31 December 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! While this has been a tough year with my parents, this past week has been a good one. I have said this so many times before, but I truly believe that life with my alcoholic better prepared me for dealing with my aging parents. Each lives in their own reality and I can do nothing to show them the truth. My parents were happy and relaxed this week, a state that has not been in place since the end of October. I am thankful that we were able to spend the holidays together and they were in good moods and could enjoy our activities together.

Dad's Alzheimer's seems to come and go. There are good days/hours and there are rough patches. Sometimes he's more tired than others, and that causes additional confusion. This Christmas my dad still got worried when he didn't know where his car was (it was turned back into the dealership months ago) and he was wondering where their suitcases were when we took my brother to the airport for his flight back (Dad thought he was going back, too). 

Mom was still focused on money—she has an obsession with knowing how much they have at any given moment. Her dementia was not as bad this week and she was able to relax and enjoy being around her grandchildren, my brother, and me. She has started to talk about the possibility of living in an assisted care facility. This conversation alone is a huge step in the right direction, even if a move to such a facility doesn't take place until the summer. At least this week she's been open to the discussion.

Mom, Dad, the kids and me

Our alcoholic continues to live in a self-absorbed world, calling my kids briefly on Christmas Day (2 months since the last time there was a call). My daughter continues to be angry over the fact that her birthday was forgotten and now Christmas seems to be all but forgotten, too. Our alcoholic is rarely a part of our world and whenever the alcoholic crops up and decides to contact them, they are able to deal with it and move on rather than letting the contact disturb them. 

Relationships take time and energy. They are about being there in mind, body, and spirit, and not just texting or emailing. My children have learned this lesson at a very young age. Life is not about *things* it's about the people you choose to spend time with, whether they be blood relatives or the friends around you who have grown to be family. I'm not about reflecting on the past. I choose to live in the present and take life one day at a time. But tonight we will celebrate with those who have become family to us over the last 13 years. We're grateful for those who are here and celebrate the lives of those who are gone. 

Spread Your Wings!

16 December 2015

All is calm, all is bright

The kids and I are in full swing for Christmas—wrapping gifts for family and friends, baking cookies, and planning our activities over the two-week break from school. 2015 has been a very full year with all the normal (and abnormal) highs and lows. But all in all, life is good and we are looking forward to 2016.

All is calm, all is bright (for now). Christmas will be a quiet time this year. We'll have my parents over when my brother visits. We're planning to spend time together. My dad is doing fine these days, but my mother's confusion is lasting for longer and longer episodes. She seems genuinely angry all the time, and most of that anger is directed at me. At least I can rationalize that she's not herself. The hardening of the arteries is causing a lack of oxygen and blood flow to the brain. But she still refuses to go to a doctor or have the follow-up treatment that was recommended four months ago. DCF is no help at all because the house is clean, there's food in the fridge, and while mom may have fired the weekend person, the weekday people are still coming in to take care of my dad. It's been a very frustrating time to say the least. But this Christmas I will stay focused on the positive and look forward to a bright future for my kids. Happy to share the elves, Santa, and presents with them, as they always remember that the reason for this season is Jesus' birth.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, now go Spread Your Wings-

07 December 2015

Tidings of Comfort and Joy?

As my kids and I are preparing for Advent and Christmas, we decorate the house, put up lights and buy a Christmas tree (yes, we still put up a live tree each year). My daughter coaxes my son to help her put out all the Christmas houses and light them. We sing Christmas carols and watch every single Christmas movie that was ever made (at last count we had about 25 movies, but some of the discs have 2 shorts on them. We pray every night for the those who need help and thank God for the wonderful life we have. Anyway, you get the picture.

This year, in particular, I have experienced firsthand how nasty some Christians can be to each other and especially non-Christians. I see it on Facebook where people post pictures of Christmas trees and then write "Go f*** yourself if you're offended." Really? I see posts about gun control, pro and con and equally offensive on both sides. Christian or not, when did we forget how to act like human beings and be respectful to everyone?

Last week I was called in before a governing church committee where I was serving as a music worship leader and told just how badly they believed I've been doing my job for the last 3 months. Only 1 in the group 7 actually has witnessed me doing that job, yet 3 of them believed it was their right as church leaders to be the judge and jury about my job. I never in my life been on the receiving end of such vitriolic attacks. I resigned 48 hours later after a great deal of thought. Constructive criticism is one thing, but these were direct and very personal attacks. Not only did the pastor sit by and let these people treat me that way, but then he did not reach out to me anytime over the next few days. Instead, he sent me a note asking if I could help out with a funeral on the weekend. Really? You let them tear me apart and then you want me to help you out when you're in a pinch?

