Wednesday, March 31, 2010


"Liberation is the most personal activity one can engage in. One's body, even one's spirit, these can be changed in relation to other people, but liberating one's mind, that must be done alone. With the help of like-minded warriors, yes, but ultimately, the task of freeing your mind from oppression must be undertaken complete solidarity with oneself."

-El Jones

Spring Cleaning

I have been cleaning out my office and my computer all day. I've gone through thousands of pictures on my hard drive. It's amazing to see all the stuff I have accumulated here over the last 6 years.

It's nostalgic and sad but also liberating to throw so much out. I think I have a tendency to hold on to too much junk.

I have been feeling clogged down for a long time. I feel like I need to clean out everything from my life, whether it be diet, "stuff" or toxic people.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lessons From My Grandparents

I have really been enjoying the time I have been spending with my Nano lately. For a long time I felt too overwhelmed to get to church. And then I felt overwhelmed with 2 young kids to drive out of my way to get to my Nano's home and pick her up and manage all three on my own - before, during and after the service (let alone get there on time!).

Nano has become very frail, and it is quite the production with all three of them. But I have finally succumbed to asking for help at church when I need it, and someone is always glad to give it. And I am finally comfortable in my spirituality where I don't feel like everything needs to be perfect. I just want to be there.

Nano and I have been able to have some great talks in the car. It's always hard in person somewhere because the kids are doing their thing. But in the car ride to and from church, we are able to talk very easily, and I have enjoyed the conversations that followed.

I came across this while I was cleaning out my office today. I wrote it in 2002 for one of the newsletters I send out monthly to my clients.

Lessons from my Grandparents

There is no one I admire more than my grandparents. In honor of their 59th wedding anniversary this May, I'd like to highlight a few lessons from their life together.

-Gratefulness - always say thank you and send a handwritten card immediately.

-Always learn new things - They both learned the computer and Internet at age 82 and are the most avid readers I know.

-Slow down - enjoy life. My Pappa emailed me - "Have not just a good day, but lots of them." I keep that on my desk as a reminder.

Keep it simple - Money is not everything; happiness is. Sometimes the happiest times are the cheapest and simplest.

-Honest & Integrity - I still remember Nano washing our mouths out with soap for lying.

-Self-reliance & competence - Pappa STILL works at age 84!

-Never badmouth anyone - I have never heard my Nano swear and have never heard either of them belittle anyone for any reason, EVER!

-Elegance - even at 84, Nano is still one of the most beautiful and graceful women I have ever seen. She always takes care of herself.

-Importance and reliability of family - there has never been a time when they were not there for me.

-Give back to society - Nano helps children learn to read and they are both active in their church and community.

-Do the best you can with what you have - and don't complain! I've never heard Pappa complain once.

-Frugality - Never waste food or money to the slightest degree.

-Commitment stems from both love & respect - they have been married for almost 60 years.

-Do what you say you're going to do - I have never heard a broken promise from either of them.

-Hospitality - always have enough food for that extra somebody who might pop by - and never make them feel that it is any additional effort.

-There is nothing better than a great story told by Pappa. Especially when the two of them battle it out as to who has the correct version! Listen & learn - chores and work can wait.

Happy Anniversary Nano & Pappa! May the year ahead be your best one yet!

My Pappa died in 2007 after 64 years of marriage to my Nano. He had just turned 90 and continued to work until the last 2 months of his life. My family all was there with him that entire time so he could die at home as he wished. I will always be grateful for those last months with him - but also for the tremendous man he was in my life.


I have decided to leave my profession. It's something I have been thinking about for quite some time now. I've essentially been a mortgage broker since I got out of college. I obtained my MBA in there and had my children, but essentially I have been doing the same thing.

My heart has not been in it for a long time. I have been thinking of getting out for a while, but I could not think of anything else that had the flexibility with my two young children.

I still don't have any firm plans. But I feel like what is required of me now is too much of an emotional and spiritual drain to keep going on. I am better getting out, setting my priorities and making a better choice.

I did something similar when I started doing mortgages. I had been in insurance and hated it. I probably would have stayed just to have a job, but I got laid off. That was about the best thing that happened to me.

It allowed me some space to discover something new.

The mortgage industry was very good to me for many years. But once my heart was no longer in it, nothing would have made me successful.

I have always struggled with the concept of Interest as a Muslim. I have always been interested in Islamic Finance and have thought about going into that as well. But those models still too closely resemble the Western ones, and we may never return to how it was intended to be.

I feel good about the work that I did. I was an honest person in a profession that is often dishonest. I know I helped a lot of people and I never did not help someone when there was not money in it for me. I never made money on something that was dishonest or inequitable.

But at the end of the day, I would like to do something with more meaning.

