December 31, 2008

Year in Review

What a year. I am looking forward to the future.

January 2008 mom was diagnosed with cancer, my son turned 7 and I began trying to sell my business. I was involved in NOVA 2008, one of the most successful conferences I have seen. I began graduate school again.

February 2008 Valentine's Day, need I say more?

March 2008 I sold my business and began working for an agency again. I spent several days in DC at NAADAC getting trained in Co-occurring disorders.

April 2008 Easter was bittersweet. This was the first year in more than I could recall that it wasn't at mom's house. She was too tired to attend because she was in the middle of chemo. I saw strength in her that made me amazed.

May 2008 I attended a suicide training. Okay, it was a suicide prevention training, but it still makes me giggle when I see what I wrote on my calendar.

June 2008 My son finished first grade. I attended Motivational Interviewing training and became certified in Protocol based counseling. I finally found out that anemia was the reason I was always cold.

July 2008 I began several weeks of conversations with a new treatment center about a position with their company. I attended my first Street outreach conference and spoke at the state TAAP conference. My son spent a fun filled week in San Antonio. The entire family, mom included, went on our yearly camping trip.

August 2008 I celebrated 15 years sober. Wow. My son started second grade at a new catholic school. I started a new job as Executive Director of All American Research. Mom spent a week at my house...just like old times.

September 2008 I was buried in the new job and having a second grader. I spoke at the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association conference in Seattle, WA and hope to never see anyone who attended my workshop again. It went very badly. But I fell in love with Seattle.

October 2008 I had a birthday. I grieved. I helped with son's Halloween party at school and had great fun trick or treating with him.

November 2008 I attended a wedding, visited with mom at her house and had her visit my house again for Thanksgiving.

December 2008 TAAP Board luncheon, Dallas chapter holiday meeting, began services at the fourth of our five locations at AAR, holiday party at my house for friends, a Christmas party at my son's school, and five days off for Christmas. Saw the entire family despite feeling ill during Christmas. And just watched the ball drop in NYC (on tv) with my boy in my lap.....

I enjoy writing, no matter what I write about...but one of the best posts I made this year....for the simple fact of content.....had to be this news:

Bill Passes!

After a long, hard fight. The Mental Health Parity Bill passes.This is a photo of Patrick Kennedy, who put many hours into it. This is exciting!

Looking forward to many changes and many great days in 2009.

Happy New Year.


I have been on facebook since mid-December. I am addicted. I am powerless over facebooking.

Come over to the dark side with me.


December 30, 2008

December 29, 2008

Being Of Service

Can one be of service to others while being selfish at the same time? I have spent the last 20 years hearing about and unfortunately, believing that being a counselor meant living in poverty. The reason you become a counselor, I was always told, is to be of service to others. There is always a chuckle to be had from a crowd of counselors when the idea of being paid for the services you offer is mentioned.

I am struggling with that a lot lately. I have developed a network, continued to learn and grow personally and professionally. I have continued my education far past what is required of the license. As I embark on the practicum class for my graduate degree next week I am challenging my views of service.

I would like to encourage counselors to take care of themselves (because burnout is my big soap box) but I would like to add that in taking care of ourselves we need to place value on the services we provide. Counselors are an important asset to people making changes and moving forward in their lives. Counselors go into combat on the front lines and witness trauma second hand. We deserve recognition for that and it is okay to be paid for that. It is simply a situation where we enjoy and have passion for our career and the day to day work we do.....there isn't anything unreasonable or selfish about that.

Keep on Serving.

December 28, 2008


The service I went to yesterday was beautiful. I have never been to such an uplifting service. It was a celebration of a wonderful life. There were tears and laughter. There was truth. People talked about who he was and the legacy he left.

The most incredible thing I witnessed was that everyone shared their experience of him similarly. I thought that was a testimony to who he really was. He was the same no matter how you knew him. He was authentic. He loved his wife and his brothers, he loved to cook and eat. He taught me about french cuisine. He taught me things about AA in a way I had never thought of them. He taught me about humility. He taught me about being unconditional.

I thought a lot during the service about what life means. I think it has to be about what you leave. When someone else is better because of you, I think that is a legacy to be grateful for.

Timmy, this kiddo will miss ya.

December 27, 2008


I am going to the funeral of a friend today. I am sad. When he called me a couple of months ago to tell me he was sick I wanted to visit him and he said to give him some time. He was a wonderful man. He touched many lives. He was sober and he spread hope to others. I am better for knowing him.

December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I hope you have a great Christmas.


December 23, 2008

December 23

I got married ten years ago today. Things haven't gone as I thought they would have when I imagined it ten years ago. We are still friends. We are still co-parents to our wonderful son. We still have regrets. I remember this day...ten years was a beautiful time in our lives. I had always wanted an evening wedding at Christmastime. That is what we had. Everything in that small church was lit up with white lights and candles. Christmas music played. I married the man I thought God intended me to be with forever. The years that followed were wonderful, too. The best two years of both of our lives were the two years after we married and lived in Europe. It was as if we had a two year honeymoon. Then our son arrived. He added so much joy to both of our lives. There are so many happy memories and so many cherished events. I think we both wonder how things became the way they are today. No bitterness, no hateful words. Just memories.

Happy Anniversary.

December 22, 2008

Bah Humbug?

I am not buying Christmas gifts this year. I haven't even sent out my cards. I have them but they are still sitting on my kitchen table. They are even addressed.

I am not sure what my resistance is. It isn't the crowds. It isn't the weather. I am not clinically depressed. I am just over the shopping, I think. I love Christmas. I love watching my son open gifts (and I am letting Santa bring them this year). I love being at his school parties. I like giving my friends fresh baked cookies. I just don't want to buy any gifts. Not even for myself.

Maybe when I wake up in the morning I will feel differently. Maybe not. Either way, ho ho ho and happy new year.


