1 Comment

My Heart Aches – Words for the Best Dad

I would not call this my best writing, though I did do better sharing this at the funeral service than what is written here. Still, I’m having a rough day and it feels good to share the eulogy I wrote for my Dad.

My heart has a hole in it. A hole John Stewart filled when I was not even 8 years old. John Stewart came into my life to be a Dad. He didn’t assume that he was my Dad, but he was going to be a “Dad” as much as I would let him. The smartest thing young Molly ever did was to let Mr. Stewart, John, become John-Dad. He shaped me into a better person, and he taught me to drive when it was impossible for anyone else to do it. He imparted his love of James Bond movies, and took me to countless car shows. He taught me that Porsche is two syllables, not one. He listened without judgment, and he gave advice. He taught me not to slam doors (specifically car doors, of course), to turn out lights, to take responsibility for my actions, and that the only and best changes I make in life start and end with me.

Dan and I were lucky enough to entice him to Philadelphia on two occasions.  The last time was for our wedding. My Dad was always my rock – cool in situations when I was a mess or (furious), and leading up to the wedding, he was the same as always. When it came time to walk me down the aisle, though, I saw a side of Dad that I had never seen before. He was more nervous than I was! He was shaking and could barely speak when asked who was giving me away. I could almost feel his heart bursting on that day – he was that happy and full of love for us.


We were married on Halloween 2015, and we had a costume wedding. The wedding party was changing into costumes after the ceremony, and Dad was keeping his costume top secret. I didn’t see Dad when we were announced and entered the dance floor, though I knew he had to be nearby since parents were going to be announced soon too. And, I’ll never forget that hilarious moment when John Stewart, my Dad, showed up as Stuart, the minion. Stuart was a blast – dancing the night away and charming everyone, most of all, me. Even in character, he couldn’t help but be the one and only, most charming John Stewart. Guests of the wedding, whether they knew my Dad before or not, all remember the minion.

Dad was memorable. He charmed the Honda employee at the Honda Heritage Museum so much that he scored a spot in a Honda plant tour just in October. Dad tried to tell me I was the memorable one who helped him score this because this young woman “remembered he was with his daughter” but I knew the truth. My Dad was the one who left an impression. As my husband noticed when we went to a car meet with Dad on Labor Day weekend, “he knew everybody there, so it’s hard to know who I met that day.” But did he know everyone? Or was it more that there are no strangers to him? He made lots of friends, this room and the outpouring we’ve seen in the last week are evidence. It’s touching to hear the stories, the care he spread around. He taught me so much about love and acceptance, and he continues to do so now.

To call my dad a “car enthusiast” is an understatement. He also enjoyed photography, so he could record all the beautiful and interesting cars he had seen over the years. He was the family photographer too, making sure that we sat still long enough to capture the moment forever. It meant a lot to him to record those moments with family, and I’m only now realizing how precious that is. My only sadness for that is that we don’t have more photos of him since he was so often behind the camera. He became an avid roller derby fan – as a result of me playing the sport – and he would send me article clippings long after I stopped playing roller derby. He had a box full of programs, articles, and more from my roller derby “career” – even a framed poster on his wall. He was StingRay’s (that was me) number one fan – pretty much the same role he played through my entire life.

Which brings me to this – I kept staring at what I’ve written and shared with you today…for hours I struggled with it. It isn’t good enough. There isn’t enough I can say or write to be good enough…to do my Dad’s life justice. He was a bright star in this world, and there are no words to express all that he was to everyone. I can barely express all that he was to me. John Stewart chose me as his kid, and he never stopped loving me fiercely. I wish I could have one last hug, but I’ll take the new guardian following me around now. I’m sorry I wasn’t more brilliant in my words dedicated to my dad. There was a hole in my heart when I was a kid, and John Stewart filled it and became my Dad. That place in my heart aches, but it will never be a hole again after him. That place in my heart is where my Dad will be forever.



Today I looked in the mirror

Why does it matter today? Don’t we look in the mirror every day? Yes, but, today, I looked in the mirror during yoga. And I was amazed by and loving what I saw.

When I think of myself doing yoga, I do think of those other times, through the years, when I caught a glimpse of my body pretending it can do yoga. Do yoga. Where I am now with my yoga journey, that sounds funny. But, for years, I “did yoga” and I had a notion about body type doing yoga. So silly. Not a waif or a dancer or any type I thought should be doing yoga. Because I thought there was a type. But my soul knew better, and I never gave up on it completely. I kept searching.