I am a bad person for this profession right now because I believe most of what the media tells people is garbage. I don't think our economy is recovering. I don't think it is a good time to buy a house. I don't think most people should buy houses. I don't think most people should refinance. The ones who really need help are not getting help from our systems. The only people that get any consideration from anyone are those who have money and can generate money for the banks and their sales people.

I know some people don't agree with helping those who are underwater, but as someone who has done mortgages for along time, I think that we have to. Most people had no idea what they were signing on for. And not that our dumbed-down culture makes an excuse for them, but most financial professionals did not understand the loans either. They understood their commission.

But that's a whole other tangent....

The bottom line is I've decided to move on and I'm excited for whatever comes next.


This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. Here's an excerpt.

In Harriet Lerner's useful work The Dance of Deception, she explains, "The Struggle toward truth-telling is at the center of our deepest longing for intimacy with others...Truth-telling cannot co-exist with inequality...To honor diversity, complexity, inclusiveness, and connection in our lives now is to widen the path of truth-telling for everyone." Personal integrity is the foundation of self-love. Women who are honest with themselves and others do not fear being vulnerable. We do not fear that another woman can unmask or expose us. We need not fear annihilation, for we know no one can destroy our integrity as women who love."

- bell hooks, communion: The Female Search for Love

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Long Goodbye

I say I love you
You say that's kind
You don't wanna get too close
You loved me crazy
I lost my mind


You're everything I never wanted
And all the things I didn't need
This ain't who I wanna be

You don't have to stay forever
I'll take passion over pride
Full moon, high tide
Let's make it a Long Goodbye

Tomorrow we'll pick up the pieces
Try to mend our broken lives
Soft kiss, sweet lies
Let's make it a long goodbye

I cried in silence
I lived through you
I've given everything away
And maybe I can learn to fall
For someone who can give me all
The things I"m not afraid to lose

Whenever you see lonely faces
That's where I'll be
Don't cry for me, no no no no
Don't cry for me, don't cry for me yeah yeahhhh

Hey, don't cry for me, no no no
I'm gonna be okay

- India Arie

Wonderful Trip

We had a really wonderful trip to the beach. It really could not have gone better, especially where we are all coming from.

It was a long drive both ways, so I had a lot of time to think. I stopped and bought a ton of groceries along the way and I cooked most dinners - and we went out for lunch most of the days.

I had a lot of very long and productive talks with my husband. We probably talked better than we have in years. From everything to our relationship, to our children's education to our children's sexuality...

I feel very good about the space that we are in. I am very grateful to my friends for allowing us to use their home. It was a very spacious and healing place for all of us.

The kids could not have been happier. I think it was very good to have both their mom and dad there - and there was no fighing, arguing or stress.

This is where I hoped we would end up - and where I hope we will stay.

I was thinking on the way home that both of the men I married have never tried to make me anything that I am not. And I will forever be grateful for that.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

First Night at the Beach

I am sitting here in my friends enormous beach house waiting for my soon-to-be ex-husband.

Our children are wandering through the house, laughing, fighting and playing.

I am deep in thought.

It seems I am always waiting for you.

But tonight, finally, I am at peace with it.

It seems sad to me that you hid your drinking from me. I suppose I set it up that way because years ago, towards the end of the first extended rehab, we both signed a contract. And I told you if you relapsed, I would leave you.

I did not want to live through that hell again. I thought it would break me, and it nearly did. But I survived.

I remember how much fun we used to have together and it makes me sad. How much I would have loved to at least enjoyed your relapse with you. And I know how crazy that's sounds, but it still makes me sad. I wanted to at least have fun with you then. It was a horrible time for me. There was no fun. Not ever. For years.

Instead, you kept it for your "friends". And that hurts. Because I was always at home with our children, hoping that you would make it home to us. And there were many times I was not sure you would make it.

I spent so much time in anxiety and worry. And looking back, I have blame in that too. I wish I had known how to live my life in spite of that.

It seems like everything in life comes back to acceptance. And it was never that I could not accept you, I could not accept what you would do to me.

I remember my mom's dad. How I adored him. He was an alcoholic. An emotional alcoholic. But he never hid his drinking. And I think that's what the hardest thing for me to accept with you was that you were always hiding the drinking. And that hurt. Because it made me doubt myself. At times, I thought I was crazy.

Now I see that you did what you knew and I did what I knew. And there is no judgement in that. Only sadness.

But there is now also gladness for the knowing and for the children we created. Because nothing is ever in vain.


" takes two whole people, who acknowledge that they live on the same planet - Earth - to communicate intimately."

-Olga Silverstein

Friday, March 26, 2010


Only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go, only as deep as I look can I see, only as much as I dream can I be.”

-Karen Ravn

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Beach

I am heading to the beach this morning with my kids. My wonderful friends are letting us use their beach house, and I have been looking forward to our time there.

