Posted in adventure, happiness, inner peace, Life, living, magic, Musings, People, random

Stormy Weather

I went to sleep last night to the sound of rain pouring down outside. What a lovely way to drift off…I can’t think of a better sound to lull me to sleep.

I woke up this morning to the sound of the wind howling through the trees outside. Shaking the windows and screeching around corners. Camryn must have gotten scared, because, as I lay there just listening, I heard her little feet padding through the house, and soon there was a warm little body snuggled up against me. And I love it- the storm, the rain, the wind, the little girl curled up next to me.

I love the wildness of a storm. So many times over the past few weeks, as the rain poured and the wind howled, as the dark clouds roiled in the sky, I have opened up my front door and invited a little of that charged air to sweep through my home, cleaning out the stagnant air and replacing the old energy with new. I have stood on my porch and looked out over the rooftops and up into the sky and let the cold air wash over me and wake me up completely.

In this verdant place where I live, trees are snapping like twigs and whole limbs are crashing to the ground, blocking roads and rerouting the world. Rivers flow down streets and waves crash, littered with branches and boiling with foam, into stairs we once used to walk down to gentle beaches. And I watch all of it with breathless wonder, the might of mother nature never failing to thrill me.

I cannot seem to resist the call of the outdoors despite the weather- or maybe even because of it. I made my way through Carmel on Sunday, having to turn different corners and drive down unfamiliar roads due to all the trees down, but we finally made it to the shore only to find the sand had been devoured by the angry waves. Still, I had to go- I had to see it for myself, and only returned to the car when I was soaked and so cold my fingers ached.

Yesterday, I rolled the dice and went with my dog for a run in between rain showers. We made it far up the hill when the rain decided to begin to fall in earnest again. I couldn’t help but smile the whole way home, breathless and soggy and more alive than I’d felt in forever.

And in the evening, we went to the beach. I wanted to see what treasures had been washed ashore, churned up from the ocean floor and left for my fingers to pluck up from the sand. What I found instead was a sky so breathtaking with clouds, the sun burnishing them the most indescribable pink gold in places, and leaving them so ominous and black in others. The greens and oranges of the ice plant and the metallic, mercury waves, the angelic pink and doomsday gray of the clouds…I was frozen solid by the time we made it back to the car, but my soul was fed. And just as we began to drive home, the rain swept back in from out to sea, and began to fall once more.

Oh, how I love a good storm.

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Posted in adventure, advice, anxiety, Goals, happiness, inner peace, Life, meditation, Mental Health, Musings, People, spirituality, women

Gentle

gentle
From The Desiderata

Gentle is my word for today. I will try to be gentle.

Not only with others, but most of all, with myself. I am my own worst critic, always thinking back to some awful thing I did in the past, or worrying about things that I might do wrong down the road, rarely able to give myself any credit for the beautiful life I have provided for myself, here and now. I am forever berating myself for almost every little thing I do- and even when I do it right, I could have done it better.

So today, I am practicing being gentle with myself. Every time my mind starts galloping off into the future or flailing away uselessly at the past, I am gently bringing it back, to right here, right now. This morning, I was morbidly imagining myself with some life-threatening illness, worrying about how my children would fare if I should die. I had to pull myself back- Courtney, you are not dying in a hospital bed. You are standing at your sink, washing your daughter’s water canteen, absolutely healthy. You are fine. You are fine.

Yesterday, while I was meditating, I was having trouble with the sheer volume of my thoughts. There were so many things my anxious brain needed me to acknowledge right NOW. All of the sudden, I had this immense compassion for myself. An image popped into my mind, unbidden, of big me holding little Courtney in her arms. I ran my hands down 7-year-old-me’s back, and could feel the little knobs of my spine, the little angel wings of my shoulder blades sticking out. I told myself “it’s okay. Shhh…it’s okay.”. I don’t know where that image arose from, but it was powerful. The little girl in me needed that hug, that acknowledgement so badly. I may be a grown woman now, but that child is still in there, somewhere. And if it is hard to be gentle with me, perhaps I won’t struggle so much being gentle with her.

Here’s the thing- I want to fully inhabit my life. I do not have a desire to be bound by all the rules and dogma that I have either grown up with or invited in myself over the years. I want to be free. And all of this is brand new to me- it’s like I woke up two weeks ago and started questioning every single thing I believed to be true. I am starting at zero, trying to figure out who I am, really, and how I want to show up in the world going forward.

And the very first gift I choose to give myself today is this- be gentle. Be gentle with yourself, and with those around you. Let other people have their thoughts and feelings and perspectives, and choose to walk around them- let things be. Just like I told little me in that meditation yesterday…Shh…it’s okay. Everything is okay.

