Life can be serious business.

We All Need to Heal. This is How.

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I reached a major goal this week my lovely readers. I had an article published on Elephant Journal! This is a personal piece with a universal message on healing. I dug deep to pin point the hard earned lessons I’ve learned along my own journey to heal my heart and spirit. Here’s a little tid bit of the article.

Much love to all of you. ~Dawn

There is a specific alley of healing that most walk down. I call it the check out alley. To some, myself included, intoxication is the key to checking out because it’s a way of creating a different version of yourself—a version where the “real” you leads, and the “broken” you gets to take the back seat for once. At the tale end of a buzz, greed and despair can take over, self medicating leaves one with a vacancy of pain and a temporary relief disguised as bliss. The ease of life and laughter flowing through my veins when I check out is a survivors false paradise. If we don’t figure out a way to get to an elated state of mind without first walking through check-out alley, healing will never be an option.

Click here to read the article in it’s entirety.

photo source: flickr

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Life can be serious business.

Silent Roots.

My family tree is not tall nor strong, but gnarly, with roots that weave, bend and hide. There are blank pages and missing words in my heritage. And now, there is no one left to fill in the gaps or unearth the secrets.

I learned last night that my uncle, my mom’s brother, died back in January. I never knew him. Yet, I felt oddly stricken at hearing he was dead.

family roots

They’re all gone.

I never met my grandmother. I believe I was around the age of four when she died. All I really know about her is that she had her first child, my mom, at the age of 14, and she was a respiratory therapist that died of lung cancer in her 40’s.

Only a few years after that, her youngest son committed suicide. A son, brother, uncle, husband and father to four young children. He was 35. The same age as his youngest daughter is now.

Fast forward to 1995. I’m 14 years old. After a young lifetime of day dreaming what it would be like to have a mom that didn’t disappear– a “normal” mom, I got to live with my mother for the first time since I was two. She was finally of sound mind and heart. But her story began to lie too heavy on her chest. She died of lung cancer a year and a half later. She was 46.

I was 17 when my grandfather died. I arrived in Florida after his funeral. I have a bullet shell from the 3-volley salute he was honored with at his funeral. Other than him being in the navy, being an avid outdoorsman and a talented saxophone player, I know nothing about him. He was 67 when he died.

And now, the last son and only remaining member of that family of five is gone. He was 62. He had no family near him. No one knew where he was. Nor did any one go looking. From what I know, he was often times delusional and only reached out when he needed money. Last anyone heard from him, he claimed he was working for NASA.

Dissolution of the chase.

My uncle’s death has hit me hard. Not because I was ever emotionally attached to him, but because he was the last one. I don’t believe he could have ever filled the hundreds of missing pages from this family’s story, but knowing there is no longer a living connection to them–it’s sad. It hurts. There was so much pain wrapped up in the short time they all got to live. Alcoholism, physical abuse, sexual abuse, substance abuse, mental illness, domestic abuse, and eventually failing hearts and bodies.

Our identity is more that who and where we come from, but it’s a part of it none-the-less. The lack of connection I have to either side of my family, especially the maternal side, causes me a lot of grief. I’ve tried to put pieces together for years, in hopes of “solving” the mystery. In hopes of understanding where the pain originated, why it manifested it’s ugly face with abuse, broken lives, mental illness, aching souls and young deaths.

Our fate is not bound by the legacy of our families, but a level of understanding who they are and what contributed to the choices they made, offers a degree of insight I’ve craved most my life. My uncle’s death sent my wheels spinning yet again, with this mission at the forefront of my brain. I feel, at times, addicted to the chase. As if some day, I’m going to stumble upon a record or piece of information that is going to make it all make sense.

I’m starting to learn that my pursuit for a linear family picture, is just a way to avoid processing the grief I carry. The particulars don’t matter. I’m probably better off not knowing anymore details than the few I have learned. The option to connect the dots, is not really an option at all. The story is as broken as the people within it, and I need to accept that. That is difficult to come to terms with, but necessary.

Change of shift.

