Friday, December 31, 2010

God Grant Me - A Guest Post from Kristin

A note from Ellie:

I didn't ask Kristin to send me this guest post; she did it all on her own. 

I read her words holding my breath.  

Her email spoke right to the center of me.   Many people will live their whole lives and never have to muster the kind of courage it takes to write words like this .. to stand and look at - really look at - the cold, hard, truth that hides in the deepest shadows of their heart, fiendishly calling the shots, slowly eclipsing the love and light in their life.

Taking away something we use to numb ourselves - to escape, to step into an alternate reality just for a bit  whether it is alcohol, drugs, food, sex, gambling, shopping - is terrifying.    It strips us down to the core, exposes us to vulnerability, imperfection, guilt and fear.   It takes serious guts to stand and face those things about ourselves we wish weren't true.

But I know this for certain:   on the other side of the darkness is Grace.   Speaking a truth like Kristin's is the beginning of an amazing journey into self, light and love.   

Here is Kristin's post.   Please offer her your love and support.  

~~~~~

God Grant Me

I didn't mean for this to happen.


I guess no one does, but I really didn't. Because I should know better.

Hi, I'm Kristin.

My family has a history with addiction. Mostly alcohol. And they say this disease can be genetic. But in the nature versus nurture game, I thought I was in the clear. My parents both quit drinking before I was born. Years before I was born. So I never saw the addiction, never learned the addiction.

I thought I was in the clear.

But I'm not. And I need to come to terms with that.

Because I've got a kid that I love more than anything. Me? I hate to say it but I'd gamble if it were just me.

But it's not.

I read recently that SIDS deaths increase drastically on new year's day. Because caretakers are too drunk to manage putting their kids to sleep properly.

And while I want to judge and shame those parents, I can't. I've been drunk in the year since Alex was born. Too drunk. I don't drink every day and so I tell myself I'm "ok".

But when I drink?

It's a lot. It's unhealthy. It's too much.

Sometimes? I can't remember.

Sometimes? I black out.

And I'm scared.

Scared of what I might do. Scared of what I did do. Scared of saying the words "I need to quit."

Because I'm ashamed. I'm so ashamed I can't handle this. I'm ashamed that I'm not better than some stupid gene in my body.

I do so well sometimes.

But doing well just gives me an excuse to tell myself I'm ok.

And then I get together with friends and they refill my glass. To be nice. And they refill it again. Because I am drinking so quickly. I start to lose track of how many times they refill it. I'm not doing it myself! It's ok if I'm not doing it myself, right?

But still, it gets done.

And eventually, I start to do it myself. Even though I know better. Because I'm too drunk to care.

And my son sleeps. I don't drink while he's awake. Which makes it ok, right?

Please God, I pray, let him stay asleep. Let him be safe. Because he is not safe with me now. Please don't let him need me to care for him because I'm not equipped to right now. Let him stay asleep and be safe.

Praying that prayer? Is disgusting. Knowing this, why can't I tell them to stop pouring? Why I can't I tell them what I am?

Here's a secret: I relished being pregnant. Not only was I growing a beautiful life inside me, but no one pressured me to drink.

Well, one person pressured me to drink.

But he didn't really want to be around me while I was pregnant anyway. Getting pregnant lost me a friend. Well, not really a friend. A drinking buddy.

While I was pregnant I didn't have to explain to people that I couldn't drink because I can't control myself. I didn't have to tell them how awful I am with it.

But I'm going to have to start explaining. Because I can't be pregnant forever. And I can't keep drinking.

Why can't I tell people what I am? Because of my shame. I want to be normal. I put on a good act most of the time.

But I'm not normal. And I don't think people will understand that. I think they'll try to talk me out of quitting. Or they'll just stop talking to me altogether because who wants one of THOSE in their life?

Those that do understand how I am? Calling myself a drunk would be calling them drunks too. And that would just be impolite.

Hi, I'm Kristin. And I still can't say it.

I feel like saying it would let my parents down. They worked so hard to never bring this into my life. But I slid here anyway.

But I have to say it.

Because I'm not safe. Because I don't want to die. Or endanger anyone else. Or lose my husband. Or put my child at risk. Or lose a child to SIDs because I'm too drunk to care for them.

I hate myself when I wake up the morning after drinking. I cry copiously. I apologize to my husband. Profusely, I apologize to him. I hate that I drank so much. I hate that I don't remember how much I drank. I hate me.

I've sworn it off before. But it doesn't stick because I can't admit to my friends what I am. Maybe I haven't wanted to admit it to myself either.

Hi, I'm Kristin. And I'm an alcoholic.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

It's An Inside Job

New Year's Resolutions are, in my opinion, a complete waste of time. 

I don't mean to be all bah-humbug-y about trying to improve your life in some way - I'm all for it, but let's be realistic about change. 

Real change?  Major change?   You can't force it, or hop on some New Year's bandwagon with your 'I'm gonna make a new me!' battle cry.    Real change is slow, subtle, and more often than not something in your life has to be so out of balance, painfully out of whack, in order to induce change that will be meaningful.

Think back on last year.  Do you remember your resolutions?   Did you stick with them?   If so, for how long? 

I heard on the radio yesterday that the three most common resolutions are, in reverse order:  3) lose weight   2) spend less money and 1) drink less.

Mostly, New Year's Resolutions are geared towards doing less of something.   We are an indulgent society.  We are programmed to want more, but the things we want more of tend to make us obese, addicted and in debt.

There are lots of things we need more of in our lives:   compassion, down-time, gratitude, peace of mind, kindness, laughter.

Instead of a resolution that revolves around self, try one that revolves around others.   Try complimenting a stranger, calling an old friend, reaching out to someone who needs help.   Donate your time to a charity.   Read an extra book to your kids at night.  

Find at least one thing every day that spreads some love and compassion into the world.   Even when faced with negativity, spread kindness.    Someone cuts you off in line?  A cashier is rude?  The server is late bringing your food?  

You have choices on how you react to things:  indignation and annoyance are the more obvious choices, of course.   Patience and compassion, however, break the cycle of negativity, bring you peace of mind, and are paid forward in beautiful ways.

There is a lovely concept in Buddhism, that every person you meet, every person you know, is a teacher.   Each interaction you have with someone has a ripple effect:  if it's angry or negative, it spreads negativity and anger out into the world.  If it's gentle and compassionate, it spreads peace and compassion into the world.

The people who upset you, treat you poorly or make you angry?  They are teachers, too.   If someone makes you mad, look into yourself:  what is it about what they said or did that resonates so deeply with you?   Did they strike a sensitive chord?  If so, why?   Is there something in your life you have been trying not to see?

If everyone did one compassionate thing every day, for no reason at all, think about how much brighter the world would be.

