Posted in Addiction, Blogging, Goals, health, Life, mindfulness, Musings, People, random

Changes

change

As I have written, time and time and time again, I am the ultimate creature of habit…the one caveat is that I have the wandering soul of a gypsy, and these two things do not mesh well at all. I long to jump on a plane and fly across the continent, then, when I do, I spend the first few nights homesick and wishing for my own bed. This happens every time. Unless, of course, my kids are with me, in which case- well, home is wherever they are, in my estimation. So, the solution for that is pretty obvious- take the kids with me, right? Right. Problem solved.

I’m sure there was an element of that in my drug addiction. You know, they say that amphetamines are not physically addictive…although I can tell you for sure that my body protested every time I quit, it wasn’t the slow hell that a heroin addict suffers through for months on end. More an annoyance than anything. But there is a lifestyle that goes along with addiction- a whole world that exists right under the nose of the “normy”, with its own rules and unspoken laws. That was the world I unwittingly stumbled into so long ago, and where I far overstayed. As much as it was a relief to give all that up, it was hard. I didn’t know how to fit in in the regular world, I didn’t know how to behave anymore. But the idea of going back was so abhorrent, it became easier for me to keep making the right choice. But that change was hard. I left a home, of sorts, and I know I could never go back now…for a while though, it was up in the air.

One of my resolutions this year was to not only stay away from cigarettes, but to give up my precious vape as well. I recognized it for what it was, finally- just another crutch, basically the same as smoking. I would alternate between the two- smoking for a while, then going back to the vape. My vape broke, I’d buy another- 70 or 100 dollars, at least five or six times. The juice you need to fill it runs about 30 bucks a bottle, and I’d go through at least one, if not two a week. So, financially, not quite the win that I thought quitting smoking would be. I switched to no nicotine juice and went back on the patch, and…you see where this is going? Right, nowhere. Still doing the same thing, pretending it’s different.

Yesterday, I just gave up. I put my patch on and thought “I am not going to vape today. I just want to see how it feels.” Guess what? It felt pretty odd. I didn’t get that hand-to-mouth thing that I am so stuck on, and it seemed like every five seconds I had that feeling like I was missing something. That… beginning to reach for something before I realized it wasn’t there. So, I found an old fast food straw that was shoved in my desk drawer and I cut it into three equal pieces. Now, I just compulsively chew it, or, when I’m really wanting to inhale something, I take a nice big hit of oxygen, right through the straw. I probably look like an idiot. But it’s working fine. I’m feeling pretty proud of myself right now. I have been a smoker of some sort for most of my life, and I want to see what it’s like to be tethered to nothing. To need nothing I didn’t come with to get through the day. And yes, I’m still wearing my patch, for now. I’m not a sadist.

But this morning, I woke up knowing I needed to change up my routine a little, to make it safer for me. Mornings are the prime nicotine imbibing time- stores are low, you know. And even though my vape had no nicotine anymore, I still hit that thing hard in the morning. So, I got up this morning, started my coffee, and jumped straight into the shower. I didn’t fool around. I got out, put on my patch, and then had my coffee. Also, I smartly got rid of all temptation-this is quitters rule number one! Gave all my vaping stuff away, so there was nothing to mess with even if I wanted to. But still, I know me- I’m perfectly capable of throwing in the towel while half asleep and running to 7-11 to buy a pack of smokes. But I don’t want to. I want this. I want freedom.

I can promise you this- I have quit all kinds of things in my life that were addictive, from drugs to relationships to bad behaviors. Nothing has ever been harder than giving up smoking. I will stay on the patch for as long as I need to, but I can’t wait to be free of that, too. I just don’t want to kill anyone trying to move too fast- I’m not kidding, nicotine withdrawals are no joke. And I’m kind of evil to begin with, so it’s not that far of a jump for me.

Anyway, there was more to this story, but we’re already at almost 900 words, so…look for “Changes, part II” tomorrow. And have a wonderful day!

Posted in anxiety, Blogging, Depression, family, inner peace, Life, Mental Health, mental illness, mindfulness, Musings, People, women

Quiet

*** Warning: This is not as happy as most of my recent posts. Teensy bit of a bummer***

I went on to have a bad day yesterday…after the beautiful weekend, after the peace and happiness I held in my heart and in my body as I wrote my post yesterday.

Work was…the same as it always is. The same, same, same. I began to wonder if maybe, reading chart after chart of sick and injured patients- if maybe I took on some of that. Some of the emotion- the fear, the worry, the sadness- that I read day in and day out. I have said before, I am very impressionable. My body grew tighter and more tense as the day went on.

By 2:30, the anxiety had started to blossom in my chest. I tried to resist it, but that never works. I tried to sit with it, to reason with it, to ignore it. Nothing. Nothing worked. The terrible thoughts began to bombard my mind- car wrecks and kidnappings and all of the ideas that plague me when my children aren’t within arms reach. My mind becomes a bitter enemy.

