Monthly Archives: December 2017


surfacing by chuck aves
art credit: Chuck Aves

I decided I better write this out before I do my usual blog reading session this morning, because I know there will be a million stories from my fellow writers about the year behind and the year ahead. I want my words to at least feel original on their way out! So here we go:


This year has been one of the best years of my entire life, and I am not exaggerating. It has been a year of incredible self examination and change on a deep level. I am not the person I was 365 days ago, and I like this version of myself so much more. I put another year between me and the worst of my past, and so much of the fear and doubt and self loathing that I didn’t even know I was lugging around with me for so long, it has diminished. I am ending this year so much lighter than I started out- both lighter, as in carrying so much less, and lighter, less covered in darkness.  This year has been HARD, but it was work I needed to do, and I’m glad that I did. There is a calm place inside of me that I can almost always reach now, and there is a brake to slow me down where there never was before. I don’t have to escalate. I can hear myself. I am learning to mind my responses, that I don’t always have to react.

I lost someone that I love this year. It has been four months and four days since he died, and I think about him every single day. I thought about him every single day when he was alive, too. I don’t know what else I can say about this that I haven’t already written about here or here . A little bit of my heart, the only one who shared a lot of my favorite memories, and a really valued friend left the physical world, and I miss him. But I survived it, I stayed clean, and I learned how to grieve deeply, and that you can grow that way, too.

I feel like in 2017, I dived into the depths, and did some much needed exploration and learning. I brought light to places that had been dark for so, so long. I found places that had been forgotten, and brought them back into order. I have seen parts of myself I didn’t know existed, and know myself so much better now. I can look at myself from a different and kinder perspective, and it’s such a relief. But you can only stay under for so long.


Surfacing. Open. Curiosity. Interest. Joy. Inspiration. yes.

These words are the theme I have chosen for the year ahead. Of course, these words are MY choice, which means, if I get a vote, this is what mine will be. We don’t always get to choose.

If I do get to choose, however, I will have a year that is mostly lighthearted, and filled with love. I will have a year filled with appreciation of all that I have already, and all of the new things that will come into my world. There will be road trips, and plane flights, friendship and laughter. I am open to the possibility of love (you guys don’t even know how embarrassing that was for me to write. Definitely need to do some work in that area!) if it is easy and it fits- and if it is not easy, then it has to be worthy of working for.

My choice will be a year of connection, and togetherness, and bonding. I feel like I did so much solitary work this past year- it was good, and it SO needed to happen. But I am ready to venture out into the light of the great big beautiful world, and learn how to play with others. I want to go hiking, and to the flea market, and on day trips and weekend trips, play board games, get dressed up for dinner, and sit around in living rooms that aren’t my own, maybe, laughing until my sides ache. That is the kind of year I see for myself.

Now, don’t get me wrong- I have all of the usual resolutions, and maybe I will write more about them tomorrow. But today, I needed to state my intentions for the year to the Universe.

Last year was amazing. This year will be the best one yet. Happy New Year’s Eve, everybody.


Not a Magic Sprinkle Unicorn Kinda Day

angry unicorn

Lest you start to believe that I am some sort of woman on a beautiful island oasis of recovery, meditating peacefully, surrounded by a sea of serenity and singing mermaids, let me clear that shit right up for you; Example one? I give you this day:

-As usual, dragged my ass all morning, screwing around, reading YOUR blogs, judging everyone on Facebook, reading a silly little novel I picked up while Christmas shopping at Target. Then, naturally, go into full on panic mode when the coffee finally kicks in, and I realize I actually have to leave the house in 45 minutes. Which would be fine, if I knew where my pants were, or had, you know, showered. Fuck.

-Pull it all together in decent time, only to find that every single pair of shoes I wear to work are mysteriously missing. I still don’t know where the hell they are. I looked under the couch, under the bed, in the laundry pile, and yes, even in my hell pit of a closet. They are GONE. I finally unearthed some ridiculous spike heeled booties that make my ankles wobble and my feet ache, but at that point I was just grateful to have something to cover my feet.

-Show up for work four minutes late, not because I wasn’t there, but because those stupid shoes are so high, and so spiky, it took me nine minutes to walk through the parking lot and into the hospital. NINE MINUTES. Sitting at my desk, I realize that there is a very real possibility that one of my cats peed on my shoes. Something isn’t smelling right.

-Additionally, on top of all of the shoe drama, I have slammed my knee into a drawer, my face into a door, my fingers into both walls AND my desk, and snapped myself in the face with my scarf ( this hurts worse than you might think). I wore my glasses all day not realizing there was caramel (don’t even ask, because I don’t know) or some sort of candy filling, globbed onto the arm-therefore, it is now in my hair.

-I ate too much cheese over the past few days, and it has now become a whole different tummy issue. If you don’t know, you don’t want to know.

-I didn’t have time to meditate.