Church is not a place I go to fight and I am doing my best not to become angry over this situation. So many people have reached out to me through phone calls, emails, and texts. I know we will stay in contact with many of the people we met at that church.  But church is supposed to be a place to uplift each other, not tear each other down. Christians want to know why their church congregations are dwindling—it's because many of them have an attitude that keeps newcomers from feeling welcomed. The hypocrisy among some churchgoers and their leaders keeps people on the outside, outside. (NB that last sentence sounded good when I said it out loud, but it reads a little weird :)  )

I live my life by the "Serenity Prayer" and have posted many blog entries about that prayer. I teach my children to do the same. We have learned over the last 5 years that everyone has choices and the only thing you have control over is yourself and your actions. If you choose to be a Christian, then act like a Christian. Lead by example—think for yourself, be responsible for yourself, and don't judge others. That's not your job. It's easier said than done and requires a lot of patience, understanding, and empathy. You need to be secure in yourself and your beliefs and not afraid to stand up for other people who may have different viewpoints. Mob mentality is what got Jesus crucified.

Merry Christmas and Spread Your Wings!

30 November 2015

An Alcoholic's Reality vs. Reality

I often think about how an alcoholic views the world. I wonder why they do what they do and why some, but not all, can't figure out that if they just stopped drinking their world wouldn't be so topsy-turvy. After Al-Anon, I understand completely that I cannot control my alcoholic's actions, I can't cure them, and I certainly didn't cause my alcoholic to become an alcoholic. I also understand that I am never going to figure out why this person does what they do.

With all that being said, it still breaks my heart to see my children in pain. And when our alcoholic shows up at random visits inebriated, forgets my daughter's birthday, or when our alcoholic hasn't called in over six weeks, but sends a text on the day after Thanksgiving wishing my son "blessings and happiness," my children are deeply hurt. They won't admit it and they often joke about the situation because they have learned to cope as I do, through humor. They get by, certainly, but there is always a sting from the reminder that alcohol comes first with this person and they (the kids) come after everything else. Alcoholics think about nothing other than themselves and that next drink. They are typically egocentric and believe that no one can detect when they have been drinking.

At least the uncertainty of the next text or email from our alcoholic allows the kids to forget about the (lack of) relationship for while. Their recovery time from these random contacts has greatly improved with therapy and time. The random contact used to send my daughter into hysterical crying fits and my son into episodes of rage. Through therapy, those reactions have long subsided. We just take a deep breath and remember that God is in control. We turn it over to Him and then keep moving forward with our lives.

My children are the greatest and I tell them everyday how much I love them and how proud I am of them. We are leading happy, healthy, and productive lives despite having an alcoholic in our lives. As Al-Anon teaches, we choose to detach from the bad behavior because it's the only approach that works with an alcoholic. In the meantime, we lean on each other when we need to and celebrate all that we have and all that we accomplish.

My little Thanksgiving turkey, age 10

My Star Wars nerd, age 14

Spread Your Wings!

01 November 2015

Happy Birthday, Dad

This week my dad celebrated his 83rd birthday. His caregiver got a small party together with balloons, a cake, and presents. Then yesterday the kids and I took my mom and dad out for brunch complete with eggs benedict and crab cakes. All in all it was a good week.

The weeks leading up to my dad's birthday, however, have been another thing all together. My mom is no longer taking her medicine. She refuses to go back to the doctor for follow-up appointments. And in general she's putting her life in danger. Because she has hardening of the arteries and is refusing to take care of herself and refusing help, I have had to ask for outside help to come in and evaluate her. This is not going to be a pleasant time, but if she can no longer care for herself, she leaves me no alternative.

I am hopeful that the system will work everything out. But so far things are taking a lot longer than I originally anticipated. However, I'm trying to stay hopeful and will continue to appreciate the good days as they come.

Spread Your Wings!

14 October 2015

Parents and DCF

Until this past summer, I had no idea that the Department of Children and Families (DCF) had a wing that covered adults and the elderly. I guess I never thought about it—"families" would cover just about everyone, right?

Last July when my dad was lost and my mother was refusing help, I met a DCF caseworker who helped me through the next few weeks. She actually called me the day my dad was Baker-Acted. She called me because she had been alerted by the police that he was not taking care of himself and he had been involuntarily taken to the hospital for an evaluation. Once DCF learned that my father was safe, getting treatment and would be coming home with me temporarily, the caseworker jumped in right away to help get my mother evaluated. My mother had her own case opened, which in the long run will help me get any services for her that are needed. That evaluation proved that she was borderline competent and could continue living on her own without aid. But because my father needed medicine and a little assistance, both DCF and their doctor recommended an aid at home (not 24/7, but just during the daytime and early evening).

