I just returned home from some time at my mother and father’s house in Texas. My little brother hosted my son on a wild game hunting trip on the land he leases just 12 miles north of Mexico. It was a wonderful trip for my son and, as it turns out, for me.

I can hardly write for wiping my tears. I’m trying to be discreet as I am not alone and these moments are so personal to me and because I have so little control sometimes, I love for my moments alone to be alone. It just so happens that my study is in the heart of the house.

A house that I have grown to love so much. It cradled me in its arms and spoke gently to me. We grew together and it will be the hardest thing to leave behind when we pack up and head to Texas. Because we have to.

I believe it was Monday night that everyone went to sleep and I still had plenty to think about so I jumped into a Master Class through Mind Valley Academy to embrace my energy body. Since my session with Grace I have been chipping away at educating myself and the classes I’ve found are not lining up with my schedule. It was well explained and I was able to feel the warmth of my energy between my hand as Jeffrey Allen described. I coaxed that block from my sacrum and I replaced it with fresh new expansiveness.

While my mom was taking an afternoon nap and my sweet husband was driving our ten-year old around on the golf cart, I sat on the back porch rocking. I am interviewing for positions in education again this summer in and around Austin and I saw myself driving to the Lake on the weekends to visit my mom. Her respiratory issues are just not good.

She has taken such good care of herself almost her whole life and smoking, combined with toxic chemical exposure, has really  done a number on her ability to breathe and live.

IMG_1315

Cannot be any accident that I have discovered my breath this year. I rocked on her porch, strolled over to the pond and just let all of my thoughts and feelings wash over me. The bitterness from getting the raw end of the deal was absent. Suddenly I felt like I was the lucky one. My boys are 13 and 10 and my brother’s first son is not quite 8 months old.

So I redoubled my efforts and got a few more applications in to other districts while I was there. She had very little energy, having battled bronchitis for three weeks and so there were no big outings or anything so I had plenty of time to do it. Things were very low-key with my Dad and oldest being gone and there was plenty of down time.

I am back home now decompressing and processing the moments of the past few days, which included a digital video interview for a HUGE position in Austin and some crazy little details and connections being revealed that may or not be synchronicity, or as I always called it, as a young girl with a favorite book, Serendipity (1974).

I have been looking to purchase this book for myself for a number of years and I went ahead and bought a first edition, just like the one I used to have. Many of my childhood toys and keepsakes were missing from my grandparent’s basement when my mother and I returned from her first tour in the service. I have always been sad to have lost those things.

About three years ago my mother found “my” Raggedy Ann doll on Ebay, bought it and sent it to me.

img_5301

I will be so curious to peel back the cover and see the name of the original owner of Serendipity and that little girl (?) and I will share a moment of acknowledgment that “Knowing who you really are will bring you happiness” as is the theme of the book. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that my connection to this book has been steadfast my entire life. I look so forward to re-reading it. Perhaps the next time I head down this spiral, I will treat myself to my other favorite: Flutterby (1976), with the moral: “Be just who you are.”

At any rate, I am feeling a certain pull to the area. Perhaps a real connection to the idea that this is finally the real move that is due. It was no trouble at all to be present in my own skin without being inebriated or drinking at all. Maybe I am ready to surrender to the idea that my Mom is certainly not perfect, but she has done the best that she could for me. Maybe I can learn to forgive her for things that hurt me.

I guess she has probably had to forgive me hurts over the years.

IMG_6985

Independence Day 2016

I bumped into a yoga instructor and holistic healer on social media. It was a bizarre meeting, but we have many things in common and she is conducting a Nourishing Awakenings women’s nature retreat just a few hours from my home. Fire walking is involved and I am very seriously considering going. I contacted her about it and in our conversation it came up that I am trying to get my family to Austin and we’re saving money and all of that and of course, that’s exactly where she was on her travels as we spoke. Anyway, I have saved this much since quitting drinking…I continue to want to reinvest it…2017 word = truth. This could be my celebration of my SELF. My real self. This event takes place post 100 sober days…walking on fire…hmmmm…Just all seems so serendiptous.

We shall see – I have until the musical I’m directing closes this time next week to make a final decision, so the timing could not be better.

This post is a reflection of me at 81 days. Getting clearer and clearer.

