Monday, September 12, 2016

Tell Your Stories

After a month of some serious introspection, therapy, deep discussion with friends and family, more therapy, starting a new business and enrolling in a college photography program, I am back.

Much more to say and write about but for now, I'll just leave this here.

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”  Anne Lamott

Sunday, August 7, 2016


                  I've been quiet about what's going on with me lately.  Sharing a bit of it today.

.The past few months, I've gone through a difficult episode of depression. Previously, I had several years with Seasonal Affective Disorder that began when we moved to Asheville six years ago.

 The worst time of year for me is January through March. This year, I was ready to tackle it again with light therapy, exercise, even travel to a warmer sunnier place if needed. SAD kicked in just about the same time as some unfortunate extended family drama occurred and the depression that hit me was unlike any I've experienced before.

Until recently, I haven't felt on solid enough ground to share this with anyone but close family and friends. Speaking out about depression is difficult.  It's easier when it's a physical health issue like a broken leg.  There is still so much stigma to acknowledging and dealing with mental health.   I share in the hope it may help others.

 Last fall, solid ground was like that lovely paved path through the park where I didn't need to watch where I stepped and could just enjoy the sky and the sound of the birds even if I was running. I traveled to New Mexico to see family and friends in September and attended the International Balloon Fiesta while I was there. I had the best time.

In January, depression knocked me off that path and right into quicksand.  For a while, I didn't know what had hit me.  I lost interest in doing much of anything.  I wanted to sleep all the time but at night I couldn't sleep. I often didn't leave the house and found excuses to not see friends. I had to force myself to eat and lost weight. I did the very minimal I could to get through the days without worrying my family.   I felt that I couldn't move and if I did, I sunk deeper into the muck.  I was trapped in it and there were days when I just wanted to be sucked under.

During that time, I was so aware of loving hands reaching out from my family and friends. While that brought comfort,  I needed to dig my way out on my own. It has taken tremendous work but I'm getting there.  As summer wanes,  I am tentatively taking small steps on firmer ground again.This ground is not as smooth  but I'm able to appreciate it more. This path is like some of those that I've hiked on the Appalachian Trail.  It has dirt and mud and puddles and tree roots and steep inclines.  I have to watch carefully where I step but with that comes more beauty.  The sun filtering through the trees, the wildflowers, the sound of birds and waterfalls in the distance are with me as I step onto this new trail of life.  I don't take any of these moments along the way for granted these days and I hope I never again will.

Depression is different for each person and recovery can be ongoing and filled with ups and downs..  As I begin to experience more moments and days of well- being and joy again,  I'd like to share some of the things that are working for me.  It's often been a two steps forward, one step backward approach but I am just keeping at it.

Therapy ~   I've done therapy before over the years to deal with childhood trauma and situational depression and it helped in varying degrees. This time, I was so aware that I needed help of a different magnitude.  I was willing to go to as many therapists as I needed to find one that was a good fit.  Luckily, I found her on the first try.  Months in with my work with her, I continue to be so grateful for this amazing person who is so intuitive and responsive. She has helped me sift through a whole lot of sand so that I can trust myself again.  Having a therapist I trust is like having a good car mechanic.  I go for regular check-ups to make sure everything is working as it should and once in a while I need a brake job or a new battery.  She helped with the complete engine overhaul to get me running again.  I continue to see her every two weeks and go to workshops she leads. A side note here is that I was very willing to try medication.  However, my sensitivities to antidepressants left that as a last resort. For now, the therapy has been enough. I recognize that I need to stay vigilant and medication might be an option down the road.

Yoga and Meditation ~  I know.  It's the thing to do these days.  I first started doing yoga when I was 20 years old.  I'm now 60 something so that's a long damn time.. There weren't yoga classes on every block back then. I learned from a book and had a personal practice for years.  Then it become off and on again when I'd find a class or teacher I liked.  This time, I went to some meditation workshops as well. That and my yoga practice has made a significant difference in my anxiety levels and overall health.  Sun salutations, inversions, breathing and candle meditation are part of my daily routine and have reduced my anxiety as well as improving my flexibility and overall physical strength and health.