Fast forward to last week...all has been mostly great for the last couple of months since I was able to hire the aids for my parents. The phone calls have gone from a record 21 in a single day, down to about 1-2 per week. We have all settled into a routine again.

So last week when the DCF caseworker called to ask how everything was going, I updated her on the situation. She was very happy to hear that my dad was doing so much better. I told her how they've both had a series of doctor's appointments and are now following up with adjustments in their medications, dad got a new set of teeth, life is good. At the end of the conversation the caseworker told me that she was closing the cases on both my parents and wished us all well.

Now you would hope that the story would end there and life would keep moving forward, right? Well after a series of appointments, my mom has now been diagnosed with high cholesterol and hardening of the arteries. The doctor is recommending additional brain scans to see if surgery is necessary. So in the midst of all this, my mom is now refusing to take her Paxil, which has sent her over the moon crazy, angry, and paranoid. She's been accusing the daytime aids of stealing money, loosing the doctor's notes, and really just being in the way all the time.

Yesterday she got into it with their full-time aid, who finally left a little early because she was so upset. It's hard not to take things personally when these terrible accusations and being thrown your way. This morning we are trying to get her back to the doctor so she can get her back on track with her meds. My mom is terribly confused, completely uncooperative, and very paranoid. She doesn't want to take medicine and tries to control every situation.

My biggest predicament is—do I call DCF back and get them involved again? If you catch her on a good day, then my mom can be perfectly lucid and seemingly cooperative. However, if you catch like she was yesterday, anyone can tell that something is just not right. It's a slow, rocky path ahead, but as long as we don't get too far off, hopefully we can keep moving in a positive direction for both my parents.

Spread Your Wings!

04 October 2015

Reinhold Niebuhr

Bet you didn't expect that as the title of an entry!

Reinhold Niebuhr is the author of the "Serenity Prayer." He apparently wrote a series of essays and prayers over his lifetime. Many people know the first paragraph of the "Serenity Prayer," but I wanted to take the time to put the entire original prayer here.
God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other. 
Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time, Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, Taking, as Jesus did, This sinful world as it is, Not as I would have it, Trusting that You will make all things right, If I surrender to Your will, So that I may be reasonably happy in this life, And supremely happy with You forever in the next. 
This prayer has helped me to keep sane in even the most worrisome of times. Hoping it might help someone else out, too.

Spread Your Wings!

03 October 2015

Serenity Prayer

This is probably the 20th or so time I've titled an entry "Serenity Prayer," but there is good reason. Getting through tough times can be hard even with friends and family to support you.

Every time my alcoholic drunk texts me and every time he picks up my children to take them for a visit, my initial thought is to get angry and fight back. It takes every strength I have to not act like the child he does. It takes every ounce of self-control that I have to remember that even an active alcoholic has rights to see his/her children. And it takes everything I have not to talk badly about the alcoholic to my children.

The Serenity Prayer reminds me that I cannot change the world, I can only be at peace with the decisions I have made. The changes in my life and the lives of my children have put us in a much better place, although it's taken a good five years of working through a lot to get here. And though we have had some lean times the last few years and attended therapy and Al-Anon/Alateen, only through constant prayer and knowing that it's not my time, it's God's time, have I been able to get us through even the roughest of spots.

Courage to change the "things"—not people—is central to understanding the Al-Anon program. I cannot change people, no matter how much I would like to force my will on them sometimes. My toughest issue personally has been to overcome the idea that I cannot fix the world or that I have no control over others. I cannot force my will on anyone, not matter how hard I used to try. The only person I have complete control over is me. And as long as someone is not a baby or an invalid, other people need to learn to take care of themselves and understand the consequences of their actions. No one can take responsibility for another unless they first can take responsibility for themselves—their actions and their words.

As my kids left for a visit today, I immediately pulled out my "One Day at a Time in Al-Anon" book. I usually try to read it every couple of days (unfortunately I'm not organized to find the 5 minutes a day to read it everyday as I should). So I'm often reading tomorrow's verses today or yesterday's and today's verses simultaneously. Today, as I read tomorrow's entry, I especially appreciated the insight the unidentified Al-Anon members wrote— "I have only one person's guilt to carry: my own. If the alcoholic blames me for his difficulties, I will not accept that blame, but I will not defend myself, either, for that would only start a fruitless battle." Starting "fruitless battle(s)" with an alcoholic only contributes to the alcoholic's drinking and delusional thoughts and actions. So as difficult as it is for me to not argue or point out the flaws in my alcoholic's thinking, I try my hardest to stay focused on what I am able to control—my actions and words.

