Recovery Road

The neighborhood I grew up in claimed a lot of victims in all kinds of ways. I carry an image of the big kids – 17, 18, 19 year olds – hanging out on the church steps partying on Saturday nights. Their voices so loud, we could hear them at the other end of the block.

Some became alcoholics, some drug addicts, some ended up in prison for related issues. Maybe some broke free and got out.

They were just trying new things, trying to have fun, rebelling maybe. No one intends to become an addict.

I was fortunate; when I got older my friends and I sneaked drinks, but I never liked the taste and didn’t try it again until I was much older. Some of my friends continued to drink, try other things. Some didn’t make it into adulthood. Others still fight the battle.

I had no idea what “recovery” was until much later in life when I met people who were struggling. I read Needle by Craig Goodman to gain an understanding of the struggle of addiction. But I’ve come to learn, for many, recovery is a struggle too.

Many people have no understanding of addiction and recovery. I spent a number of years investing myself in the topic to gain that understanding. Addicts lose family, friends and, after awhile, most familiar contacts. Our system is not set up to help people who are in serious trouble. In fact, Dopesick on Hulu shares how part of the problem was created.

My next book – title to be revealed – features a lead character who is finding his way out. Even when an addict feels they are on the other side of the battle, triggers can surprise them.

More to come…..

Tired of Crime and Murder? I’m in the Mood for Holiday Movies but not looking for mushy love stories.

I read an article which stated people who watch a lot of crime shows experience more anxiety. Well, I can totally relate to that. But does that include the news too? Because that’s where I’m getting most of the crime and murder stories these days.

In any case, around this time of year, my mind turns to happy holiday movies. I occasionally watch the corny ones, but many are rehashes of the same old storyline. I wanted to make a few suggestions for movies for anyone who needs a break from real life but doesn’t want to see the mushy meet-cute and sickly sweet romances that seed the streams.

  1. Lovehard – Netflix. Cute take on catfishing. AND they’ve rewritten to one of the best/worst xmas songs. Remember, Baby It’s Cold Outside as sung by Dean Martin and Marilyn Maxwell? It has some very rape-y lyrics. He’s trying to talk her into staying – and then she sings, “what’s in this drink?” Not very appropriate! This movie features a rewritten version by Nina Dobrev and Jimmy O. Yang titled “Maybe just go outside.” “I really must go/No problem there’s the door.” LOVE IT!
  2. No Sleep Til Christmas (HULU) looked a little odd and I almost didn’t take a chance on it. But it was actually a very nice movie. Not too mushy or silly – a different style then the run of the mill holiday romances.
  3. The Truth about Christmas – a comedic and refreshing take on a holiday romance. The reward for honesty is food (and freedom!)
  4. Ghosting: The Spirit of Christmas. Soooo goood! No tween romance here. There is a romance, but soul mates are much more complex than a dating site swipe.

From the family fun list:

  1. The Christmas Chronicles – Kurt Russel and a peek of Goldie Hawn. It’s adventurous and fun!
  2. Christmas on Holly Lane – Friends and family come together on Xmas.
  3. Dash and Lily – had to mention it as it’s not up for renewal, but I’m thinking of writing some fan fic for it.

Finally – ALL TIME FAVORITES!

  1. It’s a Wonderful Life. I am a Jimmy Stewart Fan. (Have you seen Harvey?!)
  2. Scrooged – Billy Murry in the 80’s – Hilarious!
  3. The Ref – not many people are familiar with this. Great for a laugh. It’s dated and completely politically incorrect. If you make it passed the first 10 minutes, you’re in for a treat – uhm, well, if you’re into dark comedy.

Covid-pression

Covid has changed so much of our lives and, sadly, not much for the better. I have to be honest and say some polly-anna part of me thought we would come out of this better people; it appears many have not.

I thought we’d value friendships more, find beauty in the small things, experience next level gratitude. Some have, I suppose; but not without their own trials.

Covid tested all of us. At some level or another we have experienced depression, compression, oppression and it’s all erupted into violence, sadness, selfishness, thoughtlessness. When the going gets tough – I thought the tough went shopping; however, it appears the tough are few and the whiny little bitches of the world have amplified their shitty little messages.

But let us not wallow in the negative. As I tell my students, we can only fix our own little corner of the world. And that is what we must do. If we were all working on making our own little corners better (instead of joining the jackasses), then we are making a difference and that difference will be amplified. Remember that commercial, you tell two friends and they’ll tell two friends and they’ll tell two…. That is what we have to do – but spread good, positive, loving messages.

