Monthly Archives: December 2010

New Years Revealations

Happy New Year ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! 

(almost) This year we enter a new decade as well, although my son contends that technically last New Year rang in the new decade. He’s a Gemini so I don’t even bother arguing with him unless I’m up for it.
I’ve been thinking about my New Year’s post for quite some time and now that I finally sit down to write I feel like there’s too much to say in one post. I also realized there’s a lot of common ground with what I’d intended for my Jenny’s Liver/Hepatitis C experience blog. As we draw to the end of the year I’m approaching the end of my nearly year long treatment for Hepatitis C. Needless to say it’s been an unusual year.
I’ve really come to enjoy New Years, even more than Christmas. Christmas was fun when my kids were little, and when I was little, but now it doesn’t feel like a big deal. And yes, I am one of those people who is irritated by the mass consumerism, the bombardment of advertising for unrealistic gifts (does anyone really walk outside on Christmas morning to find a Lexus with a bow on top? Much less one that’s not covered with snow and ice?)
Christmas has it’s own magic to be sure, but I’ve discovered New Years has a different kind of magic altogether.
For one thing there’s Hope. People make resolutions and regardless of whether they actually keep them it’s kind of nice that there is a day where people think about ways to better themselves.
Many of us, especially if you’re just a little self absorbed like myself, like to take stock of the past year, the highs and lows, the joys and sorrows and if you’re like me you take the time to review what you did well, what you might have done differently and what you damn well will never do again. I like to read back over my journal from the past year, a tradition I repeat on my birthday which is only a few weeks later, to refresh my memories and details that get lost in time.
I stopped drinking 10 years ago and soon after I became a grandmother for the first time. Nearly every New Years since “sobriety life” I have spent either working at the youth shelter or with my granddaughters. The last few years (since leaving my job at the shelter) have been with my granddaughters creating our own traditions as they get older, and keeping alive many of the same traditions from my childhood. We especially enjoy banging pots and pans and whooping at the moon at midnight, It’s funny how at first, having the responsibility of watching the girls was kind of a safety net for me. Any alcoholic worth her salt will tell you that certain holidays are damn near physically painful the first few years of sobriety. I’m not sure when it happened, but the babies stopped babysitting me, and I began to look forward to spending the night with them for it’s own sake and for the legacy of our own traditions. And while I’m realistic about resolutions, I don’t like to  make promises I’m not certain I can keep, I do carry on one tradition I had started while still working in the shelter, I would have the kids make 3 wishes for the New Year, one for ourselves, one for our close community and one for the Global Community.
I wonder, if everyone made resolutions that were dedicated to not only self improvement, but to extending compassion and care for others…and kept those resolutions, what kind of a New Decade we all might create.
Peace, Blessings and Happy New Year,

 © 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard


>Letter from Santa

>Hey There kids!!!!
Santa just wants to say sorry there’s not much going on this year for the Holidays. Santa’s been really tired lately and somehow every time Santa goes to the workshop foggy headed-ness and apathy sink in.
See, Santa picked up a little virus back on the 80’s. It was probably one of those damn Elf parties…those guys are crazy! Anyway we were all sharing candy canes and, well things were just a little different back then for Santa.
So now Santa’s working really hard to get better so we can all enjoy life and the Holidays like we used to. Unfortunately “working hard” in this  case LOOKS like not doing much of anything, and paradoxically it is. Santa needs lots of rest to help the medicine work.
So Kiddos, Santa loves you all and that’s why Santa’s doing this nasty treatment…so we can enjoy many more Christmases together!
Peace and Joy to All!
S. Claus

