It’s early Saturday morning and I just decided to grab some coffee and hit the keys- these keyboard keys that is. Actually I think I’d better grab another cup of java so hold please…
Ahhhh coffee. Do you know I went three years without a drop of coffee before I decided one day to grab a cup and viola? I am a coffee drinker again and have been for at least 4 years now. Just like that. I have gone a lot of years without a lot of things in my life- all by choice. Most is for the absolute best really, I am in recovery. My clean date is September 5, 2008 and all I can say to that is I am forever grateful for finding a new way to live. I am not going to speak about the other things I go without, it is all by choice.
Usually in the mornings I am hanging out my bedroom window talking to chickens and feeding my fat cat Hermes – that has not been the case lately. My college daughter Irene is home for the winter break which includes Christmas and the New Year coming; I will return her soon to her dorm life the Saturday after the New Year. I hope. I say I hope because in reality she is struggling, two of three classes she passed with excellent grades and one she failed. I don’t know what any of that means other than I will have to arrange for a tutor and more support. I am sure there are lots of new college students struggling, I am sure it has nothing to do with her Autism- it is just calculus. It may have to do with turning in assignments, things I always made sure she did when she was home with me.
Home. Home is very different now and seems to be wherever I rest my head lately. I have a room I rent and that is really all I need. I have let go of just about everything I owned. Kept some work clothes and camping gear, the children and grandchildren’s keepsakes. You know all the hand painted pictures, the yearbooks and little ceramic items they created for me in school. All the awards and trophies, the special rocks from camping trips and my little box of teeth they lost in their younger years. All of the mementos that I hold dear to my heart, that no one ever saved of my mine from my youth. My things were tossed out, some were even given to me when I returned from my runaway days only for me to toss out in my addiction. I couldn’t keep anything back then and have little to no memories. Reasons why I love to make so many memories now and to take all the pictures for evidence and proof of my existence. The only existence of my life for over a decade was mugshots, those were the pictures that were captured of me. I digress.
Back to home. Irene does not like it where I am living so for now I have not been there. I have been at moms sleeping on the couch or somewhere else where it has been a bit more comfortable- but still close to enough to moms to be close to Irene. Irene has a room at moms where she can close the door and close the world out. Now some may wonder how I am letting my child decide where we stay, Irene is Autistic. Irene is eighteen now and legally an adult- legally, not mentally. She is pretty much my only concern in life. Yes I do have other children, but this amazing thing happens when you groom your children to be adults equipping them with the tools they need to survive the world. They grow up. They sprout wings grow up and move on and out. It is called life and I have done a great job raising my children providing them with the life skills needed to become adults. I may have arrived on the scene late to the parental parade, but I showed up.
Irene is different. Different but not less. She may very well be living with me her entire life. I have given her the best tools out there, she is soaring at college. Go Slugs! She is attending her classes, cleaning up beaches, going on school trips and chasing Pokémon wherever she goes. The reality is I am not sure how far she goes or what the outcome will be, I just have to have faith. Faith in time. This time at this moment is what I have faith in- for everyone and everything. Faith.
Faith brings me to the New Year, and the past year as well. Faith is all I have, mixed with a whole lot of love, courage, perseverance and my recovery. Without that I have nothing. I thank my God I have everything I need! Faith will move mountains. It will open doors and close doors as long as you just keep going. I will. I will keep going. I will no longer stand in the door waiting. I was. I was waiting for two people to work on what needed to be worked on and hopefully make their way back to one another.
A funny thing happens when you do the work- you just keep growing. My Sponsor in the 12 Step Fellowship I belong to has always said the same thing to me throughout the years, “just keep doing your steps Christine.” I didn’t understand that years ago in the beginning. Those early years when I thought I would stay married to the second husband, the ‘lifer’ in prison who is no longer a lifer due to new laws and has a release date in 2021. That will be a new saga to write about then, but for now we are still on this one- staying in today. Linda always said those words to me because she knew, she knows, with Stepwork there lays a journey to self-discovery and you may find all those things you thought you were and wanted may change. They have changed. I no longer want what I once had. He made it easier every time I saw him- every time I see him, to know why I left. I thank him for that and I thank my God for the gift of awareness.
My dear friend said to me well over a year ago, yes go live with him- you need to see. Well I did. Unfortunately it was all the outside issues that became our issues that made a difference in our lives at that time- in my opinion. We all have them, opinions. It was our kids, who were adults. It was maybe even that accident? Everything seemed to be going smoothly up until shortly after. It was the behaviors. Those behaviors that surface without doing the work. It is sad really. I no longer feel for any of that. With the needed Stepwork, just dropping my twelfth again and committing to the New Year’s recovery with yet another round I have found acceptance for the time and the gift of closing the door for good and moving on.
What seemed important no longer does. My friend Nancie was the person who had confirmed it would be good to go see what it would be like to live with him. It was her handsome husband who asked me that one question when I saw him last Saturday, “will I see you on the New Year’s ride?” That question. He later apologized for it, he forgot he said. I let him know I loved him and it was Ok. Many people forget still-John just forgot.
I am forgetting. I am forgetting the past and moving on. I am closing the door for the New Year and letting it all go. I am deleting the memories, locking away the photos and those dreams of what I thought would always be. I am filling my life with new dreams. I am filling my heart with new goals and ideas and opening the doors to the world and the word yes. I filling my soul with hope. I always have hope.