~~~~~

Now that this blog is a year and a half old, I can look back to see where I was exactly a year ago.    Last year I did a post about how I don't do New Year's Resolutions.    I didn't know it then, but I was four months away from embarking on a weight-loss journey that would change my life.

In that post, I wrote this:

One of the most meaningful things I have learned in recovery is all the promises and resolutions in the world won't help if I'm not being honest with myself. I would focus my resolutions on the simpler stuff, like cutting out sweets, instead of facing my own hard truths.

So instead of resolutions, I take a hard look at myself and ask some honest questions. What is it about myself I don't want to face? What am I trying not to know about myself?
With the benefit of hindsight, I can see what was happening there.   I was in pre-contemplation about losing weight, and I didn't even know it.   There was something about myself that I didn't want to see:  I was overweight.  Significantly overweight.

By resolving to face some inner truths - honestly, but gently - the moment eventually arrived one chilly April morning where I put on my ratty old sweatpants - my stretchy-waisted-fat-pants - and one clear, concise thought popped into my head:   enough

Had I resolved to lose weight for New Year's, I don't think it would have worked.   Without the gift of desperation, once the new-ness of my resolution lost its sheen, I would have gone back to my old habits.   Running around telling people I was going to lose weight would have been all about impressing other people, or trying to get external pressure make me follow up on my goal.    Real change - change born of desperation and a smidgen of self-love - is deeply personal, and it can only come from the inside out.

By turning my eyes gently inward, faced a hard truth about myself - without the pressure of thinking I had to do something about it right then - I gave my mind and spirit time to be ready.   It opened my heart and mind to hearing that one word - enough - when I was finally ready to take action.

Give yourself a gift this New Year's:  look kindly but honestly at yourself.  Is there something you want to change, but fear gets in the way?    Look yourself in the mirror and admit out loud what it is that makes you afraid.   Just say the words.   

You can't program change into the calendar every January 1st.   It comes in its own time.  All you have to do is face the hard truth and then keep your mind and heart open.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Shadow Me

I had company this Christmas.

I don't mean the usual company - family and friends coming over to enjoy a meal and exchange gifts - although there was plenty of that, too.

I'm talking about the Shadow Me. 

Shadow Me is the ghost of the woman I used to be: the broken spirit who never measured up in her own mind, who lived in fear and shame, who sought comfort and escape from a bottle every night.

She is always there, but in the hustle bustle of daily life she fades into the background, unseen and mostly forgotten.

During the holidays, she steps out of the shadows.   It happens every year.

~~~~~

My first sober Christmas, three years ago, she was a clanging bitch.   Her voice was a grating soundtrack to my life:  you won't make it without drinking, wouldn't one glass of wine feel so good right now?  Look at how everyone else can drink and you can't, because you ruined everything. 

She was a heavy weight on my shoulders as I wrapped presents, decorated the tree, tried to play with my kids, ate dinner with my family.    She filled the hole left by alcohol with her constant, nagging presence.    I hated her, and everything she stood for.  I felt broken, fragile and useless, like a vase that had been hastily glued back together, but would never hold water again.

I couldn't imagine that she would ever lose her power over me, so great was the guilt, fear and shame that fed her spirit.

~~~~~

This year she showed up on Christmas Eve. 

I was in church, the lights were dimmed and I was listening to a stirring rendition of 'O Holy Night'.    Finn was curled in my lap, sleeping; his cheeks were flushed bright red from excitement and fatigue.    I gently stroked his hair, and sighed contentedly.   

Without warning, Shadow Me slid silently into the pew next to me, her breath hot on my neck.   

You almost threw all this away, she said.   Drinking was more important to you than your children, your friends, your family.    Remember the Christmas you couldn't even cook the dinner?   The time you nearly passed out at the table?  

I closed my eyes, fighting back tears.

I forgive you, I told Shadow Me.   She sank into a stony silence, but remained stubbornly by my side.

Later that evening as my husband and I wrapped gifts, she hissed into my ear again:   Remember that Christmas you didn't have any wrapping paper in the house?  Or scotch tape?  How angry Steve was at you as you wrapped presents in brown paper bags and masking tape?   How you didn't care because you were buzzed?   

Tears welled up in my eyes, but I sent her a silent prayer:   I forgive you. You were doing the best you could.  You didn't know what you didn't know.  

~~~~

I had a hard time falling asleep Christmas Eve.  My head swirled with thoughts of the past: bleary, blurry Christmases spent groping my way through, living for the next glass of wine to make the fear and exhaustion grow quieter.    I felt the guilt for all the lost days and nights crush me in its cold embrace.

Sleepless, I padded downstairs and sat staring into the dying embers of the fire.   

Then I closed my eyes and faced Shadow Me head on.  

You are not defined by your mistakes, but by what you learn from them, I told her.  It's time to let you go.

Shadow Me flickered and shimmered, reluctant to leave.  Who would I be without her?    She has dogged me for three years, through each milestone, holiday, and countless witching hours.   How can I let her go?

Can I stay strong without the guilt, without the fear?

You have always been worthy of love, I told her.      I forgive you.   I forgive you, and I love you.

Shadow Me flickered one last time, and then faded away.   

~~~~~

Christmas morning the kids raced downstairs, squealing with delight.  

"LOOK!" they cried.  "HE CAME!"

They stood in a stunned silence for a moment or two, soaking in the sight of the stockings full to the brim, gorgeous wrapped presents spilling out from under the tree.

Shadow Me was nowhere to be found.   

I stood with Grace, Love and Gratitude, and together we smiled.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

An Operation Get Healthy Update

I'm not on a diet anymore.

This thought hit me the other day.   It took me six months to lose 60 lbs, and I'd been in a dieting frame of mind for so long, that I didn't even notice when I crossed the line from someone who is watching calories to someone who eats respectfully.

It started in early November, when a bad cold ran through our house.  For three weeks straight, someone was sick in our house:  first one kid, then the other, then me.

I couldn't go to my Jenny Craig appointments to get my weekly food, or get weighed in.   I couldn't get to the gym.   I was on my own.

Up until that point, I had been fearful of weaning off the Jenny Craig food, even though my consultant was urging me to.   I didn't trust my own thinking, because I know full well how easily I can justify bad habits.   But now I didn't have a choice, and because we were in full-on survival mode at home, I didn't even have time to panic about it.

