Monday, May 11, 2020

Ain't Nobody Got Time for That



I can't imagine how I ended up reading this old blog post during this pandemic, when I have all but taken myself off of social media for just the reasons listed below, but here we are.  I don't remember writing this, but I am super familiar with having these thoughts every day of my social media-based life!  Whatever you do, you MUST watch Sweet Brown video! I recently handled down my coveted "Ain't Nobody Got Time For That" T-Shirt to my eldest.  Enjoy!

Reposted form April 6, 2013

Everyone needs an outlet for their frustration.  While some find it in healthy avenues like exercise or sport, venting to friends, family, therapists, or strangers, or purging their belongings, others tend to cleanse their angst in negative ways, such as taking it out on the bottle or in drugs, or by over- or under-eating.  Some folks neutrally address their irritation by writing hateful letters or emails that they never send, or expell their aggravation via creativity, be it art, song, dance or what have you.   

And then there’s the Facebook folks.

You know who you are.  You’re the Wendy Whiners of the social media age.  Anything that could go wrong or negatively affect you or the people you love, DOES.  Life is always kicking you in the ass and you can never catch a break.  If it’s not the car dealership screwing you over, it’s the big boss at work trying to make you look stupid.  You always get cut off in traffic, left off the delivery route for your new purchase, and your local utility company has a picture of you on their #1 Enemy photo page.  If anyone's going to get shorted a burger in the drive-through window, it's gonna be you.  The world is out to get you one fucking annoying day at a time.

And you’re out to document your plight, one fucking miserable post at a time.

I know you too.  You are my friends, family, and neighbors.  You’re people I don’t know and sometimes I’m you as well.  Some of us ride the wah, wah, wah train infrequently, but make a big production when we do, as it’s just like riding a bike….you never forget how to do it.  Others of us live permanently in poor me-ville, like an old-school country western song where your dog dies, your truck is repossessed, your wife leaves you and you’re arrested all just in the refrain. 

Do you ever wonder how you got to this place?  This shitty, horrible juncture where the school’s sole agenda is to screw with your kids:

FB Post:  Does anybody know why the school keeps doing X, Y, and Z?
74 Comments and 43 Likes

And the city’s got your number now, 'cause they keep issuing you parking tickets:
FB Post:  Can you believe I got a ticket today for arriving back at the car less than 2 minutes after my meter expires?
22 Comments and 15 Likes

And let’s don’t forget Facebook itself and its quest to steal every ounce of privacy (Catch 22) that you own:
FB Post:  If you don’t want FB to steal your pictures and identity, like they did mine, make sure to change your settings to X, Y, and Z.
57 Comments, 56 of which are asking you how to walk them through step by step of making the changes, and 44 likes.  

We all know misery loves company, which has to be why people feel the need to post and commiserate with such negative comments instead of actually doing something about the supposed injustices of the world.  I’m here to tell you:  Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That!   

Before you hit that POST button, or jump on the bandwagon and comment on someone else’s bullshit complaint, check yourself.  Everything you put out there on Facebook can come back to haunt you.  Friends, family, acquaintances, prospective employers, schools, and people you don’t even know are out there reading what you write.  And they remember that junk.  You’ll be much better served by a run around the block, a quick bitch session to a friend, or even to stuff your face with a ding-dong (oh woe is me, they don’t make those anymore!)

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Memories Suffice

Stacy Says It - Memories Suffice - Stacy Snyder
Shutterfly regularly sends me emails with the memo ‘Your memories from this week 11 years ago.’ It pulls me in every time. If I uploaded photos to Shutterfly, it meant I was documenting our lives of joy.  

I don’t know why I've made so many photo books over the past decades. Maybe it’s my version of scrapbooking, or new photo albums since no one really prints photos anymore, or possibly I just wanted to record life in anticipation of one day not being able to remember it.

Whatever the case, I’m so glad I did!

On Mother’s Day, I am reminded of the love I have always felt for my girls with these pictures. As if it was yesterday, I remember the attachment I felt to my youngest since the day she was born. I had lost 2 pregnancies before her birth and was so thankful for her existence that I was never going to let her go. I found the joy in her every action. The losses actually helped me become a better mother to both girls by cementing my appreciation for life.   

