The Fifty-Ninth Word

The Fifty-Ninth Word

 

I thank you, G~d.

April 20, 2019

For the umteenth time, I started writing my book.  Two days ago I began, my session ending with fifty nine words written.  Small potatoes in the written world, that land of writers.  But it was the best fifty-nine words I had written in quite a long time.  All the writing self-help tips were spot on.  I knew.  I knew I was writing the book.  I just knew. After all these years, I was finally writing the story.

Today I have written seven hundred words more.  It felt like nothing.  I stopped when my head began to swim and the world pressed into my conscience. I promised myself to stop paying attention to word count as I continue, but I had been curious.  I had been scared that this writing attempt was like the others, just another dead end road.  I would once again begin, then I would once again either find or devise my roadblock.  I would once again dead end myself into a writers block.  It was a heck of a mindset (I apologize for the language).

But two days ago I wanted to begin again.  Eventually, I kept thinking, that when I finally find my writer’s voice, I will write.  And my book began in my mind.  It began to weave.  Therefore, I celebrate not only the two days worth of writing sessions but the compelling force I had felt.  I knew.  And today I did not feel my day had begun until I continued writing.

It is Passover today.  And Saturday. And Four Twenty.  I think I am cool for about twenty seconds that I can feel rather modern or urban-esque in its reference.  Yes about twenty-one seconds and a roll of the eyes from my son tells me otherwise.  Thank goodness because at fifty-three it seems a person could put forth a great deal of effort into that facade.

I know I cannot “carry” that image but I can happily entertain myself with twenty-one seconds worth of an embarrassing version of urbanesque.  Aka my cosmopolitan charm. I am a bit laughable in that department especially since I am neither cosmopolitan or urban and the jury is still deliberating on the claim to ‘charming’!

It’s true.  The Christmas decorations are….coming down.  For Easter. It might be time… (In explanation, I live in the Wisconsin woods.  Not too long ago I had four feet of snow outside my doorstep. Merry Easter.)

Vayomer Eliohim.  I rolled those words around my mouth, listening to my voice pronounce differently while listening to several YouTube videos. I decided then to also listen to my own internal critic.  (Sometimes to be self-critical is a good thing.  Sometimes.).  I not only wanted to learn Hebrew but I wanted to teach myself to learn differently.  Yes, I embrace my scattering thoughts.  Yes I embrace my focus.  Yes, I embrace my energy and drive to detail.  But do I ever really ‘get there?’  Or, am I constantly making excuses?

I decided I wanted to ‘get there.’

I wrote in my last blog about learning Hebrew through those two words, Vayomer Eliohim, “G~d said.”  I pictured myself picking up the language.  Well, I saw myself possibly learning the language, with a mountain of emphasis on ‘possibly’.  But if I did pick up the language (translate:  If I really wanted to learn), I would do so by my roundabout way.  I would pick up phrases.  I would learn Hebrew by studying through the Bible.  After all, it would be a knowledge acquired through and with faith.  What could be better, right?

Um, hello Steph.  That is not going to work.  As noble as that may seem and as much as I told myself so, the methodology of learning a language means I needed to begin with a logical starting point.  I began with counting one through ten.

The first time I heard the numbers, I thought that there was no way I would learn them.  Nothing was familiar, the sounds seemed alien and there were no bridges between English and Hebrew.  Plus I felt a bit belittled.  “C’mon.  I’m how old and I am studying how to count to ten?”  Yes.  Yes, I am.

The first time through, I did not even parrot back to the pauses in the video.  Twice.  Nothing from my mouth.  Three times.  Four.  I repeated six.  I could not think fast enough to repeat until the number six.  “Shesh,” I said softly.  My first Hebrew number.  “Shesh” and I turned off the video.  I was frightened.  I had had no clue what lie in front of me.  I knew nothing.  But I wanted to know.

So I began counting while I drove.  In the weeks since I last wrote, I counted and counted.  I showed off for my son who with wit and obligation will tolerate his mother.  Then I listened to more of the Hebrew Bible for the sounds and the flavors of a language which seem locked in my tongue.

Four days ago I began the Hebrew alphabet.  While I ironed, I listened.  “No way,” I told myself.  I kept listening.  I remembered when I needed to board up window openings at the Matthias building.  Four years ago, with winter approaching, I constructed rather artsy boarded blockades in four, ten by eight foot, second story window openings.  I had been frightened, sure of disaster and failure, yet I convinced myself I needed to proceed.  And I did.  But I always need to withstand first moments of total fear.

The alphabet was no different.  Total fear.  Silly, is it not?  I kept ironing.  I repeatedly listened to the same lesson.  Never repeating aloud.  And then I did.  I softly began again.

Violets.

The miracle of these past weeks is not only in the languages and in the writing, but I am finding my own learning.  I did not excuse myself from logic.  I did not excuse myself.

Most importantly, I no longer needed to or desired to.  I would rather fail a few times.

Selah.

Happy Passover.  Happy Easter.

But mostly, lots of love.  I wish you love.

With a kiss, of course…

~Stephanie, tbd.

 

 

Vayomer Eliohim

Vayomer Eliohim

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Early

March 28, 2019

I hadn’t been certain ‘vayomer eliohim’ were even proper words.  Until three days ago I had been convinced the two words were phonetic aids to help visualize pronunciation.  I had not been too sure about anything regarding those two words at all.  In fact, I had thought I just created a title for my work in utter gibberish. (Utter, get it?)

In these past two months, I sighed at the realization that my current inspiration was drawn from these two words.  Out of the universe of potential topics and numerous events of life, I deride myself for choosing to post potential gibberish of unknown origins.  Yikes.

