Posted in advice, family, Life, Mental Health, mental illness, Musings, People, random, social media

If You See Something, SAY Something

Last Sunday evening, I was sitting, sun burnt and happy, in this very chair, scrolling through Facebook when I saw an alarming post in a women’s group I’m in. “There’s an active shooter at the Gilroy Garlic Festival-local birds, please check in so we know you’re okay.”

I thought surely there must be some mistake. I mean, that is twenty minutes away from my house! I had almost gone this year for the first time ever, but we opted not to for whatever arbitrary reason. I quickly jumped onto a local news site, and sure as hell, it was true.  Right here, practically in my neighborhood.

It was just a short time ago that I was frantically messaging my friend Stephanie in Virginia Beach after a man there opened fire in a government building where he worked. That was right there, right in her town. She couldn’t believe it was happening in her hometown.

Yesterday, I was at Jiffy Lube, getting my oil changed, when I was alerted that there was a mass shooting in a busy Walmart in El Paso, packed with families getting back to school supplies. The stories I read were from people who were just grabbing unattended children and running for their lives…There was one other man in the waiting room at the oil change place with me. “There’s been another shooting.” I said, “In El Paso.” “Huh.” he said, and went back to his magazine.

This morning, I woke up to find there was another shooting, this time in Ohio. I haven’t read the news about it yet. I will, but I don’t really need to. I can make an educated guess that it was a white male, most likely in his late teens or early 40’s, though not always. He probably doesn’t like people who aren’t the same color as him. Maybe I’m wrong, but probably not. Chances are, he’s been posting something somewhere- maybe Reddit, maybe Facebook, Instagram, or some other, less well-known, more “white nationalist” flavored site. This will come out after the fact, as it always does.

I’m not even going to go into my feelings about how our current administration (and by that, make no mistake that I am pointing directly at the so-called leader here) is fueling the fires of racial tension with his behavior and words. If you can’t see that, I won’t be able to convince you otherwise.

What I want to talk about is this: Right now, there is going to be an upsurge in the same outcry we have heard time and time and time again- GUN CONTROL! We need GUN CONTROL! When are THEY going to DO SOMETHING?!

Kids, I hate to break it to you, but “They” are clearly not gonna do shit. We are on our own here. It is you, and your neighbors, and your communities full of people you love, children, elderly, families, teenagers, outcasts and recluses- all of US, against a few bad and dangerous, sick, volatile few.

It is up to US.

If you see something, SAY SOMETHING.

If someone you know posts something online that could be a joke, but also might not be- it is your responsibility to bring it to the attention of someone who can help.

If your SON is troubled and you worry about what is going on with him, maybe he says things you don’t support and he’s a little more angry than usual, but he’s your son, and you know he would never…it is your responsibility to step in.

It might be nothing. You might feel stupid, and like a snitch, and worry about making trouble for someone for no good reason. With nothing but love, I tell you this: Fuck that. This is no time for giving people the benefit of the doubt. Innocent people are literally being gunned down while they eat calamari at food festivals, while they wait for the next band to come on, while they buy their kids wide rule paper at Wal Mart. If there is even one billionth of a chance that you could somehow prevent the next slew of pointless deaths, you better jump on it.

In this weird era of disconnection from not only our neighbors but our loved ones- often loved ones living under the same roof- I think all this violence is a very good reason to reacquaint ourselves with our surroundings. Check up on your adult children. Make sure they are doing okay. Sit down with your high school kids, find out what is going on- REALLY going on- in their lives. Reach out to your neighbors. If you are like me, you probably know three or four people on your block, and only remember one of their names. We need to be better neighbors, better parents, better friends, and better community members. Because we are the eyes and ears. If we paid attention, maybe we could slow down these events. If we used our voices, if we spoke up when something made us worry or didn’t seem right, maybe we could save some lives.

I’m not placing the blame on anyone for these things except for where it belongs- squarely on the shoulders of the people shooting these guns. Ultimately, they are responsible. But the things THEY have heard and the way they interpret that information matters. And the people surrounding them, the people who know them, who read what they write and hear what they say, they matter too. Do not be afraid to speak up.

If you fucking see something, SAY SOMETHING. No one is coming to save us.

