Wednesday, April 27, 2011

All Of Me

Steve and I were cleaning out a bureau the other day, and we stumbled across a stash of old video tapes.

There were several from the late 90s: parties at our old ski house, our wedding, a New Year's Eve celebration with friends.  We found one tape from when Greta was a baby, and several more from when she was about two.

We settled in to watch them that evening, and there I was - the younger versions of me - right there on the screen. 

There was the 27 year old me, laughing and doing shots while playing quarters with friends, the 30 year old me marrying Steve, surrounded by family and friends.   The 35 year old me filming 2 year old Greta running outside and catching the first snowflakes of the season on her tongue.   The 36 year old me looking tired and bloated on Christmas morning.

Steve found a blank tape and popped it into the machine, just to be sure it was empty and didn't contain a memory we would wish to preserve. 

There was some static, and then I appeared staring solemnly into the camera and speaking.   Instantly, I remembered this day:  I was engaged to be married, and Steve was away on a business trip.   I got it into my head that I would tape a kind of confessional, a diatribe of all that was wrong with me.   I remembered drinking that night, kind of a lot, and having - possibly for the first time - a sudden awareness that alcohol was becoming a problem for me.   My intention, as I recall, was to admit out loud that I was afraid of becoming an alcoholic. 

I was twenty-nine years old.

What I did instead was ramble into the camera for twenty minutes, going on and on about how broken I felt, how I didn't understand myself, how deep inside I felt like I had a hole in my soul.   I didn't say one word about drinking.

We were watching denial in action.

I wanted to grab the television and scream at my 29 year old visage:  "Just SAY IT already!  Spare yourself eight years of struggling!"

But of course we can't go back, can we?

We watched the video all the way through, and then sat in silence for a while.  

"Wow," Steve finally said.  "You've come a long way, haven't you?"

It was hard to reconcile, all those versions of me colliding on screen, the evidence of my double life irrefutable. 

The footage from Greta's 2nd birthday party is adorable; she was learning to talk and parroting everything people said, her bright eyes shining.   "I wuv you Momma!" she said into the camera.   My chirpy voice can be heard off-camera, laughing as she tumbled around in the yard, opened presents and played with her cousins.  Our family and friends were all there; it was a sparkling sunshiney day in September.  

What I remember from that day is sneaking into the kitchen to steal sips from a bottle of white wine stashed in a cupboard and drinking copious amounts of coffee to disguise the smell on my breath.   I remember feeling sweaty and disjointed; terrified of discovery and unable to stop myself.

How did I do it?  I wondered as I stared, agape, at the screen.   Why did I do it?   Which one of those versions of me - the chirpy, laughing mother or the crippled, broken spirit - is the real me?

The answer is simple:  I was both of those people.  The fact that I was slipping into the grip of alcoholism didn't negate the fact that I was a loving mother and wife, but I didn't see it that way at the time.  All I felt was dirty, shameful and broken beyond repair.  I was determined to beat the drinking on my own; the idea that anyone would find out about my secret was unthinkable.

I couldn't imagine asking for help because good mothers aren't alcoholics; it was as simple as that.   In my mind, admitting I was an alcoholic meant telling the world I was a horrible mother, a horrible person.   I never once thought of myself as a sick person who needed help to get well.

As I ripped the film from my taped confessional and threw it away, I thought about what I would say to the 29 year old me:

You aren't broken, you don't have a hole in your soul.  The alcohol is eating away at your joy, your gratitude, your ability to love yourself.  You are carving out the best parts of you and filling the hole left behind with poison, distorting your thoughts so that you believe these lies you tell yourself.  You are a good person, a beautiful spirit.  Put down the drink, ask for help, and go see this for yourself.

Monday, April 25, 2011

How To Love

How do you love someone?

Forget everything you have learned from gushy cards and quivering-chin poetry.

Love isn't curlicues and puffy hearts over the "i"s.    Love is seldom tidy, hardly ever delivered in a pretty package with a shimmering bow on top.

Love is Tuesday.  

