I Am Here Now

I think I was 23 when I started this blog, on the verge of 24. I am now 28, on the verge of 29.

My last few posts were all about the changes I have been going through in the past year, the absolute severity of life’s inevitable roller coaster, and how I handled (and in some cases mishandled) it.

The past few nights have had me in deep introspection. Really thinking back, back and back, and not asking myself why, but finally opening my eyes as to why.

The circumstances of my personal life’s journey have led me to a place that a a mere year ago I did not think existed in the best way possible. Sure, there are always going to be ups and downs, but I’m here. I’m in the moment. I’m here now.

So with all of that said, I am so excited to announce that………..we bought a new house!!

It is a serious upgrade from the house we were living in before. Sure, where we were previously was very quiet and we had a half acre of land and chickens and a garden, but we finally have a place we can truly call a real home. Our land is smaller but we have a fenced in back yard and a preexisting raised garden bed. Our home is more spacious and has a much better energy flow. What do we not have? A friendly neighborhood crackhead that used to knock on our door all hours of the day and night looking for money or a ride…..-sigh-

So, onward to the photos!

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These were obviously taken before we moved in. When I first walked into the kitchen I nearly melted. Since I’ve been with my boyfriend, my culinary game has gone off the charts and we had NO kitchen space before! Unfortunately the fireplaces no longer function, but that’s so trivial compared to what we DO have. And the screened in front porch?! Can I get a hell yes?!

I am so excited to get photos of the house after we are 100% organized and unpacked. We’re taking our time so as not to get overwhelmed and stressed out.

Just before we moved into the house, we had another joyous event: My little brother’s wedding!

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It was a small ceremony at my parents’ beautiful house and property. The first two photo are obviously of the amazing bride and groom, then of course there are the usual Pickens, SC activities: shooting and swimming. I had to show off my boyfriend of course, because he is so stupidly handsome, and the last photo is a view from the front porch. Even rain clouds can’t take away how gorgeous it is!

So I’m definitely in a much better spot in life than I was. Maybe someday I’ll tell the entire story of what exactly happened to me, but for now, I focus on everything positive and the blessings I have in life.

It is my serious intention to record my journey forward, in the form of food, herbs, poetry, and love. Thank you all who have stuck with me this long, I look forward to living life with you!

Love,

Stephanie

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Every Minute, Every Hour, Every Day

Hi everyone!

Last time I posted, I talked about what I had been through since mid November of last year. Things were extremely difficult and I went to a very dark place for a while. Thankfully, with the love and support of my friends and family, I was able once again to return to the light.

I began thinking about my life. Literally from day one. If I wanted I could chronicle it, I have every diary I’ve ever kept since I was 8. What would I call it? I don’t have an answer for that yet, but I do have a revelation.

No one wants pain. No one wants to have to go through emotional, physical, or legal battles. However, every choice we make in this life is part of something bigger. You can call it God’s plan, you can call it fate or destiny. I like to think of it as a fortress of sorts, every stone placed by a Great Architect.

Ever since I was little I dreamed of a sort of pioneer life. Nothing too rustic, I will never give up running water, but I always saw myself in the country. A garden, since I’ve always had a garden, chickens, maybe even some goats. Working land has just always been in my mind. As I grew older the desire grew with me, but the reality of actually attaining it grew dim. These things cost money and in this day and age, even just a livable income can be difficult to come by.Growing older meant prioritizing. I never forgot my dream but more important things had to come first.The other night I was sitting on the couch and I realized…I’m here. I have it.

I actually have everything I dreamed of.

I live in a little brick house in the country on a half acre. I live with a man I love deeply that I met in high school. I have a garden started, and we have plans to fence in the yard and put in a chicken coop.

We have land to work.

When I look back on everything, there is so much pain and darkness. But every single choice I’ve made, every single one since day one, has put me where I’m at right in this moment. Nothing in life will ever be perfect, and I know in the future there will be ups and downs, arguments and make ups, and I can tell you with confidence that I genuinely look forward to that future.

