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

BIG Dreams…

Big-dreams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Posted in Addiction, Goals, inner peace, Learning, Life, Musings, People, random, Uncategorized

Getting Settled

Hello, my WordPress friends…I am so sorry to have gone so long between posts. I have been pecking away at a new novel, reading until my eyeballs fall out, and wandering around, marveling at this razor sharp, undiluted view of life poking at me from all sides. You know, it is not all fun and games, sobriety. It certainly isn’t easy for those of my persuasion. There is no buffer, anymore, between myself and all this rude reality. And the rose colored glasses, they never stay on for very long. Something along the lines of thirty days, I would guess.

This is not to say that I have any urge or desire to use drugs, because I don’t. Thankfully, something finally clicked inside of me that made it so that I can actually remember what it would REALLY be like, if I got high. Not fun. But there is something weird that goes on…I don’t know how to describe it. It’s almost like depression, but not really. It’s like I am living my life with the volume turned WAY down, whereas, before, I had been blowing out my speakers. So really, my life is at a “normal” volume, but my ears are kinda messed up…does that make sense?

I know now, though, that it is my responsibility to go out and get lively when I am feeling less than excited about things. I know now that drugs are not, and never were, the answer. Only right now, I am struggling with the pace of my life. I haven’t figured out how to be exactly who I want to be, yet, and I am impatient. I am trying hard to be kind to myself, but I am super critical, and I have such high expectations of myself. I hold myself to a very high standard, because I know what I am capable of. I am a realist, as well, and I know the areas where I sort of lack strength, but I can’t seem to go any easier on myself when I don’t do well…or when I don’t try hard enough.

This is a new phase of my life, and I am getting settled. But I am also setting a precedent, and I know I need to be choosy. As much as it is an ongoing process, I am a creature of habit, married to my many routines, and I want to be careful what I accept as okay right now. I am cleaning house, literally and figuratively, purging myself of so many things I have carried around for far too long. It isn’t easy for me to part with things- even things I don’t love, and things that no longer serve me. I am sentimental, but there is also a lot of fear…and holding onto things out of fear has never served me yet. 

I had a yard sale this weekend, both days. Today, I went totally nuts, and started dragging stuff out of the house that I was actually using! Two small dressers, an end table I hated, a big, bulky TV stand. When no one bought them, I was a little relieved…but then I realized I STILL didn’t like those things, and I didn’t want them anymore. I left them outside, posted a curb alert on Craigslist, and went on with my life. My house doesn’t seem any emptier without them…in fact, I am starting to find more and more things I neither want nor need. Every time I get anxious about letting go, I gently remind myself that I am making room for something that I love.

And that is how my life is, I guess. I am a little lonely, lately, having lost touch with many friends because we aren’t living the same life, these days…but I am trying to get right INSIDE, and I have a lot of work to do. I am making room in my life, just like my home, for things that I LOVE. Not just whatever I pick up along the way, but things of quality, of my choosing.

This is the hard part, I know. But I am okay. And when all is said and done, I will look around, and within, and it will be beautiful. I hope there is something meaningful for you in that. Sometimes, I get more out of what I am writing than I think anyone else will, reading it. Have a beautiful night.

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 aging, escape, Goals, Learning, Life, Musings, People, Uncategorized, writing

Shifting Gears, Changing Lanes

takethefirststep-300x225

This will not, contrary to what the title so misleadingly suggests, be a blog about driving. Nope, sorry, no cars will be mentioned beyond this sentence. Besides which, it’s been so long since I’ve driven a stick-shift, I’m not even sure I could shift gears if I needed to. Nope, I’m talking about the internal, metaphorical shifting of gears and changing of lanes that we go through as human beings on the road of our lives- sometimes we do this intentionally, sometimes we do it without even noticing (Like when you pull into your driveway and have absolutely no recollection of the drive home whatsoever.), and sometimes we do it because we have no choice- some other “driver” runs you off the road, or you find yourself unable to get around one road block or another. Sometimes you just can’t stand the stretch of highway you are on anymore. So you put on your blinker (although what this would be, metaphorically, I have no idea) and you get the hell out of there.