It isn't rainbows, chirping birds and a fawn licking your palm.  Love is a mascara streaked face, a trembling hand, a grateful heart.

It cannot be manufactured from nothing and it cannot be faked.

How do you love someone?   

Dig deep.  Travel past cheerful hugs and happy occasions, veer off the path at the intersection of Happily Ever After and I'll Never Hurt You, and wander into the forest of Truth.

It's easy to love when waters are smooth, the sky is a brilliant blue and the wind is at your back.

Love isn't found inside little white lies designed to avoid stinging truth.   It doesn't cohabitate with pity or Thank-God-I'm-Not-Her.

Love is saying the hard stuff, not because you want to feel better about yourself, or be right, but out of pure, unadulterated compassion.  

Love is reaching out a hand and hanging on tight, not letting go when the waters get choppy or inconvenient.

Love is showing up for the tears, the failures, the pitfalls.   Love is delivering the truth without judgment or condemnation.

Love has no room for I-Told-You-So or How-Could-You-Do-This-To-Me.   Because it isn't about you.  It never was.

How do you love someone?

Love is staring awkwardness and conflict dead in the face and owning your part.  Because you always have a part.

Love doesn't allow fear and resentment to take root and blossom into weeds that choke out truth and light.

Love is knowing when to walk away, but more importantly love is knowing when to stay.  

The opposite of love isn't hate; it is indifference. 

Love is showing up and meaning it.

Love is listening. 

Love is humble. 

It isn't grand or flashy; it's quiet, steady and strong.

Love is I'm sorry.  Love is forgiveness. 

How do you love someone?  

Start with yourself.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Day In My Life, The Movie

I was away all day on Saturday, spending time with a good friend, taking a day off after a long school vacation week.

When I walked in the door late that afternoon the kids were beaming from ear to ear.  

"We made you something, Momma," they smiled.

They ran up to the DVD player, hit play, and settled in on the couch to watch a movie.  A movie they made.  Starring themselves.  About a Day In The Life.  Of me.

I burst out laughing as soon as I saw the first scene, where Greta tries to act exasperated and breaks out in giggles. 

I love it.

The editing is wacky (one scene repeats twice... my apologies; I've tried everything and I can't fix it). And there is something screwy with the last scene, too - there was a better ending but for some reason it won't upload.

But hey - we're not trying to win an Oscar here. 

Greta plays me.   Finn plays, well, himself.   They set out to capture a day in the life of Momma and Finn, and they did a really good job (even down to the detail of fishing through the clean pile of laundry in my laundry room to find Finn clothes in the morning).

It's long-ish - about 13 minutes, I think?   So I totally understand if you don't watch it, or don't watch it all the way through.   But if you've ever wanted a good look at my kitchen, my playroom, my beading studio or my upstairs bathroom, then this is your lucky day.....

Here's the part where I offer an excuse about the cleanliness (or lack thereof) of my house, but I won't.  Let's just say only a husband could have filmed this; I couldn't have resisted the urge to pick up first.  I will say, though, that my jewelry studio is more chaotic than usual - we're storing some furniture we're going to give away, so that explains at least part of the mess.  The rest is just life, warts and all.  

It is what is is, you know?

And so without any further caveats, I bring you A Day In The Life:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Remember When

It's school vacation week, and I've been thinking a lot about the gifts of sobriety.   I used to dread vacation; long, unstructured days with the kids around full time.   We don't have any specific plans, but we're busy with play dates, trips to museums, walks, games and hanging out together.   I am throwing myself into my work; creating more new pieces of jewelry than I have in a long time.  Life is good.  It's never far from my thoughts, though, how difficult, lonely and dark a week like this one would have been if I were drinking.   So I'm re-posting this piece from February of 2010, to remember what it was like, Before.


