Wednesday, November 27, 2013

That sucks! Want A Sammich?!

The very sound of "Bless Your Heart" makes me want to yak.  What is really being said is, "poor sucker, awe, life is rough when you are slow..." It's crap! Downright BS. It fits right up there with "that's life" really? That is what passes for encouragement these days. PTI-A-FREAKIN-FUL. So now we encourage our brothas and sistas with bumper- sticker platitudes and trite sayings from Chicken Soup for the Soul? Ouch.
*Side note* This blog could possibly be from the recent turn of events, those events being going home, the Holidays,  and Finals in 2 weeks* I know, just breathe., step away from the 5 hour energy.   So if this is blog has a bit more sass or zing to it, I make no apologies , like I ever do, but it is about time it was said! * Continue reading at your own free will :)

It is easy to forget our own thoughts and actions once we are removed from a situation. i.e. the loss of a friend, raising children, ( I got NOTHING on this one. I also refuse to open that can of worms.I am just trying to get you there, OK?) going through school, moving across state lines....yada yada yada . You get it. You is smart, You is kind, You is important :)

My (grass-fed) beef is that once we are out of a situation we become experts platitude givers . We offer little to no  empathy or support   to others who are walking the same road. I will put myself out there on this one. Most of you know over the last few years I have been gypsy livin! It has been some good times. Moved out and  away, grew up ( work in progress, I know)  Lived alone and loved it Well, 95% of the time. This ain't an SAT test, numbers are not scored here! I pride (Pride- that will come back around to bite your in the rear) myself on knowing how to make a budget, pack up an apartment, and start over. It's been a blast meeting new people, learning about different places, and really making my own life. There are stories that are special to me from each place I lived. Every place has a place in my heart and my life. but......

Each one also has its own struggles, defeats, and losses at every new place. I have forgotten how hard it is to pull up roots and start totally over. The move from home was the hardest. It by far was the best experience I have ever hard, but also the most challenging on many levels.My mind, at times,  glosses over all of the hard parts and focuses on the good. So when I hear someone wants to move away I am the first to make a list of what is needed for packing up an apartment. ( Toss your junk before you move! There is always a Bed, Bath, & Beyond & a  20% off coupon close at hand:)

A friend of mine recently got into an excellent law school in DC.  I said GO. Move across the country you can always move home, me you have seen! It is great advice, so proud of you , Jasmine <3. However, there is also more to it than just Lowes boxes and packing tape. It means pulling up roots, exposing yourself, and being VULNERABLE.. ( That means being ok with saying, HALP!) What better time to say, "Halp"

So, since I am nice and settled in CHICAGO ( I made it, baby!) , it is easy for me to dole out advice about moving, However, what I need to say is, Ah, moving. there is a reason it rates very high on the stress scale. Instead of just saying that blows.and walk away. Why not offer to help pack up, grab a box, or just say we should go spend a night walking around Bed , Bath, and Beyond. I have coupons. Bury me with em," ok?

I am reminded of how many people had patience with me when I first started out on my ASL journey. ILY BETH!!!!!!!!!!! <3 I now work in the ASL lab at school so now I deal with ASL one students. They are so cute! Scared crapless!  It is something else to walk in there with everyone who can sign like it aint no thing and ask you what you need help with. If you can get your knees to stop shakin' long enough, and your hands to work, and your brain to remember how to spell your own name, you are in the red, baby! It is a good day. But it aint, your hands are clammy, you know the sign for book and the polite girl behind the desk signs BOOK , but you get that deer in the headlight look. Fifteen minutes later communication has happened. Now, I look back on those days fondly! Ah, good times, right? Well, kinda.

It is the job of the older ones to help guide the younger ones. It is really a charge to the ones who have walked before to show them how you survived Panel 1 & Panel 2 ! OMG. That means we should speak edifying words to each other like...." I remember those days, you need to go to tutoring every week to improve," or other sound advice.Of course there is a time to lead the pack, and let them figure it out on their own. But that's another day.

So the charge is that those of us who have survived, perhaps a little beaten up, but still here, should serve as a guide to the ones who are following in our foot steps. Also, are our footsteps what they should follow? It isn't that have to be perfect, but did you do the best you could?