December 21, 2008

Another Spot

Mom had a scan last week. The doctor thinks they have found another spot. I am in prayer that they are mistaken. I am hopeful that what they have found isn't cancer. I cherish my mom. I pray for her complete physical, spiritual and emotional health.

Pray too.

Elfed Up Family

I used our family photo from last year to create the funniest elf dance (you can too at with my siblings and mom. It will only be available until January 15. Take a look......funnnnnnnyyyyy......

The Heller's:

Several Members:


December 19, 2008

Angry Chic

I got angry today. Nothing was going the way I wanted and I did not like it. I was getting three phone calls at the same time (okay, I know that isn't possible on a mobile phone....but I need the exaggeration for my story), in holiday traffic, trying to make a quick purchase at the local wireless store (yes, I said quick and that is what I wanted!) and no one was cooperating.

I don't like anger. I don't think I ever have. I don't like to be angry, express anger or see others express it. My expressions of anger are usually either sarcastic comments or lengthy rants that I think are way too vocal but the people around me indicate are not. I get this hazy feeling in my head and assume I am talking way too loud when I really am not.

Do I have to go to therapy again? OMG.

December 18, 2008

Half Time

I am not sure if it is a mid-life moment or just one of those fear based guttural cries but I have been thinking about what I want to do with the rest of my life a lot lately. I will be graduating with my Master’s degree in 2009 (either May or August depending on how long my practicum takes). I know that will allow me to open up directions that I had not previously considered.

I love my work. I have no desire to change my career path. But there is something more urgent in my stride toward my goals. I want to be more specific in narrowing my goals. I want to ensure the path to reach them. Recently, I was told of a book called Half Time. It is apparently about this very situation. I assume I have something new to read. So, that book and a pair of crocs with fuzzy socks inside is all I need for Christmas.

December 10, 2008

Ho Ho Holidays!

I am like the weather!


This morning when I was packing on my layers for the below freezing temperatures I was thinking about how only twenty-four hours prior I didn't even need a jacket because it was in the mid-sixties outside. My first thought (and I think deep thoughts to myself all day long -- you should live in my head!) was how extreme the weather was...then how that extreme matches my thinking precisely.

There. That is my decision. I am extreme in my thinking because I was conditioned that way by Texas weather. How about that? (I love living in rationalization).

Have a warm day.

December 02, 2008

December Article

This article will appear in the online Recovery Today. I am excited that I will be submitting monthly articles for the online publication. Eventually it may be interactive but for now, the interaction will be on my blog.

December 01, 2008

Smart Man

When I accept the fact that I have deficiencies, many faults, make lots of mistakes, and am often ignorant when I should be knowledgeable, often prejudiced when I should be open-minded, often have feelings which are not justified by circumstances, then I can be much more real.

~Carl Rogers

November 18, 2008


The recognition of the existence or truth of something.

Doesn't that feel good? So many times in the world of counseling and recovery I have heard contradictions about selfishness. Many times I have heard that you must be selfish in order to work on you and make changes. However, I have also heard that you must be selfless and help others.

Either way, once in a while, to be acknowledged for your actions or worth is in order. It can motivate you on to greater things.

Good job.

November 14, 2008

There comes a point in your life when you realize: who matters, who never did, who won't anymore... and who always will. So, don't worry about people from your past, there's a reason why they didn't make it to your future.

November 12, 2008

I can talk

Recently I realized that a situation had gotten well out of control before it dawned on me that simply speaking to those involved would have set us on our way to a resolution a long time ago. So many things have turned into more drama than needed only because no one said, "let's sit down and talk about this". Some counselors we all are.

It reminded me of a song my son learned not long after he started goes like this...."I can talk, I can talk, I don't need to squeak or squawk. When I need to say something I just open up and talk". I learn more from him than the big folks (me included)!

How about that?

November 03, 2008


Someone sent me a great email called "Why boys need parents". It described actual events out of my life as the mother of a son......look at this photo!

October 31, 2008

Saint Mass

Today was the second grade St. Mass. The Bishop said the mass. My boy dressed as Saint William, who was a priest who stood up to the king. He was adorable. This afternoon is the Halloween party. I get to go back and do that with him! Tonight is trick or treating and the main street festival. What a great weekend.
Enjoy all Hallow's Eve.

October 30, 2008

Season Opener

Season started. Mavs fans beware.


Do you ever feel judged? I guess we all are. I guess we all do it. I have two people in my life that seem to believe they not only know what decisions I should make but believe that treating me poorly as a result of my decisions is the right thing to do. Not to mention that neither of them have the courtesy to actually speak to ME about this. I was angry at first. Then I was hurt. One of them I have known for years. The other I don't know really well and don't like anyway so it doesn't bother me as much. Now I just feel sorry for them. When I look at their lives I am actually grateful now. They are sad, isolated and disliked by many. Maybe I should be happier that they don't approve of me, huh?

Judge and jury.

October 29, 2008

Veterans Day

Soon it will be Veteran's Day.

A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life,
wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America'
for an amount of 'up to and including my life.'
That is Honor, and there are way too many people
in this country who no longer understand it.'

October 28, 2008

Nothing Bad

I have absolutely nothing to gripe about today. My work is caught up. My homework is complete for the week (and not even due until Friday). The weather is exactly the way I like it. My hair isn't even wrong.

The most bizarre thing I have found in this "wondrous day" is how much better I write when there is some chaos. Oh, the work I have left to do to be healthy. :)

Once I dated a guy who I let read my poetry. It was written my first year of sobriety. He called it "apocalyptic". He said he couldn't believe I didn't shoot myself during that time. I am surprised that I didn't either. Actually, writing is such a release for me. I think that is how I make it all make sense or get out the things that never will.

Great day.

October 27, 2008

How about you?

How about you?

I had been working a recovery program for more than five years before I embraced the idea of self-forgiveness. I was many things of the self, self-loathing, self-deprecating, self-injurious, self-defeating, but not self-forgiving.