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Posted in Addiction, adventure, family, friendship, happiness, Life, Musings, People, recovery

Beautiful

beautiful

The past five years of my life have been a trip and a half, honestly.

When I moved into this house, four years and four months ago, I was at the end of the worst relapse I had probably ever had- it only lasted five months, but it was a doozy. So much so that I can’t even remember the sequence of events prior to its beginning. How long was I clean before that? I dunno. It might have been a year? Nine months? Really, I’m just not sure. The years between 2011 and 2015 were a messy patchwork quilt of good days and bad days, struggle and victory, way way up and down down down.

Ugh, I’m so sick of talking about that part of my life. I really am. But, you know, it’s part of what makes my life so incredibly beautiful today, so I can’t leave it out completely. A month after I moved in here- on April 15th, 2015- I used my drug of choice for the very last time. The night before, I’d had a terrible fight with my sister and my daughter, and I knew I was out of control, but I was so fucking angry that I couldn’t seem to control myself. The next morning I went to work and I was NOT OKAY. I remember sitting at my desk, barely holding it together. Someone said something to me- “Not having the best day, huh?” or “Someone’s having a rough morning.”, and I couldn’t, I just could not possibly hold in my tears anymore. I remember crying in the bathroom stall, shaking and trying so hard to get my heart to slow down. I knew I needed to do something drastic, and that it had to be TODAY. There was no more putting it off. The fears I had about being found out were suddenly not nearly as big as my desperation for help.

Ask anyone in recovery, they will tell you- desperation is an addicts saving grace in moments like that. Desperation is the friend who helps you find your way out of the mess you are in. And so, just like that, I started over. It wasn’t a new thing- dear Lord, I’d done it a million times before. But this time, it stuck.

For the next several years, and you know this already if you’ve been following along for a while- I went through some intense shit. I had no idea at all what a “normal life” was supposed to look or feel like, I had no idea how to function as an adult woman. Everything from the way I paid my bills to the things I understood about relationships was dysfunctional and…for lack of a better description, fucked up.

Even though I was clean, my life did not magically improve overnight. Lots of things in my life got better and easier, but I did not stop using drugs and voila! – life was suddenly perfection. Nope. If I’m being honest, if anything, it kinda got worse. It’s sort of that thing where, when you are deep cleaning your house, and you’ve been at it for a while, you’re getting tired, and you look around only to find that it looks about ten times worse in the middle than it did when you started. You’ve dragged everything out from the cupboards, closets, under the bed. It’s discouraging, right? But anyone who has done this a time or two knows that it always looks worse when it’s getting better. That’s how it was with my life. I dragged alllll the stuff out into the open, and I was dealing with it. It SUCKED. It sucked so hard sometimes that I am sure the only reason I kept going was because I didn’t know what else I could do. The idea of using again never occurred to me- that door was firmly shut. So, I soldiered on.

Therapy and twelve step meetings, self-help books and more introspection than anyone should probably ever subject themselves to- that was my life. But it HAD to happen that way, I am sure of it.

In January, I did something that freaked everyone out, including myself. I quit recovery. I dropped out of NA, and decided I didn’t want to live by those rules anymore. I haven’t said much about it here for a few different reasons. In the beginning, it was mostly because I didn’t know what was going to happen to me and I was scared- after all, I have spent the last twenty or so years of my life being told that there is no middle ground for someone like me. Jails, institutions or death. Recovery or relapse. Once an addict, always an addict. But I didn’t want to be sitting in those rooms twenty years on, talking about the sad shit that happened in my old life. I didn’t see the value in it anymore. It seemed…kinda weird. And I had a hard time believing that it was wrong of me to say “I’m done with that life forever.” when I knew it was true, FOR ME. I started to wonder if constantly discussing the life I’d lived before was…like poking a wound, keeping it fresh instead of letting it heal. It seemed counter- intuitive to me. So I stopped.

I am happy to report that, as of this writing, I am doing just fine. In truth, I am doing better than I ever have in my life. I am happy and whole and healthy and free of all the prepackaged ideals I leaned on so heavily in the beginning. I’m not saying they weren’t useful or important or really good for me at some point, because they were! I would never fault anyone for sticking with what works for them. But THIS is what works for me, and I am so glad I took a chance and struck out on my own.

