Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sense of Safety

In reading "Floor Sample" I was drawn once again to begin working with "The Artist's Way", naturally. In the past, I pick it up work with it, start on a project and stop working on the exercises. I have a few projects I have started but have not completed, and I'm okay with that. They will come in their own time. An interesting thing happened this morning as I was working with affirmations. My censor didn't have much to say. I started to think that maybe it's because of the continued work on my writing, even though projects are not complete, I am happy with the progress I'm making. I carry one lesson of many that I learned in AA. We strive for "progress, not perfection". When I quit drinking, that feeling didn't leave me immediately. If I couldn't do it perfectly, I wasn't doing it. As I listened to others in my meetings and shared my experience, strength and hope, I came to believe that any progress I made was better than doing absolutely nothing. And I think my censor agrees; it has now become a quietly encouraging ally. Any progress is better than what used to happen. I'm physically sober, working on my emotional sobriety and continuing to be ever so patient with myself. I can remember years ago discounting advise of writing coaches and even myself to take it easy. Now "easy does it" is the mantra that I live by in all areas of my life; work, exercise, food, relationships, friendships and, amazingly enough, it works much better. I still am somewhat tired mentally. It has been a whirlwind year, but a journey worth traveling, and one I will continue. I am in a safe place, with the right people around me who care about me and who I care about. I am in a beautiful place in Colorado that nurtures me and protects me. I am in a safe job that is pretty easy to do on a daily basis and gives me positive interaction with others and doesn't task my mind enough to interfere with my writing. My home group is the best I could have ever hoped for, so my sense of safety to explore my creativity more thoroughly is absolutely solid.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Whirlwind

I started reading "Floor Sample" by Julia Cameron last night. She discusses in depth and great horrifyingly familiar detail her descent into addiction and her climb out. There is such commonality, familiarity, hopelessness, grandiose thinking that is the common thread of every addict I know, and is grippingly detailed through her great gift of writing. For example, the blackouts: out for an hour, a day, a week, a month...who knows. I never knew how long or what happened. It was terrifying, and then trying to go on as if it were normal behavior. Ashamed, guilt-ridden, and drinking again to feel better. Waking up and not having a clue what I did the night before, who I called, the fight I created, why I had been handcuffed in the back of a police car. All the distant past yet so close, familiar and disturbing. And the thought even after a year of sobriety that "I couldn't have done that." The thought of having physical sobriety and still fighting for emotional sobriety today and learning to live without the great release that alcohol briefly brought. The illusion that I could have just one and I would feel better, the shaking would stop, I could be functional if I just had one. I never did have just one, one became a hundred and the whirlwind took me. Deals I made with myself to stop. Believing I could do it myself, that I didn't need help. Rejecting help that was handed to me.

I have been accused of loving alcohol more than my ex or myself. I have argued that I didn't love it. I truly didn't love it at all. I didn't love destroying myself, losing myself and knowing it was happening and not being able to stop even when help was offered. I didn't love the drama it created, the damage it did, the slow killing of myself. But I couldn't stop, and I've given up trying to explain it. There is no logical, rational explanation for pure insanity. I drank because I was a drunk. Cameron explains with such clarity what she thought it did for her. Drinking made her write better. She was in a rush to get the writing out before the fog set in. I remember that clearly for myself. The first drink killed the editor, and I had about a minute to get the writing out, then it was all over. Drinking was killing the writer in me, taking my creativity. It killed my relationship with my lover and my family and I had no friends, alcohol was my pity pot. Oh poor I'd pour me another drink. And the loneliness, emptiness, and anger would surround me further. I drank because it made me functional for about a minute, I could get to work, I could get upright, I could get dressed. Pretty soon, I couldn't do any of that. Then I just drank and kept drinking. She said the same thing, but with more effect. I never want to feel that feeling again...ever. Something bigger than herself reached in and pulled her back from the brink to total destruction. It took something bigger than me to do the same thing for me.

