Archive | November 2015

Loved, Connected & Blessed

I’m back home from spending Thanksgiving Day and most of Black Friday with my Pasadena family. It was simply phenomenal to hang with my grandkids, Ava (3) and Charlie (22 mos.), their mama, Mary who I usually think of and refer to as my daughter-in-love or my grandbaby mama when I’m feeling playful, and my oldest son Charles. Mary lives next door to her parents and her brother also lives close by.12274594_10208342243855969_6137889636103272300_n This is the second year in a row that I’ve been invited to spend the Thanksgiving weekend in Pasadena and I had a great time last year too. I was asked to bring my collard greens, rolls and Martinelli’s again this year and I volunteered to bring macaroni  & cheese. The greens and mac & cheese were a hit. Mary and her mother made everything else: turkey, stuffing, gravy, broccoli & cauliflower casserole, mashed potatoes, ambrosia, freshly made cranberry sauce, apple pie, pumpkin pie, and pecan pie. Oh my gosh, it was delicious and obscenely filling! Once we’ve stuffed ourselves, the food is cleared from the table by dividing it between the two households, getting everything put away and the dishes done. Nearly NONE of which they allow me to help with because they are compulsively awesome that way. Once the grandkids are put to sleep, we ladies head out to the stores in search of Black Friday deals! Mary, her mother Marie, and I get along really well and we learned last year that we shop well together too. In fact, last year we broke into a spontaneous chorus of “My Favorite Things” in Target last year. This year we were too tired for public displays of holiday cheer, but we sang Christmas songs in the truck on the way to the mall and back.

I want to backtrack a bit to Wednesday. I was invited to two places Wednesday night after work. My BFF Sarah’s father was in town from Alaska and she invited me over for dinner since I wouldn’t get to see him for Thanksgiving. Before I went to Pasadena for this holiday the past two years, I  would spend Thanksgiving with Sarah and her family. We’d been doing that for probably six or seven years, so her father would wonder where I was. Additionally, my spiritual advisor was coming to town to spend the night at her daughter’s house, who happens to be my other BFF, Dawny. Doris, my advisor, invited me to spend some time with her to talk about the retreat she’d just been to and show me some of the meditations she experienced. I said yes to both invitations and went to Sarah’s house first for dinner. Not only was her father, Mr. Cardwell there, but so were her sister, Lynn, and brother-in-law, Rod from Arizona! I was so happy I made it over for dinner to catch up with all of them. The first thing Lynn asked when she saw me walk in the door was, “what time are you getting here in the morning to go hiking?” As part of our Thanksgiving tradition at Sarah’s, I would come over early Thursday morning and we would hike. Sarah hadn’t told them I would be going to Pasadena yet, so I explained I would be spending the holiday with my grandkids, which everybody understood. A few more folks came by and some of us went out onto the back patio to light up the fire pit.12301697_10208338101832421_8945161186430749798_n We had fun outside warming by the fire pit since it was a chilly 44 degrees and taking selfies. I headed over to Dawny’s house afterward and caught up with Doris. Dawny was out for awhile so we had plenty of quiet time to talk about Doris’ retreat and listen to some of the meditations she had recorded on her phone. Dawny got home after that and we had a grand old time just talking, laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Then some more friends came over and it got even better. I finally made it home around 9:30ish to finish up my chores before going to bed.

The next morning, Thanksgiving morning, I got a later start than I had planned. I was busy showering, dressing, packing (because I always pack last minute) and getting ready to leave. I was putting my phone charger in my purse when I realized there was something in there I didn’t recognize. It kind of stopped me in my frenzied, travel preparing tracks because I wasn’t comprehending why it was in my purse.12279106_10208341069906621_4261504429936185104_n Then it dawned on me. Someone, somewhere Wednesday night slipped a Feng Shui LOVE hand carved jade luck charm into my purse for me. It’s beautiful and is supposed to bring me luckiness. I hung it in my car. Wow. I called my Mom on the drive up to Pasadena. My middle child, Lyndon call me after I got to Pasadena so he also got to talk to his niece Ava. Her eyes got all wide when I told her who was calling me. She came flying across the room to sit next to me and said, “I wanna talk to Unca Yindon”, So she did. I never heard from Baby Bub, but I am learning to accept as a mother of all adult children now that 2 out of 3 is pretty damn good.

