THE Note to Self, an epiphany.

Sometimes, when I’m recovering medically, being alone let’s my mind wonder to dark corners. I get really hard on myself. 

My Dad called tonight and he wasn’t having any of it. 

As I cried to him about all the things that keep a middle-aged, single mother up at night, all the things I put away from everyone else, but Dad, he stopped me in my tracks. He told me that HE. ADMIRED. ME. That I was was one of the strongest women he knew because I have survived multiple wounds and sufferings beyond what most people would be crushed beneath singularly. 

I said, “Dad, I just feel like I’m always trying to do the right thing and I keep on coming up short.”

He replied, “You have an adopted special-needs son who would likely be dead if not for you and who you treat just like your own biological children, because he is to you and anyone else who knows you. You advocated for him through everything. You might not have much but you always get what your kids need. You raised some incredibly resilient kiddos. You have life long friends because you’re a wonderful friend. That’s incredibly rare, Stephie. C’mon, give yourself some credit.”

Just as I was going to bed, I started thinking that I had not accomplished as many things as I had wanted to today, when my dog, Zeke, walked into my room. I just looked down at him and smiled, realizing that even on my worst days, I’ve rescued five animals. Things may not be the way we want, but yet, still we have what we need; and no matter what ANYONE else may think or say…my kids still say “I love you, Mommy” and that’s all the things. 

The smallest act of kindness outweighs the grandest intentions.

A loving reminder

Friday morning as I was preparing to head home from Orlando, I pulled out the Bible in the nightstand drawer to complete a daily devotional. It opened to a page where a piece of paper had been placed and I was emotionally accosted by a racial slur. Just one word and disgust turned my stomach. Sadness filled my heart. 

There I was: “Where dreams come true” and yet, somehow in the year of 2017, Martin Luther King Jr’s dream has yet to be realized. People are still hung up on color of skin rather than the content of character? How is that possible? 

I don’t have an answer, but through life I’ve learned over and over again that the solution to most of life’s problems is LOVE. So, I crumbled hate up and replaced it with love. 

Sundays for me have always been about Jesus and football. As I watch the opinions on social media regarding #takeaknee I just wanted to offer a loving reminder that empathy>opinion and Jesus’ greatest commandment was to “love one another”.  

Happy Birthday

Very young, I looked out at the scary world and decided I was too broken, too different, to risk revealing my true self to it. I felt too weak to survive the pain I knew was the price of love. So I hid.

The cage I built to protect myself from the world’s toxins also stole my oxygen. I didn’t know I needed to be seen and known like I needed air.

I’m finally proud of who I am. I understand now that I’m not a mess but a deeply feeling person in a messy world.
 My healing has been a peeling away of costume after costume until here I am, still and naked and unashamed before God, stripped down to my real identity. I have unbecome. 

Growing up is unbecoming.

And now I stand: Warrior. Undressed for battle. Strong and benevolent. Both yin and yang. Complete, not in need of completing. Sent to fight for everything worth having: truth, beauty, kindness, shamelessness, love. To march into pain and love with eyes and heart wide open, to stand in the wreckage and believe that my power, my love, my light, are stronger than the darkness.

 I know my name now. Love Warrior.

 I came from Love and I am Love and I will return to Love. Love casts out fear. 

A woman who has recovered her true identity as a Love Warrior is the most powerful force on earth.

if-you-cannot-love-her-stormy-weather-she-isnt-the-woman-for-you .

Men are analyzers.
When we’re not feeling our best or something isn’t working, we try to figure out what’s wrong. We think the situation through. We calm ourselves down and look at problems systematically. We look for root causes or missing parts or broken pieces. Then, after identifying the cause of the issue, we usually come up with some sort of solution.
We decide, after thinking on it for a day or so, that we need a new fan belt, more vitamin C, or some vodka and a 50 dollar bet on the number six horse. We apply the solution and, before we know it, the car is running great, our sinuses have cleared up, and we’ve blown off the steam we needed to blow off. Problem fixed—except for the hangover.
Issues start when we try to approach our relationship problems in the same way, when we try to project our way of doing things onto the women in our lives.
It might look a little like this:

~

We come home after work or go to her place after school. The moment we walk through the door, we notice her foul mood. Frustration is built up in her furrowed brow. She is a storm cloud ready to crack. Even the room seems to have darkened with her anger. Her wrathful silence is so foreboding that we find it repulsive. A primal part of us might even be a little afraid at these powerful and dark emotions.

“What’s her problem?” is the first question that pops into our heads.

We immediately go into problem-solving mode. We assume there is a specific cause. We assume there is a singular issue that can be addressed that will fix the situation. We rack our brains, but can’t think of anything. Did we forget a birthday? Forget to call? Not notice a new haircut? We can’t figure it out, but no matter how much we ask her what’s the matter, she constantly tells us it’s nothing.

Why does she have to be so complicated?

We sit with her in silence. Maybe make a few more attempts to find out what the problem is. Maybe she lashes out at us because we keep asking, and we don’t really know what’s going on. Maybe we make the terribly silly mistake of telling her to calm down. Eventually we walk out, telling her we’ll come back when she figures out what her issue is and can talk it out like an adult.

At this point, we’ve not only failed our woman, we’ve failed ourselves.

We’ve wrongly assumed her situation is the same as a bike with a broken chain. We’ve wrongly assumed it’s as simple as finding the right piece we need to fix it. We’ve wrongly assumed, like all the other problems in our lives, that it’s our time to take control of the situation.

