A Time to Set Fire & #VOWspark

Sparking has always been easy for me—or for at least as long as it’s mattered. I’m not sure that I’ve ever noticed it myself, but I have had it pointed it out on more than one occasion. I can come up with an idea on the spot. You can tell when something makes me feel alive. And I have no problem introducing myself and asking a question that means something instead our DC standard: What is it that you do for a living?

As an aside, it’s normally, What was the last great book you read?

I know my days are better when I get eight hours of sleep and an early morning start.
When I create.
When I sweat.
When I meditate, even for just a few minutes.
And when I spend time in a hammock reading just a bit of poetry.

The best days involve a conversation with my grandparents or my sister.

It’s took me 27.5 years to get a handle on who I am.
It took me 28.5 to understand what makes my soul sing.

What I still don’t know is who does.

I feel like my #OneWord2017 of Build has very much so far been about the former (as it should be)—knowing what sets me on fire—and I think the focus for the rest of the year will be about who does.

I think I’ve known, on some deeper level, that this was coming. That there was work to be done. But it didn’t click until this week, following a particularly rough weekend, a reading with my astrologer regarding romance and friendships (I’m sure Lin or I will at some point explain how astrology is not prediction of the future and that it—just like praying or a therapist—can be a tool), and a few texts with my sister.

Despite my best attempts to ignore that still small voice that I’m beginning to become familiar with, I’ve also known deep in my bones since January of this year that I haven’t found my person yet. I’ve known there is a reason.

The reason involves The Work that I’ve been putting off; The Work I’m finally ready to do. To take a good hard look at the men (and women) that have played a part in my journey to this point—what I learned from them and how I could have treated them (and myself) better along the way.

So here’s to

INVEST-ing.

And putting in the time this time.

Because as a writer I once knew quite well put it (words that I quote more often than she will ever know and in my List of Things to Build post):

At the heart of all this is the love of story. Because these letters, meals, parapets and gardens tell stories about time and how it is the currency of our hearts. The things that last are the things that are built–brick by brick–and planted–seed by seed–and then tended–day by day. And I like these things because they cost me something to invest in. If I pay the price, then it is worth something to me. It’s worth is only equal to what I am willing to pay for it.

There are some things in this life that take time to develop, things that are worth keeping sacred for the right moment. Things that will be more lovely if I pay the price of waiting and watching and sowing into it, even when I am uncomfortable and lonely and hopeful all at once.

Because anything worth everything will always cost us something. And this time, I’m willing to pay big time for it.


Steph’s SPARK mantra: I have always tried to make room for anything that wanted to come from within me. (Dr. Carl Gustav Jung)

Steph’s Song of the Week: Never Say Never by Tristan Prettyman

& Don’t Miss Lin’s #VOWspark post.

P.S. Lin posted first, and I think actually her explanation of tarot cards is similar to what I referenced regarding astrology. We #mindmeld like that.

White Knuckled: Reflecting on RELEASE

The end of the school year is a hectic time for everyone in the field. First grade teachers, University professors, admin staff, and student affairs professionals. I’m not alone in the race to the finish line.

And yet — finals have been graded and summer classes well underway. Graduation has commenced and the gowns laundered and stored for another year.

And here I am, chugging away. Taking small strides to finish the work that honest to god feels like it’ll never end. For every case I free myself from, another comes in. And with it, the burnout smoldering inside me.

But I have persisted. I have typed. I have pushed. And I have made progress step by step.

And over the past week, I sat at my desk, fingers rapidly typing over 75 pages of information. At long last, on Friday afternoon, I liberated myself from a project several months in the making. And holy shit it felt good. Yet I’m having a hard time relaxing and letting the stress go.

It’s like I’ve been white knuckling work for so long that RELEASING my grip almost hurts.

I clicked save on my document at 2:00pm before the long weekend and unleashed myself from my office for the long weekend. The feeling was like skipping school and I felt just a little bit guilty for it. Though with a cold beer in had, it’s easy to justify your decisions a bit. Added with the reminder that it is summer and while my load may never fully lighten, it need only be as heavy as I enable it to be.

And this week, it’s back to the grindstone where we will FOCUS…


Read Steph’s BEAUTIFUL post on #VOWrelease

featured image courtesy of Tony Shasteen

A Time to #VOWrelease (& Never Read This Post Again)

I’ve been thinking a lot about letting go.
About the long list of things I need to release.

And let me tell you, it is quite extensive these days.

