Wednesday, January 26, 2011


"The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it." ~~Norman Schwarzkopf

So this afternoon I was on the phone with my cousin. She was telling me, among other things, that one of her neighbors had stopped by with his tractor and plowed the snow from her driveway the other day. This was a great blessing for her, as her husband had major heart attack not that long ago, and he is no longer physically able to do things like shoveling snow.

So, I get off the phone and go into the kitchen, look out the window, and while I was on the phone with my cousin one of my neighbors had plowed my driveway. I am not sure which neighbor, but I have a good idea. The truth of the matter is, I live in a good neighborhood. When my husband was killed by a drunk driver there were still a couple  months left in the mowing season. So, the able bodied men in my neighborhood took turns mowing my grass for the next 7 or 8 weeks.

Doing the right thing. Some people just naturally do the right thing, they don't even have to think about it, it is just the way they live. Some people mean to do the right thing and never get around to it. Some people know what the right thing is but choose to ignore it. It really does all come down to making choices.

The neighbors who plowed my cousin's driveway and my driveway did not have to take the time out of their day to help a neighbor. My neighbors are aware that I am a physically disabled widow raising a developmentally disabled child. My cousin's neighbor did not know her husband was unable to shovel snow, he just saw someone shoveling their driveway and stopped to help.In fact, he was out with his tractor for the purpose of helping neighbors.

We get cynical sometimes. The news, the internet, social media are all filled with stories about bad things happening to good people. We rarely see stories about good people helping good people. I know I need to choose to see the good things more often. There are so many issues in my life right now. Medical problems, serious financial problems, my weight loss struggles,  and grief try to take my eyes off of the right things. But then a neighbor plows a driveway, and I am reminded that doing the right thing doesn't take long, it just take choosing to do it.A choice that good neighbors make regularly. Not hard at all.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I've been thinking about this great quote my friend  Nancie B. posted on facebook recently,

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.' " - Mary Anne Radmacher

To encourage is to give courage, so that when you encourage someone you give them the courage to make their choices. Sometimes you can encourage someone without even realizing it. When you choose to live in the moment, every person that comes across your path is an opportunity for the spirit that resides in you to interact with their spirit. Sometimes you come away encouraged and sometimes you encourage them.

One day when I was working at the grocery store a lovely young woman stopped me and asked if I had a moment. She wanted to thank me for something I had said to her. Apparently she checked out through me about a year earlier. The person I took care of just before her was someone that I reached out to. I spent a few extra moments with this person, engaging them in conversation about their life. When I turned to this young woman, I smiled and apologized for taking the extra time and then I said, as I have said many times "You never know what battles the other person may be fighting." Then I asked how her day was as I checked out her groceries. Then I told her that she had a beautiful smile and that she should remember to smile, because God loves to see her smile.

The truth is, as she told me this story I had no memory of her. It sounded like something I would do and say,but this young woman and that specific conversation just were not in my memory. She went on to say that she had been having a difficult day, but that in reminding her to smile I helped her put things in perspective. She said she rarely shopped in our store because it wasn't near her house, but that seeing me again made her want to share with me that my seemingly off hand comments had made a difference in her life and she just wanted me to know that.

I thanked her for speaking to me, because I needed to know that something I said made a difference. We choose how we interact with others. We choose to be kind and cheerful, or to be diffident and aloof, but whatever our choice we do not make it alone. I believe that there is in all of us a space that can only be filled by the Spirit of God. So we always have access to that Spirit. As people of faith we know God as that in which we live and move and have our being. So if we have access the the Spirit of God we have help in keeping our choices for our good. If our choices in how we interact with each other, are for our good, then they will be for the good of those we come across in our day to day experiences.

If a grocery cashier can remind a young woman that life is good by treating customers with respect and caring, then it doesn't take a lot of effort to encourage someone, and if we can do that they might find the strength to try again tomorrow. Just a little effort makes a big difference. If we commit to focusing on what is good in ourselves we will be able to share that with others. God is within us and all around us, and we need to remind ourselves of that.

