Posted in Addiction, advice, escape, Goals, inner peace, Learning, Life, People, random, Uncategorized

Directions To Happiness

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Yesterday, I ended my blog by saying something like “If I figure out the directions to being present, I will definitely share them”. Well, I woke up this morning and started really thinking about how I got here, to this place of real happiness, in such a relatively rapid manner. I mean, lets face it- just two months ago, I was a pinched face ball of tension and misery. Now, I wake up every single day feeling like the possibilities are pretty much endless, and even if NOTHING exciting happens, I am good. There’s a weird part of me that is almost a little embarrassed by this, like maybe I am really just having a bipolar manic episode, and everything really still sucks…but, I’m pretty sure that isn’t it. I haven’t decided to go jogging naked or spent my whole paycheck on Coach bags, nor have I started an inappropriate affair with the mailman (Yet, hahaha!). So, I am operating on the assumption that this is my new reality. 

As much as it may feel like I sort of stumbled into it, looking back, I do see that I have done some specific things that have helped me get to this point. A lot of it was just instinctual, and when you are on the right path, it’s like your spirit will pull you towards the things that are best for you, I swear. I know how hokey that sounds, but I think that is one of the catches- you have to have an open mind. So, here are my personal directions to the approximate location of happiness. You may have to tweak it a little to find your best neighborhood. 🙂

1.) You have to decide that you want to be happy. For me, it was more like I was so insanely sick of being miserable…but I did often say the words “I just want to be happy.”. Saying this is not the same thing as making the decision to be happy. We say a lot of things, all the time, and do nothing. This happens inside- it’s a commitment that you make to yourself when you are really ready for change, and usually, things have to suck pretty bad to get there. For me, at least. You may be smart enough to feel some minor discomfort and go ahead and turn it around. I could learn a few things from you, if that’s the case.

2.) Once you make up your mind, you have to stop doing all of the things that are making you miserable. For me, as you probably know, there were drugs, and a really unhappy relationship. You just have to let go of that stuff. I had to do both in order to make any progress- I had tried just giving up the drugs and then just giving up the relationship, but nothing worked until I let go of both. It was hard, and sad, but I was ready.

3.) Definitely Rest, but don’t Languish…does that make sense? What I mean is, yes, you do need some time to recover from the “surgery” (whatever piece of yourself you just had removed, or reconstructed), but don’t just sit around waiting to heal. When my last baby was born, I had to have an emergency C-section. The nurses told me to walk around as soon as I could, that it would really help. I thought they were insane- HELLO? From what I understood, certain vital organs of mine had been PLACED ON TOP OF MY STOMACH to get to my child before being thrown back in…you want me to do what, now? But they were right. It kept me from getting all stiff and full of scar tissue or something, I guess. Same principle, here. You need to keep moving forward. You gave enough time to whatever misery you are escaping.

4.) Take walks. I had put “exercise”, which is also really important, but it isn’t the same thing for me as walking. I get something different out of my morning walks than I do from a trip to the gym. I get to see the world around me in a different way, and I just sort of meander around, doing what feels good to me. So try taking a walk every day, see if it helps.

5.) Think about what you are putting in your mouth. The way I eat has so much to do with the way I feel, it is crazy. If I eat lots of red meat or fast food, I feel sluggish and awful. If I eat food that I cook at home, and lots of salads and fruit, so on, I feel better. Not just in my body, but in general. I am not saying cut out everything you love to eat, just think about what you are eating. Lots of times, i realize I don’t really even want something when it comes right down to it.

Well, I feel really bad about this, but I am going to have to finish this tomorrow! Time got away from me, and I have to head out for my walk or I will miss it, and…well, see number 4. That would just never do!  Have a great day, and I will talk to you tomorrow, I promise.