I have been thinking and reading a lot these past few weeks. I opted to completely get rid of the TV, and none of us have missed it. The kids seem to be playing more together and asking for less. I'm very glad I did it. We still have a DVD player, so we watch some movies. That's more than enough.

I have been getting along very well with my husband. I feel like I have been able to look at him with much more compassion lately. I think part of that is just the healing nature of time, which brings perspective. But also, several weeks ago, I broke down to him on the phone. And he told me he was sorry. And for the first time, I really felt it.

I am taking less and less personally and just trying to enjoy him for who he is. More than anything, I appreciate that he is kind, accepting and funny.

We have had our share of problems, but I hope we can put them behind us and be friends. I think sometimes when you are divorcing someone, you tend to demonize them. That helps with your pain. But ultimately, you have to move past that, or it will destroy both of you.

My husband will be joining us at the beach a little later. I'm hoping that this can be a week of healing and fun for all of us. I don't want my children to grow up with parents who are estranged. I want them to feel that we loved each other and tried our very best. I want us to work together to do whatever it takes to grow strong and healthy children. That doesn't mean that we will always get along or agree, but we can do our best. We owe the kids, and ourselves, that.


"I once went to observe a meeting of Alcoholic Anonymous. What made this particular group interesting to me was that almost all of them were high achievers. One after the other they stood up and described the circumstances under which they resumed drinking after months or years of abstinence. The most common story I heard that day concerned the progression of striving toward success in a career, then reaching (or being on the verge of reaching) an important goal, then feeling excited and happy, then experiencing an overwhelming desire to drink - which, more often than not, led to behaviors that sabotaged the success. Happiness anxiety and success anxiety are very intimately related; both have their roots in deficient self-esteem."

- Nathaniel Branden, Honoring the Self: Self Esteem and Personal Transformation, p 98

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Love and Equality

For Life is a chain made up of many diverse links. Sorrow is one golden link between submission to the present and the promised hope of the future.

It is the dawn between slumber and awakening.

Sorrow softtens the feelings, and Joy heals the wounded heart.

Remember that Divinity is the true self of Man. It cannot be sold for gold; neither can it be heaped up as are the riches of the world today.

And the sorrow you have borne shall be turned to gladness by the will of Heaven.

And generations to come shall larn of Sorrow and Poverty a lesson of Love and Equality.

Kahlil Gibran, The Voice of the Master: Of Love and Equality.

Monday, March 22, 2010

More Thoughts on Children

This is one of my favorite collections of essays by one of my favorite authors. I hadn't read through this specifically about what she says about raising children, but it goes along with my own thoughts on the matter.

"The truest direction comes from inside. I give the most strength to my children by being willing to look within myself, and by being honest with them about what I find there, without expecting a response beyond their years. In this way they begin to learn to look beyond their own fears." (72)

"It is hard for our children to believe that we are not omnipotent as it is for us to know it, as parents. But that knowledge is necessary as the fist step in the reassessment of power as something other than might, age, privilege or the lack of fear. It is an important step for a boy, whose societal destruction begins when he is forced to believe that he can only be strong if he doesn't feel, or if he wins." (76)

"The strongest lesson I can teach my son is the same lesson I teach my daughter: how to be who he wishes to be for himself. And the best way I can do this is to be who I am and hope that he will learn from this not how to be me, which is not possible, but how to be himself. And this means how to move to that voice from within himself, rather than to those raucous, persuasive, or threatening voices from outside, pressuring him to be what the world wants him to be." (77)

- Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde. "Man Child"

Sunday, March 21, 2010


"The highest expression of love...Is to accept without exception ..." - India Arie

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Little Sister

I had a chance to spend some time with my youngest sister this weekend. It was a spur of the moment trip for her, and I'm glad she was able to come down. There are nearly 10 years between us, me being the older one. It is really wonderful to relate to her now as a woman. I am very proud of who she is.

I had one of the most fun nights of my life with her last night. It was one of those nights you know you will look back on when you are old and say, I should have done that more often.

And I definitely will.

Moving On

it's been such a hard season,
and the bridges we burned
might be all we had to keep us from drowning.
but at least we had this time;
and i'd like to think we're better off for it.
i'll remember this.
sometimes broken things make the best building supplies.
and we'll keep on building.
hearts aren't made of glass,
they're made of muscle, and blood, and something else.
and they don't so much as break, as bend and tear.
we have what it takes to keep it together;
and move on.

--Defiance, Ohio

Friday, March 19, 2010


I had a sad night last night. My husband had the kids during the afternoon and when they came home I had been crying. He noticed and asked me about it. I broke down in my husband’s arms and just sobbed.

One thing about J is he gives really good hugs. He is never halfway about it. I usually resist because of where we are at these days, but last night, I just let him hold me and it felt good.

