Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, anxiety, Goals, inner peace, Life, living, mindfulness, People, recovery, twelve step, women

Peace

peace

This morning, when I took my dog Lucy to the beach, I made a conscious decision to leave my phone in my pocket. I didn’t want to be taken out of the moment by my urge to take the perfect Instagram picture and then cross-post it to Facebook, and subsequently spend the rest of the day compulsively checking for likes. I grow tired of that cycle, but the truth is, it isn’t easy to stop. But I did it- left my phone in my pocket, resisted the urge. Picked up a shell or two, and enjoyed just throwing the ball for my dog. I also met a few fellow beach strollers- something much easier to do when you are looking up, being present.

After the walk, I dropped Lucy off and decided to hit a meeting. I’m embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t been to one in nearly a month! It was just what I needed today. I saw my sponsor, and a few core people that I really love and respect. What a message of hope you can find in those rooms sometimes…it really is amazing, when you think about it. Escaping from the life of depravity that is addiction is such a freaking miracle. If you know, you know. It’s incredible to me that I have somehow managed to stay clean, that I somehow have made a success of what was once a very sad, broken life. I’m very proud of this life I have given myself. I forget sometimes.

Here we are in November, and I am already thinking about the year coming next- what I want to work on, where I want to focus my energy. The theme going forward is going to be “Making Peace”, and by that, I mean with ME. As much work as I have done on myself, I still carry around a lot of guilt and shame, and so many upsetting memories from the past. I still have a lot of anxiety and worry around the future. The past is gone. The future isn’t here yet. I think I need to forgive myself and focus on today.

I was listening to a TED talk yesterday about how to be happy- I didn’t finish it, but something stuck with me: People are happier when they are focused on what they are doing. It’s when our minds wander that we begin to feel anxiety, dread, and unhappiness. This makes so much sense to me! Since then, I have noted when my mind was spinning off, and started focusing on where I was right in that moment, and I found almost instant relief. I think it’s going to take a lot of practice, but if I can master this one, I’ll be in business.

Anyway, I will not so much be seeking peace as I will be doing the things that I know bring peace to me, and doing less of the things that take peace away. I deserve to feel good about my life, to feel peaceful, content, happy. We all do. I encourage you to really think about the content of your life, what is working, what is not, and what you can do to bring your life closer in alignment to what you’d like it to be. This is not a dress rehearsal, and the clock is always ticking. I’m starting now. How about you?

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Posted in family, Goals, kids, Life, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People, women

Close, but no cigar.

Before I even get started, I have to tell you this: As soon as I wrote down the title to this post, I had to go and look up where the hell this expression even came from. Apparently, from what 30 seconds of googling could tell me, it originated during the 20th century at carnivals when they would hand out a cigar as a prize when/if you could win one of the carnival games. So there you have it.

Anyway, what I am referring to here is my attempt to make it a full 24 hours without raising my voice. I did pretty well, honestly, right up until I was getting ready for bed. Cam was out in the living room with her dad, doing homework, and I was trying to figure out why all my sheets and blankets were all over the floor…and in the hallway. This isn’t what irritated me, though. I like to make sure my bed is made properly before I get in it anyway, so I would have been fixing it no matter what. What made me forget my goal was the pile of milk-soaked cereal, not in a bowl as one would expect, but sitting ON the surface of my antique wood dresser. Just sitting there, soaking in. Ewwww…not cool at all.

So I may have raised my voice, just a bit (although, in fairness, she WAS in the other room, so I needed to be heard) to demand what the hell was happening on my dresser. A silly question, as I obviously knew what it was, but…maybe just a little clarification as to whether or not she knew it was there, and why, if so, did she simply leave it there? Her father, who reads my blog, reminded me of my goal to not yell- which I both appreciated and found very annoying, in equal measure- and I simmered down. But still! What the hell?

So, I kinda fell short. It was a brief episode, and it didn’t leave me feeling guilty and terrible, but I still fell short. I will continue today to try for 24 hours without raising my voice- same rules as before.

