Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Looking within

"If you want to understand others, 
look into your own heart." 
Johann Schiller

I read this quote this morning in my OA reading and it really struck a chord with me. Recent events in the world are really igniting a lot of controversy and anger amongst the people I'm friends with on Facebook. I see on my newsfeed a lot of posts and articles for and against a lot of different issues such as war, refugees, peace, terrorism, and religion. I, for the most part, stay out of any debates I see going on. I know that participating is not likely to change anyones minds and will just make me feel really awful.

The hard part for me is when I read things that seem cruel and filled with hate for others because they are different. I have a hard time understanding that. My wish is for Universal Love and Acceptance - that I love the way my Higher Power loves. I, being human, often fall sort of that wish, but I do try and I find it hard to understand others not having that same goal.

I know in my heart that I can still love others even if I disagree with their politics, their personal philosophies, their religious convictions, and even their hatred. I don't have to agree with them to love them.

In trying to understand where they are coming from, I need to turn to my own heart and look deep inside myself because there is where I will find the answers. I feel fear, disappointment, dislike, maybe even hatred (though I'm not really sure of that one), joy, love - all these things drive us - well I'll just speak for myself - they drive me to do and say things I'm not always so proud of or so sure of in hindsight. I may make decisions based on one of these feelings and I may even have the best of intentions, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to sometimes hurt others or cause pain. It is scary how I can get so caught up in my visceral reactions to events and feelings that I lash out or try to blame outside myself. I will even often try to take responsibility for things that are so far beyond my control that it doesn't make any sense, but I feel so strongly that someone must take that blame and I have no one else to blame, so I blame myself. 

Today, I look inside myself, and see the reflection of others in myself and myself in others. We are not so different. I think we all want the same things, safety, love, acceptance, joy, hope - the crux is that many of us disagree on how to get those things. 

I'm saddened by the conflicts that are going on in the world and I'm saddened by the conflicts that are going on on the newsfeeds of my friends on Facebook. I'm saddened by the conflicts that go on inside myself. There is little I can do about the conflicts outside myself, but I can reach out my hand in love and acceptance in spite of our differences and I can work on the conflicts I find within my own heart.

And I can hope that by doing so that I make some small difference in my world.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Universal Love and Peace

It's been awhile - I've been in a bit of a writing slump. I just haven't had a whole lot to say, but the attacks on Paris last Friday the 13th really brought to a head all the thoughts and feelings I have about the many places on our beloved planet that are suffering from war and persecution. It was the straw that broke the camel's back for me. I knew I had to take some sort of action, but knowing that there is not a lot I can personally, physically do, I decided that some sort of energy work was what I was called to and I decided to invite others to join me.

Saturday, I was inspired to create an event on Facebook, a virtual candle light vigil for Universal Love and Peace. I set the time for the evening of Sunday the 15th from 8PM EST to 11PM EST. I then invited a handful of friends. I created this event expecting a few of us would light our candles and find some peace in our world. Word spread and I was blown away by the response.

When I went to bed at midnight - yes you read that right midnight - there were over 1500 people participating in the event, posting pictures of the candles they had lit in their homes. Over 20,000 people had been invited. I changed the end time of the vigil to 8PM EST on the 16th so people could continue to post and share their light and love with the world, because yes there were and still are people from all over the world joining in.

The thing that amazes me the most is that when I created this event I inadvertently set the settings on private, so every person who participated had to be invited to attend and it all started with the less than 25 people I invited.

Response to the event was so great I created a Facebook group to continue this work on a regular basis. Here's the link:

I've already scheduled another event, a vigil with the focus on Hope for next Sunday evening (more details are on the group page) and I hope to have a vigil like this every week for now perhaps eventually changing to once a month. People are reeling with what is going on after the Paris attacks, so they are focused right now and I think many of us need this. I know that world needs it and will always need it, so I want to continue manifesting light and love for my beloved planet and Her people for as long as I feel called to.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Transitional times

Well first of all there's this: 

Yes I cut off my dreadlocks.

