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Saturday, September 9th, 2017
1:54 pm - The Force
As I lay awake last night after being awoken by Marika's arrival with her small bundle of fur who panics as soon as she walks out of a room, I somehow landed on a thought that swirled in my head and kept my brain humming instead of sleeping.

Positive and negative. Plusses and minuses. Everything in the world I could think of originates from this. Protons and Neutrons. Human emotions. Thermometers. Batteries. Relationships. People. Jobs. Living conditions. Climates can be extremely cold or extremely hot. Yahweh and Lucifer. Our changes in health; for better or for worse. Gravity: holding us down so we don't fly up and away. Nail and wood: nail is positive, creating negative space in the wood. Good and evil. Light and dark.

Where do we want to be? On the positive side. Don't you? Most positives are easy to choose. Good health over poor. Light instead of dark. Lightness instead of heaviness. Flight instead of lockdown. Extremely cold or extremely hot? That is up to the individual. Right is positive, wrong is negative. Isn't it? Who decides that?

I thought of The Force, and how the dark side pulls us, but the light is inside us and usually trying to lead us in the right direction. Isn't that just what we all know as God?

I don't know what this means, but I feel like it's right in front of my face and I'm missing it.

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Sunday, July 9th, 2017
12:42 pm - 90 Days!
Today marks 90 days since I had my last drink. It is worth celebrating, respecting, and reflecting. It hasn't been easy, but I have kept my focus and approached this as a "one day at a time" promise to myself and Steve, and that has aided my success, along with the grace of God.

It's so tempting to preach about it, to stand on my high horse and tell people they should really think about cutting down or quitting. The addict really wants company in their recovery. That I suppose would be my number one motivator for encouraging others to join me in sobriety, followed closely by a desire for their improved well-being, health, and longevity.

When I first explained to people my reasons for quitting, I said it was because I had personal health goals, and alcohol was getting in the way. There is a great deal of truth in that, but while I pondered quitting for this reason, I needed something bigger to happen before I finally was compelled to stop. I gave this reason in social settings however, because it was a more benign response, more easily digested than the full, uncensored truth. (Especially when the person asking the question is sipping on a freshly poured glass of wine.)

The truth is, alcohol addiction had crept into my life and taken hold of me. Perhaps not in obvious ways, not publicly known or observed, not manifested by any catastrophic near-death or criminal incident (Thanks be to God). The truth is, when I quit I had just the right balance of self-awareness and risky behavior to make the right choice. I was on the brink of going to another level, and I didn't want to know what irreparable damage I was capable of.

Once I stopped, I engaged in a cathartic exercise of writing down how I believed I got to the place where I could no longer enjoy alcohol like a responsible adult. I wrote it all out in my journal, which opened my eyes to the magnitude of the signature role alcohol has played in my life since I was a teenager. There was WAY more to recount than I had ever realized. The more I wrote, the more memories came up, and since I finished that loooooong journal entry, there have been countless more memories that have come to mind that exemplify just how important my consumption had become to me, however covertly, and without my consent. Putting my attention on that and letting the details sink in, observing it with a clean mind from the other side and reflecting back, and living each day fully present with my family ever since, has set me on a spiritual journey that is changing the course of my life.

I feel I am at the point in my sobriety where I should start going to AA meetings. I have been reading about AA and have hesitated to join in, I think for fear of permanently identifying myself as someone who shouldn't drink ever again. It is the quiet hope I still cling to that whispers, "A year from now, you'll be OK having a couple of glasses of wine with dinner. You'll be fine by then. You'll get this out of your system, you won't take anyone or anything for granted, and you won't be so stupid with your priorities." I know enough to recognize the evil in this voice, but don't have the tools yet to respond to it. I tell it, "Not today, that's all I know." But the silent majority in me already believes it, and is mapping out a plan for a comeback, sometime next year.

Friends and family innocently don't realize how real this addiction is to me. More than once I have been asked, "So, are you done drinking, like, forever?" In response, I have mustered up a polite smile, a shrug of the shoulders, and a reminder that I am just taking it "one day at a time." Here's the deal: That saying isn't just words. That is the actual PLAN. Thinking about anything other than here and now is an overwhelming thought to a person who suddenly has to go without what others can enjoy without complications. It also isn't necessary, and is a good rulebook for life for everyone. Today is a gift, that's why it's called the Present! By thinking only about "today", over the past 90 days I made it through a dozen experiences I had always thought wouldn't be the same without drinking. My first Easter without champagne. My first Mother's Day without brunch. My first 4th of July without beer. I hosted a party at my house and opened wine and beer for others without drinking any for myself. Attended a concert without standing in line for a drink. A family vacation without stocking up the fridge just for myself. A family reunion without a cocktail. A weekend in Palm Springs without a hangover. And most recently, a three-hour layover, totally alone in an airport with world-class restaurant options and dazzling wine lists, without ordering a single drink.

Well-intentioned people have also argued with me about whether or not I am an alcoholic. They must think either A) they know what that is and I couldn't possibly identify with that group, or B) they know my habits, my coping mechanisms and my weaknesses, and I am above reproach. It's sweet if it really is the latter, which makes me wonder if they really just don't know me, or if I've just been that good that they haven't noticed... or even still, if their habits are just like mine. None of these possible conclusions are desirable truths for any of my relationships. The reality is, there are many alcoholics who are unaware or ignorant of the extent of their inflicted damage. I suppose that "type" of alcoholic is more common (and thus more cliche) than the person who chose to stop drinking before it got too out of control. My truth is, I am a hybrid of both "types". Alcohol had become too important to me and so it began to be the thing I would plan other things around, and I didn't like that. Luckily, by the grace of God, my husband Steve is the one who really put my attention on this and made a very strong "suggestion" that I make a change when he saw my intake going beyond my control. Without him, I don't know that I ever would have permanently changed my priorities. But now that I have, I am deeply grateful for him. He truly brought out the best in me when he helped me stop drinking, and in order to ensure I felt supported, he stopped too, right alongside me. Our marriage was put to the test by this decision very early on, and we both came out on the other side healthier, happier, and united toward the life we agreed to build together.

It's amazing how, nonetheless, I live on the edge of ruining everything, at any given moment. I think almost every day about just having one, especially while he is away (as he is all of this week). I wonder if he would ever know, what he would say, and if I would lose him. That being said, I never come close to actually drinking, because I know that even if I didn't tell him and he never found out, *I* would know, and I would have to bear the burden of hiding it, and ultimately confessing it. Lying is not in my nature, and I do not want to have secrets from my husband. So drinking is just not negotiable. It is the last thing I want to have to do. It would be the beginning of shame.