I remember waking up one morning after a month of doing nothing but drinking after I got out of Rehab and my ex had moved out. I had been calling and verbally abusing him for abandoning me (I can't blame him...I'd have left me too); I crawled out of bed at 5:30 in the morning and got myself to an AA meeting, I have no idea how. I poured out my sob story, still the victim, went home and drank again. Someone from that meeting got my number, I must have given it to him and he tracked me down. He helped me sell my things so I had money to get home; I had one person who would take me in, my Grandmother. My Mother tried to talk her out of it. She tried so hard to convince Grandma it wasn't the right thing to do. Grandma wouldn't cave, now I know why. My friend helped me store what I couldn't part with. He helped me get to meetings and get sober. He tells me that it kept him sober helping me. I don't know. I bet that's true, but I also think he was sent by my guardian angel to save me.

I learned months later from my Mother that she had gone to my Grandfather's grave and talked to him shortly before I pulled myself up and went to a meeting. It still makes me cry to think about it. She went to the one safe place we always knew. The quiet gentle hand that calmed me in the storm. I don't know what she said to him, it doesn't matter. What I know is that shortly after she talked to him, she says I started to get well. Something guided me in the direction of a safe harbor like nothing else could. I've said it in meetings a thousand times, it wasn't me that got myself to the meeting; it was something greater than myself, I was too far gone to have done it on my own. Grandma told me later that she was going to sleep one night after Mom went to the grave and she heard Grandpa distinctly say, "Go get her." He's been dead for over five years now.

It has been over a year since my last drink. The physical sobriety came pretty easy compared to the emotional sobriety. The obsession to drink was lifted pretty quickly, thank God. I know I wouldn't be sober today if I still obsessed about that "one drink". The emotional sobriety has been much harder. Still blaming others, still living in a state of disbelief over what I did, still trying to piece together my life as it should be, not what I think I deserve. I think emotional sobriety is something I will work on for the rest of my life. That's why when I go to a meeting I am grateful to have people in that group with 20, 30, 40, 50 years of sobriety sitting next to me. Sobriety is a great gift, but I have to nurture it, honor it and work on it, it is not free. It has come at a dear price.

The Death of Hope

I think we've all felt it. A seeming innocuous event that pivots us in ways we never thought possible. Or an event so huge and predicted we will never be the same. We look at the world from a jaded perspective from that one point forward. Everything becomes related to that one event; those words spoken that can never be taken back; that action that seems unreal; and forgiveness is not possible, our life's path changed forever. How can I say a seeming innocuous event? Because we are cruising along through our lives and observing something and putting some hope on it that we may not recognize we are, and then something changes, right before our eyes, and that event changes us, sometimes to our core. I can remember the one event that changed things for me; defined my entire life. It made me determined to be financially successful, to never have to depend on anyone. And it happened. I was financially successful for a while, and then another event happened that changed me again, and I wasn't financially sound. I was dependent on the kindness of others while I self-destructed, and they weren't kind to me. What a big surprise. But in all of that I found a new hope. One inside of myself that is not dependent on the world around me, financial success or failure, or events that I used to let shape me. It is my hope and belief in myself and my abilities and capabilities. So I don't know that hope actually dies, I believe events we hoped for die, but hope itself is fluid, it takes a different shape and a different aura, and we can look to it and grasp on with the peace of knowing that it will never abandon us. It may look different, it may feel different, it may be different than what we had, but it is there to guide and support us in all that we endeavor to do and be.

Monday, August 25, 2008


I was surfing the NPR web site the other day and came across a book called "Replay", so I ordered it. It's "Groundhog Day" on steroids...I don't mean to sound flippant, but it is the big "what if" question. What if you got to live your life over again, knowing the mistakes you made before? It is provocative, absolutely. In reading it, and I am not very far along, I can see how it will go for me as the reader. The first time he dies, I feel sorry for him he seems like a nice guy. The second time he is living, I don't like him very much, he is taking full advantage of his knowledge of history, profiting greatly, and likely ending up empty emotionally is my guess. Each time he lives, the time he has to redo his life is shorter, so he has to do it better...the perfecting.

