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Stop chasing the fireflies.

I have this mind, that doesn’t work like everyone else’s. It processes things differently, not like everyone else. Then I realize that I have no choice but process it in my own way, but I don’t have to force my processing on anyone else. It has to be internal. The problems I’m trying to figure out in my head come easily to some people, yet I struggle to remember even obvious details. Maybe I have some sort of diagnosis, but my rejection of the current pharmaceutical methods, labels don’t matter to me.

I spend 4 hours of my day driving to and from work, at a job that is so painful to me even Samsung Health knows I’m stressed. For four hours a day I practice music. I listen, I try to pick out the notes, the Suzuki type learning that I’ve become familiar with only after joining the board of directors for the local orchestra (who is searching for a new conductor if you have any connection to our local music scene). I wish I had been afforded a musical education in my youth, or even an adolescence free from hunger and subsequent eating disorders. I struggle to fit in piano practice and note recognition to feed my soul.

Music is life. There is rhythm in every thing we do, the deaf can hear it, the blind can see it. You can feel the reverberations through the choices made, or not made. The results are loud if you are quiet enough to feel them. The passion ignited in me when I see live performance, hear the creations of Rob Flax or Okcello as I watch their blistering work, see the art created from nothing in the galleries, it moves me to use all my energy to spread the spark to the youth.

This is the dream I pass on with my duties to the orchestra, and my new position with the board of directors at Acadia Academy. This is the future of America folks, the quality education taught by the best teachers in the world. We have to support the seeds of what we want to grow. Lorax said it on repeat for about 4 years straight at my house “You can’t reap what you don’t sew”.

You did it L/A. It IS happening here! Acadia Academy is becoming a legendary leader in educating the youth of our community. The impressive wait list alone shows how right they’re getting it. I am honored to be sitting on the board of directors for this amazing school, to put my energy to support the most amazing Director and Assistant Director is a dream not many people have access to. I have been given the opportunity to help support the biggest shift in proving a new system of education for the future, not being an educator myself having any hand in this success is so incredibly exciting I can’t word it. To be able to build on the community that Laura Faure planted in this special place and join with the most talented and motivated educators from music/arts/theater as well as elementary education is my new path. Wake up L/A, we’re going to put our community on the  map with our transformational vision of educating the future leaders of America.

If you know me personally you know I’m a scientist at heart. The power of analytical thinking is a constant storm in my mind. The decibels of chaos inside my head are not measurable. My mind races with calculating any contributions I can make to the barriers my community both big and small face. Socialization is not my forte, and when I open my mouth for an interaction only the screams can be heard. This makes me intimidating, seemingly uninterested, and reportedly less approachable. This is not my intention. The roar of numbers overloading my capacity for RAM makes the memorization of socially acceptable cues impossible. I’m not really who you think I am upon first impression. Intense and passionate for sure, purposefully rude and distant is not. Does this make me meet another criteria for a diagnosis? Perhaps, but I won’t let that slow down the change I’m going to bring to this world. Get on the train, or watch from a distance, it won’t affect my trajectory.

Joan Didion taught me in her book “The Year of Magical Thinking” how to grieve.  She spilled her raw emotions in real time on to the pages of the notebook she had carried around for years. The same notebook in which her late husband’s notes for his next novel still sat. The pain in her heart and fog in her mind is all too familiar as I enter my phase of loss. Nothing prepares you for what is coming next, but with the advice of your mentors you can make better calculations to exercise your mind in a meaningful way. You are never fully prepared to walk the valley of grief and loss, but the way to keep the darkness from consuming you completely is to follow Mr. Rogers’ advice. “Look for the helpers”. They’re everywhere. Look to the people that have done it, and those whom are doing. Surround yourself with the people you want to be like, and cut loose those who you don’t envy. The work is still yours to do, but encouragement from another who struggles can help lift you to the occasion. Your body is tougher than you thought, and your mind stronger with every healing wound. This combination is unstoppable if you continue to push as hard as you can.

Decisions are never easy to make. I always affirm not making a decision IS making one. The stress that reverberates from mothers down to their children is invisible. You can only see it in their distant faces, the worry screams in silence. When I look at the faces of my kids as I work far away from home, stressed and distant when we interact, I can see this path isn’t for us. There has to be another solution to live well, because right now we are all just barely surviving.

I don’t know what my future will hold. I know that I will continue to work as hard as I ever have to make the world a better place. Some decisions are not as easy for the heart to make, even after the mind has completed it’s work. I am sad, I am happy, I am relieved, and I am dreadful. My mind is numb as any injury at impact. I taught a girl to trust, to love, and to fly like there was no gravity. We taught her what it was like to live in a family, to laugh, to swim, to ride a bike while her failed attempts dripped blood down her legs. We taught her to swim, to face her fears and ride a roller coaster. Above all what I set out to do was give hope, and for that I have been successful. The story for both of us doesn’t end here, but this is the fork in the road where we part ways. Sometimes when you love something you have to let it go.

I’m thankful to my mentors that have guided me through this process. Tessa and Lisa for always accepting my midnight panicked calls, Molly for advising me officially when she’d probably rather not, Terrance, Priscilla, and Rob for encouraging me through their amazing examples, Judy for problem solving, and especially Sheela and Kellie who have advised me personally, professionally, and prospectively. Cheers to Raquel to a bold new friendship ahead.

Most of all I cannot even convey how thankful I am to my husband Ted, who has come from a thousand miles away to rescue me, run my family, and glue me back together every time I break. Ted has been the breath of life reviving me each time I arrest. The work and commitment he has poured into this family and into me personally can’t be quantified, he has woven the fabric that this family is created from. Endless thanks and many more years of love and commitment as I walk by your side to the next journey.

This is where the book ends, and the website goes offline. This is the end. It is also the beginning. The pages between are filled with celebrations and anguish. We are different people than when we started our first entries. We are a year older, stronger, and wiser for all this has brought us. It wasn’t easy. I grew as a writer, I grew as a mother, and I grew as a wife. With trembling hands we started this journey, and as we close we accomplished what we set out, just not in the fantasy we had envisioned.

If you want to follow our next chapter, I haven’t yet prepared it. As a place holder you can find updates on instagram at stephanieh0we.

Now it’s time for me to stop chasing the fireflies.