And now I am starting to see what comes after the anxiety rushes out- after the child is home, safe and sound, leaving this giant space inside of me where all that worry had been. After the relief of her arrival-that brief, sweet, space- has also fled. I am left with this…this awfulness. This feeling that my mind has done it, once again, splintered away from reason, led me down this dark path. And then I am angry. I am angry with myself, but it comes out in other ways. Impatience with homework, intolerance, temper. The anxiety leaves me with another mess. I am finally seeing it.

This morning, I am once again left with the task of forgiving myself. Of loving myself despite my defects. Telling myself that healing is not a straight path- there are dips and bends, and times when the road doubles back on itself. The times when I am angry and lost are so brief now, but they seem to bother me so much more. And you know…no one went to bed with hurt feelings last night. Cam crept into my room and slept beside me while I was sleeping. It wasn’t that bad. But I want it to be better. I always wish it were better.

I crave quiet this morning. I turned the radio off in the car, let the sound of the rain fill my ears, the low hum of the car. Even now, I hear nothing but the rain outside, and it is all I want. I don’t want to scroll through Facebook, or hear anymore of the godforsaken news of this fucked up world. I have enough on my plate right here. Right inside these walls. I am on my guard, of course, praying the anxiety does not return today. It gets old. It gets old not feeling safe in your own life, knowing it’s all just a lie your brain is making up. It gets old not knowing what to do to fix it.

So today, I’m just going to be quiet. I’m just going to breathe. And try to figure out how to clear this hurdle.

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, fun, Goals, humor, Life, mindfulness, Musings, People, random, Uncategorized

Re-calibrating my Goals

food

Good morning!

So, here we are, close enough to mid-way through the first month of this beautiful, shiny new year…it’s been enough time for me to notice what just might not be working out as planned-as resolved, rather.

For instance, I vowed I would not eat fast food, not even once, in 2019. And that is going great! I have not had so much as a nibble off the end of a french fry, I swear it. But nowhere in that resolution does it go on to say: “however, I shall indiscriminately eat any and all things that are not nailed down, that are also not delivered via a drive-thru window.” I think the point of my resolution was to eat healthier in general, not just gorge on everything that was not fast food. I should have written that into the resolution. My brain is very literal. Anything that is not fast food has been game, and I am already seeing the effects of it.

Last Tuesday, I bought a box of cocoa-dusted truffles from Trader Joe’s. I paused long enough in front of the stack of boxes that it was obvious I was deliberating over whether or not this was a disastrous idea- proof that it was. I bought them anyway. I knew it was a bad idea, but I just didn’t care. I brought them home, and ate them all, one by one, over the course of the next few days. They were all gone by yesterday. And it’s not the worst thing in the world, I know that. It’s just so…unnecessary. So opposite of the way I am trying to go.

I ordered Hello Fresh, the vegetarian boxes, thinking that would be a healthy, fun way to incorporate more veggies into my diet, and keep me eating at home more. Well, I’ve been eating more veggies at home, for sure. But just because something is vegetarian does NOT make it low calorie. Especially when I’m the cook, and I’m adding extra butter and cream to everything, because it tastes so much better.

All of this to say- I need to start tracking my food again. I never wanted to, but I need to see the calories I’m consuming as I’m consuming them, because it’s too easy to pretend otherwise. I’d lost 7 pounds thanks to that awful medication I was on, and I gained every pound back already. This is not the direction I want to be headed. If it were seven pounds of muscle, that’d be great, but I can say with some certainty that it is NOT.

As far as the bulk of everything else I’d resolved to do? Eh, things are going okay…I feel like I could push myself harder, but then again, I always feel that way. The areas where I really have been shining are walking my dog daily- and therefore getting more exercise myself- and doing more around the house every day, which is a big win, but, judging by the way the house looks right now, not big enough. There are only so many hours in a day. I am not a miracle worker.

I still haven’t gone to the gym, and you know what? I really don’t want to go to the gym. I just do not want to go. I drove all the way out there yesterday for a yoga class, and wound up going shopping at Kohl’s instead. Came home, did some yoga privately in my living room. So I don’t know…I think I might just give up the membership. There is one class I really want to try before that happens, though, and if I like it, it could change everything.

In other news, things I did not resolve to do but am doing anyway, such as: my meditation practice is wonderful. Haven’t missed a day. My meeting attendance is up, which is a good thing. And I’ve been making lists of tasks to complete daily, and trying my hardest to get them done.

Two weeks in. My summary? Not terrible, but could definitely be better. I’m not giving up on myself yet, though. That’s the great thing about resolutions- you can make them at any time, change them at any time, reevaluate them and rearrange them. Moral of the story? Don’t give up! I’m not about to, and neither should you! How are your resolutions going, if you made some?