I think my determination to investigate my family has always been fueled with love, fear and sadness. Love for a family I crave, fear of becoming like the family I am a part of and sadness that their story can’t be told. I don’t know that my curiosity will ever dissipate, but my focus is shifting.

The shift is in how I view my family–that gnarly tree with roots that bend, weave and hide. I’m coming closer to an understanding that I don’t need to prove anything, or make excuses for their choices with explanations. Searching for reason will not change history or prevent history from repeating itself, nor will it avoid predisposed genes from running wild. Only I, and the other children of this broken family can do that. We can both honor our family and grieve them by turning the focus to the roots we are responsible for lying down.

It’s time for me to accept the pieces I know, honor the few stories that can be told and allow my grief to help me move forward.

Momma has lost her mind.

10 Realistic Ways Kids Can Make Mother’s Day Rock!

What we really want for mother's day

1. A full days worth of not wearing boogers would be just fabulous. Nothing ruins a sweet hug like the dragging of a child’s nose across your shoulder like a dog dragging his ass on the carpet.

2. The silent treatment. If the kids could just pretend to be enlightened little monks all day that would be fan-freakin’-tastic.

3. I promise to still feed you without the usual “I’m huuunngryyyy” every 20 minutes… mmmkay. So if you could encourage your tape worm to hibernate for just this one day, that’d be great.

4. Don’t ask me for anything. Nothing. Not food, the exiled toys on top of the fridge, where the shoes are that sit right in front of you, or if your friend (that you just saw less than 24 hrs ago) can come over. This shall be known as “fend for yourself” day.

5. Eat your own food and don’t drink out of my cup. I don’t want to share today. The food on your plate and the milk in your cup taste exactly like mine. Eat your own!

6. Don’t sass your mother. Please help me at least feel like I have some control over your behavior today. Don’t talk back, no floppy-fish syndrome on the floor when you’re told no and for the love of motherhood, please believe me when I say crying and whining will not change my mind.

7. Remember you have two parents. Please take full advantage of your father’s awesome parenting skills today. Trust that he too can fill a cup with juice, answer your 20 trick questions and watch you perform acrobatic stunts at least 46 times in a row.

8. Don’t fart on me. Don’t burp in my face. Don’t call me in to the bathroom to discuss something “urgent” as you are taking a dump. Don’t poop in your diaper and then play with every single sit/ride/bouncy toy, forcing the toxic poo to exit the diaper from every angle, before you tell me you need to be changed. And if you are old enough to actually use the toilet, FLUSH THE DAMN THING!

9. No fighting. Be warned. If you decide to pick fights with one another, you better work it out or duke it out. Momma will be sipping wine in the sunshine, not refereeing today.

10. Do give me hugs just because you love me. Do remind me that I don’t totally suck at this motherhood gig. But more than anything, do know that even though I sometimes crave distance, my love for you is unconditional. You little people have given me a gift that can’t be held and admired, but carried in my heart–every day.

Don't take life too serious.

Time to Practice What I Preach.

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Writers write to figure things out, whether that be a plot pestering them like a swarm of summertime mosquitoes, or a personal glitch that is eating away at their spirit. If they don’t map it out with words, that energy manifests in an array of negative ways. I believe the confirmation that one is in fact a writer, comes from experiencing and accepting the neuroses one suffers when she doesn’t write.

When I first began blogging, I posted nearly every day for a year. My brain and my fingers were on fire. I equated writing with being in the midst of a heated love affair. I could whip out a completed post within a two hour nap period, and I was beyond frustrated if I didn’t. I felt like I had so much to say, about everything. I easily captured my reactions to life around me and shaped them in to words with a fury.

My circumstances have changed. I am no longer in a position to have a block of time (nap time) available to me to write, nor do I have a desire to write about every idea that catches my attention. I’m back to working full time and I just feel like I have less to say. It’s different now. The high has faded. But that isn’t such a bad thing.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been coming down pretty hard on myself, because I can’t seem to finish a single post I start. I started feeling down and defeated. And then…Boom! Life turned the volume up and the whispers became full blown shouting. The question, or answer rather, became clear–Why am I punishing myself for something I don’t have to do in the first place? I realized that I can’t finish anything I start because I’m not really vested in what it is I am trying to say. It’s not that I don’t want to write. I just needed to reassess why I write and what it is that I want to write about.

