Posted in Addiction, escape, Goals, inner peace, Life, Musings, People, recovery

Time for Change

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On Monday, I was feeling grouchy and restless, like a caged animal after sitting here working all day long- that’s one of the drawbacks of working at home; when I worked in the office, I couldn’t wait to go home at the end of the day. When you work at home, all you want to do is go somewhere else when you clock out…except, if you are me, you are probably still wearing sweaty-ass yoga pants, no make up, and hair that looks like you stuck your finger in a light socket. So, I either have to summon up the energy to make myself look slightly less homeless in order to leave my house (how funny) or, give in to the beckoning call of inertia and flop on the couch to watch TV which will ultimately do nothing but make me feel even worse.

On this particular day, though, Camryn suggested we go to the library. We had books that were a week past due, and I really did need a change of pace, so I agreed. Plus, bonus- you don’t have to look nice at all to go to the library! After settling part of my outrageous overdue book fees, Cam got herself a drawing book, and grudgingly trailed after me as I wandered up and down every single aisle in the downstairs section of the Monterey library. I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I hoped to find something inspiring and uplifting- something to shake me out of the funk I had been going in and out of for the past…I don’t know, 40 years or so.

I grabbed a stack of books, and we checked out and headed home after a quick stop at Trader Joe’s for some chocolate and blueberries, among other snacks. Soon as we got back to the house, I pulled out one of the books and started reading it. It was called “Martha’s Vineyard- Isle of Dreams”, and at first I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get through it- it’s written in handwriting-like script, and there are hundreds of quotes and watercolor pictures throughout the book, so at first it’s a little jarring, as it doesn’t read like the books I am used to- books that have very few, if any, quotes, and generally no pictures at all. But within a few pages, I had forgotten all about the strangeness of it and was totally sucked in to the story.

Oh, and it’s not a story-story, by the way. It’s a biography of sorts, the true tale of a woman named Susan Branch who “accidentally” moved to Martha’s Vineyard and bought a house in the woods, after fleeing California when her marriage ended. She was looking for a house to rent, short term, and wound up buying a little house after being there for three days or something like that. The whole story takes place in the 80’s, which doesn’t matter other than the fact that you probably can’t buy a house there super cheap anymore, and anyway…I just fell in love, you guys. The way that she describes the changing seasons, and the beautiful simplicity of her life- her garden, and her walks in the woods, the ocean, the seasons, the quiet. Just talking about it right now makes me want to cry. It stirs such a funny longing in me. And it really makes me think, very hard, again, about the way I am living my life.

I have only been clean for a little more than three years. Which means that I am just now, at 43, learning about what kind of person I am, and trying to figure out what sort of life the person I am truly wants to live. I sort of woke up right in the middle of a life that I had stumbled into, and it is a GOOD life. I have this career, and security, good health insurance, stability…all of these things that people want, right? So when I think to myself “this doesn’t feel like the right life for me”, it is scary and I feel guilty, as if wanting something different makes me ungrateful. I am not ungrateful. I’m just…wondering. Wondering if I could survive, or thrive, or be wildly, giddily, in love with a different kind of life. And I shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting to be happier.

I checked out the book on Monday evening. It is now Wednesday morning, and I have finished it. It was 368 pages, and I worked all day yesterday, so when I tell you that I did a lot of reading, you have to believe that I did. Because of this book, I made a batch of blueberry muffins with Camryn, from scratch, yesterday after work. Because of this book, after my meeting last night I went by myself to the beach, and sat on the rocky sand, as evening descended, and just soaked in the salty air, watched the choppy, steel-gray waves crash on the shore, and relished the cold. It really got me thinking.

I need to slow way down. Like, way, way down. Be outside more. Be quiet more. Be on Facebook WAY less. Read more books and watch less TV. Cook more often. Talk to actual people, rather than scroll past their faces online, clicking like instead of having conversations. I don’t have to- and I shouldn’t, I know this- uproot my life on a whim and move across the country to “find myself”. But I do need to examine these feelings, and see what I can do to honor myself, and my one precious life. I have faith that I will find the answers, that they are already there, just waiting for me to discover them. I have to stop losing sight of what really matters, and every time I check out- on the internet, or by binge watching twelve seasons of some stupid TV show- I am doing just that. Losing sight of what really matters. Checking out. No wonder I feel so restless…my spirit is trying to get my attention, and I have been ignoring that.

No more. It’s time to pay attention. Time to make some changes.