I’m shaking off my covid-pression (whatever one I’m experiencing this week – cuz it’s always different) and taking back life.

I was looking for a place to volunteer on Thanksgiving. The best thanksgivings I’ve spent have been serving at shelters. At one place I volunteered, families got all dressed up and came together. They sat and chatted with strangers like they were old friends. It beat the hell out of stuffing our faces and sitting back with a belly ache watching the tube.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been painting, baking, hiking, planning trips – and it feels great! It just takes breaking the ice in some way. And the rest will follow. I think it was the idea of volunteering and the memories of our previous years spent serving others which lifted my sense of covidpression.

We have so much to be thankful for – still! We have so much power within ourselves to change our own story and to be part of changing others’ stories.

Wishing you love and contentedness during this season.

The Healing Power of Naps

Some mornings are hard. They come too early. They come on too strong and too bright and far too soon. The dogs need to be fed and the work is calling. Time to get up and go.

The very best thing about those mornings is a glimmer of promise of what the afternoon may bring.

And if the clock slows after lunch, your eyes struggle to stay open, you find yourself yawning, and you sit – just for a moment, and then suddenly, you’re wrapped in a momentary hug of sleep. AKA the nap.

I love the sweet touch of sleep at midday. Not everyday, of course, but some days it’s needed. I love the slow opening of the eyes, the sweeping in of a deep breath, and the stretch before I realize that sleep just wrapped me in a midday hug and it felt wonderful!

Naps have superpowers. They offer life-giving energy, a refresh to continue strong for the rest of the day. And… sometimes they stave off illness. When I’m not feeling my best, a nap puts me right! The Mayo clinic states naps increase alertness and relaxation while improving mood and performance.



When my children were young and they got sick, I would give them a cup of secret bear tea and a nap. They thought it was the secret in the tea that made them feel better, but the secret was only the teaspoon of honey. The real secret to their wellness was the extra sleep which inspired their recovery.

Naps are not just for kids! Adults are afraid to admit they take naps or they are afraid to indulge in such childishness. But – when needed – naps are a gift!

Sleep – hugs can inspire, give us more energy to face the rest of the day. Sleep, in general, is healing. Not only for physical illness, but from all sorts of challenges.

What if We Chose This Life?

Ivy Getty’s Wedding

Have you seen this photo? I admit it took my breath away. For a moment, I thought it was a scene cut from the Great Gatsby. But there’s no Leonardo to be found. This is real. This is someone’s real life. Of course, in some abstract way, we know people are wealthy and have these lives and obviously get married in an extravaganza such as this. But, for a second, I forgot.

So enmeshed in my humble life, satisfied with my little home and my lovely garden, grateful for my girls, and proud of my job – that my mind neglected to remember that some people have larger lives.

I don’t think I’ve been to a concert venue as large as this scene since the Richfield Coliseum. (So long ago, it was before event centers were named for companies and instead for the cities in which they were built.)

Ivy Getty is a part of THE Getty’s. Granddaughter of John Paul – I know the name from The Getty Museum, which I’ve enjoyed on a number of occasions. They used to offer music on a Saturday evening while the galleries and gardens were opened late. Some people know John Paul Getty descended from the JPG The First who was (once) the richest man in the world.

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Many years ago, I heard the theory that, prior to our birth, we choose our lives and the events that happen in our lives.

I railed against the idea. There’s a hellava lot of things that has happened in my life that I would have never agreed too. “I would not have pressed that button!” I insisted.

But now, years down the road, all I’ve been through, all I’ve learned, there have been benefits. I’ve gained levels of empathy that some people can’t comprehend. (A person with a P.H.D in Religious Studies once asked how I could forgive someone who had harmed me when they never asked for forgiveness or showed remorse.) I have a deep gratitude for the things I do have and put people before material things.

I am by no means perfect. I falter in my empathy. I’m occasionally short on patience. When rushing, I can be careless in thought and deed. But mostly, I have sought higher levels of understanding about our purpose and place.

And more often than not I think – maybe I did choose this life.

If we are to believe we are here to learn lessons, to become better beings from incarnation to incarnation, to free ourselves from the evils of humanity – pettiness, jealousy, greed etc, then isn’t it probable that we chose hardships that might teach us acceptance, forgiveness, gratitude.

