Bye, Felicia!

Friends—
I limped past the finish line of 2018 with the bubonic plague.  The doctors (in my 2 visits and 2 phone calls…no, I’m not a hypochondriac or stalker) assured me it was not the plague, but simply a bad case of the flu with double pink eye, and that it would pass in 2-3 weeks with sufficient rest, hydration, tamiflu and eye drops.  To those of you I have whispered about, rolled my eyes at, thought you had an inferior immune system, etc….all behind your backs when you’ve mentioned you have been sick…I cannot be more sorry and I apologize!  I had no idea or frame of reference.  I solemnly swear to get a flu shot every year moving forward.  This is one holistic approach I am willing to toss to the side.  Cough cough, sniff sniff.
A couple of Januarys ago I decided to trade my list of New Year’s resolutions for a simple mantra or a word to live by in the upcoming year.  It seemed to me by doing so that every aspect of my life would be impacted by an adopted frame of mind, not just a limited focus on an overly-defined check list.  My mantra for 2018 was, If it comes, let it.  If it goes, let it.  It was creating some tension (in me) at the thought of letting it go, so I’ve decided to keep it and add on to it for 2019 with The magic is in the mess (borrowed from my friend, Brene Brown).  There sure is a lot of mess around here so don’t be alarmed if, in anticipation, I start carrying a wand.  Maybe that is part of the lesson…to anticipate. I start each day with intention…naming and proclaiming it to be a ‘good’ day and thanking God for the day ahead, asking Him to direct my path.  Ugh, if this could only just stick after I left my house in the morning.  But I try again another day….
This past year found me still (as I approach the three year mark of some of my darkest days) fighting the good fight!  My circumstances continue to be a head scratcher, but never short for a laugh or good entertainment (some things really don’t ever change)!  I said some hard good-byes last year, but also said some warm hellos and I look forward to what 2019 is sure to bring.  I continue to learn a lot in this relentless pursuit of a life reimagined.  I will be honest.  A lot of days are challenging and my output does not reflect my input.  How can that be?  What do I do with this mess?  All I know to do is the next right thing.  One day at time.  And a lot of yoga….namaste.
SUBJECT CHANGE, please stay with me.  I think we would all admit we saw a rising of women in 2018.  To that I say….WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?  I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to my women friends.  ESPECIALLY those who have been dealt some catastrophic blows these past couple of years and have responded with nothing less than grace, confidence and strength.  I’ve always known I had amazing friends (I picked them after all!), but seeing it play out in real time has been empowering.  You are resilient, you are my sister and you are NEVER alone!
And to that end, I am ready to close the door on another lackluster year, but with hopeful optimism as I anticipate what is yet to come…hey, things are already looking up.  I can almost FULLY see out of my right eye.  The PINK EYE is clearing up!
BYE, FELICIA!  🙂

Things we can do….

Things we can do at the EXACT same time:
-Be brave and afraid.
-Support the military and support peaceful protest.
-Support responsible gun ownership and fight for gun reform.
-Fight for justice in our communities and be global activists.
Resist the divisive either/or framing of complex issues.
Speak truth to bullshit.
Live and love with our whole hearts.
At the exact same time.
-Brene Brown

Birthdays

How do you celebrate your birthday?  Is it with a child-like exuberance and enthusiasm; honoring/marking/celebrating a life well lived; is it an ordinary day or do you approach it with a chip on your shoulder?  Please ignore the giant boulder on my shoulder, friends…  Last week I crossed the 47 (gulp!) mark, guys!  As I have continued on this ‘relentless pursuit of a life reimagined’ I think I have done a decent job at remaining grounded (yoga word) by remembering who I am, despite my circumstances.  And perhaps that has been the exercise….or undoing that I have been meant to learn after all.  Not placing value in WHAT you do or WHAT you have, but in WHO you are and/or rise to become.

