Posted in Addiction, escape, Goals, inner peace, Life, Musings, People, recovery

Time for Change

IMG_8898

On Monday, I was feeling grouchy and restless, like a caged animal after sitting here working all day long- that’s one of the drawbacks of working at home; when I worked in the office, I couldn’t wait to go home at the end of the day. When you work at home, all you want to do is go somewhere else when you clock out…except, if you are me, you are probably still wearing sweaty-ass yoga pants, no make up, and hair that looks like you stuck your finger in a light socket. So, I either have to summon up the energy to make myself look slightly less homeless in order to leave my house (how funny) or, give in to the beckoning call of inertia and flop on the couch to watch TV which will ultimately do nothing but make me feel even worse.

On this particular day, though, Camryn suggested we go to the library. We had books that were a week past due, and I really did need a change of pace, so I agreed. Plus, bonus- you don’t have to look nice at all to go to the library! After settling part of my outrageous overdue book fees, Cam got herself a drawing book, and grudgingly trailed after me as I wandered up and down every single aisle in the downstairs section of the Monterey library. I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I hoped to find something inspiring and uplifting- something to shake me out of the funk I had been going in and out of for the past…I don’t know, 40 years or so.

I grabbed a stack of books, and we checked out and headed home after a quick stop at Trader Joe’s for some chocolate and blueberries, among other snacks. Soon as we got back to the house, I pulled out one of the books and started reading it. It was called “Martha’s Vineyard- Isle of Dreams”, and at first I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get through it- it’s written in handwriting-like script, and there are hundreds of quotes and watercolor pictures throughout the book, so at first it’s a little jarring, as it doesn’t read like the books I am used to- books that have very few, if any, quotes, and generally no pictures at all. But within a few pages, I had forgotten all about the strangeness of it and was totally sucked in to the story.

Oh, and it’s not a story-story, by the way. It’s a biography of sorts, the true tale of a woman named Susan Branch who “accidentally” moved to Martha’s Vineyard and bought a house in the woods, after fleeing California when her marriage ended. She was looking for a house to rent, short term, and wound up buying a little house after being there for three days or something like that. The whole story takes place in the 80’s, which doesn’t matter other than the fact that you probably can’t buy a house there super cheap anymore, and anyway…I just fell in love, you guys. The way that she describes the changing seasons, and the beautiful simplicity of her life- her garden, and her walks in the woods, the ocean, the seasons, the quiet. Just talking about it right now makes me want to cry. It stirs such a funny longing in me. And it really makes me think, very hard, again, about the way I am living my life.

I have only been clean for a little more than three years. Which means that I am just now, at 43, learning about what kind of person I am, and trying to figure out what sort of life the person I am truly wants to live. I sort of woke up right in the middle of a life that I had stumbled into, and it is a GOOD life. I have this career, and security, good health insurance, stability…all of these things that people want, right? So when I think to myself “this doesn’t feel like the right life for me”, it is scary and I feel guilty, as if wanting something different makes me ungrateful. I am not ungrateful. I’m just…wondering. Wondering if I could survive, or thrive, or be wildly, giddily, in love with a different kind of life. And I shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting to be happier.

I checked out the book on Monday evening. It is now Wednesday morning, and I have finished it. It was 368 pages, and I worked all day yesterday, so when I tell you that I did a lot of reading, you have to believe that I did. Because of this book, I made a batch of blueberry muffins with Camryn, from scratch, yesterday after work. Because of this book, after my meeting last night I went by myself to the beach, and sat on the rocky sand, as evening descended, and just soaked in the salty air, watched the choppy, steel-gray waves crash on the shore, and relished the cold. It really got me thinking.

I need to slow way down. Like, way, way down. Be outside more. Be quiet more. Be on Facebook WAY less. Read more books and watch less TV. Cook more often. Talk to actual people, rather than scroll past their faces online, clicking like instead of having conversations. I don’t have to- and I shouldn’t, I know this- uproot my life on a whim and move across the country to “find myself”. But I do need to examine these feelings, and see what I can do to honor myself, and my one precious life. I have faith that I will find the answers, that they are already there, just waiting for me to discover them. I have to stop losing sight of what really matters, and every time I check out- on the internet, or by binge watching twelve seasons of some stupid TV show- I am doing just that. Losing sight of what really matters. Checking out. No wonder I feel so restless…my spirit is trying to get my attention, and I have been ignoring that.

