Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tripping Over Assumptions

For some reason, this time of year helps me trip over old assumptions. That's a good thing because then I have the chance to decide whether I still believe in them or not.

Let me back up and explain that when I married, so many years ago, I chose a man with a strong moral compass. I knew I needed a compass very different from the one my birth family followed if I was going to become the good and honorable person I wanted to be. So I married such a man and adopted without question his moral compass. For the most part, that was a good thing, but there are days even now when I suddenly realize that I don't always have to do so.

Example: I bought myself a bracelet this week in a jewelry store. Not super expensive and very, very pretty. And it was like an earthquake beneath my feet to do so. Why? Because my ex-husband and his family believed that if you had money for jewelry you should give it to others in need. It took until now for me to even notice the inconsistency--that there were lots of things it was okay to spend that much money (or more!) on, just not jewelry--and to realize that it was okay to spend money on something that would bring me so much joy. One more step, in other words, of claiming who I am. Not who someone else thinks I should be, but who I am.

It is another step in realizing that I can trust myself to be a good and honorable person without having to blindly follow someone else's moral compass.

I also found myself checking Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books out of the library this week and realizing the moment I began to read them that this was part of where my hope came from when I was a child. Back then, adults around me couldn't be trusted and none of the ones who could would listen to what I had to say. But in these books the kids (well, okay 18 year olds) were solving mysteries and defeating bad guys when adults had failed to do so. So all I had to do was hold on until I was that age and everything--maybe--would be okay. On many levels, a bunch of things suddenly made sense--including why the fact that someone was an adult didn't necessarily feel very reassuring to me.

As I cook new things and create some homemade presents for friends, I'm discovering talents I'd believed I didn't have.

Each holiday is a chance for me to "rewrite" what it means and fine tune or create new traditions that will serve ME well and bring ME joy.

Here's hoping that each of you are discovering assumptions you can release and creating true moments of joy in your holidays.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I love Thanksgiving. In part, it's because it was one of the few days of the year when I was allowed to eat as much as I wanted and didn't go hungry. It's also because I like the idea of noticing what I'm grateful for.

One of the things I've learned on my journey is that it must begin with a core of belief in myself. That I can build upon. Then I can risk looking at what I don't like about myself or my life. This means that every time I stop to think about what I'm thankful for about myself, I gain strength and resilience to move forward even more.

The last couple of weeks I have been looking at beliefs I didn't know I had. Teasing them to the surface is the challenge! I'm still not done. In a way I feel like I've been deep sea fishing--which goes along with the battening down the hatches analogy in my last post. And each time I sat down to do that, I began with what I like about myself and the strengths I have so that I could look at what I'm afraid of or don't like.

Today I've been enjoying a peaceful and quiet Thanksgiving. It is a joy not to be in the middle of people screaming at each other and telling each other how flawed they are. It is a joy to be able to laugh and to curl up with my dog, to ponder what I love about my life and what could make it even better.

I hope all of you are having a lovely Thanksgiving too.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((hugs))))))),

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Battening Down the Hatches

It occurs to me that others might find it useful to know how I get ready to tackle difficult “stuff.” How do I batten down the hatches, so to speak? In no particular order....

1) Stock the pantry and refrigerator with healthy food. No alcohol or sugary stuff. I want my body to be able to handle the stress and I know that what I eat (or don't!) will impact my emotions, too.

2) Make a mental note to wear only clothes that make me feel good.

3) Get into a pattern of daily exercise—preferably including time out in the sun.

4) Pull out my list of things that make me happy/smile/laugh and make sure I'm doing/having at least 3 every day NO MATTER WHAT.

5) Make a list of blessings in my life—how my life is good NOW.

6) Make a list of what I like about myself—why I like who I am NOW.

7) Make sure my support network is in place and that we'll laugh together, too.

8) Make sure I know clearly why I matter, who needs me and why. Make sure I know why no matter what comes up, I have a reason to figure it out and keep moving forward—that letting go and/or hurting myself is not an option.

9) Begin to tease at the edges of my emotions. Toss out possibilities of what it might be that I need to look at until I get a “bingo”--a sense of resonance that says: This is it!

10) Imagine talking to the child I was and asking her what's going on—always reassuring her that NOW I am safe, NOW my life is good, NOW I have the wisdom and experience to process whatever it is that once terrified me so badly that I had to bury it like this.

11) Remind myself that whatever surfaces it is not the event itself that matters but rather the messages I took in about myself and the world and people around me because of it.

12) I will remember to laugh and count my blessings EVERY DAY as a reminder that NOW I am safe and NOW I am and can be happy.

What do you do to “batten down the hatches” to protect and prepare yourself when you know you're about to look at something difficult?

Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((hugs)))))),

Sunday, November 01, 2009

More on Dreams

Well, this post isn't exactly about dreams but it continues the conversation from the previous post.

I'm pretty sure now that I'll be fictionalizing what I write. I'm pretty sure there's something left to process that I don't want to look at. I tell writing students that the past matters--whether in real life or with our characters--only to the extent that it is affecting the person's actions and reactions in the present. If it's not, leave it alone, it's not time to bring it up.

But this is affecting me. My life is pretty good. I'm happy. I am light years from where I was just 5 years ago. But there is something I'm bumping up against that if I process it will allow me to move forward in a major way. If I knew what it was.

I can make some guesses. Enough to be wary. I'm pretty sure I'll want to use a slightly different approach than when I processed things before. I know that I'll make a space for laughter and joy every day even when--maybe especially when--it's hard to do so.

It's been a while since I had to process something new but I'll pull out my tool kit and experiment until I find just the right combination of skills that will let me heal this last (I hope!) remaining piece.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((hugs))))))),

Saturday, October 24, 2009


I do not often worry about dreams. When I have one that's important, it's always transparently clear what I'm meant to look at. I do, take any necessary steps and then move on. Now, though....