It’s 11:30am on a gorgeous, crisp fall day. I’m sitting outside, soaking in the bright September sun with ten other mothers. It’s our usual Wednesday morning playgroup, and we’re chatting, sipping coffee, keeping one eye on our kids playing on the nearby swing set. I have a moment of clarity, a snapshot of myself: my long blonde hair is freshly frosted, swept up in a fashionable clip. I’m dressed in jeans and a colorful sweater, legs crossed, coffee cup perched in one hand. A friend is telling a funny story about her three year old’s latest tantrum. I see myself tilt my head back, laughing with the other Moms. It hits me, like a punch in the gut: I’m such a fraud.

Oh, God, if they only knew.

Greta, who is two, calls out to me to push her on the swings. I flash the other Moms a knowing glance – so much for adult time – and walk carefully over to the swings. I’m grateful for the interruption: my hands were starting to tremble, ever so slightly, and I was having a hard time holding my coffee steady.

I push Greta on the swings, her laughter coming to me as though from a great distance. My head pounds, my gut churns, and I’m starting to sweat.

“Two more minutes, then we have to go,” I whisper to Greta.

She immediately begins to wail. “NOOOOO! I wanna STAY!” The other mothers glance over, sympathetic.

I grit my teeth and smile wider. “I know you’re disappointed, but we really have to go.”

She jumps off the swing and throws herself on the ground, crying. I’ve got to get out of here. I scoop Greta up, and she clings to me, sobbing. Her cries cut me to the bone, the other mothers’ stares feel like lasers. Do they know? Can they tell? They are all smiling at me, wishing me luck. I give a quick laugh – oh, two year olds, what can you do? - and wave as I scuttle to the car.

I drive home, my hands gripping the wheel, my thoughts racing. I’ll be okay once I’m home. I just need to get home.

I put Greta down for her nap, humming to her until she falls asleep. My hands are shaking in earnest, now, and my headache is blinding. I head downstairs and open the fridge, telling myself I’m going to have a glass of milk to settle my stomach. My eyes fall on the one-quarter full bottle of Chardonnay, glistening at the back of the top shelf. I reach for the milk, and grab the bottle of wine instead. Just one sip, to take the edge off, I think. It’s not like I’m going to get drunk in the middle of the afternoon. Just one to feel better. I take a long swig, and my stomach heaves. I wait a moment, wondering if it will stay down. It does. I take another swig, and the shaking in my hands stops. My body relaxes, my mind is blissfully quiet.

An hour later the bottle is empty. How did that happen? I don’t feel drunk, or even a little buzzed. I feel normal, finally. Without thinking about what I’m doing, I go to the sink, fill the empty bottle one-quarter full with water from the tap and shove it in the back of the fridge. I’ll have to buy some more later, I think. Before Steve gets home I’ll replace the water with wine, and pour the rest down the sink because tonight I’m not going to drink.

And at that moment, I mean it.

My daughter wakes up from her nap, and we sit on the floor and do puzzles, play games. My body is warm, glowing, and my patience is infinite. Again, a snapshot flashes through my brain: a happy, involved mother playing with her child. A good mother, an engaged mother. Not an alcoholic mother. I think: alcoholic mothers don’t play with their kids like this.

At 6pm, we sit down to dinner. I’m smiling, slightly flushed, animated. My husband and I chat about our day and Greta babbles along with us, pleased at her growing vocabulary. I have replaced the bottle in the fridge, up to the same level as before, pouring three-quarters of it into a large water bottle now stashed in the bathroom closet. Steve and I have a glass of wine with dinner. I have promised him I’ll cut back on my drinking, so I make sure he doesn’t notice when I duck away to the bathroom to nip from the water bottle filled with wine.

It’s my turn to put Greta to bed. I’m in an expansive, buoyant mood, and I make a game out of brushing her teeth and putting on her pajamas. I kiss her good night, tell her I love her, and head back downstairs thinking: see? I can control my drinking. I played with my kid, fixed dinner, put her to bed. I am so much more patient after a glass or two of wine.

It’s 10pm, and I come out of a grey-out. I’m yelling at my husband about something – what? – I can’t remember. He looks at me with hurt and disgust and heads upstairs to bed. I’m crying, but I don’t know why. I turn on some sad music, flop on the couch and sob. Nobody understands me. I’m unlovable. I need a drink. I tiptoe to the bathroom and rummage around under the folded towels until I find the hidden water bottle. It’s empty. I begin to panic. I can’t be out, I’ll never make it, and then I remember another stash in the back of the coat closet.

