Stephen’s Sanctuary: June 2024

Hey friends! 
Are you staying cool? Do you have to worry about cicadas? Does it feel like half the year is already over? What happened? Here’s what’s happened recently in my neck of the woods.
Going Home Again
This month I returned to one of my old haunts. I went back to perform at an open mic I went to once upon a time in my pre-cancer life. It felt surreal and also wonderful to have the worlds of the past & present collide . People who knew me back then and people who know me now in one room, supporting me. Sometimes you can go home again. If you’re able to have one of these types of experiences, I highly recommend it.    
The MO-vies
In this day & age, I’m thankful that we have the technology and the option to just stay home and watch movies. I can pause and go to the bathroom. I can pick my own food and drink. I can check stuff on my phone or work while it’s playing. I can decide “ah I’m not into this” and then switch to watching ’90s commercials on YouTube. At the same time, there’s something about a trip to the movie theater that’s still pretty golden. Especially the kind of arthouse small theaters that do cool events, fun themes for the month and screen cult classics that aren’t easily available on streaming services. I wish everyone had one of these within driving distance. It’s worth a trip.
Speaking of film – there’s a new documentary on Cyndi Lauper out there. Which led me to listening to ‘She’s So Unusual” (and her effervescent song from The Goonies soundtrack) for the billionth time. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” is probably one of the most overplayed and synced songs of my lifetime. And yet unlike a lot of songs that have been played a ton and used in a million movies, shows and commercials – somehow when I hear that opening synth whooooooosh ~!- it’s still like someone just gave me my morning coffee with a shot of espresso and a gummi shark in it. It’s just so damn joyful. it’s fun to see her and her band perform it in the moment when it was still fresh. They look and sound like they don’t wanna stop playing it. Do something unusual and have some fun this month, when your working day is done. 
Peace, love, empathy,

Stephen’s Sanctuary: May 2024

Hello friends. 
Did you see the northern lights? Did you take some cool pics? Did you get too tired and say “ehh I’ll just look at all the people who got a better vantage point post stuff tomorrow” like I did? There’s no shame in that. I needed a good night of sleep too. Here are a few things I did do, though.
Spring Cleaning
It’s funny to scavenge through old stuff. Sometimes you stumble onto things you don’t even remember ever owning. Some things have a sentimental hold on you that you can never quite erase. Though I don’t have kids myself, I do have some kids in my life and it was nice to hand some old toys down. Let the future generations enjoy these old books, toy cars and plush orcas.
Nostalgic Rabbitholes
Remember POGS? If you’re above or below a certain age, you probably don’t. But you have those weird things you haven’t thought about in a while. Something you used to play with or watch when you were a in middle school. Some commercial you couldn’t escape as a kid that makes you laugh now. Head down one of these nostalgic rabbitholes. Fire up something fun on YouTube at the end of a long day that helps you decompress. 
This song has been hitting me, as of late. It’s a guy who has always been charged and motivated by politcal activism taking stock of getting older and enjoying little domestic moments and being in love. Punks have to grow up and we can’t be activists 24 hours a day. It’s exhausting. Take a minute to enjoy listening for the sound of the sea in a big seashell, if you can.
Peace, love, empathy,

Stephen’s Sanctuary: April 2024

Hello, my friends. Come in. Have a seat. 

Thus far on this blog, I’ve mostly kept to things that I’m into, or that are helping me keep the anxiety at bay. 
  • Getting out of your comfort zone.
I know that this is the most obvious, well-worn advice and it sounds vague. But I think about this David Bowie quote frequently: “Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.” He was talking about this in the context of giving advice to young artists, but I feel like it can really apply to so many things in life. 
  • Returning to the comfort zone.
There’s a reason it’s called a comfort zone! It’s comfortable! Sometimes those words get a bad rap. They can be interpreted as complacency or as being too risk-averse. But who DOESN’T want to feel safe and comfortable? Maybe there’s a hobby you haven’t returned to in your adult years; it could be a movie you haven’t seen in forever, but loved in your childhood and adolescence. Maybe it’s a place you used to go to to. Why not take a trip back, whether physically or figuratively, and see if it can spark some fun again? It may not feel the same as it used to, but you might find yourself enjoying something in a new way all over again. 
Here’s one of my old comforting blankets. It’s been 30 years this week that Kurt Cobain passed away. An eagle-eyed reader or two of this blog may have noticed that my sign-off is directly inspired by him. I think peace, love and empathy are important things to hang onto. 
Peace, love, empathy,

