welcome

Hola, pretty people! Thanks for stopping by my blog. I’m glad to see you here. It feels like I’m just moving in to a new neighborhood in the city. The internet is a pretty big place, so having you pop in feels like a special occasion.

Can I offer you some tea?

Seriously. Get some tea. Sit down, and let’s chat. (#virtualcoffee is a fave pastime of mine.)

Currently, the walls are sparse and I’ve got a ton of boxes to unload before this place really starts to feel like my home. I invite you to check back in as I am excited to share the eclectic selection of goodness that I’ve been compiling through the years. I’ve even got plans to share fresh stuff.

It’s my intention to thought provoke, amuse, and inspire you.

Game on.

Occasionally, I find myself getting all riled up about some kind of public issue. Usually it has to do with inequality or defense of a perceived underdog. Two years ago, I went to bat against our school district because they were throwing children’s lunches away after the student had gone through the line, gotten a tray, and discovered there wasn’t money on their account. Taking a tray and dumping it in the garbage in front of the child is a horrific practice and fortunately, through the channels of social media, and due process, the school district’s policy was effectively changed.

That’s when I started calling myself an accidental advocate. Because, in all honesty, I never know ahead of time when a specific issue is going to stoke a passionate response within me. I’m super chill on most things that go on, but… if the universe conspires at exactly the right moment, I’ll jump in and raise some hell in an effort to ensure that the rights of the minority are preserved and protected.

This latest pet project has been the lifting of a restriction on the sale of liquor on Sundays in my little town. In my mind, it’s such an easy cut-and-dry problem and solution. To put it simply, we have outdated ordinances in our city code, and when our leaders are made aware of them, they are responsible for correcting the errors. But, in this area, there is a strong religious majority, and even though it appears to be a clear violation of separation of church and State, there continues to be strong resistance to removing the Sunday exclusion.

I care.

I care enough to get involved, to speak up.

I’ve joined and started discussions on Facebook, attended city council meetings, written letters to the editor. I even live tweeted the last meeting and wrote a stinging rebuttal to the Mayor when he posted inflammatory and inaccurate remarks on his public Facebook page.

All the while, observing my brain in action, wondering WHY does this particular issue get me fired up. Why did I hunker down to invest time and energy in researching thoroughly the topics at hand? I now know more about Blue Laws, Prohibition, advisory votes, the procedures for passing a city ordinance, and alcohol regulation than I ever intended to know. I’m thrilled that I am still able to use the skills I learned in my Junior Honors English class back in high school to research a topic and present it in an organized manner.

And present my findings, I did! I even got up to speak at the City Council meeting. I’m compelled by the need to present valid, factual information to offset the emotional, fear-based statements coming from those opposed to making changes. I’m driven by the black and whiteness of the issue and the sad reality that many in my community are not interested in moving forward, in being progressive, in allowing others their own freedom to choose – they would rather impose their belief system on the entire community.

It’s maddening, I tell ya.

I even got into it a little bit with my best friend from high school. She was miffed that I pointed at religion, asking me not to place blame there as it was unfair. I explained that when the exclusion exists only on Sunday, with the original intention of encouraging the people to observe the Sabbath day, and that the only reason it hasn’t been corrected is because of the religious majority in my town who want to legislate morality, it is not blame… it is a root cause.

I may have to go to her again and explain that this particular subject was discussed inside the church, on a Sunday, during church services, where members were specifically encouraged to attend last night’s meeting, and some were even coached on what to say! This counts as religious involvement, don’t you think? Also, it’s interesting to note that the Mayor, one of the council members and 4 of the public speakers all happen to be in the same congregation. This is not a coincidence. It is evidence of the religious majority intending to impose their beliefs on the rest of the community.

This ^ is what grinds my gears – a concerted effort, by a collective, to “maintain standards” for an entire community. This is grossly unfair.

Which apparently motivates me to speak up.