I feel that ultimately, we will be close again and I am happy for that. Life is too short to be left with bitterness. Especially someone you have lived with. Some people pass in and out of your life and you are better or worse without them. But there is always a reason you married someone. There is something about being with someone day-in, day-out. You can take the good with the bad. It’s the same thing with your siblings or parents I think. The over-riding feeling is love. For me, there is no way to ever reverse that.

I didn’t sleep well last night but my day keeps getting better and better. I decided to take a walk in the gorgeous spring sunshine and clear my head. While I was out, the father of my ex-husband’s wife called me and asked what I was doing.

He wanted to have me over with all of them for dinner. I already had plans with my sister and my office, but it was so thoughtful of him to call. It made my day. I kept telling him I had plans and he would say, come anyway! Bring your sister! Bring your office! Just come! We’re making kabobs!

Everything I have learned about happiness, I learned from the Lebanese. I think it was in my nature as a child to be sad. But there was always a part of me that loved to be silly and laugh. After being around the Lebanese and spending time in Lebanon especially, I saw that many of these people have every reason to sit around and be sad. But they don’t. They laugh, they tease, they eat, they sing – they enjoy their lives.

My first husband especially taught me to push out whatever was not helping me and pull in that which was. Whenever I come to him with a problem, he almost always says, who cares! He always gets me to see that in the scheme of things, my life is bigger than my small problem at that moment. And then, he laughs – and usually, so do I.

Honoring the Self in Children

It seems to me that people who have the strongest need to discipline children are the same people who were, by their own admission, mistreated as children. It's sort of like, someone beat, belittled, screamed at me, so no other child should be free to be themselves.

I am very intentional in my parenting, while it may not always come across that way.

The values that I hope to most inspire in my children are self-esteem, creativity, honesty, and kindness.

It seems that we breed most children to be robots. I am not interested in having a robot-child. I would like to see both of my children fulfill their destiny as individuals.

There are a lot of rules that we impose our children that are more about not looking bad ourselves as parents than the actual best thing for the child.

I could spank or berate my children to get them to wear the clothes I want them to wear, to never allow them to speak their minds, to always have them be submissive puppets - but that is not raising children. That forcing them to conform into my image of what I want them to be.

I recently went back to a book I enjoyed several years ago and devoured it's content. Honoring the Self: Self-Esteem and Personal Transformation. By Nathaniel Branden. There are so many good quotes within it, but here are a few that stuck out.

"...imitativeness and conformity to authority are more the norm than the exception among most adults." 128

"We are taught very early to respect external signs above internal signals, to respect the voice of others above the voice of self. A "good" child is one who "minds" his or her elders, who "behaves". We are taught to identify virtue with compliance with the wants and needs of others. We are taught conformity as the ultimate civic good. We are taught obedience as the price of love and acceptance." (130)

"Generally schools are places where children learn not to think, but to follow the was not a place to learn to learn independent thinking, to have one's self assertiveness encouraged, to have one's autonomy nourished; it was a place to learn how to fit into some nameless system created by some nameless others and called "the world" or "society" or "the way life is" and was not to be questioned." (131) (This quote explains the #1 reason why I chose my son's school.)

"To varying degrees, then, the child learns to play dead in order to survive. In order to protect self-esteem, the child learns to surrender more and more of the self. The average child becomes an expert at self-sacrifice at the most profound psychological level: the level of mind and spirit, the level of the life-force itself." (145)

"Independent thinking often brings a person into conflict with the opinions and judgements of others, thus provoking disapproval or animosity." (134)

"When the price of harmony with others becomes the surrender of our mind, an autonomous individual chooses not to pay it." (135)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"Start by doing what's necessary, then what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible."

- Francis of Assisi


My husband was supposed to pick our son up from school yesterday. He called me after mediation, after reiterating his commitment to keeping his commitments to the kids, and said he would like to switch days.

So, I went to pick up my son. I waited in line and watched him as he approached my car.

His face fell as soon as he saw me.

Once in the car, he started crying.

When I tried to talk to him about it he started yelling at me.

I asked him what I could do to make him feel better. He shouted, "Nothing."

He said he had been looking forward to seeing his dad all day.

He cried for 15 minutes. It broke my heart. I asked him if he wanted a hug. He yelled NO. Everything I tried to help him fell flat.

I decided to pick my daughter up late and spend a little extra time with my son. She has aftercare available and was not expecting her dad. We went and got ice cream. He ordered a double scoop - a first - but I went with it.

My husband got mad at me when I told him. He said, "My heart is broken....It would mean a lot to me if you could support me and help to explain that nothing is more important to me than them, but sometimes Daddy has to work for our family."

How do you think he feels????

I did that.

You just don't get it.

I can never remember a time in my life where my dad did not show up for me. Never. Not once.

That's where your dad screwed you.

Please don't screw our son.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Not You

“Let others lead small lives, but not you. Let others argue over small things, but not you. Let others cry over small hurts, but not you. Let others leave their future in someone else's hands, but not you.”

