Out of the Closet (Formerly published as “I Hate You Bud Lite Lime-A-Rita”)

I had previously published this under an anonymous name on another blog I had created to talk about this subject of alcoholism. A subject which I am very familiar with. Now I am finally in a place where I am no longer denying and hiding.


I hate you, Bud Light Lime Lime-A-Rita. I hate that you market yourself as a light malt beverage. I hate that you come in a can containing 3 servings. I hate that your empty aluminum shells are now found all over my house and in my recycling bins. day after day after day. As Arthur Palac wrote about here: http://arthurpalac.com/bud-light-lime-a-rita/ you are a sham and a fraud.

No, my hatred for you is not because I am a social drinker looking to save calories and have been duped, big time (although if I were, I’d be really pissed off). My hatred of you is deeper.

My husband is an alcoholic. In his younger days, his drink of choice was Sambuca or real margaritas with salted rims and lots of tequila. After many years of abusing alcohol and finally falling victim to cardiomyopathy at 46 years old, he gave abstinence a try. For awhile.

Then he began sneaking (at least he thought he was sneaking) a drink here or there. He chose Vodka, so that I would be (in his mind) unable to tell that he’d started drinking again. After that short period of abstinence, his one or two at the local bar after work really affected him. He acted like more of a drunkard than I’d ever seen. He doesn’t get that I KNOW when he’s been drinking, even if I can’t smell it on him. He thinks he’s pulling the wool over my eyes. He doesn’t realize that it’s his personality and his slurring speech and his stumbling around that are the big tip offs.

After driving my daughter and her friend to a church service stinkin’ drunk, and me observing it only when I returned home from the hospital where I’d been with my sick father, my quietly uttered threat of divorce and a total departure from my regular screaming and yelling and crying over his choosing the bottle over his family’s happiness and safety put the scare into him to try again.

AA was short-lived. A ‘friend’ (female) who had found sobriety through her obsession/personal relationship with Jesus offered to help. She and her husband viewed AA as negative and because the “Higher Power” could be anything you want it to be, and viewed as inherently evil. The husband and our daughter began attending their church regularly with them. I am no longer a believer, but was happy that he seemed to make some progress. Whatever it takes. You probably know where that went.

I began therapy this past year. Suicidal ideation and a deep, prolonged depression after my parent’s deaths and the infidelity forced it. I processed our long-term (over 30 years) battle of wills over his drinking. I finally think I’ve gotten the message that I have absolutely nothing to do with his drinking, and I will have absolutely nothing to do with whether he stops. I cannot be the alcohol police. I do not have the power. Only he can change, when and if he is ready.

I can choose to stay and change myself and my reactions, or I can choose to go. It’s a hard decision when there have been no arrests, no DUI’s, he goes to work everyday and functions well, earns a very good living and does not become violent or mean. He has mostly been a happy drunk. But a drunk, nonetheless. Friends who have spouses who are violent, who have multiple DUI’s and arrests and who can’t hold a job view me as ridiculous because I am so crazed by his drinking.

I have learned to say what I need to say about whatever situation comes up, without threats of any sort, just stating my feelings. No more policing, no more judgment, no more ultimatums.

The new rule of the house is, no hiding alcohol. If he wants to drink, that’s up to him. I accept it. I prefer he drinks at home and not drink and drive. I prefer he stop drinking, but I have no control over this issue. So the rule, no hiding, is in place so that he does not get behind the wheel of a car and I have an idea of his state of sobriety before I ask him to drive my daughter somewhere if I am stuck elsewhere. I am learning to detach lovingly, with no anger, no crying, no recriminations.

As the scotch bottles and the tequila bottles fill my recycle bins under the new rule, not hidden, but out in the open, I think he may have had a realization that yes, he drinks an awful lot. He’s never been a beer drinker, just hard liquor. I’ve watched him move toward these flavored malt beverages, and when I cock an eyebrow, he explains that they are helping him to cut down, they have less alcohol. And he believes it. I don’t tell him that he’s just as drunk after one 25 ounce can than if he’d had a couple of real margaritas, because nothing I tell him really matters. Two of the 25 ounce cans after work really does him in. Doesn’t help that they taste just like a real margarita.