I’m also inspired to reach out to more of the people in my community who are not part of the religious majority, as well as to those inside the group machine who recognize this issue for what it is (essentially a non-issue for 99% of the population) to rally a united front to challenge the status quo. There is most certainly strength in numbers. We see it every day in our small community, as it is regularly used to dictate choices for us. I would love to see this strength used for the highest and best of all affected, but alas, it is not.

And if I can’t get what I’m after, I would at least like to understand better. I’ve asked countless questions from the opposition, only to be met with vacant eyes or an automated response that the city council isn’t listening to the people. Beyond that, there is no additional critical thinking. There are no solid, justifiable reasons for opposing updating the ordinance.

I know because I looked for them.

I asked, researched, contemplated.

Most of the opposition are absolutely unaffected by this change. One thing to consider is that I am also unaffected by this change. I don’t advocate for this because I want to go buy a drink at a bar on Sunday. I am the equivalent of nearly all of the opposition: completely unaffected by the change, yet fighting passionately for my desired outcome.

The burning question that remains is, “if this doesn’t affect you personally, then why do you have such a strong emotional response to it?”

And that, that right there, is question with a response I’d love to hear.

 Personal IndependenceWhen I think of the Fourth of July, I am flooded with happy memories of parades, picnics, and fireworks displays. But, when I hear the phrase, “Independence Day”, I am always reminded of the country song by Martina McBride, which brings up an entirely different set of memories and associated emotions. This song tells the story of a young girl whose mother eventually tires of being abused, to the point that she takes matters in to her own hands, resulting in a rather tragic ending.

 

This tragic story hits close to home.

I once lost my personal independence and had to fight like hell to get it back.

As a woman whose life has been touched by an abusive relationship, I look back on my experience with a sense of detachment – it’s almost like watching a dramatic movie on the Lifetime channel, only I have to continually remind myself that I was the woman getting dragged down the hallway by my hair. Not only was I the main character, I was also the actress playing that role. It’s surreal.

Prior to entering this toxic relationship, I had what I considered to be a solid set of rules for what I would and would not put with from a partner. My set of rules was based on a naïve sense of judgment about how the world works. Unfortunately, since no one had ever treated me poorly, I did not recognize any of the warning signs until I was already in way over my head.

I consider myself to be a reasonably intelligent, independent, and strong-willed woman, but I still fell prey to a partner who was supposed to love and cherish me, yet mistreated me whenever he felt like he was losing control of a situation. My ‘normal’ character steadily eroded over a couple of years, to the point that I couldn’t see myself clearly anymore. I couldn’t find a solution to my problem… my willpower was gone, and along with it, my self-esteem disappeared, too.

Knowing how inconsequential I felt during that time period, I have high respect for every woman who finds herself in a similar situation and is able to fight for her personal independence.

It truly is a battle … not only with an external foe, but also an internal one. In an abusive relationship, you give your power away. Perhaps not intentionally, but it is what it is. You give it, he takes it, and an extremely unhealthy dynamic is born.

Got a friend who has given away her personal independence?

If you are on the outside looking in… your friend may seem like an entirely different person than she used to be!

Quit judging. Unless you’ve been in this psychological nightmare of a situation, you have no possible way of understanding how difficult it can be to maneuver with any sense of clarity, direction, or purpose. The goal is survival.

Quit taking anything personally. Her inability to make a plan with you and stick to it has nothing to do with the quality of your friendship. She simply doesn’t trust that life will be calm and smooth enough for her to get out, have some fun, etc.

If she doesn’t return your calls, again, don’t take it personal. But, do… yes, do go check on her. Trust your intuition, and if it’s telling you something seems off, TRUST IT.

Personal Independence QuoteDon’t lecture her. She’s going to quit talking to you about what is really going on in her life – she’s embarrassed by her situation, and she already has an idea that you don’t approve, that you’ll give her a lecture… and she doesn’t want to hear it, can’t, actually. Escaping her current nightmare is a fantasy that she doesn’t quite dare to visit…

 

Remind her that she is a strong, amazing, talented, person and that she can do anything she sets her mind to.

