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.

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Posted in family, Goals, humor, inner peace, Life, mindfulness, Musings, People, social media

24 Hours in.

getting stuff done

I’m not saying that Facebook is the root of all evil…I mean, I’m not going to blame it for all my problems. That would be silly. But, I am going to give you a little list of the things I accomplished yesterday:

1.) I finally called and made a dentist appointment to get my last remaining wisdom tooth pulled. It’s basically on the verge of disintegration, and I have been putting it off and putting it off for months now…because I am scared to have a tooth pulled, as it is damn near Medieval, and you would think they would have come up with a better way to remove a tooth by now (can’t they melt it out with a laser or something?!) than by wrenching it out. With full bodily force. And my dentist is a tiny little woman, I don’t know how she will manage…but, I digress. I’m going to get that sucker yanked next week. Honestly, had I not been so starved for human interaction, I highly doubt I would’ve called.

2.) This one is really embarrassing. I can’t believe I am even going to admit to this, but…I have been paying car insurance for over a year on two- not one, but TWO- cars that I no longer own. It’s not much. 60 bucks a month, total. But…come ON. I finally called my insurance company and asked them to remove these cars from my policy. It took five minutes. And guess what? I can actually send in some paperwork and get credited a bunch of money. I bet if I stay off Facebook, I might actually do it!

3.) I went on a long, leisurely, electronics-free walk with my kid and my dog down by our Fisherman’s Wharf here. Did you know that dogs are totally allowed on the wharf? I didn’t, and I’ve lived here forever! So, we walked along the recreation trail that borders the harbor, and on the way back, we stopped off on the wharf, got a little treat from one of THREE candy stores on that tiny row of restaurants and shops ( I found out that the turtles are way better at the first one on the left, but I feel like a traitor for trying out a new place). My kid was happy, but my dog was over the moon to be included on this little outing. I don’t know why I never did this before.

4.) Washed, dried, folded and put away THREE loads of laundry. Fixed dinner. Washed all the dishes, wiped the counters, and just generally kept moving until it was time for bed.

5.) Read our full required 25 minutes last night, as opposed to our normal 10 and then pretend like it was 25 routine. My daughter and I are reading The Boxcar Children series last night, and to my surprise she loves them, even though they were written in the 40’s! She can’t get enough.

Am I in full on Facebook withdrawals? Absolutely. That’s how I know it’s a problem. And do you know how I would feel if I went ahead and hopped over there right now to see what I have missed? I’d feel: excited when I saw all the notifications, then deflated when I saw that most of them were not even for me, but other comments on posts I’d commented on. Then I’d feel annoyed that I had forgotten how useless Facebook was (to me) already. Then I’d scroll through and see 40 things I’d already seen, 10 things that were factually incorrect, 5 things that pissed me off, and maybe 1 that I really loved.

So, basically, no. I’m not going on there, not even for a minute, not even to check. Who knows what I might accomplish today! My baseboards are looking pretty dusty. Stranger things have happened.

 

 

Posted in anxiety, faith, family, inner peace, Life, living, mindfulness, Musings, People, random

Calm Inside the Crazy

be here now

Sometimes I think I just shouldn’t leave my house. Or read the news, like, EVER. Seriously, days like today really bring home the phrase “Ignorance is bliss”.

What might be bothering you, Courtney? You might be asking yourself right about now. Well, let me enlighten you- In the very immediate sphere of living, we have a massive flu outbreak here in my little corner of the world; yes, I realize it’s probably also in your corner of the world, but I’m not there, I’m here, and I’ve suddenly become very preoccupied with remaining healthy. The flu sucks ass, for one thing. The last few times I’ve had it, it knocked me on my butt, and I HATE being sick. I am such a massive whiner when I am sick, and there is no one around to take care of me, plus I have to miss work, and I am always treading the line of disciplinary action for one reason or another. Aside from me, if my kiddo gets sick, she gets REALLY sick, like, asthma-inhaler-wheezing-no mom anywhere can sleep when her kid can’t breathe- kind of sick. I work at a hospital, and it is banana’s up there, I am not kidding you. We are breaking records, and not in a happy way. So there’s that. (And yes, we had our flu shots, but they are only about 10% effective this year.)

