My name is Elvira and I’m an alcoholic.

My name is Elvira and I’m an alcoholic.

(My ego, Elvira)

I got sober at the age of 25. That means for over half of my life, I have not touched a drink. There is much discussion of ego among my sober friends and I.  And somewhere in the last year, I decided to give my ego a name. Elvira seemed fitting. For one, she has the big boobs I wanted when the breast cancer afforded that option 18 years ago. That didn’t go the way I intended, but the cancer did go, so I really can’t complain.  

This morning in the shower, when I was talking to God about writing, the suggestion was made that I introduce Elvira here and speak using her voice. So, here she is!

Elvira: Well THIS is interesting. For all of the times I have screamed for attention, today, Lucinda decides to give me the floor.  

Lucinda: You know, Elvira, you really can be a brat! I have the best of intentions for things like learning to have delayed gratification when it comes to shopping or dating and you just sit in your big chair over there staring at me, shouting bad advice like “Ah go on, spend the money. You can’t take it with you.” Like you have nothing better to do. 

Elvira: Well I DON’T have anything better to do. 

Lucinda: Actually, that’s not entirely true. Did you know that by definition of the word ego, you are a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance? The difference in you, Elvira, is that you want to be all important and it just doesn’t work like that. Another definition of you sees you as the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity. So, I think we should work together. And I want you to understand that I am the alpha in this relationship. Capiche?

Elvira: I’m listening…

Lucinda: Elvira, you and I have one simple job to do. And that is to love.   That is pretty simple. But it is not easy.  Now the first thing you think of when I say that is boys. Romantic love. That is only part of it. That is just a heart’s desire we share. But the love I am talking about here is a universal thing. It is our purpose in the short time we have left here. 

 Clearly, you have trust issues. And you seem to have a God complex and a want to be in charge of me. Well, you are not the boss of me, girlfriend. You are not. I surrender my will to God on a daily basis with the intention of being of service to the best of my ability each day with whatever I do, whoever I talk to, however I spend my time, money and energy. But you get so impatient with God’s plan for us. Why?

Elvira: Well, I have known much disappointment in life with you. And I just want to have some fun for the time we have left here. What is so bad about that?

Lucinda: Nothing. Nothing at all, but when you try and bend things to go your way rather than allowing them to go the way God has planned, you end up creating your own misery and that spills onto me. I know, for example, that you and I have heart’s desire to grow old with and love another in a romantic partnership.

But your lack of trust and fear of being alone with and getting to know me kept us in a marriage that was not happy for anyone for most of 24 years and since that time that same lack of trust in God’s plan and fear of being alone kept us both in relationships where we were settling for less. Don’t get me wrong, we learned lessons from all of these, but we stayed longer than necessary in a couple of them and across the board, there was a pain in the endings that could have been avoided altogether had you and I joined forces years ago and learned together to trust that God would take care of us and taken the time to know each other then as we do now.

Elvira: Yeah, well, I didn’t see much evidence of that care of God growing up with you. I mean, where was God when your mom left us alone all the time?

Lucinda: I get it Elvira. It looks like we were alone. And it felt that way to me, too. But it turned out that we were safe. Right? Nothing happened that I can recall anyway. So here is the deal. Let’s look at facts over feelings. The feelings we shared were those of neglect, lack of love and abandonment. And maybe there was some truth in that. But our mom always came home and in her absence, something kept us safe. Do you see my point here?

Elvira: I am beginning to, yeah.

Lucinda: I think everything that did or didn’t happen to us so far in this life that may have caused pain was a well learned lesson, sometimes more than once that we can now, moving forward for whatever time we are still here, avoid re-learning if you will just work with me here and be a little more patient and trusting.

Elivra: That sounds easy, but when it is Sunday afternoon, and we are alone AGAIN in this pandemic isolation that has droned on for five months, aching for companionship, I just want to talk to boys.

Lucinda: Look, Elvira, you are preaching to the choir. But let’s “play the tape” as they say. Let’s say we meet someone online who is nice enough and let’s say we agree to have coffee and let’s say you make me forget that there is a pandemic because you can be pretty persuasive and we get up close and personal when we have no way of knowing short of a test that is not 100% reliable as to whether they or we have this virus, is it worth the risk?

I know this is a marathon. A waiting game. To see when the coast is clear. So why don’t we just indulge each other until things are safer. We can make nice dinners for each other like we would for a special someone. We can watch great movies. We can play great music. We can make happy art. We can call people who might be lonely. We can share LIVE video of the beach with people who are landlocked. We can write with the hopes of inspiring others who are in the same boat with this pandemic fatigue. Basically, we can give to each other and share with others and when I say until the coast is clear, hell, we have the Emerald Coast of the Gulf of Mexico 5 minutes away where we can go every day at a safe distance from others to get filled up on God’s beauty and the gifts of the Universe. We can love from a safe distance and get filled up in return.

This will all change, Elvira. I don’t know how. I don’t know when. But I do know it will change. We will go to restaurants again. We will hug our friends again. We will go to the movies again. We will have parties again. But until that is a prudent thing to do, let’s just accept what is, take it a day at a time, and make the best of it. 

Elvira: Ok, but I am gonna need a dog, cake and cookies and ice cream. And I mean the good stuff from scratch, and Ben and Jerry’s and Haagen Daz, not that other store brand crap.

Lucinda: Fair enough, Elvira, fair enough.

Gratitude Beach

Gratitude Beach

I have just had the most moving experience. From Tulsa, Oklahoma to what I am going to rename Gratitude Beach. But for the sake of geography and Google search for when you want to come here, I live in Destin, Florida.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is efb47442d918e9c6debade097a53567b.jpg(My new home.)