Posted in Addiction, anxiety, faith, Goals, Holidays, inner peace, Life, manifestation, Mental Health, mindfulness, People, recovery

With a Grateful Heart

a grateful heart
courtesy of Pinterest and littleleaves.com

I woke up way too early, as usual…but I am not going to get all worked up over it. This is just who I am, and I have accepted it. I’m an early riser who has become a super early riser over the past few months. I think partially it developed as a way to save a few precious hours of peace for myself, while my older daughter and her boyfriend were staying here. This time is so important to me. I’d do just about anything to preserve it, including waking up in what is basically the middle of the night.

I did, however, get to usher in the New Year last night! I set an alarm for 11:55, and Cam and I got up long enough to do the count down, scream “Happy New Year!” once, hug each other, then scramble back to the warmth of the bed. Last night was her last official night sleeping with me. We are both more than ready to go our separate sleeping ways, but with the extra people here the past few months, we didn’t really have a choice. So tonight, I can sleep diagonally, the way I do when she is at her dad’s house. She’s a tall child, and such a bed hog, and I feel guilty for saying this, but I sleep SO much better when she is staying overnight with her father. So, bittersweet though it may be, we are both excited about this milestone. Obviously, she’s way too old to still be sleeping with her mother, and she used to sleep on her own at our old house…not sure what happened. I don’t regret it, though. They are only little for such a short time.

Anyway, I woke up this morning feeling such gratitude for my life. I have such a good feeling about the year ahead. I was thinking about the horrible panic attack and subsequent anxiety I suffered through less than two weeks ago, and I wonder if it was just a giant purge of built up negative energy- shit I needed to get rid of? Because since it faded away, I have been steadily more centered, happy, and anxiety free. Seems like more than coincidence to me- to get to begin a new year wiped clean of the dark feelings that had been plaguing me? Well, whatever it is, I’ll take it. Gladly.

You know…my house is still a mess. I meant to take down my tree last night, and never got around to it. There are dishes in the sink, and…well, it’s pretty much like it always is around here. But for once, none of it is bothering me. Because I have a plan, and I intend to stick to it. Little by little, this house will transform, and be the way I want it to be. By the time I go to bed tonight, those dishes will be gone, the counters wiped clean, the tree gone, ornaments put away. It still won’t be perfect- I doubt it will ever be perfect. But eventually, it will be the way I want it to be. I feel quite sure of that.

The thing is, I have started this year with peace in my heart. I don’t know that I’ve often felt peace like this. It feels solid to me, as if it is not dependent on outside circumstances, but more like it stems from within me. It’s the kind of peace that comes when you have finally started to trust yourself, to know that most likely, you are going to be okay. I’ve survived a lot- I’ve survived MYSELF, which was no simple feat. This is my fourth consecutive New Years clean, and I’ve grown stronger every year. And I am so grateful for that- for the peace, and for surviving myself, and surviving the dark parts of my own mind. I’m so grateful for making it out of that last, awful, dark place, and for the wonderful new spot it wound up leaving me.

I’m starting this shiny, fresh new year with a grateful heart. And I don’t think there is a better place to begin than that.

May your year be blessed, happy, full of hope and laughter. Happy New Year!

Posted in anxiety, Depression, health, inner peace, Life, meditation, Mental Health, mental illness, mindfulness, Musings, People, women

Light after Darkness

light through darkness

I want to share something with you: Although I would never, ever, ever wish a panic attack of any caliber on anyone, I am sitting here this morning grateful for the meltdown I had last week. I honestly think it needed to happen. Yes, it was scary, and over the top, and it kind of felt like I filled a few short hours with a years worth of fear, BUT…walking around with all those bottled up emotions, trying to be strong and good all the time- it’s exhausting.

I learned some important things, like: even though I might feel like I am alone in the world, there really are people that I can count on in a crisis. People who love me exactly as I am, even at my worst.

Thanks to my heightened anxiety and panic for those few days, when I came back down to earth and my normal worries started kicking back in, they paled in comparison to the shit-show I had just survived. So, I have been less worried about mundane, normal things than usual. This is nothing short of a miracle. Worry is a waste of time, period.

I figured out that I need to be ME. The full expression of myself, not watered down, not held back to be more palatable for someone else. I need to be comfortable in my own life, and if I am not committed to this, certainly no one else will make it so. This is MY life. I must care for it and tend to it and make it beautiful for me, which means being who I am and defending the boundaries I decide on. I must be an active participant. Funny side effect of this is that when you start to be true to yourself, you start to uphold those boundaries, not only do you respect yourself more, but other people respect you more as well. And then it becomes even easier to be happy, and be yourself. It all goes together.

