Category Archives: Mental Health

It’s ALL in Your Head

its all in your head

 

I’m just going to go ahead and warn you right now- if you are not in the right place to hear what I am about to say, it’s going to irritate the piss out of you. It has been my experience that, when I am being negative as fuck, the last thing I want to hear is someone telling me that maybe I should change my attitude. Also, if you are suffering from legit mental illness (and really, aren’t we all, to some extent), I mean, severe depression, etc., then you are excluded. But for the rest of us, the whiners, complainers, procrastinators, and the “I feel fucked over” population, this is for you. For US, actually, since I am right there with you most of the time.

I don’t know exactly when it started for me, but I suspect it was somewhere in my mid-30’s, when I began to feel this sort of pervasive dissatisfaction with my life. Weirdly enough, if I had to point out a distinct portion of my life as the beginning, it would be around the time that everything settled down for me and stopped being so completely chaotic. You would think, wouldn’t you, that once things stopped being so messy they started feeling better, right? Not in my case. Perhaps I was so used to the chaos and upheaval that, once the dust settled, it didn’t feel very exciting anymore. I think I have written about this in the past, the way I love a good challenge, and overcoming obstacles is so gratifying for me. I have dubbed it “The Phoenix Syndrome” because I get off on rising from the ashes.

But you can only burn your life to the ground so many times before it becomes exhausting. I am 42 years old now, and the thought of starting over, picking up the pieces after wrecking everything myself- it holds a lot less appeal to me. I have evolved into this strange creature who pays her bills on time, and watches carefully her processed food intake. I mean, it wasn’t that long ago that I used drugs made partially from Drano, for Pete’s sake, and now I worry about the saturated fat content in a burger. Sigh. I am laughing about this now, but only because it’s true, and super weird.

So, my life settled down, and my mind began to change, and somewhere along the way, instead of just enjoying all the blessings of this incredible life I was living- clean, employed, blessed with a beautiful family, a nice house, enough of everything I needed- a little voice in my head started bitching, complaining, and feeling put out about everything, and it’s tenacity is astonishing.

This little voice never wants to do anything, and I mean anything- except of course, the opposite of whatever it is I happen to be doing at the time. If I am sitting on the couch, blissfully indulging in a Netflix marathon of Ghost Whisperer, the little voice is haranguing me because I really ought to be doing: The dishes, the laundry, or some type of meaningful interaction with my kid. Okay, so maybe the little voice is right. However, should I give in to the little voice, here is what inevitably happens: As I do the dishes, or the laundry,  the little voice will then say something like this: “You spend your whole life doing things you don’t want to do- when is it time for YOU, Courtney?” Or, in case I am playing Go Fish with the spawn, it says “You should really move this along. You could be doing something productive right now.”

In short, the little voice’s mission seems to be to make me as miserable as possible, no matter what I am doing. And, check it out, I am not talking about a psychotic break here. These are not disembodied voices that are barking directions at me. No, this voice sounds an awful lot like me, and I am nothing if not convincing. Much of the time, I buy into that shit, 100%.

And that is too bad, you know? Because the truth is, I deserve to enjoy my life. Every one of us do, to be honest. It is our God given right to be happy in this lifetime, however that looks to you. But every single time we listen to that shitty voice in our heads, we are bound to feel the opposite of happy.

So, what are you supposed to do about it? Well, this is the tricky part where I start trying to give advice about something that I haven’t mastered expertly just yet. I do well for a while, and then I backslide a little, start listening again. But I do know a little bit. Like, for instance, start noticing it. Start really paying attention to the thoughts in your head, hearing the critical voice when it starts talking. Because when you are aware of it, you can have a conversation with it. Your mind may say “You are so lazy. Everyone else keeps their dishes done, what is wrong with you?” And you can say, “I work my ass off all week long, I am the furthest thing from lazy, I am dealing with the loss of Jim right now (Ghost Whisperer reference, sorry), go away. I will deal with the dishes later.” You are allowed to defend yourself, even to yourself. My only advice to you here is that you have this conversation internally, unless you are home alone. People do tend to become concerned when you are having frustrated, one-sided conversations with yourself out loud.

Another thing you can do to combat this is to notice the tone of your thoughts, and, when they are negative and critical, redirect them. This happened to me yesterday, actually, when I was faced with the task of working in my enormous, weed filled yard. It was hot, and there was so much work to do, and I am not a big fan of manual labor of any sort. I started thinking about how much I wanted to be inside, doing nothing, and how shitty it was that I had to work all week and then spend my time off doing something I hated. And THEN, I looked around me. I was spending a sunny afternoon in my own yard, and people who loved me gave up time out of their busy lives to come help me, for free, clean up my yard. There was music playing, and kids laughing, and we got so much done! Suddenly, as I stood there, bent over at the waist, shoes and gloves full of fox tails, I broke through the spell that negativity had cast on me, and I could see the truth.