Over the past year or so, especially the past couple of months, I have sensed that I have been underestimated and judged by the chapter/verse that people are walking in to my life on.  And instead of giggling behind their backs and blessing their hearts, I have grown an enormous chip on my shoulder.  The even scarier part is that I haven’t told anyone….I’ve let it grow inside of me and fester.  So what have I done about it?  Nothing!  I put on my best face and hoped it would go away as I very much didn’t want to feel this way…and with every ebb and flow of disappointment, personally and professionally, that chip continued to grow and I have retreated….from friends and family.
When I first moved to Virginia (two years ago) I started having dreams about a lion.  It wasn’t every night, but it was recurring.  I wasn’t afraid of the lion….he would always be following me or I would be following him and we were always climbing.  When I did a little research and talked to my paid friend (aka, therapist) about it we discovered that the lion symbolized strength, courage, assertiveness and power.  Knowing what I was going through at the time, it made perfect sense….I probably haven’t dreamt about the lion in a year until the past month or so.  HE’S BACK, GUYS!  I didn’t think much of it…or him…until a particularly low Sunday morning when we sang the following song at church:
THE LION AND THE LAMB
He’s coming on the clouds, kings and kingdoms will bow down
And every chain will break, as broken hearts declare His praise
Who can stop the Lord Almighty?
Our God is the Lion, the Lion of Judah
He’s roaring with power and fighting our battles
And every knee will bow before You
Our God is the Lamb, the Lamb that was slain
For the sin of the world, His blood breaks the chains
And every knee will bow before the Lion and the Lamb
Oh every knee will bow before the Lion and the Lamb
So open up the gates, make way before the King of kings
Our God who calls the saved is here to set the captives free
Who can stop the Lord Almighty?
Our God is the Lion, the Lion of Judah
He’s roaring with power and fighting our battles
And every knee will bow before You

….like a 2×4 to the face I realized that yes, it has taken A LOT of strength, courage, assertiveness and power to rise up from that fateful day in February of 2016.  However, ‘my Lion’ is the one leading the charge, fighting my battles and that everything/everyone will bow before Him.  In essence, He’s got this, y’all, and maybe I shouldn’t be so caught up in how I’m being underestimated or judged because after all that speaks WAAAAY more about the other person than it does about me.  Chip chip!  During this time I was also reading Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott (an oldie, but a goodie!) and compiling a list of things that I knew/know for certain.  When everything seems so upside down sometimes you have to bring it all back to what is tried and true.  Towards the very end of the book (maybe even in one of the last chapters) something she said SLAYED me:
‘This is the most profound spiritual truth I know:  that even when we are sure that love can’t conquer all, it seems to anyway.  It goes down in to the rat hole with us, in the guise of our friends, and there it swells and comforts.  It gives us second winds, third winds, hundredth winds.’  (insert ugly, snotty nose cry here)  Oh my goodness…stop it right now!  THANK YOU to all of my friends who have chased me down and OUT of the rat hole and given me my hundredth wind.  I’m here because of it!
So bringing it back full circle….I am a wealthy woman, but probably not by your measuring stick. And perhaps that fear of being underestimated or being judged was my own insecurity or lack of awareness. On this birthday I realized my spiritual battles are being ‘handled’ (I miss Scandal!!) and that my earthly army is stacked.  Now I better go check on that ‘chip….’

Tomatoes are not in season….

I LOVE the idea of farm to table (FTT) restaurants.  I support them every chance I can and desperately wish we had more of them in my area.  I try to be a clean eater…I eat whole foods, my diet is nutrient dense and I support sustainable practices. Can I do more?  Most certainly.  However, I’m doing a lot more than I did 5 years ago….even a year ago.  When you know better, you do better is my philosophy on this.  It’s a lot to take in and implementing this kind of change can be daunting so I’ve found baby steps are best.

