RV Lessons



Today we said goodbye to Shadow Cruiser, our beloved RV.  We needed money to pay for the book that Adam has been writing (a book that had many pages written while Adam journeyed solo in that big RV) and the sale of our RV was just enough to cover our costs.  In the past 2.5 years, Shadow Cruiser has carried us safely across the country.  Twice.  He has housed us at beaches on the WA and OR coasts, taken us to Crater Lake, Journaling Workshops, given Adam alone time to write his book, and this past summer housed us for 10 days in Glacier National Park while we began the process of reuniting and healing as a family.  We all grieved Shadow Cruiser leaving today.  Many of us with tears of sadness and gratitude because Shadow Cruiser was more than an RV to us.  He was our lifeline for…

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The Pain of Separation


When Adam and I first separated, I heard over and over again, “Kids are resilient.  They’ll get over this.  It’s really not a big deal.”  This is a “truth” that doesn’t feel fully true to me.  One day in the beginning months of the separation, I wrote this letter to Adam.  This is the raw pain of separation.  The parts most of us hide when we are suffering.  The parts that are uncomfortable to share.  This was the truth of what I was witnessing within myself and within my children.
*Please note that although the separation was mutual, the mutuality of it did not negate the pain and suffering, the anger and blame, and the heavy darkness that accompanied it.

Dear, Adam,

Mornings are the hardest.  I wake up before I should, always with a deep emptiness that something so vital is gone and missing.  Every morning I’m hit with the reality that I have to suffer again.  Each night I realize I survived another day and I have the love of my boys surrounding me.  But mornings are different.  Mornings are the moments when I dream of drowning.  When I will my eyes not to open.  And beg my heart to stop its bleeding.  Mornings are filled with anger, resentment, hopelessness, tears, and the deepest of heartaches.  Mornings are when I wake up to the realization that part of me has died and continues to die.  Mornings are pain.  This morning I woke up at 430 and dove in to my new best friend, Journal, after a bit of meditation and I just felt that I needed to share this moment.

As much as I desire to shut off my mind, the deep pit of my stomach that is tied in a million little knots, seems to believe that it has a mind of its own.  And I feel as though I have no control over my body.  13 pounds lighter because I literally cannot swallow without gagging.  This pain is all consuming.  Leaving me sleepless, starving and walking through life as though my soul no longer exists.  The only time I’m alive is when my boys are with me.  And I’m with them.  When I am with them, we are what’s left of a family.  We are here reassembling our shattered world.  Together we are violently sweeping the pieces of our hearts back in to a less fractured mess.  We are each other’s healers.  
IMG_2047Last night I cradled our youngest who has suffered at the hands of adults too many times in his life.  Who is feeling this abandonment as deep as his soul.  After speaking with you the second time, he was a limp puddle of wailing tears (recall the sounds of the boys when we buried Shadow and you will know the depth of pain that filled this house [no longer home] curled up in the lap of his mom.  I sat there soothing him with empty words because words cannot bring his daddy back.  Words cannot keep his mom from leaving him in a few days.  Words and hugs cannot make this better.  And he knows that.  He knows that he is in pain and that he doesn’t like the choice that is once again being made for him.  It is NOT the best choice for his life and there is no convincing him of that.  I sat there truly wishing that I could take it all away.  That I could carry his sadness for him but the only power I have is to share it with him.  To hold him in his despair.  To keep telling him that he is safe and he is loved.  I felt helpless and his pain was so visceral and haunting.  
Followed by that I sat with one boy who is completely avoiding and covering his feelings, as the only way he’s ever dealt with any heartache.  The only way to bridge the gap with him is to mostly focus on surface things and really spend time trying to dig just a little deeper.  When you dig a little deeper you realize he’s scared to death.  I slept with him in my bed last night and he thrashed all night with nightmares.  Yelling, punching, and screaming.  His brain processes his pain at night.  His subconscious cannot hide.  I finally pulled him toward me and he latched on as though his entire world was falling away from him.  
Another boy who drew on the feelings board that he would like the two of us to tell a few more people that he’s gay.  AIMG_2045 few people in his class.  When I tell him that his teacher already knows he starts wailing too.  And he wants to become angry with me as though I had something to do with all of this.  He wants to hit me and then I hug him and he too melts in to my body begging for me to heal him.  I pull him close to my breasts because that’s all I know to do.  And I can feel the pain radiating between the two of us.  Like hot coals burning through our chests.  We are so broken.  And we want answers.  He falls asleep beside me and I break because I know that you cannot comfort him the way that I can because your bond is not the same.  It’s different with him.  He has always favored me.  And I become scornful that I would be required to be away from him at all.  That I will be walking away from him in his darkest hours.  How can this be okay?!?
IMG_2048Finally, I sit with the oldest who is doing just what us oldests do.  He’s trying to keep his shit together and pretend it doesn’t hurt but then when you ask him to draw out what he’s feeling it’s so clear that he’s lost and in just as much pain as the next person.  He’s holding on to the wish that mom and dad are actually on a timeout and this is temporary and I can’t answer that for him because nothing makes sense to me.  And I see him pulling away because to be here is too painful, too confusing, too disappointing.  He, too, has been left behind before and this place feels scary. His parents are letting him down and trying to cover the pain with happiness and lies that this is all okay.  He knows that these are lies.  He no longer trusts but he holds on to the hope that they are going to figure it out and his life will return to normal.  Until then he seeks and seeks ways to make it better.  And every day, many times a day, he asks me when I’m leaving again.  And I have to answer as though leaving is a choice I’m making and the truth is I am as voiceless as he.  
Here we are, this partial family, sitting at the dinner table talking about when daddy will be here for dinner.   And the boys want to make it something super special.  They talk about dressing up and serving dinner.  They vote on a baked potato bar.  They are excited that all 6 of us will be together.  And I understand why they want this.  Because I, too, find myself fighting back this need to impress.  To make myself worthy of their daddy’s love.  I, too, find myself wanting the house to be perfect, the dinner to be perfect, me to be smashing and in my best form.  I, too, want to believe that this family can be restored and deserves nothing short of restoration.  And so I sit there listening to all their wants and letting them take control of Thursday night because I don’t have it in me to do anything but watch them dream.  It doesn’t matter what I say or how much I laugh and smile with them….they carry a level of fear.  They carry a level of burden.  They, too, blame themselves and don’t know how to express this.  They don’t know what to do with their pain.  They don’t know who they can trust to tell.  They don’t know who they can trust.  Period.  Their lives have been disrupted and that’s that.  I know this because I have been them.  And I see in them what I know to be true in me.  
So for now, I keep telling them all the beautiful things about their daddy. I swallow my pain in their awake hours but I also share with them that I’m sad too.  I do all I know to do to help them transition.  I play.  I listen.  I nurse the pain.  I hug.  I soothe. But on Tuesday morning I will have to hug them goodbye again and I will have to walk away from their lives and I will break all over again.  They will break all over again.  I will walk away still believing this is not right.  This is not okay.  This is shit!  I feel that this is an injustice to a really beautiful family.  We were a beautiful family, Adam, and so I cannot understand this moment in which we find ourselves.  
Love and Peace,