I think of the holiday season and how many people will be without a loved one at the table. I sobbed at I Miss You Most At Christmas Time by Mariah Carey the other day. Absolutely reduced to sobs and snot. It hurts. The holidays will be rough this year. So say a prayer for those families this year that will have one less at their table. An empty place an the table means an emptier place in the hearts of the ones that loved the one that has gone on. Hurts.

 People say life is but a vapor. I get it. SHUT UP!!!!!!!!!!!. When a person is closer to 50 it is easier to say that so carelessly, sometimes, even down right cold. At 26, my friends are my family up in Chi.  School and work is my life right now. So it isn't just oh whatever, it doesn't matter. It does to me. It is all about perspective. So before judgement is passed, stop, think, then speak. Remember being 26 and sometimes feeling like the world is crashing down? Sometimes it does feel that way. Sometimes it does all go up in smoke. This life turns on a dime. So saying life is short at 50 holds a different meaning than at 26. I have a longer journey. 26 > 50, 'member?

The whole point is to remember what it was like when you walked that same road. It isn't the friend who remembers those days that means anything to you . It is the one that sees you in the mire and climbs down in with you. Not the one who sees you in the hole and says, "that's life,  I would come down there, but I can't get dirty. Life is rough, wanna sammich ?" There is a time for sammiches and to pull your own self up. However, sometimes we just need someone who gets it. Who knows that grief is a process and sometimes it does SUCK.Things aren't always going to be ok. That in itself is ok, too. Jesus spent 40 days in the desert. These things take time. Dance when it's time to dance, and cry when your heart is heavy. Don't dismiss someone because you have survived said experience. Consider it a pleasure that he or she is comfortable enough to be vulnerable with you. Remember a time in your own life when if one more person said "deal, that's life" you were going to cry. The bible says love is what separates the world from the Christians. Love is a verb. Love sits in the muck and mire. Platitudes give you a handout, a sammich. Love gives you a hand up, a hand to hold. 

So are you climbing down in the trenches? Or are you holdin' a sammich?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Beer cans && Fishin' Lures was a board on my (now defunct) Pinterest account. I named it that because I had hundreds of pins of nothing but shiny pretty objects that caught my attention. Because who am I kidding, I am the poster child for all things shiny and wonderful ;) I digress.... My favorite board was the one titled " Miss Stephanie Marie" It had all these little pins about things I enjoyed, shiny objects, make up, Chicago, babies, the Titanic, all things Deaf culture and ASL....OH! I almost forgot my real all-time fav-or-ite board...the one with all the sappy, boo-hoo-hoo quotes and song lyrics. Oh mercy. *sniff *sniif* I would cry but that means my make-up would run. If anyone that knows how much shellac I cake on, these black eyes would put Alice Cooper to shame, honestly.(PS. I do not apologize at all for it either, nope, no way, not in this lifetime, sister. It is part of my effect. Well, not this semester per say, been a little more Au natural, bc it's been nothin short of the 9th circle of hell round here, as of late...
To not be ungrammatical
-Note the absence of the 's'-

I deleted the account because I found myself wasting time on things that I do not have a need, use, or want for. I have enough stuff, crap, and things. The more I was on Pinterest, the more I found myself wanting more meaningless stuff, useless crap, and worthless things. I want and need to spend my life investing in people. Building loving, lasting,eternal relationships should be my focus.

Now please, pretty pretty please, just go with me on this. Stop rolling your eyes, well, go ahead. (Jesus 360- ILY Benny <3)  They won't get stuck that way I promise. If they did I would be so cross-eyed I wouldn't be able to throw a rock and hit the ground. 

I do not believe having a Pinterest account is bad, not in the least. However, for me, it was becoming a stumbling block. It was too easy for me to distract myself to look at recipes all day or to pin a board about home DYI projects, that I don't have a garage to do them in! Hello, I live in a condo downtwon Chi ! 

Now fundamentally there is nothing wrong with being able to look up how to use a mason jar in 100 creative new ways, but for me it was more than that. ( I know I know insert eye roll here. BUT it's a struggle for me) I would spend two hours on pining sappy lyrics or the picture of a sunset with a bible verse. Again, nothing wrong but it meant I wasn't doing anything. Just shaking my head at all the stuff I don't have. Sad Sad Stephanie. Oh look, what a cute pair of shoes, I need ANOTHER pair of shoes to collect dust in my closet.