This was a decision that was a long time coming - I'd been thinking about it for a few weeks when I finally did it. It was time. I felt called by my spirituality to have dreadlocks and I felt called by the Universe to let them go. I had begun to use them to hide behind - my being was wrapped up in my appearance instead of who I am inside, my outside was no longer reflecting my inner journey. So, much to my family's dismay - it was time for them to go. I feel much lighter and more authentic - more me. I can focus on my inner journey instead of my outer appearance. It is kind of scary and to be honest, I miss them sometimes - I miss who they made me appear to be. But this is more honest and now I can really focus on my spiritual work. That is part of what's scary too, I can't hide anymore, not that I've been very good at hiding on this blog, but in other aspects of my life I do very well.

This all happened after I returned from an unschooling conference in New Jersey. It was the Life Without Instructions Conference and I came home feeling more committed to unschooling than ever before. I felt supported and less alone. The kids and I went without my beloved and we had a wonderful time in spite of missing him. I took time out for myself - I practiced good self care, while at the same time letting myself be honest and vulnerable. I gave the kids more freedom than they've ever had and I think it was really good - I think it built more trust in our relationships. I feel as though I grew as a human being and a mother. It was a very good experience all in all. I sometimes wish I could go back - even if it's just for a few hours - to get recharged. I admit this experience is one of the reasons I was able to be brave enough to lose my dreadlocks and put myself out there - no more hiding.

Real life waited for me here at home. Everyone got sick when we got home and we've all been battling colds, ear infections and the like since we got back. We're all on the mend now and the kids and I agree that it was worth it - we wouldn't have changed a thing.

I've faced some challenges since getting back. I've embraced the transitions in my life and I've committed to my spiritual journey through the 12 steps - I'm working daily with my sponsor - we've begun step four and I'm being challenged beyond my comfort zone, but I know I'm doing what's necessary for my recovery - one day at a time.

I've also faced some difficult times at our homeschool co-op and have discovered that I can not be what everyone wants me to be and that I can make mistakes and be talked about behind my back without it destroying me or my serenity. There are a lot of angry people in the world and I won't lie and say it doesn't hurt, because knowing that there are people who never took the time to really get to know me have decided to not like me or what I do hurts. I can't control how other people react to me or my decisions though, so I will do my best to keep working my program and be who I am to the best of my ability. My self confidence is shaken and I'm feeling really really vulnerable, but I will continue on to the best of my ability until I can't do it anymore. Then I will step back and take care of myself. I'm not there yet - I can still try to put myself out there - for now anyway. Co-op so far (we're only a few sessions in) is not as positive an experience as it was last year - I'm hoping that it will get better, but my expectations for the year were obviously too high - I need to just live in the moment to the best of my ability and take it all one day at a time. 

So that's where I'm at. I have some big plans coming up next month. I'm doing some work on my core beliefs using a kit that some good friends developed and I'm writing a book for National Novel Writing Month. I've decided to write a memoir about my struggles with depression. I want to focus on the journey through my last depressive episode with my family, but I'm going to let my muse take me where she wants to go - the Universe will guide me in my writing and it will be whatever the world needs from my story.

Last but not least, I'm at 253 days of abstinence - that's 8.34 months without sugar and white flour. I'm still trying to find the food plan that helps me lose the weight, but my abstinence is strong and my serenity keeps me going. One day at a time.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Morning Musings

Okay, if you read my last entry you know that I've been at an unschooling conference this week with my kids. It's been an amazing journey, but one constant I've maintained while here is my morning routine. I do my OA step readings, say my prayers, and do my meditative coloring with my coffee and light box. While sitting here coloring, I've been going over some of the choices I made to share of myself this week in some of the sessions. I've been open and vulnerable, sharing about my suicide attempt, my struggle with Arlo's death and depression, and my spirituality. I was thinking about how that made me feel and why I shared those things. I felt the inspiration to sit and write about my musings.