I've had dreams for several nights now telling me there's something still left to look at and that until I do, I'm trapped where I am. And those dreams are telling me clearly that I must write about my life.

Now...first...this does not in any way negate the good things in my life NOW. It does not in any way detract from my current happiness. It does not mean anything other than that if I look at these new things, my life will get better.

What is somewhat disturbing is that I had thought I had explored it all—and left it behind. And yet, I have known I am not yet where I would like to be with my life. This is what will allow me to get there.

The “me” in my dreams was scared. When I tried to write my story in my dreams, it became gibberish because it was so scary to that self. And that me resisted doing any of this. Which is my subconscious “protecting” me. But the conscious me knows that no matter what it is, I have the skills and tools to cope. No matter what it is, this would not be surfacing unless I was ready to process it. That's how it's always been.

Perhaps the best thing is that this may explain the writer's block I've had for some time. It may be that until I find a way to write my story—whether it's nonfiction or I fictionalize it—I can't get back to writing what I write best.

It is, as always, an interesting journey.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((hugs))))))),

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Ocean

I was doing a visualization exercise last week when I had an epiphany.

I was standing on the shore of the ocean and beside me was a native American shaman from a long time ago. He was stunned at the sight of the ocean and we spoke about how he could not comprehend the ocean until he saw it. And we talked about how what is to come in my life is the ocean I've never seen. I can't know what it is or comprehend it until it IS part of my life.

This is a very powerful image for me. Looking back, I know that over and over I have discovered oceans in my life in the sense that he was discovering what an ocean was.

I could not comprehend believing in myself until I did. I could not comprehend being happy until I was. I could not comprehend trusting until I did. I hadn't even known these things were possible until they were.

I love this visualization message because I find myself excited about what the oceans might be that I've yet to discover. I'm excited about the possibilities that might change my life profoundly just as believing in myself, being happy and trusting did.

How about you? Are you excited about the oceans you've never seen that you might yet discover in your future?

Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((hugs))))))),

Sunday, October 04, 2009


I think wanting—letting ourselves want—is very difficult if we were abused as children. We learned not to ask for things, not to let anyone know what we wanted or cared about so it couldn't be used against us and maybe even learned not to care at all so it wouldn't hurt so much when it was taken away from us and given to someone else.

For years, it was impossible for me to do the exercise where you write down your ideal life—what it would look like. I couldn't do it. I'd fall asleep or get distracted or I'd get pounding headaches and have to stop or I'd just stare at the blank page literally unable to do it. Then I got to the point where I could imagine little bits and pieces of things that I thought might make me happy—hastily followed by reassurances to myself that I didn't actually need those things!

Even now, I catch myself thinking in terms of: What's the least I can settle for? It's as if I'm afraid that if I let myself think about what I'd like, it would hurt too much because there's a part of me that still believes I can never have it.

So...a couple of weeks ago I deliberately decided I was going to think in terms of what I really want and use it as motivation to find a way to get them. As usual, this has meant emotions bouncing all over the place, more headaches than I've had in the past 2 years all put together and bouts of insomnia and/or disturbingly vivid dreams.

I took steps to prove to myself that NOW I could—and do!--have lots of the things that make me happy. Now I can have a freezer/refrigerator full of food—I don't have to go hungry as I did as a child. Now I can wear clothes that make me smile—instead of someone else's hand me downs or what someone else thinks I should wear. Now I can watch movies or shows I like—and not care what anyone else thinks of them. Now I can notice when men pay me compliments—without having to be afraid of what it means.

And I noticed the patterns that still remain. I found myself thinking of some things that would make me happy and saying I can't afford them. I found myself realizing that I could—if I chose and if I let go of the old beliefs of what I do or don't deserve. I noticed the old voices whispering it was wrong to want this or spend money on that. I thought about how different I would feel if I talked to myself in terms of: This would make me happy and that wouldn't.

There's no danger, you see, that I won't manage financially. I know how to do it too well. But there's a danger of settling instead of thriving. There's a danger of believing I never can have _________ instead of realizing I could if I just ______ and _______ and _______.

I hadn't known I still had so many of the old ideas still in my head. I hadn't realized I was still limiting myself in ways I could have abandoned long ago. It is—as always—the beliefs we don't know we have or think to question that trip us up the most. about you? Are you able to think about what you want? Are you able to let yourself have the things you can afford that would make you smile? I hope so.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((hugs)))))),

Friday, September 11, 2009


I still remember vividly that morning when the planes hit the twin towers and the Pentagon and that field in Pennsylvania. My daughter and I were going to spend a couple of days together before she left for college--by plane. It's one of the things that made me realize I didn't want to waste any more years unhappy.

When I look back, I remember the tragedy of loss of life. I also remember, though, the way people came together--despite their other differences. Briefly instead of screaming at each other, we helped each other out. People gave of themselves to help others. There was true heroism as well as the horror.

9/11 was not the end of New York City. It is as vibrant and alive as ever. That's good to remember. Tragedies happen. We can survive them and recover and live vibrant, happy lives. The key is to help each other, to believe in ourselves, to go on even when we don't see the way more than a step or two in front of us.

I will never forget what happened on 9/11. At the time I lived close enough to the city that firefighters and ambulances from my town headed up there. People I knew were in the city at the time and it took more than a day to verify they were okay. Some just missed being in the twin towers when they came down. But I will remember the love and heroism and unity as well as the horror.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

All of What I Feel

It has been an interesting time since I returned from my trip. Intense emotion hits me at odd moments. What I'm calm about on the surface turns out, some times, to be something I am not so calm about underneath.

