NaBloPoMo Wrap-Up: #NaBloPoMo Day 30

I’ve really enjoyed sharing some of my stories with you this month. It has been wonderful and invigorating making sure that I write every single day. I hope to remain so focused over the next year and finish up some lingering projects, as well as complete some new ones.

It proved logistically difficult to write every day, but I managed, mostly by dragging my ancient laptop with me everywhere I went, and also utilizing the work computer when it was slow. Sometimes I had to write with a movie on and my 6-year-old interrupting me every few minutes. I don’t mind. She is so good about letting me write while she entertains herself, I try not to make her do it very often.

What I’ve realized is that even when I feel like I have told all of my stories, there are always more. Writing is like reaching down into a deep well, and the more I reveal, the more I remember. My memory is pretty terrible, or amazing. There is no in-between. What I remember, I remember completely and in vivid detail. But so many things are gone, lost to the haze of time. I constantly have to be reminded of things that I have experienced and said. Writing helps with that, and helps to ground and stabilize me.

Congrats to everyone that survived this challenge, it was rough! There were a few days I definitely did not think I was going to make it through. I have mad respect for anyone that puts so much effort into writing, pouring out their souls. It is an amazing thing and a tool for shared experience that is unmatched. Being able to tell our stories makes us strong, and helps others to be strong as well.

I can’t believe I really did it – put up 30 posts this month. I have a few more personal stories to share in the coming weeks, but after that I hope to focus on putting together a book of these stories, and others. Thank you so much for going on this journey with me.


A Moment on the Streets: #NaBloPoMo Day 29

Three years ago, I went through a “hell of an ordeal” according to my court-ordered psychiatrist. I’ve been working on compiling a list of all the experiences I had during my mania and psychosis, and I hope to post it soon, but it isn’t ready yet. I did want to share this moment from my list, since it shows some of the random kindness I was shown.

At one point, I got off a bus in San Francisco. I can’t remember what I was doing before I got on the bus, just that I had a sign from the universe (I saw signs everywhere) that said I should get off here. I did, holding all of my bags, and just lost it. I sat down on the corner of the street, my bags all around me, and started bawling. I was ugly-crying, in public, and people were just kind of stepping over and around me like I was completely invisible.

I didn’t know what to do, where to go. Then all of a sudden, this slight blonde girl totally saw me.

She knelt down and asked me if I was okay, and gave me a hug. She was SO sweet. She was really thin, and seemed like maybe she was on drug,s or perhaps was recently clean. I couldn’t tell. She told me that she could help me, but I had to go with her and this guy. He had one arm and seemed very angry. I didn’t really want to go with him, but I sorta trusted her (and had nothing better to do) so I decided to hang with them for awhile.

I helped them run their errands at the bicycle shop and the grocery store, then it was time to go. They lived way out, past the end of the BART line. But I was starting to get scared.

The one-armed guy was acting really weird, and he kept disrespecting her. She kept telling me not to mind him, he was just drunk. Having no concern for my own safety, I kept asking her if she was okay. She reassured me that she was, but when we walked past the Ducati dealership, he ran inside and shook one of the motorcycles and ran out again. The salesmen started yelling at him, and he started yelling back. He was wasted. It really freaked me out, so after we turned a corner and they went into one last store, I crept around the corner and ditched them. I never ran into them again.

I felt really bad for leaving her with him. There she was trying to help me, and she probably could have used some help herself. I was in no position to help anyone.

It’s so weird, as I go through these experiences and try to arrange them in a chronological way, I have so much trouble. I have such vivid memories of my time on the streets of San Francisco, San Mateo, Oakland. I remember things people said to me, entire conversations. But I can’t remember what happened which day, unless I literally write out every single thing. So I’ve been trying to do that. It’s proven to be a bigger undertaking than I expected.

When you’re out there on the streets, really looking like you belong there, people’s eyes slide right over you. You are no longer a member of society, so you no longer exist. I walked around on crowded sidewalks for over a week, looking lost, talking to myself, crying, yelling, and people just pretended like nothing was happening at all.

One thing happened repeatedly, and that was that random women and homeless people and buskers reached out to ask if I was okay. I never really asked outright for help, but I talked to them. When I still had money, I was handing it out. People that would have been in a position to actually help me, like, people with phones, or cars, never did.

