Our Battles

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The whole process from applying for and ultimately buying this house to then renovating both of our homes (one to live in and one to rent out) has been nothing short of stressful. We have faced some insane challenges and continue to pour our blood, sweat and tears into it (along with a great many choice words). There are nights that we are asleep before our head even hits the pillow and mornings we can barely pry our ass out of bed without feeling like we’ll break. I pray for patience and positivity daily.

Today, I had four men in my home installing windows and a front door  (one of the very few tasks we are not doing ourselves). Each of them pleasant but each also facing their own burdens. One was trying to find a solution for his bullied son. One was waiting for the workday to end so he could visit his dad in a nursing home where he’s being cared for after barely surviving a risky surgery. Another was involved in a motorcycle accident last week and isn’t even cleared for physical therapy yet but, because insurance takes a while and bills don’t wait, had to return to work. And then there was the crew leader, whose hair was visibly thinner after his final round of chemo on Tuesday; subsequent to having one of his lungs removed. Having virtually no immune system after the treatment, he was also dealing with bronchitis in his remaining lung. How diverse all the problems were!

I know each of you are probably facing something in your life too – whether big or small…A stressful situation. A bump in the road. A decision you’re having a hard time making. A death of a loved one. Your job. Your house. Your car. Your family. Your addiction. Your bills. Your health…

Every morning I wake up and look out at the sky, breathe and try to prepare myself for whatever the day may bring. Every night I look to the sky, breathe and give thanks for whatever blessings may be found. Today I am thankful for our much-needed, new windows, for white paint and (despite a few new cuts and blisters) that more progress was made and we are all bathed and going to bed in freshly laundered sheets. But more importantly, I am also thankful for perspective and awareness. It is both unsettling and uplifting to know that everyone of us is fighting a battle, but no matter how unique it is or how discouraging it may feel, we aren’t alone. Even though the world seems to be falling apart, we are still “together” on some level. For all of our differences, this is our common ground.

So tonight I am praying again to face the stresses of tomorrow with patience and to be able to end the day with gratitude. I am also praying for those four men I met earlier today and each of their battles. And also for you and yours. May a lightness find its way to whatever is weighing heavily within you.

-Steph

Start and end the day with an attitude of gratitude

Start and end the day with an attitude of gratitude

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Flying the Nest

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A few weeks ago we watched as our robin family returned to the little hawthorn tree in our front yard to build their nest again this year. Mama worked all day building her nest in that tree right outside our bedroom window and created a perfect home for her growing family.

Homemaker - literally

Homemaker – literally

 

All comfy cozy in her new digs

All comfy cozy in her new digs

It wasn’t long before we could see three little beaks bobbing up and down whenever mama and daddy returned home with worms.

Baby birds sure do eat a lot

Baby birds sure do eat a lot

Day by day we watched them grow bigger. It doesn’t take long for babies to grow in the animal kingdom. We dubbed them Mozis, Beezus, and Bishou.

1, 2, 3 little beaks

1, 2, 3 little beaks

Mama & Daddy go back and forth taking turns with meals for the little ones

Mama & Daddy go back and forth taking turns with meals for the little ones

The following week our little baby birds who, just days before were only covered in pin feathers, had their redbreasts and feathers and were venturing out onto nearby limbs. Well, one more than the others anyway. Mozis, who I am guessing was the oldest, was the lookout for mama and sat out on the ledge of the nest while she was away.

Mozis always visible and usually perched on the outside of the nest, Beezus somewhere in between and Bishou nowhere to be seen

Mozis always visible and usually perched on the outside of the nest, Beezus somewhere in between and Bishou nowhere to be seen

Mozis & Beezus growing more curious of the world outside

Mozis & Beezus growing more curious of the world outside

It seemed they each had their own little personalities. Beezus was visible, but only from the neck up. And you would never know Bishou was in there if you didn’t see them at dinner time because it stayed as low in the nest as possible.

My favorite shot of Mozis and Beezus (and Bishou in there but hidden as usual)

My favorite shot of Mozis and Beezus (and Bishou in there but hidden as usual)

And then, on a morning after a terrible storm that had me worried the tree wouldn’t even survive the winds let alone the nest, Mama returned with one final family meal at their home and then it was time. She flew off and left her three musketeers to it. Surprisingly I thought it would be Mozis who flew first since it was the bravest. But it was Beezus that surprised me and took flight first, heading straight across to the neighbor’s front yard.

I never would have guessed the middle one would be the first to fly...

I never would have guessed the middle one would be the first to fly…

And then there were two.

Mozis fluttered up to a higher branch and seemed to watch for Beezus to land safely and get to where it wanted to be and then all of a sudden little Bishou emerged and fluttered down into the yard.