No more. It’s time to pay attention. Time to make some changes.

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Posted in advice, faith, inner peace, Life, mindfulness, Musings, People, spirituality

Magic

magic
Credit: Danielle Laporte

Don’t you think that life is magical? The beauty of it all, it gets lost sometimes in the routine, I know, but really…do you ever stop, right in the middle of your day, and think about how miraculous life is?

I see it every time I watch my daughter sleep- the perfect slope of her nose, the dark fringe of her eyelashes against her cheeks, the smoothness of her skin. That I get to bear witness to her innocence, that I get to protect it, and to take part in the unfolding of her childhood…what a gift that is.

Last night, I sat out on my porch just before darkness fell, and I watched a sea gull soaring through the sky, bright white and graceful against the darker clouds, and I was swept away by the beauty of it all.

Yesterday, I felt the peace of all these cumulative days of meditation like a living thing inside of me. At any moment, I could call upon that serenity and relax into it. I can do it now, and it feels a lot like magic, to me.

All of this is to say that there is something available, all the time, in all of us, that wants to capture these moments, that wants so badly for us to be here, be aware of them. It’s up to us whether we notice or not.

I struggle, sometimes, against the Gremlin in my head that tells me everything that is wrong with me, and has a list handy, at all times, of all of my personal failings- past, present, and future. I haven’t mastered the ability to evict him, not yet, but I must be getting close…he gets very active when I am clearing another hurdle. The Gremlin doesn’t want me to be happy, or to love myself, because he knows that when I get there, he won’t have a place to live anymore.

I feel bad for the Gremlin. I really do. But this is my life, and I want…no, I deserve to be happy. Everyone does. In a few minutes, I am going to jump into the hectic river of my daily life, scrambling to get ready, to get Cam ready, to do all of the things that must be done to keep this well-oiled machine chugging along. But in these last few moments that are solely mine, I am choosing to remind myself:

Life is beautiful.

This life is mine, and in everything I do, I really do have a choice, no matter what.

I am fine EXACTLY the way that I am.

I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams.

I can choose to be happy, I can choose to let go of anger, I can choose peace.

I don’t have to believe the Gremlin.

Today will be as good as I make it.

Happy Friday. I hope you don’t let your Gremlin win today.

Posted in anxiety, Blogging, family, kids, Life, motherhood, parenting, People, random

Conflicted

conflicted
Which would leave me with nothing, unfortunately.

 

 

This seems to be a theme in my life right now, this being conflicted. That weird line between what you want and what you should do. The person you could be, with a tiny bit more effort, and the lazy ass you are- not YOU, I’m sorry, don’t leave. I meant ME, the lazy ass I am.

It’s occurring in all areas of my life right now, and I don’t know what to think about it, what cosmic lesson I am supposed to be learning. I know it will come to me, but right now, it is very early, and I’m only on my first cup of coffee, so even if there was some clarity available I’m not sure I would be able to grasp it just yet.

Here’s a good example: I have court this morning to determine the amount of child support I will be receiving. The judge has recommended a sum of about 600 dollars, which I have thought all along was more than fair- I don’t know how many of you guys raise children, but it’s not cheap. And it’s not just about me buying her clothing, or toys, or outings. Take that stuff out of the picture, and it’s still so. much. stuff. The weird foods I would never buy, the lunches I pack daily, the rent for a bigger house, the laundry, the day to day expense of raising a kid is exorbitant. Jesus, the gas money alone I spend on driving her all the way across town every day to a school that has a better rating! I mean, 600 bucks is fair. To me.

This morning, I woke up and thought for the first time what that would be like for Camryn’s dad. Okay, he is terrible with his money, and he has made some really bad choices in his life in general, but more specifically, he has some tax stuff going on and back child support for his older son. On the other hand, he makes really good money, and I have no idea why he can’t pull it together. Seriously, like what the fuck is he doing? So where is my responsibility in this? Do I agree with a reduced amount because he can’t figure out, at the age of 50, how to run his life? Or do I hold out for what his kid and I deserve, because he is responsible for half of her life and that’s just how it goes? I’m not poor, I’m not struggling, but I have given up ten years of my life with this guy, helped him out, given him chance after chance to pull it together. I just don’t know. I’m very torn. And my hope is that I won’t have to decide, the judge will do it for me.

