Posted in adventure, faith, family, happiness, Holidays, inner peace, Life, Musings, People, random

Monday Musings

After a fabulous Thanksgiving of my favorite sort- the kind where I have to do absolutely nothing besides show up and eat- where I miraculously avoided thinking mournfully about my family even once, and then a slow Friday after, where I may have done a tad too much online shopping, and then ventured over to Ogunquit to poke around, I was worried I’d used up all my luck. My happy luck, you know? Because I’ve been a bit of a mess since I’ve gotten here, struggling to right myself.

But Saturday was really good, too. My friend and I and our daughters drove up to Durham, Maine to a little craft fair at a farm and yoga center in the middle of the woods. Because pretty much everything is in the middle of the woods out here. The drive there and back took longer than our time at the market, but then that’s half the fun, really. I never get tired of looking at the houses here.

Yesterday dawned sunny and crisp, and Camryn and I took a nice long walk along our road which happens to be the same road that winds along the beach. On the way back, we stopped at the beach near our house, and for the first time in forever, my heart felt light and happy. I threw the ball for Lucy and played on the swings with Camryn. It was her idea to finally head home, and honestly, I don’t remember that ever happening before. For a brief moment there, I was content to let the moment unfold, to be where I was, to let myself not take the lead for once.

The thing about Maine is that it takes a long while to get anywhere, no matter where you are going. Sometimes this is a pain. But on a beautiful November day, when the sun is shining and everything looks like pictures from a calendar or a glossy magazine, it’s no trouble at all. We drove slowly into New Hampshire, listening to podcasts and pointing out sights to each other. We visited Aldi’s and picked up lunch from Chipotle, and overall had a lovely day. So many cars had Christmas trees strapped to the top, and every time you drive down a road you’ve been down before, it has changed a little bit. I love that.

Sometimes, when I am feeling happy I become aware of it, and I become nervous that it will end. I try to hang onto it, push too hard up against it, and inevitably ruin it with my grasping. But these last few days…I have been willing to allow the feelings to come or go, just enjoying whatever shows up.

I think part of it is that I’ve settled on the idea that this move is not meant to be forever. I’m keeping an open mind, of course, but believing that there is an expiration on this leg of the adventure makes it feel so much more enjoyable. And that’s really all I wanted, was to enjoy myself. To have these moments where I can hang, suspended in the wonder that surrounds me, existing right where I am for a while.

The holidays can be rough for people. They have been rough for me in the past, even when things were normal and going well. This year, I hope to fill the season with all the joy and wonder it deserves, because…no matter where I am, I’ll never get this time back again. And where I am right now is pretty extraordinary.

Posted in adventure, anxiety, Blogging, Dreams, faith, family, Goals, happiness, Learning, Life, Musings, People, random

The Art of Not Knowing

The stupid tide, in again
Sunset from my deck

I know that it’s not unusual for me to go long stretches of time without writing, but it is unusual for me to want to write and not be able to figure out how. Obviously, I still know how to write, but getting the right words to come out can be tricky sometimes. I wanted to paint this beautiful picture of my new life in Maine, but what kept coming out was…the truth. That I was sad, and homesick, lonely and unsettled. That I missed my house and my neighborhood. That I hated not knowing where things are in the grocery store, and for that matter, not knowing where the grocery store was.

Kennebunkport

The first two weeks was really, really hard. I think it was made harder by the fact that I truly did not expect to feel any of the things I was feeling. I had this idea that I would get here and somehow immediately slip into this perfect, magical, Hallmark Movie life.

Hallmark Movie set

It’s almost like I don’t even know myself, isn’t it? I guess it’s nice to know I still have the ability to surprise myself.

If the first two weeks were hard, the third week was…just awful. I was sure I’d made the biggest mistake in my life, I was mad at myself and mad, quite frankly, at the entire state of Maine (as if any of this was the state’s fault- they didn’t ask me to move here in the middle of a goddamn pandemic). I was mad at this weird condo with its twenty seven sets of dishes but only one decent frying pan. I was mad at the crooked floors and the bathtub (as mentioned in my last post), the screen door and the mailbox. I was mad about the lack of quick routes to places, and mad that the sun went out three minutes after sunset, tricking my body into thinking it was midnight before I’d even had dinner. But…the moment I looked out the window and thought “The stupid tide is in again, I see.” I realized how ridiculous I was being. I actually laughed out loud.

Did I…did I really just look out my window, at the beautiful Atlantic Ocean, that I can actually see without doing more than looking left, and roll my eyes because the “stupid tide” had come in again? Okay, I thought, I need to get a grip.

I wanted something different. I was feeling stifled and trapped in my life in California, and I longed for- I BEGGED for- the chance to shake things up. I got everything I asked for, more, even, than I dared ask for…and here I was, sulking because I received all of my dreams tied up in the neatest little package. What an absolute jackass I was being.

