Monday, November 18, 2019

The Paralysis of Change

Paralysis of Change - Stacy Snyder - Stacy Says It
Change never comes in small doses.  It tends to avalanche onto me in a heap. While I can kick some ass on behavior modification to accommodate the changes, I often don’t fully process the meaning until I’ve had a chance to wear it, then write about it.  It’s as if nothing is real until it's laid out on paper.

I’ve avoided writing at all costs for about two years.  I can’t explain it other than to say that writing - an article, a blog post, or even a journal entry - has felt too personal, too intimate - to attempt.  The lessons ripe for the picking have felt too heavy and numerous to unpack. 

My daughter had a friend sleep over last weekend.  They embarked on watching an old TV series, Nashville, featuring a country music star with two pre-teen daughters that also sing country, but as a duo.  Having loved the show years ago, to the point that I had borrowed a song, A Life That's Good, from one of the episodes to have my daughters sing as a surprise to my wife in our wedding, I sat down to watch the pilot with them.  Experiencing the innocence of those newborn characters again now, while knowing that they later all became jaded with age and experience, hit me like a ton of bricks.  It was like viewing my own naivety of years ago through a crystal ball.  

I told the kids I was retiring to my room to write for a little bit, to which my daughter responded, “Are you a writer Mom?”  which gave validation to the idea that my life had taken a complete transformation over the past few years.

Just a few short years ago, I would have answered Writer to the question “What do you do?” I would have been proud of the fact that I was able to stay home with my kids during their childhood, confident in the continuous ebb and flow of my almost-20-year relationship with my wife, pleased with the home we’d built and our financial security, and supported by my posse of neighborhood mom friends.  

Now I work full-time as a business manager for an industrial design firm.  My kids go to after-school care and bounce back and forth from one parent’s home to another every week.  I live in a small 3rd floor apartment 5 houses down from my ex-wife and I have adjusted to being single for half of every week and a parent and family head the other half.  My support system is scattered around the country with long-term friends and family that have carried me through the best and worst times of my life and a few quality friends here in Chicago that were able to make the transition with me, despite the discomfort.

The commotion of change is palpable.  Even after a year of active grieving and loss, it is still  often impossible to stay focused and self-monitor myself as a parent and good human.  While I have finally settled into my new life without struggle or resentment, I still grapple with Oprah’s idea of forgiveness, which is “giving up the idea that the past could have been any different.”  I own the idea that every decision and action led me to the place I am right now, yet it’s still hard to bask in its novelty.  

I feel as free to explore who I am now as during my teenage years; for that I am grateful.  I hear myself describing myself to new people I meet and often wonder “who is that speaking and who is she talking about?”  I look at new experiences with wonder and excitement.  I think I’m a better parent and person because of these life changes.

But writing, this putting pen to paper and documenting the reality of the moment, is tough.  I keep telling myself I'm just doing a different version of writing....baring the soul through conversations and self-reflective mediation and thought instead of the written word, but I know the gravity of change will not be fully realized until it gets tapped out from my fingers.  

Luckily the art of starting is alive and kicking.  Here I go.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

I Am Your Neighbor Episode 8 - Edilson Lima

This guy.  His smile is as big as his heart and his joy is just as contagious.  My face hurt after spending 30 minutes with him as I couldn't quit beaming while in his presence!  Edilson Lima is a dancer, teacher, and interpreter, but more importantly, he's a lovely human being.

I interviewed Edilson a year and a half ago with the intention of rolling out his show immediately. Instead, a series of painful life events hit me hard.  I stopped thinking about Samba dancing, flashy color, and big smiles and instead turned away from I Am Your Neighbor to grieve in peace.  During the thick of it all, I buried the idea of Edilson deep in my psyche. Similar to the St. Joseph statue I used to bury in each home seller's yard after listing the house as a real estate agent, I knew his positive vibe was there, but he was out of sight while I dealt with the day to day challenges in my life.