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Posted in Addiction, beauty, family, Goals, Life, People, random

As Promised, Part 2

Hello again…So, this morning I was sharing the first part of something I wrote a few years ago about the end of my drug addiction (hahaha, some of us know that there is REALLY no end to drug addiction, but what I mean is, the end of that very loooong and grueling phase. I call it my twenties.), what it was like and how I felt. I think a lot of times we picture (and I include myself in this as well) drug addicts as unloved junkies and street people, low-life’s and thieves, “bad” people. A lot of times, they are those things. I certainly was. I knew how to behave myself when necessary, but it was hard to pull off a lot of the time. And anyone close to me at all could tell you that I was selfish, mean, manipulative and out for myself, period. I didn’t start out that way, and neither do most of the people that end up in the places addicts end up. We are somebody’s children. We have brothers, sisters, mom’s & dad’s. Friends who miss us, people who worry themselves sick over us, people we haven’t talked to in weeks, months, years. We have children who we lost or ruined or we can’t face. We are people who, in our sickness, walk around with a terrible loathing of ourselves because the only thing wrong with us is a thing we do to ourselves, a thing that is killing us, and we STILL can’t stop. We gave up our dreams, our lives, our health, our futures and we can feel our own lives slipping away, and we can’t just put it down. That’s all that I needed to do-just stop. But I couldn’t seem to do it. Here is the rest.

10/10

You cry for two months solid before you finally give up the fight, before you know with every cell in your body that you just cannot bear one more second of this perverse existence. You no longer even care what is on the other side of where you’re jumping, because it has to be better. Nothing could be worse than this. And so, you jump.

You expect to be bored, and to be boring. You expect to lose your edge, to feel uncool, to never have fun again. You expect to meet nerdy, boring men, get fat and live a mundane and unmentionable life. You believe you have had your fun. But you are so broken that you think that might be okay,  and so you go.

What you don’t expect is for your heart to break open like a flower that has finally found the sun. You have no way to prepare yourself for all the feelings that rush over you like friends who were desperately afraid you would never arrive. You feel full to the brim with hope and ripped in half by guilt, in turns, but you don’t use. It doesn’t even occur to you, for some miraculous reason. You have gotten a taste of something new, something heady, and mysterious, & beautiful, something that lets you rest for the first time in a million years. And you want more. Of course you want MORE!  You are you, after all, but still- this is something altogether different than anything you could have conceived.

The taste of food is like magic all of the sudden. The sun on your skin is to be relished, not escaped from. Your cheeks ache from laughing, your skin becomes rosy, your eyes are blue, and they sparkle. At night, you wrap your child as close as your arms will allow, and you are there with her through the night. You can’t believe how much you love sleeping, and you can’t believe how you fought against it for years, as if it were the enemy. When you wake up in the morning, you are excited about what the day will bring, and when this occurs to you, you press your face into your pillow and you cry. You cry because you forgot what it was like to feel excited about your life, to be glad to be alive, to have hope.  You forgot what it was like to be free, except that all along you had tricked yourself into thinking you were doing what you wanted, partying it up. Funny, not one memory from the past eleven years could match, could even come close, to this eager, happy, hopeful, brand-new feeling you had now. And all you did today so far was open your eyes.

Without realizing it, you have resumed your conversation with God, one that you had put on hold many years ago. It seems reasonable to you that God has been around the whole time, keeping his eye on you, and that it was your shame that kept you from facing Him. You knew what God had blessed you with, how much you were given, the ease with which you could have moved through life if you had chosen too. You had never really believed in sin, but if you did, then throwing away the gifts that God had bestowed on you at birth, that would be one.

God is cool, though. He understands more than he is given credit for, and he certainly has a better perspective. Maybe you were supposed to go through this, maybe it was a lesson. Maybe it was just a choice. Either way, it’s good to have God around again. So good, actually, that you make it a habit to talk to him daily.

Oh, but there’s more. You meet a guy, and he’s not really nerdy or boring, but he does treat you with respect and consideration. You do something totally out of character, and like him despite all of that.

