looking back while moving forward

Dsc_3688The past seems easier sometimes, and I think holding onto it allows me, somehow, to move forward. I always hear how you have to let the past go, have to live in the moment, control your now. I think I’m able to move forward because I hold onto the past. Knowing there are people to go back to, friends there for you in another city, options, makes you less afraid to try new ones. New cities, new friends, new things. Because the past, what you knew, what you had, is always there. You already know what it’s like. Holding onto the past can sometimes be freeing. It’s my security blanket, for sure.

I haven’t shared this yet, but I’ve been secretly turning our guest bedroom into a recreation of my apartment bedroom from New York. When I feel sad or in need of encouragement and strength, I climb into that bed, with that same bedding, my same soft sheets, from a frivolous time in my life, when I wasn’t married and didn’t have to answer to or compromise with anyone. So I could spend $220 on ONE PILLOW CASE–actually it was a Euro Sham, but still! Because there wasn’t anyone telling me not to. It was my money, to spend as I pleased. But now there are joint priorities. Now when I’m in a store, I’ve become the kind of woman who says, "my husband would kill me." Because all he hears are all the things I want. A pool. A nanny. A music class for the kids. A new camera. But in that room, I can close my eyes and pretend for a moment that I’m just home from a birthday party, that I’ve just ordered in sushi, that Linus is still at the groomer or something. I can pretend it’s just me again. And I need that, to be able to remember who I was before I became a wife and mother. Because I love that girl.



  1. That's a really beautiful picture, and this is one of the first posts I've really really loved in a while
    I think that holding on to things from the past can be good, but you have to do it selectively. Strangely, the older I get, the more connected I feel to my childhood and the more distant past.

  2. What a fabulous idea as a way to pamper yourself! We should all take the time and effort to recreate that kind of sanctuary.

  3. "And I need that, to be able to remember who I was before I became a wife and mother. Because I love that girl."

    I feel completely the same.

  4. Were you having one too many cosmos when you wrote this?

    Your prior life was fraught with anxiety to be where you are exactly now.


    Of all people, why the eff would such a neurotic ever look back on those days at all?

    Shiite, WTF, thought you'd prefer a lobotomy to help you forget them days….

    PS…why do you always cut the photos of yourself off in the middle of your forehead?????

    FROM STEPHANIE: I don't drink cosmos. Never have. I didn't crop this photo, and man, you need a cookie.

    I was absolutely plagued by anxiety, wanting so much to find someone, to have children. And I got those things. And I'm happy. I love my life. It doesn't mean I don't feel safe remembering how well I was able to still take care of just me. It's a reminder that I'm a phenomenal person, someone I really liked before there was anyone around to like me back. And it's nice to have a reminder of her.

    I too often think, "would people think I was a failure if I changed my mind? If I wanted something else, if things didn't work out?" And then I remind myself, I live this life for me because it's mine. You live once. Make sure you're happy.

    No, I'm not getting a divorce. As I said, I'm happy. I'm also Stephanie. And I have different emotions all the time. I remember the nights I spent crying in that bed. But I also remember the nights where I was happy, where I could look out my window at all the other windows, people turning off their lights, watching television, making dinner. It's a nice place for me to visit from here. I know I can close the door and walk upstairs and be with the life I love and have now.

  5. Is Linus still with you?

    FROM STEPHANIE: No, he's in Montana with Lea. She's trying to legalize marriage between redheads and terriers. Linus had to go when the babies came. He bites.

  6. 3 teens' mom: I enjoy your posts as much (sometimes more) than I enjoy Stephanie's (no offense). You seem so wise and cool. A voice of reason. A sense of calm. Thank you for your comments. They are a gift too.