Why? Because all that pain I went through helped me achieve my dream.

Remember to take pain in stride. It exists to help you grow, and in truth we never stop growing. I don’t want to give the impression that I will never go through pain again. The point I want to make is that there comes a point where the pain makes sense. We stop asking why and instead begin to see why.

Be well my friends. And rest assured, as this little homestead grows, there will be many photos ❤

Stephanie

What Happened to Me

I have not posted anything in a long time. I know this seems to be a recurring thing for me – I disappear, then reappear with explanations and apologies. I suppose this post is no exception to the pattern. I’m going to explain what happened to me.

When I started this blog, I was what I would call a wide eyed innocent. I had achieved my goal of moving to Wilmington, NC to start what I thought would become an extremely rewarding career with a man I had been dating for quite a few years. As I moved forward, things began to fall apart in my relationship. I was sad but I knew it was for the best and once again, moved forward. Moving forward is the only option, no matter what. I was still making a living, I had a roof over my head, I had an income. I could create a new life for myself.

Then, I lost my career after three years. The reason was unfair, but I could not fight it. So, I launched myself into finding work again, hoping and praying that I could continue living in Wilmington where I had carved a niche for myself. I was performing music at a bar every Thursday and loved the life I lived.

I did not find work. Not even something part time. I was forced to move back to Charlotte, a city I had no love for in the slightest. But I tried to make the best of it, I had a pretty good living situation and got a part time job at a little cafe while I looked for something more sustainable.

I met a man I fell fast and hard for. Our relationship started out wonderfully, we laughed constantly, went out and tried new things. It became apparent though, that he had an issue with anger and rage. I never thought it would escalate to anything physical. I loved him deeply so I stayed, despite the awful words and insults he would hurl at me during his episodes. I stayed because I thought he would work through it, until one night when it did become physical.

I became scared. We broke up but he remained in control of me.

My grandmother died on Thanksgiving of 2017. I drove with my dad up to Connecticut for the funeral. My sister and brother flew up from Tampa as well. It was a heartwarming funeral; I saw a lot of family members I hadn’t seen in over a decade. There was much love to be had, and I hadn’t even been to Connecticut since I was probably 12 (I’m 28 now, 29 this year in October).

On the drive back from Connecticut, the man who laid hands on me literally blew up my phone. He didn’t care that I was with my dad. He didn’t care I was involved in a fourteen hour drive. Text after text after phone call after phone call after insult after insult.

My dad reacted as a father would. He told me to find a new place to live, to protect myself. I wracked my brain. Who would let me in? I remembered, I had reached out to a friend from high school after the incident. He had told me that if I ever needed a safe place, to reach out to him.

That’s what I did.

The following Sunday, I pulled into his driveway. The house is small, brick, and on a half acre of land. He wasn’t home but told me to let myself in. I did.

It instantly felt like home. In fact, I almost immediately fell asleep on the blue couch. I didn’t wake until he came home and opened the door. I hadn’t seen him in about ten years. He said to me, “Welcome home,” and we hugged for a long, long time.

Slowly but surly we moved my things into the spare room. I had to sacrifice quite a bit, like the entire box of cross stitch supplies that flew off the back of his truck and exploded all over the highway. He gave me sanctuary, and I gave him a whole new outlook on cooking.

I developed feelings. So did he. But certain things kept us from being together, even though we share the same roof.

I found myself a part time waitress job down the road at a local Asian bistro. I made friends with everyone immediately. They are my second family, I can turn to them for anything. I’m not the best waitress in the world, but it’s something I had never done before and I find it fun, challenging, and definitely interesting. I threw myself into poetry, using words to work through my past, my present, and my future.

One day I logged into Facebook and saw a post about a dear, dear friend from Wilmington going missing. For six days I watched the progress for his search. I listened to his music and looked at his photos. On the sixth day, I was in my car in a parking lot drinking a coffee. I logged into Facebook to find that they had found him in the Cape Fear River.