Going beyond that a little bit, we have fucking Donald Trump for president. I still can’t even believe I am typing those words with any degree of seriousness an entire year later. After my hope that our country were smarter than that had been crushed last November, I came up with the paltry little hope that maybe he wouldn’t be able to screw things up that bad- I mean, we have a series of checks and balances, right? This is a democracy! How bad can it get?

The answer to that is still unfolding, but I can sum it up in one word- Bad. Or three words- really fucking bad. I guess before I got my hopes up I should have factored in Twitter, eh? I mean, can we all agree now that this is not going well? Can someone make him stop antagonizing North Korea? Can we please get a grown up with some sense in there to help out? Because I am feeling very, very nervous about things.

I don’t want to get sick. I don’t want to die in a nuclear holocaust. I don’t want to keep reading about the scary, crazy weather happening ALL THE TIME, EVERYWHERE. I’m frightened. I’m frightened, and overwhelmed and pissed off because I have no control over ANY of this shit. None of it.

So what can I do, then? First of all, I can remember that I am here, right now, not sick, not in the middle of a war, and that I am safe and okay, in my own little home. I can be present right now, which is the only time that really exists, right? Deep breath, in and out. I can choose not to look at the news- either on TV or on my phone. Let it go. There is nothing I can do about any of it right this very second.

Most importantly, I can remember that I have faith, not just when things are wonderful, but also when they are scary or dark or weird- you either have faith or you don’t, right? I have to remember that I trust that God, the Universe, whatever you choose to call it- that there is a plan and I don’t have all the information, and that is okay. Whatever happens, I trust in God, period.

And finally, uncertainty is ever present, whether we are conscious of it or not. This only underscores the fact that we need to wake up and be as grateful for our lives RIGHT NOW as we would be if we knew it was all ending soon. How loving would you be, how easily would you forgive, how much more would you savor the small things, if today was your last day? I mean, it changes everything, doesn’t it? And that is really kind of sad, isn’t it?

Sigh…I needed to get that out so badly. Stay healthy, warm and close to your fallout shelters, my friends. Jesus, I hope that last part isn’t necessary.

Posted in Addiction, advice, family, kids, Learning, Life, Musings, People, random, recovery

Glimpsing The Truth

window

I have been sort of coming up empty handed when it comes to stuff I feel like writing about lately. I have been working on some other, non-bloggy, stuff. And there have been at least two blogs I WANTED to write, and that you all really would have enjoyed, but nevertheless, these blogs would have caused me deep shame later, so I opted out. I am trying not to be an asshole, no matter how satisfying being that person is at times.

Today though, as I was driving, and, as so often happens when you are driving, I was nowhere near my laptop, I was struck by inspiration. I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time unconsciously making plans for my imaginary life. What I mean by this is…well, my thoughts go something like this “When I am my perfect self with a perfect life that is perfectly organized and totally “normal”, and my house is always clean and I have awesome, perfect, friends whom I invite to perfect dinner parties, then I will…” Fill in the blank with whatever thing my imaginary self will then do in my imaginary life. Now, of course, I don’t actually compose this entire mess of run-on sentence in my head. It’s more of just an implied personal nirvana life, you understand.

Anyway, you ever have moments when the veil of your perception lifts, slightly, just for a moment? You ever get just a tiny little glimpse of the truth, and it leaves you completely thunderstruck? Well, this happened to me today. It suddenly occurred to me that- hold onto your pants, now- that perfect life, that perfect me? It doesn’t exist. Now, I am not saying that I could not be a better me. I fully believe, and expect, that I will continue to see all kinds of versions and levels of a better me, as time goes on and I continue on this path. But the perfect me? No. Not only can that not exist for me, but it doesn’t really exist for ANYONE.

