Author’s Note: I found this blog on my computer, written last April, but not published until today.
Writing has become difficult these days. My brain races from topic to topic. One thing I know is that it would be really easy to list the things I don’t have.
- I lost my job today. I don’t have a rainy day fund. Like California, my bank account is in a drought.
- My son may be heading to prison next month. Mental illness combined with addiction just SUCKS. Just when things are going well, “it” comes out and bites you bad, knocks the breath out of you and feels like acid on your tongue.
- The divorce is still not f-ing finished even though we separated almost seven years ago.
- I grieve after putting my goofy big dog down in February because he had a brain tumor.
- Mom is in the hospital again with a blood clot. Not good.
Lucky for me there is something deep down that that moves me and keeps me from getting stuck. “It’s not my style to be negative,” I say when people ask me how I persevere. Don’t get me wrong. I have moments and sometimes days when I slip into sadness. I am human. I walk that fine line; fearing the fall into another depression. (the sticky dark pit)
My strategy? Every day I live what I speak and my strategy is to focus on my choices. Without choices I WOULD feel hopeless. I would be stuck and probably dead.
I ask myself, “If I don’t like it, can I make a change? Will I practice gratitude or wallow in negativity? “
- The Job—I won’t get caught without an emergency fund again. I will find a new job and make good use of the time off.
- My Son—I can’t describe the pain I feel when my son struggles. It is a visceral ache with no remedy that I carry every waking moment and often in my dreams. Despite numerous hospitalizations and arrests, he is alive. He has his own path and purpose in this lifetime. My lesson is to love without judgment while surrendering any concept of blame or control.
- The Divorce—uhhhh. Enough already! I am going to get this done before the end of the year. Realizing I will never receive the apology I seek from the “X”, I can forgive myself and then celebrate my courage, integrity and endurance.
- Bosco—you were one of a kind dog and so many warm memories remain. I did everything I could but you told me it was OK when you stopped wanting to take walks or tear up the garbage.
- Mom– we can spend time together and I can try to help without the pressure of working.
What else will I do?
I will dance
I will cocoon.
I will laugh.
I will sleep.
I will give.
I will learn.
I will breathe.
I remember the day I understood that MY happiness was strictly MY responsibility. I had been...
Hello there friends! Wondering where the heck I have been? Well, let me tell you, I have been “embracing change”. So as I nurse my heat wave induced headache and my second pineapple margarita, I am happy to bring you up to date.
My friend Jo asks me what is going on with my divorce or rather the “UN-divorce”. Don’t you love that? The divorce that never progresses! Despite the tease of mediation, I still have nothing substantial to report. I got sidetracked when I found out I had to move. I will get to the divorce as soon as I recharge my tanks. Lesson learned? What does a piece of paper have to do with my happiness? Nothing unless of course we are talking about a settlement check. :0
Let me say a little more about Jo, a friend from my first days in California (notice how I didn’t say OLD friend?) We haven’t seen each other in a very long time. What is miraculous is that we had lived in the same neighborhood for the past two years without running into each other. As soon as I move to a new place, we see each other at a local grocery counter during lunch! Twenty six years ago she gave me a place to stay when I arrived here all white bread and corn fed from the Midwest. She is still as genuine as ever and I consider it such a gift to have reconnected. Lesson learned? It was’tn by chance we ran into each other. It was meant to be. I needed to feel grounded.
Yes, my big move. With little notice, I was told the house I was renting was going on the market. Nothing like being thrown head first into a big stressor but then again, I firmly believed that there would be something good awaiting me. Three weeks later when another friend Katy found me at the gas station searching for a Tootsie Roll at 10pm in tears, she reminded me of the power of visualization. After sucking down the candy, I wrote out exactly what I wanted in my new home and hung it on my refrigerator. One day later the perfect townhouse was listed on Craig’s List and I grabbed it. It was meant to be. Lesson learned? VISUALIZE while eating a Tootsie Roll.
Now that I had the move conquered, it was time to put a little attention to romance. Why several gentlemen couldn’t see my “fabulousity” (a Real Housewives word!) is a mystery to me but it is clearly their loss! Finally I met a fine man I’ll call Mr. Sweetness. We had a record three dates only to find out that there is this little thing between us that I find incompatible. Today I am bummed out, feeling the letdown. The excitement and attention made my 50 year old brain feel 15 again. Mr. Sweetness gives me hope that there are other wonderful, communicative men in the world! I will get back on the horse (stallion preferred) and keep trying! Lesson learned? Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
There were a few other things going on too like a minor surgery, seeing a loved one’s resilience after relapse and wondering if I would still be employed by end of...
In the bank parking lot yesterday, a car was backing up not realizing there was a woman walking directly behind them. I grabbed the woman’s arm, saying “watch out!” and pulled her out of danger. Was she thankful? No. She uttered a monotone response “…..please, I know” as she brushed off her sweater.
