December 29, 2009

Losing Home

There is a profound sadness I feel when I realize how much has changed in the last six weeks. The loss of my job is minimal compared to the death of my mother. When I talk to others about the loss I think maybe I am not communicating effectively. It is difficult for me to fully express the depth of my loss while still sharing my understanding of the path. I have no doubt of my mom’s love for me. I have no doubt that I am strong and can move forward. I have no doubt of where she is. I have no doubt that she will always be with me. I have all the faith in God that I ever have. I simply miss her intensely and know that I will always have a void where she once was. I only had one mom.

Mom was always home to me. No matter where I was. Her home was the place I referred to as home. It has never been where I live. It was always at her house. When she moved from Heidenheimer to Holland nearly fifteen years ago, home moved, too. When mom died I felt that I lost my home. As if there was no longer a place for me. I have certainly established my own life and my own family, but mom was the adhesive for the aunts, uncles, siblings and grandchildren. I think she was home for all of us.

Packing her things and pouring through her life is upsetting. At the same time I feel sadness when I look at her belongings I also feel healing because I can feel her presence. I can see what her life was about. And it reaffirms her tremendous love of her family and her God.

It took several weeks but I finally found myself comfortable in her bedroom. She spent so much time in there over the last year. It felt too heartbreaking to spend time in there. But last week my son asked me if we could snuggle under the fuzzy blanket in her bed so I did. It is a long standing tradition in the Heller home that kids pile in bed with mom and dad. I remember having done it since I was a wee kid. It is the place many “remember when” stories are told. And I have carried the tradition on with my son. When visiting grandmother he would wake up in the morning and head for her room. In a few minutes everyone in the house would be in there. It was comforting to be there.

I am not ready to let go of home yet. One day I will be. I am just grateful that I don’t have to yet. Her physical house is still here and it still holds the memory of when it was home. In time I will move toward letting go. But not today. I intend to be here until it feels right not to be.

At home today.

December 22, 2009

A Decade

Realizing that a "decade in review" is all the buzz on Entertainment news, I decided to get to work on my own. It may take a while. My hope is that I can post it before another decade passes.

Why not?

December 20, 2009

Loooong Year In Review

One of the lessons I have learned through many years in recovery is not to compare myself to others, only compare myself to myself. Each year I write a little “year in review”. After writing about 2009 I took a look back at the one I wrote for 2008. I think this year was much more of a struggle. A lot of great things have happened, but the last two months presented pain. I look forward to 2010 because I am still convinced that from great pain comes enormous strength. While there are some days in the past few weeks I have felt there is little hope, I am grateful that I have so many memories to hang onto and the experience of having made it through tough times before.

So…here is my year in review:

January 2009 was eventful. Mom was doing very well but chemo was back on the calendar. The tumor had returned. She faced it as she confronted everything in life, head on and with force. I was enjoying my career. I had been asked for the second year in a row to conduct training in South Texas with a great group of counselors. I was also involved with the Nova conference for the fourth year in a row. It was a great time catching up with old collogues and meeting new ones, as well. My sweet sonshine turned 8. He had a bowling party with many of his classmates. In attendance were also his dad, Aunt and grandmother. Toward the end of the month I started a rather rigid eating and exercise program as a result of what my doctor thought was a problem with my heart.

 












In February my son began preparation for his first communion. He had his first reconciliation ceremony. I began my pre-practicum class. This class helped me realize that not only was I really in graduate school but it would soon be over. I spent Valentine’s Day with my two true loves, my son and my mom. I also enjoyed going to Austin for the Texas state TAAP board meeting on Legislative Advocacy Day.

















March was exciting. My little sonshine got to spend part of his Spring break with grandmother and down south with his dad and aunt. This was also the month that my sister and I took our mom to San Juan Del Valle to a healing church she had always wanted to visit. It was a very long trip but we had so much fun. I don’t think I have laughed that hard before. I enjoy those memories so much.






In April my son was asking questions about his first communion that had me picking up the phone to ask my favorite catholic connection, my mom, many things. We all enjoyed Easter held at my mom’s house. Since last year she was not able to do it for the first time in more years than I could remember, this was very exciting. Toward the end of this month I also got out from under the expense and burden of being a homeowner. I moved into a very cute apartment. While I thought I should have been sad about the move, it was actually very cathartic to pare down my life and decide what I really needed to hang onto.

In May mom visited for mother’s day. This was the weekend my son had his first communion. It was very exciting for us. His dad, godmother (Aunt), godfather, Aunt and Uncle also attended. He felt like a star and was treated like it!









When he got out of school in June he spent the first week of vacation with grandmother. When I picked him up we took her to her house at the coast where we spent several days. This was the first time we had been there since he was six months old. It was a great time. Before we headed home we went to mom’s family reunion with her. I took my nephew to see my favorite band, Cold Play. Two weeks later we went to my sons first official Bohemian dance. We enjoyed it so much. To this day we refer to it as the “chicken dance”. Mom enjoyed watching all of the kids do the chicken dance so much that she ordered a mechanical chicken that plays the song and does the dance! My sonshine enjoyed several week-long day camps during the summer but his favorite was in June when he attended the Dallas Mavericks basketball camp. Although, not a fan of the Mavericks, I embraced it just the same!



In July I was able to take mom to chemo for the first time. A job usually left to my sister, I was able to lend a hand. It felt really good to be able to do this with her. She had so much strength and faith. I didn’t miss a weekend of visiting her in July. We had a lot of fun and family together time. The entire family got together for the Fourth of July. We had a great barbeque that culminated in all of us sitting around that familiar table in mom’s kitchen recalling stories from childhood. I can still see her sitting there laughing with us.



August was a very joyful month. On the first I celebrated sixteen years recovery. I was asked to be the secretary of the State TAAP board, I handed over the duty of President of Dallas TAAP to the new president, took a week-long vacation, spoke at the NAADAC conference in Salt Lake City, Utah (an incredible honor), and finished my Master’s degree in Addiction Counseling. What a month. My sonshine started third grade, his dad graduated college, we made our usual “Heller trek” to the Colorado river and we had a great end of the month cookout at my brother’s house to celebrate.

 

September brought the beginning of my doctoral program and the smell of football! We rode with my brother and sister-in-law to watch my nephew’s first college football game of the season…and it was the rainiest game of the season, too. We attended a recovery month event at Bauchman Lake where my son sold an entire box of chocolates for his school. He sold two more the next weekend when we visited my mom’s and attended two more football games. Before the college ballgame the family went to their traditional Mexican food restaurant and had a cake for me for my birthday. My son had text his dad that he thought his mom needed a GPS at some point when I was lost because I really needed one and that is the gift I was given. It was a very helpful gift literally, but I never knew how in the coming weeks it would also apply so figuratively.


 


















October brought about even more change. I turned 40. I was actually excited about that event. I feel that I have learned more in the last 20 years than I ever would have believed. I was very prepared to be 40 and energized about it. I spent weekends with mom. I went to some football games. Me, my sonshine and my sister went with my mom to see an oncologist on the 23rd to learn about the radiation she would begin on the 28th. All seemed hopeful. Both doctors talked about how well she was doing. She didn’t start radiation. On the 25th of October she had a serious car accident on her way to church. She spent 16 days in ICU before passing away.

On the 13th of November she had a beautiful Catholic funeral. When I came home from her funeral I found that the company I worked for 15 months shut its doors. I no longer had a job. I spent the week of Thanksgiving at my mom’s house. My brother’s church had a mass in my mom’s memory, ironically, on the 15th anniversary of my father’s death. November was a difficult month.