Destin used to be a fishing village. Today, when the million plus tourists aren’t flocking here between June and September, it has a modest population of just under 20,000 people. My county of Okaloosa has just over 200,000 people while the city of Tulsa, my home for most of 50 years boasts a headcount of 400,000.

I like the smallness here. The potential for greater intimacy. The intrigue of a possible Peyton Place Syndrome, where your business is everyone’s business. I am going to be on my best behavior with the hopes that I won’t be somebody’s “Did you hear about…” punch line. I do have a history rich with sentence completion that does not make me proud. But I am happy to report, that is way the hell back in the rear view mirror, somewhere around 1985.

This move has had many moving parts. I downsized from a three bedroom house to a one bedroom apartment. Could have been a daunting task, but the reward at the end of the journey being a zip code on the Emerald Coast was quite the incentive to be thorough and to only to keep those things that I needed or that continue to bring me joy.

In that process, I sold some antiques. And that was a fond farewell. I wrote about Beulah here, the dry sink that was a fixture for most of my life as my parents were big antique lovers in New England and New Jersey back in the 1950’s, both of whom are now deceased.

The last antique treasure to go that I still had affection for was the church pew.   This piece of wood that has held together for well over a hundred years with not one nail was like a member of my family. It always lived where my mom was until she was no longer living, at which time, it came to live with me in my marital family home. And when that family was no more, the church pew, much like a good loyal dog that sees you through hard times, followed at my heel and moved twice with me.

Once I had custody, it went from empty and welcoming, to whimsical display of my fancy shoes and wind up toys, an ever changing display of the whimsy that I insist in surrounding myself with.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 117009264_374315020220931_7800420205910773569_n.jpg(Tulsa decor)

Well the universe is a generous kind place, filled with generous kind people and a friend here in Florida bought the church pew from me when I shared the Craigslist post on my Facebook while I was still in Tulsa, with the plan that I would deliver upon my arrival here. He even paid $25 over my asking price, which was welcome, as the move was not cheap and the funds were required. I was happy to know that I would know what loving home it went to. Much like my furniture art, I get attached to things that bring me joy, and this church pew has done that over time.

A week ago today, when that friend showed up to help two others unload my life as it is now, from the innards of a big yellow truck and up three flights into my tree house apartment in paradise, that same friend, after learning the story about the bench and what it meant to me, gifted it back to me as a house warming present. I gotta tell you, God Is Good, All The Time, if I am just paying attention.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 0808201127.jpg(My new theme)

Now I move again. This time, forward. Into whatever and whoever God has in store for me. To know, to love, to be in relationship with, to serve. All the top priority of each and every day that I continue to be gifted with. Which is my truth. That every day IS a gift. Pandemic or no pandemic. Worldly calamity or World peace. NO MATTER WHAT. My life is a gift. Every day, when I wake up, I get to open a day like a present. And I get to spend my time, energy and money in ways that I hope are pleasing to the universe and the God that I intend to serve in whatever ways I can be useful.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 0808201128.jpg

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always come from a place of gratitude. In fact, last night, was just the opposite. After a week of being driven to unpack everything I own and nest, I was exhausted. I had hung over a dozen pictures, unpacked and broke down at least that many boxes.

I was angry that ATT wanted me to pay them an additional $50 for my last month of TV and internet. Something about my “12 month special” rate expiring and leaving me with the final month at a higher rate. And I am not proud of the manner in which I spoke to the innocent woman on the other end of the phone. It was not her fault that I had not read the fine print, but, no. I wasn’t paying without a fit. And I had one. But at the time, because no one was watching, I justified my bitchy tone on the phone by telling myself, “My words were not unkind.” But if you were to rate my tone of indignation on a 1 to 10 scale, it would have easily hit 9.75. I was not nice. And I knew it and I felt it and I cleaned up my mess just as fast as I made it. “I realize this is not your fault. I know my tone is cranky and I am sorry.” But not before I got in another jab at ATT for, I don’t know, not teaching me to read the fine print first? “I just have always had trouble with ATT and their poor communication.” What an ego I have on me at times!

Her name is Elvira, by the way, my ego that is, if you are new to my stories here. You know, the one with the big boobs and big black bouffant to match. She really has a mouth on her. And much attitude, coupled with little to sometimes no patience. She is a justification queen. Suffice it to say, I finally decided that my serenity was worth $50 bucks. Besides, I owed it. I just didn’t like it. And more important, I was not in a good place when I made the call, or should I say, when Elvira insisted on picking up the phone to channel her frustration at the latter part of the afternoon. She and I both were quite tired and sore from unpacking and acclimating. To a third floor walk and a town where there are no mask mandates for the public, except for those local or national chains who won’t allow customers or employees to be present if a face mask is absent.

This has been a scary scene for me in that respect.  Moving from Tulsa, where there was a mask mandate for all public anything to a state that has achieved ranks up there with the big apple for viral cases. Two weeks ago, a friend died from the virus and another here in Destin, who required hospitalization, thankfully, just recovered. And for me, social distancing and wearing a mask are mandatory because I don’t want to give or get a sickness that is a stealth by nature.

This, coupled with all that goes along with a major life change, be it positive or negative, I really just needed to vent. But to a friend, not passive aggressively getting it out to an innocent call center employee who, for all I know, is as done with pandemic life and being stuck at home for work, as I am sure are many people, when I dare to think of others above myself.

These are teachable moments to me. These ugly actors in my behavior. And I look to others who are of a similar mindset to be of service and do the right thing in their walk of life to tell me what they see. So when I was about to take a dive in the deep end of self pity last night, I reached out to a friend who is very uplifting and positive and just plain fun. Truth be told, I wanted a commiserator. Someone to wallow with me. Just for a minute. Instead, again, thanks to a generous Universe, what I got was an unexpected gift. Here is the text:

ME:  “I got to tell you it’s almost cruel to be living in such a beautiful place and shut into my apartment. I’m having a little bit of pity here. I won’t stay there though cuz it’s going to take a minute before this s***’s over with.” (Start the violins and call me a wambulance.)

