Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I now have a monthly newsletter! It contains updates, announcements and most importantly - DISCOUNTS! The first newsletter just went out to my family and friends.

If you would like to subscribe to my newsletter - I promise it will NOT come out more than once a month, and your email will NOT be shared with any third parties - enter your email in the "Subscribe to Shining Stones Newsletter" button on the right hand side of the screen. Or, email me directly at .

To wet your appetite ... the first newsletter contains a HUGE discount for newsletter subscribers only!


Twice Monthly Giveaway - New Item!!!

Congratulations to Christine M., who won the Wishing on a Star Necklace! Thanks to everyone who entered!

This week's item is the Square Swarovski Ring (clever title, huh?) - made from a sterling silver beadframe and sparkling square swarovski crystal, wrapped with sterling silver wire. It is available in Mocha, Amethyst and Caribbean Blue (click on the top picture to view this ring in my Etsy store) :

To enter the giveaway, please send me a message through the Contact Me form on the right of the screen, indicating you would like to enter the giveaway, and which color you would prefer.

The winner will be chosen at random on October 15th - my daughter draws a name from a hat.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Our Birthday

Happy 7th Birthday, Love. On a warm sunny afternoon on the 29th of September, you were born. I will never forget the moment the nurse placed your warm little body on my chest. You were about 10 seconds old. You blinked your little eyes, and snuggled right into me. I was crying I was so happy to finally meet you. On that day the most wonderful girl I could ever imagine came into my life, and I became a Mom.

I love you with all my heart, and I always will.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Balancing on the Beam

There is an expression in recovery - when you're doing well, putting your recovery first, taking care of yourself, talking to people, going to meetings. It is called being "on the beam". I didn't understand this expression when I first got sober - it took a year for things to feel truly normal. Now that I've been sober for a while, I have a better appreciation for what this means.

Things are going well - they are going really well, in fact. My kids are thriving and busy, my business is growing. Everything is chugging along nicely in the crazy days of back-to-school and adjusting to new schedules. Every day is filled with kids' activities: soccer practices, Daisy meetings, CCD, playdates, homework. We rush headlong through the days with barely a pause, but we're finding our rhythm and overall things are good.

There is an unanticipated side effect to all of this, though. I am fully absorbed in the kids' lives, and I haven't been going to many meetings. I haven't been connecting with other people in recovery. My mind says to me that I don't have time, that I don't need to, that I am FINE.

I've heard the cautionary tales. I know the stories. Recovery is a full-time job. People who have been in recovery a while will say that the time to be the most cautious, to enhance your commitment to your recovery, is when everything is going well. Because it is far too easy to trick yourself into believing that just because the outside is great, the inside will follow.

In my experience recovery is a slow progression into stability, spirituality and mental well-being. It is like the process of slipping into addiction, but in reverse. The changes are subtle, the progression barely noticeable most of the time. One day (if you're lucky) you realize you have a problem, and you are so deep in the weeds you're not even sure how you got there. Recovery, for me, has been the same way. It is a day by day thing, taking care of myself, listening to advice, going to meetings and building my spirituality. One day, a few months sober, I was driving along in my car - just your average Tuesday - and it hit me: I feel good.

So here I am - everything external in my life is great. I'm busy, and my life is so full that I'm not taking care of my recovery. The internal changes sneak up on me. It is subtle, so quiet that I don't notice right away. It begins with my self-esteem. I start feeling unworthy; I start questioning myself. Little by little I lose interest in the things that are so sustaining for me - I don't make time for creativity. I start thinking why bother? I look at my jewelry and it all seems so silly, so pointless. Then the resentments kick in: I feel like I'm whipsawed by everyone else's schedules, I feel like there isn't time for me. I don't make time for meetings in the evenings. I think: the kids need me, there is homework to do, my husband can't be home early. My patience disappears - the smallest task seems monumental. The days start feeling like a scene from the movie Groundhog Day - the same crap over and over and over. I lose my gratitude. And then one day - just your average Tuesday - it hits me: I feel bad.

It took a good friend in recovery saying to me that I seem inflamed, irritable, angry, to get me to notice that my internal clock was way off. I felt like I was fine - smiling, keeping it all together. She called me on it - asked me why I hadn't been going to meetings, why I had withdrawn. Until she spoke up, I hadn't seen it myself. That is how the disease works - when things are going well, it tells you you're okay, you're normal. It lures you away. But, like any other chronic condition I need medicine to keep me well. For me, that medicine is talking to other alcoholics in recovery, going to meetings, and making time for spiritual growth. Without it, I start to get sick.