December is nearing its end. I am aware Christmas will not be easy. I have missed one Christmas with my mom since the day I was born. That was in 2000 when I lived in Germany and was expecting my son any day and could not fly. Dealing with the loss of my mom is difficult. I feel like I have lost home. There is a void with her being gone that will never be filled and I don’t intend to try to fill it. I just hope after I move through this process there will be many lessons.


A long year full of memories.


December 14, 2009

More Mitch Albom

Now I am reading The Five People You Meet in Heaven. I am on the fourth person he meets....can't wait to finish and move on to the next one.....I am getting to school an hour early to pick up my son so I can sit in car line and READ!!!

Book worm.

December 13, 2009

Moving On....

For a while I have been having a tough time with a person in my life. The issue is that they are obviously angry with me but I do not know the reason. Their behavior has been difficult to deal with. They ignore me. They appear to go out of their way to speak sweetly to those around me in my presence but blindly walk by me without a word. When I directly speak to them the words returned are hallow and sometimes even hurtful. I have spent time trying to figure out what I could have done to cause them to be so angry. I have thought back to the day they became so obviously angry and dissected the events in order to find what I did. I have even directly asked them what I did. There was no response to that question.

There are many decisions I have made as a result of that situation. There are also many lessons I have learned. First, I do not deserve to be mistreated or disrespected by anyone. No matter whom they are or what I might have done. Second, I cannot fix something if I do not know what is broken. Third, I cannot make that person tell me what it is. Fourth, sometimes the only lesson you can learn from a person is what not to do.

I have been surprised by this behavior but even more staggering is that I am shocked. This behavior is actually typical of this person. Many times I have been the ear for them when they slander another. Many times I have been witness to hateful behaviors they have directed at someone else. What is the reason it came as a blow to me that they have had the ability to do this to me? Additionally, this isn’t the first time they have acted this way toward me. The lesson here is that the only thing I can trust is that people behave the way they behave. They do not conduct themselves according to my expectation.

I am in dismay of adults who have the inability to identify their feelings and then rationally discuss them with another. Especially the ones who have an outward appearance of being “together” and on the surface look as if they are the most sweet and humble person on earth. Appearances are deceiving during brief encounters sometimes.

I have made a conscious decision today that I will move on from this relationship. There is no good to come of chasing someone for a reason for their conduct. There is no positive value to my life to continue thinking through all of the possible scenarios. Once again, the Serenity Prayer comes to mind. I cannot change the person. I can only change me. My change will be to emotionally distance myself. I will put the walls up where they belong in order to protect myself.

I will move on....

December 10, 2009

One Month

How long is a month? How much can change in a month? Everything.

One month ago today my mom was in ICU. As my son took the trash out ahead of me that morning I looked at him and thought to myself that it was very important that I live each day as if it were our last together.

My mom’s cancer taught me that. When she was diagnosed with lung cancer in January 2008 I remember sitting on the floor of the hotel where I was chairing a conference and crying. My mom had always been a rock. She had been the glue that held the family together. Many of the family traditions were carried on because of her.

I did everything I could during the twenty-two months that followed to give back to my mom. I spent more time at her house than mine. We talked on the phone a lot before her cancer, but it seemed that the conversations had different meaning. We spent time as if it might not come again. I did things with her that we talked about doing “one day”. We drove to places she used to live. We visited the cemetery where her parents are buried. We took more pictures during those times.

I took time away from a job I once thought was my life. I went on several mini-vacations with her. We visited her house at the coast and the healing church in South Texas she always wanted to go to. My sister and I knew that spending time with her was more important than ever.

The last time I saw her, my son, my sister and I went with her to the oncologist. He told her about the radiation treatments she would begin the next week. The doctor told her she was doing very well for someone with her “condition”. It seemed to be the theme of anyone who knew something about lung cancer….she was doing great.

I left on Friday and hugged her. I would be back in one week. I called her Saturday to check in. On Sunday she had a car accident while driving to church. She was put on a care flight to the hospital. By the time I made it to see her on Tuesday she had a breathing tube in. I never got to hear her voice again.

Sixteen days after going into the hospital she died. That was one month ago today. While, I miss her more than I have ever missed someone, I know we had no unfinished business. There is no question that she knew I loved her and that I knew she loved me. There were no unspoken words. There were no deeds left undone.

That helps me. It does not make it all go away. The pain is not less but it is a comfort. I don’t doubt God when I am sad. I believe she would never want to come back here.

There may or may not be many more years for me on this earth. But I am committed to living as if it could be the last day. I am dedicated to sharing my feelings and thoughts as they come. And I pray that I will not detour long from that promise.

One day at a time. One honest moment at a time, with no regrets.

December 08, 2009

Tuesday Quote

All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you. The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration. You may succeed in making another feel guilty about something by blaming him, but you won't succeed in changing whatever it is about you that is making you unhappy. -Wayne Dyer

November 24, 2009

Tuesdays with Morrie

Forgive me for being more than a decade behind the reading clubs. But, I found all of the books written by Mitch Albom in my mom's bookshelf. I had always wanted to read Tuesdays with Morrie. This week I am.

I am moved by the profound words and the acute timing. Today as I read these passages I knew I was onto something:

"Everyone knows they're going to die but nobody believes it. If we did we would do things differently."

and

"Do what the Buddhists do. Every day, have a little bird on your shoulder that asks, 'Is today the day? Am I ready? Am I doing all I need to do? Am I being the person I want to be?' "

Deep thinking....

November 16, 2009

She Was Third....

(This was to be read at my mom's funeral)

Three words written in permanent marker on my mom’s bathroom mirror: I am third. That isn’t just a quote of the day; that is the way she lived her life. She was third. God was first. Others were second and she put herself third.

My mother was a strong Catholic whose faith did not waiver. She didn’t just go to mass on Sunday. She lived a Catholic life without apology. She said her rosary each night. It didn’t matter what was happening in her house. She went to her room when the rosary came on the Catholic channel and she recited it. When we were growing up she woke us every Sunday morning and took us to church, too. It was probably not by mistake that God saw fit for her to have the car wreck that ultimately took her life while she was on her way to church.

After I married a non-Catholic man I asked her how to live with that decision. I wondered, “Should I ask him to become Catholic, too”? She told me no. She told me I should show him. She said when she married my dad she never insisted on him being Catholic. She believed changing religion was a big decision and it was something only that person could decide for themselves and they should only do it because they see it as their answer. The only way my father saw it as his answer was through the devotion he saw in my mother. Eventually, he wanted that for himself.

Her strength was phenomenal. Her faith was steadfast. This morning I turned to a passage in her bible that seemed fitting. It was from John 14: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God and have faith in me. In my father’s house there are many dwelling places, otherwise how could I have told you that I was going to prepare a place for you”. (Interestingly enough, this is the same scripture Father Ranjan read at her mass.)

Second in her life were others. I cannot count the number of people who told me that my mother was kind and welcoming. That they always felt like they were welcomed in as part of our family. When I asked her how she could give her last dollar to another person and go without herself she told me the story of the burned pork chop. She said a mother made dinner for her family of six. They only had enough to feed the six and one of the pork chops was burned. She said the mother fed her husband and children the ones that were not and the mother ate the burned piece. She said that is “just what a mother does”.

She never missed anything we did while growing up. What we did and loved became part of her life. Our practice, games, performances – she was there. She was involved in band booster, PTA, you name it, she was a part of. She didn’t just watch us, she became active for us.

She shaped who we became. Parents of today could learn a lot from her. Her support helped us believe in ourselves. It was no different when her grandkids arrived, either. It might have actually been compounded. She believed her grandkids were the best and somehow each of them thought they were her favorite. She sent special cards, attended every event they were in and would be on the road for weeks at a time in their homes. When my son was born she was on a plane and spent a month in Germany with us. She was there for his baptism, birthdays, first day of school and anything else he invited her to attend.