A few times I did approach people with cell phones and asked to use them. Some people said no, but a few people said yes. Sadly, since I had smashed and buried my phone, I didn’t have any telephone numbers. So I would dumbly hold the phone, sometimes calling my estranged husband’s phone since his was the only number I could remember, then hanging up.

But I got genuine smiles from the people waiting outside the shelters. Families on the streets of Oakland gave me hugs. The guy selling hot dogs out in front of Candlestick Park gave me food, and the old black sax player played a few songs while I sang along. There is camaraderie among those with nothing, a kind of solidarity. Against the tough streets of the Bay Area, I had countless positive experiences during my breakdown.

There really are helpers everywhere. Although it took me getting arrested to get the help I really needed, I am still grateful for all the help I did get from random people. The worst part was feeling lonely, alone, helpless. At least when I was talking to people, they were seeing me, and I felt human.

My Missing Person information was out there, but it was not enough to get me found. People go missing every single day, and some of them never turn up. It really does help when people share those Missing Person pictures and signs. I interacted with the police three times before I got in trouble with them, and none of them recognized me as a missing person. It is a terrifying thought.

I am so much better now. I have been on my medications and stable for over three years. I am so lucky. Things could have gone much, much worse for me. If I learned anything from my adventure, it was that no matter where you are, if you reach out for help SOMEone will help you. Be open to that help coming from unexpected places, and next time you see someone on the streets, try giving them a smile. I wasn’t panhandling so people never really gave me money, but I got lots of smiles and they kept me going. Your smile can be the one thing that keeps someone alive, and that is no understatement.

You matter. You can help.



Snippets of Grief: #NaBloPoMo Day 28

I’ve been thinking about grief today, about my mentors and friends, idols, that I lost this past year. A friend of mine lost her boyfriend a few weeks ago, the love of her life, and seeing her openly grieve has refreshed for me these feelings of loss and brought up so many memories.

Grief is a universal experience. We all grieve, mourn, feel loss. Grief is such a tricky thing. Years go by and I think I am over someone’s death, rarely think about them anymore, then BAM. It returns. I am grateful I was holding my grandpa’s hand when he died. He was my father figure in life. I miss him so much, and I’ve had 15 years.I will never get used to not being able to call him to check in, and I still have his house telephone number memorized.

I used to have a post up on here about my former boyfriend Tony and how he was murdered. It was deleted when I nuked my whole blog three years ago. Sometimes I think I might re-write it, but so far I haven’t undertaken that task. Whenever I hear bagpipes I think about him, and other odd little moments, like when I am strumming my guitar. Tony played guitar, too, but he was more of an electric guitar kinda guy.

It’s odd, the things that stick with you. I remember the phone call telling me that Tony was dead. I was so confused, I kept thinking he was talking about this other Tony we knew. It didn’t feel real at all. Then I remember being at his funeral, all by myself, crying my eyes out. I remember how his mother had brought these little Scottish flag pins for everyone to take home, and how fake the pictures of Tony that were strewn about looked. I often wonder about his mother, and hope she is well. I cannot imagine losing my daughter. Actually, my mind takes me to these morbid places often where she dies, and it is usually my fault. Thankfully my meds keep most of these thoughts at bay, but they still surface.

It’s been too long since I’ve been back to Houston. The last time I was there, I stopped by my friend Leigh’s ghost bike. She was tragically killed on her bicycle by two (!) fire trucks. Leigh and I were in theatre production together, and though we had grown apart, I miss her so. We were roommates on a trip to New York City that we all took one year with our dance teacher Ms. Roberts.

I think about my friend Phil, who took his own life over Christmas a few years ago. A few months later, his ex-girlfriend and my friend, Cara, killed herself, too. Her death affected so many people I know, and still does. Now my friend Michelle organizes art shows in Cara’s memory. But Cara is gone, and I will never see her sarcastic smile again in life.

My freshman year of high school, I had just moved back to Houston and one of the few people that I had talked to was a boy named Travis, who had blue and green hair. I liked him immediately. He had already heard of me due to my purple hair dye/Barney incident. It was only a few months into the school year when he was playing with a gun with some of our friends. It went off, and he was killed instantly. I’m not sure why I was in class that day and they weren’t, because I normally skipped school when most others did, but I am grateful that I was not there. I remember the grief counselors coming to our school for a few days to talk to everyone that knew Travis. I thought they were lame, so I didn’t go.