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Posted in adventure, Blogging, Dreams, Goals, Life, Musings, People, reading, story telling, writing

My One True Love

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I woke up stupidly early this morning, as usual, and did what I do every morning- grabbed a cup of coffee, checked my Facebook, screwed around until the fog lifted from my brain. And then I did the thing I LOVE to do, which is this- I opened up Word, and I started to re-read the last few paragraphs of the novel I have been working on for probably a year now… I know, I know, that seems like a really long time to be working on a novel, but…you have to remember, I also work full time, I’m a single mom, and I have many, many other things that I am always trying to make time for. That leaves me about 30 minutes on a good morning to work on the thing that I love best, which is my writing. Subtract from that the many mornings when the well has run dry and the words just won’t come, and the mornings when I forgot to dry the laundry that has all of the school clothes in it, or any number of other small catastrophes, and it starts to make more sense why it is taking so long.

The important thing is that I always do come back to it. And when this one is done, whatever happens with it- whether it sits here in my computer forever, or whether I am catapulted to some insane stardom for my clever and captivating writing- I will always return to whatever I am writing next. Writing is the one constant in my life, and has been since the moment I realized that I could write. I don’t mean the moment I discovered I could write well, either- I’m still not 100% sure of that. I just mean the moment I grasped that it was within my power to pick up a pen or a pencil, or sit down in front of a typewriter (Yep, I had several of those once upon a time) and make up a story.

I love it. I love everything about it. I love making up characters, and watching as they take on a life of their own. I love trying to guide the story and finding myself rushing after it instead, trying to keep up. I love the feeling of my fingers flying over the keyboard, trying hard to transcribe the scene that is playing out in my head. I love that the story becomes a living thing, and veers off into places I didn’t think my head was capable of imagining. I love reading back over a chapter and feeling my heart pound when something is really wild, and so, so good, and wanting so badly to share it with someone else. I love the magic in words…the way the possibilities are infinite, the scope is limitless. Quite simply, it is thrilling.

There are few things in life that I love the way I love writing. My children, of course, they are always first. But my love of words, writing them, learning them, reading them…that has been around long before I ever dreamed about being a mother. And I have known for as long as I can remember that words were “my thing”. I’ve known it all my life. I think it may have been born already inside of me, to be honest. I’m one of the lucky ones who never had to search for the thing that I loved. It has always been writing.

I just wanted to talk about that for once. I always talk about my kids, my struggles with addiction, my life in recovery. I talk about mental health and working out and all my other myriad goals in life. But for some reason, I don’t talk much about my longest, strongest, most precious love affair…writing. I’m going to take a wild guess and say that the reason behind that is some deep, terrible fear of not being good enough to claim that I am a WRITER. But this isn’t even about whether I am ever published, or financially successful because of my writing, or even (gasp! dare I even say it?) famous through it one day…all of those things would be wonderful, of course. But writing feeds me in a way that nothing else does. And because of that, it is already perfect. Even if nothing else ever comes from it, it is still the greatest thing, the best part of me that I know.

Still…just in case…remember my name. You never know. šŸ™‚

Posted in books, Goals, Life, People, random, reading, writing

Meeting Anne Lamott

So, Friday was a day that will live in infamy for a long, long time- if not forever. I tried very hard not to know too much about what happened in Newtown on Friday, I tried very hard not to over educate myself just yet, because I was headed up to San Mateo to hear my favorite writer in the whole wide world speak, and I didn’t want to ruin it. Fat chance. I got stuck in traffic somewhere between San Jose and my destination, and I couldn’t resist the pull of the radio while moving four feet every hour. So, I sat in traffic, and I cried, and I worried that Anne would cancel her speaking engagement due to depression or something.

She didn’t. But let me back up a little and tell you that, up until I was in my car and driving, I really didn’t think I would go. It seemed ludicrous to me that something I felt was so incredibly wonderful was even marginally probable as an occurrence in my own little life. I left so early, and I brought my laptop, just in case, and I checked fourteen times to make sure I had my ticket, and I worried like crazy when I couldn’t remember where my glasses were (they had fallen between the bed and my nightstand) and when it started to rain as I drove over the windy and dangerous highway 17. I was pretty sure that at any moment, something big and theatrical would happen, preventing me from realizing this small but important dream of mine.

Instead, what happened was that I got there pretty much before anyone else, except for the people who were actually paid to be there. I stashed my belongings on a seat in the second row, center, used the bathroom, purchased my book and then perched in a chair in the book signing area for a really, really long time, waiting for her to arrive (she was a little late, but I was super early, so it was fifty-fifty, fault wise). I felt a little weird because I was alone, but when I thought about it, I really don’t have one friend to speak of that I could have brought along- at least no one who had read her books and adored her the way that I do. Maybe my mom, but she lives far away. Anyway, I’m glad I went alone, because now it is 100% my experience, made possible by me, carried out by me, a gift from me to me. I am one of those people who will, if other people are around, surrender all control to them- not because I am a follower, but because I am lazy as hell, so I end up feeling like without them, none of it would have been possible. So, I was alone, and I did a lot of observing, listening, small talk with people I didn’t know and will probably never see again.