She doesn’t want to disappoint you by staying in an unhealthy situation. She doesn’t want to admit to you that she is confused because she knows she deserves something better, but she loves him, and can’t imagine life without him.

Hold up. These are HIS projections playing out as real thoughts and feelings for her.

She’s already beating herself up with these recurring thoughts: I know better. I deserve better.

But something, usually it’s him, whispers non-stop in her ear, “you aren’t good enough… you can’t do this without me… nobody else will ever want you…” constantly flaunting any perceived weakness in her face as a tool to keep her feeling worthless.

Reclaim your personal independence

Sadly, it sometimes takes a crisis of some kind before we’ll take strong and swift action. If you are the one in the abusive and dysfunctional relationship, read on, sister. This next part is for you.

Personal Independence journeyNecessary Steps to Re-Gain Your Personal Independence
  • Commitment – no wishy washy, half-hearted antics will do.
  • Unconditional Love (for the Self!) – Taking care of YOU has to come before you are worth a damn to anyone else.
  • Separation – You must put distance between you. Get away from him.
  • Cutting of the ties that bind – Even with physical space, you’ll still have energetic ties. Cut them. Repeatedly.
  • Legal protection – If required, get a restraining order or some kind of civil protection.

Your next steps:

  • Celebrate the little successes
  • Take your power back
  • Forgive him – come to understand the mechanisms in place that allowed him to feel so emotionally chaotic… this gives you insight that allows you to let go of the notion that it’s your fault and that you deserved it. You didn’t.
  • Forgive yourself
  • Let go of any desire for justice
  • Let go of any notion that he will change, and it will get better
  • Move on – take your lessons learned and rejoice in the confidence that you’ll recognize red flags next time…

Healing is required. You’ve got an adjustment period to process through as you transition from fight or flight all the time to a steady, peaceful, and harmonious lifestyle.

One more useful tidbit – Understand that you have got to get your life together before you date or consider dating… the next guy will most likely get punished for the wrongdoing this other guy has done… not cool. It is imperative that you pause and take time to nurture yourself back to confidence in your personal independence as the number one priority!

In every town and city, there are resources for domestic violence – there is no shame in reaching out for help. Chances are, on your path to independence, you’ll have to accept help from friends, family, and even strangers along the way.


Because I am on the other side looking back, all the indicators of a toxic and abusive relationship are easy to spot. I am filled with empathy and compassion for every woman who finds herself stuck in this crummy situation.

I have faith that it is possible to reclaim your personal independence and to eradicate this parasitic relationship from your life… and move on to bigger, better, lovelier things.


If you’re in an abusive relationship, seek help… before it’s too late.
If you know someone who is, do not abandon them, even if you lose your patience and you have trouble understanding the choices they are making.

To those who have made it, let’s take some extra pleasure today in celebrating our very own private and personal independence day.

Date: July 21, 2015

Location: The Crux, on the floor, in between sets

I did NOT expect to be overwhelmed by emotion at a no-name concert at a random coffee house in Boise that I had never heard of. I honestly didn’t pay much attention at all to the artist or the details of this trip, I just let Julia make the plans and begrudgingly fulfilled the commitment I made to bring her to the show.

Imagine my surprise when the first performer blows my mind.

This dorky looki20150721_190610ng dude (who reminds me of Jonah Hill) performs original tunes acoustically. He travels under the band name, “The Homeless Gospel Choir” so I genuinely was surprised to see a solo artist. His first song was described as a protest song, and I found myself moved to tears by his lyrics and the heartfelt delivery. Each subsequent song was also a protest song and I soon realized that this man, Derek Zanetti, has a message… his delivery method is a guitar and punk rock.

I looked around the room at this eclectic coffee shop full of mostly teenagers with wild colored hair wearing either Vans or Converse, who have found a place where they feel they belong – where they are accepted exactly as they are – listening to a message of complete and unconditional equality.