Recently I went to a FTT restaurant I have visited in the past.  It had been a minute since I had been there, but I was quickly reminded how uppity I thought the millennial waitstaff could be.  From the moment I sat down and was shamed with the no straw policy (not sustainable), I braced myself.  I asked for a lemon.  Guess what….lemons are not in season.  I nearly had to beg the waitress for a normal size glass as I knew the shot/juice size glass she had given me for water wasn’t going to work for either one of us.  I have always thought that restaurants appreciated my creative flair in the way I special ordered my food.  Nope, not an option here…I had to stick to the menu.  Salad dressing options?  House.   The mic drop moment occurred when I asked for ketchup.  As you can imagine….tomatoes are not in season.  I nearly stood up and screamed, demanding my Heinz, like every other red blooded American!  Instead, I retreated, wiped my hands on their 1-ply, sustainable napkin and thought, I’m never going to come here again.  So there.
It’s a shame because I know these are good, well-intended people just trying to save and preserve our ecosystem.  In their enthusiasm and passion they’ve become extreme and instead of converting people I wonder how many people they are putting off.  I was already on their side and now all I want is Five Guys.
It made me think about Christianity, Christians and God….and how I’ve seen so many of my friends suffer, turn away and disavow God at the hands of well-intentioned Christians.  I get it!  I’m scared of Christians, too….and if I’m being honest, I’m still gun shy of organized religion.  While in church a couple of weeks ago we were asked to fill out cards sharing how the church, specifically, had made an impact on our life.  That plea hit me sideways.  I don’t want to HEAR about the good deeds of the church….I want to SEE the hands and feet of the church.  Bring on the testimonies!  However, hopefully they are about how God is moving in a person’s life and not how the church is acting as a chaperone between the two.  Perhaps I’m overreacting.  Perhaps I have wounds and personal issues I have to work through in this area.  I simply think it is best for God to work on our hearts rather than anyone else.  Deep breaths.
If anyone wants to borrow my soap box, let me know….  🙂

Take time to think- it is the source of power
Take time to read-it is the foundation of wisdom 

Take time to play-it is the secret to staying young
Take time to be quiet-it is the opportunity to seek God

Take time to be aware-It is the opportunity to help others
Take time to love and be loved-it is God’s greatest gift 

Take time to laugh-It is the music of the soul
Take time to be friendly-it is the road to happiness

Take time to dream-it is what the future is made of
Take time to pray- it is the greatest power on earth 

There is a time for everything 

Eccl 3:1

A Season of Mindfulness

I find it ironic that the moment I decided to start a blog I got writer’s block.  I’m still trying to figure out if it’s truly been writer’s block, a little dip (unofficial therapy word) I found myself in, resisting vulnerability…or perhaps simply a combination of all three.  It was the beginning of May and I found myself ending a relationship, not getting a job I really wanted (and needed), desperately missing my Nashville friends and missing who I was and what I had in Nashville.  Then like a smack in the face, we learned of the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain.  Yep, I needed a minute….
‘There is no greater threat to the critics, cynics, and fear mongers than a woman who is willing to fall because she has learned how to rise.’  -Brene Brown
I’m a Type A that’s learning how to be a Type R.  I cannot remember a time in my life when I didn’t have a plan.  Even now in my more relaxed season of life I still make plans.  I’m most comfortable that way.  However, it’s when those plans don’t work out that I get a sweat mustache.  Input should equal output, right!?!?! It’s been a challenging lesson to learn these past two years or so …..and it has brought me to this place of mindfulness in order to cope, make sense, peace and friends with the confusion.  Y’all remember that I teach yoga now, yes?   When I teach I (obviously) put my ZEN hat on (namaste) and instruct everyone at the beginning of practice that their only job throughout the class is to breathe and to stay present in the moment.  Since yoga is a lifestyle (yoga literally means union…to yolk…thus, the mind, body, soul connection) I’ve been focusing on breathing and staying in the moment OFF the mat more.  And although I will never be fully declawed, I’m learning to appreciate the invitations, opportunities and blessings that come along with surrendering to being present in the moment.  Don’t blink because I don’t know how long this version of Stacey will last, regardless, I’m grateful for the lessons I’m learning, opportunities I’m being afforded and people I’m meeting and in community with. Organically, my outlook has become one of gratitude….even on those days when I’m struggling, I can always find my Chic Fil A sweet tea to be grateful for.  🙂
My hope, wish, challenge and prayer is the same for all of you….BREATHE and stay present in the moment.
Namaste.
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SEIZE THE AWKWARD

‘I ADORE PRETTY THINGS AND WITTY WORDS.’

‘SHE LOOKS FOR ADVENTURE AROUND EVERY CORNER.’

‘SHE IS QUICK AND CURIOUS AND PLAYFUL AND STRONG.’

-Kate Spade

The world was disrupted (again) yesterday when we lost another life to mental illness.  The words above don’t sound like someone suffering from depression or mental illness, do they?  That’s the thing….mental illness does not discriminate.
I have found THE BEST THING we can do for those around us who are struggling or depressed is to keep them talking!  Often times (I think) we don’t initiate these conversations as we are afraid they might be uncomfortable or they might remind the other person of their problems.  DO YOU THINK THEY HAVE FORGOTTEN??  Trust me, they haven’t and given a safe and appropriate opportunity, would welcome an invitation to share.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has come up with a great resource to get these conversations started…you can find those here!
We are better together!

