Tag Archives: happiness

Surfacing

surfacing by chuck aves
art credit: Chuck Aves

I decided I better write this out before I do my usual blog reading session this morning, because I know there will be a million stories from my fellow writers about the year behind and the year ahead. I want my words to at least feel original on their way out! So here we go:

2017

This year has been one of the best years of my entire life, and I am not exaggerating. It has been a year of incredible self examination and change on a deep level. I am not the person I was 365 days ago, and I like this version of myself so much more. I put another year between me and the worst of my past, and so much of the fear and doubt and self loathing that I didn’t even know I was lugging around with me for so long, it has diminished. I am ending this year so much lighter than I started out- both lighter, as in carrying so much less, and lighter, less covered in darkness.  This year has been HARD, but it was work I needed to do, and I’m glad that I did. There is a calm place inside of me that I can almost always reach now, and there is a brake to slow me down where there never was before. I don’t have to escalate. I can hear myself. I am learning to mind my responses, that I don’t always have to react.

I lost someone that I love this year. It has been four months and four days since he died, and I think about him every single day. I thought about him every single day when he was alive, too. I don’t know what else I can say about this that I haven’t already written about here or here . A little bit of my heart, the only one who shared a lot of my favorite memories, and a really valued friend left the physical world, and I miss him. But I survived it, I stayed clean, and I learned how to grieve deeply, and that you can grow that way, too.

I feel like in 2017, I dived into the depths, and did some much needed exploration and learning. I brought light to places that had been dark for so, so long. I found places that had been forgotten, and brought them back into order. I have seen parts of myself I didn’t know existed, and know myself so much better now. I can look at myself from a different and kinder perspective, and it’s such a relief. But you can only stay under for so long.

2018

Surfacing. Open. Curiosity. Interest. Joy. Inspiration. yes.

These words are the theme I have chosen for the year ahead. Of course, these words are MY choice, which means, if I get a vote, this is what mine will be. We don’t always get to choose.

If I do get to choose, however, I will have a year that is mostly lighthearted, and filled with love. I will have a year filled with appreciation of all that I have already, and all of the new things that will come into my world. There will be road trips, and plane flights, friendship and laughter. I am open to the possibility of love (you guys don’t even know how embarrassing that was for me to write. Definitely need to do some work in that area!) if it is easy and it fits- and if it is not easy, then it has to be worthy of working for.

My choice will be a year of connection, and togetherness, and bonding. I feel like I did so much solitary work this past year- it was good, and it SO needed to happen. But I am ready to venture out into the light of the great big beautiful world, and learn how to play with others. I want to go hiking, and to the flea market, and on day trips and weekend trips, play board games, get dressed up for dinner, and sit around in living rooms that aren’t my own, maybe, laughing until my sides ache. That is the kind of year I see for myself.

Now, don’t get me wrong- I have all of the usual resolutions, and maybe I will write more about them tomorrow. But today, I needed to state my intentions for the year to the Universe.

Last year was amazing. This year will be the best one yet. Happy New Year’s Eve, everybody.

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This Christmas…

 

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.

What I’ve Learned, Lately

lessons

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

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

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

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

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

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

3.) Feelings Change.

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

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

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

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

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

5.) Pick your battles.

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

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

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

Have an awesome day!

 

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 Life You Choose.

This may be the best quote ever.
This may be the best quote ever.

Do you ever have moments of clarity, where the truth about things is so clear to you that it is startling? Or, maybe, the thing that is revealed to you, simple as it is, is not at all the truth you were hoping for? I think it is pretty human, and therefore, normal, to want a certain thing, or things, to be true, to hope for certain outcomes…and it may even be normal to grapple a while with reality before the pain of that struggle becomes hampering, and we can relax enough, usually out of exhaustion, for the true nature of things to be revealed to us.

I don’t know. Every once in a while, I have these reality checks that come floating down from…somewhere, and they invariably tell me some glaring truth that I missed, while I was busy complicating things with my own over-thinking. The latest one was probably the worst so far. “You know,” my head whispered to me, “If you don’t take care of yourself, no one is going to make you, no one is going to fix you, and no one else can save you. If you don’t do it, no one is going to do it for you.” I mean, yeah, obviously, but I don’t think I was thinking that way. I think I was still trying to ride the wave of “Well, I don’t do drugs anymore.” Which I don’t want to downplay- not poisoning myself on a daily basis is, and always will be, a big deal. But it isn’t everything. There are other things that must be tended to.