One last snapshot: me, on my hands and knees in the coat closet, drinking straight from the open bottle, full of relief that there is more wine.

I think: tomorrow is a new day. It’s just that today was extra stressful. I won't drink tomorrow.

I don’t know it, of course, but I still have two more years of tomorrows to go.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hot Hot Hot

Lots of people have asked me if I make those stylish beaded leather wraparound bracelets .... and I'm excited to announce that now I do!!

These are all the rage right now, and I've been having a great time learning this technique and playing with colors and textures to create some hot new spring/summer looks!

Comfortable, adjustable (in some styles) and trendy, these are great Mother's Day gifts to someone else or yourself!!   More styles will be added to my shop shortly, but here is a sampling of my latest pieces!   

Sparkling Moonlight Bracelet:

Amethyst, Aquamarine and Blue Topaz
Click here to view in my Etsy shop.

Burnt Orange Leather Wraparound Bracelet:

Ceramic Beads
Click here to view in my Etsy shop.

Golden Amethyst Wraparound Bracelet:

Amethyst and Golden Topaz Crystals (finished with a vintage style dark copper button)
Click here to view in my Etsy shop.

Caribbean Blues Bracelet:

Ceramic Beads.  Finished with a trendy silver button closure.
Click here to view in my Etsy shop.

I love custom pieces, so if you like this style and want to create a custom color or style, please email me at!

Thank you for looking!!  

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

On Chickens. And God.

We lost a chicken about a month ago.

She made it through the long, cold winter, but emerged looking weak and sickly. She stopped eating, and one morning Steve found her still body curled in the corner of the coop, dead. She was getting on in years, as chickens go, so it was sad but not unexpected.

The kids didn't know, and we quietly buried her in the woods. I resolved to tell them later that afternoon, but I never felt like telling them, loathe to face the tears that I knew would come. We have five other chickens, and so the kids didn't notice that one went missing. Days turned into weeks, and Steve and I forgot about telling them.

Yesterday afternoon Greta and Finn came up to me with concern in their eyes.

"We counted the chickens, Momma, and there are only five. We think Bubbles is missing! We counted twice, and checked inside the coop. She's GONE!"

My heart skipped a beat - what to say, what to say. I was sorely tempted to play it through - What? She's missing!?!? - but in the end I didn't have the heart for it, so I opted with an edited version of the truth instead.

"Oh," I stammered. "I noticed she was missing recently, but I was hoping she'd come back," I said, my gut churning with guilt. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you guys; I guess I was hoping it would all turn out okay. But if she's still missing, I'm afraid she's gone."

Their faces crumpled, and the tears flowed freely. Finn, in particular, was devastated. "Why did she have to die?" he wailed. "It's so unfair!"

I rocked him in my lap for a few minutes, brushing his tears away. "I know it's hard, honey," I whispered. "I'm sorry."

"Where is she now?" he asked through hitching sobs. "Is she is heaven with God? And Curly, PeePee, Yellowy, Taily-Tail, Rhino, Goldie the Fish and Coalie?"   Man, we've lost a lost of pets in his short life. 

"Yes," I said. "They are all together in heaven now."

Eventually he calmed down, but the questions kept coming. What started as a circle of life conversation quickly turned choppy; his questions grew more complicated, more detailed. He's been asking a lot of questions about God lately, and they always make me a little itchy. Just like with Santa Claus questions, the more specific they get, the more uncomfortable I become. I want him to believe, but it's never that simple, is it?

"Why does God make people and chickens die?"

"Was God the first person in heaven?"

"When was God born? Did God have to die to get to heaven?"

"Is there a Mrs. God?"

"If God can do anything, why doesn't he let chickens live forevah?"

"Can God hear me now? Does he know I'm sad?"