I realize I am incredibly blessed to be connected to and loved by so many. I am incredibly fortunate to feel at home and be a part of many families. More importantly, as I continue to accept myself and by extension accept others, the better I am able to connect with and love my friends and family for who they are on their own terms. This more than anything is was I’m truly grateful for.

My Gratitude List


  • God
  • Sobriety/AA/NA
  • Family, near and far
  • My Grandkids (yes, I know they are family but they still get their own separate designation on Mae-Mae’s list)
  • My Children (see wording in parenthesis above)
  • Friends that have become family over the years
  • Sister-friends
  • My Therapist
  • My Sponsor
  • My Teachers
  • My Health
  • A Home
  • My Job
  • My awesome co-workers
  • Economic Security
  • My writing
  • Yoga
  • Prayer
  • Meditation
  • Hugs
  • My Sense of Humor
  • Honesty
  • Spiritual Growth
  • Love
  • Connection
  • Courage
  • Strength
  • Authenticity
  • Compassion
  • Empathy
  • The Direction My Life is Headed
  • Books
  • Movies
  • NBA Basketball
  • Good Food
  • Hiking
  • Music
  • Art
  • My Community
  • Freedom
  • Holidays
  • Holiday Food

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There’s Always That One Thing

Why do we let the one disappointing thing spoil how we feel about ourselves?

Despite going into a ridiculously full weekend with major sleep deprivation, I managed to accomplish and get through nearly all I had planned. I mentioned before that I am celebrating 19 years in sobriety this week and I was scheduled to have three sobriety tokens presented to me at three separate meetings on Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday morning. I had also previously signed up for an Essential Oils Workshop Saturday afternoon at my yoga studio from 1:00-3:30. All that in addition to my normal Saturday morning Yin Yoga class and getting laundry done.

Having sobriety tokens presented to me was a very moving and humbling experience. I stood up in front of the meeting with a friend, who presented me with a token and said incredibly meaningful things about me and my sobriety. Then I, the token recipient gave a little speech as well. But before all that, there’s a birthday cake with lit candles presented as a round of “Happy Birthday” is sung by the group! Friday night, my best friend, Sarah, presented me with a homemade token she made out of wood and painted in the colors of my favorite team, The Miami Heat. 12243213_10208309288472105_7063153001548746054_nIt’s beautiful and the first homemade token anyone has ever made for me. Saturday night, my girl Dawny presented me with a birthday cheesecake from Costco with “I AM EMPATHY” written on it and a bag of Chicago Mix popcorn with a huge red velvet bow tied around it! Sunday morning my Sally girl baked me a yellow cake with chocolate icing (delicious!) and my dear friend Maureen presented me with a 19-year token that belonged to her man, another dear, dear friend in this program because “we keep what we have by giving it away”.


The Essential Oils Workshop on Saturday afternoon was awesome. I learned about essential oils and made 4 different items from them with simple organic household items! I made a lemon-peppermint body scrub, lavender-frankincense bath salts, lemon yoga mat cleaner and blue lotus body butter. 12065856_10208313772624206_5686291901658113177_nThe facilitator, Joy, even included decorating supplies so we could give some as gifts. It was a really fun and interesting way to pass a Saturday afternoon. I’m thinking of either buying my own supplies to make gifts for Christmas or take her next workshop on December 12th! It was another busy weekend full of amazing events and my normal weekend routines.