So I went to a meeting. I told on myself. I put myself back in the fold, the comfort and safety of other alcoholics in recovery who understand. I felt better immediately.

I am someone who likes proof, evidence. I guess the silver lining to it all is that I got my proof: prioritizing my recovery works. I need to take care of myself, make time for the things that sustain me. I feel like putting my family first is the right thing to do. I have to remember that it isn't selfish of me to take my medicine, to make time for my recovery. It is the most important thing. Because when the mothership goes down, it all goes down.

My daughter keeps a letter I wrote her from treatment up on her bulletin board. I wrote it to her in my darkest hour of despair - I didn't know if I'd ever feel better again. She couldn't read, so I wrote one sentence at the top - I said: I love you, I miss you, and I can't wait to see you again. Underneath I drew her a picture. It was a rainbow, and under the rainbow was the four of us holding hands and smiling, all together again. I went to look at that letter yesterday, to remind myself of all I have to be grateful for. I hadn't notice it before, but she had written a message underneath the picture. She had to have done this fairly recently, because she has only been able to write on her own for a few months. She wrote: "I love you Mom."

The craziness of our everyday life isn't a scene from Groundhog Day, it is a gift, and I am truly blessed.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Meeting of the Minds

We have a full day today, and I have a lot on my mind. We kick off today with a visit to the vet; our cat, Coalie, is getting neutered and we have to drop him off by 9am. I put Greta on the bus, and Finn and I hop in the car with the pissed-off kitty and head to the vet. I want to use the time in the car to think through the day and figure out how I'm going to get it all done.

I'll leave the vet by 9am, head home and make those two calls I need to make, put the laundry...

"Momma?" Finn's little voice pipes up from the back seat.

"Yes?" I'll put the laundry away, and then head to the bead store..

"Where do we keep our parachutes?"

"Ummm, we don't have any parachutes." .... I'll head to the bead store and then the supermar-

"Why don't we have any parachutes?"

... supermarket and pick up the goodies for the playgroup tomorrow... "We don't need them, honey."

"We need to get parachutes. What about da other kind of parachute?"

I'll get home around 11am and will pick up the house to get ready for the cl -

"MOMMA! Why don't we have da other kind of parachute?"

"The other kind? I don't know what you mean." ... get ready for the cleaners at noon. Then I'll make some ord-

"DA OTHER KIND! Da closed kind? The red kind?"

"I'm sorry, hon. I don't know what you mean."

"We gotta get some parachutes, can we do dat today?"

"We have a busy day today, and we don't need parachutes." -- make some orders and my customer is coming by at 1pm. Once she leaves I'll -

"Momma? I good at everything."

"Mmm Hmmm," I reply distractedly. "You are." ... once she leaves I'll address the rest of the invites -

"But I specially good at letters. Specially "O". Dey are easy for me."

..address the rest of the invites and get to the post office by -

"Did you hear me Momma? I good at Os!" office by 2:30pm and get back to get Greta off -

"Momma? I look like a ... what are dose things called? Dose Christmas things?"

... get Greta off the bus and make those..

"MOMMA! What are dose Christmas things called? Not Santa, da other things?"

"Reindeer?" .... and make those appointments for the kids' check-ups and dentist -

"NO! Da little people? Who help Santa?"

"Elves?" ... dentist. Then I'll help Greta with her homework, and get to the librar-

"YES! Elves. I look like an Elf. I like elves. I have a friend at school who is an elf."

...library to return those overdue books. Greta has socc-

"Momma? Look at dat house. Its freaking me out. Is it freaking you out?" practice at 6pm, and then I'll meet up with -

"MOMMA! Is dat house freaking you out too?"

"Ummm, yes. That house is freaking me out." ... meet up with my friends at 6:45pm to go to the meeting - I have to call Ste-

"Momma? What are the words to dat song? Da one from school?"

... have to call Steve to remind him to be home ...."what song?"

"Dis land is your land, dis land is my land, from California to da... to da...."

....home by 6:30, no wait, he needs to come to the soccer field.... "New York Islands?"

"New York islands, from da wed wood fowest to.... to.... what are da words?"