I was actually having a perfect day. I just had to be able to see it. Changing the conversation we have with ourselves, in our heads, is not easy, it is not quick, and it is not permanent. Like everything else worth achieving in life, it takes a lot of effort. But there are days now when I can nip it in the bud the minute it starts, and I always, always end up having a better time. I would guess that 90% of our experience of life is in the way we view it. If you let that little voice have too much power, you will not be able to enjoy anything. You could win an all expense paid, ten day trip to Disney World, and spend the whole time upset by how long the lines are for the rides, or worrying about your dogs back home.

So, basically- Pay attention to your thoughts. Listen to the way you are speaking to yourself. If your thoughts are lame, change them- you are not only allowed to do this, you are the only one who can. If the way you are speaking to yourself is shit, correct it. Don’t let your head talk to you in a way that you would never tolerate another person to. Remember, you are in charge of which thoughts you believe- it may not seem like it, but it’s true. The more you redirect yourself, the easier it becomes.

That’s it, that’s all I’ve got. Have a wonderful day!

 

Two Years Later

butterfly

 

No, this isn’t a reference to how long it’s been since the last time I posted, although it does seem that way. I just checked, and my last post was a mere four months ago. It was about election related stuff, though, and unrelated to what my primary goal of this blog claims to be- stories about a woman with a drug problem, trying to get her shit straight. If you go allll the way back to the beginning of this blog (I’m not recommending you do this, there is a lot of embarrassing stuff in there that I don’t even like to read) you will see that I have had lots of struggle with addiction, times when I had the upper hand, and times when drugs were kicking my ass. It’s all there. One thing no one can accuse me of is shying away from the truth. What I can almost always guarantee you is that.

I spent a LOT of time writing through the bad times, but for some reason, I slowed way down when things got better. I have been thinking lately that that isn’t fair. Everyone who struggles with addiction knows how it feels to struggle. Not everyone knows what life on the other side of that looks like. Here, I have the perfect opportunity to share my story with people, and I have been keeping it all to myself. Maybe no one gives a shit, I don’t know…but maybe one person will read this and feel a little more hopeful, and a little less like giving up.

After years and years and years of yo-yo recovery (she’s clean- nope, she’s relapsed…wait, clean agai-noooope, etc.), this past May, I picked up my two year coin. Over the past two years, I have struggled with many things, but the desire to use drugs has never been one of them. I have thought about drugs- I think about them in a myriad of ways, probably daily- but I have never wanted to use them, not once. I am going to just go ahead and admit right now, though, how little this has to do with my likelihood of using them. Many times I have relapsed with zero desire to use, but, finding myself in a particular state, gripped by the need to feel something other than the way I currently felt, I have, against my own will, gotten high. I know how crazy this sounds, but that’s kind of how you know you’re an addict. Your whole life is a series of events where you keep doing shit you have no desire to do, or even a burning desire not to do them. That’s just another fun filled day in the life of an addict.

So, as relieved as I have been to no longer have the desire to use, I had to change a lot of other stuff so that I didn’t find myself in that particular state that made me likely to use against my will. What are the things I had to change? Oh, just everything I hated about myself. No big deal. With no idea how to go about it, or even what it was, exactly, that I really hated. I had a few things to go on- one thing I finally realized the last time I got clean was that my behavior towards others, and even towards myself, was keeping me sick. Every time I screamed at my kids or tore down my ex, every time I looked at myself with such loathing, I was perpetuating a terrible and negative cycle that was keeping me sick. I wish I could say that I had this epiphany, and BOOM! I changed over night. That isn’t really how this works.

What I did do was, I stopped giving up just because I “failed”. Can you imagine if everyone gave up on everything the first time they didn’t get it right? Yeah, that’s not how most humans operate. Except, I’m an addict, always looking for immediate gratification, so this did not come naturally to me. But I kept at it. In the beginning, to be honest, there wasn’t much improvement besides the fact that I wasn’t high as a kite anymore. That’s because my drug of choice is a neurotoxin, and my brain was…how can I put this delicately? Fucking fried. I was still yelling at my kids, finding it hard to cope with life, unable to manage my finances, overwhelmed by things that came easily to other people. But I had hope, and I kept trying. Eventually, I started to be able to hear myself, and catch myself, and stop myself before the trouble started. Let’s not get the wrong idea, here. I still have a temper and a mouth that is faster than my rational brain, but it’s much, much better.

It took the better part of a year- maybe longer- for my brain to heal adequately so that I could relax and start really enjoying my recovery. Of course, I felt incrementally better month after month, I didn’t wake up one morning and discover I was human again. Recovery, in whatever form you do it, takes time. During that time of learning to manage my behavior, I was also dealing with the immediate wreckage my drug use had caused in my life and the lives of those I loved. Rebuilding trust with my kids. Dealing with my own guilt and shame. Learning how to move forward in spite of the pain I carried- and maybe will always carry- around with me.

But there is more, and I suspect, there will always be more. You clear away one layer of debris, and there is so much more work to be done, a whole new layer underneath. The most significant change in all of this was my attitude. Because I learned, through trial and error, and through working with my sponsor, that it feels so good to deal with the issues popping up- I find myself willing and eager to keep at it.