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If you’ve read this blog for long, you’ll know I was raised in poverty, became a single parent, struggled to put myself through school while raising my children. It might be easy to fall into step with the green-eyed monster and wish for money and power. Wouldn’t that have made life easier? Many of us think it would have or will. However, the financially gifted have their own issues.

John Paul Getty III was kidnapped. His grandfather didn’t want to pony up the dough. So the kidnappers mailed him Junior’s ear. Then a negotiation began. Can you imagine the richest man in the world refusing to pay a ransom for his flesh and blood? Can you imagine your grandpa refusing to give up a paycheck for you?

Streaming services (in addition to the pandemic) has cost higher paid actors their expected income. Health care they were once promised has been affected. We have a whole generation of “stars” who may not be able to live the lives in which they have become accustomed.

In other words, the wealthy have their problems.

One of the reasons I suspect old money doesn’t like to mix with new money or either of those with us peasants is they fear being used, liked, or appreciated only for their $$ and connections. Anyone ever use you? During my college years, I had a few who seemed to only desire my editing skills (such as they are.)

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I am grateful for the lessons learned. I’m grateful the things that happened weren’t worse. I’m happy I am able to help those I can. Thank you, Universe, for healthy offspring, a brain that works, friends that are true, the capacity to love, the understanding to forgive, the acceptance, empathy, and desire to strive to continue to become a better person. (I imagine these are gifts bequeathed to me from challenges faced and overcome.)

I wish Ivy (Love that name!) Getty and her crew the best. May their marriage be loving and their children healthy.

Drama is Not a Superpower

Some time ago – in a pre-pandemic incarnation – I had tickets to a live television show. I invited a man I’d gone out with a few times. We needed to be there by two to insure seating by four. He offered to drive, said he knew right where it was.

He showed up a few minutes late, not a big problem. He’d neglected to fill his gas tank. There’s a few more minutes. He hops on the freeway. Then, he suddenly says, do you have the directions? I quickly program the location into my map app. He misses the exit. We’re officially late. When we get off, he makes a left rather than a right. He turns down the wrong street. He passes the entrance. Turns around. Passes it again. We are so late, I’m doubting they’ll let us in. Someone points us to the parking lot – “any spot on floor number four.” He spins around floor four, goes to five, comes back down to four. There are plenty of spaces, but he keeps saying, I’m not sure we’re allowed to park here, to which I reiterate, “they said any spot.”

You get where this is going. We were too late – far too late – and refused entry.

We stopped for a coffee while trying to figure out our next move. He asked me if I was mad about missing the show. “Disappointed.” I admitted. He insinuated I was staring at the man at the next table. “Do you know him? Why are you looking at him?” I responded, “I’m looking at the hat,” which I was. He continued to say things until I realized he was attempting to start a fight in a public place.

I knew a woman from a group of friends who, every time we got together, needed to reiterate her earthquake story. “The teapots fell from the highest shelf.” “My favorite dish broke, ruined the whole set.” “My garden pots fell over.”(I’d lost my home and nearly all my material possessions – my lovely daughters and myself were saved – and I didn’t bring it up at every meeting. We were safe. We were together. We were rebuilding our lives.) But the woman continued to tell us how they’d bilked their insurance company into getting them a new kitchen floor. “It was so horrifying,” she’d remember, “seeing my teapots in pieces all over the floor.” Occasionally shedding tears over the broken porcelain.

On a girls’ trip to New York, one of the ladies began acting terribly. She walked ahead of us, lost us on the subway, and headed back to the hotel. Worried for her, we rang and texted. When we returned to the hotel to check on her, she began bawling uncontrollably, angrily sobbing she’d lost someone in 9/11, and we were being inconsiderate. She’d never told any of us she’d lost someone. We gathered around, comforted her, allowed her some time to breathe and then asked. Through tears she said, it was her insurance agent. Upon further urging, she said her insurance company had an office in one of the towers. With more questions to understand the nature of her upset, she let us know that she really hadn’t known any one personally, but the company that held her insurance had an office in New York. She thinks it was in one of the towers. But we were still inconsiderate bitches for now allowing her to have time to grieve.

Some people need drama like they need caffeine. It’s a rush or a high. They create these pseudo-connections to big events like 9/11 or the Northridge Earthquake and anchor their heartaches on that. Others, as in my first example, create scenarios in which drama can be espoused; not getting a rise out of me, he further tried to instigate an argument in public.

Of course, the internet, tik-tok, youtube, etc are filled with viral videos of someone losing their shit.