....needs to come to the soccer field instead..... "to the gulf stream waters?"

"DA GULF STWEAM WAA - AAA -TERS - sing it wif me Momma!!"

"This land was made for you and meeeee!" we sing together.

Now, where was I?

Sunday, September 20, 2009


"Mom, were you nice or popylar (her word for popular) when you were my age?" Greta asks.

This topic has always made me uneasy. I don't want to lose street cred with her and tell her that she's being silly, or that pressure to fit in or have friends doesn't exist. But I don't want to fill her head with my not-so-objective thoughts about this, either.

"Well, you can be nice and popular at the same time, honey. In fact, many people are popular because they are nice." I have no idea what I'm doing.

"No," she says definitively. "Popylar people are mean."

This all started in Pre-K, actually. There was a kid in her class that was picked on a lot. Greta came home one day and told me that she had been served an ultimatum by a couple of girls in her class: Stop being nice to X or we won't be your friend. I asked her how that made her feel.

"It makes me feel sad," she said. "X is always nice to me, so why shouldn't I be nice back?"

It is hard not to jump in with both feet and tell her what I think she should do. Unless she is the instigator or is being bullied, I want her to figure out her own way.

Last year a friend came up to her at recess and said, out of the blue, "I just want you to know we're not friends anymore."

Greta got off the bus that day with a long face, and burst into tears the minute she got inside. She was hurt and confused; she wanted to know what she had done to make this person not want to be her friend.

I let her cry for a bit, and then asked her if she wanted my advice on what to do. She nodded.

"When people hurt your feelings and you don't know why, it is hard," I said, "because it is tempting to hurt them right back."

'Yeah," she said. "This morning I was going to tell her I didn't want to be her friend anyway, but that isn't true."

"If someone hurts your feelings, I think the best thing to do is tell them. You can't make them nicer, or change their mind, but you can let them know how you feel. You can say 'that hurts my feelings' the next time this happens."

"Okay," she sniffed.

"And you know what? If you leave her alone for a while, I bet she'll forget she said she doesn't want to be friends. Either way, just keep away from her for awhile, so she doesn't have a chance to hurt your feelings again."

The next afternoon, she got off the bus in good spirits. "Guess what?" she said. "That girl said it again today - that she doesn't want to be my friend. I told her that hurt my feelings, and she said she didn't care."

"I'm sorry she wasn't nice," I say. "But you seem like you're okay?"

"Yeah," she says. "I just played with other people instead."

A few days later I asked her what had happened with that girl. She giggled and said, "Oh, it was funny. Yesterday she came up to me in the lunch line and started talking to me. I think she forgot she didn't want to be my friend. And I wasn't about to remind her."

It makes my heart break a little, this growing up too soon. I am tempted to offer platitudes: I'm sure all the kids like you, or don't worry about it, it all works out in the end. Because sometimes it doesn't, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Greta is finding her own kind of individuality. So far, she doesn't pretend to like something just to fit in, she wears what she likes and not because other kids think it is cool. School shopping this year, she picked out her own clothes, and she has a kooky sense of style. I found myself trying to steer her towards the brand names, the safe bets. "How about this shirt instead?" I asked, pointing to a simple striped Land's End shirt.

She wrinkled her nose, and held up the bright purple tee shirt with little sea horses all over it. "But nobody else will have this one, Mom. I like this one better."

Atta girl.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Veggie Tales

"Fish have eyes," Greta says. She is contemplating her dinner - salmon, rice and a few token carrot sticks. "I told you - nothing with eyes."

Greta has decided to become a vegetarian. She and her friend Abi came up with the idea on a play date last week. The two of them have a history of concocting new ideas together. In July, they became hippies. They said hippies don't take baths or change their clothes, an idea that apparently held a lot of appeal for them during the dirtiest days of the summer.

I don't know the exact origin of the vegetarian thing. But, like the hippy thing, she is steadfast in her commitment to becoming a vegetarian, at least for now.

Through trial and error, I have learned that telling her she can't do something is a sure-fire way to enhance her commitment. So when she announced last week that she was going to be a vegetarian, I rolled with it.

"So you're not going to eat any meat?" I asked.

"No," she said. "Nothing with eyes."

"No chicken nuggets? No hamburgers? No turkey?" I inquired, naming a few of her favorite foods.

"Nope." She was resolute.