This one chose to stick to the ground

Bishou (finally visible outside of feeding time) chose to stick close to the ground

Flying must have been a little scary for it because it stuck to walking around the neighborhood until it found a good spot to hide.

Bishou making a mad dash across the street and seemingly more like a roadrunner than a robin

Bishou making a mad dash across the street and seemingly more like a roadrunner than a robin

And then there was one. Mozis perched on the highest branch of our little tree. Siblings safe from their landing and mom and dad nearby keeping track of them all.

Mozis on the highest branch watching to make sure the others got somewhere safely

Mozis on the highest branch watching to make sure the others got somewhere safely

One flew over, one flew down and Mozis flew directly up. Up to the very top of our neighbor’s roof.

Mozis, the first born and the last to fly the nest

Mozis, the first born and the last to fly the nest

Mozis may have left the tree last but his flight was by far the most impressive

Mozis may have left the tree last but his flight was by far the most impressive

And then there were none.

Our little nest is empty and our feathered family friends have grown up and are moving to roosts of their own. Mama made a great home for them while they were in it but alas, they outgrew their cozy abode. Funny considering we are doing the exact same thing…

We put an offer in on a foreclosed home a couple months ago and, after tons of paperwork and a long drawn out process with many hands to pass through, we will finally be closing next week! It’s going to take a lot of work just making it livable and ultimately making it ours but I can’t wait to take it on and see what we are able to do with it… (Though I’m sure I’ll be wanting to scream once I’m knee deep in renovations. lol)

I hope our new home is as cozy to us as this one has been and that it provides all that we are hoping for our family until it’s time for our little tulip leave the nest. I’m just thankful that although she eats like a baby bird and is growing up quickly, that at least she doesn’t grow as fast as our three little birds did! So at least we’ll have a while. :)

 

And then there were none. Our little robin family has grown and moved on to larger living quarters. Mama built a sturdy home with a strong foundation that stood up to some pretty gnarly storms that the poor little hawthorne tree barely survived. I hope whoever lives in this house when we move to our new homestead can appreciate our little robin family when they return next year. <3

And then there were none. Our little robin family has grown and moved on to larger living quarters. Mama built a sturdy home with a strong foundation that stood up to some pretty gnarly storms (a couple that the poor little hawthorn tree barely survived itself). I hope whoever lives in this house when we move to our new homestead can appreciate the nest we built here…and our little robin family when they return next year to do it all over again. <3

 

Radio Silence

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I swear Casey Kasem’s voice is tattooed into my memory. Every weekend listening to the music countdown and hearing that iconic voice introduce each song, read requests and dedications and a listener’s story (that usually left me in tears). It’s funny how things like that stick with you. I probably still have countless cassette tapes in storage that have that legendary voice and the top hits of that week on them. What a prehistoric seeming thing to do nowadays when any radio station or playlist you want is just a button away. Do they even make cassettes or tape-players anymore? Either way, music was my life starting at a very young age and DJ’s were a big part of that life for me. I remember all the words to Vanilla Ice’s “Ice, Ice, Baby” not because I’m a lyrical genius but because of the weekend one of the local DJ’s locked himself in the radio station and played that song over and over for the ENTIRE weekend. It may have gotten annoying after the 48th time hearing it but i’ll never forget it. I made many requests and dedications of my own growing up (though admittedly none for “Ice, Ice, Baby” after that one weekend) and I had some pretty awesome DJ’s to call upon.

It’s easy to take DJ’s for granted – cutting them off to skip to another channel or avoiding them altogether with an iPod playlist. But before the iPod revolution, back when it seemed like it took forever for the album to hit the shelves and you were up at 3:00 am, heartbroken and just needing to hear that song, who did you turn to? When you wanted to surprise someone with a flashback song from spring break during their drive home, who were you gonna call? When you and your girlfriends were laying around with magazines and face-mask, painting toenails or, when you were having a party, who could you count on to give you the perfect music to go along? It was your favorite DJ.

In a way DJ’s were timeless creatures. Forever preserved in the realm of radio. You don’t think of them as everyday people when you were listening to them growing up because you never saw them…They were just “that voice”. That voice that knew just what song to play for you no matter what your mood. The perfect love song. The perfect hate song. The perfect cleaning house song. And the perfect third date song. Songs of loss for all those grieving. Songs of praise and songs of leaving. The DJ’s I grew up listening to and those I listen to today all have special place in my heart. It’s as if they’re all long-time friends. They were there during so many of our special occasions. Back before Pandora hit the scene, DJ’s have been playing all your favorites and injecting their infectious personalities into your life; Taking your requests; Letting you rant (on-air); Helping you prank someone. You spend your weekend trips listening to them; Your morning and afternoon commutes are better when they’re riding along. You laugh and sometimes cry with them and you may even argue with them but no matter what, they’re there for your entertainment. There’s hundreds in every town across America and most will never make it to the “big leagues” of Casey Kasem or his protégées like Ryan Seacrest but they are all famous in their own right. Our secret collaborators – bringing us the songs that we link to so many different times in our life.