I still weighed myself, but only once a week, so I couldn't get obsessive about the number on the scale.   The number I saw each week held steady (give or take a pound or two up and down).   But I was still eating basically the same things every day, fearful of deviating from my routine.

Thanksgiving taught me a valuable lesson:   I can eat what everyone else eats, but in moderation.    Instead of depriving myself of mashed potatoes, gravy and a slice of pie, I ate all of those, but kept my portions in control.

This is a very new concept for me, this whole control thing.    What I found out is that it's only hard in the beginning - after a while it just becomes my New Normal.

When I went to my Jenny Craig appointment on Monday, I hadn't been in almost six weeks.    I hadn't eaten their food in almost four weeks.    I didn't gain any weight.   My consultant smiled at me and said, "You're doing great.  See?  You know what to do, now."

That's when it hit me:   I'm not on a diet anymore.  Now I'm just living my life, but with a new respect for the role food plays in my life.   I keep an eye on balance - if I'm going to eat cheese and carbs, I balance out my plate with vegetables or a salad.     I don't allow myself to have second helpings, ever, because those second helpings are all about emotional eating.   If I'm hungry - legitimately hungry - an hour after I ate I can have a light snack.   

I can finally tell the difference between emotional eating and eating because I'm hungry.    The other night it was 9:30pm and I was stressed, tired, and still had a pile of work to do before bed.   I was feeling edgy, angry and more than a little bored.    I wanted to eat so badly.    I wasn't hungry - I was angry and restless.  I was looking for comfort, and something to do.     So I had two dum-dum lollipops.    A total of 30 calories, and it took half an hour to finish them both.   My sugar craving was satisfied, and I felt like I had given myself a treat.   

Now I keep hard candy and lollipops on hand all the time, just in case.     When moods like that hit me, it's far better to reach for a lollipop than a big sugary bowl of cereal, or a handful of cookies.

I don't need to be in deprivation mode anymore.   It's difficult to get my mind around the fact that this is the new me.   That if I eat regular food, carefully, and exercise moderately I'm going to do just fine.    It's hard to trust that, but as time goes on and the weight stays off, I'm leaning into this concept more and more.

This doesn't mean I don't have a strategy for tougher times, like Christmas, when the whole point of the day seems to be to indulge.    I don't indulge anymore.   I enjoy.

I don't let myself get too hungry.   If I eat when I'm really hungry, I have a very, very hard time stopping.   So about an hour before Christmas dinner, I'll have a Chobani yogurt, maybe with a little granola sprinkled in.   I plan in advance what my 'treat' is going to be, I look forward to eating it, and I enjoy the experience of tasting it.  Instead of compulsively and unconsciously reaching for cookie after cookie and barely registering the taste, those two that I eat taste so very good. 

The biggest breakthrough I've had is that there are no bad foods, but there are bad habits.   Food isn't the enemy; my emotional state is what gets me into trouble.     It's a time of year when it would be easy to feel resentful - everyone around me eating and drinking and I'm an alcoholic in recovery who is watching her weight.   

I don't feel deprived or left out, though.   Just like it was with alcohol, food owned me for a long time.   Eating a bag of chips for comfort is a lonely place to be; it's like a band-aid over a bullet hole ... you only think you're solving a problem, when in fact you're making it much worse.     I was an unconscious eater for so long.   When you eat just because it's what you do, you never get to enjoy or appreciate food.   I'll never be able to enjoy or appreciate alcohol, so I'm grateful that with food I've managed to find a balance.

What keeps me on track is the fear of going back to that unconscious place, where I'm stuck in a prison of my own creation and I don't even realize I have the key to get out.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Finding the Magic

We're coming into the home stretch, now.    I have never experienced holiday craziness like this year.   It's good - so, so good - that my business is doing well, but I have barely a moment to breathe, let alone stop and reflect that this time of year isn't just about rushing around buying gifts, it's also a magical time.

This may be our last year with two Believers in the house.   Greta, who is 8, still firmly believes in Santa Claus.   I don't know that this will be the case next year, and I'm trying to wallow in their wide-eyed wonder at the miracle that is Christmas.

After the death of Rhino the Hamster, Steve and I decided to get them a new pet.  "No fur," was my only rule, which left lizards, snakes and fish.    So I amended my rule, "nothing that eats insects or other things with fur." 

That left fish.

We bought a 20 gallon fish tank, a filter and some special sand.   The kids gleefully ran up and down the fish aisle of the pet store, pointing to their favorites.   

"Well," said Steve.  "We can get the tank and the equipment, but we don't have enough money today to buy the fish.  You're going to have to ask Santa for those."

The kids nodded solemnly, and went home to ask our Elf on the Shelf to please pass along the news to Santa that they'd realllly like some fish for their empty tank.  

We set the tank up in their bedroom; it has a light that functions as a perfect night light, and the hum of the filter lulls them to sleep each night.    It's a little sad, this empty tank, but the kids aren't bothered.    "I hope Felix (the name of the Elf) 'members to tell Santa to bwing fish," Finn said last night.

Greta's response was a bit more practical.  "I'm trying to figure out how Santa will get the fish here without the water freezing," she said, her brow furrowed.   "I think I know.  Santa has a special pet compartment in his sleigh, and he'll keep them there.  And then he'll bring them down the chimney really carefully."

I smile and nod, and wonder how on earth we're going to sneak those fish into the tank Christmas Eve without waking them up.   We may be in over our heads, here.

"It's okay if Santa doesn't bwing da fish," says Finn.   "Da tank is willy beautiful anyway."

I love their undiluted faith in Christmas.   In this crazy-paced, instant gratification society we live in, it's refreshing to see them happily - and patiently - wait to see what will happen.

Yesterday as I rushed around making orders, cleaning the house and folding laundry, the kids got their snow gear on (all by themselves!) and went outside to play.   We have about five inches of pristine snow on the ground, and they were rolling around making snow angels.    I glanced at the clock:   3:30pm.    I still had several things to do before 5pm, but I dried my hands, slipped into my snow boots and headed outside.

"You know what this snow is perfect for?"  I asked.  "Making a snowman!"

"YAY!" they screamed.   "Let's make Frosty!"

So we rolled and packed and stacked, and made a snowman.  The kids foraged for sticks for arms and a nose, but we didn't have anything for eyes or buttons.   Greta's face lit up as she came up with an idea.  "Hold on a sec!" she said, and ran into the kitchen.   She came out a couple of minutes later with a smirky little grin. 