What works for me has nothing to do with what might work for you- this was the other thing that made me keep quiet about this leg of my journey. I would never recommend to another recovering addict to try another way of life. This was an extremely personal, and risky, decision that I made that happened to be right for ME.

I have spent this summer hiking in forests and playing in rivers, jumping on our trampoline, and watering my garden. We’ve flown on planes and played on beaches on both sides of the United States. I’ve laughed with friends, eaten dinners with ocean views, gotten butterflies in my stomach and remembered how to kiss. I’ve gone to parties and picnics, seen movies, gone bowling. I’ve had sun-tan lines and dirty feet and wild hair, and probably gotten about a thousand more smile lines around my eyes. And you know what? I’ve never felt more beautiful in my entire life.

Because I’m living my life the way I have always wanted to- by my own rules, not because anyone else has told me how it should be, or how it should look. And for the first time ever, living my life the way I want to doesn’t come with a cost or with terrible consequences. It comes with a feeling of peace, happiness, and contentment. That is the most beautiful thing of all, I think. I am so grateful that I was brave enough to make it through those hardships, strong enough to do the work that needed to be done, and confident enough to believe I could get here…to exactly where I am, right now.

 

Posted in adventure, family, fun, happiness, health, inner peace, kids, Life, motherhood, People

Heavenly

I know, I know- it’s been weeks now since I’ve written a word here. Well, to be honest, it’s been weeks since I’ve published a word here. I’ve now written three complete posts that I opted not to share with the world (more on that later), and I am worried that you guys might think I am off on a bender or murdered or something.

Truly, nothing could be further from the truth. The fact of the matter is, I’ve just been ridiculously happy lately. Ever have times when it just seems like all the stars have finally aligned in your favor and it is just smooth sailing? I mean, it’s kinda rare, right? But that is precisely what the Gods have seen fit to bestow upon me these days, and I am 100% here to receive it.

The night before last, I was taking Lucy the Lab for a stroll- it was 7:19 (I remember glancing at my watch) and the sun was still shining…I had a tank top on and was enjoying the warmth of it on my skin- for some reason I have really been into soaking up the sun recently, something I never remember doing much of before. Anyway, Lucy was happily sniffing and snuffling her way through every shrub and flower on the street, I was happily taking in the sun rays and stretching my legs, and behind me, Camryn was happily chatting away about the Pokemon she was catching. That’s when it hit me- I was completely content. Not just in that moment, although that was a perfect moment. But just…in general. There is not one part of my life that is giving me trouble right now. Everything is good.

Now, if I wanted to nit-pick, I’m SURE I could find something that wasn’t good enough- my house, for instance, is never ever ever ever clean enough. But, shit- I am really trying. Every day, I put some effort into it in some way, and that somehow winds up making it feel more acceptable to me, you know? Because before, there were days…okay, weeks, even- when I would just get off work and lay on the couch and HATE the mess but feel unable to do a single thing except hate it. So, even though it’s not great, it’s still better.

And the thing is, I don’t want to nit-pick. For once in my life, I just want to recognize this miraculous gift of delightful happiness, and enjoy it. I’m not even doing that weird thing where I realize I’m happy and then panic and try to figure out how I can trap that happiness and make it stay forever. Nothing scares happiness away faster than my clingy ass trying to dig my worried nails into it and demand that it live here forever now. That’s not how happiness works, I’m pretty sure. Right? I mean, let me know if I’m wrong.

Last weekend, on a five a.m., coffee-fueled whim, I ordered a trampoline. My 8 year old has spent more hours huddled in a dark room with her eyes on a screen this summer than I care to tally up. Not only does this make me feel like a lousy mother, but it makes her…act differently. She gets weird and grouchy and withdrawn. I’ve been trying to make sure we do lots of outside things in the afternoons, but it doesn’t feel like enough. The world that I grew up in- leaving the house the minute the neighbor kids were up and spending the entire day outside, riding bikes, skating, doing God only knows what- that world doesn’t exist anymore. At least, not around here. I thought a trampoline would be a good idea.

