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!

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Posted in beauty, Blogging, inner peace, Learning, Life, love, meditation, Mental Health, mindfulness, Musings, People

A Tiny Little Revolution

alan-cohen
courtesy of Alan Cohen. Thanks, mister.

Let me describe my day for you: I woke up at four a.m. and poured myself a cup of fresh, strong french roast coffee, fixing it so that it was creamy and sweet, just the way I like it. I sat out on my front porch and sipped it, listening to the crazy birds singing in the trees- yep, they are singing away even at that hour.

After I had my fill of the quiet and the not-so-quiet, after I had seen enough of the tiny little crescent moon, I came inside and said good morning to both my beautiful black kitties and my sweet black lab. I sat down at my computer and worked through a few lessons on the tarot course I am taking, pausing often to take copious notes. I read through a little of my work in progress. I had some more coffee. I read for a little while.

When the sky started to lighten up outside, I lit my candles and my incense, I got my cushion, and I sat down on the floor to pray and meditate. When I was done, I stretched lazily, grabbed my book, and poured myself a very hot, very bubbly bath. I stayed in there reading until my fingertips did not look much like fingertips anymore. I threw on my bathrobe and jumped back in bed, snoozing for another hour, give or take.

After Camryn woke up, we threw on whatever clothes looked decent enough, and Lucy (the lab), Camryn and I jumped into the car and headed to the beach. We walked and walked, finally stopping at the rocky end, where we lingered for a while, picking up shells, and standing in the gentle, icy water, while seaweed wrapped around our legs. Camryn saw a cairn and asked what it was, and I explained to her that people built one in memory, sometimes, of people they loved. She wanted to build one for my friend Joe, so we did. I was delighted that she thought of it.

On the way home, sandy and salty and filled with the calm of the ocean, we stopped at the best bakery on the peninsula and got a few croissants, a coffee for me, and a coke for her. I am sitting here now, at my desk, as the sun streams through my window, writing this to you. I don’t know how to adequately describe to you the peace inside my heart, the calm assurance, the gratitude. It is at once enormous, and completely, perfectly, normal.

I wrote recently about the shift that occurred for me, the way that I was suddenly able to see my body as something more than just some object to be admired, or, more upsetting, to be judged harshly by the eyes of others- and even more harshly by ME. Suddenly, I saw my body as the vehicle for my soul, perfect even with its imperfections, perfectly functional, ever faithful, strong as could be. From that moment forward, there has been an almost comical domino-effect of changes happening, one after the other. I don’t know the words one would use to describe something like this, and right now I don’t even want to try to find them, but suffice to say…things are…I am…changing on a fundamental level. Some deep, deep shit is just resolving itself. I am just over here, watching it happen. Enjoying it.

So what does that mean? Well, it means that I am pausing, all the time, to search for that feeling of connection to the energy that is just pulling me along, when I am open. It means I have stopped saying anything demeaning to myself, about my appearance, or any other facet of my being. It means I do weird stuff, like close my eyes and feel the sun on my face, and the wind, and smile because I am not worrying about tomorrow or yesterday, I am here, now. It means I don’t always know where my phone is anymore, because I don’t care. It means I am not tracking my food, obsessing over calories, or beating myself up for not being driven enough to work out regularly. Consequently, food tastes MUCH better without the extra guilt sauce, and I have gotten more walking in than I have in months.

I’ve decided to leave myself alone, for once. Just simply live and enjoy my life without the guilt and she really should’s and shouldn’t s. It’s so easy, and so simple, and so kind…and yet it FEELS revolutionary, to me. My own quiet little revolution. A little love affair with myself. How perfect. And now, I’m going to read my book and take another nap. Enjoy your day!

Posted in Addiction, family, Goals, inner peace, Learning, Life, Musings, random, relationships, Uncategorized

The Start of Something Beautiful

peacekey

 

