Posted in Addiction, Depression, faith, happiness, inner peace, Life, Musings, People, random, Uncategorized

Kindness

kindness

Once upon a time, I was a very, very messed up young lady. Not messed up in the everyday, average, run-of-the-mill way I am now. I’m not talking about depression or anxiety this time, which I seem to suffer from in a very “normal” way, judging by the lives and comments from my friends. I don’t know many people who make it to this age in life without some baggage, vague mental illness, and/or flat out jadedness. I’m not saying this is a good or even acceptable thing, I’m just saying…it’s kind of part of the deal.

What I’m talking about here is my “former life”. The life I began at 19, the part where I wound up on drugs for such a long time. When I tell you that I was bad, I need you to believe me. There were no days off, not if I could help it. I lived, breathed and existed for my drugs. It was my life. I wish that it weren’t true, but facts are facts.

What I don’t often talk about is the kindness that was shown to me through those years. The people who saw something more in me, something good, and gave me chances, reached out a hand, tried to help. There are more kind and giving people in this world than you would ever imagine, if you have never needed help the way I used to.

I was homeless, periodically, many times throughout those years. And yet I never once had to sleep in my car- not ever. My friends would take me in for various lengths of time, never asking for for anything in return. I was always fed when I was hungry, I always managed to have a pack of cigarettes, I never remember feeling afraid or having nowhere to go. I was asked to house-sit, invited to stay over. My clothes got washed, I showered. I honestly don’t know how I got so lucky, but I always felt that I was. Even in the worst of times, I recognized that my life could be so much worse.

Did I disappoint people? Oh, yes. Regularly. The remorse I feel for the people I let down is almost a living thing, sometimes. It’s better now that I’ve made something of my life. I don’t feel it so acutely, with the passage of time. When I think about those years of my life, it honestly feels like I am viewing the memories of another person…someone I could never possibly have been, except that I was. I took advantage, overstayed my welcome, pilfered change from pockets, ate food that wasn’t meant for me. I was given jobs that I casually didn’t show up for, and borrowed money I could never pay back. In short, I was kind of a nightmare. Looked like a sweet kid, behaved like a monster.

And still…people helped me. My friend Debbie, who I’ve lost track of over the years, replaced my headlights when she was scraping by on a waitresses salary. The number of nights I spent in her apartment, blasting Aretha Franklin and driving her nuts, I couldn’t count. A lady named Suzi that I worked with asked me to “house-sit” for her every time she left town, knowing what a risk I was. People rolled the dice on me all the time, and I was not a safe bet. But I’ve never forgotten. I have never forgotten the kindnesses I’ve been shown.

One time, I was at the welfare office in Nevada, in a desperate situation. I needed money, I needed food- at this time I had a small daughter, and I had waited too long to look for help. There was no way I was making rent. I had called the Catholic charities, I had tried to figure it out,  but things were dire. It was winter time, I remember that, and things were not looking good in that welfare office. It was harder to get help in Nevada than it had been in California, and I knew things weren’t going to work in my favor for once.

There was a woman working there…she was probably the age I am now, mid forties, a heavy-set black woman. She had this beautiful necklace on- a simple chain with this big, shiny, single rhinestone hanging from it. In the midst of all the bullshit I was spewing, wired out of my mind, I said “I really love your necklace.” Because I did. I will never, ever forget what happened next. She said “You know, I never wear this thing. I felt called to wear it this morning, and now I know why.” And she took it off her neck and handed it to me. She GAVE it to me.

You know, that meant something to me. It might have just been a little piece of costume jewelry, but that wasn’t the point. The point was, she did something incredibly kind in that moment. She made me feel worthy and special and less like that desperate, messed up young woman I was. I don’t know how to explain it. But it gave me a boost that I needed so much right then. I will never forget it. I still have that necklace, and I wish I could find that lady and tell her I turned out okay after all. She might not remember me, but I will always remember her.

Another time, and this story is very strange, I was at the beach- a beach I frequent, even to this day. I was at the end of my last run, really strung out, really miserable, feeling like I had reached the end of my rope. I didn’t know what to do with myself anymore…I had realized that no one was going to come along to save me, that I was going to have to rely on myself, and that thought terrified me. I just remember feeling incredibly down that day. The beach was nearly deserted, and out of nowhere, this woman approached me. She had on a skirt, I remember, a longish skirt, and she seemed out of place. She had a bag of sea glass with her, and she showed me her finds. I would guess she was in her fifties or sixties, and she seemed a little odd, though friendly enough. All of the sudden she told me she felt called to pray over me and asked if it was okay. Normally, this would have been SO not okay with me. But that day…I really needed it. It was the strangest thing. She held my hands, and she prayed for me, right there in broad daylight on that deserted beach. I get tears in my eyes just thinking about it. I never saw her again.