ME: “Hope you’re having a good Friday! Hate to end anything in a pouty tone. LOL.”

FRIEND: “I don’t expect you will sit there long. LOL. We are too blessed to sit in pity.”

Those words really hit me hard. In a good way. I was at a crossroads. About to choose how the rest of my gift of a day was going to go. And because of the suggestion of looking at blessings that I heard there, I took that as the Universe using this person to kindly remind me I have so much. So much. So much. To be grateful for.

I love the way God uses people if I only allow them in. In my ugly moments. In my times of sometimes repulsive to me neediness.

And I love the saying:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 117083112_298249238281450_376421188364482437_n.jpg(Miramar Beach-Where I go every morning)

I just came back to this post to publish, after taking the afternoon to do my art, which I do with intent every Saturday afternoon. Just as I began to sit to do my art, I saw that sitting after writing for a time needed to be interrupted. So I went to the floor to stretch and I hurt my back. Bad enough that it scared me to think that I might need to go to the ER. But I just took a breath between the ones that the wincing was taking from me and I reached out to four people who walk the same spiritual path that I do. Two are doctors and two are not. All are a part of my family of choice. And every one of them offered their service, with one bringing my gimpy ass self the Tylenol, Motrin and heating pad that were recommended by someone who knows more than I do, loving me out loud and with action. Acts of service is a love language you know.

So tonight, I will order a pizza to be delivered to  my third floor tree house apartment in paradise and bask in the love that the Universe has showered me with in just these last twenty four hour, never mind the last week.

I am indeed grateful. For everything. The pleasure of having eyes that can embrace the beauty of the beach as I go there every morning to see God and fill my cup as well as the times when I hurt with pains of change or pains of moving or pains of missing my daughter because those are the things that move me to grow in my spiritual life. Through those I know in human form who I like to call my God Squad. The ones who tell me the truth in kind and gentle ways. And I am grateful for all of the pain and difficulty that makes me need more than just me. And when I turn those needs to a power greater than what I have, I am consistently richly blessed in ways that you have to know are beautiful.

(My morning set up.)

Time To Go Tulsa

Time To Go Tulsa

(I’m getting loaded.)

Well Tulsa, It’s about that time. I’m leaving you. This time, I think, for good.

I came to you with my mom from Connecticut after my dad died when I was 7. We were supposed to be moving to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, but my mom made a permanent detour via Southern Illinois and then here when I was in the 8th grade. 

I started school in one of your junior highs, where the boys in my 8th grade band class were not too kind in their words to me as I was “welcomed” to Tulsa and into the band. When the band instructor introduced this new barely pubescent 12 year old flutist from Illinois, the boys in percussion chimed in. “Is she pointed or flat?” Said the first. “She’s flat.” Replied his buddy. To which the band instructor said  “ .“ That was my first wrongful attachment of pain to you Tulsa. To be fair, I already had a chip on my shoulder for my mom not taking me to the beach in Florida.

I went on to two of your private high schools and graduated. I went away to a short lived college career before I returned to you at 17. I worked in your restaurants. Drank in your bars. 

I escaped you at 19 for a year of fun in the mountains. Skiing and drinking in Crested Butte, Colorado. 

Then a summer in Lake Tahoe working at Caesar’s. Then a couple of years in Texas. Houston first where I got married and drunk alot.  Then on to Austin, where I got unmarried and sober. Once.

After that Tulsa, my car brought me back to you.  All in my early days of sobriety. When the advice is to not make a major change in the first year. I must have thought that being blonde and left handed made me exempt as I left my husband and Texas with all that I owned in my car  bearing a sign in the window which read, “Tulsa or Bust,” to return to you at less than six months sober.  I went to a lot of your meetings. Loved and was loved by a lot of your people.  

I spent three and a half months in one of your halfway (insane) houses, then several apartments over five  or six years until that second marriage of 24 years happened. 

We lived on your outskirts in the sod country of Bixby, Oklahoma for 14 years, where we built a lovely home, complete with three hand prints, one for mom, one for dad and one for 4 year old Abby, dated 2002 on the floor in the corner of the garage.

(Our Family Home)

We fled from you for our first year of marriage to the Dutch Country of Pennsylvania. I could not be with you. I did not like you. I thought you made me unhappy. And I was sure that leaving you was the answer.  

After one year of experiencing that the natives of Lancaster, PA only like people who visit and loathe those who bring moving vans, we aimed for Austin, Texas, but you had the job that fit the mechanical engineer in my house, so back to you, Tulsa,  we came. 

While you welcomed us back,that marriage of 24 years eventually ended here. And so did the dream I had spent have of my life believing in here in Tulsa. 

My creative work of painting began here as my marriage was coming to a close. I started to paint whimsical furniture for kids going into foster care. I also started my real spiritual work with you Tulsa.  I pushed up out of the ashes of my former life, and you generously provided me great teachers of what God does and doesn’t look like to teach me the lessons of the day.

(Samples of my work)

I completed my treatment of and survival from breast cancer here with you Tulsa 18 years ago. Some of your docs could use some work, in my experience, but there were enough good ones here to meet my needs. I mean, I’m still here. Right?

I have known much unhappiness while living with you. You get dark in the winter and you are cold to me too. I have spent much of my time living with you complaining about you. About the way you look. You don’t have an ocean. Or mountains. Your lakes feel like big mud puddles with sticks and snakes and God knows what else in them. I sound like a bitchy wife or ungrateful child here. Don’t I?

One thing I have learned and forgotten and relearned over and over again in my spiritual walk of 35 years is that nothing is perfect and focusing on what I see as negative just makes it more so. Conversely, focusing on what I do like makes it even more so. In other words, it’s all about perspective. And appreciation or as I like to call it, gratitude.

