Ch Ch Ch Changes.

I have always been change averse, reluctant at best, downright unwilling at my worst. I've stayed in relationships long past their expiration dates. I don't rearrange my furniture or home decor much. I hang onto collections of things (it's not hoarding, it's collecting) long into indeterminate usage territory. Unsurprisingly, I had the death grip on my glass of wine, and I say that with zero irony. Yes, motherhood was a very blunt change of circumstances, one day you are not a mother and the next day, you are. Quitting alcohol felt this abrupt, at least it did that day that led me to this one, three years and some coin later. Did I have stops and starts and I'll NEVER drink again? Of course and I couldn't tally them up if you asked me. But there was something about that day, I'd come to end of the line and the end of myself. I changed.

Change begets more change. It really does. Motherhood was one of the hardest changes I've ever made, but sobriety was harder. I know it was harder because nothing has empowered me as much. I'm pretty sure there are few things I can't do now, seriously, bring it on! Okay, well maybe I will never play Angelica in Hamilton on Broadway, unless I can sell them on a slightly older version with a slightly inferior vocal range but, bring it on!

All of this to say, things are going to change around here in The Unruffled websitelandia. I sent out my first newsletter last week and if you haven't signed up, click on the teal bar on the homepage and do it. I hinted there last week at a new offering I'm working on and still working, so it will be rolling out soon. The offering is called She's Like a Rainbow and I can't wait to tell you all about it, just need to gather a few more ducks.

My beautiful friend, Jenn James.

My beautiful friend, Jenn James.

I'll be making some cosmetic changes as well. I may be in over my head a bit with some of the design and technological changes I want to make, but again, sobriety is my superpower. Tweaking a website? Please. 

Kill your darlings, said Stephen King said William Faulkner. The darling that will be killed soon here on the site is the Meet The Unruffled section, so if you haven't read some of the stories over there, do it soon. They have served this site since its inception, and I hope they have served you, dear reader. There are so many other sites that are collecting stories and interviews really well, I think, like of course my girl Tammi's Ray of Light series. But you know that. And perhaps I'll just hide it for now until I figure out how I'll make it all work with the new sections I want to highlight, but that is still undetermined. Spotlighting creativity in recovery is still my jam, but the edges of my particular agency and influence sharpened, more defined. 

It's been a while since I've been excited about big changes, and I'm super excited about this one. Thank you, my Unruffled tribe, for following along.

 

A Change Is Gonna Come

The biggest lesson I've learned in getting sober is that change doesn't just light on your shoulder like a bluebird in a Disney movie. Change is an action and sometimes it is brought forth by many tiny actions that accumulate over time. Sometimes change is the final tip that happens as a result of many small tips, one bumping up against the next like dominoes, until the last one topples over. Sometimes it's just the act of saying, Nope, this isn't working for me anymore, and that becomes the thing that knocks the first domino over. Some days, you may have more to give towards this change than other days, but the only way that last domino will tip is if you are actively moving towards it.

This could be a blog post about why I marched with 1000s of other like-minded people across this planet on January 21, 2017. Or this is simply a post about change. While I don't think that change begins or ends with one march, it did tip a domino that is bound to hit the next one. There is a giant mess to clean up right now, or many messes if you want break it down into smaller, less overwhelming heaps. And you can't toss a sponge without hitting one. There was a chaotic mess that had been growing for a long time in my head and soul and it had spilled out of me and into my life, family and home.  I finally got to cleaning that up in 2014. Now that my eyes are clear, I can better see the work that needs to be tackled outside of myself. Showing up for that march made me feel like I wasn't showing up with my bucket all alone, but that there are so many to lock arms with, showing up with their buckets too. If you are in recovery, you know the importance of the tribe, the weight of the community that will hold your mop when you need to take a break. That is what the march showed me.

Shaming anyone on either side is not helpful. Arming yourself with compassion is. Making signs and tshirts for the march, I got to express my passion creatively and carry my compassion around, literally, for everyone to see. Love is an action too.

This wasn't my first protest march but it was my kids' first protest march and hopefully it won't be their last. When I marched against apartheid in college, I wasn't thinking about the oppressor's feelings, but this time I did. I guess this is growth and what do you know? Change.