© 2010 Jennifer Hazard

>For What it’s Worth

>Week 40 (roughly) and I do mean roughly. I no longer recognize myself when I look in the mirror. I have lost
 35 lbs, I already have a thin face which now seems skeletal at certain angles. I’ve cut my hair the shortest it’s been since the Punk era. I don’t bother to put on make up anymore so the circles under my eyes are making their own fashion statement. You don’t even want to know what’s going on under my clothes, let’s just say I’ve aged quite a bit this past year.
When I run into people that I haven’t seen for a while, I can see the skepticism in their eyes when they ask “are you sure it’s worth it? for a coin toss?”
 Is it worth it?
Who really knows? If I achieve SVR of course it will be worth it. If I slow down the progression of the disease, yeah probably worth it. If I don’t clear the virus? Who knows? Who knows what progression the virus would’ve taken if I hadn’t treated? This is a quirky disease, it doesn’t play by the rules, you never know when it’s going to sneak up on you…or not.
But isn’t that the way life is, really? Are there any certainties? Decisions have to be made on a daily basis, some bigger than others.When you are faced with a chronic medical condition, some choices have more at stake.
After lots of research, conversations with  others who’ve been through this, meeting with my doctors and completing all the testing (I’ll never forget 15 vials of blood at the lab) I ultimately went with my intuition when deciding to treat. I’ve learned to trust my gut, most of this education was bestowed upon me as a result of the consequences of not trusting my gut! Once I have made a decision, I typically don’t look back. I may end up changing my course somewhere down the road but once my mind is set the wheels are in motion and there’s nowhere to go but forward. Granted I’ve made some, shall we say, unwise decisions in my days, but I’ve made some damn good ones too. Everything that has manifested is, I believe, part of the lesson I’m here on this earth to learn.
So is it worth it?

Of course

© 2010 Jennifer Hazard

Messages from a Younger Me

 Long before the invention of the Internet and blogging, I had always been a dedicated journal keeper. I think I began at about age 8 and have continued for most of my life, maybe taking occasional breaks here and there. Part of me always felt a little “different” and overly self conscious and I found it difficult to share my innermost thoughts, fears and desires with even my closest friends. So, as is the case for many an angsty teenage girl, my journal became my friend, my confidant, and the Treasure Chest that contained the jewels, the secrets, the broken pieces and the love letters that were the Real Me.

As I got older and my life became more and more a series of circumstances I never would have imagined myself to be a part of, I recognized the importance of recording those events, having the intuitive sense that someone, someday, may find a jewel contained within the rubble.  Then finally as I clawed my way out of the mess my life had become, I found journaling to be therapeutic and illuminating. In my journals I opened the doors that contained my own mysteries, riddles that I didn’t even know existed and discovered vulnerabilities and strengths I had kept hidden even from myself.

Since relocating recently, I’ve had the opportunity to sort through my belongings, including those things that get stashed away because they contain sentimental items and family treasures. I have one large plastic tote that contains the oldest, most special treasures; letters from my grandmother who passed on over a decade ago, ribbons from horseback competitions in my middle school years, my kids first t-shirts, all sorts of memorabilia…and, my old journals.

Ever since going through AODA treatment 10 years ago I have established a yearly tradition of re-reading the last few years journals on my birthday. It’s a celebration of all the events that have led me to where I am today. It’s also an opportunity to identify  and reflect upon, patterns, cycles, habits, growth and change. Until this week, however, I have not reached back more than a few years into my past. I have snuck a few peeks, but I always felt like I was holding something of great power and potential danger; the incantations of secrets and lies I had conjured up to delude myself. I was afraid to reveal, even to myself alone in a safe space, the Enchantment that kept me so deliriously rooted in my self destructive lifestyle.

What drew my attention this time was a small notebook, not even a school type notebook, but a notepad really, the kind we used before there were post it notes. On the cover were some doodles I had made, a skinny waitress, an androgynous punk looking character and various small animals. There were a few dates and a long forgotten phone number. Not certain what it was, although I vaguely remembered seeing it over the years, I began to browse through the yellowing dog eared pages. I realized I was holding the oldest journal I still have in my possession. It was from 1980 when my later to be husband and I had just left our hometown to return to my roots in New England. But it was not that simple. I remembered the basic story of course, it was a pretty major event in my life, completely relocating, but I had clearly forgotten some of the more intimate details. You see this was the beginning of a relationship that was to continue for 8 years and produce my oldest child. This was the relationship that was fueled by obsession, jealousy, manipulation, illusion and violence. The glue that kept those vices securely in place, that sealed the lock to the cell of my own personal prison was alcohol, and later, narcotics.