Here’s the thing- I wasn’t really mad. Mad is just the mask I wear when I am other things, especially when I am afraid. Because being afraid is an awfully vulnerable feeling, and I am not comfortable there. But being mad is big and loud and safe, it charges through the house and slams doors. Fear just…curls up on the floor and cries, or stands in the bathroom for way too long, unsure what to do once you open the door.

So, I did the things I always do, which are- I caught onto myself, first of all. I acknowledged that the way I was behaving wasn’t only shitty, but it was a big fat lie. I let myself meltdown utterly for a couple of days. Then I got to work. I asked myself “How can you work this to your advantage?” and “What do you want to get out of this experience?” and most importantly, “What are you going to do next?”

I have come to some decisions. I figure I can best work this to my advantage by doing exactly what I said I would do from the get go- saving, saving, saving. Squirreling away every dollar I can to go towards the house I am going to buy. And what do I want out of this experience? Well, I want the joy of adventure, of course. I want to explore and play, walk and see all the sights that I can. I want to immerse myself in New England, as much as I can in the midst of this never-ending stupid pandemic.

And finally, what do I want to do next? If you have followed me for any length of time, or if you know me in real life, then you will know that I ALWAYS have a “next thing”. And I suppose I kind of do, because I know I want to buy a house, but…that’s pretty vague. The thing is, I don’t really have a next thing right now. I don’t know what I want to do next. I don’t know if I will choose to stay here, or if I will go back to California. And if I do go back, I don’t know where I’ll land. While I am here, I don’t know if I’ll stay in this funny little condo with the world class views, or if I’ll find something else. I am utterly up in the air. I have no clue what I am doing, and my brain keeps trying to puzzle it out, rather like a phone searching for a Wi-Fi connection.

I just don’t know. I can’t know. There’s no point trying to plan when I don’t have all the facts in. I need to be happy. I need to feel connected. I need to feel that I am home, that I belong, that this can work. And that is something that takes time and effort. It doesn’t happen in four weeks, not for most people. So when my brain starts hassling me, or I start scrolling through listings of rentals out of sheer habit, I force myself to knock it off, to sit back and do something else. Stare out the window. Walk the dog. Read a book. I am allowed to stop worrying, to stop pushing myself to decide, to stop needing answers that don’t exist.

I am not skilled at all in the art of not knowing. But I am smart. I can learn anything with a little effort.

I’ll muddle through, somehow
Posted in adventure, family, kids, Life, love, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People, relationships, women

Motherhood

Motherhood- “the state or experience of having or raising a child”. That’s it, that’s the definition. And by that definition, any woman-nay, any person, can be a mother. But for those of us who have experienced it, it is so very much more. I can’t speak for anyone else, but for myself…it has been life altering, to say the least.

I bring this up today because today marks the 22nd anniversary of my life as a mother. That’s right, my daughter turns 22 today.  And on this day, the moment she arrived, a new part of me was also born.

While my daughter was a robust, long (slender, though- a lot like she is now!) and healthy child, born a full five days past her due date, my motherhood was premature. Unprepared for the world I was barreling into, unaware of what I had actually undertaken. I was a mother because I had a baby, but in most other ways I was woefully behind. While some women take up the mantle of motherhood with some innate grace, some primal knowing…I wore it more like an ill- fitting Halloween costume, a child masquerading as a grown-up. A little girl trying to walk in her mother’s high heels.

I am a late bloomer. I know this about myself now, but I did not realize it then- I didn’t understand anything back then, to be completely honest. I thought, of course, that I knew everything. Which made me the most dangerous kind of person there is- a confident idiot cannot be swayed or reasoned with.

The moment that glorious little girl was held up before my eyes, a feeling swept over me that I struggle to describe, that I still cannot name to this day. Time stopped, and I felt an awe sweep through me, a stunning, heart-stopping, “WHOA!”. I remember praying “Please, please let me remember this forever.” and I have. Not as clearly as I’d like, but clear enough. I must have known, somehow, that that was truly a once-in-a-lifetime moment- that no matter how many children I went on to have, this was the only first time that would come my way. I held onto it, and I am so glad I did.

Right behind that feeling came a terror unlike any I had known before. It was suddenly very clear to me that I now loved someone more than I loved myself, and I sensed that this was a very dangerous thing. I didn’t even know this little furry, brown person. Yet…in an instant, my heart was changed.

I was not good at the job. I have tried to find all kinds of different ways to explain it, but it comes down to that. I didn’t know. I didn’t understand the enormity of the responsibility before me. I didn’t grasp how precious and deserving a child is just by virtue of their existence. I didn’t know how careful and tender and loving I needed to be. I just…simply didn’t get it.

I won’t subject you, or myself, to the well-worn list of “Things I Royally Fucked Up”- quite frankly, this is supposed to be a blog post, not a novel. Besides which, those things are long past, now, and there is nothing I can do to change a minute of it. Forgiving myself, though, well…I’ve come to the conclusion that might never happen, not completely. And that’s okay. Some things are worth being sad about indefinitely.