God, Help Me Change The Things I Cannot Accept

I've had a couple of friends in my life recently that have wanted to talk to me about their drinking. I really like these coffee dates as it forces me to dig back, way back before this blog, before I met my beloved recovery community, before I ever Googled "Am I An Alcoholic?", before I'd ever uttered one word of the Serenity Prayer. It wasn't that long ago. It's a lifetime ago.

That morning in the summer of 2014, I woke up and knew it was finally time to change the things I could no longer accept. It was one moment in time, like the Sun breaking through a cloudy sky, and if I didn't raise my hands and my head upward, the next moment would be different, it would be dark again. 

I could no longer accept breaking promises to myself. I could no longer accept breaking promises to my family. I could no longer accept disappointing my son and hearing him say, No More, Mom. I could no longer accept my unpredictable behavior. I could no longer accept my lack of sleep, interrupted nightly with 2am full body sweats and shakes and the sensation that my heart was beating out of my body. I could no longer accept spending money I didn't have on booze, spending my kid's money on booze, selling family heirlooms for money to buy booze. I could no longer accept waking up and not knowing where I was or waking up and saying, "Thank you for getting me home safely" to a God that I only spoke to when I was up Shit Creek. I could no longer accept those tingling hands, the year-long eye twitch, the normal of feeling like curdled milk everyday. I could no longer accept not seeing one single dream of mine to fulfillment. Not one.

I didn't know what I was going to do or how I was going to do it, but I was going to do something. I took some of my power back that day. Now, every day I live sober is a celebration of this new life. There is not always a parade, but I am grateful every damn day. 

Gratitude is an action and making some art expresses that. So many friends I've made in the last two years, friends that I am so grateful for, are converging on Austin in November for a conference. I want to be armed with not just any old business cards but with my little cards of gratitude, and since this is right around the corner, I best get started!

I love LOVE collecting boxes of cool, vintage playing cards. And these little artist trading cards you can get at any art supply store and HOW CUTE ARE THEY?? Other supplies you'll need are pens, glue, easy peasy.

I like to wing things, so I'm going straight to pen but that also means that each one will be different and that is what I'm going for. After I've added a butterfly and sufficient info, glue. Done.

I'm in love with my cards almost as much as I'm in love with my life. This is not just a thing I'm doing. I'm not just trying to get through it. This is my life now. This is me.

What can you no longer accept?

Summoning Your Unicorn: Magical Thinking

I was an isolator out of the womb. Growing up, I had friends, I did things, I had sleepovers and went to summer camps. However, I spent most of my time at the top of a climbing tree, daydreaming or under a blanket fort listening to Top 40 on the radio and...daydreaming. Isolation and magical thinking go together like PB and bananas. When I was hiding, I was conjuring not only a different, better life than I had, but a radically different life. It may seem harmless enough but can really be stifling when the fairytale thoughts bleed into real life. I imagined that some very important person would come waltzing into the Church of Christ in Smalltown, EastTexas, hear me singing "How Great Thou Art" like an angel and immediately whisk me to Nashville and give me a recording contract. Or a big Hollywood agent would notice me at the Hot Biscuit salad bar line and say, "Young lady, you should be in the movies." But I never took a singing lesson. I never acted on a stage a day in my life. Maybe I wanted those things but I never did the work. And later in life, when I was presented with the opportunity to do those things, it was too late. The damage had been done. The magical thinking had seeped so far in that I honestly didn't know that that was how dreams were realized. I didn't know that things were actually achievable by putting in hours and hours of work. So I chose small. I chose safe, over and over until that was just my life.

Should we blame Cinderella and all the bippity boppity boos? You can mantra and vision board or know the secret or manifest abundance all day, but none of it will bring any dream to fruition without work. It's just not how life works and to think otherwise is, dare I say, immature. Magical thinking kept me drinking well past my expiration date as well. My thinking, every single day, was that I was going to wake up and be a normal drinker and I would enjoy it and not be miserable over it and I wouldn't have to do any work to change. You could say that I was just thinking positive! Or that I was just procrastinating. I can be positive to an extreme, but if bills and warrants and careers and health and families are neglected, it's tipping into Magicland. 