I've been tempted to use the word "shame" since I started writing this entry. It's a word alcoholics use quite often, usually when they talk about lack thereof, about living without it in their sober life. I haven't felt much shame at all since I quit drinking. I am owning my weaknesses and this addiction. I know I am doing the right thing for ME, and that I am keeping my promise to my husband. So even in reflecting back on my past actions and stupidity, along with all the good times and fun memories that came with partying, I don't feel ashamed overall. I understand where I was when I did that, and I know where I am now and how I got here. I take ownership of the journey ahead and understand the options as well as the ramifications of the things within my control. I guess I feel the opposite of shame. Call it pride, even if it is sinful.

As much as I want others in my life to take notice of how alcohol may be negatively impacting them, and how free it can feel to live without it, I want to say that I don't need or expect anyone else to get sober with me. We live in an alcoholic world, and I will own my struggle against it. Truly, I am happy for those who can enjoy alcohol responsibly. I want to still spend time with you. You don't have to not drink around me. I have my stuff covered and I fully support personal options and following your bliss.

But for me, today, the decision I have made not to drink is the right one, and I'm sticking to it.

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Wednesday, June 14th, 2017
11:23 am - Lack of Trust
We cannot trust that Americans can responsibly own and carry guns without taking out their angst on someone. Whether their victim is innocent or afiliated with a party that doesn't seem to be acting in the best interests of the country right now, the impromptu taking of a stranger's life in a public place like a baseball field is despicable.

We cannot trust political officials to take action to repair a broken political system. As long as that system is set up to provide them with a cush job that includes power, control, and and endless supply of soft, off-the-books benefits, they are going to be extremely hard pressed to take the kinds of risks that would bring the rest of us important essentials like protection from banks or affordable health care.

We cannot trust the FDA to provide us with reliable guidelines for a healthy diet for ourselves or our kids. As long as there are lobbyists in Washington responding to the corporate interests of beasts like Coca Cola, and drugs on the market that carry side effects that may include suicidal thoughts, we are going to have to take personal responsibility to read the fine print, watch documentaries, and educate ourselves.

We cannot trust the media or any Facebook friend to give us the straight truth on anything that is happening. Readership demographics along with political interests often conspire to dictate the content that is published by individual outlets. Anytime we see a headline or hear a story that enrages us, we are going to have to take personal responsibility to dig for the truth, consider the source, and decide for ourselves.

Oftentimes we cannot trust ourselves. Too many people do not know how to manage their emotions. They constantly cause damage others in the course of the normal events in our every day lives, thus there is toxicity all around us, but we cannot play the victim. We are going to have to own our own behavior, regardless of what anyone else "did to us." We need to keep in mind that, contrary to what we've been taught, there are actually three sides to every story: his, hers, and the truth. Perception will always be reality for most people, and those who bear that in mind that will always have a little more peace than the difficult person they're confronting. 

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Sunday, May 7th, 2017
10:07 pm - The Closer to the Family...
The first post I write since getting married should have been about my wedding, and how amazing it was. How everything came together exactly as we planned, how it was an incredible weekend altogether, from the bachelorette party, to the people who made it, to the vendors who pulled it all off, the venue, the moments we shared, the video, our vows, the food, our dance... It was all magical, it was perfect. I want to share that and write about it. But this first post since becoming a married woman is about how I found my marriage on the brink of imminent destruction just 2 months after it started. The reason? Alcohol.

My most vivid memory of induction into the very strong alcoholic culture of U.S. adulthood was in high school. My older sister was going to a pep rally at Dana Hills. I was a freshman and she was a senior. I don't know if it was in the context of this memory or on another occasion that she sat me down and explained to me quite directly: "If you're going to hang with me and my friends, you're gonna have to party." I wasn't really interested in alcohol, smoking, putting Sun-In in my hair, and the other things Amy did as a teenager. In fact, my nature was pretty much the opposite. Where she was rebellious, gorgeous, and in demand amongst her peers, I was shy, introverted, and clean. I had written a song in junior high called "Playing in the Grass", for a research project on marijuana, which I had hoped would be hard-hitting enough to make my mom quit smoking weed. In my virgin eyes, finding out my mom smoked pot was fairly devastating. I was a product of the Nancy Reagan "Just Say No" campaign, which was further driven home by the "Hugs Not Drugs" anthems of the heroes of my day like New Kids On The Block. I offset my idolization of "Boy Toy" Madonna with a heavy dose of Amy Grant and Youth Group at St. Timothy's. I was innocent. But I looked up to my older sister, and I saw her seniority at Dana Hills as my own personal advantage over the average assets of other freshman at my school. So when she wanted to teach me how to do tequila poppers before we left for the gymnasium, I was anxious to appease and join her. We both laughed in the car when I told her I couldn't feel my feet.

Beer and cocktails had always had a presence in my home growing up. My mom loved her rum and diets, and dad was a beer drinker. Family gatherings always involved drinking, and lots of fun-loving people, and more than one person on my mom's side of the family had actually joined AA by the time I reached adulthood. There was rarely if ever any drama stemming from the consumption amongst family members, including my parents. They and their friends could hold their liquor, never went to the dark side, never got DUI's, never seemed to struggle keeping it under control. And, because my family is full of caring, adventurous people who value quality time with each other, we often got together as a big group and got our drink on. "The closer to the family, the closer to the wine," as the old adage goes, although in my family, wine was something we evolved into later on, as our palettes matured. My uncle Mark started me on Boone's Strawberry Hill sparkling wine when I joined his rock band at age 18. It was only after a year or so of rehearsing at his house in Palm Springs and sampling the different Boone's varieties that Mark decided to graduate me to Chardonnay. By age 19, through the various influences and normality of my family's indulgent practices, I was a cigarette smoker who had gone south of the border and tasted different Mexican beers, but would order the vodka collins (with a cherry on top).

And so it was. Most of my 20's I sang in bands and drank socially, occasionally having too much but rarely getting a hangover. I dated people who couldn't handle alcohol. People who needed to quit. Some who already had. Whether consciously or not, alcohol was a heavy factor in every partner I chose. But mostly I was drawn to those who would let me mix drinks for them, would let me introduce them to new things, much as my sister had done for me when I was 15. I learned how to bartend, and loved how it made me more comfortable at social occasions. But as a bartender in restaurants, I wasn't very good. I never learned the importance of starting a conversation with a customer if they came in alone for a drink. Nobody ever clued me in on that before I left the trade. I figured it out through experience, after finding myself on the other side of the bar a few years down the road.

