July 27, 2010

Nothing will ever be the same

It was about a year ago
Those words were uttered
And never truer words as those
Things changed
And it hasn’t been the same
And it won’t be
Obviously energy thrown at making it like it was
Is exhausting
Because it is clear it is near wasted
Things have changed
Time cannot turn back
As if options have been eliminated
Moving forward is the only choice
And that is painful

July 21, 2010

River Weekend 2010

(photo taken at pool, 2009 river trip)

Friday the Heller’s will make their trek to the Colorado River, as has been the annual tradition since before my birth. This year will be the first without mom. I have spent the last couple of months anesthetizing the pain of the loss in as many means as possible. This weekend will bring the feelings in a way that I will be unable to avoid. The cabin, the journey, the surroundings, just the sensation of being there will bring it all back…and it is coming on already. Such was a similar feeling to that of when we went without dad for the first time.

The smell will be different this year! So familiar to me is the smell of the spring only fifty yards from the cabin. And the smell of the air in the morning near the river is something I only connect to this trip; however, without mom there, missing will be that permeating smell of bleach! Always five steps ahead of us was mom each year carrying her gallon of Clorox. It was always her intention to rid the cabin of germs left by the previous occupants. And what a trooper she was to put up with the Heller kids and their humorous comments as she disinfected the refrigerator, tables, and counter tops. That was our mom.

Last year she had difficulty. I was not even sure she was going to make it to the river. I think everyone would have understood if she had opted out. But, then again, mom rarely opted out. And she was there. And it was wonderful. It was probably that weekend that I realized deeply how strong she was and how much I admired her. Not one time while she was sick, frankly, not one time in my entire life, did I ever hear her utter a word of complain. She was sick and there she was in the middle of nowhere with her family.

The middle of nowhere….that creates a bonding like no other. The place where we are without distraction, virtually forced to focus on one another, a re-group from the rush of the world…to play, to laugh, to connect…..to count our blessings. It is a coming together for our family. And many times we have brought family friends along to experience it with us. Each time they walk away with complete understanding of our silly, unique family. And an appreciation for the reason we continue going to the river. An understanding one can only have through the actual experience of being there.

Carry on of the tradition, I owe to my brother. I recognize its’ important to him since our dad died. He teaches me, without words, that it is important to continue. It is important to move ahead with thoughts of the past in our hearts. Making a tradition for our kids to cling to and have forever memories stir as they grow.

Off to the river we will go in two days….to make more memories and cling to those already in our hearts.

We are richly blessed.

Lily Allen - Mr Blue Sky (new single)

July 20, 2010

She had her cake!

Each year The Heller family takes a trip to the Colorado river. We have done this annually longer than I have been alive. I have blogged about it several times. Last year my mom told me the only thing she wanted for her birthday, which we generally celebrate at the river, was an Italian Cream Cake. While, I am not a huge baker, I wanted to give her the one thing she asked for. And with only a few bumps in the baking process, I succeeded. Even some of the picky eaters in the family enjoyed!
I am baking this cake again this week to take to our 2010 river weekend....just as I did for her last year. I do not recall a year of river weekend that I went and she was not there. I will miss her dearly. But I know she would want us to carry on a tradition that has been going on longer than my lifetime......And we will all eat cake!


1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups white sugar
5 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flaked coconut
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups all-purpose flour

8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons light cream
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease three 9 inch round cake pans. In a small bowl, dissolve the baking soda in the buttermilk; set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together 1/2 cup butter, shortening and white sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs, buttermilk mixture, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 cup coconut, baking powder and flour. Stir until just combined. Pour batter into the prepared pans.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.

To Make Frosting: In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, 1/2 cup butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla and confectioners' sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Mix in a small amount of cream to attain the desired consistency. Stir in chopped nuts and remaining flaked coconut. Spread between layers and on top and sides of cooled cake.