-I’m feeling a little grouchy, a lot tired, and I don’t even have anyone to blame it all on, other than myself and just a plain old shitty day.

On days like this, I have a hard time accessing my gratitude. Yeah, I’m not hiding out in my house with the blinds drawn, strung out and paranoid, but it’s really hard to live in constant awe of your beautiful life when you are right in the midst of normalcy. But you know what? That’s okay. I’m as normal as I’m ever going to get, and people have days when everything goes wrong.

Am I going to use over it? Hellllll no. That thought never, ever crossed my mind. It sure would have, once upon a time. Any excuse to throw the towel in, and I was all over it. But that is not who I am today. I can have a bad day- a day WAY worse than this one- and I can survive it. Today, I know I can. And I have enough days in a row behind me that I can say, with confidence, that tomorrow I’m going to make it too. Even if it’s worse than this stupid day.

Although I REALLY hope it isn’t. Now excuse me, I need to go change my shoes.

The Best Christmas Yet.

the best christmas yet


In the 42 years I have been on this planet, I have had all kinds of Christmases. I have had magical ones- lots of those, thanks to my mom, who REALLY pulled out all the stops every year to make it special for us kids. I have had terrible ones- I remember a year, when Aisley must have been about seven, when I had stayed up partying all night, and all of her presents were from the dollar store. Also, a guy I didn’t know was passed out on my living room floor, left there by his friend the night before when we couldn’t wake him up. We just stepped over him. That’s the kind of life I have lived.  I have had angry Christmases, and lonely ones, Christmas days filled with too much driving, too much fighting, and too much wishing I was somewhere else.

But I have never, ever, had a Christmas day when I was so overcome with gratitude as I listened to the sound of my family- all the people I love most in the world- chattering away and laughing in the living room behind me, that I broke down in tears. Not just a pretty little drop or two as I brushed garlic butter onto bread, but full on, “Oh shit, Courtney, this is not the time for a breakdown” kinda tears. Sobs, you might even say. I don’t know how to describe it to you, the way I was feeling, except for that worn out word, grateful. So, so, so full of gratitude that it hurt a little bit.

Because that, that feeling that I had, that sent tears pouring out of my eyes, and my mother rushing to hug me- that, my friend, is what recovery is. All the meetings that I make and the stepwork that I do, all the self reflection and correction and digging deep and starting over, forgiving myself, forgiving others, all the TRYING. All of the never taking anything, no matter what- THAT is what I have been searching for, and striving for, and wanting in my life and heart all along. That feeling of peace. That feeling of love, and belonging, and contentment and family. I have been really working a 12 step program for two and half years straight, but I have been trying to be where I was yesterday my entire adult life. My whole life.

If you are reading this, and you are new in recovery, I want to encourage you to stay the course. Don’t give up. There were times in the beginning when I was more miserable than I had been when I was using. I had zero coping skills, nothing left to take the edge off, and my brain was fucked up, even if I couldn’t come to terms with that at the time. My temper was as short fused as ever, and goddammit, I got clean so that I could stop being so hateful, but it didn’t seem to be working. If this sounds familiar, just wait. Just find whatever small improvements you do see, and hold onto them. Know that it will change.

When I had about a year clean, I got really mad at my mom, for a good long while. She didn’t do anything wrong, and I didn’t understand it- I hated it, actually. I was afraid that I was going to stay mad forever, and it scared me. But I had faith that I was working through old shit, feeling feelings that I should have felt a long time ago, and I held on. I kept pushing forward, inch by inch. One day, I looked for the anger that I had almost gotten used to lugging around with me, and I found that it had faded. Day after day, it lessened, leaving me surprised by what took its place- love, warmth, affection, acceptance. Yesterday, I can tell you, I did not have one single weird feeling where my mom is concerned. I never felt judged or criticized, picked on or even remotely insulted. The reason I am telling you this is because relationships change in recovery. You will change, and they will change.

Every single person in my house yesterday has been hurt by me in my addiction. Every. Single. One. I just now realized that. Wow. How blessed am I, that I get to make a living amends to these people? That they have forgiven me? That they still love me, that they are so proud of me? I literally would not have ANY of it if I wasn’t clean. I wouldn’t have it, and I wouldn’t even know that I wanted it. I would still be trying to fill that hole in my spirit with all the wrong things, wondering why everything hurt so much.

Listen, I want everyone to be able to feel the way I felt yesterday. If you have reached the end of your rope, and you need some help figuring out what to do next, shoot me an email. I will try to help you figure out a solution., or just message me here.  And again, if you are new in recovery, I promise you- the pain will be worth the gain. It will be worth every second.

