Monday, January 29, 2018

Waxing and Waning


My mother instilled within me a deep love for the night sky. We would walk outside in the dark, looking up at meteor showers, constellations, the deep blue-black of the heavens. Sometimes we would sit on a blanket, other times we'd camp out on the upper deck of our house with her gigantic telescope. But, oh... then there was the moon! All of the phases it went through, blue moons, blood moons, the corona around the moon, the man on the moon, the craters, the reflection of light from the sun, the moon landing, the tides -- so very many stories from just one white circle (or sliver) in the sky.

It occurred to me recently that the moon isn't the only thing that waxes and wanes. I recently posted on Facebook that my faith in humanity waxes and wanes on a daily basis. I'm nothing more than an observer in certain situations -- hearing news of mass murders, of rape, of children being neglected and abused. I feel my soul, like the moon, waning away from other humans, wanting to crawl into a little sliver and then disappear from the planet completely. Then I see marches where people stand up for themselves and for one another, love winning out, outrageous generosity, and my emotional moon waxes, swells to full in pride and in faith. Other times, it's a personal affront, being scammed out of money, or having someone talk about me behind my back... or a personal victory like getting a raise or accomplishing a goal.

What is it about this journey of life that constantly makes it worth getting up each day, plugging away at the grind that emerges every 24 hours, just to blink some sleep and start all over the next?

Maybe it's your faith. Maybe it's your family. Maybe it's your friends, your cat, your determination, your persistent warrior spirit, your curiosity, your incredible sense of adventure.

Whatever it is, I encourage you to keep getting up. Out of bed, off the ground, back on the horse. This is the most spectacular ride you've ever been on. And even when you feel like the world is collapsing around you and it's not worth it, I assure you -- it is. It IS worth it. You have a purpose, even if you haven't figured it out yet.

Bundle up tonight and go stand beneath the moon. Just look at it. Witness how majestic it is, how something so still can be doing so much just by BEING THERE.

Then, realize, you are the same. You are the moon. You can reflect the light of Another, you can influence, you can be still while accomplishing so, so much. Even if nobody takes the time to look at you, you can be there.

Stephanie Jean

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Be Still

My life is a non-stop whirlwind of toddler, dogs, husband, older children, parents, siblings, work, cleaning, errands, bills, and so much more. We revel in our busy-ness, don't we? "I can't, I'm busy" seems to be the drumbeat of the millennium. It astounds me that we have all of these time-savers like laptops and smartphones and microwaves and cars, and yet we still cry out, "I don't have time for that!" Whatever 'that' might be...

But oh, isn't it usually something we need? Something we crave? We don't have time to read a book, or sit and watch the birds. We don't have time to sit and play because we have to X, Y, and Z.

"Be still, and know that I am God."

"But, I don't have time for that!" I say.

There is NOTHING I need more, though. I'm sitting in a beautiful moment right now, alone in the house but for sleeping dogs and a sleeping child. A thousand things drift -- no, jog with maddening speed -- through my mind that I should be doing right now. Checking things off my to-do list, working on articles that aren't even due for two months, or immediately jumping on the two essays in my inbox that came in today even though I have a five day response window... but do you know what I did?

I read three chapters of a book in a hot bubble bath. I prayed. I wrote to my sister. And right now? I'm going to shut everything down, and I'm going to be still.

Try it.

You won't be disappointed.

-Stephanie Jean

Monday, January 15, 2018

Progress

Now that I'm 40 and all grown up (hah), I'm trying to get a better grip on my time. I've always been fairly good with time management, but over the last couple of years it's become progressively more difficult, which may or may not have anything to do with the demanding TIC (Toddler In Charge). But when one aspires to write a bestselling book while simultaneously advocating for social justice and debunking archaic and ill-informed conservative viewpoints on the LGBTQ+ community, one needs to get a better grip on time management.

One of the things I need to do to make this happen is to make myself accountable to you fine people. If I write about it, you expect it. If you expect it, I need to make it happen because I am a woman of my word. (Those of you who knew me in a past life, I was not always this woman. But I am now. Promise.)

And so, I blog! VIVA LA BLOG! It pains me to look back upon my archives to see how loftily I started and how far I fell, judging by the number of blog posts per year. Last year was six, by the way. Pathetique! But, day by day, I'm writing what I need to do in my day planner and praying for the strength and endurance to make it happen, even when Cranky McGrumpyface won't sleep for fourteen hours. (He's super cute, though, don't get me wrong.)

If you pray, please do that for me. If you're a good-viber, a pleasant-thoughter, or anything else positive, I'll take that, too. I have a message I need to get out of my heart and onto paper and it actually IS a matter of life and death for some. I believe in God, and I believe this is my purpose. So, if you see me online, feel free to say, "HEY. How's that book going? And what are you doing on social media?"

Thanks for that. I appreciate it. Now, go love one another. Because, contrary to the Hokey Pokey lyrics, THAT is what it's actually all about.

Until next time,
Stephanie Jean

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Another New Year, Blah Blah Blah


It's the most promising time of the year. We have that motivated sense of being able to do anything! Accomplish those goals! Achieve those dreams! Lose that weight! Read those books! Purge that house! And, sometime around February 1st, we lose our steam and begin to think that we are fat, lazy failures who can never finish anything. At least, that's how I've felt the last 25 or so New Years. It's like a honeymoon phase, a whirlwind of excitement and possibilities. And then you look at your resolutions one day, and they look at you, and instead of snuggling together you just nod in mutual disdain and go your separate ways.

Whoa. That escalated quickly.

Listen, though, it doesn't have to be that way, right? We KNOW it doesn't have to be that way. But if we sit in our isolated little cubbies and don't walk this path together, then it's just going to keep being that way.

So, here's the Journey. Get on it. Share it. Talk to each other. Talk to me. Talk to yourselves. That's okay, we do that all the time. (Don't ask yourselves questions and then start fights with yourselves when you don't give you the answer you're looking for, though, that's a bit awkward.)

It's about goals, yes, but it's about community and support and encouragement. It's about loving ourselves, and others, exactly where we are, and going the step further to inspire each other to be the very best that we can be. That I can be. That you CAN BE.

It's not a new month. It's a new YEAR.

What do you want to accomplish? Because you can.

We can.

Together.

--Stephanie Jean