In the past year, I have started dealing with other things- my finances, my credit, my household, my parenting skills. I am learning how to have boundaries, and how to respect myself. I have even finally learned, at 42, how to take care of my body (not, like, shower. I have always done that, thank you), as in eating healthily, and exercising. I continue to work on my meditation practice, and pray daily. I go to meetings, and I have a support group I can turn to outside of meetings.

I could not have imagined, at the beginning of all of this, that I could have come this far in just two years. When I finally waved the white flag the final time, all I wanted was to stop hating myself, to stop letting that hatred spill out on the people around me. That was it. What I wound up getting was so much more. I might not always adore myself, but I am certainly not ashamed of myself on a daily basis. I don’t lay in bed at night filled with regret over everything I said and did in the day behind me. I am more loving, more patient, more aware of what I am putting out into the world.

So, if you are just starting out, keep going. Two years is not that long, in the bigger picture, to get your life back and then some. And the journey is amazing. Keep going. As they say- Don’t leave five minutes before the miracle happens.

Safety

safety

 

As an addict, no matter what your drug of choice is, no matter whether you are using or not, one of our commonalities is that we generally crave safety. We crave it as much, really, as we crave whatever we are putting in our bodies, or whatever fucked up thing we are doing to change the way we feel. Because any addict can tell you that, eventually, you don’t really get high anymore. Nope, that rush from the beginning flees quickly. What we really want is safety. Distance from our feelings, some space from our self loathing, to shut up the voice inside of us that will not let us be- the one that tells us how stupid, and useless, and lacking we are. We just want some relief from whatever it is that haunts us, and the addict knows the fastest way to get there. Of course, this is WAY oversimplifying it, but in essence, this is the truth- you don’t want to hear about brain chemistry, genetics, and compulsive disorders, anyway, I bet. And if you do, you should probably talk to someone else, as I am just a drug addict with some experience, not a doctor.

Now, I know what I have said- that addicts are seeking safety- sounds completely the opposite of what an addicts life looks like. I realize that. But think about this for a second…all the stories of the way addicts lie, the way they manipulate everything in their environment. Yeah, that is terrible. And by the way, it’s exhausting, too. But what is that really, more than an attempt to create a world where we have some semblance of control over our surroundings? Sure, it is misguided and horrible, but when you are so helpless in every other way, the only thing you can do, out of desperation, is to try to create some type of order out of the chaos. To know what to expect. To have some feeling of safety, we manipulate. You have to remember, an addict in the trenches of their disease is desperate, and desperate people on drugs do not have the ability to see how insane their actions and choices are. They literally are not in their right minds. They just want to survive.

Now, here’s the thing: It doesn’t start off like this. No one starts off in this desperate state. I always, when thinking of my own story, refer to my disease starting up at the age of 19, but that isn’t even true. The truth is, I discovered my drug of choice at the age of 19, but I started putting drugs in my body long before that- sure, it was just smoking weed and drinking, but I was 13. I had low self esteem, I had a weird life, and I just wanted to fit in. The best idea I could come up with, having a limited set of options, was to get high. And it worked for me. I found no shortage of kids just like myself with whom to surround myself, and I created a persona out of all of that, so that I could fit in somewhere. I had no idea what kind of game I was playing. How could I have? And not everyone was destined to wind up like me, either. That’s the funny thing about it- you are rolling the dice, and you don’t even know it. Many of my friends were able to put it down and walk away. But a lot of them- a lot- were not.

Because I was so young when I started down this path, I had no experience with the way “normal” people lived. I didn’t understand how controlling I was, whether I was clean or not, or how emotionally volatile I was. I had no idea that my behavior was a major issue, preventing me from being happy, either on or off of drugs. I can tell you this, though- the minute I realized that my drug use had become nothing more than a symptom of a far bigger problem, my life changed. It took me a really long time to get there. A really long time. I went through treatment, well into adulthood, twice, and had years clean (after which I relapsed again and again) before I got it. On drugs, my behavior was terrible. Off drugs, my behavior was terrible, and it lead me back to drugs, to make me care less about my terrible behavior. I had to come to this understanding on my own. I just wasn’t hearing it from anyone, or any place else. I am not saying it wasn’t taught to me, that no one ever mentioned it. I just wasn’t able to hear it.

This is still a struggle for me. Even knowing what I now believe to be true- that my own behavior can make or break me- I struggle to break the old habits, to find new ways to deal with my feelings, ways that are not so damaging to me, or to others. I spent a lot of years being one person, so it makes sense that being someone else is hard. But I know it is vital that I do. I don’t want to use drugs anymore, but I still behave like an addict sometimes, whether I show it or not. That person is sitting inside of me, commenting on far too many things. I am, and will always be, a work in progress.

Addicts are also very contrary people. We know what we want, and we do the opposite. Our intentions don’t always match our actions. We want to do right, but often find ourselves doing wrong. We have huge egos, and low self esteem. We say one thing and do another. We are often very smart, and live stupidly. We dream of a safe, happy life, and do everything in our power to make sure we never get there. It makes no sense to you, and it makes no sense to the addict who is living it. That is the terrible truth.