My God knew and always knows what I need, long before I do. A few months back I was asked to speak at a New Year’s Eve event up in Humboldt County- I said yes. Yes knowing I would be gone on New Year’s Day. Yes- knowing it will always be the Fellowship that saves my ass and gives me what I need. Yes to open doors and love. I am in love! Love with my life and the choices I make. Love with the journey and the possibilities that are out there. In love of the unknown. In love with willingness and faith. In love with knowing life is too short to be unhappy. Life is so amazing and should be enjoyed- hold nothing back and live it to the fullest!
I am in love with me and what exciting opportunities are out there with the New Year that is coming.
It is now New Year’s Eve. I had stopped clacking on the keys the other day and picked them up again today. It was meant to be. It was all meant to be. Tonight I will let it all go. I will leave it all here in this beautiful place and go home anew. I love my life. It was meant to be mine. All of it!
The Chicken Lady
I haven’t written in a bit- anything that I have put here that is. My time has been spent on numerous applications and Statement of Qualifications along with Cover Letters and Resumes; over thirty so far. All of that dedicated writing has garnered me six interviews in the field I am attempting to enter, two within just the past few days. Those who know say I am doing great since it takes determination to enter this field at the level of which I am attempting to come in at. Perseverance. Do you know how different my life is now than it ever was before? It is evolving daily- still. Gratefully.
Today marks a few things to remember, December 19th is my daughter Marina’s birthday- she is now 28 and December 19, 2008 was the date of my last sentencing for crimes committed- to date. I say to date because – well if I fail to remember where I came from or what I was like I may be doomed to repeat. I do not forget. I was given a gift, a gift that took a few years to grasp with my thinking and stubborn head; I needed to bleed a bit more before I surrendered.
I remember the day well when I surrendered for the first time, actually I was just trying to get to my mother’s computer where I had hidden a check writing program. That was all I really needed, her computer. My laptop had been stolen 24 hours or more earlier- not sure of the timing. Who pays attention to the timing when they are released from jail on a heroin charge in a small town like Jackson in Amador County, California? Who hails a cab because she has no wheels and heads straight to the casino? Did I mention hailing a cab in Jackson is not the easiest thing to do? This was way back before things like Uber and Lyft. Oh, and the who – that was me. Just a bit of what I was like back then. I was a nightmare who scared many in my path, especially those I loved the most. Family.
The surrender as I mentioned did not look like a surrender- it was just a manipulation for what I needed. The outcome became willingness. Willingness to enter detox for the first time ever. Detox. That is for addicts by the way- I was not an addict at the time. Or so I thought? I was just tired.
She was there for me, my Aunt Lily. She opened the door for me and thousands of others just like me. Lily ran the detox at the Effort for many years. That first time in detox was like a vacation- I just fell out. When they took me to a meeting after I was well enough it was like a field trip. The meaning behind all that is, I don’t think I took it all that serious. I did in my way. In my own little dope fiend way.
Lily passed away Monday night on December 16, 2019, a few days ago. It is fresh, the emotions are real and so is the gratitude. Lily knew me before I was even born, she is family. My father, a little known secret, was the very first to get her loaded. She often joked and reminded me of that and my dad corroborated it at least once in jest. It was more like a blackmail and the rest of the story I will save for another day maybe. This is about the numbers.
Not the numbers of times I ended up in detox, which would be four. My calls from another county or better yet someone calling for me and making arrangements for me to come in again. Lily always said the same thing, “come in well.” If and when I made it there I was safe for a while. One time I recall shooting up at the little VFW just at the corner, I just needed one more. After the fourteen day detox that in the end would become a ten day detox until the very end when I bounced on day three; there was usually a residential program she had already arranged a bed for me at.
Seeds. The seeds were planted long before I knew, long before I was willing, long before I came to believe.
The numbers of which I am referring to are the little gold numbers I wear around my neck. They will not be there again. The numbers are gone. The numbers that passed from woman to woman on their clean-dates are gone- but not the memories. The strength is still there. The wisdom is still there. The courage is still there. The commitment is still there and the love. The love that she showed me, the unconditional love- no matter what.
I cherished those numbers and the date they were always given to me by my Aunt Lily- my clean date, September 5, 2008. I now have over 11 years clean and I have Lily to thank for that and so many others. Lily would give me my number representing my years in recovery and I would surrender the previous year’s number to be passed down to the next woman. Lily had numbers up to 19. She had faded into a coma throughout those past few weeks and woke on the day she celebrated 20 years, December 3, 2019. The tradition is over and will fade.
Lily knew me. She knew where I had come from and she knew the people I had run with- she knew my family too. Not many people can say that about me. My Aunt Lily hand-picked my Sponsor and sent her to me in that very first program after she delivered me from the detox. She also stopped at the pawn shop from the detox to the program so I could pick up some things- you know how we do it. Lily knew. She knew what I needed before I knew. Although I didn’t stay way back then, I eventually made my way back. I am so grateful I made it back, that is not always the outcome for addicts in recovery who choose to go out.