Instead, let me tell you some of the good things. There was a night, about four months after she was born, that I remember so clearly. I woke up to her, snuffling and wiggling the way newborns do, in the bed beside me. It was about four in the morning, and the rain was pouring down outside the window of the dark room. I picked her up and lay her on my chest, her little downy head warm against my chin, my hands resting on her tiny back as it rose and fell in slumber, and I remember thinking “This is what it means to be content.” To this day, I cannot recall a more perfect moment than that.

I remember so many sunny days, driving in my car with the windows down, singing Dixie Chicks at the top of our lungs.

I remember sliding down the snowy sidewalks of Sparks, Nevada, in our knock-off brand Ugg Boots, early on a winter morning, just laughing and sliding, then laughing some more- until we were doubled up and our sides ached.

I remember endless nights snuggled up in bed, watching Animal Planet or Sponge Bob. I remember innumerable hugs and kisses, and the way that little girl soaked up affection like a sponge. It was the one thing I always had enough of to give, and the one thing she always took willingly.

Today she is 22, the same age I was when she was born, and I am…it is hard for me. It is hard for me to describe for you the heaviness my heart feels when I think back over those years. Not for me- I don’t care about me. For her. The things I should have given her, the things she doesn’t even know she missed, the chaos, the dysfunction. The things I stole from her that I cannot give back-that I didn’t even know I was taking. It’s a hard truth to live with.

I am so incredibly lucky that we survived it all, somehow, pretty much intact. A part of my mind tells me that I have a tendency to recall, with freakish clarity, the bad things  while simultaneously forgetting the million good things that also happened. But when I am feeling this way, it’s hard for me to believe.

I am so blessed and lucky to have the relationship I have with her today. We are the closest of close, and there is nothing we cannot or do not discuss. She tells me often that I need to let it go, that it wasn’t that bad, that she loves me and forgives me, and that she is glad she had the childhood she had. It wasn’t boring, she says. It was always an adventure.

And I look at the way she lives- out in the country, with the same boyfriend she’s had since she was fifteen years old. She loves to cook, she bakes her own bread. She gardens as if it were what she was born to do, raising fruits and vegetables I’ve never even heard of before. She cares for her dog and her cat, and she just wants to be somewhere quiet, somewhere out in the woods, away from the noise and crowds and drama. I look at all of that, and I think…it could have been so much worse. If children want to be different than their parents, if this is how she rebels…thank GOD. Seriously, thank God.

I am still not the best mother. I probably never will be. I cuss too much, I yell too much, I tend to treat my children like miniature adults. But I am so much better at it. As a matter of fact, I can say with a straight face that I am proud of the mother I have become. Not just to my little child, but to Aisley, as well. She still needs me- maybe more than ever, actually. Navigating adulthood is no joke. As she has grown up, so have I. Yet another thing we share, another thing that bonds us. As long as I stay a few steps ahead of her, I think we’re doing okay.

So…happy birthday to my sweet little Aisley. And happy motherhood anniversary to me. It’s been a long road, but I think I’m finally headed in the right direction.

 

Posted in adventure, faith, happiness, inner peace, Life, magic, meditation, Musings, People, random, spirituality

The Walk

I just glanced at my phone and realized that it is already the last day of the month. It struck me that I am ending this month as a completely different person than the one I was when it started. Well, pretty different, anyway.

I never imagined that having a past life regression would begin a chain of events that would change everything for me. I honestly just thought it would be a really cool experience. Now here I am, getting lost in books about hypnosis and where our souls go between lives, learning about how to do hypnosis myself, thinking very seriously about going back to school in the fall for massage therapy…it seems like a legit way to start out a journey into healing others, don’t you agree? I would not stop there, of course, but something about it has always appealed to me. My browser history is filled with questions for google like “What does a spiritual awakening feel like?” “What is the ego?” or “What happens when you become aware of your ego?”. To be fair, there are also things like “45 easy, healthy, sheet pan dinners” and “Weather in Salem in June”, so it’s not ALL related to spiritual stuff. It’s all about balance.

But it’s the content of my life that is most different. The thoughts I think, the new awareness I have of those thoughts. Thankfully, the initial rush of it all has slowed down to a bearable rate, for the most part- for a while there, I felt like I was barely hanging on as my thoughts exploded in my brain. Did I tell you that when I went to see my therapist, she started asking me suspicious questions like “How is your sleep?” and “Are you eating?” and finally, “Would you say you are having racing thoughts?”. I started laughing and said “Cori! I’m not manic, for Pete’s sake!” She admitted later, on our walk back out of the office, that she knew I would know what she was getting at since I work in the medical field, but she had to ask. I admitted that I would have to categorize my thoughts as racing, but I didn’t feel they were racing in a manic way. And I was still eating and sleeping just fine, thank you.

