Tuesday, December 13, 2016

tom miller day ...

Tonight is the last super moon of 2016. The last of 3 in the last quarter of this year, which is apparently significant. It's also Tom Miller Day ... today would have been my grandpa's 84th birthday. He was arguably one of the most important and influential men in my life, even though he passed the year I turned 11. For those of you keeping track, this was quite some time ago. I have been without him nearly two and a half times the time I was with him, yet I have always felt mystically connected to him. And the moon. Which is probably totally unrelated, yet it doesn't feel that way tonight.

Tom Miller was fun and ornery and full of life. He was brilliant, despite his 8th grade education, and could fix literally anything. He and my grandma met when she began writing letters to him while he was deployed with the Army during the Korean War. Eventually they bought a farm - the farm where I would spend weeks at a time while I was growing up. Together they built many things there ... cars, tractors, lives, the list is immeasurable I suppose. He loved to stir the proverbial pot... He would order pizza and send my grandma to pick it up even though they lived miles from town, and promised to make popcorn in the brand new popcorn maker while she loudly protested. He taught me how to feed the baby calves that were brought to the barn each winter, how to make maple syrup in the Sugar Shanty, and how to ice skate on the pond on the farm. He was the most fun.

I have always felt a rather peculiar ownership of him - he was *my* grandpa. I remember feeling a tinge of sadness last summer when I was talking to my next youngest cousin and learning that she really didn't remember him at all.

Dates are a funny thing for me. I can recall the date of every major {and generally minor} event in my life since I was a teenager. Some before that. I have no idea what my affinity for dates is or how it began, I only know that it's a rather strange thing. December 13. I always think of him today. Actually ... I always call Diane today. And so naturally I did and we talked about how he said he would live to be 100 and, of course, we believed him because he always did everything he said he would. And because I have a love affair with the moon I feel like, somehow, the two events are related if only for me.

So I wish you a Happy Tom Miller Day. I hope you celebrate well.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

on finding beauty

Two summers ago I was living in a darling townhouse in Greensboro, North Carolina ... one of my favorite places that I've ever lived. A cute 1920s-ish duplex with original hardwood floors, really lovely scallop-detail on the staircase, and FOUR closets. Four. Giant. Closets. Oh how I weep when I think of leaving those closets. Not to mention the price tag. I was living there in 800 square feet of bliss for less than half of what I'm paying for my glamorous New York apartment. Le sigh ...

That summer was the beginning of a lot of change for me. I was still recovering from the epic car crash and death of Lucy the Escape {god rest her soul}, I was preparing for a big move to New York, and I was coming to terms with the end of a longterm relationship. There was this one night though in the midst of all of the chaos that I found one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen or have seen since.

There was a fence that ran along the west side of the townhouse and it was covered in this giant grapevine. And it was FULL of fireflies. Literally full. I would sit outside on the porch and watch it for hours until I had to go inside from exhaustion. Each night that summer at dusk, I witnessed the most spectacular light show I think I've ever seen in my life. It was positively magical.

Living in the city can be really hard. So many people, so much dirt, it's so hot and sweaty and expensive. But it's also a really magnificent place. This city is full of energy and beauty and history. I'm constantly intrigued and inspired by the centuries full of people who have walked on the very same streets I do every day, past the very same buildings ... What were their stories and where did they go? Who did they love? What were they passionate about? It sounds really strange, but I feel connected to them and this glorious city.

One of the things I try to do in my life everyday is to look for beauty. Something unexpected or away from the ordinary. Like the little boy who turned his brother into a super hero last July 4th, or the gorgeous tulip tree around the corner from my first NY apartment, or the way the sun sets perfectly over the Hudson as I leave my yoga studio. Beauty is all around us, if we just take the time to look.

The last six months have been positively chaotic. Wonderful but chaotic. And sometimes I forget to stop and look. Or I get busy ... but these last two nights, I've found myself on my fire escape as the sun sets. It's been an unusually cool summer {I'm so not complaining} and the breeze is almost chilly even in early July. And as the day gives way to night, the sky turns magnificent shades of blue and pink and red. And it's the most beautiful thing. It leaves me feeling alive and in awe.