I did successfully stop smoking cigarettes at age 24, in support of my mom who had finally quit for a good three weeks beforehand. It was hard for both of us to drink and not smoke, but we didn't cut down on our drinking while we were recovering from nicotine addiction. Mom was a heavy drinker at that point. She wasn't going to give up more than one vice at a time. And again, she never had a good enough reason to quit drinking. She and Burt enjoyed it, it was part of their lifestyle, just part of who they were and what they did. It didn't cause problems, at least none that anyone could see, although I did take exception to calling home from college in Seattle and chatting with my mom and 16-year old sister, who were enjoying a cocktail night on the patio together while Mom fought off a cold. Her permissiveness was no doubt influenced by her habits, but few called her out on it because she was known as the "cool mom."

As a young adult I was just doing what everyone else in my life was doing, for the most part. When I dated a recovering alcoholic, he was okay with my indulging. He was happy to be my DD when needed. When I dated someone who rarely drank, he said he didn't mind that I did, but pointed out that I rarely chose not to. The comment nagged at me, because I felt judgment behind it, and I didn't think I deserved that. I was just drinking a glass of wine on a Friday night at a restaurant with my boyfriend. That was normal! What was wrong with that, even if we did it every Friday? Nothing. It WAS pretty much normal. Maybe not for him, but for me, and most of my peers. I didn't worry about it.

So I carried on as a social drinker right up until I found myself unexpectedly pregnant at age 33. My son Matthew is an absolute miracle to me. I cherish him every day, and never questioned for one minute that he was intended by God, if not me. But I didn't plan to get pregnant, didn't intend to do it when I started hanging out with Jess and drinking really good tequila, smoking weed on my patio and listening to John Legend. Jess had been playing in my dad's garage band with me, was recently divorced, and was someone I considered a friend. I was not attracted to him, but he had it pretty firmly in his mind that he was going to score with me. And if anything could turn a young woman from being totally unattracted to suddenly pregnant, it's a devilish combo of tequila, chronic, and some silky soul. We didn't use protection. As miraculous as my son is to me, I would be foolish not to admit that this occasion would mark perhaps the first red flag, that my relationship with alcohol was becoming something that was inhibiting my judgment and negatively affecting my life.

I didn't drink while pregnant. At least, not any more than my doctor said would be okay, as I had asked her about the "one glass of wine per week" thing I had read, and she supported it. So, if a glass of wine was okay, a beer probably would be, too, because beer had less alcohol than wine. Every week during my pregnancy, I would think about which day or on which occasion I would get to enjoy that one drink, whichever it would be. This would mark the season in my life when I started planning my consumption. It started becoming that important to me. Now, one could argue, well you were a single mom. You were in a stressful situation, pregnant and alone, as indeed I was throughout the bulk of the pregnancy. So naturally, you'd want to have something to look forward to, something that was comforting. I see now, that one drink served that purpose for me. When the Director of HR shamed me for enjoying the one glass of champagne I had during our holiday party the month before my son was born, I was resentful of her, for publicly framing me as someone who didn't have her baby's best interests in mind. I had looked forward to that glass of champagne all week, I had planned for it. and of course I had done my diligence and been told it wouldn't hurt my baby. How dare she imply otherwise!?

After Matthew was born, I was intent on breastfeeding him. It was of supreme importance to me. But that meant I couldn't drink, because anything I drank could be passed on to him through the milk. So I'd pump right before heading over to my aunt Sue's for a night of shooting pool and mixing drinks, and Matthew would drink from the bottles while we were there. He'd be put to bed upstairs while his dad and I would stay later into the night, but he would never settle down very well. He hated being removed from the party, or maybe he just didn't like being put to bed in an unusual room. Either way, it was always stressful for me, trying to put Matthew to bed while maintaining the adult party vibe. He'd wake up crying or simply refuse to go to sleep. Inevitably we would leave earlier than anyone wanted because I couldn't handle Matthew being so unsettled, and I would drive us home even if I had had a few to drink, because Jess had always had more than I. Jess would also make a cocktail every day that he came home from work, and smoke weed on the patio every night while I gave Matthew a bath. His habits were just an extension of the normality of the party lifestyle and proof it had found a permanent place in my life. And although I enjoyed my vices on my own terms, it started bugging the crap out of me, how indispensable they were to him.

When I became single again and met Steve, I remember prepping him for my lifestyle by saying, "I enjoy my adult beverages. I don't have a problem, I just like to indulge in the finer things." At that point, I was talking about wine. I still enjoyed cocktails and beer, but I had joined a few wine clubs, and red wine had become the ultimate relaxation at the end of the day. He wasn't a big drinker, which suited me fine, because he would still try a good wine if I opened one. He would go wine tasting with me and take me to Vegas. He didn't argue when I ordered special cases of champagne for our wedding even though the venue was going to include their own. For the most part though, he just isn't a drinker. He would tell me how that ship had sailed; how in his 20's he was very reckless, had tried everything under the sun, and finally scared himself straight. He was pretty much done partying. He appreciated all the family get-togethers, and never shamed me for having as much as I wanted just because I was with my family, my true partners in crime. But one night, he and my sister and I went to a concert, and I was dealing with some pretty stressful influences in my life at the time. I didn't consciously know it at the time, but that night I had planned to use alcohol to deal with stuff. I didn't have a plan on how I was going to function, like, have a glass of water after every drink, or make sure to have a good dinner so that it could absorb the drinks. There was no such plan. There was only a light dinner, strong cocktails, and shots. Shots I didn't order, but drank anyway. I wound up vomiting on the sidewalk outside while passing out alone. Steve had only gone inside to get my sister but when he came back, there were men taking pictures of me sprawled out on the concrete. It was a miserable end to what was supposed to have been a very fun night for the three of us, a chance for my sister to get to know Steve better. They got that opportunity, but it was while I was passed out in the backseat. It took me the entire next day to fight off the hangover, complete with the shakes, apologies all around, and no stomach for food that I needed so desperately. Steve nursed me back to health and we both chalked it up to the things that were heavy on our hearts at that time.