Working through those emotions were difficult, but unfortunately not the first time I’ve had to grieve over a close friend. Everyone was there for me. My friend from high school, my work family, my family, even my poetry community on Instagram. I worked through everything, my grief, my pain, my everything.

Eventually I healed. Not completely, but enough to take a deep breath and step forward.

My friend from high school and I are together now, a strong team with bonds of steel. There is a small garden on the back porch. We’re fencing in the backyard, and have plans to build a chicken coop.

I’m sitting in a local cafe right now, with green tea and a beautiful armband he made for me (he’s a welder).

I survived. And you can too. When things get rough, even when it seems like you won’t make it through, that you won’t see tomorrow, you will. I promise you, whatever you’re going through, stay strong. You will make it.

I’m going to try and post more. We don’t have internet so it’s difficult, but I miss my little blog, and all of you. Stay well, focus on the good, and don’t lose your spirit.

Much, much love,

Stephanie

 

Two Years and a Sandwich

Today marks my two year anniversary with this little blog! I know I took a couple hiatuses, some announced and some not, but I cannot believe I’ve been here that long and am continuing to grow!

So to mark my two year anniversary, I thought I would post my first 100% vegan recipe! I found this recipe over at The Vegan Stoner (teehee! I know someone I have got to buy their cookbook for…). It’s a fairly simple recipe for a wonderful sandwich. Cucumbers and dill are the main event, and for me, nothing screams summer like a fresh cucumber!

I added an ingredient to this recipe, which I will list below:

Ingredients:

Two slices of vegan bread (I used Ezekial 4:9 Sesame gluten free bread)

About 1/4 cucumber, sliced thin

2-3 slices tomato

Alfaalfa sprouts (Optional, this is the ingredient I added)

Vegenaise (enough to spread on both slices of bread)

Dill

Salt

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Toast the bread. Slice the cucumber and tomato. Mix Vegenaise with dill to taste.

Spread the dill-naise on the toasted bread, and layer in the cucumbers, tomato, and alfaalfa. Put it all together, serve with some multicolored carrots, and enjoy!

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This sandwich was awesome, fast, and pretty cheap. It was also made me feel full without feeling stuffed, which is an awful feeling. I plan on making this again very soon, as it is the perfect lunch for the workweek!

As the weekend comes to a close, I’m preparing to have the most successful and productive week I can! I hope everyone had a GREAT weekend, and you shall hear from me soon!

Peace,

Stephanie

Changes

 

So it’s August now, but I hope everyone had a GREAT Fourth of July holiday last month! I know I did. I went home to my parents’ house, and had two straight days of amazing food, drink, gun and bow shooting, swimming, and overall relaxing. I love going home, and now that I live further away it makes it all the more special. I cannot stress how important family is to me; they come first and foremost, and the love in my true home is unsurpassable.

This year has presented itself with a lot of changes so far. From becoming single to moving to a new apartment, it feels like every day has been a new adventure. About a month ago, I was enjoying a glass of wine on my porch one balmy Friday night and I was thinking about the past 26 years of my life.

I am generally a very happy, optimistic person. I was not always this way: toward the end of high school and the first two years of college, there was definitely a series of unfortunate events that kept me in a dark place for a very long time. There were a couple things that kept me going, but the one that stood out to me the other night was this: I was vegan.

It was an ethical choice, and I got lucky to have a very supportive family who helped me out. I kept learning all about food and new vegetables and how to cook them, and I have to say my cooking skills definitely improved. Once I was out on my own, I made the choice to eat eggs, dairy and meat again because it was easier on my minimum wage wallet. Recently, especially after having moved into my own place, I realized that I’ve been basically eating vegan this whole time. Then I made a new friend at open mic night, and he is vegan, which I took as a sign. I stopped flirting with it. I am now officially vegan.

I’m not going to preach my opinions or throw slaughterhouse videos in your face. I’m just giving y’all a heads up that my recipes are about to change! I’m pretty excited about going back, it was something that helped me when I was in the dark place, something dear to my heart, and something that makes me feel mentally and physically well.