I had left my Midwestern home, or at least it had been for the past 7 years, to go “on the run” with the man I believed to be my “soul mate”. I believed, at the time, he was being followed by the DEA because of his involvement with certain people. I believed this to be true because it was what he told me. He said he had to get out of town, went into hiding, dyed his hair and convinced me to sell almost everything I owned to raise money to get out of town.
I had known him for 3 months.

Reading my words from so long ago was eerie…I felt as though a  ghost, a wisp of my former self was reaching out to me through the years, trying to explain and justify what had happened. And on the other side, the “Adult Me” listening patiently wanting to say things like “Oh sweetie, it’s not supposed to be like that”

So now, Jenny from 30 years ago, young, naive, romantic, giving her all for the sake of “love” is reminding the Jenny of today, cautious, experienced, self protective, of exactly what feelings, beliefs, needs and illusions started this crazy journey through our adult life. A life that took so many unforeseen twists and turns and eventually led me to where I am today, creating a life where I can reach out on a daily basis to women, young and old, who have lived, or are living, driven by the same illusions that were my blueprint back  1980.
Stepping into that life renews my understanding and empathy and bring it to a deeper level than the unreliability of selective memory will allow.

This in itself is a testament to the value of Journaling.

© 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Social Networking for Survivors and Advocates

It has only been in the past year that I have become active in the blogging and Social Networking community. I discovered this world soon after losing my job as a Community Advocate and then subsequently experiencing health problems that have restricted me from returning to the world of work. As they say, crisis equals danger and opportunity and I have chosen the path of opportunity; this “crisis” has provided me with the time to reflect upon my life goals, my values and professional opportunities.  Serendipitously, as I was wondering what to do with my life, a good friend of mine was offering a workshop on Social Networking for Women. (See link at bottom of page)
I have always been an activist and have always known that my life’s calling is to empower and support those who believe themselves powerless due to the circumstances life has dealt to them. To lose my position as a Community Advocate for Women and Children experiencing Domestic Violence was both a blow to my professional identity and to my Survivor self. My Professional self had been stifled by rules, underfunding, understaffing and policies that, I believe, did not always place the clients’ best interests at top priority. My Survivor self felt re-victimized, once again something I was passionate about and dedicated to was taken away from me. I had wanted my years of enduring an abusive relationship, learning the tricks of survival and eventually finding my own way out to count for something. I had intended that my real life knowledge combined with my years of training on the academic side of Advocacy would be a powerful combination and a great gift to offer the Community. While I still can, in my heart and soul know this to be true, I have come to the conclusion that, for me at least, this gift will have to be delivered in a different package.

My second life’s passion has always been to write, to tell real stories of real people, the kind of people who are not usually given a voice in our society. I am interested in both fiction and non-fiction and although I’ve been told I have potential as a writer, well we all suffer from self doubt from time to time.

Therefore, for me, the anonymity of the Internet has become a safe zone to test the waters of my skill as a writer while also giving me the opportunity to continue my work in Community Education and Advocacy. Thus far I have achieved this by blogging, participating in bloggers’ discussion and submitting my story to various websites whose mission is to spread the truth about real life issues faced by individuals who have experienced drug addiction, abuse, depression and medical issues or have lived otherwise non-conventional lifestyles.

It makes perfect sense that the Internet be a vehicle for writers and aspiring writers to showcase their work. There are many wonderful online groups and networks where one can submit a sample of their writing and receive feedback and critique, with the added cushion of anonymity. I think there are many of who give birth to words, music, art and beauty but who are insecure about displaying our work. I myself fall into this category which is only exacerbated by the fact that both my father and stepmother all well known local poets. There is a human nature toward comparison and I dread being compared to either of my parents for fear of not living up to the expectation their careers have defined; regardless of whether that fear is founded in reality it is my reality.

