Looking back over the past year … I’m totally kidding.
Well, I’m kidding a little. I mean, listen Linda, how many of us want to spend more than a few minutes reflecting on the year that was a ctrl + c (that’s a copy for those of you not spending your all day everyday at a keyboard) of the one prior?
But reflection is good. They say that the rearview mirror is smaller than the windshield for a reason and given CJ got through driver’s training in 2021, I’m sure he could tell you why. I can say with certainty that most often when I look in my rearview mirror, I catch a dog with her head in between the left and center seat headrests with that disappointed face she loves to don at all times. It’s entirely not helpful to my inner human that lives to please everyone. Thanks. Ruby.
But anyway, looking back. There’s something I haven’t talked about much. I’m not sure why, honestly, other than I don’t want to seem braggy, I guess. But I promise. I’m just not a braggy person. I’ve shared that most of 2020 and 2021 were incredibly challenging. I’ve been battling all the feelings and things that made cocooning feel like the right thing and I’m really thankful to say that the last few months have given me some perspective and a desire to be a little more ‘staci.’
And that’s the thing. Who even is staci? Oh my gracious. Can you tell me? Do you ever go through those deep in thought
hours moments where you wonder if you are who you were or if you are who you are or if you are who you’re going to be? I’m typing those words and smiling because I’m pretty sure that’s just me and that I probably just lost you entirely. I’ll wait.
The goodness of 2020 and 2021 in the midst of absolutely every stupid thing that was happening was that CJ and I built a house. Well, I made the decision to build a house, found a builder who does that sort of thing and I pulled CJ along for the ride. What I can say confidently in retrospect is that building a house in the midst of a pandemic is not something I’d recommend. Ever.
I mean, I decided to do this thing in January of 2020, had a plan designed in March and contracted with my builder shortly thereafter. We broke ground in June and to say the sky suddenly felt more blue is an understatement. But then, it seemed like that thrilling week of excavation leading to a giant hole in the ground was going to be the end of it. It was a good long while before there were sticks and things that would eventually look like a house. Because you know, everyone (?) was also building a house. And everything (?) was also behind.
I clearly remember December of 2020 when siding was going on and drywall things were happening and I felt badly for the guys freezing their fingers off the week of Christmas but also ecstatic that I might see the day when the tile I picked out in June would be installed. Would I still like it? Well, I knew I would because the lovely woman who held my hand through the process of tears and excitement knew her stuff.
Between December and the end of January, tremendous progress was made. And soon after, in February, we received the final sign-off to move in but alas, pandemic. I didn’t have any appliances (I mean, you’d think if you ordered appliances in October, they would have arrived by February but you would be wrong). Thank the good Lord in heaven that I have a friend who is an angel here on this very earth who also happens to work for Whirlpool and with a new order at the beginning of March, we finally had a date for appliances to be delivered (well, all but a dishwasher) on March 25, 2021. Thankfully, we could also move in the few things we did have and I have the best story ever about my sister and I acting like wonder women one very wintry day but I’ll have to tell you in person because it’s just too precious to write about here.
So, you can actually bet your bottom dollar that I was going to move mountains to be sleeping in the house on the day that appliances were delivered. And you would be a big winner. Because although I may have literally died that day trying to do all of that moving (of actual mountains), CJ and I smiled that night as we sat on our oversized bean bag in the living room (because, furniture delays) that we were finally home. He said, ‘we did it, mom.’ I didn’t have the heart to correct him that in fact, he did four of the 15,000 things. It’s ok.
We were home.
I’ve struggled a lot with that concept of home. Truth be told, I haven’t felt ‘home’ since my divorce in 2012. Every place that I’ve rested my head since then felt temporary and even the things that weren’t supposed to be ultimately became that way and I was just never ‘home.’ I remember crying on the phone with my mom the week I was due to move in that I was worried something would blow up (the house, specifically) because it didn’t feel real. It didn’t feel like home was going to be a thing after 9+ years of not having that feeling. But then, that night, I looked around with tears in my exhausted eyes and couldn’t help but acknowledge that CJ was right. We did it.
And this year, on Christmas Day when I watched CJ stroll downstairs in his flannel (no shirt underneath) and shorts to our very first Christmas in this home I have worked my a$$ off for, it hit me right in the face again. That concept of being home.
It got me thinking. I have to say I’ve also realized in this past few months that a house is a structure. I love this place. I’m so thankful that I have the opportunity to live here. I love the peace that we’ve found here. And I do love so, so much that we’re close to those who take such good care of us. I can’t even think about what my neighbors do for us otherwise I’ll just cry again. I try to make it a practice not to cry on Saturdays.
The reality is that I haven’t felt home because I lost me.
I lost who I was in the past 9+ years and it’s only been in the journey of recovery that I realized the most important thing I could do was come home to myself. So when I asked if you ever wonder who the heck you are, it’s because I’ve actually been in that process and when I say it’s exhausting I mean like, I fell asleep at 8:30 last night. And my parents called me at 6:42 to wish me a happy new year because they knew I had zero plans to make it to midnight. Side note: I laughed so hard that my 70(ish)-year-old parents were on their way out to party while I was starting a movie under two blankets on the couch.
What I’ve realized is that I’m all of who I was and I’m all of who I am and I’m all of who I’ll be. And there is a whole lot going on there. I was just talking to my counselor (yes, highly recommend and feel no shame) about the fact that I feel so much sometimes that I actually can hardly tolerate myself. Connor and I had gone on a quick trip the week of Christmas and I told her that in the span of an hour I was dancing in the car, laughing super hard about life events and then crying reading messages about sweet Morgan (who won her battle with cancer on Christmas Eve).
I do my best to exercise kindness. I do my best to encourage everyone I encounter. Sometimes I say really dumb things. Sometimes I surprise myself and drop some intelligence bombs. Sometimes I dance with the dog in the living room. And sometimes I raise my voice and tell her to stop staring at me with disappointed face. Sometimes I laugh when CJ is inappropriate. And sometimes I tell him he’d better shape up because I’m trying to raise him into a man of God. And often I cry just looking at him because I honestly can’t believe what a gift he is. I love being curled up under blankets and I love seeing just how much I can deadlift (it’s not that much in case you’re wondering, but hit me up later this year). I guess I’m trying to say I live at all the ends of the spectrum and I’m finally just going to accept that because Jesus said I’m exactly enough. (but did He really know what He was saying with this one?)
I’m sorry (not sorry) that I used all the words in this one. I’m so often confused with my own feelings that it just felt like time to get them out. I just know as we’re heading into a new year that I feel hopeful. For me. For you. For all of us. I feel stronger and I want to use some of that to show up more in the world. That means I might be hitting some of you up for coffee. And that also means that I’m here should you want to come over. Because I came home last year. In more ways than one.
Here’s to 2022. I love you so much. Be kind. And, go pet a dog.