I had the ingredients for success through attending and working a 12-step program, being honest in therapy and developing a support network. Still, there was a nagging in me that I could not seem to release. I continued believing things could be different but possibly not feel different. I attended a self-introspective program that was more in depth than any work I had previously completed. It was during these days and weeks of involvement in this journey that I began to see a need to change my approach.

For most of my life I had been responsible for the outcome of many things. Typically, I felt most responsible for the way others felt and behaved. That feeling was entwined with my feelings and behaviors. I believed I had the ability to change another person. Yet, time and time again, I failed at this task.

My first boyfriend was abusive. I could forgive him because he had a drug problem. Two of my good friends fled from my life shortly after I became sober. I could forgive them. I would have fled, too. My dad died when I was only 25. Forgiveness was easy. It wasn’t his fault. Boyfriends, family, friends, co-workers, institutions -- all forgiven. God? Check. Forgiven.

When the trainer in my group at that introspective program looked me in the eyes and said, “How about you?” My life changed. How about me? How about forgiving me for everything I had done, failed to do and would never be able to do? How about forgiving me for my deficiencies and the strengths that I tried to hide? How about allowing myself the same care, concern, and compassion as I had allowed others for so long?

How about me?

October 21, 2008

A Cup of Java....

Do you know how enjoyable it is to sit with friends and talk over a cup of coffee? At the end of a long day or on a Saturday morning? Some of the most recent fond memories I have with my mom was from only two and a half years ago. She spent most of the summer with us when we first moved into the house where we live now. The kitchen looks out onto the backyard that has a beautiful swimming pool that has a waterfall. We would sit at the table in the morning and drink coffee. It was peaceful. Just watching and listening to the water. Just being with each other.
I miss her visits. She hasn't been able to visit again like that in a while. When she was diagnosed with cancer in January her travels slowed down. I was so excited to have her here two months ago for a few days. I am looking forward to more cups of coffee. I realize that it isn't the conversations we had as much as the being together. In silence, in laughter or in conversation. I just love the "being".
Missing my mom today.

I am gonna be a bear.....

Courtesy of an email from a friend…and I love it….Thanks!
In this life I am a woman. In my next life I’d like to come back as a bear. When you’re a bear you get to hibernate. You do nothing but sleep for six months. I could deal with that.
Before you hibernate you are supposed to eat yourself stupid. I could deal with that, too.
When you are a girl bear, you birth your children (who are the size of walnuts) while you are sleeping and wake to partially grown, cute, cuddly cubs. I could definitely deal with that.
If you are a mamma bear, everyone knows you mean business. You swat anyone who bothers your cubs. If your cub gets out of line, you swat them, too. I could deal with that.
If you’re a bear your mate expects you to wake up growling. He expects that you will have hairy legs and have excess body fat.
Yep. I am gonna be a bear.

October 18, 2008

Can't take it

I am not exaggerating when I say that most of my life has been about doing what makes others happy instead of what makes me happy. I have been aware of this issue for a long time but it seems to become stronger instead of easier. I am so confident and aware that I am skilled and smart. At the same time I allow someone else to guide me, often misguide me, into their way of thinking. It isn't that I am the same follower I once was. It is much more troubling to me now. Because I attempt to be open-minded and accept feedback what I find myself doing is questioning if my beliefs are sound. I don't like that. Especially when surrounded by insanity. I find myself asking myself, "am I more dysfunctional than I thought or is that the other persons dysfunction?"

It is an incredible place to be when you are open-minded but eager to make others happy. I am attempting to learn through these experiences instead of regretting having them. But, today it is tough. The desire to belong is ever present and it is a struggle inside to stay authentic to what I know is my truth.

An isolating insight.

October 07, 2008

Published in Recovery Today

Juggling Balance
by Paula Heller-Garland

Who am I? A mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a helping professional, a volunteer, or a sex goddess? Are these visions of who I am or only thoughts of who I should be and the dreams of what I can become? It all seems like a little too much sometimes. Today I look into who I want to be: My own person. This must be the one thing in life that is still not regulated by the federal government and the one that has no surgeon general warning. I can be the person I want. My life is limited only by my imagination of what I can be.

I want my life to be fun. I want to be the kind of person that others are drawn to because my energy is high and positive. I want to be happy. I want to be joyful from the inside out. I want to be a go-getter who gets to positive stuff.

So, how do I go about becoming that person? First it is important to inventory exactly what I am looking for. I am in pursuit of my “life vision”. I have to develop a sketch of exactly how I would want my life to appear were it able to be anything I wanted.

Second, it is important that I look seriously at the obstacles that I imagine standing in between what I am and who I want to become. Those obstacles are often only imagined. I look to all the things that I use as excuses that keep me from reaching the goal. I have to ask myself what I let get in the way of who I want to become.

Once I identify the obstacles I must decide how they are to be removed. Some may be removed with ease. Possibly a goal is to complete a course. The act of enrolling and attending the course is all that I must do. Then there are the other obstacles, the ones that I cannot touch, but can definitely feel. The obstacle of fear is great. When I feel fear I must search to identify where it comes from and what the pay offs for allowing it to keep me stuck are. It is hard to admit there are payoffs for staying stuck, but there is great truth in that thought.

Sometimes I believe that I have spent so much of my life doing the wrong thing that I am not sure how long I need to do the right thing before I am accepted again. I have to question who I believe I need to be accepted by. When I get down to the truth the only person I need to be accepted by is myself. The reason for that is because I am only affective when I am authentic. Only when I accept myself and forgive myself for the past can I be of any service to anyone else in my life. I must overcome the shame of the past in order to march forward into the future.

What are you allowing to keep you stuck? Brainstorm just a moment and work toward your life vision. What would you become, if you could be anything? What do you have a passion about? I believe that is what you are put on earth for. I have had a passion for what I do all of my life. I have just had to move through a long and difficult process to get to this place. But I don’t believe there is any possibility of my doing something else because what I do is more about who I am than anything else. What is stopping you from fulfilling your dream?