Stacy Says It - Memories Suffice - Stacy Snyder
I’m taken back to the little mother role my eldest grasped and still wears with pride to my youngest. She took on not only the responsibility of protector to her little sissy, but also that of a teacher of love and friendship. They fight and carry on like all siblings, but when asked, they each site each as their best friend. To this day they play together and hold one another’s attention for hours on end. 

The pictures call to light the gusto we all naturally feel as children and a lucky few of us carry on into adulthood. The way my youngest is attacking that banana is the way I feel about my life: I just want to get to it, taste it, and digest it! It’s also the way I’ve prided myself on teaching my girls to live their own lives on their terms. On a recent road trip, my eldest told me she described my parenting style to her friends as a fictitious scene from The Lion King, where Mufasa holds his baby cub high above the lions below as an introduction, then drops the baby Simba into the pack to fin for itself and learn the ways of the world. I took that as a compliment.
Stacy Says It - Memories Suffice - Stacy Snyder
These memories give me faith that even when I’m at opposition with another or when life’s valleys seem deeper than the peaks, love has always existed within me. I got it from my mom who got it from hers, and in turn I pass it on to anyone that will take it! Love permeates into the world through my relationships with others. It shines in my connection with my kids and it amoebas out through their external relationships. It holds a place marker for family and friends I can’t actually touch, and it serves as a beginning point for every new person I meet. It always comes back to me tenfold, but it often avoids the beaten path and shows up in unexpected bearers. 

Thank you Shuttferfly for such an important visual reminder of my gifts on Mother’s Day!

Sunday, January 19, 2020

About a Boy

About a Boy - Stacy Snyder - StacySaysIt
Jordan Catalano of My So Called Life
I grew up in a time where whenever a young woman was crying, having a meltdown, or experiencing an upset, the first responders to the scene usually asked, “Is it about a boy?” when trying to get to the meat of the issue.

It’s usually always about a boy. But in the end the issue is never really about that boy...it’s always about you.

My “boy” was a 47-year-old man that to me looked like a fresh-faced teenage boyfriend with all the incredible, yet detrimental charms of the same.   He had the wonder of a child, the flirtatiousness of a confident, yet not too cocky guy, and big bushy eyebrows that enhanced his intent gaze; he had a slightly balding head and the tiredness factor of a middle-aged dude, a penchant toward things that interested him alone, and a beautiful full mouth that spoke only the truth. 

Society at large might say too much truth, but for me it was the golden ticket. You see my boy experienced much trauma as a child, not unlike many of us. His feelings of being unloved, a bother, not cared for as a young person....changed him….affected him.....made him who he is today.  But unlike many of us, this boy chose to address his past and change his learned behaviors in order to alter his life path so he doesn’t inflict that repeat trauma on to the rest of the world. That means being honest with himself and others, taking the time and space he needs for himself, not taking on too much responsibility that makes him feel anxious, and living his life in the moment.

I don’t know how long he’s been a man-boy. From what he’s told me he lived more like a college kid well into his adulthood and maybe just recently found his groove; logically, he’s probably still freshman in his groove at the present.  All I know is that my attraction to his magnanimity was so strong because of his vulnerability about his setbacks and the way he lives his life because of them. He holds no true convention toward wealth or status.  He reserves priority for creative outlets and self-care, and follows the beat of his own drum in regards to living a life that caters to his wants and needs. He made me feel whole, alive, and excited to be me, as many of those life views overlap with my own. He practiced no judgement, appraisal, nor pick up lines. He showed sincerity, intrigue, focused attention, and wasn’t shy about showing me all of himself.....even the parts that some would call ugly, and allowing me to follow suit. I felt like I had met the male counterpart to my feministic humanity. 

Despite my very specific approach to dating, which had served me well over the past few months, crafted from the idea that I wasn’t ready for anything too intense or difficult after the recent end to my marriage, I felt myself being drawn to this boy.  Common sense told me my time with him was limited, as I had sensed early on, and he confirmed in kind, that it was hard for him to make lasting romantic relationships.  I boldly forged ahead, though, as I had promised myself that I would allow myself to feel all the emotions involved in the vulnerability of dating, as without the lows you can’t fully realize the highs.  