-Jim Rohn

Joint Mediation

We had our first joint mediation session today. It was emotionally draining for me.

I realize I will have to compromise on many things but there is just a lot that is still very hard for me to swallow.

My husband has not been taking the kids during the times that he said he wanted. Today, he asked for more time, including overnights.

He agreed to weekly drug and alcohol testing and so we are going to take a trial run.

I feel like I am truly putting my children in God's hands now, and that's a very hard thing for me to do.

We left the session angry. We both were upset throughout the session, although I think the mediator did a good job of keeping us both grounded. At one point, my husband nearly walked out, but she got him to sit back down and finish the session.

I know this will be tough to get through. All the particulars are emotional - money, who gets what holidays with the children, the safety of the kids with their dad....

My husband called to apologize afterwards, but then asked if he could switch his day with the kids to tomorrow. He said after this week, he will always keep his commitments.

There is no point in arguing anymore. It just is what it is.

After going through this I would say that in almost every case, a divorce is not the way to go. Certainly no one wins.

But in my case, I wish I had done it sooner. With addiction, no one wins whether you are divorced or married. And I feel like the longer I stayed, the more screwed I got.

Staying hurt.

And while this hurts too, at least it will put an end to most of the hurting.

At least that is my hope.

A Very Long Time

"There are people who think that children are made in a day.

But it takes a very long time. A very long time."

-All about Mother

Monday, March 15, 2010

Celia Cruz Te Busco

My lovely friend from Venezuala posted this song and I really liked it.

A long look at the sky
looking for a bit of my life.
My stars not respond
for light me to your laughter.

Waves disappearing from my eyes
to a legion of your memories.
rob me forms of your face
leaving sand in the silence.

I look for you, lost in dreams
the noise of the people, wrapped me in a veil.
Seek you flying in the sky
the wind it has taken you like an old handkerchief.

And I do not do more than dig
landscapes known
in places so strange
I can not give with you.

Pursuing you in any trace
in a shadow I draw you
footsteps and shadows that are lost (in solitude)
luck was not with me.

I look for you, lost in dreams
the noise of the people, wrapped me in a veil.
Seek you flying in the sky
the wind it has taken you like an old handkerchief.

And I do not do more than dig
landscapes known
in places so strange
I can not give with you.

And I search for you.

Another translation of the same interesting. I love this song.

A gaze at the sky
Looking for a little of my life
My stars don't answer me
for (they)illuminate me to your laughter

Waves disappearing from my eyes ( ergo I become misty eyed )
to all of your memories
I steal shapes of your face ( ergo, I see your face in my mind )
leaving the arena in silence

I look for you lost in dreams
the noise of the crowd wraps me in a veil
I look for you flying in the sky
the wind has carried you like an old handkerchief

I don't do anything else but keep looking
Well known places
In places so strange
because I can not be with you

With every footstep I persue you
In the shadows I picture you
Footprints and shadows that are lost ( in solitude )
Lady luck was not with me

And I search for you.

I think I like the translation posted with the song here on youtube the best.

"Poem about My Rights"

I have been thinking a lot about myself as a woman these last few weeks. It seems to me that we still judge women so harshly, about nearly everything. And the last insult is always something along the lines of whore, slut or some disparaging remark about our sexuality.

This is a very long poem, so I will not post it all here, although I would encourage anyone to read it because it says a lot.

"Poem about My Rights"

Even tonight and I need to take a walk and clear
my head about this poem about why I can't
go out without changing my clothes my shoes
my body posture my gender identity my age
my status as a woman alone in the evening/
alone on the streets/alone not being the point/
the point being that I can't do what I want
to do with my own body because I am the wrong
sex the wrong age the wrong skin and
suppose it was not here in the city but down on the beach/
or far into the woods and I wanted to go
there by myself thinking about God/or thinking
about children or thinking about the world/all of it
disclosed by the stars and the silence:
I could not go and I could not think and I could not
stay there
as I need to be
alone because I can't do what I want to do with my own
body and
who in the hell set things up
like this

and in France they say if the guy penetrates
but does not ejaculate then he did not rape me
and if after stabbing him after screams if
after begging the bastard and if even after smashing
a hammer to his head if even after that if he
and his buddies fuck me after that
then I consented and there was
no rape because finally you understand finally
they fucked me over because I was wrong I was
wrong again to be me being me where I was/wrong
to be who I am

I should not be so boy crazy but instead I should
just be one/a boy and before that
it was my mother pleading plastic surgery for
my nose and braces for my teeth and telling me
to let the books loose to let them loose in other