So this is a reminder to myself that I need to stop every now and then and find beauty because my life is so much better when I do.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

on kissing frogs

When I was a little girl there were very few people that The Oracle would leave me with because, well, I just didn't really like people. Seriously. There were just not many people that I liked outside of my mom ... and my Uncle Doug.

When I was very little, there was a woman who befriended my family. A couple really. Donna Anderson was a witch. She told us so from the very first time she met us. I, of course, was very skeptical being the realist I was as a child. Her husband, Virgil, worked on the railroad with my dad. They were wonderful. She was full of whimsy and magic, and Virgil was a crotchety old man who loved her. He would always sort of wave his hand and dismiss her silliness. And I will never, ever forget ...  There was a portrait of her when she was young that hung in their living room. So glamorous. All sepia tone with red lipstick and perfectly waved hair and the perfect just barely off the shoulder neckline ... She was a vision. The kind of woman I hoped beyond hope I would become.

I got to spend a lot of time with Donna and Virgil when I was little. They became sort of surrogate grandparents to me and Michael. They, much to my chagrin, stayed with me while my parents went to the hospital so Sarah could be born. I felt totally offput - I was the only one home when my mom surprisingly went into labor. I helped her pack and do all of the things. Yet, I had to stay home like a child when she went to the hospital. My nine-year-old heart was crushed. I was clearly more grownup than they realized.

Donna constantly tried to convince me that she was a witch. I didn't believe her for a minute. Magic wasn't real, and I was far too grown up {even at the wise age of 4} to realize this. Until one day ...

I was 7 years old. And Donna and Virgil came to pick me up because something was wrong with one of the cars I think? I'm not entirely sure. The 'rents had a Pacer and a Chevette because, we were just cool like that. My god, that Chevette went on forever. I carved my name into the back of it with a rusty piece of metal because it was clearly my car ... but I digress.

Donna and I decided we wanted to go to Wendy's because, duh ... it's Wendy's. What midwestern girl doesn't love fries and a frosty? But Virgil was being his crotchety self and didn't want to go. So Donna in her infinite wisdom asked 7-year-old Stacy what she thought she should do...

... this was a big moment. One not easily spent on frivolity. And 7-year-old Stacy was a very serious child. I thought about this for a good amount of time. And then I decided. She should turn him into a frog. So he could learn his lesson, naturally.

Never in a million years did I ever think that Donna would ACTUALLY turn Virgil into a frog. I mean, how absolutely absurd is that. So you can imagine my shock when later that day, Donna came to our house. She had her hands cupped over her belly, one on top of the other,  as if she was concealing something. And she called for me to come see her.

It was a hot summer day and I had been playing outside. So I met her on the pathway next to the shed in my parents' yard. Donna said to me "I have something to show you" and as she pointed to her cupped hands, my eyes got wide ...

There inside her hand was a FROG!! I was stunned. "VIRGIL???" I asked in a half whisper, half scream. And she looked into my eyes and nodded affirmatively. I gasped. And I felt horrible. What had I done??? She said to me "What do you think I should do?" And without missing a beat I told her "turn him back!!!"

Donna came by later that day I think to assure me that Virgil was no longer a frog. I was incredibly relieved. And I believe she was the first person who ever introduced me to magic. She was an amazing woman. And I am incredibly lucky to have had her and her crotchety husband in my life.

Monday, January 4, 2016

we are the men we wanted to marry ...

When I was 18, marriage was the furthest thing from my mind. Seriously. I've never had all of those "a man is going to come and rescue you and fix all of the things" fantasies. In fact when I was 15 and dating my first "real" boyfriend {whatever that means} my mom asked me if I thought I would marry him, to which I replied "no!" and I promptly broke up with him. The next day {sorry Greg}.