This Christmas…



I am sitting here, at 5:24 a.m. on Christmas Eve, full of excitement and nerves. In just a little while, my oldest daughter and her boyfriend, who may as well be my third child, are going to be here to spend the night and wake up on Christmas morning with our little family (EXCITED!). Tomorrow, my mom, stepdad, and uncle are coming here, to MY house, to spend the day and have Christmas dinner…HERE. With ME! (NERVOUS!)

I am going to have a house full of the most important people in my life, and I could just cry over how happy it makes me. Every single year before this, I either had to drive three hours to spend a hurried Christmas at my late Grandparent’s home, or I opted out, and stayed home, missing everyone. I know that not every year will be this way- sometimes I am going to have to go to them. But this year, I made my mind up to stay home, and I wasn’t going to budge. And I am so happy that everyone is coming here. My uncle never goes ANYWHERE, so this is a really big deal!

I want to make it as special and warm and happy as I can for everyone, and lets be real- I am not exactly the hostess of the year. I’ve been known to run and hide in the bathroom when someone unexpectedly shows up at my door. Or stay very, very still until they go away. So I keep finding myself getting bunched up with anxiety, worried about the state of my home (i’ll be cleaning like crazy for most of today) or how small my house is, or how shoddy and fur covered my couch is, or…but you know what?

None of that stuff matters. If it matters to certain other people (cough-my mom-cough) then I need to remember that that is her shit, not mine. My job is to do the best I can, but more than that, to enjoy my family. So that is what I am going to do. I have managed, for the first time in my life, to make it through this hectic season with love in my heart and a smile on my face. I have been as generous and thoughtful and kind as I know how to be- even when no one was around to witness it. I have kept my program of recovery in mind, and tried to behave accordingly because I want to be a good example- this one fell flat many times, but the point is, I am trying. REALLY trying. Because I want so much to have a happy life, not just a happy Christmas.

But really, what it comes down to is this: I have decided I WILL have a wonderful Christmas, so that is what I have set about creating. I can’t absolutely control the outcome- first of all, no one ever can do that, and secondly, control is the very thing I am working on relinquishing- but I have done all the things I can, both inside of me and out, to invite the best outcome. And I have made up my mind to enjoy whatever comes.

One thing I know for sure is that my family has given me the best gift of all just by agreeing to show up. I feel pretty freaking loved.  Which makes it SO much easier to get into the Christmas Spirit, you know? It stopped being about what was under the tree for me a LONG time ago. Sometimes, it wasn’t about anything, and I couldn’t feel much besides stress and irritation, relief when it was all over. But this year- this year is very different. I think for the first time ever, my head is clear enough, my heart healed enough, that I can access the things that matter most of all during the holidays- Love, Family, Peace, Hope.  It’s been such a long road for me, but I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s so nice to be right where I am.

I hope all of you get to have something like this feeling I have today. If not today, then very soon. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays.




I have had the best week ! I got all of my laundry done- not just washed and dried, but folded and put away, too- do you know what a big deal that is? Maybe you don’t, because you are one of those freaks who does this regularly (not that I am judging you, I’m trying hard not to) so allow me to tell you- it’s monumental. I actually asked several people for socks for Christmas, believing that mine had all mysteriously disappeared…well, SURPRISE! I was wrong. My sock drawer is now so full of matched (you heard me, MATCHED and FOLDED NEATLY) socks that I can barely close it. I’m going to have to throw some of the old ones out after Christmas if my wishes all come true.

Okay, enough about laundry, though. I also had a super productive week at work, I have almost every bit of my Christmas business tied up, I managed to pray and meditate every day this week, and I have eaten like a reasonable person, rather than say…Jabba the Hut. I also made time to exercise every single day. Even hit a few meetings so far. What, what?! ‘Who is this person?’ you may find yourself wondering. I know I may have wondered myself a little bit.

I didn’t just come here to write about what a great week I have had. I wanted to share a couple of things with you about why I am here now, and I wish I could say “Oh, you know, I sat down one evening with a pen and paper, and took an honest inventory of some things that needed fine tuning in my life. I made a list of pros and cons…” NO. That would not be what happened, nor what has EVER happened for me. The way my life works, I change things when I am truly miserable, and usually not before. Being the addict that I am, and will always be, I can be pretty devoted to my discomfort- until it gets too bad, and then I say “Okay, enough is enough.” I did it with drugs, I did it with cigarettes (not quite as cleanly, but still), I have done it with relationships, and I do it again and again with things in my life that are not working. The pain of staying the same becomes greater than my fear of change, and I jump.

And again, being the addict that I am, it is generally all or nothing. If I am doing well in one area, I tend to excel in all the other areas as well. If I am doing poorly in one way, the other ways are sure to follow. This can be a double edged sword. I am still a work in progress, trying to figure out how to have big meal, miss a day of exercise, and not let my entire life go to shit over it. I am getting better. All the time, I see proof that I am.