I was afforded a gift in the end with my Aunt Lily and that is time. My beautiful mother cared for her since they, to this day, have always stayed the best of friends. She stayed in mom’s spare room until my mother delivered her back to the hospital. She was younger than my mom. How crazy is that? Lily was good and so full of life one day and then she was gone.
Hold on to your loved ones and cherish them while you have the time. Just love….
The Chicken Lady
My Irene has lost so much weight. She’s healthy but I wonder if she’s eating? I have always said to others she eats about 5 different things and 3 of them are a variety of potatoes- chips, fries and baked; oh and mashed too. That is Autism. That is her Autism because Autism is different for everyone and it changes daily. She is doing amazing at UC Sant Cruz and I keep having to tell myself that and others when they ask because I don’t know anything different and I won’t know until it hits the fan- if it hits the fan. Shit that is. Until then I just practice acceptance and faith and know that I’m utterly powerless.
I know Irene is walking everywhere on campus because Irene can’t drive or even ride a bike, mostly out of fear and I’m ok with that. This is probably why she has slimmed down so much I tell myself. She has learned the bus system with the help of her IHS worker who is bringing on another worker so Irene gets more hours a week. She must need them if they are doing this – I have to trust them.
Her hygiene I will not talk about, but she has hair growing everywhere including under her arms and I know that is a thing now with girls so I encouraged her not to worry and to do what ever she wants- I will not define her. Many of her clothes just went straight to the trash and shopping had to be done. She was home for Thanksgiving and we are on the drive back now with her dad at the wheel so I have some time to reflect and jot down a few lines.
Irene is Autistic plus as many of you know, depressive, anxiety and ADHD as well. She is my gift. The gift born in the front seat of my car in my addiction. The gift I tried so hard to keep. The gift I walked away from and thank my God for bringing me back to when I got clean. It’s never too late.
Irene won’t say if she’s hungry, she’ll wait until she can find some chips or bread; she doesn’t want to bother anyone. I saw she ordered some gourmet cookies delivered to her room- I know that was probably very exciting for her. Her bank account is attached to mine so I always know what she’s buying. She has only made it into the Mc Donald’s in Santa Cruz once her whole time at school; this was her staple at home and still her treat.
I’m taking her back with snacks and enough hygiene to last her until summer. If I make sure she has everything she needs then she hopefully won’t run out. What Irene see’s as necessary to buy and what is not are different than the usual- she needs every airport neck pillow she sees- tampons not so important. I’m hoping these extra hours with her worker are utilized to the fullest and I have a list of items to discuss with them. I haven’t even seen her room yet but if it looks like it did a few weeks ago I’ll send her and her dad Mark out to Mc Donald’s so I can get it together while they’re gone. She panics when things are moved or when people are in her space. She stays secluded but gets out to do the things she wants when she wants- the things that interest her.
Irene makes it to her classes though. I hope she is turning in assignments and studying for finals- she is so smart. I had to map things out -everything in high school daily including homework and due dates- she’s on her own now. Things her IHS worker is supposed to be assisting her with- organization and dates. She lives in her own world doing what her mind wants to. I can’t explain Irene any better than that other than a beautiful brilliant gift and my daughter.
I have heard C’s get degrees and although she has always been an A+ honors student that came at a cost. Frustration, tears, meltdowns and stress along with her picking at her skin and pulling her hair out. Her bangs are growing back out and I don’t see any signs of hair pulling- although she is always wearing a hat. A mother knows her child. She is thriving and I have to keep supporting her. I’ve picked her classes – yes again, hopefully for the last time. She was upset with me. Irene didn’t understand classes have to be picked and no longer will she just get a schedule. I finally got the IHS worker to get her to a counselor and follow up with that to map out her years for success. Irene was 1 of 200 accepted into UC Santa Cruz’s Computer Science degree program in 2019! If you put it in front of her she will do it. She can do anything.
The Chicken Lady
I come from a place of darkness, trapped in my insanity for so long. I smiled at you with a look of death hidden beneath my eyes; a death that was felt deep into my soul. The fire was gone. Had it ever been lit? Those choices that I made at a very young age would lead me down a road I never knew existed- it was called my life; the life that I chose. Gratefully I came to the end of the road one day and someone showed me a new way to live.
It has been seven days and a wake up since I got the call. It was my late night to work, I run a youth group and it was barely 6:00 pm on a Thursday, I still had an hour to go until I could leave. An hour to smile, to keep the youth I work with engaged, on task creating yearly action plans and mapping out goals; I even intrigued them enough to take on writing a small grant themselves with my tutelage. All the while knowing there was a dead body in a room that had been sitting most of the day.
I have witnessed more than my fair share of death. Some would even say I may have been the cause or catalyst to a few, but I know that was addiction and their choices. Sure I gave them the first one, maybe even at times the last one- at least one that I know of. I didn’t know then what I know now. I played a part in so many lives that I ran through for so many years and yes, I still play a part. The reasons why we continue to do the work, so we can continue to identify the issues. I always say, as long as I am not doing an issue I will always be OK. That part is true; but sometimes I still do not want to feel. So much lately I have not wanted to feel- yet I am so happy I get to.
As soon as the last parent drove away with their child that Thursday night I was in my car. I knew the paramedics had come and gone, there was still emergency services there- the Firemen. Everyone was standing in the drive as I flew in and parked the car at the neighbors, there were so many cars everywhere. I knew the neighborhood would be glued to the windows watching in the darkness curious. My friend, my best friend; it was her house. She had called me. We had just spent the most beautiful weekend away at the ocean and had only been home a few days and this. Reality was back of what life is like.