Everyone handles grief differently. Grief is slippery, sticky, tricky. There is no one way to grieve. When I was singing with the women’s chorus, one of my friends Alissa ended her own life. At the time I thought people were being fake over her death, and now I only see how shocked and hurt everyone was, and how guilty they felt. We all felt guilty. If we had talked to her more, included her more, would she be alive? These thoughts are not productive.

Suicide happens. People succumb to their illnesses, or grow weary of the pain. I can understand how the endless quiet is preferable to daily torment. When the pain gets to be too great, people will do anything to stop it.

My mother is very ill, and in California they recently signed into law the assisted suicide stuff. She has spoken to me frankly about killing herself if the pain gets worse, or having a doctor help her. Thankfully she is no longer in that head space, and has been doing much better the last few months.

Living is challenging. Making money to live is challenging. Living without love is challenging. So many people live lives of perpetual loneliness and pain. If we all responded to situations with kindness and heart, we could really change people’s lives. Mr. Rogers always said to look for the helpers in the face of tragedy, and I do this routinely. There are always more helpers than villains.

We are inundated with media that profits from death. Tragedies happen every day, and they seem to get the majority of the media attention. I haven’t been able to watch the news since I had my daughter. The stories are so sad and gruesome, they take me into very bad mental places and keep me depressed. But for every tragedy, there is a spiderweb effect of kindness that becomes active. People volunteer, send money, do their best to comfort or give opportunities to the survivors.

I think sometimes it takes a tragedy to find out how much people really love you. It is sad, and I think we should all know how much we are loved in the absence of tragedy. But people get busy, distracted, don’t communicate well. Years go by and friendships don’t dry up exactly, but they become forgotten and wither. Life is so short, so precious. Pick up your phone and text your friends. Email them. Maybe not call them if they’re introverted like me and can’t handle talking on the phone. But you know what I mean.

I’d give just about anything for one more day with my grandfather. I know he knew how much I loved him. I am secure in that. But I will never stop missing him. He was so big and strong, charming and charismatic, full of life and vigor.. until he wasn’t. He became frail so fast. By the time he got pneumonia and congestive heart failure, he had been dragging an oxygen tank around him for over a year. His diabetes was acting up, and all at once, he started to shrink. The same thing happened to my grandmother when she became frail. I miss her so much, too. My grandmother was such a classy lady, and so sweet. My grandfather would have done anything to protect her, and did.

I hope someday to have the kind of love my grandparents had. But I am content having my daughter and my friends. I am guilty of not contacting my friends for long periods of time as I drift in and out of depression. I hope to do better, and always have the best intentions. So know that I love you. I will fight for my life every day for my daughter. She is the reason I am still here, her, and all of you. Thank you for being in my life, and for reading.

Self-Esteem: #NaBloPoMo Day 27

I’ve never really felt like I belonged. I’ve been lucky in my life to have been welcomed into a variety of subcultures. Even so, I still have this hole inside me that will always leave me with this feeling of Otherness. People can go on and on about nature vs. nurture and what happened to me to make me feel this way. People even hold that argument over whether people are born with Bipolar Disorder, or whether it is created within them due to life circumstances, or both. I don’t have an answer.

I do know that whether it is because of my illness or my upbringing, I have always felt alone. Being an only child in a family of mostly older people left me often being the observer. If I wasn’t a wallflower, I was the center of attention, being the only grandchild for quite some time. My cousin Lucy wasn’t born until I was in high school. The attention was equally uncomfortable and baffling.

My nature has always been split in two. I want to perform, but I want to hide. I need attention, crave it, but when it is given to me I shy away or panic. I used to think something was really wrong with me, but now I know that isn’t true. I have met many sensitive, creative, wonderful people in my life that are exactly the same way. So maybe, just maybe, it is possible that I am just sensitive. Maybe I’m even a little bit creative. These realizations dawn on me, and I feel better.

Building self-esteem has been a lifelong project. I remember my mom reading books about trying to raise your child’s self-esteem from as far back as I remember. Even now my self-image is shaky, and I actively work on myself. I use affirmations. I gaze lovingly at my body. I try to use kind language in my mind when I review and refer to myself. And it’s still not enough.