Then I researched.  They are words! “Vayomer eliohim” is Hebrew for “G~d said,” and by the likes of YouTube, I am not the first to be inspired by them.  Unreal.  I have not been without material upon which to write. Like billions of people on earth I have been working and living through everyday happenstances of life.  Yet I did not write.  For example, I could have written oodles about my softening disdain for Saint Valentine’s Day.  I could have written of the positive direction as my company, Winds Paradox, turned five years old.  Or I could have written about my career direction in retail management with lessons in leadership and team building. Hmm.

Writing in my head, yet writing to no one.  Desiring to write, yet not doing so.  “Symptomatic,” I reasoned.  “What an odd feeling and an illogical methodology to life.”  I examined myself further only to find quite a few goals which I desired for myself yet had not acted upon.

So I began the marvelously uncomfortable feeling of change.  First, health.  I am changing habits.

My business.  My sixty-eight year old mother (who is really eighty-four, but she and I are ladies.  We lie a bit about age and other topics!) gives me gift cards for gifts.  I squirrel  them away saving them for a ‘treat’.  But the treat I desired most was the re-design of my company logo.  With a fulfilling combination of my mother’s gifts and the five year anniversary of the company, the logo was redesigned.  Not the most graceful approach, but now I have a beautiful logo with the correct digital formats for websites, marketing materials and publications.  This new logo inspired me to hire professional website designers to organize, design and streamline the company website as well as train me.

My self-improvements, part b.  I have returned to try, in my own, weird pseudo-procrastination, graceless forward methodology to learn a language.  Years ago, I made myself a promise to not worry about personal issues such as romance and dating until I had learned languages.  (Yes, that is right, plural…languages.  I concluded to worry about those issues seemed rather meaningless in comparison to time spent on training myself. Besides, I am not ‘good’ at relationships..) In the last year, I had gotten too busy to even think of those promises.  Too busy until I realized those silly promises to myself were my promises.  Why would I not keep a promise to myself, for myself?

I had been listening and watching a five minute YouTube video of the first chapter of Genesis in Hebrew.  It is five minutes of the story of G~d making the seas, the animals, the stars.  “Vayomer eloihim” are indeed the words “G~d said”.  Two words.  Of all the parts of the Bible chapter and of all the Hebrew I have tried to grasp, these two words are my beginning.  They are all I have mastered.  (Ahem…Ok, I have not mastered them at all.  I remember them and, for two solid weeks I repeatedly listened and mimicked the video so that I might approach somewhere near a pronunciation of ‘Vayomer Eliohim’).  I walk around the house muttering to myself “Vayomer eloihim” while accustoming my ears to hear my voice pronounce differently and my mouth move differently.

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The magic of evening sunshine…

I had just begun this odd process of learning, marveling privately that I was ‘sort of / kind of’ following up on a promise I had made to myself.  “I will learn Hebrew one bit at a time, one word at a time if I have to.”  And as I brushed my teeth and searched for socks, I would repeat, trying to accustom myself to newness and learning a topic that has no presence in my everyday life.

I pondered the oddity of those two words staying with me as I went about my day.  The breakthrough moment – when I realized the words had stuck – came in a particularly peculiar moment. It had been a nothing sort of day, neither exciting nor traumatic, yet part of a string of pleasant, endless wonderful workdays.

Then it happened.  I found myself in one of “those” discussions when you find out what is on someones mind and it impacts you.  And it hurts badly.  You are stunned at their words.  But as they keep talking, you know in your heart of hearts that had you been honest with yourself from the very first, you would now not be surprised.

Argue? No. Tears? Almost.  Any words at all?  Also, no.  The person did not want my feedback nor did he realize what he had said.  All my head could produce was an internal echoing whisper of ‘Vayomer Eliohim.’  Vayomer eliohim. “G~d said” made no sense in the situation nor did those words present a solution nor did I consciously choose them.  My head repeated those two words.  My body and my brain were stilled, calmed.  My heart felt broken and my emotions were deflated, but I kept calm.

At fifty-three, I realize I am on the cusp of a new stage of acceptable social behavior.  (Or so I think!) I can almost claim to be old enough to say whatever pops in my head ala, “Been there, done that, honey” and get away with it.  I can also choose to totally not give a flying *bleep*.  I realize I could have all along, but somehow now I see the two options as choices.  Neither choice is me, at least not after thirty seconds.  I have grown quite accustomed to stillness.  It was all I could manage against the gales of a potential argument, against the blows of heated words.  My brain grasped onto the most solid point of reference.

‘Vayomer eliohim’.

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I wish I could say it was some moment of divine intervention which brought faith and kindness into a potentially volatile situation.  No.  I was not praying.  I wish I could say that I had been consciously trying to manage the situation. Nope.

I was blown away. I really was.  I stood face to face with someone, who was talking to me, blowing me away with his demeanor, his words and his desire for argument.

When he walked away from me, it was the first time I could think.  “I hadn’t broke.  I did not cry. I did not swear. I did not get scared. I felt no need to respond, defend or any action. I stood still.”  I ran through my checklist of behaviors. I felt strong.  I felt respect for myself.  And he had walked away in confusion, with the argument left in his hands.  I was proud of myself.  For the first time, with this person, I remained calm.  For the first time with this person, I managed myself.  For the first time with this person, I did not let his words get so deep into my soul as to send me reeling backwards.

‘Vayomer eliohim.’  Adrenaline subsiding, and after a psychological status check of self, I was struck by what had ‘saved’ me.  Yes, it was the closest branch for my brain to hang onto as the situation flooded around me.  But I believe it was no coincidence that the words which gave me strength were words of G-d.