Either way, the thinking has slowed down. My morning prayer and meditation has become the most beautiful communion with…whatever is out there. I am a big sucker for ritual, and I light my candles each morning, light my incense, and sit down on my big red cushion to settle in. For several days in a row now, I have slipped into deep meditation in the middle of my prayers, and this is very new to me. I have always done guided meditations, and I still do, but I no longer believe it is necessary for me- just nice. Especially if there is a particular thing I want help with, guided meditations are wonderful. But finding I can access that meditative state without guidance, and without even trying- wow! It’s incredible, and easy and natural. I also have this experience of energy flowing through me during meditation that is so intense, it’s almost uncomfortable. I have to try very hard not to shy away from it, but to open to it instead. It’s not something I can explain, but it is intense. I just remind myself that none of this is bad, or scary, or dangerous, and try to relax into it. It is just unfamiliar to me- these are they types of things I would normally scoff at when reading books about other people’s spiritual experiences, and now it’s kind of happening to me, in real life.

But it follows me off of the cushion and into the rest of my day as well. Yesterday, I took a break from work and decided to take Lucy on a quick walk, as we often do. I grabbed her leash and my sunglasses and headed out the door, and from the minute I left the house, it seemed like all my senses were wide open and time almost slowed down- it was the craziest thing. The same walk I’ve taken hundreds of times was completely different. I was aware of the feeling of warmth on my legs from the sun. I could smell every flower and green thing that grew along the way. The colors of every plant, every flower, every leaf, seemed a hundred times more vivid than normal. I could see the bay off in the distance, the white buildings along the curving edge of the ocean, the white sail of a sailboat bobbing along. In the other direction, I could see the rolling hills and the lingering clouds that nestled into the dips of the higher mountains. This vista I had seen several times a day for four years appeared as if brand new to me! I stopped to watch three small birds chase each other from a nearby house to just over my head and then back again. They swooped joyfully and glided and dipped, and I just stood there, smiling like an idiot, watching them. One of them got very, very close to me many times, as if it knew how much I enjoyed watching them and was just showing off. As I rounded the corner to head back down the hill towards my house, I could smell the ocean in the cool air as it blew across my face, and still feel the warmth of the sun on the backs of my legs, I could see all the beauty I described above stretching out all around me, and I just drank it all in. I enjoyed every step I took on the way home, not rushing, just taking it in. I even stopped to smell a big pink rose that hung over the fence of someones yard. Only 15 minutes, but 15 minutes of pure bliss. How often do we get that? I don’t know about you, but for me, not often.

I arrived home with the crazy idea that if I keep heading down this path I find myself on, those moments will grow. If I keep looking for these moments, I will continue to find them. And this idea is pure relief to me. The idea that I can stop participating in the chaos and bullshit around me and connect with something better, something real and beautiful and worthwhile…I mean, it makes me want to cry.

There is so much more I want to share, but here we are, a thousand words in. I’ll save what’s next for another day. Have a beautiful day, and remember, wherever you are, whatever you find yourself caught up in- if it doesn’t feel good to you, there’s another way. It’s probably right in front of you, and you can’t see it. Keep looking.

Posted in beauty, Blogging, inner peace, Learning, Life, love, meditation, Mental Health, mindfulness, Musings, People

A Tiny Little Revolution

alan-cohen
courtesy of Alan Cohen. Thanks, mister.

Let me describe my day for you: I woke up at four a.m. and poured myself a cup of fresh, strong french roast coffee, fixing it so that it was creamy and sweet, just the way I like it. I sat out on my front porch and sipped it, listening to the crazy birds singing in the trees- yep, they are singing away even at that hour.

After I had my fill of the quiet and the not-so-quiet, after I had seen enough of the tiny little crescent moon, I came inside and said good morning to both my beautiful black kitties and my sweet black lab. I sat down at my computer and worked through a few lessons on the tarot course I am taking, pausing often to take copious notes. I read through a little of my work in progress. I had some more coffee. I read for a little while.

When the sky started to lighten up outside, I lit my candles and my incense, I got my cushion, and I sat down on the floor to pray and meditate. When I was done, I stretched lazily, grabbed my book, and poured myself a very hot, very bubbly bath. I stayed in there reading until my fingertips did not look much like fingertips anymore. I threw on my bathrobe and jumped back in bed, snoozing for another hour, give or take.

After Camryn woke up, we threw on whatever clothes looked decent enough, and Lucy (the lab), Camryn and I jumped into the car and headed to the beach. We walked and walked, finally stopping at the rocky end, where we lingered for a while, picking up shells, and standing in the gentle, icy water, while seaweed wrapped around our legs. Camryn saw a cairn and asked what it was, and I explained to her that people built one in memory, sometimes, of people they loved. She wanted to build one for my friend Joe, so we did. I was delighted that she thought of it.

On the way home, sandy and salty and filled with the calm of the ocean, we stopped at the best bakery on the peninsula and got a few croissants, a coffee for me, and a coke for her. I am sitting here now, at my desk, as the sun streams through my window, writing this to you. I don’t know how to adequately describe to you the peace inside my heart, the calm assurance, the gratitude. It is at once enormous, and completely, perfectly, normal.