Julie was walking around arranging things, I joked on how clean the house was. I knew this mattered at this moment. The moment so many people were walking in and out, looking through the house, asking so many questions. I am sure all the questions had been asked a million times by the time I arrived. It was almost time for a million more. The coroner had not even arrived yet. The call had been made by 3:00 pm, it was now at least 8:00 pm and the coroner had not even arrived yet. He had probably been dead since at least 10:00 am. The facts are not out yet, the autopsy results are not in, and the time of death had not been called. I knew the how he died. So did Julie, she was just not willing to say and it was not my place to assist at that moment.
My assistance was just to be there. To hold the woman who at one time disliked me. To be there for her, it was her son who was in my friend’s house; he had only been there 10 days. I had only spoke to him a few times, through the walls of the rooms as I made my way through the house. Jacob had cleaned the house so immaculate. Jacob. His name was Jacob. I will not tell his story, although I know it. I will not tell Loretta’s story, although I know it. I will tell mine.
The coroner finally showed, it was our turn. Our house was the third on the list for pick-ups that night and by the time they left there were even more bodies to gather. This was our turn, it was Jacob’s turn. The questions started all over again. Now his family were giving the history, the present was obvious. More time was given with the body, the goodbyes before the morgue. That time seemed to drag on forever. Julie made jokes with me in the living room. I knew this was her way of dealing with the insanity of the moment in her home. All I could do was listen, a few times I said shhhh Julie, not so loud.
Finally the moment came, the moment I had missed with all the death that I left in my wake. The moment they struggled to bring his body out of the room to the stretcher. Jacob was already wrapped in the plastic zip-up bag, it was white. I imagine his toe tag was on under there as well for identification. There were a lot of bodies that night for a Thursday we were informed. He was wrapped in a white sheet around the plastic bag, for the purpose of lifting and grip. That was so apparent- Jacob was 31. Then came the fitted burgundy cloth that covered the body over so the neighbors glued to their windows with the lights off while they watched could not see. The coordinating commands. Turn, lower, on three, lift. One side first to set the wheels and ensure he was steady before she lifted the other side- go. Set the wheels. Roll out, step one, step two, set. I closed the screen door behind them. Loretta asked me to close up the bedroom, she couldn’t go back in- I did. I gathered her things and put them by the door. She was tired. Her tears I had wiped, I had held her, comforted her. What else could I have done?
Today I have to get to school. I teach. I teach a variety of things to help our youth make better choices and I have to get to class so I must go. This week has been rough, these past seven days have been rough. The flood of memories from death have not stopped. I am so grateful I have chosen to live.
The Chicken Lady
When I was young, so long ago, I was hardened by love, the misconception of what it was, and what it looked like. I was hurt many times by those who claimed to love me and even those who I thought were supposed to love me the most at a very young age- family. I had lost the ability to trust anyone.
Of course the skills that I had learned, the coping skills, surviving skills, and so on would harden me. I numbed myself and shut down my heart and my spirit, putting in and losing the ability to stop for anything or anyone, not even my children. I didn’t know that is what was happening at the time; I still at that point thought I was having fun. I’m getting ahead of myself….
At the age of 20, I had stopped for a moment and come up for air, I would do that on occasion. It might look like I had my shit together, maybe a job, a smile. It was all an illusion, a mask I wore well, just one of them, for a very long time. I’d had my first child, almost making it to the altar, and even learned another lesson before I even made it there with his father. My ability to show love was gone and I know that now. I can’t even imagine what it looked like back then. I would be unable to show love for another 20 plus years, true love. That was my part.
The sweetest man entered my life back then, he loved me. He loved my son and me. He wanted nothing but to love us, together. I could not even fathom that, certainly didn’t trust that, and honestly didn’t even understand it. I was pregnant with his child and he knew. What would that look like? It was time to run and running is what I was good at.
I created another lie, I was good at lying, that’s what we do. This lie would last me 20 years. I gave birth to his son, having told him long before that I had lost his child. Using that loss as just one of the reasons to never see him again. The hole in my spirit was just a little larger and would continue to grow due to my own choices.
Today is that young mans birthday, October 30, his name is Alex, and he found me on Facebook several years ago. He had some questions, that is all he wanted from me, answers of which I gave him. It’s absolutely amazing how my HP works, I had found his father just a few months earlier. Being open to the process and willing, I was able to let that secret go that I had held onto for over 20yrs. I am a Bio-Mom, that is all.
Albert I love you! After many years your only question to me when I told you I had given birth to your son was, “are you ok” and “do you need a hug?” Boy did I. I will always love you for that! Today I know what love is honey and I have nothing but love for you!
That young man wanted nothing but answers, then he left our lives going back to his own, and I am ever so grateful to have been alive to give him those answers.
The Chicken Lady
I have the cutest little nook in the back with the chickens now. There is the small mosaic green coffee table and the two red farmhouse chairs that I love to relax on that have traveled with me to three different homes, however will stay at this one when I leave as a gift as I no longer require their use- yes I am already planning my next move. No one sits on the other red chair anymore, it’s just me with my feet perched up while the chickens mill around under me. Well sometimes the roommate sits there too, but our lives are so full it is rarely that we sit together anywhere. I have a spot I can write at that looks out the window to the chickens; it’s a bit un-comfy since the chair I sit at is really just a stool. I prefer just to write in bed with my laptop up on a rather large pillow with the window open just listening to the chickens while Hermes that fat cat stares their way, I don’t need much.
This brings me to companionship. Do I need it, do I really need it? Yes- I do. My companions for now are those chickens, my friends, the cat and the Fellowship that I love so much. I lost my dog Snoopy a while ago but don’t want to get into that right now, for now we are just going to talk about dating. The ominous life of dating at 50. It is very funny I find so hold on and grab some coffee.
I am not sure if I am ready for dating yet? It seems to be very complicated or very easy- whichever way you look at it. Do I swipe left or right? Actually, apparently, I don’t even need to swipe at all. It just comes my way- the offers. Abundant is the word I will use. The propositions have come from everywhere; Florida, Costa Rica- oh Florida will come here by the way and I should really give it a try, Costa Rica just wants to offer me time in paradise where he lives for a week or two. Kentucky wants to fly here to get to know me better; although we actually have met in person I am not ready to know him any better over dinner just yet-yet.
Dinner, I have gone to dinner with a friend. An old friend who was willing to just let it be a dinner with friends- even though years ago that was not his intention. He appreciated the shutdown I gave him when I said I was having coffee with someone back then, he didn’t understand it- he thought it was just coffee. It wasn’t just coffee, but it has become that. He let me know he valued that in a woman and always remembered that about me. So when he appeared there in Southern California with dinner I became willing. Willing for something new and that is to say yes more often. Yes!
Well yes- maybe. It is still mainly no. No to every Tom, Dick and Harry in my inbox. No to the married man we all know. That was a surprise! You never know who is thinking what about you? Did he really think I would say yes to just a weekend getaway no one would know about? I guess he did, that is how much he knew me. I am not her. She, many years ago, would have went. She would have chosen to escape this life and those feelings months ago when the offer was made- even if it was just for a moment. I am not her! I thought we were friends? I wonder what your friend would have thought about that?
So back to the swiping. I have a dating coach. She has been in retirement for several years, but graciously made her presence again. She suggested Bumble, Tinder, Plenty of Fish and Cream Cheese and Bagels, or was it Coffee and Bagels? I said yes to a month; Biker Planet, sure why not- just one month there too. Facebook even came out with a dating app and it was as if they knew I would be dating again. That was a funny. I am very funny in my own little head to some- even if that some is only me. I make me laugh and smile better than anyone, it just took me a minute to get back there. I am there again and have been for some time.
Let’s chat about Coffee and Bagels, I am pretty sure I was the cream cheese. I think they are a bit elitist? Most from the bay area of the state of California where I reside. If I say yes, we can hang out and even hit the Apple party in November or was it Google? This wonderful app even gave me pointers on how and when to respond. Not too fast now, wait a day or two and the reasons why behind the push notifications. Let’s not forget when to make the first move and to check in and why. Very handsome men in all the apps I have seen, in the past few months I have seen plenty. Biker Planet- Wow. Now I am not too superficial whatsoever, but really. First of all let’s live in reality, I attempt to on a daily basis. All I will say about that app is it was a waste of my time that I will never be able to regain.
Facebook dating has been the most amusing. It was as if it happened overnight and the hounds were released. I can take a pretty picture, but do you see me? Do you know what I am like? No one really knows deep down what I am like- I myself am still learning all the deepest secrets my heart and mind have locked away. The years of torture I endured at my own hands will be the reasons I move out of love. I shed a tear just then while clacking that out; it is wonderful to feel.
So with the Facebook dating eventually came the people we may know in common, that was only a matter of time I am sure- those Fellowship people. I deleted Facebook dating too within the week. I don’t need Facebook to help me figure out who to date next. I have my friends all over the place making suggestions and offers- people they may know. They deserve the love I have and the very best; how sweet they think that is me. Some of those offers are not bad either, I am just not ready yet.
The yet. I will be ready one day; just not yet. I don’t know when? Waiting for me is all I will be doing for a while and for someone who I find intriguing to ask me out this time. What does my life look like right now? Work- work on many levels. The internal work, the work- work and the financial work to get me where I want to be one day. As I clack this out I have a grant proposal I am writing simultaneously for my organization on another doc- I am the lead writer now. A little too late and that is OK as well. Also a grant I am researching for a private organization because I have begun freelance writing. I am capable of many things.
The most important thing I have written lately is my resume and my Statement of Qualifications; not my dating profile- although dangit that looks pretty good and I am not giving up there. I have interviewed, have practiced my interview and am even interviewing again this week. I am hopeful. I am hopeful on many levels. I will just keep going and growing. I have made it to fifty, my children are all off on their own and the young child is soaring at this very moment in college with her own independence; an independence I am learning to embrace myself. The dreams I am making happen and will never stop conjuring up. I am loving the new horizons; no matter what. So as I intended to continue on with this dating adventure and quite possibly discuss San Antonio I will have to save that for next time. Maybe when I return? Now the house has just filled with love as so many faces have mingled in for a meal while the music plays in the background. I am present today- so I must go.