The Reason

Curious for the reason I find it necessary
to look for the reason at all...
yet I am often there
Always contemplative
Digging and looking
The reason may not be as important
as the situation
The action, the event, the aftermath
yet I focus on the reason
The reason plagues my mind
often to destruction
There I stay
I remain
Always searching
for the reason

July 19, 2010

Positive Thought

Found on a favorite facebook page......

"Living on earth is expensive....but it does include a free trip around the sun...."

July 18, 2010

Choco-Chip Cookie Recipe


2/3 Cup of butter or margarine, softened
2/3 Cup of brown sugar, firmly packed
2/3 Cup of Splenda, No Calorie Sweetener
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Cup Semi-Sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven 350 degrees

Cream butter, brown sugar, splenda and vanilla together; mix until creamy.....Add eggs, mix...Add flour, baking soda and salt. Mix until blended. Add chocolate chips.
Place level tablespoons of cookie dough on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
(I find using a baking stone much better than a regular cookie sheet!)

July 15, 2010

Be Strong....

How many times do people tell grieving people to ‘be strong’? And why is one supposed to ‘be strong’? Are we supposed to stop the feelings? Is it inappropriate or unhealthy to show our emotion when something happens that will forever change our world? I think not. Perhaps, the truth is that the one saying to another to ‘be strong’ is unsure of exactly what to say but they want to say something. Or maybe that person saying ‘be strong’ cannot, themselves, handle the sadness and their hope is that the one expressing sorrow will stop so they don’t have to face their own. Finally, maybe the one saying ‘be strong’ has been told the same phrase and they just say it thinking it is the right thing to say.

Each person has their own process. If I learned nothing else throughout the two years my mother had cancer I have learned that profoundly.

Because I had been so offended at a time when grieving and felt I was “falling apart” then being met with what I can only assume were meant as words of encouragement from a friend, “Be strong”….I looked up the dictionary definition of the word. After finding many descriptions of physical strength, I found one related to emotion on dictionary.com: “…of great force, effectiveness, potency, or cogency; compelling….”

Alas, I have found it. Evidence, perhaps, a definition that clarifies the stirring in my mind and the sadness in my heart when I hear someone tell another to be strong or keep their chin up when their heart is breaking. The strongest thing I imagine a person to do when hurting is to feel….whenever they feel it and however they feel it….that is what being strong is, in my humble opinion.

I encourage others, and in turn encourage myself, to “be strong” by moving through and experiencing each emotion – whatever those emotions are. Go through the process. Do not avoid it by looking "strong" for others.

Be strong….

July 11, 2010

Lifehouse - You and Me [With Lyrics]


"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it." ~Rumi

July 08, 2010


In San Antonio, Texas for the State conference of the Texas Association of Addiction Professionals. I am not a fan of telling people what they "should" or "need" to do; however, allow me this opportunity once.

If you are not a member of TAAP and you work in the Addiction field.....you "should" or "need" to be involved in this organization. They are huge supporters of the work we do. They advocate legislatively on your behalf even if you aren't a member....why not support them?

Come to the conference today....it runs through Saturday. Or log onto www.taap.org to take a look at all they do.

You should....

July 05, 2010


For a while I attempted to pinpoint the exact event or situation that caused the collapse. However, after much investigation I realized it was not and seldom ever is one particular event that causes a breakdown. Instead, much like a dam burst, the falling apart is the catastrophic event that brings the attention to the many occasions strength is worn away.

I then turned to the other why, which I often do. For some reason, as unreasonable as it is, I believe if I understand the logic I can fix something and make it unbreakable. The question of why I asked was, why didn’t it look like a complete decay of self, if that, in fact, is what I was facing. The reason, I concluded, is that it wasn’t as much as it was.

I previously believed that I would have felt fraudulent had I been pretending. Had I been masquerading as someone I wasn’t surely I would have felt that. The truth, for me, is that there was no deceit. I simply did not know that my soul was stretching inside of me. Therefore; when the dam burst it was simply my core escaping the comfort of the authenticity that satisfied me. In order to continue becoming the person I am meant to be, it was unavoidable that my world cave in. My soul exploded outside of who I had become pushing me toward who I was really supposed to be.

