Vivente In Somnio

1st April 2016

(I am posting this today without any edits or changes at all.  This was my voice at the time I wrote it down with a pen and paper.  I then typed it from my journal.  It may be juvenile writing, but it was what I wanted to share today from my thoughts.  Thank your for reading)


I am so grateful.  I am hyperventilating from gratitude.  I am sitting here in the sun, by the Hudson River in the Upper West Side of New York City.  My apartment is a Brownstone in the 80’s.  That refers to the area of streets.  It is almost embarrassing to say that I am living my dream, but I am.  I am sure my friends from the city could find amusement in my childlike dreams as a woman in my 50’s.  So many people have gone before me.  Many people come to New York with the dream of becoming an actor, a dancer, a writer, an artist or a financial wiz.  I am here to live, grow, work my program of sobriety, experience life here and then write about it.  Those are my dreams.  Not to become anything, but just be here.  

A few years ago I had the great fortune to paddle the Tennessee River from Chattanooga to Iuka, Mississippi 260 miles, 10 hours per day for nine days.  30 miles a day for eight days and 20 miles on our last day (I think this is the correct math).  Three of us made that trip.  Two of us in a canoe and the other on a paddle board.  The trip was a fundraiser for the Tennessee Riverkeeper. I was a board member, and my only assets to the board were fundraising on social media,  my strength and determination and my adaptability to my surroundings.  But, I had no gratitude for my situation.  I actually felt as if I was doing something great for the organization. At the beginning of our trip, we camped out in Stevenson, Alabama.  Anyone who knows me knows I am not a camper.  The park service sent over a park ranger to meet us to ensure we had our camping spot and to welcome us.  The ranger was a down to earth guy about my age.  We all talked about what our organization was doing and our fundraising paddle.  The ranger said something that stopped me in my tracks.  I will never forget it.  He said, “All my life I have wanted to canoe this river.”  I still get emotional when I think of this.  I was struck.  I was living someone else’s dream, and I had no gratitude.  From that moment, my entire attitude about what I was doing changed and it shaped my experience.  With miles and miles of green trees, I began to see them individually.  Every time I saw a species of wildlife I squealed with excitement.  I saw a beaver swimming across the river, and I just wanted to thank God and the universe for such an experience. 

You see when you are living someone else’s dream you must be grateful.  

I sit here sobbing now because I got it.  I am so glad I got it.  I became grateful that day.  I am now sitting here steps from my apartment writing and experiencing.  Today, here in the park  I met a new friend who has a beautiful dog and we have a lot in common.  She is a real writer.  The kind who gets paid for her work.  I am living my dream, just being.  If it’s not your dream and you are living it, then become grateful because your dreams will come true.  



God and The Devil

A few weeks ago I wrote a story about meeting a Buddhist Monk on the Highline.  He was exactly what I needed that day.  I had prayed to God to bring me something to make me feel love that day.  When I met this young man he said, “I love you because you are beautiful.”  I believe God can speak to us through many vehicles.  That day I do believe I got what I needed and I give my higher power the credit.  When I was discussing this with a friend, a New Yorker, she said, “Oh no, Cookie, that is a scam.  I read about it recently.  They give you blessings and take your money.”  I explained to her that I did not give him any money, but I did give him my phone number because we had to use the translator on our phones to communicate. There was only so much, “I love you because you are beautiful” I could take.  I was trying to discuss God’s love with him and how I thought he was displaying it.  Our conversations were benign and I felt no fear.  Anyone can find my number online, but I do not disclose where I live to strangers or Buddhist monks.  Another friend of ours said not to worry he did not get money from me and it was harmless.  As the days passed I received the same messages from him.  I responded with well wishes.  He then sent me a picture of himself in civilian clothes which I didn’t think was appropriate if he is a monk, but who am I to judge.  I would see calls from him and I would not answer because I don’t speak his language.  Recently, I received a text from him that said, “Where are you?  I want to kiss you.”  I decided this was the devil talking and so I blocked him.  I got a blessing and got to keep my money.  I think I scammed him.

Uptown Girl

Tomorrow I move to a new place on the UWS.  That’s the Upper West Side.  I’m getting this city lingo correct.  I have committed to stay in New York City for the month of April.  While I am excited, it is still hard to be away from my husband, my children, my animals, and my friends.  I am so grateful for this opportunity and as we keep saying in our family, “make it count!”  I intend to continue growing, writing, doing work and service in my program of sobriety, meeting my obligations, and staying grateful for this season in my life.  I feel like an exchange student.  Each day I am so excited about my adventures and my surroundings, but there are moments I think I want to pack up and fly back into my comfort.  I know that growing is painful despite one’s surroundings.  Staying in gratitude.  Making it count.  

