Tag Archives: peace

Not a Magic Sprinkle Unicorn Kinda Day

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Lest you start to believe that I am some sort of woman on a beautiful island oasis of recovery, meditating peacefully, surrounded by a sea of serenity and singing mermaids, let me clear that shit right up for you; Example one? I give you this day:

-As usual, dragged my ass all morning, screwing around, reading YOUR blogs, judging everyone on Facebook, reading a silly little novel I picked up while Christmas shopping at Target. Then, naturally, go into full on panic mode when the coffee finally kicks in, and I realize I actually have to leave the house in 45 minutes. Which would be fine, if I knew where my pants were, or had, you know, showered. Fuck.

-Pull it all together in decent time, only to find that every single pair of shoes I wear to work are mysteriously missing. I still don’t know where the hell they are. I looked under the couch, under the bed, in the laundry pile, and yes, even in my hell pit of a closet. They are GONE. I finally unearthed some ridiculous spike heeled booties that make my ankles wobble and my feet ache, but at that point I was just grateful to have something to cover my feet.

-Show up for work four minutes late, not because I wasn’t there, but because those stupid shoes are so high, and so spiky, it took me nine minutes to walk through the parking lot and into the hospital. NINE MINUTES. Sitting at my desk, I realize that there is a very real possibility that one of my cats peed on my shoes. Something isn’t smelling right.

-Additionally, on top of all of the shoe drama, I have slammed my knee into a drawer, my face into a door, my fingers into both walls AND my desk, and snapped myself in the face with my scarf ( this hurts worse than you might think). I wore my glasses all day not realizing there was caramel (don’t even ask, because I don’t know) or some sort of candy filling, globbed onto the arm-therefore, it is now in my hair.

-I ate too much cheese over the past few days, and it has now become a whole different tummy issue. If you don’t know, you don’t want to know.

-I didn’t have time to meditate.

-I’m feeling a little grouchy, a lot tired, and I don’t even have anyone to blame it all on, other than myself and just a plain old shitty day.

On days like this, I have a hard time accessing my gratitude. Yeah, I’m not hiding out in my house with the blinds drawn, strung out and paranoid, but it’s really hard to live in constant awe of your beautiful life when you are right in the midst of normalcy. But you know what? That’s okay. I’m as normal as I’m ever going to get, and people have days when everything goes wrong.

Am I going to use over it? Hellllll no. That thought never, ever crossed my mind. It sure would have, once upon a time. Any excuse to throw the towel in, and I was all over it. But that is not who I am today. I can have a bad day- a day WAY worse than this one- and I can survive it. Today, I know I can. And I have enough days in a row behind me that I can say, with confidence, that tomorrow I’m going to make it too. Even if it’s worse than this stupid day.

Although I REALLY hope it isn’t. Now excuse me, I need to go change my shoes.

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Spiritual Re-set!

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I don’t know about you, but I have to make a conscious effort to incorporate things into my life which actually sustain feelings of peace and well-being. I naturally gravitate towards those little “quick-fixes”, the empty calories for the soul…like Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, etc. I am not saying these don’t serve a purpose, or that they are bad…I’m just saying, for people like me, who love acknowledgement, who like that feeling of approval…this can be very tempting, even dangerously so. Now, I am not saying dangerous like it would KILL me or anything. I am just saying- there are other, much more important things I could be doing with my free time.

Not everyone is like me, I know this. I realize I walk a much finer line than some, what with my issues with addiction that cause a multitude of other problems (most of which concern how I am mentally, and how I behave in the world). Maybe everyone doesn’t need to make sure they are centered and spiritually sound before leaving the house every day. Maybe some people don’t have to work very hard to feel satisfied with themselves. But I do. So, knowing this, you would think it would be easier for me to tend to those needs in a fairly dedicated fashion, right? Wrong.

I still struggle with it. I get up in the morning, and the very first thing I do is grab my phone and see what is up on Facebook, Instagram, check my text messages, maybe my email. I grab my coffee and sit outside, scrolling like a crazy person to see who gives a shit about my latest contribution of videos, pictures, quotes and other bullshit. When I get to the end of it, I don’t feel any better…if anything, I feel sort of deflated and empty. It’s like a roller coaster ride- super exhilarating while it’s happening, but over with quick, leaving you looking for the next line to get in.