I had dreams of being a singer, or a conductor {the female badasses of the music world}, or some kind of academic. I was sure I would grow up to be some kind of musical genius because *duh* I was a Dove {every Dove on the planet somehow magically knows exactly what that means. My god, we're an arrogant lot}. Honestly, at 18 I had no earthly idea what I wanted to be ... I just was never the marriage girl. That is, until I went to college with Jesus.

Now don't misunderstand me ~ I have no quarrels with Jesus. He's totally cool. But when you go to college with Him, there's this narrative that I had no idea existed. About how *this* is where you're going to find the man/woman/alien/zygote that "god has intended for you" ... the one who was made "to finish your duet" {Enchanted anyone??}. It's basically your life's work to find him/her/it. whatever. *shakeitoff*

So there I was 19 and 500 miles away from my family and within two years, I'd found myself a husband. *shudder* A man who, even at that time, I would have told you was not the love of my life. He was supposed to be a good guy at least ... And thus ensued several years of horror that we do not need to discuss here. At least not now.

I say all of that to say this ... We're living in the 21st century. And I was raised, I believe, by an accidental feminist who was herself raised {again} by an accidental feminist. Both of these women had very traditional designs on life. Children. Family. Religion. But there's an undertone of strength and individuality in both of their lives. Very, very strong. They're full of awesome, that Henrietta & Diane.

When I was still living in NC, there was a darling an old man *blesshisheart* who sang in the choir where I had my church job. {What is it about older southern men that makes them think they can say whatever they want to you? Or at least to me ...} He would often ask me "when are you going to find a man to take care of you?" To which I would reply "now, why on earth would I want to do that?"

Here's the thing ... I never could have fathomed what my life would become. And the things I would be capable of. I am a business owner? an entrepreneur? I suppose that's a word I'm more comfortable with right now. Pursuing 2 careers with equal passion. *becauseican* Believing that both of them will work. *beacausetheyare* And the women in my life ... they're doing the same things. And while I find myself increasingly receptive to the idea of romance ... I still can't help but wonder why it is in the 21st century there is still an undertone that there must be a man in your life to make you successful as a woman?

So several weeks ago? Months ago? I found this ... {can we take a moment and thank the baby Beyoncé for Pinterest?}

And sent it to a friend. One of my people. She's full of awesome. And we are building businesses. Being entrepreneurial badasses. Making art. Creating beauty.

And while I never really cared whether I got married or not, it resonated with me. Because we have become that thing. The prize was always finding a man who could "support you in the lifestyle to which you'd like to become accustomed." But in an age when women can be successful and celebrated because they're awesome ... well, here we are.

Here's to a year of being the men they wanted us to marry.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

on finding magic ...

The time between mid-November and the end of the calendar year is arguably my favorite time of year. Autumn has set in and cool air inevitably turns to crisp, biting breezes. The earth seems to calm, bringing with it a kind of serenity. The sparkle of lights and glittering things is everywhere you look. And I find that humanity is generally kinder to one another.

The holidays can be wonderful ~ full of laughter and reflection. We find how rich we really are, not in material things but in love and light. Families gather together ... both the families we were born into, and the families we create for ourselves. Even if we haven't seen each other the rest of the year, we take time to celebrate the love that has come into our lives. It's a beautiful thing. And sometimes it's very hard.

I learned so many things about myself this holiday season. First, that I'm not responsible for how others feel. About each other, about themselves, about their life situation. That no matter how much I may want a thing for someone I love, I have absolutely no ability to make it happen. And that is in no way a reflection of me. And that's ok. The second thing I've learned is that it's ok to not be in control of everything all the time. In fact sometimes when things are completely out of your control, that's the place where magic begins.

I have always been a peacemaker. I crave harmony. It stems from the very core of who I am, and has for my entire life. Too much discord actually makes me physically ill. I tend to empathize with my tribe, internalizing their pain as my own. There have been times in my life that I didn't make waves simply to avoid creating chaos {those days are long since gone}. I long for a place where we are kind to each other. Where we can talk about our issues and differences without attacking each other. And a place where we can be our true, authentic selves.