And that, I think, is the real issue here. I forget that what I see, the surface part of peoples lives, the  things they show to us, are not their reality. I am basing my ideals for myself on the selected portions of life that other people decide to share with the world, the part they are comfortable with showing. Jesus, to be quite frank with you, were you to scroll through my Facebook timeline, you might think I was a pretty together chick. I don’t even LOOK like ninety percent of the pictures I post of myself. Hahahahaha!

I am not always thoughtful, or funny, or cheeky and positive. I am not any of those things most of the time. I am just a normal, middle aged (and goddammit, I AM middle aged, I am 40!) single mom. I have kid problems and man problems and a mole on my chin that three hairs grow out of (two black, one grievously gray) more rapidly with each plucking. I can’t seem to keep track of my socks, I am generally behind on laundry, and I hate washing pots, pans, and my dogs. And if your life IS perfect? I don’t even want to be friends with you. Who needs that kind of pressure?

But I will tell you what I do have, right now, today: I have a little house with a big yard, and an outstanding view. Inside this house are two beautiful daughters who love me more than anything- one who tells me everything I never wanted to know because she trusts me, and one who still thinks I can do anything, because she is four. I have two dogs, and one cat, and more love than these walls could ever contain. We have food in the fridge and the lights are still on, somehow. We are doing alright.

Maybe the truth is, this is my perfect life. Maybe it doesn’t get any better than this.

Posted in Addiction, Dreams, Goals, Learning, Life, Mental Health, Musings, recovery

Flight of Fancy

daydream

I considered the shit out of this blogs title before I decided to go ahead- so much so, in fact, that it no longer makes a whole lot of sense to me. Flight of Fancy? Is that even right? I mean, what the hell does that even mean? Oh God, now I’m going to have to look it up. Hold on…

Okay, okay, apparently it has two meanings. One of them is basically “pipe dreams”, which, while ironic to MY particularly sarcastic mind, is not appropriate. The other, “a soaring of the imagination”, is on the money. See, one of the very best things about getting my life back (by which I mean, being sober, having my wits about me) is that I begin to dream again. When I am in my other state, there is no dreaming, other than the dream of being myself again. And that often seems quite far-fetched.

This morning, I am supposed to be doing other things. I promised a counselor that I would work on some other writing she wanted me to do, which just seems a million times less appealing because a) I’ve done it at least seven thousand times already, and b) it was assigned. I did, however, do some penance in the form of other horrible paperwork. I jumped through some hoops on a supplemental insurance website, and filled out the painstaking little bubbles on my disability paperwork. I experienced a brief and unkind rush of joy when I realized that the bulk of the bubbles needed to be filled in by a doctor. The rush was further flushed out when it occurred to me that I have an appointment with exactly the correct doctor at ten this morning. Neener-neener, doc.

But my head keeps wandering off to dream about the life that is still laying itself out before me. I don’t know what, really, will become of me. I do know that nothing is promised. I am trying, still, to make the very most of this day. But what is the harm in dreaming? I think it is valuable, really.

I am dreaming a lot, lately, of going to Hawaii with my oldest daughter. Now this is her dream, really, more than mine- but do you know how flattering it is to have a kid who wants her travelling partner to be you, her MOTHER? Yesterday, we had a little spat, where she basically said (while I was in the midst of doing something for her) that she hates my personality- at least, that is what I heard. After much filler (meaning I hollered about a lot of things that were more acceptable than telling her why I was really upset) I was able to see, and to tell her, that she had hurt my feelings. That I felt like she hated who I was, which sucked, because I didn’t know how, nor do I really want, to be someone else. The big miracle was that she actually heard me. She said “Mom, you are my best friend. You are the one I go to with everything. I wake up earlier in the morning just so I can have coffee with you, and talk. But that also means you get on my nerves sometimes.” Well. That is…that is a pretty hefty compliment, don’t you think? I am a very lucky woman. I guess maybe I am not quite the horrible parent I feel like sometimes.

