Tag Archives: family



I spent a good portion of last weekend cleaning my house. It needed to be done, and it always feels great having order restored, however temporary that order may be. But, when I found myself house-bound with a sick child both Monday and Tuesday, I was sort of at a loss for what to do. I could have folded the three loads of laundry that are sitting in a basket on my couch, but for whatever reason, I just can’t quite bring myself to deal with that. I did my normal avoidance routine, consisting of screwing around online, and binge watching yet another show (Mom this time, on Hulu- if you haven’t watched it, check it out. It’s pretty hilarious.). Eventually, though, I had to do something else, something productive, and I knew it was time. Time to deal with The Closet.

The Closet is in the hall, four doors, two on the bottom, two on the top, and I have been avoiding it for three years. Well, three years in March. That’s when I moved into this house, and that’s when I shoved The Closet full of bags and boxes of paperwork and keepsakes and God only knows what else, and left it to rot. I was still getting loaded when I moved into this place, and to be honest, I’ve been a little afraid of what I might find if I went poking around in there.

But on Monday, I put my big girl pants on and started digging- one bag and box at a time. There was a lot of junk, sure…things I should have thrown out eons ago. Printer cartridges for printers I don’t own anymore, file folders full of bills that no longer exist, insurance information for cars I no longer own. I filled up my recycle bin in the space of a few hours. I didn’t find anything to be ashamed of, though, and certainly nothing that put my recovery in danger. So that was a relief.

And then…and then I found some other stuff. I’ve kept boxes for each of my children- those fancy, pretty banker boxes- not the plain brown kind, but the ones you can buy at Marshall’s or Target with the beautiful designs on them? I’ve kept them for my kids and for myself for quite some time. I never really thought about how long I’ve kept them, and I don’t know if I’ve every thoroughly, soberly, gone through them since I started, but…I’m really glad I did.

Although I am working hard on my opinion of myself as a mother today, in the present, my opinion of the kind of mother I have been in the past has become rather concrete. I was a horrible mother, I decided, with no redeemable qualities, and my daughter would have been better off with anyone else. I was heartless and unloving and drug addicted, and I can rarely think of a time when I didn’t suck, heartily, at the task of parenting my eldest child. But her box of mementos tells a different story. I have every art project, every note to Santa and the Tooth Fairy, every report card and hand-made note she ever made for me- so many that I might need a bigger box. This “horrible mother” wrote things my daughter said to me on sticky notes and kept them, all these years. There are pictures of us that I had forgotten about, and we are laughing and playing, and clinging onto one another with love. My mind, my awful, lying mind told me a story and I believed it, and I have carried it around with me for all these years, without question. The things in this box tells me that maybe there is more to that story, more that I need to remember.

In my own box, I found cards and letters- real, hand written letters- from people whom I love, and who love ME. Letters from my best friend Grace, and letters and cards from my grandparents and mom, and a whole bunch of letters from Joe, my friend who died in August. You can’t imagine, you really can’t begin to imagine, how much that meant to me. Reading through all of those words from people who cared so much about me, not just when I was clean, but throughout the worst parts of my life, reminded me that I still had value, I was still worth so much, even when I believed myself to be worthless. I may not have been well, but I was loved, and I was worth something to all these people.

It blows my mind that living the crazy, chaotic life that I lived for so long, having lost nearly everything I owned on more occasions than I can remember, I managed to save these amazing items. I lost households of furniture and closets of clothes, but I have the discharge papers from my daughter’s birth in 1997, and all the cards from the people who visited me at the hospital. I lost everything, except the most important things of all- the slips of paper, the glossy cards, the letters that could fill in for me the memories I lost along the way. The story of a girl who wasn’t all dark, who always had a little light, a little more worth, than I could have remembered on my own.

The Closet is nearly done now- just one more shelf to go, and it will be neat as a pin. I put those boxes away after shedding a few tears, and I sat down on the couch full of wonder and feeling so much lighter. I am not exactly who I thought I was, and for once, I was so glad to be wrong…and anytime I start to forget, or start listening to the lying voice in my head, I know I can just pull one of those boxes down out of that closet, and find all the evidence I need that I’m not all bad. That there was something worth saving in me all along.