Tulsa, I want to ask your forgiveness. You did nothing to me. My unhappiness was not your fault. Your version of traffic is nothing compared to what I knew in Texas. Your people are, for the most part, friendly and those who I was in relationship with for support, were quite loving indeed.

I could live with you and find the good in you of which there is much. And I learned to do that quite well as I learned and experienced over the years that my happiness is an inside job. To be done wherever my body resides. 

But Tulsa, the God of my understanding has directed my body and soul to the beach. I suffer pains in my body and spirit in the darker days and cold of your winters. Each season is harder on me than the one before as my body and mind advance in age. We just aren’t a good match, you and me. Not today. And because of that Tulsa, I am leaving you.

I am an artist and while you have a quite impressive art community here, one that I only began to truly discover in the last year or so, my bliss is in the colors of the Emerald Coast of Destin, Florida, where I pick up keys to live on August 1. Sapphire blues, emerald greens, periwinkles, tangerines, pinks, turquoises-all my favorite palette to surround myself, dress myself and work with, all on the ever changing canvas that God puts out for my eyes to feast on there at the beach in the water and the sky. It pulls me like a magnet. That’s how God is in my experience.

And so does the weather, particularly their version of winter. I spent all of February there basking in their version of cold, while my daughter sent me pictures of the snowman she had made in our back yard. While I love the smile you put on her face as she stood next to said snowman with the hot pink spray painted boobs, I was so relieved that I could hang up the phone and be with the door open where my body was in a relatively warmer place. 

I have a calling to help young women who are marked with the F word of Felony.  Women who have done their time for their crime, which in most cases was non violent and drug related, done at a time of sickness not badness, but can’t get a break or a decent job in our society. I want to teach them to paint and sell furniture. Something I began here with you Tulsa. And I have found a community of these women in Florida who I can help.

I do love you Tulsa. You do have your own unique beauty and style. Your Riverside Drive along the Arkansas River. Your Philbrook Museum, Woodward Park and Mapleridge neighborhood, just to name a few. 

You have provided me with good friends, great loves, jobs, shelter, amazing doctors, wonderful homes, terrific neighbors, treasured memories, and you are the birthplace of my favorite co-creation, my daughter Abby. 

Thanks for my Happy House. The one on Rockford Place. The one with the hot pink door. This has brought me great joy. My back yard full of bunnies doing what bunnies do best as they just keep making bunnies. For my sun porch where my art grew as my heart grew. And my living room filled with light all around and my ever changing pictures of my picture window. What a delightful revolving evolving art show that has been to see. With each passing moment, as I look out through the panes.

And my front porch that I took for granted until the pandemic hit. That porch became my window to my spiritual friends. Where I sat perched at 8 am, every day since March, armed with phone, coffee and gratitude and a need for connection, abundantly filled by people all over the country. In that tiny screen on my phone. Channeling God through channel Zoom.

(My Happy House and my art)

About Abby, Tulsa. I have never lived more than 20 minutes from her 22 year old self. And she is staying here with you. So, please. Take good care of my little girl. The one who lives inside of that bright, funny, gifted beautiful young woman of whom I am so proud. Surround her with your best God squad to protect her and love her as I will only be able to do so at an 800 mile distance. Keep her safe in her home and on your streets and in your workplaces and with those she keeps company with. 

(The best thing I ever did)
(Abby in Destin-Hope to Recreate This. Probably not gonna happen.)

Thank you Tulsa. For being my home all these years. And for letting me go.

The Circle Game-Pondering My Upcoming Move from Tulsa to Florida

The Circle Game-Pondering My Upcoming Move from Tulsa to Florida

I am reflecting on my life. Surrounded by boxes waiting to go to Florida after living in Tulsa, Oklahoma for most of my 60 years on the planet, it seemed fitting to share my thoughts out loud.

I graduated from high school at Monte Cassino School in Tulsa. At the time, it was an all girls school. It was May 1977. And this was our senior song:

The Circle Game

written by Joni Mitchell

“Yesterday a child came out to wonder
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar
Fearful when the sky was full of thunder
And tearful at the falling of a star
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

Then the child moved ten times round the seasons
Skated over ten clear frozen streams
Words like, when you’re older, must appease him
And promises of someday make his dreams
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

Sixteen springs and sixteen summers gone now
Cartwheels turn to car wheels through the town
And they tell him,
Take your time, it won’t be long now
Till you drag your feet to slow the circles down
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty
Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true
There’ll be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return, we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game.”

My years have spun by 60 times. And the majority of those have been here. In Tulsa, Oklahoma.

I arrived at age 12. Not real happy to be here either. I was born in New York where I lived until I was 5. Then we moved to Connecticut where I lived from 5 to 9 and where, at age 7, my dad died unexpectedly at the age of 42. He was my first best friend. Two years later, my brother and sister were out of the house and it was just me and my mom. She liked the song “You and Me Against The World” by Helen Reddy for us, as it was just the two of us moving forward.

I was promised a move to Ft. Lauderdale, where I was to go to school with children from all over the world, only to find my mom detouring to her old home town of Taylorville, Illinois and then Springfield, Illinois from the age of 9 to 12. And from there, we moved to Tulsa to be close to family as my siblings were in college in Oklahoma City and one of my dad’s brothers and his family were in Tulsa.

I was not happy here. I loved the beach as a child. Learned to swim in salt water at the Larchmont Yacht Club in New York and played at not getting caught in the undertow at Jones Beach. Toe headed blonde with a constant sunburn and smile, I was a beach baby. And while Oklahoma boasts the most shoreline in the US for it’s numerous lakes and such, I am a salt water snob. When people ask why I came to Oklahoma, I like to say that my mom made a wrong turn on the way to Ft. Lauderdale.

