“Sobriety was the greatest gift I ever gave myself.” ~Rob Lowe
I tried and failed to have a fabulous relationship with alcohol for many years.
When my children were tiny, I drank far more than was good for me, thinking I was relaxing, unwinding, socializing, and having fun. I’d seen my life shrink down from a world with lots of freedom and vibrancy to a socially restricted void, and I wanted to feel normal. I wanted to join in with everyone else.
All my birthday cards had bottles of gin or glasses of fizz on them, all the Friday afternoon …
“How you revise, rethink, and rewrite your personal narrative as things change, lurch, or go wrong in your life matters a great deal.” ~Bruce Feiler
It’s happened to all of us.
Just when life is going smoothly, a big, scary event comes along that threatens to ruin everything.
A frightening diagnosis, a relationship breakup, the death of a loved one, a job loss, or the COVID-19 pandemic.
Your life gets turned upside down when you least expect it.
I don’t know about you, but my life has been full of significant life changes over the last ten years: my …
In many cultures, food is an expression of love. Sometimes, as was the case for me growing up as a child of immigrants, food might be the only expression of love.
My parents were not very affectionate or communicative about love. My dad gives classic awkward-dad hugs, where he pats your back with self-conscious uncertainty from a good foot and a half away. My mom hit me so frequently and unexpectedly that my body learned to flinch anytime she got too close.
My childhood was punctuated by seasons of my mom’s depression. Ramen and Pizza Hut boxes marked how long …
“Highly sensitive people are too often perceived as weaklings or damaged goods. To feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness, it is the trademark of the truly alive and compassionate.”~Anthon St. Maarten
There are some words that get painfully etched into our memories as if with a red-hot poker. For me, growing up, those words were “you’re too sensitive.”
I often caught this phrase in the fumbling hands of my shame after someone chucked it at me with callousness and superiority as a means to justify their cruelty.
They may have said something vicious or condescending in private, or …
“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” ~M. Scott Peck
Have you ever been in a situation or a stage in your life where you’ve felt physically stuck, as if you’ve fallen into some kind of invisible quicksand that you can’t get out of?
Or maybe it’s felt more like you have a thick, invisible elastic …
“Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live.” ~Jim Rohn
I hear this happens to so many, but when it happens to you, it’s unsettling. I didn’t know what was going on with me, and I wasn’t getting any satisfying answers either.
Most days were good, and I felt fine and went about my regular routine wearing my many hats: mother of two young kids, human mom to three fur babies, a household-manager-of-all-the-things and full-time dental hygienist. And then out of the blue, it could hit me like a ton of bricks… the backache, neck …
“If you get stuck, draw with a different pen. Change your tools; it may free your thinking.” ~Paul Arden
For a year and a half, I could feel a career shift coming. I had worked hard to cultivate a career I loved, but I began feeling disconnected from my work. The meaning I had originally felt from it was no longer there. Each time I started a new project, I felt tired and unmotivated.
At first, I thought it might be burnout. So I took a few weeks off to see if I could reset myself into feeling excited about …
“The strongest hearts have the most scars.” ~Unknown
I always hated pain when growing up. For as long as I can remember I tried to avoid it. Physical pain was uncomfortable, but emotional pain was the real torture. It was sometimes easier to have a fight and stop communicating than to have a challenging conversation.
Disconnecting emotionally and withdrawing from painful experiences was my de facto subconscious strategy. I still pursued goals and succeeded, but this didn’t feel painful to me because I used my passion and bravado to drive through the long hours and grueling work.
If I wasn’t …
“A proper grown-up communicates clearly and assertively.”
This is something I have heard many people say.
By that definition, I wouldn’t have classed as a proper grown-up for most of my life.
There was a time when I couldn’t even ask someone for a glass of water. I know that might seem crazy to some people, and for a long time I did feel crazy for it.
Why couldn’t I do the things others did without even thinking about it? Why couldn’t I just say what I needed to say? Why couldn’t I just be normal?
Those questions would …
“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” ~Soren Kierkegaard
Let’s be clear:
This isn’t an article about positive thinking.
This isn’t an article about how silver linings make everything okay.
This isn’t an article about how your perspective on anxiety is all wrong.
The kids call those things “toxic positivity.”
No toxic positivity here.
This is an article about my lifelong relationship with anxiety and what I’ve learned from something that won’t go away. At times the anxiety spikes and feels almost crippling. I have a hard time appreciating the learning at those times, but it’s still there.
That is what …
“Detachment is not about refusing to feel or not caring or turning away from those you love. Detachment is profoundly honest, grounded firmly in the truth of what is.” ~Sharon Salzberg
A few months ago, my father informed me that he’d been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Although he seemed optimistic about the treatment, I knew that hearing such news was not easy.
After a few weeks, I followed up with him. He ignored my message and went silent for a couple of months. Although his slight ghosting was common, it made me feel ignored and dismissed.
In the meantime, I …
“Highly sensitive beings suffer more but they also love harder, dream wider and experience deeper horizons and bliss. When you’re sensitive, you’re alive in every sense of this word in this wildly beautiful world. Sensitivity is your strength. Keep soaking in the light and spreading it to others.” ~Victoria Erickson
I am lying next to my son in his bed before turning the light off one night, in that relaxed space between awake and asleep where he allows himself to feel and share. He tells me that he feels very lonely at school.
He shares his loneliness in the middle …
“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task.” ~Viktor Frankl
A couple of years ago, I was sitting in my little mountain cottage, writing away on a new novel. It was a cold and dark February afternoon. So, first, I felt pleasantly surprised when I saw something bright lighting up behind me: I thought it was the sun coming out. But when I turned around, I noticed that my porch was on fire!
Before I knew what was happening, I was standing out in the …
“Sit with it. Sit with it. Sit with it. Sit with it. Even though you want to run. Even when it’s heavy and difficult. Even though you’re not quite sure of the way through. Healing happens by feeling.” ~Dr. Rebecca Ray
It’s July 2022 and I’m in the middle of a red tent at Shambala Music Festival in British Columbia.
I sit elbow to elbow, knee to knee, heart to heart with a group of women who I am meeting for the first time.
It’s hot and we’re sweaty.
A teacher is leading a healing womb meditation, and she prompts …
“The Phoenix must burn to emerge.” ~Janet Fitch
Many people were shocked when I relapsed after twenty-three years of recovery. After all, I was the model of doing it right. I did everything I was told: went to treatment, followed instructions, prayed for help, and completed the assignments.
After returning home from treatment, I joined a recovery program and went to therapy. Once again, I followed all the suggestions, which worked when it came to staying sober. I had no desire to drink or do drugs—well, at least for a long while.
When I went to treatment, I was …
TRIGGER WARNING: This post briefly references sexual abuse.
“Never hold yourself back from trying something new just because you’re afraid you won’t be good enough. You’ll never get the opportunity to do your best work if you’re not willing to first do your worst and then let yourself learn and grow.” ~Lori Deschene
The year 2022 was the hardest of my life. And I survived a brain tumor before that.
My thirtieth year started off innocently enough. I was living with my then-boyfriend in Long Beach and had a nice ring on my finger. The relationship had developed quickly, but …
“You’re so hard on yourself. But remember, everybody has a chapter they don’t read out loud. Take a moment. Sit back. Marvel at your life; at the mistakes that gave you wisdom, at the suffering that gave you strength. Despite everything, you still move forward, be proud of this. Continue to endure. Continue to persevere. And remember, no matter how dark it gets, the sun will rise again.” ~Unknown
All my life I knew I was different. If I didn’t look so much like my mom, I would have believed the jokes my brother told me about how I was …