much. My heart is so full.

The good news is, I passed my test. I am on the right path. I am so happy I was able to work through it this summer. In this life you will have heartache and strife, but you must always move forward. You must ask for what you need. You must be willing to ask for what you need.  Big things coming my way!