At the home we had started together, the bar area became fully stocked almost without intention. Between holidays, gatherings, wine clubs and sales at Stater Bros, let's just say one day we found ourselves ready at any given time to throw an epic bash for anyone who should ask. Except, nobody in the house was drinking from this stash except me. Steve's oldest son Quin had already teased me about my drinking habits, about the wine, and about my bad memory. He wasn't interested in drinking; he only asked me once to teach him and a friend to bartend, and luckily I had enough good sense to turn him down. I am aware of my influence on him, and try to keep that in check, despite the habitual temptation to pique his curiosity and initiate him into "the club". The U.S. culture will probably lynch him eventually, and Steve and I have talked about it enough that I know I don't want it to happen through me.

Last December I attended my company holiday party at an upscale restaurant just 10 miles from home, and I knew there would be wine; as much wine as I could want as any of us could drink. Like most people in my life, the ladies who run my company like their adult beverages, and dammit, we work hard. They threw us a great party. Once again, I made the fatal error of going without a plan. I didn't coordinate a ride with anyone, didn't even think to ask Steve to pick me up. Maybe because I knew he would be picking Matthew up, I didn't want him to go to the trouble of having to come get me, too. I just knew I was going to enjoy that wine. I had a great time and bonded with new people. Then I got in my car, paid the $30 parking structure fee, and drove home drunk. I knew every second I was behind that wheel, that I shouldn't have been. Every time I blinked I was afraid I was going to fall asleep. I focused so hard on the road and just prayed to God all the way home that I would make it. and by his grace, for whatever reason, I did. Then I passed out in the garage, with my seatbelt still on.

Steve was furious. We had planned to take Matthew to the Dana Point Boat Parade that evening. I was supposed to have maintained my consumption enough to carry on into chapter 2 of the evening. But I didn't plan for that. It was 7 pm when I got home, and all I could do was walk to the bedroom, drop my keys and crawl into bed. Steve took Matthew to the movies to help offset the disappointment of our sudden change in plans. He sent me a long email that I read when I woke up in the middle of the night to find the other side of the bed empty. It was NOT good news. It was not forgiving, and he was not going to be nursing me through this hangover. He was disgusted in me for driving home drunk, for placing myself at risk and potentially leaving Matthew without a mother. He covered everything in that letter. It was vicious, and I deserved it all. It was only after I got out of bed that things went from bad to worse. My wallet was gone. As if it weren't enough that Steve was horrified and disturbed by my recklessness, and that I had disappointed and abandoned my son, I had demonstrated total irresponsibility. Apparently when I paid the parking kiosk, I had left my wallet sitting on top of it, and now it was nowhere to be found. My wallet had over $500 in cash in it, along with all my credit cards, driver's license, and countless gift cards from my bridal shower. I knew I had left it there, and after checking with security, it was indeed gone forever. I told Steve this was God's punishment to me, on top of the one he had already given. I was getting it from all sides. There was no getting off easy from this incident.

Steve explained to me that this was a game changer. A deal breaker. If I lied or cheated, or put myself or others in danger, to him these were grounds for termination. The box had been checked. I was guilty, and there was no excuse. I knew it. I felt it. The shame was unbearable. I promised him it would not happen again. He cried and begged me not to let it happen again, told me he had thought about if I died how Matthew would be ripped from him, as they had no legal relationship, and what would that do to Matthew on top of losing me? Everything he said made sense, and wasn't unreasonable. In alternate realities, to other people, those things HAPPEN. They're living nightmares. They are NOT what we had planned for our life together. So I told him, it won't happen again. If it does, I'll stop drinking. I would hate for it to come to that, obviously, I told him, but I would do that if I demonstrated an inability to prevent it from recurring. See, he had noticed the pattern, and this was in under 2 years with me. He had seen my love for "adult beverages" and how it was impacting my life, whether I could see it or not. His system was on high alert. This was not normal to him. It wasn't acceptable. and I respected the hell out of him for calling me to the carpet and standing his ground.

The night before I quit drinking, I didn't get so drunk that I passed out in public. He didn't have to hold my hair. I didn't drive drunk, or hurt myself. But I did forget about my promise. and I forgot about him. I was having so much fun at the Sabroso Beer and Music Festival with my cousin Shawn that I all but ignored my husband, who was totally sober throughout the event. I tried to find pot from strangers. I almost bought some random dude his lunch. I ran through the mosh pit, and lost my phone. and I called Steve an asshole/jerk at the end of the night. Truthfully, I thought I said that in a joking manner, but hearing him recount the story, I realize it didn't come across that way. He was hurt by it, and once again, I had demonstrated recklessness, and carelessness for his feelings. He had to refresh my memory about taking a hit off someone's cigarette (I remember hoping it would be pot, but knowing it wasn't, and not caring). I was just being really stupid, and not a very good wife to my brand new husband.

He didn't stay at our house that night. He checked into a hotel and researched options for annulling our marriage. He read about alcohol addiction, and tried to assess whether I was an alcoholic and whether he could stay with me if it proved I am. He tracked my phone down and retrieved it for me, and dropped it in the mailbox with a 12-page letter. When I woke up the next morning, I had such a heaviness in my heart. Clearly I had hurt him, and had damaged his trust again. I had fuzzy memories of the later part of the night and didn't even remember the rude comments I had made until he jogged my memory. In the cold light of day, I knew that had been my last hurrah. I knew that there was a very important choice in front of me, and that today was the day I had to decide. I had to make good on my promises, and my vows. I knew that, whether or not last night had been negotiable on the terrible scale, I was exhibiting a pattern that was dark and unpredictable, and not coming from a place of love. I HATED the feeling of guilt, waking up that day, just as I had back in December. I hated waking up without him, reading the spilling of his guts on paper that he couldn't control because he was so hurt and upset with me, so disappointed, and so worried for our future. This was not the person I wanted to be for him. I am not a person who breaks my promises. Not for anything, and certainly not for something as stupid as alcohol. I hated that I had driven Steve to such a crossroads, where he honestly would be willing to walk out if I didn't prove my word was reliable, that our life was as important to me as it was for him. I took a very hard look in the mirror that morning, lying in bed and waiting for him to come home. The path I had been on for so long had finally led me here, and today was judgment day, ready or not. It was one of the loneliest feelings in the world.

He came home and sat on the bed, and as soon as I got a chance to speak I told him I would stop. I told him I was done drinking. I recognized what I had done and what he needed, and simple as that, the decision was made. I think he was surprised at how resolute I was. He had expected a fight, had maybe predicted I would try to explain away my reasons for continuing to drink after that day, the infamous negotiation stage of loss. But I skipped right past that. I had already tried to negotiate with myself before he came home, and it was obvious I had nothing left to leverage. It was futile. Alcohol had gotten in my way too many times, and despite my attempts to deny it, hide it or control it, I damn well knew it. It had made me feel bad, physically and emotionally, and had done the same to my spouse and others around me. As fun as it can be in the moment, as much as I have enjoyed it, as delicious as wine is with cheese and chocolate, it simply isn't worth the costs anymore. It had parked itself in a large compartment of my life where it was no longer welcome, and I was done. So I quit. That day.