I have not made time in four days now for prayer and meditation. I may have prayed, but not in my usual manner. I tried a new meditation yesterday, but I was too lazy to turn the TV off, so, yeah…that is not an effort, not really. I can give you so many excuses, really good ones, too, ones that you would have no problem buying. But the truth is, I made time, lots of it, every day, for social media. Why in the world am I not making time for the things that keep me sane? That let me occupy a happy space in this world?

I think, to battle this over-stimulation that can be so alluring to both addicts and “Normies” both, it is wise to do a fast every once in a while. It’s sort of like resetting your metabolism, right? Creating a routine that only includes the “whole-grain” activities that nourish you. It’s like clean eating for your spirit. I think that is what I need to do, maybe for the rest of this week. A way to do this that makes it really simple is just to remove the apps from your phone. It’s hard at first, but it gets easier fast.

For now, I think it is time I attend to myself in the best possible ways…my prayer, my meditation. I have also been easing up too much on my novel writing (why I have been here much less, by the way) over the past several days. Time for a reset!

Have a wonderful day!

New Things

new things

So, this whole waking up at four in the morning thing- it isn’t really new. It’s new again, but not really new. I guess this is just how my internal clock wants to work. Perhaps it means I should move to the east coast? I don’t know. I’m not ready to do anything that drastic.

But here I sit, it’s six in the morning, and I have been up for two hours already. I am on my third cup of coffee. I will probably want to take a nap sometime today. Whatever. If I lived in a better neighborhood, I would walk my dogs, since the incredible ex is here ( I can hear him snoring away in my room- my room, by the way, being NOT where I slept last night, for you nosier types. No nookie for the ex. Not that I didn’t think about it, its just…not a very good idea, you know?) and I actually have a little freedom.

I am experiencing some new things, however. For instance, I had some people come over and bless my house yesterday. I still smell like a hippie. There was lots of sage, salt, and water involved. I had a pretty creepy dream about demons (which, by the way, I don’t even believe in. But had you had this dream, you would have reconsidered your entire belief system as well) and thought it might be a good idea to have this done. There was prayer involved, and I’m pretty sure some chakra fondling. I learned that I hate the smell of sage. I am, however, very appreciative of the effort, even if I felt a little like a weirdo fake while the thing was happening. I’m pretty sure my neighbors think I am a witch now. There will be many prayers for me in Baptist churches all over Seaside this morning, and probably at least a couple of Catholic ones.

Also, I am probably going to go on a date with a really nice guy this week. He reads my blog, and I hope he doesn’t get a big head over this. I am looking forward to spending some time with him, and getting to know him better. He seems to like food as much as I do, and he also seems to want to be outside, which are both major bonuses. Most exciting of all, though, is that he seems to know how to be a grown up without being a total stick in the mud, which I appreciate. He has been exceedingly patient about waiting for me to get okay with going out, and he has actually seen me in person a few times and STILL wants to go out with me…so that is encouraging, lol.

I hope what I am about to say next does not kill the whole damn thing, but then there is this other guy. I won’t be meeting him any time soon, because he lives in another country. I may never meet him at all. He is…hmm. I don’t know the right way to say it. He piques my interest on many levels, lets just say. He has a very different belief system than I do, but he has a sense of humor about it. He is smarter than hell. He is great to banter back and forth with. We discussed never meeting at all to avoid disappointment (he feels I will be, and I feel he will be. I don’t know why I needed to explain that, since, if it were the other way around, I highly doubt we would continue this…whatever it is) . It is just fun to revel in such an easy, non-threatening, connection. I mean, I am definitely not running into this dude at Rite Aid in my pajamas, you know?  You don’t need to suck in your stomach on messenger. He is helping me find my flirtation legs, whatever the fuck that means.

I am going to meetings again. Somewhat grudgingly, the first one, but I went to one yesterday alone. It was 6:45 in the morning, and it was AA, which I appreciate for their organizational abilities and peacefulness. I like that shit. NA can get a little rowdy and crazy sometimes, but it will always be where I most identify. Drug addicts are my people. So are alcoholics, whether they like it or not. I like the quiet feeling of an early morning meeting.