"This will be perfect," she said, as she stuck oreos into his face for eyes, and down his belly for buttons.

I can be cynical about Christmas.   The rampant consumerism, the pressure to have the perfect Christmas, makes me kind of insane.   But there is something magical underneath it all, if I remember to look.

And I've come up with a plan for the fish.   The Elf is going to deliver the fish before we head out to church.   The fish will be his present to the kids before he heads back up to the North Pole until next Christmas.   

Today I have a few more things to tick off my list, and then I'm going to stop, and sink into the beauty of it all.

Happy Holidays, everyone.  No matter what holiday you celebrate this time of year, I hope magic comes your way.




Monday, December 20, 2010

Awake

As I braked in order to slow for a red light, my car hit black ice and started to slide towards a busy intersection.

My heart jumped in fear as I turned into the skid, while my eyes darted towards the cars rushing through the intersection about twenty feet ahead of me.

Two thoughts popped into my head before conscious thought winked out and my mind went white with fear:

Huh.  Time really does slow to a crawl when you're facing imminent danger.

Thank God nobody else is in the car.

It seemed to take hours.  My front end turned left - into the skid - and headed towards the median strip next to me, while my back end shimmied out of control.   I admit it - I closed my eyes and braced for impact.  Two feet before the intersection my car suddenly spun 180 degrees and came to a dead stop, facing the wrong way, but shy of the cars rushing past.  I missed the median strip, too.

It took a moment or two for my brain to register that I was okay.  I was okay.  

The whole thing probably took 10 seconds.   I turned the car around, the light turned green, and I cautiously  made my way through the intersection.  I was shaking too much to drive, so I pulled over to the side of the road.  

I sat with my face in my hands, heart racing, and tried to slow my breathing.   Thank God there were no cars near me, I thought.   Thank God I stopped before the intersection.    Thank you, God. 

I was out on a snowy Sunday night because I had to go to Target to pick up baby clothes, blankets and diapers for our church's annual Christmas Charity Drive.    Maybe that's why my car stopped, I thought.   I was heading out to do some good in the world

~~~~~

Later that night I was still shaken.    Everyone else was asleep, and I sat in my darkened living room and basked in the lights from the Christmas Tree.

I kept replaying scenarios in my head, thinking about how narrowly I escaped being badly hurt, or worse.   What if the car hadn't stopped?  What if I had hit the median?   What if there had been cars in the lane next to mine?  

Careful what you wish for, I thought.   You just might get it. 

I had been feeling so flat lately.    Busy but bored, I had felt like a spectator in my own life.    I have been living under a pile of little details, busily sifting through each day to make the pile smaller, only to have it grow in the night.   Every day:  wake up, sift, sort, sleep. 

I don't pray very often, but I prayed last night. 

I get it, I thought.   My gratitude is back.  Thank you.

~~~~~

Thank you for all of the responses to my last post, too.   Every single one of them helped me; I am comforted to know I'm not alone in how I felt, and inspired by all you had to say.

I figured out, too, what the problem was:   my people-pleasing is showing.

I have been too caught up in writing about what I think people want to hear, instead of what is coming from my heart.     I'm focusing on the external again, something I have worked hard to avoid.    It's probably because I'm stressed, I'm tired, and I haven't been able to get to many meetings.    Left alone in my own head, those voices that like to tell me how I don't measure up come alive.    For years the only antidote I had for those voices was to ramp up my people-pleasing:  Don't like yourself?  Make sure everyone else likes you!   

I never used to worry about how blog posts will be received; I wrote because I needed to.   Somewhere in the past month or so, as I became disenchanted with myself, I lost the melody to my heart song, and I lost my gratitude.   I was sleep walking through my days.

It took a near death experience and kind words from all of you, but I'm back, now.

I'm awake.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Blahg Crisis

Blogging is weird.

Well, it is

I have been in a head space where I don't understand why I come here and talk about whatever is on my mind.   It's not some over-blown existential crisis, it just feels sort of silly.  

More experienced bloggers are probably nodding their heads knowingly, thinking:  Ah, yes.  I remember that phase.  At least I hope they are, because it would be comforting to know that what I'm experiencing is typical and that it will pass.

The words don't come easily to me these days.   I'll come up with an idea for a post on addiction or recovery, and then I'll think:  I already talked about that.  Or the kids will do something clever or funny and I'll start to write a post about it and just lose steam.    Nobody actually wants to read this stuff, do they?  I'll think.

This isn't a fishing trip; I'm not doing a blog post to get comments telling me to keep blogging, blah, blah, blah.   It's just the honest truth:  I feel out of things to say.

So why am I here talking about it? 

I have no idea.  

I was in the supermarket the other day, just watching Normal Regular Ordinary People (NORPs) go about their business and I was thinking about how most people don't go home and feel compelled to write about their life for the world to see -- so what is it about me that wants to do that?

What drives bloggers to put their life out there into cyberspace?

I think part of it is that I'm kind of bored with myself these days.   I'm flat and uninspired.  I occasionally get jazzed up about some new jewelry, but how much can one person talk about making jewelry before peoples' eyes start to cross?  

I'd like to think I blog to become part of a community, not just to project into the world.   But it's almost impossible to divorce ego from blogging.   Of course I'm getting something from it - why else would I do it?    But I'm losing the thread on why I blog.  

I know why I read blogs, at least.  I read other peoples' blogs because I'm in awe of the talent out there.   When I read a post that reaches in and touches my heart, or makes me laugh until tears flow, it fuels my spirit.    I'm not interested in reading bloggers that prattle on and on; I'm drawn to blogs that make me think, laugh or view life in some different way.

I'm feeling like a prattler.   Look at this post:  prattle, prattle, prattle.

Tonight I had dinner with my friend Corinne.  We're talking and laughing, and it hit me:   I would never have known Corinne if I didn't blog.   Or I'll be chatting with Heather on the phone and it will occur to me that a year ago I didn't even know she existed.  Corinne and Heather are like oxygen to me now; I feel like I've known them for ages.    Those friendships are very real, even though they were born from the pixelated world of the internet.  

Maybe that is why I keep on blogging ... because the connections that have come to me since I started are incredible.   Maybe I blog for the same reason I stay sober:   because of the possibilities, the new friendships, the opportunity to become part of new worlds.   Sobriety feels flat to me sometimes, too, when I lose sight of all the gifts it has brought me.   Maybe what I'm missing is good old-fashioned gratitude

Will you help me?  If you're a blogger, will you tell me why you blog?   If you're a blog reader, will you tell me why you read?   Not mine specifically - like I said, this is not a fishing trip.    I'm genuinely curious.  