His questions make me squirm.  I try to give vague answers, saying to most of them that I don't know, that nobody knows the answers to his questions for certain.   He is less than satisfied with this response.
"If you don't know, if nobody really knows, then how do you know God is real?"
That's the million dollar question, kid. 
How to explain faith to an inquisitive five year old?   His questions are good; I don't want him to feel dismissed, or think that his questions are dumb.    I'm fearful of my answers, though, because it feels like there is a lot at stake.   I want our children to be raised with faith, with a sense that there is something out there that is bigger than they are; an all encompassing energy, love and compassion that is at the root of all things.    But I lose street cred if I can't give him some answers, so I stumble my way through.
I answer a lot of questions with a question:  "What do you think?  Do you think there is a Mrs. God?"
"I'm asking YOU," he replies.  "Don't you KNOW?"
Can't we just talk about the circle of life and be done with it? 
I try to think like a five year old, because there isn't as much at stake as my adult brain fears.   Right?   So I encourage him as much as I can -  you ask really good questions, honey, lots of people wonder about these things - and try to leave him with a sense of curiosity and wonder about it all.
But he wouldn't let that last question go: "if you don't know, if nobody really knows, then how do you know God is real?"

Eventually I stopped trying to change the subject, sat down with him and faced this one head on.

"Do you know that love is real?"  I asked.

He thought for a moment.  "I guess so," he replied.  "I love you and Dadda and Sissy."

"Do you know what love looks like?" 

He smiled at this one. "I've never seen it before, so how would I know what it looks like?"

"Do you know where love is?"

"Yes!" he said immediately.  "Love is in my heart!"

"Well, God is in your heart, too, because God is love."  

He stared thoughtfully at the floor, rubbing his chest with his hand.  "So, God is in my heart, and he is why I love people?"

"Yes," I said, with as much authority as I could muster.  

"Okay," he replied.  "What's for dinner?"

Sunday, April 10, 2011

One Year Later - Operation Get Healthy

A year ago this week, I embarked on my weight loss journey.   

At that time, I blogged about how I had been waiting to care enough for all the work and dedication it takes to lose weight.  That day came one morning on the first warm day in early April, as I opened a drawer full of shorts and tee shirts that no longer fit me, and pulled on my old ratty sweatpants, disgusted with myself.

I knew I was overweight; I thought I had about 20 lbs or so to lose.   Like with so many things in life, I wasn't seeing what I didn't want to see:  I had over 50 lbs to lose to get to a healthy weight.   When I stood on the scale at my first Jenny Craig visit and saw how much I weighed, I cried. 

When I set a weight loss goal of 55 lbs, however, I laughed.   I couldn't imagine losing that much weight.  I told my Jenny Craig consultant I would be thrilled to lose half that much.

I sit here one year later and 63 lbs lighter, and now I'm in a different kind of denial; I can't remember what it felt like to be heavy.   That version of me seems really far away now.

My daughter had her annual physical last week, and when they weighed her the nurse looked at me and said, "Greta weighs 63 lbs!  A wonderful, healthy weight for a girl her size."

It stopped me dead in my tracks.  I had lost the equivalent of my eight year old daughter.  For kicks I tried to pick her up, and I couldn't fathom having that much extra weight on my frame.

Just like with sobriety, it's important for me to remember, though, because the devil lies in the forgetting.    I don't think much about dieting anymore, just like I don't think much about having a drink anymore.   When the urge for a drink comes, one of the first things I do is conjure up a memory I'd rather forget, something that reminds me what drinking did to me.

And just like with drinking, I got into trouble with food gradually, over time, ignoring the little alarm bells that would sound ever so faintly in my head from time to time, like when I shopped for pants and had to go up a size.  I told myself it was just a temporary fix until I could get that extra 20 lbs off.  I did that until it was 60 lbs, not 20, that I had to lose.

And just like sobriety, I couldn't think about the end game.  Losing that much weight seemed impossible.   Just like never drinking again seemed impossible in the early days of recovery.   Thinking about the rest of my life without alcohol sent me into despair, so I didn't think about my whole lifetime.  I only thought about that hour, or that day.   Little by little the hours and days turned into months, and before I knew it I was on my way.