I hate you, Bud Lite Lime Lime-A-Ritas. But really, if it wasn’t you, it would be another.

We Stuff Pillows With Them, After All

I drive home after work on an idyllic Spring day last week, taking the Mill Street shortcut to view the magnificent flowering trees, the tranquil pond, the various waterfowl and a lone white swan, swimming languidly through the sun-warmed water. Peacefulness settles over me.

Traveling on the road ahead, a large black SUV, moving faster than the posted 25 mph speed limit, rounds the corner and not a flash of brake lights is observed as down and feathers suddenly float all around the black behemoth. A Canadian goose lands on its belly in the road in front of me. I bring my car to a stop and am horrified as the bird flaps her wings to no avail, desperate to get out of the road. Her legs appear broken. I am filled with pity as her mate stands over her, watching, while she freaks out and I act automatically, unthinking.

I pull the car over and I bound from it to the distressed animal floundering in the road. Gently grasping her beak to keep her from biting, I lift her off the road and walk her to the pond’s edge, where, as I place her gently on the ground, her struggling ceases and her neck goes limp. I become aware I am crying.


I did not realize a goose’s body was so light and warm and so incredibly soft. The tears flow and mix with the blood on my hands. A line of cars passes by slowly and somberly, witnesses to a senseless death and a crazy woman on this beautiful Spring day.


Kids React to Controversial Cheerios Commercial

I never did understand why this commercial, which General Mills aired last year, featuring a multi-racial couple and their child, was so controversial. When I’d read of the hateful feedback received from thousands of people on the company’s website and on YouTube, I was stunned and saddened.

Obviously, I was not the only one. It will be these children who will continue to change our world by raising the next generation with the same blindness toward race, creed, color, and sexuality.

This video makes my heart glad. And I was doubly glad to see Cheerios featured the same family in another commercial on Super Bowl Sunday.



Am I actually smiling while standing outside in 5 degree temperatures and 20 mph winds? With snow piling up all around? Was this a dream?

No, it was real, all of it. I took pictures to prove it. The lightest, driest, diamond-like flakes of snow had fallen all day long. I’m not employed at the moment, so I decided to suck it up and do my part to shovel (one of my most hated jobs) and was just delighted by this particular snow.

Where I live, snow is usually wet and heavy and takes down the overhead power lines while leaving us without power for days when it falls in the quantities it fell on Wednesday. But the polar vortex, making the headlines hourly, actually provided us with the type of snow that most skiers talk about, powder.

It was light and airy. It was not back-breaking work to shovel throughout the day. But the biggest surprise came toward the end of the day, when I went out for my last dig. Turning the overhead lights on over the back deck revealed the most beautiful, take your breath away, diamond-like world. It was just beautiful, and it was a wonderful feeling to be happy about it. I wish I had a really good camera which could capture the beauty of the twinkling, sparkling flakes of frozen precipitation all around me. But me, smiling in the picture above, is all I’ll need to remind me of this day when my middle-aged self felt child-like wonder at snowflakes once again! 2014-01-21 20.46.032014-01-21 20.45.302014-01-21 20.45.47


“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”  

Mental Health….when people hear that phrase, what do they think about? I am aware that when most people hear the words MENTAL ILLNESS these days, they picture a deranged, out of control individual who is plowing through an elementary school with a semi-automatic weapon. One who is standing atop a building or a bridge readying himself to jump, or, one who is driving through a barricade, trying to get to the White House, and who, with her baby in the back in a car seat, is killed by the police.

These are the images and the faces of mental illness which the major media outlets present to the world. However, there are many other faces which are never shown and yet are much more prevalent than the sensational images. These faces, belonging to those who get up in the morning and push through their days, working as bus drivers, doctors, bookkeepers, train conductors, lawyers, plumbers, teachers, laborers, babysitters, carpenters, accountants. Men and women raising kids, caring for the elderly, working to save animals, create foster families, conserve the environment and administer compassionate health care and social services. Religious folks, atheists, priests, pastors, rabbis, imams. Artists, writers, musicians, photographers, filmmakers. These ordinary and extraordinary lives are touched every day by mental illness, whether personally experienced or through caring for a family member who suffers.