Please what? Please save my life on another day? And you know “what” exactly? Obviously you don’t know that those little back up lights mean steer clear of a moving car’s blind spot. Next time I will let you live the consequence of your stupidity.
“Cara Ann, what kind of example is that of your Christmas spirit?” I’m busted. The truth is that there are days when I am tired of being an adult. Or should I say, I am tired of being responsible. I am tired of thinking before I speak. Being nice is seriously overrated. I have exhausted my charm, my patience and my goodwill. Today is one of those days.
I am in a Christmas Crisis.
Example: Instead of biting my tongue while you complain (again!) about your life, I will tell you to, “get a life”. There are people with real problems, like me. I have been shopping for weeks to find boot cut cords and every damn store has skinny cords. Skinny cords are great for teenagers and super models. I will however, restrain my urge to surrender to fashion because I am not going to be a “what not to wear” commercial.
Example: When you talk loudly on your cellphone in the coffee shop, I am going to use my best Samuel L. Jackson impersonation and say, “Shut the Fuck Up!” Let’s break this down. You come in, order your low fat two pump 170 degree gingerbread latte and return to your car on average, in less than ten minutes. Your conversation can wait ten minutes until you return to the privacy of your vehicle! I do not care about what she said and what he did or what time Susie needs to go to her birthday party. Text if you have to but please, STFU! The coffee shop is not a confessional, a soap box nor a supernatural bubble where we can’t hear your blathering on (and on, and on…..).
Example: You people that take your (non-service) dogs shopping have to stop. This may come as a surprise but dogs don’t like shopping and I don’t like to see your dog while I am shopping! I feel qualified to say this because I am a dog lover and dog owner but stores are for people. Please……leave Fluffy at home. Fluffy needs his beauty sleep. Oh, and the stores that post signs, “service dogs only”, please grow some balls and enforce the rules.
Example: The children, pumped on sugar wreaking havoc in restaurants well after their...
There are times when the voices in my head can be really helpful! Recently I had a little situation where I decided to consult my inner wisdom or what I like to call, “My Girlfriend Voice or MGV for short” for a little advice.
Last Sunday, a friend hurt my feelings. There was no doubt that I was hurt but I couldn’t decide if I should I put a little space in between us or try to address the situation while the feelings were still fresh.
ME: My gut tells me to talk to my friend but I am worried that I may make the situation worse because my emotions may cloud my objectivity. I made a vow to myself to keep all of my relationships healthy so I feel the need to speak up. It’s confusing!
MGV: I am giving you the green light to talk now. Talk from the heart. Remember to use “I statements” and focus on how you feel. Breathe and make eye contact.
ME: (OK, here I go!) To my friend: “Tonight I was upset. When you did “X”, it made me feel “Y”. I know it is not your intention to hurt my feelings but I felt it was important to let you know while it was still fresh in our minds.”
ME: A yellow flag is flashing in my brain. Does your silence mean you didn’t hear me? Please, we are sitting eighteen inches apart. I pause. Ok, I’ll keep this simple and focused. I wonder if I should I reiterate what I just said?
MGV: AHEM. Slow down and proceed with caution. You may feel a little defensive and repeating yourself is not only unnecessary, it is really annoying. Relax. You have opened a dialogue. Sit tight. Take a breath. Stop pursing your lips.
ME: I don’t say this out loud but I don’t play poker for a good reason! OH? Did you just say OH? WTF? I was brilliantly articulate while emotionally charged. Sometimes it is not easy being me!!!
MGV: HOLY SMOKES. Take a breath. While your heart rate accelerates, you may lose sight of the importance of this moment. You have two choices:
- You can respond in a kind, compassionate manner. The past cannot be erased but perhaps you will help shape future behavior?
- You can react and do what you have countless times before, you can ARGULATE. (One of my favorite sources for information, Urban Dictionary, defines argulate as to argumentatively provide a hard-headed and ignorant fool the wisdom of your point of view; that which is undoubtedly right in every which way.)
ME: RESPOND OR REACT? Sounds familiar! I do try to follow my own advice but sometimes it is easier to do as I say and not as I do.
I turn to YOU and say lovingly, ...
On Friday’s, I volunteer with a day care program designed for people with early stage Alzheimer’s. I have the good fortune of selecting material for a reading and discussion hour. Today we talked about how a mother wished she had more patience and was never angry with her children but Mister Fred Rogers, educator and TV host, advised that the best thing we can do for our children is to express a wide range of emotions, including anger (just appropriately!) so that our children learn healthy habits.
I asked the class, “What is something important you wish to teach or talk to a child about?” The list was long but the answers that registered most with me were happiness, the power of prayer, compassion and the importance of helping others. I couldn’t agree more, adding my two cents, perfectionism is overrated.
I also mentioned that at my office we have something called COURAGEOUS DIALOGUE, a major factor that attracted me the company. If you have an issue with someone at work, regardless of their position, you ask for a Courageous Dialogue (CD) where you come together to work things out. Each person has the opportunity to hear the other one out, one on one, without judgment and under confidentiality. I have used the process and there is nothing more refreshing than hashing out a miscommunication before it festers into a larger problem.