Addicts, whether we are clean or not, want what every breathing person wants. To be safe. But our fight is a little different. We carry our biggest obstacle with us everywhere that we go. The face that looks back at us in the mirror is often our greatest enemy. The battle we fight is with ourselves, over and over and over.

You may wonder why I come back to this subject again and again, why I identify so strongly with this part of me. And my answer is- because this is still the biggest part of me. Even though I am clean, the fight is the same. The person I am fighting, and the thing I fight against, and all of the little flare ups I have, they all come from the addict in me. I have a voice, and I want to explain it to the world, so that maybe you can understand an addict in your life, or yourself, a little better. But I am no longer afraid, and I am not sad, and I don’t feel sorry for myself. I feel glad that I have named my enemy, and, even if it is a life long fight…at least I have the tools I need to do my work against it.

And that makes me feel a little safer. I sleep better, knowing that.

 

Another Epiphany

realization

You know what the problem with being a grown up is? It’s fucking boring. I mean, you work your ass off to get to a position in life where you aren’t constantly eaten up with the worry about surviving, you settle into a safe little routine, and little do you know…you just auctioned off a piece of your soul to the lowest bidder. Eh. Or that is how it feels, sometimes, anyway.

I have not lived a boring, mundane existence- not by a long shot. Whatever else you can say about being a drug addict, your life is never boring. It’s chock fucking full of excitement- just not exactly the kind of excitement you ought to be looking for. Unless paranoia and the ever present possibility of being jailed on felony charges rings your bell. It never really did much for me- not that it ever slowed me down, either. The best part of being in that mess, though, was getting out of it. When you are that far down, it’s super easy to feel like you have accomplished a lot, just by doing normal stuff, like paying a bill, or getting a job. Or vice versa.

I upped the ante a little when I found myself with this big old career that pays a lot of money- boy, did I think I had shown the world. And, I suppose, in a way I had. I know lots of people, addicts and not addicts, who would trade spots with me in a heart beat. I do have a pretty decent life. But you know what I miss? I miss the thrill of the unknown. I miss the excitement of not knowing what opportunity might be around the next corner, what adventure might be on the next horizon. I miss flying by the seat of my pants.

But it just struck me- you know, I can’t sit around and wait for adventure to fall into my lap. I don’t know where I got the idea that I was supposed to. It came to me that maybe I have been living passively all this time, just waiting for stuff to happen to me, when I could be out there, actively creating whatever type of life I wanted to have. Well. That is quite an eye opening thought. I’m not sure if I am excited, upset, or a little of both. I mean, I’m 40. I could have used this insight a little sooner. But then again, maybe I wasn’t ready for it then. And God knows, I’m in a better position than I have ever been before to go out and grab the world by the balls.

Perhaps it is time to start constructing my reality in a completely different way, huh? I’m going to think about this a little more, and let you know what I come up with.

Maui Dreams…

Napili Bay

 

For the past week, almost every night, I have been dreaming about being in Maui. I went, for the first time, back in November. The funny part is, it wasn’t even my big dream to go there- it was something my daughter wanted to do, and I just wanted to make it happen for her. I thought it would be cool, for her 18th birthday, to take her on her dream trip. I had never jumped on the Hawaii band wagon, probably because it was so crowded- the same reason it took me so long to read Harry Potter. I was so sick of hearing how great it was from everyone else that it killed my desire. Also, I am kind of a contrary person. I’m not bragging. This character defect of mine makes life mighty difficult sometimes.

Anyway, so Hawaii wasn’t about me. It was about Aisley, and making her happy, and getting to reconnect with her. It also didn’t suck to be able to talk about my upcoming trip, as I felt really grown up about taking an actual vacation. “Oh my God!” everyone sighed as we talked about it, “I am so jealous!” Or “Just wait until you get there…the air…it’s perfect…it’s life changing” and on & on. I was like, “yeah, I’ll bet.” and tried not to roll my eyes.

Well, silly me. I can’t count the many ways that I was wrong. From the minute I got off the plane, I knew the stories to be fact. The air really was special…I know, I know…how the fuck can air be special, right? But it IS. The smell, and the warmth, and the way it is always, like, the perfect temperature. How the heck is that even possible? I don’t know, but it is. I just felt like, the minute we landed, and that air touched me, tension I didn’t even know I was holding left me. There was nothing about Maui that I didn’t like. Except leaving. I really didn’t like leaving.

And ever since I have been home, I want to be back there. This past week, my subconscious has been putting on a show for me, every time I close my eyes and slip off into sleep. And when I wake up, I am homesick for a place I have only visited once, for a week. So I have done what anyone who listens to her dreams would do- I got online, I looked at jobs, I looked at houses, I discussed the possibility of moving, with everyone I know. I took a poll on Facebook.

