Tuesday, June 11, 2024

I'd Be Pleased To Meet Me

Have you heard the new song that Mindy Gledhill just released? 
It had me in tears.
 It's called Pleased to Meet Me and is about reflecting
on our younger selves with more grace, love, and acceptance. 
I love that Mindy wrote the song from her life experiences
 and how it touched me in entirely different ways.
That's the power of a really good storyteller/songwriter.
This song is such a good representation of me and my past, 
especially after the accident when
I hated almost every aspect of my "new life" that was so rudely
taken away from me.
But now I am where I am, and I wish I could 
"travel back in time" and meet me. 
I'd give myself a big hug and, with excitement, 
share all the things we accomplish and overcome despite huge challenges.
I'd "wrap my arms around her" and tell her
 everything will be OK.  I would say that I will
eventually find confidence, trust, peace, and joy in life
and literally in my own skin.
And through it all, I will have a beautiful relationship with the Savior.
I would tell myself that it's okay to embrace the way
 I looked during my recovery journey. All those years spent in tears,
 feeling ugly, were simply a natural part of the difficult path 
toward healing and self-acceptance.
I would tell myself that my healing transformation will often overcome me with 
feelings of fear, discomfort, and chaos, but it's triumphant!
And I should be proud of that.
I'd tell myself that there were days when I wanted to give up, 
to quit and even die.  But I didn't give up, or quit, or die.
I kept moving onward and upward.
I'd tell myself that I will do all those things with my head high
and that I should be incredibly proud of that.
I would "love myself completely" because I know that  
"A hundred guarantees, I'd be so very pleased to meet me."
I know I would be stunned by my journey to see where 
I've been, and that I consistently showed up every day, 
even when I hated it and despised myself and my situation.
"Episodes of laughter, seasons full of grief."
I would also hug myself and whisper in my ear,
"Hey Stephanie, don't worry about the pirate boot and giant belt phase;
 almost every woman in 2010 fell for that disastrous trend.
You'll get over it.  You'll move on.
Oh, and you get your neck fixed, it works out, and you 
end up looking great!"
I would also tell myself that 40-year-old Stephanie will
 be the healthiest, most confident stage in life so far.
* *
I shared this song with Claire, and she found it deeply
 meaningful on her own story and life experiences.
I hope she writes about it.  

Speaking of Mindy, have you listened to her new release of
Well, it's gorgeous!
If you don't know the story of this song, here you go.
I claim this song as mine as I do one of my children. 

Monday, June 10, 2024

Welcome Summer Break!

Today marked the first day of SUMMER BREAK!  
First things first: organize and clean out my outdoor drink refrigerator.
That job was incredibly satisfying, but even better was admiring
all the colorful cans and drinks.
So many delicious kinds to choose from.
Why does this type of stuff make me so happy?
PS...is anyone else having a hard time getting their hands
on the new coconut Dr. Pepper?
Sunday played around the back porch, and of course, I took a
few photos of her.
Later, Jane and I had a meal-planning session on the porch.
 Jane painted her nails while I took notes. 
She still cooks once a week, and we like to compare recipes
 to avoid cooking the same thing.
And she enjoys coming to the actual store with me,
which I absolutely LOVE!
I know these little moments are what I am going to DIE MISSING
when my girls move away in August.
Then Ollie called, and we chatted for an hour, listening to him
tell us stories about scary gangs that drive around with guns, 
the jungle he lives in, and how no one ever knows the time.
Then he told me to buy Jordan 4's (he's still obsessed with shoes),
and then I told him they kind of reminded me of Cabbage Patch doll shoes:

He is THE CUTEST, and I miss him more every time we talk.