Tonic and Lime, please.

10 weeks. 70 days.

For ten weeks I have not allowed alcohol of any kind to pass my lips. Strange that even though my last drink of choice was red wine, the drink I miss the most is BEER.

Ice cold draft beer.

It’s a great time to live in Memphis as there are craft and micro breweries popping up all around town. There are a fair number of outdoor events and the food truck craze is full on here. Couple that with spring weather and a nice afternoon in a hammock…a beer is an excuse to take a break and I sure do forget to do that.

img_4848That one time I spent TEN WHOLE MINUTES resting in my son’s hammock. I likely had an afternoon beer after I snapped this proof that I do stop moving sometimes.

 

When I was looking at how to quit drinking this summer, one of the options I thought to give myself was to allow only beer when out and about at festivals and concerts. In my mind, I was pleased with the image of being “that” kind of drinker. That image appeals to me, but the jury is still out … not sure if I even want to think about what might be in store for me – someday. Gotta concentrate on today.

Based upon the limited recovery reading I have had time to do, it doesn’t sound like a “healthy” relationship with alcohol is likely in the cards for a girl like me. The data indicates that I’ll be fine with a beer or two at first, but that after time, and a short one at that – I’ll be chasing 12 packs and kegs again because those addiction pathways are deep and not easily mended by a little sobriety thrown into the mix.

So, I continue to choose NOT to drink. Went to a concert Saturday night for a college and life-long favorite, Ben Folds. Ordinarily, I’d have “pre-gamed”having at least two drinks before I even left. Then I’d have spent half of the evening wondering how I was drinking so fast and when I could get another drink from the bar without missing my favorite song. Or, I’d have spilled all over myself and been an embarrassment. That last part’s not entirely true, but it has happened before. At minimum, the drinking at the concert would have been automatic. It may well have been my first sober concert ever.

Turns out that I was perfectly happy drinking a tonic with lime. They actually didn’t have lime wedges, so the bartender used lime juice and it was DELICIOUS! It’s like I play a little game with myself – where I used to call it a “treat” to have an alcoholic drink (even though I would have four or more daily), I now reframe it and call my “non-alcoholic replacement drink” a gift to myself. Something about allowing that psychological process to happen is helping to shift things for me.

I have always struggled with self-talk. My inner critic is a blazing ASSHOLE. My mother was (is) very critical. She’s wicked smart, but because she had me at 15, she lost out on many opportunities to advance herself. She made a wonderful career in the USAF and obtained her Bachelor degree in journalism, but she still has untapped potential. She is an authority on just about everything. So, I carry that with me and it’s loudest when I am not perfect. You know, all the time. 

Strangely, I find it easier to silence that critic now that I am free from alcohol. There’s less happening in my brain to confuse the issue. Things are far from perfect and I have a heaping lot of mess to sort through yet, but I can much better discern bullshit from truth.

Good thing, since my 2017 word is TRUTH.

I’m getting plenty of it.

 

Gong Sound Bath

You may have noticed I have been interested in all things holistic lately and engaging in the closest I can get to a toxin free life. I have worked to heal my mind through various talk therapies over the past thirty years. EMDR was a wonderful way to put a good seal on my childhood sexual abuse and the assault that took place in college. Now I am trying to finally remove myself from the family traumas of my youth.

I think a large step toward that came when I enlisted the assistance of a group on Facebook called SearchSquad to locate my biological father. They helped me also to craft a letter and made suggestions about how to send a self addressed stamped envelope and photographs. It has been almost 9 months and I have heard absolutely nothing. The first months brought a touch of sadness when the mailbox didn’t contain my SASE and then, after a while, I just forgot to look for it.

img_6396

 

Meanwhile, my relationship with my mother remains at a distance. I am allowing her the space to be consumed with her latest grandchild. My parents have somewhat recently moved to Texas, about two hours from my only sibling (yes, half brother) and his wife. They have married and had a child in these past three years. Prior to this, my parents had moved from Louisiana to my father’s hometown in Massachusetts. This cut our regular visits dramatically.

I have had a struggle with hurt feelings and longings for my family to be something that it is not, has never been and likely simply never will be. And it has been a bitter pill, indeed. So I continue to measure my words and stay aware of my expectations and ground them in reality. My breath work in this regard has been most helpful.