"Not even pepperoni?" She adores pepperoni above all else.

She contemplated. "Can I be a vegetarian that only eats pepperoni?"

"You can be any kind of vegetarian you want," I reply, hoping to create a few loopholes in the scenario. This kid, who hates all vegetables except for carrot sticks and broccoli made by Miss Liz, and only Miss Liz, isn't going to eat meat?

"Nope, no pepperoni either," she finally decides.

This is one of those parenting moments - in theory I'm in charge, so if I tell her she has to eat meat, she has to eat meat. But I also want to support her individuality, her right to explore her beliefs, and to figure things out on her own. So I decide to put a few parameters in place.

"Well," I say, "if you're going to be vegetarian, we need to talk to your doctor about it."

Her eyes get wide. "Why? Will I be in trouble?"

"No, but you are a growing girl, and growing girls need protein. Vegetables are good for you, but you need protein to build strong muscles and bones. Your doctor can help you figure out what other foods you can eat that will give you protein." I'm feeling kind of smug, thinking this will be enough to change her mind.

"Okay," she says without hesitation. "And lets get online and look up what other vegetarians eat for protein!"

Hmmm. Good move, kid.

So we look it up. She hates peanut butter, so scratch that. She took one look at the picture of tofu and stuck out her tongue. I'm back to feeling smug, certain she won't be able to stick with it.

"Well," she sighs. "We're going to have to get clever about this."


So we're on day eight. It turns out she really likes veggie burgers and tofu nuggets. She has experimented with salad, and found some versions she likes. Lots of cheese, yogurt, milk and fruit.

I upped my game and cooked her favorite meal the other night: a sausage stir-fry with feta, black olives and red peppers. She loves sausage, but she didn't break. "Just serve me the olives, peppers, cheese and pasta, Mom." she said.

"I want to be a vegenarian too" says Finn.

Seriously, I'm in charge, right?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

USA Today Article - The Secret Lives of Female Alcoholics

I was interviewed by a reporter from USA Today a few weeks ago. She wanted to ask me some questions about the role of denial and the particular challenges faced by women who struggle with addiction. The article came out today - some of you have asked to see it - and you can find it here. Many thanks to my amazing friends Paula and Kate, who agreed to be interviewed (check out Paula's blog, Killing Them Dirty) and to Damomma, whose steadfast support and friendship mean the world to me. You are all brave and strong and I am lucky to have you in my life.

Twice Monthly Giveaway - New Item!!!

Congratulations to Laila M, who won the gift certificate! Thanks to all who entered.

This week's item is a brand new listing - it hasn't even gone up in my shop yet! The Wishing on a Star necklace is made from a pretty coin freshwater pearl and a sterling silver starfish charm. It is available in Citrus Lime and Ivory, and hangs on an 18" sterling silver box chain:

I can adjust the chain to less than 18" as well.

Versatile, classic and stylish - this necklace goes with any outfit, anywhere.

To enter, please fill out the 'Contact Me' form on the right of the screen, and send me a message indicating you would like to enter the giveaway, and which color pearl you would prefer.

The winner will be chosen at random (my 6 year old pulls a name from a hat) on September 30th!

Thanks so much!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Running Man and The Starfish

Something has to give here, I thought. I glanced at the clock: 2:30am. I am scrunched into a tiny ball in the upper left had corner of my king sized bed. My right hand is clutching about five square inches of pillow, upon which one ear and some of my forehead is resting. I am shivering, only the small of my back covered by a small corner of sheet.

I can't roll over - there isn't room - so I try to crane my neck to the right. My head won't move properly, and I realize the cat is curled up around the top of my head, monopolizing most of the pillow. Pressed up to my side is Finn - blanket stuffed in his mouth - his arms and legs flung out like a starfish. Next to him is Greta, sleeping in what we affectionately call the "running man" position: on her side, arms bent, and one leg kicked forward, one back, like an open pair of scissors. My husband is but a distant bump on the far side of the bed - he has scored the comforter (my kids always kick their covers off) and is wrapped up in it like a mummy. He is perched dangerously on the far edge of the bed - one false move and he would be on the floor. I go to stretch my legs - I have lost feeling in my feet - and am met with a loud "hrumph" from the dog splayed along the entire foot of the bed.

I realize there are five heartbeats in our bed. Five living creatures.