Music and Learning ~  We have a piano from when the kids were young.  I decided I'd learn to play it.  With the help of my sister and a couple of adult piano books, I just started at the beginning and spent some time each day at the keyboard.  I'm on book two now and can play a few songs.  I also spent a few months learning Spanish with Duolingo. Recently, I've been taking classes and am in the process of launching a small business..  I imagine it's all good for my not so young brain and best of all, I enjoy the process of doing it.  I'm not trying to win any awards.  Just spending some time doing things I enjoy and learning as I do.  That unschooling mindset has paid off in more ways than I could have imagined.

Photography ~  I take photos.  So. Many. Photos..  Since I was very young, I've seen the world through the kind of lens that lends itself to photography.  I'm an amateur.  I take photos on automatic with my SLR or on my IPhone or if I have neither, just in my head.  Everywhere I look, I visualize it in a photo.  Occasionally, I get one worth sharing.  I love that. I love the colors and the symmetry and the focal points of life all around me.

Oh?   Yes, I play PokemonGo.  I'm delighted by it.  I loaded it on to my phone just on a lark and it has brought me so much happiness these past few weeks.  I love catching the cute little Pokemon and evolving them.  I love walking to hatch the eggs and seeing what they turn in to.  Endorphins from walking and running are the best drugs for me and I can do both while I'm catching Pokemon.  Also, I'm an introvert but I've met so many people out walking and at Pokestops.  It has been a silly sweet thing to do and share with one of my grown kids.  This past weekend, Broc loaded it on to his phone and we spent all day yesterday catching Pokemon in downtown Asheville. More fun and less introspection are two of my goals and both are met through this game. (For those that don't know the game, "Oh?" is what comes on the screen when a egg is about to hatch.)  One of my favorite writers is Jenny Lawson.  On her blog, The Bloggess, she shares some perspective that I've found to be true.

I've made a few other positive changes. Eating healthier.  Walking every day and doing challenges with unschooling friends around the country with my Fitbit.  The warmer sunnier weather helps and I'm hyper-aware that I need to make plans for darker colder months..  For now, I'm better.  I had an entire day last week where I felt a sense of well-being. I slept an entire night without waking up and had lovely dreams.  I trust that will begin to happen more and more.

I've been so supported by many of my family and friends.  It's meant so much to hear from them via text or cards or phone calls or Facebook messages.  Just knowing they cared during the darkest times, was a lifeline. As I've felt strong enough to share my story with others, I have been happily surprised with their encouraging responses.

Broc and I are celebrating our 17th anniversary today. .  His care and kindness and trust in me is monumental and I so grateful to have him by my side. It's been a tough year for us both.  The sweetest and simplest times have been simply watching sunsets with him this summer.

I'm so grateful for the moments I am lucky enough to enjoy these days.  Alone.  With him.  With Brenna and Logan.  Every single one of them is precious to me.

Monday, July 11, 2016


I'm loving Brenna's new blog.     Millenimalism.  Say that three times fast!

 It's definitely a grown unschooler's perspective and I have enjoyed every single week of it so far.

It's about this:


And it's written by this woman.  My daughter.  I adore her.  She has good stuff to say and says it well.

Enjoy!  And Thanks for Stopping By!  

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Breathing Room

This has been a long stretch of crazy for our family!  We were not yet recovered from the springtime trip to Texas when my dear Uncle Jim had a stroke at his apartment in California in early May.

Uncle Jim and me about five years ago in Los Angeles

Our extended family has been taking turns in Los Angeles and San Diego as we worked on getting him back to health and moving him and all his belongings to Florida so he could be closer to family.  I was first in Florida to help take care of my Mom and then flew directly to California for over 2 weeks to help with my uncle.  It has not been an easy couple of months but I'm finally home!