We cleared out the bar area and filled three large moving boxes with my vast supply of wine, liquor, mixers, and paraphenalia. I sent my cousin Shawn home with box, gave another to a friend. I tried to get a box to Lindsey but she was too hungover to stop by the house to pick it up. So I parsed it out amongst the others and got rid of the rest at work. Steve agreed to allow a few bottles of wine to remain under the bar area for when people come over, as I didn't want to have a "dry" house for guests. They could take any opened bottle with them at the end of the night. I also wanted to keep one small bottle of vodka and vermouth so I could make a martini for a guest if that was their preference. Steve didn't like this plan at first. He didn't trust that I would stay away from whatever was available in our house. But I begged him to reconsider. "We are always going to live in a society where people drink," I said. "We can't try to hide from it." When I quit smoking, I explained, I had kept an opened pack of Marlboros on me for a week, which provided a sense of empowerment. I knew I had the option to smoke at any time, but I made the conscious choice again and again not to. I was successful with that approach; it removed the anxious feeling of needing one and thinking about bumming it from someone else. This was the same idea, I explained. I think he could see I was serious, even if he didn't like it, and he was so battered down from a hyper emotional response to this latest incident, he relented and let me have my way.

With cigarettes there is no such thing as "just one", which is why bumming one from a friend would have been so disasterous. I'm told with alcohol, it's the same thing. It has been almost one month since I got sober, and almost every day I ponder the thought of having just one shot of tequila. Just one glass of wine. Not necessarily now, but maybe someday in the future. The opportunity has come up several times, and I have remained surprisingly cool and resolute in saying no. I haven't had to remove myself from the situation, change my circle of friends, or limit time with family members who drink. I survived a whole weekend in Palm Springs, Easter brunch, 4/20 and Cinco de Mayo without getting intoxicated by anything. But it does feel like the loss of an old friend, if I dwell on it. I get upset that I can't enjoy these drinks like most other people. I know I wasn't as bad as many other alcoholics whose stories I have read on Facebook by joining the group pages. But I also know, it was worse than I thought at the time. Looking back, reviewing my story and recounting it here, really opens my eyes to how long this cultural norm has been a monkey on my back. I know, deep down, that one tasting session of wine at a winery would lead me to want a glass, and that one glass would not be nearly enough. I know that one shot of tequila is delicious but that two is more fun, and after that, a beer just lets the good times roll. In short, I can't trust myself to limit my intake the way most people can. It's in acknowledging this that I realize, whether I can say it out loud, I really am an alcoholic. I am powerless over alcohol. And I am learning to live without it.

Despite the negative feelings that creep up when I feel deprived, the dominant emotion that is a daily visitor is RELIEF. I wake up and I feel healthy. Refreshed. Free of any regrets. I am free to pursue better health through nutrition and exercise, without alcohol setting me back every weekend. I am showing my husband the importance of our marriage, and he is relishing the presence of mind I bring to our everyday interactions. I don't have to think about whether I am OK to drive. We pay less when we go out to eat. I am not distracted by my pursuits of a good drink when I am spending time with anyone I love. My sobriety allows me to lead by example, which is one of my favorite virtues. I no longer budget the time or money to something I was doing largely by myself, to the detriment of my family. I thought I would feel embarrassed or ashamed in certain social circles, to admit my need for sobriety and decline a drink, but actually, I feel a quiet sense of pride, the sort that comes with knowing one is simply doing the right thing. It is a struggle in certain moments, but I apply the same thinking that I did when I quit smoking: I take it one day at a time. I don't think about going for the next year or two or more without a glass of wine. I just focus on today. and today, I will not drink.

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Thursday, December 22nd, 2016
6:54 am - Christmas Prayer
Heavenly Father, we thank you for this food that we are about to receive. We ask that you bless our bodies with nourishment and wellness this weekend, and we give thanks for the good health we are all fortunate to enjoy. Lord, tonight we celebrate the arrival of your son, Jesus Christ, and the gift of hope you gave to the world from heaven. We praise you for the work you are always doing through him, teaching us to forgive each other as you have forgiven us. We know that your ways are mysterious and unknown, and that your ways are not our ways, but that we are to always strive to learn from Jesus's teachings and to live by your Word. We pray for faith that we may follow the path you've laid out for us and trust in you. We pray for reconciliation for all of our family, that you may take this special gathering among us, wrap yourself around us as one body, and lift us up in your grace. We pray that our children may be in awe of the miracle and wonder of Christmas, and come to know and share the true spirit of love that started it all. We give thanks to the angels who foretold to the shepherds the coming of our Lord and savior, Emmanuel, which means "God With Us". Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to his people on earth. Amen.

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Saturday, October 8th, 2016
11:31 am - Safe Word: Hillary
In the recent wake of another story about Donald Trump being a misogynist and totally degrading in his attitude toward women, it had me thinking. Can I really continue to sit here and detest this man, complaining that he isn't treating women respectfully and therefore he isn't fit to be President? That's already been said, in so many ways and by so many, myself included. Then I think about Hillary. How I'm voting for her essentially because I'm afraid of him. She has her flaws, as all politicians do, but I just feel safer with her as my choice, and I do believe she is well qualified for the job.

But is Hillary just our safe word? That really got me thinking. Trump scares us. He is by nature an intimidator, so in women, I believe his aggressive approach to everything challenges the essential core of what it means to be feminine. Some women respond positively to that aggression; they perceive it as strength, even if it occasionally gets out of control. So that had me thinking about the behaviors of women that have given rise to men of this kind. I listen to his sound clips, and I hear the women beside him, and even the men, laughing with him, going along with it, no female or other individual challenging his approach or his attitude - at least not on record.

This is a cultural tipping point, and part of this ship has already sailed completely. Too many women are busy multi-tasking their lives, responding to constant pressing commitments. But we need to wake up to the opportunity presented here. It's time to turn this dirty, disgusting election into a movement to address the way some men treat women AND the way we respond to that treatment. It isn't enough just to vote for Hillary. We owe our daughters a commitment to developing strong leadership, nurturing feminine strength, and encouraging social vulnerability.