No, I am not going to get all ‘religious’ on you.  That is not my way.  It is not a lesson in theology or faith.  Or is it?  I cannot deny that in the middle of a storm, my calming point was the only two Hebrew words of a Bible lesson I could remember.  I cannot deny the joy knowing how marvelously ridiculous (and effective!) my two words were.  Am I really reducing faith to two words?  Am I shucking the responsibility of the full realm of faith?  Am I really proposing to center ones faith on two words?

First, let me roll my eyes.  Second, let me say, “um, no, that is not what I am saying.”  Then third, let me question as to why that would be so bad.  Is not faith possibly boiled down to one word, that being “love”?  Ok, I will cease.  I am no Bible scholar.  Oh my, am I not.  What I do know is that two wonderful words from an ancient religion, learned in the context of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch, no less – kept me calm and strong.  “Vayomer Eliohim,” whispered within me.

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The encounter’s impact has lasted through the weeks of February and March.  In many ways I owe the individual a note of gratitude as I have subsequently made a few decisions.

I apologize for my vagueness. But my details are insignificant.  Please do not be afraid of your own weird, calming points.  Don’t be afraid if the message you send back to yourself, to regain your focus, resist negativity and to grow…are ancient Hebrew words, two words of Biblical text.

And don’t be surprised if those words send you boldly and bravely back into the storm to fiercely command your ship.

“Vayomer eliohim yehi or vayehi or.”

Shalom.

Lots of love and a kiss,

Stephanie

The New Year of Corporate Entrepreneurship.

The New Year of Corporate Entrepreneurship.

The thriftiness of aquamarine blue foundations
The January treasure of aquamarine foundations

January 13, 2019

Nonsense. Or, I will find out that twenty books and MBA theses have already been written on the topic of “Corporate Entrepreneurship.”

Eh. (I would insert shoulder shrug here, but that’s not really my style.) I pause. Okay.

Entrepreneurship.

I mailed $215, the application for reinstatement, the declaration of the number of outstanding shares of stock (really?), a statement of the declaration of change in ‘registered agent’ from an unknown agent in Green Bay to me, and the annual report for the company.  (What is a registered agent and why do I need one? Please insert side research, but in short, a registered agent of a business is the legal agent who would receive notifications on behalf of the company.  In the beginning, the registered agent seemed insignificant and a detail.  I had paid a legal online entity to take care of such matters. I am an art gallery and a real estate owner.  I am not a manufacturer. Surely I do not need a registered agent).  I mailed the entire package to the state department of financial institutions so that officially my company would exist and not appear as ‘administratively dissolved’ since 2016.

This ‘status’ had seemed to be one of those sidebar, pointless items of conducting business until a person tries to change any banking in the name of a corporation.  Regularly filing income taxes did not mean the company was okay.  Refiling with the state department of revenue did not mean the company was okay.  The key was the department of financial institutions.  When my mortgage note matured on my Esther Building, the bank who held the note, had themselves gone through a change in ownership and now needed the dissolution undissolved.

Naturally.

Simply Christmas
Simply Christmas

Home.

My December marked family times with an unexpected homecoming of my brother and gatherings of family members who had every reason to tear out each others hearts, but chose not to.  Every single one of them chose peace.

Between working long hours and stretches of long days, the month trudged along with no complaints from me other than a persistent exhaustion and a scrambling of my usual routine which I had abandoned some time ago.  December seemed to pronounce that deviation even greater with disguises of bright lights and merriment.

But I had family.  I had togetherness.  Sure I also had exhaustion, but all seemed correct.  Please – do not wait for the shoe to drop.  There was no shoe dropping in this story.  And maybe that is the best lesson I have had since I last wrote.

No drop of the shoe.

I had prepared writings of Hanukkah which I never published.  I had written cleverly with quip galore, but I did not feel worthy of any wit.  And I learned a long time ago that I certainly am not funny or clever.  Would I be honest if I wrote as such?  Would I be honest in such an attempt?  How honest would I have been to write and post pictures of Hanukkah candles which I managed to light in the windows of the gallery-to-be, yet at home I managed only two and a half candles on the menorah.  How honest is that?

I worked my hours.  My son returned home from his first semester at college.  Both he and my ex-husband decorated the outdoor lights at my home while I prepared the building.  The holiday season was upon us and I never quite dug out the Dickens Village pieces, but I had family together and we were happy with red and white lights, Christmas trees and a quarter lit menorah.

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2019.

I am fifty-three.  What happened to that old year, its energy, the memories, the lessons?  Waves.  Those 2018 waves which rushed through me are the same waves which now pull with fresh energy to embark.  Perhaps it is with age that I dream of bravery and an attempt at a sense of confidence.  Just as years tumble, wave rolling upon wave, new upon old, I tumble with wondering thoughts of dreams and my realities. My buildings, my dreams of the business of the gallery, and my dreams of my own creatives pursuits scare the creativity into me.  My family, my life and my career in a very corporate world scare the reality into me.

Corporate.

I am fifty-three loving a demanding management career in a corporate world.  In that world, I am a speck.  Not even a speck. I am a spec of a speck.  I could be spit out at a moments notice.  I could and will probably make no significant impact upon the corporate culture.  Yet, I love it.

From a corporation,  I have learned new lessons and remembered old lessons.  At first I thought I was too old for such experiences.  No amount of  “it is never too late” sayings could have convinced me otherwise.  I must admit that stayed in my craw as I toyed with the possibility that I am behind and past due.

But there was something about seeing Winds & Paradox being listed as ‘administratively dissolved’ on the state department’s website.  I had come so far.  While I had been busy through the years fighting to save a building or fighting for understanding of all what had happened to me or fighting myself to understand my life, I neglected something so rudimentary as the status of my business.