Spread Your Wings!

15 September 2015

Life Happens

So it's been over a month since I have written on my blog. The last 6 weeks or so have been a blur—a one-day-at-a-time period of non-stop phone calls, hospital visits, conversations with doctors, and tremendous support from friends. Sometimes life just happens and it gets in the way of our normalcy. But there's not much you can do other than muddle through as best you can and keep moving forward.

On August 6th, I got a call from the Homestead Police at 4 am that my mother was downtown on a street corner calling for help. When I got there, the police were talking to her. She told them they had gone grocery shopping with my dad and gotten lost—mind you, this was 4 am still. Then they got directions and had to stop and get gas and got lost again. Then apparently my father was not driving the way the mother thought he should go, so she jumped out of the car and started walking in a different direction. At that point she said that my dad "manhandled" her to get back into the car and she ran away through the corn and wheat fields of Homestead. Now, my father has never laid a hand on my mother, but she was frantic and delusional at this time, so who knows what actually happened.

She said he stalked her for about an hour before he grabbed her again, but she got away and ran and ran. Then she eventually got to the middle of the downtown area in my small town where someone heard her calling for help and the police picked her up. We still don't know the exact timeline of everything because she was found at 4 am and said they had been grocery shopping in the afternoon. 

I took her back home and the police came to the house about an hour later. He asked her questions about what dad was wearing, etc. At one point she said he was depressed and the officer asked about any medications. So she went into the bedroom to find the pill bottles. I sent my son in with her to help as she's legally blind. Then I was finally able to speak to the police by myself and asked him to tell her she and/or they are not allowed to live alone any more. I explained the situation and he took over from there. I have been trying for months to get some help from authorities with this growing problem, but at each turn, I was met with reasons why I couldn't receive help with my parents.

However, this police officer was a great help and told my mom that dad's at a time in his life cycle when he needs some assistance. Surprisingly, she totally agreed and said she would be fine living alone in the house. Then he corrected her and said, no, she needed some assistance, too. He told her how hard it was to hear sometimes, but that she couldn't stay living in the house without assistance. She listened, but argued back.

Then the police called my house around 7:30 am to let me know that dad was found. He had parked the car on US-1 and was sleeping under a tree. His license had been revoked (it was previously suspended) and I needed to come pick up the car. When we got there, he was in the back of the police car, looked awful, and in hand cuffs. The police asked if he wanted to go home and he asked if my mom was there and the cop said yes. Then dad said he'd rather die than go back there. So he was immediately Baker Acted. He was in the psych ward for 3 days before being released into my custody.

My father was eventually diagnosed with Alzheimers and my mother has some form of undiagnosed dementia. I am working daily to get all the doctor's appointments, tests, and follow-ups moving each week. I have hired aids to be with them 12+ hours everyday. It's been a long process, but we are moving forward each day. I'm going to keep writing here daily (or as much as I can) in order to help others find the assistance they may need. Aging parents has been a running theme of my blog. My parents moved here just over a year ago to help the kids and me through a long, dragged out divorce from an alcoholic. They thought they were helping us cope. Instead, we are helping them through the obstacles of Alz and dementia. It's all been God's plan in His time.

Spread Your Wings!

27 July 2015


No, this is not about the so-called "reboot" of the classic Chevy Chase/Beverly D'Angelo road trip movie. The kids and I took a vacation this month—a huge road trip to visit family and friends far and near. Our destinations included Pittsburgh, Stoney Creek, Ontario and the Niagara Falls area, Cincinnati, Murray (KY), Mammoth Cave National Park, and Memphis.

Enjoying her Canadian umbrella hat

Having a cold root beer at Lost Pizza in Memphis

We crossed Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama.

And we celebrated Christmas in July in Canada, hiked the largest cave system in the world, crossed over one of the largest river systems in the US, passed through at least five capitol cities, rode the tallest freestanding elevator in the world to the very top, slept in tents and cooked over an open fire in Mammoth Cave National Park, and drove right through mountains in the Blue Ridge Parkway. We ate at LaRosa's and Skyline in Cincinnati, hit a farmer's market in Murray, KY, had pastries from a French bakery in Pittsburgh, and saw (and played on) a video game exhibit at the Brooks Museum in Memphis. All in all we had an amazing trip together!