(Larchmont Yacht Club)

Don’t get me wrong, Tulsa people have been good to me. My complaint is one of geography. And as I age, the winters are hard on me. Between the short days and colder weather, I suffer with chronic pain and seasonal depression that just get harder each year during the winter months here.

My first brief exit from Tulsa was to Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas at the age of 17. I had big dreams of finding myself, making lifelong friends and living happily ever after.

None of that happened. After four weeks total, I withdrew from school. Because I was ill prepared for the realities of life away from home in a fast lane of sex and drugs and alcohol and academia that was way over my head in a matter of days. I was afraid of the partying, I was a virgin and while my test scores showed my intellect worthy of admission to this prestigious private college, my practical skills lacked when I tried to apply myself.

When reading became crucial in my prep school where I was for most of my high school, I know today that I was not able to learn by simply reading from a book. I could not pay attention. The science and math and history all just bounced right off my brain when I looked at the page. They suggested speed reading as my grades began to suffer, but that was not the solution. I now know that I have a different learning style and an attention issue. I learn by experience. There are now schools called demonstration academies for people like me who require a different way to be educated. Sadly in the 1970’s, they only had so much information and boy did I suffer for the lack of that. I have a brilliant mind, based on ACT and SAT testing, but I could not access most of it with the conventional styles of learning. I have spent most of my life feeling stupid and hopeless for that.

Looking back, I now know I was in the grips of a severe attention deficit disorder that had never been labelled or addressed, a crippling anxiety disorder that made walking to class excruciatingly frightening, coupled with a burgeoning eating disorder that I had honed all summer, losing weight to “fit in.” What I couldn’t do anymore was fit in to my swimsuit bottoms because I was entering anorexia and they were falling off at the pool.

At 17, I returned to Tulsa barely able to function over dreams dashed and I began my career of being a floundering human being and drinking and eating to relieve the pain. I got really good at all of that. I waited tables to survive, drank a lot and at 19, I escaped Tulsa for the second time to the mountains of Colorado. My private school friends had all been skiers, and I had never seen the mountains, so I decided the best way to see what that was all about was to move there.

One year in Colorado and lots of fun times skiing and drinking when drinking was fun led to a summer from Hell in Lake Tahoe working at Caesar’s where there was an even faster lane than college. It was 1981 and cocaine was all the rage. I was a pit clerk in the casino. Keeping track of the high rollers who played with house money. Hailing from Mexico City and San Francisco, these people had credit lines of $500,000 to $2 million. And when they came to play, the big boys from the cat walk above me came down to the pits to breathe down my neck while watching the big money players.

The mafia is alive and well and I wasn’t, so I moved on to Houston, Texas for two years, got pregnan the first time I had sex, had a miscarriage, got married, then moved to Austin and hit bottom with my drinking and ended my brief first marriage to my first wusband. All of this Texas drama took place within four years.

It was from there that I crawled back to Tulsa in my first year of sobriety. I was newly sober, freshly divorced, unemployable due to crippling depression and I was just 25.

I stayed in Tulsa then until I remarried and we moved away to Pennsylvania for my second wusband’s job when I was 32. That lasted a year and while we aimed for Austin to get out of the Dutch Country where they only like you when you don’t bring a moving van, the jobs were in Tulsa, so it was back to living on Tulsa time one more time.

This time, for 28 years, which leads me to now. As I aim my car south, the phrase “Never say never” comes to mind as I see the pattern of returning to Oklahoma from wherever I go.

I am pointed to Destin, Florida. The Emerald Coast. And for good reason. Or I could be corny and say for God reason. Because that is what it is. I am led by my spirit to go live at the beach.

In September, I was grieving a romantic loss and I found myself spending four days at a work retreat on the beach of Miramar in the panhandle of Florida. Literally in a house on the water, I found great healing in those few days at the beach where I become right-sized just by opening my eyes and ears to the wonder of the sun, sea, sand and horizon. And these beaches are white and go by the name of The Emerald Coast because of the emerald green waters. As an artist, I see teal and sapphire and periwinkle and pink in those skies and waters. My favorite palette to make art with.

(Miramar Beach sunrise)

When the winter hit a couple of months later back in Tulsa, I was not happy. The short days coupled with the cold weather which made it hard to go outside without hurting just made me bitchy and sad. “Go get it out of your system. Find out if it is meant for you to live there.” Wise words from a friend over dinner at Christmastime as I was dimmed by the lack of a charge to the solar panel in the top of my head. This was made worse by the fact that the relief I get from my chronic pain comes from being outside in nice weather and moving.

(Miramar Beach)

So I went on a pilgrimage. Rented a tiny house three blocks from the beach at Miramar, Florida (which is basically Destin,Florida) and off I went with the back of my SUV packed with art supplies and belongings.

(Assigned Quarters)

I spent every morning at the beach. Two hours, give or take, in most cases just me, with maybe a dozen or so snowbirds from up north who would be there when God turned on the lights. I took dozens of pictures, communed with the sea birds and wrote my gratitude in the sand. I even made a sand angel in the sand. Like when we were kids with snow in Connecticut, only way warmer. I laughed as I lay there. Flapping my arms up and down. Mindful to be sure that I pushed hard enough to make an impression. The beach patrol drove by and gave me a wave as he smiled real big. Their version of winter worked for me as my daughter sent photos of her freshly built snow woman, complete with hot pink spray painted boobs from my back yard in Tulsa where I was happy not to be.

(I’m 60, but the O is silent.)

I now understand why people move to Florida when they grow older. Their bodies ask them too. At least that is what mine has done. And so has my spirit. In fact, I did not want to uproot myself without being sure it was divinely ordered as I try to live by whatever my God has planned for me. I do believe there is a plan for me. My job is to listen for what that is on a daily basis. And when I pulled back into my Tulsa street on March 1 after a fourteen hour drive back, I felt a resounding “This is not your home.” As if God all but spoke the words.