If anyone in the family ever moved you could be sure our mom would be there to clean our house and put down shelf paper! And all of you who knew her know that she didn’t think it clean until she created that suffocating bleach-comet cocktail and scoured it with a scrub brush!

We are all very sad today and have many questions about what life will be like without her. We have already questioned how it will be to make our trips home on Sunday. We won’t be calling mom to tell her we made it to our destination as we usually do. We won’t be saying, “I love you” or “See you next weekend”. But we will lean on the memories. We will cling to the family that mom has created and shown us is so important. It might be easier to skip Christmas this year and pretend it isn’t around the corner…because we see Christmas and Easter as holidays for her….but we won’t. She won’t let us. Through her life she showed us through her actions what and who are important…and we will carry on.

And third, she put herself. Because of that she will have her reward in heaven. This is her treasure at the end of life on earth. I know mom is home. She is with our Lord and she is with our dad. She packed her little blue bag one final time and we all heard the train whistle last night during her rosary. She made it. She is there.

I will miss you mom.

November 09, 2009

Out of control....

The past month has reminded me with a resounding volume that I am not in control. I said at least three times last week that I must have asked my creator “what else could go wrong?” and he must be showing me. With my mother still in the hospital, personal relationships in transition and work being overwhelming I question which area of my life is not out of control currently.

The truth is that I have never been in control. I have always been out of control of most of the outcome. Currently, I am simply reminded of this. There are things I can do each day that contribute to the conclusion but I must rely on a power greater than myself for the things I cannot change. It is a simple solution but so difficult at the same time.

Today my homework to myself is to inventory the things I can change so I can get busy changing them and decide what I cannot change so I can get busy accepting them.

Serenity on the horizon?

October 27, 2009

A Few Seconds

She isn't a fan of my writing about her. She is private. But the thought of her is taking up most of my waking moments and writing about my thoughts is natural.

She is my hero. She is fiercely independent, funny and lives her life with integrity. For nearly two years she has known she has a progressive cancer. She fights it and keeps moving forward. If the doctors have said it once they have said it a million times...she is doing better than expected. She looks great and she has the attitude and determination that make the difference.

She has faith in God. She loves her family. She is a leader even when she isn't aware. Her grandson thinks she hung the moon. When we visited her last week he commented to her that he is treated "like royalty" when he is there. That is the knack of "grandmother" to make each of us feel like we are special.

Last week when we were at the doctor's office we were making plans for her to begin a new course of action for the cancer. But that all changed in just a few seconds on Sunday. I have thought it in my mind thousands of time since Sunday....how much difference a few seconds can make in a life.

She had a serious car accident on Sunday. She was running late for church. She doesn't like to be late. In just a few seconds the focus shifted from treatment for cancer to a new fight. She is in ICU. She has many broken bones, has undergone surgery, is cut and stitched and sedate. But she is still strong...she is still determined and she has the heart of a champion.

I violate her privacy simply to request prayers, thoughts and support for my hero.

October 26, 2009

Risk

I have recently taken a few new risks. I have failed at a few. While I feel the sadness that comes with the loss, I feel empowered by the knowledge that taking risk can enrich my life. I ran into this old quote and it inspired me to keep moving forward despite the outcome.......

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool,
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental
To reach out to another is to risk involvement,
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self
To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss
To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk to failure.
But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow,
But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live.
Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.

-Anonymous

[seen variously attributed with slight variations to William Arthur Ward, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Leo Buscaglia, and anonymous]

Jung Quote

"We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses."

-Carl Gustav Jung

October 18, 2009

Anxiety Vs. Comfort

I have found being busy, mission oriented and full of stress to be a cause to keep the focus off of the emotional. My thoughts, I surmise, is that it is easier to deal with tasks than with the hassle of feeling. The truth? It is tiring. Trying to bottle up emotion by concentrating on real or made up responsibility takes more energy than actually dealing with the “stuff”.

There aren’t any childhood traumas to deal with today. It is just the day-to-day life issues that are building up. There are many uncharted territory matters that I am meeting in my path. While I am eager for challenge I am also feeling discomfort in the practical application of change.

When I know what to expect, I am positive. When I am fearful, I often become negative. There are multiple areas of my life that are presently shifting. None of them are unconstructive but they bring familiar trepidation.

After getting into the groove of graduate school I became at ease and realized my potential. I began to see that I was able to complete the work. When graduate school ended the comfort ended. A lifelong dream was realized but I was secure in graduate school. Now that I am faced with the new challenge of doctoral work I am out of my comfort zone and feeling discontent.

As the relationships in my life change I feel the insecurity of the adjustment at the same time I see the excitement in new opportunities. Again, the issue of security arises.

Related to my career, I have come upon challenges I have not had to this point. Again, they are not something I do not need to tackle; only something I had not previously encountered.

I have also allowed myself to become friends with two or three people. And being friends instead of acquaintances is tricky. Friendship for me brings about a vulnerability I feel anxious about.

While I desire the experiences I have in front of me it is causing the apprehension that the unknown brings. Today I am attempting to focus on the present. I am fully aware that clinging to contentment will not allow me to grow as I desire. Experience is enriching. Each day I will just remind myself what a past friend used to tell me, “put on your big girl panties” and do it.

Fighting anxiety.

October 02, 2009

Acceptance in 2009

This time of the year is often a time of reflection for me. The season is changing, my birthday is fast approaching and the holidays are right around the corner. It feels like a time for change. And it is. Many things are different this year than they were last. I am getting into the groove of the job I began a little more than a year ago. I moved, I finished one degree and began another. I have allowed myself to form more friendships and have changed the path of others.

The biggest thing I believe I am learning to embrace is change. I realize acceptance of the way things are is an important element to my happiness. It was in 1993 when I memorized what was then page 449 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. This was the key to serenity, I was told…..“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation -- some fact of my life -- unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment”.

And in fact, sixteen years later I find that to be the truth. While I memorized the words of that passage in 1993, I have absorbed it in 2009. The truth is, things are as they are. My mom has cancer. Significant relationships have changed. I am turning 40. I have lost some friends. I have gained some new ones. Days continue to pass and I continue to learn.

Things are not bad or good. Things just are. My attitude toward them is the main thing I can control. Attempts to control the other parts only causes me worry and unnecessary misery. Acceptance isn’t so bad.

Recently, someone challenged me with something they heard Victor Frankl say when they heard him speak. He asked, “when you have lost everything – family, material possessions, belongings – when you are standing naked….what do you have that cannot be taken away? Those are the things I can be grateful for on the days I believe I have nothing else.

There are many things I am grateful for.

September 28, 2009

Auf Widersehen

So the decision has been made. Interestingly, it was a very grown up decision. I attempted to void the emotions from the decision making process in order to allow it to be reasonable instead of wrought with heart sickness.

On Friday, someone I trust gave me a book to read. He has watched me and talked with me enough over the last year, apparently, to have insight into something that I may need right at this very moment. The book is called, The Alchemist. I am only 29 pages into the book and have already identified many things that are needed in my life. Things I knew, but need to know on a new level.

One of the areas my confidant has challenged me is in the area of being present. One of the things he brought to my attention is the opportunities I miss by ignoring my surroundings. He challenged me to open my eyes and see who is around me and what they might offer me. His example was that in the Starbucks I might engage people more with eye contact, a smile and even idle chit chat. While my concept of chit chat is that it is a waste of my precious insightful time, he disputes that with the notion that I am missing an opportunity to cultivate friendships with people who I may learn from by dismissing them.