"THAT. IS. IT!!!" I bellow, hoping to jar everyone awake. Finn doesn't flinch, Greta rolls over, and my husband pulls the comforter around him tighter.

I grab the pillow out from under the cat - he just slides happily off onto the mattress, barely stirring - and stomp into the kids' room. I curl up alone on Greta's twin bed, and settle grumpily back to sleep.

I wake up an hour later with a kid pressed against me on both sides, and the cat curled up by my neck. My husband and the dog are snoozing away on the king sized bed.

Too tired to fight, too tired to move, I lie awake in the twin with my sleeping children and try to come up with a plan.

The thing is, the whole situation is our fault. We broke the number one rule of parenting -Consistency.

When Finn graduated from his crib into a toddler bed, the kids decided they wanted to sleep in the same room together, even though they didn't have to. We thought this was cute, knew it wouldn't last forever, so we set up his toddler bed in her room.

Greta and Finn soon took to sleeping in her twin bed together. One kid would toss, or turn, and wake the other one up, prompting the woken-up kid to climb into our bed instead. Most of the time were were so zonked out we didn't even notice. Eventually, the other kid would wake up, see they were alone, and follow suit. Which is how I would find myself - two or three times a week - relegated to the far corner of my bed, shivering and resentful.

But we didn't stop it - we were too damn tired. Then, when I'd wake up angry and cold, I felt too guilty to make a big thing of it during the night, and would resolve to deal with it the next day. The next days came and went. Important sidebar: I have nothing against co-sleeping. I realize the whole sleeping thing is kind of a loaded issue. I think whatever works for the kids and parents is just great - but what we had here was a situation that clearly wasn't working.

So, as I've learned over the past couple of years - nothing changes if nothing changes. The other night I decided something had to change - be a catalyst to get us on the right track again. And I think we may have found it:

They can be in the same room, even kind of in the same bed. They are excited by the idea of bunk beds (instead of, say, two boring old twin beds). We told them to keep the bunk beds, they have to stay in their bed all night. We added a belt and suspenders around this by copying an idea a good friend of mine came up with: Gold Coins. You know, those plastic coins in the pirate section of the party store? Every night they sleep in their own bed all night, they get a gold coin. If they don't, we take a gold coin away. When they get to three coins, they get a small treat. When they get to 10 coins, they can cash them in for toy that is $10 or under.

So far, so good. Finn does get up during the night and come into our room to ask for water, or help going potty, or to tell me about a dream. But each time he goes right back into his room, saying "I going to get a gold coin, right?"

I don't care if it is bribery, or wrong on some level. The kids feel like they are earning something - working towards a goal. And I am rested. Hopefully, we will only have to keep this up for a few cycles before they get the idea. But even if it goes on for a while, it is totally worth it.

Although, every genius idea has a pitfall. I just went upstairs to check on them, and I found this:

The Running Man and the Starfish, together again.

Maybe I'll just give the gold coins to the dog and the cat and hope for the best.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ready, Fire, Aim

My more experienced Mom friends smiled knowingly when I told them I was pregnant with a boy. "Just be ready," they said, "girls will wreck your head but boys will wreck your house."

But, like with a lot of things, I didn't understand what they meant until I experienced it myself. Now I'm starting to get the idea.

I have never been a fan of gender stereotyping. I can't stand that when you go to the big online toy stores they divvy everything up between "boys" and "girls" - as if girls can only want to play Suzy Homemaker and boys only like trucks and cars. My kids seem interested in all manner of things - toys don't run along gender lines in our house. So I don't notice the difference so much in what they play with, as much as how they play. How they approach the world.

Greta and her girl friends create these imaginary worlds, pretend-play games, and the rules of the game seem almost more important than the game itself - it is all about the planning. Listening to her play with a friend the other day, they spent a good 45 minutes plotting their strategy: "you're the princess, and you live in a cottage alone by a lake and you miss your family. I'll be the sister looking for you everywhere, I ride a brown horse. You're singing and washing your clothes in the lake, and I'll come rescue you." They spend all of five minutes playing, before altering the story line and setting the stage all over again. Very little is spontaneous.

Finn is like a mad scientist. He is all about cause and effect. He'll smash things open, mix them together, or take things apart, and his rationale is always the same: "I just wanted to see what happens!" I marvel at how he barrels headlong through life - setting things into motion just to see what will come of it. Even when he is doing something he knows is wrong, he can't always help himself. He doesn't try to cover it up, either. The other day I saw him sneaking up to the sleeping cat, carrying a pair of scissors.