  7. I wish I had that luxury – but I can definitely identify. I'm recently married, and although I don't have a spare bedroom (still in a tiny 1br in NY), sometimes when I'm in bed I close my eyes and try to picture my old room – imaginging that my roommates are just outside the door, that I could wander out on Saturday and find them in the living room and we'd head to Alice's Teacup (the one on the west side) for a carb-heavy girly brunch of tea and warm scones. I love my husband more than anything, and even though I feel like I'm totally ready for this new chapter in my life, sometimes it's nice to think back to when it was just me.

  8. Does anyone else think it is weird that there are some people who post every day? And that as readers we know almost as much about them as we do the actual owner of this site?

  9. Hi Stephanie. You probably already have heard this, but it has been hard to load your webpage since the scrapbooking page got posted. it takes my (brand new) mac a good 30 seconds of pinwheeling before it gives me a warning box that asks me to abort the script. and i do. but i thought i'd write in, as it's irritating and i wonder if you can fix it.

    love this post.

    FROM STEPHANIE: OH NO! I hadn't heard that! I wonder what's wrong… and how I can fix it! Anyone else having problems?

  10. I really liked this post and the photo, Stephanie. I am newly married and my wonderful husband and I are planning to start our family soon. It is such an exciting time and I feel completely ready to start this next chapter in my life, mostly because I know the chapter before it- that of the single girl living the city life- was done up to the fullest. I loved that girl, and I love this woman that I've become. Moving forward doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't look back. Happy new year to you, Phil and the beans!

  11. I've got a mac but have had no problem getting this link. I am, however, anxiously awaiting news on the Quickutz/Illustrator issue and how to resolve it!

    FROM STEPHANIE: Okay! I have the answer! But first I have a question… are you on a new mac, and/or is it intel based? Basically, for me, I have no problem cutting through illustrator with the plugin, but I cannot do a print and cut with it. I CAN do a print and cut by using the software on windows.

    New macs (and older intel based ones) let you run boot camp, or in my case, Parallels, which lets me run Windows on my mac, without having to reboot. So I can run all PC software on my mac, even if it's only made for a PC. I design whatever I want in photoshop or illustrator, then save it twice, once as a flattened image, and once just as the outline of what I want to cut. I then import these items into the software that came with the machine and do a print and cut. Whew.

  12. I completely agree with your post. Being married and a mom to my gorgeous 9 month old son, who was conceived via IVF, is a dream come true. However, the worries that come from being a mom (at least for me) are quite overwhelming at times. It's no longer just about ME. It's about me and my little love (and my husband — most of the time!). I can no longer do what I want to do, when I want to do it. My mom warned me before LL (Little Love — what I call my son!) came that I'll never feel as carefree again. I read that once you have a kid, you can't remember life before him/her. I couldn't disagree more! It was another life ago… but one I very clearly remember. Anyway, thanks for writing such a wonderful and honest post. It's a joy to read your blog every day and to see the photos of your gorgeous twins!!!

  13. yes, for a while now whenever I go to your site it tries to run a script, or something – I always have to abort the script to get the site going…?

    FROM STEPHANIE: UGH! Can anyone tell me what the script is, so I can kill it?

  14. I have had the same problem as Sharon. When I load your webpage I get the same warning box asking me to abort the script.

    FROM STEPHANIE: Well, that's not good at all. I will absolutely get to the bottom of this… as soon as I know where to start.

  15. Can you hear me now?

    Seriously, is the problem fixed now? Refresh your browsers please.

  16. works for me, Steph and I'm using a macbook, if that tells you anything.

    That last line, about loving the girl you were, I love that so much. I am only 22, finishing school, a journalism intern at my dream magazine, so single, so free and so scared to death at the thought of the impending reality that will hit me when the internship and school is up in Aug, but, I still LOVE my life. I love each and every stage, even the bad ones that are tough to get through. I know when/if I am a wife and mother, I will want to remember the girl I was that got me to that point too. You speak of topics that I always wonder silently about in my head. Thanks.

    Beautiful post, GORGEOUS picture and such a cool idea about the spare bedroom! :)

  17. I'm on a year old Macbook (Intel based, with Leopard) and don't have any special plug-ins that I know of. No problems here.