The time I have spent blogging and following discussion groups has got me thinking about my own memoirs. I encourage other women, especially those “with a past”, or a little out of the mainstream to tell their stories. Traditionally history has been written by the rich and male; the voices of the “underprivileged” (with a few wonderful exceptions) have not been a part of the pattern of our culture and our legacy as a nation, as a people. One of my favorite books as a child was the story of Harriet Tubman. It gave me great hope and inspiration that someone from such an unimaginably horrible background could develop so much courage, put it into action and tell her story. If a story can inspire a depressed and skeptical ten year old girl, it has done its job, it is a success.

As someone who came to adulthood in the pre-Internet age I am constantly amazed at the amount of information and opportunities for communication that are now available. Human Beings have are so accustomed to instant information and we have acclimated to this development in just about 20 short years of human history. Add to this the ability to communicate with like minded others on a Global scale and the collective human spirit is available to us in ways we never would have imagined 30 years ago. I am not alone in speculating what this means to the development of future generations or the impact on our culture as a whole.

In my particular situation the impact has been life changing. It has opened my mind to potential life choices I’d perhaps fantasized of, but never believed I could manifest. I am now in between worlds, one foot just barely in each. I am in fact in my own world (as my children will confirm!) a world which I am creating day by day, a world where I am content, where I feel I belong. It feels good, amazingly good. I rarely felt that I fit in any of my past environments, which may explain the repeating pattern of creation, dissatisfaction, crisis, destruction and the long road to rebuilding and stabilization. It was beginning to appear as though every time I pulled myself out of whatever kind of trap I’d locked myself into; addiction, bad relationships, poverty etc. the “good life” only lasted a few years at best. I was trapped in the cycle of ruin and redemption; and although the manifestations of each cycle would change, the basic pattern and the message to myself, remained the same. Now I see an opportunity to break free of the restrictions titles, roles and expectations that often overwhelmed me, driving me to self sabotage. I see an opportunity to continue to educate and advocate on my terms, utilizing the value of my life experience and continually learning from the shared experiences of others.

As I near my 52nd birthday and the end of a year of grueling treatment for Hepatitis C, I see a road before me that is unfettered with gates, signs, speed limits and crazy detours. I am pleased to say that my eyes are set on that path toward my vision of what my future can be.

© 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard
Theresa Reed, media conssultant

>Miss Cranky Pants

>Hello All,

So yesterday was shot number….hell, I don’t know; feels like one too many though. I must say I’ve generally been feeling a bit better lately, especially emotionally. I have been able to view this experience through a wider lens and instead of feeling trapped inside every aching moment  I’ve reminded myself that hardship has the potential to allow us to gain wisdom. (if that’s the case I should be some sort of Guru by now) But seriously we only gain wisdom if we choose it; we can choose to become bitter, angry, resentful…you know the list. I’ve realized however that part of being wise is acknowledging the fact that we are not perfect, we are not Gurus, we don’t know it all and we don’t walk around in a Blessed State of Serenity, at least not all the time. Acceptance is perhaps the better part of wisdom (that may be an actual quote that’s been floating around in my subconscious, if so I apologize for not giving credit)
So today, I’m allowing myself to be pissed. I’m pissed that I’m having a bad day and an experiencing “flu like symptoms” and I’m hungry and too sick to go to the grocery store and I’m pissed that I feel whiny. So there.
One thing I have figured out, on the emotional/psychological front, is that there are days I wake up feeling like crap, but I can push through it and end up having a decent day. Mornings are the worst for me, until I get something to eat, some coffee and water, I think I’m sick. For a long time I only listened to my morning self, not a trusty source, and just didn’t do anything. I’m always pleasantly surprised when I find out that Morning Jenny, aka Miss Cranky Pants, is wrong, she’s just being cranky and not wanting to get out of bed.
But then there are other days, like today, where I ignore miss Cranky Pants and go try to accomplish something only to realize I feel like I’m about to keel over or throw up, in no certain order. Today is one of those days.
One more boulder on the climb to the top of the mountain where the Wise old Guru sits,  laughing at the Human Comedy.

© 2010 Jennifer Hazard
Photo of Crabby Girl courtesy of the Graphics Fairy,