I know perfectionism is a foolish endeavor, but this stiffness and paralysis that comes from being afraid to fuck up is real. I am so mortified when I make a mistake. It is so hard to move past that and remember that we all make mistakes. Nobody is perfect. In fact, we learn the most from these mistakes and can take that knowledge to move forward. But it is difficult.

I remember the very first play I was in, The Velveteen Rabbit. I was in maybe 3rd or 4th grade, and I played the Skin Horse, so I had some lines. When it came time for my very first line onstage, nothing came out for a long time. I just stared at the audience, petrified. But then something clicked inside me, I remembered my lines, and life moved on. That moment seemed to stretch out forever though, and I will never forget it. The time when people are staring at you expectantly is both the slowest and fastest time ever.

Another one of those moments came in high school. I was on the Quiz Bowl team, which was kind of like Jeopardy! Yes, I was a mega-nerd. Anyway, we had a tournament in New Orleans and I vividly remember riding along in my English teacher’s new blue Beetle. We stayed at Tulane, and during our bout I answered the question “Name one of the words in the English language that uses all of the vowels in order.” I blanked completely, but somehow my hand hit the buzzer and I channeled out the word ‘facetious’. We won.

I don’t know where these moments come from. They always feel like the normal, terrified me gets shoved out of the way and I bring in some other, stronger, version of myself to fill in. The same thing happened during my yoga teacher training when it came time to teach my class to everyone. I wanted to puke, but as soon as my time started, I was ON. I did a great job.

So these fears, they are not based in reality. In reality, we do okay. Everyone is doing their best. The hardest thing for me to do every day is to set aside my fear and face the day, get out of bed. Once I am out of bed, I am onstage and I can get through it. But in the mornings, when I’m still laying there underneath the covers, I doubt. Can I do it? Can I make it through another day as a mentally ill divorced mother? Can I make it another day as a luminous light being? Which am I? I think the answer is both. We all are.


Rainy San Diego Night: #NaBloPoMo Day 26

I had a good day at work today, but it was busy for Small Business Saturday. I had five massage clients. It started raining in Bird Rock around 3pm, and a huge palm frond fell right in front of our doorway. The clouds off in the distance looked pretty ominous. By the time we were closing up around 5pm, everything was dark. The rain had dissipated, but it came rolling in again and hard.

Driving home in it was pretty typical for a rainy night in San Diego. It was really hard to see on the twisty roads through La Jolla, so everyone was driving like 20mph. Then 40 on the freeway. I listened to jazz and the blues and channeled some patience. There were a few accidents. I eventually made it back down to where I’m house-sitting in North Park.

It makes me happy to be greeted by a meowing and purring kitty, and that’s just what was waiting for me. I got lots of kitty cuddles. Aww, yeah.

Tonight I was supposed to go out dancing, but the rainy weather has everyone in the mood to stay in. I think I will just practice guitar and enjoy the nice big bathtub here, maybe catch some Gilmore Girls and Black Mirror on Netflix, then pass out. I had two huge coffees today, and got like 12 hours of sleep yesterday, so I don’t really have high hopes of getting to bed early.

It’s so hard to write with a purring kitty in your lap. Cats have a magical relationship with keyboards. They must interfere with typing, directly or indirectly. Maybe once this cat has had her fill of me, I can get some writing done for these last few days of NaBloPoMo.

It’s been nice meeting and chatting with other bloggers, but man I am I tired. Just a few more days. I feel like an astronaut at the end of a mission, giving my daily notes into the video cam with my hair messed up and a complete lack of enthusiasm. But I will get there.

Thank you for reading and encouraging me.

The Guru Trap: #NaBloPoMo Day 25

In other posts, I’ve gone a little bit into why I left the Baptist Church when I was 14. I have always been very spiritual, and that thirst for a connection to a higher power never went away, I just channeled it into other things.

For a long time I practiced Wicca, and then just called myself pagan. Mostly I practiced alone, and when I attempted to join in on a coven’s ritual one time, everything went sideways. The women, who should have been supporting me, were instead catty and jealous. The men, for it was a mixed circle, were overtly sexual and while respectful, it made young me very uncomfortable. The whole experience left me feeling bitter, just as the hypocrisy within the church had.

After that, I sought a spiritual connection through shamanism and yoga. Both are very satisfying. I am happy for the time I spent studying under Mara, learning how to journey and be in touch with the earth and spirit guides. I am grateful for my experiences in yoga teacher training, and the path I took to get there. In all ways, I have felt supported in my spiritual ventures.