What I noticed was, the more I thought about it, the more stressed out I was. What if I was making a mistake? What if I got there and hated it? What if the job I got there didn’t work out, and then I had left my great job here and couldn’t go back? What if the schools really suck, and the locals pick on Camryn? What if I RUIN MY LIFE and can NEVER FIX IT?! Dear God, by this morning, I was a total mess with the what-ifs and the imagined bullying of my poor kindergartner.  So I changed my mind. I thought- “what if I just stayed here, right here, for a while?” And all of the tension left my body like a fat breath of Maui air had just entered my lungs.

I’m not giving up on the idea that Maui might be someplace I call home someday. What I am giving up on is the idea that it is time for me to upend my life just as I have found some order and routine- this is something I am very good at robbing myself of. See, I don’t know what this is all about, but I can tell you that there is a pattern I can see to my life where I work like hell to create some safety and sanity in my life, to give myself a sanctuary somewhere…and then, the minute I can finally relax, I start tearing it all down again. I don’t know what that is all about, but I don’t think it’s really about me being bored. I suspect it may have something to do with me avoiding some scary truths about myself. And I KNOW that if I don’t allow those things to see the light of day, I will keep right on doing what I do, which, if I’m being honest, looks an awful lot like running, an awful lot like creating diversions.

What I am going to do is stay here, in my awesome little house, in my beautiful little town, and I am going to hang out with myself for a while longer. I am not going to make any big and life altering decisions until I am sure I can trust that I am making them with a sound mind, for the right reasons. And, in the meantime, another visit or two might be in order. Because that place really is Magical. What? It IS.

Over November

november rain

 

I am here, finally, to report that I made it through fucking November. You probably don’t even know why this is such a big deal, and quite frankly, neither do I- all I know is, for whatever reason, November is a HARD month for me. I seem to backslide a lot in November, and if you follow my blog at all, you know what I mean. If you don’t…sigh…I’ll just say it for you, but you really should go back and read some of my other stuff. It’s pretty entertaining. Anyway, I have a tendency to suffer terribly with addiction in the month of November. Actively, if you catch my drift.

Anyway, that didn’t happen this particular month. I think, this time, I was prepared for the weird onslaught of less desirable feelings I am beset by when the days get short, and it gets cold, and everything seems so hard to deal with. I basically gave myself permission to slack off in every other area, as long as I could just get through the month okay. That was my mantra- “Just Get Through This Month”. So, knowing what to expect, and cutting myself some slack, it seemed to do the trick.

It didn’t really hurt that I spent a week of that dreaded month in beautiful Maui, where November, apparently, does not hang out. They just double up on June over there. So I had an extra week of summer, which may have sustained me. I have been trying to figure out how to get back there ever since I have been home. I am not even kidding.

But now, sitting here, safely ensconced in December, I realize that, hard as November may be for me, it has also been a learning month for me. I have finally learned that this month is hard for me, and if I don’t want to be in big trouble, I need to formulate a plan to avoid it. Not the month, the big trouble. I have learned that I need to talk about it to the people I talk to these things about, and recognize the thought processes within me that lead me to dangerous ground.

November is a teacher, and this time I aced my exams. But still, I am glad it is over.

I know it has been a long time since my last post, and I feel really bad about it- especially since writing is, like, the best thing I know how to do. But sometimes, it’s just necessary to do what you have to do for yourself. That is what I have been doing. Hopefully, I am back for a while. 🙂

Almost Half-Way Check In ( 40 Things in my 40th Year Update)

So, I sat down this morning to check out my progress on the whole “40 things in my 40th year” list…and discovered, much to my horror, that A) I haven’t written a blog in TWO MONTHS?! I knew it had been a while, but not two months! That is really, really bad. I don’t even have an excuse. I just haven’t been writing. Lame. B) That October is five months since my birthday, which means almost HALF my year is gone! Holy Shit! Where the hell does time go? and C), worst of all…I haven’t done nearly as much from the list as I thought I had.

There is some good news though! I have actually accomplished a few of the things on my list, and several more are on the horizon. Let’s run through the list real quick like, shall we? Okay, here goes:

1.) Stop being so lazy: I think I may have actually overcome this life long demon of mine. Look, I will never be the most clean, neatest of the neat, girl on the planet. That just isn’t who I am. But I have made some real strides. I also got a roommate who does dishes, so this helps. But my overall laziness does seem to have improved, judging by the way I seem to run my ass off from the moment I wake up in the morning until the moment I collapse into bed every night, anyway.

2.) Makeover, as in, get one: I can’t decide if I did this or not. Technically, I did not get a makeover. I did, however, have some extremely awesome pictures of me taken that make it LOOK as if I did have a makeover, so I feel as if I satisfied that requirement. If the opportunity comes up for me to have a real makeover, I will jump on it. If it does not, I am not going to worry about it.

3.) Essay published in the Sun: This one would be so much easier to accomplish if I were actually writing. Which I am, right now, obviously, but this is the first time in a good, sad, while.

4.) Mud Run: I am doing this next weekend. I am so excited! If you have a second, check it out- it’s called the “MS Muck Fest” and it is a huge, muddy, fun obstacle course! Yay!

5.) Meet Justin:  Don’t get me wrong, I still would love to meet Justin…and his lovely new girlfriend, LOL. And I would LOVE to go to Canada. But this has fallen lower on my priority list. You know how it goes.