My husband and I have been considering a move to be closer, but this is such a complicated situation and there is a tugging that tells me to go on ahead and fly out. I booked my flight Tuesday to see what Colorado might offer and I could really use a few signs from the universe to the effect of whether or not we are heading down the right path.

Naturally, when I saw this Gong Sound Bath at a local holistic studio, I signed up and then in a fun twist, invited my husband and he decided to attend as well.

“Immerse yourself in healing vibrations at our upcoming Gong Sound Bath. Sound healing has been shown to relieve stress and tension, combat anxiety, help regulate sleep cycles and digestion, normalize blood pressure, and create feelings of overall health and happiness.
Aaron, a professional drummer/percussionist with fifteen years experience, has fallen in love with the gongs. The vibration of the gong impacts the body and its meridians on a physical and emotional level. Prolonged exposure to its sound can activate higher states of consciousness and trigger inner healing of deep emotional traumas. If you have wanted to experience a more meditative state, but felt some assistance could be of service, the gong could just be that friend (or tool) you were looking for.

Lie back, relax, and rejuvenate at our Gong Sound Bath. Blankets and bolsters will be provided. Please bring pillows, special supports, and whatever else you need to lie down comfortably for one hour.”

My husband seems to have really enjoyed it so I hope it resonates with him. (Yes. Sorry, not sorry.) I read that the effects can stay in your body for three days. I think that’s glorious. It was a carefree hour and I got completely lost in the sound, the moment.

I have linked the research I have done about sound therapy directly for you here, here and here.

I look forward to the signs that will eventually come…

Edit: Once I hit publish, I directed my attention back to the single piece of mail that had been placed on my desk while I was writing. A direct mailing for Planned Parenthood, an organization with which I have no real personal familiarity, but that arrived practically in my lap today. I was reminded of going to the local health clinic at age 15 or 16 to get my first gynecological exam and a prescription for birth control – you know, just in case, since I was the product of a fifteen year old getting pregnant…

img_1137

Keep the signs coming…I can take it.

Breathe in, breathe out

Heal the trauma and the decisions will make themselves…

Second edit: Even later after I published,  I looked down at my arm where I had put a temporary tattoo the day before. I had kind of randomly selected one of the quotes that didn’t resonate as much…”the universe doesn’t make mistakes – you belong”

Just going to keep listening…

img_1140

(yes, those “track marks” in the crease of my elbow are from lithium toxicity tests)

 

First Dream

I have taken a much needed day off work to keep to myself today – a “mental health” day if you will. I was putzing around and just realized that I think I had a glass of wine or a beer at an event I attended during a dream I had last night. I left a long day (and a week of Mondays) into evening at work to go home and address some personal issues with my son and his behavior affecting his education and I remember thinking as I got into my car, tuning out with a glass of wine would usually be in order about now. But I knew I wouldn’t and didn’t actually want to. The thought went through my consciousness as quickly as it came.

First of all, dreaming is pretty much a thing of the past. Well, it was, until now. How ironic that I should have my first dream in as long as I can remember after I spend sixty sober days and it is about drinking?

So many thoughts to process. Which rabbit hole shall I travel? The more I think about it, the more real the dream felt on a visceral level. I was ashamed of doing it.

These dreams are normal.

This forum has a thread of experiences posted by many others with drunk dreams. It seems to me that this might be common in these first months of sobriety. Looks like that is right on target. Textbook case.

I am looking forward to witnessing a blossoming dream world in my sobriety. I remember many years ago the revelations I was in tune with in my dream as a young adult, before I began to drink dreams away, unbeknownst to me all the while. I have been tossing around the reality that soon I will begin Julia Cameron’s “morning pages”. I have to wrap up the current youth theatre production at the end of March and then I will be able to explore it further.

Though I started The Artist’s Way on December 27th, my first day of sobrietyI quickly realized I would have to put it on hold until a prior commitment came to pass. I also wanted to firmly establish my morning  yoga and breathing ritual that I began attempting on January 3rd. Currently, I am just shy of a week of 100% mastery of that goal. I have talked about those morning routines here and here. I may elect to begin exploring the idea of morning pages before I conclude the play – perhaps when I have a dream that needs to be recorded. I want to make up for lost time now that my mind is healing, and I want to take full advantage of all of these rich experiences without getting completely overwhelmed.