I'm about to see the Dixie Chicks with my sister tonight, and when I grabbed my computer just now, my impulse was to post a clip of "Goodbye Earl" so I could share my excitement at my plans for tonight. But some people find "Goodbye Earl" offensive because violence is not the answer. Some people think the Dixie Chicks should have "shut up and sang" instead of using their voices on a giant stage in Texas to try and change the world. So many people shamed them for that, but I can think of more than a couple people who would relish the opportunity to declare their thoughts on a giant stage if given the chance. "Goodbye Earl" was an icon in its own right when it was released. It highlighted the number of domestic violences cases that go undetected, the number of women silenced by their partners, the level of oppression that drives a meek woman to commit atrocities. They got us to discuss that, for a minute. They touched on something that was in the pulse of music and American culture at the time and they gave the meek a voice. I was thinking about this and then I was thinking about Hillary, and how she is becoming that which we must accept as our voice, because listen to Donald's and the things he says, we can't have that! We think of our children, how they view the role of the President, and how there has to be someone better that we can bring them to look up to.

I want Hillary to be our first female President, because of what she will represent if and when that happens, but it isn't going to make me distinctly proud as a woman. Someone like the Dixie Chicks in office would make me proud. Someone who stands up to men like Trump with as open a ferocity as the things that are said about us behind our backs. I think about Elizabeth Warren, and I wonder which woman will have the guts to pick up the torch for her when she is gone. She truly sets the bar for a female role model, as her accomplishments and fighting spirit alone are what defines her to the public. She doesn't care about her image. She doesn't protect peoples' feelings when she says what she needs to say but she also would never hurt people just to pack a punch or make a headline. I think of other women I admire. People like my boss, who leads a growing team of woman and is always professional, always full of grace, and always approachable. These are truly good qualities. Things that sometimes Hillary lacks. and then I think of some of the men I know. Some men I dated who were very disrespectful in their treatment of me. Some I didn't date who were - or are - the same way. Men who say things they don't really mean. Who have no intention of backing their words with actions. Men who speak off the cuff about something important and then don't expect you to bring it up again. The complete lack of character and integrity demonstrated by men, who get away with it every day. They get away with it because too many of us are like Hillary and not like the Dixie Chicks. We want to remain poised, attractive, and popular, so we sometimes forego standing up to comments made by men, because, "All men do it." We date the A-holes anyway, even if our family and friends know we shouldn't. Rarely does anyone dialogue directly with the A-hole, but out of concern they'll pressure their darling girl to get rid of him.

I think of my time on Tinder and other dating apps, when men would send me completely unsolicited images of their private parts. I think of Anthony Weiner, and how disgusted people should have been, and weren't. I'm not just talking about behavior of men towards women, but their deplorable behavior in general. I think of the mayor of Toronto and how he was able to stay in office even after binging on hardcore drugs, hiring prostitutes and showing up to work stoned out of his mind. What kind of society allows this, and doesn't shut it down before it gets out of control?

We need a female intervention. We need a revolution in womanhood, again. We need to band together and agree to fight against this kind of behavior, the mistreatment, AND we need to actively protect each other from it. Together we need to bring down misogynists everywhere, and remind women that we have each others' back. To stop competing with each other. We need a pact that we will collectively block, ignore, and/or report the disgusting snapchats, that we will immediately DUMP the men who treat us like less than we deserve. We need to speak up, and we need to protect each other's vulnerability, and back a sister up when she is being oppressed.

We needed another Lilith Fair, months and months ago. But the acoustic guitars and hair over the shoulders was the last generation. Now we need to vent. We need angst, frustration, ROCK, and loud voices being heard, so we can produce progress. We needed this as women and we blew it. It won't happen for this election, and that is such a loss for the women of our time - and for music.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't do it anyway.

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Tuesday, September 13th, 2016
7:35 am - Quicksand
If only the weight of the burdens we carry in our hearts throughout the years of our lives were as weightless and forgetful as the effortless march of time.

current mood: thoughtful

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Wednesday, September 7th, 2016
9:25 am - We are all screwed
We may all be screwed, but it won't be because of Hillary or Trump being elected. It will be because of this position so many are quick to take, of helplessness and blamelessness. It honestly offends me as an American. If we feel this way, we need to ask ourselves how it happened and try to fix it instead of perpetuating the problem by simply sharing propaganda and misinformation. But for starters we don't know how to talk to each other; haven't engaged in enough constructive discord to share our opinions and collaborate in unity to help a worthy leader rise to the top of the pack. In past elections, we didn't elect senators or other public servants we could actually trust to act in our best interest and then keep them accountable for doing so. We let them duke it out with their colleagues and stood by silent when they sold their souls to lobbyists. Most of us are unwilling to participate in anything that disturbs our tiny bubbles: town halls, community governance, letters to our congressional representative. We know those jobs are important but we want other people to do them. We tolerate inaction by congress for the same reason. The Supreme Court is unable to render majority votes right now, on life-or-death, serious civil liberty issues, and not enough people care to call Congress and make them get off their asses. Shaking our heads in frustration is simply not enough. We are screwed because any grassroots effort to affect change is undermined by media conglomerates, each of whom had already identified their own personal champion months before the primaries. It's because the poorest parts of our country are growing up uneducated, not being able to afford higher education or maybe even to finish high school due to poverty issues, and thus can't critically research and evaluate a candidate who they would feel represents them, and so by default they rely on other sources such as these mega media sources to tell them who is in the lead and thus who they should like. Because if they don't like the guy their spouse likes, there is marital struggle at home on top of everything else. It's because of the slow drip of apathy disintegrating a democratic system that was originally mapped out by a far less spoiled group of pissed off people. This generation - and I mean *everyone* involved in this election - simply can't be bothered with any kind of Struggle. We'll never be worthy of a real revolution. We cast our vote at the ballot booth, take our little flag sticker and wear it with pride at the office, and we think our work is done. Then we complain that elections need fixing. It's a sad, pathetic joke at this point, but not because of Hillary or Trump. They are both savvy opportunists who are capitalizing on one of the laziest, most ignorant generations in the history of this country. If you think we're screwed, then be willing to be a part of the solution instead of just bemoaning the problem. Research the senate race, as important this year as ever. Get pissed off at Congress when they fail to take action, and then write them a letter or just sign a petition to add your name to the side of change. Put a thoughtful commentary on Facebook about why you think someone would be good for us, and be willing to have a respectful, informed debate if people disagree. Think about how our founding fathers ever somehow managed to pull together and launch a whole new democratic country that rose to be the world's most powerful, and follow their example.

