Tag Archives: determination



I was watching an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” last night and I laughed out loud. I really did. All by myself with no one to hear me. It kind of surprised me, not only because that hasn’t happened in a long time but because I hadn’t realized that until just then.

It means I’m healing. My prayers mean something. Faith pays off. And I can trust my process.

Letting go has been so, so hard.  Trying to understand the importance of self-nurture and what that looks like has been a struggle.  And I don’t mean splurging on frozen custard or a spa day, but true self-nurture:  resting when I’m tired, cooking the food that I love in the way that I love it, saving up for and purchasing things that I really need instead of running up my credit card buying things just to satisfy an urge.

Then there were the trickier parts of this: turning off my phone at night so I get the sleep I need. Taking a whole day off to be a goddess of the hearth. Tackling small projects a little at a time instead of planning grandiose outcomes that will exhaust me.

This all seems like really simple stuff, but I know folks in recovery can take a long time to figure it out and some just give up.  So I want to say to those folks:  don’t give up.  Even when it hurts.  Even when you feel stupid.  Even when you act like an ass.  Just keep going.  And someday, all by yourself, you really will laugh out loud.




You sleep on the sofa because you put the sheets in the dryer this morning before work.  Tonight you’re too tired to put them back on the bed.

You go to work with bronchitis because you used all your sick days nursing your kid through his cold.

You went to your kid’s soccer game last night instead of going to the grocery store.

So you’re drinking your coffee black this morning because you gave the rest of the milk to your kid at breakfast.

There’s a 33% chance that you spend more than half of your paycheck on rent.

You pay on average a third of your income on child care. In New York, Minnesota and Massachusetts, if your child is 3 or under, it’s more than half.

This is because you’re paid less than single dads or married men with the same education. If you were paid fairly, your income would increase by 17 percent and your poverty rate would fall by half.

You’re a single mom.

Some folks say, well, you’d be making more money if you’d opted not to have a child.

Some of these same folks want to limit your birth control options.

It’s tough for you. But your love, unlike money, can buy happiness, and it comes to you through hugs and butterfly kisses and nite-nite prayers.

I’m proud of you.



Rarely if ever have I remembered my time before recovery with wistfulness. Today was an exception.

Spotify may be the best investment I’ve made in many moons. A few keystrokes and “Layla” is streaming through my headphones.

Something about the late sun striping the bedspread in the tender angst of Friday afternoon takes me back some decades ago, when I knelt before my cheap little speakers, strained to cracking with Derek and the Dominoes.

The ache of all my hearts, the one in my mind and the one in my soul, the ones past and present, poured out as I howled away some murky loss, too deep for my own understanding. Today I marvel at how I was able to release the deep cold keening from my guts to the accompaniment of Duane Allman’s wobbly blues guitar.

I loved being that drunk. I loved the ability the wine gave me to smash through the restraints of society and discipline and shame and just wallow in my pain. I never felt more alive than when I was intimately in touch with the thing that hurt me, that walked every step with me, that never seemed to abate without the blessedness of alcohol roaring in my ears, drowning out my thoughts.

This is how I know that I am an alcoholic and that I will always be one. This is how people who are like me immediately identify with what I’ve written. Booze gives us a religious experience like no other. It puts us in touch with the God within us in no other way because it provides a visceral awareness of our own blood and the mayhem of our lives.

As a recovering alcoholic, I am mindful of the power of these thoughts. I try to refrain from glamorizing that time when I am in AA meetings, because I well remember sitting on a hard metal chair, teeth chattering from anxiety, wishing I could do it any other way.

But nothing else worked, and until I could touch the God within me through grace and mercy, I would recite the words and say the prayers and hope like hell no one talked about how glorious it was to be potted like a plant by means of some chemical.

I go tonight to be with those like me. Many of us are artists, writers, chefs, creators of lovely things, and we are giving of our loveliness to raise money for people who are also trying to do it our way, finding God within themselves. There will be alcohol there. That’s a big puzzle for some.

The truth is, we find that the harder we try to obliterate the fact of alcohol, the more likely we are to drink. I personally have found that shaking hands with my demons and calling them by name is more likely to keep us in a civilized partnership.