He helps you navigate this new life, and he is exactly the right person at exactly the right time. There seems to be a lot of that going on lately. You get a real job, and keep it, and keep on keeping it, and you never once call in sick because you can’t bear the thought of facing another human being. You open a bank account- this simple act, nothing at all to most people, has you bursting with pride for days. You are surprised to find that people LIKE you, the REAL you,  almost everywhere you go. What’s more, you find yourself understanding why they do. You laugh easily and often, you are engaging and funny and confident. Why wouldn’t you be confident?If you could overcome THAT, well…the rest is just cake, right?

Hmm…so that is all I am going to share for now.  There is more, but that feels like a really good place to stop. I will decide later if I want to put the rest of it out there or not. Anyway, I hope you got something out of reading this, or at the very least, enjoyed it. I’ll be back soon!

Posted in Life

F***ing Girl Scout Cookies

It’s that time of year again…you can’t go anywhere without being accosted by them. Brownies. Girl Scouts. So cute, with their dimples and their little curls, perched behind their fold-out cardboard tables, running up to greet you as you exit Walmart, Safeway, wherever the hell you are. There is NOTHING you can do to avoid them, with their little hopeful eyes beaming up at you.

“Would you like to buy some cookies?” They chirp innocently, full of excitement.

Well of freaking COURSE I do, you little demon! Of course I want to buy all forty seven remaining boxes of your crack-like cookies- I want to take them home and dig little holes beneath my house to hide them away in so that I don’t have to share them with my children. I want to sit in my car and eat as many as I can without throwing up before I go in to greet my family, because I know as soon as their beady little eyes fall on that box, it’s all over. Bye- bye Samoas. See ya later, Tagalongs. It’s been real, Thin Mints.

Not that it matters. Because every single time I step outside my house, there they are- little tiny, sweet and perky, Girl Scouts. The future of female America. I mean, it’s practically un-American NOT to buy a box or twelve. It’s like spitting on the American flag when you dis a Brownie, man. You are effectively crushing the hopes and dreams, maybe destroying the heart, soul and drive of a girl who  dreamed of being PRESIDENT someday. That is, until you came along and ruined EVERYTHING. So just suck it up and pull out your wallet, asshole. This kid wants to spend the night in the San Francisco Zoo, and win an Ipad. (Actual prizes in this area. What happened to the shitty bikes and cheap rewards of my childhood? An IPAD? I want a do-over!)

I promised myself that this year, I would be strong. I would not cave in to the nonsense. I told myself- “Courtney, since joining the gym, you have managed to GAIN six pounds. You watch “Cupcake Wars” on the treadmill. Your relationship with food is not healthy enough to deal with Girl Scout cookies. Just say NO.”

Hmm. This didn’t work for the war on drugs, and it never worked on me, either. My boss, who has a beautiful and awesome little girl who also happens to be a Brownie, approached my desk. I steeled myself for the sales pitch, throwing my shoulders back, setting my jaw resolutely. The conversation went something like this:

“So, we’re selling Girl Scout cook-”

“How much are they? I’ll buy five boxes!” I swear to you, she never got to finish her sentence before I was writing a check. What is WRONG with me?

Fast forward a few weeks. I had been doing really well. I was eating better, feeling better, back on top of my game. I show up for work, and there, piled on my desk in lurid reds, yellows, and greens, are the devil’s obesity bait. “Come on…” they giggled, “you KNOW you wanna.”

“Just ONE.” I told myself, ripping open the tagalongs, those delicious peanut-buttery, chocolate cookie dream fantasies. I’m not really clear on what, exactly, happened next. All I know for sure is that, a few hours later, I felt tremendously ill. Like, Oh my God, I need to lay my head down on this mouse pad, NOW, -kind of bad. I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out why I felt so sick. So, as I lay there, I rolled my eyes over towards the box, and realized I had eaten EIGHT cookies. EIGHT. I don’t even know how it happened.

“Good.” I thought, “That’ll cure me for the rest of cookie season.” Oh, how naive. Before the day was even over, pretty much the second my nausea dissipated, I was back at it again. I had foolishly set the box on the empty passenger seat on the way home, and wasted no time at all polishing off another…ok, three other, cookies. Which, looking back, I don’t feel so bad about now, since the other four boxes were just inhaled by my so called loved ones the second I walked through the front door.