"There's nothing in the streets
Looks any different to me
And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
And the parting on the left
Are now parting on the right
And the beards have all grown longer overnight..
Met the new boss
Same as the old boss."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32HyxefVeiw

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Wednesday, January 20th, 2016
6:13 pm - One Year Anniversary
On our first date, we went to Boomer's, raced Go-Karts and played arcade games, and redeemed our tickets for the junk in the redemption center. I picked out a spider ring and a green plastic bracelet. Steve picked out the same bracelet for himself. We showed up to our second date still wearing them. That was the level of optimism we both felt, and one of the first pieces of evidence reflecting how similar we are as people. Today, I celebrate the love that has blossomed and only grown since one year ago. I love you truly and madly, Steve.

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Tuesday, July 14th, 2015
3:24 pm - Turning Rain Into Waterfalls
A person close to me saw me yesterday for the first time since I got back from a six-night camping trip in Kings Canyon. Without asking me about the trip, he simply stated, "I heard you got rained on." I was taken aback at having not been offered the more innocuous "How was your trip?" inquiry, but I confirmed that yes, we had seen some rain, but that it was a wonderful trip nonetheless. In fact, there was a series of mini-miracles that turned the misfortune of the rain into an unforgettable adventure. Summing it all up with a curse to the relatively inclement weather was sort of akin to reflecting on Louis Zamperini's life and lamenting the sharks.

Our tent was new and completely waterproof, and we had placed a tarp under the tent for protection. We were awoken in the early morning on the third day just as sprinkles started to fall, and had just enough time to put the rainfly over the tent before Matthew got wet (or woke up). Even though we all actively helped each other cope by pooling our resources, some campers were at a serious disadvantage and went home early. We stuck around for the trip duration, and were able to enjoy pockets of sunshine and evening campfires. I jumped off Party Rock with 3 rookies, hiked the beautiful Zumwalt Meadows trail with the whole group, and saw my first two Kings Canyon bears. I won the Spear Chucking competition (female division), blue flame, and tent decorating contests. My amazing team and I pulled off a challenging dinner service for 35 people, which was well received. The final night at camp included a disco-light and glow-stick studded dance party by the campfire, lasting well past bedtime. My son enjoyed valuable time with relatives he doesn't see very often and always had something fun to do. My boyfriend and I took a romantic walk in the rain, and another on a clear night under the stars. The one night of actual lightening and thunderstorms was extraordinary to witness in the forest. Our van broke down on our final stretch into the canyon, but because my family is always supportive and understands that "it takes a village", we were able to get all of our stuff to camp, tow the van for free to a repair shop, secure daily rides to all excursions, and even enjoy a luxurious RV trip out of the canyon. I had prepared for this trip for months in advance, planning and publishing the family newsletter of activities, purchasing supplies, and making packing lists. I had even dieted and exercised! Call me stubborn, but there was just no WAY I would have ever summed up my camp experience with plain talk about the rain. We sang campfire songs, made s'mores, hiked to waterfalls, and never stopped helping each other. I personally got quality time with family members I hadn't seen in months, or longer, which was ultimately the target takeaway.

This past week's camping experience was another reminder that what happens to us is far less important than what we choose to do about it.

People tell me, "You're such an optimist". Am I an optimist? An optimist says the glass is half full. A pessimist says the glass is half empty. A survivalist is practical. He says, "Call it what you want, but just fill the glass." I believe in filling the glass.”
Louis Zamperini

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Monday, June 22nd, 2015
12:28 am - The Quest
And this is just the beginning.

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Wednesday, June 17th, 2015
8:37 pm - Steve's Birthday
Steven, Happy 50th Birthday to you. I may have missed out on walking beside you during your first half-decade in this world, but I will fight off any women who dares try and steal my spot in the second half. I will hold your gorgeous hands, and admire them as they play music, wash my dishes, fix gadgets, or fold in prayer alongside my son and me. I will appreciate your productivity, respect your perspective, and learn from your compassion. I celebrate this day that you were born and rejoice in the love we share, that you express to me with such creative earnest every day. Thank you for all you give me, all you do for those you love, and all that you are. I love you with all my heart and am so lucky to have you in my life!

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Sunday, February 22nd, 2015
9:15 pm - Overjoyed
Every day that I don't wake up with him, I get an email from my love, Steven. I wanted to share this one here because it is especially wonderful, even though every day he lifts me up with his open, expressive heart in an email like this (along with a handful of texts and his beautifully charismatic voice over the phone).

He talks below about how I responded to Matthew. There has been a lot of discomfort around us lately among the people who think they know what is happening between us but haven't even met Steve yet, nor could they possibly understand the intensity of our mutual affection. Jess of course is one of these, and because he wants to protect Matthew, he has insisted that Steve and I not be in the same bed together when Matthew wakes up in the morning. Yesterday we discussed what I might say to Matthew if he should ask why we weren't sleeping in the same bed (because what's done is done; he had already seen us in bed together but then Jess made his request abundantly clear and we decided we would comply until we hit the magical 3-month mark, because we are trying to mitigate further problems from him). I told Steve that I would tell Matthew - if he asked - it's because I wanted there to be space in the bed for snuggling with him in the morning. Sure enough, when Matthew woke up today and came into my room, he asked me that question and I responded as planned. So he climbed into bed beside me, wrapped his arm around my neck as he always does so tenderly, and snoozed for a minute or two. Then he got his Wolfie and his Bella stuffed animals, and asked me to pretend they were getting married. It was a beautiful ceremony on my bed.

This past weekend, Steve began openly telling me that he wants to marry me. And I seriously couldn't be more overjoyed to have found this amazing, wonderful, affectionate, intelligent, talented, loving, sensitive, responsible, hilarious, devoted man. I am simply over the moon, and I wish I could share my happiness with more of my family. Matthew is not at risk; in fact he is lucky to be witness right now to the blossoming love I am already sharing with the most important man of my life.

He sent me this email at 6:30 am today, while Matthew and I were in my bedroom alone.
********************************************
Good morning from your living room beautiful Jamie,

I’m lying here alone thinking about all the moments with you. What came to mind is the ridiculous stuff others create around us and how we deal with it. I was thinking about our conversation yesterday about how to tell Matty why we’re not sleeping in the same bed anymore. So many people would just blame their ex or be angry, would tell their child and let them see their disdain. You however only thought of Matty and had the most beautiful answer for him. I know it may not seem like a big deal to you, but things like that are huge for me. It once again shows me how much love is in your heart and the level of respect you try to maintain towards everyone in your life.