The Chicken Lady
The coffee is brewing as I clack on these keys and I can hear a few sounds stirring from the chicken coop. I love the fact that the chicken run is right outside my bedroom window and I have no screen, it also allows for Hermes my big fat cat to jump in through the middle of the night at his leisure and snuggle with me. Hermes the cat has gone from a farm cat, to a city cat and now an alley cat and he still loves me. I am not sure if he loves all the sounds that come with the fast paced area we now live in, however he has adjusted with time. He knows to stay away from the dogs that we share a home with- he is so smart, I wish the chickens learned that too. I had to clip some wings to ensure the ladies did not fly over the fence again- I have eight hens- four young girls and four just a month or two older. No one has lost their life yet and no one is laying either, however that will change with time as well. The street is just a few houses away, it is a rather busy street and in the wee hours of the morning when I rise I can hear just a few cars swoosh by. The sound I love the most is the train. I prefer the silence mostly- birds, chickens and the coffee brewing. But if I had to hear different, the sounds of the train take me back to a time when all I could do was dream of what life was like. Life is good now. Life will always be good as long as I’m floating on this earth. I digress as usual.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of doing what I love to do most for my organization- I went to school. As part of my “Other Duties as Required” I get to deliver lifesaving programs to students in California schools in hopes that students gain some valuable information to make better choices for their futures. The information delivered varies on the grant-funding that I also have the privilege of honing my skills on, yes one of those other duties still. I love what I do.
As I was wrapping up yesterday’s program and thanking the students for their participation while asking the proverbial questions attempting to invoke some last minute thoughts before my departure as I gathered up my end of presentation evaluations- the overhead speakers came on- lockdown. Teachers we are on lockdown and please implement lockdown procedures. I looked around as the entire room shifted.
The teacher who I had been with, who was just laughing with me for all the technical issues we had for the day involving the incompatibilities with our equipment (she was a Mac user and I am not), rushed to the door and grabbed a cover which she then slipped over the window while she hit the lights. In moments she had directed us all into an adjoining room. I had been in the production room for the day, cameras and a make shift studio where the students practiced their media skills creating the school weekly news. The adjoining room was what seemed like the editing room, computers and cabinets everywhere with extra lighting stands lined against the back wall.
Doors were shut and all cabinets were immediately opened. The cabinets were tall free standing against the whole wall for optimal storage of all the equipment we were surrounded with. We were told to get on the floor and be quiet- the lights were off remember and in the back room there were no windows. It was dark. Just then the intercom went off again- lockdown, this is not a drill, and then there was nothing but silence.
As the teacher looked at me from across the dark room I could see all the high school kids I had just been joking with before while I tried to keep them involved with the presentation on their phones. All you could see was the dim lights that came from the windows of the outside room that penetrated the glass that separated the rooms and the lights from phones. I just sat there.
I will not exaggerate whatsoever on the time that passed- well over ten minutes. Ten minutes without another sound. The thoughts that race through your head. Seriously! This is it? This is how I go? What’s happening outside? What’s going on? Where are my kids? What will I do? All of that happened in moments. I chose not to send a text to the family group chat, I chose not to panic anyone. I did get one of those random texts from a long ago high school friend myself at that time. So I did respond to him about the current situation of events as he was sending short videos of his ride. I let him know they would have to be watched later- I was busy. Would later come?
At roughly eight minutes into our sequestered event there was a loud bang that echoed through the wall I was against. On the other side of that wall was the longest hall that I had walked down to gain entrance into the class that I was in. Where did the sound come from? Was it in the room with us? I couldn’t tell, I really couldn’t. The teacher whispered asking if one of us made that sound and the student nearest to me apologized. He had inadvertently leaned against something that fell from the wall and that was the bang. I looked at him through the darkness and laughed as I told him how much he scared me. We were immediately hushed.
Minutes later the intercom came on again- lockdown over. Other words were said but I really had no clue what they were. I got up, listened to the teacher apologize for keeping me so long after the day had ended and I left. Walking out the classroom door was eerie. That long hall was empty. The can from the janitor who cleans up at the end of the day with all the brooms and bags was just sitting lonely in the middle of nothing. As I kept walking and hit the corridor doors I entered the main enclosed campus area that led to the outside area. The students were everywhere and the chatter was endless.
I still don’t know what happened, I am not a news watcher. Was it even news worthy? The police were outside, but they were outside when I entered for the day. It is commonplace for police to be at schools today unfortunately – I know because I am constantly in school. So funny because when I was a student myself I was never in school. It just wasn’t my thing.
Well as I made my way to the parking lot I passed groups of students sharing how they were scared. How they were texting their parents how much they loved them. No one knew what was happening outside as we were locked down inside. Where had all the football players and outside students been rushed to? I heard students talking about how they were shut indoors, in the office and in classrooms. I kept walking to the lot. Parents were already there. Many I am sure had been there to pick up kids and just got swept up in the moments.
The moments no one thinks about when you wake in the morning, when you get ready for the day. When you try to figure out what outfit you will wear or what you will do in the evening when you get home. When you make your plans for the dreams you want in life that swirl around in your head.
Sitting in my car in that lot I finally texted my family. It was frightening. I let them know where I was and what happened and of course that I was OK. I turned the key on the ignition and I left. I shed a few tears on the way in amazement. This is what school is like today. This is what life is like today in schools all across America.