I subscribe to the idea that my strengths are often my weakness. Oftentimes, my ability to perform under pressure pays off but this time I believe it contributed to the surprise I faced when I realized that life had thrown a few curve balls. I was filling out a questionnaire for a doctor’s appointment. The questions were simple. In the last 36 months have you experienced any of the following:

Change in marital status?
Major illness of self or loved one?
Job change?
Financial status change?
Change in educational status?
Death of loved one?

Seriously? There wasn’t one question I could say “no” to.

Two and a half years ago my husband and I separated. I am not fond of discussing it, but it is part of my reality. Within a month of him moving my mother was diagnosed with cancer. Our separation led to my need to sell my business and take another job. Within only six months of taking that job I was approached by a company to become Executive Director of their new agency. I took it. My financial status was positively impacted for a time, as a result. Because of several items aforementioned, I moved from a house I loved into a much smaller space. I completed my graduate degree and began a doctoral program. I turned 40 (that was not a question on the survey but as a woman turning 40, I suggest it be added)! My son also changed schools. Toward the end of last year following a visit to my mother’s house she was in a serious car accident that took her life sixteen days after an ICU stay. The company I took the position with closed relatively unexpectedly upon my return from mom’s funeral.

Although, I don’t like excuses, my breakdown can easily be explained.

The series of events has actually brought richness to my life that has been astounding. I have developed relationships with people that I would not have previously sought. Relationships that needed to be eradicated have been so organically. And the remaining relationships have been enhanced. My ability to disguise my pain was impossible. And that was the way the universe gained my attention.

The following months stirred my soul into the direction of uncovering who I really wanted to be and exactly what I truly wanted to do. The experience has been remarkably freeing. Recovering the person inside is rarely pretty. It is lonely and painful. It is extreme and scary. But I knew I had to be willing to be ugly in order to become beautiful and more of who I was meant to be.....

This story to be continued…..

July 01, 2010

I was in a reflective mood this evening so I sat about reading some blog entries of old.......ten months ago I wrote about some goals I wanted to accomplish so I decided to copy and paste that entry and hold myself accountable. It felt only the right thing to do after having given a two hour lecture just today related to believing we should all live by a code of ethics, have integrity in our actions by actually living that code and being accountable for this behavior to at least one other person. So....here goes the accountability portion:

"From August 31, 2009.....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. While I believe I do well....I believe there is still room for improvement......

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)! I am not 45 yet and I am still enrolled in a doctoral program......and I won't discount that progress by throwing in the fact that I am just completing the first course for the second time.....or maybe I will.....

Add a few additional chapters to my book and finally publish it. Here I have faltered. Instead of adding to a nearly complete book I have diverted from that and began writing a personal growth curriculum with another person.....I have actually felt that I have grown a great deal through that process so I don't feel this is a goal unaccomplished as much as one with an asterisk or addition made....

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). Check, check, check and check. No excuses. Done. And still doing......

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! I am actually not sure. I have lost weight....but since August I had also gained weight. Perhaps, I should monitor this situation more closely in the future. :) .....

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. I haven't done it. But, I haven't changed my mind about the desire, either......

Find 10 things in the DFW area I have not already done with my son and do them this year. We have done a few new things. 1. Visited the Great Wolf Lodge instead of the Gaylord at Christmastime. 2. Looked at Christmas lights in our own neighborhood. 3. Went to the Nutcracker. and this weekend we are going to 4. Kaboom Town!......

Create a new tradition with my son. Can I count any of those things I just listed in the last goal? Hmmm....tradition? I baked a lot of stuff at Christmas with him this year for the first time....does that count?

Go back to Hawaii and take my son this time. There is a chance this might happen at Thanksgiving.....but the specific location may be altered.....

Take my son to Germany to see where he was born. Still a desire.....

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. Those goals specific to that agency changed when the agency closed in November 2009......

Dream on, my friends."