What was the one disappointing thing? Early Sunday afternoon Baby Bub asked me to borrow one of my suitcases and I told her she could of course. I already knew she wasn’t going to spend Thanksgiving with me because I texted her last week about it and she replied she had her own plans. I hadn’t expected her to want to spend Thanksgiving in Pasadena with me so that was no surprise. I sat on the couch watching HGTV, snacking on something while she chattered away about a whole lot of nothing. She hated packing. She couldn’t find her deodorant. Maybe she should use my bigger suitcase. I’m not sure what finally broke through my reverie. Oh, that’s right! She mentioned she was packing for two trips. I finally asked a question about it and her answer was that she was going to Arizona on Tuesday. I asked if that was where she was spending Thanksgiving and she said, ” yes, but I’m going to Magic Mountain today and tomorrow, then Arizona on Tuesday.” I just looked at her like she’d sprouted a second head out the side of her fucking neck… Seriously. She was going to Magic Mountain with the church then on to Arizona. I asked her when she’d get back from Arizona and she said probably next Sunday. Here’s the kicker… I asked when she was leaving and she said her ride would get there at 1:00. It was 12:15 when she told me that. I kind of lost it then but tried to keep it as humorous and light as possible. WHEN was she going to tell me this? She thought she’d already told me. She was sorry, she thought she’d told me. I have to say, I tried to pull it together and accept it gracefully. I tried, but the fact that she was actually nice to me and kept trying to engage me in conversation kinda tipped me off to the fact that I wasn’t being graceful or accepting. I mean she’s 20 years old. She’s a GOOD girl, like a seriously church-going, youth leader, hard working, giving, charitable girl. I gave a concerted effort at allowing myself to be engaged in her conversation because it is not her job to make me feel better about my issues. She left a very short time later and I was alone. At home. Until next Sunday. I felt hurt, sad, and abandoned. For a time. I just wonder, why do my connections with everyone in my life seem so meaningful except when it comes to my children?

Then I texted my two closest friends to tell them what had just happened before going down for a nap as they both have adult children and are either going through something similar or coming out the other side. Dawny sent me a few texts asking if I was ok. Sarah called me to commiserate and tell me everything I already knew. She’s 20 and young adult children are often carelessly cavalier and thoughtless about these things. She’s a good girl. I woke up from my nap and settled down for an evening of watching ‘Madam Secretary’, eating  bowls of Chicago Mix popcorn and blogging about it when the tv show is over. The next day, today, I remembered how much I enjoy spending time with myself and how hard I worked at that particular endeavor! I also get to spend Thanksgiving with my awesome Pasadena family on my timetable!


Building My Brave, Discovering My Light

imagesI lived a life based on fear for so long that this emergent life of building my brave continues to catch me off guard. It’s usually after I’ve done something that I know would be totally out of character for the old me and my old life. Something I may have initiated, facilitated and followed through on, like attending a book launch in Los Angeles, Hollywood to be specific, all by myself. A part of me, the human/ego part perhaps, is still trying to wrap my brain and spirit around that. I keep trying to look back and pinpoint how my brave got so strong and so big. It feels like it’s happening so fast, but it definitely didn’t happen overnight. I can look back now to admit how afraid and unhappy I was with my life. I can admit to how helpless and insecure I felt about my ability to truly change and create a life I dreamed or fantasized about. I’ve come so far in the past two years and it feels incredible. A lot of why it feels so great is that it doesn’t feel like I had to do any grand sweeping changes to myself or my life. It’s been more a process of uncovering and discovering what has been inside me all along. God also placed people in the form of teachers or guides, and situations in the form of opportunities or lessons in my life to encourage and move me along.

Last night I got a chance to pack my brave and take it to the Harmony Gold Theater. I got to experience This Is My Brave and The Depressed Cake Shop in their presentation of 11  of 34 writers of essays in Shades of Blue, lovely musicians, and poets. It was such an epically magical night filled with true emotions of joy, sadness, triumph, tribute and most of all communion of souls. A true connection with others that helps you connect better with yourself. Amy Ferris, the editor of Shades of Blue, came up with the divinely brilliant idea to read the first sentence of every writer’s essay in the book as a way of introducing the night! It was a stroke of genius and very powerful. The 11 writers who read parts of their own stories were funny, sad, thought-provoking, uplifting, and truthful. The music elevated everything and the two lovely young women poets spoke rhythmically from the heart and  the darkness of the mind!