So...what if? I think what if I had my life to live over, and I knew the mistakes I made, what I would do? I can tell you I wouldn't be an alcoholic. I would take the incredibly valuable lessons I have learned, and the principles I now live by, through the help of AA, with me into the next life and make better choices. I would cherish the friendships I have, the relationships I said I valued but took for granted...and love more. I would skip the selfish, self-centered, self-destructive part of who I was; the having to rebuild from absolutely nothing, while trying to physically and emotionally get well. I would never hurt the people I hurt the way I did and create the wreckage and do things that I have to live with that cannot be repaired. I wouldn't live my life in fear of so many things, only to have to face them, walk through them, learn the lessons and assuage the fears through substance abuse. I would live more, love more, experience more, travel more and be more, be better, be all of the things I haven't been.

This book is a great read for me. The truth is I still have a chance. Because I am sober now, I have the opportunity to live the life I have always wanted, but didn't give myself the chance to live. Sadly, it will not include some of the people I would like it to include...but because I am who I am in my physical and emotional sobriety, I know that my heart has room enough for everyone that enters my life for a short time or forever.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Stick Collector

A couple of months ago I picked up a book someone left in the breakroom at work called "The Bone Collector". It's an older book...published in 1999, I Jeffrey Deaver, a well-known Houston author. It was well written, psychologically thrilling, and I had to sleep with the lights on for a couple of nights :-). I enjoyed the book and as I wander through my days, I try to observe life through the writer's eye. I'm trying to come up with new ideas all the time, and mostly they throw themselves at my feet, I trip over them and then forget all about them. The other day I was sitting at my computer working away on the latest Great American Novel (even though I am not, and likely will never be published) and I heard a noise behind me. It chilled me a bit and sent me back to one of the scenes in "The Bone Collector". Keep your eyes open for this in your house, it tends to feed on itself and works hard to grow it's "collection".

Monday, August 18, 2008


All women should live so long as to be this kind of old lady!

Toward the end of Sunday service, the Minister asked, 'How many of you have forgiven your enemies?'

80% held up their hands.

The Minister then repeated his question. All responded this time, except one small elderly lady.

'Mrs. Neely?'; 'Are you not willing to forgive your enemies?'

I don't have any.' She replied, smiling sweetly.

'Mrs. Neely, that is very unusual. How old are you?'

'Ninety-eight.' she replied.

'Oh, Mrs. Neely, would you please come down in front & tell us all how a person can live ninety-eight years & not have an enemy in the world?'

The little sweetheart of a lady tottered down the aisle, faced the congregation, and said:

'I outlived the bitches.'

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Writers and Their Day Jobs

This gives me hope:

Jack London worked in a cannery at age thirteen.

Charles Dickens pasted labels on bottles of shoe polish.

E.B. White sold roach powder an played the piano.

T.S. Eliot was a banker.

Zane Grey was a dentist.

Herman Melville was a customs inspector for the New York Harbor Authority.

William Faulkner served as postmaster for the University of Mississippi post office.

Alex Haley spent twenty years in the U.S. Coast Guard.

Maya Angelou worked as a cook and managed a restaurant.

It is said that very few writers actually make a living at writing. I guess it's true. We simply do it because we want to or have too. I know I'm easier to be around, less cranky, and life flows much smoother for me if I have my daily dose of writing no matter how bad it comes out.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Fruita Reservoir

Mom and I took Callie up to Fruita Reservoir today for a hike. It's in the Grand Mesa Two National Forest above Glade Park. Really pretty country. The hike itself is short; about three miles round trip, but the elevation gain is a couple thousand feet. Callie did really well. This was her first major hike. I think she's a natural at it and will be a great hiking buddy just as my Oz was. I look forward to many outings with my girl. We shot some pictures...of course! I have about a gazillian pictures, but blogger has issues with uploading. I'll post more later. You get the idea, the girl had a great time!

Callie decided she has a knack for rock climbing.

Stopping to smell the flowers on the trail.