Looking over the Mississippi River atop the Pyramid

Hanging with Cousin Drake in Memphis

When you ask my children what was their favorite part, they name just about everything we did. But to me, the most important part was reconnecting with friends we hadn't seen in years. Nicole, John, Hazel, Harlow, Donna, Cheryl, Mike, Hannah, Hugh, Scott, Katie, and Drake—these are the folks we saw on our trip. While the stories are too many to keep your interest here, we all shared stories and reconnected, promised to stay in touch, and are already making plans for future visits.

Visiting family and former teachers in Cincinnati

Recently I had a friend contact me asking if it was OK if he unfriended me in Facebook—my nearly ex-husband had apparently asked him not to be friends with me on Facebook. This a ridiculously childish request. I'm not in high school folks and I could not care less if I'm friends with someone on Facebook. I actually go through and purge people regularly (unfortunately that usually happens when their birthday pops up and I realize I don't actually know who that person). When a 40-year-old human being asks another to unfriend someone who has apparently offended him, I just shake my head in wonder. Facebook doesn't make you friends—life makes you friends. Racking up thousands of names of people you've met, doesn't mean you have friends. And that's what our family vacation was all about this year!

Livya's charcoal artwork at our campsite

Spread Your Wings!

26 June 2015

Working Mothers

Love this new article:

"According to a working paper (pdf) published June 19 by the Harvard Business School, daughters of working mothers are more likely to be employed, hold supervisory positions, and earn more money than the daughters of women who don’t work outside the home. The researchers also found a statistically significant effect on the sons of working women, who are likely to spend more time caring for family members and doing household chores than are the sons of stay-at-home mothers."

Spread Your Wings!

25 June 2015

Just Breathe

A friend of mine gave me a bracelet last year that came with a note to "Just Breathe." I wear it everyday and will continue to do so until it falls off my wrist. It's a constant reminder that I'm taking life one day at a time and remembering to breathe. Have an awesome week!

Spread your wings!

18 June 2015

The Alcoholism Test

While some of these links are designed to get you to purchase materials, they provide good insight into what it's like to live with an alcoholic. Some of these were designed for the alcoholic to take and others are for the spouse, child, friend, or parent.

You don't have to answer "yes" to more than a few questions to realize there are others out there, too. Al-Anon is free and helped me immensely. I still have many fall-back days where I just want to yell and scream about the nonsense, but I don't.




Many functioning alcoholics are able to hold a job. They plan their binges around a schedule. Until you live with a person, you don't realize their hiding their drinking. But until someone WANTS help, you cannot save them. I tried for years with my alcoholic, but it never worked. Instead, I found Al-Anon and therapy, but of which helped me to heal. It's all still a process, one day at a time.

Spread Your Wings!

09 June 2015

Realizing you need help

Had a perfect start to what promises to be an awesome summer. The kids and I are excited to be out for the summer. We have a lot of projects going on and we finally have time to work on them. My son's been working out nearly everyday at the Air Reserve Base with a friend of ours. My daughter is busy at summer camp with me these first two weeks. Then we're free and clear!

My parents are doing OK. My mother still wants to move back to Ohio every other day. But they will be staying put. My father is in the process of petitioning to keep his driver's license. When he had the episode in March, the State of Florida kind of took the reigns and is requiring additional paperwork be filed if he is still driving. My parents completed the paperwork and mailed it in, but there is still a good chance he will loose the ability to drive.

At some point, everyone will need a little help and a lot of people are afraid to accept it. My mother, in particular, does not believe she has limitations. And while you're young and healthy, you may seem invincible, once you're in your 70s and 80s, most people need a little extra help now and then. I have been trying for months to get a service to visit my parents everyday just to check in on them, run errands, and be a companion as needed. If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you'll know that my mother fired the service the very first day they sent someone. Now that my dad faces loosing his license, I am hopeful that we can pick up where we started and have someone come into the house to help them out a bit. I don't think this will become a reality until they are faced with the prospect of not having a car or license. Then and only then will the possibility become a reality that they need to learn to accept help. Crossing my fingers that this summer will stay focused on the positive and not turn ugly during this whole process.

Spread your wings!

04 June 2015

The Truth is Out There...Maybe

Had an issue this week with multiple family members lying to my son. He's very angry and rightfully so. If a 13-year-old child can figure it out, you would think an adult would be able to. Don't lie. It's not nice and everyone can see right through it. We teach children these golden rules starting in preschool. Why is it so hard for some people to tell the truth when they grow up? I guess that's the point—growing older doesn't mean someone grows up.

And finally...

Spread your wings!