We’ve all been there – had a moment of weakness. In this time of pandemic faux-recovery, it’s no wonder we see so many freak outs on film; however, some people thrive on it. They don’t coincidentally lose it when a camera happens to be filming, they act out often. (And I do mean act!) They get some sort of sick pleasure from it. It’s a release of sorts for them.

One woman who was an accomplished drama queen admitted it was her form of power. “Lose it sometime and watch how people jump and run to get you what you want.”

Drama is not a superpower. Drama is an immature response to a given situation.

You want to know what power is? Hold your temper. Keep your drama to yourself. Think for a moment. Consider the situation. Question your response. Then proceed.

This world is filled with people who need the rush of drama, the need for “power,” with Karen’s, and an array of people who want to act inappropriately in public. The world does not need anyone else to lose their cool.

I stood behind a guy in line who railed at the clerk because the gift card he was trying to purchase wasn’t working. The clerk walked the guy to another register, apologizing the whole time, while the customer called him an idiot, an asshole, and other assorted names. When the clerk returned, he apologized to me for my wait. I told him not to worry. My pick-up wasn’t ready. He apologized for that, cringing, expecting, so I believe, that I would go full Karen on him. I did not, I refused to make his day any worse because of things that were beyond his control. I told him I’d browse the store for a bit and come back.

In a few moments, I heard my name over the loud speaker. Not only had the clerk rushed my pick-up, but he threw in a few extras as he thanked me over and over for my patience.

There are benefits – besides dignity – although that’s a great one! – for being patient, courteous, drama-free. It’s low blood pressure, a steady heart beat, a clear mind, the ability to sleep at night. Nothing good comes from lashing out and hurting others.

Drama is a weak person’s attempt at a power grab.

Empathy is a superpower. Humanity is a superpower. Serenity is a superpower. And they all leave you feeling a hellava lot better than freaking out.

Healthy Buys, Healthy Sells

Some time ago, a woman said to me, “women only wear make-up to attract men.” She was an educated woman, a natural beauty with long, dark hair who, at that time, had given up the habits of her younger self.

Another woman, a writer, seemed to shove her face forward as she insisted, “make-up is a waste of valuable time!” Yet, her casual clothes matched with an unsurpassed precision. Her sweater and socks were the exact same shade of green. Her khaki pants the same shade as her blouse and shoes. The purse, belt, and even earrings stunned in a matte brown.

In the early 1920’s, in America, make-up was something only actors/actresses wore. At that time, actresses were a step away from prostitutes. While their performances were enjoyed, their virtue was questionable. However, the invention of color films, the grease paint was tossed aside and actresses wore a heavier pancake make-up. Before long, women across the country longed for to color their lips, blush their cheeks, bat their eyes with magic mascara lashes. Max Factor invented in cosmetics for the average woman. Pharmacists were trained across the country, and women would get their cosmetics, and instructions on application, from the same.

I didn’t wear cosmetics until I was maybe 18, didn’t become a regular consumer until my 20s. At about the same time the first woman accused me of trying to “attract men,” I’d read an article which stated women who wear cosmetics make more money, raise to the top in business faster, and are taken more seriously. A 20/20 investigation showed that even kindergartners are unconsciously affected by their teachers who wear makeup. They had two teachers read the exact same story to the exact same class and even though the teachers read it nearly the same, the students showed preferential bias for the woman who wore makeup citing facts which didn’t exist such as “she did more voices,” “she read it better,” and the like.

Clear skin, bright eyes, and shiny hair indicates a healthy person. It’s built into the survival of our species to prefer the healthy partner. Perhaps we equate healthy with the beauty standards of the current era. More so, these days, women with a blush on their cheeks, lush lashes, and better than there lips fall under the assumptions of someone who takes care of themselves, perhaps women who seek more, the portion of the species that will provide successful reproduction activities.

At the age of 20, I went for a job wherein the woman hiring me said, “You have to wear makeup every day. We can’t have the customers thinking your sick.” I must not have been wearing enough that day as I didn’t get the job.

At the age of 30, I had a man leave a note on my car, “I saw you go in. I love women who don’t wear a lot of makeup, call me.” My friends laughed, “I guess he didn’t see you well enough.” I thought maybe I wore just enough. Enough to look healthy, but not enough to look like I was trying too hard.

These days, there are a lot more options to choose from. A different look for every day.

And, when doing videos, a little duct tape and spackle helps.