I wrote recently about the shift that occurred for me, the way that I was suddenly able to see my body as something more than just some object to be admired, or, more upsetting, to be judged harshly by the eyes of others- and even more harshly by ME. Suddenly, I saw my body as the vehicle for my soul, perfect even with its imperfections, perfectly functional, ever faithful, strong as could be. From that moment forward, there has been an almost comical domino-effect of changes happening, one after the other. I don’t know the words one would use to describe something like this, and right now I don’t even want to try to find them, but suffice to say…things are…I am…changing on a fundamental level. Some deep, deep shit is just resolving itself. I am just over here, watching it happen. Enjoying it.

So what does that mean? Well, it means that I am pausing, all the time, to search for that feeling of connection to the energy that is just pulling me along, when I am open. It means I have stopped saying anything demeaning to myself, about my appearance, or any other facet of my being. It means I do weird stuff, like close my eyes and feel the sun on my face, and the wind, and smile because I am not worrying about tomorrow or yesterday, I am here, now. It means I don’t always know where my phone is anymore, because I don’t care. It means I am not tracking my food, obsessing over calories, or beating myself up for not being driven enough to work out regularly. Consequently, food tastes MUCH better without the extra guilt sauce, and I have gotten more walking in than I have in months.

I’ve decided to leave myself alone, for once. Just simply live and enjoy my life without the guilt and she really should’s and shouldn’t s. It’s so easy, and so simple, and so kind…and yet it FEELS revolutionary, to me. My own quiet little revolution. A little love affair with myself. How perfect. And now, I’m going to read my book and take another nap. Enjoy your day!

Posted in Addiction, advice, alcoholism, Goals, inner peace, Life, mindfulness, Musings, recovery

Radical Change

change

I’ve been extra quiet, here lately. I have been working hard on my novel, and it’s nearing the end, which is incredibly exciting for me- I had planned to be done with it months ago, but that just wasn’t how it panned out. I find it a little harder to blog on days when I am also working on my book, and I have been working on my book every day, but also…I just haven’t had a lot to say. Everything comes and goes in cycles, and in this cycle, the blogging aspect has been less active. And I am not overly concerned about any of it.

I am not overly concerned about anything, to be honest with you, and that…that is not like me at all. But MAN, do I appreciate it. I am just sort of rolling with whatever, happy to float along. It’s funny, though- one of the sharpest tools in the box of every addict is control. It’s very important when you are in your addiction, to be able to control every conceivable aspect of your life so that you can manipulate the outcome in your favor. It’s a necessity, almost. Or at least, it feels that way. The idea of letting go of the end result is totally foreign, and completely unacceptable. I don’t know, maybe normal people experience this as well? I have never been one of those, so I don’t know.

What I do know is that lately, I have made a conscious decision to stop fighting everything all the time, to let things go the way they are going to go, and see what happens. More than just a conscious decision, because decisions are one thing, but action is where it’s at! I’ve made a conscious effort to redirect myself often so that I stay on that path. What I mean is, my habit is still to control things and so, when I feel myself getting bunched up and frustrated because things are not going the way I expected, I take a deep breath, and get back with the program. I let go. I step back. I redirect.

Here’s the thing- I didn’t get clean so that I could just get by. In my heart of hearts, I have always believed I could have this big, beautiful, amazing life. I won’t settle for a life of struggle and mediocre happiness. That’s not what I am after. And I didn’t get clean so that I could find a whole new set of reasons to be unhappy and dissatisfied with myself. I want to love myself and love my life, and love all the people in it properly. But in all those years that I was using, I created a carefully crafted persona- someone sarcastic, tough, invulnerable and sharp, and that is my default now. I am having to learn how to disassemble this person I spent years and years putting together. It won’t happen overnight, but I know that is not who I want to be.

So every morning, I make up my mind that there is a lot to be excited about today. I think about how grateful I am for the life I have, and I imagine myself just being happy. I imagine it so well that I start to feel excited and happy and as if it is going to be a really good day. This may sound incredibly dumb, but it works! And throughout the day, when I feel my attitude slipping, I try to pull it right back to where I want it to be. It doesn’t work 100% of the time, but it works a whole lot better than when I don’t try at all.

A long, long time ago, when I was still very messed up, I remember driving down a street in Fresno when the thought popped into my head “Attitude is everything”. I remember it because it was such a weird thing for me to be thinking at that particular time, as I was in quite a state. I don’t remember what the thought was even in response to, I think it literally just randomly appeared in my head. But I believe that to be true with all of my heart- Attitude really is everything. I happen to know two different people that have recently gone through the exact same loss of a limb. Their attitudes about that loss could not be more different. One of them is thriving and full of gratitude about being alive, and the other has basically given up. It’s the exact same thing, two different attitudes. Our perspective on our own lives has everything to do with how our lives function. Everything.