So, yesterday I was walking through the grocery when a man dropped his apples. As they went rolling on the floor I thought of the friendly advice. I thought of what I could say as a clever retort to the fruit spill. I never said anything. And that disturbed me about myself. So, this morning I decided to put this concept to the test. I have made direct eye contact with everyone I have come in contact with. I have smiled and been friendly. I have opened myself up to the interactions. I have opened myself up to the lessons. Ultimately, I have opened myself up the vulnerability of someone knowing me.

One of the most alarming discoveries that have come of my talking with him is that I know many people but I allow few people to really know me. I want to work actively to change that.

Auf Wiedersehen to the past.

“That is what learning is. You suddenly learn something you’ve understood all your life, but in a new way”. ~ Doris Lessing

September 24, 2009

A life Celebrated

Over the weekend someone very dear to the treatment and recovery community in DFW passed away. I attended a service for him. I mentioned to the people who sat with me afterward that it caused me to pause and think about my own contributions. Would that many people care about me enough to attend a memorial? Would that many people have been impacted by my life when my time is done? They agreed that funerals and memorials bring that question up in all of us.

The contributions of counselors in the substance abuse field often go unsung. It seems that counselors are in the fight with the clients, witnessing transformation and trauma, but seldom are they acknowledged for the work they do. If it weren’t for those counselors and fellow recovering individuals many active substance abusers would not know another way of life. Those who publicly announce their personal recovery would not have it if it weren’t for the ones who helped them understand and acknowledge the addiction.

Many people make mini-impacts on the world just by touching one life. One life changed makes a difference to all of the people that person will effect.

I find it so fitting that this man passed as the season was changing and while we are in celebration of Recovery Month. He will be missed. But his mission will be carried on by all of those he touched. The world is different for so many because he lived.

What do you contribute and how are you celebrated?

September 19, 2009

Decision

Currently I am faced with a decision that I do not want to make. As a subscriber to the belief that decisions unmade are decisions to let someone else decide…..this is not the behavior I enjoy seeing myself demonstrate. However, I feel stopped by fear. Either of the choices I have to make is undesirable to me on some level.

I had a conversation with someone I trust and respect about this yesterday. One of the things he indicated seeing in me is that I keep getting in my own way. As he was talking and I was thinking the tears would not stop flowing. I do get in my own way. I over think and I awfulize possibilities. He described some zen ideas of allowing yourself to let life come to you and go with the flow as if it were a river moving you. While I can comprehend that and even imagine it for someone else I cannot imagine it for myself, especially not in this decision.

I need to allow myself to be moved by life.

September 14, 2009


It feels like he was an infant just yesterday but soon he will be turning 9. Internally I think I hope that he needs me a little more often than he pretends he does. Externally, I pat him on the back and send him on his way with all of my support and encouragement.

Tonight he was having trouble falling asleep so I lay with him in his bed. He told me some of his fears about when the lights go out. So I listened. I comforted and encouraged him. Inwardly, I was treasuring this moment. He tucked my arm around him so tightly that any movement I made would wake him. Each time I thought of getting up he would look at me as if to ask me to stay for a minute longer. The minutes are so short these days, I enjoyed staying.

As he lay sleeping I looked at him with many realizations. He is mine. He is like a miniature version of what I once was. He is innocent. As I once was. He is as moldable and impressionable, as I. Each morning I wake him with a cheerful call so he can start his day with a positive outlook. Each day I whisper words of support to him as he gets out the car at school in order to provide him with the idea that he can make it. Each day when I pick him up I ask him to tell me everything great that happened in order to help him find the good in all situations. And at night I tuck him in with prayers and a daily review in order to give him insight into personal inventory and hope for an even better tomorrow.

I feel so blessed that I have him. I feel so blessed that I have the ability to help him become strong – emotionally, spiritually and physically. And I ask for guidance from God and others I trust to help me guide him in the direction he is to go. I have such a short time to influence him. I have such a short time to keep him safe. But I am so grateful for every moment because I learn so much from him.

Reflecting


September 08, 2009

Amends

For more than a week I have been conversing with someone who knows my history. It has stirred emotion in me in a way I cannot yet fully digest. I left my hometown before my recovery process began. So, I was able to leave behind the people who were aware, first hand, of my behaviors. In the new town I was able to tell the story from my own perspective. Often, I was the victim in my story telling. Rarely did my story contain information of the wreckage I caused to other people. Frequently, I would only discuss the debris I left for myself.

Many times I have thought of the actual damage I have done. Many times I have thought that the change in my life has been a living amends to the people I had harmed that I could not locate to make personal amends. I believe my recovery is solid. I believe my lifestyle is a testament to my genuineness to live differently. However, these exchanges have left me thinking about the past more than I would like.

The person has assured me that all is forgiven. So, what is the reason this does not seem like enough? I believe one of the reasons is that they shared with me the fact that even back then they saw through some of my pain and insecurity to the person I am today. That is the part that has me baffled. I could not even see her. Yet, someone else could. And they have forgiven me for behaviors that I find revolting, perhaps, unforgiveable.

So, I have forgiven myself. I have asked for forgiveness. And I have lived the last sixteen years making the past right. I am searching for the reason I am feeling as I do today. As if something more should be done. As if a piece of that puzzle is missing.

I have been given feedback from several people I trust. They all concur that since I have dealt with the person I was then I would be better served to stop my mind from wandering back into that and just move forward with the person I am today. I want to do that. And I believe I can. This is just more than a gentle reminder that even when the past has passed, it is still a part of me.

Feedback welcome.

September 06, 2009

Cancer is so limited

It cannot cripple love
It cannot corrode faith
It cannot shatter hope
It cannot eat away at peace
It cannot destroy confidence
It cannot kill friendship
It cannot shut out memories
It cannot silence courage
It cannot invade the soul
It cannot reduce eternal life
It cannot quench the spirit

Author Unknown

September 05, 2009

Brian

09-13-1996

I thought he was the knight
In shining armor
But he wasn’t
He was as close to one as I’ve known
I suppose
He said he cared
And I believe he did
We talked
We walked
And he touched me
In my heart
He was a friend
A real friend
Such a handsome man
And cute boy
So serious
So responsible
But still silly
I laughed a lot
And I needed to
I think he liked me
As much as I did him
It was new and I wasn’t afraid
To be who I really am
And he didn’t stop me from
Being me
Either

August 31, 2009

Path Diverged

Using a journal by an author recommended by a friend and purchased used on Amazon.com – yes, someone sold a “used” journal…too bad they didn’t do all the emotional work for me, as well – I wandered down a new road today. This road of emotional growth is a lifelong journey that seems for me to be best digested in small bites.

The very first entry was simply to chose what words I would like to use to describe myself, either words that are who I am or words that I want to be who I am. I have to tell you that seemed easy enough but I had to analyze the exact nature of the content that I decided on to be an equal balance of both who I am and who I am becoming. My first insight into what I find to be a growing problem for me. I jokingly call it obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I am certain there is much more to it than that. Darn it! I had hoped there might be medication to fix it instead of more internal investigation.

Back to the list. Who I am or want to be described only in one word choices: Dreamer, Rare, Spectacular, Energized, Wise, Avatar.

The next step was to look into my heart -- the authors intent here, I questioned, was simply to illicit tears but I moved forward any way – and discover what I wanted in my life right now. Okay, simple, I believe:

To be the best mom I can be.

To complete my doctorate degree before I am 45 (I gave myself some room on this one so I could have a break down in the event I needed one)!

Add a few additional chapters to my book and finally publish it.

Speak more frequently (and for my friends and family who are already irritated by incessant verbalizing, when I say speak I mean “workshops” not just conversation).

Lose 20 pounds. Seriously, did you think there would be a list that I wrote that didn’t include weight loss? Even when I weigh 33 pounds I will probably want to get that last 3 off!

Have plastic surgery. I know. It isn’t a goal you might expect from someone who has a personal mission statement to “live with authenticity” but we don’t have time today to delve into the mystery of that issue.