02 June 2015

Txt, FB, Tweets and other forms of communication

Real life doesn't take place in the digital world. Communication takes face-to-face meeting. Texting, Tweeting, Facebook, and other forms of social media and digital communication don't replace actually sitting in front of a person and talking. Eye contact, facial cues, and tone of voice mean everything in a conversation. Unless, of course, it's easier for someone to have a one-sided "conversation" in which it doesn't really matter what the person on the other end has to say. 

And really, collecting phony friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter doesn't mean you are popular. It just means you collect people you know nothing about in an effort to make yourself feel better.

Real life doesn't take place on Facebook. Real people talk to people and meaningful relationships are developed. Electronic media is for playing games.

Spread your wings!

30 May 2015


Finally officially into summer vacation! Well, nearly. I am teaching a "Creepy Camp" with a friend of mine the next two weeks.

This past week my kids had their end-of-the-year show. My daughter was a the cutest "boy" in her play. And then she performed with four other girls in a wonderful ballet. She was beautiful, poised, and loved every minute of her participation.

At the same event, my son graduated from Middle School. He spoke about the influences in his life and how so many people have helped him out along the way. We were blessed that so many of these special people attended the graduation and saw this rite of passage firsthand. We were also fortunate that my parents, who now live in Homestead, could also attend this special event. Our family (and I include blood family and friends who have turned into family on this list) all came back to our house to help us celebrate. All in all, we are exhausted, but very happy! 

So very glad our friends have seen to it that my children are learning right from wrong, not repeating mistakes, and growing up in a loving, healthy environment. It's not always been that way, but we're on the right path.

Spread your wings!

27 May 2015

Middle School Graduation!

Tomorrow night my son graduates from Atala Middle School. He is our first student to spend all three years in the middle school and he is the first student to be accepted into a magnet program in Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Actually, he was accepted into all the schools to which he applied...not that I'm proud about it. :)

His sister and I are so very proud of him. We both look forward to seeing what he does as he enters high school next year. Here is the ad we placed in our yearbook this year (and then I promise I'll stop talking about my son for a while).

Spread your wings!

18 May 2015

My Son, the Balloon Artist

I bragged on my daughter's blog about a month or so ago. Today I'm taking the opportunity to brag on my son. He started twisting balloons for other kids when he was in 3rd grade and now he's spun it off into a full-fledged business. He was selected to participate in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy in our hometown (Homestead, FL).

If you're looking for entertainment for your child's party, please check out his website. He's very reasonable, very entertaining, and has a lot to offer. His business name is Leider than air.

His site is http://www.leiderthanair.com. So proud of his accomplishments!

Spread your wings!

15 May 2015

Silence is Golden

Happy Friday! Silence is golden.

Spread your wings!

13 May 2015

The 12 Steps of Recovery

When my kids and I first came to Al-Anon and Alateen group, we were silent during the meetings. But it didn't take long for us to discover how much we had in common with those around use. We learned some of the slogans, the kids played the "Happy/Crappy" game, and all in all we felt great for that one hour a week. It became like a ritual for us to drive 45 minutes to the meeting and back. No one griped that it was a Tuesday night (school night) and that we had to wolf down dinner in a matter of seconds so we could be on time. We had found a group of people that understood what we were going through. I didn't realize until much later that a lot of alcoholics also attend those Al-Anon meetings. Some call themselves "double winners," meaning that they are a recovering alcoholic whose spouse, child, parent, or friend is an alcoholic. They were often the most positive about recovery because they were experiencing it themselves.

The core of BOTH Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon/Alateen are the 12 Steps. Again, I didn't realize until a few months into the recovery process these groups share basically the same 12 steps. Makes sense. The goal of both groups is to recover—either from alcoholism or the behavior that contributes to alcoholism. In case you are curious, here are the 12 Steps:

  • We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  • Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  • Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  • Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  • Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  • Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  • Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  • Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  • Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  • Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  • Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  • Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

  • Spread your wings!

    08 May 2015

    Mother's Day

    This weekend I'm paying homage to one of my all-time favorite humorists: Erma Bombeck. I remember reading her books when I was in high school and seeing her on television. She was amazingly funny and hit you right where it counts. Her open honesty about parenting, marriage, life, and death had a big impact on me. 

    As an adult single mom raising two teen/pre-teen children, I truly start to understand the magnitude of what she accomplished. I highly recommend reading The Grass is always Greener Over the Septic Tank. Bombeck died in 1996, but her writing will live on with parents for a very long time.

    "It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.” ― Erma Bombeck

    Spread Your Wings!

    06 May 2015

    Signs of Alcoholism

    Enough said.

    Spread Your Wings!