I am the history of rape
I am the history of the rejection of who I am
I am the history of the terrorized incarceration of
my self
I am the history of battery assault and limitless
armies against whatever I want to do with my mind
and my body and my soul and

whether it's about walking out at night
or whether it's about the love that I feel or
whether it's about the sanctity of my vagina or
the sanctity of my national boundaries
or the sanctity of my leaders or the sanctity
of each and every desire
that I know from my personal and idiosyncratic
and disputably single and singular heart
I have been raped

because I have been wrong the wrong sex the wrong age
the wrong skin the wrong nose the wrong hair the
wrong need the wrong dream the wrong geographic
the wrong sartorial
I have been the meaning of rape
I have been the problem everyone seeks to
eliminate by forced
penetration with or without the evidence of slime and/
but let this be unmistakable this poem
is not consent I do not consent
to my mother to my father to the teachers to
the F.B.I. to South Africa to Bedford-Stuy
to Park Avenue to American Airlines to the hardon
idlers on the corners to the sneaky creeps in

I am not wrong: Wrong is not my name
My name is my own my own my own

-June Jordan, Passion: New Poems, 1980

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Way Forward

This quote was at the beginning of a book my dearest friend gave me about 10 years ago. It was signed personally by Alice Walker at our local bookstore and I have held on to it, although I never started to read it until yesterday. The book is fantastic and the timing is right for me now. The Way Forward is with a Broken Heart.

I will definately be looking more into Mae West as well...

"I wrote the story myself. It's all about a girl who lost her reputation but never missed it."

-Mae West

Saturday, March 13, 2010


“Lent is the time for trimming the soul and scrapping the sludge off a life turned slipshod.

Lent is the time to make new efforts to be what we say we want to be.”

-Sister Joan Chittister

Friday, March 12, 2010

Letting Go

I recently let go of a friendship that was toxic for me. I have known that for years, and have even let go a few times before. But I always came back with forgiveness because it has been a long-standing friendship of 22 years.

In my gut, I knew the friendship was bad. It was completely dysfunctional in almost every way. But it sucked me in - mostly because I have needed a lot of support these last few years with my situation with my husband.

Looking back, I realize that I have leaned on someone who never had my best interest at heart and who often gave me bad information.

It has been a sad week for me of letting go. But ultimately I know that this is for the best.

When you hold on so tightly to the bad, there is no room for the good. Our friendship was a weed that was taking over my life.

Weeding out what doesn't support our values

I have been doing a lot with weeding out all my extras in my life these last few years. It started several years ago with the budget. I thought months ago I was down pretty good, but I decided last night there was more I could cut. I want to be comfortable, without the stress of worrying every month. No "extra" is worth that.

Every night, I read to my kids. Usually I get a few good books in, but a lot of it is "junk". It struck me last night that I am the parent and I have more control than I give myself credit. After the kids went to bed, I took all of the books out that I didn't feel represented my values. That was most of them. I put them under my daughters bed for now, and if there is a major meltdown about one or two, they might magically reappear. But my kids are bombarded with messages that don't support their growth, and books should be a more positive aspect.

I am also getting rid of the cable. These last few weeks especially, I have noted that my kids are always asking for things. And they always want food that is not good for them.

I have been tired and overworked as a single mom, so a lot of this has slid, especially lately. But not anymore.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Being Neutral

"If you are neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality"

- Bishop Desmond Tutu

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


"It takes courage to love, but pain through love is the purifying fire which those who love generously know. We all know people who are so much afraid of pain that they shut themselves up like clams in a shell and, giving out nothing, receive nothing and therefore shrink until life is a mere living death."

— Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Ties that Bind

I have learned a lot in these last few days.

It has been a very trying time for me.

The biggest lesson has been that when you are married to someone, regardless of what has gone down, you are loyal to that person.

I have always known that to some degree. There is nothing in the world I would not do for my first husband.

And I suppose I have to say that even though I have been angry and hurt, there is nothing I would not do for my current husband.

Divorce changes nothing. You are always tied to that person.

Whatever someone says or tries to say, you know the truth of it. You know that person. You know their limitations. You know their strengths. You always want the best for that person, and there is nothing or no one that can ever stand between that.

Tonight, I am grateful for both of the men who have married me.

I did not think I could learn or appreciate this marriage. But in 24 hours, I have. Deeply and profoundly.

Name Change

I have decided to change the name of my blog. I am nearing the finalization of my divorce and have felt for some time that the blog name did not reflect where I was going with my life. I want to focus more on my own recovery and keeping my kids well.

Pets in Alcoholic Homes

I started thinking about our dog Gus the other day. I have always believed that animals reflect their owners.

Our dog, who is a Yorkie-Chihuahuas mix, is very nervous. My husband always says there is something wrong with him. Often times, I have thought that myself.

I began to wonder yesterday how being around alcoholism has affected him. He was born into this just like our children. It seems natural that this would affect his personality, and sad that we would blame him for it.

I bought the dog as a gift for my husband when I was pregnant with our son. I spent many a night snuggling that dog and crying myself to sleep.