I have plans when I get to Florida to help female felons perhaps get their own businesses going. I am moved in my spirit to do so, using my talents with furniture painting to teach those women who have done their time but can’t get a break because an F word follows them for the rest of their lives.

I also plan to finish writing my book. Something that I have also felt moved to do. With the intent of offering hope to the hopeless for things I have endured and survived and live to tell about which when I do share, I have been told that I help people.

I got really into writing during my #covidvacation, learning that sitting for great lengths and remembering can be painful. So I will return to the writing with breaks to paint and play at the beach once I get settled in my new place.

It’s funny. I started this meaning to pay tribute to Tulsa and my experience here. And this is what came out on the keyboard. I am just a channel. It really is not up to me.

And while this time feels different, I know that Destin, Florida is my next stop, but my intuition says it may not be my last.

So Tulsa, I won’t say goodbye. Instead, since my daughter’s current return address has a Tulsa zip code on it, I will simply say “See you later.”

Sous Chef For God

Sous Chef For God

(A souschef de cuisine is a chef who is “the second in command in a kitchen; the person ranking next after the executive chef.”)

I am a member of two spiritually based fellowships. This has been so for over half my life which so far, has lasted 60 years. When I was first told that I would need a Higher Power to replace the addictions that I had used to fill what some call a God shaped hole, and that I could choose the one I wanted, I was willing to do that because I was miserable and I needed help.

This power goes by many names for many people. God, the one with the Jesus and the Holy Ghost,  GOD the acronym #1-Good Orderly Direction, GOD the acronym #2-Group Of Drunks, the Universe, Love, Buddha, even a doorknob. And there are many more.

I was just twenty five and not real crazy about the God I grew up with, or to be more specific the example of God believers that I grew up around in Oklahoma. I was raised in Tulsa. On the rhinestone of the buckle of the Bible Belt. 

Where many intersections had a church on all four corners.

Today, I don’t have a problem with people who go to church, but there was one variety that were EVERYWHERE in my city. Those would be of the evangelical variety. The ones who raise a lot of money from people who don’t have a lot of money and then build big mansions and colleges and hospitals with praying hands in front of them that if there were a full scale model of the Jesus that the hands were said to represent, that would have been one big ol’ 700 foot Jesus. Christ. That’s a big Jesus.

And these were big hypocrites. It was a power structure where there was a chain of command, with the head of the family revered as a bit of a God himself. And this was the God in my backyard. And I wanted nothing to do with that. That, plus my mom, who claimed to be a “born again” Christian, was sleeping with married church going men, so there’s that. 

I love that phrase, by the way. Born Again Christian. Because I think I try to act like Jesus would, but I don’t think I need to be born again to do it. I just get out of bed each day and strive to do it again. For another day. Live like Jesus.

At first, I went with GOD the acronym # 2-Group Of Drunks. And that worked for a while. But I could not take that Group Of Drunks home with me where I lived. Alone. Don’t get me wrong, I took them home with me when I was drinking, but I did that one at a time. 

I knew I needed more. But the direction I went was not one I would recommend to anyone. I made many things my God. But not one of those was the real thing. I made marriage my God. I made money my God. I made the idea that marriage would make me whole my God. I made building the house in the suburbs with the kid and the van and the yellow dog my God. And throughout all, I kept going back to Group of Drunks God, and while I heard God in their words it always left me wanting and needing more. 

So I turned to my intellect as my God. And for years, my intellect tag teamed the Group of Drunks God and I never got the God that could come home with me. Ironically, it was and is there all the time. The God that goes home with me. It is inside me. But it requires attention. And food. And I had nearly starved it to death literally several times.

This went on for years.  And the hole got filled. Not with any quality God. Instead, it was filled by the appearance of what I thought life was supposed to look like. Thinking that if it looked good on the outside, it would become good on the inside.  But this kind of filling for the God hole was kind of like that shitty aerosol whipped cream. Mostly air and when you bite down on a mouthful, it collapses. 

The real God is heavy whipping cream, whipped with sugar and the best vanilla. And one bite of that not only satisfies, but leaves you with a craving for more.

But I just kept shoveling it in. The better cars. The newer furniture. The clothes. The food. The entire pies. And while I got full and fifty pounds overweight, I could not have been more empty. The marriage was a lie. Run by two liars. Who brought an innocent victim into that. When one night, we were all freed from the lie. That family, as I knew it. Blew up in the living room. 26 years. Over. Poof.  Thanks to the divine intervention of deal breakers in the form of multiple addictions. Some involving humans. Some substance. Some money. All from trying to fill that God shaped hole. 

A surprise ending with a million red flags lining both sides of the road to the end.  Thank God. Literally.

But recovering from that lie coming to an end was tough. For all three parties. We each dealt with it in our own ways. 

Mine was not the healthiest. And most certainly lacked God. Instead of tending to my pain from the inside, through feeding my soul, I went at it from the outside. First, I replaced the man. I dated long before my grief had a respectful purging. The divorce wasn’t even final. But I was so lonely having been just roommates with my husband for six years that I filled that hole, well…putting others in pain’s way by so doing.

And I spent at it. I justified hundreds of dollars pissed away on fancy dinners with me and my daughter, saying I was hurting and we needed to eat. Half true, but had I tended to my spirit in the midst of the loss of my marriage as a priority, I could have fed us just fine and saved some money in the process.