From the heights of panic to the depths of despair, my mini-nervous breakdown left me with a lot of information to process. It also left me with a clean slate, in a place where there has been much peace and gratitude. I’ve returned to my daily meditation practice, I pause many times throughout the day to appreciate the calm, or the contentment, or the quiet within me. It’s been easier for me to be kind, to reach out to others. My picking up on the vibes of others is at an all time high.

I’m no fool- I know that life is not going to magically be wonderful forever now. Ups and downs are just part of the ride, and some of us have more of them than others. I know there will be other moments when I am crying in the bathtub, scared to death of my own mind. But there will also be other moments when I am so in love with life, and so grateful for that same exact mind…and that makes it all a lot more bearable. Knowing that, when it is very dark, the light is on its way. I will try to remember that.

Posted in friendship, inner peace, Learning, Life, mindfulness, Musings, People, random, relationships

Happiness & Curiosity

curiosity

I’ve been in a bit of a rut, lately, and it’s been hard for me to want to write- not just here, but also on my novel, which is a total bummer. Mostly because I am part of an awesome critique group and I’m running out of chapters to submit thanks to this weird writers block…but anyway, I haven’t been feeling my level best, had some minor health issues that are slowly resolving, and the whole vibe has not been conducive to me writing, I guess. When you aren’t feeling well, it’s hard to think about anything else.

For the last few days, I’ve been feeling better though, and my thoughts have turned again, as they always do, to my happiness and what I might do to improve it. Some people say that happiness is not a destination you arrive at, it’s something that you choose to experience, and I agree with that to a certain extent. But I also know that when you live a hectic, modern life full of children and work and chores to be done…the first thing we throw out of the picture are the things that make us feel the best. Forget about long, lingering bubble baths and walks on the beach with the dog- sometimes I am lucky to take a three minute shower and can’t even manage a quick walk around the block with poor Lucy. The truth is, when it’s getting dark around the same time I clock out of work, I often allow myself to just move from my office chair to the couch and spend the rest of the night numbing out to Netflix.

There may be stretches of time when this is honestly the best I can do. Do I judge myself a little harshly when this is the case? You bet your ass I do. I go to bed, frustrated and disappointed with myself because I feel like I wasted these precious hours of my life, hours I can’t get back. I think a lot about stuff like that- probably a side effect of having lost so many loved ones over the past 15 months. Death has a way of making our own mortality very, very clear to us, doesn’t it?

The good news is that, without fail, my energy returns, and I can try again. Try to fill my hours up in a way that makes me feel better about my life, try to figure out how to experience more happiness. I always come up with the same things: Be outside more, move my body more, connect with my kids and friends more,write, meditate, pray, get the house in order, and go to meetings. Obviously, these are just the little, day-to-day things that work best for me, not the longer term, “big” goals. But doing just these little things make a huge difference in my life. My magic formula for deeper enjoyment of my every day life.

Most of those things are simple enough to slip back into, once I’m back in the right frame of mind. You know what I struggle with, though? The “connecting with people” piece. And I mean this is a struggle on every level- with my own children up to the stranger sitting beside me at a meeting. I know why. It has everything to do with me being judgmental, which is really just a symptom of my own insecurity and fear of being vulnerable, i.e., I don’t want to be judged, so I will judge you first. Well, with my kids, I mean, I’m just being a mom…and to be fair, some of the shit they say is just…lets just say it’s hard not to power roll my eyes, sometimes. But with other people, this can become really problematic. When you are super guarded, or you think you already know something about someone based on their body language, their appearance, or maybe their current shitty situation, you are doing both them and yourself a disservice. When I think back through my life, to all the people who graciously chose to get closer to me when I was just awful…I don’t know how I would’ve survived without that kindness. I don’t think I could have.

Luckily, I found an easy solution to this problem. Instead of being guarded and drawing away, I have been choosing to be open and curious. There is a physical sensation attached to both of these things- being guarded feels closed off, tight, impatient, and makes my eyes look anywhere but at the person. Being open and curious feels…well, open, obviously, and warmer, somehow, and helps me look at and hear someone so much better. When I am not quick to judge, I am much quicker to listen, and when I listen well, it is so much easier to connect. For me, connecting with someone, really hearing and understanding and empathizing with where and who they are, is the best high. When I listen with curiosity, when I am open, when I take five seconds to talk to someone after a meeting and let them know I heard them…maybe it doesn’t mean anything much to them, but that connection means a lot to me. When I have friends over here for a super casual dinner, when I spend thirty minutes walking outside with Cam, playing Pokemon Go- maybe it’s not big deal, but it feels like one to me. It feels like the key to everything, to be honest.

So, this week, and for the rest of this year, my goal is to continue to make time for the things that help me to experience happiness, and to be open and curious about people, rather than closed off and invulnerable. Not a lofty goal, but I don’t know…it feels important to me. I may be onto something.