I Am Your Neighbor Edilson Lima - StacySaysIt - Stacy Snyder
I Am Your Neighbor Edilson Lima - StacySaysIt - Stacy SnyderA year rolled by and I noted Edilson's Chicago Samba group would be performing at a local Mardi Gras celebration, so I pulled my act together and called a friend to meet me at Carnivale for the event. 

I was hit instantly with Edilson's sheer glee as he danced around the restaurant and through the crowd.  I knew I had to draw from that in order to move forward with my own life.  For good measure, I thought about it for another 6 months, then finally got the motivation to bring his story to life, along with the re-awakening of my own joie de vivre.  Thanks for daring to be exactly who you are meant to be, Edilson!

I Am Your Neighbor Edilson Lima - StacySaysIt - Stacy Snyder

Monday, June 10, 2019

Today I Am Strong

Today I ran a 5K.

I didn't plan on running.  I was tucked away on the right side of the course, the slow lane, and was geared up for a 3+ mile individual speedwalk.  The walking sufficed for a few blocks until I ran into a solid sea of people at the turn toward the lakefront.  I picked up my speed to a slow gallop just to avoid a jam between 2 large groups of runners quickly closing in on each other.  Once I realized I was jogging and that it felt good, I just kept going.  End of story.

I had been "training" for the Girls on The Run 5K for over a month on my own, as I hadn't run much more than a few blocks since the 3 rounds of knee surgeries a few years ago.  My 10-year-old daughter, with whom I was attending the race, is a fast runner.  I was worried that I wouldn't be able to keep pace with her as I once could when she was younger.  After working myself up to 15 minutes of sporadic jogging in between lags of recovery walking to balance off the knee pain, I suggested to my daughter that we practice running together once to see how we match up.

"It was veeeeerrrrrry iiinnnteresting," noted Maddy, when I asked her afterwards how she felt about the paces matching up, after we'd run a half-mile together.  She stated the obvious - it was hard to hold herself back in order to stay with me and my slower movement.

That was that.  I preemptively matched her up with running buddy for her big race day.  I quit trying to run faster, or even at all, in the weeks leading up to the 5K, and I decided to just walk at my own pace and meet up with her at the finish line when the time came.

Stacy Says It - Stacy Snyder - Today I Am Strong
Instead, I finished the race at a decent pace on my own while Maddy ran ahead with her buddy.  It was a win-win for everyone.  I even managed to shave a few minutes off of my best time from 10 years ago.

I feel strong and empowered.  I'm confident that the world matched my vibe for the day.

During my Myndjive meditation this early morning, I breathed into myself and out onto the world, the intent that I am strong.

It seems overly simple, this daily ritual of taking a few minutes to clear my mind and putting forth deliberate thought toward what I will bring into the day.  It requires a leap of faith that what I seek in life will naturally come to me if I put it out there into the world.  It relies on relinquishing control in order to allow things to unfold naturally.

But it works, for today I am strong.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018


Stacy Says It - Acknowledgment - Stacy SnyderI had been silently crying at my desk at work for weeks.

What had started as an unexpected shower of tears while riding my bike to work one morning soon blossomed into a daily ritual of grieving openly during both my morning and afternoon commutes, which expounded into unwelcome solitary tears rolling down my cheeks to finally full-on watersheds while bean counting at my job on any given day.

I work in an office with ten guys in various degrees of their 20's, 30's, and 40's who wear jeans and hoody's, sneakers, and oversized headphones to listen to their music and Youtube videos while their eyes are drawn to one of the two or three monitors that sits atop each desk.  They don't pay much attention to anything outside of the design they create in their big boxes.  They fart, joke, burp, and lament loudly on life behind their wall-divider-sized computer screens, all without apology, in between hours of silence.  I love them.