I never knew you could close your eyes and lose yourself in yoga. Doing yoga meant a watchful eye on the instructor at all times. God forbid if I got off track or didn’t follow along exactly. Kundalini yoga was my first experience of yoga that took me out of doing. Go inward. Close your eyes and listen to the guidance. No different than meditation except I’m moving, and though I’m being guided, it’s more about letting my body take me where it needs to go. I demand so much of my body. Yoga is nourishment for my hard working and dedicated body.

Yoga has become mostly inward reflecting. I know it as the kindest thing I do for my body, but that’s also because I stopped trying to DO yoga. I was at the end of a tough week today, and I was harried when I arrived a mere 1 minute before class. I had emails to answer and work to get back to, but I needed yoga. I would not miss it today.

I’ll give​ credit – Josh has guided me to stability and balance in classes before. I wasn’t surprised when my tree was stronger than it had been in months. I set an intention of balance thinking of the hectic work I walked away from to make the 7 am class. It came through powerfully on the form of a strong tree that simultaneously felt as light as a feather. But, my tree pose was not what gave me pause today.

I looked in the mirror. It occurred to me to check my warrior 2. Are my shoulders relaxed? My arms even? So I looked. And I loved what I saw. I’m not a waif or a dancer but I finally didn’t believe that was necessary to practice yoga. I looked in the mirror and I was strong and confident – a woman holding a pose that would follow me through the day. I would be the confident warrior for the rest of the day. I stared a little longer. When did I become so powerful in my poses? I remember. I didn’t become powerful. I always was. My mind and what “should be” we’re what held me back. I felt elated and I snuck a few more glances into the mirror.

Was I being vain? No. I was surprised at what I saw and needed to know it was real. I had moved beyond what should be and let my body be in control when I practiced. And, my body liked it. My soul craved it. My mind forgot to question and finally accepted.

I looked in the mirror today and I (finally) loved what I saw. Sat nam.

Too soon to say goodbye

After nearly 7 years of being out of touch, I found you again through Facebook. Sometimes social media serves a positive purpose and finding you was definitely positive. We wrote emails that made me smile and happy to know you again. You wrote that you felt the same. How cool that it seemed like no time had passed. You were every bit the kind soul I remembered you to be. I invited you to my wedding. I knew it might be difficult for you to make it but I hoped. Our friendship had been so special to me and I wanted it to resume.
Our friendship years before had been fun, funny, and sweet. You were fiercely loyal, accepting, and loving. I loved our time spent together. We would go out dancing, laugh about boys, and have meaningful conversations about, well, everything.
You had strong beliefs based on your own struggles in life and I admired that you put action behind those beliefs. When a confusing change to the state constitution limited marriage in the state of Ohio, you continued to fight. One of my favorite memories is us marching with Stonewall Columbus in support of marriage equality. It was bitterly cold but your determination kept me in the march. I’m so happy you lived to see marriage equality happen. You deserved to see it. I just wish you had lived to exercise that freedom you fought for so peacefully and passionately.
Stunned. What am I reading? Facebook making me angry, sad, upset again. It can’t be true. You can’t be gone. We just renewed our friendship. And you’re so young. My sister’s age. My emails had been less regular lately. I was busy and now there will be no more emails. You won’t be at my wedding and we won’t catch up on my next visit to Cbus. Terrible, unexpected things happen and, in this case, it took my sweet and beloved friend. I’m grateful we had these last few months of reconnection.
I miss you. I think of you in complete peacefulness. All the kindness you brought to this world living on in the lives you touched while you were here. I love you, Brian. You will always be a friend I think on fondly with that love. Since it’s too soon to say goodbye, I’ll simply say Peace.

Free Writing Exercise

I didn’t ask for this.

I’ve done so well in my asking. This. I didn’t ask for this.

I called on the universe for many things, and the changes have come.

I love change. I embrace change. I am change. Am I changing my mind about change? I didn’t ask for this.

I can’t say the universe doesn’t oblige. I shouldn’t try to define. I should define what I’m asking for more precisely. I’m learning. I didn’t ask for this.

I ride my bike. I have friends. I laugh. I achieve. I question. I succeed. I fail. I didn’t ask for this.

My mind swims. My heart expands. I love. I loathe. I desperately need to stop feeling the loathing. I hug. I want to love. I want to succeed with love. I did ask for this. I just had to learn.

I am me. I am proud to be me. I am true to me. I am true to those I love. I don’t speak my mind. I used to speak my mind. I did ask for some of it. What else do I need? I deserve to ask for what I need.