The same thing was true with food; I couldn't imagine a lifetime of watching my weight, so I took it one meal at a time.   It was hard - very hard - in the beginning.   Just like with quitting drinking, I avoided restaurants, parties, social occasions that would tempt me.   What I hated was that feeling of 'other than' - watching people stuff their faces with food while I nibbled on a carrot stick made me feel different, alone.   It made me downright angry. 

Unlike alcohol, though, I couldn't quit food altogether, so I had to learn to respect it.   More than that, I had to learn to respect myself, my body, my health.   My well being had to be an important enough reason not to cheat.   And unlike alcohol, my life wouldn't fall apart if I snuck an extra cookie or two.  I had to be enough of a reason to do the right thing.  

Once I made it through the first month or so, the rewards started coming.  I could dash up the stairs and not be winded.   I could pull on shorts that hadn't fit me in years.   I could get up in the morning and throw on a tee shirt without having to tie a sweatshirt around my waist to hide my bulk.    When I was tempted, and I was tempted a lot, I would think about how temporary the gratification of eating is - how fleetingly it provides comfort, and then all I would be left with was the deflated, empty feeling of letting myself down.    Somehow, I had become enough of a reason not to cheat.    It felt wonderful.

Now I don't think about food that much.   I eat regular food in healthy portions; I work out two or three times per week.   I go to restaurants and eat a salad.   I skip dessert, opting for a bite or two of one of the kids' desserts instead.   Those two bites?   They taste amazing.    

For snacks I eat fruits and veggies and I actually like them.  For dessert I'll have a sugar free popsicle, or strawberries with a dollop of whipped cream.    It's just how I am now; I don't really have to think about it much.

I never, ever thought that day would come. Ever.  Just like with sobriety, I couldn't have imagined how good I'd feel, once I got over the pain of adjusting.    Now feeling good is its own reward.   And it's more than enough.

Last April doesn't feel like very long ago.  At the time, when they told me it would take at least nine months to lose the weight, I was crushed.   Nine MONTHS?    It seemed like forever.   Now it feels like it went by in the blink of an eye.   Life's funny like that.

I will always have to watch what I eat.   I'm finally okay with that.  The hard things in life are hard for a reason, because the rewards exceed my wildest expectations.   Every time.

So if you're struggling with food, if you're waiting to care, how about now?  Don't think about the end game.   Just think about today.   Put yourself first.  

You're worth it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Grace Doesn't Wear A Red Cape

Grace is a slippery word. 

It's difficult to grasp, an elusive state of mind, of being, that I struggle to put into words.   I know it when I see it, but so often I forget to look.

Grace appears for me when I let go.  When I peel my white-knuckled fingers off the wheel of control and get myself - my thinking - out of the way.

I can't create Grace, whip it up like a killer cookie recipe, knead it to life with my bare hands.   When faced with a gnarly problem I like to roll up my sleeves, a determined set to my jaw, and attack it head-on.   I want it fixed, whatever it is, a solution delivered to me with a nice pink bow on top.

What I seek is a feeling of accomplishment, a sense of completion, with the more difficult things in life.   When one of my kids is struggling with something, for example, I want to strap on my red cape, swoop in and save the day.

When they were younger, the red cape did come in handy.  Problems amounted to skinned knees, hunger pangs, finding a missing toy, brushing tears away with a soft kiss.

As they get older, though, their problems become more nuanced, more adult-like.   Their questions don't have tidy answers anymore.   Their tears cannot be calmed with a simple kiss.    I still throw my red cape on and swoop around uselessly, just to feel like I'm doing something.    But I can't make it all better on my own, no matter how much I wish I could.

I have no choice but to learn how to let go, bit by bit.

I have to let them muddle through, fall down and get back up.   I run alongside, handing them tools they will need along their way.   I try to teach them to ask for help, speak up, express themselves, put a voice to their fears and their triumphs.