Butterflies were everywhere up there. We caught this one working on its suntan.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


As I was tooling around town this morning doing my morning stuff I was looking around the valley and appreciating how easy my life has become. I work in the afternoon so I have all morning to do what I want. I wear jeans to work, I always wanted a job I could do that. I make an okay living for living in this town. I am surrounded by people I like and I trust and I care about. I am also surrounded by incredible beauty 24 7. Everywhere I turn around there is a terrific view, even in my own front yard. Life here is just constant decompression. No real stress, no real rush to get anything done.

When I was a kid we came to Grand Junction a lot for holidays, etc. I remember I hated coming here because my Grandma drove me crazy (oddly enough, she is the one person who reached out a hand when I couldn't get sober and really needed help), but I loved coming here because there is something that happens when a person enters the Grand Valley. I don't know what it is, but it's a feeling. Just an, "AAAHHH!" At least for me. My whole body relaxes, my mind tunes into to the here and now instead of the future. I don't feel rushed, I don't feel hassled, I don't feel tense. I just am. I feel extremely blessed to have landed on my feet here. My life is so easy! The universe pushed me in this direction and I didn't fight it, now I know why. This is how life should be.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New Pictures of Callie

Callie is growing like a weed. She had her final puppy shots last week and has been to the dog park twice. I limit our visits because every time we go she has to have a bath. She gets jumped on, rolled over, slobbered on...and she has the best time ever! I got some pictures with one of her new friends, Jasmine. Jasmine is an 8-year old Standard Poodle (only my favorite dog on the planet, fueled by Steinbeck's "Travels with Charley").
She's doing well. I'm trying to get someone to call me back. I guess there's a Flyball club in Palisade that sounds like it would be great fun for both of us and would use up some of her endless energy. But she is doing well on all the basic commands, fetch and swimming beautifully. She's 32 pounds last visit to the vet. I wish she would stay that size, that's perfect! Not to mention she just gets cuter every day!

Monday, August 11, 2008


This picture looks like a butterfly that wanders through my yard every day around noon. This isn't a picture of the actual butterfly I see because by the time I get my camera, he/she has wandered to the next yard and on with his/her daily routine.
I have identified immensely with the story of the butterfly that is the metaphor for life. Butterflies have become my new symbol for my life. I'm paraphrasing, but the story is about a man who sees a butterfly struggling to get out of its cocoon. He thinks he will be nice and help the butterfly so it won't have to struggle so much. The butterfly spends his/her life stumbling around and not ever flying because its wings aren't strong enough to carry it. The moral of the story is that life must have struggles to give us strength to live whole, healthy, productive lives. I also like to think that the struggles I have faced, have given me a great deal of appreciation for the life I have now. My relationships are stronger, more honest, deeper and more meaningful; and they wouldn't be that if I hadn't struggled through the relationships of the past and failed.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

ARCHES NATIONAL PARK, Utah (AP) -- One of the largest and most photographed arches in Arches National Park has collapsed.
The Wall Arch on Devils Garden Trail in Utah's Arches National Park collapsed last week, a park official says.
Paul Henderson, the park's chief of interpretation, said Wall Arch collapsed sometime late Monday or early Tuesday.
The arch is along Devils Garden Trail, one of the most popular in the park. For years, the arch has been a favorite stopping point for photographers.
Henderson said the arch was claimed by forces that will eventually destroy others in the park: gravity and erosion.
"They all let go after a while," he said Friday.
He said it's the first collapse of a major arch in the park by since nearby Landscape Arch fell in 1991. No one has reported seeing it fall.
Like others in the park, Wall Arch was formed entrada sandstone that was whittled down over time into its distinctive and photogenic formation.
The arch, first reported and named in 1948, was more than 33 feet tall and 71 feet across. It ranked 12th in size among the park's estimated 2,000 arches.
Rock has continued to fall from the remaining arms of the arch forcing the closure of a portion of the trail.