What a liberating concept, huh? That at any time in our lives, when the way things are leave a little (or a lot) to be desired…we can do something else. This applies to pretty much any situation, at any point in time, period. Even as I write these words, I feel the part of me that has been molded by the polite and acceptable rules of society going into a panic.  If it had more control over me (and it sometimes does) it would be destroying all evidence of this entire thought process- that’s how nervous the notion of change makes this predictable, safe, facet of my personality. But that doesn’t make my statement any less true. I know that I can change nearly any aspect of my life, anytime I want to, to any degree I want to, just BECAUSE I want to.

I used to know this well, and take full advantage of it, often, when I was younger. Then I got a little more grown up and realized that I wanted my life to look more like other people’s lives. I wanted a better job, a credit card so that I could rent a car if I needed to, cable TV, and more money. So I did what most people do when they wait what they feel is “too long” to settle down- I panicked, and went after the life I thought I could fit myself into rather than the life that fit me. I chose stability, safety, financial security and the chance to finally make my mother happy over the much riskier, less certain life of pursuing my dreams. Most people would see nothing at all wrong with that- as a matter of fact, it’s probably the norm for about eighty percent of the employed population. We put our dreams in the backseat, the closet, or tucked in a drawer somewhere, and we tend to our families, our bank accounts, our dental appointments, and…everything else, first. We intend to get back to those dreams, once things mellow out, or the kids get a little older, or just as soon as this happens or that stops happening. We may realize, one day, that we have been better at keeping our promises to everyone else then we have to ourselves. Some people dismiss their most cherished hopes for themselves as “kid stuff”, and toss them out.

I don’t want this to be my story. I don’t want to give up, or finally have the right set of circumstances to start being who I really am…only to find that it would have been easier, better, more enjoyable, if only I had started way back when.

I don’t really know how to do it. I mean, I know that what I want to do is write, I know that I am a writer, whether I am known to millions of people, or only to myself- I was a writer the first time I scribbled out a horrible poem at the age of seven or eight. I have been enchanted by words, by the amazing, magical way their arrangement on a page could make the most incredible adventure begin, or bring the hidden, inner life of someone to beautiful light, nearly all of my life. But I am very uncertain about how to navigate the path from here to the best-sellers list. No matter how many books and articles I read on the subject of queries and revision, on genre and agents and submission guidelines, platforms and outlines, I still feel unprepared to take the next step. I am starting to suspect that I will continue to feel this way no matter what.

SO! I’ve decided to just go ahead anyway. I am thirty eight years old, and I don’t want to wait any longer to “feel ready”. Yes, I am not brimming with the confidence of someone either totally prepared or completely, blissfully, ignorant, but I doubt I am the only one who has ever felt this way. I am just not willing to let my fear stop me anymore. I am making some very big changes, and all of them are geared towards helping me get to where I want to be. Because I don’t want to live a pretty okay life anymore, and the strain it is causing me, this weird, pervasive unhappiness that makes me feel like such an ass (oh, poor you, with your incredible job, boo-hoo) is heading me straight for consequences I definitely don’t want.

I have mapped out a plan. Part of that plan is to commit to a minimum of two, but a goal of three, blogs per week. I would also like to get back to my original purpose, at least in part, which was to write about navigating the treacherous waters of being a (gulp!) middle aged woman and learning how young middle age really is. Because it really, really, is. So expect to be hearing a lot more from me. And at least a little more of that particular subject, although I reserve the right to also go off on tangents in totally unrelated subjects.

Change can be alarming, and make you lose your sense of equilibrium. Change can be unwanted and painful, hard to get through. But change can also be an absolute necessity, something you might be willing to give up everything- your job, your money, every comfort in your life- for. Sometimes it is not enough to wait for change to come close enough to you to grab. Sometimes you get up off your ass and start creating change right in the middle of your own kitchen. Which is what I have decided to do. It doesn’t mean I’m not scared half to death of what might happen…I’m just more afraid of what can NEVER happen if I don’t try.