Stacy Says It - Acknowledgment - Stacy Snyder
They also provide the perfect backdrop and shelter to my unfamiliar despair.  I'm typically a work-it-out sort of gal when it comes to life challenges: there's no problem, business or personal, that doesn't have a myriad of solutions worth vetting, especially if you come at it from a non-emotional perspective.  But riding out the emotional tidal waves of an unexpected divorce has brought me to my rational knees.  The overwhelming sadness, loneliness, and isolation is almost more than I can bear at any given moment, yet I don't need to worry about causing a scene with my distress because everyone's in their own world.

I work in a man-cave of a studio.  We have tools and high-tech gadgets and games, virtual reality and 3D printers, cool beers in the fridge and an ultra modern design concept coupled with impeccable functionality.  But we don't have things of comfort, like coffee or closets or tampons or Kleenex.  So I had retrieved a roll of toilet paper from the bathroom to keep at my desk to wipe away the evidence and blow away the excess of tears.  The ultra-soft roll decreased in size rapidly as the hardest days hit me as I hid behind my screen.

One morning I arrived at the office to find a new box of tissues sitting on my desk.  One of my co-workers had noticed I was suffering and provided solace.

That seemingly small act of humanity means more to me than he'll ever know.  It said to me, "I see you; you matter."  In turn that opened the door for me to acknowledge my own pain, which is truly the only way to start healing.

Acknowledgement is everything.  I am so grateful to find it in the most unexpected of places.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

I Am Your Neighbor Episode 7 - Midnight Bike Ride

I'm one of those nerds that reads my college alumni rags. Since I shuffled through three institutions before graduating, I have multiple periodicals to choose from the basket next to the toilet in the "reading room" whenever I decide to go rogue and read an actual magazine instead of scrolling through the highlights online.

Leafing through an old Loyola Magazine last year, a reference to Professor Timothy Gilfoyle's Midnight Bike Ride stood out among the glossy pages of articles and snippets dedicated to service, social change and education. Turns out this cool cat has been illuminating history, urban planning, and architecture through a nighttime lens for this students and friends since he joined the institution in 1989, where he still teaches history.
I Am Your Neighbor Midnight Bike Ride - StacySaysIt - Stacy Snyder
My "buddy" Chaya

I added the biannual ride (April and September) to my bucket list and by the time I looked up the specifics, the next ride was scheduled for the following week, just enough time for me to order my helmet camera equipment, air up my tires, and clear my schedule for the night!

I Am Your Neighbor Midnight Bike Ride - StacySaysIt - Stacy Snyder
Me and my head gear
Meeting at 9pm on the Lake Shore Campus, we all chose a buddy to keep track of, learned the route for the late night ride, and headed off on a two-wheel adventure! Over the next hours I met loads of students (whom I learned accumulated extra credit in Professor Gilfoyle's class for attending the ride), teachers, and community members, ranging from first timers to annual participants. We hit 20-ish spots across the city where we heard stories about folklore, politics, and the future of Chicago. The bike ride was leisurely, yet long, and filled with idle chatter in between historical references. The 70+ riders that started with us at the beginning of the ride, dwindled down to around 20 by the time I begged off at 5am.

I loved The Midnight Bike Ride and would not only do it again, as each ride is different than the last, but I'd also wholeheartedly suggest it to anyone who loves to bike, be alive when everyone else is sleeping, or has an interest in history, architecture, or urban planning. Those of you out there who just like to keep feeding your brain in general will love it too, as I truly can't decide if I got more out of the ride, the tour, or the interaction with the college students!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Seeking Something Different

Seeking Something Different - Stacy Snyder - StacySaysIt
I recently took a girls’ trip to South Beach.  We had a ball!  While the weather was spectacular, the accommodations impeccable, and the leisure level well within my range of expectation, I can’t help but note that the most intriguing part of the trip for me was what is produced by adding a new component into the mix, in this case, a new friend to a group of existing friends.

Of the six gals that traveled to Miami together, five of us live in the same neighborhood, where our kids all attended the same elementary school and now attend the same high school. While those factors led to our initial introduction and laid the groundwork for our subsequent friendships, those same elements sometime keep us from digging deeper for conversation as there’s already so much in common.