Posted in adventure, Blogging, family, happiness, home, Life, love, Musings, People, random

Introducing…Lily!

It’s the moment you’ve all (well, at least two of you) have been waiting for. The first thing you should know is that I have created an Instagram page exclusively for my new kitten, Lily. Do I have other pets? Yes I do. Do they have pages of their own? Not even close. Do I feel a little bad about this? Kind of. But she’s tiny and feisty and so freaking photogenic, I feel I really had no choice. Anyway, her IG is @thelifeoflittlelily, and if you are a gram fan, we are just starting out, so come follow us!

Anyway, we adopted Lily a week ago tomorrow from this great animal rescue here locally called Animal Friends Rescue Project. I have fostered for them before (a dog) and am such a huge supporter of “adopt, don’t shop”. If you are an animal lover, you understand…it’s so hard knowing how many sweet cats and dogs are abandoned and unwanted, and I’m so grateful that these no kill shelters exist. And, at the AFRP they are so much more than a no kill shelter. They give the animals there a happy, sunny, good life. Lots of fosters lend a hand, so many great volunteers, these little babies get lots of love, attention and hope. So I was happy to support them.

Lily is something else. We walked into the shelter, and she walked right up to us as if she’d been waiting for us forever! Within 30 seconds, I knew she was coming home with me, and that’s exactly what happened.

She is everything I wanted in a cat- she’s full of spirit, bouncing around the house, defying gravity. She’s a snuggler, and her purr is loud enough to make her whole body vibrate. She head butts your face, hard, with affection, and she loves to sleep cuddled up close to either Camryn or myself. Or sometimes, on top of our heads, or across our necks like a scarf. Anyway, she’s pretty incredible. I’m so very glad she is part of this crazy menagerie I have here.

Everything else has been kind of rough this past week- not sure why, but I’m just kind of feeling low. So I’m glad to have this little bright spot to play with. She really is a breath of fresh air- if fresh air smelled like cat, I suppose.

Posted in Addiction, adventure, happiness, inner peace, Life, mindfulness, Musings, People

Changes II

I meant to write this yesterday, but I accidentally spent the entire day in bed, sleeping on and off and watching Ghost Adventures- every now and again, you need a good “bed day”, don’t you think? Also, probably going through some weird mental stuff now that I am not giving my body that little hand-to-mouth-inhaling-chemicals thing it loves so much. I was definitely grouchy yesterday.

Oh, and also…it might be because I am feeling a little weird about a decision I made. I told my sponsor a few days ago that I am taking a step back from meetings. I gave up my service commitment. I ran through it with my therapist, and I spent a lot of time thinking hard about it. I don’t know what it really means yet. I just know that I was listening to the same people say the exact same things over and over and over, I was hearing myself give a lot of lip service with no feeling in my heart, and…my time is so precious. I know this is contrary to everything I’ve always said, and it doesn’t make any of that untrue- NA saved my life. Many times. NA fed me so much and helped me so much and I know myself better now than I ever have. But for now, I’m stepping away.

I don’t want to still be talking about what it was like for me in another 20 years. I don’t want to keep rehashing it. I don’t want to call myself an addict every time I speak. I know who I am, and who I will always be- I don’t need to keep announcing it. Words hold so much weight. That is not my identity. I am questioning so many of the things I thought I knew, and wondering if I even believe them anymore. And you know, this is really upsetting and scary to a lot of people! But I am not going to be afraid of my own thoughts. I am not going to be afraid to question my beliefs. Even if it is upsetting to other people. I might change my mind in a week or two, I might not. I don’t know right now. And that’s okay.

I refuse to speak a bad word about any twelve step program- they are an invaluable resource to anyone who wants to learn how to be clean or sober, depending on which “A” you follow. I think it is a beautiful, life-changing thing. But maybe it’s not a forever thing for everyone. And that is also okay.

Like I said, I’m taking a break. Stepping back. Trying to figure out where I fit in. I don’t know what that means…But I can tell you this: I have not rushed out to chug a beer or snort a line or whatever. That’s not what this is about. I’m simply…taking a breather. And it feels really stinking weird.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to get a little uncomfortable, though. Now I just need to figure out what I’m doing next.

Posted in Blogging, family, happiness, home, inner peace, Life, mindfulness, motherhood, Musings, People, random, women

So Much Good Stuff

Sunrise on Saturday morning from my front porch

I want to give a little run-down of my weekend, but of course, I’ve waited too long to write and now I have no time left.

I ended my Friday night with selfies with my cat, Frankenstein.