For the last month and a half, I have felt heavy. Both physically and metaphorically.

I’m struggling with my body again. To get out from under it. But my mind is hell bent on keeping me where I am, pinning me there with all its weight.

This isn’t a new struggle for me.

I’ve been back to the childhood journals to investigate its roots. And it started in earnest sometime around eleven, but the battle for my body began well before the first shot was ever fired. Years before I realized that my body looked different from what I thought it was supposed to look like, I watched my mother wage war on hers.

Back then though, while there is no doubt it stemmed from my brain, I thought it had only to do with my body. If I ate better or went for my runs consistently, it got better. And given that I was still living under my parents’ roof, I hadn’t yet had the chance to experiment with drugs like refined sugar, processed carbs, and wine.

These days, it’s not so easy.

Because I know too much but still somehow, not enough.

Now I know that when I wake up each morning and stand in front of my mirror naked first thing, inspecting and sizing up and pinching and deciding my worth based on that moment (and the two handfuls of the same that happen throughout the day), it isn’t a body problem. Because no amount of healthy eating and exercise fixes what you see in the mirror.

No doubt it helps, but, on its own, it treats a symptom, not the cause.

I’m heavy for other reasons you see. Deep wounds my parents and I have inflicted on each other that seem like they may never heal. Consistent worries that I will pass those wounds on or continue to pour salt in them. Lack of trust in a relationship that I don’t know how to fix but desperately want to. And a body (and in turn, a person) I want to quit sizing up by what I see in the mirror.

I was listening to a podcast the other day, and a woman said something about how she decided one day, she just couldn’t take it anymore. She couldn’t keep being just the right size and worried about gaining weight or not where she wanted to be and scrutinizing everything she put in her mouth. She wanted peace with her body.

So she set her mind accepting herself and learning how to eat mindfully. And let me tell you, that sounded so easy.

It’s not.

I mean I haven’t even tried it, and I am getting hung up on the thought. Learning to eat mindfully is one thing—though I will point out there is not a manual for that. But accepting your body for what it is? That just sounds like a recipe for continuing on and not caring.

And as my mind was starting to make the rhetorical rebuttals, she started speaking to them. Talking about how accepting your body doesn’t mean giving up. How it means starting to live in the way of the belief that the body you have is the one you already love. And how when you start to love your body for what it is, it’s hard to hate it, and it’s easier to treat it better.

I get it.
But it’s hard.
To let go of so very much.

And it’s more comfortable. In my bed. With streaming sitcoms and glasses of wine. And my self-righteous indignation.

But I know enough to know that it’s time to get out on my own or have someone pull me out, because this is not the person I want to be, and I’m slowly becoming her.

And that isn’t something I am willing to accept.

I’m a girl who likes to work for it, and it’s time to keep building.

And this is a post I don’t go back to proofread or I will never post it, so apologies for any typos.

This week, we

Focus.

#VOWrest (i.e., #VOW-Burn-the-Hell-Out)

Sister and I haven’t talked about it, but I am sure we both think #VOWrest is ironically timed. Or perhaps just one week too soon.

I’ve been gearing up for the third of three huge conferences I’ve been organizing for a government agency, and I am BURNT. OUT.

Past toast.
Past crispy.
Nearly ash.

But I can’t slow down until Thursday at noon, when things officially wrap.

All last week all I did was ponder (/dream about) the word rest, and what I would like to do with my time when I get a chance to do just that.

The thing is, I can’t get much past sleep at this point. It’s not because I am that tired, but because I am that exhausted. Originally I was thinking that I may put the upcoming long weekend to good use with some sort of a self-retreat and summer planning session. It’s not that the exercise sounds undesirable, but it does sound daunting.

It just feels like I’m running on empty this spring, and the very same thing I need the retreat to fill me up with is the same sort of energy it takes to plan it.

I may be busy, but I am so damn bored.

Actually, bored is the wrong word.

I’m uninspired.
Under-stimulated.
Wanting in simple beauty.
Powerful words.
Complex red wine.

It’s funny: one of the antonyms for stimulate is

reLEASE,

our word this week. And I am just so very ready to find rest. To release some things. Be done with them. Get some damn peace.

So here’s to the letting the show go on and wrap up. To letting myself find the space I need in the unplanned days of this upcoming long weekend. To letting the light come in through those cracks. And to letting go.


Steph’s Song of the Week: Hold On by Alabama Shakes

& Don’t miss Lin’s post on #VOWrest (coming soon).