  18. This reminded me of a line from My Big Fat Greek Wedding that was on the other night, "Don't let your past dictate who you are, but let it be part of who you become."

    It's impossible to seperate who we are from what got us there, and if you can take the good memories from your former life and incorporate them into where you are today, then pile on the bedspread! It's your room and your life, and as long as you're not moving back there, you are moving on.

  19. I almost hate to comment because I feel like I'm intruding on your private ruminations…but if you don't want comments, you can block them, I guess.

    My young womanhood (17-33) was spent dating/marrying/divorcing my ex-husband, and giving birth to the 3 amazing babies who are teens now.

    Who was I then? Younger. Sweeter. More ridiculously optimistic (which is hard to imagine). More frivolous in some ways – more frugal in others. More hopeful. More trusting.

    So – the years fly by – do I look back now? Only every moment when I see my daughters – how they wear their hair, how they choose to put together their 'look of the day day' – god. Don't let them do what I did. Don't let them get married and have babies when they're babies.

    But was it wrong? For them – yes it would be. For anyone else – yes – definitely a mistake. But for me…it was the very best thing that ever could have happened.

    Tonight we're all together, those sweet 3 teens and I, watching the 'clean' version of the Sopranos – jammie clad, bratvursts grilled and munched, fireplace on, hot tea being consumed…there is greatness in the making here…I'm proud to be a part of it.

    I appreciate your posts – and your allowing us to comment – it's a gift.

  20. first, I just finished your book and truly loved it. Second, it's nice to see that you can take the criticism so well. You put yourself out there and that shows you are confident in who you are. I am a mother of 11 and 10 yr old girls, I've been married for over 14 years and love to see someone who isn't afraid to lay it all out there no matter what is said. I love my past and I love my present, no matter what hardships I've had. I am what I am today because of those good and bad times, they've set me back and made me grow. I'm too outspoken to not say what should be said. It's that same honesty that I read in your blog that keeps me coming back. The thing is, you are always going to wonder would I, should I, could I have done things differently? Thats normal, and thats what makes you grow and change every day. Why would anyone wonder why you enjoy remembering good or bad? Anyway, loved the book and the blog

  21. I'm on a 4 yr. old Mac, the one whose base looks like a Hershey's Kiss with a screen that swivels up, down, & all the way around. I'm using Tiger, not Leopard as it's not Intel based. No problems nor have there been.

  22. I often think about the last apartment bedroom I ever had before moving in with my first live-in. It was hot pink and orange (tragic- but to fight off the winter blahs it was perfect) and it was mine, all mine. Thanks for reminding me of the girl who lived there- I really liked her, too.

  23. I have a year old Macbook Pro, Intel based, OSX tiger and the site has always loaded fine. I am curious about the parallel program you mentioned to run PC only software. Where do I get it?

    Nice post by the way. I too get nostalgic for the me I was before the kiddo and the husband. But, it's kind of like Vegas, wouldn't want to live there, but it is a nice place to visit. I can't wait to go visit in February! Vegas, that is, I don't own a time machine.

  24. what an awesome idea: a room that represents you at another time….a simple (external) way to go inside yourself for a bit of peace. a nice way to remember that you took care of yourself, you got through stuff (that may've seemed hard hard…but you lived!) and when you open your eyes (leave the room) you realize you're in the future/your present. it's like a memory "cell" or space that represents a time/place in your mind. (like louise bourgeois's cells…though not so morose).

  25. As someone who's happily married & thinking about having kids, one of my concerns is how to remind myself who I am. I get so wrapped up in what I should be. When I visit my hometown by myself for the weekend, I feel like I've tapped into what makes me, me. Since you can't jet up to NYC to do that, I think you've found a great way to remind yourself.

    On a lighter note, your lipstick is gorgeous in this pic. What brand, color?