After our son was born, the dog got less attention. And our house was rarely peaceful.

It would be interesting to see if there are other studies about this and if there is "recovery" for dogs. For now, I'm going to make sure to give Gus a little more attention and love. He sure has licked many of my tears away.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Call Me by My True Names

Do not say that I'll depart tomorrow
because even today I still arrive.

Look deeply: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
in order to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and
death of all that are alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time
to eat the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond,
and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence,
feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my
and I am the man who has to pay his "debt of blood" to, my
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all
walks of life.
My pain if like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.

-Thich Nhat Hanh

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sex Addiction: A Disease Or An Excuse?

Saw this on NPR yesterday and thought it was very interesting....

March 5, 2010
By Kathleen Masterson

Sex addiction, nymphomania or sexual compulsion might sound like the stuff of novels or over-hyped celebrity angst. Yet excessive sexual behaviors have been documented for over two centuries in American medical literature. In fact, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Rush, wrote about it in his book Medical Inquiries and Observations upon the Diseases of the Mind, the first textbook of mental illness in the U.S.

Treatment for mental illness has come a long way from the days of simply throwing people in a "madhouse," like this 1917 lithograph shows. (George Bellows/Library of Congress)

Rush wrote that sexual appetite, "when excessive, becomes a disease both of the body and mind." He also concluded that "promiscuous intercourse with the female sex" or excessive masturbation could cause impotence, dyspepsia, vertigo, dimness of sight, memory loss, and even death. (He didn't mention the risk of political downfall, loss of sponsorships, or inescapable media obsession.) Still, even though excessive sexual behavior has been described for a long time, it has yet to be officially recognized by the psychiatrists' bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Instead, the category resides in the book's appendix.

Dr. Martin Kafka, a Harvard professor and psychiatrist at the med school's McLean hospital, and his colleagues are trying to push it out of that back-of-the book diagnostic "wastebasket." They're proposing that "hypersexual disorder" be added to the next edition of the DSM. Kafka says research over the last few decades supports that idea that these extreme sexual behaviors are symptoms of a mental disorder.

The problem goes beyond just having a lot of sex; it's when a person cannot stop engaging in things like promiscuity, porn, masturbation -- and this behavior causes significant impairment and stress in the person's life. (It's worth noting that even the DSM struggles to actually define what a mental disorder is. The working definition is that it's a clinically recognized syndrome that causes serious distress or impairment of the person's ability to function.)

The proposed hypersexual disorder would be categorized alongside other sexual disorders, such as fetishistic disorder and exhibitionistic disorder.

Criteria for hypersexual disorder would include spending a lot of time consumed by sexual fantasies and repetitively engaging in these sexual fantasies in response to stress, anxiety, boredom or depression. The person also makes repeated but unsuccessful attempts to control the behavior, and engages in the behavior disregarding the risk of physical or emotional harm for himself or others. And, to be diagnosed with hypersexuality, this behavior would have to cause the person significant distress or impairment.

That last criterion is the kicker -- the person needs to present with "clinically significant personal distress." And how do you measure that -- as opposed to say, a politician who is caught sleeping with another woman and blames a sex addiction? Drawing the line between guilty indiscretions and an actual mental disorder has a lot of the public skeptical.

"It's not often a condition you can tell from afar," says Kafka. "The only way to know if it's a moral excuse or a real disorder takes knowing the person, the extent of the behaviors, have they tried to control it, what risks have they taken."

Kafka and the working group stops short of calling the sexual problem an addiction. He says the science just isn't there yet to prove that the behavior is addictive, that it operates the same way as, say, alcohol dependence. Addictions are defined by out-of-control drug use, cravings and activation of the brain's reward centers. There just hasn't been enough research to show that excessive sexual behavior works the same way as drug dependencies, says Dr. Charles O'Brien, the vice-chair of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania and director of UPenn's Center for Studies of Addiction.

With someone with extreme sexual behavior, he says, " if you show them porn, it does activate this part of the brain (associated with addiction), but we don't have any evidence that this is associated with a loss of control. In the case of an addict, the brain activation makes them want to go out and use the drug."

Instead, the proposed category would label the behavior as a disorder, more akin to anxiety or depression.

Even without an official category for hypersexuality, people do seek help for this kind of sex problem. Currently most people are treated with fairly standard addiction treatment, says Kafka, which might mean individual therapy or 12-step groups based on chemical dependence quitting programs. An NYT reporter noted that Tiger Woods public apology speech mirrored several steps of the common 12-step recovery program.

Does the treatment work? The scientific literature on treatment varies, says Kafka, and much more study is needed.