But then I had to ask myself why? What about all of this virtual crap was so appealing? It is because it is an escape, for me.It means I get so focused on not having a garage with an SUV and 2.5 kids, that I forget about all that I do have. The more I would look at these pictures of other people's crap the more I wanted it. Come on! I could rattle you off 200 hundred pages of the cute stuff I saw on Pinterest that  I NEED!  However, that is not for me right now. I do believe all of those things in God's good time, but I can't wish my life away.

 As I have PAINFULLY learned, we ain't promised tomorrow. So If I spend all my time always redecorating my apartment I will never have time to have friends over to sit and chat. If I don't stop pinning away for things I don't have I will miss all that I do have. All of my blessings become a moot point if I am always peeking in the Jones' new-fancy-hand sewn-roman shaded-window. (Kudos to whomever can pull that off)

I have been practice interpreting TED talks. They are a series of amazing lectures from topics on the Paleo diet all the way to Gentrification. 

One of the talks is about whole-hearted living and learning to embrace every aspect of life. Dr. Brene Brown states the simple fact that we are the most obese, debt riddled, medicated, and sedated nation in the world. WOW. She also notes that people have a hard time dealing with any sort of discomfort. The more I looked around the more I had to agree. I am right there in the thick of it myself, heated toilet seats, anyone? 
Again, nothing wrong with a heated toilet seat at 2 am. (BRRR) However, at some point the madness has to stop.

 This year has been a very tough year in my for several reasons and in many ways. So when she said we don't like any discomfort GUILITY. It hit me right then and there. I am never still. I never just be. Those of you that know me are nodding your pretty little heads right now in agreement. That is ok, I know you love me and support me :
But what it means is that for the longest time I have just sat without my phone glued to face, or my headphones in, or the tv blaring. I don't like the discomfort. I can't stand the silence. It hurts. My heart hurts.  Uh, turned on the news lately? some people really understand the meaning of hurt. People losing their babies, mama standing over the grave of her child, people killing others over iPhones. Real life-altering pain some people experience.
I have learned God is good even when he is silent. I know that because I stood over the casket of someone I dearly love and miss this past year. I know first hand he was a witness to thousands of people he never met. I still don't get it. I aint happy about it. So I won't pretend I have made my peace with it. I also held my little chunky delicious new nephew. I saw that life starts and life ends, at any age, and without warning. You da man Cam, all 11 lbs & 7 Oz.OUCH && that head full of hair!

The real point of the talk was that there is nothing wrong with being uncomfortable and in pain. The longer we fight it the worse it becomes. It happens, it sucks, and it aint fair. But I didn't scoop out the oceans with my hands, and I don't know how many stars are in the sky, but I trust the person who does. So I will not be led astray by the temporary trappings, the beer cans and fishing lures, of this ol' world. It is quickly fading. 

I will embrace every season of my life because I know blowing the candles out on my birthday cake another year is a priceless act. *Sidenote, my sister makes amazing and delicious cakes * Much I have seen and much I have done. I understand happiness because I understand sorrow. I do believe there is beauty in brokenness and comfort somewhere down the road. 

So for now, I am doing my best to sit in the silence and walk through the fire but not be overcome. It burns but I am not consumed. Some people say when they get to heaven someday they have no questions. Well good, that leaves more time for me to ask mine. In the mean time, I will rock the babies to sleep, do my homework, and wash the dishes. 
I will be thankful for what I do have because I was given more than I deserve. 

So my prayer is that I continue to not lose sight of all that I do have, because I spent too much time looking and what I don't have. Maybe someday Pinterest and I will be old pals instead of arch enemies. Time will tell! 

One for the road...

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Travelin' Soldier

"...I guess we are all one phone call from our knees..."  Benny died on April 19, 2013.  I got a phone call from his mom, Brenda, on that blustery Chicago morning. The horrific information she had to share would send me straight to my knees.Truth be told I am still there. I'll never forget her trembling voice and the harsh words she spoke.."Benny is gone." She said them through her tears and disbelief. He was gone forever. All at once, my heart shattered, my eyes blurred with tears, and my mind raced with questions.  How? When? The most tormenting of all. WHY? 

The last question, why, still haunts me as I walk this lonesome road of loss and despair. Grief S.U.C.K.S. There is no way around it. When someone you love dies, a piece of you dies, too. The heart aches because it must now beat without all of its parts. No remedies for a broken heart. I wish there was some way to drown out the deafening silence of such a profound loss  What I wouldn't give for one more story, hear one more sweet laugh, or see that beautiful smile, just one more time. I miss you, Elvis. The only way to survive is to pray,cry, and cuddle up with a USMC pillow pet when this all seems to be too much to handle. 