Every second of every day you amaze me more. It really is everything about you that attracts me. I keep discovering more and more things I simply love about you. All that you are is all that I love.

What we have is so miraculous and I promise you I will never take it for granted. You are the love of my life.

I love you so much Jamie and I will let you know that every day and in every way that I can from now until forever.

Steve

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Tuesday, February 17th, 2015
4:27 pm - Love and Light
I stand on the side of love and light, faith and trust, respect and righteousness. I live by the rules that are right for ME, not necessarily always of those that I respect. Matthew will have experiences in his life that are less than ideal, and my job as his parent will be to help him through, to help him make sense of it all. I will help him to trust his heart, to listen to it as well as his head, in every decision he makes. Matthew is my top priority, but so is my quest for the right life partner, which has ruled my life from an early age and is part of my essential core. I know better now how to identify the ideal partner than I did before I met Jess. I also know what it's like to live with someone whose values do not match my own.

I have confidence in me.
I am not ashamed of my past nor my mistakes. I am a stronger and wiser person for each of them.
Matthew will reap the fruits of the love I am now sowing with Steve. He wants the same things that I want. He doesn't want to replace Jess as Matthew's father.

Jess has caused damage to my family relationship with the fear and outrage he expressed. I take responsibility for part of it, but he hasn't expressed regret because he is hiding behind a veil of concern for Matthew. He needs to respect my boundaries regarding communication as well as my authority as the mother of his child. We no longer live together. Therefore I make my own household rules.

Phew. Help me God through this session.

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Thursday, January 29th, 2015
12:38 am - The Quest
I've found the man of my dreams. And more importantly, he has found me. He told me so, under no uncertain terms tonight, as he gazed into my eyes and held me for hours on end. He promised me we would make it work, he promised he would do whatever it takes to keep me happy.

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Friday, January 9th, 2015
9:22 pm - slow Learner
It has been almost 1 week since my >2 month relationship with M ended in a short text message exchange, and today I am feeling proportionately bad about it. Thank you OKCupid and the busiest work week I have had since starting my new job. I feel more self-assured and confident in myself since I consciously elected NOT to accept the feeling of being less than valued, admired, and/or appreciated, even when a huge part of me wanted to love him anyway. It is already starting to reflect in the conversations I am having with new men, and as I selectively filter through my prospects, I find that I still relish the opportunity to find love. I actually enjoy evaluating partnerships. Communication proves yet again to be the critical piece. Not just in understanding one another, but in getting to the same playing field, speaking the same language, refusing to read between the lines and pushing us just so much from our comfort zones. Text messaging, coupled with our insecurity and our our urgent need for gratification, stands gravely in our way if we let it.

I won't let that happen again.

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Tuesday, September 30th, 2014
10:58 pm - calibrate map
Every time I try to tell myself that being in a relationship could potentially be just as bad or worse than being single I realize that I am lying to myself because deep down I actually have faith. I believe I can attain the relationship I've always wanted. Somehow. Someday. It could happen. Like anything else in life that I really want, I just have to know what it is and go for it without stopping until I get there. I've been taking too many side streets. Been too easily led down someone else's road. I've meandered and negotiated too much to the benefit of others. I've been the spectator of which I am so critical in others who do not captain their own destinies.
And man, have I let myself be just plain used, which my heart cannot endure. But no more. I've calibrated my compass, consulted the gods and whispered into the wind. It's time to follow the path that was intended for ME, and if I'm meant to be accompanied, let me for once wisely distinguish a travel partner from a stealth hijacker.

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Friday, September 26th, 2014
10:11 pm - Obituary, as Therapy
Jamie Suzanne Bolduc passed away peacefully on Friday at the age of 94. She is survived by her son, Matthew Carter (60) daughter Adeline Grace (52), sister Lindsey Michelle (92), and five grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband Joseph Ryan in 2065. A reputable journalist, songwriter and passionate performance artist in her young adult life, Jamie fronted several rock bands and was credited for writing and producing many indie-pop crossover singles. She started a grassroots news blog in 2015, giving a platform to the voiceless who endured personal hardships and oppression, and won several news critics' awards. She and her husband met during an investigative journalism piece she was conducting on human trafficking in SE Asia. They eloped in 2017 and ultimately settled at his vineyard in Paso Robles. Once their daughter entered grade school, Jamie took her fascination with the chemistry of food to culinary school. She went on to open her own culinary school in Cambria, which developed into a not-for-profit career recovery center for non-violent drug offenders. She and her family traveled extensively throughout Europe and Asia in the 2040's and enjoyed frequent weekend jaunts to Palm Springs, Napa Valley and Las Vegas via her son's private jet. Jamie will always be remembered for her dedication to her family, her generous heart, and her thoughtful contributions to journalism and music. Services will be held at her home in Paso Robles next Sunday. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Culinary Academy of Cambria, or to the Red Cross.

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Thursday, September 18th, 2014
9:08 am - New Day, New Beginnings
It feels good to call today the start of something new. Definitely a new chapter in my life, starting a new job; my first direct sales role, which is bound to be both challenging and rewarding. Yesterday was arduous, and I was emotional in my losses. Today, there is a chance to begin anew, and I am embracing it.

current mood: hopeful

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Wednesday, August 27th, 2014
5:47 pm - The List
I can't believe two things:
1) I am (still) single (again)
2) I have never posted this list before?

The List Of Things I Want In A Partner

1) Love, which to me is about connectedness. A romantic partner as my equal, actively receiving what I give, and giving what I need. Someone who both listens and asks questions, and shows affection openly.
2) Family. Witness to each others’ lives. A dynamic designed for fun, support, legacies, and memories.
3) Personal Responsibility. A sense of "purpose," being focused on action, not just words. Owning mistakes and shortcomings, willing to approach himself as a work in progress. Organized, in favor of making plans.
4) Spirituality. An appreciation and adherence to a higher power. Humility. Alone time/quiet time. Reflectiveness. A forgiving heart. Admiration for the beauty of the world, prayer and helpfulness for those less fortunate.
5) The Finer Things. Wine and cheese, live music, street fairs, mini vacations, the occasional splurge, throwing parties with friends. Has his financial shit together or is actively fixing it. A desire to see the world and engage as a participant, not spectator.
6) Intelligence, Education, Ambition. Willing to both learn and teach. Awareness of the world beyond his zip code.
7) Sense of humor. Easy going attitude. Witty, not sarcastic.

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