Within most families, there are generations of relatives with similar mental health issues, diagnosed or not. The majority will not seek help from the medical community for fear of being labeled as mentally ill. Generation after generation they have been admonished by their elders to hold it together, hide the symptoms as best they can and taught to be ashamed and afraid of the consequences of being found out. They will then self-medicate with alcohol and drugs or process addictions like gambling or sex or shopping. The problem with these self-administered treatments is that often, if not always, they lead to a larger problem with mental, emotional, financial or physical health.

If you have a brain, and most of us do 😀 , you can and probably will suffer from a mental illness. It might not be  a chronic, lifelong thing; it could encompass a one-time episode of depression or anxiety. It might not be acute, necessitating a hospitalization or even a prescription medication, but just a few weeks worth of professional talk therapy and behavioral modifications could be all that’s necessary to get back to a state of mental health.

In order to achieve MENTAL HEALTH, it is necessary to discuss and to share and to seek out professional help when we become aware that things are not working as they normally should in our brains. Just as we do when things are not working correctly with our physical bodies, when we have pain that is not normal, when  certain hormones, or our blood sugar or calcium or magnesium levels are out of the norm and need to be adjusted. We seek out a doctor, a professional who we know can help us.

The brain is the most vital organ in our body; it is a physical mass of the most complex connective tissue, weighing about three pounds and controlling almost all of our body systems. The reasons that mental illness and physical illness became separate are beyond my scope of understanding. It needs to end.

Cancer was spoken about only in whispers and alluded to as the BIG C as recently as my grandparents generation. It was only brought out into the light by those who suffered and beat it and eventually cancer’s stigma of an automatic death sentence was put aside. Let’s put aside the stigma of seeking treatment for the physical illness of our brain by discussing our experiences with mental illness and our experiences getting back to a state of optimal mental health through diagnosis and treatment.

Those of us who the world at large perceive as “NORMAL” but who are well aware that we have or currently are suffering with some form of mental illness, must speak up and speak out so that we can combat the images that the media feeds the public. The stigma of mental illness will not come to an end until all of us who experience it start to talk about it and stop being afraid.

We get up each day, we walk the earth and we function. We start businesses. We create art, we write books, we love and care for our children and our elderly and we volunteer at our churches and synagogues and mosques and we earn money and contribute to our communities every day. We are certainly not monsters and we are not hiding under our beds. We are living our lives and taking care of business.

If you’d like to share in the dialog during this year’s BLOG FOR MENTAL HEALTH 2014 PROJECT, go to http://acanvasoftheminds.com/2014/01/07/blog-for-mental-health-2014/#more-4498 and follow the directions to join the awareness project.

Merry Christmas?

Haven’t much enjoyed the Christmas season for awhile, now. My dad passed away a few days before Christmas, 3 years ago. The kids are all grown and have not yet provided me with little ones to spoil. Those magical moments of buying new toys, fun learning games and adorable clothes are not generally a part of the holiday schedule for me anymore.

In addition, we have the annual outrage. Seeing the media fan the flames of religious zealotry at this time of year, with the never-ending stories of the warring nativity scenes and menorahs on public property and now, even a Festivus pole in Florida! If I see another bumper sticker telling me to keep Christ in Christmas, with a photo of Santa Claus hovering over the baby Jesus in the manger, I’ll just scream. HELLO, Santa Claus is just another fictional character. He is not real.

Last night, on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, he did a story….well, watch for yourself:


REALLY? Those Nimrod’s over at FAUX NEWS are really stirring the pot, while making themselves seem delusional at the same time. Kids, Santa really IS white? OMG.

Tonight, though, I’m feeling quite “Merry.” Wednesday, we attended my daughter’s annual holiday party hosted by The Arc of Bergen and Passaic County.  Fun night, with good food, lots of music and dancing, and acceptance of various disabilities.  At the end of the night, there were booklets passed around with over 400 “Holiday Tags” listing a ‘wish’ of a member of the developmentally disabled community. They were hoping some of us might fulfill a wish, to be wrapped and left at the Arc offices by December 20th for distribution for Christmas.

