Diane’s homecoming dance 2016

I’m still learning how to properly insert images into my posts so please bear with me while I learn….thank you:)

Yesterday was Diane’s homecoming dance…she went with a group of friends and I’m not posting the other group photos without permission out of respect for those kids and parents…but boy did they all look so beautiful and happy and grown up (tear).

Yesterday was pure joy for me.  We spent the day finding earrings & shoes, getting her hair styled and our nails manicured…and it was a blast.  It’s moments like this when she’s dressed up so adult-ish that I feel the passing time so strongly and appreciate the joy of the moment and the day so deeply.

Happy Sunday to everyone !



Self care & toxic people

Yesterday I received a text from an “ex” boyfriend that in retrospect, was quite the toxic partner.  (We dated for the last two years before I quit drinking…and I never introduced him to my family). Anyway, he texted me unexpectedly to tell me that he wouldn’t date me now because he “saw me the other day and I didn’t look as sexy “.

Of course, I consider myself a self-respecting woman so it pains me to type out the words that even indicate that I ever spent time with this man.

And I am human, so the fact that anyone randomly decided to text me out of the blue and insult me so personally is a little unsettling.

But, luckily I’m  not an emotionally broken basketcase of depression and anxiety any longer (on most days anyway) so I gave myself a day to process this before reacting to it.

And I decided of course not to react to him in any way.  I pressed delete and moved on.

Now, the part where I reflect…where I realize that he sent that kind of text precisely because the Jenn he knew a few years ago could be baited and manipulated with a demeaning text…and I probably don’t look sexy to him because in general, I don’t attract the same type of people in my life overall…somehow after a couple of years of self-care, growth, increasing comfort with my own authenticity…well it seems that I just don’t attract the crazies in my life like I used to.

It may sound bold of me to say…but I think the broken neurotic drinking Jenn attracted abusive men (and disregarding friends too).  And then she kept accepting that kind of behavior as normal.

I’m here to tell you that after a couple of years of taking care of myself on purpose…my entire existence has changed.  All of my priorities are different.  All of my paradigms of how I even see myself have changed.

So, I’m going to shake off that mean text and enjoy my life.  This week, my 16 year old has her homecoming dance, then a dress-up event at school next week where she’s going as the poison ivy character from batman (the not-racy version since she attends Catholic school)…anyway I’ve been having a blast this week shopping for dresses, making hair and nail appointments for the day of the dance and helping her make her costume.  I truly do find myself lately just stopping the busy-ness of my life to fully enjoy all the things that matter…like the last few years of my daughter’s childhood.  And I’m beyond excited in an almost child-like manner for this year’s upcoming family Thanksgiving dinner. We’re traveling to visit with family for a week next month.

I’m taking care of the things that matter, and letting go of the things that don’t.  It’s pretty nice actually.




Paying my bills on time

Lately, in my quest to “have my shit together” (this is a major accomplishment by a former wine-guzzling procrastinator), I have taken to focusing on rebuilding my credit score…for some reason it didn’t work out well to pay all my bills late for several years in a row (LOL).  (Note: Even when my mortgage was 60 days late…somehow there was always, always still money for bottles/boxes of wine.)

Recently, I subscribed to this monthly service that sends me credit alerts when my score changes.  At first, this was difficult to look at because for years I simply didn’t check my credit score, and I just ignored it and went and bought more wine while blaming my financial situation on “hardship”.  (That plan didn’t work well either).

When I signed up for the credit monitoring service, my first hurdle was just sitting here looking at my credit score, accepting that it wasn’t the perfect thing that it was for many years (I really took a lot of pride in it for a long time)…and then I further accepted that my lowered credit score, and paying bills late, and even my wine-guzzling itself…those were all symptoms, or cries out from the healthy part of me that just couldn’t live the way I was living anymore….so, I’ve accepted it.  I can open up that web-page and look at my credit score, and be okay.  This is where I am.  I’m not going to hide from who I’ve been, and I’m not going to let the past stop me from getting healthier, better and wiser…and I’m not going to let it stop me from accepting myself and those around me as they are.

Okay…back to the credit score.  I opened up my report this morning to find that my score has increased by 40 points in two months.  Wow!  Tangible evidence that I’m getting my shit together!  I love it🙂  For me, this credit score thing isn’t just about numbers and finance (I’m a finance and math major, which at times only makes the self-berating voice worse because I “know” better).  But geez…spending more than you make, or self-sabotage through paying bills late…those things don’t happen because we don’t understand numbers…they are symptoms of deeper conflict, or cries for help even.