The more he unapologetically spoke of his fear of culpability, his imperfections, and his perceived lack of need for human connection, the harder I fell.  His openness allowed me to feel acknowledged, appreciated, and celebrated in his presence, without ever second-guessing the authenticity of the connection.  I was starved to be seen through a 1:1 lense, as my self-image had been distorted over the course of my nearly-20-year relationship.  While I had wrestled to hold on to my identity as an individual throughout the normal wear and tear of kids, marriage, and stay-at-home momdom, my then-wife had struggled conversely with self-honestly, only looking at herself in the way she wanted to be seen, as opposed to the way she actually lived and felt.  Without a shared trust, we were unable to grow together as a couple in our marriage; I felt trapped in a life I couldn’t control.  

This boy’s truth was the exact anecdote I needed to confirm that there is another way to live!  That same truth was pin that pricked my balloon.  A few months into the relationship, the boy started to plan his annual “wintering” escape out of Chicago, which involves renting his apartment out for a few months, planning a warm destination trip to visit friends across the US, and bypassing the worst the winter has to offer here.  His trip was not a surprise;  in fact it’s what initially drew me toward him, as having the ability to pick up and go and follow one’s desires at a moment’s notice is a fantasy of mine, and I was in awe of someone who could do it!  The whammy came in the form of his straight-forward answer to the question, “so what will we do while you’re gone for the next few months?”  He looked at me like I had mis-spoken.

“What do you mean?” he asked.  “We won’t be able to really date as I’ll be gone, and our communication will be much less.”

Not what I was thinking at all.

“What were you envisioning?” he asked, as tears welled up in my eyes.

“I don’t know, talk on the phone and text and maybe I could visit one or two of those warm places and we could see each other for a weekend here and there.”

Blank stare.

“When I leave town, I tend to roll on the ‘out of sight out of mind’ mentality.  Maybe we could start back up when I get back,” he suggested mildly.

Beat down by my own wants.

Crushed I tell you!  I wasn’t in love or thinking the relationship was anything more than it was - casual - but I was so in the moment, and enamored with the stark contrast of living in the reality of every situation that I forgot about the tolls of such.  After further conversation, it because clear that we were in very different places in our prioritizing the relationship as I held an attachment to him that he did not have for me, all of which he was able to clearly state without having justification, as he’d been nothing but upfront all along.  Intellectually, I understood it all.  But it grazed on a lifelong hot button of insecurity - the idea of not being important enough to matter to someone.

I didn’t matter enough for someone I’d been dating for a few months to keep in contact with me for 5 minutes a day while he’s out of town.  I didn’t matter enough to my ex-wife to learn to be honest with herself and me in order to work out the specifics of a double-decade marriage.  I didn’t matter enough for my decade-old neighborhood friends to deal with their discomfort in order to stay in contact with me after my divorce.  I didn’t matter enough for my dad to put his wants aside in order to be a good father when I was a child.  Finally, and most importantly, I didn’t matter enough to take care of myself in the way I needed to be cared for over the years.

I’ve been grieving for the last week.  I’m sad over the sting of truth, as well as needing to cut ties with someone that I truly adore in lieu of caring for myself.  But mostly I’m aching over those wounds of insecurity in my life that are yet to be fully healed. 

Dr. Phil always says, “Winners deal with the truth.”  

While I hate the word ‘winner’ as it invokes the image of a “loser” on the other side, I do agree with the concept.  Without truth, we can’t move forward.  We are trapped.  

This boy helped me move forward.  I appreciate the growth and am thankful for the honesty, despite the nip.  It allows me to make educated decisions, armed with a fistful of knowledge.  My brief relationship with him taught me that I have to care for myself as if I’m important enough, or no one else will, as we all simply follow suit to what we’re shown and fed.  I look forward to living my life in this fashion moving forward.

It was never about a boy.  It was always about me.

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

Acknowledgement

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.