When I was a teenager and young adult and even just before my last serious bout of depression, that I would have shared these things from my past to garner sympathy and expressions of love. I was very needy at those times in my life and I needed, or rather thought I needed, to feed on that energy. Wow have things changed for me. Now I share these things for many other reasons. I share my struggles with mental illness to educate and to reach out to others who maybe feeling the same so they know they are not alone and that it does get better. I share about my loss because that was a defining time in my life and a lot of what I've been through including my responses to mental illness was colored by that experience. I share about my spirituality because that is part - a big part - of who I am, I'm a shamanic, druid, 12 stepping, pagan. I'm more willing now in my life to share of myself because I'm in a pretty good spot and am finally beginning to feel that I'm worth knowing.

All these things just are - they are facets of who I am and to hide them would mean hiding my light and I don't want to do that anymore. Did I second guess myself after sharing - Hell Yes! I was afraid the first day I talked about some of those things, but as the week went on and I realized that the people around me wanted to know who I am, it got easier. I no longer share this stuff to garner sympathy and to get kudos - I share them to, hopefully, help others to see things can get better and that a family can survive trauma and even thrive once they come out on the other side.

I wish sometimes that I didn't have depression and that my kids didn't have to see me at my worst, but on the other hand I believe the Universe give us all, the experiences we need in life. My children, though it was difficult, have learned compassion, independence, and how to come out on the other side of a trauma stronger and more able. This is a lesson I sometimes wish they didn't have to experience, but they are richer people for it. I try to protect my children sometimes to their detriment I believe, so the Universe took matters into Her own hands and brought the lesson my children needed through me.

Okay that got deep fast. It felt good to get it out on this page though. It's amazing to me the way the Universe showers us with blessings - even if they are hidden inside darkness - there needs to be darkness to see the light and to be honest, coming out of the dark into the light is one of the best feelings in the world.

These are just a few of the things I learned this week. How blessed am I.....

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Pushing my boundaries - in a good way ;)

Okay well this week from Monday through Thursday my unschooled children and I are at an unschooling conference - the Life Without Instructions Conference - in New Jersey. I'm pushing myself outside my comfort zone in a lot of ways, just by being here and honestly other than being a little tired and a lot anxious - I'm doing really well.

As many of you may know a few short years ago I struggled with a really bad breakdown of sorts after a long bout of depression - I ended up in therapy with my husband by my side clutching a stuffed bear the hospital gave me and the blanket my little Arlo Edward was wrapped in at the hospital (Arlo is the son I lost through miscarriage). I was unable to attend therapy for quite a while without my husband - I was really unable to do much of anything without him. This began a really dark period of my life that ultimately ended up with me in the hospital because I was trying to die by starvation. It was my third suicide attempt - feelings I thought I'd worked through in my teen years raised their heads again and this time I was ready for the help I desperately needed.

Why am I telling you all this? Well for a long time after that - years actually - I was too socially anxious to go anywhere without my beloved husband. I rarely, if ever went anywhere without him. Last year we started attending a homeschool co-op, the kids and me - without my beloved - that was a huge step for me. He eventually started attending with us (car issues) and I have to admit I was relieved because even after a few months it was really hard for me. Now I find myself hundreds of miles away from home, at a hotel, alone with the kids, pushing myself to connect with strangers. Luckily a couple of friends are here, so I have them to go to if I get too uncomfortable, but there are many, many many more people I've never met before.

Originally my beloved was supposed to be here with us and I've attended a bunch of talk sessions that blew my mind and I knew would be of great benefit to him as well, but in a lot of ways I'm really glad he had to stay home. I'm so proud of myself to putting myself out there and pushing beyond my comfort zone. I've met incredible people and I've shared of myself - I've let myself be vulnerable in a way I couldn't for a really long time. I'm also learning to trust myself again and to more importantly trust my kids on this journey of unschooling.