Sunday, June 09, 2024

Humble And Fearless

 Christian and I both spoke in church this morning.
Our topic was humility.
I thought of my brother, Topher, who passed away four years
ago on June 5th. 
I've been reading his memoir that he and my cousin, Jayne, compiled
in the last few years of his life and as his health declined.  
This book is one of the greatest treasures I own.
It's wonderful to remember his life, thoughts, experiences,
and funny stories.  He was SO FUNNY!
He shares a story about his experience playing
Paul in the church's New Testament Bible videos.
Topher's final role before his passing away was portraying the story of
 Paul on the Road to Damascus for a mural. 
They had a 5-minute window to capture the perfect shot
 with multiple cameras at different angles. 
Topher described the poses as "slow-acting."
 The director asked Topher, who was, at this point, 
confined to a wheelchair to kneel for the shot. 
With the help of the crew, he knelt on the ground for 5 minutes 
while they took the photos
 and felt an inexplicable strength as if he was being lifted by invisible hands. 
He felt healed and whole for those few minutes.
When the director confirmed they got the shot, he fell limp.
The mural is hanging on the 6th floor of the MTC in Provo. 
It's enormous and covers the entire wall. 
In the picture, you can see him kneeling with his hands up 
to the light, but what you can’t see are the hands of angels all around holding him up,
but I know they were there.
Topher later shared that this experience had been profoundly 
humbling and impactful. 
Acknowledging our reliance on the Lord for support in every aspect of our lives
is humbling.
Our talents and abilities are gifts from God, not just the result of our efforts. 
When we know and accept this, it helps us live with gratitude 
and a sense of responsibility to use our gifts for the betterment of others.
Humility doesn't indicate weakness or fear; it shows where true strength lies. 
We can be humble and fearless, like my brother Topher.
Later in the evening, we gathered on the porch just as the clouds
 began to darken around Stillestead.
Jane and I are planning a fun Father's Day dinner with friends.
We planned the menu and the decor.  It's been a while since I've
hosted a dinner party with friends.
It's going to be lovely.
 Then, the wind picked up with the promise of a storm. 
Before long, heavy raindrops began to pelt the ground.
It was magical.

Saturday, June 08, 2024

First Float Of The Season

This morning, we went for our first float down the Haw River of the season! 
The water and weather were perfect.
This was on both Jane and Lottie's #HOTGIRLSUMMER list.
Except for snake swimming in the river, 
it was a pretty incredible day.
(We missed Claire, who is currently working as 
a nanny for a family in Texas).
My sister Page will be visiting in a few weeks, 
and we have plans for another river run then.
I hope that day will be duplicated because it was pretty perfect.

Friday, June 07, 2024

Last Day Of 6th Grade!

 Today was the last day Lottie will be a 6th grader!
Wow.  Doesn't it seem like I was
setting up the Back to School Feast just a few weeks ago 
and taking her first day of school pic?
Now it's over!
Since August, 2023, 
She's cut her hair and has grown about 5 inches.
She definitely looks like a middle-schooler!
Welcome summer, Lottie!
You did such a good job this year, and just like our family theme,
You are strong, opinionated, calm, kind, and determined!
We celebrated by eating out at our favorite joint.
Another congratulations to Gigs, who was successfully promoted to 12 grade,
and to Jane, who successfully endured a year of substitute teaching!

Ice cream all around!

Thursday, June 06, 2024

Copperhead Conversation


This afternoon, while mowing the lawn 
(my favorite pastime, might I add), I stopped the mower to check
 my phone and happened to look down and see a 
I almost had a heart attack, 
so I called my snake-loving child, Gigs, who, luckily, was home.

Gigs: "Hey, Mom, what's up."
Me: "I am looking at a copperhead, come out!"
Gigs: "Mom, I doubt that."
Me: "No, son, seriously."
Gigs: "What does it look like?"
Me: "It kind of looks like Candace."
Gigs: "I'll be right out."

Gigs came out and determined that it was, in fact, a Copperhead.
And yes, he did take care of him for me.
Humanely because he has a very tender heart for critters.
Even poisonous ones.

I mean, I was prepared to run him over with my mower.

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

Thursday's With K


This evening, Christian and I went to the 5th grade
promotion of my cute friend, K.
K and I have been spending time together every Thursday at school.
Since May, we've been talking about this much-anticipated day.
She's been sharing her excitement about her beautiful blue dress, 
sparkling shoes, getting her nails done with her sister, 
and the delicious Mexican food her mom will prepare after the ceremony.

Her 5th-grade class sang "The Climb" by Miley Cyrus.
I couldn't hold back my tears.

"The struggles I'm facing
The chances I'm taking
Sometimes might knock me down, but
No, I'm not breaking
I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I'm gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep going"

It was the sweetest, most touching rendition I've ever heard.
Also, because I am beyond proud of her and amazed at her
resilience despite challenges. 
She is bright and beautiful, funny, and smart.
I will miss Thursdays with K.

Tuesday, June 04, 2024


I found this photo of my nephew, Layton, and me in 1992.  I was 10.

When I was 10, a stray cat unexpectedly entered my life. 
She had a beautiful orange fur coat that reminds me of my kitty, Sunday.
I named her Carmel.
 I'd sneak cat food from my cousin's backyard for their own 
beautiful Siamese cat, Pepsi. 
To this day, I'm not sure if they ever discovered my secret raids. 
I also used my mom's old Marie Calendar 
pie tins to serve Carmel's stolen food and warm microwaved
 2% milk in. I even prepared a cozy spot for her outside by
 laying down a beach towel to sleep on. 
Each morning, I would wake up praying Carmel would still be around.
She was with me for two, maybe three weeks.
Maybe two or three days? 
My memory is fading.
We would spend hours playing together, 
and she became a cherished part of my childhood.
One day, she disappeared, and I was heartbroken.