    04 May 2015

    Crazy Stalkers

    Just a few thoughts for my uninvited visitor last week:

    After this we'll get back to our regularly scheduled activities, I promise!

    And, of course, Grumpy Cat because he's our favorite!

    Spread Your Wings!

    03 May 2015

    An Uninvited Guest

    One thing I never thought I'd have to deal with is a true invasion of privacy. But now I have. In the midst of all the mess that has happened to the kids and me the last 3 years (and really well before that), I have held fast to a stable, safe environment for us. We have three furry protectors and a neighborhood full of retired firefighters and teachers. And we watch out for each other.

    This past week I chaperoned a school trip to Washington DC with my son's middle school class. We had an awesome visit. But in the middle of the trip I heard from my pet sitter that someone had been on my property snooping around. Fortunately the pet sitter was not the only one to see her and we have a very accurate description and I know exactly who the person is and I'll be working with the authorities to prevent further drop-ins.

    All I can say at the moment is that some people are too busy ignoring the truth. But I still believe that the truth will always wins out in the end.

    Spread your wings!

    01 May 2015

    Friday's thought

    A great thought for Friday!

    Spread your wings!

    26 April 2015

    Cause, control, cure

    I know longer wonder why, wish things would change, hope the situation is better. I know that I have nothing to do with the "reasoning" behind my alcoholic's actions and words (or a complete lack thereof). The 3 C's of Al-Anon are a reassurance that I am not in control of anyone except myself. These 3 C's have been a source healing and a realization that I will never know what caused this situation, I have no control over, and I certainly can't cure it. That in and of itself has been a difficult reality, but eventually I began to truly believe the words and I know I'm on a healing path because of them.

    Spread your wings!

    23 April 2015


    The hardest part of THINK is that not everyone follows those same rules of thinking before you speak.

    Is it True? 
    Is it Helpful? 
    Is it Inspiring? 
    Is it Necessary? 
    Is it Kind?

    Well tonight after weeks and weeks of trying to help my mother out (taxes, dad's getting lost, invitations to Easter, etc.), tonight I was accused of not only stealing money from my mother, but stealing money because I was possibly "trying to get back at" her for divorcing my biological father. While the details are crazy and not really relevant, the point is that my mother in her delusional state made some very nasty accusations and that just plain hurts.

    So I'm trying to stay calm, take a deep breath, and keep moving forward...without getting angry. I know she doesn't know what she's saying. And while it's very, very hurtful, I am trying to navigate the best way to let her know that (1) obviously I didn't and couldn't steal money from her, (2) what she said upset me, and (3) I'm growing weary of the accusations and having a great deal difficulty continuing to help her out at the level she is requiring because of her ugly attitude.

    All of this is new territory for me. And I'm betting it's new territory for a lot of people my age. That "sandwich generation" can be a big drain on anyone stuck in the middle of generations. I need to take care of my children and continue to raise them, all the while helping my parents to navigate growing old.

    Spread Your Wings! (and don't forget to breathe)

    21 April 2015


    THINK is another Al-Anon/Alateen slogan, but it's also one that I've seen many teachers use in the classroom. The acrostic reminds us to think before we speak. All those golden nuggets of truth you mom and dad taught you as a kid help you to get along with other people better. So if you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all.

    Staying positive in the midst of adversity is a lot tougher than I thought it would be. There have been many changes in my life the last five years since leaving academia. While the trip has been mostly positive, there have certainly been many bumps along the way.

    My main slogan with life's little upheavals has been "Just breathe." A friend of mine got me a friendship bracelet that reminds me everyday to just breathe. Even when I feel like I can't say anything positive to someone or about a situation, I take extra long breath and let things settle in my mind before getting down about life. Everything passes and even the most nightmarish situation in the world can be made better with time. I've experienced this firsthand and as long as I stay positive, eventually everything works out for the best.

    I no longer fire off strongly worded emails or phone calls. I try to wait 24 hours, read, and reread something before I send it. Just that little extra time can calm me down enough to THINK about what I'm saying and refocus the frustration or anger into something positive.

    Staying positive affects my whole outlook, the way I work with my children, coping with the difficulty of aging parents, frustrations with business, and everything else life throws my way. I can almost always turn things around and laugh rather than getting angry or upset. And even if that doesn't work, time passes and the difficult situation changes. 

    I love this quote by Ghandi:

    Spread your wings!

    19 April 2015


    Forgiveness is difficult at best, especially when there is no request for such action. But living in the past, harboring ill will, and allowing someone else's bad behavior to influence your present state of mind will continue to drive you crazy. Forgiveness is a necessary in order to be able to move on with your life.