Find 10 things in the DFW area I have not already done with my son and do them this year.
Create a new tradition with my son.

Go back to Hawaii and take my son this time.

Take my son to Germany to see where he was born.

I also added a few career goals that are specific to the agency where I work that would either make no sense to you or bore you. Or perhaps, there are ideas there that I don’t want you to implement at your facility first! Paranoia? Another issue for me to dog ear for future insights.

Dream on, my friends.

August 27, 2009

Survival

In a time of reflection I wondered about the past. I wondered to myself about the choices I made and how insane I was, indeed. I don’t regret the past anymore and I do not feel shame over the choices I made. I am fully aware that the person I am today is a direct result of the person I was in the past. Still, I sometimes wonder what lengths it would have gotten to if I had not stopped when I did.

My life has been colored with alcoholism, dysfunctional relationships, inappropriate behavior of all sorts and a great deal of illogical thinking. There were times in my life that I prayed so hard for something to happen that I am so glad did not come. If some of the things would have happened I would be so much worse off than I am today.

Like a lot of people, there was that one man that I wanted in my life so badly that I would have done anything to make it so. I prayed and I pretended to be someone I was not. I did anything he wanted. I lost myself with each action.

Staying in bad relationships is a form of self-punishment that I believe springs from low self worth. It seems that those who continue to stay in a relationship where their needs are not being met feel they don’t deserve more than they have.

What I have learned, through experience, is that I must respect myself in order to command respect from others. I must know myself in order to let others know me. I must have values that are firm in order to stick to what I believe.

What is your worth? What do you value? What do you deserve in a relationship?

A Poem

Surrender

It didn’t come all at once
It came in a number of moments
Slowly catching a glimpse of the truth
Walking close to the flame
Warming my hands
Then running
But getting cold and going back
Because the warmth was appealing
Sitting longer each time
Eventually engaged by the flame
And then my soul caught fire

August 21, 2009

Conference

My time in Salt Lake City, Utah comes to an end when I board my plane this evening. It has been a fabulous conference. One of the better I have been to.

I enjoy energizing my mind with new information. I enjoy meeting people from other places and hearing how they do things in the states they come from. It is enriching to hear from people who do things in different ways. If we always do things they way we do things we will always do things the way we do things. Profound, huh?

Maybe I should head to the airport before I fall asleep.

August 19, 2009

Digging Deep

In 1993 I interviewed to become a counselor intern. I was hired. I had no idea what I was doing. At my first annual review, after I had become a little more knowledgeable of the counseling world and its surroundings, my then supervisor asked me what I wanted my career to look like in 10 to 15 years. Simple, I thought. I wanted to be Executive Director of a treatment center. I wanted to have my Master's degree. I wanted to be speaking nationally and the cherry on that would be to speak at the NAADAC conference.

Today I am sitting in the airport to fly to the NAADAC conference where I will speak tomorrow morning. Tomorrow I begin my last week of graduate school and will wrap that up with my Master's degree on September 1. I will begin a doctoral program on September 8. And I am Executive Director of the fastest growing outpatient treatment program in DFW.

I visited with someone I trust with my thoughts on Monday and followed that up with a visit with the CEO of the company where I work on Tuesday.

My question? What is next? I can't say I didn't believe I would ever reach my goals because I am a firm believer that we can accomplish anything we want enough...and I wanted it more than enough. But now I am wondering what I can dream of bigger than this?

The CEO said something that is ringing in my ears now. He said, "Only you know what would be a stretch for you". Hmmm. I have been thinking of that since he said it. What would be a stretch for me? What is the next goal? Do I pick up some of the goals I abandoned along the way? Do I create new ones?

I think I will be doing a lot of writing on the plane.

August 13, 2009

People Watching

While pumping gas today I was watching people. I experienced a myriad of emotion. I believe I see myself in people when I pay close enough attention. I see my past, present, my future and maybe those things that may never be. I see what I can be, what I could have been, what I once was and what I am becoming.

Some of those things bring great joy. How exciting the prospect, when looking to the future with knowledge and energy, that I have the ability to "become". Other thoughts bring a tinge of sadness. The sadness comes when looking at a few wasted years of youth. I am committed to a life without regret and I do fully understand that years are generally not wasted because they are, in fact, great learning experiences. At the same time I cringe a bit when I see the unappreciative adolescent who speed so fast through the years they fail to see the lessons. I believe I did that.

I also look with thanksgiving as I see those who seem to be blind to life. Those who continue to waste that time long after the lesson could have been learned. I assume it is not every one's cross to carry, as it seems mine, to strive for change and internal growth. Perhaps, I am among the minority but I long for moments when little fruits such as this come for me. A life of lessons, change and possibility. All learned while watching a few people while I stood at a gas pump. Today and the several days that have grown into years.

I really like the person I am.

August 12, 2009

Compassion Fatigue

It is Wednesday of my week long vacation. Today is the first day I did not begin the day by checking my work email or the office calendar. Although; I admit, I did eventually find myself doing so, I am happy to report that a majority of the events were sent to my “to do” folder. As I pen this entry I am glad to say that I am at the pool watching my son boy-bond via the cannon ball.

When I am with him I often wonder if I could do this full time, if being an at home mom was even in the cards for me. I know I am among the fortunate working mother’s as I have usually worked for an employer who allowed me enough flexibility in my schedule to still be an active mom. He is my priority. I think being an involved mom makes me a better human and that translates into my being a productive employee.

I travel the country making presentations. The most sought after topic is probably on burnout. I have had many counselors tell me horror stories about their places of employment where supervisors or systems insist on work obligations being the only priority. I understand that I hear stories from only one perspective, but it does cause me some concern. In a helping field where we dispense wisdom to clients related to balance why would we fail to do the same for our employees? For ourselves?

Now, I have had difficult employees who, even when given the time and tools to get the job done still do not. And they could very well be in workshops in some place telling a presenter about a crazed supervisor who expects too much of them.

Given the need for counselors but the complaints of so many employees and agencies I am brainstorming sensible ideas for the employee and the employer.

What does it take to be a successful employee and have longevity in this field? It is only my opinion but I believe first and foremost we must take care of ourselves. Even when working 40-50 hours each week there is time to take care of ourselves. A simple prayer, meditation or 12-step meeting could fit into a busy or rigid schedule.

As a working mother of an 8 year old I am still actively involved in my son’s life. I insist on it. I am a room mother in his school, I frequently take him somewhere overnight on the weekends, even if it is only to visit family. The change of scenery is an environmental impact that helps me see the difference between work and home.

I also stay committed to my involvement with my local professional association. I attend a monthly CEU luncheon for one hour. It is a recurring event on my office calendar. Many months I could easily skip it because of the business in my office but I attend anyway. I noticed each month that no one dies while I am out of the office for that short time and all of the obligations are still there for me when I get back. Being away is a much needed break and being with my peers is filling to me. Listening to the speaker adds information to my professional life and the bonus is a free CEU!

I also continue with supervision and consultation. Even when it is not a requirement, I find setting aside a few minutes to gain another perspective is enlightening. One of my favorite sayings is, “I already know everything I know. I need to know what you know”. I don’t know other ways to grow more quickly. Interestingly, two people I have learned a lot from in the last year aren’t even counselors. They are Executive Management members on the business side of the company I work. They bring a perspective that at one time I may not have had interest.

Therapy is another significant component of self-care I gift myself. Even when I have no “active issue” I go. Because I am busy I often go with a list. I jot things on the list from time to time that I want to cover and when I get there I get right to work. Writing is a cathartic event for me. Why wait? I tell clients to feel the fear and work it out anyway. Why shouldn’t I do the same? Leaving my issues at home is a must for my work. I don’t want my banker talking to the teller next to her about her problems with her marriage. Our clients deserve the same respect, courtesy, and energy from us.