So today, I have a plan of action for my own attitude. Love my life. Love the people in my life. Be grateful for everything. Love myself, everything about me. Do not think ugly thoughts, do not say ugly things. Find the blessing in every situation. Take a nap or eat a snack if any of the above gets too hard. Take a deep breath. Start over. Hug someone. Smile at everyone. Pet my cat, hug my dog, do the dishes, take a walk…whatever I need to do to keep the good energy flowing, that is my goal. And beyond that, be okay with whatever else happens. If I can’t be okay with it, let that thing go. I think there is always a way to have peace in our lives, if we have peace in our hearts, right?

And THAT is my recipe for radical change…a whole bunch of little things that add up to me being exactly who I want to be. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Posted in Blogging, faith, family, inner peace, kids, Learning, Life, love, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People, relationships

My Girls

daughters

One thing in my life that it is never hard for me to be grateful for- even on the very worst days- are my daughters. Man, I hit the jackpot when it comes to kids! My girls couldn’t be more different…not only are they 13 years apart in age, they are just completely different personalities, and yet I relate to them both so much, in separate ways.

Yesterday, my eldest, Aisley, who is beautiful and complicated, came down off the mountain she now lives on for a short visit. She misses me so much now that we aren’t seeing each other every single day, and it’s been hard on her. So when she does get to come into town, she’s so excited to see me- she wants me to write down recipes for her, and she has so many things to show me and share with me. This daughter has always been my uber-affectionate little bear, and she still wants a million hugs and all my attention when she sees me. Yesterday, she planted a little vegetable garden out in front of my house for me. She put in little stakes with labels so that I would know what was what, and she made me promise to remember to water it. She has my dirty sense of humor, and we always make each other laugh, and I am so glad she belongs to me- that I get to be her mom. I’m so happy to call her mine.

And Cammy, my little one…oh, man. She is so smart and independent, with her giant vocabulary and the biggest heart. One of the great joys of my life is waking her up every morning. I always take a minute to watch her sleeping;  mouth open wide, hair in a big old knot on top of her head. She still lets me haul her into my lap for a quick cuddle most days, even though she hangs over both sides of me by quite a bit, and I can barely pick her up. I smiled this morning as I watched her lurch, half asleep, to her waiting bath, like a little drunk person. I know these particular days aren’t going to be around for too much longer…I am acutely aware of the passage of time, having been through this once already.

That’s all, really. I just wanted to take a minute to speak my gratitude for my children out loud to the Universe. I don’t know how I got so lucky- I definitely got so much more from this life than I probably deserved. But I am so in love with those girls, and feel so blessed to be their mom, still the most important woman in their lives. Every day I pray to be worthy of the task, to be the person they need me to be. Some days I fall short of the mark, but miraculously, they love me anyway. I don’t understand how that works, or why it’s true, but I’m sure glad it is.

Have a beautiful day. 🙂

Posted in advice, inner peace, Learning, Life, living, Mental Health, mindfulness, Musings, People, recovery

It’s ALL in Your Head

its all in your head

 

I’m just going to go ahead and warn you right now- if you are not in the right place to hear what I am about to say, it’s going to irritate the piss out of you. It has been my experience that, when I am being negative as fuck, the last thing I want to hear is someone telling me that maybe I should change my attitude. Also, if you are suffering from legit mental illness (and really, aren’t we all, to some extent), I mean, severe depression, etc., then you are excluded. But for the rest of us, the whiners, complainers, procrastinators, and the “I feel fucked over” population, this is for you. For US, actually, since I am right there with you most of the time.

I don’t know exactly when it started for me, but I suspect it was somewhere in my mid-30’s, when I began to feel this sort of pervasive dissatisfaction with my life. Weirdly enough, if I had to point out a distinct portion of my life as the beginning, it would be around the time that everything settled down for me and stopped being so completely chaotic. You would think, wouldn’t you, that once things stopped being so messy they started feeling better, right? Not in my case. Perhaps I was so used to the chaos and upheaval that, once the dust settled, it didn’t feel very exciting anymore. I think I have written about this in the past, the way I love a good challenge, and overcoming obstacles is so gratifying for me. I have dubbed it “The Phoenix Syndrome” because I get off on rising from the ashes.

But you can only burn your life to the ground so many times before it becomes exhausting. I am 42 years old now, and the thought of starting over, picking up the pieces after wrecking everything myself- it holds a lot less appeal to me. I have evolved into this strange creature who pays her bills on time, and watches carefully her processed food intake. I mean, it wasn’t that long ago that I used drugs made partially from Drano, for Pete’s sake, and now I worry about the saturated fat content in a burger. Sigh. I am laughing about this now, but only because it’s true, and super weird.

So, my life settled down, and my mind began to change, and somewhere along the way, instead of just enjoying all the blessings of this incredible life I was living- clean, employed, blessed with a beautiful family, a nice house, enough of everything I needed- a little voice in my head started bitching, complaining, and feeling put out about everything, and it’s tenacity is astonishing.