He channels a powerful message speaking out against any kind of -ism that discriminates and segregates. His method is REACHING these kids… teaching them to reject the authority that preaches that they must do and be certain things in order to be worthy of love, affection, and validation.

This lovable dork, on the stage, is inspiring an entire segment of this generation to live authentically – to expand their hearts and awareness to include everyone – I couldn’t help it… I cried five separate times during his 45 minute set.

The tears were recognition of the power in his message, as well as the angst and emotional pain that served as the catalyst for him to write the songs, providing his drive to share this message. I cried out of admiration and respect for his total dedication to reaching those who are hurting. I cried because there’s more I can and should be doing and it’s time I got my head back in the game.

20150721_212806I cried because of Julia, my kick ass daughter, listening to this message, crying along with me, while I pondered what great and wonderful things she will be inspired to accomplish in her lifetime because she gets this kind of validation at her young age. She’s got support – and I’m in awe at what will unfold in her lifetime because she resonates so deeply with this message of equality.

I cried for all those in the audience who needed to hear the lyrics sung and the words that were spoken – delicate subjects addressed through acoustic music – holy shit, it’s brilliant.

Not to mention, the energy in the room has been palpable all evening. I could FEEL the emotion from Derek… as well as the recognition from the audience… punk rock kids (who appear to those who like to sit in self-righteous judgment as rebels or problem kids) responding to a solo performer with cheers, heartfelt appreciation, and hope… this is not a random concert on a Tuesday evening, it’s a life-changing event.

These kids, this audience, they’ve been validated at their core, by someone who is perceived to have some street cred due to his music career and being on tour with Frank Iero. They’ve received a message of encouragement, support, belonging, FAMILY. Topics covered included losing loved ones, feeling like outcasts, being different, having a different perspective, suicidal tendencies, etc. Each topic approached with the same candor and genuine care – YOU MATTER. You are valuable. You are loved. You are included.

And here come the tears again.

Check out The Homeless Gospel Choir. Show some support on Derek’s Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.

 

… when your idea of fun is trash talking your teenaged offspring during a cutthroat game of 4-square. #eyeofthetiger

Hello, Miss Bigwords Fancypants here. Perhaps you’ve been wondering how I earned this particular nickname.

One day, a few years ago, some random guy posted a link on my Facebook Fan Page. I almost deleted it for looking like spam, but the url seemed legit because it was all about inspirational images. I reasoned that this dude must be spreading some warm fuzzy love and I might find something wonderful to share with my tribe.

I smiled when I realized the entire post was an open mockery of the “unicorns and rainbows” mentality; the author of the post had taken 27 inspirational memes and revised them for honesty. I giggled out loud as I went through the list.

Imagine my surprise, when I arrived at number one on this list and what did I see? One of MY quotes! Not just a meme I had created, or a random share from my blog… but an actual quote of something I had written:

“Synchronicity is not about orchestration – it’s about allowance of manifestation.” ~Miss Bigwords Fancypants

Is Janet Louise Stephenson really Miss Bigwords Fancypants?

My initial reaction was mixed – On one hand, I felt amused that some guy out there on the internet had found something that little old me had written and that seemed to be confirmation that in my own little way, I can make a difference.

On the other hand, I couldn’t stop laughing! I mean… that’s pretty funny – and it’s alright by me if you want to start calling me by my new title, “Miss Bigwords Fancypants” now.

Unless we are in an argument.

And then I will consider it an act of emotional terrorism.

One more thing

In the silliness of it all, which I absolutely adore, I’d like to remind you that my original statement kicks ass at giving you something to think about. The whole point is that you cannot control how synchronicity plays out in your life.

Toodles,

Miss Bigwords Fancypants

… when you check your homemade kombucha and you’ve carbonated it so damn good it blows up and sprays all over the kitchen. #lipstickhippie