Universe! I know better. You listen. You deliver. It’s exactly what I ask for. I have to learn how to ask. I have to learn my  heart’s desire. I can ask for it all. I deserve it all.

I cry. I don’t usually cry but I cry a lot now. It’s the universe talking to me. Stop crying. ASK. Just ask for it all. You learned. You know how to ask. Do it again, but do it knowing.

I am afraid. I worry I will lose what I asked for. I did ask for this, but I got a whole lot more. Confusion. Heartache. Follow my heart. Follow my soul. Laugh at the fear. Embrace it. I will hold hands with my fear and ask for all I deserve. Universe. I deserve what I asked for and what I’m asking for now.

A young girl believed happiness was compartmentalized. I’m no longer as young. Still young. Still able to live life to the fullest. No compartments. Just me and all I am asking for. The next step is here.

I did ask for this. I am grateful. Relationships have made me better. People have filled my heart. People have strengthened my resolve. People help me see who I am. I am not afraid…at this minute. Be strong. Be me. I love me. I love the people who have helped me stay true. Thank you. I am grateful.

I am confused. Less so than I was 20 years ago, but it’s still there. I am invincible…for this moment. Love makes me invincible. I am loved and I love and it sets me free. Clear mind, clear future. I’m not there yet. The next step has been waiting for how long? Years? yes, at least a year. I know I lie to myself and it has been longer. The Universe let me revel in what I asked for and received. It’s not enough. It’s time for more. It’s time to ask for more.

I want to tell people how amazing they are. The friends, the allies, the supporters. You are amazing. We are even more amazing together. I want to tell the naysayers what they are missing. You are wasting precious energy. You could create love and be amazing too. I have succumbed to our nays. I am tired. I want to exalt the amazing friends, allies, and supporters. They deserve it. We deserve it.

I’m getting married. Finally, ha. I didn’t ask for this…until 3ish years ago. I will marry my true love. I will be surrounded by love on my favorite day. We will have something I thought impossible when I was a child. Or did I? We will have the love i saw between my grandparents. He will never accept my indecisiveness when I shop. I will never accept…I can’t even think of anything. Love is not knowing what annoys you when writing freely. All you think of is love, understanding, and acceptance.

When I say thank you, you know who you are. My loves that is. I use the term rather loosely. All the love I share in this world. You know who you are. You lift me up. I hope to reciprocate. You are the forces whispering take the next step. Ask for your heart’s desire while you can. You deserve it. We deserve it.

The Cowardly Lion

Cat projecting like a lion

“This is probably the only opportunity you’ll have in your life to jump off a cliff into water in total darkness. We call it the Leap of Faith.” My adrenaline is pumping from hours of adventure inside this cave, as I’m listening to our guide, Rossano, explain the next obstacle ahead of us. I’m having so much fun that I don’t even realize I’m second in line for this “Leap of Faith.” The guy in front of me points to where he is jumping, lights out, and we hear a splash below. Rossano’s light comes back on, and it’s suddenly my turn.

“Point to where you’re jumping.” I point, and the panic sets in as Rossano is about to turn out the light.

“I don’t think I can do this.”

“Yes you can. It’s too late. You’re this far. Now point again and go.”

I point, lights go out, and I jump. Fear dissipates and is replaced by exhilaration as I get a nose full of water and paddle up to the top. This was the only part of our Puerto Rico caving adventure where I wavered and I needed Rossano’s words to help screw up the courage to go. Somehow, courage is something so easily found when faced with a physical challenge like this one, but Rossano’s words ring true in nearly every situation where courage is needed to go for it.

“Yes you can. It’s too late. You’re this far.” Even the idea of pointing in the direction where we were jumping is metaphoric for the path of life. If I pick a direction, I point, and go, it may take some courage but fear will be replaced by something else soon enough. Whether it’s accomplishment or the lesson learned to do things differently the next time, finding the courage to just go is always better than allowing the paralysis of fear to set in.

After I contemplated inspiration and how I was struggling to find it lately, I turned my attention to thoughts of courage. Why could I jump off a cliff inside a pitch black cave, yet I succumb to fear, in the form of complacency, in everyday life? Courage is that which helps us conquer fear. Does this make courage akin to love? I say yes and it’s rooted in the cultivation of self love. Having courage to do what scares you most is an act of great self love. I was using meditation and yoga to take the inward journey to find what makes my heart sing. I stepped away from both, and I told myself the comfortable excuse that I didn’t have time. It does me no good to just stand on the edge of the cliff in the dark cave. It’s too late. I’ve gone too far. It’s time to jump in.