I’m Part of the Problem


Social media certainly has its positives but it also has its gross distortions of reality.  Article after article has been written about the decreased happiness levels of those who use Facebook on a regular basis.  Studies claim that this may be due to the comparisons we make to the fictional personas of our online “friends”. It’s hard not to feel blue when one is inundated with pics of tropical vacations, stories of perfect, high-achieving children and spouses, love stories, modelesque selfies, posts about promotions, fast race times, pics of new houses, cars, gourmet homemade dinners, etc etc etc.  All of these posts true but not fully true.  Smoke and mirrors.  Facebook becomes a place of glorified and amplified brags. We begin to put others up on pedestals of perfection while drowning ourselves in an envious reduction of “everyone’s life is better than mine” mentality.

I’m a FB user, so you see, the problem is, I’m part of the problem.  To continue in this journey of Living Out Loud, I’d like to be honest here and present the full truth vs the pedestal truth my FB posts may have led you to believe.

IMG_2318I have been getting my hair colored for as long as I can remember and have always had the funds to do so.  The last two years, I have not had the funds to do so yet continued to color my hair.  When I posted this pic, I loved the way my hair looked so much that I was literally denying the facts that my budget does not allow for this.  I just wanted to feel pretty.  It took two years but I have finally accepted that this was the last time for a long time my hair would look that great.  I am now currently growing out my gray and accepting my reality that I cannot keep up with my FB envy of hair, pedicures, manicures, lashes and all the other beautification pics I see on FB.  My reality is gray, unpainted, and all natural. And that’s okay.

10449970_10152112336166493_337380212490761156_nThe truth behind this picture (left) and others from this day is that my family was judged harshly throughout our visit.  We were visiting family that criticized my parenting because my son has long hair and talked to me about how I’m not raising “real” men of god.  I was not only judged for the looks and behaviors of my sons but I was also judged on my tattoos and my choice of clothing.  When I asked for water, I was told I could not go in the house but rather that I could fill my water bottles with the yard hose. Yeah, not quite as happy-go-lucky as the pictures make that visit out to be.