It was already a wonderful night before she even arrived. The people around me were mostly older, mostly women, lots of them in recovery, many Christians, intellectuals, thinkers…different, at least for me. The best part of all was that I felt completely at home. I called my mom afterwards and told her “These people were exactly like me.” But I think what is more true is that these people are exactly who I want to become. Who I feel my best self would be, given a little prodding.

So, Ms. Lamott came right in the front door, with no body guards or anything. I mean, I didn’t really expect body guards, but I really thought she’d at least come in the back door, like the celebrity she is in my mind. No doubt, in that room, she was a celebrity of the highest caliber, so when she walked right by me in her jeans and sweater, I felt my eyes get big and she looked right at me, and I said something incredibly clever, like “Wow. That’s HER.”

I stood in line, and had my book signed, then stood in line again, and had my picture taken with her, and by the time I got to her the second time, I could tell the signing was becoming a bit of a strain- her smile was a little less smiley, and she seemed to want to get this whole thing over with. I can’t say I blame her- the line was just going on and on and on, and everyone wanted to say something to her or give her their card and talk about the book THEY were writing (which, I will have you know, I did not do, I just told her how excited I was to meet her and what an honor it was).

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But when she got up in front of the room to talk, I knew that my adoration for her was well, well deserved. She must be the most calm, most thoughtful, most devoted human being I have ever been lucky enough to be in theĀ presence of. She speaks more beautifully, maybe, than she even writes, which just floored me- for me, it takes so much quiet and so much thought and so much privacy to access that part of myself that allows me to be beautiful on paper. Even now, I am ready to strangle my daughter who will not shut up while she is making Ramen here, in the kitchen, though I have asked, demanded and howled at her to zip it. I feel like it will ruin my day if she doesn’t stop chattering.

Anne Lamott radiated a sort of peace that made you think even a troupe of tap dancing gorillas could not ruffle her, if she was writing. I can’t finish a blog that ten people will read because my teenager is making ramen in the room beside me. I don’t know, guys…I have a long, long way to go. But I keep thinking that I am on my way there, every time I do something like this, meet an author that I adore and hear her speak, attend a writing event in San Francisco that blows my mind…even putting it all out here for the world (all ten of you) to see, just to keep the machine in working order. I am on my way. A gift from me, to me.

Posted in advice, books, escape, love, random, reading, Uncategorized, writing

Word Nerd

BookS-books-to-read-26957638-1024-768I have a confession to make. When you start talking to me about numbers, my mind shudders to a grinding halt. Even in the most innocent and simple of conversations, the minute you throw in a fraction, i.e.- “Oh my gosh, that frigging pie was SO good , I tried not to eat more than half a slice, but I couldn’t help it, I ate more than three quarters of the whole thing!” Well, rest assured, you lost me at half a slice.

I don’t know why this is, or what is wrong with me. I suspect it has something to do with years and years of humiliating failure in my math classes- it’s kind of like that stupid riddle, what came first, the chicken or the egg? Well, here’s the answer- I don’t KNOW, and I’m tired of trying to figure it out! I’m just no good at math, that’s all. (by the way, that is a terrible answer to that joke, so don’t try it. People will just look at you funny and walk slowly away.) What I mean is, I don’t know if my classes sucked because I was bad at math, or if I’m bad at math just because that part of my brain is atrophied or something.

I remember being in my early twenties and taking some entrance exams to the local college-one of the counselors was looking over my scores, shaking his head. As usual, my testing in everything was really, really great…except for math, which was dismally low. He said to me, and I will never forget this- “Someone, sometime in your life told you you weren’t good at math, and you believed it. There is no way someone can score this high in everything else, and score this poorly in math.”

I have a different theory. I think I’m bad at math because it is harder for me. I have to try ten times as hard at math to do half as well as I do in anything involving words. (Hey, that had multiplication AND fractions in it. What do you know?) Ā I even do better in word problems than I do in straight number problems. I think maybe there’s a little part of me that gave up when I realized I couldn’t be a superstar in math the way I could with all the other subjects.

But reading…ah, reading. Those sweet, beautiful, wonderful, flowing words that grace the pages of books. The amazing trick of stringing them together, one after the other, to tell a story. A story that can take you places you have never been, places you could never otherwise go. Ā Books with beautiful covers and wild, improbable tales inside- tales of imaginary places that are so clear in your minds eye, you can revisit them years later simply by thinking of the story you read. Books are the only time machine that truly exists- you can go backwards, forwards, sideways to another dimension. You can go anywhere you want to go, anytime you want to go there- if you only have the pages in your hand and an imagination.