I may not be able to explain Grace with words, but I can try to show them.     Grace is keeping my heart open, so I don't miss the messages I'm meant to see, the people I'm meant to know.   Grace is letting solutions come to me, instead of forcing an outcome simply because I want one.  Grace is doing my best, and letting go of the outcome.  Grace is understanding my own limits, knowing when to ask for help.  Grace is calling on God, but rowing away from the rocks.*

When it comes to my children, letting go feels contrary to my protective maternal instincts, my desire to makes things okay for them no matter what. 

The reality, though, is that they have to work through suffering, through difficulty, and get themselves to the other side.   With my help, of course, but I can't do it for them.

They are figuring out that I don't have all the answers, in part because I tell them I don't have all the answers.  The words burn in my throat as I say them, but it's true.

Greta was trying to sort through a situation at school, and it had her tied up in knots.  She looked at me with tears running down her face, and asked me what she should do.   I gave her some thoughts, some observations, but told her I didn't have an answer to her problem, that some things have to sort themselves out over time.

"Sometimes when I'm stuck," I told Greta, "I pray."

"What do you pray for?"  she asked. 

"I pray that I will keep my eyes and heart open, so I can see what I'm supposed to see.  That way, if the answer comes, I'll be ready."

"That sounds complicated," she said. 

"How about just one simple prayer, then?"  I suggested, gently.    "How about just praying for patience?   Say it over and over in your head when you're feeling anxious.  You don't have to be in church to pray.  You can pray any time. Why don't you see if that helps?"

"Okay," she said dubiously, but she wasn't crying anymore. 

Grace is found in the waiting, sometimes.  

And, finally, I may struggle with how to define Grace, but Anne Lamott doesn't.  I keep this quote tucked away in my journal, and I take it out from time to time and soak in its beauty, its truth:

"[Grace is] the force that infuses our lives and keeps letting us off the hook. It is unearned love - the love that goes before, that greets us on the way. It's the help you receive when you have no bright ideas left, when you are empty and desperate and have discovered that your best thinking and most charming charm have failed you. Grace is the light or electricity or juice or breeze that takes you from that isolated place and puts you with others who are as startled and embarrassed and eventually grateful as you are to be there."

- Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies, Some Thoughts on Faith

*"Call on God, but row away from the rocks", -Hunter S. Thompson

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Creating Again

I wasn't a big fan of January and February this year.

Record cold and snowy days kept us all huddled inside.  Frigid winds and icy snow rendered the days useless for sledding or making snowmen, much of the time.

The cold, grey days put a damper on my jewelry making, too.   I didn't create any new pieces of jewelry for weeks.  I would sit in my studio and stare glumly at the array of metals and beads strewn about my work station.  It's as if the black and white view out my window drained the color from my creative spark, too.

The past couple of weeks brought some warmer days, and the first few daffodil buds are bravely poking their way up through the earth.   The warmer breezes and splashes of color found here and there brought my creativity roaring back.  I am so grateful.

I lost myself in bright blues, soft purples and dreamy lavenders.   My pieces this spring are all about COLOR.

Dewdrop Necklace (click to view in my Etsy shop)

I'm loving the scalloped look of hand hammered silver, and how it captures the bright sparkle of crystal, and makes a piece positively glow.

A hot new style - memory wire creates a trendy cuff-style bracelet, and one size fits all, so it makes a terrific gift.   You can further customize this piece by making it with birthstone crystal(s).   I adore this bracelet in bright blue, but it can be made in any color:

Mother's Day is coming, and so I created some new styles to honor the special mother in your life, or for a treat for yourself: 

And my new favorite necklace - an important reminder to surrender and accept life on life's terms:

I'm running a special on all my hand-stamped jewelry for the month of April; this includes most of the styles pictured above, plus much more.   To view all the pieces eligible for the special this month, please click here.

The special is available to newsletter subscribers only, so if you aren't a subscriber please click here (or go to the top right hand corner of my sidebar and enter your email) and find out how to save 20% (until the end of April) on all hand-stamped pieces.   I only send newsletters out once a month and I never, ever share your info with any third parties.