When I posted motorcycle & meditation pics from Tucson in March, the t2014-03-14 10.39.48ruth is, that I was in Tucson trying to find any way to manage dealing with my broken heart.  It was my 17 year wedding anniversary and Adam and I had just separated two weeks prior.  I spent my wedding anniversary hiking Sabino Canyon alone and seeing a therapist.  Hardly romantic.

While Adam and I were coaching little league baseball together, every person believed that we were a happy, unified family. We were selling a lie.  The truth was that I would cry before baseball practice and after.  I longed for those two hours when I would have some connection with Adam. The truth was that I was madly in love with the man on the baseball field but our relationship had become toxic.  Games usually ended with us arriving together but leaving to our separate homes.

IMG_2205When I posted pics of Adam and I taking a motorcycle trip to Smith Rock in May, the truth is that this was a trip to burn, bury, and bathe our old relationship so we could move forward.  We burned our marriage license and goodbye letters we wrote to our 20 years together.  We buried our wedding pictures with other mementos from our wedding day.  And we bathed each other in tears and rivers.  While it was one step in our reconciliation, I was still neck deep in torment and pain.

10608297_10152200302131493_8594048053955087003_oI received a lot of praise for how “thin and wonderful” I looked in some of my summer pictures and the truth is I was as thin as I’ve been since my early 20s.  And the deeper truth is that I became that thin, not because I was healthy, but because I was unhealthy.  I was not able to stomach much food, I was vomiting, I was running miles on an empty stomach, and I was experiencing deep levels of heart break.  I was literally starving emotionally and physically. Because of the praise, when I gained 10 of those pounds back, I became extremely tempted to stop eating again for fear of being “fat” or unattractive.  Now I see those 10 pounds as 10 pounds of happiness.   I am only that thin when I am in pain.

I hid my separation from all of you for multiple reasons.  One, it was not only my story to tell and I did not have Adam’s permission to share.  Two, I needed to process the changes on my own.  I knew whatever decisions I made needed to be mine and mine alone.  I am the only one who needs to live with the choices I make.  Three, I knew there would be judgement and I had zero room for judgement.

I have posted on FB that I haven’t finished my children’s book because I was waiting to change my name and obtain my CVT license so that my book would be more respected if it is authored by a professional in the field.  While that may be partially true, the real truth is that I’m scared to death that the book will be laughed at and a waste of my time and the illustrator’s time. I now have my CVT license and an illustrator I want to use, so there’s no more excuses.  I’m finally willing to take the risk of failure.

10622945_10152218221426493_6321856964184099964_nWhen I posted pics from a brilliant, summer day, it looked like all fun and games.  Joy and happiness.  But the truth is, it was a day that both broke me to a new low and, at the same time, allowed me stand a lot taller.  On this day, I found my truth.  I stood up for myself.  On this day, I also decided that I no longer wanted to try and reconcile my marriage.  I knew I was finished with the way things were.  I’ll write more about this in another post.

When I posted about my home finally selling, I was celebrating a lot more than just a home sale.  What I have not admitted to many of you (and to myself) is that our family has had real financial hardships.  Since the whole CFA thing (which I’m finally ready to live out loud about too), we have not had positive cash flow in over 2 years.  Our ENTIRE retirement is drained.  This is the first month in 2 years that we have made enough money to cover our basic costs.  Just two months ago, we were in a position of deciding if we were going to move the six of us in to our RV or in to my mom’s garage.  I have not wanted to admit that we’ve gone from our dream home on 3 acres with a dream job to applying for food stamps, accepting free handouts, exchanging clothes, and having to turn down fun events because of budget constraints.  It’s been a challenging, humbling two years and I’ve been embarrassed to admit the whole truth.  I am no longer hiding.

IMG_2177When I post happy pictures of my family, the chances are that one or more of my boys just had a huge mental breakdown prior to the picture.  For example in the picture to the left, I had to introduce a swearing bubble because the family was full of negative energy and we needed an ice breaker.  My boys are far from perfect.  My parenting far from perfect.  Our family FAR from perfect.  But when I scroll through my FB posts, we sure look perfect.  We look like we are always having fun and out having adventures (which we ARE having lots of fun and adventure…I mean, life is pretty damn good) but nobody on FB (me included) is posting tantrum pictures, pics of their thieving child returning a stolen stone to the World Affairs Council, soundbites of their child screaming “I fucking hate you, Mom” when they are about to have their finger pricked in the Dr’s office, or pics of the cereal the boys’ are eating for the 4th meal in a row.