Proof positive that change is inevitable.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Monsoon season is finally upon us in Colorado, Western Colorado at least. I've been watching the clouds think about letting go for days and then pass us over for the higher altitudes. It is a good day for staying in and working on whatever projects need to be completed indoors. I was going to work on my roses today, but I'll wait. Maybe the morning will be better for taking care of them. I like the rain. It feels cooling and cleansing after record setting heat over the last month. I know this won't last, August is predicted to be as bad as July has been. So in the meantime, I'll take the respite, open my windows and let the air in and listen to the rain.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

It's School Supply Season!

School starts here in a couple of weeks and the schools supplies are filling our shelves! I'm beside myself. I just love school supplies! I would follow anyone to the ends of the earth who sent me a bouquet of sharpened pencils! Yes, it's an old tired line, but really... I use pens, highlighters, post-it notes galore to mark interesting text or anything that helps me remember a passage for my writing projects or simply something I read that moves me. Oh! It's just my favorite time of year!

Summer Nights

My ex-husband and I were talking the other day about living in Grand Junction. Years ago it didn't have the allure that it has in our older years. The quiet life, the farmer's markets, Main Street. When we were young we craved the excitement of the front range, especially Boulder, where we were both born and raised. One summer, we took a week from work and headed home to visit. We left Grand Junction late and rolled into Boulder about 10:30 p.m. We were driving up Broadway which passes through Boulder's downtown mall. It makes the national tourist headlines as a stopping place. There really is nothing like Boulder's downtown, done only as Boulderites can do it. That night it was packed, no one was expecting us, or waiting up, so we stopped and wandered the four blocks that are the downtown mall. Buskers everywhere, musicians on either end. The one we stopped and listened to for about two hours was the Andean musicians. The Peruvian Flute, the Paraguayan Harp, and other accompanying instruments. We sat facing Boulder Canyon that leads to Nederland, Caribou, and the Peak to Peak Highway. Boulder was a supply town to the gold mining towns in surrounding mountains and grew rapidly into a college town and later a high tech hub. Downtown has always been the heart of whatever latest business phase is floating through the city. And yet, it has also always been the place that Boulderites gather to celebrate and enjoy the cool breezes of the summer nights.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


I've been unbelievably mentally exhausted over the last couple of months. Trying to work on my book project, training and playing with Callie, managing the front end at my store, taking over scheduling at work, learning back up bookkeeping, walking to my meetings with a girlfriend to make sure I squeeze in aerobic exercise during the day, doing some weight training to tone up, beginning to date again and meet new people, attempting to define the life I want in sobriety, buying a new computer, learning my digital camera, cleaning house...Whew! My life is not busier than the average person, this is probably nothing to some mother's out there. Thank God I don't have kids! My life on one hand is extremely easy and fun and light, yet, on the other hand, extremely busy and hectic. I am relearning to live again after the hell of addiction and there is just a lot to do in a 24-hour period. To add to it, my brain won't shut up. It runs in circles with a million different thoughts that makes me just crazy! I taught myself a mantra a few years ago after a head injury to calm myself during panic attacks that was one of the results of the head injury. I have gotten away from those quieting moments as life has picked up momentum. Today, I couldn't get rested enough. I'd lay down and sleep and wake up more exhausted, and my brain was churning. Finally, I laid down and chanted my mantra for a full half hour. Finally!! I feel rested, rejuvenated and ready to hit the road for another busy afternoon and evening! I write this as a reminder to myself...don't forget the meditation!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Universe

I like this quote from The Alchemist. "When you want something all the universe conspires to help you achieve it," the old king had said.

It has been proven over and over to me personally and in the lives of my friends and loved ones. The thing left unsaid in this statement is, be specific and be very, very careful about what you wish for and truly want. You will get it.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Place is very import ant to me. I like to feel welcome, I like to be surrounded by beauty and wonderful people. I have that here. I can't imagine being anywhere else. I tried it. I felt isolated, alone and unsupported by the space around me and the people in my life. I found that I had to leave here to discover how important it is for me. Everywhere I go I feel welcome, by the surroundings, by the people, by the landscape. It wraps its arms around me and I feel safe. Even when I'm in the middle of nowhere, by myself. The world around me supports my sense of self and ability. I appreciate the beauty everywhere in my life and I feel at home, at peace.