“My business”.  My creation. My Winds Paradox.  The memories spun the logic of ownership through me.  Winds Paradox was me. No, it was not me. Yes, yes it was.  Yes, it is a piece of me. Yes, it is an important piece of me.

The Matthias Building of Winds Paradox
The Matthias Building

And as I snapped some photos I allowed my heart and my head to engage as I attached the name, Winds Paradox.  It mattered.  It matters.

I filed the paperwork.  Well, truthfully, first I called the department.  (I might have called them four or five times because the first time I thought refiling with the department of revenue would reinstate the company.  I mean, I regularly pay my taxes, right? Of course I do.  I called the department of revenue, called the department of revenue again, then checked with my accountant who was filing an amendment to my taxes because we had made a mistake.  He instructed me to call the department of financial institutions.  Which I did. Four or five times.  To get it correct. To understand, of course.)

Now, you may think I am joking but I am serious.  I barraged them with calls because I really did not understand.  They explained and they explained again.  I understood a little more with each phone call.  And I filed the paperwork, on my own, the end of December 2018.

The check was cashed on Friday, January 4.  I checked the department website. No status change.

I called.

“Give us five working days.”

Wednesday I could wait no longer.  I know, I know.  My head does know mathematics and true, it was only three working days, but I was anxious.  Every time I checked, the status remained at “Administratively dissolved”.   I could feel my heart dropping.  I calibrated my own desire.  One lesson of these past few years is that I trust the human capacity for desire.  If a person desires, really wants, then a person will act.  I have learned that lesson in the most clumsy of fashions with my own excuses.  And I must confess I do not like them.

Wednesday marked my first day of my first five day vacation.  I really did not believe that in my first year on the job in corporate nirvana I would have any claim to personal days but I did.  And I took them to coincide with my son’s winter break between semesters.  Wednesday I began to recover from months of scrambling.

Another of my excuses.  Ugh.  Yuck and double yuck.  At fifty-three I had made my life so unmanageable and so scrambled…. Ugh! Excuses breed more excuses.  Boo hoo, Steph, get on with the story!  (I love rough talking myself. Grrr.)

Winds Paradox
Winds Paradox

As he looked over my paperwork, the department’s agent explained that they would be meeting on the corporate filings that Wednesday afternoon. He looked at my filing then proceeded to help me change wording which would have prevented it from approval.  I could not believe I was so close!  Three hours I would reach a goal!

Later that afternoon my phone rang with a number I knew from my four or five times calling.  The agent apologized.  He had missed that I had filed in 2018 but we were now in 2019.  I owed another $25 for the current year.  I would not be approved that afternoon.  I could, however, refile.  He emailed me my paperwork with department receipt stamps, a copy of his letter and instructions on how to expedite.  I was so close, I could feel the energy of success.  But I was not finished.  I had another step.  In a world of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ or ‘success’ and ‘failure’, I was still, well, a ‘no’.  How could one be so close yet not accomplished at all?

“Administratively dissolved” is one of those phrases which means nothing until it means everything.

No excuses.  Even in my small town, a person can mail a letter for overnight express delivery.  I needed to mail the forms and twenty-five dollars as soon as I could.  I suppose I could have waited, but that phrase hummed through my head.  The department would receive the letter by three in the afternoon on Thursday.  I mailed my submission.  I emailed the agent.  I checked the website on Thursday.  Still dissolved.

But on Friday, January 11th, after three in the afternoon, upon waking from a vacation midday nap, my company, Winds & Paradox Incorporated (dba Winds Paradox – but the state department does not, for financial purposes, concern itself with ‘dba’ …whew…) – my company, Winds & Paradox, was “Restored to Good Standing.”

In good standing.
In good standing.

I have wasted, unfortunately, $240, on many things in my life.  But not this.  I stare at the status no longer excusing myself.  But the status change cannot be a status.  I cannot stand.  I have to proceed.  No excuses.

Mistakes.  Gulp.  I look at that beautiful company status with worries of more mistakes to come and possible mistakes that will make me shake with deep fears of unveiling my supreme obvious stupidity and blatant, blind egotism and misguided notions of creative artistic abilities.

Excuses. No, Steph.

Mistakes?  Yes, Steph.  I will make mistakes.  And then, I will make more.

For 2019, I urge you:  Make mistakes!

Gosh, I love you.

Mwah,

~stephanie.

ps. Deserves repeating:  Please, go make mistakes…. I promise you I will be making them too..

Oh, and… I am writing again.  I am writing..

Birds of a Feather, Indeed.

Birds of a Feather, Indeed.

neighbor pigeons

Sunday, November 4, 2018

 

 

writing at home

Eleven people died this week at the hands of another person who never knew them, but identified them by their religious beliefs, their religious practices and their heritage.  As he awaits his processing in our legal system, one could debate about the moral response to his actions.  What is justice?

No clever words of mine could ever reason away the pain of the families in that Pittsburgh community.  In my world, a small world seemingly distant from theirs, I could only give them my participation in the reverence of those lives lost.

I am unsure of the exact time of the presidential order to lower the flags.  During my forty-five minute commute, the radio news announced the reminder to lower flags to half-mast through sunset on Halloween.  I am working a short stint on the overnight shift, along with a crew of employees from my own store as well as a half dozen from the  nearby area stores and a corporate planner, to remodel our apparel departments.   Arriving that night, I received the informal update on the day’s store happenings as I exchanged with the other manager, our need to lower the flag.  He remarked that the daytime assistant had been given the responsibility for the lowering.  Since I saw it at night, it now became mine.