Posted in escape, family, kids, Life, People, travel

Vacationer In Training

summer vacation I am what you might call a vacationer in training…I just got home from my first “Training Vacation” with my kids, to Disneyland. I have to say, for a newbie, I did pretty well. As I sit here, writing this, I have on a long, black, stretchy dress that I also wore several times over the past few days. It is not clean. I probably have reached the threshold of my deodorants efficacy. I don’t know what is going on with my hair, but it isn’t good. And I am thoroughly exhausted. But dammit, I had a good time!

The reason I consider myself a trainee is because, (duh!), I am really new at all of this stuff. I have never, ever, ever in my life before, planned a full on vacation in advance and actually followed through. I do a lot of dreaming, a lot of looking online, and then something inevitably happens which makes it impossible to do. A lot of the time, I just tell myself I can’t afford it “right now” and put it on my “someday” calendar, which, of course, is a time that does not exist and is therefore a safe but useless place to store daydreams.

Well, no more. My oldest daughter is on the verge of turning sixteen and already dancing away from me. In all of these years, you would think I could have scraped up enough time, money, and courage (because it really does take a little courage to plan a vacation, at least, this time. Maybe it gets easier. I’ll let you know.) to do something memorable, fun, and…overnight, I guess. Because we have done some stuff- we’ve gone to the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, and Great America. We’ve gone camping and stuff. But nothing BIG, and more importantly, nothing of my own devising.

I don’t know what changed, but something did. A couple of months ago, I just made up my mind that when I went on vacation in June, we were going to Disneyland. I turned to Facebook and the advice of friends for tips on where to stay and how to go about the whole thing, I searched the internet to check out rooms, and did the best I could. I knew that it would be a learning experience- that I would figure out stuff while I was there that would not benefit me until the NEXT time I was there, and I was okay with that. I kept my eyes and ears open, and I asked a LOT of questions, ranging from the cashier at the hotel gift shop (I LOVED her, she was sweet as could be.) to the cashier at the frozen apple juice kiosk in Storybook Land. Here is a tip- never, ever, ask the kiosk person if working at the park has ruined the magic for them. They may tell the truth.

I learned a lot. I learned that I chose the right hotel, because it had a water park for the little kids and a pool for the big kids, which made it easy to fill up the time we weren’t at Disneyland. Also, it was literally a five minute walk from the park entrance, which means that once my car was parked, I never had to move it again. So THAT was awesome. I learned that everything within a stones throw from Disneyland is about 30% more expensive than normal- even McDonalds! So you may as well plan on that, OR, you can do what we did, and venture away for dinner once or twice. We went to this big chain pizza buffet place that doesn’t exist where I live, so that was fun, and a bargain at ten bucks a head. I also learned FOR SURE that the next time I go, I will be getting a two or three day park hopper pass, and I will be going during the week. There’s a reason they have those things! I was bummed to not go to Disney’s California Adventure, and I can’t wait to go back to see it.

Aside from the things I learned about this vacation, I learned MY personal vacation style is to totally let go. Even though my tendency is to sit down for a meal in a restaurant and then feel myself getting tense as I think about what we are spending, what feels much better is to say “Yes. We are on vacation, get whatever you want.” So that is what I did. Every time, every meal.  I took the long way home, yesterday, also, which is something I have always wanted to do…I had to keep reminding myself of this when we were stuck in bumper to bumper traffic in Santa Monica and my car started overheating, and we had to pull over in the parking lot of a restaurant full of rich people and celebrities, while we  were looking like trailer trash that took a wrong turn. Oh, well.  And, last night, when I saw the sign for Pea Soup Andersen’s, a place I have always wanted to eat, I thought, “Why the heck not?”, so, off we went. After dinner, I was too exhausted to drive another several hours, so I rented a room at the Pea Soup Andersen Inn. Yes, I did. Okay, so the power went out (there, and in 145,000 other places around there.) and the phone went dead, and it felt a little like a night in the Bates Motel…but SO WHAT? I woke up, didn’t I? I was on the road, feeling rested, before six in the morning, and at seven something, I was standing on the pier at Pismo Beach, thinking how great it would be to spend a few days there.