I got the help of my husband to finish the shelving project in my study.

I just love this room of my own.

img_1073img_1079img_1070

img_1110

New Imaginings

I wept at the beginning of yoga this Saturday. The instructor created a really great flow that happened to work well for me and I was more able to get out of my own mind and just BE in the pose and spend the time with myself. I cried in meditation too. After weeks of not being sad or anxious at all, really. I don’t know if I have managed to put a spell on myself or what, but I feel a gamut of emotions, but they just wash over me, like the tide. Eb and flow.

Nothing rattles my cage much and I think that my calm affects the entire home. I do not say that to be egotistical, but realistic. We ALL affect one another. I have worked so hard and studied so much to change and help my youngest son  and while that has been a noble cause and much progress has been made, I promise that my work on myself will go further.

I am intentionally creating a better life for myself. I had a vision of what I thought it would be and there has been a peeling away of many unnecessary layers in recent years and this is the last big one. Underneath this one is the truth of who I am. I have always known that I am a treasure to be sure, but trauma has a way of dulling one’s shine.

There are many resources available these days which link addiction and trauma and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Of course, an additional connection I also share is the link between giftedness and all of those things. I think back to Grace saying I have been running from crazy all my life. It’s true.

No one taught me about my gifts.

No one explained “giftedness” to me. I thought I was supposed to be smart at everything and get perfect grades. When others in my class of “Talented and Gifted” kids succeeded in ways I could not, it never occurred to me to consider the ways I excelled in which they did not. Looking back at that now, it seems silly. But that is how retrospect works, I suppose.

I am grateful to be able to read articles like this one now. I feel like I have misinterpreted myself all these years. It looks like the work of Stephanie S. Tolan will be some interesting reading  for me as I stumble through this latest discovery. I find the link between my giftedness and low self-esteem as this article describes in studies. I visited her website, but found that my primary interest is with her blog, The Deep End.

I remember my giftedness being fostered when I was in Germany in the Department of Defense schools and I recall some off campus programming once my parents were stationed in Florida. Unfortunately, those exploratory courses (the two I remember best were about government, specifically electoral college and latex mask-making) gave way to honors academics. No longer were creative outlets or alternate teaching methodologies relevant or seen as appropriate offerings. Kids like myself suffered.

How many others are out there who also feared their gifts, not seeing them for their promise but instead seeing a burden? How many years did I keep drinking because I thought I had found a “delicate balance” and didn’t want to upset it into “crazy” territory? All the while, I was creating new, negative pathways in my brain and I had no idea. Why do they not teach us these things in school? How much of this can I teach in school?

Where can I go to turn this into a career? This is very much where my FLOW STATE gets rolling…theatre, drama, film, trauma, giftedness, writing, speaking, yoga, play, addiction, energy, therapy…I want to be able to delve into this more regularly. I wish I could teach workshops to teenagers or even elementary school kids. I have so many ideas and so much I could offer if I could just figure out the HOW…

Until I figure out what I am going to do for “the rest of my life,” I very likely will engage in Reiki training and yoga teacher training as early as this summer. I just booked my trip to Colorado Springs and Greeley to check out their teacher fair in April. My oldest is moving into 8th grade next year, so we’re cutting things close for our dream of moving from where we have lived for almost twenty years. We keep trying and had some interviews for Germany, South Korea (Department of Defense schools) and two positions in Austin, TX last year. Still working that angle again this year, but expanding to Colorado.

Worst case scenario, I see Colorado for the first time and also a former colleague and maybe even my best friend from seventh grade (we’ve seen each other since then, but not after 1991). Best case scenario: we have the possibility of a completely different everyday reality.

Cheers! I’ll drink to that!img_8375

 

50 days

So, I just did the math and it looks like I have saved a little more than $250 since quitting drinking. I never bothered much with regular bottles, went straight for the jugs or boxes or magnums in a pinch, so this total would be significantly higher if I had been buying anything of real quality.

$250

I kind of wish I had done the math a good bit ago, maybe I’d have quit then. But, I do believe that we are moved when we are ready and I do think I managed to hit the sweet spot in that regard. My original goal was to hit the mark that I hit when I let go of wine in the fall of 2012, which was about a month. Well, that is has come and gone and now I know that I have this.