As an employer there are several things I have found successful where I currently work. First is having a set schedule for counselors. That includes arrival and departure times. We also have scheduled lunches, scheduled preparation time before groups and scheduled time for paperwork afterward. To expect someone to get everything done in a day that is the state standard and not allow them time within their day is not productive.

Employers need also be considerate to allow their staff time within their work hours to attend an occasional training or simple CEU networking event. From a business point of view it really will pay off in productivity. A happy and balanced employee is generally more valuable in the long run. Besides, your employees are representing your agency while at these events. Marketing through employees who appreciate their employer is probably second in line to clients who are grateful for the services they received.

I also think it is a good idea to have an occasional “feel good” meeting where a staff member is openly valued and asked to contribute their ideas. Even sending the intermittent email praising something well done is helpful. Depart from the old idea that their paycheck is the appreciation. A kind word of praise will go a long way for most. Many in the workforce like the idea of a holiday party or even donuts at a staff meeting. It isn’t expensive or labor intensive to show thanks.

While time management can be an issue for counselors who favor client contact over client documentation, providing the tools and time needed to complete the job is paramount. All counselors know, at some level, that there will always be more work than hours in the day. When reasonable time is allowed to complete a task a more fair assessment of the counselors’ ability can be made.

Balance remains the key, personally and professionally.

Now I think I see a need for another participant in a game of sharks and minnows.

August 05, 2009

Emotional Coaster

The thrill of riding a coaster, for me, is the anticipation of the next turn and the drop that is so fast I come out of my seat. The part I don't like is the jerk that comes out of nowhere that seems to serve no purpose. The ones that jar my body so that I know the next day I will be sore.

Crazy making people in my life are just like that coaster for me. You know the behaviors of the crazy maker? The ones that tell you something -- and you are certian that is exactly what they told you -- only to say they never said it? Or they listen intently to your concerns or feedback, even telling you they are really open to feedback, only to turn it around and leave you thinking maybe you are crazy and they are actually the victim?

I have certainly minimized the crazies in my life but once in a while one of them will pop up and I am faced with dealing with it again. Lately my quest has been simply been to take them each as learning experiences. I believe they make me stronger and more educated. Many of the craziness comes with the territory of my job. And to the dismay of many, I'm sure, I am speaking of the staff.

My career choice, not dissimilar to paying for admission to the amusement park then standing in line in 100 degree heat for that coaster, perhaps.

Deep breath. It starts again tomorrow.

July 29, 2009

The Bliss of "then"

Do you recall the times when we said, “we would never” in judgment of others based only on the inexperience of our youth? And we thought clinging to our beliefs would be enough to pull us through any challenge? But that was long before we had to endure the pain and heartache of the hardship? We made assumptions about what would be founded in nothing more than the innocence within us? We saw through different eyes then, didn’t we? We made unspoken promises about what we would do and a notion of the things we would never do. We looked at others in assessment of their decisions but based them on our circumstance.

And then life began to happen and our circumstances provided new experience and lo and behold, our behaviors followed our encounters faster than it chased our conviction. And there we were. Decisions were made based on new understanding with a new appreciation for knowledge based on life event.

And here we are now standing at an impasse with an internal struggle between those once unadulterated ideas and the evidence of life lessons. And the pain of the external fight between forces that no longer are concerned about being happy, only being right. The mêlée no longer about the idea that set it in motion but now about the principle of winning….and where is the winner in this, I wonder? Who wins when we move so far from what we once viewed as the glue that held us together? When we are stretched so far from one another that we cannot even hear one another cry?

I wonder if we could go back to then..when the ignorance worked?

Dad

My dad would have been 76 today.

Happy Birthday dad.

July 11, 2009

Away we go

I saw this movie today. It was a great! A Sam Mendes film starring John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph. I didn't have an expectation. I decided to just buy a ticket to the next film playing when I arrived at the theatre. It was a great surprise. I would sum it up to say it was about finding happiness, realizing differences, seeing how much people change over time and going home. I laughed and I cried. I think I will try just showing up and seeing a movie like that again.

Great time.

June 28, 2009

Chicken Dance

Yesterday I headed to my mom's house and then went to the anniversary party and dance for a relative. It was an incredible experience.

Being at the dance brought back so many childhood memories and brought me so many adult insights. We met at the same dance hall that so many family reunions, parties, dances and wedding celebrations were held in the past. It had the same excitement as I remember from "back then". The difference for me this time is that I appreciated every moment. I danced as often as I could....even when I didn't know the dance. I took as many kids on the floor with me as I could drag. Some I couldn't get off the floor and some never stepped foot. My son danced with me a few times and that melted my heart.

For the last few weeks I have been telling him about the fun I had growing up going to these Czech dances. I told him all about the wedding march, the polkas and my all time favorite "chicken dance". As silly as I know I probably looked I did that dance with complete joy.

I enjoyed visiting with everyone. There were so many people there that I only see at times like that. Everytime I walk away from those occassions I wonder why I wait for those occassions to visit with them because I enjoy them so much.

I also like the fact that I come from a heritage as rich as the Czech & Catholic traditions. What a gift it brings to be and know that gift.

And it brought back the memory of those who aren't there anymore. My brother mentioned to me that it wasn't the same not to look up and see uncle Johnny. I also thought about my aunt Frances and my granny. They would have loved to see all the fun everyone was having last night. And my dad. He and mom always enjoyed dancing together. When the band played "silver wings" I had to sit with my mom. My brother was already there. And my sister and I talked about it later. We know she must really miss him, especially at times like last night.

I am very sad that my mom is sick. I pray blessings and healing for her daily. But I also need to just sit in this moment. Because she was happy last night. She had her entire family together enjoying something that was very important to her. Each one of us went to that party last night joyfully. No one felt forced to go to "make an appearance" and we didn't want it to end.

I watched my mom last night and she was happy. That was worth it all.

And the kids.....they were exhausted. They fell sound asleep on a pallet we made for them on the living room floor...just like granny used to make for us. I want to enrich my son's life with the kinds of memories I have of my childhood and allow him to make them his own....chicken dance and all.

The circle of life.

June 17, 2009

Family Weekend















I really enjoyed the concert with my nephew. Snow Patrol and Coldplay was great.









The beach with my boy was great!!!!



Chatting with my sister and doing our usual silliness.....


And I enjoyed the family reunion....but won't post any photos because my mom dosen't like being on my blog!

May 19, 2009

Long Time No Blog


It has been almost a month. The reason is good. Just very busy. The treatment center is growing faster than any program I have ever seen.
The new home is great. I am enjoying it. I like the hassle free lifestyle....no lawn to mow, to pool to clean. Ahhh. I like that part.

My boy had his first communion over a week ago. Most of my family came up for it. It was a memorable Mother's Day weekend.


Photos above....




April 22, 2009

Move

I am moving this weekend. I have spent the last year planning this departure. For at least three months I have been boxing and deciding what I need to rid myself of. Yet, I sit here today thinking how unprepared I am. There are still items that haven't been boxed. My movers have still not called to confirm and I cannot find their phone number. Mostly, I am sad. I love this house and I will miss it. But it is time to move forward and I am ready for that part.

Movin'...

April 12, 2009

Insight

The last two weeks have provided me with insight at lightening speed. About twelve years too late!

I had dinner with one of my old friends on Friday night. I went to her house to pick her up. When she walked out the door I jumped out of my car a quickly as I could to hug her. She was beautiful. She looked like she hadn't aged at all. But as we talked I realized we are both much older with wisdom than we were the last time we saw one another.