Our maintenance crew lowered the flag to half-mast.

One of my former employers did not lower their flag.  It’s should be a bit of a detail, but in a small midwest town, the absence of action becomes more than a detail.  My mother, a feisty, softening, part Jewish mother, saw it.  She shared this observation with me during our almost daily phone conversation amid the buffet of topics as the latest gossip involving my brother, past gossip about distant family members, local news, elections, politics, our shared memories of my father, and any medical and/or dental concerns du jour.  My hear dropped when she told me.  This former employer is a non-profit institution which years ago showed me the same disrespect for my heritage in a Bible study required for staff members.  To keep my job as a teacher, saddened and fearful, I sat there. Quietly.

Shame on me.

New growth

Have your own words ever sneaked back to to haunt you?  I had reasoned with one of my current employees, after she had exchanged words with another, by posing this question, “What would it be like, to witness people punished for the wrong they have done to you?  Further I asked, “How would you feel, witnessing their punishment, to repeat what has been done to you, now being done to them?”

(Please note, this is not an argument for or against capital punishment.)  Would it change what they have done?  Would it change you?  Should it?  In the long run, after the rush of revenge enacted and justice served, what then?  After teaching for the institution, I had worked for a health insurance company which contracted with the Veterans’ Administration.  During the onboarding process, I had cried when human resources personnel covered the topics of EEOC and no tolerance for harassment.  It is federal law.  I would perform my job tasks and adjust claims.  I had no right to harass anyone and no one had a right to judge, harass or hurt me.  I was safe.

As I began my career at the store (the largest retail employer), tears – softer tears, diversity and equal employment opportunity were drilled into us management trainees.  I had silently vowed I would never allow the same behavior I had experienced.  But there are so many things to learn, not the least of all is the learning to lead.  I had approached all personnel matters with positivity and inclusion and with emphasis upon task management and shared responsibility.

I had been learning, I told myself.

Until this week.  Eleven Jewish human beings died because they are Jewish.  In my world, I have employees to protect and to serve.  I lead, therefore I serve.  I had paused in those overnight hours of remodeling, watching my crew and wondering at my own words.  Would an apology from the past, from those people in my past….well, the same circular reasoning encamped its own beginning question, a boomerang of emotion and morality and now, responsibility as a leader.

I had always prayed about my past experiences with that nonprofit organization.  I had forgiven them because, as those words of no greater truth demands, I am forgiven.  When my mother, with all her Polish Jewish Bohemian Belgian heritage told me calmly of the flag, we had a chance to share in the memories of my past experiences.  We relived them together.  Together.  Then we cried at the crude disrespect. But we were not surprised.

I think that is the telling moment…

a happy wind's paradox

 

Of buildings and Winds Paradox.

I had swallowed my pride a number of times.  In an equal amount of times I have but to only thank G~d for saving me from certain disasters.  In an equal share of experience, I thank G~d for my numerous lessons and Blessings.  I have been Blessed.  My latest ‘duh’ moment of entrepreneurial savvy is the filing of Winds Paradox as a corporation.  Sounds simple, right?  It is.  I am fast learning that, if I find a task too complicated, it is not a reflection upon my intellect.  Nope.  Ninety percent of the time complication signals to me that I am creating complication. But, in a wisecrack, half-hearted justification, there are many entities “out there” to help one “overcomplicate”.

Creating a business?  Please, you do not need one of those legal sites who charge hundreds of dollars to do so.  Please research. Please take time.  File for your federal employer identification number, also known as a FEIN, EIN, or TIN.  Go to your state’s government website.  Could be you need to do nothing. But check.  File with your state’s department of financial institutions to register your entity.  (I thought I was pretty wily filing to form as an S Corporation.  I was.  But there is more).  I did all that.  What had not been done – and I freely admit to the thinking that I believed it to be done for me – ew – was file with my state’s department of revenue.

So, my lovely business was officially and unofficially a business.  Yikes.  While I still scratch my head in wonderment that I could file taxes and sign legal documents, yet the company status with the state had not been verified.  Not even by me.  Owner. Founder. Dumbbell.  Laughable. Nosedive.

Learned a lesson. Swallow hard, Steph.  Pick yourself up. Fix it. Go on.  You have dreams you are fighting for, living for.

 

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Orange roses in a green beans tin can

Life Beauty Moments.

We all gathered, my family – my mother, my son, my ex-husband and I, to celebrate my son’s visit home from college.  It would have been my father’s eighty-fourth birthday.  I believe this is why I write, for those moments.  My family is the weirdest group of people who really should not get along, but we do.  We live in a world with horrific, nerve-rattling moments.  Eleven human beings.  I pray not to belittle them with my words here.  I pray not to condense their lives into a moment of horror, but I pray for the strength to become a better leader.  I pray for the silence of kindness and steadiness of intent and the grace bestowed with knowledge.

…………………………………………………………………………………………….

Please turn back your clock on Sunday, November 4, 2018.  Please vote on Tuesday, November 6, 2018.  

Thank you for your time here today.  I wish you many Blessings and infinite amounts of love.  (Neither are pie, you know?)

And a kiss for the road.

Love always,

Stephanie

The Repercussion of Sarcastic Fashion

The Repercussion of Sarcastic Fashion

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September 19, 2018

I even get compliments. That’s how well I wear my fall favorite foot attire of rag socks and sandals. I cannot help it. It’s a “me” look. First wearing the coupled worn socks and sandals to be ‘tongue-in-cheek’, I quickly discovered that the fashion deities have their own sense of humor. I am now in lust permanently with socks and sandals…

……….