"Don't, Finn" I said. "Don't go near the kitty with the scissors."

"It's okay, Momma!" he says, smiling. "I just going to give him a haircut!"

"No, its dangerous. Put the scissors down."

"It's sewiously okay. I just want to see if it hurts the kitty to cut his hair," he explains.

"Why would you want to hurt the kitty? Just STOP."

He creeps closer to the unsuspecting cat. "It's okay, Momma. I just want to see what happens."

He was obsessed with flushing things down the toilet for a while. I kept explaining that he can't do that, that it could clog the toilet, and he kept doing it. It took me a while to realize the potential of clogging the toilet was precisely why he wanted to do it.

He will sit and do an activity like painting for all of five minutes, and then he'll wonder what would happen if he put the paintbrush up his nose, or smear the paint all over his belly, or splatter the paint on the wall. It is exhausting, trying to anticipate all the ways he could become curious about something as innocent as painting.

I do my best not to compare, not to think "your sister would never have done this." I adore his innate curiosity, how interested he is in interacting with his environment. But it is challenging, when I come in the room and catch him pouring a glass of milk down his pants just, you know, to see what happens.

I notice the differences the most with potty training. Greta was logical and stubborn about the whole process. She completely understood what was required of her, but was going to make up her own mind about when she was ready. One day she decided to use the potty only, and that was that. She was out of pull-ups day and night within five days.

Potty training is proving to be more challenging with Finn. He, too, understands what is required, and started using the potty regularly pretty much as soon as it was introduced. A whole new world was opened up, though. What happens when you pee on a flower? the cat? the rug? a potty for sale at a store? (that was a bad day). Going in hia pants isn't the problem. It is not going on everything else that is difficult. Ready, Fire, Aim.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Some New Stuff!

I spent the summer slowly and steadily aquiring some cool new stones, pearls and crystals, and creating some new pieces of jewelry. I finally got a chance to list a few of them in my Etsy shop. I'm having a 15% off sale on all my newly listed items through September 21st! Click on a picture to see more photos in my shop. To check out all the sale items, click here.

I have fallen in love with simple wire wrapped circle pendants - circles are all the rage, and I decided to try a few styles with a contemporary twist. Here are two pieces:

Delicate light blue semi-precious quartz beads and lucious black raspberry swarovski pearls create contrasting effects in the same style pendant.

I found these gorgeous Grade AA turquoise semi-precious stone chips at a local supplier, and created these:

Left: double strands of perfect turquoise chips, both contrast and blend with a hard-to-find pale blue larimar pendant.

Right: the bright blue hues of the turquoise make the dramatic red of the coral just POP. And I'm totally in love with the sand dollar clasp.

The huge hydrangea blooms in my front yard inspired this piece:

I've been playing around with some wire wrapping techniques, including this bracelet and a Tree of Life pendant - both made entirely of wire, using no other components:

And, of course, a couple of new wire wrapped rings:

A Memory Wire wraparound bracelet made from Chinese Turquoise Chips. Memory Wire is durable and comfortable, and fits nearly every wrist size:

Thanks for taking the time to check out some of my new pieces! I appreciate it!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

An Explanation

I suppose it is inevitable, really, what has been going on this week. I have been getting some strong reactions to posting about recovery. It is a slippery slope, this talking about addiction thing. There are a couple of fundamental principles that are important to adhere to, and some recent events, that I won't go into, have got me thinking.

Facing up to the fact that you may be an alcoholic, or addict, is an intensely personal decision. If you decide you have a problem, then it is up to you to decide if, or how, you want to get help. A person has to believe in their heart that they have a problem in order for recovery to successfully begin. It is an inside job.

Because of the intensely personal nature of deciding you have a problem, and the stigma surrounding addictions of any kind, protecting people's privacy is essential. It is hard enough to face up to the fact that you need help. As you progress down the path of recovery, your privacy becomes even more paramount - you will be facing feelings, emotions, and actions that are frightening, oftentimes shameful, and you are very vulnerable. The fear of this vulnerability, of being exposed at any point, keeps a lot of people stuck in the cycle of addiction.