My hats off to that teacher, to the administration and to all schools across the US of A. They had knew and it was obvious they had practiced and been prepared for such an event. Do we pay them enough for this? Is this part of the job description today of teacher’s across America? Does this fall under “Other Duties as Required?” It does today.
The Chicken Lady
It is a beautiful cloudy morning, the chickens have been fed, the kid- the 18 year old gorgeous Autistic gift of mine- is sleeping in the bed we are sharing until this week when I return her off to college for the year comes and the cat has been loved on. I drank the coffee and spoke to the voluptuous spirit that I live with. Life is beyond good.
I have been processing so much lately- thank God I do that with others. I should have processed that text message first with others, I didn’t. If I had it never would have been sent. The why I sent it no longer matters, the day I sent it- September 11th did. I just wanted to not go another moment without someone knowing that I loved them with everything I had and I wanted to wish them the best in life. Not to leave a word unsaid- just in case. I want to be able to go on and not turn back and I will. I wanted nothing in return, just to be able to be in their presence with no ill will- no weird stuff in the air. See we run in these circles and chances are high we will constantly see each other. That was the “why” just so you know. Nothing more.
It wasn’t time yet, it was time for me though and that my friends is not God’s will -that was Christine’s will. More than likely why it didn’t turn out the way I had hoped and had expected? Ah- expectations. The only one I had was to hold his hand one last time and look into his eyes to say I loved you and good-bye. I didn’t even try. I do still love you and always will. I have no resentments, I have nothing left for you; nothing but love for what once was and some of the most beautiful memories of my life.
I knew I should have walked away when I got there. That cold stare behind the glasses- I knew. I am so thankful I stayed though. As much as it hurt, it was the clarity I needed one last time. Kind of like a drug I guess? Tough to let go but you know when you’re done you’re done.
I get to go on and learn from what I did wrong, there was so much. I will do better next time. Not with him. There will be someone one day. I will bear my soul again, share that part of me I never want to share with anyone. If you don’t love, it’s because that voice doesn’t let you love. If you don’t enjoy your life, it’s because that voice doesn’t let you enjoy it – Don Miguel Ruiz. I will love. I will enjoy my life. I am so full of love and life!
I get to do some healing work, some inner work. I get to not dwell in the past- I get to live for tomorrow. I get to close that chapter of the book I no longer wish to read. I get to not pick it up again, not even to look at. I get to surrender it all and let it go.
I return to God’s will for my life though in amazement of the past three years and know none of that was God’s will for me. That was all Christine’s will, every bit of it! What a lesson learned. The moments I scoured through his Facebook page, watched his timeline, read what he wrote, grabbed that ticket to Sturgis and even when I asked him to coffee. That was all me. None of it happened by chance, none of it happened with God, it happened because I wanted it to. Maybe I forced it to? So in the end it should come as no surprise that it didn’t work. If it was meant to it still would be- no matter what- regardless of the “whats.”
If you think it is so ridiculous to be talking about God so much, for me, it took a bit- almost 11 years. I have never had such faith as I do right now. Leaping and landing wherever it takes me knowing I made the right choice. Nothing has ever felt so true, to bend like the reed and not break. To journey on and leave when I only wanted to stay. Walking away from a place where you are not valued nor heard will be the easiest hard thing you ever do! I know this because it is true for me.
Funny thing is it took some serious pain to find my God. To give up and hit my knees to take the pain away- to just let me sleep and cry no more. Just for today, just for tonight. The lady in my life who has the most beautiful spirit ever always says, have you prayed for them? Well through this I have. I finally became willing to pray for them all. Give them everything in life and more! Let them not waste another moment in anger and soften their hearts, OK soften his. I am so blessed! No matter what I am so blessed. That is the best gift and lesson of all. My spirit and my love are the gifts and I will never let anyone take them for granted.
The Chicken Lady
It took me many years to understand what love is. Countless hours and many tears. Most of those tears were self inflicted with the choices I chose to endure for the interpretation of what I thought love was for so long. What I thought I deserved. What I thought I was worth. I was very sick in the disease of my addiction for many years to know any other way.
Gratefully that changed when I found a new way to live through the 12 step program that I actively participate in. I say actively because for me it takes a daily application of spiritual principles followed up with some traditions to live the way I do, lest I fall into the pit of despair – which is my old ways of thinking. In turn that brings up my old ways of speaking and reacting too, but I digress.
I haven’t really written anything in some time. If I write it is usually about life. My life. I tend not write about the same thing in a million different ways thinking to myself that it is something new. It’s not. Especially if the same people tend to read your material once written. It can turn out to be the same regurgitated rhetoric in some new shape or form, just another day. Writing in some ways is about healing. I hope to continue to write and I always hope to continue to heal.
Today was a hard day. I had to make a decision to put my first love in this new way of life down. My dog Snoopy. Sure I love the kids and yes I love myself, but the truth of the matter is I didn’t even know what love was until the age of 42. Hence the reason for the tattoo on my left shoulder as a subtle reminder. Snoopy was a good dog. He was a rescue dog. He was our family dog and ultimately my dog.