Find this and other articles at

Bill Passes!

After a long, hard fight. The Mental Health Parity Bill passes.

This is a photo of Patrick Kennedy, who put many hours into it.

This is exciting!

October 03, 2008

Viva la vida

Click this link and fall in love with this song like I did........

Viva la vida!

I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning, I sweep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own

I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemy's eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing:
"Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!"

One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand

I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing
Roman Calvary choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can't explain
Once you go there was never, never an honest word
That was when I ruled the world

It was the wicked and wild wind
Blew down the doors to let me in
Shattered windows and the sound of drums
People couldn't believe what I'd become

Revolutionaries wait
For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh who would ever want to be king?

I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing
Roman Calvary choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can't explain
I know Saint Peter won't call my name
Never an honest word
That was when I ruled the world

September 26, 2008

Off the Couch!

Last night after a really busy day...that goes like this.....wake up, get the boy off to school, to the post office, to work ---work, work, work --- back to school to pick him up, a couple of errands that included a sword exchange and a lesson from my son on the fact that, although, he was appreciative I bought him a sword for his Halloween costume, Darth Vader has a red sword, not a blue one. Who knew.....then to Olive Garden for dinner because mom was too tired to make pasta myself, then to Garden Ridge for some office decorations. Whew.
When we got home and he was off to bed I finally sat down on the couch. It hit me! I have spent a long time on the couch. As a lover of therapy and a counselor myself, I think "the couch" is a wonderful and cathartic place to be; however, there has to be a time that a person takes the information from inside of those rooms and creates some action outside of those rooms.
Just a thought on a Friday before an action packed weekend that will not be spent on "the couch".

September 16, 2008

A Man!

My nephew is playing college ball this year. He is wearing my brother's old college number (his dad).

He is not a boy anymore. He is a man. He is taller than my brother. Wow. Time flies. I remember when he was born. I hate to admit it but I was already out of high school.

Old woman.

September 08, 2008

No Self-Control

I have no self-control on the weekend. I eat right during the week and go crazy during the weekend. I need structure. I am so stubborn. I need to get a grip or I will never take off the thirty pounds I want off.

Maybe I need to be coached by Michael Phelps? I wonder if he would be my personal trainer?

Five days of self-control ahead.

September 05, 2008


It is Friday. I have been with my new job for three weeks. It has been so busy there hasn't been a moment of boredom. I am glad of that. This is a great orgranization with a great future. I am glad to be on board, not bored.

TGIF...a little...

August 28, 2008

From an Email

A 92-year-old, well-poised and proud man, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o'clock, with his hair fashionably combed and shaved perfectly, even though he is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. His wife of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary.

After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, he smiled sweetly when told his room was ready. As he maneuvered his walker to the elevator, I provided a verbal description of his tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on his window. 'I love it,' he stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy. 'Mr. Jones, you haven't seen the room; just wait.''That doesn't have anything to do with it,' he replied. 'Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the furniture is arranged, it's how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it.

'It's a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do.

Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I'll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I've stored away. Just for this time in my life.

Old age is like a bank account. You withdraw from what you've put in. So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories! Thank you for your part in filling my Memory bank. I am still depositing.'

Remember the five simple rules to be happy: 1. Free your heart from hatred.2. Free your mind from worries.3. Live simply.4. Give more.5. Expect less.

This Guy

Someone I have known for a while got in some trouble yesterday. I don't know him very well but think I might call him an acquaintance. The news bothered me. I prayed for him and I do wish him the best. I think of all of his success and realize how one situation can overshadow that in an instant. I hope the outcome is the best possible.

Thinking about you.

August 25, 2008

Four More!

Newsflash: When I begin my next class on September 1 I will have only FOUR CLASSES left!!! I am psyched. My graduate degree is so close to completion. I will not stop this time. I am loving this program and I am glad I made the decision to change to an addictions program from general psychology. My focus will be on locating a good PhD program next. My preferred location will be Hawaii!


August 22, 2008

No Love for the Haters

For years I have struggled with people pleasing. I have to say that it has aided my ability to get involved in organizations and committees that I have obtained a lot from. However, recently I was in the middle of a situation where someone I have known for many years became angry at me and distanced herself. She has ceased all communication (even stuff I need for a job we do together). This is the conclusion I have reached:

I was really rude to her. I really was. However, the things I said were exactly how I felt. I even apologized. I understand that apology doesn't excuse a behavior and I understand that excuses only help the person making them feel better. I have inventoried some things and I see where I was wrong and will work to make things different in my interactions with people in the future. This is the third time such a situation has taken place and the real lesson I learned is that I have run behind her and tried to make her like me again. As long as I have known her I realize that I walk lightly around her because she cuts people out and throws them away without second thought.

Many lessons: One, I can't make everyone like me. Two, I don't need to because I like myself. Three, it isn't healthy for me to have a friend that I can't be myself around or who won't forgive me for being human. Four, the farther I go toward my dream the harder the struggle becomes.

The struggle toward my dream has been ongoing since second grade (really). I will continue to strive and achieve my dream. A dear friend has warned me that as I strive to reach my goals and get closer to them I will encounter more "friends" who aren't supportive of me. I see that people are judgmental and not everyone wants me to reach my goals. In my heart I cannot understand why people are that way, but I do understand that it is true. That is sad. But, I am not going to exert a great deal of effort proving my worth to those who cannot find their own worth. I am going to move ahead side-by-side with those who see my value and stand in support of my growth.

No love for them today.

August 20, 2008


My son didn't want to go to school today. He has prayer service on Wednesday and he has to wear a 'stiff' shirt that itches. I told him how grateful he would be for this one day and then I realized I am my mother.