I have made a personal choice to be public about my own experience in addiction and recovery. It is a balancing act of sorts, talking about this, because the only things I know to be true are the things that I have felt and experienced myself. Everyone has their own journey, their own story, their own belief system. There are several ways to get help, many ways to recover. In my opinion, whatever way works for you, helps you stop and begin to live a fuller life, is a good way.

But it is a hornet's nest. People feel strongly about recovery, and for good reason. It is a sacred process, talking about it, and trying to get well. How people do this, what they say, how they feel, is not for public consumption. Perhaps, by sharing my story, I am overstepping these boundaries a bit, because I can't share my experience without providing some details of how I stay sober. It is this process that people wish to protect. I understand this, and I will strive harder to respect the sanctity of this.

So what to do? Do I stop talking about it? I have been doing serious soul searching about this. Again, I can only relate my own experience, and what I remember about my decision to get help. Once I finally, finally realized I had a problem, the next question was, of course, how? It is rare to know if someone is in recovery, until you are in the recovery community yourself. I didn't have anyone to call that I knew would understand how I felt. But I had read a book, ten years prior, called Drinking, A Love Story, by Caroline Knapp. Even a decade earlier, her struggles, her emotions and her story resonated with me. She reminded me of me in many ways, not just because she drank too much. She didn't match my mind's eye view of what an alcoholic looked like. I identified with her. So when I decided to get help, I turned to her story once again. I read about how she felt, what she did, and what recovery was like for her. I thought to myself: if she got sober, I can try, too. I will always be grateful to her for this gift.

Taking these first tentative steps towards recovery - the admission to yourself, and then to someone else, someone safe - be it a doctor, a spiritual advisor, another addict - is the most critical, and the most difficult. Sometimes people know someone in recovery - a family member or friend, but more often they don't. I decided to put myself out there, to share my story, in the hopes that something I said resonated with someone who is struggling. Not to provide answers, or a blueprint to the recovery process.

I don't think I can stop talking about it, and when I speak about recovery I wish to convey what my experience - and mine alone - is like on the other side of addiction. Just one email from someone who says: I've never admitted this out loud to anyone, but I think I have a problem - that is enough for me. I do not wish to tell them how to do it, where to go, what they should believe. I feel there is a veil of silence, shame and secrecy that keeps people stuck in addiction. I speak my truth in the hopes that it breaks down that veil, just a little, for another person.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Present

I have always loved back-to-school time. As a kid, I was at my happiest organizing new school supplies - Trapper Keeper, pencil case, new folders. Life felt full of promise - an opportunity for a fresh start. September has always felt like New Year's to me - even at 40 I am still programmed for the academic year.

The crisp fall air gets my mind going - I get nostalgic, wistful. I think about where I am in life, all the things I thought I would have done by 40. It is laughable, really, how little my life resembles where I thought I'd be at this point. At 30, if I had seen a snapshot of my life today I wouldn't have believed it. Jewelry designer? Recovering Alcoholic? Stay-at-home mother? No way. At 30 I was still chock full of dreams of success in Corporate America. On the verge of getting married, I looked forward to becoming a mother and working full time - enjoying, in my mind's eye, the best both of those worlds had to offer. I marvel at my confidence back then, my belief that I had it all figured out.

But life, of course, has a way of giving you what you need, not necessarily what you want. Working in Corporate America and being a Mother completely overwhelmed me - I felt inadequate in every way - an under performing employee and a negligent mother. I chose to stay home full-time, imagining instead a life out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Wrong again. Tripped up by my own unrealistic notions, I slipped deeper and deeper into the despair of addiction. Looking back, it is easy to see how I set myself up for failure. Dreams are wonderful. Expectations? Not so much.

Greta loves to look for the first star she can find at night and make a wish. Then she turns to me and asks what I wished for. Each time I say, "I wished for my family to be healthy and happy."

"But don't you want stuff? Like maybe all the beads in the world? I wished I could have every Webkinz. And if I can't have that, I want every Littlest Pet Shop. In the whole world."

I smile, thinking of all the things I would have wished for when I was younger - heck, even last year - and how off track I would have been.

I was rubbing Greta's back as she fell asleep the other night, and as she drifted off she whispered "Momma? I love my life." And I realized - I love my life, too. It is just that I forget to remember that sometimes. It seems so, I don't know, final? complacent? to just stop and look around and say yup, everything is just the way it should be.