Have a great weekend!

 

Well This is Different

I didn’t post for a while because I made a pretty quick, life changing decision.

I moved into my own place!

I’m unsure of what caused it…I just woke up one day two weeks ago and I needed a fresh start, a clean slate. Within two days, I had found a new place and orchestrated a move with the help of my super cool boss and a couple guys and a lady from work. My new place is…pretty great. It’s hidden away, surrounded by trees, and most importantly, it’s my own. I have been feeling happier than I have in a long time, and I know I made the best decision for me.

Not only did I want to tell y’all the reason why I went quiet for a moment, but I wanted to touch of something I’ve had trouble with in the past and have been focusing on lately.

Winston Churchill once said, “Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision.” This is something I’ve come to realize is very, very true. I’ve lived most of my life in a bubble of fear, never taking chances and staying in my safe space. In the past couple of months I’ve been taking small steps out of the bubble, and the rewards have been, in a word, exquisite.

Take this move for example. It was terrifying. I’m in quite a bit of debt again. But I’m happy. I feel free, like I could sprout wings and fly. It was scary and asking for help was even scarier. But I did it because it was best for me, and that’s why it was so terrifying.

Last Wednesday I went out on my friend’s boat again. I’m terrified of deep water and drowning. But do you know what I did? I let him take me out to the open ocean. We went past the safe water buoy. It was dusk. And as we floated there, I realized that yes, there are scary things in the ocean, but boats are built to keep you afloat. Under the darkening sky I looked at the smooth, glassy water and the lights reflecting off of Wrightsville beach and never in my life have I ever been so happy to face my fears.

Sometimes, the decision to have courage is the hardest decision to make, but it’s also the most important. You may just find yourself blossoming in a way you never expected.

Now, I’m still getting set up but, but here are a few photos of my new place!

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I’ll have more soon, of course.

And what is a blog post from me without photos from the ocean?

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Gosh…I love Masonboro Island.

Well, I have my work cut out for me today. I need to actually work, because I’m a bit behind on my current deadline, and I have some more organizing to do and some prep for the week. Until next time!

Love and Peace,

Stephanie

And she’s back!

Hey everyone! Oh my gosh, I’ve missed blogging so much! And so much has happened…

Let me give y’all an update. This may be a long post, but it’s important to me. Let me get my Spotify going and I’ll jump in!

When I took my hiatus, there was a lot going on in my life. And a lot of it was, well, not good. I was spiraling back down a road I never wanted to revisit. I was feeling depressed, overwhelmed, worthless…and I don’t revel in feeling that way. I needed change.

Then my boyfriend and I broke up.

We had been dating just under four years. Lately things had just been kind of…I can’t think of a word for it. After we broke up, the negative feelings began disappearing. That sounds bad, because he is not a bad person at all. But I thought about it and I realized that I have not taken any time to focus on myself in four years. And I was beginning to lose who I am. I wasn’t loving myself, I was simply living in a body and going about the motions.

Last Thursday a friend of mine took me out in his boat to Masonboro Island. As I lay there in the sand, the sun warming me and the waves lulling me to sleep, I felt a sudden change in me. A want to be better, a need to improve myself. I want to love myself and be brave, be adventurous, be the best person I know I can be, and I want to share it with others.

I was going to wait to restart this blog until my now roommate moves out in late July, but I’m tired of waiting to change my life. I have a brand new set of goals. I shouldn’t have to wait to begin to achieve them.

So this blog will serve as my record for my weight loss, my healthy recipes, my (hopefully) DIY projects I want to do, my journey to overcome my anxieties and phobias, and my life as I continue this new chapter by the sea, by the sun, and by the light.

For now, the layout of the blog will stay the same. But soon I hope to revamp and buy an actual domain name, make this stuff legit! And soon I will also figure out a blogging schedule.

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Seriously…how can you not have life changing self realizations in a spot as beautiful as this?

So I’m glad to be back! I will update again soon, and once the dust settles, more often.

Keep the peace!

-Stephanie