New York and The Red Cross

Anyone who knows me knows I love The American Red Cross.  When I graduated from college I was hired as a Donor Resources Representative with The American Red Cross in Birmingham, Alabama.  My first boss, John Burleson, was like a big brother to me and our group was my family.  It was 1984 and we were living the life.  Everywhere we went, we were the Red Cross gang.  I studied the history of the big red mother, as we called it; I wanted to know everything I could about it. I even went to the national headquarters in Washington D.C. with my mother, daddy and sister in August of 1985 on a family vacation.  To this day, I am loyal to The American Red Cross.  Tonight the Empire State Building is shining with red and white lights in honor of The American Red Cross month, March.  I love looking up and seeing the lights each night and finding out what the colors represent.  Tonight I was excited to see two of my favorite things together so beautifully.  The Empire State Building and The American Red Cross.  Two American icons.  Grateful for them both.  img_4854

The New York Way

29 March 2016

I have a blister on my feet from my new cool New York shoes. Today I’m going to wear my cool, comfortable shoes that I brought with me from Alabama. They look pretty New York to me. Style and comfort. That’s the New York way. Yesterday I left my apartment at 6 pm for a 7 pm meeting downtown. I could have walked it in 46 minutes, or the correct train would have taken me 25 minutes at that time of the evening. I took the wrong train. Or, trains. I got on the wrong train three times. At rush hour. A great lesson in patience. I arrived at 7:20 for the meeting. That’s the New York way. Learning about the trains. A friend told me he has lived here for 25 years and still takes the wrong train occasionally. Being kind to new people. That’s the New York way. It’s Spring in New York. It’s freezing and windy. That’s New York, and I love it.


Taxi Cabs and Fire Escapes

I wanted to run

My feet in motion

Not going anywhere

Wild horses to help me roam

Taxi cabs to set me free

A fire escape to sit and think

A clear mind

A pen to write

My mind is open

My thoughts are free

Breathing is easy

Anywhere and everywhere

My home

I can be

Living My Dream Even on Sad Days

I’m already a creature of comfort.  I have my favorite cafe which has healthy food, strong coffee, tasty teas, and a killer chocolate chip and sea salt cookie.  It is always busy.  The crowd consists of students, professionals, celebrities, young parents, artsy types and loud New Yorkers like the raconteur sitting next to me now.  I love the colorful personalities.  I am still trying to understand why I feel so calm sitting here writing, enjoying my surroundings in my own space.  I went to the library earlier.  I left only because it did not have a public restroom.  As soon as I realized this I had to find a place with a restroom.  I walked around The Village and I was drawn back to my favorite coffee shop.  O Cafe.  There is so much noise around me, so much action.  But, I sit here calm and so at home in my own little world.  I am living the life I always dreamed of, living in New York City and writing.  This is my dream.  I woke up this morning with fear that it would end.  I have been sad today.  I am not really sure why, but I know what to do.  I lean into it.  I write about it.  I am sad because of memories.  I am sad because of fear of the future.  But, what about today?  Why am I wasting time on being sad when I am living my dream?  I’ve realized that I am driven by emotions in my writing.  Pain or humor.  They drive me.  I decided to sit here, just take it in and sit with my emotions.  Then, a gentleman about my age struck up a conversation with me.  He has lived in the city since 1990 when he was 31.  He began to tell me about his dream to move.  He wants to move up near The Cloisters or to The Hudson Valley.  He said his friends tell him he will be bored, but it is still his dream.  I told him I understood.  Many people have expressed to me their thoughts about my dream of moving to New York.  It is too expensive.  It is too crowded.  It is not safe.  But, It is my dream and I am here.  I am living my dream today.  I am still feeling a bit strange, but I am reminded we all have dreams and we can live them.  

Cat & Mouse Games

I would like to think of it as a cat and mouse game.  I think it was more of a big elephant in the room…me…jumping up on the bed at a shadow or was it a mouse?   It was 7:20 this morning and I was ready to leave my apartment for my 12 Step meeting.  My first thought when I caught the site out of my periphery was, “I’m leaving today.  I’m getting the hell out of this city!”  I have seen rats in the subway and on the sidewalk at night, but my apartment is clean and pest free.  I think.  I thought about it.  A mouse could not get on the third floor…surely.  I went to my meeting and calmed down.  As I was discussing my morning with my friend,  a New Yorker, nonchalantly said, “Oh yeah, a mouse can be on the 3rd floor; they can get in anywhere.  That’s the city.”  Well, my my my.  That’s the city.  This bustling pool of wonderful people with so many things to do.  The city that is teaching me so many important life lessons may very well have a real lesson for me.  There are rodents here. According to Robert Sullivan’s bestselling book, “Rats,”  these creatures are as much city dwellers as we are. They belong here.  I suppose I have invaded their space.  I am the creature trying to fit here, not the other way around.  They have their place.  They have found their favorite holes in the wall.  Literally.  They know where to go when they need rest or be calm.  They know where to scurry to find the best food.  They know how to avoid the traffic and navigate the crowds.  I am a neophyte still learning to steer my way along the waves of the city.  Each day I encounter situations like, do I sandwich my way onto this train or do I wait for 7 minutes for the next train which will probably be as crowded?   Do I turn on my air conditioner and deal with my upstairs neighbor who is somehow bothered by the noise which results in him stomping around the entire time as if he is engaging in some sort of revolting march?  Do I walk to pick up my laundry now and carry it around or do I wait until later and backtrack so I can take it directly home?  Or, if I have to be uptown by 7 pm, then I need to start walking because it takes me 5 minutes to walk to the stop, then to get thru the turnstile and walk to the platform and wait for the next train which I will squeeze onto and I must account for all of the stops because I’m not on an express train I’m on a local train which stops at every stop, and I must allow enough time if the train gets delayed for any reason like a maintenance issue or a track fire.  In the three weeks, I have lived here I have figured a lot out about the city.  I am feeling more at home here.  But, I must tackle my biggest challenge yet.  Is that a mouse or a shadow waiting for me at my apartment.  I suppose I need to leave this cafe and go see.