The fact that I haven’t been tending to those things becomes evident when I start to slip into despair and depression, like I have written about recently. I don’t want to get dressed, I don’t want to get cleaned up, I don’t want to clean my house (well, I never want to do that) or open my mail, or go outside. I know that doing all of these things will make me feel better, but I don’t want to do them. I want to drop out of life. Not die, I am not suicidal, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t want to participate in the parade anymore. Because I am burrowed down into my little “safe” spot, miserable as it is, and it seems like an awful lot of effort to get going, to get up there on the level with you other humans, and stretch my legs, start to feel better again.

So, the other day, I was standing in my kitchen, and that is when I thought that thought- that “Yeah, go ahead and stay in your little hole, but life is going on all around you, and you are missing it. Stay here, but no one is going to drag you out into the light. You have to do it. You have to be responsible for you, and your happiness, and the fact that you are missing out.” It was like my subconscious was giving me a stern talking to. I was not very receptive. I went and lay on my bed in protest, in my pajamas, at four in the afternoon, and drooled into my pillow while watching some horrible reality show on MTV.

But the conversation (that took place only in my head) wouldn’t stop playing over in my head. I knew it was the truth, and at the bottom of that truth was that I was hurting no one more than myself, by refusing to get on the ride. I was missing out. That is what life IS- the motion, the action, the discomfort, sometimes. It brings with it laughter, and joy, and happiness. You can’t just pick and choose which experiences you will have and which you will skip over- that is not really living. By leaving my sweats on for days, and refusing to get outside or do anything, I was refusing ALL of it. Not just the hard, boring, uncomfortable, scary stuff, but the great part, the best parts, too. And it was up to me.

So, I went on a few rather grudging walks. The light started to inch it’s way closer. I took a bubble bath and put on clean clothes. A little closer. I took out the garbage and answered the phone when it rang. I felt better. Then, the day before yesterday, I really WANTED to take my dogs for a walk after work. I couldn’t wait. The minute I was off work, I was out the door, and we walked and walked, and halfway into our walk along the beach, I realized I was doing it- I was taking care of myself, and I felt better.

Yesterday, the need for a nap was, like, gone. I just didn’t need one. Just like I didn’t need a pill, or a therapist (although I do have one, don’t get me wrong) or a cheer squad to get me through it. I had the answer, right in my own head, or heart, or soul- wherever the truth about ourselves comes from- it was in me, all the time. I just needed to be willing to listen. I wish I didn’t need to be in such a sorry state before I can hear my own inner voice, and I guess that is something I will work on. Anyway, I just wanted to share that with you. Now, back to writing the novel. Have a wonderful Friday!

Some More Whining From Me. Enjoy.

Stressed man and laptop

I have been dealing with a lot of anxiety, lately (which probably means I should be meditating rather than writing this, but whatever), and I know I have written about this in the past. Unfortunately, I don’t remember what I wrote, so there is a good chance I will be contradicting myself. If so, please forgive me. I am a really wishy washy human being, and my ideals pretty much change with my mood. This isn’t so bad in real time, but when you write a blog, and state certain things as facts, then forget about them and write something totally different later…you look a little silly. I guess I am alright with that. I mean, I’m not really alright with it, but I simply don’t have time to do the research, and make sure all my stories jibe. I’m not a liar, I’m just subject to my own whims.

Anyway, about my anxiety. Yeah, it sucks. I am having a really hard time at work again, and it seems like I can only hold up for a really short period of time these days, before I am back in the realm of lousy productivity. It’s no great mystery why this is- I am painfully, incredibly, horribly bored. I know I have said this before, too. I don’t know why I would expect it to change. The worst part of all is that I love the place I work for, and I love the people I work with, and I make really good money…wait, maybe that is the best part. What I am trying to say is that there are these great things about this job, but the bigger part is always the work, and the work has become intolerable, and how do I possibly go on? How do I possibly leave? What would I do then? I know so many people who just buck up, knuckle down (is that even an expression? I think it is, but it is still very early, and those words make very little sense to me at this point) and do what they need to do, to the very best of their ability.