Maybe you can help shake me out of this, well, flatness.  

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Frustrated Song

The woman on the television pops the cork on a fresh bottle of red wine, smiles at the camera and says, "Oh, I just love that sound."

I sigh, change the channel, and see a close-up of a river of amber beer pouring into a frosty glass.

~~~~~

These days alcohol is everywhere.    In preparation for the holidays, television commercials, billboards and even newspapers are full of ads for booze.   I forgot how trying this can be, especially this time of year when by 5pm my shoulders are hunched and tense, the kids are jacked up on sugar and excitement and a pile of work waits for me each night.

I talk a lot about the gifts of sobriety, and they are ample, to be sure.   But the challenges seem louder these days, between my hectic schedule and the stress of the holidays, it is hard to find ways to unwind.    I don't want to drink, but I do want to escape.  

When I was newly sober I felt wistful about alcohol.  I pined for it like an ex-lover.  Then for a while I felt jealous; seeing someone slowly sipping a glass of red wine made me crazy with envy.  Then I got angry.   Why me?   Why do I have to be an alcoholic?  I stamped my existential feet at the unfairness of it all.

Now?   Now I mostly just long for a pause button - some way to just dial down the volume for an hour or two, especially at the end of the day.

~~~~~~

Today was a two steps forward and one step back kind of day.  Nothing bad happened, but every inch of today was inconvenient.   I had the day all planned out (mistake #1), but then Greta's cough took a scary turn and she stayed home from school.    Instead of the errands and work I had to do this morning, we headed off to the pediatrician's, only to wait in the ever-loving exam room for an hour and a half.   I sat in that little room, trying to keep Hurricane Finn from destroying everything in sight, while my day backed up on itself.   There was nothing I could do but sit and wait.

On the way home from the doctor's all the idiot lights on my car's dashboard came on simultaneously for a second, then blinked off.   They did this all the way home, while my hands gripped the wheel so tightly my knuckles turned white.  There was nothing I could do but hope it was a faulty wire, and not every major system in my car failing at once.

Next we waited in a huge line at the pharmacy to get Greta's antibiotics ("Oh look.  We're waiting.  THAT never happens,"  Greta declared, rolling her eyes). 

~~~~~~

The sun went down on today and nothing on my list of things to do was done.   I helped Greta with a pile of homework while Finn restlessly ran around the house.   Dinner, bath and bedtime for the kids, and then I dug into a pile of work.  

That's when I turned on the television, hoping to watch some mindless home decor show while I made jewelry, and it turns out to be Wine and Dine Night with the irritating Cork Popping Lady. 

~~~~~~

One sentence kept scrolling through my head today, on an endless loop:   the only way out is through

I've lost the ability to manufacture peace in a glass, so I have to talk myself through stressful times, endless waits in waiting rooms, and serpentining days.     Just wait it out, Ellie, says the Voice.   You can wait it out peacefully or you can simmer in irritation.   You choose

Half an hour into our wait in the exam room I felt like my head was going to explode.    Greta gave me a timid glance, and said, "You okay,  Momma?" while Finn wriggled in my lap like a spastic monkey.

No, I'm not okay.  I have eighty badzillion things to be doing and I'm STUCK here.   I am most certainly not okay, I thought.

"I'm just a little frustrated with this long wait,"  I tell her.   "Do you know what I do when I'm frustrated?"  I ask her.   I'm totally winging it.  I have no idea what I'm going to say next.

"I sing the Frustrated Song."  WTF? Where did that come from?

She raises her eyebrows expectantly.  

I made up a little ditty on the spot.  I had no idea what I was doing.  I was desperate. 

"Ohhhhh, we're stuck we're stuck and I don't give a ....  darn.    Some days don't go as planned, some days really should be banned.   When everything is going wrong, I sing my Frustrated Sooo-oo-ooong!"

Greta and Finn looked at me like I had lost my mind, and maybe I had, but then Greta chimed in:

"Ohhhh it's the Frustrated Song, it won't take long, not like this wait we're haaa-aa-ving.   So sing along, bang your gong, its the Frustrated Sooo-ooo-oong."

"I like the fwustwated song," said Finn.  "Sing it again!!'

~~~~

I have to work harder to find peace of mind these days.   Even sleep doesn't bring immediate solace, because when I lay my exhausted head down on the pillow at night the nocturnal, hyperactive squirrel who lives in my brain pops to life and starts burrowing around for Panic Acorns.

My thoughts turn to alcohol more often these days.   It's just the truth.   I don't feel sad, angry or wistful anymore.  I'm mostly just tired, and in need of a fast-acting solution.   There isn't time for meditation, or reading, or talking on the phone with recovery friends - all things I do when life is moving along at a more normal pace. 

So I sing the Frustrated Song.   And I wait.  

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New Items and a Reminder about a HUGE Sale!

For those of you who are bored by jewelry posts, I apologize in advance.  But I'm all excited (it doesn't much, does it?) about some new pieces in my shop, and I wanted to share a few.

I'm all into memory wire wrapping bracelets these days.  These are flexible and durable, and one-size fits all so they make terrific gifts (click on the link below the pictures to see any item in my Etsy shop):


And some earrings to match:







And the perfect holiday bracelet (there are pretty matching earrings and a pendant, too, that I haven't listed in my shop yet):



A new ring!   Made from sparkly red tiger's eye semi-precious stone:



And because of the popularity of my Fly Away Home necklace, I decided to make the Tiny Bird's Nest Earrings in the same style:


And two new recovery pieces.  First - the Unity Necklace (to some of you in recovery this pendant will remind you of a certain symbol to a certain organization found near the front of the phone book... :)


And the Faith, Love and Hope Bracelet is now available in Amethyst and Sapphire Crystals.  Amethyst is associated with relieving depression, promoting calmness, serenity, and spirituality. It also helps with addiction and stress.   Sapphire is associated with purity of mind, serenity, joy, and peace. It opens the mind to beauty and love.   It clears the mind of unwanted thoughts.



There is still time to order gifts by December 25th - I am turning orders around in 48 hours, and it takes about 2-4 days for orders to arrive (within the US).  I can also ship any item Priority Mail (an additional $5) which is guaranteed to arrive in 2-3 days.

Also, a reminder that I'm running a HUGE sale this month for newsletter subscribers only (I won't give all the specifics here, but you can save 30%!!!).   To find out more, all you have to do is join my newsletter mailing list by entering your email in the widget on my right-hand sidebar, or by clicking here.   I only send newsletters once a month, and I always offer special deals available only to subscribers.   After you enter your information, you will receive the newsletter within 24 hours.

Thank you for looking!


Monday, December 13, 2010

Hamsters, Homework, Haircuts and Havoc

The day started with the expiration of our hamster, Rhino.

He lived a surprisingly long little hamster life, given that our track record with small-ish critters is less than stellar.  Steve and I knew he was ailing, and it had become part of my morning and night routine to peer cautiously into his cage to see if he was still among the living.   

This morning, he wasn't.

I waited until the kids were home from school to tell them.   Lots of tears ensued, followed by the Circle of Life talk. 

"Wino (I love that Finn calls him that because he can't say his "Rs" correctly) is in heaven, wight?"

"Yes, Finn."  

He thinks for a moment.  "So he's playing wif Coalie? And Yellowy?  And Taily-Tail?  And Harry I, II, II and IV??"  (our kitty, favorite chicken, leopard gecko and a series of Betta fish, respectively).

I grimace.  "Yes, they are all together now."

Greta took Rhino's passing in stride, for the most part.   She cried for a while, then wiped her tears away and said, "even though it makes me sad when they die, I'm glad we have pets."