If you were to ask any of my siblings about my cat and her name,
 they would remember vividly. 
One day, my brother Andrew mentioned that he had spotted Carmel 
on his way home from work. I was so excited,
 "Where did you see her?
fully prepared to rush out on my bike to look for her. 
Then he said to me, 
"I'm pretty sure she was on the side of the road in the gutter.  
I think she got hit by a car."

I still, to this day, don't know if that was a joke.
(Was it Andrew? Was it???)

A few days ago, when I was certain we were giving Sunday away 
to our friends who have two little boys.
Me: "Yep, I'll bring her over this afternoon. 2:00 work for you?"
Also, me at 2:00 driving with Sunday in my lap and 
then coming to a screeching halt
 at the gate, reversing the car, and bringing her home.
I couldn't do it because I wanted her.
10 years old Stephanie wanted her.
Now, I'm reliving my Carmel glory days with Sunday.
I don't care; I let her crawl on me, lick my lips, 
and sleep in my lap.
I love it.
My 10-year-old self would be so proud and happy that, 
finally, after 32 years, I have another cat.
Yesterday, I bought her a little basket and put a 
beach towel inside to sleep in.
It's been three weeks, and she's still here.

Monday, June 03, 2024

One Season At A Time

 Today marks the last week of school!  Yippeeeee!
This is essentially Gigs' last summer.
Next summer, he'll be preparing for his mission,

Today, Gigs left early for school to begin finals.
It's going to be a busy week for that rising senior!
Good luck, Gigs!

I spent the whole day working in the garden while Sunday frolicked 
around the shed, and in and out of the garden.
At one point, she caught a young mole and then
took a nap on my gardening gloves.

I planted my Mother's Day zinnias, dahlia's poppies,
and a variety of colorful yarrow.
I am super excited about the harvest!
I also planted corn, beets,
pumpkins (of course, pumpkins), parsnips, and tomatoes.
Initially, I only wanted to plant flowers in my newly mulched
garden bed, but I was talked into planting a "few vegetables."

After planting, I took off my overalls and cooled off on the
porch with kitty climbing all over me.
Then, I started adding beautiful tulip varieties to my cart for 
fall planting.  

Whoa, one season at a time there, Stephanie!

Sunday, June 02, 2024

An Egg Is Quiet

Last week, thirteen adorable baby chicks hatched
 and joined the world! 
Welcome, little ones!
We incubated the eggs, and as planned, 

Years ago, Elder Pace, the general Sunday School President
made some thoughts on chicks
that really resonated with me, especially since raising chicks
with my children.
President Pace said he has raised many chickens in his life. 
He said he still enjoys watching the miracle of baby
 chicks hatching from their eggs.

He explained that the chicks have to crack the shell 
and hatch on their own in order to build strength in their young bodies. 
If an outside force — like an impatient chicken farmer — attempts
 to help the baby chick by breaking the egg for them; the baby chick 
stands little chance of having the strength it needs to survive.

“Faith, diligence, and patience have no alternative for our emergence
 from our spiritual shells,” he said.

Parents can give their children many things, but a testimony
 is not one of those things, he said.
They can, however, teach correct doctrine and create an atmosphere
 where the Holy Ghost can testify.
I hope to create this atmosphere in my home.
It's my purpose; it's my joy.

Love this little poem by Emily Dickinson:
"An egg is quiet,
Its shell is smooth,
Its potential hidden,
A world to be."


Saturday, June 01, 2024

Last Dance

Tonight, I took Lottie to the park across from school for her end-of-year school dance. 
She dressed up, but not too much, wearing Vans and socks with her dress.
Jane did her makeup and put cute green glitter over her eyelids.
I watched as Lottie and her friend, M, met up with other 6th graders
and then they blissfully walked across the street to the school for the dance.
She is so adorable and so confident!
I love that so much about her!

Just as I was leaving, a limo, complete with a chauffeur and a red carpet. 
pulled up, and I watched 
as ten 8th-grade boys in suits show up to the dance.
I also saw lots of girls in super, super fancy prom dresses.
I'm so grateful Lod is only in 6th grade.
I'm not ready for her to get older, and I hope she 
never wants to dress like a Barbie at school dances.
Meanwhile, back at home, everyone was making burritos and 
engaging in a very intense conversation. 
Jane is the most animated talker I know, and if you get her 
going on something she feels deeply passionate about, you will definitely know.

 This photo is a typical Friday night at the Nielson home.

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