As I sat across from her I began realizing how many years I missed out on her life. I love her. She was a wonderful friend and I have so many memories with her. Friday was an opportunity for me to be a living amends to someone I really hurt and it was long overdue.

I had many enlightenment's while preparing for and in the midst of Friday. One of the things I had affirmed was that I cannot regret the past. Each experience I have had has aided in my becoming who I am. And I like who I am. Another thing I learned was that while I have run from my hometown for most of my life there is a great deal of value to being there again.

I have known before but know in a new way now that I have a lot to learn about what it means to be a friend. It is an area I still struggle with and want to continue to grow.

Finally, I was able to confirm that I have changed. The person I am today is merely a hint of who I was fifteen or sixteen years ago. Although, I have verbalized that I wish I could have learned the lessons I learned in my twenties in a two-day seminar instead of going through the pain of those years, I actually understand the need to go through the process.

Happy Easter.

April 06, 2009

Passed the Past

This week I am going to see some women I haven't seen in fifteen years. I have fear about that. I am anxious to see them. I have thought of them many times throughout the years. But seeing people from my past brings some negative anxiety to my mind, as well.

It is my fault that we are no longer friends. I was a very selfish person and I did not do the things I needed to nurture those relationships. In recovery I have often taken the stance of "the past has passed" and try not to turn back. At the same time I remember the lessons learned from the mistakes of the past.

In examining my fear I have realized that I am fearful of the intimacy close friendships bring and require. That is more of a revelation to me now than I had imagined. I am an open book most days. If someone asks me a question I will answer. Honesty is woven into my core -- sometimes to a fault. But being honest and open about myself doesn't necessarily mean I allow the capacity for intimacy.

I was ready for a break from this insight. No such luck.

Anxious about the past.

April 04, 2009

Sonny Sonshine


That is what I call my son. He is the best. Yesterday he allowed me the privilage of going to see a Thomas the Train exhibit. We rode the train. He was worried he was too old so we said it was he who was going with me. What a sweetheart. My life is better because of him.


Peace and sonshine!

March 30, 2009

Anger

I am angry right now. I feel justified in my anger. I have been taken advantage of. On top of that when I expressed my anger the response was a little similar to "look what I have done for you"! My unhealthy brain tells me to say, "screw it" and take off. My healthy brain tells me I have very good communication skills and I am a very strong woman. I know I can handle the situation diplomatically, calmly and in a healthy way. So I will.

Typically when I feel that kind of anger come up inside of me it is not because of what has been done to me but that I allowed it. My response is usually not that of a victim that believes something to be unfair because I do not like the idea that I do not have control over something.

So that is where I am now. Trying to decide what is just, what is my responsibility and what I do have control over. When I answer those questions I will take action. Until then I am going to sit with this feeling and work through it to a resolution.

Some days I wish I weren't healthy. Then I could just stick a pencil in someones ear and feel good about.

Ciao.

March 22, 2009

Spring Break

What fun he had on Spring Break. My son was down south for the entire week. When he got back on Friday night he kept hugging me and sitting right beside me. I like that! I am so happy he enjoyed his time away but I am very glad he is home.

My week alone reminded me how much I enjoy being a mom. I feel so blessed to have him.

In about four weeks we will move from our house into a small space. I have been looking forward to this for a while. I am getting excited about getting into a new place....especially being so close to his school. We are making plans for his summer break now. There will be football camps, basketball camps and the lake camp he loved so much last year. We will also go on a couple of long weekend trips and one bigger vacation.

Planning....

March 15, 2009

Since 28 January 2009

That was the "big day" for me. The day I decided to make some lifestyle changes. The day my doctor said I had some stuff out of whack in my blood and thought my heart was off-beat! Since then I have remained faithful to a new eating plan that includes high protein, low carbs, little sugar and fat. I was also put on a supplement routine and exercise was encouraged.

I have done well with eating better. I did well with the supplements until about ten days ago when my hard head won out. I hate taking pills. I tried putting them in with my protein shake and I liked that less. I will just learn to take them even if I don't like to.

I started an exercise routine one month ago (14 February 2008). I am doing a combo of walking and jogging. I hear I might work into jogging the whole way. Close to three miles is as far as I have gone but I am really encouraged because exercise has not been a normal part of my life -- ever.

My battle is with not getting on the scale everyday. If I do that I will become obsessed and end up in some treatment center for an eating disorder, I am sure. (Not that the time off in a spa like atmosphere is something I would oppose :) ! ). I know how much weight I have lost because I stop by my doctor's office about once a week to use the scale there because it measures BMI, muscle and water in addition to pounds. I like that because I can see something in the results I have not looked at before.

This is a "one day at a time" kind of journey. Who would have thunk it? Me changing? And doing it one day at a time?

Six and a half weeks of one day at a time....

February 28, 2009

Religion

Today my son has his first reconciliation ceremony. He went to confession for the first time. Afterward he was so excited he called his grandmother and told her how great he felt about it. She told him what a special event this was and that mom should treat him to something nice. We went to a Christian bookstore and let him pick out a couple of things. He got two books and a sweat shirt. We also got a small gift for a friend celebrating four years of sobriety tonight.

When we were checking out he told the clerk that he had just had his first reconciliation. She spent the next ten minutes telling my son (and me, really, I suppose) that being Catholic was not the real way to God. My son was so excited about what had just happened to him during his reconciliation because he has been preparing since September for it that I was eager to leave the store before she convinced him he did not believe in God the "right" way. She said some things to him that I found horribly offensive...like "when I was Catholic my daughter found Jesus during her first reconciliation and asked Jesus to save her parents" and "you pray to the Lord you don't go talking to angels", etc. I could go into how inaccurate and archaic her understanding of Catholicism is and that Catholic is a religion of Christian belief but I would digress from my primary thoughts....

I was trapped at the register checking out when she took him by himself to show him some bibles. I was mortified. I was shocked. I was nearly speechless. The only thing I could say to her when she said to my son, "Let me go tell you about how to believe in God through Jesus Christ" was, "It really is the same way he already does."

I left there and sat in my car for a moment to collect myself. I called my husband and asked him his opinion on that situation (history: I have always been Catholic, he has always been Baptist but we allow one another the luxury of making our own decisions related to God and have found in many of our discussions that we believe in the same God -- amazing, huh?). He explained a few things about why she might have responded that way but agreed that it was out of line.

I believe how I believe. I am very open to listening to others about how they believe. The reason I am willing to listen is that I am open to learn about other ideas. I am also confident that just listening to the way some else believes won't "rub off on me" and cause me to change my ideas. I can be friends with people, counsel with people and have great discussions with people who don't think in line with the way I think. I like that about me.

Ironically, as we walked into the store my son looked at the name and said, "Christian Book store....does that mean someone who doesn't believe in God can't go in there?". I explained to him how we need to be open and non-judgemental of everyone because they will not learn about God if they aren't given the opportunity. Funny. The lady that worked there needs to be told that.

After I left as I was processing through the events I found myself realizing something that doesn't just apply to religion but my understanding of life in general.....judging someone for not believing or living the way you do alienates them. If you really want that person to have a deeper understanding of your beliefs the way to get to that place does not begin with telling them they are wrong. Why would someone embrace your ideas if you judge them and condemn them for the ones they have?

My clients come to me involved in behaviors that create wreckage in their lives. They would never open up to me or even begin to listen to my ideas about recovery if I told them they were living wrong. They wouldn't even hear me if I told them they need to change. I don't remember feeling this way before. My mom told me people like her were out there...and I guess there are.

I am going to try to learn from this and move forward. I am sure there are many lessons for me.

Frustrated.