And interestingly, in spite of my nostalgia for the past, I have no desire to drink today. The price is simply too high, and the extremes of emotion as consequence of it are exhausting. Most of that deep cold keening has faded and crumbled, and in its place is the quiet knowledge that I know where I’m going, even when I don’t.



Sometimes the time just seems magic.

It has been a time of reconnection for me, of quiet conversation over food with this friend and that one, some spent alone in the quiet, clearing away the clutter in my environment and in my head.

I recognized some years ago that my recovery requires three things: prayer, writing and sharing thoughts with another person. This trinity makes itself evident most when I am seeking or providing help in our most practical and pervasive challenge: that of understanding the people around us.

My daughter is on a beautiful beach somewhere in the southern U.S., navigating a romance. One friend is walking her Path with family passed and present. Another friend is sifting through the lingering messages of addiction recovery.

Mulling over the conversations of three days in a row, what stands out is that life is a lovely wilderness with exciting obstacle courses that test our acquired skills and teach us new ones.

For those new to the Path, it is like Marine boot camp. The instructor is harsh and the tasks required of us are strenuous and unfamiliar. What I have learned is that the instructor has one goal in mind: teach us how to survive. The insults and bullying are not personal; they are edifying. The pain sustained will pass if we do not resent it.

For those of us who are challenging the negative inner voice, it is like boarding school. The voices strike at our soft underbelly, the tenderest parts of us. Here we learn to thicken our skin, to run the gantlet that sometimes brutally attempts to distract us from our goal, that of freedom.

For those who are trying to live outside ourselves and our comfort zones, it is marshaling our allies and agreeing to a battle plan: we must march in the same direction. We cannot always be on the front line, and it is important to have comrades who will allow us to fall back and even retreat when we are weary.

This requires trust, a gift from God, I am certain, because mine is in short supply at times. Yet it refills itself from some divine Source that I cannot comprehend.

The lesson I have learned is that I must not punish myself for my mistakes.

In “The Four Agreements,” Don Miguel Ruiz says, “…it is important for you to master your own dream.”

This is the basis for my role as sponsor, medium, channel, friend and partner. Easy to say, hard to do. As always, I depend on grace as my ultimate rescue when I am stuck. But I find I can access grace more abundantly if I pray, write and share.

the freedom to be outlandish


outlandishI am up early; the house is quiet. My editors don’t need me yet so I can sip my coffee without a file waiting in my queue. It’s a nice feeling, unpacking a brand new day at my leisure.

I cruised by Julia Cameron’s blog for a bit. She’s bookmarked in my ARTS folder. It’s the place where I park important sites related to creativity. There’s lots in there about knitting but also about spirituality.

My rationale goes something like this: if God is the Great Creator and we are made in His image, then we must be creative as well. Julia says that in all her years of teaching she has never met a totally not-creative person.

Personally, my creativity is not limited to what I do with my hands. When I was an art director I learned how to think creatively, to find interesting solutions to common problems, to turn a thing on its head, to view life through a prism. Even at the time, I knew I was living in a gift, being paid to have the freedom to be outlandish.

We’ve had a break in the weather. The sun sets sooner and comes up later. I quit knitting a tank top and started knitting a shrug. The neighborhood yard sale is this weekend: it’s a good time to take inventory and divest myself of stuff.

I’m still married to the notion that I have to hang onto things because I might have a need for them someday. There’s also the pile of objects I keep because I just like the way they look. But occasionally I play a mental game in which I am packing to move into a new space. It sort of helps me determine just how much crap I really need to take with me.

This is true of my inner residence as well. Stubborn myths and contracts remain attached to my heart even though I have chipped away at them over the years. But others have become mushy and friable and I am relieved to realize that I am no longer bound by the peculiar catechism of my childhood.

Being outlandish can be lonely. But I find it attracts people of like-minded pursuits, those who find joy in service, those who are tired of their rut, those who are pioneers. These are the ones I depend on to lend me an arm when I am limping.

So down the path I go, probably the one less traveled. Surely treasure awaits.

cashing my reality check


Some days it hardly seems worthwhile, recording my thoughts.  But I feel bereft of good sense lately; my ego voice is loud and strong and my spirit whimpers under the lash.

So I slept with the Devil.  And he is all that was foretold:  seductive, winning, glorious, COMFORTABLE.  And with little hesitation, he moved on.