Suffice to say, I had the loveliest of weekends. Why, you ask? Well, on this particular weekend, there were several factors that added up to contribute to the loveliness. One of the things is that I have gotten quite comfortable with my daughter being off with her dad from Friday evening until late Saturday afternoon, so I can really enjoy my time alone. And this weekend, it really was time alone- I went to bed at like 7:30 Friday night, slept like a log, woke up in the morning, did some writing, meditated, basically…I did whatever felt good to me in that moment.

My screamin’ soup with way too much garlic bread. Yum. I miss that soup already.

I made a big pot of soup which I shared with my ex when he brought Cam home, and if we did anything exciting Saturday night, I can’t recall what it was right now. Sunday morning, I got up early, did all the same things I did Saturday except I added in my weekly “luxury bath” where I dump in dead-sea minerals and essential oils, glop on a face mask and soak until my skin prunes up. Ahh. Not too shabby. Around 10 or so, I woke Camryn up and we headed to Carmel beach to walk Lucy, stopping at the best donut store on the planet first for a massive bag of donut holes.

Cam, in free-fall

Carmel beach on Sundays is kind of our new thing. You can let your dogs roam freely on this beach, and it is truly dog paradise. There are at least 50 dogs- probably more, just running around, sniffing each other’s asses. God, I’m glad I’m not a dog. Anyway, if you are ever out this way and need a dog fix, this is the place for you. Seriously. Camryn just lost her freaking mind when she saw a Basset Hound yesterday. I think she might have scared the dog a little, but in all fairness, it’s pretty easy to have a dog-related meltdown when you are surrounded by that much fur and happiness. I had a similar reaction last weekend brought on by a Newfoundland. They are just incredible.

The Newfoundland that made me lose my shit.
Just a surfer, and a breathtaking view. No big deal.

So, we took a healthy stroll before heading home. Once we arrived home, I took a short nap, and after getting out of bed around 2:30, I had some coffee and started kicking ASS. I cleaned house for a solid two hours, tackling things that I’d had no intention of getting into when I’d started. After things were neat enough, I did my second day of the 30 day Yoga with Adrien challenge on YouTube, and let me tell you- she is GREAT. I am really liking this whole yoga thing, much to my surprise.

Cam and I worked together to finish her homework packet after dinner, and she was SO proud of herself for figuring out her math (thank God she did, because this new math is freaking confusing) and I showed her how to check it with my calculator- with every right answer, she was more pleased with herself. Finally, after a quick trip to the store, it was time for her bath and reading.

At the end of it all, in her fresh jammies, with her hair in a bun, she said “Well, mom- for once I finally accomplished something.” I know she meant her homework, and of course it wasn’t the first time she’s ever finished it…but it might have been the first time she did it and felt proud of her work. I know how good that feeling is. I’m glad she got to experience that feeling- I was feeling it too last night. That sense of accomplishment that comes when you strike a good balance in your day. Just enough play, just enough work.

My future home. Seriously, is this out of control or what? What a view they must have!

I had a huge sense of accomplishment when I went off to bed last night. It has carried over into this morning, and I hope it bodes well for the week. Happy Monday! Get out there and kick some ass!

Posted in Blogging, family, happiness, kids, Life, love, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People, random, relationships, women

Babies, Kittens, & Change

they-grow-up-so-fast

So, I guess Camryn has decided to grow up over Christmas break. I mean, I knew it was starting when she would wait for me to leave the room before jumping in the shower. My daughters are both exceptionally modest about their bodies (I literally have no idea where they picked this up, unless it’s just one of those things where they are as opposite of me as possible), but still…she’ll let me come in and wash her hair once she’s in the tub. She just doesn’t want me in the room as she gets in the tub. So whatever, I play along.

Well, now she is washing her own hair, too. I’m not sure how well it’s being washed yet, but it smells okay. And I’m glad for it, I really am. These are things she should be able to do for herself, of course they are. But now she’s totally sleeping 100% in her own room. Just like I wanted. I’m proud of her, and glad that she just made up her mind and did this thing- this thing that I’ve been complaining about for at least the past year. I really wanted her in her own bed! Except…except last night, I had to threaten to make her come sleep with me if she didn’t settle down in her room and get to sleep. Sleeping with me is now a punishment. Sigh.

And yesterday? Yesterday, I said “Hey, can you do mommy a favor?” to her, and she said “Sure, but can you stop saying “mommy”? “Mom” would be fine.”

Well, shit. Why don’t you just stab me straight in the heart, you little beastie?

Only I said nothing, because she is doing what she is supposed to do- she’s growing up. Not too much, it’s just happening sort of all at once, and it’s alarming, and what’s more, it’s very, very sad. She is my baby. But she is not a baby anymore, and that is a fact. Trying to keep her there would be harmful and wrong, so…I’m just trying to mourn in private, and let her enjoy her tiny bits of independence.