I’ve posted pics of my sister’s baby shower that fail to show that I was really missing one of my other sisters because there’s a riff in the family.  I’ve only posted my best workout times and not my slower runs.  I’ve deleted plenty of pictures saving only the “best” for FB.  I never said anything about being separated or my dating life or Adam’s during that separation.  And because I never shared with you my separation from Adam, you wouldn’t know that we recently decided to recommit to our marriage and I am once again madly in love with my best friend.  Because I sometimes live in fear, I don’t post anything specific about the journey we are currently taking with the CFA incident. You wouldn’t know that I still struggle with rage when people tell me that I am lost or need god, that they feel sorry for my kids.  You wouldn’t know that I like my new job but incessantly think about the ways I’m failing and could be better.

So you see, I, too, have painted a picture of perfection that is so far from the truth that you may have put me on a pedestal. You may have thought things about me that are not true because I presented you with a half truth.  I am tired of contributing to the perfection myth.  I am not perfect.  You are not perfect.  Your life is not better than mine and mine is not better than yours. I am hoping that by Living Out Loud, we’ll start to see we’re in good company no matter where we are in life.

What half truths are you selling on social media? What pedestals have you built?  Care to tell the full truth and step on down? It’s liberating down here.  Join me!

I Choose to LOL (Live Out Loud)


imagesAbout a month ago, I was in a real slump.  I was feeling inferior to other people (particularly women).  I was feeling insecure and questioning my worth as a human being.  I was feeling ugly and negatively judging my body.  I was feeling self conscious in my old mini-van and it’s lack of cool.   I was resenting my role as a mom.  The boys, they too, had stolen my cool factor.  I was doubting my ability to go back in to the work force and contribute quality work that others would value.  I began to become dissatisfied with the size of my home, the style of my clothes, the color of my hair, the small number in my bank account.  I was comparing, judging, and sitting in the ugliness of the stories my mind was creating and buying. The lies began their sneaky little job of creating this web of madness within me.

Once I realized that this funk was turning ugly and affecting the way I was viewing the world and treating the people around me, I decided I needed to take a hard look at what had changed to cause such unhappiness.  Adam had been out of town during this period of downward spiraling and I had engaged in a lot of, what I believed to be, harmless fun.  I watched Bachelor in Paradise from beginning to end.  I watched the Kardashians.  I lazily browsed on Pinterest and Etsy while watching music videos.  And I was on social media much more frequently…even adding the FB app to my phone.  Media was actually affecting my view of the world.  My view of self.

And there it was, the answer was that simple. I am sensitive to what I view and can easily fall victim to the solicitous agenda of media. I know that not everybody will be as sensitive as I am to overt sexuality and portrayals of what women should be.  Some of us are more sensitive to violence or consumerism or the top ten lists of how to be perfect in some fashion of life from parenting, religion, or home organization. We are all comparing ourselves to a standard sold to us. We are always “failing” at something according to someone. Even if that someone lives inside an electronic box selling a non-existent one-size-fits-all-perfection-solution.  I bought in to the lies, sold to me by the people inside that box, that my 36-year-old female self was all washed up. If I don’t look like the Kardashians, sell sex like JLo, have the same perky body of the women competing for “love” on Bachelor in Paradise, if I’m not as perfect as all my “friends” on FB, and if I’m not buying or wearing the latest/greatest…well then I’m not worth anything. I’m not attractive. My husband won’t want me for much longer. I need to make changes. Run faster. Workout harder. Get a six pack. Make more money. Eat less. Dress sexier. I’m clearly inadequate. I need to be better. Lie after lie quickly building a foundation of self hatred. I wanted to hide my insecurities from all of you. From my friends, my family, my husband. I wanted to appear stronger and more secure than I was. And so I hid. I had been hiding other areas of my life and just added my insecurities and self hatred to the dark corner of other secrets.  The longer I hid, the more insecure I felt. I was now living a false truth. Another mark against my clearly flawed self.

Lucky for me (and those around me), I was quick to recognize that my thoughts were turning into an ugly infestation and I was able to reflect quietly enough to identify the culprit. That damn media had its grasp again. I immediately turned off the media inputs, reached out to my girlfriends and was open about how I was feeling and I soon found myself worthy again. As I rid my life of the noise shouting at me who I was, who I wasn’t, and who I should be, I found who I really am.   In the silence, I found that I am me. Perfect me. And you are you. Perfect you.


