carry on

Mr. Bikini Beagle

That’s the thing about tragedy: the only way out is through. Get through a night, then a day, maybe even a conversation. And all those out of place things–commercials and dishes and alarm clocks mistakenly set for PM instead of AM–are still there. Hand soap and iridescent bubbles and the smell on your skin ten minutes later–it’s all still there. The sound of Windex being sprayed on a glass kitchen table. I notice and connect with the smaller things at times like these. I hear myself saying, “Zoom, zoom, car. That’s right,” after counting plastic automobiles, and showing Lucas where to park them. I joke. I say no to adults and yes to my children. I ignore voicemails and emails, however kind. It is personal. Mostly because, personally, I just don’t feel like speaking. I’d rather listen to the sound of Mr. Bikini’s feet, little cleats marching across the wooden planks of our home.

I don’t care if the television is on, as long as I have a notebook or laptop on hand. I play word challenge on Facebook (come join me), zoning out. Mindless moments. I’ve heard before that inspiration comes during mindless moments, where we’re simply washing dishes or our hair, driving in the rain, stringing beads. And I thought, “Who the hell strings beads?”

It’s not that I wish I had more quiet in my days, full of small taps and clicks. I still love the voices of our home, the stories, movies, arguments, and sarcasm. But I need to make an effort to turn things off, to live in silent moments, alone. Not when LOST is on, but in general.

I am sorry. I apologize for all the calls I haven’t returned, for the emails opened but without replies. My world is too full right now to focus on things and people that matter. Instead, I play word challenge and wait for inspiration. It’s how I carry on.

A YEAR AGO: Stealing Time
2 YEARS AGO: Toasts
5 YEARS AGO: Sensitivity Training



  1. Word Challenge is how I left my brain take some time off from all the "real things." Soo addictive.

  2. Unfortunately, this is something I understand all too well right now. Here's wishing you inspiration, as well as peace and a happy ending.

  3. A few years ago, during what turned out to be the must profound tragedy and change of my life a friend quoted Winston Churchill to me, who famously said "When you are going through Hell… Keep going" My friend told me to focus on that,putting one foot in front of the other and ignore all the rest of the noise of Life until I was ready to deal.
    Sometimes your mind to mouth motor skills just want to shut off. It doesnt mean you don't love your people or deeply appreciate the outpouring of support. Its just that life gets so large and looming. To many questions and not enough Definitelys. I hope inspiration hits and soothes and all the best to Phil and your family. Seriously. Best Wishes.

  4. Please make time to go buy a manly comforter that Phil will like for the guest room. The poor guy should not have to look at the bedding he hates while he convalesces. Stay strong Stephanie.

  5. I'm with Bee – during turmoil this last year – the darlings found Rodney Atkins singing:

    Yeah, If you're going through hell
    Keep on moving, face that fire
    Walk right through it
    You might get out
    Before the devil even knows you're there

    If you're going through hell
    Keep on going, don't slow down
    If you're scared don't show it
    You might get out
    Before the devil even knows you're there

    That shit kicking, boot stomping, pulse increasing, mindless moving kind of music got us through a couple months of hard times. And since you live in Texas – maybe you even want to download it to your ringtone! Courage to you – and all the best to Phil and the babes.

  6. You're doing it. You're endurring, and you can do it any way you need to. We all have our ways of coping, and to keep on keepin' on sometimes seems utterly impossible.

    Please know that all your readers empathize with you right now as you muck through the thick mud that is this tragedy. Don't speak if you don't want to, but reach out and touch those toddlers, and inhale their scent to just ground yourself for a moment. Everything is all right.

  7. See, for me it's Gem Swap II that's addicting on Facebook…it used to be Word Cube.

    Your entire family is in my thoughts and prayers, and I'm sending hugs and good vibes your and Phil's way.

    You focus on you and your family and what you need to do for yourself to make it "through". We'll all still be here for you anytime!