In other news, I know, and have known for a while now, that it is high time to get my kid into her own room. She thinks my room IS her room, and her room is just where she stores her belongings. I know lots of people have lots of opinions about this, and I am going to be very upfront here and say I HAVE HEARD ALL OF IT ALREADY. I always have allowed my kids in my room…my older daughter didn’t start sleeping in her room until she was probably 8, and honestly, I have no regrets about allowing her to sleep with me for so long. They grow up so fast, and one day they want nothing more than to hole up in their own room and have no interest in snuggling with you at all. So I created this situation, 100%.

And now I am ready to start transitioning her into her own room, and her own bed. Sleeping with Cam is like sleeping next to a very active windmill. She’s a bed hog, she’s a blanket thief, and she takes up an incredible amount of room for a child. When she spends the night away, I find that I sleep quite well and that my blankets are incredibly neat in the morning. I feel guilty for even saying this, but it’s true. So, putting her into her own bed, in her own room, will solve a couple of problems- it will alleviate the things like wet cereal on my dresser, and it will also give me a good nights sleep, without being punched in the face by anyone other than myself (I actually did this recently and gave myself a bloody nose. True story).

So, goals for today: No yelling. Get Camryn to at least lay down in her room, if not spend the entire night- I’m not stupid. I know it might not happen on the first night. Let’s see how this goes~!

Posted in adventure, aging, Dreams, fun, Goals, Life, Musings, People

It’s Time

live

In my head, there is an alternate reality, an entire life that contains all (most) of the same people that my actual life holds, with some pointed differences. In the life unfolding in my head, we do a lot more travelling. We do things that I am afraid of ( i.e., pretend to hate) such as camping- I can see myself and my daughter smiling around a campfire, looking up at the stars. In this alternate life, there are other differences, too. We are much better at togetherness, and I don’t mean laying in bed together while one of us watches season two of The Office (me), and the other one watches other people play video games on their tablet (her). I mean actual togetherness, laughing and eating waffle cones full of fresh churned ice cream at some food festival in Maine kind of togetherness.

In my imagined life, I am more organized, I am not such a freaking hoarder, the rooms in my home are neat and sensible, and I have tracked down the source of the moldy smell in the big bathroom and eradicated it. We get homework done without crying (that could be either of us on a bad day) and Cam reads to me without stubbornly insisting that she doesn’t know how, even though we both know she can read just fine when SHE feels like it. Or better yet, instead of pretending like she hates Harry Potter, she begs me to keep reading. In my other life, I always have extra blankets, nice ones, clean and folded neatly, in the linen closet. And I have a linen closet.

There is nothing wrong with the life I already have- as a matter of fact, it’s pretty great. But could it use some fine tuning? Um, yes. For the first time in memory, however, I already have all the main ingredients needed to make the leap from the actual-life-I-am-living to the-life-in-my-head. All I need to do is figure out the right measurements. Reduce the generous helping of pure laziness to maybe a pinch or two, and double the amount of effort and elbow grease. Buy some garbage bags, make a few trips to Goodwill to drop off the 17 pairs of “goal jeans” that, let’s be honest, if they ever do fit again, they aren’t even going to be in style anymore. I have an entire drawer filled with shirts that I dig through every day, and refuse to wear any of them. Why? What am I keeping them for, then?

For some reason, a truly clean house- like, every nook and cranny clean- plays a central role in my fantasy life. I have no idea what that has to do with food festivals in Maine or camping, but I guess it would make packing easier. It would definitely make coming home from a trip away more pleasant. In true ADHD fashion, though, cleaning properly is never a straightforward event for me. It involves a lot of half finished projects that stall out when I get distracted by something else that needs to be done, over and over, until I drop from exhaustion, leaving the house looking ten times worse than it did when I started. This is not an exaggeration, this has actually happened to me before.