I began my new job on Monday and I have been enjoying it a lot. There is so much to do and the days pass quickly. I stayed up until 11:00 last night working on some documents after my son went to bed. I must enjoy the work because I am usually ready for bed before him!

Wild Wednesday.

August 18, 2008


A friend brought me these dasies a while back. She just stopped at my office and said she wanted to tell me she was hoping I was having a good week. I had to take a picture of them before they died in my kitchen window because it was one of the sweetest things a friend has ever done.

The Tiger

A new friend!

The New Zoo Review

The New Zoo Review? Do you remember that? I think I am getting old.

This is a photo from a visit to the Zoo we took this weekend. My son wouldn't feel complete if I didn't tell you about the white tiger he made friends with. I have to include that photo in the next entry.


August 15, 2008

Ozzy Rocks!

Yesterday was my son's first day of school. It was an eventful day. The week leading up to it was busy, as well. Each day we had at least one appointment to make. We saw the doctor, optometrist, dentist, hair stylist, uniform fitter, tailor, you name it -- we got it done.

He let me walk him to his classroom this year. If you have known me long you will know what a win this was for me. Last year he announced his independence and didn't want to be walked inside anymore. I told him I wanted to this year since he was beginning a new school. He allowed me to go to the door of his classroom but wanted to go in on his own. That was a compromise I could deal with.

When I picked him up I had a CD in the car for him of a tree house story book on CD. The author's last name is Osborne. He said he was happy to have it since it was written by Ozzy's wife. His dad will be so happy to hear how much influence he has on him!

Rock on!

July 31, 2008


I have this theory. I am currently experiencing the reality of it so it is not just a theory in my world.

When you catch crabs from the ocean you can put them inside a cooler or a bucket but you don't have to put a lid on them. If one of them try to crawl out the others will pull them back down.

How often we do that to one another as human beings. I am continually surprised by folks in the counseling field who deal have the most moving groups, workshops and sessions. They often tell their clients to move forward, believe in themselves and keep dreaming of future goals. Some of them are the same counselors who want their peers and colleagues to stay stuck and not advance.

My dear friend Jennifer just told me that I might experience some of that as I move forward. Two days later....I am the crab trying to climb from the bucket and I can feel those pincher's at my heels.

Really crabby today.

July 23, 2008


Today is the middle of the week and the middle of the month and the middle of my life. Dramatic? So am I.

I attended my first HIV Outreach workers conference in Austin this week. It was great. I am not sure what I expected but I really enjoyed it. It was a Mardi Gras theme. Tomorrow I go to the TAAP state conference in San Antonio. The TAAP conference is a "state fair" theme. That should be interesting.

I love conferences. I love training. I love learning. I love growing. But I don't know that I want to do all of them at once.

In transition.

July 16, 2008

I am, because I am.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

I hate them sometimes. I wish someone would make them for me. I realized today how fear drives my inability to make some of them. It is funny how I can make decisions everyday and sometimes I let the small ones bog me down. Whew. I am crazy.


July 15, 2008

Cancer Update

My mom got a great report. There is much shrinkage of the tumors. They are going to keep watch over it, though. Apparently this kind of cancer comes back. Right now she is finished with chemo and radiation.

During our visit this weekend she got out all of her hats, scarves and wigs. My great neice is in this photo when she tried one on. She looks like a gypsy, don't you think?
Thank God for big miracles.

July 10, 2008

Real Sign

This is really a sign near where I live. There is a Hooter's that just bought and started remodeling next door to their current restaurant. Seriously funny.

June 27, 2008

My Boy

He picked his own haircut. It is spiked. He even had her put blue hair gel in it. Oh, he reminds me of someone I know very well! We are in trouble.

80's Punk Rocker.

June 25, 2008


I was chatting with a friend yesterday. She said that she couldn't stay in a work situation because she didn't trust the people she worked with. I wonder if you have to trust someone to learn from them? I think you don't.

June 11, 2008

Long Time, No Blog!

It is summertime in Texas. The sun is shining and swimming is in progress.

I am in a new job so I am without vacation this summer. My boy and his dad are going on vacation Saturday. They are taking a manly trip to Colorado. They are even talking about tents. I am jealous that a trip is happening but not so jealous about the camping idea.

I am so busy I need a break. I love my new job but want to take a day this weekend to do some writing. A week without writing is like a month without chocolate. Quote me.

Ta Ta!

June 03, 2008


Well, the finals are over. No more basketball in my life until about October. I am glad the Spurs went as far as they did...and the hate is leaving my heart. But I still wish the worst for the Lakers. I don't have a desire to change that feeling.

Summer is here and my boy is in camp. He goes by the name of "Ice Dude" in camp. I love it. I am so glad he likes it. Okay, everyone else was right. When he got home yesterday he jumped up and hugged me. He said, "Thank you, thank you, thank you for letting me go to camp!". I will take that as a good thing.

Summer sun to all.

May 20, 2008

Western Conference Finals!

Good afternoon!

Wow. We won. We really won. I am so excited. NOW it feels like the playoffs. In my humble opinion, the veterans came through last night because they know what the playoff experience is like (fans included). New Orleans is a great team and I expect to see a lot from them next year (I sound like Marv Albert now); however, today is about my SPURS. Oh, yeah. I want to fly to LA tomorrow so badly. I do not see those cards in my future. Maybe when LA gets to SA I can go.

Great day....great memories....great team.


May 13, 2008

Things change

So much can change in a week! The Spurs are 2-2 with New Orleans now. Tonight is game 5. I am very anxious.

Soon summer will be here. This will be my son's first year in summer camp. In the past years he has been able to be at home and have very minimal childcare. It has always been my personal choice. This year he is growing up and needing the social interaction. He wants to go to a wilderness camp on the lake that offers archery classes. My mom instinct is kicking in big time. I have been lectured by all concerned parties...and by some that I don't want to hear from, too. "he is a boy", "let him be a boy", "he can't be a mommas boy forever"...blah, blah, blah.