Like a ship’s captain that finds his vessel has strayed off course, we attempt to change her direction. We’ve tried to steer her, but our woman is not a ship. We are not her captain. She’s the ocean that we’re sailing in—vast and mighty. If we try to wrestle her immense waves we will lose every time. We will drown. She might not even know she’s doing it, but she will swallow us.

Our job is not to be the captain, or even the ship. Our job is to be the rock standing strong on the shores of the ocean that we love. Our only job is to be there, and to be there for no reason other than our love for her waters.
Like any other body of water, there will be days when she crashes against us. Wave after wave, it might feel like the ocean will never again be calm. When her tide is high we may feel like we’re about to drown. Sometimes she hits us so hard we think we might crack. But if we remain full and abundant in our love for her, and constantly present in our masculinity, it will pass.
Her waters will quiet. She will once again lovingly caress us, her waves gently lapping at our ankles. She will completely open her heart in response to our stubborn love. She will trust in our strength, and feel safe in showing us the depths of her dark and healing waters. She’ll let us dive into her completely and we will taste her salty kiss. She’ll show us just how much we have to learn from the mysterious gifts she has to give us.
Until, of course, another storm brews on the horizon. But, our job as the rock never ends.

So if you cannot love her stormy weather as much as you love her sunrise , she isn’t the woman for you. If you cannot find humour in the situation and her need to close up, lash out, or walk away, you’re not the man for her.

If when her waters get rough you cannot give your unconditional love to her, you’re treading in an ocean too deep and powerful for your swimming abilities. It is better for you both if you find a smaller pool to dip your timid feet in, and for her to find a man willing to embrace her inherently wild and endlessly passionate nature.
Author: Michael Giorgi 

Letters I meant to send

Dear Bean, 
I never had the chance to be your first. I know there are experiences and years you wished we had spent together. I never was able to be your first kiss, your first love, or even the first time you felt the shape of a woman beneath you—but none of that matters to me.

I don’t care about any first that came before me—all I care about is being your last.

Perhaps we need the sweetness of firsts in order to learn how forever truly tastes. Nothing that came before this moment matters to me, it doesn’t matter how deeply you loved, how broken you were, what mistakes were made, or even how many women you’ve shared your bed with.
All that matters to me is that I get to contend to be all of your lasts.
I want to be the last woman that you give your heart to.

Your heart is so large and complex, so while I know that it’s not only my name that is written in yours, I also know that no one has the place there that I do, and so I want to say that I hope no other name is ever written after mine. I want to fill and inspire your heart, I want to be a home for you; a place of peace within this crazy world of bubbling chaos and along the way. I hope that you realize you’ll never love another like you love me.

We can say with a skeptical heart that we don’t know what the future may hold so it may be futile to promise forever, yet it seems that the only certainty that I know in this life is that I will continue to love you through the phases of the moon and the rise of the sun.
I know that you have loved before, that you have given your heart away and hoped for the best—but that it never worked out the way that you had wanted it to, even if it all happened exactly as it was meant to.

It’s difficult sometimes to trust, to believe when life has shown you it’s futile, but I want you to know that your heart is safe with me.
And that whether I’m talking about tomorrow, or forever, the one thing that I am certain of is that I will continue to love you through the movement of time because I want you to be the last man that I ever give my heart to.
I want to be the last woman who promises you forever.
It doesn’t matter how many times we have tasted the illusion of forever on our optimistic lips, it doesn’t matter how many times we’ve been hurt or even how often we’ve disappointed others. The thing with time is that each day becomes a stepping stone, a necessary lesson in order to prepare for a future that we can’t even imagine. You are better than anything I could have dreamed.

I don’t want to be one of many; one more woman that disappoints you or falls shorts from the touch of reality because I don’t ever want to see you hurt. I don’t want to blend in with the maybes or the necessaries—I want to stick out as the only. The only one whose taste matched her promises, and who stood by you through the inconceivability of faith manifested.
I want to be your last forever.The woman who may not have been everything you had expected in this life, but the one you know holds everything you need.

I can’t say that there was a time when I always believed in forever, I had doubted its existence, yet somehow, my love for you has shown me that sometimes there’s a plan greater than any we can imagine. We know that others came before both you and me, and while perhaps it was different for both of us none of that makes a difference now. 

Passion and love sometimes seem to be long lost friends, and so I know that there is uniqueness to our connection that can never be duplicated. Perhaps there were a few, or maybe even a hundred before me but none of that matters as long as I am one hundred and one.  I wish to be the last woman who bares her body and soul to you, moving my skin against your body as my soft tendrils of hair falls against your strong chest. Feeling the way your skin moves and tightens as I run my fingertips over your shoulders trying to read the stories of your past.
And the way that when we come together, I sometimes feel tears come to my eyes because I have never felt that connected to anyone else, and in that moment, I know that never again will anyone else touch where you have breathed, no one else will love me like you do.

Sometimes there are moments of indecision, and others the truth burns with a crystal clear reality, and we just know. I can’t predict the future, I don’t know what tomorrow holds but the only thing that I do is that I love you now and I will love you tomorrow too. You are the one that I never saw coming through the darkness of a thousand stars. I never knew what it would feel like when I stumbled upon home in a soul, I never knew what it would feel like to love you.
So while the future lay unopened and ripe just waiting for us, the one thing I want to know is that if you are my ending—if you are not only my greatest love, but also my last.

Love Always, Stephanie ❤️