But here is the thing- I KNOW there is a way to make this other life happen. I KNOW it. I can feel it in my bones, that I can have the life I want. I just need to keep taking steps towards it, every day, no matter what. There have been plenty of times when I got off work and wanted to veg on the couch and binge watch whatever thing I am currently into, but instead chose to push myself a little harder to get a few more things done…and it felt great! I need to choose to do that more often, instead of occasionally. It’s amazing, the amount of energy I find myself to have, compared to what I think I do.

My 20’s and 30’s were a blur…most of it, I wasted on self loathing and addiction, and the times when I actually had my act together, I was desperately trying to catch up, or to keep my family from going under. But there was always the sense that I had ample time to figure it out. I am 43 now, and although that is not old, there is definitely a feeling of “It’s time”. Time to pull it all the way together, or as much as I can. Time to take all of the trips and clean all of the closets, and generally figure shit out. Before my knees start protesting, and my back starts being really difficult, and my hormones jump ship, or whatever hormones do when they get old.

There is absolutely nothing standing in my way for once, except for me. And I refuse to be the reason my life falters anymore. I’ve done that for as long as I can remember, and it has never served me, not once. So I am going to challenge myself to try harder, dig deeper, and really start living the juiciest, most exciting, most awesome life ever. In a super clean house, naturally. Now excuse me, I need to go order some camping gear.

Posted in adventure, fun, Goals, inner peace, Life, living, Musings, People, random

BIG Dreams…

Big-dreams

So, yesterday was amazing. I have to admit to you, I had my doubts- spending three hours at a spa for someone as restless as I am started to seem a little less like a luxurious indulgence and more like a possible torture situation the closer I got to it. I know how dumb that sounds, but I can’t even stand going to barbecues that aren’t rigidly structured, because just sitting around talking to people with no firm end time makes me want to run and hide in the bathroom. I thought I would go crazy sitting in a little room with a private hot tub and sauna for an hour…like, a whole hour?! Hahaha! Just goes to show you how dumb I can be, because I could have stayed in there for WAY longer. Of course, in all honesty, I was happily floating in the hot tub, looking out the giant, floor to ceiling open window into a private garden with a freaking water fall, you guys, and I was typing away on my phone nearly the whole time. But you know what? That’s okay. It’s what I wanted to do, so it was perfect. My allotted time was over before I knew it.

Then I put on the little robe they provided me, threw all my stuff into a bag they gave me, and walked, steamy and barefoot, down a little hall and into a waiting room. I was given a little rack of essential oils and told to pick two for my massage and facial, so I sat there and smelled every single one, and finally settled on jasmine (my favorite scent of flower, hands down) and lavender, which is just the ultimate essential oil…I mean, I know it’s so played out, but that shit smells amazing. Anyway, I was ushered into the massage room, and to be honest with you, it is all a happy blur after that. I was in there for two full hours. I had a full body massage, focused foot massage, a hot oil scalp massage, and an aromatherapy facial massage.

When I left that place, I was not energetically the same. All that relaxation, from the start to the end, had shifted me into a totally different place. And I know that that’s the whole point of doing something like that, but did you ever stop to think about how strange that is? That by letting someone rub away the knots in your back, the soreness in your neck, the weird cramp in the back of your thigh, it can change your entire energy? That’s wild. I noticed that I was moving a LOT slower on my way back to the car. It took me like 30 minutes just to get my shit together enough to drive away.

It was a gorgeous day in Santa Cruz yesterday. I mean, it couldn’t have been more beautiful out. All the trees downtown were full and green, and the sun was shining. Santa Cruz is such a cool place anyway (aside from the soul crushing traffic, but I didn’t have to be anywhere, so it was no big deal) with the big old Victorians around downtown, interspersed with cute little bungalows, and so many gardens in full bloom. As I turned up Lincoln, heading back to the freeway, I was thinking “Man, I would love to live here.”, and I suddenly remembered a very specific dream I used to have…not a sleeping dream, a goal-dream. I even wrote it down, and all these years later, it popped into my head, clear as a bell.