February 20, 2009

Last Night

I spent about an hour on the phone with a friend last night. I finally had to talk about my feelings about my mom's cancer. For so long I have focused on work and my home and all of my responsibilities. Last night the flood gate of emotions were released. I love my mom so much and there has never been one step in my life that I didn't imagine her being with me. The idea that she is ill is so difficult to comprehend.

I asked my sister today if it was worse knowing what she is facing or knowing nothing, like with our dad, and one day he is just gone? I guess either is difficult. I don't want to think of the possibilities.

She has been involved in every significant event in my son's life. She flew all the way to Germany to stay with us for the second month of his life. She stood in as proxy for his baptism in Germany. She was with us when he got his first little baby passport, was there for his first steps, his first teeth, his surgery when he was 11 months old, his first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth birthday parties, all of his Easters, all of his Christmases, all of his camping trips, his first visit to the ocean, his first day of school in kindergarten and second grade....she has just always been there. The prospect of her not being is saddening.

My part now is to be there for her.

February 15, 2009

Grace

Today in church the priest was talking about healing. He said we pray for many things, sometimes being delivered from pain or illness. Something he said that hit me like a ton of bricks was that "sometimes God's grace is our delivery". He indicated that we seem to look for cured illness as the proof that the prayer was answered when death is sometimes God's answer. When someone loves and wants to be with God in heaven they may be prepared for that.

It was more than I could take in at the time. But it was something I have been thinking of a lot since.

God's grace may be answer enough?

February 11, 2009

Brian

I was listening to the radio this morning when I heard a song that brought back memories from 13-14 years ago. Back then I believed I was in love with this man who was nice enough but was not interested in a relationship as much as just dating or hanging out. I listened to those words in a different way today. There was a line in the song that actually said, "I don't care if you don't care as long as you don't go". Okay, how sick was I exactly?

Today I laughed at myself. I don't sit around regretting the past much but it was a lesson to me. I spent most of my early 20's being broken hearted over things I didn't have instead of enjoying the things I did have. Recently I heard a speaker who said that people who are successful realize what they have WHILE they have it. That is what I strive for today. As much as I am driven and have a desire to constantly succeed and attain more (not things usually, but I do still have that desire in the way of education and career still) I hope at the end of the day I am satisfied with just that -- the day. Having lived it, having enjoyed it and having soaked up every little bit of what it had to offer me.

I threw in my All American Rejects song as soon as I could get to my computer and feel like I must be in a much better place today. (http://www.lyrics.com/index.php/artists/lyric/the-all-american-rejects-p-535218-lyrics-gives-you-hell)!

Thanks for the memories.

February 08, 2009

Transition

The last 12-13 months of my life have been about change and transition. Change and transition are good but very tiring. I seem to learn most in the midst of change but it usually comes after the transition is complete. During this period I haven't written as much as I would have liked to and I haven't been as honest as I usually am. I foresee this year being one of change and transition, as well. Because of that I want to prepare myself and learn from the last year.

I think people just get frustrated with life and forget to focus on what it is and what it can bring. I recently heard someone say two really important things that I have been hanging on to: 1) Successful people appreciate what they have while they have it. Mediocre people only realize what they had when it is gone. 2) If you aren't sure if you know who you are you can find out by asking yourself if you are jealous. Jealous people don't know who they are.

Maybe this is just rambling. So I will stop.

February 07, 2009

Update

Keep my mom in your prayers.
Thanks.

January 30, 2009

Radio

Neil Scott from recovery coast to coast interviewed me last week at the conference. The radio broadcast was on Wednesday night. I just got to listen to it. Very cool. And many of my friends are on there, too. You can stream it at www.recoverycoasttocoast.com and visit past shows.

Great program!

Doctor again

So, I am well. The cardiologist said my heart was "beautiful". Yippee. HOWEVER, I am going to remain on my eating plan and keep taking my supplements.

January 28, 2009

Doctor

I went to the doctor yesterday. I had everything checked out. It seems I have some irregular thing going on in my heart. I am going to see a cardiologist on Friday to check it out. No one seems concerned about it. Apparently, it isn't a huge issue. I will believe them. Many people were just happy to hear I still have one.

With everything checked they started me on the "old people" plan. I began taking every vitamin and supplement known to man today (no prescriptions, only natural stuff). I began a high lean protein, low carb, low sugar, low everything common to my taste buds eating regimen. :)

I am actually pretty happy about it. It is time. I even got a B6 and B12 injection. Apparently, my iron isn't the only thing discombobulated. As much as I am sure I will pretend this is a beating, I am actually happy about it. These are changes I have been talking about for two years. It is time to get it started.

Wish me luck.

January 27, 2009

Fat?

I just listened to a radio station talk about how "fat" Jessica Simpson has become in the last couple of months, some even speculating that she is pregnant. Out of curiosity I googled her most recent concert photos (January 2009) to take a look for myself. Well, she is bigger than she was in Duke's Of Hazard and she should be slapped for deciding to wear what she did...but fat? If she is fat, I need to stay out of the media.

I am Fluffy.

January 24, 2009

Tired

I am home from the NOVA 2009 conference. It was great. It was filled with many wonderful speakers and networking. I realize this time is the only time each year I see many counselors I have known a while. I even ran into one of the first program directors I ever had in the field. That was 15 years ago. Wow. So much time has gone by.

It was fun. I feel inspired. I feel energized. I feel engaged. I am physically tired but mentally prepared. There are so many things I would like to share about the four days but right now I am going to spend some time with my son.

Until tomorrow.

January 20, 2009

More Options

Today I overheard someone in the office making a call to a business with one of those automated systems. She said at least three times, "more options". I thought....wouldn't it be great if there was some great big automated system in life where I could just pick up the receiver and shout, "more options"?

Bring em!

January 16, 2009

Long week

Maybe I shouldn't call it a long week as much as a busy week. It went by quickly with little time to sit.

Sunday was my son's 8th birthday. He had a bowling party that he enjoyed very much. We had family visit over the weekend, my mom included. My sister and I laughed so much and enjoyed planning our trip to Italy.

Work has been fast and furious. The program is growing by leaps and bounds and brings all of the fun that comes along with that.

I am leaving in the morning for South Texas. I am doing a training there on Monday. I look forward to that because I really liked the staff when I was there last year. I also look forward to the 24 hours of alone time I will have.

The NOVA conference begins on Wednesday. This isn't the most opportune time for that since the office is so busy, but it is just like Christmas. It comes the same time every year and it is always on my calendar....and even though there is a lot of work beforehand, it is always a fun time.

It was during NOVA last year that I got the call about my mom having cancer. I think that was the final straw of one of the most difficult periods of time in my life. Many things are still "undone" that were spinning out of control last year. There are many things that still need to be dealt with but this year is very different from last in many ways.

Mom is better and we are all better for it. I am in a job I love again. I have the best son in the world. We are preparing for his first communion this year. There is some emotional stability that had been missing.

January 04, 2009

Humility

I recently had a conversation with someone who lacks a little humility. The conversation was riddled with negative comments in relationship to their belief that others were somewhere beneath them educationally, thus on life's to tum pole. They didn't even say that. They just made many derogatory comments related to licenses and education of others in comparison to themselves. Comments about behaviors of others in a condescending way...the "oh, you do that, interesting." way.

I struggle with people in the counseling field being so closed minded. It is such an oxymoron. Closed minded, locked into their beliefs about what they think the "right way" to do something is. I am committed to my way of doing things, absolutely, but I am aware that my way isn't the "right" way. That my ideas and beliefs about how to make changes or grow won't work for everyone. That the decisions I make aren't right for everyone. I thought that is what counseling was about....but the longer I do it the more I see that a lot of screwed up people believe counseling is about making someone do it their way or believe their way.

I have a problem with that. I know that means it is a problem with me. I want to search for the answers to that.

Insane.