So, if I had to grade myself on the overall success of my trip, I think I would give myself a B+, maybe an A- if I were being really generous. I did most of it right, but there were a few snags. Like, I overestimated my toddler’s ability to maintain sanity in the face of overwhelming stimulation, and wound up spending an entire hour listening to her scream that she wanted “to go home, mommy.” as we waited for the Disneyland Express train, sat on the train, sat through every endless STOP on the train…yeah, that sucked. But, overall, we made it home alive, happy, and still speaking to each other. Most importantly, I made it home already planning my next trip…which means it must have been okay!

Posted in escape, family, Goals, inner peace, kids, Life, People, random, relationships

So…What’s The Plan?

whats-the-plan-298x300I like to have a plan. I feel better, safer, more prepared, when I have a plan. I like to know what is next on the agenda. Some people might say that this makes me a bit of a control freak…I’m not going to lie, they would not be wrong.  I lived the first thirty years of my life with absolutely no plan, whatsoever, and that is just no good, either.  I can kind of relax, you know, when I know that I have this long until we do this thing…

I have been in a relationship with someone for a very, very long time (more about that later) who is totally okay with “going with the flow” and just sort of “seeing what happens”, which, as you can probably imagine, tends to drive me out of my MIND.  There have been times over the past million  (five) years that we have not seen eye to eye on this particular subject. There have been times when his laid back-ness has driven me into a frenzy of control freaky-ness that has been nothing short of astounding.

Guess how far that got me?

Lately, I have been trying to relax a little bit (“For Christ’s Sake, Courtney!” says  his voice in my head.) and be a little more open to understanding the possibility that maybe things will  be okay even if I am not corralling everyone into their proper places. This weekend, we reached a very nice compromise- I went to an undisclosed location in California, where it is actual summer right now, rather than this gloomy, fogged in crap we get here on the coast, and I sat by a pool, in the sun, with a book, and I relaxed. I watched my two year old daughter swimming (or bobbing, actually, with her floaties and her little plastic blow up ring) with her father, and my sixteen year old lounging next to me, giving all of the teenaged boys- of which there were lots at this hotel, for some reason- whiplash when they walked by and saw her in a bikini. I just lay there and watched them turn brown. I literally did nothing. In a funny twist of fate, I had also forgotten my phone charger, so my phone was dead, keeping me from stress inducing phone calls and emails. No Facebook, no texting, NOTHING. Sometimes I did jump in the pool to cool off.  Other than that, nothing.

“What’s mama doing?” I heard my two year old ask her father.

“She’s laying out in the sun.” He answered. How funny that my kid sees me in that state so seldom that she has to ask her dad what, exactly, it is that I am doing.

The part where the compromise comes in is this: I found that I could ask some very important questions about our lives and future together in that atmosphere, with no heat behind my words, and get relatively satisfactory answers, with very little prodding and prying at all. It’s kind of hard to get all heated when it’s that…well, hot, and you are that mellow.

Another valuable thing I took from the time spent by the pool is that I am much more capable of coming up with solutions on my own when my mind is quiet and not being hassled every five seconds by another worry or alert from my phone. I made some important decisions over the course of the past few days. I came home tired, but also feeling very rested.

I still like to have a plan. My life operates at it’s finest when I am working towards a goal, or towards a set of goals. I like having a schedule, and I like having some idea of what each day holds for me. But I think it is best if I exercise that control over ME, and not expect everyone else to fall into my agenda like neat little puzzle pieces. That is very frustrating, for everyone, and generally requires the use of a hammer to make those pieces fit- that would be me, playing the hammer. Everything is not always going to fall into place, especially if you are very attached to your idea of what “in place” is.

My goal now is to leave some space in the puzzle for other people to be what they need to be. I think I will up my chances of things going well considerably, don’t you? So, I still have a plan…it’s to be okay with whatever happens next. I’m sure it will take a while to relinquish my imaginary control over everything, but that’s good. It gives me something to work on!