Here it is: I had sold a novel that I’d written for a LOT of money, like, tons- possibly even film rights, who can say? Anyway, I had bought this amazing, gigantic, beautiful home, right in the heart of Santa Cruz…it had shining hardwood floors, and a staircase with a fancy carved banister, and the front door was made of heavy wood with a little window in it, criss-crossed with iron. In the back of the house, I had an office with a big desk right in the middle of the room, and if I turned my head I could look out into my back yard, where the sun was shining and little white butterflies fluttered around the flowering bushes. I got to sit in that office every day JUST TO WRITE, and people paid me to do it. And, because I worked right there in my house, I didn’t even need to worry about the stupid traffic…even the super healthy grocery store was within walking distance, so maybe I only busted my car out for the occasional off-hour jaunt, who knows?

I remembered all of that in the space of just a few seconds, and it made me think automatically of the novel I am working on now, and wonder “is it good enough?” I don’t know…but could it be? Yeah, I think it could. All of the sudden, my head was so clear, and I was so relaxed, and I realized that I could have all of the things I wanted- it didn’t seem far fetched or crazy or any of that. It made perfect sense. I’ve been so busy living my life for the past ten years- and it has been an amazing ten years, don’t get me wrong! Everything about it has been important and meaningful, and things that I HAD to experience and grow from and get through. But I had to put my big dreams aside to deal with some soul-growing stuff, and now I’ve done that. I’ve done that, and haven’t known what to reach for next, because it is just my nature to want to keep reaching. I don’t remember a time when I haven’t been working towards a goal. That’s just what inspires me.

So here I sit this morning, relaxed and happy, just relishing the thought of all the wonderful ways my life might go. Will it all come to be? I have no way of knowing that for sure…but it feels amazing just to entertain the possibilities. For right this second, that is enough. Have a wonderful day!

 

Posted in adventure, aging, Goals, Life, Musings, random

Happy New Year…to me :)

43

Today is my personal New Year, or, as some people like to call it, my birthday. I honestly do not have any idea why I still get all excited about this shit…I mean, I am 43 today. Who gets excited about getting another year older? Me, that’s who. I do. I just love my birthday, and I always have.

I even took the day off work. And, after I drop my little beauty queen off at school this morning, I am heading out to a neighboring town to have coffee with a girlfriend, then I am treating myself to a three hour spa treatment. That’s right, Three. Freaking. Hours. Two of which are massage, so…as you can see, I take this birthday stuff very seriously.

I think one of the reasons I like birthdays so much is because I love, love, love fresh starts. So starting a brand new year of life is way up there- I haven’t done anything yet to mar this fresh new cycle of my life. It’s better than Mondays and the first of every month, and it’s right up there with New Year’s Day but more personal…so, yeah, it’s pretty great.

I wish I had a bunch of goals all ready to announce, but I do not. I am still feeling a little weighed down by the massive pile of Mexican food I inhaled last night (dinner number two so far in celebration of “my” month, because I claim the entire stretch of May. Yep, I’m one of those assholes) so I can’t really think of anything big…

How about this: I would like to maintain all of my current happiness, and maybe even take it up a few notches. I would like everything to continue to get better. I would like to do all of the things I enjoy doing now, except more often. I would really like to figure out how to keep my house clean. I wouldn’t mind having sex at least once this year…or even once more before I die, for God’s sake. I would like my pets to stop ejecting fur all over my house as if their very lives depended on it. I would like to be the bright spot in the lives of people I love, who love me back. I just want to feel good most of the time. That’s it. I mean, besides becoming rich and author-style famous, which goes without saying, that’s really all I want.

Well, I better go shave my legs! I don’t want to feel weird about some stranger massaging my naked body while it’s slightly stubbly, you know. That would add a layer of awkwardness to an already strange situation that I am just not ready to deal with. Talk to you soon!

Posted in Blogging, fitness, Goals, health, housekeeping, Life, mindfulness, People, random, Weight Loss

March 31st

goodbye march

Another month in the books already? Wow! I can’t believe it’s nearly April, and then on the other hand, I can’t believe we’re only heading into the fourth month of the year. What a crazy few months it has been for me! 2018 so far has been the most intentional year I have had in recent memory. I know it has a lot to do with me blogging. This little act of sitting down here to write about my life regularly helps so much to keep me focused and on top of things. It’s like magic.

Did you know that I haven’t had a dirty dish in my sink in well over a week? My landlady finally came over yesterday, and she thought the house and yard looked good- all of that stress and worry, for what? In the end, I pulled it together, like I needed to. And it’s not just the sink that’s stayed clean- I’ve devoted some time every day to picking things up and doing tasks that need to be done, and the end result is a home I am much more comfortable living in. Should someone drop by, I wouldn’t be mortified, or suddenly aware of how messy my house is. I would be proud of my home- something that is definitely new for me. One down side to all this neatness, though, is how crazy I get when Cam drops wrappers casually on the floor, or leaves her clothes in a puddle in the bathroom. Suddenly, these things make me very angry- “Don’t you see how hard I’ve been working around here?” I’ll snap, “Go pick that stuff up!” Poor thing. She’s never learned any good habits because I never showed her the way. I need to be patient, not one of my inherent qualities. Eh, I’ll get there. We both will.

As exciting as me droning on about my housekeeping habits probably is for you, I’d like to move on to something else now. As you may have gathered from other posts, I really like to be working on things in my life- the way I live, the way I am, the way I operate. It keeps me interested, and it keeps me motivated. Today is the last day of my (mostly) meatless March, and I don’t have any idea if I will go back to eating meat or not. It was REALLY easy, for the most part, not to eat meat. And to be honest with you, the thought of eating it now kinda grosses me out. I can’t even believe I am saying that, but it’s the truth. I did eat refried beans twice, forgetting that they are made with lard, and that baked potato dip with bacon bits in it (I didn’t realize it until I had already eaten half and then ate the other half anyway). Either way, going without meat was not hard, but I learned you can still eat pretty terribly without any meat at all. Which brings me to my goal for the next month:

Move Your Ass April! I have gone to the gym only TWO times in March. Not only does that mean I will have to pay full price for my March gym membership (if I go ten times per month, my work pays half of my fees) but to be honest, I don’t feel that great. I don’t know about you, but the less I exercise, the less I want to exercise, and the slower and more sluggish I begin to feel. So, for the month of April, I am committing to my original goal of going to the gym 3 times per week, and hitting my step goal 6 out of 7 days per week. I would say every day, but there is inevitably one day where I just can’t do it. I am also going to concentrate on eating sensibly, since I majorly fell off that wagon this month, and keeping track of my calories. Do I want to lose weight? Yeah, of course I do. But more than that, I want to feel good about myself. My house being neat makes me feel good. Exercise and eating right, both make me feel good. To be honest with you, everything I do is an effort to feel good. It’s kind of my favorite thing.

In closing, I will say this- I know for sure that nothing like perfect balance is ever going to happen. Not in my life, or in anyone’s life. That just isn’t a thing. The best we all can do is strive to do the best we can on any given day. Despite all the struggles and ups and downs I so readily admit to, my life is good. And it’s good because I never stop working on it, no matter how hard it might be at the time, no matter how ill prepared I might feel. This is the only life I have, and I’ve decided that I want to get the most out of it that I can. Starting exactly where I am at.

 

Posted in adventure, Blogging, family, Goals, Learning, Life, Musings, People, random

The Tide is Turning

challenges

Despite all of my carrying on and whatnot over the past couple of weeks, I want to let you know that there have been some major shifts in my routine over that same time period- the things I have struggled with aloud here have been the very things I have devoted most of my time to dealing with in my real life. A lot of times, when I am writing about my life in my blog, it is a way for me to sort out and work through things on a different level. It’s a great way for me to pinpoint areas where I am not doing as well as I would like to be, and it seems like I just naturally start to resolve things the minute I put them down on “paper”, essentially.