This little voice never wants to do anything, and I mean anything- except of course, the opposite of whatever it is I happen to be doing at the time. If I am sitting on the couch, blissfully indulging in a Netflix marathon of Ghost Whisperer, the little voice is haranguing me because I really ought to be doing: The dishes, the laundry, or some type of meaningful interaction with my kid. Okay, so maybe the little voice is right. However, should I give in to the little voice, here is what inevitably happens: As I do the dishes, or the laundry,  the little voice will then say something like this: “You spend your whole life doing things you don’t want to do- when is it time for YOU, Courtney?” Or, in case I am playing Go Fish with the spawn, it says “You should really move this along. You could be doing something productive right now.”

In short, the little voice’s mission seems to be to make me as miserable as possible, no matter what I am doing. And, check it out, I am not talking about a psychotic break here. These are not disembodied voices that are barking directions at me. No, this voice sounds an awful lot like me, and I am nothing if not convincing. Much of the time, I buy into that shit, 100%.

And that is too bad, you know? Because the truth is, I deserve to enjoy my life. Every one of us do, to be honest. It is our God given right to be happy in this lifetime, however that looks to you. But every single time we listen to that shitty voice in our heads, we are bound to feel the opposite of happy.

So, what are you supposed to do about it? Well, this is the tricky part where I start trying to give advice about something that I haven’t mastered expertly just yet. I do well for a while, and then I backslide a little, start listening again. But I do know a little bit. Like, for instance, start noticing it. Start really paying attention to the thoughts in your head, hearing the critical voice when it starts talking. Because when you are aware of it, you can have a conversation with it. Your mind may say “You are so lazy. Everyone else keeps their dishes done, what is wrong with you?” And you can say, “I work my ass off all week long, I am the furthest thing from lazy, I am dealing with the loss of Jim right now (Ghost Whisperer reference, sorry), go away. I will deal with the dishes later.” You are allowed to defend yourself, even to yourself. My only advice to you here is that you have this conversation internally, unless you are home alone. People do tend to become concerned when you are having frustrated, one-sided conversations with yourself out loud.

Another thing you can do to combat this is to notice the tone of your thoughts, and, when they are negative and critical, redirect them. This happened to me yesterday, actually, when I was faced with the task of working in my enormous, weed filled yard. It was hot, and there was so much work to do, and I am not a big fan of manual labor of any sort. I started thinking about how much I wanted to be inside, doing nothing, and how shitty it was that I had to work all week and then spend my time off doing something I hated. And THEN, I looked around me. I was spending a sunny afternoon in my own yard, and people who loved me gave up time out of their busy lives to come help me, for free, clean up my yard. There was music playing, and kids laughing, and we got so much done! Suddenly, as I stood there, bent over at the waist, shoes and gloves full of fox tails, I broke through the spell that negativity had cast on me, and I could see the truth.

I was actually having a perfect day. I just had to be able to see it. Changing the conversation we have with ourselves, in our heads, is not easy, it is not quick, and it is not permanent. Like everything else worth achieving in life, it takes a lot of effort. But there are days now when I can nip it in the bud the minute it starts, and I always, always end up having a better time. I would guess that 90% of our experience of life is in the way we view it. If you let that little voice have too much power, you will not be able to enjoy anything. You could win an all expense paid, ten day trip to Disney World, and spend the whole time upset by how long the lines are for the rides, or worrying about your dogs back home.

So, basically- Pay attention to your thoughts. Listen to the way you are speaking to yourself. If your thoughts are lame, change them- you are not only allowed to do this, you are the only one who can. If the way you are speaking to yourself is shit, correct it. Don’t let your head talk to you in a way that you would never tolerate another person to. Remember, you are in charge of which thoughts you believe- it may not seem like it, but it’s true. The more you redirect yourself, the easier it becomes.

That’s it, that’s all I’ve got. Have a wonderful day!

 

Posted in Uncategorized

A New Phase

 

 

For some odd reason, I had it in my head that phases are something we go through early in life, then we grow up, and we become these solid, stable, unchanging, humans. It’s kind of unfortunate, and has caused me all kinds of unnecessary grief, that I am only now realizing the truth- that change truly is the one constant in our lives, and phases are a natural, healthy part of that. You see, I thought I was some kind of failure for my sense of unrest, my need to do something else, be different, want more. I guess I thought this was a symptom of unhappiness of something.

As I wrote in my last post, the realization dawned on me, recently, that, for me, not only is this desire natural, but it is a survival instinct. When I am still for too long, when I am bored, and not reaching for the next thing, I am in danger of self destruction. Now, I am not saying that a little stability is a bad thing, don’t get me wrong. I have had the same job for almost seven years now, have lived in this house for nearly three, and in this area most of my life- I do think it’s important to have long term friendships and ties to things. Especially if you have children, I suppose (although we moved like crazy and I liked the adventure, personally). But within that stability, if you have it or want it, it is totally normal to experience, and hopefully embrace, change. It is okay to go through new phases all your life. As long as you aren’t shaving your head and joining weird cults every six months, hey! Live your life.

