Category Archives: identity

I Don’t Have to Have a Topic

I haven’t posted a blog in well over a week. I have several first paragraphs sitting in my word documents, but I can’t quite seem to get beyond that point on any topic. I don’t now how many  of you are familiar with the book “I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart enough and Doggone it People Like Me” or subsequent movie “Stuart Saves his Family”. Both are written by the now Senator Al Franken as his alter ego Saturday Night Live character Stuart Smalley. You may remember his daily affirmations sketch, if not you can follow the link below and see it for yourself. Stuart is described as a “caring nurturer and a member of several 12 step groups but not a professional therapist”. The book is essentially Stuart’s attempt to write a self-help book of daily affirmations (pre-blogging days) and follows his battle with perfectionism, among other character traits, as he struggles to maintain his commitment to his job, friends, 12 step groups, family and his book.  Because Stuart is a “caring nurturer” and a perfectionist the reader experiences a tour of the rapidly cycling highs and lows of someone who is just a little bit neurotic and co-dependent. And although it is essentially comedic, it has a bittersweet tenderness that reflects the personalities of anyone whose childhood been affected by alcoholism, neglect, abuse etc.
This is why Stuart is one of my favorite characters to have arisen out of pop culture in America. I believe we all have a little Stuart in us, some of us more than others.  Today as I sat down with my laptop, determined to get out of this writer’s block I’ve been up against, I suddenly remembered Stuarts commitment to write every day…the next entry was dated a month later.
The truth is, I find great comfort in Stuart’s struggles with his self worth and I can laugh at them because they are my struggles as well. You can call it what you want, ADD (attention deficit disorder) post trauma, depression/anxiety or the result of a chaotic childhood but it is the stuff of daily life for many of us. And although we may have trouble with follow through and commitment and frequently lose focus jumping from one task or idea to the next, we are also some of the most interesting, caring and creative people I know. We don’t fit the profile of what an adult is supposed to do or be but instead we explore our options internally and with the help of other like minded individuals as we create for ourselves the roles we want to embrace, the path we choose to walk on life’s journey. We may struggle along the way, we get lost, we find an alternate path, we  fall down, we get back up but we do it on our terms, outside the box of externally imposed expectation…and we are good enough, smart enough and doggone it people like us.

“I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough and Doggone It People Like Me”
copyright 1992 by Al Franken.
Video retrieved from You Tube

© 2010-2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard


Ramblers, Rebels and Rogues

I have spent many years of my life in opposition and I rather like the role.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Hello My Rebellious Queens,
I have had the opportunity to chuckle at myself a bit since yesterday. forgetting a blog post, horrors! Yet on the other hand when I decided to make this a daily commitment, a routine with an actual schedule; I did it knowing i was challenging myself stretching my limbs a little farther.
I’m not always, um, shall we say, focused? or organized? or consistent? at least I haven’t been in the past. But in the now, i really do want to commit myself to a consistent effort, a solid path stone by stone set before me as I travel. Don’t ask me where I travel, one commitment at a time, please. I see it like this, some of us tender the hearth, build the home, and nurture the garden. these are the people who go to the office, get to work promptly on time day by day. They have savings accounts and good credit and lead fairly predictable lives. They keep the wheels of enterprise going and they are ok with that. And so am I; I’m happy to know that my garbage will be picked up on Tuesday and that my utilities will work when I turn on a switch and such comforts as we are accustomed. Our society relies on the consistency and reliability of the hearth keepers to function.
our culture uses them as a Blueprint for “normalcy”. They exemplify the way we “should be”. we are promised rewards like all inclusive vacations and funparks and new cars for low, low financing, as long as we tend the hearth. Then there are the rest of us, the Ramblers, Rebels and, rogues. we are the dreamers, the ones who can’t seem to pay attention to the power point presentation and who don’t wear the latest designer clothing.. What we do is create, innovate and motivate. We are the Women with the Past, because no true rambler doesn’t run into some trouble on her journey. We are the rebels because we listen to our heart, not just our head and we aren’t afraid to speak up when something doesn’t feel right. We know we have to take action because, most likely, we learned the hard way that if we don’t speak up, if we try to fit in a place that does not align with our nature, we will suffer. our spirit will shrinks and wither, leaving us vulnerable to the desire for escape in the form of drugs or alcohol or to illusion of acceptance in a relationship that may not be healthy or of becoming shrouded in the depths of our own depression and isolation..
Some of us have had more encouragement and freedom to live by the call of our inner voice than others.. Some of us have had to discover it later in life, and some of us are just awakening to the knowledge.
Where ever we are in our travels, we must remember that we do have our place in society. If it weren’t for those of us who question authority, who go against the grain, there would never be progress, change or, I believe, true freedom..
What “rules” have you challenged? How did it change you or your perception of you?

© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

The ride that is my life

“Good judgment comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgment.” Rita Mae Brown

This is one of absolute favorite quotes and I have decided it should be the motto for this page. As I’ve been blogging , reading other blogs and getting to know the online world of survivors, I’ve also been discovering my own style. When I refer to my “style” I mean not only my blogger style, but my personal style. I am indeed in a phase of reinventing myself and creating the future I want. Two years ago, I completed my Masters Degree in Community Counseling beaming with pride and grand plans for my future as a Therapist. First a family tragedy threw me for a loop; my adult daughter was nearly killed by her ex-boyfriend and spent close to three months in the hospital recovering. Then there was the trial, the postponements, the hearings. I was exhausted, overwhelmed and re traumatized. I was looking for work in my field and not finding it. My money was running out. I ended up taking a job that, although fulfilling in many ways, was not a Masters level position. Within months I began to get sick. I was achy and exhausted all the time. I was forgetful and spacey. I thought at first that it was the stress and depression of the past year, and it probably was to a certain extent, but I also discovered that my Hepatitis C was progressing. To shorten the story I lost my job, my performance was suffering due to my illness, and ended up deciding to apply for disability and begin the treatment for Hep C. Life has a funny way of letting you know it has plans other than your own. So here I am on Disability, writing, hanging out with my dogs and my grandchildren, putting in my garden and except for the nasty side effects of the treatment, leading a pretty contented life. And I have decided that there are other, perhaps better, ways to help others than meeting with them for 50 minutes in a Mental Health Clinic. So, my always evolving blog will continue to reflect both my experimentation with technology, and my experimentation with my identity.I have also started a second blog to record my experiences with this disease and the treatment.The Beauty of being an “older woman with a past” is that you have lots of material with which to recreate yourself in the second half of life. I hope some of you will stay along for the ride! Peace, Nanakoosa
© 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

The Next Step

Whenever I sit down to write, whether it be a blog, or journal or my ongoing project (do I dare say book?) I spend some time reflecting on my life, on who I’ve been, roles I’ve played, where I am now and where I want to be in the future. In the moments that I look at the Big Picture, I sometimes think to myself, ‘wow, I’ve had a pretty messed up life”. If I happen to be in a particularly spiritually focused moment I’ll say ‘I’ve really overcome a lot of challenges”. Both things are true, it’s just a matter of perspective. I’ve also accomplished some good in my life. I’ve been a Social Worker most of my adult life and I’ve been able to utilize my experiences and compassion to help many individuals and families. And although I haven’t always been the parent of the year, I must have done some things right because my children have all turned out to be intelligent, creative, caring individuals.
I’ve accomplished a lot of personal growth. I haven’t had a drink in 10 years. I have avoided abusive relationships. I no longer obsess about things over which I have no control. I no longer feel the need to plan ahead for the “worst possible scenario”. And I no longer flinch when someone makes a sudden move or noise near me. I’m far from perfect but as they say no one is perfect, nor would I want to be, but I’m generally pretty content with who I am today.
As most of us know healing happens in layers and cycles, and it seems to me at least, that the more “issues’ you start out with having the more layers and cycles you must negotiate.
So, now I’m into a whole new territory, a new layer, a new cycle. And I am reminded again that there is always considerable overlap between these layers, as most of the problems we survivors have experienced are intertwined. Therefore as we grow through one issue, we are really simultaneously healing other areas of our psyches, bodies and social lives as well. By now I can only hope you are wondering with baited breath what this mysterious “next layer” is. I realized I don’t share much personal detail in my blogs. I write as a survivor/recovering alcoholic, but I stick to generalized topics and themes. And yet ultimately one of my hopes is for my website to become a forum where people can share their stories, because I believe there is great power in the telling, as well as in the receiving, of these stories.
My most recent battle, or challenge, is a particularly difficult one for me because it involves consequences of bad decisions I’ve made in the past and because it is something over which I have limited control. About 12 years ago I was diagnosed with Hepatitis C, a consequence of my IV drug use back in the 80’s. At that time, being the dedicated alcoholic that I was, my reaction was to drink as much as I possibly could for a solid year because I knew I’d have to quit soon to save my liver. For those of you who are not addicts, trust me, this logic makes perfect sense to an addict. In a way the diagnosis and my irrational response, was a catalyst to my recovery from alcohol. As you can well imagine drinking as much as possible for an entire year leads to some pretty nasty situations. I ended up in jail more than once, lost my job, my apartment and worst of all my kids. Every time I tried to quit I only made it so far before I was at it again. Finally, as an alternative to a 9 month incarceration I was sent to a residential treatment center. I can honestly say that experience saved my life in more ways than one.
Anyway, despite my best efforts to destroy my liver, I have fared pretty well over the past 9 years or so. In the past year however, I found myself increasingly fatigued, foggy and achy. I thought I had fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. Then at this year’s liver screen we discovered my viral load was up and some of my other numbers were off. A biopsy revealed a small amount of liver scarring. To make a long story short, my doctor and I decided that since I’m unemployed right now anyway and since the damage hasn’t progressed too far, now might be a good time to try treatment.
The treatment for Hep C is Interferon and Ribavirin combination therapy. I won’t go into great medical detail here but I will tell you the side effects are pretty notorious, and for good reason. The worst and most common are fatigue, loss of appetite, foggy thinking and, my personal favorite, depression. It’s pretty much a full time job. So after all the healing of my emotions, my thought and behavior patterns now it seems to be time to heal the physical realm. And of course there’s the overlap. The guilt I’ve felt at having been careless with using IV drugs. The sense of loss of not having the energy to be there for my family in the way I’d like. The identity crisis of going from being passionate defender of justice for my clients to being unemployed and pretty much unable to work, at least during the course of treatment. And yet, there are wonderful opportunities for growth. I have time to do things like write, gardening and crafting, to nurture my creative side. I have to opportunity to give back to myself some of the nurturance and forgiveness I so naturally afford to others but save little for myself.
I began this journey on treatment 8 weeks ago now and I’ve already experienced a vast range of emotions, insights and humbling epiphanies. Yes it’s challenging, to say the least, but if I’ve learned nothing else from my years of diverse experiences, it is that if we choose to, we become wiser, stronger more complete beings for ever challenge we survive.
Peace and Blessings,
© 2010 Jennifer Hazard