One way that I have found my center time and time again is to be vulnerable in sharing. I find great healing in sharing in this blog. I become connected to those around me when I let down my guard and show vulnerability in sharing my struggles. I find that others open up and share too. We build a safe community where we can be real and genuine no matter where we are in our journeys. I recognized in this time of disliking myself that I had stepped away from my purpose of living out loud. I had started to hide for fear of being judged. I had gone inward and become alone. I had lost some of my integrity. I needed a good kick start to getting back to a life of vulnerability and authenticity. I was given that good kick-in-the- ass a few weeks ago when I had the pleasure of attending an event in which Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild, wa10174916_10152050667061493_5333993137919276168_ns speaking. In that forum, she spoke about Radical Honesty. Cheryl’s belief was the equivalent of my belief of living out loud. Here was a woman who was baring her life in a truly authentic way and I, along with so many others, connect with this type of vulnerability. I felt the pull and encouragement to come out of hiding and begin sharing again.


I’ve started by sharing my deep, dark, scary secrets with my best friend, my husband. He’s held such a safe space for me and encouraged me to share whatever my heart needs to share. With his encouragement, I am ready to restart the practice of Living Out Loud with Radical Honesty. I hope that you all will continue to hold a safe space for my sharing, for the sharing of others, and find your safe spaces for vulnerability too. Start by sharing one secret with someone you find trustworthy. Or even begin by writing down the scariest secret you can think of sharing and burn it or bury it. Just writing it down is one step toward healing and letting it go. Freedom from the lie that secret has sold you.  I think you’ll find the more you share the less scary it becomes. And you’ll start to love you a helluva a lot more. Others will gravitate toward you because your energy will be absolutely pure. And, before you know it, you’ll not only be your own safe place but a safe place for others to practice Radical Honesty.


So who’s with me? Who’s ready to LIVE OUT LOUD? Journey with me, Friends! Let’s change ourselves, our circles and our communities with a little bit of Radical Honesty!





He Said What?!?

He Said What?!?

We were out mountain biking with some friends and J decided he needed to say something to my girlfriend, E.

J:  Can I give you a compliment?  
E:  Sure.
J:  You might want to know that you’re a chatterbox and talk alot.  
E:  Um.  Thanks.  Not sure that was a compliment.

On the way home, I wanted to clarify exactly what J had meant.

Me:  J, what do you think compliment means?
J:  It means you tell somebody something about themselves that they might not know and they need to know.  
Me:  Ah.  A compliment is actually saying something kind about someone.  
J:  Oops.
Me:  What were you trying to tell E? 
J:  That she talks too much.  I thought she might want to know.  I’m just not used to girls and how much they talk and I thought she should know.  I wasn’t trying to be mean but I wasn’t trying to compliment her either.  I guess I was informing.
Me:  Next time, shoot for the compliment.  

Lucky for me, E is super cool and I love that she’s a “chatterbox”.  

S:  Mom, I kind of like the word dick.  
Me:  Oh yeah, why is that?
S:  It just sounds cool.
Me:  I kind of like that word too.  
S:  If we like it, why can’t we just use it?  It sounds better than penis.  
Me:  People consider it to be vulgar.  It’s simply kinder in our society to limit our use of that word.  
S:  I guess that makes sense.  I just wish penis was vulgar and dick was kind.  

We were taking a family walk to the grocery store and I was really irritated and grouchy and kind of walking fast and angrily in front of the family.  And then G runs up to me and takes my hand…

G:  Mom, are you sad because you’re the only vagina? 

I cracked a smile at that unexpected question.

G:  I mean, if you look at our family there are 5 penises.  Well 6 if you count Decker’s (our dog).  6 penises and 1 vagina.  I’d be sad if I was the only vagina.  Actually you’re the only boobs too.  Wow, that’s sad.  
Me:  I don’t think I’m sad because I’m the only vagina and boobs.  But maybe I am because I was being grouchy at all the chaos and noise you boys (daddy included) make.  Thanks for noticing my sadness, G.  I love you.

Less than 12 hours later, I started my period.  That sent me in to a fit of laughter.  The accuracy of being the sad vagina in the family.

P:  Mom, no offense but your tummy is kind of fat.  
Me:  Oh, P, that hurt my feelings a little bit.  

P reaches over and gives me a big hug and his I’m sorry eyes.

P:  Well, maybe not fat.  It just looks like you’re growing another baby.

This is the boys’ favorite joke right now.  Enjoy.

After I say my line you say Ketchup and Rubber Buns.

Me:  What did you eat for breakfast?
You:  Ketchup and Rubber Buns.
Me:  What did you eat for lunch?
You:  Ketchup and Rubber Buns.
Me:  What did you eat for dinner?
You:  Ketchup and Rubber Buns.
Me:  What do you do when an old lady passes you on the street?
You:  Ketchup and Rubber Buns.