Thank you for looking.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Why It's So Hard

I received an email that stopped me in my tracks.  The subject line read, simply:   Why Is This So Hard?  

She was talking about drinking.   How she would string sober days together, one time up to 100 days, and then a glass of wine at a family gathering seemed utterly harmless.   Weeks later she was right back in the spiral again.    Then she would steel herself again, go a week without drinking, and one drink would lead her right back again.

Five simple words, but inside them is a mountain of pain: why is this so hard?  

Here is part of how I responded: 

It's hard because we're wired differently than other people - I've heard it described like an allergy, which makes sense to me, because it doesn't matter how much I thought, or knew, about my drinking, the urges eventually got me every time. This is a disease of the body, as well as the mind. And the truth of it is that there isn't any such thing as controlled drinking for us.

It's hard because we don't feel different - we have lives just like everyone else; we don't fit the 'stereotype', we're smart, creative and loving and everything in our lives is clicking along okay, except for this. How can we be so strong, so capable, in other aspects of our lives and have such a hard time with alcohol?

It's hard because it's bigger than we are. If you're anything like me, you're not used to anything being too much for you

There is more, though, that I didn't say.  Words that felt strange in an email to someone I don't know, but that somehow don't feel strange here, because I am speaking not to one person but to anyone who is struggling to get sober:

It's hard because any meaningful change in life is supposed to be hard.  

It's hard because when the alcohol is gone we don't get to glide through life half awake, partially medicated, numbing out pain, enhancing joy.   We have to feel everything.   Just as it is.

It's hard because in the early days of sobriety feeling everything seems impossible.  We've spent years avoiding the tougher emotions, reaching for a glass to cure boredom, resentments, rage, guilt, shame and fear.    We've used alcohol to create brighter, smarter, funnier, prettier versions of ourselves.    We like that version of ourselves.  No, we love that version of ourselves, and we fall deeply in love with the myth we've created at the expense of authenticity, self-love and truth.

It's hard because when you get sober, you find out who you really are.   What you're really made of.

I didn't want to know who I really was; my mind had been full of guilt, deceit, shame and fear for so long I believed that was all that remained.  I was sure I didn't want to find out who lived under that mask.    I was convinced you wouldn't like her.   I was convinced I didn't like her. 

So, yes, it's hard.   It's very, very hard.   But it's not impossible.   And it is quite possibly the best thing that has ever happened to you, this struggle of yours, even though it doesn't feel like it now.    Because on the other side of all the pain is freedom and light.    On the other side of this seemingly insurmountable hurdle are friendships that will fuel your soul, and everyday moments that will make your heart soar with gratitude.

On the other side is you.   You as you were meant to be, with all your fault lines and laugh lines.   On the other side is peace of mind, freedom, and self-love.   Real self-love, the kind that is wrapped in acceptance and truth.   

And the good news is also the bad news:  the ticket for entry to the other side begins with two simple things:   put down the drink, and ask for help. 

Don't do it alone, but do the one thing that scares you most.   

Go find you.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Monthly Giveaway - New Item!

Congratulations to Bets, who won the Experience, Strength and Hope Necklace!  Thanks to everyone who entered!
To honor the fact that spring WILL get here soon (it will, right?) this month's giveaway is the Little Cup Earrings and matching pendant, made from hand-hammered sterling silver discs and sparkling aquamarine swarovski crystals:

To view these earrings in my Etsy shop, please click here.

I apologize that I don't have a photo of the matching pendant, but it is made from a domed, hand-hammered sterling silver disc with a matching aquamarine swarovski crystal, and hangs on an 18" sterling silver chain.

These earrings and pendants catch light in such a way that they positiviely glow.   I wear this set all the time; it's my new favorite.  :)   I'm actually wearing both the earrings and the necklace in the headshot/profile pic in my righthand sidebar. 

To enter, please leave a comment below saying you would like to be entered, and please leave your email so I know where to reach you if you are the winner.   If you are more comfortable emailing me directly, please do so at

The winner will be chosen at random on May 1st (my daughter picks a name from a hat). 

This giveaway is open internationally.

Thank you!