And I like the quiet feeling in me. I like that I am looking out at the people in the world again, appreciating what is happening all around me, instead of always focusing in, on myself, like I was. I realize the disease of addiction is selfish and self centered, but when you are in it, you forget how true that is. I am looking out again. I feel the light coming back to me. I am happy to be where I am, and who I am. This is a good thing, indeed. A very, very good thing.

I hope you have a beautiful day.

The Start of Something Beautiful

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The week before last, I quietly celebrated five months clean. This isn’t one of the milestones celebrated in 12 step groups, or anything I necessarily was even that excited about- although, hopefully, it IS my last time celebrating this particular anniversary…But I am watching the time tick by, and I am feeling the changes here on a very deep level.
This is not like any other time for me, so far. The very landscape of my life is changing, and for once, it is me at the helm, directing this change, not just things that are happening to me. I am working hard to become something more, and someone different, than I have been.
This has been a very introspective time for me, as well. I have not been writing for my blog at all, or anything else much, either. I have not been doing a lot of social networking, or networking of any type at all. My phone has been relatively silent. My pace has slowed down. The initial need to go out and grab life by the elbow- to DO everything, to be a whirlwind…I suppose I satisfied that need, for now. I am relishing this quieter pace, and it goes hand in hand with the work I am doing on me.
I have stopped yelling as much, and started listening more. I have learned to see the signs that I am growing impatient, and then what to do to calm myself. The world, and most importantly, the people (and animals) in my home and directly involved in my life have responded to this like I can’t believe. I am so much better at being present for my kids, listening when they speak, and participating fully in my interactions with them. An unexpected side effect of this is that I am learning how to play with my little one again when and how SHE wants to- not just on my crazy, inappropriate (usually) whim.
There is a domino effect going on here- I made the initial decision to get clean, but what I was really saying to the Universe was “I am ready to be better”, and when I continued to stick to my guns, that was my commitment to myself. Since that day, things continue to improve, although there are days where I feel like my footing is not as firm, days when I am still afraid. For the most part though, it gets better and better.
I am getting rid of the clutter around me and the clutter within me. I am getting rid of the excess. There are less things I feel I need to give my time to, and I am concentrating on the things I value most- my home, my kids, myself. I pay attention to the way things make me feel, and I let that be the deciding factor in how much time I am willing to invest in it. If it makes me feel pinched, stressed, obsessive, weird or ashamed- it gets taken off the list. If it makes me feel accomplished, proud, happy, peaceful, calm or content- it goes to the top of the list. Of course, there are always going to be things I HAVE to do that might not feel good, but I am just doing them and leaving them alone, not wasting a bunch of time worrying about it.
I am meditating every day. I am praying every day, more than once. I am not even considering being in a romantic relationship that even approaches seriousness right now- I can’t imagine complicating my life that way at this time, and feel it would be a terrible disservice to me, and to anyone I was with. I want to be with my kids, I want to go to meetings, I want to do step work, I want to enjoy what I have right now.
What I have right now is peace, quiet, calm. I feel like this is the beginning of the whole rest of my life, a life that will be something far greater than I expected, and far different. I’m sorry if I am not describing it very well- I think I haven’t yet learned the language of this experience. It feels like the start of something beautiful.

The Odd, Wonderful, Sensation of Being Present

 

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A new level of reality has been coming over me in gentle waves, lately. One I have to admit I have never noticed before. You know how there is all this talk about “Mindfulness”, being “In the Moment”, “Living in the Present”? Well, I don’t know about you, but this has always been baffling to me. I mean, where the hell else can one be? I realize that my head is always going a million miles a minute, that I am often sort of transported, mentally, into things I want to do later, items I need to pick up from the grocery store, phone calls I need to return. The truth is, it has been so common for me to live my life in this state of distraction, I wasn’t even aware that I wasn’t really EVER present for what was before me.

Suddenly, without any conscious effort on my part, there have been these times, more and more often, when I am right where I am. That I am actually seeing the world in front of me, around me, without any distraction or intrusion from the past or the future. When I am out on my walks in the morning, and the air is so bracing when I first step outside, and the way I warm up within a block or so. The rhythmic sound of my feet as I walk is like a mantra that focuses me. Sometimes, I round a corner, look up, and like this morning, I see this incredible sun rising up over the bay, and the water looks like liquid gold, like a melted trail of the sun itself. This morning, as I ran down the hill with Lucy pulling me in her overzealous wake, I felt so alive. I realized I had this big ridiculous grin on my face, and that anyone who saw me would think I was nuts, but I really didn’t care.

