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Filtering by Tag: family

My Very Own Marathon Man

LeAnn Stephenson

 Me and my boy at a birthday party in 1996, all dressed
 up like hippies.  What a cutie!

All of us, at one time or another, have had to overcome adversity, and I'm here to tell ya I'm no exception.  Over the past year my little family, my son specifically, has been challenged with a personal trauma.  And in a rare display of restraint, I will give him his privacy and not disclose what that has been, but proudly tell you that he has worked diligently and triumphed in his struggle.

My son is a good and noble man and I am and always have been so very proud of all he is, has done and aspires to do.  So, to have witnessed his world being brought down around him these past twelve months has shattered my sense of reality.   I've watched as he was pummeled by a debilitating condition and stood by proudly astonished as he has picked up the pieces and once again found his greatness.  He has exhibited and I've witnessed the marathon of inner fortitude it has required for him to overcome his trials and tribulations.  

Words fail me when it comes to expressing my pride and admiration, so, I've decided to train for and complete a marathon.  I want it to be a symbol for this past year that my son has had … kind of dedicating the run to him and all of the hard work he has done this past year getting through to the other side of his tribulations.
His suffering has helped the whole family learn how to cope with adversity and rise above it. And because I'm me and I have to make a story or document everything in this blog, here are some things that my son has taught me . . . things that I think I can physically express and learn from through running a marathon:

A. He was willing to change himself. Marathon training will require a new schedule, new priorities, new diet, and a new way of looking at life. His survival through this trauma required that he not only be open to change but that he celebrate that change.  I'll try my best Noey! 

B. His recovery happened one step at a time. I cannot become a marathon runner overnight. It will take patience, time and a step-wise process to train my body to perform and run 26.2 miles.  There was no instant gratification for you, Noey, and there will be none for me.  

C. No guarantees.  Training for a marathon, like surviving diversity, is never a sure thing. There are no guarantees that I will make it all the way to the race or be able to finish it after starting, but Noey has taught me that the possibility of failure should not be a deterrent. Noah has been able to stay true to his goal, even when there was no certainty of getting to the other side, all habits that I will take with me into the training process . . . 

D. Noah's comfort was revoked by his commitment.  I may have to endure injuries or failure on my path toward completion of this run but I will learn from my son's example that success requires discipline and focus.   I've been doing a lot of research on this topic and have read that marathon training is all about learning how to manage suffering to enhance strength and endurance.  Again I will draw on my son's example of not running away from suffering.

When this event fell upon our family,  it was difficult for us to take in the larger picture, to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but somehow we've survived. I would have thought that this event in my son's life would have crushed him, but, in the end, it has brought out the strength and sweetness that he has always carried inside.  I'm so grateful to all of our dear friends and family for all of the support and love that you have shown us through this terrible time . . . may God bless you all. 

So, like the grapes that make up a fine wine, Noah has accepted the crushing force that entered his life a year ago, allowed himself to be broken, and emerged from the process a new man, stronger and more marvelous than he was before.  

I applaud you my darlin' boy and I dedicate this venture into a marathon run to you and all of the hard work you have done . . . I love you more than words can say.

I Don't Think That's a Thing

LeAnn Stephenson

I'm not very good with "idioms."  I've been known to combine two different expressions resulting in a lot of puzzled reactions from the people to whom I am speaking.  For example, I've found it necessary on many occasions to say, "I just can't seem to get all my ducks on the same page," to suggest that  I'm unorganized.  And I warn my kids all too often to not, "Count their chickens before they get their heads cut off." 

I misunderstand the wording of things, as well.  For instance, when I was a little girl I was deathly afraid of weasels because I thought that that was what was being said in the Lord's prayer.  You know, the part were you're supposed to say, ". . . lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil?"  I thought I was supposed to say, " . . . deliver us from weasels."  And I couldn't imagine how weasels could be so dangerous and why we had to impose on God to protect us from them.  Additionally, instead of the Virgin Mary I thought they were saying "the Verg and Mary," which spurred lots of questions like, "Who's this Verg guy? and what were his intentions concerning Mary?"

So, my family has come up with a mechanism to deal with my misinformed expressions and misunderstood words.  When I happen to turn a phrase the wrong way my family says, in the nicest possible way, " Honey/Mommy, I don't think that's a thing."

I find it fascinating how people always bring their own stuff into words and in return can create some really hilarious interactions and situations. We, my family and I, have actually started collecting "I don't think that's a thing" examples from the world at large. We share them with each other on an almost daily basis and I thought maybe you might get a giggle or two out of my most recent addition.