I have learned the hard way that trying to suppress intense emotion means one cannot laugh as easily or feel joy. And what I try to suppress gains strength whereas that which I am willing to let surface can be felt and then let go. That's what's been happening to me over the past couple of weeks.

I am happy for all the good things in my life and in the lives of those I care about. At the same time I can grieve for hopes and dreams let go as life changes what the possible futures might look like. It's not that these possible futures, these new hopes and dreams are any worse than the ones I had before just that they are different and it's time to let go of how I once thought things would be. And in letting myself grieve I am honoring who I am and how I feel—and then I can let them go and embrace the new hopes and dreams and possibilities.

I can be happy, too, that NOW I am someone who can celebrate the changes in my life—instead of always being afraid of them. I can be grateful for people who come into my life and enrich it—for however long they are here without needing to grab onto them terrified they might go away. I can help my children explore the possibilities in their lives without believing that their choices determine whether I have succeeded or failed in mine. I can choose who I will be and what I will do without being terrified of what others will think—and that too is a wonderful thing.

It is an interesting time for me and I am willing to let it be whatever it is.

Here's hoping that you are having some joy amid the challenges in your lives, a sense of trust in yourselves and a willingness to honor all of who you are.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs)))))))),

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Intensely Emotional Weeks

The past two weeks have been....extraordinary. My daughter's visit brought us closer. She shared things with me she has never shared before. And that let us bond in ways we couldn't before.

Then I went to NJ and my ex reminded me yet again why I was right to divorce him. (I say that tongue in cheek but not with malice. There are some people who need to live in drama and chaos and make it seem normal. When one has a chance to step outside that circle of drama and chaos it is amazing the sense of relief one can feel. I am truly glad that he's found someone happy to live in that drama and chaos with him and who thinks he is wonderful just as he is. That's what we all deserve—someone who can love and value us just as we are.)

I gave an all day workshop and was reminded how good I am at what I do—and what a difference I can make for other writers.

I saw my son and helped him adjust a little more to his group home. And could see that he is beginning to accept that this IS his home now.

I saw old friends and I could offer comfort to a friend facing yet more serious medical news.

So much laughter, a few tears, a chance to be myself at my best. These things are priceless.

Here's hoping all of you have had good weeks, too. Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((hugs)))))),


Saturday, August 08, 2009

Processing and Self-Protection

Some interesting comments to my last post. I'm going to try to answer a couple of them here because I think they are important.

First, Paul mentioned self-protection. Certainly, in my last post I wasn't advocating abandoning commonsense. We need to think about choices we're making and whether or not they are wise ones. At the same time, in my own experience, when I've tried to be self-protective--out of fear of what might happen with regard to other people--I've often guessed very wrong so that what were meant to be self-protective words and/or actions ended up hurting me and/or the other person.

I've come to believe very strongly that I need to use commonsense AND risk trusting that things will be okay, that I will be able to figure out how to handle anything that comes up as long as I have used commonsense all along.

Seriously, some of the things I've done—or not done—out of a desire to protect myself have been some of the worst mistakes I've ever made. For me, to live as much as possible without acting from fear is turning out to be the safest thing I can do.

Second, Vicki asked about headaches and processing experiences. For me, here are the steps I used:

1) Imagine a beautiful safe place.
2) Imagine my child self with me in that place.
3) Ask that child self to tell me what happened and LISTEN TO THE EMOTIONS.
4) Reassure that child self that NOW she/I am safe.
5) Help the child self see it wasn't her fault—that she did the best she could.
6) Thank the child self for her part in helping me survive.
7) Imagine loving the child and then helping her learn how to play.
8) If necessary, imagine my adult self confronting the abuser(s) with them unable to speak unless I let them.
9) Imagine saying/doing anything necessary to give me closure.
10) Imagine going back and playing with that child self until I am calm and at peace and smiling.

Not sure when I'll next get a chance to post. I'll be traveling this week and next. Giving an all day writing workshop and visiting my son in his group home. That will be a challenge because my son tells me he is “causing problems, big problems.” I don't know what, if anything, I can do to help him adjust. I worry what happens next if he can't. And this will be the first time I see the house I lived in during my marriage since my ex-husband's girlfriend has moved in.'s going to be an interesting trip. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),


Saturday, August 01, 2009

How Things Are Changing

Well, some of you have asked how things are changing goes. I'll start with my dog since Kahless specifically asked about her.

When I first brought her home, Sophy was scared of a lot of things. If I left her more than an hour or two there were accidents. On New Year's Eve, she was terrified of the fireworks and sat trembling in my lap. Now? Now I can leave her for up to 6 hours. She wasn't scared on July 4th and she joyfully looks forward to each day. She still checks out limits and when we pass rabbits on our walks I know all training is going to go out of her head as she tries to get that rabbit! But now she often rolls on her back for me—without trying to grab my hand when I rub her tummy. Now she can let me out of her sight without panicking. And now I'm learning to adjust to the idea that I have a dog who can catch birds and rabbits—in my back yard! (EEEWWWWW!) She no longer clings the way she did for so long. And we have a new routine of rolling out of bed, dressing and immediately going for a walk because with the record heat we've had this summer it's too hot to go any later in the day.

But a lot of other things are changing too. Paul asked about those dynamics.

I'm being asked to step into leadership in a situation where, at the same time, I feel somewhat marginalized. That means I get to look at patterns. How does this resemble past situations? How is it different? In what way are my choices playing into problems that arise? What changes can I make?

Maybe most importantly I'm asking myself: How can I stand in a place of excitement about the changes taking place in my life rather than standing in fear? How can I make choices based on what I want rather than what I fear?

If I can do that, then everything changes. Most of the mistakes I've made in my life, the things I regret were the result of choices I made and actions I took out of fear.

When I have been able to speak and act from a place of looking at what I want, I have never regretted what I said or did—even when it didn't work out the way I expected. Those adventures I look upon with joy, able to see what I learned and gained, no matter how they turned out.

You can see why I want to make this my operating method for everything—as much as I can. So when I get scared about a new change or opportunity, I stop, take a deep breath, smile (physiologically something happens that alters the emotions) and remind myself of the above truths. That lets me step back enough to set aside my fears and look at what I want—and then choose what, if any, action I will take.

I'm going to try to post a bit sooner next time. In part that's because I'll be traveling for a week and hope to post before that trip. It will be interesting to see how I interact with my ex-husband and son this time. (As long as I'm growing and changing--and I hope I never stop!--each time I see them is different.)

Here's hoping there are good changes happening in YOUR life!

Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((hugs))))))),

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Back Again

Okay, I know it's been forever since I last posted. I've been doing a bunch of stuff that took up time including setting up some online writing classes and pondering new directions in my life. I've been stepping outside my comfort zones in a number of ways and reminding myself that I want to act from a place of courage not fear.

Of course, stepping outside my comfort zone has meant that long buried fears and/or beliefs have popped up—often startling me because I didn't know I still had them. It's meant looking at each one dispassionately to see if it made sense. With some, I could immediately see how absurd the fear or belief was. With others I needed to take the position that what I was doing was an experiment and it would either prove or disprove the fear and/or belief and that it was okay whatever the outcome might be.

All of that takes energy. The good thing is that I can make such choices. I can consciously choose to step outside my comfort zones and do new things and/or handle old situations in new ways.

But it takes energy. And since the middle of change always looks like chaos, I've felt a bit...unsettled these past couple of weeks. The hardest thing, I think, is to give myself credit for what I am doing since like most people I tend to notice most the things I'm not yet doing that I think I should or mistakes I make as I learn how to do new things. That's part of the learning curve for this process.

So what's been changing? Let's see....

Relationship dynamics with my grown kids and my ex-husband.
Relationship dynamics at my church as well as my willingness to step into new roles there.
Relationship dynamics with my dog.
How I see myself in terms of my career and steps I'm taking regarding it.
How my day to day life plays out.

In other words, just a few little minor details of my life. I'd like to say I'm going to get back to posting far more often but I honestly don't know. Just as I don't know if I'm going to join Twitter under this identity (or any other).

I hope that each of you has wonderful new possibilities showing up in your lives and that you're finding ways to welcome those possibilities. Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs)))))),


PS Colleen is giving a way a copy of her book. Click on the link to read about it on her blog.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

July 4th

When I think of Independence Day I think of Martina McBride's song about abuse.

I think about the profound respect I feel for men and women who risk their lives for all of us and who often come home from war with trauma as deep and profound as that which any of us carries inside.

I think of courage.

I think of the hopes and dreams the founders of the United States had for our country.

I find myself thinking that in my own life I want to live with courage, take risks for my own hopes and dreams and be willing to stand up for what's right even when it isn't easy.

Wishing for each of us our own independence days, every day. May we be able to fight for our hopes and dreams and take steps to escape the chains of our past. Every day.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),

Friday, June 26, 2009


Well, I've finally almost reclaimed my house and cleaned up the stuff scattered all over when my daughter left. Shipped off another large box of her stuff to her, too. My dog has (more or less) stopped moping and I've been able to do a few things I didn't while she was here.

I know that this new direction in her life is a VERY GOOD THING—both for her and for the work she is going into. Now the challenge becomes looking at new possibilities in my own life. What might I want to do that I haven't—for whatever reason? What might I want to do that will make me smile?

Mind you, having daily highs over 100 degrees tends to put a damper on one's energy—especially for outdoor activities. And I'm still catching up on things that got put aside while I helped my daughter get ready to move. But it's time to look at possibilities—whether for right now or for when it gets a bit cooler outside.

I saw the Star Trek movie and found myself thinking that I'd like to be part of that grand adventure and it got me thinking about hope again. Because that's the foundation of the success of the whole Star Trek franchise—hope. Hope that against all odds, brash daring might win the day even against apparently overwhelming forces.

Those of us who have known abuse know what it's like to feel powerless. For many of us, it was hope that kept us going. Hope that one day life would be better, hope that one day the abuse would stop, hope that some day someone—even if it was us—would figure out a way to stop the abuser(s). I don't think it's surprising that so many of us were/are drawn to Star Trek, especially when you add a Vulcan who seems to know how to handle difficult emotions so that they do not run his life—as was true for Spock in the original series.

Here's hoping each of you has a source (or more than one!) of hope in your life.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((hugs)))))),

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I'll be around to read blogs soon--I hope. Just realized how long it's been since I posted and figured I'd mention I'm still alive.

Yesterday I got my daughter on the road to California and her new life there. I figure it will take me a month to recover from the past 10 days! At least that's how it feels. Between lack of sleep, frantic packing and shipping, trying to get her car fixed up in time, etc. I'm exhausted. I'm also numb, relieved, missing her and a whole bunch of other emotions I can't yet name.

During this time I also learned my ex's girlfriend has moved into our old house and they're about to go off for a vacation in Paris, France. Don't get me wrong--I'm glad he's happy. I don't begrudge them these things. is another change and he and I lived in Paris for a year when we were first married. So it's more emotions to deal with. Not jealousy exactly. More the sense of changes happening. And remembering the days of being the one walking those streets so many, many years ago.

Anyway, I'm way behind on my work, still needing to catch up on sleep and processing a lot of emotions.

Wishing all of you well and hoping to catch up soon on your blogs. Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))).

Saturday, May 30, 2009

What If?