I don’t know where I am going with this, except…I’m just really grateful for the kindness I’ve been on the receiving end of over the years. I have hurt people and let them down, ripped them off and fucked them over. Yet I never saw the end of that kindness. It always kept coming, and always when I needed it most. I forget that sometimes- how kind people are when it matters most. Having been self-sufficient for so long now, relying on the news and social media to tell me how the world is, I let myself forget. But that’s not the truth, the things you see online, or on your phone. The truth is, people are mostly good, they want to help. I bet you know this about yourself. I bet you see it in others.

I would not be here without the kindness of strangers, the giving hearts of my friends. I know that much is true. Never stop reaching out, even when you think it’s a lost cause. You just never know the impact you might have on someone.

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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 inner peace, Life, Mental Health, mindfulness, Musings, People, random, Uncategorized, women

Openings

It seems to me that there are specific times in my life where I inexplicably begin to feel better. I might not even be fully aware that I wasn’t feeling so great to begin with, but maybe the weight of living felt a little bit…heavier, I guess. Little things are harder. Daily life is gotten through, but joy seems just beyond my reach. I am just muddling through as best I can.

And then there are these openings- times when I wake up, and my heart is lighter, my energy is bubbling up, and life seems full of possibility again. This past weekend has been one such time, and I’m hoping it continues. I have no idea what brings them about, these openings- maybe it’s just some fluctuation in my brain chemistry. Maybe that cracked wisdom tooth I had pulled on Friday was causing me a lot more trouble than I was ever aware of. Maybe the stars just aligned. I do not know, I just know that I am grateful.

I see these shifts in me for what they are- great opportunities to get the ball rolling in the right direction again. These are the times when, if I take advantage of them, I can reconnect with the part of me that I enjoy the most. The part who goes on 6 a.m. beach adventures with her children, the me who opens up the blinds to let the light stream in, who sings while she cooks dinner. This is also the part of me who unflinchingly sorts through piles of old mail and ruthlessly cleans out the fridge until there is nothing left but a bottle of ketchup and one egg.

I am grateful for these times, but I know they do not last forever. They are gifts, and I am happy to receive them. I know that life is always a series of ebbs and flows, and my job is to learn how to ride the waves, however they show up. If I handle the easy, happy, good times right, perhaps the difficult times will be just a little easier. Perhaps. And if not, I know that there will be better times opening up for me again, down the road.

Have a beautiful week.

Posted in Addiction, Dreams, inner peace, Life, mindfulness, Musings, People, random, recovery, Uncategorized

Bloom Where you’re Planted

bloom-where-you-are-planted

There’s this thing I love to do, where I window-shop for houses on Zillow, almost exclusively in places where I’ve never been. I have this obsession with the east coast, and the idea of seasons- autumn leaves in fall and snow on Christmas, the sweet relief of melting snow in spring and delicious summer nights spent with the windows open. And there is nothing wrong with that, I guess…except that I live here, on the west coast, and this is where my life is unfolding.

I notice that I do the Zillow browsing most when I am feeling the least thrilled with my life here. The cost of living in California is astronomical, and it would be really hard for me to buy a house here on my own, something that has become more and more important to me over the past couple of years.

But it’s more than that, I think. I have always been a daydreamer, but there is this other part to these daydreams- the idea that I could be happier if only I were somewhere else, doing something else. There’s nothing wrong with daydreaming, but it’s the idea that the grass is greener elsewhere that makes trouble. Rather than tending to this lawn right beneath my feet, I’m staring across the country, into the yard of someone who has made it look really pretty for the photos.

And then there is this other part- the part where, and I have learned this lesson already- I will still be me wherever I go. No matter where I am, all my troubles come with me. You cannot run away from your own restless nature. You cannot escape a longing for another place…no matter where you are, that longing will just change direction. When I ran away to Reno years ago, thinking that this peninsula where I sit now was the root of all my problems, I would stand in my bathroom late at night and pretend the cars rushing by on the busy road some miles away were the roaring of distant surf. I just wanted to go home.

I am such a strange human. I long for change and for routine at the same time. I want to travel and still, somehow, sleep in my own bed. I want to start over without losing anything in the process. I want to keep everything I have and have everything I want.

But most of all, I just want to be happy.

And happiness is not a place. Happiness is not waiting for me in an empty house in Maine. Happiness is right here, waiting for me to notice it. I found it yesterday in the most mundane things- a morning spent with my daughter, cleaning out the “linen” closet, which held everything except linen, and packing up seven bags of junk to go to Goodwill. It was in the satisfaction of accomplishing something with someones help, and just being together.