Last weekend, I had had enough. I was eating SO badly- ever since Thanksgiving, really, and I had gained a few pounds, had been “too busy” to get to the gym or make any meetings, was crawling into bed earlier and earlier every night. None of these bode well for me. So, last Saturday, I made a decision- I was going to do better. I was going to make a real effort to correct my behavior this week. And you know what? I did.

That is the most crucial step- putting your intentions into action. Thinking about change, making up your mind to change…none of that means anything without action. So I really put my back into it this week, and I have had one of the most productive, amazing, self-confidence building weeks I’ve had in a long, long time. Will it last? I guess that kind of depends on me. It is always up to us, isn’t it? When you are really on your way, outside issues (and there will always be things that crop up, trying to fuck with your serenity and peace) won’t knock you completely off course. It’s really up to you. Try not to let this frighten you. Instead, when you get rolling, let the momentum of your happiness, your feeling of pride over what you are accomplishing, pull you forward. Let your excitement snowball. It’s a good way to be.

Here’s the thing, and I am speaking to my fellow addicts in recovery here- or even those who may not have found their way there yet; When you get clean, you have the opportunity to reinvent yourself. You can be WHOEVER, WHATEVER, and live HOWEVER you choose to. There are no limits aside from those you place upon yourself. If you are capable of slipping out of the noose of active addiction, you are MORE than capable of having a life far more fantastic than anything your brain can even come up with right now. That’s okay- go as far as you can, the re-evaluate. Two and a half years ago, when I first started this leg of my journey, all I wanted was to stop hating myself, and stop hurting the people I loved.  I just wanted to stop flipping out all the time, and learn how to be “normal”. I know, of course, that normal doesn’t exist, but I’ve gotten so much more, so much farther than I ever dreamed. And I’m still just starting out.

So here’s the assignment: Grasp the idea that you are free to be whomever you wish, and think about who that might be. Start doing the things that will get you there. If it doesn’t feel good, do something else. Never be afraid to change, especially if it is hurting you to stay who you are. I wish you all the happiest of holidays!



The Fleeting Nature of Life

I have changed by leaps and bounds over the past two and a half years. Some of it was just by nature of staying off of drugs and letting my brain heal, but a lot of it was intentional and through hard, hard work, deep soul-searching, and honest reflection about the kind of person I am and who I want to be.

I am doing the recovery stuff- working with my sponsor, doing step-work, going to meetings. I am doing spiritual stuff- daily prayer and meditation. I have a therapist, I pay attention to my behavior, and try to reign it in when the way I am acting doesn’t jibe with the person I know I can be.

But nothing- and I mean NOTHING- can shake you up, nothing can clear the cobwebs out of your eyes, like the sudden loss of someone you love. I have never been more heartbroken in my life than I have since last August. That was when I lost my friend Joe, whom I loved so much more than I can even begin to explain, and even if I did, it wouldn’t make sense. That’s okay, though. Love doesn’t need to make sense, right? I always think about the way that most people get on my nerves, their frail human side is always coming to light, ruining everything. His never did. He never got on my nerves, like, not ever that I can remember. I am not trying to say that he didn’t have a bad side, that he never disappointed me or hurt my feelings, because he definitely did. He was just so easy for me to forgive. I wish I could love more people that way, but I haven’t yet (aside, of course, from my kids, but that is a different kind of thing altogether).

Anyway, he died. And it was one of the hardest days of my life, one of the worst phone calls I have ever survived. I remember that my knees just buckled, and I fell on the floor, the tears came in a torrent, and the grief was immediate and overwhelming. There have been lots of tears since then, and lots of times that I am totally fine. I can think of him or talk about him, and it makes me smile or laugh, no tears at all. As long as, you know, I don’t think too hard about what I am saying.

But what has happened as a result of him dying is, I have changed. I thought he was invincible. I know how stupid that sounds, but if you’d ever met Joe, you would understand why.  So, now that he is gone, I guess I view everything with more urgency, through the scope, I suppose, of someone who understands that life as I know it could change in an instant.

You might think that this would make me fearful, or hold on even more tightly to everything than I already do, but no…in a way, it has been a gift. Because I have had to face the fact that there is absolutely nothing I can do about some things. When it is your time, it is your time, plain and simple. Rather than making me cling to everything, I find myself learning to let go. Life is short. You had better enjoy every beautiful moment that makes itself available to you. Tell people you love them. Dance, be present, look up at the stars and the moon in the beautiful sky. Slow down. Say yes when you want to, and no when you should.

Don’t waste a bunch of time on petty anger, rushing through your day, always trying to get to the next thing, the next thing, the next thing. Take a moment to realize that this, right now, is your life. It is happening NOW. Maybe you are lucky, like me, and you are still relatively young, and your whole body works the way it is supposed to, and you can basically do anything you want to do. Do you realize how lucky that makes you? Don’t waste it. Don’t waste a single minute of it.

And that is all I have to say about that today. Carry on.