We  need to take the opportunity this winter season gives us to find the good in ourselves. The good of who am I, why am I, where am I going can be found in just being. When we are being true to ourselves and our God we will choose to be in the moment with everyone we meet, and in doing so we can encourage them so that they can get quiet and hear that small voice that helps them to know that they can try again tomorrow.

Peace and Blessings,

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

January 19, 1981-January 19, 2011

Oh my word, I haven't had a drink in 30 years!

Today is my birthday. Not my belly button birthday, my day I got clean and sober birthday. It's one of those milestone numbers this year, you know, those numbers that end in a zero or a five. Today I am celebrating 30 years of sobriety. Celebrating 30 years of choosing to deal with life and all its challenges, obstacles, defeats, and victories without using drugs or alcohol.

I don't remember when alcohol wasn't available to me. My older brothers-14, 18, and 21 years older than me- were the kind of guys that thought it was cute to give a baby or toddler a sip of beer, or whatever cocktail they might be drinking. There was always a bottle of whiskey in the kitchen cupboard, and when my dad wanted a glass of wine in the evening, he sent one of us to get it.Alone in the kitchen, no one was there to see me take a swig for myself. If there were family gatherings, not much attention was paid attention to what you were grabbing out of the cooler. After all, the men usually sent a kid to get the beer out of the cooler. So I developed an enjoyment of the taste and effect of alcohol at a very young age. It was an easy way to make life stop hurting for a little while.

Oh my word,I haven't had a drink in 360 months.

Of course,as soon as I left home it was no problem. I looked older than my age, and was never carded. Really, the first time I was carded was on my 21st birthday. There was a new guy at my liquor store, and he carded me and wished me a Happy 21st birthday. The owner was shocked, since he had been selling me alcohol for 4 years. But, he didn't make a big deal about it. I was a very good customer. By the time I was 21, I was drinking every day. I had started down that road as a teenager with undiagnosed bipolar disorder. I was self medicating with drugs and alcohol for several years. When I was diagnosed, I started letting go of the drugs, but consumed more alcohol to make up for it.

I drank my way through college, and 5 years into my working life. I managed to get good grades, and do good work while I increased my drinking. I had good jobs, but my drinking caused me to make some really, really stupid decisions about men and relationships.Just like the song says "Looking for love in all the wrong places."

Oh my word, I haven't had a drink in 1565 weeks.

I knew that eventually I would have to quit drinking. I knew that it was impossible for me to drink in moderation, and I hated that, because there were things I truly enjoyed and did not want to give up.I truly enjoyed choosing the right wine for a good meal. I truly enjoyed a cold beer on a hot afternoon.But, as much as I wish I was, I am not the kind of person who can stop with one glass of wine, one cold beer, one mixed drink. So, I had to listen to the small voice and quit. The last time I got drunk was on a Sunday night. I had been to a party. I don't remember much about the party, I had been drinking all weekend of course, but for some reason I got really drunk at that party. I think that I totally embarrassed myself, and a friend suggested we leave and go somewhere else. We ended up at her Mother's house. I don't remember how we got there, but I do remember sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee and talking to her mother until 5 o'clock Monday morning. I drove home and got in the shower and then I decided to call in sick and get some sleep. I had never done that before, I always went to work. In fact, I got in the shower intending to get ready for work, but while I was in that shower I started getting quiet, and when I get quiet I can hear the small voice, and the voice said "It's time to heal."

So, I called in sick, went to bed and slept for a couple of hours. When I woke up I felt like crap.I never got hungover, but that day I was hungover. I spent some time feeling sorry for myself, but then I remembered hearing the voice. I knew that it was time to stop numbing the pain, time to stop dulling the memories and to start healing the wounds. I called my doctor, and went to see her. I had a good talk with her and she referred me to a therapist. She called him right then, and he saw me that afternoon.It was Monday, January 19, 1981. The therapist said that he would work with me, but he also suggested that I go to AA. He got out the phone book, and handed me the phone. I made the call and found a meeting that evening. That was the beginning of my journey to health and wholeness, a journey I am still on. It is not an easy journey to start. It is not an easy journey to continue, but it is a journey I believe we must all undertake.