I wish there was a judge around to help me with these other things that are bothering me. Like, when i’m sitting here right before I’m off work, and I want to go to the gym, but I also want to binge watch The Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix. It would be so great if a judge would bang her gavel and say, “I order you to 90 minutes at the Wellness Center, Ms. Duncan!” And I would have to slink off in shame to find clean gym clothes. Or when I am typing up a really heartfelt but probably damaging text message at five in the morning, before I’ve had a proper chance to wake up and think things through, the gavel bangs and a booming voice fills the room-“I order you to set that phone down and do not pick it up again until noon!” Okay, okay. My finger hovers over the send button a moment longer, then I think of the consequences-how terrible I’d look in an orange jumpsuit, or how people might laugh at me as I picked up trash along the freeway, and I walk away. Wouldn’t that be kind of great?

As it stands, all I have to guide me is my conscience and my brain, and we all know none of that shit functions properly. Too much, or not enough…that’s my lot in life. Welp, I probably ought to go start getting cleaned up for court. Maybe I’ll ask the judge if she’ll consider some side work. 🙂

 

Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, anxiety, escape, Life, random, recovery, twelve step

Slip Slidin’ Away

slippery slope

Sometimes, I forget who I am. I get a little too relaxed. I walk around my home without seeing how incredibly blessed I am to get to live here, in a house I can afford, where my daughter has her own room, and I get to have my dog, and I have a big old yard, and TWO bathrooms. I just get caught up in living my life without seeing how amazing it is. Same thing goes for my career- I can be whiny about my job, I get lazy sometimes, completely oblivious to the fact that the rash decision I made 13 years ago to go to night school, the credentials I gained, and the amazing opportunity I was handed when I was hired at the hospital where I still work today, changed my life. Completely transformed it. I’m not saying this is unusual- no one walks around in a state of constant gratitude. At least, no one I know.

But one thing I would do well to remember is the reason I get to keep the wonderful life that I have. The one thing that would save me, should the house go away, or the job wasn’t mine anymore. That thing is my recovery, and I haven’t been doing much for it lately. I really need to remind myself that if I didn’t have all these days in a row of not just being clean, but being clean and working on the person I am, working towards steadily getting better than I was before, I wouldn’t be sitting here, writing this right now.

Life can and will keep changing right before your eyes, and it is easy to get swept up in this thing or that thing, and let your focus change. I think that during those times, it’s pretty normal to stray from the path and wander off, but…do I think it’s a good idea? Nope. I think, in reality, when you feel yourself getting off track, you need to double down on the things that anchor you. I do, that’s what I need to do. I should be specific here, I am talking about me, about my life right now. I need to be closer than ever to my program of recovery, not just saying the words, but actively.

Listen, I am not in any imminent danger, but…my thoughts have been a little squirrely lately. Which, of course, is how it always begins- right in your head. I have been wishing for something to take the edge off, or blur the edges at least, just a little bit. I want something that will make me less…less worried about how ME I am all the time. Because I am messy and nervous and insecure, I think way too much, and take things pretty seriously, believe it or not. And my brain has been telling me stories about how much more fun I could be, how easy it would be, the exact way that I could lay all this heavy shit down and just fucking relax already.

Thankfully, I know my brain to be a liar. I know my brain, sensing discomfort, will do just about anything to make that feeling go away. I mean, my brain has been lying to me for yeeeaaars. So I don’t have to listen to any of it. I know there are no shortcuts in recovery, and there are certainly no days off. Not even when you could really use a drink or two. As a matter of fact, all these years that I have put in? This is sort of what I’ve been training for- the day when I really longed for an escape, or an easier way. This is the test I’ve been studying for this whole time. I’m not about to fail, not now.

I made a choice, I made a commitment, a long time ago, knowing there would be times in the future that it would be hard to keep that commitment. There have been these times in the past, and I kept at it, and I wasn’t sorry. There are always two paths, and I know where one of them leads me- I’ve been down it about as far as a person can go and live to tell the tale. The other one, well…the other one I don’t know as well. But I have a feeling that the woman I want to be is somewhere along it. So I think I will stay on that path. I think that is the wise thing to do.