Okay. So he is going to camp. Help me embrace this idea.

Perpetually a mother.

May 06, 2008

Spurs Mourning

Okay, so they are down 2-0 in the second round. I used to like New Orleans and now I am rethinking that. :(

I am hoping they will pull something out of their hat (or wherever they have their heads) and get it going. They go back home for game three and that will help. I don't want round three to be without my boys. And if Kobe wins MVP and a title this year I might jump off a high building.

Even the heavens are in mourning this is dark and dreary outside....rain falling like tears.....

I am pouting.

May 05, 2008

A Honky Tonk Weekend!

This weekend I went to a country concert. My niece and her best friend came in from San Antonio and had an extra ticket. I wasn't sure what to expect since I don't know any country song that has been recorded since about 1990. But, it was a lot of fun. There was a local band, Leann Rimes, Brooks and Dunn and Kenny Chesney. It was fun to be at a concert. I'll bet it has been ten years or more since I have been to any concert. Lots of photos, lots of fun.

C Y'all!

May 02, 2008

First Lady Laura Bush

My son was so excited to have a visit at school from First Lady Laura Bush and Jenna Bush. They read their new book, Read All About It. He got a signed copy. He has great stories to tell about secret service and they intense security at his school this week. What a great memory for him.


April 30, 2008

Spurs, Spurs, Spurs, Spurs, Spurs


Round One is done. Phoenix out. Spurs moving on to New Orleans. Need I say more? Didn't think so. Again, to all haters. HA. Another year and your team is fishing.

Go Spurs Go!

(Why does basketball make me so hateful?)

April 28, 2008

May on the Way!!

Not much longer now and May will be here. Time goes by quickly. Most of the time.

My life is changing so quickly I hardly have time to keep up. My son grew this weekend. It was that fast. He is taller and wiser. I hope I am, too.

Joel Osteen said it this weekend and I am sure he got it from somewhere, but it is my new motto: You are not defined by the past. You are prepared by it. Whew.

I am prepared.

April 16, 2008

Springing Forward

As we drove to our spots this morning, my son and I noticed everything in bloom. Only a few weeks ago it was all dead. Some of the trees had even been pulled from the ground by some severe weather last week. Everyone has cleaned things up and the debris is now neatly stacked to be picked up.

Life seems to be that way. The last year of my life has presented some of the biggest and often painful challenges. Because of this I am somewhat fearful to say that things seem to be getting better....but I am going to say that. I believe they are.

My mom had good news from her doctor. The chemo seems to be working. She has one treatment cycle left. I found a business partner who I trust. My career is moving in a different and exciting direction. My son is finishing up first grade with good reports and an unspoiled spirit of excitement. My life is in bloom again. At the same time it is being ripped up by the roots. But, that is okay.

Looking at some positive.

April 15, 2008

Another day at the Zoo

Yesterday was the school field trip to the local zoo. What a fun time it was. Days like that remind me of how lucky I am to be a mom. My little guy is a gift. I cherish every minute he wants me to chaperon or be involved. I know it won't last forever, but right now is the moment I live for.

Loving this moment.

April 03, 2008

My Empire

I decided today that when I build my business empire I am going to have a private bathroom in my office. It will have a full shoe closet and a jacuzzi tub!

March 31, 2008

Another Monday

Wow. That week and weekend went fast.

I worked so hard in the yard this weekend that when night fell last night I turned the lights on outside so I could see everything. I spent three hours cleaning the pool filter. I know one might not think that something to be proud of..but it was my first time doing it all on my own and I am very proud. The pool is crystal clear. The grass is perfect and even the front flower beds have a new life.

There is more to do but there has been so much progress made. Sounds like my life. :)

Have a great week.

March 24, 2008

Easter Monday

We are out of school and work today for Easter Monday. Currently we are enjoying some quiet time at the library.

My son is back home. Things are getting back into our routine. We have soccer practice in a few minutes. Tomorrow is back to school and work.

The visit with my mom was great. I love her more than I can explain. She is a strong, wonderful woman. The idea that she needs me more than I need her right now is overwhelming. I thought I might not be able to be as much support as she needs but I think I did well. We enjoyed the time we were able to spend alone together. We talked about everything.

My son had an enjoyable spring break. He is excited to be going back to school. We are planning for a field trip with his class next month and several out of town weekends before the end of his year.

The training I was scheduled for in Orlando was cancelled so we will be able to do that trip at another time.

It is spring.

March 21, 2008

Back and Gone Again

I just returned from DC. The training was fabulous. I am anxious to conduct a training and share the information.

I was scheduled to come back on Tuesday; however, the weather did not cooperate. The airport I was flying into was shut down. I stayed an extra night in DC. The next morning I was re-routed into Philadelphia, PA. Because of weather there I missed my connecting flight back home. I had to stay in Philadelphia that night. It could have been enjoyable to see a few sights but the weather was cold and I saw a hotel room. The miracle happened yesterday. I thought I was going to have to fly to Chicago then home. I got up at 3:00 AM and got to the airport as early as I could. I got on standby for a direct flight home and I GOT IT! I have never been so happy to get home.

I unpacked, washed some clothes (that really needed washing!) and got enough sleep to get up and pack my suitcase again. Today I am at the office on Good Friday trying to get a few things wrapped up so I can head to my hometown for Easter. This afternoon I will get to spend some time alone with my mom. I really look forward to that.

I also get to see my son. It has been a week since he traveled south to spend his spring break. I know he is having lots of fun but I think it is time for a little mom time now!

Have a GREAT Good Friday and may you be blessed beyond anything you believe possible. This year Easter is more meaningful than ever.

Happy travels.

March 14, 2008


I attend a group for helping professionals once a month. It is open to anyone in the helping profession that is interested in growth. I have probably let hundreds of people know about it over the past few years. There are very few who attend.