So, I got a trampoline. A really, really big trampoline. It got here yesterday, and Cam’s dad came by and put it together last night. We still need to put up the safety net, but I can assure you, we did not let the absence of that stop up from bouncing for a good two hours last night. The best part of all is that Aisley happened to be home, so it was both my kids and myself, jumping and laughing until the sun went down. The trampoline was not a good idea…it was possibly the best idea EVER.

So, what is it, exactly, that is making life feel so damn perfect right now? Well, I think trying to figure that out is where I generally go wrong- I think the tendency to examine and analyze and dissect things kinda ruins them. But I’m sure all the sunshine and walking and time spent outside isn’t hurting. I’m positive all the fruits and veggies and water and exercise is helping. The effort I’m putting into work and my house has to be part of it. Oh, and did I mention I’ve been kind of seeing someone? Yep. That is definitely not hurting my attitude at all…but I’ve decided to keep that mostly to myself for now (hence the unpublished posts I mentioned earlier). I figure I’ll know when it’s time to share more- not like me to keep quiet, but there you have it. I am capable of change. 🙂

So I’m off to start another (hopefully) excellent day. Enjoy these pictures of us jumping on our trampoline for the first time ever.

Posted in adventure, escape, family, kids, Life, People, travel

Into Massachusetts!

I have been the absolute worst about following up since I have been home, and there is really no reason why, other than my work schedule has changed and adjusting is always hard for me. So please, accept my apologies, and enjoy these photos from the last leg of my trip to the East Coast!

So, we took our time on our way to Massachusetts- got lost on a few detours to find bathrooms, and ended up having the best time on the winding little roads past beautiful homes interspersed with amazing houses, and of course, the requisite cemeteries every few miles. I am endlessly fascinated with the graveyards on the East Coast, and could spend days just reading the headstones. I know that sounds morbid, but really it isn’t. I love the history and the artwork on the stones, and…well, I’ve always loved cemeteries. They are peaceful and beautiful, and the ones in Maine and Massachusetts are super cool.

I think this is in Kittery?

There are woods like this everywhere!

Another beautiful graveyard!

From Maine to our place in Rockport, Massachusetts, was only about an hour and a half drive! For me, a born and bred Californian, this is mind-boggling. It takes hours and hours to get out of California, but on the East Coast, I was in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts all within the span of a few hours! I was trying to take a picture of some river or another and missed the New Hampshire sign, which bummed me out, but oh well!

Me, missing the New Hampshire sign.

The little air bnb that my mom rented in Rockport was just perfect. We both felt like it was the most comfortable little house, as if we’d been there a million times already and were just returning. It felt like going to grandma’s house, if you know what I mean. That first afternoon, we dropped off our stuff and strolled into Rockport. The funny thing is, I’d been there only eight months before, but somehow missed a ton of the town. In my defense, it was freezing cold when I had been there in October, and we were on the opposite side of town searching for beanie’s to warm our frozen ears, so we weren’t really strolling very much.

Our little rental house. It was perfect!

Rockport is incredible in cold weather, but it is PERFECT when it’s warm. We spent some time on the little beach right before town, then wandered around Bearskin Neck (pretty sure that’s what the street is called, for some odd reason) and looked in the shops. Eventually, we were starving to death, so we decided to eat at Roy Moore’s Fish Shack, mostly because they had items other than seafood on their menu- at that point, I was sick of seafood and needed something else! I had a BLT, Cam had her normal cheeseburger, and my mom had the lobster mac & cheese. I was all lobstered out. 🙂

Our first foray into Rockport.

To be honest with you, the next few days are all kind of a blur to me now. We did spend one afternoon in Salem which was cool! Funny thing is, I loved Salem so much the first time I was there but it was too crowded for my taste in October- going back in June, it was much less crowded, but after seeing so many beautiful places in the preceding days, it wasn’t as awesome as I remembered. Maybe it was the Fall magic that was missing? I did get to visit the Salem Witch Museum, which was very cool, and Camryn REALLY liked it there. We also visited Salem Willows, a super old-timey park with old rides and an arcade. I got sunburned like crazy that day, and we were very tired by the time we headed back to the house. I believe Cam and I stayed in that night playing dice while my mom went to town and ate dinner alone.