Today's "I don't think that's a thing" happened last week while I was getting the brakes fixed on my soccer Mom van.  I was sitting in the waiting area reading a two-year-old issue of People magazine when a really flustered young woman walked in.  She had what my children might refer to as a "I'm-trying-not-to-catch-on- fire" look about her.  As the young woman began to open her mouth to address the man behind the counter, he gave her the finger - no, not that finger, but the index one - which even I know is the universal symbol for, "Hush up!  Can't you see I'm on the phone?"  As he hung up the phone he turned his gaze back to the young woman and asked, "May I help you, Miss?"  She responded with, "Yes, I think my car is out of gravy!"  He scrunched his eyebrows together, retracted his chin back into his neck, took a deep breath, and shot me a look that seemed to say, "Really?" and then responded with, "Miss, I'm pretty sure neither one of us knows what you are talking about."  She then replied, "Yeah, that little Aladdin's lamp looking-light keeps flashing at me - and I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to drive without gravy cuz' it might stall out and then I'd have to be jacked off."

All I can say after that is . . . Money can't buy happiness but it can buy me new brakes and supply me with a funny story and lots of laughs, which is kinda the same.

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June 28th, 2010: If Life is a Salad Bar, Am I Anywhere Near the Croutons?

LeAnn Stephenson

For several months, going on almost a year, I have been traveling through my days with a combination of afflictions namely, brooding moods, failing eyesight, and a body so out of shape it would make Jesus weep.  I suppose the conventional term for such afflictions would be "aging," but to be honest, I'm truly uncomfortable with that term, it's not my favorite, so I'm not using it.  In fact, I'm not a huge fan of the whole concept of it at all.  Growing older was not something I ever spent much time thinking about.  I figured I would cross that bridge when it appeared and would do so in an elegant poised manner.  But providence and reality have interfered with my plans, which is why Monday's on the blog are designated for a weekly post called "If Life is a Salad Bar, Am I Anywhere Near The Croutons?"  It's a journal entry of sorts - kind of like an open invitation to "The Land of Too Much Information" mixed in with a lot of "so that happened and that's why I am the way I am."

Today's journal entry has to do with my experiences over the past year and how they have left me taxed and decidedly suspicious of the joys of growing older.  Like anyone who has walked this path through "The Valley of The Shadow of Distress," I have reluctantly accepted a few truths: that every year carries sequestered beneath its surface, the makings of a more wisdom-filled understanding of the world and its workings accompanied by an extra special emphasis on regret, anxiety and isolation.  I'm figuring right about now you're probably thinking to yourselves:  (A)  There are drugs for that sister! and/or (B) Should someone be on "suicide alert?"  And to that I answer (A) Yes, I know, I have a Psychopharmacologist on call. And (B) No, on the "suicide alert" I'm just flexing few of my more finely honed skills - those being melodrama (think Scarlett O'hara) and over-thinking (see Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) with a extra helpings of self absorption just for fun-zees! 

Growing older was never something I doubted that I would do, I just thought I would proceed in a more elegant manner with a great deal more grace.  So, to help me find my voice in this aging deal I have decided to vastly narrow my scope of examples.  Instead of looking to magazines, doctors, psychopharmacologists, and others, I have decided to derive inspiration and strength through exactly twenty-one people.  I won't be so precise as to give the names of these people but I will say that these twenty-one folks constitute a critically important circle of relatives, friends, and such that have helped form who I am. Over many years, tons salad bars, dinners, oceans of Diet Dr. Pepper, and a little bit-o-booze, I have sat with these wonderful creatures and have questioned aloud life and its hardships and rewards.  The collective presence of these extraordinary women, men, and children have influenced my life enormously and I am eternally grateful. My days have been quieted, comforted and my knowledge expanded, simply by their existence.

They range in age from their mid-teens to their early centenarian years.  One of them happens to be my mother; another my late grandmother.  One is my daughter; another my son and yet another my husband.  Ten are mothers; four are fathers.  One is my newest friend; four of them are my oldest friends.  One of them is an old boyfriend - with whom, after twenty years of no contact, I have reconnected with as old friends.  Two of them are my aunts; one is my uncle; another my grandfather.  Three of them are my siblings; another my niece; one I've never actually met.  Five are no longer living; and the rest alive and well.  One was born in Syria; the others in America.  All of them have genius-level senses of humor and wit.  Heartbreaking loss has been experienced by all of them.  Some have some sort of relationship with a divine being; some are devout; some I suspect are completely uninterested in the subject.  Six of them are teachers; eight of them are writers; one a mechanic; one a nurse; another a coach, one an attorney; there is an accountant, a few editors, a designer, a couple of entrepreneurs; a pianist; a guitar player; a singer.  My life is rich, informed, secure, and full of love and support because of these people and their influence has given me and, if you pardon the obvious reference, a Life Less Ordinary.

I'll continue next Monday . . . see you then!

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