At one point I blew through a thousand dollars in just two shopping outings. Two pairs of shoes that cost over $500. The rest clothes. And apparently, this was a thing. As I was checking out with my clothing haul and talking as women do at the checkout counter, I shared that my marriage had just ended in a surprising fashion and told what that was to a perfect stranger. It was more like “Scorned Woman Tourettes.” I puked it up on lots of innocents along my path. Full of rage at so much of what one very sick person had done. And as sometimes happens, that person responds in kind. “They call it a f*** you Lexus.” She said. Explaining that a woman scorned sometimes goes for the luxury car to punish the offender. In my case, it was two pairs of $500 f*** you shoes, which I still wear five years later, a hoard of clothes, lots of fancy dinners, a fancy adjustable king size bed and a house lost to foreclosure because I lived in a Godless blind rage and victim hood which distracted me from the reality of what was going on in the bank account.

I did return to the acronym # 2 Group Of Drunks though. And that was a step in the right direction. But what I brought with me there was that intellect God because at that point, I was afraid to trust much that I could not see. I was glad that the marriage was over, but remember, I had used the marriage and family that we created to fill that God shaped hole. For half of my life. And that God was gone. And the hole that remained was huge. And oh so empty.

So when I went back to Group Of Drunks God and shared my pain during the healing process, I allowed a couple of members of Group Of Drunks to piss me off and hurt my feelings. And I showed them. I went home. I threw the baby out with the bathwater.  Baby being me. Bathwater, being the best thing that ever happened to me in the form of the fellowship I qualified as a member of.

I sat in my condo for a whole year. By myself. Disappointed and grief stricken from the loss of that marriage and that house and that life that I had given half of mine to thinking it would fill that God shaped hole. 

And when those walls came down from addictions that flared and were left untreated, I was devastated. There I sat. With no family. No husband. No home. All gone.  The only thing left was me. And a big empty God shaped hole.

I had given up hope. Almost completely. Now, my intellect was completely in charge.

I trusted me alone with all of my decisions and all of my choices and all of my actions. God for a year. That was me.  I sat in my condo. For a year. I started each day after opening my eyes with the mantra, “fuck it’s another day.”

Doing nothing but eating and sleeping and picking up curbside groceries. I did not work. I rarely bathed. Going to my mailbox was stressful. Who could see me? Would they know how sick I was? Was my pain showing? I felt such shame. I had become agoraphobic. I was socially atrophied. And I had lost almost all hope and faith. Despair and self pity and hopelessness were now my father, son and holy terror. 

But there was a God. And there is a God. And that God used a person to prove it because while all of the people who knew how bad off I was were too uncomfortable to check on me, one person was willing to be uncomfortable. And that person was my daughter. 

She had found the same acronym # 2-Group Of Drunks and she fanned the flame of hope in me on a regular basis. Not too much though, because it was barely flickering. But that God that there is knew she was the one who could lead me back. And she did.

As a result, I came back to those who suggested I have a Higher Power. And that I surrender my life to the care of said HP. In the 35 years from the first time I used that Group Of Drunks, I returned to my Group Of Drunks as desperate as the dying can be and they are now a part of the new God Squad.

I have since learned that I have to have the God that can come home with me. The one who gives me these words to express myself. The one who cares for the birds in my front yard and the rabbits in my backyard. 

Yet, I still seem to think there is something I can do that can help God do the job that God is quite capable of on God’s own. 

I have so many gifts that I don’t deserve. Often instead of just receiving them and saying thank you or showing my gratitude and giving back by using them, I waste time by creating my own suffering with this worry crap instead of just enjoying the gifts. 

I say this because while I see God working in the lives of others and most certainly in my own and those around me, I struggle to simply trust. Blindly trust. Faithfully trust. Even though I can look at everything in my life up to now. Surviving a halfway house with severely mentally ill roommates, surviving breast cancer, surviving alcoholism, surviving anorexia, surviving divorce, surviving miscarriage, surviving the death of my mother, and more that I choose not to share at this time. I still worry. About things out of my control. In spite of what is true. As if my worrying is going to grease the wheels of God’s machine to make things go smoothly. It isn’t that I want to run things. I don’t. I have desires, but running things is not one of them. That always ended badly. 

I had a friend who shared my Group Of Drunks God once who used to say, “Paint the barn and the crops will grow.” The Texas version of what others I know in the fellowship say. “Do the next right thing.” Simple. But not easy.

I hear people say, God either Is or God Isn’t. I’m good with the first option. So I will don my apron, and fill up ramekins to do my part in God’s kitchen.

I will set forth upon a stainless steel table to fill it with bowls of happy, colorful, whimsical furniture for foster kids. And tubs full of honest, inspired words from the heart. Measuring cups filled with truth and humor. Giant steel bowls full of canvas art and photographs. Rich with flavor and color and pattern and humor.

And As I set up my prep station, there are tubs full of paints- bright pink, turquoise, emerald green, sapphire, periwinkle. Black and white like salt and pepper for contrast.

For the main course, all of the greens and blues in the sea and the sky will make a lovely lasagna. Layered between white sands will be emerald green waters and sapphire blue horizon lines topped with periwinkle sky and parmesean clouds.

And sitting next to it will be me. As I move from Oklahoma to the Emerald Coast. In Destin, Florida. Under an umbrella. As one very grateful Lucinda.

Gifted

Gifted

May 31, 2020 The Year Of Perfect Vision

I write three pages every morning, 99% of the time. Along with that, I have a dedicated time for prayer and meditation from which I get up and go into my day. Lately, I have noticed that those are the best two hours of some of my days. 

So I decided today in writing those three pages to try something different. Because lately, I have had some dis ease in my days after those two yummy spiritual and safe hours parked in the corner of my gray couch looking out my picture window. 

This morning, I wrote to my God. Starting a conversation. I like to think talking to my God is a prayer. One that my God is always at the ready for. In fact, I am almost certain that for my entire life, my God has been waiting eagerly for me to engage. In a relationship. 

So, if I apply the things I do in my human relationships, the ones that I nurture with time and conversation and listening, I thought to myself, “Why don’t I have an ongoing conversation with my God today, starting with these three morning pages?” 