6.) Get a literary agent:  Sigh…again, I am so removed from my writing right now. I have had so much work to do in other areas, but I need to make time for this. It’s what feeds my soul.

7.) Go to a literary convention: I’m sensing a theme, here.

8.) Visit Glass Beach in Ft. Bragg: I actually  did this one! Can I just tell you something? That beach is TINY. The glass is incredible, but the beach is the size of a large-ish living room, and it is FULL of people. I didn’t find one memorable piece of glass there, sadly enough. I would still go back, but definitely NOT on a weekend. 🙂 Done, and DONE.

9.) Alcatraz:, 10.) Dance Lessons, 11.) Passport: Not Yet, Nope, and NO.

12.) Finish all Twelve Steps: I am still on step one. But I am working on it!

13.) Foodie Event, 14.) proposal for non-fiction book, 15.) hypnotism, 16.) writing class, 17.) jewelry class, 18.) hike soberanes, 19.) surf, and 20.) Hot springs : Nope, not even close, still possible, no, looked into it, but class was full, totally going to happen, not yet, and totally forgot about this, respectively.

21.) Camping, 22.) quilting: No to camping, and it doesn’t look too good at this point. And quilting? Hey, that is still possible!

23.) Leave California Twice, preferably from different directions: Well, I am going to Hawaii next month, so that is one. I just need to squeeze in one more trip, which shouldn’t be too hard!  Maybe I will finally make it to Oregon to see my buddy Brian.

24.) Ferry Ride: How hard could this be? If I can’t get this done in the next seven months, I am truly hopeless.

25.) Attend a live sporting event: I don’t even know why I added this one to the list. I don’t care about sports at all…although, honestly? I wish I did.

26.) Meditation: I have improved leaps and bounds in this one. I am so comfortable with meditation now, and can see the difference in my life when I am doing it consistently. However, this being a “practice”, not sure how I can ever complete it. Lets say my goal, while ongoing, has been a success!

27:) Treat my body kindly: Well…tomorrow, I will have not smoked a cigarette in 100 days! And I am watching what I eat, and I hired a personal trainer. I meet with him weekly, and hit the gym 4-5 times a week. I am weight lifting, and doing something active almost every single day. So, yes, while I have a ways to go, still, I am definitely doing what I set out to do here. Mission accomplished!

28.) Going outside in inside clothes: I have tried, I really have. But I am not going to lie…I am that girl. I will go to Save Mart in the clothes I slept in if I am out of coffee mate. I just don’t see what the big deal is. Sorry, Holly. 😦

29.) Go to Gilroy Gardens: Okay, so I totally did this, AND I bought season passes, thinking I would be saving big. The only problem is, I only went once. I Still have a month left on my passes, but next year? Yeah, I’ll just pay as I go (if I do…it really is pretty great, though. And beautiful!)

30.) Halloween Tour at Point Sur Lighthouse: I forgot that I wanted to do this, and I am going to look into it right now! So excited!

31.) Five Museums:  This is still going to happen.

32.) Write EVERY DAY: OKAY, ALREADY. Listen, it is just stupid that I am not doing this. I really can’t get around it. The remainder of this year, my writing will be first and foremost. It may not all be occurring here, but it will be occurring, this I swear.

33.) Connect with family: This is a funny goal, not very specific. I will tell you this- the work I have been doing on myself has allowed me to make great strides in my relationships with the people closest to me. Especially my mother and my older daughter. I am experiencing much less friction in my relationships with the people who know and love me most, and that is huge. Perhaps now the circle can begin to widen.

34.) Kindness, Empathy, Non-judgement:  I am getting better. This will be a life long effort. I am good with that.

35.) Garden: There is still time. I didn’t hit it last spring, but I can do it next one…and I will!

36.) Make my Home look Inviting and Good:  I would say that, yes, this has happened. Did I mention I got a roommate who does dishes? She’s amazing! The house looks great!

38.) Have a party!: This happened. Last weekend. And it was a HUGE success, if I do say so myself. I had at least 30 people here, not counting kids. It was a blast. 🙂

39.) Learn to BBQ: I am beginning to lose hope, you guys. I mean, I am a native Californian, who lives by the beach, no less, and not only do I not know how to BBQ, I don’t even own a grill. I feel like my card is going to be revoked.

40.) Say Yes More: I am not sure in what way I meant this when I wrote it originally. But knowing me, I meant saying YES to life, and to new experiences and new ways of thinking. Saying yes to vitality and joy. Yes, Yes, Yes! And you know what? I think this has been a wonderful year for all of those things so far.

So, this is where I am so far. I hope to keep plowing through. I hope that I can mark them all off…but even if I can’t? Hey, at least I am working towards a life filled with great experiences. At least my mind is working on some goals.  And knowing where I am now, I can really fine tune and focus on what is ahead!