So, I have been dreaming about going to Hawaii with her. Also, I have been dreaming about my future life. The way I would love to live on an island (not really a tropical one, although that is open for discussion) that people must Ferry out to see me on. Wouldn’t that be cool? I know that I am not a city type girl, although I would love to be familiar with at least one big city, so that I felt comfortable while wandering its streets. But when I think about my future life, it is always nature and a quite place, a slower pace, that I see for myself. My future holds lots of mornings, and, I hope, days, like this- full of writing, and peace, books, coffee, beautiful surroundings, peace in my heart.

I hope there are many long, meandering walks in my future. Lots of stargazing, lots of sunrise watching, many, many walks on familiar beaches. I hope there are good, kind, people there. Friends who know me and love me, friends who will tell me the truth when I need to hear it. I hope there is big, big love there, too, someone I can admire and adore and feel safe with, AND challenged. Definitely someone with a sharp mind, who can keep me on my toes. Someone who reads. That is a must.

The future in my mind is shaping up into a beautiful picture. This is not something I could have said a few weeks ago. I am so blessed, as I often say, and so, so grateful. But I do have to get that damn paperwork done. Have a beautiful day.

Posted in beauty, inner peace, Learning, Life, love, Musings, People

The Odd, Wonderful, Sensation of Being Present

 

Image

A new level of reality has been coming over me in gentle waves, lately. One I have to admit I have never noticed before. You know how there is all this talk about “Mindfulness”, being “In the Moment”, “Living in the Present”? Well, I don’t know about you, but this has always been baffling to me. I mean, where the hell else can one be? I realize that my head is always going a million miles a minute, that I am often sort of transported, mentally, into things I want to do later, items I need to pick up from the grocery store, phone calls I need to return. The truth is, it has been so common for me to live my life in this state of distraction, I wasn’t even aware that I wasn’t really EVER present for what was before me.

Suddenly, without any conscious effort on my part, there have been these times, more and more often, when I am right where I am. That I am actually seeing the world in front of me, around me, without any distraction or intrusion from the past or the future. When I am out on my walks in the morning, and the air is so bracing when I first step outside, and the way I warm up within a block or so. The rhythmic sound of my feet as I walk is like a mantra that focuses me. Sometimes, I round a corner, look up, and like this morning, I see this incredible sun rising up over the bay, and the water looks like liquid gold, like a melted trail of the sun itself. This morning, as I ran down the hill with Lucy pulling me in her overzealous wake, I felt so alive. I realized I had this big ridiculous grin on my face, and that anyone who saw me would think I was nuts, but I really didn’t care.

I stop a lot to take pictures. I walk when I feel like it, and I run when the mood strikes me. But it isn’t just happening when I am alone. The other day, my older daughter came outside to talk to me, and as I looked up at her, I was struck by her appearance. It was like I was seeing this nearly grown, beautiful young woman for the very first time. Her loveliness took my breath away. It was as if I had been walking around with some weird buffer around me, keeping me disconnected from my own eyes. “Why are you looking at me like that?” She asked. “Like what?” I bluffed, pretending like there was nothing different about anything. But everything is different. At least in flashes.

Camryn, too. As I gave her a bath the other night, like I do every night, I actually tuned in and participated (earnestly, not in the placating way that I usually do) in her joyful, non-stop banter. I realized what a wonderful, bright, sunny little human being I had been blessed with, out of the blue. I was so grateful for her guileless, un-jaded happiness…so glad that it had not been disturbed yet by whatever nonsense the world eventually heaps upon us. I am so glad I got to witness it for at least one unhurried moment.

It’s happening all the time, and it seems like the more I notice it, the more it happens. Maybe it is because I am alone, and I am free of all of the push and pull that goes on in a romantic relationship. That tends to take up a lot of head space, at least for me. Maybe it is because I have finally given myself full permission to live my life the way that I, and no one else, sees fit. That the rules I am following today are MINE. The truth is, this has brought me more peace than I have ever before known. Maybe it is the absence of fear in my life. I don’t know.

What I do know is that being present, really, fully, totally present…it truly is a gift. If I figure out how I am getting there, I will be sure to share the directions.