My bottom line is that I feel immensely, overwhelmingly grateful this morning to be sober, healing, and on a path of self-care.  Something as simple as “pay your bills” is not that simple for me:  I had to stop drinking long enough to be able to address all the other stuff, to be able to consistently go to work on time, to shed my depression and anxiety, to stand up for myself and not let other family members take advantage of me…and then to play an almost two-year game of catch up (over the past two years, I kept trying to catch up my finances and then something else, often due to my past neglect) would pop up and derail me temporarily.

Something as appearingly mundane as “my bills are paid on time and my credit score is rising”…well there’s a whole world of growth, self-care, sober-time, perseverence, and healing wrapped up in that seemingly uneventful little statement.

And it’s nice that I’m accepting enough of myself that I can blog about this.  A few years ago…I’d have sooner died than publicly admit that I once drank too much and didn’t pay my bills.

Acceptance.  Growth. I love it.



I go to work each day at a job that is “below” what I “should” be making….

About 8 years ago I worked for a bank that is actually right across the street from where I work now (three miles from my home, three miles from my daughter’s school).  I was offered a promotion which took me to a 40 minute commute and longer hours.  It was a lot more money. I thought I had made the right decision.  Only after several years did I learn just how valuable my time and freedom really is.  My family never realized any benefit from the additional income because of all the things I didn’t even know to factor in to my decision of where to work:  I was spending tons of money ordering pizzas and paying someone to be at my home every afternoon for my kids.  12 hour days wore me down and it was around this time in life that I started picking up my drinking some (after all…I was working all the time and a single momma so I “deserved” it…LOL) .  I was also working in an industry that welcomed lunchtime drinks and overindulgent after-work “wine-socials”….I missed flute recitals and soccer games….I missed dinners and homework hour…and it was soul-crushing for me…I fought with my kids…I missed parent teacher conferences…I grew frustrated, overworked and sullen.

So back to now…Over the past few weeks I have begun to lose sight of that story that I just told you.  Why?  Well, recently one friend got promoted to a position of high esteem…then another got appointed a professor position…and without me even realizing it the inner dialogue started:  “What’s wrong with you?  You are as smart as them…why are you working some middle management underpaid job? If only you hadn’t ______(fill in the blank with all the ways I found to berate myself)”.

So last week I listened to this berating voice (that has me convinced that I’m just losing the race with the Jones’ where my career is concerned) and I promptly submitted an application with my company for a job that pays a good deal more…but with a good deal more responsibility.  On the other side of town.  I am qualified for this job and will likely interview next week.

Then last night I was sitting on the couch with my daughter and she snuggled up to me and told me how wonderful she thinks our life is.  As she was saying this, I had been looking around me at all the projects I had to do to “update” my house so I that when I get my new position I can be proud to entertain people in a house that would impress someone.  In the moments before my daughter spoke I was thinking how shitty everything is:  My house is ugly, my job is beneath me, I am still 15 or 20 lbs overweight, I am getting old and no one will ever want to marry me, my clothes are ugly,…ugh!

My daughter’s comment was powerful and it “snapped me out of it”.  What the hell am I doing?  Berating myself? Purposely applying for a job that won’t allow me to spend time with my family, go to school, or have breathing room?  Oh my.

I decided to take some time this morning to be still and seek gratitude.  All those years ago when I was in the high-paying position but miserable, I used to dream of having a job that would be “enough” but still allow me to do all the things I love to do…cook for my family, garden, take walks, further my education, volunteer…etc.  And I have that now.  I HAVE EXACTLY WHAT I ASKED FOR…And I’m not happy?

Wait a minute…I actually AM happy.  BUT I was allowing a very shitty mind-set to propel me to start comparing myself to other people…to look around me with a magnifying glass at all of the things that are “wrong”.

I think I mentioned it before but this month, September of 2016…I can honestly say that all my bills are current and I’ve got my stuff together.  I’m eating healthier and have lost some weight and I’m even finding peace with food in a very substantial and meaningful way.  And I’m absolutely LOVING going to school…(I actually was offered a job in their tutoring center because of how much I help out other students).  So many positives.  Good health.  Enough money.  Opportunity. Living in a safe neighborhood and in a town where the economy is booming.  An upcoming trip to see family for Thanksgiving.

This morning when my daughter woke up, she looked out the front door at some basil seeds we had planted (which we harvested from the mother plant last week)…and she said with absolute delight and light-heartedness “Come look mamma…the basil babies are here!).  She is 16.  She was smiling ear to ear and looking down at the tiny, tiny little sprouts with awe and delight. She was truly lost in the joy of the moment at the wonder that a plant could make seeds that make other new plants come to life.  She did not care how much money we make, or if I had the latest granite counter-tops, or if my hair is grey…

After I took her to school…I broke down in tears of gratitude that I have my daughter to set me straight…Today I vow to practice acceptance, gratitude and self-care…and be mindfully present in my life.






600 days

Well, today is 603 to be exact.  I don’t count days anymore like I used to, but consecutive sober time definitely matters.