~~~~~

My days are jam packed.   My business is busy, and the kids' schedules are hectic.   I hit the ground running at 7am every morning, and usually don't get to bed until after 11pm each night.  

Every inch of today was full.   With both kids in school until 2pm,  I spent the morning delivering local orders, catching up on work emails and going to several stores to buy materials and office supplies.   Finn got home first, and I forced myself to carve out some time and play a game or two.   Greta came home at 3:30pm and found me where I usually am at that time:  scrambling to finish orders and get to the post office by 5pm.   

After the post office we went to Target for some much needed groceries and gifts.   Home by 6:15pm, unpacked groceries, fixed dinner, supervised baths, gave Greta a hair cut that is long overdue and read a bedtime story.   Steve came home at 8pm and we held a little ceremony to say goodbye to Rhino, and then Steve buried him back in the woods.   More tears, a couple of back rubs and two fetched glasses of water later I limped downstairs, exhausted, to work some more on orders.

Every day feels just like the last one.   There is often some unexpected hurdle (like the death of a hamster), but for the most part every day unfolds just like the one before.   And there is never enough time.

I keep waiting for the panic monkey to strike.    Last year at this time I was a wreck; I felt like I wasn't measuring up on any front.   I almost shut down the business.  I almost stopped blogging.  Everything was so dramatic

This year feels different, and I've been trying to figure out why.   Part of it, I think, is that I adjusted my expectations.

I go easy on myself about things like laundry and housework.   I'm asking for help from family, friends and babysitters instead of resentfully doing it all myself.   When doubt and shame creep in and whisper to me that I'm not spending enough time with my kids or the house looks like a tornado hit, I tell myself that I simply don't have time to listen. I know I'm doing the best I can, dammit, and I'm too busy to feel badly about any of it.   So there.

I have my moments, to be sure.   There are times I feel like my head is going to explode:  when I'm trying to get orders done and I have to get up every three minutes to break up a fight, adjust a channel, find a lost toy or fetch a snack, I can get resentful.   But it doesn't last long. 

Last year at this time I felt like I was chasing my tail.    This year I feel swept along by some unseen current, and instead of feeling panicky and out of control, I feel mostly curious.   I wonder where it's taking me?

I haven't posted since last Thursday - haven't even thought of posting - and that's a long time for me.   I told myself I wasn't going to post just for the sake of posting, but I need to decompress, think things through.  I need to stop, once in a while, and writing a few words on my little acre of the internet helps me do just that. 

Thank you for listening.   I'm grateful for this space where I can just ramble, unwind, decompress.    Eventually I'll get back into writing; I'm not worried about it.  

Everything works itself out, I'm learning, if I can just be patient enough to let it.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

One Simple Truth

One salty tear plopped onto the envelope, smearing the ink.

I was innocently addressing my holiday cards, and suddenly there I was, weeping.

This happens sometimes, usually at the most unexpected moments.   I'll be minding my business, moving through my day, and WHAM.   A memory will surface that stops me in my tracks.

I had dashed off about forty cards with nary a thought.   As I went to slide the 41st card into its envelope, I looked at the picture.  I mean, really looked at it.   Our holiday cards arrived in the mail last week (from the fabulous Paper Culture) and I double checked spelling and style and moved on to the next thing. 

My hand trembled as I examined our faces.   My brother, who is a photographer by trade, snapped the picture on Thanksgiving Day.   The kids are beaming at the camera, my husband has his strong arms wrapped around all four of us.    We look happy. 

We are happy.   

What made the tear roll down my cheek was a memory from Before, from five years ago.   I remember staring at our holiday card and marveling at how normal we looked.  On the inside I was crumbling from fear and addiction, desperately hoping my dark secret would never be discovered.   On the outside we we looked happy, smiling away at the camera.     As I stuffed the pictures into envelopes I kept thinking:  I am such a fraud. If people only knew.  

When I look at that picture through the lens of today, though, I see how worn out we look.  The cracks were starting to show:



My world was getting smaller and smaller back then.   I think I sent out about twenty-five cards.  Total. 

My life was full of deceit - from hiding how much I drank to hiding how deeply flawed I felt - I had woven myself a web of lies so thick even I couldn't discern truth from fiction anymore.   All I knew was that I had to keep the outside looking okay so nobody would peer too closely.

The thing that set me free was the thing I was most fearful of:   the truth.    Today I know that no matter how bad things get speaking my truths out loud will keep me safe.  

My life now is so full of friendships and light and love that I feel far away from the woman I was Before.   I know she's there, because she whispers to me sometimes, but her voice is as small as a single tear in a vast ocean.

Today I sent out more than three times the number of cards I did five years ago.  The list is full of people who are so dear to me I can't imagine there was a time I didn't know them.   Recovery friends, new friends, old friends I have reconnected with in sobriety.   Bloggy friends and local friends.   The list goes on and on.

It all started with ripping down the web of lies and telling One Simple Truth:  that I am an alcoholic and I need help.

I dropped the pretenses, the need to seem perfect.   I started looking inward for my sense of self-worth, instead of scrabbling away in the outside world and begging you to like me so I'd feel okay with myself.