I strive to live my life in 24 hour increments. I believe that those things we call days were set up to have a beginning and an end with rest as a key part, in order to survive some of the events that take place in that 24 hour period in the world we live in. My God is clever that way. Setting up a finite timeframe in which to live my life. 

I say “my” God, because I don’t want to suggest that there is only one God. I mean, there may be. Or maybe there is not. I do not know. But for me, I choose to say my God so as to not confuse my belief system with some that are associated with the word God where people have been harmed in that setting. I respect ALL beliefs of whatever a person chooses to pray to, worship, believe in, surrender to. Also, it really is not my business to judge anyone because I don’t know much. 

“So God, what do you want from me today?” I opened it up right away. Requesting marching orders. Opening myself up for an assignment. Which I got. I went on. “Please show me as I go. I really want you there. I know that you have always been there. The times I did not feel your presence, were the times that I was shutting you out. I am sorry God. Forgive me. And thanks because I know that you do.

You are so kind and generous too. I have noticed this. I also see that you are not pushy. And man, are you ever patient. Sitting there. Open to my call. And if you are in a place called Heaven and there is a Phyllis Bunn there with you, the one who hosted me for 9 months before I launched into the world, I am quite sure you have sore ribs. From her elbow. Digging into them.” “Ok God, my kid is there and she is not looking to you. She is living in her head again. Maybe you could use that Facebook thingamajiggy and put one of those memories in her face. You know, the ones where she WAS talking to you and reading from books that made her mindful of you and then she shared them on the Facebooks!’” I am pretty sure that if there is a Heaven and a God that lives there, that God is taking naps because of my mom. Constantly nagging for her kids on earth to get in touch. Be cared for. Things that she failed at through most of her life as a mother.

In my conversation, I found myself expressing my gratitude. It just came out that way. It was not even my intent, yet. “God, thank you. I know that all those time when I was afraid, you really were there. When I had breast cancer, you saved me. Twice.

The first time when you spoke to my gut that while I had a garden variety breast tumor, I needed to seek treatment 1400 miles from home. In Costa Mesa, California. And that because of that, when I returned home to do the recommended chemotherapy and that doctor greeted me with the news that my cancer had returned, was incurable, that I could be made comfortable for two years. And you dropped the mic God when she went on to say that the chemotherapy medication she had planned to give me was the one mentioned in the only bit of scientific fact I remembered from the frightening journey through cancer that the drug she was recommending did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in those tests to kill those cancer cells.

So thanks, God, for saving me twice, as I listened to your inner nudging from my place in a ball on the floor of the lobby of St. John’s Hospital in Tulsa, OK. There on the phone, that doctor who took the tumor out an left it somewhere in a dumpster in Orange County said “I have no confidence in what that doctor is telling you, “ followed up by a whole week in California, scanning every inch of me, only to find that there was no cancer recurrence.

You saved me God from the malpractice that could have killed me.”  I need to remember these things, even though writing them down brings some strong feelings of remembering the terror I felt at that time 17 years ago.

“So God, I have noticed that when I go into my days lately, that I feel less in touch with what you want for me. I strive to do what is my purpose, but the connection to you just gets so remote, like the farther away from my morning time, the farther away you become. And I see that it is me who allows that distance to come in. So I am happy for the anxious thoughts that have plagued me here lately. Over my future. Short term and long. Because it is a direct signal to me that I need to be in better contact with you. And talking to you via writing is a great way for me to do that. So thanks. For the gift of the awareness that when things become difficult, there are actions I can take to change that and that you are all over it. Whenever I simply reach out.” Just writing this is centering for me. 

I am amused at the fact that the things I worry about are just my perspective. And that worry is a choice. But more than that, today I decided that worry is more than a choice. Worry is an insult to my God and all that has been done for me to date. It is dismissive of the many times I have lived when I should have died or killed someone else for my choices and actions. I drove drunk many times. More than I can remember because most of the time that I chose to drink, I would black out and do things that I did not remember until the horrible recounting of those who were with me at those times.

For that, I could have been a felon. Killing someone with a moving vehicle. Or killing myself. 

If I look at my life from the perspective of how many times I could have died, I would be a cat to the infinity power. Way more than nine lives have been gifted to me.  These are just four. In my book they each count for way more than one lifetime.

  1. Sober from the disease of alcoholism
  2.  Recovered from the disease of Anorexia
  3. Cured of the disease of breast cancer
  4. Healed of the chronic desire to kill myself on multiple occasions over half of my life.

I have been accepted! Into the gifted program. Yup. Me! 

Gifted with life. Repeatedly. When I was ready to throw it away. Gifted with a creativity that is a direct connection to my soul. Through writing, painting, making people laugh. Making people feel valued. Inspiring others to tell their truth by sharing mine.

Gifted with time.

Gifted with energy.

Gifted with a voice.

Gifted with money.

Gifts not to be squandered but to be spent wisely. So just for this day, I will do that. And with that, I am going to stop for now. Because I get to go outside in the beautiful sunshine. And breathe because I can. And walk because my legs work. And straighten my house. Because I have been gifted with shelter. And fold my laundry. Because I have been gifted with clothing. And cook my daughter dinner. Because I have been gifted with her and a kitchen that has electricity and appliances and food in it. 

And tonight, I get to bake cookies. Because at my house, after 90 days of social distancing during a pandemic, cake and cookies are now a food group. And these cookies, I will get to share. With someone I love. Who does not live here, but who is alive and who I have a relationship with today that I never thought I would.

One last thing. I challenge you. As you read this. If you are feeling hopeless, look for one thing in your day. To be grateful for. Even if it is just that you can’t find something to be grateful for. Be grateful for that. Because I can promise you that if you just keep breathing and showing up, that can change. For the better. And that hope can be a part of your life.

Also, I love you.

Lucinda