Hmmm. I seem to keep getting farther and farther behind posting. And I'm just barely beginning to restore links to my website. I imagine that will take me a while.

It's not that this blog isn't important to me--because it is! Part of it is the logistics of getting my daughter ready to move across country. Part of it is needing to immerse myself in a manuscript I'm evaluating for someone. Part of it is needing time to withdraw and ponder where my life is going now. And there is a lot to ponder.

One of the patterns I want to change is not letting myself want. It's good to be happy with what one has and to be able to find joy every day no matter what. It's another thing not to let oneself want because for most of my life I couldn't have what I wanted--or if I got it, it would have come with too many things I didn't want. I find that even now I'm a bit rusty when it comes to thinking about what I might want.

But that's what I've been doing. Practicing thinking about wants. Practicing imagining that what I want could be possible without all the negatives such things would have come with in the past. I've found that about the only way I can do that with some things is to say to myself: WHAT IF it was possible to have A without Z? What if it was possible? What would it look like if it was?

It didn't work, you see, to simply try to tell myself that it was possible and I needed to imagine that. In some cases, I couldn't. But to start with the words WHAT IF IT WAS POSSIBLE, then that changed things. I don't know how to explain the power of that difference, I just know it's there. And thank heavens it is because it lets me consider what I might want in a way I couldn't before.

What would YOU want, if it was possible? What would it look like if you could have what you want without all the things you don't want? And is there any piece, however small, of what you want that you could begin to have NOW? Those are the questions I'm asking myself and that maybe you might find useful, too.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),

Monday, May 18, 2009

Connections and Changes

Just Be Real has given me an award and I'm so very grateful to her for that.

I think we all worry, sometimes, if our words matter. We wonder if what we have to say can help or even just resonate with anyone else. So many other things can begin to take priority over posting to our blogs—even when we keep reading others. So thank you again, Just Be Real.

Not that it's just about whether our words matter. The sense of connection with a community greater than ourselves is just as important! But many of us were told growing up that no one wanted to hear what we had to say or that we talked too much and rewriting those old stories, those lies we were told is what this healing thing is all about. So I'm glad I finally had a chance to go see the award Just Be Real has given me and many others.

The past couple of weeks have been busy. I've been wrapping up one writing class and getting ready to teach another. I've also been helping my daughter move in. She won't be here long but...this short stretch of sharing space is a profound blessing. I see her moving forward in ways I didn't dare to do when I was her age and I see whole new ways I could have created my life. And it makes me think about new possibilities for my life now, as well. Most of all, it's a joy to have a closer relationship with her than I'd have guessed possible just a few years ago.

At the same time, it's strange sharing my space with someone again—for the first time since my divorce! More than once I've had to stop and ask myself what story I was telling—about her, about myself, about our relative responsibilities, motives, etc. And that's good practice even when part of me just wanted to complain—until I remembered how much better my life is now that I DO question the stories I tell myself!

The connections in my life have changed a great deal this year and they are still changing. I love the sense of new possibilities. I hate that embracing those possibilities means stepping outside my comfort zone—even though I know that every time I do, my comfort zone expands. I love that my sense of self continues to expand—even though I hate the honesty it sometimes requires to look at old hurts, old self-doubts, old stories.

Are there changes happening in YOUR life? Are you able to see what's good about them—even if they are challenging and/or hurtful in the moment? I hope so. I hope that every day brings you reasons to smile and small moments of joy. I hope that no matter what the past may have been for you, that you are at least beginning to see wonderful possibilities for yourself in the future.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),

PS Apologies to everyone that I seem to have lost all my links. In theory there's a way to revert to previous blog versions so I can get them back far I've had no luck doing so. Will do so if I can's going to take me a while to rebuild my blog list. ::SIGH::

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Patterns and Priorities

What are the priorities in your life? Or maybe I should ask Who are the priorities in your life.

I ask because it's come up for me. As I adjust to the idea of my daughter moving across country, I realize my sense of self is shifting and so are my priorities. I'm realizing that as long as she's been living near me, these past two years, I've made her convenience a priority over mine. I've put plans on hold and not done things because she MIGHT want to see me. I've asked myself what would please her as opposed to what would please me.

Now I'm not saying I never want to do that! I do value my relationship with my daughter and I want to be willing to take her feelings and wishes into consideration. At the same time, though, I'm realizing that I've cheated BOTH of us by not giving at least equal weight to what I want and how I feel. I haven't given her a chance to know who I really am when I am fully ME.

It's also a shock to realize that I've been thinking I've thought about myself in terms of “Am I being a good enough mother?” as opposed to: “Am I being a good enough ME?” Already I find myself shifting back from focusing on my role as mother to my role as a professional in my field. I'm remembering that one of the greatest gifts I can give my daughter is to model the possibility of being happy and successful doing what one loves.

All of this reminds me to be aware of patterns in my life. To ask myself in what situations do I play out this pattern with other people as well? How might I want to change these patterns?

The great thing is that as I play with these questions, I open up the possibility for changes that will enhance not only my life, but the lives of those I care about as well.

So....what are the patterns and priorities in your life and do you want to play with the idea of changing any of them? Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))).


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

An Award!

Thank you to Jumping in Puddles at Life Spacings who has given me The LOVE YA award:“These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."

Jumping in Puddles was kind enough to say:

April from often we visit april because she is so clever at enveloping stories of herself into lessons she has learnt and then goes from there to questions for the readers. The journey she takes us on by doing this is a journey of self discovery and growth. Sometimes we have spent days pondering one of Aprils blogs thus reminding ourselves on how much we can still learn.

So now it's my turn. There are people I might have chosen if I didn't know they'd already been tagged. Since the idea is to spread the sense of community and introduce each other to perhaps bloggers our regular readers don't know this is actually probably a good thing. So I'm choosing:

Gypsy-Heart for her joyful approach to life and beautiful artwork.

Grace for her profound sense of faith and her gratitude posts.

Karma for her honesty about the challenges she faces.

Mile 191 for her faith and her thoughtful posts.

Leah for her awareness and sharing about abuse and how other survivors have coped.

Just Be Real for her determination to be true to herself and for her deep faith.

Metamorphosis/Peppermint Patty for the tools she offers bloggers on her website.

State of Grace for her reminder that we can be survivors and blog about lots of things not even remotely related to healing, having been abused, etc.

I love that the internet lets us all connect with each other and discover so many different ways that one can cope with, survive and triumph over abuse.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs)))))))),

PS If you haven't seen this already, I hope you'll go take a look. It's a reminder that dreams can come true.

Friday, April 10, 2009


I'll be back in a day or three to post a longer post. I know I'm running really late and didn't want anyone to worry. It's just that....a friend died suddenly on Sunday. I didn't even know he'd been sick.

It couldn't have been easy growing up gay in a small Texas town, but my friend greeted life with love and joy. He cared about everyone and I never heard him judge anyone. He was one of the most spiritual people I've ever met (he was studying to become a minister) and he truly believed there was a spark of good in everyone—even if they had trouble finding it at times. I will miss him deeply.

In death he brought together people who had not spoken to each other in over a year and between whom had been bitter feelings. At his funeral they hugged and spoke with mutual affection of the man we lost. He was young, much too young to die. But he did. I will miss him and I will miss his ability to be joyful in all situations.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

More on Stories

It's been an interesting week. We had a storm headed my way with baseball size hail, “rotations” in the storm that the weather forecasters said were likely to become tornadoes at any moment and heavy rain with thunder and lightening.

My daughter called to let me know she really is going to leave town and change graduate schools.

My son said, “They called the cops to the group home this morning.” He couldn't explain to me why.

In each of these cases my mind raced to make up stories. In each case, my first story was about loss or risk or things going terribly wrong. In each case, my second story was much better.

1) The storm could damage my roof.
2) The storm will weaken and I'll be fine.

1) I'll be all alone and what if I get hurt or really need my daughter?
2) My daughter has fabulous choices and I'll get to visit a place where I have friends and I'd love to see again.

1) My son is getting assaulted—or he's the one in trouble for something he's done.
2) Everything is okay and my son is well protected. When I find out what's going on, it will probably turn out to be nothing to worry about.

Now as it turned out, the storm DID weaken. My house and I WERE fine. My daughter IS excited about her choices and I know she and I will stay close no matter where she goes and I will enjoy visiting where she'll be. As for my son and the cops and the group home? Turns out they weren't cops, they were EMTs and the staff was worried that he was having a serious allergic reaction to something but he's fine.

I could have wasted time and energy being upset and anticipating things that never happened. But I spent too much of my life doing that—never again! Instead I'll continue to step back from my initial fear and reaction and choose to tell myself the positive stories and let myself be happy.
What are the new, positive stories you're learning to tell yourselves?

Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((hugs))))))),


Friday, March 20, 2009


I've talked about this before—how we tell ourselves stories about the people and events in our lives and then believe they're true. This week I had an epiphany that reminded me that no matter how sure we are that we're right our stories could be mistaken.

My ex-husband is often late for things. He doesn't like to follow rules. He encouraged our children not to do what people told them to—or follow rules if they didn't want to.

For years I told myself he was immature and/or passive aggressive and it drove me nuts! How could he handicap our son (Down syndrome) even more than he already was.

But...this week I woke up and had an epiphany. I know my ex-husband grew up hearing about relatives who died in Nazi concentration camps—and about those who escaped. He told me once that the reason he never wanted to own a house or other property was because some of the ones who died died because they owned property and wouldn't leave. These stories—he said—were why he put other people ahead of family.

Well, I woke up (having watched Life is Beautiful the day before) thinking: What if? What if my ex-husband grew up hearing about this relative or that who lived because he or she was late to some place they were supposed to be? What if he grew up hearing that this person or that lived because he or she refused to follow the rules and do what they were told to do? What if--?

What if so many of my assumptions were wrong and he was driven by an (unconscious or conscious) imperative that said because our son was handicapped it was even more essential that he not do what he was told because under the Nazis he would have been one of the first taken away?

It changes everything. And nothing. Problem behaviors are still a problem. Relationships that don't work still don't work. But...all of a sudden anger evaporates. Instead of feeling as if I was hostage to his behavior, I can see that perhaps he's hostage to the stories he heard and the emotions/behaviors those stories engendered.

And I may be completely wrong. It's all just speculation—another story I've told myself. But it doesn't matter. Because the real lesson is that there COULD always be reasons for anyone's behavior that may never occur to me. It's a reminder that it isn't necessarily about me—even when it seems to be (whatever “it” is in terms of someone's behavior). It's a reminder to hold compassion even for—maybe especially for—those who do things that upset or hurt me. It's a reminder of the importance of looking within and looking at where my own behaviors and assumptions come from and to challenge those that don't serve me.

It's a reminder that so many assumptions we make are just stories. Some have more evidence behind them than other but....still they are just stories. And stories can be rewritten—especially the ones that keep us trapped in hurt or anger or a mistaken sense of limitation.

Here's hoping you have your own epiphanies and rewrite some stories of your own this week. Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Wisdom of Dogs

Dogs are great teachers. Sophy taught me something important this week. It was something I knew intellectually but I haven't always put it into practice.

She hates when I play Nintendo Wii. She thinks I should be paying attention to her instead. And she's smart enough to know that if one tactic doesn't work, try another.

She tried pawing me. That didn't work.

She tried barking at me. That didn't work either.

She tried climbing in my lap. I shoved her off.

She tried climbing in my lap and licking my face. I started laughing so hard I had to put down the remote and pet her because who can be angry at so much affection?

Sophy reminded me of two very important lessons this week:
1) If something doesn't work, try something else.
2) Affection is far more likely to get results than chastising the person. We want to give attention and affection to and be with those who love us—not those who are constantly scolding us for who we are and what we do.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),


Wednesday, March 04, 2009


I've been think a lot about challenges this week and this new sense of who I am. What I keep coming back to is the realization that the stronger we feel, the more sure of our self-worth the easier it is to face challenges head on.

If I'm right, then it becomes really important to think about ways to remind ourselves of what we have to offer. That's why I so often suggest making a list of our strengths and past successes. This list is a reminder that we have succeeded in the past and can succeed again. When we focus on the best we can be, we are far more likely to find the incentive and courage and resilience to become even better and to believe we can face our current challenges successfully.

When I talk with my daughter who is trying to decide whether or not to change graduate schools and her field of research, we talk about how her skills and strengths will give her options with each possible choice—and that helps to take away some of her angst. Because he believes in himself, a friend who is out of work knocks on doors and meets with people sure that sooner or later he will find the right spot and he's becoming more creative in the possibilities he's considering for himself. A stint substitute teaching made him realize that maybe he wants to go in a new direction entirely.

I've also think it's useful to make a list of resources available to us—which can include faith in something greater than ourselves.

A friend's son whose marriage just fell apart discovered that his brother was willing to have him move in and that he can help him get work and meet people so that he can begin to move forward with his life. Another job hunting friend realized when she made her list that there are resources she hasn't even begun yet to tap into yet. And I am constantly discovering that there are resources I hadn't known were available to me and would never have discovered if I believed I had to do everything myself or was afraid to ask for advice or help.

Lists of things that make me smile. I can't say enough about how important this was once I discovered the concept. It's what got me through so many difficult challenges, things that might have overwhelmed me or caused me to run the other way if I didn't have my list and made a point of using it to create reasons to smile every day no matter what was happening in my life at the time. do you build your self-esteem? How do you find courage to face challenges and create happiness in your life?

Sending safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More Discoveries

It's been an interesting week. My daughter is considering changing graduate schools (and leaving the city where I live). I've been fielding calls from her all week as she visits a couple of schools and pointing out to her that there are no bad choices here. Whatever choice she makes she'll do wonderful research, get a degree and have jobs waiting for her when she's done. And I see reflected in her worries how I used to be—terrified that I'd make the wrong decision and needing to try to imagine every possible contingency SO I COULD GET IT RIGHT.

I mention all of this because just posting my list last week seems to have had a profound impact on me. I'm late, for example, getting this post written because I've been working out the logistics of offering several online writing classes over the next month or two—instead of just setting up one as I would have in the past. And I've needed to get out the word to various writer's groups plus post it to my website and writer's blog. The interesting thing about that is...

When I felt the old fears that I wasn't worthy of the price (quite reasonable) for the classes, I was able to set aside the fear knowing that what I have to offer is actually worth far more than what I charge.

Just acknowledging a new perspective on who I am seems to be opening up ideas I hadn't had before. And I find myself moving from needing to GET IT RIGHT to being willing to take action and risk that I'll make mistakes or even—horrors!—possibly fail.

I'm recognizing—but not beating myself up over—those moments when I start to fall into old patterns AND I'm recognizing the way old thinking created those old patterns, some of which I hadn't realized were there.

I've known for a long time, but I'm seeing it more clearly this week, that anything we do we are likely to do better if we do it from a position of knowing our own talents and strengths. It is when we feel most secure that paradoxically we are freest to ask others for help, be willing to ask for advice and even risk failure by trying new things or things we're not sure we can do. It is when we feel safest that we can risk getting rid of walls around ourselves and move out of our comfort zones and really LIVE—rather than just trying to survive.

I'm finding that I can listen to someone's opinion of me and consider whether it's a) valid, b) has information that might be useful to me and c) still feel sure of my own self-worth. That's a huge change from how I lived most of my life when I felt so desperately dependent on the approval of others. Instead of asking myself what others will think, I'm asking myself what I think and what I want.

Granted, I have been moving in this direction for a long time. Making that list and posting it, however, still seems to have caused a far bigger shift than I would have expected. So I'm going to encourage all of you to make your own lists of who you are—or who you could be if you could let go of all your fears and became the person you were meant to be. What is your vision for yourself? Maybe PLAY with the idea! Your list isn't and won't be set in stone. What makes your list today might not match what makes your list a year from now as you discover new possibilities and what you really do and don't like. But it's a starting point, a way to move yourself into a new way of being and of seeing who you are and who you can become. I knew making the list for myself was a good idea but I'm still a bit stunned by the power it's having on my life this quickly.

Sending blessing and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),

Monday, February 16, 2009

I Am

I know it's been a while since I posted. It's been a bit hectic here, I had a cold, I....I was on the cusp of something.

I've been looking at what old ideas I'm ready to let go of NOW. I try to do this exercise at least two or three times a year. What I found this time was that wasn't enough. I needed something more. What I realized I needed was to look at what NEW ideas I was ready to embrace about myself. I looked at how am I willing to see myself NOW. I've talked about this before but this time I actually sat down and made a list. I asked myself.....

If I fully embrace my strengths, who am I? If I'm not a victim, who am I? Or who could I be if I let go of my fears? This is what I've come up with so far.