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Ever since I wrote A Borrowed Identity, the main character Alice has been my mosquito. I daydream about her and something is nagging at me to tell her story–who she was before she left her family, and what happened after. I don’t know where this new pull will lead me, but I know I can’t pretend that it isn’t there.

I’ve stalled long enough. Enough with the excuses and self doubt. It’s time to crawl out of my comfort zone (once again!) and let this story brewing inside my big beautiful brain come to life. I owe it to Alice and I owe it to myself.

I’ve accomplished something that I didn’t even realize I was reaching for when I started this blog–confidence. I know now that writing is more than just something I’m pretty good at. It’s my gift. More than the actual art of writing, I feel that the real gift has been learning to channel my journey through the pen. It’s my way of sending humor and truth and compassion out in to the universe that benefits not only myself, but others as well.

But there is more to this. There is more to writing than using it as a therapeutic tool for self investigation and reflecting with humor. My imagination is trumping all else lately. I’m seeing plots and twists and turns everywhere I look. When I lie down to sleep or begin my almost hour long commute home from work, these ideas are colliding. It’s time for me to start putting pen to paper and focus on where this story is trying to take me. My lifelong love of reading, journaling, and eventually blogging…it’s all led me here.

I am going to write a book. There…I said it out loud. Instead of my usual “some day” answer, I’m going to put one letter in front of another and start bringing the pages of Alice’s story to life. This blog will continue to be an outlet for me to write about sometimes funny, sometimes deep thoughts, but my focus has changed. My priority will be sorting out the story that is holding my imagination hostage, and completing the Trigger Points anthology that Joyelle and I have dumped our hearts and souls in to creating.

This is all very scary to me, but a good kind of scary. I mean I have absolutely no idea what I am doing, but I’m ok with that. It’s exciting. I just keep reminding myself that getting started is the hardest part, and I’m finally ready to take that step. I champion the idea of doing what scares you. It’s time to practice what I preach.

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It’s time for me to just take a deep breathe, permit my imagination to take over…and write.

Momma has lost her mind.

PMDD: Psychotic Menstruating Diva Disorder

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I’m so excited!! HuffPost Comedy picked up my most recent humor post about that dreaded week before Aunt Flow comes to town. Here’s a glimpse…

I’m constantly trying to keep the hormonal psycho on my shoulder in check. She’s a nasty bitch that encourages my insane urges to bunt babies and flip off strangers. Isn’t it ironic that as our bodies are naturally preparing to brew beautiful life, we’re feeling like setting off an A-bomb on at least half the population?

Click here to read the post in its entirety.

Momma has lost her mind.

“What Does His Daddy Think About That Hat?”

It’s just a hat. So why does my son get so much attention for it? It doesn’t have spikes coming out of it or flashing lights like his Spider Man boots. It’s just a boring winter hat. Oh, and it’s pink.

a boy and his hat

When I first started hearing the comments– “Well, isn’t he cute in that pink hat.”, “Were they all out of boy hats?”, “Poor thing, your mom putting you in a pink hat!” (Yes, swear to God all three of those were said to me…in public)– I considered writing about it but convinced myself  I was making more out of this than was really there. Well, if you have ever raised a two year old, you know that phases of “favorites” can last weeks. The little guy is well in to his third or fourth week of wearing this pink hat every time we go out in public. I can’t not notice how often and what kind of attention he gets for the damn thing. It was the question I placed in the title that pushed me over the edge, and drove my fingers to tap out this snarky, frustrated rant.

Little Man and I were in a local convenient store, splurging on a chocolate milk and a hot cup of coffee to go. I was snapping the white, plastic lid tightly on the paper cup when I heard it…”What does his daddy think about that hat?” It was followed by a half-ass, ingenuous laugh oozing with sarcasm and homophobic tones. As if to imply he would never tolerate his son walking out in public wearing a pink hat. No boy of his would be seen as “girly”, or in other words, weak. Something in me just snapped. I had had it with the comments. I ripped the lid off the coffee and drenched the asshole in caramel macchiato flavored brew.

Ok. So maybe I didn’t actually throw the coffee at him but I seriously wanted to. I mean I saw the scene playing out in my head but decided I would rather enjoy the coffee I just spent $3 on rather than waste it on someone who would never understand why I threw it in the first place. Instead, I didn’t acknowledge his “joke” at all and headed out of there before I went all Gloria Steinman on his ass.

Let me honestly tell you what my husband thinks about that pink hat. He fucking loves it. He will choose it before my son sometimes, because it’s not a fight to put it on his big, beautiful head when it’s -10 outside. He sees it for what it is. The hubs may have face palmed the first time he saw the little dude twirling around in his sister’s princess dresses, but he isn’t scared that the pink will sink in and turn his son gay. He’s a little more evolved than that, thank you — you chauvinistic, homophobic douchbag.

I don’t usually get so loud and go on the attack over this sort of stuff but that asshat’s question left a bad taste in my mouth. In eight little words, he managed to shame my baby boy for wearing a specific color and assumed my husband should be ashamed of his son because of it. Had I called him out (like I honestly wish I had), I know he would have acted as if it was just a joke…no big deal small talk. He would not have been able to see how offensive his question was because his closed off little brain is just stuck on stupid. To him, boys will be boys, girls should be pretty and homosexuality is something that needs to be “fixed”.

That shit is dangerous and it needs to stop. That man is my age–thirtysomething. I went to school with him. It’s not like he stems from a generation where homosexuality was accepted as a mental health disorder and women “belonged” in the kitchen. He’s actually an intelligent guy, but he chooses to hold on to damaging prejudices. He’s too “manly” to consider for even a minute why seeing a boy in a pink hat bothers him enough to bully a two year old. It makes me sad for his children… and mine.

If I seem a little over the top on this one–good. If you want to call me an angry feminist and tell me to calm down–go ahead. Because I am and I won’t. Do I realize that sometimes a compliment on a hat is just that–yes. But I am pretty intuitive and the sarcastic tone in which “Oh I looove his pink hat” has so often been said this winter has just irritated the shit right out of me. And I just have no more fucks to give if I offend someone by speaking my mind on this. I’m tired of smiling politely and laughing it off to keep the peace. Momma has bit her tongue long enough.

I truly believe we have come along way in combating gender stereotyping, in allowing men to be emotional beings and in accepting that a person’s sexuality is not a personality trait, but we’re not quite there yet. Witnessing the attention my son has received over this ridiculous hat is proof of that. It’s made me realize how important it is to combat that kind of mentality in the only way I know how. Calling it out and raising confident, compassionate children that won’t stand for it either.

Don't take life too serious.

Anthology submissions update

Will you help us spread the word? Please do!

Trigger Points: Childhood Abuse Survivors Experiences of Parenting

So our initial deadline has passed, and we want to thank everyone who has sent in their submissions for your bravery and your trust in us. Dawn and I have been looking through the submissions, and we have been talking about our vision for this project as a whole. We have decided on a few changes that we want to make, so here is what we are thinking at this point:

1. We are extending the deadline for submissions to May 31

We are still looking for more diversity in our submissions, and especially would like to see some submissions from Dads. So we are going to keep working to spread the word, and if you can help us with that, please let us know.For those who submitted by the Jan 31 deadline, we will still be getting back to you by March 31 to let you know if your…

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Momma has lost her mind.

Dance Party For One Please.

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It was 10 am and I was heading out to the dreaded grocery store. Before I got out of the driveway, I put together a play list that would wrap itself around my rather spunky mood at the time. I backed out of the driveway and hit play. Suddenly, my truck transformed in to my very own one woman show. I became that person.

Ben Howard had me contemplating the constraints of fear. Eminem and Sia had me fist pumping the idea of guts over glory. Iggy Azalea turned me in to the most bad-ass rappin’ momma you’ve ever seen. I was a black widow baby. Oh yeah, I was in the zone.

The road became my stage and I owned the floor. I didn’t care that the car behind me probably thought I was having some sort of freak attack, as the back end of my truck mimicked my own hind end. When I got stuck at a four way, waiting for adequate space between cars so that I could make a left hand turned, I turned the music up. I didn’t care the cars behind me, beside me and in front of me could see my ridiculous ass, as I bopped my head, sang like I was double-fisting margheritas, got my duck face on and dropped it like it was hot, as much as one can while in a vehicle.

As I finally got the chance to make that turn, I made eye contact with a car full of women that appeared to be around my age. They were laughing out loud. One shot me a thumbs up and another was swooping the air with her fist in that Arsenio Hall kind of way. I threw my head back and laughed and waved. I couldn’t hear what they were saying but I knew how they were feeling, as they caught me gettin’ my dance on underneath that traffic light. It’s that kind of thing where you hear a complete stranger belly laugh and you can’t help but laugh yourself. Joy is contangious like that.

That 20 minute ride left me more refreshed than I have felt in a while.

There is magic in those moments when you don’t give a shit about what people think. Those rare minutes we are lucky enough to sometimes have, when joy wins and life allows you to drink it right up. It’s that spunk that we all seem to lose a bit of as we get older. As we fall in to the role of adult, we unfortunately worry too much about what other people think. It gets in the way of spontaneous fun. We go looking for that elusive bullshit called a “happy life” and forget that happiness is only mere moments that we have to let happen.

“Take time for yourself.” We women hear that all the damn time. What does that even mean? Ain’t nobody got time for that! On the daily, I am a SAHM with financial and emotional stress that hangs heavy on every thought I own. I don’t have the ability to take time. What I had that day was the awareness that I could have a moment.

That’s what we should be reminding each other. Own the fleeting moments when you are in a good mood and go with it. Turn on some tunage and drop it like it’s hot mommas! Turn the spatuala into a diamond studded microphone and let your inner tone def Mariah Carey out. Our kids and husbands are going to laugh at us anyway, right?

I wish I could bottle that exuberant, I-don’t-give-a-frick attitude I had yesterday. I wish that shit was pixie dust I could just cover myself in when a funk sets in. Truth be told, life wears me down. More than I would like to admit. Depression is a monster under my bed and I don’t let loose nearly enough. I’m not 20-something anymore and liquid encouragement isn’t something I can depend on to help me feel alive. “Good times” aren’t readily available when adulthood meets parenthood and collides with the stressful reality we all live in.

The music is still in all of us. We just have to let it out. We have to allow ourselves to tap in to that childlike joy, that silliness, that inner rock star we all have lying dormant in side of us. What I know for sure is happiness is fleeting. It will slip right through your fingers if you don’t nurture it in the rare moments it’s begging to make an appearance. Ladies, when our ever swinging moods hit a high note, we need to take full advantage! Put the real world on hold…and just dance people!

Life can be serious business.

A Loss That Lent Itself to Life.

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Grief is such a peculiar emotion. It is ever present and takes many different forms and tones. Time doesn’t heal it, only changes it. It’s a wound that scabs but never scars. I lost my mother 18 years ago today. And now, I am pondering if that heart wrenching loss is what ultimate gave me life.

This anniversary creeps up on me every year and every year I experience it differently. This year I feel like I’m running from it. Twice today (so far) I’ve fought back tears. Instead of just letting the grief out, I pushed it to the side. A “not now” moment. As I was making lunch for my son, he decided it would be a good idea to climb on his little table so that he could stand on the four inch window sill. As I was telling him to “Get your crazy butt down, you’re going to get hurt!”, he fell. I dropped the peanut butter jar and ran to scoop him up.