Living life alcohol-free has allowed me to heal from some pretty ugly stuff.  It’s taken some time for sure.  And I had to be away from the sauce long enough to even be present enough in my own life to even know what the hell it is I need to heal from.  And then I had to heal enough from the alcohol abuse so that I could grow strong enough and become grounded enough to begin the journey of really repairing the damaged areas of my life.

I’m not the same person anymore.  That’s both exhilarating and scary.  Damn, it’s hard to give up parts of  yourself even when they’re toxic…but it’s so damn worth it!….

I just started an MBA program and it feels good to be back in school. I’m prepared for my classes and on time…and I am happy to be in a place of learning.  (Compare with last three years of drinking where I attempted the same thing but didn’t show up so had to drop the first class, TWICE).

As of this very month, September 2016, all of my bills are current and paid on time!  No…I haven’t paid off my debt…that will take about 5 years.  Right now I work at a job that pays less than what I “could” get…but I am 3 miles from home, 3 miles from my daughter’s school, and I make the schedule which allows me to balance motherhood, work and my school.  I have also started back my business…very part time..just taking on 1-2 students at a time (about 2 hours a week).  I am not wealthy but I have enough right now.  Enough to sustain us, enough to fuel my and my kids ambitions, make some home improvements and travel to see family for our Thanksgiving holiday.

Things are taken care of. I go to the doctor, the dentist, take the dog to the vet, mow the lawn before it’s 6″ high (most of the time LOL)…do my laundry, budget my money…get things repaired and maintained, etc…All this sounds so damn mundane but a couple of years ago my life was a shitstorm of chasing my tail and reacting to one “crisis” after another.

I am making peace with food and my body.  This is no small feat…and it’s not separate from my drinking…it’s completely entangled with everything…right now I don’t eat anything processed or with chemicals at all, or wheat, dairy or sugar. It was a hard transition at first (and not something to enter into lightly, or in early sobriety)…after only a month of 100% giving those things up I feel very calm and balanced.  I stopped weighing myself (although I was overweight, my scale obsession really got unhealthy). I’ve lost 2 clothes sizes, a couple inches each from my waist and hips each…my joints don’t ache, I can think clearly…and the most amazing thing is that I have no cravings for food…I’ve spent most of my life pretty obsessed with my food choices so the mental break of not obsessing is very, very freeing.  I have no idea in time if I’ll have the occasional sugar treat or not (for treats, I have limited myself to naturally occurring sugar like bananas and mangoes).  I’m not limiting the amount I eat…I now eat when I’m hungry…my appetite seems to have regulated itself which is a minor miracle…I’ve seriously spent most of my life either feeling hungry or overeating…I’m going to continue on like this (strictly) for a while to give my body the opportunity to continue to heal.  Like I said this was hard at first…but now I’m discovering new food dishes, and new ways to cook (think more herbs and healthy fats…no cheese and sugar or creamy,sugary sauces etc.).

I still have times where I feel low.  Occasionally very low.  And I still get scared, overwhelmed, sad at the quick passage of time, impatient for what I want, etc. BUT, I seem to be able to handle these things with a growing sense of balance and grace that I didn’t have a couple of years ago.  I’ve actually stopped expecting life to be exactly as I want it to be (and then throwing a two-year-old tantrum and saying, “if life is going to be shitty, then I will (fill in blank with self-destructive thing like drink, smoke, overeat, date a jerk, spend stupid money, pick fight with someone I love, etc.)”.

I feel stronger and healthier than I have in years.  I love getting a good night’s sleep.  I love that I can drive anywhere I want and never worry about getting pulled over or killing someone.  I love remembering everything. I love that I am a good, present mom and leader of my family.  And I really love respecting and having faith in myself.  





Notes from the journey…

I’ve moved on to a phase of my journey where I’m facing some of my non-alcohol demons head-on. (I’m pretty convinced that the wine is directly related though).  One HUGE benefit of having stayed sober for 19 months, is that I now truly believe that I’m capable of significant and lasting change/healing.

I’m about 21 days into a nutrition plan where I don’t limit the amount I eat, but I only eat meat, seafood, fruits, veggies & nuts…no processed stuff, wheat, dairy or sugar (for now).  The first week had me thinking my life was over.  Now on week three, I’m feeling so very balanced and I’m enjoying not feeling out of control with food.  I still make treats with fruit…some are pretty good actually. I’m convinced that one or more of the things I eliminated from my diet is quite bad for me…because my appetite has leveled out and I feel full of energy now. I have faith I’ll figure it out over time.  I put away the scale, and I’m focusing on feeding my physical and spiritual growth and healing.  It’s kind of hard to explain. But it’s going well.