Stephen’s Sanctuary: March 2024

Hello, my friends. Come in. Have a seat. 


I am currently waging the battle of man and coffee vs. daylight savings time. I hope you’re not feeling as thrown off as I am this week. Here are a few things that are helping me regain my equilibrium: 
  • Short day trips.
It’s a simple thing. You don’t need to go too far. Just finding a spot that’s within a 90 minute drive or so, if possible. Maybe it’s somewhere you haven’t been in a few years. Maybe there’s a friend in the area or someone who’s willing to come with or drive you. You don’t need an Airbnb. Just enough gas to get home and back. And a few dollars to enjoy a nice lunch, dinner or a treat. (Or a bag of red licorice scottie dogs.)  It really shakes up the routine of the week in a nice way. 
  • Decompression Television
I’m not talking about a TV show that you really look forward, are emotionally invested in or plan a certain night of the week around. I’m talking about the stuff that you can throw on while you’re working or as you wind down before bed. If it involves Gordon Ramsay yelling at people, shady bars being rescued or people proposing to strangers sight unseen, it’s probably been beamed into my eyeballs after a rough day. And it helps, as insane as that sounds after those brief descriptions. 
I’m enough. And I’m great at doing stuff. 
I hope you are all being good to yourselves, finding ways to decompress and realizing that you are enough. 
Peace, love, Ken-ergy,

Stephen’s Sanctuary: February 2024

Hey friends!


If you reside in the states that may or may not feel very united these days, these last few months have had some literal stormy weather. Whether you were checking your phone for Nor’easter, atmospheric river, cold wave or blizzard updates – we found ourselves indoors yet again relying on some creature comforts. Here’s a few that helped get me through the rain:


  • Blue – Joni Mitchell 

This album isn’t on Spotify anymore. Selfishly, that’s a shame because it means that “River” isn’t on my December holiday playlist anymore, but I don’t begrudge Joni that decision. Hey, we’ll always have YouTube. If you have a turntable handy, you have the warmth of a vinyl copy as an option. Her performance at the Grammys making me well up probably spurred my brain to move this one up on the Rainy Day Rotation recently, but it’s always a good one to come back to. 


  • The Goonies

Something else I found myself coming back to and enjoying yet again recently. Putting the childhood nostalgia aside, the filming locations for this being (mostly) in the Pacific Northwest really give this movie such a  rainy day feeling. It’s cinematic petrichor for me. Have you ever seen the deleted scene where Data fends off a giant octopus by playing some ’80s jam on a walkman? Here’s a fun detail if you don’t already know it: you can hear the director laugh/wheeze off-camera after Chunk’s “I told ya so! You never believe me!”  Just a helpful reminder that even some of the best movies and songs of all-time left some mistakes in there. 


  • Hot toddies
Years ago, a friend and I hit up a bar trivia night in December and he differed from his usual order to ask for a hot toddy. It suddenly sounded like the best idea ever. Since then, whenever those winter nights and sicknesses encroach (and boy were those encroaching more than ever this winter) I find myself wanting to make a hot toddy. If you’re a non-drinker – honestly – just the combination of hot water, lemon and honey is soothing and seems to help if your throat is struggling to make it through the day. 
I hope you had plenty of things to help you stay cozy and safe throughout whatever storms, literal and figurative, you had to endure this winter.  
Peace, love, empathy,