Three Things (it’s still Thursday, right?)

three beetles

I know, I know- I’m super late with this post today. Heck, it’s almost my bedtime, decrepit old thing that I am. But seriously, I am in a HEATED Fitbit challenge right now, currently holding the lead, by a hair, in two very serious battles. Well, actually, I am 14,000 steps ahead in one, so that one is pretty much in the bag, but the other one is anyone’s guess. Which is pretty bad considering I am giving it everything I’ve got and barely winning. Anyway, forgive me, I digress. I am tired as hell.

Alright, let’s get on with this, shall we?

  1. Mommy confession: I freaking hate homework. I’m so glad my first grader only gets one page a night, but to be honest, even that is a bit much for me at times. “For you?” you may be saying to yourself, “But isn’t it your child’s homework?” To which I would answer “Do you have or even know any children?” Homework is a family disease. And furthermore, I think it is mean spirited and cruel to send a child home with more work to do…if my boss asked me to take work home after hours, I would laugh and laugh…and then say “Hell NO.” And perhaps add, more quietly, “I don’t have time. I have math to do. Cam does, I mean.”
  2. I have had a really productive, good week. Some time opened up for me unexpectedly yesterday and today- meaning the plans I had fell through, and I couldn’t be happier. I got the house picked up, making it easier to exist in, and I got to sit down and play Uno with Cam last night, and we read together. That’s the kind of stuff that makes me feel like my life is actually working. Running around every night like a chicken with my head cut off is (please forgive me for the terrible pun that is coming) for the birds. I’m a little punchy this evening.
  3. I want to share with you guys how I am entertaining myself lately (besides the bad jokes, I mean) First of all, I have been binge listening to a podcast called Jim Harold’s Campfire, and it’s a wide range of really interesting ghost stories, visitations from the other side, cryptid’s, and odd happenings, told by the people they happened to. I am really enjoying it. I have been watching “The Last Man on Earth” On Hulu, and it is laugh out loud funny. And I have been reading the Throne of Glass series for months now…such great world building and beautiful writing. I highly recommend all three.

That might have been longer than 15 minutes today. I forgot to look. Oh well. Have a great night!

Goodbye, January! Thanks for the Hot Dog Moon!

blood moon

In case you are wondering what the hell I am talking about, I just woke up my seven year old to come look at the blood moon. At first, she wasn’t having any of it- she was like, “Nah, mom, I’m good. I’m just going to sleep.” So I left her alone. But a few minutes later, she got up and, after wrapping her up in a fuzzy blanket, I ushered her down the steep steps of my front porch, and out beneath the sky. She was appropriately excited about what she was seeing.

“Wow, mom! That’s just amazing! It’s like a deep, burning red! It’s hot-dog colored! How amazing!” This is an actual quote. For a seven year old, that’s downright poetic. Hot dogs are objects of great affection…no higher compliment she could have paid that blood moon.

Anyway, believe it or not, today is the very last day of the month! An entire month of 2018 is already behind us. For me, it has been an incredibly meaningful month, and I truly mean that. Here are some of the highlights of  January for me:

  • I started a critique group for my fiction writing, something I have wanted to do for years. I actually pulled it off! We have met twice already, and will continue to meet every other Friday for as long as it keeps working. It is so helpful, and it feels so great to hang out with other people who love writing as much as I do.
  • I have been growing my blog like crazy! Regular posts and lots of interaction with other bloggers has been so gratifying for me, and I can’t describe how much I’ve gotten back from you guys. It feels so great to be connected this way.
  • I have written massive amounts on my novel. I also cut three chapters, which was painful, but it had to be done. I am in love with the story that is coming out of me. I always feel more like I am transcribing a movie that is playing in my head, rather than actually making something up. I’m just reporting what I see, really. And I love what I have been seeing.
  • I have spent some quality time with my kids, most notably with Aisley, on our little weekend hiking/cabin adventure in Boulder Creek.
  • I have not missed one day of meditation this month.
  • I have still not smoked, not even one cigarette, in 71 days.