I could not get it out of my head, no matter how much I tried.  “Juvenile,” I scolded myself.  “Unnecessary,” I sneered with the worst self-loathing.  (As if the waste of time in my own expression somehow made the world turn slower).  “Pick it up,” I jeered again.  “You have better things to do and no one else is..” I drifted off in an argument quickly debunked by my own philosophy.  “Won’t you ever let this rest?”

Nope. I need to write.  For the ga-zillionth time I have wrestled with the replacement, any replacement – please! – for the need to write.

Nope. I need to write.  I would wish that urge on everyone although I would also pray for a dousing of talent to share the ride with such desire.  In my case I have discovered another unique desire of mine:  I need to struggle.  I will always and forever need to wrestle in my mind with thought, expression and words.

I think it is going to be a magical ride, indeed.

Enough commentary.  Let’s get on with life and my penchant for double negatives and redundant prepositions.  None of you are English teachers, are you?  I once was.  But that is another story.

Probably the most egotistical point in my life, among the many activities which I could label as ego-driven (but aren’t they all? Isn’t life just one ego-drive after another?  Especially if you are fortunate to have been born into civilization with immunizations and fresh water and no perpetual civil wars, you pretty much are engaged with yourself.  But not all humans are fortunate.  There are many who have none of the three conditions of modern life.  Miles to walk for fresh water.  Diseases spreading through populations.  Civil wars and corrupt governments with no moral codes or boundaries.)  The practice of selfie snapped portraits will never stop to amaze me.  And the ease of editting photography.

The clutter of Jeep dashboards – sharks, Snoopy and sunglasses…and the Son.

And the ease of communication.  And the various differences in the need of each of us to communicate.  I am astounded both at the existence of the variety of needs to reach out and the lessons the awareness of the variety of needs has taught me.  I am not the center of my universe although I could easily conclude so with the indulgence of social media.  But I like to think that it shows me even more than I am not.  The world is wide and inviting.  Even if I could not move or mobilize or be physical, I would still be both satisfied and grow even more desirous to explore the world.  What is Israel like?  I can take a virtual tour.  Satisfied? Yes.  But no.  I would like to see it again.  And now that I have seen it virtually thirty plus times, I would like to know how the wind across the Dead Sea smells.  What does the sand of the Jordan River feel like, pressed between my toes?

In these most recent years I have grown fond of sharing my life and chronicling daily.  At times I would write mercilessly every feeling, every thought, every situation.  Day after day.  Then I would combine stories with photography.  What does my world look like?  What are the every day things which inspire me?  Both practices answered the questions, “How do I get through the day?  How can I manage my feelings and my world?”

Today, like every day, I work and I write in my head and I take photos.  I am attending classes for my job in a city which is unfamiliar to me.  I love my work and I love the classes I am attending.  I am, again, fortunate, to work for a company which is providing me lodging and “per diem” to improve myself.  Oh sure, I am going to have to work hard. Of course, I am.  Of course!  And of course, I feel indebted.

That is kind of a nice feeling.

For my in-depth merchandising project, I am studying jewelry.  I have nine days to be as much of an expert as I possibly can be.  I found myself studying at lunch today.  Diagramming displays with my earbuds feeding my brain old Journey tunes, I wrote to my son a dream I have for him.  I hope he finds in life, moments in which he gives himself permission to be smart.  What an odd wish. I had hesitated to send it to him.  He never, I believe, had that issue.  But I had.  There are many reasons not to be smart which have nothing to do with anything.  But today, while diagramming, I gave myself permission to explore.  Not for even my own ego, not to show off, not to compete.  Not for my parents, not for a man, and not for spite.  Maybe for a company.  But maybe for me and my brain, to grow into myself.

Rain and coffee; angel and key.

And there is the regret, if I let it in.  I wish I had given that permission to myself years ago.  I wrote to my son, to please let himself be smart.  For him.  But I smiled as I wrote it for I saw that permission when we met over the weekend for supper.  (He is now away at college.) He brought his calculus with him.  I watched him solve problems while we waited for appetizers.  We talked of solutions while we ate.

I do believe that my son has taught me something too.  “Mom.”

“It’s ok to be smart.”

Blessings to you. I am grateful for your time here with me.

Love.  Lots and lots of love.  (After all, it’s not like pie!)

Just saying…giggle…

And a kiss.

~Stephanie

“…vinegar, including the Mother.”

“…vinegar, including the Mother.”

May 12, 2018

You may laugh about it, but my first health tip is the daily inclusion of cider vinegar.  I personally manage to gulp a morning tonic of two tablespoons of the stuff mixed with grapefruit juice and diluted somewhat with tap water.  I think a person should also add honey, but I do not.  I first read about the benefits of cider vinegar years ago, but the real testimony came from a dear elderly lady friend.

She, nearing ninety, exemplifies good health, good mind and excellent spirits (and elegant fashion sense, I may add).   As women, we do not often share our little secret routines, but she did.  Imagine my surprise, when, at a lady’s gathering of coffee, she proudly proclaimed her daily dose of cider vinegar.  I chimed in, but my testimony is secondary to the one of age and beauty.  I just smiled.

Major disclaimer needed.

With my unveiling of my daily habit of cider vinegar and with my writing today, I felt as though I needed to publish a disclaimer.  I am not at all a professional in the areas of counseling, psychiatry, spirituality or health care.  I never intend to present myself to you falsely as though I am a professional in any of those areas.