And I’m facing my financial issues in a more head-on fashion.  I need to.  It’s the one area where I still tend to lie to myself and that just doesn’t work for me anymore.  I’m in debt, and I won’t be out soon (which can seem overwhelming).  But I am living on a reasonable budget now…a balanced one that allows for some treats and fun…but respects that I have long term goals too.

With each of these things, I’m finally forgiving myself…which I’ve discovered is a quite necessary thing.  For me, the more shame I feel…the more hopeless I feel…the more powerless I feel..the more I want to fill that hole in my gut with something.  The more I forgive and let go…the more I accept myself the way I am…the more power I have in my own life…and the more peaceful that life is.

Sometimes this sober life is so awesome…that I’m afraid somebody will pinch me and I’ll wake up.




My happy places


I awoke this morning…my 16 year old daughter slept in my bed beside me last night and she was still peacefully asleep. Watching her, I felt a breathtaking well of deep joy and happiness in my soul…I thought to myself “The Happiness Tag”!

I was recently tagged in the happiness post (where you’re asked to post 5 things that make you happy and 5 songs that make you happy)…OOPS…I am sometimes so awful about responding to people (because I’m busy, because I’m a little scatterbrained, etc)…I had been nominated to post about my what makes me happy (probably about a week ago. Sorry  Lulu for the delay. Sobriety has not yet cured my lateness)…So here it goes.  5 things that make me happy:

  1. When my daughter says “I love you so much Momma” and smiles at me.   I am so grateful to spend these last four years of her childhood with her…with me sober and aware…capable of true parenting with love and leadership.  We have been through so much together…my divorce, her father’s abuse (to me) her father’ abandonment (of her)…my breakdown and recovery.  We have survived the death of my father, death of my brother…She’s stood here watching me set boundaries and all of the (sometimes painful) family realignment that entails, dig our way out of a financial mess, quit drinking, learn to take care of myself.  Today she is a student at a well-respected private school and she’s thriving…she loves her friends and her teachers…she’s a leader in the school and she’s respected.  I was just recently accepted to an MBA program which I start next week…and I have a position as a program manager that’s close to home so I can work, go to school and be her mom.  It makes me happy to know that my joy is found in the journey…in the day to day…in what used to be mundane.
  2.  Knowing I’m done working for the week, and not having to be anywhere so I can just “be” at  home. Often this is nestled up on my couch, watching whatever Netflix show has me intrigued or perhaps reading a good book, with a cup of coffee..or eating something yummy (see next item on the list!)
  3. Cooking a delicious meal from scratch…especially when many of the ingredients come from my garden. And then sharing that meal.  In the height of my heavy drinking/breakdown years I stopped cooking real food or growing my gardens…I was so broken that all I managed to do was buy something prepared and throw it on the table and think to myself, “at least everyone is eating dinner”.  I comes from an old way of thinking where I would tell myself that I’m not a problem-drinker as long as I take care of my “responsibilities”.  I can’t tell you how much joy I robbed myself of.  I’ve just begun keeping one garden that has rosemary, thyme, basil, mint, and dill.  I’m working on my fall garden of tomatoes and winter veggies….I love the sweet smell of fertile soil…I love stepping outside to pluck some mint leaves and steeping mint tea for a nightime relaxer, or grabbing a handful of rosemary for the potatoes I’m roasting.  I love that I’m putting the joy and nourishment back into cooking, preparing and eating food.
  4. Figuring out a complex problem or challenge. I’m kind of an analysis junkie.  I’m wickedly good at breaking down a problem or situation and finding out-of-the-box solutions. I’ve got a knack for seeing the conncectedness of seemingly-unconnected aspects of things.   For a long time I doubted myself and second guessed myself constantly…my career and my financial situation reflected this.  After 19 months sober and growing and taking care of myself…I feel free to be me…which happens to be a bit of a “nerd”.  I love that recovery has freed me up to be myself and helped me remove the barriers (mostly in my mind) to my joy and success.  Now, instead of trying to turn myself into whatever I think it is that someone wants me to be…I instead feel free to be myself and I look for people who will like/love/respect me  to add to my tribe.
  5. Hope. I find tremendous joy in the feeling of hope that lives in me where once there was utter hell-ish despair.  I may have appeared to hide it back then because I worked, fed my kids at night, went to parties, had a good professional hairdresser, etc…I could wake up feeling like I wanted to die, not knowing exactly where I had been, or what I’d said to whom…but despite feeling like death I’d put my work clothes on and trudge through my day, head pounding, wondering where the next catastrophe was coming from and just trying to survive until wine-o-clock. I think I pretty much lived in a state of despair. I often thought that I was just biding my time until I die.  Now…even when I’m going through something that sucks…I have an inner sense of hope that is a miracle. And when I sit and reflect on this hope, I am happy to know that there will be more happiness.


I’m running out of time to post…so I’m going to think about my happiness songs and post those in one of my next posts.  Until then….