Here are some of the things I need to be better about, going forward:

  • I REALLY need to cut back on my coffee consumption. I finally got a decent nights sleep last night, but I think drinking 7 or so cups of coffee daily is a bit excessive. The problem is , I like the taste so much, especially because I doctor it up with so much cream and sugar. Which leads me to the next item on the list-
  • Eating. I mean, I have to eat to survive, but I know I can eat less donuts and chimichanga’s (the dictionary here does not recognize the word “chimichanga” and wants to correct it to “Michigan” which is what I felt like I ate after that deep fried, beef filled tortilla of happiness hit my system, honestly) and a lot less of everything in general, and I would feel better. In February, I hope to get back to healthier eating.
  • Hand in hand with eating goes exercise- I get lots of it, but I don’t think I push myself hard enough. I need to try a little harder.
  • The last thing I am really struggling with lately is chronic over-scheduling- I do not have one night this week where I am just doing nothing, and it makes me crazy. I want to sit down and have a real dinner with my kid, but this week, that isn’t going to happen. The truth is, it’s up to me to learn how to say no, and I haven’t been very good at that lately. I am going to remember what my real priorities are, and why.

And THAT is why my theme for February is going to be Family. Also, because they both happen to start with “F”, but mostly because I really do want to bring my focus back where it belongs. My kids! And myself, because I do consider myself part of my family.

So there you have it! My month in a nutshell. How did your January go? What did you get right, and what needs some adjusting? Thanks to all of you who have joined me here over the past month. You have all added something so cool to my life, and I couldn’t be more excited about being on this journey with you!


The Best Christmas Yet.

the best christmas yet


In the 42 years I have been on this planet, I have had all kinds of Christmases. I have had magical ones- lots of those, thanks to my mom, who REALLY pulled out all the stops every year to make it special for us kids. I have had terrible ones- I remember a year, when Aisley must have been about seven, when I had stayed up partying all night, and all of her presents were from the dollar store. Also, a guy I didn’t know was passed out on my living room floor, left there by his friend the night before when we couldn’t wake him up. We just stepped over him. That’s the kind of life I have lived.  I have had angry Christmases, and lonely ones, Christmas days filled with too much driving, too much fighting, and too much wishing I was somewhere else.

But I have never, ever, had a Christmas day when I was so overcome with gratitude as I listened to the sound of my family- all the people I love most in the world- chattering away and laughing in the living room behind me, that I broke down in tears. Not just a pretty little drop or two as I brushed garlic butter onto bread, but full on, “Oh shit, Courtney, this is not the time for a breakdown” kinda tears. Sobs, you might even say. I don’t know how to describe it to you, the way I was feeling, except for that worn out word, grateful. So, so, so full of gratitude that it hurt a little bit.

Because that, that feeling that I had, that sent tears pouring out of my eyes, and my mother rushing to hug me- that, my friend, is what recovery is. All the meetings that I make and the stepwork that I do, all the self reflection and correction and digging deep and starting over, forgiving myself, forgiving others, all the TRYING. All of the never taking anything, no matter what- THAT is what I have been searching for, and striving for, and wanting in my life and heart all along. That feeling of peace. That feeling of love, and belonging, and contentment and family. I have been really working a 12 step program for two and half years straight, but I have been trying to be where I was yesterday my entire adult life. My whole life.

If you are reading this, and you are new in recovery, I want to encourage you to stay the course. Don’t give up. There were times in the beginning when I was more miserable than I had been when I was using. I had zero coping skills, nothing left to take the edge off, and my brain was fucked up, even if I couldn’t come to terms with that at the time. My temper was as short fused as ever, and goddammit, I got clean so that I could stop being so hateful, but it didn’t seem to be working. If this sounds familiar, just wait. Just find whatever small improvements you do see, and hold onto them. Know that it will change.

When I had about a year clean, I got really mad at my mom, for a good long while. She didn’t do anything wrong, and I didn’t understand it- I hated it, actually. I was afraid that I was going to stay mad forever, and it scared me. But I had faith that I was working through old shit, feeling feelings that I should have felt a long time ago, and I held on. I kept pushing forward, inch by inch. One day, I looked for the anger that I had almost gotten used to lugging around with me, and I found that it had faded. Day after day, it lessened, leaving me surprised by what took its place- love, warmth, affection, acceptance. Yesterday, I can tell you, I did not have one single weird feeling where my mom is concerned. I never felt judged or criticized, picked on or even remotely insulted. The reason I am telling you this is because relationships change in recovery. You will change, and they will change.

Every single person in my house yesterday has been hurt by me in my addiction. Every. Single. One. I just now realized that. Wow. How blessed am I, that I get to make a living amends to these people? That they have forgiven me? That they still love me, that they are so proud of me? I literally would not have ANY of it if I wasn’t clean. I wouldn’t have it, and I wouldn’t even know that I wanted it. I would still be trying to fill that hole in my spirit with all the wrong things, wondering why everything hurt so much.

Listen, I want everyone to be able to feel the way I felt yesterday. If you have reached the end of your rope, and you need some help figuring out what to do next, shoot me an email. I will try to help you figure out a solution. Clduncan1@outlook.com, or just message me here.  And again, if you are new in recovery, I promise you- the pain will be worth the gain. It will be worth every second.

This Christmas…



I am sitting here, at 5:24 a.m. on Christmas Eve, full of excitement and nerves. In just a little while, my oldest daughter and her boyfriend, who may as well be my third child, are going to be here to spend the night and wake up on Christmas morning with our little family (EXCITED!). Tomorrow, my mom, stepdad, and uncle are coming here, to MY house, to spend the day and have Christmas dinner…HERE. With ME! (NERVOUS!)

I am going to have a house full of the most important people in my life, and I could just cry over how happy it makes me. Every single year before this, I either had to drive three hours to spend a hurried Christmas at my late Grandparent’s home, or I opted out, and stayed home, missing everyone. I know that not every year will be this way- sometimes I am going to have to go to them. But this year, I made my mind up to stay home, and I wasn’t going to budge. And I am so happy that everyone is coming here. My uncle never goes ANYWHERE, so this is a really big deal!

I want to make it as special and warm and happy as I can for everyone, and lets be real- I am not exactly the hostess of the year. I’ve been known to run and hide in the bathroom when someone unexpectedly shows up at my door. Or stay very, very still until they go away. So I keep finding myself getting bunched up with anxiety, worried about the state of my home (i’ll be cleaning like crazy for most of today) or how small my house is, or how shoddy and fur covered my couch is, or…but you know what?

None of that stuff matters. If it matters to certain other people (cough-my mom-cough) then I need to remember that that is her shit, not mine. My job is to do the best I can, but more than that, to enjoy my family. So that is what I am going to do. I have managed, for the first time in my life, to make it through this hectic season with love in my heart and a smile on my face. I have been as generous and thoughtful and kind as I know how to be- even when no one was around to witness it. I have kept my program of recovery in mind, and tried to behave accordingly because I want to be a good example- this one fell flat many times, but the point is, I am trying. REALLY trying. Because I want so much to have a happy life, not just a happy Christmas.

But really, what it comes down to is this: I have decided I WILL have a wonderful Christmas, so that is what I have set about creating. I can’t absolutely control the outcome- first of all, no one ever can do that, and secondly, control is the very thing I am working on relinquishing- but I have done all the things I can, both inside of me and out, to invite the best outcome. And I have made up my mind to enjoy whatever comes.

One thing I know for sure is that my family has given me the best gift of all just by agreeing to show up. I feel pretty freaking loved.  Which makes it SO much easier to get into the Christmas Spirit, you know? It stopped being about what was under the tree for me a LONG time ago. Sometimes, it wasn’t about anything, and I couldn’t feel much besides stress and irritation, relief when it was all over. But this year- this year is very different. I think for the first time ever, my head is clear enough, my heart healed enough, that I can access the things that matter most of all during the holidays- Love, Family, Peace, Hope.  It’s been such a long road for me, but I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s so nice to be right where I am.

I hope all of you get to have something like this feeling I have today. If not today, then very soon. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays.

Almost Half-Way Check In ( 40 Things in my 40th Year Update)

So, I sat down this morning to check out my progress on the whole “40 things in my 40th year” list…and discovered, much to my horror, that A) I haven’t written a blog in TWO MONTHS?! I knew it had been a while, but not two months! That is really, really bad. I don’t even have an excuse. I just haven’t been writing. Lame. B) That October is five months since my birthday, which means almost HALF my year is gone! Holy Shit! Where the hell does time go? and C), worst of all…I haven’t done nearly as much from the list as I thought I had.

There is some good news though! I have actually accomplished a few of the things on my list, and several more are on the horizon. Let’s run through the list real quick like, shall we? Okay, here goes:

1.) Stop being so lazy: I think I may have actually overcome this life long demon of mine. Look, I will never be the most clean, neatest of the neat, girl on the planet. That just isn’t who I am. But I have made some real strides. I also got a roommate who does dishes, so this helps. But my overall laziness does seem to have improved, judging by the way I seem to run my ass off from the moment I wake up in the morning until the moment I collapse into bed every night, anyway.

2.) Makeover, as in, get one: I can’t decide if I did this or not. Technically, I did not get a makeover. I did, however, have some extremely awesome pictures of me taken that make it LOOK as if I did have a makeover, so I feel as if I satisfied that requirement. If the opportunity comes up for me to have a real makeover, I will jump on it. If it does not, I am not going to worry about it.

3.) Essay published in the Sun: This one would be so much easier to accomplish if I were actually writing. Which I am, right now, obviously, but this is the first time in a good, sad, while.

4.) Mud Run: I am doing this next weekend. I am so excited! If you have a second, check it out- it’s called the “MS Muck Fest” and it is a huge, muddy, fun obstacle course! Yay!

5.) Meet Justin:  Don’t get me wrong, I still would love to meet Justin…and his lovely new girlfriend, LOL. And I would LOVE to go to Canada. But this has fallen lower on my priority list. You know how it goes.

6.) Get a literary agent:  Sigh…again, I am so removed from my writing right now. I have had so much work to do in other areas, but I need to make time for this. It’s what feeds my soul.

7.) Go to a literary convention: I’m sensing a theme, here.

8.) Visit Glass Beach in Ft. Bragg: I actually  did this one! Can I just tell you something? That beach is TINY. The glass is incredible, but the beach is the size of a large-ish living room, and it is FULL of people. I didn’t find one memorable piece of glass there, sadly enough. I would still go back, but definitely NOT on a weekend. 🙂 Done, and DONE.

9.) Alcatraz:, 10.) Dance Lessons, 11.) Passport: Not Yet, Nope, and NO.

12.) Finish all Twelve Steps: I am still on step one. But I am working on it!

13.) Foodie Event, 14.) proposal for non-fiction book, 15.) hypnotism, 16.) writing class, 17.) jewelry class, 18.) hike soberanes, 19.) surf, and 20.) Hot springs : Nope, not even close, still possible, no, looked into it, but class was full, totally going to happen, not yet, and totally forgot about this, respectively.

21.) Camping, 22.) quilting: No to camping, and it doesn’t look too good at this point. And quilting? Hey, that is still possible!

23.) Leave California Twice, preferably from different directions: Well, I am going to Hawaii next month, so that is one. I just need to squeeze in one more trip, which shouldn’t be too hard!  Maybe I will finally make it to Oregon to see my buddy Brian.

24.) Ferry Ride: How hard could this be? If I can’t get this done in the next seven months, I am truly hopeless.

25.) Attend a live sporting event: I don’t even know why I added this one to the list. I don’t care about sports at all…although, honestly? I wish I did.

26.) Meditation: I have improved leaps and bounds in this one. I am so comfortable with meditation now, and can see the difference in my life when I am doing it consistently. However, this being a “practice”, not sure how I can ever complete it. Lets say my goal, while ongoing, has been a success!

27:) Treat my body kindly: Well…tomorrow, I will have not smoked a cigarette in 100 days! And I am watching what I eat, and I hired a personal trainer. I meet with him weekly, and hit the gym 4-5 times a week. I am weight lifting, and doing something active almost every single day. So, yes, while I have a ways to go, still, I am definitely doing what I set out to do here. Mission accomplished!

28.) Going outside in inside clothes: I have tried, I really have. But I am not going to lie…I am that girl. I will go to Save Mart in the clothes I slept in if I am out of coffee mate. I just don’t see what the big deal is. Sorry, Holly. 😦

29.) Go to Gilroy Gardens: Okay, so I totally did this, AND I bought season passes, thinking I would be saving big. The only problem is, I only went once. I Still have a month left on my passes, but next year? Yeah, I’ll just pay as I go (if I do…it really is pretty great, though. And beautiful!)

30.) Halloween Tour at Point Sur Lighthouse: I forgot that I wanted to do this, and I am going to look into it right now! So excited!

31.) Five Museums:  This is still going to happen.

32.) Write EVERY DAY: OKAY, ALREADY. Listen, it is just stupid that I am not doing this. I really can’t get around it. The remainder of this year, my writing will be first and foremost. It may not all be occurring here, but it will be occurring, this I swear.

33.) Connect with family: This is a funny goal, not very specific. I will tell you this- the work I have been doing on myself has allowed me to make great strides in my relationships with the people closest to me. Especially my mother and my older daughter. I am experiencing much less friction in my relationships with the people who know and love me most, and that is huge. Perhaps now the circle can begin to widen.

34.) Kindness, Empathy, Non-judgement:  I am getting better. This will be a life long effort. I am good with that.

35.) Garden: There is still time. I didn’t hit it last spring, but I can do it next one…and I will!

36.) Make my Home look Inviting and Good:  I would say that, yes, this has happened. Did I mention I got a roommate who does dishes? She’s amazing! The house looks great!

38.) Have a party!: This happened. Last weekend. And it was a HUGE success, if I do say so myself. I had at least 30 people here, not counting kids. It was a blast. 🙂

39.) Learn to BBQ: I am beginning to lose hope, you guys. I mean, I am a native Californian, who lives by the beach, no less, and not only do I not know how to BBQ, I don’t even own a grill. I feel like my card is going to be revoked.

40.) Say Yes More: I am not sure in what way I meant this when I wrote it originally. But knowing me, I meant saying YES to life, and to new experiences and new ways of thinking. Saying yes to vitality and joy. Yes, Yes, Yes! And you know what? I think this has been a wonderful year for all of those things so far.

So, this is where I am so far. I hope to keep plowing through. I hope that I can mark them all off…but even if I can’t? Hey, at least I am working towards a life filled with great experiences. At least my mind is working on some goals.  And knowing where I am now, I can really fine tune and focus on what is ahead!

I hope to see myself here much, much sooner…it’s been too long! Have a wonderful Sunday

The Tangled Web We Weave…is Actually Pretty Rad.


So, the other day, I went on my first date in…I don’t know, like, forever. It was super casual, an afternoon, after the workday but before I pick up the kids kind of date. We took a walk together, got some ice cream, walked back, chatted. Oh yeah, and I met his ex-wife and all three of his kids. Yeah, that happened. It could have been awkward- I’m not going to lie, there was an element of awkwardness pervading the scene. Here we are, innocently chatting in line for ice cream, and first one, then two, then three of his kids barrel into him, followed by, in a much less (thankfully) exuberant manner, his wife. I mean, ex-wife. Thankfully. Anyway, as usual, my desire to end awkwardness at all costs won out, and I found myself chatting with his ex about places my older daughter could start modeling locally, and I was showing her pictures, and we were the next best thing to chummy by the end of it all. Okay, maybe not that, but it wasn’t awful, and it could have been. It’s not the best situation for starters, but we did great with it.

Then, last night, I went out for appetizers and drinks (my drinks were Shirley Temples, of course) with my sisters…except, they aren’t REALLY my sisters. They technically belong to my ex, many times removed, also referred to as my daughters father, or “baby daddy” number one. Yeah, they are the siblings of my first offspring’s spermatozoa contributor, and I just sort of barged in and snapped them up. He has seven brothers and sisters, and I couldn’t decide, so I hogged them all. I love these people as much as I love my own people, and there is no distinguishing that love from the love for my “own” family. We have so many memories, and so much history, I feel confident in claiming them as family.

I would like to think that this phenomena I am experiencing in my life is a wonderful side effect of the breakdown of the traditional family unit. Perhaps it took a while, I don’t know. I don’t see the same things playing out in the lives of my mom (who is not friendly with her husbands ex-wife, to say the least), who modeled her life very much after the traditional family that she had with her folks- I’m not saying it worked out very well, I’m saying that is what she was going for. However, I do see it playing out in a myriad of ways in the lives of those around me. The ability to let go of the ideals we may have concerning what makes family family, and choose to love one another, and accept one another, instead. I cannot see the down side of this. I don’t know where I would be without my stolen brothers and sisters, and I don’t even like to think about it.

Last night, at dinner, I listened to one of the girls talk about how she went bra shopping with the current girlfriend of her daughter’s father. “I just love her!” she said. How can this be bad for anyone? The other day, my daughter and I were talking about a man we know who is raising his girlfriend’s son as his own, which isn’t all that unusual, except that he was the product of what you might call…a pause in their relationship. Yeah. Say what you want about it, I think that is the most noble and loving act I have ever seen. How awesome that he could swallow his pride completely and raise this boy with all of his heart! That, to me, is what love is all about.

A couple of days ago, I had this bright idea to set my brother up with this girl I adore- she is smart and artistic, one of those bubbly people that you enjoy encountering. No big deal, except that she is also the girl that my ex had an affair with years ago. Oddly enough, we have this bond now, forged through confession and pain, and finding out that, whatever else may be wrong with that dude, he has EXCELLENT taste in women. It didn’t happen overnight, that is for sure…but here I sit, trying to finagle her a place in my family. Hahaha!

I am not saying that everything about having a traditional, well functioning family is bad- far from it! If you can achieve that, Jesus, good for you! I know how hard it is. What I am saying is, if things have to be the way they are, what a wonderful discovery we have made around that fact- that the truth is, love is more prevalent than ever, even in these fractured and confused roles we play. That we are not bound by some imaginary sense of honor, or by pride, to disdain those that we may very well come to love. And that family is, really, more than blood. They are the people that you choose along the way, or that choose you, and how you nurture one another. I don’t see anything wrong with that at all.

Have a lovely Sunday. 🙂

The Family Dinner


Last weekend, I made dinner for my “little” family, (Vegetable Lasagna, in case you were curious, and YUM) which consists of my 17 year old daughter, Aisley (which we pronounce i-lee, because I wasn’t hip to Gaelic pronunciation way back when she was born, though we found out later that it is supposed to be pronounced Ashley- but at a certain point, it just isn’t realistic to change the spelling and/or pronunciation of a person’s name), my 3 year old daughter, Camryn (because it looks more feminine, that’s why) and basically, Dylan, who is Aisley’s boyfriend, but you rarely see one without the other. Thankfully, I like him, or this could potentially be a nightmare.

It was wonderful. While we ate, I thought about how nice it would be if there were people there (besides Dylan) that I didn’t actually give birth to, people that were, you know, around my age. Or at least were required to love me due to our long, complicated histories…you know- FAMILY. The main problem with this idea is that I don’t have any actual family here anymore, if you go strictly by the “Sharing DNA” rule. Thankfully, I do not subscribe to all that hooey, and have a vast number of slightly younger people to whom I have insinuated myself into their family via breeding. I know this sounds weird, but it’s basically the truth- I never married Aisley’s dad (My spell checker keeps telling me I have spelled my daughters name incorrectly, and last time I almost believed it. Damn it.), but I did marry (in my heart) his gigantic gaggle of brothers and sisters. I lived with them when I was pregnant with Aisley, and at that time, there were still six of them at home, not including the two parents. Yes, SIX. At HOME. There were actually two more that were old enough to leave, one of them being Aisley’s dad, the other being the aforementioned Andrea, with whom I am privately very competitive with.

In that crazy house lived Matthew, Meghan, Amanda, Hannah, Noah, and Zane. Their parents, who I grew to love like my own folks, were Jim and Valerie. I had spent the bulk of my growing up years in a tiny and tense family consisting of my mom, me, her insane ex husband, and my little brother. Then, when they split up, my brother was only three, and he lived with with his dad part time. Eventually, and much to my mother’s horror, he went to live with his dad full time, leaving just her and I. Of course, by the time I was 15, I was rarely home- and by rarely home, I mean, I would run away for weeks at a time, being as how I was the WORST teenager in the history of the world. Sorry mom. My point is, by the time the Davis family got me, I was totally unused to things like: Noise, chaos, yelling, massive food shortage’s, group sleeping arrangements, and families that throw up a lot. I also came to them fully able to go to the store on my own, and left there with a compulsive need to take someone with me everywhere I went. But they welcomed me into their family with open arms, and very few questions, and I was 21, scared to death, very pregnant, and alone. They were exactly what I so desperately needed. They accepted me as I was, they made me feel safe, and they came to love me. That’s not the kind of thing you just forget.

So, when I moved in, Matthew, the oldest, was a junior…maybe a sophomore in high school. Meghan was in middle school, and the rest were in elementary school, still. Zane, the baby, was only six. He towers over ALL of us now, but he is only a few years older than my oldest daughter ( how weird is that?). My point with all of this is- if that is not family, I guess I don’t know what is. These are the people who have shared years and years of my life. I have watched them grow up.