I stop a lot to take pictures. I walk when I feel like it, and I run when the mood strikes me. But it isn’t just happening when I am alone. The other day, my older daughter came outside to talk to me, and as I looked up at her, I was struck by her appearance. It was like I was seeing this nearly grown, beautiful young woman for the very first time. Her loveliness took my breath away. It was as if I had been walking around with some weird buffer around me, keeping me disconnected from my own eyes. “Why are you looking at me like that?” She asked. “Like what?” I bluffed, pretending like there was nothing different about anything. But everything is different. At least in flashes.

Camryn, too. As I gave her a bath the other night, like I do every night, I actually tuned in and participated (earnestly, not in the placating way that I usually do) in her joyful, non-stop banter. I realized what a wonderful, bright, sunny little human being I had been blessed with, out of the blue. I was so grateful for her guileless, un-jaded happiness…so glad that it had not been disturbed yet by whatever nonsense the world eventually heaps upon us. I am so glad I got to witness it for at least one unhurried moment.

It’s happening all the time, and it seems like the more I notice it, the more it happens. Maybe it is because I am alone, and I am free of all of the push and pull that goes on in a romantic relationship. That tends to take up a lot of head space, at least for me. Maybe it is because I have finally given myself full permission to live my life the way that I, and no one else, sees fit. That the rules I am following today are MINE. The truth is, this has brought me more peace than I have ever before known. Maybe it is the absence of fear in my life. I don’t know.

What I do know is that being present, really, fully, totally present…it truly is a gift. If I figure out how I am getting there, I will be sure to share the directions. 

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.

The Beauty of a Checkered Past

Courtesy of Graphicsfactory.com
Courtesy of Graphicsfactory.com

There are times when I have a lot of regrets about the way I have lived my life. The entire decade of my twenties is pretty much a blur, my memories sacrificed to the volcano God of my addiction. There are things I am tired of thinking about, memories I DO have that I wish would fade, others I would give anything to have back. I couldn’t tell you a lot of entertaining stories about things my older daughter did or said as a toddler, for instance- I just don’t recall much. THAT breaks my heart.

When I think back on the way that we lived, that kid and I- lots of times, everything we owned was in my car and we slept on couches and in spare rooms for months at a stretch, with no place to call our own- I shake my head in horror. I could never even imagine raising my little one that way. I can’t imagine having her in that environment for a single day, let alone growing up that way. Even though, as I have said before, I have not been perfect in my abstinence, the change in me from who I was to who I am today has been so dramatic…it would be like comparing an earthquake to the rattle caused by a truck passing by, or a tsunami to a choppy sea on a windy day. Two different things entirely. Do I ever long to go back in time and fix what I did, or wallow in the bone deep sorrow of regret? Of course I do. I am human, I am a mother. That is my penance. I try not to beat myself up, I realize it is over and useless to cry about. But make no mistake, I think I should feel a little bit bad. I think it’s okay to be sorry for dragging an innocent human being through the fucked up wasteland of your own drug addiction. If you don’t agree, well, you either don’t understand, or you are sugar coating it to make yourself feel better. Don’t get stuck in it, by all means, move forward armed with enough knowledge to not do it again…but yes, you can feel a little shitty about it for as long as you need to. It’s okay.

Yet, at the risk of completely contradicting myself, I wouldn’t change it, either. Had I not been who I was, I could not be who I am today, nor where I am. There is a chance I would be somewhere better, SOMEONE better, I know. But were it not for my past, I would not have the two beautiful daughters I have today- the very reason I ever decided to try to get my shit together in the first place. For all I know, I would be far, far worse off. It was the birth of my little girl, nearly sixteen years ago, that ignited the spark of desire to change. That led me to question if perhaps the way I was living was not really so great. Yes, it took me a long, long time to actually take any steps to change things, but the important thing is that I did. It was not perfect, but neither am I, and it ended up being pretty great.