I have been through a whole lot of change over the past few months. I think I was stuck in quite a dangerous rut for more years than I want to think about, and then, when I finally got the balls to open up the door to my prison cell and walk out, all sorts of things happened. I went into this manic-joyful phase that was wonderful to experience, and clearly a joy to behold ( per my friends), but it sure was a bummer to find it flickering out so soon…

The good news is, it didn’t completely disappear- which is to say, I didn’t wind up back down in the dregs of the rut I had been in, thank goodness. I found myself in a phase of just wanting to fill up my life with as much fun and good times, good friends, as much living, as I could. So I did this for a while, too. I ate out a lot, and did so many awesome things, and it was great. It was also totally exhausting.

So, after sleeping away two entire weekend days, I find myself here. This new phase looks to be very useful indeed. I think I will call it my “fine tuning” phase…you see, without me even realizing it, the last few phases I mentioned above were all extremely telling. They left me with some really important knowledge- what I know for sure I do not want, how I want to feel, and what makes me feel alive. I learned that I must have balance, above all things, to sustain happiness, and that too much of a good thing is definitely not such a good thing for me.

Going forward, I have a tentative plan- I will continue to meditate daily, and walk my dog, because these things unfailingly make my day better. I will try to be as faithful with prayer, because it fits, although I don’t always remember. I will continue to strive towards order and neatness in my home, no matter that it feels like I am fighting a losing battle- it makes me feel better when the dishes are done. I will continue to work on this blog, even if I just can’t spend a lot of time reading everyone else’s blog, and I never ever build a gigantic following. That’s not really why I do this, anyway (although it would be nice, I am not going to pretend otherwise). And I will work on my new book every morning, until it is done.

I will keep spending time with my friends, and planning things that sound like fun, and I will continue to nurture new friendships along the way. But I will always leave time for myself in there, plenty of it, and time for my children, because these are the most important hours of all for me- unscheduled, empty hours, we can fill with whatever we want. I will work on balance. I will lay the next stepping stone in the path…and eventually. I will get to that place I am seeing in my mind. I intend, however, to enjoy every inch of the journey.

Have a wonderful day.

Posted in family, kids, Learning, Life, love, People, relationships

Arrivals, Departures…

my-children-poem-parents-quote-daughter-son-quotes-family-love-you-quotes-pic-picturesI will try to remember the distance between us- even when you are sitting right there beside me in the car, you are somewhere else, entirely. The world rushing past you is not the one that rushes past me. For you, it is a place you have inhabited but not yet made your own.

I know that this journey is ending…it’s not over just yet, but it’s ending. I know you have roads of your own to explore, hours and years that will take you miles and miles away from this place. I hope you will be my companion, sometimes, ride for a while on the passenger side…I hope you will always think of me when you think about home.

It seems like we’d only just started- but somehow, it’s been all of these years. When you were still small, I thought I had forever, but now, here we are-just like nothing. As quick as can be, you’re grown up, now. You’re the most precious thing entrusted to me, long before I was ever trustworthy…but we sailed, anyway, didn’t we? Together, we made it through storms and rough waters, and eventually, I learned to steer this ship into calmer waters. Now suddenly, I can see land ahead- your destination, darling. I can’t go with you, even though I want to. I can’t hold you here, and I can’t go on with you. I did my job, I got you here safely- now I have to let you go, soon.

I have time, still. So little, it seems almost nothing…and the part that you’ll share with me, even less. The landscape is nothing but change, now. I will try to allow you to savor the first, awesome bits of your freedom. I remember so clearly that anticipation, that feeling that anything, really, could happen. It’s wonderful, being so wild and alive, and with nothing but a wide open road there before you. I want you to have it. It is everything, for a minute, and it never can happen again. I can’t shelter you, protect you, and set you free to live your life, too. And I want you to live.

I wish I could tell you how profoundly you have shaped me. All this time that I spent tending you has completely changed me. It is as if you were a natural extension of me, of my life- a friend I picked up along the way. I have no idea how I will go on without you. It’s been the two of us, always, at the core of things, really, and I don’t remember at all what it’s like without you sharing my space, my home, my life. I know I am being sappy, but none of this is exaggeration- it doesn’t even come near to describing my feelings. I love you. I love no one more.

I look at you, I watch who you are becoming, and I know in my heart you’ll be fine. You have something about you that makes me confident of that. I think you are smart, I think you are quick, and I see you observing what’s laid out before you, adjusting your understanding accordingly. I know you are learning. Much of your life is yours now, and I think you are navigating it just fine…I take no credit for any of the wonderful things you are becoming, either. You are your own girl, through and through.

I just wanted to tell you, I get it. I forget sometimes, but then I remember, and it’s like I’m your age, right there beside you. But just for a moment, enough to remind me- just so that I can be mindful of you. I don’t want to steal this joy from you, I just want to guide you a little. And tell you how loved you are, and how important. I realize the clock is counting down the last, impossibly short years of your childhood. I hope you know it’s been the very, very best time of my life.

Thank you.