But in the course of it all, I've learned that this isn't my responsibility. I cannot be responsible for the feelings and actions of others. I can't make them harmonious or respectful or kind. All I can do is love my people. I am only accountable for me.

While 2014 may have been the year of falling, 2015 has been a year of release. Release from negativity. Release into authenticity. Release from responsibility for things over which I have no control. And surrendering to the magic that is increasingly following me. It really is everywhere. Have you seen it? And I've found the more I surrender, the more I simply release into who I am, the brighter the magic glows. It's beautiful and terrifying and wonderful.

So this will be the theme of 2016. Seeking magical things and people and places. Allowing life to shimmer a bit more. And basking in the glow of the beauty around me.

Monday, August 3, 2015

what's on the other side of fear?

It's 2:30 am and I'm not sleeping. This isn't terribly surprising ... I've never been a good sleeper much to my chagrin. I love sleep, probably because it often seems like something unattainable. I turn into a horrible, cranky, weepy person without it and no one really needs to experience that. On the upside ~ I do my part to keep the coffee people in business so there's that. You're welcome, Starbucks.

It often means that my brain is mulling something over. And over and over. And won't stop until I've overthought it to death and can no longer remember what I was even obsessing about. Either that or my brain knows this is the only time that I allow myself to binge on trashy TV so it waits until the wee hours of the morning to bother me so we can catch up on episodes of The Good Wife or Scandal or the latest serial killer series with which I've become obsessed

It's been a fantastic summer. Quite unlike last summer which we've taken to calling "The Summer of Crying." I mean it wasn't all bad. Wine = check! Cake = check! What, more wine? Yes!! But seriously lacking in fun and adventure. So far this summer, I've finished my first Bikram Yoga 30-Day Challenge. I've gone on countless adventures in this amazing, terrifying, fabulous city I now call home {just this past week I met a heroin addict named Mohammed on the way home from the DMV! probs best not to tell Diane about that}. And I'm making amazing memories with the best people in the entire world. Seriously y'all, I have the best people. You should be jealous.

But if I'm being honest, and I'm generally blatantly so, I've been in a bit of a funk since ... well I'm not entirely sure. Sometime around the beginning of the summer? Perhaps earlier. It doesn't really matter I suppose, except I haven't quite been able to put my finger on why and I think that's why I'm awake tonight. I'm singing better than I ever have in my life, and I'll be working more this fall than ever. I have a magical freelance business that lets me spend time pursuing my dream and having brunch with my people and traveling to Timbuktu for a few weeks for funzies if I so choose. And I honestly feel like the sky is about to open up and all kinds of glitter and shit is going to spill out. I have no idea what, but it feels like something is coming. And that probably sounds completely and totally crazy, but I'm pretty comfortable with that at this point.

 ... And then it hit me.

I realize that I've been afraid of making music all summer. It's absolutely ridiculous. Music is the one thing I've been chasing with all of my soul for the past 7 years. I mean ~ all in. I have worked harder at this one thing during those years than I ever have at anything in my life. It brings me peace and joy and beauty and when I do it well, it's absolutely transcendent. And even though I feel like I'm doing it better than I ever have, opening a score this summer has been one of the hardest things for me.

And I think it has something to do with fear. It's not so much a fear of not being good enough, or talented, or allowed to call myself a musician {things I've honestly struggled with many, many times over the course of these past years}. I think it's a fear of success. Fear that I might actually get what I want. Fear that if I keep going the way I am, only beautiful things lie ahead.

Sounds terrifying and horrible, right? But failure can become like your favorite pair of jeans. It's easy. It's comfortable. And I know it pretty well. I've struggled with audition anxiety and feelings of inadequacy and wondering when someone was going to realize that I just shouldn't even be here. But success ... that's another thing entirely.

So I'm letting go of fear {because I believe that saying things to the universe actually has power}. And we're going to see what's on the other side. I do love a good adventure.