Looking over these wishes, my heart grew. Sort of like the Grinch’s in that famous Dr. Seuss tale. So many wishes, and just simple things; a warm coat, a pair of slippers, a sweater, a new sheet set, some bath towels, a gift card from a local supermarket, toys and clothing for those in group homes or developmental centers.

Later, we shopped. This felt like Christmases of old, when the kids were young and eagerly anticipated Santa. Toys, adorable clothes, plus the joy of knowing that a developmentally disabled adult will be amazed to get the new blue comforter he’s been wishing for! This shopping did not feel like a chore. It felt joyful. All in all, we were able to fulfill 10 wishes. I hope others have stepped in to help with the other 380 or so.

The past few holiday seasons, my family has tried something different at the holidays. One year we sent a package of ‘wishes’ to a platoon we ‘adopted’ in Afghanistan. The gift requests: soft toilet tissue, soap, shampoo, tampons, deodorant, canned Spaghetti and Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup, American snack foods and chocolate bars, protein bars, books, magazines, etc. We wrapped and we packaged with love and joy and gratefulness for these young men and women in a foreign country, wishing for such ‘luxuries’ at Christmas that we all take so much for granted.

Another year, we donated to various charities in our family and friend’s honor, and they were so happy when notified by the charity to not have received a gift that they really didn’t want or need and to see that the money spent was put to a better use. Some of them returned the favor back to us the following year.

This is what holidays should be about. Helping those who are not in a place to buy or to receive a gift, either because they are far from home, or disabled, without family,  the child of a developmentally disabled adult, or in unfortunate circumstances. Most of us have just about everything we want or need, and if we don’t, we buy it for ourselves.

Try not to buy into the media hype surrounding Christmas this year, or the commercial hype urging you to spend, spend and spend some more. Food, toilet paper, even canned Ravioli, is often a miracle for those really needing  hot meal or a clean tush.

This holiday season, check out how good it feels to do for someone who has nothing. It’s the best gift you can give to yourself at the holidays. It makes the season feel joyful. Call your local Arc, your community center, nursing homes or public welfare agency. They are overwhelmed by the need at this time of the year. You won’t regret it.

The New Face of Domestic Terrorism

A friend's son in-law on the local news

A friend’s son in-law on the local news

This morning, after hundreds of local law enforcement spent the entire night trying to find a gun-wielding, motor-cycle helmet wearing young male, dressed all in black, in the mall less than a mile down the road from where I live, we learned that the gunman was found dead in the construction area of a newly renovated part of the mall.

I suppose this information should make us all feel better and get on with our lives? Well, I don’t feel any better. My husband, a union plumber who has worked on the renovation at the mall for weeks, can not go to work today as the ‘investigation’ continues. Hundreds of other construction workers at the site now have an unpaid day off, unless there are other jobs where they could be placed. Thousands of mall employees will enjoy an unpaid day off as well.

In the photo here, a friend’s son-in-law, a mall employee, is interviewed on the local news while his 7-month pregnant wife, my friend’s daughter, is on lock-down inside the store where she works. She, like many of the thousands of workers at this regional mall, was hunkered down, afraid for her life, locked inside having no idea where the shooter was, whether he was only one or one of many, and whether she would live to see morning or her unborn baby. Families and friends, fearful for those they could not reach who had been shopping, seeing a movie, or working. Parents of many local teens, who are one of the largest pools of employees at this mall, waited outside the road blocks where they were stopped as they tried to enter to pick up their kids at mall closing. They spent the night horrified and fearful until they could see and hold their child.

FEAR. It’s the new state of being in the US today. The news media outlets, bringing you minute by minute information of little to no use, spouting the latest ‘hearsay’ and changing the “facts”every ten minutes, feeding and fueling our increasing fear.