Throughout my spiritual quests, there has been one common archetype: the (False) Guru. It’s not that I don’t believe in spiritual leaders, I just think that many people pass themselves off as such when really they are in it for egotistical or materialistic reasons. Sometimes I don’t even think they realize it, or if they do, it is years later. Mostly, I believe people are good and approach sharing the knowledge they have learned with good intentions. But things can go very wrong.

Things start to get sticky when money becomes involved in spiritual teachings, for instance. On one hand, the leaders of the community are devoting their time and energy into these events and lessons, and deserve to be compensated for their time. On the other, I fundamentally believe that anyone seeking spiritual knowledge should have access to it, should not be turned away. So where does the line go? Is a women’s retreat weekend worth $1,000? $500? What about an evening in a shared lesson, $25? Should the hat just be passed? If it were do you think people would honestly pay what they believe the lesson to be worth? I do, for the most part. I think those that cannot pay tend to be happy to help volunteer, as well. They just want to be involved.

From what I’ve seen on the San Diego “spiritual scene”, spiritual knowledge can get very pricey. It becomes an exclusive thing, rather than inclusive. When the sharing of knowledge begins to shut people out, I have a problem with it.

Authenticity, honesty, compassion, kindness. When I see these qualities in a real spiritual leader, it brings me joy. Perhaps most important of all is humility. True spiritual leaders can stay in beginner’s mind and approach problems, people, the world, without ego. It’s not that they have no ego, we are only human, but they have learned how to balance, work with, conquer their ego so it does not rule them.

Across the board, I have seen teachers and heroes that I admired falter, show their humanity, fall prey to their egos. It happens, and it is a real problem. Something I see far less of, is people owning their own bullshit. You can’t do better until you know better, but I truly believe that once you know better, you have a duty to act upon that knowledge and really try to do better.

The true spiritual leader spends a lot of time in self-reflection. They listen more than they speak. They are happy to share what they know with whatever student presents themselves. These people, and they do exist, bring me hope. They keep me going in a way that I cannot explain.

In all my searches, the only true goodness I have seen comes from other humans. Unfortunately, the only true evil comes from other humans, as well. In my mind it boils down to each and every person devoting themselves to doing the best they can, serving their fellow humans, and being kind both to themselves and each other. We are the only people that can make this world a better place, and it starts at home in our bodies, our families, our communities, and from there the world.

Do good work. Bring joy. Be joy.



Thanksgiving: #NaBloPoMo Day 24

I’m up early on Thanksgiving morning. I’ve been chopping carrots and celery and onions and boiling up some eggs to make deviled eggs. Feeling pretty joyful, although my daughter informs me that she is B O R E D already, and it isn’t even 7am. The mimosas are ready to go, but I think I will wait for Matt to wake up and Neil to get here.

That’s two of my exes. One ex is making a turkey breast for the other to eat. I’m not sure when or how we became so evolved. All I know is that I am very grateful to be where we are now.

The past few years I’ve endured a lot of hardship and heartache, and to be at this point of joy now is incredible. I’m happy my mom is coming down with her boyfriend, I’m even happy that Neil’s mom is coming. Everything we are making to eat will be delicious. It’s going to be a great day.

In the meantime, I have more cooking prep to do. Molly has been temporarily entertained by the addition of Pop Pixie on the TV. The kitty and fishy where I’m housesitting have been fed. Even the caterpillar got some new celery this morning. I am hoping it doesn’t turn into a butterfly before its little caterpillar mom gets home from vacation! It’s going to be close.

Food always makes me feel secure and abundant. It is hard to feel poor when you have a table full of food. Even if it’ll mostly be gone home with folks as leftovers or devoured over the next couple days, at least for one day we will feel supremely rich.


Just the stuff I am prepping this morning, not counting the meats or Neil’s sides!

2016 has been a rough year for a lot of people. We have seen our heroes fall and evil rise within our country. It is nice to take a time-out to appreciate what we have and the people we love. I love making other people happy, and enjoy being in service on Thanksgiving, at least to my family. It is difficult to get out and volunteer, but I hope to do more. Our neighbors will probably enjoy some leftovers though, and the goodwill we share amongst ourselves will ripple out to our immediate community.

I love my little hodge-podge family, and wish you all the very best this holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving!