Thursday, March 17, 2016


Just got back from a kayaking adventure today. Words can not describe how amazing it is for me to be able to get out and enjoy life again. There were many times over the last six years that I didn't think I'd ever be healthy enough to go out kayaking, hiking, camping, or on long drives... but I'm doing all these things now. Every day I feel like celebrating!
It was 90 some degrees but breezy and cool, especially in the murkier shade. We chose
tandem kayaks so as to be more sociable. 
 The murky green reflections in the water rippled in such a gorgeous way,
ever changing with the dip of each paddle.   
Now here lies a handsome fellow sunning himself . I named him Jasper. He has many gator
friends, such as Bernadette and Claudette. I would have captured their likenesses as well,
but I was busy trying not to crash into a fallen log midstream.
 Some of our friends drifted up ahead of us... while we were stuck high and dry on
said log that I almost but didn't quite maneuver around at the last minute.
Adorable, knobbly knees growing up out of the swampy water...

Now here's one of many hollow logs along the river with quite an inviting open door...
I quite imagine little elves, fairies or tiny water people living in here.  
Rowing into the sunlight, enjoying the breeze... being one with nature... this is the life!  
By mid afternoon we rowed under a canopy of trees and rounded a bend where we docked for the day. What a beautiful experience this was!

I still pinch myself each day with joy when I remember how far I've come in healing. Today's adventure wasn't just kayaking. I went out for breakfast this morning at a diner with my friends, where I had scrambled eggs and blueberry pancakes... I didn't have to order "special" food that was gluten free or dairy free like I strictly had to in the past. I still eat very healthy, but also do fine eating out occasionally.

After kayaking, we rested some, then went out with friends to one of our favorite Japanese restaurants. We wrapped up the day by stopping at the grocery store for the week. And by the time evening's dusk had wrapped it's soft, dark cloak around us, we were home and relaxing, watching one of our favorite TV shows. While little Spark drapes himself on or the other of us, cuddling up and sleeping with his face mooshed on my hand like he's accustomed to do.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Gingerbread houses and heroines

It isn't like I want to go back there. It's not like I want to be near them again. But it was the thick of the holidays, and in my memory lingered the pleasant smell of biscotti baking in the oven... slivered almond and cranberry biscotti. Then row upon row of plump chocolate biscotti, newly sliced and cooling. Such a tough cookie, but perfect for dipping in coffee and softening up over family gossip.  This was our magical pre-holiday tradition, baking cookies together, catching up, and listening to Christmas music that my mom had compiled on tapes and had played since we were babies. So there was a healthy helping of nostalgia to go with the biscotti. Some of us were living in other states, but somehow, most of my four sisters if not all of us found ourselves in our Mom's kitchen to help bake right before the holidays.

Not this year. Or last year. Not since being cut off. It's been easy to start feeling down for myself over the holidays, but I decided that overall, honestly... I'm much better off where I am now here in Florida, far away from my toxic family. I'm done thinking about the past, done being a victim. My mindset and perspective has changed.
I saw a quote a few months ago by Nora Ephron that stuck in my mind and keeps bubbling up to the surface in a pleasant, random, fizzy way...
"Above all, be the heroine of
your life, not the victim."
Yes! Exactly! This gal has sass and gumption. I'm so ready to hop on the track going forward these days.
I'm focused on enjoying life to the fullest! Getting a puppy was the first step for me. Then leaving K and moving. Then most recently, my latest endeavor has been creating new holiday traditions. Because the holidays can be quite a vulnerable time, creating traditions with friends can help each involved feel more grounded, rooted, safe and cozy. More loved, even.
My first new holiday tradition this year was building a gingerbread house. Oh my gosh, this was so much fun, even if somebody... not mentioning any names... ate the gummy bears that were meant to grace the pathways and front door of the house. As you can see from the photos, my graham cracker house is pretty simple. Next year I'm going to enlist more friends to help make the gingerbread house even more nifty.
The friends I'm staying with bought holiday sweaters for our dogs and I took pictures of them. Sparky wasn't in the mood to pose when I was snapping shots, as you can probably guess from the shirtless photo above, but he agreed to a rain check in the future. Next year, we may create holiday cards out of the photos, which will be a creative tradition I'd enjoy. Sparky insists he wear a monocle and plaid vest, and he wants to sport a stogie as well. I said I'd think about it. Yes, we all are going to be those people who send that kind of card, lol.  
I'm not the kind to put up holiday lights, but the neighbor down the road rigged this palm to light up at night... it's quite jolly walking past it on 90 some degree December days, seeing cut out palms for Christmas and not pine trees.
These peaceful reindeer are grazing in the late afternoon, tropical weather.
Santa arrives even if the weather's way too warm for his outfit.
This year I started a new tradition with my friends: choosing a live tree from a tree farm. All the years previous, I'd never had a real one.
We wandered around searching for the perfect tree....
... until one of us exclaimed "Here it is!" And that was that. There was a "knowing,"
similar to when you clap eyes on your dog for the first time... you just know.

We drove the tree back home and had a decorating party where we baked cookies, listened to Christmas music and decorated the tree. After that we went last minute shopping, which was pretty smart since Christmas was the next day.
This Christmas has been by far the best Christmas of my adult life. My roommates and friends are empathic and quirky, warm natured and authentic, with a tad of goofy thrown in the mix. We had fun addressing presents to each other that the other hadn't bought, just so everyone felt like they had contributed equally in the gift giving.

I whipped up mashed potatoes while my friends roasted the turkey and tinkered with the sides. My one friend made this gravy that could have won awards... it tasted like something a grandmother who loved you quite a bunch would make to warm the cockles of your heart. We lifted toasts of sparkling cider, then curled up in the living room to watch favorite Christmas movies.

I didn't miss my birth family on Christmas day. I actually felt more supported, safe and free to be myself with my new friends than I ever did in my own family. The positive, loving energy here transformed the day into something magical. Even Sparky and Mamsie joined in the festivities... they both earned a stocking each this year.... but whereas they pawed milk bones and chewies out of theirs, we upturned a clementine nestled in the sole of the foot, and piles upon piles of miniature chocolate snowmen and Santas in ours. Because even heroines need some kind of super power fuel, right?