{sorry for all of the run-on sentences. it's now 4:15, what do you expect?}

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

the year of falling...

2014 will forever be known as The Year of Falling. {alternate titles: how the gingerbread people took their revenge; the year I eviscerated my life and broke my face}. The year I left everything I know, got a job in New York, and moved to the big city to chase my dream of singing. And fabulousness. It's all very romantic really. {cue Stacy's entrance...}

I have a confession to make ... I am a faller. I have always been a faller. It's really rather ridiculous. When I was 3 years old, my mother put me in ballet classes because I couldn't walk across the kitchen floor without falling down. Clearly nothing has changed. Except I fall with a bit more grace. I'm the Ginger Rogers of falling.

You see it all began with a roommate Xmas party. We decided we were going to build a gingerbread house and watch movies. And then we decided that since our version of the gingerbread house was not going to look like Martha Stewart's {how do people get them to look so effing perfect?}, perhaps it needed to have a crime scene. So I bit off a gingerbread man's arm and the rest, as they say, is history.

someone call Criminal Minds!
Perfection. One gingerbread house, three Xmas movies, and hours of girl talk later I decided that I was going to create a crime scene of my very own ... and then THERE WAS A UNICORN STAMPEDE AND I WAS TRAMPLED. I know. Living in the city is very, very dangerous. Unicorn herds at every turn ~ especially this time of the year. They *love* the holidays ... effing tourist unicorns, amiright? ... or rather Smurfs broke into our apartment and tried to take me down Gulliver style. I put up a very valiant fight! I did not, no matter what you may have heard, slip on absolutely nothing in the very flat, very safe hallway in my apartment and fall on my face. A hallway where the walls are so close together I could use them as motherfucking handrails. At least the other two times I fell this year, there were stairs involved and I could blame them. That's right, I said two. Stop your judging and move along to the next paragraph.

And let me just say, when I fall I go all. the. way. Blood everywhere. {not unlike our gingerbread house. did someone say "foreshadowing?"} ... and everywhere includes pooling in my hands as I crawled into the bathtub. I don't know why. My sainted roommates called an Uber {seriously ~ they should be sainted by Pope Benedict Cumberbatch} and rode with me to the hospital. And yelled at people to give me pain meds and stitches and not be jerks in general. And stayed with me literally all night and morning until, finally, I went home. cried because I wanted to go home. started looking for hot doctors. was admitted to the hospital because my jaw was broken in two places and I needed emergency surgery. 

the hospital clearly understands my need to accessorize!
I'm thinking this should be a permanent addition given recent events.
And then Matt and I made a deal. I was going to go into surgery, and he was going to find us doctor dates. So I went with the anesthesiologist {I was, apparently, very charming ~ he loved my unicorn story.}, and Matt went to the waiting room. Sounds like a great plan, no? He clearly had the easier task. After all, I was going to have my face sliced into pieces and he was going to choose from the multitude of beautiful men at the hospital. *you had one job.* But I digress. He did, however, give me his chapstick when I asked for some in my anesthesia-induced stupor following surgery even though my face was again covered in my own blood. {I'm seeing a pattern here that I don't really care for...}

So here we are ... one week before Christmas and some of the best food of the entire year, and I'm on a liquid diet for the next 4 weeks. If someone figures out a way to give me a cheeseburger that isn't completely and totally disgusting, I'm all ears. Because the idea of liquified meat is just ... ew. Also pizza.

Luckily, Dr. McDreamy didn't, in fact, need to wire my jaw shut. He did insert 2 titanium plates in my face so now I'm basically the bionic woman. I am the only person I know who is so adept at the falling that I can break my own jaw with no obstacles. And I'm really, really hoping this is a trend that ends with the year 2014. After all, it started with a bang. I could really use an entire year without potentially life-altering injuries or feeling like I'm in some kind of real-life version of "Final Destination."

{end note ~ I'm going to be fine and the doctor says I should be singing again in no time. I may, however, want to consider training wheels. Something tells me those don't come factory installed on Manolos...}