    FROM STEPHANIE: It's so strange, but it's such a comfort to hear "we're here for you." Thank you.

  8. Breathe. Pour all your very enormous strength into Phil; he's your focus right now–no one else. And then breathe again, and do it again.

  9. I hate feeling like my kids and my husband aren't getting all of me. I don't like playing with the kids when my mind isn't there – it's fine in the moment, but I regret it when they're in bed. I think that those are moments that I'll never get back, and I which I could go back and really BE there.

    No one else matters but your husband and your kids. Right now, just do what you can to take care of that little group. Keep things running at home, and don't worry about the others. Those that are still there when you come out of this are your real friends – and I get the sense that you have a lot of real, good, stick-with-you kind of friends.

    Good luck.

  10. It sounds like you need to focus on your family right now, for you and them, and everyone will understand that. You have to focus on what grounds you and what matters most to you. I'm sorry you have to go through this, but there are lots of people thinking about you and hoping for the best.

  11. I string beads. Though, that sort of misses the point of your thoughts. But, I make jewelry. I used to make more, when I was trying to make a go of it being my career transition (turns out 'employee paid health insurance' should not be underestimated). And then, it's like one day I stopped. And I think my world was noisier when I was doing it more – and that was my quiet space and creative time. And then when life got more quiet, I didn't need to go to my quiet place. And lately, I've been making more jewelry. So….I have some cool, new pieces. But, I'm realizing I need to find some balance amongst the noise again. Or, at the very least, one of those armoire sized jewelry chests so I can actually see what's in the back.

    Your writer's voice gives me and so many others great comfort in our noisy lives – you certainly have liberty to look for those comforts in your life whenever it's needed. Now seems needed. We'll still be here, whenever.

  12. ((HUG))

    I don't know how you even 'string a sentence' together, much less beads. I would be completely internal. I understand that part about not taking phone calls and returning emails, totally.

    Phil, we're sending prayers, and as much good karma, positive thoughts, and everything else your way..hang in there!

  13. I can't imagine. You're in my thoughts. That's all I can say, really. Stay strong for Phil and the babes but also let yourself have moments where you fall apart and cry like a two year old – snot running, heaving, pounding the pillows crying. It's okay, you totally deserve it.

    I'm pulling for you guys. We're all out here reading, and I hope that brings some comfort.

  14. As I read your words my thoughts turned to my niece, who just lost her baby at 30 weeks gestation. Everyone has become concerned because she is just keeping to herself, staying in, not communicating. But she is doing just what you said – getting through it. We have gotten to expect our problems to be solved in minutes and hours, not days and weeks, months and years. I remember the phrase used a couple hundred years ago to describe a woman going through a hard time, 'she took to her bed' – and sometimes would stay there for months, recuperating from whatever physical or mental ailment she was suffering from at the time. So I say do whatever you have to do to get through it – and I'm telling my niece the same thing when I send her your post. Thank you.

  15. My prayers are with you. When I lost my daughter, all I wanted to do was be alone. And as my husband recuperates from donating a kidney to his father…I again find myself shutting off. It's odd…I thought I would spend so much time writing while off with him…but all I seem to do is read you and dream of writing. Take care of the sprouts, Phil…and don't forget to take care of YOU.

  16. Really well-said Stephanie! My father passed away last week and now that I'm back from the wake/funeral, I seem to be in a trance. You've nailed it, once again! Blessings, Mary Beth

  17. Stephanie,
    I'm new to you book, your blogs, your writing. I'm finishing up my last 4 months of nursing school and you are my escape when I need a break from studying. THANK YOU.
    My thoughts are with you and your family… ! xx Molly

  18. Ah, for me it's Spider Solitaire. Doing mindless things (or maybe better said: engaging your mind into some activity that doesn't require too much effort) helps me calm down and straighten out my head a bit. One half of the brain is drifting off while the other half plays solitaire.
    Anyway, I hope you're ok. I wish all the best to you and your family.

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