But somehow I feel different.  I feel that a loop was closed, a knot was tied.  And now I set about the long, long, long sojourn into my deepest self, to manufacture means of hushing the screams of outrage against the unfairness of what was once a beautiful dance.

I have substituted physical pain for psychic pain, a computer for a life.  I am pathetic.  But I am acquiring discipline in the only way I know, one day at a time.  I’ve not issued a booty call in over a week.  I am trying to ignore the taunting judgment, “He’s just not that into you.”

Perhaps the next step is to gorge on reality.  But reality is boring.  It stares me down at the end of a straight line, a box with rigid sides.  I march toward reality along the gangplank of dying dreams, to step off into an oblivion of wasted time.

Fantasy provides me a chaotic space in which to nurture my obsessions, to strive again and again toward the past, a reckless moment of abandon, a tarantella of lost reason.

Somewhere between the two extremes must lie grace.  It is always there, the quiet sweet spot, the underlayer of promise that waits and knows no limit.  I depend on grace, for I am too confused to find my horizon.

I will say this:  I do live my life.  I don’t hold back.  I know that somewhere a sunny beach with warm sand is waiting for my body.  Mother Ocean pipes her sweet lullabye and the stars will gather to listen.

So I will try to use my time as best I can, do my job, pay my bills, nurture my soul and allow God to show me The Path.

Fight Back


Write the feelings down on a piece of paper, fold it into an airplane and make it fly. Play music and dance. Trace the outline of your hand on the wall and color it in. Tell someone you love them. Sing. Pray. Be visible. Be alive.

on the nature of tuesday


What I believe today is that the answers to my most puzzling questions are found through interaction with others.

I have a new teacher. The reason I know this is that I talk to him a lot, in my head and in real life. And i think about stuff he has said and whether or not i believe it.

So today there are lots of people crossing in and out of my headspace, and there’s a lot of staccato on the wires. If you sit very still you can hear them whispering.

It occurred to me today that I was thinking about my interactions in terms of survival. It appears that most of the people I meet are behaving either as if they are predator or prey, or both. And while it may not look like it, I’m trying to be an observer.

I’ve been watching “Fringe,” and if you’ve watched it, you know all about the Observers. There’s one of them, September, who feels compassion, and doesn’t know what it is, because those around him see it as a handicap. And it truly is; he’s ostracized because of it.

So I think my new teacher and I are looking at our predatory nature, both together and separately. And he says things like, “I don’t want to hurt you,” and that both makes me laugh and pisses me off, because I think, what an arrogant statement.

But in his defense, that’s a line that seems popular these days. And is it because we are all such predators/victims? Is there space for Observers here? And must the consequences of that choice be loneliness and incomprehension?

I think not. I think there are other non-Observers who wish to evolve, who are just winging it on a daily (or hourly) basis, and who have lost so much that they have nothing left to lose by just putting it out there.

It takes tremendous courage, I think. The risks seem huge and the reward iffy at best. But maybe it’s just about the ride. As my teacher said, “You are welcome on my rocket ship. Just understand that we may crash.”

And I said, “It’s like Apollo 13. You wonder if you’ll survive reentry. But look at that moon in the window.”



I am not a boy.

I have straight, dark hair.

I am four.  My best friend is beautiful. And I am not.

She makes me sit in a chair.
She pulls my hair and twists it around tiny plastic things.
I like to play with the little sheets of tissue paper.

Sit still, she says.
Here, you can hand these to me, one at a time.

I feel important.  I am helping her.

I don’t like the cold dripping down my neck.
I don’t like the smell.
It’s hard for me to breathe.

But she looks determined and certain.  This will make you beautiful, she says.

The plastic things are sticking into my head.
I want to scratch but she says no.
Just a little longer and you will be beautiful.

I want to be beautiful.  Then she will love me.

She pulls a chair to the sink and pushes my head under the faucet.
The water is warm and feels so good I want to stay there forever.

But I have to be neutralized first.

I am wet and cold and the skin of my head feels like a blister.
But she squirts the neutralizer onto my head.
We’re almost done, she says.

The sun is shining.  I can see the lawn through the glass door.
My friend comes to the door.  She is beautiful.

But I cannot go outside.

I am not beautiful yet.