I learned to read at a very young age, and at first it was a neat party trick. It became a source of great pride for me as I grew older, always keeping several grades ahead in ability of where I actually was. Ā But when life grew rough at home, I discovered the greatest thing of all about my love of words- the escape hatch. All I had to do to be somewhere else, somewhere more beautiful than where I was, was pick up a book and start reading. When we would have book fairs at school, I would go on a feverish mission, hell bent on getting money from my mom so that I cold buy a book. Ā When they would pass out those little scholastic newspaper thingy’s where you could order books, I would lose my mind- how the hell could anyone pick just one?

The library was, and still is, one of my favorite places in the world. I love the smell of all those thousands of weathered, handled books, the quiet and the anticipation of roaming the aisles, finding some new adventure right in front of you, behind some quiet cover. I still, to this day, miss Borders and B.Dalton and all the other bookstores that have disappeared. The nearest (affordable) bookstore to me is a thirty minute drive from me, and it embarrasses me to have to say that. I mean, what the hell is wrong with this world when the bookstores are dying off?

The most beautiful development of all for me was when I realized that all of those words and stories I had soaked up over countless hours and days, they wanted to come back out, to fill up pages and hard drives and notebooks with words of my own, stories that I created. There are books and notebooks and magazines in literally every room of my home, the hallway included. There are poems scratched on napkins and legal pads with story ideas, and even a full length novel stored in my computer. Nothing in this world makes me happier than words. If you didn’t read as a child, I highly encourage you to try again now. You never know, it may be different now…unlike algebra, which will still totally suck.

Have a great day!

Posted in books, escape, Goals, Life, reading, Uncategorized, writing

Happy Reading

This will be the last post like this post under this blogs name. In the future, all my ultra-personal blogs concerning others (as well as myself, of course) will be at my new WordPress blog,Ā http://allthedirtylaundry.wordpress.com/. This, my new blog, will not be posted as a link on facebook for all my friends and family to see, and will have to survive on it’s own merit. The reason for this is pretty simple- I don’t want to entice people to read about stuff they don’t really need to see otherwise. I can’t stop writing, and I won’t stop people from reading, but if they want to read it, they will have to either subscribe via email or go actively seek out the dirt on me, my family, and everyone else I know and feel like writing about, of their own volition. Hence, the name…get it?

This blog will revert back to it’s original format and idea, where I will, once again, attempt to rise to the challenge of improving myself in whatever way seemsĀ appealingĀ and relevant to me. This could be physically, spiritually, intellectually…whatever. My goal is to try at least one new thing each week to write about, and if that isn’t possible, then I will write about whatever I found made me happy.

This past week, I was swamped with work and personal upheaval. I didn’t have much time to write, and when I did, I’d sit down and nothing would come. I actually finished this blog once, but I’d had the page open a while when I did it, and when I went to save the draft, the page logged me out without saving any of the stuff I wrote. I didn’t waste a lot of time being mad about it, I just figured it wasn’t what I was supposed to be saying.

What I did find time to do, though, was read. I read three books over the last two weeks, and all of them thrilled me to pieces. The funny part is that they were all books I’d already read, but I picked them up at Goodwill for a buck apiece, and decided to read them all again. The first one was “Dead Until Dawn” by Charlaine Harris (whose writing I love, and have read ALL of) which is the first in her Sookie Stackhouse series that eventually went on to be the “True Blood” series. It is such a fun series of books, I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it already.

The second book I read was “The Bean Trees” by Barbara Kingsolver- the first time I read it, I think I was in high school, and though I thought I remembered it clearly, I didn’t remember most of it at all. It was great to read it over again- there are parts of that story I’m sure I wasn’t emotionally mature enough to fully appreciate yet, when I read it the first time. Ā I’m probably still not, but it sure made a lot more sense.

Where_the_Heart_Is_Billie_LettsThe third book, and I am just about done with it, but not quite, is “Where The Heart is” by Billie Letts. What a freakin’ fantastic story. There is not a character in it that I don’t love. It’s sweet and sad and funny and triumphant, all things I want in a book, and it’s full of average people with extraordinary hearts. I read this book in my early twenties, and once again, I thought I recalled it perfectly, but there was so much that I’d forgotten.

Anyway, for me, reading is an escape. For as long as I’ve been able to read, I used it this way- books have helped me make it through some tough times, and this past week has been a hard one. I’d be happy to tell you why, but you’ll have to read about it in my other blog. And for Pete’s sake, if you can’t find it by using the link I posted, use the wordpress search option.