If it sounds like I have a complete handle on this, that would truly be magical. I know more than I ever have in my life that if I want to manifest something, it takes identification, action, hard work and change. Now, the Serenity Prayer is my checks and balances system. If I live it, it's like sprinkling magic fairy dust on everything. Now, if I'm wise enough to know the difference, I pray for courage to take action. Now, the rewards for dreaming big and then doing something that moves me towards that dream are beyond the actual dream, 5th dimension level good. Now, that is truly magical to me.

If you start going to Magicland now and  you need something more than a string on your finger or the Serenity Prayer tattooed on your wrist, you can make your own unicorn horn! Pure, unadulterated reality can suck too, we know this because we tried to escape it for so long, so this little magic horn can take you in the other direction as well. So how about an action-packed tutorial, because that is where the true magicfuckingthinking lies.

You need a few supplies: a headband, ribbon (if you want to cover the headband), various fabrics cut into cones (I used silk and lamé for the flowers, felt for the horn), embroidery thread, scissors and glue (not shown: regular fabric thread, needle and stuffing).

First, I wrapped the headband with the ribbon, gluing it down as I went. To make the flowers, fold the cones in half long ways and starting at the narrow end, take your needle and thread back to front, making a quarter inch wide running stitch. When you get to the opposite end, tie it off and pull the stitch. You can go to Pinterest and find 1000 different fabric flower tutorials, but I like a messy little rosette. So I just sort of play with it until it looks acceptable, then I tuck the wide end under the flower and make several stitches through the bottom of it until it's secure and won't unravel. For the horn, roll the felt into sort of a dunce cone, glue the edges together and add a little stuffing to it. I glued the embroidery thread into the pointy end, wrapped it around as evenly as I could get it, tied it off and added a little circular cap to the bottom. 

Assemble flowers and horn as you wish, glue to headband and done. Freaking magical. You're welcome. 

 

Seasons Change, And So Do We

With the passing of the Spring Equinox, all things blooming and bright, I've been ruminating on seasons. It's a word that isn't just delegated to weather conditions, school semesters and television series. There are seasons for work, activities and pursuits. I would like to credit who of my social tribe first introduced this concept, but I've decided I've heard it from a few so it must be in the collective conscious. And I love it. The idea is that all of our activities, ideas, work and creative pursuits can and should be tackled in seasons. How that shakes out for me is sometimes I'm in the season of sewing. Other times I'm in the season of photography, especially if I've shot a wedding or had another big session. Sometimes I'm in the season of writing and most of my energy goes there. And lately, as to explain my blog neglect, I've been in the season of exploration and learning. This idea of seasons is a somewhat more evolved continuation of my last blog post. If JUST DO ONE THING TODAY grew up, it would be a season.

I think this idea is especially helpful for us special snowflakes. I know that from the very beginning of my sobriety, as soon as I got some energy back, I felt like I was making up for lost time. And there was so much time lost, there was so much to do and I needed to hurry up and do all of the things I had neglected for 20 years. No wonder we get overwhelmed. The idea of seasons is so useful since we can pick one thing to pour our energy into while we tell all the other things vying for our attention, "I'm sorry sewing/photography/writing, I love you but you're going to have to wait while I give this other thing some love for a minute. You'll be okay and I promise, I'll be back." This is been a sanity saver for me. It keeps me from knocking myself in the head for neglecting other things and shoos away the cloud of guilt. 

Can I tell you about the learning and exploration season for a second? This season involves books, lots and lots of books. I'm a nightly reader but sometimes it's only a page or two until the lids close. But in this season, a book is the first thing cracked open in the magic of 5am and and for the next few delicious hours, it's just me and the book. I've taken a few different yoga classes and finally found one I like (we'll save the yoga story for another post). I purchased a tarot card set that I'm absolutely in love with and I've been taking time to learn and play with my new thing (again, there will be a tarot post). I've  taken some time to explore some new friendships, museums, my city and all of this to say, if I were trying to do it all, I would be miserable because it's just not attainable. And on that one day that maybe it is, nothing is done well and it is certainly not enjoyed. A big part of striving every day to stay in the moment is a desire to enjoy the moment and if I'm trying to cram a little of every thing in, I'm not enjoying it. So much in my life and world view was negative when I was drinking, I really strive to live in the positive.

The view is so nice...and pink...from here.