They, especially my daughter, has just blossomed before my eyes. The first day was really hard for me because I felt abandoned by my children - imagine my surprise - I really thought I was doing well at the letting them be free and trusting them to be off on their own making friends. I was wrong - I cried that first night in my room alone because they didn't want to spend time with me. I worked through it though - talked it out with my husband - shared my feelings with my teens. They assured me that they loved me and promptly took off to do their own thing. Isn't that beautiful, they are so assured of my love and my trust and that I know they love me, that they could take a few minutes to reassure me and then knew that I'd be okay. Wow! How far we've come from me sitting in a near catatonic state on the couch in so much pain I couldn't communicate with them - them on the phone with their father - him panicking calling my therapist.

I share all this not to gain sympathy, but to share my joy and serenity that I've come through the darkness into the light and now I'm able to be here, as anxious and nervous as I am, to share my light.   I also share this for others who may be in a dark place in their life to tell them - to tell you - Don't Give Up - it does get better - it may take time and work and patience and love, but it does get better. I'm a great example of that.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A little bit about hope

As most of you know I suffer from a sugar addiction, compulsive overeating, and depression - not necessarily in that order. One thing in common among all of these is that these conditions, diseases as you will, all steal my hope. When I'm in the food - I can see no way out, when I'm depressed I can see nothing but despair; my hope disappears. Overeaters Anonymous has given me that hope back.

OA is a way of life and it has changed mine for the better. Not only does this program help me battle my compulsion to eat it also helps me battle my depression. How you may ask? By supporting and emphasizing my relationship with a Power Greater Than Myself, my Higher Power. The program teaches us in steps 2 and 3 that this Higher Power can be anything really even the fellowship of OA itself, I just need to accept that I need that Higher Power. My Higher Power is the infinite love and light of the Universe Herself and She is conspiring to shower me and us all with blessings. This is where my hope originates from.

I have to admit I have a bit of a thing for hope, because you know, my name. Hope is such a wonderful thing. That feeling deep down inside that not only is everything going to be alright, but it is as it should be right now in this moment. That's what hope means to me - the knowledge that I'm right where I need to be on my journey of self-discovery. Right now and I hope for many years to come - that journey follows along the 12 steps.

While in program I've come to a new understanding of my Higher Power and thence strengthened my relationship with Her. I've come to a deeper feeling of hope in my life. This program has taught me and blessed me in so many ways and I've come to rediscover great hope in my life.  The tools are a form of hope for me - working with those tools is consciously acknowledging hope in my life. Every time I take time out of my day to pray, meditate, write, read my literature, or call my sponsor, I see hope - hope in action.

Nature is a huge example of hope in my life - it's also the major way I connect with my Higher Power outside of meetings. That connection, whether it be in nature or in a meeting with my OA fellows is in and of itself hope. I see my Higher Power in the sunlight dappling through the trees, the wind blowing gently (or not so gently) through the air, rain falling from the sky, and in the eyes of my OA fellows and my family and friends. I find hope when writing on this blog in my own words - words revealed through my introspection and connection with my Higher Power.

Hope is all around me if only I'm in the right mindset and openness to see it. The program tells me I need to be Honest, Open, and Willing. I find hope in all these actions. I must be honest about my struggles, open to my Higher Power, and willing to accept and see hope in my life. Honesty, Openness, and Willingness are keys to success in program, but I think they bring are necessary in every aspect of my life. That's why this program is a way of living, not just a way of working - I don't just work the steps anymore, I live them.

A lot of this is stuff I realized working with my sponsor. This relationship has given me such hope in my life - hope that I can get through one day at time, hope that I can beat back the depression, hope that I can live the program to the best of my ability and beat this disease of compulsive overeating. Is it easy? No - it's simple, but for me it's not possible without hope.

I see hope in so much around me. I find hope inside myself and my relationship with my Higher Power. I see hope in the actions of my OA fellows, because let's be honest, just showing up is an act of hope.