Snoopy was a Beagle, my big fat Beagle. I spent countless hours and days scouring kennels all over Northern California from my cubicle for what would eventually be him. His given name was Tonka. We all showed up together and spent some time with him before making the decision to bring him home that day. I never knew how old he really was, maybe three or four? Irene quickly changed his name to Snoopy and he never answered to Tonka again.
The kennel gave me his folder and a few stories. Snoopy was a returnee to the them. Even after being micro-chipped. Apparently he escaped from his new owners and was found roaming the streets of Auburn before being taken to the kennel again. The new owners refused to pick him up and they said never answered their phone. How sad for Snoopy.
Snoopy never left me. He never ran from me. He loved me and he loved my home. I loved my home. It was safe I suppose for him? He had an entire back forty to markup daily. There was always something new, especially when I decided to bring home chickens.
They say, as a joke, get a plant. If you can keep the plant alive you may be ready for something else. Well if you want to know about unconditional love, get a dog. Get a rescue dog. Furthermore, get a Beagle. They are absolute emotionless dogs. His face always looked so somber. He was not a jumper and never really a barker unless food was involved. Actually that was a habit he picked up near the end. He was not too old to pick up new tricks.
Snoopy rescued me. He gave me something to care for. Someone to love. I loved him and he loved me right back with no expectations! I stayed in there until far after the end. It was so quick. They didn’t say it would be that quick. They did say it would be painless. He was in so much pain. I don’t think I will get another dog. I think I am done for a while. With so much I am done.
Yesterday I made a decision to let all my worldly possessions go. I didn’t mean this one too! I may let it all go, but I will keep this.
The Chicken Lady
Well it has been just over thirty days since my relationship with a man I sincerely thought I would have spent the rest of my life with came to an abrupt halt. I don’t regret a moment, not one. I am truly saddened by the end result which garnered more than a few tears. However I am finally returning to the tears of joy that seemed to be, at the time, only tears of sorrow. Those tears are as if- I am guessing- what death would be like? My best friend is gone. Vanished in a moment is the person I shared everything with. The hopes and dreams for a future with him are wiped away. In truth I had stopped sharing everything some time earlier. I no longer felt the safety he had once provided in me. The safety of my soul and heart. The voice I once loved so much had turned to hurt with a tone I could not fathom to take any further.
I am not sure how a person I loved so much forgot how to speak to me with kindness? Stopped caring completely how he treated me at all. All I know is how it made me feel day in and day out. How I could no longer take “it” the “it” I speak of varies I suppose from person to person, for me I have had too much of it in my lifetime to bear anymore. The constant walking on eggshells. Is this going to be a good day? Those feelings of dread and despair of what my phone would say at any given moment. In actuality is was only a horrible eight days out of 1,095- but who’s counting? Those eight days washed away so much, the last four I will choose to remember- for now.
I finally chose to delete every memory from my phone and with a click of a button I deleted that person from my social life as well, my social media life that is. It is funny because prior to that relationship the social media life was the only life I lived. He changed that. I guess I changed it by asking him out to coffee that day?
I gained so much from him. I gained the freedom to go out and live life, not just from a computer screen. To stop watching it go by! To take chances! I took a chance with him and I will never regret it. He wasn’t the first man I asked to coffee- he was the second. The first was many years earlier and a state or two away? I wasn’t ready for coffee then yet anyway, possibly the reason it never happened.
Well this did happen. All of it happened. The chapter is closed, the page is turned and the life goes on- my life. My next coffee date happened sooner than I had expected – just days later and to my surprise happened on my birthday. A young lady named Jayden asked me out to join her parents and her for coffee and I said yes. She had no clue it was my birthday. No one did. I knew though and my God knew and what a gift it turned out to be.
Jayden is my biological daughter. She is my gift and the best gift ever. I have been given many gifts but this one took me by utter surprise. How could a women completely block an entire year of her life out let alone delivering a baby? Rather easily actually. The desperation and degradation I had allowed in my life at the time and the violence as well made it easy to block entire months and years out.
The life I was living was no life at all. I was in hell, a self-imposed hell. The insanity, the way I spoke to the man I was spending my life with and the way he spoke to me I choose to not to write about now and definitely not repeat- ever. Would you believe I left that man and dug deeper into insanity with another? I did. Have you ever wrapped your hands around the hands of the person you loved with everything in your soul holding a gun to your head saying pull the trigger? I would marry that one!
It was my life I was constantly trying to take out. I no longer wanted to live it and since I couldn’t kill myself with drugs and I had tried, I am sure he could do the trick. I remember well the plans- suicide by cop. It would be my overdose that saved me from that twenty-two hour standoff, my overdose and God.
The lines we draw and the boundaries we enforce only work if we follow them. Ultimately it was those lines that I allowed this past relationship to cross that I had to choose eventually not to blur again and to leave for good. I know what it is like to love someone so much and to leave. My spirit was hurting. I had allowed it and I refuse to allow it again. When they say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree- well that all made sense in the end.
Watching someone you love become so filled with furry and anger, by every move that you make. Unwilling to look into your eyes and see the woman he loves is in fear is not how I choose to live anymore. I have lived that life before. The gift from that experience is knowledge. I no longer want to live like that. I am grateful for all the experiences that the three years with him gave me, mostly the awareness of I have so much more life I want to live.
The Chicken Lady