I wrote recently about wanting to feel more confident in myself, and figured that one of the ways I could improve my self-esteem would be to behave in a way that would inspire more respect in myself- in other words, do a good job. Make it my goal to really pour effort into whatever task I am doing, so that when it is done, I know I did my level best. With this spirit driving me, I have had the best couple of weeks at work that I have had, as far as consecutive days go, in probably years. I have made it my business to enforce some self-discipline during my work hours, which is essential (and also incredibly easy to lose completely) when you work from home. I set specific goals for myself, keep track of the work I am doing, and reward myself with a short break every hour, when I’ve reached my goal. I leave the TV off. I open up my blinds to let the light in. I sit down, I listen to podcasts, and I earn my paycheck. At the end of the day lately, I have felt the satisfaction of knowing I did my job well, and it really does feel amazing. Bam, my self-confidence soars.

Side note: My friend Jennifer gave me the book “You are a Bad Ass” by Jen Sincero for my birthday, and I just finally started reading it- well, actually, I’m almost done now. I figured this was a perfect time, when I am pretty open to ideas and help. I have been surprised to find how many of the recommendations in the book are things I already either do, or at least have realized, on my own. Which is not to say that the book is useless- far from it! I think it is just generally a great idea to read books full of positive information that will lift you up, and I have learned quite a bit as well. My point is, aside from what I have gleaned from the book, the realization that I am already doing so many of these things makes me feel like I might be doing better than I thought.

Something big happened after I wrote the post about being lazy- boy, I never would have seen that one coming, but…I’m super glad it did. I want to share with you that the minute I finished that blog, I got up and did the dishes, and I have barely stopped cleaning since then. I’m not kidding! I have not gone to bed with a dish in my sink since that blog was posted. I have been doing laundry nearly constantly, filling bags with Goodwill donations, throwing things away, and sorting out the junk and bric-a-brac that I have allowed to accumulate in small piles throughout the house. I filled a garbage bag just from my tiny bathroom alone- full of old makeup, expired medication, empty cosmetic boxes, and just…shit. Shit that has been cluttering up my life and making me feel bad. Every night, when I finally sit down to relax, I can REALLY relax, because my house, while not yet exactly how I’d like it to be, is already a thousand percent better than it was. And again, I can sit there knowing I worked hard, and did a really good job. Again, major self-esteem boost.

And finally, remember the post about losing my sense of adventure, and how I was stressed out about my landlord coming and code enforcement and all that? Well, turns out that might have been the best thing that could have happened. As a direct result of the pressure applied to me, I paid someone to haul off ALL the junk in my backyard (a pretty impressive amount, to be honest. I don’t know where all this crap even comes from!) and then I paid someone else to come and clean my massive yard for me. Best money I’ve ever spent. I also called my landlady to find out when this visit is supposed to happen, and learned from that call that she isn’t mad at me at all. She’s actually more upset with the city for bothering me in the first place. So, not only did I feel so much relief from dealing with the issue head-on, but she was thrilled to hear that I had done so much work to make the yard look nice.

To wrap this all up, I want to announce that I am leaving town today, having decided to take a vacation out of town after all. No, I am not going to Oregon- I realized that I didn’t want to risk sitting in the car for a total of 24 hours with a seven year old in what looks like will be terrible weather. I opted instead to head south, to the sunnier portion of California, and I couldn’t be more excited! My kiddo and I have BIG plans for the next several days, and I don’t want to tell you where I am headed because, of course, I am planning on writing about it.

So, just to make a terribly long blog even longer, I want to say how grateful I am that I have this outlet to express myself. It’s exciting for me to be able to share, and discover for myself, the way this blog is a tool I use to work at the knots in my life, and how writing through my struggles actually helps me to resolve them. If all I was doing was bitching about my life, it could be toxic. But this last few weeks has shown me that what I am really doing is figuring out how to be better, and the advice and support I get back has been such a wonderful bonus. So THANKS! I am off to pack for my trip now!