There are other things- because I spent my entire life, into my thirtieth year, relying totally on others, the sweetness of relying only on myself, finally, was beautiful. I will never, ever forget what it felt like, when Aisley was eight years old and I found us, on my own, a two bedroom apartment. It was kind of a dump on the outside. Okay, the inside wasn’t what you might call spectacular, either. But it was clean and roomy, and it was OURS. The best part was that Aisley had her own room, for the very first time in her entire life. For other people, normal people, this would maybe not have been a huge victory. For me, every day in that house was a gift, because I did it all myself.

Even now, looking at Aisley, who will be sixteen in September, and is, therefore, what you might call “slightly insane” and a “little” difficult to live with…I feel nothing but gratitude for her entitled manner, her wastefulness and the way she takes stuff for granted. You know why? Because that is the mark of a normal teenager. Do you know what a miracle that is, that my kid is as big of an ass as any other kid? I am mostly kidding, but you catch my drift, right? She made it through OKAY. Thank God.

When I wake up, as I did today, and sit out on my front porch with my coffee, contemplating the gray sky before me, listening to the roar of the surf behind the other sounds of the world waking up, and I smell the ocean, and I have that utter peace and contentment in my heart…well. Can I tell you that THAT feeling, a feeling some people have always had, maybe, or will never get to know- my circumstances, MY checkered past, gave that to me. I have seen, breathed, lived the other side and I would not trade what I have now for anything.  All those years, I was chasing after something to make me feel good, and when I finally stopped running, I found it.

I am grateful for my past. Have a beautiful day.

Only You Know The Truth

As you know, a while back, I began the messy process of falling apart. Now, I consider myself somewhat of an expert at this particular activity…only, this time, it was different. Usually, it takes some type of EVENT to start my little disaster a-rollin’, but in this case, nothing had outwardly changed. I still had beautiful, healthy children. I still had my home and my awesome job. I still had a roller-coaster of a relationship with the same guy I’d been riding along with for the past four years.

And yet…day by day, my misery mounted. My moods, at first, were mercurial and alarming, but eventually settled down into “horrible”. For a good while, I soldiered on, putting on my Stepford Wives face for work, then discarding it the minute I got home, locking myself in my room, snarling at anyone who interfered with whatever nonsense I was doing. I withdrew from EVERYONE who loved me, either because I didn’t feel like hearing whatever they had to say, or because I didn’t want to bring them down. I desperately wanted to get better, but I wouldn’t do any of the things I knew I needed to do to get there. I was tired of asking for help, and too stubborn to help myself. In short, it sucked. Bad.

One day, I woke up, and I just could not, under any circumstances, do it for one second more. I could not get up, get dressed, go to work, and pretend I was fine, while in my head I was terrified that, at any moment, I was literally going to run screaming from the hospital. I could not pretend I was fine, period. It was killing me.

So I hit my pause button- stopped everything dead in it’s tracks- and I went out on FMLA for mental health reasons. At the time, I felt like I was a full of shit liar, but HELLO! Why is it so hard to see our own dysfunction while we are in the midst of it? I was off my freaking rocker, and anyone who knows me can vouch for that.

I knew it was pretty bad when I told my mom that I had taken leave from work, and, rather than the scornful scolding I expected, she said “Oh, Thank God!” or something like that. I mean, she lives ten hours away, and she could see how ill I had become.

The first three weeks were not so good. I slept a lot, I ate a lot, I gave in to my depression. I spent a lot of time crying, and the rest of the time trying to figure out what I was going to do. Should I check myself in somewhere? Should I get the hell out of dodge? Should I just go back to bed? I thought I was just spinning my wheels, but I see now that I was doing something incredibly important. I was giving myself some time- a LOT of time- to breathe, to think, to grieve, to fall apart- with no pressure. I mean, what an incredible gift I gave myself…a long chain of days to just feel what I was feeling instead of fighting it and masking it and pretending I was fine.