So, here I am. I haven't had a drink, oh how I have wanted to, but I have not had a drink.My Higher Power and I are taking a journey. One day at a time.
 Oh my word, I haven't had a drink in 10,957 days.

Grant me the serenity;
To accept the things I cannot change;
The courage, to change the things I can;
And the wisdom, to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.

Peace and Blessings,

Monday, January 17, 2011

Still Small Voice

If you follow my blog, you know that I am dealing with a winter season in my life. In the winter season we have time, opportunity and need to examine some very basic questions:who am I, why am I , and where am I going? The answers to these questions do not come easily for some of us. They require that we are able to get quiet and find the place in us where the only thing we can hear is the voice of our Creator. That voice is quiet, described so often as a still small voice. I think it is quiet so that we have to seek it and get quiet to find it. If we go looking for the voice of our Creator among the loud, cacophony that is passing as the voice of reason we will not find it. If the voice we hear is loud and angry it probably is not the voice of the Divine but rather the voice of what I think of as the "Other" If in our seeking we hear a loud voice telling us it is Okay to attack, or say bad things, or urges us to violence of any type, that is not the voice we should listen to. We have to learn to tune out that voice, to not allow it to have any place in our spirit. The voice we seek is a voice that sounds so sweet, so loving that we will more often than not weep with joy when we hear it.

When we are afraid, or emotionally charged, or angry it is so hard to hear the small voice. We need to learn how to let go of those fears and emotions, learn to forgive ourselves and others and move forward to that place in us that exists in such a way that only the voice of our Divine One fits. We must learn to abhor violence and to steer away from it. It is easier to get to that quiet place when there are not storms raging around us.

I remember the first time I heard the small voice. I was just a little girl, but I was in a position of great fear and danger. I had been sobbing, and ran out of energy to even continue crying, and so as I caught my breath I heard this voice that felt like it was all around me and  inside of me tell me to not be afraid, it would be alright very soon. The voice talked soothing things to me as I waited for rescue which did come soon. Not soon enough to save me from the violent act perpetrated, but it came, and I fell in love with that voice.

Now I know, some might think "How does a little girl KNOW that she is hearing Spirit speak to her? More likely she was imagining it." Well, you may think that, but I tell you I know that it was Spirit, and that I have been seeking and journeying pretty much since that first time according to the things that that voice tells me.

So, in this winter season of my life, I am doing my best to spend as much time as I can listening for the voice. For me,that means more time spent in prayer and meditation. Time spent trying to get my mind to shut up so I can hear what is going on in my spirit. This isn't always easy. I've noticed that since I can't work, I tend to wander around the house at times. You know, heading to the kitchen, then deciding to go to the bathroom, then stopping to pick up a magazine in the living room until I remember that I took the milk out of the fridge before I had to pee. My mind does that when I am trying to get centered to meditate and pray.Sometimes it feels like  I have to take myself by the hand and lead myself there.

So, I go back to the very basics, leading myself through the breathing exercises I learned many decades ago as if I were just learning them today.Breathe, in through the mouth one,two,three,four;out through the nose one, tow, three,four,five.In with the cleansing and strengthening power of the air. Out with the toxins of the day that tire us out. In with the oxygen that will energize each cell in our body. Out with the thoughts and poisons that clutter our minds. I am pretty sure Most High doesn't care how I get there, only that I get there. Thankfully my inner GPS still has the place marked. Now all I have to do is to remember to let the voice be my GPS for life's journeys.It's the only way I will get anywhere, since we all know I tend to wander.

Until next time,


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Perception-Dream a Little Dream with Me

Walk with us through any public place, and you will see people perceive us in a myriad of ways, none of which have anything to do with our reality. My son, my baby, all 6'7" 350 more or less pounds of him brings out either the best or worst in people. I am pretty sure he inherited that from me.Some only see his size, and it makes them look at him again.Some see his hair, that comes down past the middle of his back and decide that means something about him.Some people immediately see in him the sweetness and gentleness that  are part of who he is.He has been called freak,retard, weirdo, and many things I will not repeat. He has been described by some who have met  him as a gentle giant, an amazing young man. I suppose I was uniquely qualified to be his mother because those things, and many others have all been said about me.