When I went for my energy healing session and I shared my “big quit” with Grace, she said that basically one is “still drunk” until about 100 days. I have not had much success in finding research that explains that process, but there are tons of “100 day sobriety challenges” so I guess there could be something to it.

Well, I’m halfway there! And I feel like I am in a wonderful alternate reality. There is TIME here. Lots of it. I keep catching myself wondering why I am not rushing about and then settling back into the almost weightlessness of living.

There it is –The Unbearable Lightness of Being – again.

I shall listen and gather it for immediate reading…too bad I let that book go almost ten years ago…I’ll have to find it at the library. I have been overspending a great deal lately and though I haven’t taken the time to investigate my habits, I know that I need to just cut back on everything. I want to start a new bank account where I make deposits into our European vacation fund. It is my plan to finance a family trip abroad with money saved in sobriety. Unfortunately, I made a terrible financial mistake in the last year or two that is costing me about $8,000, so I will also need to reconcile that oversight. I accidentally took out more student loans than I intended and didn’t notice the deposits because I wasn’t paying any attention.

Financial things make me a little frazzled. I’m going to need to work to do better.

I was able to attend my Saturday morning yoga at the Park again, after two weeks of traveling and work commitments. It was an amazing workout for my sacrum and I was actually in a bit of pain on Sunday, so that I attempted, what is turning out to be, my afternoon 4 minute adjustment. Try it. I think it is amazing!

I was also able to try out the meditation class again and had further practice with the Bellows Breath and am proud to say that finally I practiced three sets of twenty this morning. I have been waking and doing some informal stretching and some pretend breathing, but it’s slowly evolving into a routine with real techniques and poses.

I keep reaching for yoga and breath instead of booze and I am so glad I am.

Some more reading for you: Yoga and Stress

Here’s to 50 more sober days!

img_0998

Seek Truth

On the last day of a 3 day Christmas visit at my parents’ home, I was getting some help from my father on a little shadowbox project. I needed a slot created at the top so I could slip ticket stubs and other memorabilia in the box to use it as a living memory box. We thought it was wood, but it ended up being made of plastic and a non-essential part melted from the tool. After further inspection, my Dad hugged the box to his chest and had a funny look on his face, like, “Ooops.” I smiled when I took a look at what the to-do was about. Just a little condensation that would quickly evaporate.   “Just giving me a hard time, huh? Like I don’t get that enough for real, right?”

“Nah, to make you laugh. I don’t see you do that very much.”

It’s the truth. I have been so exhausted from trying to hold my family together for the past five years. I’ve operated on lots of coffee, wine (and beer and gin and whiskey and just about anything else that’s available and flowing).

I used to drink a lot of colas. I replaced it with something more dangerous, but no one ever talks about Coca-Cola being a gateway drug. I have come to understand that it was, in large part, a sugar addiction for me with the side effect of being able to disappear.

A part of me is very angry that I lost so much time to drinking. I can’t change it and so I accept it. Every day is mine to be the best I can be now and I continue to focus on that.

I had to sit down and count how many days it has been. It’s not that I don’t think about drinking, because I do, but not really in any kind of fond manner. And frankly, not in any bitter way either. It is very much something that was not serving me and I decided to let it go. Because of that, I haven’t concentrated on how many days, nor have I mentioned it a great deal.

It’s been 6 weeks or 43 days. I am much less scattered and frantic. Might be all the TEA! I think the insides of my mouth might be raw from drinking so much warm herbal tea with honey – like as much as one can practically CHUG in an evening…okay, not really, but a lot.

img_0277

img_0652

I need joy in my life, my Dad is right. It was my word last year and I think I made great progress finding it. I feel that by seeking truth throughout my life this year I will be even closer to that than I have been in a very long time.

Energy Healing

(Monday, January 23rd) This morning I woke up my new thirty minutes early and I set down my blanket and I went through my morning breath exercise and then spent a whopping minute or two stretching. Seriously, I just had to do it half-heartedly, didn’t I?

Well, that’s okay. There’s a lot going on right about now and I am making a lot of really great progress on my journey, so 6 minutes of self-care in the morning is still 42 minutes a week that I wasn’t getting before.