I am just lousy for that, though.  I am the kind of person who just fucking suffers when faced with a task that holds no interest for me. It feels an awful lot like lying, which I am also intrinsically untalented at. So, like much of the rest of my life, I am just sort of bumbling along, hoping something makes sense, eventually. I know for a fact that I have said before that happiness is a choice- and I really believe that to be true. But sometimes the choices you have to make to really be happy are not readily apparent, or easy choices to make. The thing is, I don’t want to do what I do, but I don’t know what I do want to do. I mean, writing, obviously, but what are the odds that some magazine or weekly periodical is going to come banging on my email, offering me a starring role in a great new column, because they heard…nothing, ever, about me? And when you are the single mother of two beautiful daughters, you just don’t walk away from THEIR security so easily…if it was just me, I wouldn’t give two thoughts about it, but it’s them, and I like them, and want to keep them, so…so, off to work I go, I guess.

You can see the source of my anxiety, right? I believe happiness is a choice, but I am not happy, so I must be making the wrong choices. I am a huge fan of gratitude, and I am grateful…for some things, but not others, and I feel guilty. I crave security, and I have it, but I can’t stand the price of it. And worst of all, I realize how these are just top shelf problems. I have so much, how dare I whine about it? There are so many people, people I know, who are struggling in ways that I haven’t had to in so long…shouldn’t I be ashamed of myself for complaining? I don’t know. There is a lot to puzzle out here, and I will definitely revisit this until I find an answer.

In the meantime, there is just enough time left for me to meditate before I have to leave for work. Sigh.

Directions To Happiness

Image

 

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.

Simple Pleasures

 

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When I started this blog, I thought that it would be about a woman (me) on a quest to better herself, to stave off the BS that is aging, and how she (I) learned to be, or to stay, beautiful…Man, I could never have guessed how right I was, in some respects, and how misguided I was, in others. I had no idea the battle that lay ahead, that I would be swept back up, on several occasions, pinned back down beneath the tsunami of my own addiction. I could not have guessed that, by the time I got here, to this day, I would be far less interested in the state of my appearance than I was in the state of my spirit. That my crows feet would not even place on the top ten list of my current concerns.

I know I talk about my struggle with drugs a lot, and if that bothers you, I highly encourage you to find another blog to read…because drugs are a huge part of my story, a major contributing factor in the making of me as you know me, a curse and also a blessing. ‘How in the world can you call it a blessing ?’ You might be asking yourself…well, let me explain, would you?

If it weren’t for the drugs, that revealed my illness, that caused all the struggle, the hardship, the bullshit…I would never have known the joy of overcoming all of it. I would never have gotten through it and looked back and thought, ‘Man, you made it out alive, through all of THAT?’ . There are things I will keep to myself, that I will never write about in this blog, or tell my mother, or share with most people, because they just don’t need to know. But rest assured, when I tell you that my life was hard, and sad, brutal and depraved, even- you can trust that I am telling you the truth. I wasted a lot of years on what amounted to very little.

But I learned from it. And because of all of that, my appreciation for what I have in my life today, the simple, little, common pleasures are profound. Last night, I made dinner and watched Matilda with both of my daughters and my older daughters boyfriend, and I realized that even a month ago, I would not have found myself there. No one wanted to be around me, and that was fine, because I didn’t want to be around them either. Now, it is the best part of my day, spending time with people I love. Actually, the whole day is the best part of my day, because at every turn, I am filled with gratitude. And that is why I can tell you that my illness is also a blessing- because the flip side of the coin is a wonderful way to be.

In the past month, i have done more than I have done in the past year, and I am not kidding you. I got my nose pierced with my daughter, I went to the boardwalk, I went to the mall. My sister came to visit me for three days, and I got to show her around town. I went to the lighthouse here for the first time ever. I went to a family barbecue in Palo Colorado Canyon. I painted with my toddler. I went to the library, twice. I read a book, I started writing a book, I wrote a couple of good blogs. I started exercising. I took a Zumba class, and pilates, and body sculpting. I lost five pounds. I hung out with old friends. I booked a vacation. I planned a day trip with some other friends. I went to a street festival. I went to some meetings. I called my mother- a lot. I talked to every person I love, at least one time. And that is just in the last MONTH. My life is so full of good, I can’t really describe it.