I usually have an unobstructed view of these things, as he walks ahead of me. I walk slowly these days, helped along by a cane or a walker, depending on the pain level of the moment. So, as I get in the door of the public place, he has gone before me, and I get to see people react to him. As his mom, that is not always a good thing.Sometimes, if I see that he has inadvertently bumped into someone I will apologize and explain that he is autistic. Sometimes I will call his name, giving people the opportunity to know that they have been seen or heard. Sometimes I will let it go, knowing that a strangers perception has absolutely nothing to do with our realities.

Reality is that this is not a one size fits all world. We all come in different shapes, sizes, interests, abilities and dis-abilities.It is really hard sometimes to be different. My son wears his hair long, he gets a haircut about once a year. He does this on purpose. He saw a report on the news about Locks of Love, the charity that accepts donations of hair to make wigs for children who have lost their hair. Since he wears his hair long most of the time he decided to let it grow to the required 10 inch length and then get a haircut and donate it to Locks of Love. It takes about 10 to 12 months for him to get a 10 inch ponytail. Often, persons blessed with autism don't exhibit compassion, so when I look at my sons long hair I see evidence of compassion, and charity, and love.

My son is a miracle. I was not supposed to be able to become pregnant. About a year before I conceived I had just finished treatment for endometrial cancer. The surgery, and 3 rounds of chemo cured the cancer, but according to the doctors left me infertile. My gynecologist told me that even if I weren't infertile because of the cancer treatment, my weight would be an issue. When he told me that I weighed 250 pounds. But then just a few weeks later I was involved in an automobile accident and broke my back. It was a long year of recovery and I gained all of the weight back. When I got pregnant I weighed 404 pounds. In fact I sent a copy of my sonogram to my gynecologist with a note saying "250 pound women don't get pregnant but 400 pound women do!" So my son is my miracle.

When he was christened, I asked God to help me make sure that he would know all of the magic of childhood. There wasn't magic in my childhood,and I wanted more than anything to provide that for my son.Prayers are amazing things. We use words to to share our deepest desires with or Creator and to ask our Creator to help us make those dreams come true. Little did I know that day that I stood next to our priest asking God for my son to always know the magic of childhood, that always might be always.That we would be enjoying the magic decades later Dreams sometimes do come true.

So, the next time you see someone like us in the store, or walking down the street please don't feel the need to look at us as if we offend you. You don't change our reality by saying something hurtful or derogatory.

 We are blessed to be different.We have hopes and dreams, we have challenges and victories just like everyone. We have faith, and we have the great good fortune to be able to walk in that faith. Knowing that we are loved means that we don't have to worry about what your perception of us is, because our reality has nothing to do with you perceptions. Our reality is based on our dreams ,our faith and our love.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


It happened again. We were at WalMart this afternoon and someone said something ugly about my son. Loud enough for me to hear them, loud enough for several people to hear them.It was rude, it was hurtful, and it was totally unnecessary.

I have been trying to write a new post since the weekend. I was really shocked by the shootings in Arizona, and it brought lots of memories up for me. I am a gun violence survivor. Not once, not twice, but 3 times. Twice I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was a random victim. The third time I admit, it was personal and may be the only time you will hear me say thank goodness he wasn't sober! The one that was the scariest was the one where a teenager and his buddies were bored and decided a way to liven up a Saturday night was to take dad's handgun and go shooting out storefronts.

I was in college, working as a waitress and bar tending at a hotel restaurant and bar. I had finished my shift, and since my car was in the shop was sitting in the front of the hotel lobby waiting for my ride. I was sitting on a couch in a large bay window. I saw car lights and started to get up. I KNOW I was saved by something-an angel, a spirit, God- I started to stand up and felt someones hands on my shoulders. I was pushed back down on the couch. Just as the car pulled even with the window, I saw the arm extended out the passenger window, and I saw the handgun. I saw the flash of the muzzle, and was paralyzed in fear. The bullet grazed the top of my forehead. If I had been standing I would have been shot in the middle of my chest and the outcome would have been something different.