Last night when her dad brought her home, he waited until she was in the other room and he was like “What is going on with her?!” I didn’t really need to ask what he meant. She’s been a little prickly, a little extra…extra, if you know what I mean. I said “Well, she’s growing up a little, and we need to be patient with her, but firm…and whatever you do, don’t tell her she’s a bad kid. Tell her she’s a good kid, and we expect better behavior from her.”

Because I remember being that age- that age where you just aren’t a sweet little angel anymore, and you do have an opinion, and you’re trying to figure out how to have some autonomy…and end up looking like a little jack-ass. The adults in my life were horrified, asking me “what happened to you?” or “This isn’t the Courtney I know.” and reinforcing what a monster I’d become. This was not helpful. I honestly believed the things I heard- and I’m sure no one intended it meanly, but it was how I HEARD it, and internalized it. I thought something had gone wrong with me, and I was a disappointment, somehow. But I was just growing up, trying to figure stuff out. Just like Cam is now. My job is to parent and love her through it, to guide her, watch her, and be firm with her. What a trip to be able to understand what is happening. I hope I’m up for the challenge.

In other news, Milo, the cat who didn’t have rabies, has come over from the dark side. The formerly hissing, spitting, scratching, biting little demon has started sleeping beside me in bed, and purring every time I touch her. She cries when I go outside. Proof that if you shine enough love on the saltiest of creatures, it will eventually get through to them and they will change. It’s easier to do this with animals than people, but it works on both. Just love the grouchy ones…they need it most.

So there it is- babies and kittens grow up and change, and who they become depends a lot on how much and how well they are loved- because you can be loved very much, and still not be loved WELL. Another lesson I’ve picked up along the way. Another thing I wish I’d known sooner. But I know it now, and that will have to be enough.

Have a beautiful day.

Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, Blogging, faith, family, happiness, inner peace, Life, Mental Health, motherhood, parenting, recovery, twelve step

Just…wow.

just wow
courtesy of lisalayden.com. 

Have you ever had one of those strange moments where your perspective shifts, and you suddenly…I don’t know…like, see your life? All of the sudden, your own reality hits you and it’s just mind blowing? And not in a bad way at all, but in the most incredible, blessed feeling way? Gosh, I’m getting tears in my eyes just writing this.

That happened to me last night. I was drifting off to sleep, and out of nowhere it hit me that I’m a mom. I have two daughters! And you know, of course I know this- one of them is a legit adult now, the other one is 8. It’s not like it’s something new, but…it just sort of hit me. Wow. I am the mother to these two incredible people, their mother. What an honor that is. How lucky am I?

To get to have these two beautiful girls, so unbelievably different, so perfect in their own way. I have one who loves everything that grows- she plucked a giant mushroom out of my garden yesterday, and plopped it down on my butcher block, examining it like a scientist. She broke it apart, leaving a trail of dirt and possibly poisonous spores over every inch of my kitchen…but you know what? I’m so happy that she’s found something she’s passionate about- her seed packets, and all of the knowledge she has about soil and zones, water and sunlight. The way she looks when she is plucking a bean from a vine, or pulling a weed from the earth. As a parent, all you could ever want is for your child to grow up and find the thing they love most, and I think she has done that.

And then there is the little one- tender-hearted, kind, but absolutely self assured. She loves tiny, tiny things, colored pencils, blank pages, pencil sharpeners. She’ll drop everything to give me a hug, but then she rushes back to whatever it is that she is focused on. She’ll give up some of her time for me, but she is pretty clear about needing her own space, her own time. I feel like that will serve her well. She also loves jokes, loves to laugh, more than anyone I’ve ever known…and again, this will help her immeasurably in life.

I LOVE these girls. I love them so much. And it is such a miracle, such an unbelievable miracle, that I get to live this life I am living. For an addict like me to be living a life like this- gainfully employed, a real career, my bills paid, food in the fridge, these gorgeous kids, and I am CLEAN? Are you kidding me? When I think of how desperately I longed for this life, so many, many times. When I think of how little hope I had, how futile it seemed to even think about it. Because I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t stay clean. Except I did. I have. I continue to.

And because of that, I get to feel like this. Like my heart will just burst open from all of the gratitude and love and appreciation I have for my life in this moment. For the mother I get to be because I just kept showing up, day after day, and I stopped trying to change the way I felt by putting drugs in my body. I went ahead and felt my feelings instead. I went ahead and faced the truth about who I was and what I had done. I went ahead and dealt with it. And it was hard- it’s still hard sometimes. I have a lot of painful memories, painful facts about my life that I can never change. But you know what? I’m making a lot of new, really beautiful memories, too. And if I keep it up, someday they might just outweigh the bad ones.

For that, and for so many other reasons, I am deeply grateful this morning.