I switched out the essential oil in my diffuser in my classroom. I had settled into a routine with Peace and Harmony for a couple months and it was nice, but I was feeling the desire to get through some of these gloomy winter days with a little Cheer Up Buttercup. Perhaps fueled by the power of suggestion, since we just finished The Princess Bride in film classes.

I left after my last class to make it to my first energy healing session. I have never spoken to anyone who has ever engaged in this type of work, but I have been interested in picking up on the moods of others less and have wondered about energy shielding. It can be challenging to be a sensitive soul such as I. My emotions can get all out of whack and I don’t know what stuff is mine and what is someone else’s. Nothing pleasant about being in a heap of tears when someone with whom you work somewhat distantly, announces their retirement. In fact, it’s awkward.

I have always been this way – in high school I described “seasonal cries”and it’s just been something I have grown accustomed to, though it can be inconvenient, I know it is a gift and I’m open to discovering more of the magic than the detrimental qualities.

I was comfortable from the beginning and the practitioner and I got to talking and come to find out that besides the mutual connection we shared that got me there, I taught her son two years ago and of course, it was a very positive and close experience. I was probably much more at ease because of those shared connections, so I am grateful for that added bonus.

There was at least an hour of eyes closed aromatherapy and energy work. I have very little idea, really, as my eyes were closed under the cloth that held the oils, but there were moments of sensation in various chakras – a warmth in the seventh, or crown, a need to expel some of the mid-January by-products of allergies when she was working with the fifth, or throat chakra, a tingling foot… And the feedback she gave me afterward made me weep with the possibility of healing that could come about were this the truth.

(Thursday, February 2) After the session, Grace touched my shoulder and said softly, “You are complete.” During the feedback she asked me if I believed in past lives (sure, why not?) and told me that she thinks I might have lived in Scotland or Ireland or somewhere where there was lots of stonework and that I may have been killed for being “crazy” and that I may have come into this life running from that label or diagnosis (neither her words). And then she added that perhaps my mother had been my child then and so she had wanted to protect me from that as well because she had seen me die.

Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” has always resonated very deeply with me as have the Salem Witch Trials and many things Gaelic, my maiden name is McCormick, after all. All of that moved through me in the second she said it and all the suffering I had felt in being hindered and unsupported and unloved by my mother vanished in an instant and I wept.

I serendipitously started The Artist’s Way on my first day of sobriety (after years of putting it off – this story sounds so familiar). I leafed through it again this evening more than a week after Grace mentioned it and I see that I had underlined Julia Cameron’s  third in a list of twenty “commonly held negative beliefs” that plague the artist.

“I will go crazy.”

I told her about the respite and psych nurse Barb and how she called me an anomoly and that it sustained me for years. Someone cared enough about me to think of me as different or defying classification. If I knew then what I know now, I’d have saved myself a lot of road.

I told her about the psych ward and how I was so scared and isolated and alone. Actually, the feelings part came later in thinking about it. But I did share that I now know that I am not any of the diagnoses that were placed on me, but that I have some different gifts that can sometimes wind me into a tizzy, but that I have learned to breathe through those sorts of things now.

But, alas, it was an adventure.

I stalled on reading (and annotating and re-reading and aha-ing and the like) as I got into “Week One” and realized that I am over-committed just now with a family, (more than) full time teaching and directing a play in the evening. I figured I’d get back to it in early April when I could better pace myself with new demands on my time.

The session seemed authentic and true and so positive and affirming. I think working with energy further is something I am as interested in as exploring yoga and meditation. I also am considering trying out the “morning pages component of The Artist’s Way. The breathing exercises haven’t taken a real hold just yet and I do want to expand the writing anyway. It’s been relatively recent that the writing valve has even been open at all.

Looks like my second and third chakras could use some enlivening. Most the others are in great working order and she said I am most certainly “grounded.” We are dealing with the sacrum (second) and the Solar Plexus (or third). She suggested magnesium in epsom salt baths (already a regular), spicy foods and that yellow and orange were my colors.

I immediately set about being attentive to the yellow and orange and healing the chakras and jewelry and pigeon pose to open up those hips and stretch that psoas. I had been led to an orange tea just a few days before, we had been buying clementines – it was just a little uncanny how I seemed to intuitively know what I needed.