Violence has been part of my life since before I was born. I was raised in a dysfunctional family. My parents used a leather strap-a barbers razor strop- as a method of discipline. So I have scars from a strap, and scars from bullets giving testimony to the fact that this is a violent world. The physical scars are not the worst of the scars however. The worst scars that I bear are the scars from the words.

Words are used as weapons more often than guns, knives, or leather straps, and the scars that they leave are harder to heal. Words are important, and the way they are used is important. We as a culture, as a society need to admit this. We as a culture need to stop pointing fingers, and look into our own hearts and change the way we toss words around. We need to bear witness to the importance of words.

I don't care whether the troubled young man is a liberal or conservative. I don't care that the congresswoman was a Republican or a democrat. I DO care that we live in a society where anyone who is different is marginalized. Where a politician or a pundit can rant and rave and use words in such a way that it might encourage people to solve their issues with violence. Yes I said might. It doesn't matter to me whether anyone means for their words to be used that way. Any reasonably intelligent adult knows that when you use words to demonize, to marginalize, those words are immature.

I blog, and I post on facebook. I lost 2 friends this holiday season because I spell Christmas with an X most of the time. Yes, I write Xmas. I do it on purpose. I have a good reason, and I have been rebuked for it. No one, however, has ever asked me why I do it. They just take offense and make hateful remarks, and let me know that I am not  the right kind of Christian. SO in their mind I become an other, and it is OK to hurt my feelings.

Christians, whether you are the right kind or not, should know that words are important. That words can change people and events and the world.That words can have evil consequences. So instead of prevaricating, instead of dithering, we all need to stop, to say enough is enough, and take responsibility.We have to make sure that we use words to encourage, to support, to love, in love. We know how important words are, and we need to remember that that person you are using words to marginalize is someones son or daughter. Someone loves that person, and God loves that person, and using words to hurt someone is wrong. It leaves ugly scars, maybe not in the other person, but certainly in the heart of the person that uses words for evil. Scars that will harden your heart and make it harder for you to see love in the world.

In the beginning was the WORD, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.....words are not meant to be weapons.

Just me ranting and raving!

Peace and Blessings,

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Be good to you

The thought for today...

"We have to learn to be our own best friends because we fall too easily into the trap of being our worst enemies."~~Roderick Thorp~~

I saw this in my newspaper this morning, and immediately knew it was worth using. I all to often will be critical of myself. I am learning to use the webcam on my new laptop. I have never made a video of myself , and it is something I can use to communicate with the ladies that post to my daily Weight Watcher's message board thread, my friends on facebook, and when I get it down, even here on my blog. So I am looking at my first effort, and I am picking it to pieces when this quote came to mind.

I am sure we are all guilty of this. Something doesn't work for me and I think "Oh my God I am such an idiot." or "I screw up everything." The truth is I am not an idiot, and I don't screw up EVERYTHING. More importantly, I would never say to a friend "You are such an idiot." I also said to myself this morning watching the video, "You look like crap."  Now is there ANYONE I would say that too? NO! So I must stop saying that to myself.

Become our own best friend. When we hear negative things in our head, or like me when I say it out loud, we must STOP. We must think, what would I say to Diana, or Cheryl. What would you say to EstherBelle? Now, say those things to your self. Start believing those things about yourself. Treat yourself as a trusted, loved friend . Start believing things like "I deserve to be treated well.", "I am a great friend not only to others but to myself."

Extend the hand of friendship, to others, but most importantly to you!

Peace and Blessings,

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Who Am I?

OK, Here I am struggling with some issues that I shouldn't be struggling with. Issues I have dealt with over and over again. So, I beat myself up a little, I know better. But, I do it. The question goes deeper than why do I do this, the question becomes who am I?