    Everyone makes mistakes. But owning up to those mistakes and then ultimately forgiving those mistakes in yourself and in others takes a great deal of strength and determination. It's hard for me to keep that state of forgiveness in my heart. Slipping back into being angry over past actions is easy. What's hard is remembering to keep moving forward one day at a time. Al-Anon really focuses on the present, not the past and not the future. Just take life one day at a time and get through. I try to keep my kids focused on the individual days, rather than being worried about what will happen 10 years from now. Instead, be grateful for what you have, focus on making each day a happy memory. This doesn't mean we don't plan ahead—of course we do! But we don't worry about what the future may or may not bring, what others may or may not do or say.

    Spread your wings!

    18 April 2015

    Words of Wisdom

    Spread Your Wings!

    17 April 2015

    Be a champion for your children

    This says it all: 

    Spread your wings!

    15 April 2015

    A moment of levity

    Don't ever let anyone take away the respect you have for yourself.

    Spread Your Wings!

    14 April 2015


    Today I read that Billy Joel is going to have a baby with his girlfriend. Seriously. Billy Joel is 65. How sad for this unborn child that his or her father will likely never live to see his child graduate from college, have a successful, happy life, or see his grandchildren. I suppose he could have a Doogie Howser genius kid or raise an irresponsible child who has his own kids when he's a teen. So I guess it's possible BJ could live to the ripe old age of being a grandparent, but after the abuse his body has taken with the drugs and alcohol, it's highly unlikely.

    Being a selfish and narcissistic comes naturally to drug and alcohol abusers. Their whole world starts to close in and they can only see themselves. Everyone misjudges their drinking, everyone else is to blame for the missed deadlines, bounced checks, skipped events at school. Somehow the whole world is wronging them.

    Children learn by watching the adults in their lives. Some adults are responsible and nurturing, while others only care about themselves. The narcissistic alcoholic usually doesn't make it through a long-term relationship with his or her child, because eventually the child grows up and becomes more mature than that particular parent. Unless, of course, the child grows up and mimics the parent's bad behavior. BJ isn't the only parent who will not actually raise his child. Plenty of parents out there have children and have no responsibility whatsoever in actually raising them.

    Many alcoholics attempt to raise their children, but fail miserably, isolating themselves from their family, missing out on events and activities associated with childhood. Many children of alcoholics grow bitter and unforgiving without the help of a group like Alateen or Al-Anon. 

    Often the alcoholic looses all her/his friends in this drunken stupor isolation, deliberately or not. Oh sure, they eventually make new friends and it usually takes a while until those new friends figure it out. But eventually those friends loose interest, too. In the best of times, the narcissistic alcoholic realizes that she/he has a problems and seeks help. No one can make them recognize their issues. They have to do it on their own. Then and only then (and usually, but not always, with the help of a 12-step program) can the alcoholic make a try change and start thinking about someone other than him/herself. 

    Billy Joel apparently has the maturity level of a flea and is surrounded by a bunch of stupid yes men and women who tell him everything he does is great. At least his wife might be able to make a good commercial for Viagra. Think about someone other than yourself. Why bring kids into this world if you're not going to be responsible for them? And by the way, money does not equal responsibility.

    Spread your wings!

    11 April 2015

    Alateen Revisited

    So I realized today is April 11th and I haven't written in nearly two weeks! Been crazy busy with life. I deal well with stress, but sometimes the fact that I've got at least 100 people puling me in every direction takes its toll. 

    But I've learned to control what I pay attention to, prioritizing who needs what and where the greatest need lies. My kids are always the first priority and everyone needs to learn to take a backseat to them. Recovery from having an alcoholic in the family takes a lot of patience and reinforcement with kids, no matter how old they seem to be. They constantly blame themselves for the drinking, bad behavior, and narcissism an alcoholic indulges in.

    Going to Alateen meetings was a huge step for my kids. My son is very outgoing and has an outwardly strong personality. But in reality, he's got the same nerves and lack of confidence my seemingly shy and quiet daughter has, when discussing personal and private issues such as having an alcoholic in the family.

    The 12 steps of Alateen are the same 12 steps as Al-Anon:

    These 12 steps help us focus on getting better and coping with an alcoholic in the family. There is no hopelessness, but rather if you keep moving forward one day at a time, things will get better. Not blaming anyone, including the alcoholic, is a key issue, and one that is hard to do. Children are resilient, but they tend to blame themselves in situations like ours. My job is to make sure my kids are getting the best help they can.

    One of the many slogans of Alateen/Al-Anon is HOPE.

    That says it all.

    Spread your wings!