I FEEL A SIN COMING ON…..

After a couple of weeks of disappointments, goodbyes, set backs and frustrations, I feel a sin coming on!  Boy do I ever….and probably more than one!!!  Ugh, it’s been a challenging time and I’ve been left wondering if I’m forever destined to remain in a state of transition.  I’ve tried to create a life for myself whereby I have a lot of options so IF, or better yet WHEN, something doesn’t work out I can easily draw on one of the many other options I have prepared in my arsenal.  I’ve always had options:  personally, professionally, whimsically, inconsequentially, you name it….I LIKE TO BE PREPARED, so essentially I can be hard to pin down or count out because I have created a life of options for myself.  So now I’m feeling pretty exposed and vulnerable (SHH!!!) as I dare say my options are narrowing.  It’s a hard and restless place to find myself in.
As the walls were closing in I decided to push back by leaving town to lift my spirits….I packed my bags for SUNNY California to visit the precious twins and of course my sister!  🙂  One of my worst qualities is that I don’t suffer fools gladly.  So when I arrived at the airport and saw the security line was backed up almost near the ticketed/non-ticketed partition the hairs on the back of my neck started to quiver, especially when I saw there was one agent working the line with at least a dozen others randomly walking about.  When I finally made it through the security machine all sorts of bells and whistles went off.  I was quickly escorted to the side by a TSA agent and was shown a digital image of myself with a red, hot groin.  I’ve never heard of a groin search before and I hope I don’t see or even hear of one again.  What ensued next is only what I can piece together from moments of me blacking out.  I faintly remember doing a series of Warrior 1 poses with cactus arms and ‘searches’ happening in the front and back of my body.  Of course I happened to be wearing my best denim mini skirt that day so there’s that….   After the madness was over and I was cleared, I beelined for the TSA office and a supervisor.  When I found him he was working a crossword puzzle.  For fear I would literally be locked up that very moment, I bit my tongue and walked away with the support of my new BFF, Brenda…
Brenda and I flew together from Norfolk to Baltimore before saying our goodbyes.  Brenda was on her way to see her niece graduate from High School.  Since it was a lunchtime flight we both brought out lunches on the flight.  I brought a plain turkey sandwich.  Brenda brought tuna fish.   Brenda wasn’t interested in any of the mints or cough drops I offered her.  The 38 minute flight from Norfolk to Baltimore seemed like 38 hours.  (PSA:  DO NOT BRING TUNA FISH IN TO SMALL ENCLOSED SPACES)
I finally made it California, but my bag did not…..for 24 hours!  I’m so grateful that my sister and I are about the same size so that I could borrow her things while I was without mine for that time frame.  I’m not grateful, however, for her comment that I should carry on next time!  😉
Upon arriving at the door, the cherubs (aka TWINS) were waiting for me at the window and then opened the door with a big yell of, ‘SURPRISE!’  Like any good Aunt would, I dropped my pocketbook on the stoop and proceeded to chase and tickle them relentlessly for the next 20 minutes or so.  I soon realized, when we were catching our breath and cooling down, that during my initial lunge for them I jammed my foot on a piece of furniture and broke my toe.  Hobbling around after 2 year old twins in the hills of northern CA for 4 days proved challenging, but that is what we do, isn’t it?
….I could go on and on with the little calamities and inconveniences that continued to ensue on my mini trip, but it was just the wake up call or REMINDER that I needed.  We can do hard things:
-We can laugh at groin searches or we can complain and file lawsuits
-We can meditate over tuna fish sandwiches or we can ask to be reseated
-We can buy toiletries & new tennis shoes or have a temper tantrum over lost luggage
-We can embrace & receive unconditional love from 2 year old cherubs or we can complain about a broken toe
……one option takes a lot more energy and costs us MUCH more than the others
  • I can take my disappointments and perhaps learn how to manage my expectations on the front end a little better.
  • I can take my goodbyes and find a way to ‘smile because it happened.’ (Thanks, Dr. Seuss!)
  • I can take my set backs and find another way to approach the situation.
  • I can take my frustrations….yeah, I got nothing!  😉
And just like that, I spy some options…..
Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything.
Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you,
so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.
-unknown