So…if you are out there, right in the middle of your own self imposed prison sentence, can you try to put yourself in my place? I am telling you, right now, you can start to turn it all around, you are just like me. Everyone who loves you still loves you. You can have back everything you had in your life…or nearly everything, and what you can’t have will be replaced by something just as good…maybe even better. Just think about it. And that is all I have to say today. :)addic

 

 

Growing Up.

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I have spent most of my life terrified of being a grown up. I thought that it would be boring, depressing, lame and embarrassing. If you asked me, the ONLY benefit of being an adult was getting to eat ice cream for breakfast…and maybe the idea that you could have a kitten without begging your mother first. Also, when I still got a tax return, I kind of liked that. Oh yeah, and I did like the whole concept of having a home of my own in which to have sex…not that NOT having one ever did much to slow me down.

I was scared of becoming irrelevant, fat, unattractive, and being forced to drive a mini-van around while young people in Miata’s drove by laughing at my sloppy middle aged pathetic ass. I mean, I thought that just naturally happened when you hit a certain age. Now, here I sit, 38- nearly 39, and it occurred to me yesterday that A) I am an adult, and have been for quite some time, B) Being an adult without being a grown up is at least as sad as driving around in a mini-van, and C) I think I am finally growing up. And I really like it.

Here are a few reasons why I think I may be growing up:

It hit me that the whole purpose of working at a job is SO THAT YOU CAN PAY FOR THINGS LIKE BILLS. I mean, obviously, the hope is that you can get to a spot where you can also buy cute shoes, go out to dinner, and maybe take a vacation once in a while. But when you are a grown up, you pay your bills first and then see what is left. Hopefully, something. Maybe you sock some away into a savings account, maybe not ( I said I was growing up, I didn’t say I was all the way there yet, cut me some slack!). But you don’t go buy the shoes, go out to dinner, and then see what you can to about paying some bills. If you do it that way, you are adding a whole lot of stress to your life. By paying bills first, at least you know that even if you hate your shoes, you’ll have light to glare at them with.  This was a big breakthrough for me.

Another thing- It can take years to reach your limit with misery. My threshold has proven to be extraordinarily high. But once you reach it, maybe go a little beyond it, then finally get the hell out of it…Well, you realize that happiness, YOUR own, personal, happiness in life is THE MOST PRECIOUS thing you have. When I am not happy, there is no way I can make my kids happy, no way I can run my life with any hope for success. So I have become as protective of this happiness as I would if it WERE one of my children. I am not willing to make the kind of decisions I have in the past that led me to misery. I just won’t do it. Which leads me to this:

As a grown up, you learn that you can trust your gut instincts. Looking back over my life, the times I did not do this, things have never gone well. I promised myself a long time ago that once I was free of my last relationship, I would never, ever, ever, ever, ever go against my gut, not ever again. Last week, I chose to honor that promise, and I have no regrets. I am not going to complicate my life until I really think it is worth it, and I am not there right now.

Most wonderful of all of my discoveries, however, is this- Being a grown up can be amazingly fun, and really liberating. You know what? I have gotten a little fat, and I don’t turn heads the way I once did. Big fucking deal! Who needs that kind of scrutiny, anyway? It really bothered me for a while, but (thank GOD) I am so okay with all of it now. I had all that, for a long time, and now it is a younger generations turn. In the meantime, I am getting down to meat and potatoes of life- connecting with friends, taking care of myself, mentally, spiritually, physically, and with great affection and care. I don’t have to spend the time I once did wondering how I looked to everyone else. And I spent an inordinate amount of time worrying about that shit.

I love the knowledge gained with age- that we really are all going to look like idiots at times, and that can be part of the fun. I love finding that growing up can exist harmoniously with having a young, fun spirit. I really love the realization that this world is so big, there are no limits on the adventures and experiences we can choose to have…the only problem I can see now is how there will ever be enough TIME. But I will cross that bridge when i get to it. 

Courtney’s New Year Revolution

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

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

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

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