I found it working my 11th step with my sponsor yesterday, and really understanding what this journey of recovery has meant to me, has made of me, over this past few years. I am not at all who I was at the start, although the changes have been so gradual and subtle that it’s hard to notice as they happen. We had to take turns reading because we both kept getting so overwhelmed with gratitude and choked up.

I found happiness standing on the beach yesterday- a perfect late afternoon in early fall. The air was just right- not too cold, not too warm, and my daughter flew a kite with her dad as I tossed the ball for the dogs and just took it all in. I feel peaceful and…full, I guess, just thinking about it.

The grass is not greener somewhere else. Happiness is not a place. I am fine right where I am.

A long time ago, I had this sticker that I loved. It said “Bloom Where You’re Planted”, and I thought that was such a wonderful saying. It was easy for me, at 17, to be happy wherever I happened to be. I think it’s high time I get back to that.

Starting right here, right where I am.

Posted in faith, family, kids, Life, Musings, People, random, Uncategorized

Discord and Darkness

I’m struggling with my work today, and it’s due to a sense of increasing overwhelm and despair. A friend of mine died yesterday, ANOTHER friend of mine, and he was way too young. There are children being torn away from their parents in my country, which is currently being run by what seems to me like the Antichrist himself, and all of the many minions an Antichrist could ever need. On social media, people are either heartbroken and sickened over the direction our country is headed, or defensive and sickening. Discord is everywhere. Things are Not Good.

I think a lot. Probably too much. But some of those thoughts are helpful, and those are the ones I want to share today.

1.) Save your outrage. Save it up for something worthwhile. I figured out a while ago that it might feel good to get it all out on your Facebook page, but it doesn’t do any good there. Find a place to put it where it helps. Email your state representative (I did this today, and it was super easy), find an organization you can align yourself with, donate money or time. Channel that outrage into something productive.

2.) Step back. You can only know so much before it’s too much. At a certain point, you may find yourself reading the same bad news four or five times, or a slightly different version of it. I decided today that it’s time for me to get off the social media circus for a while, maybe even just for the rest of the day, maybe longer. My energy is not needed there. It helps no one, and it hurts me. I am not strong enough to not read the awful comments, I’m not smart enough to know when to shut up. So I need to be in charge of myself, and step back.

3.) This one is the most important: Love your life right this very second. Love that you are upright and breathing, and love every part of you that works. Love your shitty car, and your too-round middle, and your dog who thinks the bathroom garbage is his personal snack tray. Love your irritating kids and your boring job, find something to love about every part of your beautiful life. Because we are truly blessed, to live in this time, and to have what we do. And one day, it’s all going to stop. One day, there will be no more of any of it. And we don’t get to know when that day is. So fill your life with all the joy you can muster, right now. Don’t wait.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again- this world needs all the light it can get. Shine as brightly as you know how.

Posted in Blogging, Life, Mental Health, mindfulness, Musings, random, Uncategorized

Little Stories

I’ve let so many days pass in between posts, and it’s mostly because in the mornings, when I usually sit here to write, I’ve been drawing big, empty blank spaces where the words usually are. I just sit here, staring at the screen, waiting, and nothing comes. Instead, when I am driving, or working, or sitting on the toilet five minutes before I have to run out the door to work, I think of these great posts that I will start, you know…tomorrow. Only tomorrow comes, and I can’t remember what they are, and the whole cycle starts again. So today, while I have a little time, I’m going to try to round up some of my scattered thoughts and tell you what has been going on. Here are some little stories:

Not My Story to Tell:  Lately, it has occurred to me that sometimes there are things I want to write about that involve other people in my life, and those people might not want me to write about them. As an overarching rule, I don’t generally censor myself when it is directly impacting my life, but…when it comes to certain people, such as my daughter or my mother, I just can’t. If you were to scroll back through all of my blogs, you would see that has not always been the case, but…you know…I’ve changed a lot. This is one example of that, I guess. That I now understand when it is not my story to tell. Maybe someday, in some other way, but…as much good material as those two give me, they need to know their secrets are safe with me. I reserve the right to poke a modicum of fun at them, and celebrate the good things, of course.