Yesterday the group was fabulous. One of the things that was a focus for us was all the positive things that are occurring, have occurred or CAN occur in our lives. The good stuff. The fun stuff. The Ah-ha stuff.

Oftentimes counselors and therapists offices are for the troubled areas. Of course, they are. Problem solving is what we do. But, isn't it okay to celebrate the victories inside the office, too?

I am in the same body but am not the same person I was when I began my journey. I have had so many motivating moments, struggles, and trials in my life. They have all changed me. I continue to change. That is a celebration to me.

I said out loud that I truly believe there are very few people who live conscious lives. Very few people who are willing to do their work. Very few that even know work is needed. This work is a given for me. I have known since birth that introspection was a part of who I was as a human being. I love everything about it.

Wishing the world could see it.

March 13, 2008

Heading to DC, again!

I will be in Washington, DC beginning Friday, March 14, 2008. I will have intermittent access to the internet; therefore, please be patient with any responses.


March 06, 2008

A Note from NAADAC!

Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act, HR 1424, by a 268-148 vote.

Thank you to everyone who has advocated on behalf of this important bill in the past year! Legislative victories like the one last night are only possible because of the dedication and efforts of advocates like you.

Yesterday was the first time that a bill to end insurance discrimination came to the floor of the House of Representatives. HR 1424--sponsored by Representatives Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.) and Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.)--requires health insurance companies to cover substance use disorders and mental illnesses at the same level that they cover other medical conditions. Prohibitive cost and lack of insurance coverage are among the top reasons that people in need of addiction treatment do not receive it.

The next step for this important legislation is a "conference committee" between the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. The Senate passed an insurance parity bill (S.558) unanimously in December 2007. The conference committee's role is to find a compromise between the bills from each chamber. Although both the Senate and House versions of legislation aim to increase insurance coverage of addiction and mental illness, the House bill is "stronger" in several ways. For example, HR 1424 requires that out-of-network benefits for addiction match out-of-network benefits for general medical care, and it defines the set of substance use disorders and mental health conditions that insurance companies must cover.

Despite yesterday's victory, our work is not over yet! We must now ensure that the conference committee adopts the strongest possible consumer protections. More information will be circulated on this process as it becomes available. But in the meantime, congratulations for your outstanding advocacy for HR 1424!

March 04, 2008

Spring Break!

Well, here it is. The second day of my spring break. What that means in my world is no homework. There are no bikini clad beaches in my life, but I rejoice in a week without homework. The psychopharmacology and addictions class is complete. Next week starts the school counseling and multi-cultural issues class.

My son's spring break is fast approaching. We will fly together to deliver him to spend the week with dad. I have an out of state training during that week. I will be trained by NAADAC on Co-occurring disorders. I am anxious about that. Afterward I will meet back up with my son for Easter at my brothers house.

This will be the first Easter that my mom hasn't hosted in more years than I can remember. She will have just finished her second round of chemo. She is doing well with the treatments but the house full of people may be too much for one day.

Many things are changing. That is the way life is.

March 03, 2008

Spring has been pushed back!

After suffering from a sick household for two or three weeks (first my son then me) we had a fabulous weekend.

I opened the windows Saturday afternoon when I felt my antibiotics had started doing their job. Slowly I cleaned each room of my house, carefully bleaching away any germs! By Sunday we were running around at the park just after day break. I cleaned my closets and put away all winter wear. I even commented that it was getting warm enough to think of swimming.

When I woke up today it was in the 30's. We were under flash flood advisory and the weather reports possible freezing tonight.

Spring has sprung a leak....or a freeze, at least.

February 25, 2008

Graduate School

Just when I think I cannot take another class......

I am taking the best class I have ever taken--ever! I am taking a pharmacology class right now and I have learned more than I dreamed possible. I have been a chemical dependency counselor 15 years (as of Saturday) and I have learned more about pharmacology than I have ever known.

You never stop learning!

February 22, 2008

Marianne Williamson Quote

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won't feel unsure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. As we let our own Light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

February 21, 2008

Tired of Blah

I was home all day yesterday. My boy was sick. I was getting over being sick. Now I am sick again but in a different way. I didn't want to get out of bed this morning. I was overwhelmed by life. I began to think about everything that is not the way I want it right now. How much stress and chaos can one person handle?

Then it hit me. If I am tired of it I have a few options. I can change what I can change and accept the rest or I can be tired and overwhelmed by it for much longer. Hmmmm. Isn't that intersting. So, I have no choice about some of the situations but I have total choice over how I handle them and feel about them. ? Wow. What a concept. I wonder if I have ever heard that before?

Hello coping skills?

February 19, 2008

Funny Email

Sometimes I get funny ones. This one was it.

This is an actual letter from an Austin woman sent to Proctor and Gamble regarding their feminine products. She really gets rolling after the first paragraph... PC Magazine's 2007 editors' choice for best webmail-award-winning letter....

Dear Mr. Thatcher, I have been a loyal user of your 'Always' maxi pads for over 20 years and I appreciate many of their features. Why, without the Leak Guard Core or Dri-Weave absorbency, I'd probably never go horseback riding or salsa dancing, and I'd certainly steer clear of running up and down the beach in tight, white shorts. But my favorite feature has to be your revolutionary Flexi-Wings. Kudos on being the only company smart enough to realize how crucial it is that maxi pads be aerodynamic. I can't tell you how safe and secure I feel each month knowing there's a little F-16 in my pants.

Have you ever had a menstrual period, Mr. Thatcher? Ever suffered from the curse'? I'm guessing you haven't. Well, my time of the month is starting right now. As I type, I can already feel hormonal forces violently surging through my body. Just a few minutes from now, my body will adjust and I'll be transformed into what my husband likes to call 'an inbred hillbilly with knife skills.' Isn't the human body amazing?