So next time you’re channel surfing take a minute to appreciate the voices before that music. The ones that know how to perfectly time their intro before the first words of the song start. The ones that have to listen to your favorite new song 20 times a day even if they don’t like it themselves. The ones who open up and make you laugh and do all they can to make your day better; Who give you pieces of them that become a familiar comfort. And the ones that have ever had to play the entire version of tracks like “Purple Rain” or “Stairway to Heaven” simply because they respected music enough to know not to cut off the song. They’re not just there for traffic and weather.

Thanks to all the voices out there that have brought me good music for the soundtrack to my life and RIP to the man who taught us how to count to 40 – backwards.

RIP Casey Kasem

RIP Casey Kasem

 

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Daddy Gratitude

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Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there – the ones who love the kids of their own and the ones with a big enough heart to love the kids of another. Anyone can be a father but it takes a special person to be a dad.

I have been blessed to have several serve as father figures in my life (and a mother who sometimes had to be both parents) and I am eternally grateful – To God who gave me life and continues to bless that life; To Opa who gave everything to make sure I didn’t feel like I was missing anything growing up, teaching me that practice makes perfect and to never give up. Oh and also for teaching me how to filet a fish perfectly…which came in handy yesterday :) He is missed every single day. To my stepdad who stepped in and took over a job that my real father couldn’t do and always tried to treat me like one of his own brats growing up. From father-daughter dances, to slalom skiing and Disney vacations. And my other stepdad who is a terrific man, father, PaPa and just one of the kindest men I know.

My daughter is lucky to have so many great men in her life too – her grandpas and uncles and most of all, her daddy. I am blessed that my daughter has the best daddy in the world who works hard for his family and always finds ways to spoil his girls. From our kitchen dance-offs to tea parties or just a nap together on the recliner, he has embraced it all and genuinely loves being a daddy. And we sure love him.

Happy Father’s Day!

Children look up to you;  Make sure you give them something to look up for.  -Stephanie Rader, The Write Side of Life

Children look up to you;
Make sure you give them something to look up for.
-Stephanie Rader, The Write Side of Life

 

Phenomenal Woman

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Rest in Peace Maya Angelou.

My book of quotes is the size it is from amazing souls like you. You leave behind a lasting impression and some amazing, wise words for us to remember you by.

Thank you.

 

 

You alone are enough,  You have nothing to prove to anybody - Maya Angelou

You alone are enough,
You have nothing to prove to anybody – Maya Angelou

I've learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life - Maya Angelou

I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life – Maya Angelou

To those who have given up on love, I say, "Trust life a little bit" - Maya Angelou

To those who have given up on love, I say, “Trust life a little bit” – Maya Angelou

You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. - Maya Angelou

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. – Maya Angelou

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away - Maya Angelou (One of my all-time favorites)

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away – Maya Angelou (One of my all-time favorites)

Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option

Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option

When people show you who they are, believe them - Maya Angelou

When people show you who they are, believe them – Maya Angelou

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.  - Maya Angelou

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. – Maya Angelou

You may encounter many defeats but you must not be defeated - Maya Angelou

You may encounter many defeats but you must not be defeated – Maya Angelou

Let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good. - Maya Angelou

Let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good. – Maya Angelou

(Excerpts from ‘I’ll Rise’)

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

-Maya Angelou, 1928

 

 

Rest in Peace Phenomenal Woman 

God’s Gift

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Adri walked up while I was saying a prayer this afternoon and asked, “Is it?”. So I told her “Mommy was talking to God”. She smiled real big and pointed to this large cross behind me on our wall and said, “Der?”. A little surprised I just responded, “Yes baby…There”.

I’ve never tried to explain the cross to her (and Lord knows with her only being just over a year old she probably still recalls more about God than I’ve had to “relearn” over my 32 years). So the coincidental symbolism of her statement is not lost upon me. In fact, perhaps it wasn’t coincidental at all…God is there…Right behind us…With us always. It’s just so sweet to see that it can be so simply and matter-of-factly known to her.

This is just more proof that, while I’m well aware of the fact that I’m not “God’s gift”, I know without any uncertainty that SHE is. (Well, His gift to me and my salvation that is).