Gratitude is my Kool-aid

As I composed a text regarding people’s past pain, something popped up in my newsfeed that gave me pause.

A conversation recently reminded me of previous chats with someone who always decried what their parents did not do for them. Some people live in their past pain. They blame their parents or past relationships for how they interact in the world or for what they have neglected to accomplish.

There is no doubt that our primary relationships affect us in many different ways. However, I’ve always maintained that once you discover the problem, it’s up to you to correct the issue.

Someone once told me – if the kids get to 18 and they’re still alive, then the parents have done their job. As a parent, I say – if only it were that simple!

As a child, my parents did not do everything right. However, I think they did the best they could with what they were given. I survived. I moved beyond their lack and created a successful path.

As a parent, I tried my best to do everything in my power to make certain my children’s needs and desires were met while trying to teach them appropriate boundaries. No parent is perfect and I probably made mistakes. But my kids are pretty damn great humans!

Some people live in their pain. They live on their parents’ mistakes, blaming and crying foul, and using that as an excuse for their failures.

I feel they’re wasting their time, wasting their lives in this pain. Move forward. Move on. Get the help you need and become the person you want to be. All of our parents did the best they could given their own lack. It is up to us to learn from their mistakes and find what we need in this life.

Now – the post which gave me pause to rethink my position came from Jeff Brown.

The practice of empathy tells me I should heed his advice and allow those feeling the pain of their victimhood their own time frame. Emotions, in some theories, don’t have a timeline. When we are in pain, it’s hard to consider moving beyond it. It does take time.

I do have to ask – are we victims of our parents’ deficits?

One person told me they felt their whole life had been affected by their lack of a father. They believed their life would have been much different, much better had their father stuck around.

I said – what if he was abusive? what if he was an alcoholic? what if he was in and out of prison?

The person balked at my questions. They grew angry with my insinuation.

BUT – is it not true?

We idealize what we do not have. We think things would have been better had we had this or been given that. Life is never that simple!

Many people recognize and appreciate the hard work of their single mother or single parent instead of wishing for what they did not have.

I’m among those who live with and on gratitude. I do not and can not live in the past. Those who live in the past or live on the pain of their past can not move forward to a successful future.

Gratitude for what we have, for what the lack teaches us, helps us appreciate our life and our opportunities. Most of us wake up every morning healthy, able to see the blue skies (or grey skies as of late), and hear the birds singing. We are able to walk across the floor, flip on the lights, work and play. We may experience sadness, heartache, but these things teach us valuable lessons about ourselves and our lives – if we’re smart.

Gratitude, if you’re unaware, is the act of being thankful for those things we do have. If you’re new to the practice, keep a gratitude journal. Write down every morning or every evening (or even carry it with you) and log the gifts the day has given. Start recognizing what you have. Focus on you and not those around you who seem like they might have more, do more, be more. We don’t know others’ true stories or true feelings. We need to recognize that too!

Halloween Horror Date # 1

I’m a fan of All Hallows Eve. Scary Stories are music to my ears. Horry movies are my jam! Halloween Horror nights at local parks and haunted houses are favorite past time during the month of October.

Some years ago, I went to Knotts Halloween Nights. We went with friends and family. I arrived hungry for the scares in the mazes. The guy I’m with is a big guy – nearly six feet, but soft around the middle, cuddly – like a teddy bear.

Once inside the mazes, he gripped my hand, walking slightly in front of me, nearly pulling me along behind him. Every time a ghoul, ghost, or themed monster jumped out – he raised his fist to them. After the first few attempted scares, no more monsters spooked us. And my excited energy turned to boredom with the simple walk through set.

My family and friends deserted us, went their own way. I suggested he not raise his fist or hand, assuring him that the workers wouldn’t touch us or hurt us, and warning we could get thrown out. He brushed it off.

I assumed, and it was later confirmed by one of the workers, they had walkie-talkies or cameras and after he jumped back at the scarer with a flabby balled hand, the characters are to no longer interact. The actors are not paid to be punched. They are not there to be hit.

This ruined the fun of night. Why would a teddy bear turn into terror teddy, pulling me a long behind him, and threatening the very reason we came to the park? I assume he was afraid, more afraid than he wanted me to know. He’d never acted tough or aggressive before that night.

As far as after that night – I made like Halloween and ghosted him.

Blast from the Past: Read A True Halloween Creeper Story

Scary Fiction: $1.00 Stories and Eddy