I am (or could be) (in no particular order):

musically gifted
wise and resourceful
loving AND lovable
a great friend
a leader
respected and respectful
a fabulous mother
a fabulous and creative and joyful lover
a world traveler
a renowned and in demand public speaker
willing to risk failure to achieve success
a source of good in the world
a catalyst for others to discover joy and their creative potential
always learning

It is strange to embrace the positive after a lifetime of feeling as if I had to make up for my inadequacies but...I think I kind of like it.

Here's hoping that each of you are learning to see yourselves in new and wonderful ways and embracing the reality and potential within. Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lemonade and the Connection Between Fear and Depression

Both mile191 and Colleen were kind enough to give me this lemonade award. It's about making lemonade from lemons. I'm supposed to nominate 10 blogs but I don't want to limit it to that. Every blog, by every survivor is about trying to make lemonade from lemons. It's trying to find a way and reason to hold on. If some blogs seem more pessimistic than others it's because we're all in different stages of our journey. But every person out there is doing the best they can in each moment. So to everyone out there I give this award. Each of you, in your own way, makes a difference and I honor the journey you are on.

I also want to talk about fear because I read a review of a book by James S. Gordon called: UNSTUCK: YOUR GUIDE TO THE SEVEN-STAGE JOURNEY OUT OF DEPRESSION. I haven't read the book but from the foreword (which can be read on, it's clear that Gordon takes the position that depression is based in fear—fear that we cannot change the situation we are in or the feelings we have. His approach appears to be giving people tools to change their situation and process past experiences and emotions. The moment I read that, it felt right to me. It matches my own experience and what I've observed with others.

In the years when I was depressed, I was afraid I could never stop hating myself. I was afraid I could never be happy. I was afraid my life couldn't change for the better. When I figured out how to begin to make changes in all of these things, I stopped being depressed and started being happy.

I don't know if this specific book is any good but I love that he takes this approach! I love that he realizes depression doesn't have to be permanent, that giving people tools to change their lives can make a huge difference. Had I known, had I been able to believe, when I was so depressed, that it was possible to learn how to change my situation and how I felt about myself, it would have made all the difference in the world.

Wishing for each of you the knowledge that your lives can get better and better and so can how you feel about yourself. Sending safe and gentle ((((((hugs))))))),

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thoughts on My Trip

Well, I'm back from helping my son settle into his group home. It wasn't an easy trip. It wasn't easy seeing his confusion about why he's there and his fear that it's a punishment because he “messed up big time at the house.”

I did my best to help him know that he's there because we love him and see it as a good step forward. I did my best to help him focus on what is good about his new situation. I also asked, every possible way, what he didn't like about the group home and double checked everything I could to make sure there was no abuse. He said, over and over, that he's unhappy he has to follow rules but that it's the only thing he doesn't like about the group home and that they are good to him there. I shudder when I think what it would be like if he had had to make such a move because something happened to both his father and me and neither of us were there to help him adjust.

I helped him move his things from the house to the group home. I helped him sort through the things at the house to see what he's ready to get rid of. We didn't finish the job but at least we finally started it. He got to see friends of mine who have known him since he was a young boy. And I think he is better for my visit.

I also saw the house for what may be the last time. I saw the work my ex will have to do to fix it up and I am more relieved than ever that I did not try to keep the house. I mourned—and am still mourning—the loss of hopes and dreams I had for my marriage, my home and my son. I worry about him but know that we talk every day and that if there is a real problem, he can tell me.

And I move forward with my own life. I celebrate, with the rest of the country, how far the United States has come since I was a child when the election of someone like Barack Obama as president would have been unthinkable. I love that he says we need not and must not betray our souls, our honor to create the lives we want to have. I love that he seeks to unite rather than divide us.

Change. In our personal lives and on the world stage we cannot avoid it. The challenge is to find a way to embrace it and see the possibilities. But it isn't always easy. That's why it's so important that we do so consciously choosing to look for what could be good about every change and challenge.

Here's hoping the changes in your life this week have been good ones. Sending safe and gentle ((((((hugs))))))),


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Changes For Me and My Son

Please keep me in your thoughts this week. I'm headed back east to see my son and help him settle into his group home a bit better. And I'll be taking what may be my last look at the house I lived in for so many years.

I'm not thrilled to go north in January doesn't always have a choice about the timing. My son needs help now to choose what to take to his group home and what to let go of forever. Not an easy thing for anyone—much less someone with Down syndrome.

My daughter will stay with Sophy, which makes things easier for me. I will stay with friends, knowing that they, too, are talking about moving within the next few years.

I will use this visit to see myself in a new way and I will remind myself of all the good that has come out of past changes.

May change come more and more easily for you every day and may you see each challenge as full of wonderful possibilities. Blessings and safe and gentle ((((((((hugs)))))))) to all of you.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

10 Things I Like About Myself

Colleen challenged me to do this variation of the 10 honest things. I think it's a great exercise because I suspect we all tend to think first of what we perceive as our failings instead of our strengths. But those things we like are the basis, the foundation for our ability to change and our belief that we can. So here goes, not in any particular order...

1) I'm creative.

2) I'm resilient.

3) I have the courage to do things even when they scare me.

4) I'm supportive of others and able to help people feel good about themselves.

5) I can knit and sew and often get compliments on the things I make.

6) I'm a great public speaker.

7) I'm good with money.

8) I'm a good mother and a good friend.

9) I'm intelligent.

10) I'm a really good writer.

When I look at this list, I see the things that have allowed me to make major changes in my life.

It reminds me that it's okay to take chances because odds are I'll figure out a way to do whatever it is that's important to me.

It reminds me that I'm not a victim. I was as a child but now I'm a strong, competent woman who can handle challenges that come my way.

It reminds me that it's okay to be happy now.

So....what would your list look like? I invite everyone to play!

Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs)))))))),