Insert Inspirational Quote Here

I started contemplating inspiration today, or rather, the current lack I am experiencing. Inspiration can be made into a grandiose (& sometimes fickle) ideal, but the reality is that daily inspiration is necessary. That’s why lacking inspiration can be so frustrating. Inspiration brings productivity, fulfillment, and innovation. Without it, the proverbial rut materializes turning thoughtful, creative people into zombies who have forgotten why they do what they do. Routine is normal and has its benefits but how do I marry inspired living with routine? Spoiler alert, I know the answer but knowing and doing are far from the same.
As I walked to lunch, I ruminated on the keys to keeping inspiration alive and well in my daily life. Be present. Value and nurture connection. Always be learning. Be grateful (seriously, not the BS style but the gratitude that reminds you how awesome it is to be alive and experiencing something new every day). I’m defining what each of these things mean and what I need to do to (re)spark my inspiration when I arrive at my lunch destination, Chipotle. I never intended anyone to know of my lunching at Chipotle today and then this whole thought process started and that sneaky and elusive bitch, inspiration, had to teach me a lesson. Apparently lack of inspiration isn’t my problem so much as my (temporary) blindness to inspiration. Chipotle puts stuff on the bags to read. My bag was a lesson in alchemy from Paulo Coehlo. I’ve read Paulo Coehlo before, and I find him very inspirational, so I settled in with my sofritas bowl and started reading.


Yep, I spilled sofritas on it while reading

First I smiled than I wanted to cry but I held the tears because, you know, I’m in Chipotle during the lunch rush in center city Philadelphia. So, yeah, all those things I know just sort of happened to remind me that inspiration lurks everywhere. Chipotle and Paulo Coehlo reminded me that I have new and inspired ways of living life that come with age and experience. Now, as long as I keep learning, I’ll be just fine.

Sometimes the best friends in life are fluffy

When I was 19, I told everyone it was time for me to get my own cat. I grew up with cats and, clearly, 2 years into college is the time to take on the responsibility of a living thing. My roommate and boyfriend at the time took my declaration to heart and gifted me this fluffball with eyes on my 20th birthday.


At first, I was unsure. I would have never chosen a long haired kitten. She was flea and ear mite infested and her ears were way too big for her body.


But, that little kitten was never unsure. She was the most certain creature I ever met, and on that first meeting, she knew I was her human. She claimed me as her own, conquering a portion of my heart just for her. Because the bf at the time had gifted her, naming was an ordeal. Finally, we settled on Haley. Though, it’s also quite possible that was always her name, and it took us that long to discover it.


This is the face I got for our 18th anniversary

My birthday in July marked 18 years together for me and Haley. In the very early hours of this morning, I said my last goodbye to one of the best friends I’ve ever had. Haley was a tiny cat with huge presence. Few people possess the kind of self assurance Haley exuded so easily. She lived through my worst years, and she was still my best pal. She expected more pampering in her later years, but she earned it. This little kitty lived a full life completely on her terms. She may have used up her 9 lives in the process, but she still made it to 18.


She loved her annual salon visits

Roof climber, rain soaked party crasher, extreme alpha, poison ivy carrier, art model, party cat, lover of humans named Dan, costume contest winner, calendar girl, mad sh!tter, morning alarm, most popular at every vet office, charcuterie connoisseur, my fluffy bff
This list of who Haley was doesn’t even cover all the fictional personas created for this big personality feline: high powered business cat, med school dropout, beer snob, vampire, Satan’s little kitty, the most diva of divas


When Haley was diagnoses with renal failure in 2013, I knew it was the beginning of the end. I also know some cats can live for years in renal failure. I still believed my bff would stay with me through our 20 year anniversary. I’m grateful for 18 years with this exceptional spirit. As Dan & I came to terms with the worst decision ever about Haley, I held her in my arms and couldn’t believe she was that sick. Her eyes were the same eyes that I’d woken up to countless mornings. Her fur was soft and she seemed more comfortable than I had seen her all week, or perhaps several weeks. Haley & I had some agreements though, and she was letting me know. My loud complainer had barely made a peep since we had put her in the car and brought her into the emergency vet clinic. Her weight was down to 3.8 pounds, and her fight was gone. Just one day earlier, she was being her sassy self at the vet’s office. How could this change so suddenly? But it did, and it wasn’t a complete surprise when her blood work showed her “off the charts” for every kidney related indicator. We had to let her go. It was time to say goodbye.

Farewell, sweet Boo. I imagine you and Joni back together in a cat puddle embrace. Perhaps now Comet annoys you less. You, little kitty, big presence, have left an indelible paw print on my heart.