As Brand Manager in the Feminine-Hygiene Division, you've no doubt seen quite a bit of research on what exactly happens during your customers monthly visits from 'Aunt Flo'. Therefore, you must know about the bloating, puffiness, and cramping we endure, and about our intense mood swings, crying, jags, and out-of-control behavior. You surely realize it's a tough time for most women. In fact, only last week, my friend Jennifer fought the violent urge to shove her boyfriend's testicles into a George Foreman Grill just because he told her he thought Grey's Anatomy was written by drunken chimps. Crazy! The point is, sir, you of all people must realize that America is just crawling with homicidal maniacs in Capri pants...

Which brings me to the reason for my letter. Last month, while in the throes of cramping so painful I wanted to reach inside my body and yank out my uterus, I opened an Always maxi-pad, and there, printed on the adhesive backing, were these words: 'Have a Happy Period.' Are you fu*ing kidding me? What I mean is, does any part of your tiny middle-manager brain really think happiness - actual smiling, laughing happiness is possible during a menstrual period? Did anything mentioned above sound the least bit pleasurable? Well, did it, James? FYI, unless you're some kind of sick S&M freak girl, there will never be anything 'happy' about a day in which you have to jack yourself up on Motrin and Kahlua and lock yourself in your house just so you don't march down to the local Walgreen's armed with a hunting rifle and a sketchy plan to end your life in a blaze of glory.

For the love of God, pull your head out, man! If you just have to slap a moronic message on a maxi pad, wouldn't it make more sense to say something that's actually pertinent, like 'Put down the Hammer' or 'Vehicular Manslaughter is Wrong', or are you just picking on us? Sir, please inform your Accounting Department that, effective immediately, there will be an $8 drop in monthly profits, for I have chosen to take my maxi-pad business elsewhere. And though I will certainly miss your Flex-Wings, I will not for one minute miss your brand of condescending bull sh*t. And that's a promise I will keep. Always.

Best, Wendi Aarons Austin , TX

February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day

February 14. The day created by hallmark to sell stuff or the day to open your heart to love? Good question.

My mom met with the two doctor's who informed her about chemo yesterday. She will have another scan tomorrow and will meet with more doctor's about the final diagnosis. To say I am scared is an understatement. She is strong. She has been a rock in my life. I am going to respect her privacy and not blog about her much. I just want to say today that my heart is full of love for her.

Today she can be my valentine.

February 12, 2008

How do rumors get started?

Keep this philosophy in mind the next time you hear or are about to repeat a rumor.

In ancient Greece (469 - 399 BC), Socrates was widely lauded for his wisdom.One day the great philosopher came upon an acquaintance, who ran up to him excitedly and said, "Socrates, do you know what I just heard about one of your students...?"

"Wait a moment," Socrates replied. "Before you tell me, I'd like you to pass a little test. It's called the Test of Three.""Test of Three?" "That's correct," Socrates continued. "Before you talk to me about my student let's take a moment to test what you're going to say.

The first test is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?""No," the man replied, "actually I just heard about it." "All right," said Socrates. "So you don't really know if it's true or not.

Now let's try the second test, the test of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my student something good?" "No, on the contrary...""So," Socrates continued, "you want to tell me something bad about him even though you're not certain it's true?" The man shrugged, a little embarrassed.

Socrates continued, "You may still pass though because there is a third test - the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me?" "No, not really..."

"Well," concluded Socrates, "if what you want to tell me is neither True nor Good nor even Useful, why tell it to me at all?"

The man was defeated and ashamed and said no more.

February 11, 2008

A Cup of Java

I had lunch with an old friend today. We have so much history. I hadn't seen him in about two years but have talked over that time. He is the kind of person that I can pick up with like we never spent anytime a part.

It was this month 15 years ago when I got into the counseling field. I took a job at a women's prison. He joined the counseling staff at a sister prison soon after. I became friends with him and his two room mates quickly. After I transfered here he came a few months after. We were room mates for a while and I later became room mates with his mom.

We both got married and had kids. He has changed careers and I have changed jobs. But sitting with him today caused us to talk about "old times" and all the people we have crossed paths with over the years. We talked about one of his old room mates that both of us would like to find. We talked about one of my old boyfriends both of us would like to not find. We talked about the dreams we had back then. We talked about how time changes us.

I talked to him on the telephone the night before I decided to be sober. He was there for that rough first year. He was there for some high times and low times.

We talked about my mom being sick. I lived with him when my dad died. He came in when I was on the phone. It was the first time I had cried in front of someone other than my family. He was there for a lot that has gone on in my life.

It is nice to have friends who know your past...not just because you tell them but because they have gone through it with you....that was a good visit. I hope it isn't two more years before I see him.

I am sure Dan Fogelberg could have written a song about our friendship.


I have noticed that people seem to engage in struggle more than it is necessary. I talked to my mom this morning and told her that I am finding less need for struggle. I can recall times in my early twenties when I would stand with my head in my hands wondering why God wanted me to struggle. I don't want to struggle with anything, but most importantly, I don't want to struggle with things that are not important enough.

Just this morning I was faced with a phone call that caused me to "go into action". Then I stopped. I realized how unimportant to the grand scheme of my life that issue was. I have many important things in my life today that may be worth a struggle. But this one is not one of them. I am grateful for the ability to stop in the midst of chaos, collect my thoughts, seperate my thoughts from my feelings, listen to the advice of others I trust and move forward. Without struggle.

The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.
Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865)

February 05, 2008


February. The month of love? Things have changed so much in life...I have been running at a high rate of speed in the last few months....I have been brought to a hault.

My mom is sick and I feel helpless. My problems aren't big problems compared to that. We just found out on January 25 and today we find out the final diagnosis. We will also be told what the treatment options are. Please pray for her. She is one of the strongest women I know. She is positive and prayerful.

Tomorrow is lent.

January 02, 2008


My intention is for 2008 to be great.

Happy New Year.