I hope to see myself here much, much sooner…it’s been too long! Have a wonderful Sunday

Things I do when I am sick (That I would never do if I was well) (…probably)

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I have had to veer off course in the “Five Day, Five Photo Challenge”, mostly because I have been hovering on deaths door, doing my damnedest not to cross the threshold…just kidding, although I do have a nasty, terrible, no good, fucking awful cold. The second one in about a month, actually. Which probably means there is some underlying cause, most likely fatal, terminal, or otherwise incurable, right? Which leads me to the inspiration for this fine list- the crazy shit I think and do when I am sick. Please, enjoy my neuroses, and my trashy behavior. There should certainly be some benefit to the world from these.

Here goes:

1) As mentioned above, I have never just had a cold. It is always, in my head (and confirmed by WebMD) a symptom of a much bigger, probably fatal, underlying disease. I don’t get headaches, I get brain tumors. It’s never a cold, it’s always early pneumonia due to undiagnosed HIV. The cough is really lung cancer. The achy muscles are Rheumatoid Arthritis. I actually even entertained the idea, briefly, yesterday, that there was probably a tick somewhere lodged in my body, and I was completely riddled with Lyme’s disease. Actually, that could be true. I am sure there are lots of places on my body where a tick could live happily for YEARS. I am not nearly that thorough in my self examinations, that I would spend the time necessary to locate a tick. Let me remind you, I have a four year old. I couldn’t even tell you the last time I took a bath alone, let alone one where I could thoroughly search for ticks.

2) Due to my (hopefully imagined) impending demise, I become extremely weepy, loving, and tender with my children. I imagine how fucked their lives will be when I have the nerve to die young(ish), and I imagine myself looking down on them from heaven as they cry and mourn. Even as I write this, I realize how mental I must sound. I’m even a little embarrassed for me.  Anyway, because this is such a horrible mental road to go down, I then become full of resolve to beat this horrible cancer (my cold) and vow to be well, against all odds (or with chicken soup and Robitussin, whichever is easier). Which leads me to-

3) The part where I turn into a sleep Nazi, screaming at my children, the dogs, and my phone every time it rings. Don’t these idiots know I am coming back from the BRINK, here? I must rest! I must imagine my body attacking the cancer (germs. cold germs, that is all they are) so that I can survive! FOR THEM! Don’t they see what is happening here? ( I can actually see my older daughter rolling her eyes at me in disgust as I write this, saying “Why? Oh, yes, because you are DRAMA.”)

4) Other and miscellaneous things: When I am sick, and I need medicine, which I never seem to have when I need it, I will go to the store in my pajamas and slippers without a single fuck to give, and I will zombie walk to the cold/flu aisle like a kid in a candy store. If a kid were a zombie with serious sinus problems, anyway. I spent forty dollars yesterday on shit for my cold. I know that I can’t cure it, but I just wanted to feel better. You and I both know, though, that nothing apart from time really works.  If I didn’t have kids, I’d just continually use Nyquil to knock myself out until the symptoms passed, but that seems dangerous with a four year old in the house.

5) I religiously spray salt water up my nose when I am sick. I know I am not alone in this, but it seems to funny to me every time I do it- we spend every well moment of our lives vigorously avoiding getting things up our noses (well, okay…you know what I mean) and the minute we are sick, we actively begin squirting shit up there. Or, I do, anyway. I have no idea if it actually even works, but at least I feel like I am doing something.

6) I take baths with no thought of hygiene whatsoever. I sat in a bath full of kids vapor crap yesterday, just for the hope of some relief, however brief. I nearly scalded my skin off, but dear Jesus, I could actually breathe for the duration of the bath. Unfortunately, I was too sick to bother actually washing any part of my body. It never even crossed my mind. Being wet was good enough in my book.

7) I will literally blow and or wipe my nose on ANYTHING when I am sick, so the best bet is to keep something intended for that near me at all times. This is why people walk around with Kleenex boxes when they are ill- to save the curtains. I actually wiped my nose on my own pajama bottoms the other day. I am pretty sure I am still wearing them. Guess how much I care?

8) I will gladly let my four year old eat nothing but Popsicle’s for breakfast. And lunch. And dinner. Only when I am sick. At least she is eating something, right? Now that I think about it, this may be WHY I am sick again so soon- she is probably diabolically licking all the rims of the clean glasses in the house, planting her pre-school germs (of which there are plenty) in hopes of Popsicle’s 24/7…I better keep an eye on her.

Well, that is it for me. I am going back to bed now. Gotta nip this cancer (cold) in the bud. Have a wonderful day!

Beautiful Human Machines

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I had intended to title this post “Stupid Human Bodies”, to be honest with you. I woke up this morning with only half of one nostril cooperating in my breathing effort. I have the kind of congestion that can be neither blown out, nor, uh…breathed in? I suppose the proper description would be “hocked up”, but that sounds so yucky, doesn’t it? Either way, if you are reading this, then you probably are saddled with one of these disease prone, periodically snot-addled, human contraptions we call “bodies” yourself, so I am sure you understand. The throbbing headache caused by sinuses that are malfunctioning- or is it hyperfunctioning? I am really unsure. The achy skin inflicted with fever. The goopy eyes, runny noses, dry, cracked lips. And this is only when we are dealing with the common fucking cold!