It's easy to forget how dark and awful it was, how small my world had become.   But I didn't weep because I feel remorseful or shameful; I wept because I'm so very grateful. 

Happy Holiday Season, everyone, from our family to yours:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Crossing Over

I was at a party with a bunch of other Moms the other night, and I ran into me.

The party wasn't in my home town, and I only knew one or two people.   I was introduced to an attractive woman, someone I had never met before, and we got to chatting.  It was early in the evening and guests were still arriving, cheeks flushed from the cold.   The line for alcohol was ten deep.   I was grateful for the distraction of meeting someone new; the first half an hour or so of a party is always the most difficult for me, drinking-wise.   

We compared notes in the usual way.   She was about six or seven years younger than me, and had a couple of preschool aged children.   We chatted about getting used to being home full time, both of us having quit high powered jobs when our first child was born.  

After ten minutes or so, she asked if she could get me something from the bar.  

"I'm all set," I said, holding up my club soda and cranberry.  "Thanks, though."

We parted ways, only to bump into each other again about an hour and a half later.   "Hey again," she said, and winked. 

I tried not to stare at the half-full glass of white wine in her hand.   The small talk was wearing on me, and I was thinking about going home to a cozy couch, a warm fire and a steaming cup of tea.

"Soooooooo," she drawled.  "Howzit going?" 

Ah.  I thought.  She's drunk.   All the power to her, but I'm ready to get outta here.

The room was hot and noisy, and we were pressed into a corner.   I was trapped.  

"Iss hard sometimes, you know?"  she said, out of the blue.

I nodded, but I had no idea what she was talking about.

"You seem like a really nice person," she slurred, and threw her arm around my shoulder.   "I feel like I can tell you anything."   Her eyes rolled up into her head, ever so slightly, when she blinked.

"Thanks," I smiled, unsure exactly how to respond.   I looked frantically around the room, hoping to lock eyes with my friend and use that as an excuse to move on.

"It's juss... juss so much WORK."   She sighed, and took a long sip of wine.  

"Ummm, what is so much work?"  I asked, awkwardly.

"Ohhhh... you know,"  she puffed out her cheeks and exhaled.   "Everything.   Kids." She swayed side to side, almost imperceptibly.

She has crossed over, I thought, into that place where drunk people grope for meaningful connection.   I don't know how to do this anymore

We stood together in silence for a moment or two, her arm still slung over my shoulder.

"Well," she said, and her wine sloshed around in her glass as she gestured to the room.   "Thass why we need to get out, right?"   She winked again.   "And thass what THIS is for!"   She held her glass up to me in a mock toast.

I smiled again, but remained silent.   She noticed my empty glass.   "OH!  You needa drink!"  

"No, I'm all set," I said.  "I'm getting ready to go."

"But you CAN'T go.  You juss GOT here!"   She grabbed my hand, and started pulling me towards the bar.  

I let her lead me to the bar - I had no choice - and when we got there I said, "Really - I'm all set.  I've got to go."

"Oh, not yet," she said, refilling her still half-full glass.  "Whaddya having?"

This doesn't happen very often to me anymore.   I'm open about my recovery, and usually hang out with recovery people or friends who know I don't drink.    I wasn't sure what to say, so I just told the truth.

"I don't drink," I said.   "But thanks anyway."

She blinked once, twice.  Then she said, quietly, "Oh," and looked into her wineglass, as if the answers to the Universe were held in its depths.  "Sorry."

"Don't be sorry,"  I said.  "It's all good.  I'm just tired and ready to go home."

She just kept staring into her wineglass, so I quietly moved away, found my friend, and made my exit.

I went home and curled up on my couch with a book, but I couldn't concentrate.   I kept thinking about her, that woman, because I knew her.   For so many years, that was me.

I never used to be the drunkest person in the room.   I was careful when I was socializing; I tried hard to control it in front of other people.   I don't recall any overtly embarrassing moments; I didn't create a scene, fall down, or humiliate myself.

What was so familiar to me was that quiet desperation behind her eyes, that ache for a connection with someone - anyone.    Conversations fueled by alcohol felt so deep, so meaningful.   I know I must have crossed lines, over-shared, or made less drunk people feel awkward with my forwardness. 

When I was drinking I felt such a sense of belonging.   Until the next morning, when I would wake up with a slow thump behind my eyelids and missing pieces of the evening before.

I don't know if she has a drinking problem or not.  It doesn't matter, really.   When you're sober and you go to a party with lots of drinking, you can't help but observe how the atmosphere of a room changes as people get more drunk.   Cheeks flush, laughter gets raucous, inappropriate comments or gestures are made and nobody seem to notice.

It seems odd to me that I used to want so desperately to be in the middle of all that.   From my vantage point, now, it all seems so, well, flimsy

When I first got sober, I thought I was saying goodbye to fun forever.   I never thought the day would come where I would be at a party full of people who were drinking and instead of wanting to be whooping it up that I would want more than anything to be home reading a book, talking to a good friend, or cuddling with my kids.

The irony?  The irony is that I laugh more now - visceral, gut-clenching laughter - than I ever have in my life.   I no longer need to be clutching a wineglass to cross over into that place of feeling connected with other people. 

I can get there all on my own.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Life Changing Message

I'm not a big fan of posting videos of other people talking on my blog.   I feel like it's a cop-out for doing serious writing, and I'm pretty sure very, very few people ever actually watch them anyway.

But a reader sent me this talk by Brene Brown (sorry, I don't know how to put the accent over the last "e" in her name - it's pronounced Bren-nay), and it moved me to tears.   Brene says exactly - and I mean EXACTLY - what I try to put into words on this blog, and she says it beautifully.  And concisely.

It's about twenty minutes long, so please find some quiet time, when you don't have any distractions, and watch this.   This message is life changing.   Truly.  What she talks about is how I try to live my life, and when I struggle it's only because I'm losing sight of these important fundamentals.  

Thank you, Leslie, for sending this, and for understanding how much it would mean to me.

If you can't open the video below, please click here

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Inside Page

I got the cleaning bug early this morning.    I had a million other things I was supposed to be doing, and that is generally when I decide to delve into non-essential projects.  

I started mucking out drawers I hadn't opened in a few years, sorting through the old clothes and filling bags to give to charity.

My thoughts ran wild as I worked.   My head was full of all the things I have going on right now:  my growing business, the kids' activities, holiday madness and social engagements.