On Saturday, Broc and I had our first day in weeks to do something together and we took full advantage of it.  We hit up the Farmers Market, then High Five Coffee, and an afternoon movie, The Fits, at the new Independent Theater in downtown Asheville. While the movie has some good critical reviews, neither of us liked it that much.  I give it 3 stars and Broc would probably give it 1 star.  However, we were the only people in the theater at 1:30 p.m.  and it had big comfy chairs

Our sweet friends have a new two-person kayak and they lent it to us in the early evening.  We live right on Beaver Lake but in the over five years that we've lived here have never been out on the lake.  What fun!!  It was a gorgeous day and we so enjoyed just paddling around and enjoying the scenery.

A bit later on we walked down to our sunset watching spot with our wine to end a perfect day.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Two Views

Hooray for Spring!   As fans of fair weather hiking, Broc and I have been lucky enough in the last month to hit up some gorgeous trails with very contrasting scenery.

In late April, we were in Texas and hiked at Enchanted Rock which is close to Fredericksburg.  Then, in early May, we headed out intending to hike Table Rock in North Carolina and somehow ended up at Linville Falls.  After both hikes, we said, "This was the best hike ever!"  That's always a sign of a good hiking day."

My last few posts have been heavy on the writing and not very uplifting. This one is all about the images.

 We are so happy to be back in Asheville but our hike to Enchanted Rock was definitely the highlight of our Texas trip.  Here's a whole bunch of photos of our amazing day there.

Happy Feet in Texas

That little speck is Broc!

View from the top.

The wildflowers and blooming cacti  were everywhere

Broc's hand is completely submerged in the clear water

Wildflower heaven

We hiked for hours and in addition to the great trails and beautiful wide open scenery, we also saw a roadrunner, a very long snake that I almost stepped on and an animal that looked like black squirrel.

                        Only a couple of hours from Austin, this is definitely a hike worth taking.

The next weekend after we returned to North Carolina, we decided to hike out at Table Rock because it has some amazing views.  Not sure where we went wrong, but we ended up close to Linville Falls.  This is the location where scenes from the movie, "The Last of the Mohicans" was filmed.  Just stunning.  We hit up every trail out there and some of the last ones were a bit challenging.  Here's a few of our favorites shots.

           To give some perspective, we hiked to that waterfall from this spot this photo was taken.

Long before I sprained my ankle!

On our way down to the waterfall

                                       Texas may be big and it certainly has its beauty.

                                However, our hearts and feet definitely belong in Sweet Carolina.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Legacy Hideaway

We were in Texas, Y'all!  Yes, we were.

In spite of some bumps while we were there, we were so lucky to spend time with people we love, stay at an amazing vacation home and enjoy an enchanted hike on a warm sunny day.

A little history.  I lived in Austin for 14 years and loved it so much.  Both my kids, Brenna and Logan, were born there but this was my first time to stay in the Hill Country.  We were there at such a beautiful time of year.

I've known my sweet friend, Anita, since we started a playgroup when our grown up kids were toddlers. She recently made a dream come true and bought a gorgeous piece of property not far from Fredericksburg, Texas. She's been remodeling the lovely ranch home as a vacation rental and getaway retreat for her own family called Legacy Hideaway. She graciously offered it for Broc and I to have our own much needed Texas mini-vacation.

The interior is gorgeous and I can't believe I didn't take any photos! When she goes live on her website I'll stop in here and add a link..

It was so quiet and secluded that we could have been on a island. We spent a bit of time exploring Fredericksburg but mostly just enjoyed sitting outside watching all the wildlife and walking throughout the property.  It is a bird watchers paradise!

While I've seen numerous Hummingbirds and Towhees in North Carolina, this was my first time seeing a Painted Bunting.  I was like a kid at Christmas!

Very early one morning, I walked out to watch the sunrise and was greeted by deer playing in the front field and a wild turkey.

Our time at Legacy Hideway was so peaceful, and memorable. It is truly a magical destination in itself and also so close to fabulous hiking, biking, wine tastings and the lovely town of Fredericksburg with all its treasures in food, shopping and music.

If you happen to be in Texas anywhere close to Austin, take a little drive out that way.  You'll be so happy you did. And if you do as much hiking as we did, you might return feeling as relaxed as this little guy.

                                                           Thanks for stopping by!