In the midst of all this, my mom, who is the queen of practical gifts for your crisis (she once, when I was in my early thirties, sent me this package that I excitedly opened, only to find a case of laxative TEA. No shit. Pun intended.) sent me a book called “Finding Your Own North Star” by Martha Beck. I had my doubts, but cracked it open anyway. Have you ever been completely lost in the middle of your own life and suddenly found the exact set of directions you needed to find your way home again? Well, this book was that thing for me. Or the first part of that thing, anyway. It described to me exactly where I was, exactly what was happening, and precisely how to deal with it. I am still reading it, weeks later, bit by bit, but every time I open it up, it assures me, yes, yes, what is happening now is what is supposed to be happening.

You see, apparently, the way I was living was so out of sync with who I truly am, that I was losing my mind. When you are doing what you think you are supposed to be doing ( in other words, what your mom and your boss and “society” thinks is correct) and it is in direct odds with what the REAL you, the one that wants to be a cross dressing ballroom dancer, lets say, NEEDS to do- it can make you do exactly what I did. You can bet your ass you are going to wake up one day and, though that good and obedient, people pleasing you will want to get up and go, go, go, happy to perpetuate the facade of happiness, the REAL you is going to refuse.

So, here I am. Doing what I am meant to do, which is write. I don’t care if I am writing MY truth, as I am in this blog, or writing the make believe story of a make believe person in a novel (which I have done, and will be doing again for nanowrimo, yay!). When I am doing THIS, I feel alive and excited. I feel like what I am saying is important and worthwhile, and I feel engaged and full of that fire that I cannot access any other way. For me, this is LIVING.  There is more to it, as well, but this post is getting REALLY long, so I will leave it at that.

What is it that you feel passionately about? What path does your heart long to follow? I want to hear your answers, even if you feel stupid and have never told another living soul. Please don’t wait until it goes to hell in a handbasket before you set yourself free. Can’t wait to hear from you!

5 Little Things

Well, hello.

You’ve probably all forgotten me, and I don’t blame you- it’s been a long time since I’ve sat down here with something to say. I need to apologize, I suppose, for my absence. There is this thing that people do when they are feeling incredibly bad, and sad, and miserable, and overwhelmed…it’s called isolating. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Anyway, I sort of had a  little nervous breakdown, took some time off work, and I’ve been doing a lot of work on myself. Work that did not include writing this blog, unfortunately.

The good news is, I am better. The great news is, every time I go through something like this, I learn more about myself and what I really need to do to keep myself well. I am lucky that I have lived a life that has afforded me the luxury of safely taking care of myself- a job that allowed me to take a couple of months off to get better- I know that is not the case for all the people I know ( some of whom could DESPERATELY use a little self help…or ANY help, for that matter.). The point is, I realize how blessed I am to be where I am and have a great employer who really does give a shit about their employees ( they were probably like “PLEASE, PLEASE GOD, let that girl request a LOA before we have to fire her!)

So, back to my point…what was it, again? Oh yeah! What I have learned this time about me, and about my happiness and mental well being is so simple that I have whittled it down to five little things, henceforth called :

The Five Commandments of Courtney:

  1. Thou shalt not imbibe ANY illegal narcotics, ever, for any reason, other than major surgery.
  2. Thou shalt go to bed when tired and get eight hours of sleep, or more, whenever possible. And it is usually possible, so thou shalt not make it into something harder than it is.
  3. Thou shalt eat good, healthy food.
  4. Thou shalt get off your lazy little butt and MOVE. Exercise is good for your mind, body and spirit.
  5. Thou shalt have a spiritual program of some sort.

That’s it. That right there is the recipe for happiness for me, and since I have been making sure to live by these rules, guess what? My life is completely okay. Alright, I feel a little embarrassed about it, but in all honesty, my life feels WONDERFUL again. I forgot that when I feel great, my life is automatically going to seem more manageable to me, and by default, will become a pleasure again. I forgot that when I feel like a giant ball of shit, everything in front of me is going to look like shit, too.

Life is really not supposed to suck all the time. If you find that yours does, you may need to do what I did, and take a look at what the problem is. Chances are it is going to be you, but don’t despair! That is GREAT news- because YOU are the only one YOU can change. So there’s hope.

If anyone even still subscribes to my blog, I’d love to hear what your “commandments” are. How do you live your life to stay happy? Was there ever a time in your life when it was so bad you had to make some serious inner (or outer) changes?  I can’t wait to hear- so I’ll obsessively be checking my stats all day again!