All Salem & Salem Willows

We spent a lot of time just driving around, looking at houses, to be honest. I’m really glad my mom was into that, too, because it’s just so much fun back east. Even though it’s all in the USA, it couldn’t be more different than California- and that’s what makes it so incredible!

You can’t get a bad shot in Rockport. It’s beautiful.

We never made it to Boston, and we didn’t do the walking history tour at night in Salem like I’d hoped, but I was more than willing to let those things go just to enjoy the little town where we were. We walked so, so much and just did a lot of sightseeing, and I couldn’t have been happier with the way it all worked out.

Before I knew it, it was time to head home. I was glad to be back, but I will always, always love New England- and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if one day I called it home.

Cam took this one. Headed home!
Posted in adventure, Dreams, family, Goals, Life, photography, travel

Travels to Maine, Part 1

I would like to start this post by saying this: As much as I love Massachusetts, I loved Maine even more.  After some time to let the whole trip settle, I can tell you exactly why- Maine is PERFECT for me. It has all of the beauty and charm that I love, but like a quarter of the people. Now granted, it was the very beginning of summer in the little tourist town of Old Orchard Beach where we stayed, so I’m sure it gets busier as the weather continues to warm, but I promise you, it was one of the best places I have ever been.

The weather was gorgeous the whole time we were there- there was one morning of rain, but it didn’t last, and it wasn’t enough to prevent us from exploring. The little Inn I rented online (always a gamble when you don’t know the area and you don’t really know what you’re going to get) was small but spotless, and it was literally half a block from the beach. I could stand on the step of our room and see the sand.

This is the little place we stayed at. It’s actually much cuter than it looks here.

The first thing we did once we checked in and dumped our stuff was to walk to the beach, of course. My mom nor Camryn had ever seen the Atlantic ocean, which might not be a big deal to some, but it was to me. To think that that very morning I’d flown off from the edge of the Pacific, and a few hours later I was standing on the opposite side of the United States- that’s so cool to me. Cam splashed around a bit and we stretched our legs, then headed in to clean up and find dinner.

My mom and Cam, enjoying their first visit to the Atlantic

At the recommendation of the clerk at our Inn, we ate at a place called The Shack, which is right on the edge of the Palace Playland, a small amusement park that reminded me a lot of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. We sat outside on the upstairs deck and had the first of many, many seafood dinners. I had a lobster roll. You know what? I am not a huge fan of lobster. I’ve tried it enough times now to know for sure that I prefer crab any day of the week, but whatever. It was still yum. The best part was just being there, in a brand new place, with my mom and my daughter. It is still such an amazing thing to me, that I get to make these plans and achieve these little dreams of mine.

The Shack in Old Orchard Beach

We turned in pretty early that night and I was up before everyone else, naturally. The cool thing about being on the East Coast is that I wake up at an almost decent hour there! If I’m out of bed at three at home, it’s six there, and the sun is already up! So I took a little walk by myself through the neighborhood- and it was a neighborhood, as we were at the very end of the hotels. The houses were just stunning, and the greenery and flowers blooming were spectacular. I was so overwhelmed with joy at the natural beauty, I couldn’t stop smiling. I picked a really, really good time to go to Maine, I think.

Some of the sights along my first walk in Maine

I found a little store in Ocean Park and bought some coffee and cinnamon rolls, and some juice for my mom, then headed back, chatting with a few people who were out and about. When I returned, my mom took off, and I got Cam ready for the day. That day, we drove to Freeport, but found that it was mostly full of outlet stores, which was not really what we were looking for- we can do that anywhere. But in one cool store, the lady asked us if we had been to Wolf Neck State Park, which we had never heard of. We decided to check it out.

Major score! First of all, the drive there was worth it even if the park had sucked, which it didn’t. The neighborhoods in New England are really something to see- each house more amazing than the next, so old and well-preserved. Even the new houses are made to look like they are old. I really like that. The park itself was gorgeous. The trails were flat and easy for all of us, and the forest and ocean and all the little islands you could see from the trails were so, so cool.