I apologize in advance, but I wish to cover this matter as completely as I possibly can.  Please, if you or any one in your daily life seems to be in need of the services of health care professionals, seek them out.  Really seek them out.  I would recommend starting with the websites of solid organizations such as these resources online:

http://www.mentalhealth.gov and http://www.psychiatry.org

You can also google a search by typing “mental health” or “counseling” or “health care” which will produce results geared to your particular geography.  Please, never hesitate to reach out.  At points in my life, I had done the same, from seeking the help of marriage counselors, developmental counselors / social workers, psychologists, priests, nuns and a kindly wise vicar.  Some were men;  some were women.  Each brought to our sessions unique perspectives which helped me heal, aided my growth and continued my development.

 

The Chaos of Spring

I have been rejoicing the budding leaves of those two towering maples which guard my front door.  Like the shells of peanuts on the floor of a hoedown, the walkways and steps are now littered with shed leaf coverings.  Spring has its own chaotic party with each dawn, every warmth of sunlight and every drop of cool rain.  Kisses of life, really.  Inspiring and happily infectious but also messy.

Chaotic.

So, the disclaimer is done and winter is over.  Now I claim, again, the rights to write.  I have decided that my recovery is over.  Done. Over. I am healed and ready to go on.

Finite.

Now that may or may not be true.  I am quite positive that I am deficient in a multitude of ways that I have not even fathomed.  Still, I realized I did not want to be in the stage of healing from the past.  I did not wish to keep internally comparing today with yesterday.  I did not wish to place the measuring tape of my life in the past.  Am I two steps away from what hurt me?  Am I now ten steps away?

How about I pick up that tape to place it beneath where my feet stand today?  Or maybe I should dare to keep that measuring tape in my backpack of tools or better yet, maybe I should hang it up on my workbench.  I will know where it is, in case I need a measuring tape.

As my son enters his final stages of high school, my ex-husband and I have been preparing him for college by monitoring sign-ups and registrations and applications.  There are final tests, placement exams, transfer credits and all the coordination of an ending and a beginning.  For him.

Coincidentally my life too turned.  I started looking ahead.  The three of us – my son, my ex-husband and I – had all been recovering and building, building and recovering.  The steadiness of the past three years in our family, now structured with two households, has allowed a path to be laid, like a brick walkway in spring, littered with the coverings of leaves which could no longer contain their joy of simply just being green and becoming.

 

The Growth of Dandelion.

Oh, I am frightened.  I am saddened at the thought of my son leaving for college.  He is ready for the world.  Well, he is ready for this step into the world.  He is, his own man.  I am mostly excited for him and his dreams.  I am excited for his soul.  And I pray for him and those of his age, that they have tremendous luck.  That somehow this generation is blessed with a peace of intellect, faith, grace, effort and love.  Not ease.  I do not wish them ease nor do I wish them toil.  But I do wish them the joys of the work of discovery.

I have been blessed with the days of being a mother for eighteen years.  Just one son.  I remember wanting another.  My son was four when….well, I miscarried.  I had been ‘glowing’ and everything seemed correct.  I remember starting my log so that I could plan the timing of a coming birth of another child.

I was married at the time.  We lived a different sort of life than the one I lead now and the life I led before I was married.  He was an executive at an insurance company and I was a stay at home mother.  I was blessed beyond measure.  Economics were, of course, always a concern.  I took care of the finances and the home budget.  But in reality, our household was blessed with income.

My husband had not wanted another child.  I could understand.  He, older than I by two decades, was practical.  I did.  As we attended summer gatherings, family members had commented that I looked like a mother to be.  “Were we expecting?”  I had just smiled.  And although he was scared, he had assured me we would figure it all out.

But another child was not to be.  I had prayed for a second child partially because I believed it to be a healthier balance for my son and I thought that was a part of marriage.  Yes, yes.  Another child would be the stable family size as though fulfilling some cosmic prescription of domestic bliss.

But I miscarried.  And (graphic alert – much like the spoiler alerts in movie critiques) I bled for the next year.  I had never shared with anyone the extend nor did I go to the doctor.  Seemed befitting, in some bizarre reasoning, I figured that I had deserved it.  I always felt as though I had taken my ex-husband from his prior life.  I had felt damaged from childhood memories.  And, I had felt as though I did not appreciate the one child I had by wanting another.

So I bled.  I never thought about having another child.  I finally did see a doctor.  By that time, my doctors – and by that time I needed multiple physicians – needed to test me for any abnormalities which could be causing the bleeding.  Anyone, and I was, would have been anemic.

I have a good ending to this episode.  I have a son.  And, I did not have cancer.  Every woman goes through a round of tests, of ‘those’ tests. I had been no exception.  Through months of rotations of intrauterine ultrasound testing, I had been scared to numbness.  It was a quiet sort of scare.  I went to the testing alone.

I remembered the darkened room in which a person becomes accustomed to watching monitors and accepting the cold glide of the wand.  I waited for a telltale monster glob or the reaction of the technician.

No, Steph. “It” does not work that way.

Looking back, I do not know when exactly that the bleeding stopped.  But it did.  After several rounds of careful diagnostics, there was nothing to be studied.  I did not have cancer.  And the bleeding stopped.

What a strange memory for Mother’s Day, except that a mother, any mother, and a woman, any woman, holds within her, the blood of her own healing and the trail of her own recovery.

To you, all you inhabitants of Mother Earth…

Love, lots and loads of love.

And a Kiss.

Yours,

Stephanie, the brick dandelion

PS. I will have to research, what exactly that means on the cider vinegar bottle “Includes the Mother.”  What I do know, is that is the vinegar you want.  And it is nasty, vile smelling.  I believe it to be incredibly healthful.

Changing a nightmare into pink confection.

Changing a nightmare into pink confection.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Happy Easter!

I decided to wear pink.