The week before last, I quietly celebrated five months clean. This isn’t one of the milestones celebrated in 12 step groups, or anything I necessarily was even that excited about- although, hopefully, it IS my last time celebrating this particular anniversary…But I am watching the time tick by, and I am feeling the changes here on a very deep level.
This is not like any other time for me, so far. The very landscape of my life is changing, and for once, it is me at the helm, directing this change, not just things that are happening to me. I am working hard to become something more, and someone different, than I have been.
This has been a very introspective time for me, as well. I have not been writing for my blog at all, or anything else much, either. I have not been doing a lot of social networking, or networking of any type at all. My phone has been relatively silent. My pace has slowed down. The initial need to go out and grab life by the elbow- to DO everything, to be a whirlwind…I suppose I satisfied that need, for now. I am relishing this quieter pace, and it goes hand in hand with the work I am doing on me.
I have stopped yelling as much, and started listening more. I have learned to see the signs that I am growing impatient, and then what to do to calm myself. The world, and most importantly, the people (and animals) in my home and directly involved in my life have responded to this like I can’t believe. I am so much better at being present for my kids, listening when they speak, and participating fully in my interactions with them. An unexpected side effect of this is that I am learning how to play with my little one again when and how SHE wants to- not just on my crazy, inappropriate (usually) whim.
There is a domino effect going on here- I made the initial decision to get clean, but what I was really saying to the Universe was “I am ready to be better”, and when I continued to stick to my guns, that was my commitment to myself. Since that day, things continue to improve, although there are days where I feel like my footing is not as firm, days when I am still afraid. For the most part though, it gets better and better.
I am getting rid of the clutter around me and the clutter within me. I am getting rid of the excess. There are less things I feel I need to give my time to, and I am concentrating on the things I value most- my home, my kids, myself. I pay attention to the way things make me feel, and I let that be the deciding factor in how much time I am willing to invest in it. If it makes me feel pinched, stressed, obsessive, weird or ashamed- it gets taken off the list. If it makes me feel accomplished, proud, happy, peaceful, calm or content- it goes to the top of the list. Of course, there are always going to be things I HAVE to do that might not feel good, but I am just doing them and leaving them alone, not wasting a bunch of time worrying about it.
I am meditating every day. I am praying every day, more than once. I am not even considering being in a romantic relationship that even approaches seriousness right now- I can’t imagine complicating my life that way at this time, and feel it would be a terrible disservice to me, and to anyone I was with. I want to be with my kids, I want to go to meetings, I want to do step work, I want to enjoy what I have right now.
What I have right now is peace, quiet, calm. I feel like this is the beginning of the whole rest of my life, a life that will be something far greater than I expected, and far different. I’m sorry if I am not describing it very well- I think I haven’t yet learned the language of this experience. It feels like the start of something beautiful.

Posted in Uncategorized

Courtney’s New Year Revolution

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According to page 1649 of my beloved Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary (of the English Language, mind you), the word Revolution means quite a few different things. The one I am most interested in is: “3. a sudden, complete or marked change in something”. , which I believe could be applied, in a smaller sense, to one’s life, don’t you think? I’ll just assume you are in agreement, and move along…

You see, 2013 just SUCKED for me. It Sucked BALLS, for the most part. I will not be the least bit sad to see the last of this year, let me tell you. Without exerting the tiny amount of energy it would require for me to actually investigate, I am going to guess that I may have said, or at least felt, the same way about the year before that. So, do I think that there has been some cosmic misalignment that has caused me to feel so utterly miserable? Perhaps my chakras need unblocking or some such thing? Well, in all honesty, I am not totally ruling those things out…but I DO believe that 98% of my misery has originated within me, and that I am 100% responsible for my own happiness. Without further ado, I would like to formally introduce the plan for 2014 and my personal revolution.