If I told you Benny fought harder than anyone I have even seen fight, it would be an understatement. Benny's bravery and determination will always be in a league of its own, in my mind. He was a Marine. He was a fighter.  I was able to witness first hand his unwavering bravery. Ben made his way through insurmountable odds and physical pain that few can even comprehend. The GBS ravaged his body but not his spirit. 

His mom stayed by his side everyday with steadfast loyalty. I watched as she would graciously tackle whatever daunting tasks each day brought. She did it all, from brushing his teeth, to documenting this journey on his FB page. ( Brenda kept up pound for pound with the doctors.No MD initials can ever replace a mother's love. They had their fancy degrees and books smarts. However, it was no match for the wit and wisdom that she is blessed with.  Never in all of my life have I ever seen such tenderness and courage in one person. God gave her strength for all she had to endure day after day. Benny always asked "where is mom?" Every. Single. Time. I came in the room. That was always  his first question. Blessed me to always answer that she was on her way without fail. Come rain or come shine. In those early days of his illness all he knew was that his mama would never leave his side. She traveled all over this country to be her son's side. I believe they pulled from each other's love. Even when a mama pokes, prods, and asks too many questions. There is just nothing like your mother's love. 

The days have passed very slowly since Benny died. It's hell when I think off all he didn't get to do and see. He came so far and yet he still had so much that needed to be done. Ben and I were going to ride the CTA. (Chicago train) His job was to tell me how fast it went. Sometimes just hearing the freaking thing floods my eyes with tears. I am made painfully aware he will never get to ride it. This is a dark part of life for all of those that loved him. The grueling task of carrying on without him here sucks.  I do not believe this was all for not though. Even when that feeling is ever present.. His story reached thousands of people across the globe. Pastor Chad said that we are all used for God's glory. This means even when it hurts.  I do believe, with all of the pieces of my heart,  that something good will come out of all this.  However, it doesn't ease the sorrow and suffering. It's always a blessing to read his page that was filled with prayers, wisdom and encouragement. So many people came along on this journey of healing that ended up being his journey home. 

I haven't blogged in months.Nothing to really say until now. Just getting my thoughts out. I miss my Elvis. He was many things to many people. He was a friend that I was able to walk beside on his journey to the sky. He is in Heaven . One day I will see him again. What a hope we have. Keep his family in your hearts and prayers. They walk this lonely and painful road of life without their Benny. I believe there is nothing more heartbreaking than attending your own child's funeral.

 I am so thankful I have amazing people in my life that have prayed for me and cried with me. They have fulfilled the law of Christ by helping me walk this road. 

The measure of a man is what he leaves behind. You left your mark on this heart of mine, Benny. Your story lives on in those of us that love you. We will tell the world. Your light and laughter will sustain us for the days ahead. I miss you, everyday. I love you. Thank you for letting me walk along beside you. I would do it all again in a heartbeat. The last thing I said to you was that I would miss you. I do.I will for days I do not have you near. 

Those we love don't go away. They walk beside us, everyday. Unseen, Unheard, but always near. Still loved, still missed, and held so dear. <3

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Butt Paste (Confessions of A Nanny Nanny Boo Boo Kisser)

Many of you know, some of you do not, I am a nanny. I have always loved children. I have mostly worked in Home Health Care for many years ( I miss you Anne & Marg) . Well, Chicago is a new city so time for something new! I am trading in my days of being knee deep in Depends & Metamucil for a little helping of  Butt Paste & Baby Yum Yum's. ( They are these waferish fruit flavored baby treats meant to soothe a fussy child and bring out enough drool to fill a large cement pond). Life is all about change right?! I have enjoyed my time being "the nanny." I will continue to do so while I attend Columbia! ( I know I know it's taking FOREVER!) Consider this your fair warning now! I will not apologize for the contents of this blog post. There will be talk about poop,farts,and, bodily functions of many forms. So if you are eating...might want to wait..or not...butt proceed with caution. (But remember I done told you this would be gross. Speaking of #2 go ahead and take a Lysol wipe over your keyboard. How do you know the person before you washed after they wiped?!)