So far this year, I have managed only twice to walk away from armed Girl Scouts. Once, outside of Walmart, and only because I had no cash (not that that excuse will work- they take checks, those devils.) and I was too cold to be stopped on my way to the car. The other time was at farmer’s market in downtown Monterey, and that time, I think I was still driving around with a box or two stashed in my car.

“Sorry!” I called, rushing past, “I’ve already bought a bunch this year!”

“Well, thank you for supporting Girl Scouts!” They answered, diabolically.

“And thank you for contributing to my impending obesity!” I hollered back. They actually had the nerve to LAUGH.

Other than that, though, all victories have been theirs. Today, I munched my way through one entire sleeve of Thin Mints. I left the other sitting on my desk, assuring myself of further feelings of self loathing tomorrow. My boss said- “We’ll be out of cookies by this weekend!”

All I can say to that is, Thank You, Jesus. Even my fat pants are getting a little snug.

Posted in Uncategorized

What’s new with “ME”

So, it’s not as easy as I thought it would be to stick to my guns and persevere with my original intent- to try to indulge myself a little bit, try some new stuff, feel better. What has happened is that I have really been paying attention to the way I feel, more, and what those things are that make me feel excellent.

So far, this is what I have learned: If I can’t relax or I am not feeling well, it doesn’t matter what treats I am giving to myself, I am not going to enjoy them.

When my house is a wreck, I am not going to feel good about anything.

When I am overweight, it doesn’t matter how great my eyebrows look, my face will still be chubby.

My feet stay remarkably slender no matter what is happening higher up, so it’s a good idea to take care of my toes.

I like my hair better long- it’s easier to deal with, more feminine (for me) and suits me. I’m not sorry I cut it all off, but I do want to grow it back.

Those are a few of the things I have figured out in the past month, the simpler ones…some others, that have surprised me a little are:

Having a puppy is a great way to keep yourself grounded in the present. When you walk a little baby dog around, they want to stop and sniff everything- so you become very aware of your surroundings, and you see things more clearly than you might if you were just rushing by, on your way to somewhere else. I like this very much.

Prayer is a good thing- I knew that already. Prayer in a big room full of other people praying is a great thing. Going to church is a relatively new thing for me, and I am just blown away by how important it is becoming to me. I love the idea of a room full of other people like me, wanting to be more, wanting to know God better, wanting to have faith. I’m not naive enough to think that all those people have the same motives for being there, or that they are all great people, even…but it is touching, all the same.

If you pay attention, your body will tell you exactly what you should, or more specifically, what you SHOULD NOT put in it. Yesterday afternoon, while waiting for my kid and her friend at the mall, I ate a magnificent piece of pizza with tomatoes and big globs of ricotta cheese all over it. It was so yummy. About an hour later, my mood took a dive and my stomach started growling and feeling all bloaty and gross. Apparently, this was not warning enough for me, so for dinner, I ate a little bit of steak and some garlic bread and a tiny, insignificant amount of salad. I was awake at two o’clock this morning with the WORST stomach ache ever, and no on but myself to blame. Guess how often this happens when I eat, say, chicken or salmon or a veggie burger, even? If you guessed never, you were right. I am not fifteen anymore, no matter what my brain tells me, and if I want to eat crap, I better be willing to pay the price.

The most interesting thing of all, though, is this- exercise seems to be the biggest, best, most wonderful thing I can do for myself. I have been walking a lot, every day, actually, and it never fails that when I get home, after the initial sweating and panting has ended, I feel fantastic. My mood is great, my energy level is great, and it lasts a good long time. Also, I am actually losing weight, as well, which doesn’t hurt my mood any.

So this is what is new and happening on my little journey now. I will keep you all updated as I add new things to my repertoire…I am going to take a new exercise class or two this week with a girl from work, which should be super interesting as I am incapable of crossing an empty room without injuring myself, so…stay tuned!