As I sat holding my baby boy, he stopped crying pretty quickly but seemed to tighten his grip around my neck. He nuzzled his head in to that perfect nook between my head and shoulder and just hugged me. It’s like he knew. He knew I was the one that really needed to be held. He gave me permission to feel my own hurt and I couldn’t hold back the tears pooling in my eyes. He didn’t even budge as I squeezed him harder, cried and rocked to soothe us both.

Eighteen years ago I lost my mom to cancer but since birth, I never really had her. My grief is deeper than the physical loss of her body. It is a loss of her presence in my life. My grief is shaped around a hole that a constant maternal love never filled. Her name, Constance, is incredibly ironic for that reason. For reasons that I will never truly understand, my mother wasn’t able to fill the role of mom to me. Drugs, alcohol and mental illness all played a part in that, but I know there was more than just those at play. I know there was a hole in her own heart, I just don’t know why.

wpid-img_20150108_153948554.jpgI only know what I know and that is that out of three children my grandparents raised, one committed suicide, one stepped out on her family and even reality at times and the other is living a life so full of dysfunction no one wants him within a ten foot radius. I’m not mad at the grandparents I never knew or my mother. I can look at myself and my own siblings and understand the power of being born with resilience. She, unfortunately, just didn’t get that gene. My mom was a survivor, but never knew which fights were worth fighting for.

My grief has changed over the years. Reaching milestones like graduating highschool and college and getting married shaped it and caused me to miss her in many different ways. Nothing has molded my grief more than having children of my own. Becoming a motherless mom. Raising them, being present in their lives, understanding the importance of being a role model, planting empowering seeds and even letting them see me fall — all of these things trigger grief and love and heartache and hope. It all stems from the relationship, or lack thereof, with my own mother. The anniversary of my mother’s death brings all that to the front of my heart and mine. I was 15 when she died. No where near old enough to become her friend yet, but ready to finally get to know her. It was a place in time that it could have finally been possible, had fucking cancer not taken her away from me.

Time doesn’t make grief easier. It only changes it. Sometimes, it can even make it harder. Time offers growth. Growth forces you to look at the events that have played out in your life, and face the connections that they created.

The string of events, including Mom’s diagnosis of cancer played a part in my removal from a toxic, abusive situation. Her sickness, may have in fact, been my saving grace. It put her in a stable environment and gave my guardian an excuse to send me away, to Mom, after I disclosed her husband had been sexually abusing me for the past eight years. Off I went, to live with my mother for the first time since I was two years old. Thankfully, my sister (who is 12 years older than me) was a part of this plot. She was the rock in my mother’s life at that time and she soon became mine.

When Mom died, my sister was left to raise me. A lost and very damaged 15 year old girl. That end result, however sad and difficult as it was for both of us, set the foundation for the blessed life I have today. I sometimes wonder, in my mother death, was I given the chance to finally live? As I type that out loud, my stomach is twisting, my heart is racing and my mind is truly overwhelmed. It’s a thought I can’t bear to keep but can’t seem to erase.

Perhaps it is the craziest and most cruel thought I have ever had, but it is the only sense I can make of her death, and the cruel timing in which it happened. They say everything happens for a reason and I fucking hate that saying to be honest with you. Even so, I can’t help but feel that her death is connected to an act of love. The kind of love only a mother can have for her children. A love that I didn’t understand then, but do now.

Today, at 33 years old, I sit in silence and let my fingers work through my grief. It will continue to wear many faces today. I will continue to have moments of strength and moments of raw heartache. My grief, a scab that feels ripped open, that hurts and heals me, has once again transformed. I know it will continue to do so. As does my acceptance and understanding of this day, every year.

Life can be serious business.

A Mother Comes Undone.

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“Motherhood pushed open a door that I thought I had managed to close for the last time. I, like most I believe, thought that a baby would be placed in my arms and I would be filled with so much love that the pieces of my broken heart, pieces I worked so hard to glue back together, would finally solidify. I didn’t expect new cracks to form.”

This is an excerpt from a new post I have up today on the Trigger Points website. I hope you decide to head over and subscribe to follow along. Click here to read the full article.