Don’t even get me started on the rest of the insulting things we must suffer through- the flaw in our design that put so many nerve endings in the places where we are most likely to ram them into things (think little pinky toes, my friend), the acne as teenagers (and adults), the metabolism that runs like a dream for so many years, only to leave us high and dry when our terrible eating habits are firmly ingrained in us…leaving us looking, bewildered, at the cellulite on our thighs and the rolls of blubber encircling our middles. Uncomfortably warm, permanent (seems like), hugs from the fat fairy. Yeah, life inside these bone and skin tents can be trying.

I was feeling all kinds of sorry for myself this morning, hobbling around with my achy, common-cold bones, hindered by my fat hug and the insurmountable mucus battle raging in my head…I was feeling whiny and bitchy and all kinds of pathetic. And then my daughter woke up. As you can see from the picture above, whatever is wrong with me is WAY less important than whatever the hell is going on with her. Yesterday, I thought she had a bug bite near her eye causing that swelling. Today, I am leaning more towards some type of cellulitis, perhaps conjunctivitis with a little something extra…I don’t know.

But it’s amazing, isn’t it, how quickly ones perspective can change? First of all, when I got out of “poor me” mode, and jumped into the impenetrable armor I call “Mommy Deluxe” (motto: don’t fuck with my kids, you hear?), my cold symptoms seemed to just float away. But, more importantly, I became acutely grateful for this wonderful machine that house our souls from day one through day…whatever you make it to. Because if this fancy contraption was not SO smart that it could send up distress signals you would need to blind to miss (ie: this eye is swollen even WORSE today, lady, so the Benadryl ain’t working! Help! Help!), how would I have known that something was seriously up with my kid? Answer: I wouldn’t have. I would not have known.

Our bodies are such precise and miraculous little systems. They are so complex, there are things even the most highly trained doctors, the most insanely educated scientists, are still mystified by. They protect us, they wage wars we often know nothing about, they suffer such abuses at our hands, and they still do their job, to the best of their ability, every single second of our lives. How cool is that? They find ways to communicate with us that we can understand, each body learning the language we will hear so that it can tell us how to help. And what do we do? We complain and whine, and get upset when things go wrong…Yet, how often are we grateful for all the many, many things that go right?

Today, I am going to stop whining, and appreciate this marvelous (if a little chubbier and snottier than I feel is totally necessary) temple that has been with me since the moment…no, since BEFORE the moment, even…I was born. Also, I am going to call the doctor for Cammy. That eye does not look good.

Have a beautiful day!

Spiritual Re-set!

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I don’t know about you, but I have to make a conscious effort to incorporate things into my life which actually sustain feelings of peace and well-being. I naturally gravitate towards those little “quick-fixes”, the empty calories for the soul…like Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, etc. I am not saying these don’t serve a purpose, or that they are bad…I’m just saying, for people like me, who love acknowledgement, who like that feeling of approval…this can be very tempting, even dangerously so. Now, I am not saying dangerous like it would KILL me or anything. I am just saying- there are other, much more important things I could be doing with my free time.

Not everyone is like me, I know this. I realize I walk a much finer line than some, what with my issues with addiction that cause a multitude of other problems (most of which concern how I am mentally, and how I behave in the world). Maybe everyone doesn’t need to make sure they are centered and spiritually sound before leaving the house every day. Maybe some people don’t have to work very hard to feel satisfied with themselves. But I do. So, knowing this, you would think it would be easier for me to tend to those needs in a fairly dedicated fashion, right? Wrong.

I still struggle with it. I get up in the morning, and the very first thing I do is grab my phone and see what is up on Facebook, Instagram, check my text messages, maybe my email. I grab my coffee and sit outside, scrolling like a crazy person to see who gives a shit about my latest contribution of videos, pictures, quotes and other bullshit. When I get to the end of it, I don’t feel any better…if anything, I feel sort of deflated and empty. It’s like a roller coaster ride- super exhilarating while it’s happening, but over with quick, leaving you looking for the next line to get in.

I have not made time in four days now for prayer and meditation. I may have prayed, but not in my usual manner. I tried a new meditation yesterday, but I was too lazy to turn the TV off, so, yeah…that is not an effort, not really. I can give you so many excuses, really good ones, too, ones that you would have no problem buying. But the truth is, I made time, lots of it, every day, for social media. Why in the world am I not making time for the things that keep me sane? That let me occupy a happy space in this world?

I think, to battle this over-stimulation that can be so alluring to both addicts and “Normies” both, it is wise to do a fast every once in a while. It’s sort of like resetting your metabolism, right? Creating a routine that only includes the “whole-grain” activities that nourish you. It’s like clean eating for your spirit. I think that is what I need to do, maybe for the rest of this week. A way to do this that makes it really simple is just to remove the apps from your phone. It’s hard at first, but it gets easier fast.

For now, I think it is time I attend to myself in the best possible ways…my prayer, my meditation. I have also been easing up too much on my novel writing (why I have been here much less, by the way) over the past several days. Time for a reset!

Have a wonderful day!