God's love is simple enough for a child to know…I wish it were more easy for us to remember.  [God's Gift by The Write Side of Life]

God’s love is simple enough for a child to know…I wish it were more easy for us to remember.
[God's Gift by The Write Side of Life]

#forevergrateful

 

This Life

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There is never a day I am not thankful for just being able to experience this planet and this life – Waking and spending every day with this loving little miracle and being one of her many reasons to smile and giggle. Even with all the negativity and obstacles we face in life, we are so blessed to be here for the short time we are. When I die I hope it can be said I never lost my awe of this planet; That its divinity was never dulled nor it’s allure ever lost; That however many seasons I experienced were each just as amazing as the first; That every sky – whether storm filled or sunny always took my breath away; That each bare tree of winter veining out so beautifully to the heavens was just as stunning as every perfect spring flower newly emerged or unique autumn leaf freshly fallen. I hope every sunrise and sunset never loses its magic and the sight of a red-winged black bird on the fence post or majestic hawk soaring high will still stop me and capture my attention fifty years from now just as it does today.

This world is magic.

This life is a gift.

We are truly blessed.

Love & Light

-Stephanie

An ode to this beautiful planet

An ode to this beautiful planet

Good Riddance

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This time of year is always festive for me – It’s the time of year for my birthday, the Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo (which were all absolutely great by the way). And as if that’s not cause enough to celebrate, today also marks two years since I purchased my last pack of cigarettes. Happy anniversary to the best good riddance!

I’m not one to bash other people for their decisions to drink or smoke – so if you do, hey, I get it. God knows I hated the hypocrites that constantly nagged me for smoking while they drank themselves into stupors or binged on fast food or “diet” soda. Everyone’s got something I guess. But I will say, for me, this has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It opened up my eyes to everything else and created a chain reaction from one healthy decision to another. I lost my grandfather and countless other loved ones over the years to cancer – most of which can be linked to smoking. Now that I have a family of my own I want to make sure I am here for as long as I can be.

Turning 30 started a whirlwind of changes in my life that were put into place with the intent of building a better me – Shedding my dependency on nicotine (along with all of the other deadly chemicals that are found in most brands today) and also caffeine. Granted I had a very good reason to abandon my love affair with Marlboro Man – Getting pregnant will make you realize pretty quickly everything unhealthy you’re doing to yourself. Before then I lived on coffee and cigarettes. And quitting everything cold turkey created a pretty tumultuous couple of first weeks but one thing I realized throughout my entire pregnancy after that was that if we all lived as if we were pregnant (avoiding all the things we don’t want to harm our unborn children) we would all be so much healthier. Theoretically you would think the concept would be a given – If it’s not safe to consume while pregnant or good for our children to ingest then why should we? So now, two years later, I am still trying to live by that philosophy. I am much more conscious of the food I am putting into our bodies; Clean eating and sticking to fresh, healthy choices for me and my family; Drinking alcohol and caffeine very rarely if at all (and only in very small amounts if/when I do) and; Paying attention to my body and what it needs more. When we bury our systems with these unnatural things – be it stimulants, medications, drugs, fast food, preservatives, etc – we are burying our ability to be in tune with our bodies and how they naturally thrive.

When you’re young you think you’ll just live forever and that there are no consequences to your actions. Having a child brought about some essential and fundamental changes in the way I treat myself and my body. I can’t say I’ve ever been “happy” with my body but I sure do respect it a hell of a lot more than I used to. And it’s not to say that I didn’t value my life before then but after 30 I think you definitely begin to value it more. I realize now more than ever just how very “mortal” I am and how short our time here is. It’s important to take care of the planet while we’re here but it’s equally as important to take care of ourselves while we are here too. It’s not just about living but about living well. Quality of life.

As twisted as it may sound, I still keep this last pack of cigarettes in my console. It’s not a torture tactic as much as it is a symbol. It reminds me every day that every day – even though I could easily light one up – I continue to make the choice not to smoke and live every day putting my health first. And as much as I enjoyed a cigarette then, it’s not even a challenge now to avoid it. Every day we are all faced with hurdles and choices. It’s not always easy to make the right ones but this reminds me that when we continue to make the right choices, they eventually become the easier choice.

It's been two years since I dumped Marlboro Man

It’s been two years since I dumped Marlboro Man

 

Hey – Wanna help make a difference? 

This year my husband, daughter and I are participating in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life again with our family. This will be the fourth year for our team (and the second for Adri). If you want to help make a difference in the fight against cancer and show some support for me and my family, you can make a donation by visiting our page HERETogether we can make a difference!

Together we can make a difference. We appreciate your support! Every little bit helps.

Together we can make a difference. We appreciate your support! Every little bit helps.

The First of May

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Happy First of May :)

Happy First of May :)

The birds sing a special song today,
The beautiful song of the first of May;
When new life bursts in colorful hues,
And the rains of April begin to subdue;
When emerald replaces all that was gray, 
Let’s all celebrate this month of May. 

-Me © 

Happy May Day everyone! ☀️