Lotus, on the other hand, is easily fifteen years our junior, lives in Indiana, has a young son, and commutes daily to a full-time job in Chicago.  I met her by chance a few years ago when she signed up for a park district volleyball league that I play in.  We invited her for drinks after a game one night and we got along famously.  I off-handedly invited her to travel with me sometime as I like to go somewhere every few months to rejuvenate, and she jumped on board immediately with this Miami trip.  While Lotus has exceptional attributes I could rave about, it’s not her personality that made me enjoy our trip so much.  It was her contrasting perspectives to those of mine and my longtime friends that made such a distinction. 

Seeking Something Different - Stacy Snyder - StacySaysitIt’s just like throwing in one new ingredient to the pot, where the flavor of the entire dish changes, evolves, and morphs into something new.  Lotus changed the dichotomy of the group and of the trip itself with her unique interests, character, and viewpoints.  Unbeknownst to her, she opened up the door of difference that allowed each of us push our routine conversations aside in lieu of new topics where lines of connection grew.  We all stretched outside of our comfort zone and a new best beast was born. I love when that happens!

I’m simply a sponge for variety.  As a young person, I spent tons of energy forcing myself outside the lines of sameness by seeking out uncommon people, typically deemed by appearance or actions.  Often I’d push myself to be the most unusual in a crowd.  Today, I still gravitate toward anyone with a different take on life, but it comes from conversation instead of image.  By surrounding myself with so many different models of life, I am constantly fed new ideas and thoughts and viewpoints that help me constantly hone who and what I want to be when I grow up.  It plays out in my work, relationships, social life, interests, and ideas, where I’m constantly a work in progress.

While I have developed strong values and principles over the years and do tend to also surround myself in a safe community of people who share some of the same standards, I’ve been known to soften, negotiate, and even change my convictions based on information I’ve accumulated from other people’s ideas and experiences.  

Variety is central to my existence.  I truly believe that my identity is a collaboration of characteristics and beliefs of all the people I’ve connected with over the years.  Everyone I know was at one point the difference that I sought out that turned into a piece of my character.  Pretty cool to think that I'm carrying a piece of each of you around with me every day!

Monday, November 27, 2017

I Am Your Neighbor Episode 6 - Paul Nickerson

When my friend Kim of Kim's Welcoming Kitchen first told me about feral cats as a potential solution for rat control in outdoor residential areas a few years ago, I laughed at her.

Stacy Snyder - I Am Your Neighbor - Paul Nickerson
Photo courtesy of Steve Dale Pet World
"Only you would consider such an insane idea to adopt wild cats that live in your back yard!" I scoffed at her, convinced that her modern hippy way of life was behind such a preposterous thought. "You couldn't use your yard because of the cats, the'd jack up the surroundings with their refuse, and it would be expensive as hell to feed them," I taunted. She silently let me grandstand that day while targeting her as the butt of my joke.

A year later, after having tried everything in the book to try and rid our back yard of rats, Paul Nickerson of TreeHouse Humane Society stood in my back yard and corroborated the benefits of feral cat colonies as a solution to Chicago's residential rat population. Poison, traps, exterminators, steel wool, bait, bb guns, bombs, nor wire mesh worked. The idea of stripping the lush yard of all vegetation and cementing the ground into a patio did not appeal to us, so instead, tail between my legs, our family adopted 3 feral cats to man our abode.
Stacy Snyder - I Am Your Neighbor - Paul Nickerson
Check out Episode 6 of I Am Your Neighbor to learn about the ins and outs of city cat colonies as a means to rid your neighborhood of rodents.

On a side note, I am so pumped with the new intro of I Am Your Neighbor, created by Mike Coleman! I need more faces on this collage, though.  Who should be next? I'd love your input for interesting neighbors to feature. Please post your ideas here or send me your connections via email at