I got to meet two of the women writers that I will have the privilege to spend more time with in a few months. Jen Pastiloff was there and I finally got to hug her and tell her how much she has encouraged me on my path. She is just as beautiful, authentic and generous in person as she is on Facebook. I can’t wait for her Ojai New Years Manifestation Retreat!

Jen Pastiloff and Me!

Jen Pastiloff and Me!

Beth Bornstein Dunnington and Me!

Beth Bornstein Dunnington and Me!

I also met Beth Bornstein Dunnington, who previously invited me on Facebook to attend her Big Island Writer’s Workshop. She is a lovely soft, caring soul. I now feel totally safe and reassured about attending her workshop in January!

One of the musicians at the show was Shannon Curtis. She sang a song she wrote called ‘Constellation’. She explained the inspiration for the song was thinking of a string of Christmas lights or the string of bulbs you see on the patio of a restaurant. The bulbs all need their connection to the other to shine. She said people all have a light inside that we are meant to shine and when we put those all together we form a constellation and each one has an important part. Everyone has an important role. As she sang about people’s light a video played on stage showing different people with “I AM” written on their hands. What they put after those words is their light. Some had “I AM BRAVE” “I AM ALIVE” “I AM HERE FOR YOU” “I AM A POET” “I AM LOVE” “I AM A GUIDE” “I AM A HEALER” It was so moving and it made me wonder what my light was. What does my journey of building my brave, my mission to communicate, facilitate and inspire healthy meaningful connection translate to? As I watched through my tears, all of those beautiful people show what their light was, it came to me! “I AM EMPATHY”!

My light is EMPATHY

My light is EMPATHY

I have literally had less than 4 hours of sleep in the past 2 days so I hope that this is making sense. I just want you to know that it’s all worth it. This journey where I’ve lost a friend or two, the familiarity of dysfunctional comfort and the cover of fear. Whatever I need to shed, discard or experience to continue answering God’s call, my newly built brave, and my recently discovered light will continue to carry me forward.

This entry was posted on November 21, 2015. 2 Comments

What A Difference

cross-792538__180 (1)What a difference a day and a yin yoga class can make! It also helped that I was able to write about and hone in on what was happening with me. The truth is that I don’t really keep that stuff inside me anymore. If I don’t deal with it here in my blog, then I have my spiritual advisor (who dares to be out of town for 8 days on a retreat- but I’m ok), my therapist (who I see tomorrow) and a whole host of very good friends who give me much needed perspective and honest feedback. Tonight (Tuesday) I am feeling energized, optimistic and centered!

Now it’s Wednesday. I’m still optimistic and centered but mildly sore from yoga class last night. I got home from my session with my therapist about 45 minutes ago and my friends, Dawny, Jax, and Ginny have just left. They brought me dinner for my 19 year sobriety birthday, a delicious and yummy lava bake from the sushi place in town. I am extremely fortunate in my friends.

This may be the shortest blog post yet because I’ve got to go to bed early tonight, to get up early tomorrow, to get into and out of work early so I can head up to Los Angeles for the Shades of Blue book launch! You know, the one I referred to in Tuesday’s blog where I was having a crisis of confidence about attending? Turns out it wasn’t really a crisis. It was normal vulnerability and anxiety about going somewhere new and meeting new people. I’ve written here before about being fully present for my life and I will continue to do so because it’s still a recent phenomenon in my life. I’m willing to face, acknowledge and process what I’m thinking, feeling and going through, so there are no crisis. There is no avoidance by emotionally stuffing myself with unhealthy food, zoning out on the couch mindlessly staring at the tv, burying myself in a romance novel or endless Facebook scrolling. There is processing now. Processing that has all sorts of amazing consequences and unexpected benefits, such as losing weight since I stopped emotional eating, started taking yoga classes and got back to walking/hiking. Being open to and reaching for what God and Life offers have brought incredible opportunities, such as the book launch tomorrow night, the Yoga Manifestation retreat for New Years and the Big Island Writers Workshop in January.

I think a more accurate statement is, what a difference being fully present for my life