  • If you are anything like me, you probably think you might actually throw up if you have to see the word “mindfulness” even one more time. So I am not going to do that to you…suffice it to say, I am going to pay more attention to what is going on in my head. When my negative thoughts start to take my rational brain hostage, I am going to say “stop”. Then, I am going to take a deep breath, and simply change direction. I can do this, if I pay attention. The reason for this being number one on my list is simple enough- my thoughts are making me fucking crazy, and wearing me out, and I am tired of being crazy and worn out. I’ve got to do something else now.
  • I am going to take better care of myself. I mean this in the gentlest, most tender and loving way possible, and again, I am starting in this insanely busy head of mine- I am going to stop berating myself for the myriad of things I fall short of, mess up on, can’t compete with, didn’t take advantage of, and will probably never get to do now. To those thoughts, my new answers are this: Bullshit, oh, well, this isn’t a contest, get over it already, and, says who? I don’t know what happened that made me turn on myself, but the truth is, I used to really, really adore me…perhaps a little more than was actually warranted, even. Somewhere along the way, I lost that lovin’ feeling…now it’s gone, gone, gone…you know? So when I say “take better care of myself”, I mean this across the board- yes, eat better foods, take longer walks, get more rest, drink more water, learn to sit still for small amounts of time…but more than all of those other things, or at least as much, forgive myself, give myself a break, think kind thoughts about the girl I am. Because I’m really not so bad.
  • I am going to be present. When I sit down with my three year old, I am going to be looking at my three year old, and listening to what she has to tell me…I will not be messing with my phone, getting pissed off because her chatter is making me lose my train of thought, therefore destroying my hilarious status update on facebook. Facebook can wait- this kid is only going to be little for a minute! Same goes for my 16 year old daughter, my person, my friends, my family. I want to be a real participant in the lives of the people around me…and in my own life, for that matter. I need to slow down, do one thing at a time, and do that thing well.
  • Along those lines, I am going to enjoy my life. I have not enjoyed very much of my life at ALL the past two years. There have been stretches of good, but they were very short, and that is too bad. I lost a close friend this year, and though we didn’t spend a ton of time together anymore, my impression of the past few years of her life were that she was extremely stressed out. Her death really opened my eyes (not to mention, broke my heart)…I want to fill my life with JOY, and with Laughter, and good, meaningful, important things. The opportunity for this lies in everything I do- it’s up to me to make things that way. If I died tomorrow, I would be sad that I didn’t find more happiness in my life.
  • Which leads me to this: Have gratitude. I have so much, you guys. I have so many unbelievable blessings in my life- a great job, beautiful, healthy children, a guy who loves me, friends who love me, a mom and dad who love me. Even my dog loves me. I live in a country where I have nothing but open doors and chances to succeed, I want for nothing. But I have gotten into a sad habit of finding every part of my life wanting. Nothing FEELS good to me, including me. But I wonder…if I started to think about all the things that are right, would things start to look better? Would I start to feel better?
  • And, finally, this: I will not live in fear anymore. My fears are too numerous to count, ranging from embarrassing to totally ridiculous, over the top, and unlikely. Some of my fears are about things that are already happening, some of things that have happened, and some will never happen, in a million years. Probably. You know what all of them have in common? I have no control over any of them. The only thing I can do is try to live right, try to be a good person, try to be happy, and do my best. I believe with all my heart that everything happens for a reason, and always exactly the way it is supposed to. Fear is only useful in life or death situations, and I need to remember that a 48 hour notice from PG&E does NOT qualify.

To sum things up, I just want my life to look nothing like it looks right now. I can change at any time, I know, but the new year seems like such a great place to start. Oh, and another thing I forgot- the end to my self imposed “writers sulk” I have been indulging, counterproductively, in for so long. Not writers block, writers sulk, you read correctly. But that is for another blog. Lets assume you’ll be hearing from me again, very soon.

Posted in beauty, inner peace, Life, Uncategorized

A Good Place To Be…

This will be short and sweet, today.

I just wanted to talk for a minute about being in a good place. When you say “I’m in a good place.” isn’t it funny how it has nothing to do with where you literally are? Well, that’s true for me, at least.

When I really break it down and examine it, it has nothing to do with how much money I have, where I live, what my kids are up to or whether or not my relationship is panning out. It has everything to do with how I feel about me.

Right now, I am in a really, really good place. I feel healthy, calm, happy…I am content. Irritations still come up, but I don’t need to hold on to them right now. I just brush them off and forget about them, the way I ought to. My older daughter still tries to push my buttons, but it’s a lot harder to do. My little one is on the fast track into the terrible two’s. The other day, she threw a fit the likes of which I have never before in my life seen. I did a few things to try to calm her down, and when they didn’t work, I simply sat her in her crib and walked away. She was fine in a matter of minutes. A month ago, I would have been sweating with anxiety, screaming at everyone around me to “Help!”, making everything a thousand times worse.

My boyfriend and I are really struggling right now- I have no idea what the future holds for us. Yet strangely, I am okay with this, too. It concerns me, of course- I love him, and I wish I knew how to solve all of our problems. But I don’t, and I can’t, and it is the way it always has been. It will either work out or it won’t, and I’m okay with waiting until the right time to figure it out. Still, I am good. Happy, at peace, level. Clear as a bell.

Every morning, I get up before the sun and walk my beautiful black lab, Lucy. For me, this is like a moving meditation. I think a lot about my life- what I want to do with it, what I can do now, where I want to go. I think a lot about writing- I am working out a storyline for nanowrimo, a month long writing event that starts November first.  And I do a lot of NOT thinking, just moving, just being. I walk along the ocean and watch the sky and the water lighten, little by little.  Lately, I have started running for about half of the length of my walk. If you are capable of thinking while running, I’d like to hear your secret. On second thought, keep it to yourself. I think enough the rest of the day.

Yep, feels pretty good to be right where I am. A good, good place.