I start my day with centering prayers and meditations. It helps me to meet the challenges of my day. I use several sources for things to meditate on. I use a daily reflection from Sunshine Cathedral.It's from a publication titled Spirit and Truth. I also use Meditations with Native American Elders:The Four Seasons by Don L. Coyhis.This is a book of meditations for learning to walk the Red Road. This is the path I have chosen for my healing journey.I also use the Sacred literature-Scriptures of my Christian traditions. More often than not, they work together on the issue that I need to be working on. Spirit is very good at working things to my benefit like that. But, then I get down to it, and I get fearful. I slide back into old habits, and I know better.

Who am I? The problem is I don't know anymore.

I know who I have been. I know how I became those women, but I don't know who I am anymore, and that is a problem. Since I am not who I used to be, I need to figure out who I am in order to go forward. I need to figure out how to become who I am supposed to be.

I have been lots of different people in my lifetime. I have grown and matured and changed over the years. I have used prayer and meditation to seek my Higher Power and to attempt to let go of my self will and live Most High's will for my life. As I walk the Red road I use wisdom found in nature, in the medicine wheel, and wisdom from the elders. Our lives grow in seasons, and we may be in a spring season as it snows outside.But we can learn from nature, and the Medicine Wheel and the elders no matter what season we are in. Every season has lessons for us.  I find myself in a winter season of life right now.

In the winter season we often find ourselves lost. Our identity is gone and we seek a new one. According to the elders, in the winter season we are faced with three questions. Who am I, why am I, and where am I going? As we seek the answers to these questions we will learn and grow and transform ourselves once again. So here I am, who am I?

I am totally aware that I have been feeding the wrong hunger the last week or so. I know that in feeding the wrong hunger, I have been sabotaging myself, keeping me from becoming who I am supposed to be. I gave into the fear, and fear is the mindkiller.

When I was growing up I was an outsider looking in. I didn't fit in with my family, my circumstances or my neighborhood.I didn't fit physically, mentally, or spiritually. I needed to learn, I studied everything.Knowledge was my downfall and my future. Everybody called me "the smart one", which sounds positive, but in my family it was an insult. It was said in a way that I knew it was not acceptable. But I had no other way to be. I was Esther, the smart one, who was also the fat one, the big one that nobody understood, or cared to get to know. I wanted to be my little sister, the cute one, the one who had a nickname, who was allowed to sit in laps and be hugged.But, I was Esther, and nobody wanted to hug me.

 I learned to accept that that was who I was. Esther spent her time learning and applying that knowledge to the world around her. She kept her own counsel, and built walls to keep the pain contained. Fortunately, Spirit put people in my life to teach me about love. I lived for the summers, we would come to Kansas City and stay with my father's favorite sister, My Aunt Emma. My auntie was an amazing woman, she loved all of us. If we were family, especially those few of us who were 'black sheep' for whatever reason, she loved us. So I could make it through the rest of the year, because I knew that at least in the summer, someone who loved me would be there. There were other people, a friend of my brother. They were in boot camp together, and he was from the Navajo nation, and the reservation was too far for him to go, so he came to our house when they had leave. He talked to me, and more importantly he listened to me. He talked to me about his traditions, and walking the Red Road. He taught me that I was strong, and that our Creator loved me. My third grade teacher, Mrs. Schultz. She saw greatness in me, and never let a day go by that she didn't tell me that. I visited her even after I was in junior high, and we were friends for the rest of her life, we wrote when I went off to college, and I visited her when I came back during breaks. She was my great friend and my greatest encourager. These all called me Esther Belle. I was named after my Mother and my Aunt Emma. Emma Esther Belle, and so Auntie called me Esther Belle. That was the name and the 'me' I associated with love.

When I became a mother, loving and advocating for my special needs child was who I was. Again I was able to use my intellect to solve problems and educate myself and others about my son's needs. I loved being Ms. Jones, William's Mom. Ms. Jones was able to love her son and to also love other children in the neighborhood. They needed someone to love them enough to set boundaries and hold them to those boundaries. Children do not like being out of control. This lesson applies to the child in us when we are in our winter changing seasons. We do not like being out of control, and so part of learning who we are is learning what our boundaries are. Boundaries are not the walls I built to protect me from pain. Boundaries are the paths I walk, the bricks I place to get me Brick by Brick down the path on my healing journey.