Can you believe how green this place is? This is all Wolf Neck State Park.

I have never seen green like the green I saw in Maine. I have never seen the ocean look so much like a lake. I have never seen so much forest two inches from a bustling town. If I was going to move to the East Coast, I think it would definitely be Maine for me.

Stay tuned for Part Two of Maine!

Posted in adventure, family, Life, travel

Dreaming of the East Coast

The title is no lie. I just slept for about…um, 11 hours straight I think, and had some wild dreams. The funny part is, they all took place back on the East Coast, no doubt about it. For whatever reason, the New England coast really leaves such an impression on me. Each time I’ve been, I feel like I’m home. It’s crazy.

Of course, I missed my pets and the daily rhythm of my normal life- no one can keep up that frantic “gotta see it NOW” pace of vacation for too long. But coming back to California after a week spent across the United States is hard. California has this reputation for being glorious and beautiful, all sunshine and movie stars. And yes, there are parts of this massive state that are incredibly beautiful and sunny and wonderful. But hanging out on the East Coast, near the Atlantic Ocean, in June…or even in October, really, it’s just…breathtaking.

I took 1,744 pictures while I was there. Every corner you turn, every bend in the road, is some new sight that just knocks your socks off. I’m still so tired, trying to decompress from all that activity, and I am so, so glad to be home, BUT…I stand by my desire to make a move to the other coast sometime in the not-so-distant future.

Ideally, I’d love to try it out for a full year and see how I hold up during the winter, before committing to life there forever. Maybe this is a crazy dream, I don’t know. I sure would like to try it out though. I’m still trying to figure it all out, and that probably won’t happen this morning, but if anyone knows the best place to find rentals on the East Coast, please let me know. All I can find are summer or winter rentals, and I just want a regular one. Anywhere from Maine to Massachusetts, staying away from the bigger cities.

As far as the trip went, it was wonderful. I didn’t have a moment to spare for writing. We were running from the minute we got up most days, trying to drink it all in. I loved Massachusetts, of course, but Maine was slower and less busy, and I think I prefer that. Camryn was perfect- what a great little traveler she turned out to be! And my mom and I had a couple of typical little spats, but nothing major. I’d give the whole thing five out of five stars!

That’s all the time and energy I have to devote to this right now. I’ll give it a better breakdown soon, I swear!

Posted in adventure, faith, family, Goals, Life, Musings, random, travel, Uncategorized

On My Way!

Well, I’m not really on my way- not quite yet, anyway. This time tomorrow morning, I will already be at the airport with Cam, at our gate, waiting to board our flight. But you and I both know our vacations start well before we ever walk out the door of our homes. My brain has been in vacation mode all week, work nothing more than a bothersome distraction.

Does this mean I’ve been busy packing and preparing? Well…no. Just by virtue of the fact that I know I need to do a bunch of stuff, I have felt less inclined to do any of it. I have gotten all of our laundry done. I finally started packing our suitcases last night. I have dishes to do and one last Target run to pick up the final items I absolutely have to have with me for this trip- like those little tubes of freeze dried Starbucks instant coffee? Those are 100% necessary when staying in a hotel with questionable coffee availability and family who do not wake up anywhere near as early as you do. So, I need those. I need at least one new phone charger as all of mine seem to have stopped working this week. I really need a new fitbit band, but I’m hoping this one will hold up at least until I get where I am going. But I might see if they have one at Target, I don’t know.

Anyway you crack it, I will be somewhere in San Francisco tonight, sleeping in the first of a series of unfamiliar beds, and the adventure will begin.

This morning, I sat on my cushion for my normal prayer and meditation, and I set my intention for this day and this trip. Gratitude that this is my life now- I am a person who can plan a trek across the country and follow through. I can have confidence in myself, for I am capable, smart, and strong. I will be patient, with myself and others, knowing we are all doing the best we can at any given moment. And I will enjoy myself, basking in the love I have for my family, and that they have for me, as we embark on this adventure together.

Am I nervous? I would not be me if I weren’t, but…I trust that all will be well. So, Bon Voyage, my friends! I’ll catch up with you all when I am in Maine- I’m sure I’ll have plenty of time to write while I wait for everyone else to wake up!