My personal life isn’t always so tidy. Today I got an email that angered me to such a degree that I was speechless. If I were a cartoon character, you would have seen steam blasting out of my ears, my eyes the size of saucers and my hands accusingly placed on my hips. In real life, the surge of blood pressure caused a bloody nose, nature’s way of getting me to sit down and breathe, so I couldn’t get in the car and go confront the offender.
I can’t remember the last time I felt such disgust and rage. That part doesn’t really worry me – after all I’m only human. The real danger was that I started to doubt myself. When the anger left my body, it took along my self-esteem for company.
I phoned a friend. I took the high road and didn’t respond. I’ve learned that “TWA” or “typing/texting while angry” leads to bigger trouble so I shut off the computer, washed my face and cuddled with my doggie. I have a very good support system!
This is what gets me. I am perplexed by people who don’t have the integrity or maybe it is the courage to communicate honestly. These people, no I’ll call them gutless eunuchs, hide behind insulting emails, gossip and lies. These adults really disappoint me.
Listen, just do me a favor and stop playing this stupid game. We don’t have to be friends.
I’ll do you a favor. I won’t spend time with you so you won’t be reminded of how...
For the last two weeks, the word ALIGNMENT has been on my mind. Perhaps this is a good thing since I am on a ten day business trip—the “Cara –Palooza”—jaunting across the country, meeting folks for my day job. I love meeting the clients in person but I have to say, sitting in airports and wearing the same two outfits over and over is making me cranky!
In simple terms, alignment can be defined as the proper placement of muscles so that your bones have to do less work and therefore expend less energy. (I always feel better after yoga!) Another example is how we balance the tires on our car so that they wear evenly. This makes sense in the physical realm, however, what does alignment mean in the non-physical realm?
Emotionally I feel neutral; like my tires are balanced or my weight is evenly distributed between my two feet. It took a concerted effort to land in this ZEN DEN. At first I would describe the feeling as hollow or floating. I didn’t know what to do without a whirlwind of turmoil in my head or anger in my gut. Slowly the practice of gratitude and living in the present shifted me into neutral. My mind is not fighting my emotions. I prefer to think I contemplate my emotions.
Last week my favorite Uncle passed away after a long battle with emphysema. He was plain tired of fighting and after a bought of pneumonia, he remained physically weak. We joked that he liked control down to the very last detail but I am sure that he felt both a spiritual and emotional alignment when he decided it was time to let go. Uncle Dave always made me feel good about myself and for that, I am blessed.
Alignment is not intuitive because evolutionarily, we are born to react. Being on the defensive or as I like to call it, being prepared (wink, wink), means I am threatened by you or I pose a threat to you. If you take time to smell the daisies, practice kindness or god forbid meditate, prepare to be mowed over!
Alignment is an active practice. It is a choice with a lovely pay-off.
As the “Cara Palooza” comes to a close, I feel the need to offer a Public Service Announcement for those of you who don’t travel often; to help you get into alignment of course! (and out of my alignment)
- The gate attendant will not forget to board the plane when it is time. You don’t have to remind them to do their job.
- Please exit the plane as you would exit a church service or wedding— ONE ROW AT A TIME.
- Do not block the aisle, hallway, sidewalk, etc. with your stuff. STEP TO THE SIDE.
- You loud talkers — STOP! Just because you have time to talk doesn’t mean you should.
- Use headphones— I am trying to read “Fifty Shades of Grey” in the row behind you and I don’t want to listen to that crap you have blaring at full...
Some things don’t change and in this case, it’s a good thing!
My friend Simone and I were sifting through a box of old photos and memorabilia this weekend. There in a wrinkled envelope, written on index cards, was a speech I wrote when I was eighteen years old. Of course, Simone couldn’t resist a reading it through it. Yes, reading it, in full character voice as well pointing out each one of my spelling errors! (Spell check hadn’t been invented yet—dare I date myself?)
In the speech, I shared my wishes for my classmates, friends and family.
–to find a career filled with passion while leaving time to play and rest (did you notice that CAREER was the first thing on the list? I was a product of the times—ready to take on a man’s world.)
–to practice patience, especially during the most trying times (overrated; nothing more to say. Next!)
-to understand the importance of a sense of humor (absolutely – how wonderful it is to laugh so hard you snort or squizzle)
–and finally, friendships are the key to living a long healthy life (AMEN! Enough said)
I have a hard time connecting to the person I embodied at eighteen but it is pretty cool to see I was already inspiring people to find happiness and live with passion! The words may have sounded foreign but they served as a compass for my life. I still follow this compass but now I call it, “My Girlfriend Voice”.
And by the way, this photo shows that some of my best times were in my robe and PJ’s. Some things never change! (me at 18 in red bandana)
From the heart,