slippery

Posted in Goals, health, Learning, Life, People, Weight Loss

28 Day Jumpstart ( Day 8)

fit girls

About a week and a half ago, I was messing around on Instagram (Sometimes I find myself scrounging around there when all the good stuff on Facebook has been exhausted) and somehow or another, I stumbled upon an entry about the Fitgirlsguide plan. Maybe I had seen it before, I don’t know. But on this particular day, I must have been especially bored, because I started searching all the tags for this program, and it must have been early in the morning, because after very little thought, I purchased the “starter kit” plan, the 28 day jumpstart. I generally only impulse buy very early in the morning, or, on rare occasions, late at night. Anyway, if you are curious about it, you can check it out here:

fitgirlsguide 28 day jumpstart

I downloaded the e-book, read through it, and thought “Hmm…I might actually be able to do this.” The more I read, the more I was convinced that this was something that would really help me- and trust me, my own best efforts were falling a little bit short- lose some of the weight I was so bummed out about carrying around. So, last Sunday, I went to the grocery store with my little grocery list (included with the plan) and I bought all the suggested items. I went to the dollar store and bought a bunch of cheap “tupperware” (it’s early, I can’t think of another description except “plastic food container thingies”), and that night, I actually prepped my food.

Now, here I sit, a week later, and I want to tell you a little not-really-a-secret secret: It was actually pretty easy. And I lost a little over four pounds. In a week. Did I mention it was easy? I’m not sure how much about the plan I can actually reveal, as it IS a pay for the info kind of thing, but here is what it consists of- a healthy, yummy, easy to prepare, weekly menu. The aforementioned grocery lists. Daily home (no gym required) exercises. And lots of sound advice about attitude, drinking water, loving yourself, and having fun while changing your lifestyle, rather than viewing it as a horrible consequence of enjoying food.

Here is what I have learned in the past week:

  • I eat a LOT more often than I am hungry, just because there is food available. I snatch bites from my kids plates because it looks yummy, or finish their food because it’s there. I sample whatever is on the counter in the kitchen at work brought in to share. I eat when I am bored. I eat when people I am visiting with are eating. I eat because food tastes good and it is there. I was eating WAY more than I realized before.
  • It doesn’t take as long as I thought to prepare healthy meals for myself. As a matter of fact, if you have all of the ingredients on hand, it’s cheaper, faster, and leaves you feeling MUCH better than running to McDonald’s for a double cheeseburger.
  • I DO feel like an idiot working out on my living room floor, but much less so on day seven than I did on day one. And there is something very gratifying about knowing you are doing something about your weight, no matter how stupid you feel.
  • Not only was I eating much more than I realized, but my eating choices- even when I thought they were good- were much worse than I realized. I wasn’t eating the correct portions, and was allowing myself WAY too many extras. Hence, the reason I wasn’t losing weight the way I thought I should be.

Having said all of that, I will tell you a couple of other things that happened last week. One of them is that I didn’t follow the meal plan exactly- the first three days I was perfect with the food, but on day three, I was supposed to meal prep again, and I just didn’t want to. So, instead, I prepared either the exact meal, or a variation of that meal each day.  I made the shocking discovery that a sandwich can be absolutely fantastic without mayo! Who knew that? Not me. A little whole wheat pita with mashed avocado and turkey, onion and tomato? On POINT. So delicious.

I stayed with the basic ingredients I had purchased, I stayed within the basic portions recommended, I continued to track my calories on Myfitnesspal, and I did the exercises, every single day. Most days, I even did extra. And the results have been fantastic!

The only thing I found I could not, would not, did not want to do was this: I am not giving up the cream and sugar in my coffee. I tried it for one day, and all I can say is- Fuck that. No. So I compromised by drastically cutting back on coffee, adding only two tablespoons of fat free half and half per cup, and one tiny teaspoon of brown sugar. Because, lets be real here- I’m trying to be healthy, happy, and lose weight. Giving up my yummy coffee would not make me a happy girl.

So, that’s the scoop! The plan costs only about 25 bucks, and the groceries (for one person) have cost me about 70 dollars a week. This is a GREAT program for anyone who needs a little structure, and who is just learning about eating healthy, correct, portions and proper exercise circuits. I have learned more for this 25 bucks than I have learned in six months (and way, way more money) from my personal trainer at InShape. He and I are going to have a few words tonight!

Check it out, kids! I will post again about this next Monday. Have a great week!

Posted in advice, friendship, humor, inner peace, Learning, Life, Musings, People, random

What I’ve Learned, Lately

lessons

I don’t care how old you are, life is nothing if not a constant set of lessons. I am going to share with you some of the things I have learned, lately:

1.) I am better off if I don’t react to my first impulse, no matter what the situation. Unless, you know, something is on fire or something.