During the night of the blue moon, a snowstorm whitewashed every vertical and horizontal surface if not by the first fallen nine inches than by the whip of the wind which followed them.  From before dawn until the darkness of Easter’s eve the woods surrounding my home was transformed.  Despite today being April Fool’s Day, I would pin that label upon anyone banking that March would exit as a lamb.  Nope, March came in like a lion and sauntered out with the furious toss of a whitened mane. 

I wanted to write cleverly of any variety of topics such as womankind’s angst or my passion for my business pursuits.  I wanted to pen metaphorical faith journeys.  I wanted to spin tales of lush fantasies.  But all these topics began only to find their path cut short after four hundred words in each of their directions.  None of them were correct.

As I remove wood framing from the steel trusses – the ninety five year old markings of the saw.
Seventy-eight feet of ninety year old steel

Easter’s eve.

Now why is there not an Easter eve?  I do realize the eve of Easter is properly termed ‘Vigil’ but I still wonder why. 

I came to the ‘table’ of Easter Eve, my mind refocused in the past weeks upon tasks, goals and all sorts of to-do lists.  Throughout Holy Week I plodded along, cleaning, working, and shopping.  I attended services to practice my faith as well as observing Passover in homage to my Jewish heritage.  But change was nagging at the back recesses of my brain.  Change and a few other random topics along with memories simmered continuously.  Odd timing, I had thought to myself.  In the past week I had solved a business concern which I had needed to solve for three years.  Odd timing.  And I kept plodding along.

Spring in the woods

The Saturday of Easter weekend found me with time to myself.  I had tried on the dress I planned to wear only to find that despite pounds lost it still did not fit properly.  A wonderful A-line vintage-looking knee length gray satin dress skimmed my body nicely with a sheer silver overlay printed with magnolias.  I wasn’t terribly upset as for the first time I could get a glimpse of myself wearing it.  In the mirror I saw the impact of the feminine cut of an A-line silhouette.

I shrugged.  I would wear a white cardigan sweater worn with buttons to the back with a bold navy, white and sky blue print pencil skirt.  The late season snow almost dictated a shelving of any summer or even spring time dress.  Nope.  This is Wisconsin.  I needed sleeves.

 

Confection of pink

As the eve of Easter continued, I was saddened by a family matter.  Tensions and pre-holidays potentially ignite embers of any relationship but if that ember is fueled by an extended family and divorce, well one must always tend to keep it all a friendly fire. It was a situation reminiscent of Easters past.

I was hurt.  I had chosen to place  myself in a position to be vulnerable in an old pattern because I had thought it best.  Except this time I did not fight back.  This time I spoke once more then said nothing further.  These people, I thought to myself, should say “I am sorry.”  These people, as I remained as stone, should know how they hurt me.  These people did not.

The whitewashing of Easter snow.  “Just to be sure….nine inches!”

I walked away.  Something ended although I knew not what.  Something ended.  I drove to get coffee.  Throughout the night I cried, I created my springtime lights and eventually I returned home.  I slept, soothed by the light of a full blue moon upon the whitewashed woods.

Springtime lights – the blue of running waters and the garden’s growth.

There is nothing quite so reassuring as Easter morning before the dawn.  It was official.  Easter had arrived.  Nothing stopped Easter.

I felt better but wondered exactly why.  With plenty of time to prepare for services, but not enough to be time-lazy, I decided the morning was perfect.  The Saturday snows, although a powerful symbol of a lamb’s purity and the not so subtle nature of G~d, still caused some pragmatic concerns.  Cold.  Brr.  It was four degrees.  But it was Easter.  Showering, I had reconsidered my Easter outfit.  I would wear my robin egg blue dress which I had worn to past Easter services. 

I bounced down the steps to the cedar closet which holds my seasonal clothes as well as those I no longer wear daily.  I remembered that I had wished for the desire to wear pink. I had mooned and mooned about not having a man for which to wear pink.  (I know…) It has been some years since I remembered this point and equally many years since I wrote about it. 

I remembered Dave.  Dave was a man I knew many years ago and never did I know him romantically.  He was one of those people in a persons life – in my life – whom one holds as dear.  Time would pass.  I would not see him but when we would, we could talk and laugh and remind ourselves to tease one another a bit.  And if I am correct, his eyes would twinkle as the stars would in bewilderment to wonder why not us two?

But it was not so.  He was one of those people who you knew would wish you the best and tell you the truth and tackle life with hard working ethics and with enough sass to make it all interesting. As a woman, I always thought that he was the type of man for which I would wear pink. (For many years the idea of wearing pink totally disgusted me..)

Dave died several years ago of lung cancer which metastasized in his brain.

Me, the brick dandelion, at the Matthias Building.

On this Easter morning I remembered him again as I had in the past weeks.  I know many who have died and there is no memorial great enough to them, for what they have meant to me.

I opened the cedar closet door to blankets, velvet dresses and the cornucopia of styles which I have collected through the years.  My fingers lingered, paging through my wardrobe pieces like a fabric diary.  The robin egg blue dress with a lace overlay upon which I had focused, hung next to the perfect confection of a dress.  Long sleeves.  A heavier weighted knit with texture and a fitted silhouette.

And it was pink.  It was pink in a sugary blend of almost Chantilly and almost pearl.  (I had purchased it years ago, wearing it once during the Christmas season).

I smiled as I grabbed the beige leather heels and found the spring clutch to match.  I do have a reason to wear pink, in the memory of a man whose kindness graced my life then and reminded me now.  I remembered the value of that kindness.  And I smiled as I thought of wearing pink in tribute to the day.  

I chose to wear pink. Pink. Me. On Easter.

And I smiled.

Love. Lots of Love.  Happy Easter.

~me.