  26. I think that this is a wonderful idea. It is nice to remember that strong woman that really made her fate happen the exact way that she pictured it to be. In that apartment, you chose not to settle. You dated (which is proving to be more difficult than I ever imagined), you formed strong relationships, you found what it is that you are passionate about, you didn't give in to anything that wasn't what you needed and wanted. Remembering who that girl is and that she is still there and still strong is a gift!

  27. stephanie klein, looks like its all fixed –

    I am on a brand new macbook, no trouble this a.m. getting on your site and no script box. thanks for fixing!

  28. Stephanie, every once in a while you post something that is EXACTLY where I am. Thank you for this one.

    I've been married for a month now (!) and am still coming to terms with having "joint" money and "joint" goals and having to be accountable to someone else for decisions. Gone are the days when I could eat peanut butter out of the jar for dinner! Or decide that a great new purse was much more important than eating lunch for the rest of the month. We now have a budget with line items and categories. I really love my new life, and I am crazy about my husband.. but it is an adjustment, and I think it's smart to have ways of reminding ourselves who we were before marriage. That is, after all, the person he fell in love with, and she shouldn't disappear altogether, even if she has to behave a little more sensibly now.

    Full disclosure: I'm also 6 weeks pregnant – happened on our wedding night! – so things are *really* changing. I am overjoyed and completely terrified.

  29. Stephanie,

    You are gorgeous and Phil is one lucky man, dont let him forget it either!

    I think your idea is amazing, and I completly agree with holding on to your past to move forward. We must remember who we once were (even if we all dont like it) to move on and become a better person (or simply stay true to yourself).

    I think way too many people try to push their past into a dark corner of their mind, never really examining why it happened or the source of their actions. Then, they wake up one morning and they dont recognize themselves and they wonder why.

    Your talented, beautiful and sassy as hell and I love it! Keep up the good work!


  30. I loved this post. I too remember the anxiety filled days of being single in NYC, but I loved them just the same. Never having to explain why a pair of Jimmy Choo's was worth the money to someone. Never having to explain that a blue cheese stuffed olive martini (or two) from Dylan Prime actually was dinner.
    I love my husband dearly but I still appreciate the life I had then.

  31. It works for me (PC) but I have been getting words linked to amazon.com pages throughout your posts and on the message boards- is that just me?

    FROM STEPHANIE: No, that's everyone. I don't put ads on the sides of this site, but I figure every once in a while some shopping goods on amazon aren't bad. When I put a link in one of my posts it's BOLD. Just so you know the difference.

  32. Beautiful picture! You always take the most gorgeous pictures! I love the black & whites you take of Abigail and Lucas…they are adorable.

    How is the scrapbooking going?

  33. Wow, I secretly have wanted to do the same thing. I don't know why but I miss my apartment from right after college. I miss having the big bed to myself for as many hours as I wanted to sleep. Not having to worry about all the thinks I need to jam into one saturday.
    Don't get me wrong, I love my life now, but there was something so hopeful, scary/exciting and happy about that time. Now I remember the days when I'd buy overpriced clothes on a whim. Really though, back then I wanted what I have now.

  34. beautiful photo! I'm printing it and taking it with me to my next hair appointment at Devachan in SoHo. I want these same curls!!! I tried using the goo in the green bottle you suggested a couple of posts ago but it looked bad on me. What product are you using in this photo? and yes, i realize how lame my question is :)

    FROM STEPHANIE: Maybe you're using too much product? The key is to put it on your hair when it's wet! I drench my hair in INFUSIUM 'til it's good and slimy, then I add the green bottle stuff. If that isn't working for you, I suggest a BIG ASS BOTTLE of Ouidad's Tres FX (not the climate control one). You must diffuse your hair for volume, otherwise you get pyramid head. And, to soften the look, use a wide-barrel curing iron. Hope this helps.

  35. Funny, no matter how much money one has in the bank joint accounting/marital budgets can be a hassle. You have to think of the family unit first and if you have a child they are the priority. I think back to my single days and get nostalgic sometimes but never feel regret. Good post.