Typically, when a new mental disorder gets added into the DSM, its inclusion stimulates a good deal of research on the topic. If accepted, the new definition could help garner more scientific attention.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Islamic Law

I have been thinking a great deal about my situation lately in terms of Islamic Law. Prior to our marriage, my husband agreed to abide by the rules of my religion.
I had asked my husband to sit down with me and write up an Islamic prenuptual agreement. These are standard in all Islamic marriages. They can be as simple or as complex as you want them.

I think these are really important because it sets up the dialoge ahead of time as to what each parties expectations are and spells out what will happen if these expectations are not met.

Unfortunately, I got tied up and busy with the wedding plans and my husband was in no hurry to draft such a document. So, we never did one.

I really regret that.

Contrary to popular belief, Islam at its root was a very progressive religion for women. It was the first religion to give women the right to divorce. It was the first religion to give women property rights - and many other financial rights.

In Islam, motherhood is valued.

I feel strongly that we do not value motherhood in our culture, and I think that is really wrong.

There are a lot of things built in to many Islamic countries (via Islamic Law) that protect women and mothers.

For one, the extended family plays a much greater role. If one party is acting out, the family calls that party into account.

Women are free to work if they chose to, but if they do, the money they earn is theirs alone to keep and not intended to support the family. The man is supposed to support the family at all times and would be audited upfront to make sure they were capable of doing that before a marriage could even take place.

If the man strayed or the couple decided to divorce, the man would still be required to support the family.

A woman also receives her family inheritance when she marries, so she has a nest egg going into the marriage that no one can touch. So if all else fails in the rare situation where a man did not support his family after a divorce, the woman would have something to fall back on.

Interest is forbidden in Islamic Law, so there is very little debt in most Muslim countries (although this is changing unfortunately). Most men live with their families well into their mid-thirties and save money so they can pay cash for their home. Most cars are purchased with cash. People live within their means more often, so there aren't all the same financial issues that we have here in the United States.

I guess what I am getting at is that the position that I am in right now would just never happen in most of the Muslim world.

Obviously, these laws to not apply to my situation here in the United States. But I wanted to point them out because I frequently find that people have major misunderstandings about Islam.


I did my first mediation session yesterday and I was very pleased with it. The woman was an older woman and seemed to be very kind and knowing. Lately, I have been trying to put aside my anger and try to heal. I don't think fighting more about the divorce and all that entails is going to bring either of us any closer to where we want to be.

In two weeks we will meet again together with the mediator. (My husband also met privately with her). I think it will take a few sessions but I am confident that we can find a solution.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


I believe that at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier - and something to make ourselves a little happier - that's about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts.

We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances - we must try.

I didn't always know this and I am happy that I lived long enough to find it out.

-Roger Ebert


Things seem to be moving along fairly well with the divorce. My husband and I have been getting along somewhat better as we begin to separate things out day-by-day. A friend who was divorced fairly recently and has a daughter told me once we finalize things, we will be able to get along better. Now is the tough part.

I am hopeful that will happen.

I have a Parenting Class tonight for 4 hours and mediation Thursday morning.

The issues that I need to practice acceptance on are in protecting my children. I don't know how to do that because I am hyper-sensitive about that. I don't see how I can accept unacceptable circumstances for them. I don't have a lot of peace around that because my husband has not shown behavior that leads me to believe my children are safe around him emotionally or physically.

This morning, he called me to let me know his dad would be joining him when he picked up the kids. He only has them for a 3-hour slot, but I find myself aggitated and worried. My father-in-law is not someone I want my children around. He is a mean and abusive man.

We texted back and forth after a curt phone conversation and I am trying to let it go.

My husband wants the kids to see his dad. I believe that is only because he thinks he will get something financially out of it, which he actually pretty much said over the phone.

The bottom line is I don't have any control over the situation. Unless a judge rules that his dad can not see the kids, my husband can make that choice during his time with the kids.

I told him how I feel about it. I have been telling him for at least 3 years. He does not care what I think about it. He is going to do what he wants to do.

The sad thing is that I was in a fantastic mood this morning - until I spoke to my husband. I let that ruin my mood.

I need to stop doing that, whether it is by not talking to him or just not getting so upset. I still take a lot of things personally.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of human rights."

-Desmond Tutu


I feel gleefully happy today. Several people have been sending me funny jokes and videos so I have been laughing a lot this morning.

My daughter and I stopped in at the Lebanese donut shop this morning so that helped my mood too. I love my family in there. They are so giving and loving. We ended up taking another big box of donuts with us so I started my workday passing those out around my office.

The Gibran quote comes to mind:

"Your joy is your sorrow unmasked."

Had enough sorrow latey...hopefully I'm getting to the joy part....

Monday, March 1, 2010

To live content with small means;
to seek elegance rather than luxury,
and refinement rather than fashion;
to be worthy, not respectable; and
wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think
quietly, talk gently, act
listen to stars and buds, to babes and
sages, with open heart; await occasions,
hurry never...this is my symphony.

- William Henry Channing