On Earth as it is in Heaven

Twenty-seven years ago today I stood in a church basement in Burlington, VT. My mind was dark as I walked through the door. I kept my head low and sat in the back of the room. I was the only female besides a motorcycle mamma. The men drank instant coffee from foam cups, and unlike in the bars, none of them looked at me as I sat down.  Even so I did my best NYC don’t **** with me face and looked at my feet.  I wanted the meeting to start so no one would try and talk to me.  It was noon. The meeting chairman knocked on the metal chair next to him to signal the beginning.

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I Live in a Bubble, Or, Living in the “Real World” vs Living in Reality

I received a message on my blog from a heckler who said that I “need to grow up” because I “live in a bubble”. I appreciate that they provided me with an excellent topic for a blog. So, the secret is out that yes, I do in fact live in a bubble, and I want to tell you all about it because it brings me great joy! For the sake of this post, I will define “bubble” to mean sheltered. I am totally sheltered and you can be, too!

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How I Overcame My Fear of Writing Publicly about PTSD

Part three of my previous post, How Being Pissed Off Saved My Life & Career:

How I Overcame My Fear Of Writing About PTSD

When I first went public with my PTSD in 2016 on my old blog it was one of the most freeing things I had ever done! The responses I received exceeded my expectations. More importantly some confided in me that they, too, suffered from PTSD nightmares like I have. What led up to my sharing it was the realization that it wasn’t a shameful secret and that acknowledging I have PTSD isn’t an admission of weakness of character! For some of us it’s a big part of our lives and not because we are weak or wish to define ourselves by our problems.

Yet, over time, despite wanting to write more about it here I haven’t, for the following reasons I told myself:

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How Being Pissed Off Saved My Life & Career

Or, how being true to myself emboldened me to take steps to save myself from petty villains in positions of authority.

First: How I Quit Smoking in 1999

I had my first drag of a cigarette at age 13 while spending part of the summer at my family home in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. It was a hot, humid evening in 1980. Bruce Springsteen was playing on the Boom Box underneath the pier. My friend’s feather earrings blew around in the sea breeze as I decided to break my square streak and have a smoke. She was petite, blond and beautiful and I was definitely not. I was dark, brooding and quickly became hooked because my fictional hero, Holden Caulfield, was a smoker as were all the kids I was hanging out with. This includes the kids at home and at school so socioeconomic status wasn’t a barrier or predictor. I was smoking between one and two packs a day. I had a “smoking den” back at home which was the fire escape staircase at the end of the hallway with a window view of Queens. I started out with Parliaments, then Marlboro Light, then Reds. I smoked on the way to school, between classes and even when we walked from our school building on East 70th and Third to the Park for gym class. As you can imagine, this was very unhealthy and I frequently was winded when I tried to exercise.

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The Spiritual Lessons of Abuse and Overcoming

Our guinea pig Tiny Tim aka Timmy passed away January 2017 but I still miss him daily and draw inspiration from him. His lessons were so powerful that I wish to share them again. I originally posted this in my old blog.

Prompted by a “calling” that came without any explanation, I picked up the phone and dialed (literally since I still use vintage rotaries) the local shelter early in December 2013. I asked if they had any elderly or hard luck guinea pigs. I’ve adopted and rescued guinea pigs since I was ten years old.

“As a matter of fact I have just the pig for you.” He was in need of a foster home, she explained. His background, quoted directly from his intake papers:

“G. Pig surrendered in last 24 hours with history of child in home rough-housing with animal.”

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Update

Hey everyone who reads my blog! I decided sometime this spring that I needed a long break from blogging which I had originally posted about here. I made my blog private because my plan was up for renewal and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pay another year of hosting; a free account means ads show up (and I don’t make anything from them) which I didn’t want. I used the time offline to sort through three years of posts to decide which I wanted to keep or discard. I decided to pay for hosting another year so here it is! I’m still not planning to get back into blogging on a regular basis but I do update regularly on Instagram. Anything related to books I publish in the future (and there will be!) will be posted here to my blog. I hope you are all finding ways to enjoy the simple pleasures of being alive and can find comfort in the fact that 2020 is almost over! And yes, my silver hair matches my vintage aluminum Christmas tree! As always, no plans to cover it up…

Kindness Sent to the Land Of Chipmunks and Sudden Snows

April was a tough month for so many reasons, the weather being one of them. We broke a record of 79 years with not a single day above 60 degrees! It was mostly highs in the forties and low fifties, wet, dreary and we had a surprise snowstorm the second week of April (shown above). Then all week I had a headache that finally went away overnight. Receiving two different surprises in the mail from friends this past week really raised my spirits! You’ve gotta see how cute they are:

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The Simplicity of Success

I really wish the cliched photo of a human silhouette standing on a mountaintop or road with arms raised would cease to be the image to represent “success”. I keep seeing it on marketing materials and a quick google search for “success” turns up the same nonsense. It seems so 1990s Tony Robbins which works for some people, but not for me. All I can see, besides lack of imagination and following a tired marketing message is someone expressing their own greatness for having climbed a metaphorical mountain on their own. If that’s success then I’m an abysmal failure!

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Good News For Wounded Souls

“God will not look you over for Medals, Degrees or Diplomas, but for Scars!” -Elbert Hubbard, The Note Book of Elbert Hubbard

I’ve learned that time does NOT heal all wounds but God loves them and us! There can be beauty in a graceful brokenness when we use God as a crutch. But wait, isn’t needing a “crutch” a sign of weakness?! YES! Aren’t we weak when we’re left to only our own devices? I choose spiritual prowess over destructive earthly vices I’ve given up. I no longer feel ashamed about my scars, a shame which fueled a lot of my destructive crutches (smoking, drinking, overeating). I’m not ashamed to say I’m in recovery, my last drink being almost twenty-five years ago. I’m cool with not being cool. My deepest scars are invisible, although I do have, shall I say, an “oven kiss” on my hand I acquired while removing a lasagna from the oven last fall.

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A Degree of Mischief at University of Vermont

The college admissions scandal has highlighted what some have referred to as “affirmative action for the wealthy.” As I mention on my “about” page, I grew up in subsidized housing but went to an Upper East Side prep school with the aid of a scholarship. My freshman year of college was spent at Bennington College, also via scholarship. It was too painful for me to continue to be the kid from the wrong side of the tracks in places where the vast majority of students came from very wealthy homes.  It was then I decided to transfer to the University of Maine in Orono where I earned my B.A. in English.

I attended grad school at the University of Vermont where I lived in a tiny house in the woods complete with big spiders* (steel-toed Doc Martens are a form of organic pest control) and was fortunate to have been awarded an assistantship for two years which paid my tuition in full and gave me a small stipend. However, that also meant my days began at 5:00 a.m. and I didn’t get home sometimes until 10 at night. Even so, my most valuable life lesson learned wasn’t a part of my curriculum, but in a playground.

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