So, I invited all of them to come have dinner at my house last night. I was feeling isolated, lately, and I wanted that family connection. I posed the idea to them in our secret Facebook group, and everyone (well, lots of them) said yes. So, I went and bought a deep fryer and decided on fish tacos, and…Well. In my head, it looked slightly different. In my head, I warmly invite them into my spotless home, where dinner is totally prepped, and the taco garnishes are displayed artfully in bowls on the table, near the freshly cut flowers.

What actually happened, though, is that, for some reason (see yesterdays blog to help clear this up) I totally procrastinated until like one in the afternoon, which was four hours before dinner was set to start. I wanted to get started, I really did- mentally. Physically, I just wanted to watch TV. I think I need to get rid of my cable. But anyway, at one, I started cleaning my house in earnest, not realizing until then just exactly how filthy it really was. I managed to finish it with an hour to spare, which I spent frantically chopping up cabbage that no one really gives a shit about putting on their fish tacos anyway. Live and learn.

By the time Terry and Meghan got here, I was pretty much done. Except for the part where the fryer was still in the box. And I didn’t know how to use it. And I forgot to put on make up or comb my hair, and my clothes were covered in batter, sweat, and bits of cabbage. So Terry fried the fish for me, and I heated up tortillas old school (on the open flame of my gas stove), and pretty soon, my house was filled with Matt and Jenny, Kiera and Taj (their beautiful kids), with Meghan and Terry, and their lamp-eyed, gorgeous baby, Maverick, and then Noah came with his beautiful wife Ali (and I am not just saying that because she brought a huge platter of homemade peanut butter chocolate cookies and then LEFT THEM HERE, either.) And it was loud, and the kids were watching Frozen, and Taj, who is six, pretty much wanted to be anywhere else, but he was a good sport about it, and everyone laughed and told stories…and it was GOOD.

It was so good. And I am so grateful to be lucky enough to be part of it, to be part of their lives. I have watched them grow up, and they have loved me in spite of all of my shortcomings, and my feeble little human problems. Yep. If that is not family, I guess I don’t know what is. I LOVE you guys.

The Start of Something Beautiful



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.

Why I Write



I woke up a few minutes ago, and did what I always do- started my coffee, grabbed a cigarette (I know, I know, I’m working on it…), and went out and set down on my front step with my phone. I checked Facebook (that evil time eater), then I checked my WordPress account. I had an overnight “like”, so I did what I always do again, and checked out their blog. It was a photography blog, but I only saw one picture, which was very good, by the way. What I did see was a letter she’d written to her husband or lover or whatever. It was very sweet and heartfelt, and told me a lot about the person who wrote it. It also reminded me of words my grandmother might have written, or thought at least, about my grandfather. 

What in the world, you may be wondering, does this have to do with why I write? Well, when I read those words, I was so reminded of my grandmother, Eileen, that I wanted to write down the story of my feelings for her- that she was so beautiful on the inside I could not have told you if she was truly as beautiful on the outside as she seemed to me. I was blinded at birth by her inner beauty. I know she had pouffy white hair, green eyes, huge boobs and tiny, beautiful hands. I know she loved children more than anything in the world, except for my grandpa, who was the center of her universe. I wanted to find a way to tell you that she lived a life that most of the world knew nothing about, but to me, she was an anchor in a stormy sea. When she died, I lost the last piece of my true home, the tiny corner of the planet where I could still be a child, and feel safe. 

Everybody has something they are talented at, feel passionately about, are very interested in. If they are lucky, maybe all three. I am not going to try to guess here how talented I am, but I can tell you this- writing is my passion, my interest in it has never flagged. Well, maybe briefly, but never for very long. I told my mom yesterday how I knew that what I wanted to do more than anything (still) was to write- I told her, if I were to lose my job tomorrow, that would suck…but I would get another job. If someone told me tomorrow that I could never write again…I wouldn’t know how to go on. Writing is that important to me. 

There are a million stories inside me, all the time, clamoring to be written down, wanting to come out. There are moments like this morning when I felt compelled to come in here and tell you a little about my grandmother, Eileen. Some of my blogs are like that- the best ones, the ones that people love the most. Those tell themselves. I always joke that when I am writing my best, it’s like I’m just dictating for some invisible entity speaking through me. I can hardly keep up. 

I can’t imagine my life without this love affair with words. It is who I am, a huge, natural part of me. Maybe even the best part. Happy Monday (whatever that means. 🙂 ) See you back here soon.