Emotional Hangover: This past week, I experienced a 24 hour period of great stress. The funny thing about me that I am just figuring out is that I am GREAT while the traumatic event is happening. It’s when it has passed that I completely fall apart. And it doesn’t always look or feel as if it is related to what I just went through, either. The day after the storm had passed, I found myself suddenly worried to the point of paranoia over my youngest daughter. For the record, she had nothing to do with the stressful situation, and so I couldn’t understand why all of the sudden I was in a near-panic state over her safety. It finally hit me what was going on, and being able to understand it helped me let it go. But I also went to bed at like six o’clock for two nights running, and I am still, several days later, not quite myself. Which leads me to the next story…

Extra Sensitive: I shy away from the word “empath” simply because it is thrown around quite a bit with lots of connotations that I am not 100% comfortable with…which is actually kind of funny, because I may not be comfortable with claiming them (psychic phenomena, gifts, powers, all that woo-woo stuff) but I am totally into all of it. I just don’t think they are necessarily linked, always. I think everyone has the ability to sense things they cannot see, but some people have just honed those abilities out of self-preservation or even just intentionally. I know that people who have grown up in homes where it benefited them to be on their toes at all times, living with volatile adults, are often extra sensitive. I think I fall into this category. I love people, but I prefer to be alone. When I am with friends, large groups exhaust me. And when I am around someone who is not okay, it drains the life right out of me. I can generally tell when someone is lying, and I sense how someone is feeling no matter what they say to the contrary. Again, I don’t think this is truly unusual, aside from how much it affects me. This is the thing I need to work on. I think it is interesting, though, to think about how the energy people give off impacts other people. I once, long ago, was with a friend and three people who had just done something terrible showed up at his house. I had no idea what they had done, but the energy rolling off of them was the worst I had ever felt. It was like a black fog. I will never forget it as long as I live.

On a Lighter Note: This past week, I have been working hard on my online Tarot course, and I LOVE it! I’m so excited to learn all about each card and what it is supposed to mean. I’ve worked my way through the minor arcana, and will be starting the major arcana today. Fascinating stuff! I love learning new things, and the idea that I will be able to do readings for myself and friends without consulting the book for every card is just so awesome to me!

Also, I don’t know if I mentioned it, but I decided two weeks ago that I was done dieting and tracking my food and obsessing over all that shit. I even deleted all my tracking apps (except fitbit, because it’s too fun). So far, this has not worked in my favor. I’m giving myself one week to get my shit together, and if I can’t start eating like a normal person and not hoovering everything in sight like I have a free pass, I’m going to have to start tracking again. Loving myself does not mean gobbling my way straight into obesity.

So, there you have it- that’s a little of what’s going on with me, and what’s been on my mind this week. Hopefully, I’ll get back into my blogging groove and be back here really soon. Until then, have a wonderful day!

 

Posted in Blogging, fun, funny, housekeeping, Life, Musings, random, Uncategorized

The Weed Eater

weed eater
Literally the one I have! I love it so much!

I know, I know- what a weird blog title. But YOU GUYS! I have to share with you the most fun thing I did this weekend, and guess what?! It was totally weed-eating my yard. I have never been one to find much joy at all in manual labor, lazy thing that I am, and I tend to shy away from any sort of powered-tool type thing, due to my inherent clumsiness and fear of losing fingers (seriously, I almost stabbed myself in the chest yesterday while cutting an apple- I know that doesn’t even sound possible, but trust me on this one.), BUT…

I have this massive yard. Great for my dog, awesome in theory- everyone wants a big yard, right? Yet taking care of said yard is a whole different matter. When I moved in, over three years ago, my landlady had covered the entire thing with nice, new wood chips. The thing about wood chips, though, is that they suck. The hurt to walk on in bare feet, they don’t look that great, and they basically rendered the yard useless. Also, they stuck to my dog and were constantly being dragged into the house. The upside of it was that the yard didn’t need me to do anything to it, it required zero care, aside from picking up the poop.

Fast forward about a year, after plenty of rain, and…the weeds started popping through. We had a seriously rainy year, and the weeds just took over. When they were green and flowery, they were so pretty, and the yard looked lush and beautiful. Then they all died, and the yard looked terrible and trashy, and it is soooo big. My front yard is massive, too, and though most of it is cement, the weeds popped up in every crack and every planter, and I just lost control of the whole mess.

I hired someone to deal with the front, and last year I enlisted the help of friends to get the back under control, but this year…this year I got smart. A few months ago, I went to Home Depot, all by myself, and I bought a weed eater. It sat in the box for another month, and finally, yesterday, I was brave enough to take it for a spin.

Oh. My. God.

I have never had more fun doing a chore in my life.  I was the butcher of weeds, the annihilator of unwanted plant life, the destroyer of dandelions. I was also the destroyer of my brand new Badminton net (oops!) which really sucks, and slowed me down quite a bit when the string wrapped around the spinny-thing on my weed eater, but nothing was going to stop me…except the fact that I really needed a longer extension cord, but I am definitely going to be purchasing one ASAP.

Oh, and it was also a really good workout, judging by how sore my arms are today! I felt a real sense of accomplishment when I finally called it quits for the evening and wandered back into the house, picking fox tails out of my tennis shoes, and sneezing away all of the dust in my nose.

I’ve honestly never felt more grown up in my life. I can’t wait to do it again!