One of my greatest experiences of hope every day comes to me in the Serenity Prayer. This prayer is such a mainstay of the program that I often just recite it by rote without being mindful of the words, but when I take that time to really listen and hear what I'm saying I see such hope. "God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change..." - this tells me that there are things out there that I have no control over and that's okay because my Higher Power has it handled. "The courage to change the things I can....." - this tells me that I can change some things and that I need courage from my Higher Power to do that - it also tells me that my Higher Power is willing and able to give me that courage - it exists deep down in my soul in that connection with the Universe - I just need to find it and use it. "And the wisdom to know the difference..." - once again I'm being given permission to fall back on my Higher Power to find wisdom to know the difference between what I can control and what I can't. Talk about an experience of hope - this prayer, for me, is all about hope. I use it as a reminder that I'm not alone - I have the support and love of a Power Greater Than Myself to get me through anything life throws at me - that's hope.

Hope is a blessing in my life and I'm very lucky to have that daily reminder in my very name. It's sort of ironic that I have this name being that I live with depression. Perhaps that is the Universe's way of keeping me around and helping me to as Jared Padalecki's campaign says "Always Keep Fighting".

Part of the fight for me is acceptance - that seems a bit of a oxymoron - fighting and accepting, but accepting that this is not something I can control, accepting that I need  a Higher Power to find hope in my day to day life, and then using the tools I am given to keep up the fight - the tools of the program to battle my addictions and the other tools I've developed to battle this depression. I can use both sets of tools to fight for my very life. I have life threatening diseases - compulsive eating, addiction, and depression are all life threatening and let me tell you that was a difficult truth to accept. I need to accept that and use that hope my Higher Power gifts me with to battle on. My story isn't over and I'm so blessed to have a Higher Power that brought me to this program. The twelve steps of OA are changing my life and they are giving me hope.

One Day at a Time is all that is asked of me. Hope supports and helps me through that one day, every day. Hope and the love of a Power Greater Than Myself - the very Universe Herself. Oh how I am truly blessed.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


I'm feeling a little guilty right now. I made a decision today to not join in with a homeschool co-op that is meeting near our house. Part of me feels like I should for the kids' sake, especially for the girl, but with my commitments to our other homeschool co-op, OA, training on my bike, and my other spiritual work I just think it would be too much. The question is should I cut back my stuff for the sake of my kids?

It's difficult making these kinds of decisions. As a parent my first instinct is to just go for it if it'll make my kids happy, but then I have to stop and take stock of the whole situation. Yes, my kids would probably have fun, but I would end up stressed out and cranky all the time and that wouldn't be good for any of us.

Right now I'm in a pretty good place. I've been abstinent for over 6 months, I'm attending meetings regularly, I'm doing step work with my sponsor, I'm in close contact with my Higher Power daily, I'm riding my bike, and I've just started another program of self discovery a couple of friends published. This work I'm doing is important. I need to find time for it all because ultimately my work makes me a better person and that makes me a better wife and mother.

I'm already committing to 2 hours of classes and an hour of a knitting group plus being the adult advisor for the teen group and on one of the committees for our Thursday co-op. Adding more to my plate right now just wouldn't be good for me.

Reading over this so far, I'm embarrassed by how many "I"'s there are. I feel selfish and self centered. Now this blog is about me and my journey, so it makes sense that I would use a lot of "I" statements, but my instinct in reading this is to push myself aside.

See what I mean? Finding the balance that I need to take care of myself and my family is damn hard!! I need to remember that taking care of myself is taking care of my family. That's a hard one. I'm used to sacrificing myself for others. Putting myself aside and doing. This pattern has led me to self destruction more than once - the last ultimately ended in a suicide attempt. My depression and that struggle is real, my addiction is real, and I need to be honest with myself and take care of myself or I just become incapable of helping anyone else.

So, I made a decision that I feel was best for me and by extension for my family. It may not be a popular decision and I may on some level feel I should be able to do more, but I think it's the right decision.

Now I just need to let go of the guilt.....