I wasn't really paying attention to what I was doing.    When my fingers brushed the edge of something at the bottom of a drawer, at first I had no idea what it was.

The posterboard is yellowing, and the cut-outs are curling up with the passage of time, but after a moment I realized what I had in my hand.

When I was at my thirty day rehab stay, we had "art time".    The counselors would give us a project designed to tap into our creative side and hopefully give us some access to our own truths at the same time.

I hated art time.   It felt like so much macaroni-art-at-camp to me.   Drunks Who Draw, I called it under my breath.    I threw out everything I made there; it was too sad, too painful, too pitiful.    For some reason, though, I kept one project.   I must have stuffed it into this drawer, fresh home from rehab, and forgotten about it.

Until today.

The project was simple, and its motives were obvious.  We were instructed to take a piece of poster board and fold it in half, like a book.    On the front page, we were told to cut out pictures and phrases from magazines that we felt expressed who we were on the outside.   On the inside page, we were to do the same, only this time using pictures and phrases that expressed our insides; the parts of us we didn't let the world see.

I remember scoffing openly as I clipped pieces from magazines, making sardonic comments about how Sandra-Bullock-In-The-Movie-28-Days this felt.  "Shouldn't we be singing Kumbaya while we do this?" I remember saying, my humor a weak deflection at the pain I was feeling.

When I found it, my mouth dropped open in surprise.   My hands shaking, I plunked down on the floor to read.

Here are some of the things I pasted to the outside page, how I thought the world saw me:

living in the spirit of the moment
the go-getter
the difference between being listed to and being understood
solid
giving
fine home
the lady is on a roll
cares
I will be there for you
impact
confident
keep on moving
kindness
value
spreads sunshine
good


The inside page, the way I really felt, revealed this:

why
the end of invincibility
playing with fire
pain
more, more, more
phoning it in
self-absorbed
frustration
worry
out of whack
missing the completeness
you couldn't spot me in a crowd
supporting role
hide
unforgivable



And, on the other side of the inside cover, five small words, outlined in pen:



Sometimes, the person I used to be feels very far away.   The scared, broken hopeless woman who ran to the solace of a bottle every night doesn't feel real to me.  

My life today is in balance, full of light and life, and it is hard for me to touch that despair.  I don't remember how alcohol consumed me; how it robbed me of humor, compassion and spirit.

I'm thankful I didn't throw this one away.  As I sat there on the floor, shaken, my gratitude came roaring back. 

Because today?   Today the outside page is me.   And it matches the inside page, too.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hobgoblins and Ekk Monsters

I've been thinking a lot about time, because I don't ever have enough.

November came and went in the blink of an eye.   One minute we were trick-or-treating, then I blinked and we were sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner.   I blink again and another week has flown by.

My life is very full at the moment - not unmanageably busy, but teetering on the edge of Too Much.   My little business gets a lot bigger this time of year.  I'm grateful - so grateful - that it is growing, that this may be what I do for a living when Finn is in school next year.   It has gone from a something I did on the side to keep the wolf away from the door to something that materially contributes to our household's income.    I haven't lost my sense of wonder that this little hobby I started three years ago has become such a creative force for me; it has surpassed my wildest dreams.

But it means I have less time for other things, like writing.   My writing hobgoblin has gone on vacation again (if you have no idea what I'm talking about, click on the link).   I used to have so many ideas for things to write about I would wake up in the middle of the night and furiously scribble thoughts down.   Now I sit and stare at the Big White Space on my computer screen and feel totally uninspired.    I can't fake it, or force it, so I'm just waiting it out.    Eventually my writing hobgoblin will return from wherever hobgoblins go, and I will write again.    I know I will.   In the meantime my creative energies are flowing into my jewelry.  I guess that's just where they are meant to go at the moment.

The other night I was clicking off lights, preparing to go to bed, when I saw a picture my daughter had drawn - one I hadn't noticed before - tacked to the bulletin board in her playroom.     It sums up the way things are around here right now:



It's hard to see, so I'll provide a narrative:  Greta drew herself standing at the bottom of a flight of stairs, and two little monsters are chasing her .. saying "Ekk".  The Ekk monster closest to her has his little arms outstretched, ready to snatch her away.  She is thinking, "Mom".   And where am I?   Upstairs, busy with something, and yelling down, "Coming!"

Yup.  I'm busy. 

It's okay, though.   Last year I remember I was all twisted up about time, about balance; I felt like I wasn't measuring up on any front.

I have more acceptance this year .. at least at the moment I do.   The mommy-guilt doesn't stab me as deeply.   The kids are learning how to amuse themselves on their own, and I'm proud of the business I'm building.  

The other day as I sat and made jewelry, they wandered into my studio.  I waited for the usual requests  for juice or endless questions about what we were going to do that day.   Instead, they walked around my studio, admiring pieces of jewelry, passing them back and forth and talking about their favorites.

"When I grow up, I want to create," Greta said.  "Maybe art.  I think I would be a great artist."

"Like Momma?"  Finn asked.

"Yes, just like Momma," Greta replied.

Instead of beating myself up for all the ways I'm not cutting it, for all the times I have to put them off to finish an order or talk to a customer, I'm grateful they see me as more than just the snack-fetcher, cook and chauffeur.

And when my hobgoblin gets back from vacation he's totally going to kick the Ekk monsters' asses.     In the meantime, I've got jewelry to make.

Monthly Giveaway - New Item!

Congratulations to Ann in NJ, who won the Apatite Fly Away Home necklace!   Thanks to everyone who entered!

This month's piece is near and dear to my heart: the Inner Strength Necklace. 

The pendant is made with Apatite and Hematite, two semi-precious stones with powerful meta-physical properties.


Apatite is the "Stone of Acceptance", known to help the wearer with healing, balance and seeing inner truth.

Hematite is the "Stone of the Mind", known to help the wearer balance energies between the body, mind and spirit, and dissolve negativity.





Click here to see this piece in my Etsy shop.

To enter, please leave a comment below saying you would like to enter the giveaway, and please provide your email so I can contact you if you win!   If you would prefer to enter via email, you can send me a message at:  ellieandsteve@verizon.net

This month, you can get additional entries!!   To get additional entries, go to my Etsy shop, Shining Stones, and check out some of my pieces... then come back and comment with your favorites!   I will give one additional entry per item you mention!   

The winner will be chosen at random (my daughter picks a name from a hat) on January 1st.   I'm sure we could all use a little Inner Strength once the holiday craziness is done!
This giveaway is open internationally.

Thank you!