So this year, instead of getting caught up in my usual Fall Frenzy, I am making only one resolution: No Resolutions. Life comes along at its own pace, and when I get caught up in all my "should haves" or "want tos" it is just me trying to wrench control of the inevitable passage of time. Here is another thing my jaded, cynical, sarcastic self wouldn't have said a few short years ago: Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, all you have is today - which is why it is called the Present.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Letting Go

She is wearing her new dress, with the little sunflowers on it. She smiles when I put her new black shoes on... "like a big girl, right?" she says. "Yes," I answer, "like a big girl."

It is the first day of preschool. We walk in, hand in hand, her pink backpack bouncing on her back. Her other arm wrapped tightly around my leg. "Don't worry," I say, "you'll have fun. It's okay to be a little nervous, but you'll make new friends, and your teacher is very nice."

She is silent, her eyes wide. We walk into her classroom, and her teacher smiles and kneels down to her level. "Hi Greta," she says gently, "welcome to Preschool."

Greta clutches my hand tighter and buries her face in my shirt. The teacher reaches out her hand. "Come with me, I'll show you your new cubby," she says.

Greta is three and a half, her tiny ponytails shining, adorned with little bows she picked out herself. She couldn't wait for this day, talked about it non-stop. Until the day came, and now she is scared.

I promise myself that if she doesn't want to go, I won't make her. "Come see!" the teacher says cheerfully, still holding out her hand. "Your cubby has your name on it and everything - we're so excited you're here!"

Greta hesitates, and looks up at me - her eyes are huge. I'm frozen, conflicted. I want to swoop her up in my arms and run out the door. I want to stop time, keep her little. I want her to be brave. I don't want her to be brave. I make a little bet with myself: if she doesn't reach for the teacher's hand I'll take her home and we'll try again another day.

"Momma?" she whispers. I bend down.

"Yes, sweetheart?"

"You'll pick me up after rest time, right?" she nods bravely.

I smile, my heart breaking a little. "Yes, honey, when you wake up, I'll be here."

"Okay, Momma. Bye. I love you." She kisses my cheek, turns, and reaches for the teacher's hand.


The school hallway is noisy, bustling - full of kids, parents and teachers coming for the 1st grade open house. "C'mon, Mom!" Greta is impatient, pulling me by the hand. "I want to see my friends!" She is dragging me down the hall.

A squeal as she runs into a friend from her class last year. They hug and jump up and down. "Look, Mom!" Greta says. "That's the cafeteria, where I'll eat lunch every day! I can buy it if I want to, or bring my own lunch!" Her eyes are shining as she tugs me along. "And here is the auditorium, where we put on plays and see movies. And THAT was were I went to Kindergarten, down that hall. But I'm in FIRST GRADE now, so I don't go there anymore."

We find her classroom, the last one on the left. She hesitates for a moment, then finds her seat with her name tag on it. She sits right down, looking around expectantly.

"It's just a visit today," I begin, "tomorrow you'll -"

"MOM! I KNOW!" she says, rolling her eyes.

Another squeal - it is another friend from her class last year, they will be sitting right next to each other the whole year. "MOM!" she shouts. "Come see!" She rushes out into the hall, and points. "This is my locker!"

I stare, agape, at the big red metal locker with her name on it. A real, honest-to-goodness locker.

A big kid's locker.

She is running up to friends, hugging and chatting. I stand helplessly in the hall, until I catch the eye of a friend, and we chat for a bit. I look around for Greta - she is standing with a gaggle of girls, laughing.

"Ready to go, honey?" I ask. She peels away from her friends, and I reach for her hand as we make our way back to the car. She pulls it away and looks around self-consciously.

"Are you nervous about the first day of school tomorrow?" I ask in the car, berating myself a little, because I kind of want her to say yes.

"Nope," she answers without hesitation. "This is gonna be COOL!"

Twice Monthly Giveaway - Gift Certificate!

Congratulations to Kim H. who was the winner of the Thank You Bracelet!! Thank you to everyone who entered!

This time around I'm doing something a little different and offering a $35 gift certificate good towards any item (or items) in my shop! To go to my shop, click below, or go to

To enter, please fill out the Contact Me form to the right of the screen, indicating you are entering the giveaway. The winner will be chosen at random (my daughter picks a name from a hat) on September 15th.

If you are the winner I will email you instructions on how to redeem the gift certificate.

Thank you!