Then Ms. Jones was walking down the street one day.It was a beautiful day. The kind of spring day that we wish they all could be. Bright sunshine, about 60 degrees. I had been to a meeting and after my friend dropped me off I remembered that William needed something for school the next day. It was the perfect day for a walk, so I decided I would walk to the neighborhood store. As I was walking down the street I looked up and this tall thin man was cutting across the street diagonally. He was going to end right in front of me. My mind immediately started searching for a reason, but this was not someone I knew. He walked up to me and said "I have been trying to get up the nerve to talk to you for six months. You're the most beautiful woman I have ever seen." I laughed. It definitely was not a pick up line I had ever heard before. But when I laughed I saw his eyes, and he meant it! "Excuse me?" was all I could say. He said it again, "I've been trying to get up the nerve to talk to you. You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen." I am still kind of speechless, and I say "Thank you, I guess." He goes on to explain that he lives at the bottom of the hill and he sees me walk my son to the school bus every day. He has tried a couple of times to speak to me, but he was too nervous. But when he saw me walking down the street today he told himself it was now or never, and he crossed the street. I was prepared to continue walking, but he kept talking. He told me how he had just got out of rehab 4 days earlier, and that he was on his way home from putting in job applications. Well, I had been clean and sober for 16 years and the friend of Bill W. in me wouldn't let me just ignore him. I told him I had to go to the store, but if he was still in the park at the end of the street when I got back I would talk to him. He was there, we talked for 2 hours that afternoon, and every day after that.

Such a simple act, crossing the street. No big deal. But in that simple act of walking across the street the world would never be the same. In that moment our lives became eternally joined, entwined. We would never again make a decision without discussing it or considering the impact it would have on the other one.We would never again think of ourselves as Bill or EstherBelle. From that moment on we were BillandEstherBelle.

So, I must learn to be EstherBelle again, or just Belle as my husband and friends came to call me, or maybe EB the nickname my friends use. I must learn that  I need not be afraid to go forward. I must stop allowing my fear of the unknown keep me from sculpting my bricks and making my path as I journey to wholeness. I have some genetic dispositions that are obstacles. I am genetically predisposed to gaining weight and holding on to weight. In prehistoric times I was the survival of the species. But this is 2011, and the extra layer of fat is no longer necessary for survival. As I get close to the numbers changing on the scale, I must not fear the things that come my way. I must not fear men paying attention to me, I must not fear jealousy from others. I must embrace the new me, a me that has not weighed less than 250 pounds since she was a child. I must stop sabotaging my weight loss journey and work to be in control of my eating and choose to joyfully discover what being a normal healthy weight feels like.

I am genetically predisposed to depression and alcoholism. I must not let that determine who I am. I do not allow the pain of my physical diseases win, so I must apply the same intent and purpose to overcoming the pain of my mental health issues. I am going to celebrate a really major milestone in a few days. On January 19 I will have been clean and sober for 30 years. As I choose one day at a time to not use drugs and alcohol to mask the pain, I must also choose to not use the most widely available mood altering drug-food-to mask the pain either. I must choose to come into a healthy relationship with food. Allowing food to be what it was meant to be and nothing more.

I must choose to be who I am supposed to be, as I spend this winter season of my life pondering the answer to that question.To ponder is to consider something deeply and thoroughly; meditate; to weigh carefully in the mind. Pondering for me is to find the answers and apply them to my life as I become who I am supposed to be.

Who am I? I don't know yet. But, as I continue to sculpt the bricks, and to choose to not give in to the fear I will find out.The fears used to blind and bind me for years, and now they only blind me for a few days. That is victory along the journey. It will be an amazing healing journey through the season of darkness, and of course Spring should follow.
Who am I? Not sure, but I think I will love her into existence.
Peace and Blessings,
EstherBelle a.k.a EB