I am a very emotional person. I almost always have feelings about things before I have many thoughts about them. What I have learned is, the best possible outcome is usually achieved when I allow myself some time to think things through before discussing anything. When I am very heated about a situation, attacking it on the spot is generally just that- an attack- and it tends not to end well. This isn’t exactly rocket science, but it’s truly a new thing for me…I am the queen of the knee jerk reaction, always blowing up before I have any business opening my mouth.

2.) When you overreact to something, it winds up being about your behavior, rather than the thing you are objecting to.

Say your boyfriend cheats on you. That is a really terrible, painful thing. So, when he comes home at two a.m., and you rush outside as he is getting out of his car, and he jumps back in his car and locks himself in, just in time to avoid getting a concussion with the bat you are swinging at his head, and you proceed to beat his car until it can’t rightfully be called a car anymore…when the police come, and all of your neighbors are outside watching you get handcuffed, guess who this about now?

Okay, this was a terrible (but super fun) analogy, but you get what I’m saying- when you go over the top in your response, and behave badly, it almost inevitably turns into a situation where you are left feeling bad about how you handled yourself, and whatever it was you were objecting to gets lost in the mess.  Try to keep some dignity, whatever the cost. If that isn’t possible, seethe in silence until you calm down a little- and you will calm down. Which leads me to:

3.) Feelings Change.

This is closely linked to number one, but not the same. In the first instance, I recommend waiting to react, at least outwardly, and thinking. But here, what I have learned is that, not only should I wait, and think, but I have discovered that when I do this, a lot of times what I thought I felt wasn’t true at all. Give yourself a minute. You will be surprised at how different your feelings are after a good nights sleep or a weekend off. Shit changes, and fast.

4.) Having said all of that, I have also found that dealing with things directly, no matter how awkward it might be, is exactly the right thing to do.

A few months back, I decided to get a roommate, who is also a friend of mine. I was smart enough to know that I have a hard time living with people, and so I told her that we should aim for six months, and if that went well, then, no longer than a year. Within two months, I started to feel overwhelmed and less excited about the whole thing- but it was a really hard subject to broach. I didn’t want her to think I didn’t like her, or that she had done anything wrong, because that wasn’t it. I simply don’t like having roommates. But I didn’t say anything, because I thought maybe I was just adjusting and I would get over it. So, I went to Hawaii, and while I was there, I thought a lot about it. I still wasn’t really sure, though, until I was turning the corner to my house on my way back home, and suddenly, I was just bummed out that I had to face people in my home when I returned. I KNEW in that moment that I had to talk to her.

I waited until the moment seemed right, and I sat down, and we talked about it. I was nervous as heck. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but I knew that, in this situation, I needed to be true to myself. I told her we should plan on sticking to six months, and I told her that the reason I was letting her know so soon was because I didn’t want her to miss out if she found something else in the meantime. I also let her know that I hoped she stayed the whole six months, but I would not be mad if she didn’t. And that if she had a tough time finding something by the end of the six months, it was okay to take a little longer.

I’m sure she wasn’t thrilled. But you know what? I knew that I had done the right thing, in the right way, and I had been direct, and kind, and as thoughtful as I could be…and because of that, I never had to feel bad about any of it. And I had said what I needed to say, which meant there was that much less weight on my shoulders.

5.) Pick your battles.

Okay, so this isn’t an original thought. Not by a long shot. But, for someone like me, who is always ready to cop a resentment about nearly any fucking thing, this is a huge breakthrough for me. You mean I don’t need to correct every little thing I view as wrong? You mean I won’t die of keeping my mouth shut? You mean I can have feelings about things that have nothing to do with me and I don’t have to share them? WOW.

So, I have learned, lately, that not only will I not die of letting things go, but I can achieve quite a bit of happiness and peace this way. Simply by not saying every single thing that I think. Simply by letting people be their irritating selves, they become less irritating. Who could have known this? I mean, besides most people?

So, this is my list of interesting life lessons for now. I hope you enjoyed them. And if you didn’t, I hope you are smart enough to Pick Your Battles.

Have an awesome day!

 

Posted in Addiction, Depression, health, Holidays, humor, inner peace, Learning, Life, living, Mental Health, mindfulness, Musings, People, random, twelve step

Over November

november rain

 

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

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

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

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

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

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