Confession # 1

Anytime a child farts or burps in public the blame automatically falls on the adult. This happened  to me at Dominick's grocery store. The cute little crumb gobbler  who shall remain nameless! Nugget ;)  and I were having a grand ol' time until she ripped one that would put grown men to shame. I mean it was BAD. The man in the same aisle just looked at me and shook his head. No words were needed and what was there to say? Excuse me mam, you might want to check yourself. You could peel the paint off of a Buick with that kind of explosion. The potted plants by the cashier stand just all wilted and died! && PS you look like a real douchebag if you blame the child. Although it is tempting to blame it on those strained spinach and creamed pears.

Confession # 2

I have learned more words for poop in the last 5 months than I ever thought possible. This is by far one of the funniest aspects of my job. In no particular order here they are....poopa, dump, load, wad, stinky pete, meatball, brown clown, icky sticky, poopy pie,( Ok this one bothers me, please do not equate dropping off the Brown's off at the Superbowl to the scrumptiousness of the awesome wonderfulness of pie. K? Got it? Thanks!)  Turd pile,filling up the diaper...many more but these are just a few.

Confession # 3

When riding the CTA bus while on the job, I do not give a rat's butt if you stare at me while the baby cries. I am caring for someone's child, jackwagon! Ever been on a CTA bus?! Huh? There is some smooth riding. Please. There was less break slamming and horrible driving in my driver's ed class! Work with me here! I am not going to take the baby out of the stroller to soothe her on the off chance something would  happen the bus.  I can't even begin to imagine the dangers not having her in her stroller while the bus is in motion.  So rest assured I will stand in the same spot for 20 minutes and bouce the stroller, make faces at her, anything to keep her safe and happy until we arrive at our destination in one piece. Also, a huge thank you to the men that helped me off the bus that day. Not all strangers suck :)

Confession # 4

When I arrive at somenoe's house people have no shame answering the door half dressed. I mean grown men, at least 30 years old, for some reason ( I will never understand why) have no shame to stand their in their boxers, iron their work clothes, and talk about life. Umm.. Hello, you aint got no pants on! We are all adults here, yes, but eww. While we are on the subject of occupational hazards. I accidently found some adult toys one night while looking for band-aids. Seriously, kill me now. The kids are wonderful and the parents are great but ah-ha. I opend the drawer and suprise! I proceeded to very carefully push it closed with one finger. I was told to look in the bathroom drawer and I think they forgot that they wasn't no Band-aids in that drawer.( That was the for-our-married-eyes-only-drawer-don't-nobody-need-to-see-that)

Confession #5

I have "instincts." From what I am told darn good ones! I have just always loved children. I was talking to one of the mother's I nanny for and she spoke of the other nanny in a different light. Not negative, just not something you would write in a birthday card. She said she didnt' have those "instincts" like you do. You can read the baby, when she is tired, hungry, or just wants to be held. I have learned to trust my gut more. I am now more than ever aware of everyone who comes around my nanny child. Many times I am out for a walk or in public parks. I find myself noticing everyone who walks by. We can talk and be polite. However, I know without a doubt I would do anything for these kids. I would risk my own life in limb in a second for these children.(Even if they do fart loudly & in very public places!)  When I am pushing a stroller down the road I have someone's entire world in this four wheeled contraption. So I will do anything I possibly can to keep them safe and sound.

Confession # 6

I dance and sing (loudly, off key, out of time, and very loudly) However, the kids laugh and sing along with me ( or maybe they are trying to drown me out?! Hmmm ;) When I sing, normally, dogs bark and garage doors open but with the kids it's different. One of my favorite ways to pass the time is the take my Friday girl, Nugget (affectionately called Nugget. No, that is not her real name, her parents love her very much!) the 8 month old, and dance and sing around the kitchen. She laughs and tries to sing and claps her little nuggety fingers. It is by far one of the best times of my week. We twirl around the kitchen in a haze of laughter and music. For those few moments nothing else matters. Her giggles and squeals fill my heart with joy and a sense of promise. I know these moments are fleeting. I was at her house when I heard the news about Sandy Hook. I couldn't help but cry as I looked at her in her crib sleeping soundly. So these precios few moments I have to see the good in the world is what I will cling to when the horror, agony, and shock of the nightly news seems to be too much for this heart to take.

So there are many more stories to tell, noses to wipe, and books to read. But for now I am content. I will enjoy the time with these children. I will read Thomas the Tank Engine with just as much heart on the 19th time as I did on the first time :) Toot Toot, Thomas.