  36. I know this is probably going to sound really random, but looking at the picture you posted, I just have to tell you…I really love your brows Steph :)

    FROM STEPHANIE: Thank you. It's all about THREADING. Find a good eyebrow threader in your area (it's way cheaper than waxing, and so much better than plucking!) In new york, it's all about PINKY'S SHAPES.

  37. This post was one of the most personally touching to me. I am 22 and just bought and moved into my own NYC apartment 3 weeks ago. It is scary, but I love it. Of course, I dream of the day I'll have a family, when I have a husband and a wedding, but I know that at that point, I'll look back to my life now and remember how amazing it was to be young, independent and alive in this fabulous city.

    To this end, I have been with the same guy for three years now, but we still don't like to think of ourselves as "boyfriend/girlfriend" (even though we basically live together!) For me, it's freeing to be independent, and though I understand the desire to be committed to someone, it scares me since I'm so young. Most people don't understand our situation, but, what can I say, it works for us.

    FROM STEPHANIE: Good for you! I assume someone helped you pay for that apartment at just 22. I could never have afforded to buy my own place at that age. And good for you for following what works for you.

  38. How IS Linus? I asked you in another blog but never got an answer. Hope he is doing well :)

    FROM STEPHANIE: I assume he's good. He lives with Lea, who up until now was in school for massage therapy. But she has taken a job in a fancy hotel (an hour away from Bozeman). So I don't know how much outdoor time the little one gets. It makes me sad. Linus is such a big part of me. He's been through so much with me. And when I miss him, I talk to him as if he's in the room with me. I have a special Linus voice that comes out only when speaking to him. Sometimes it comes out when I talk to Lucas, too. He's sweet the way Linus is. He lets me rub his belly. Abigail fusses and wants no part of it.

  39. I think thats ana amzing idea. I just moved to Colorado from l.a. and i'm desperately missing my life and the person I WAS when I was there….I don't think tehres anything wrong with holding onto the past, especially if youre moving forward while doing it, the past is a part of who you are, and is always part of your present. I think being able to go back to it, even if its a room…is a great idea.

  40. LOVE this post. As many previous comments said, I can totally relate. I'm getting married in May to my wonderful fiance, but it's always nice to remember life as a single girl. I don't blame you one bit for your recreation of your apartment.

  41. Sorry about that I didnt read the comments first.
    Your response to me almost made me cry. i can totally see myself doing that with Dave after he's gone.
    Im sure he's happy, Stephanie. Maybe Lea can bring him down with her when she visits next. He's small enough he'd fit in a soft kennel and be able to stay in the cabin with her on the flight. Have you guys thought about getting a dog? Some people think it's a good idea to get a pet when their kids are babies so the pet grows up with the children.
    happy tuesday :)

  42. Great post, Stephanie. It's fun to remember who we were before we became who we are.

    3 Teens' Mom, I love your comments as well. Any chance you're up for starting a blog? =) I'd love to read your day-to-day!

  43. I loved this post. I totally get this. Although I didn't live in New York, I did have a great apartment in the best part of my city to be single in. I dated alot, I played alot, I came and went when I wanted. I ate what I wanted, I never gained weight, I only answered the phone if I felt like it and I slept diagonally across my bed.

    My life is better and happier now with my husband and kids, but that doesn't mean that sometimes I miss the girl I used to be and her life.

    I think recreating your NYC apartment is a fantastic idea.

  44. This post hit a little too close to home….. I had started writing something about this, and set it aside because I just couldn't get my point across well enough. You did that so well.

    I wish I had a room to do that in….. It's just been too many years, and I'm trying so hard to rediscover who that girl was. Don't ever forget the things you love about yourself, past and present…

  45. Very nice. I agree with you, the past is important part of our life. Sometimes we are sad because time when we were single girls has gone, but looking back you understand what you have to do in future.

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