When will we begin holding the people responsible for this overwhelming culture of gun violence and fear, the members and representatives of the N.R.A. (National Rifle Association) accountable for the obstruction of sane and enforceable gun-control measures being made law? Their sponsorship and monetary support of our elected officials, make sure that no laws are passed due to fear of retribution, fear of pulled financial support, and fear of being labeled a ‘communist’ by the mouthpieces of this organization and is contributing to the horrifying lack of action on this issue.

Who will foot the bill for the SWAT teams and the overwhelming law enforcement response to last night’s incident?  WE will, the collective we, that’s who. As taxpayers, we pay those salaries. Who will pay for the losses our retail outlets will surely experience and try to make up for as the biggest shopping season begins and this incident keeps us out of the malls wallowing in our fear? All of us, paying with higher prices and the cost of more anti-anxiety medication.

Yet, the financial costs cannot compare with how we are paying with the loss of our precious children in the shootings occurring almost daily at schools across the country, rural, suburban AND urban. How we are paying with a complete lack of faith in our country and our elected officials and apathy at voting for any of them because they no longer represent us or our interests.

It’s time to stop wasting our money, energy, and resources and start DEMANDING our elected representatives act on this issue that is invading all of our backyards. We must take away the power of the N.R.A. and other organizations like them. They are the real terrorists in our country today as they buy our spineless and unprincipled elected officials.

By the way, it’s Election Day.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Social Media Stages of Growth

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a nerd. Worse yet, I’m one of those 50 something-year-old mothers who, once I really got the hang of it, became addicted to Facebook. My two oldest immediately jumped the Facebook ship and now post on Instagram and other social media sites and refuse my friend requests. They make fun of me almost daily for over sharing. My son’s girlfriend gave me a piece of her mind about posting her personal pictures on my page (of my grand puppy!) It’s her life and I am not allowed to steal material from it. Lesson learned.

There were some really good things that came from my Facebook addiction and there were some really awful things. I connected with old friends and with high school peers I’d not given myself the chance to know 30 years ago, mostly because I thought l was not worthy. I connected with like-minded strangers who are now pen pals.

Connection. Something I was lacking for some time, absorbed in raising my special needs daughter, advocating for her to get the education she deserved; trying desperately to give her some sort of social life by joining various groups and driving miles to get her to social activities with similarly disabled kids. All while also working 40+ hours a week at a paying job and caring for my disabled parents, who lived with my family and whose needs became enormous as the years went by. When did I have time to connect with anyone? I barely connected with my family as I plowed on, totally losing me.

Some of these new Facebook connections developed into lifelines I am so grateful to have. Others were huge mistakes. Significantly, I began a very dysfunctional friendship which almost ended the most important and solid relationship in my life. I also alienated friends and family by sharing what should have been theirs to share if they chose to. For this I feel terrible, but I have grown and matured and learned. Still learning.

I also confronted my obsessive/compulsive nature head on through bouts of FarmVille marathon plantings and harvesting at 3 o’clock in the morning, and Candy Crush delusions of my super powers. Without the help of conventional therapy or a 12-step program, I faced these demons head on and am now happily abstinent. Don’t get me wrong, I have a conventional therapist, but I could not bring myself to add this to my list of reasons why I was having a nervous breakdown. It was embarrassing!

I no longer spend hours going back and forth with delusional know-it-alls who I feel ARE WRONG about whatever subject they are putting their 2 cents in on a comment chain. I’ve learned that I just might be wrong, actually. Doesn’t happen often 😀 , but I’m more apt to admit it now. More importantly, I can’t change anyone’s mind about anything by arguing on a social media site.



Facebook helped point me toward WordPress and expressing myself through a different media, while learning to blog. Blogging is a way to express myself, and for those who want to read whatever it is I write, they can subscribe. Most readers leave me alone if they disagree with me. I find WordPress readers much more restrained and mature in their commentary. I’ve also made a few very good pen pals through WordPress. I’ve also finally figured it out that agreement is not really what I’m after, free expression is.

I still keep up my Facebook page, but it is different from what it was a few years ago. No political posts inviting argument, no posting of the things happening in others lives. No religious posts or negative comments on others posts. No excessively inviting people to play games which are the biggest time wasters and feed into my OCD. I am enjoying this stage of my social media growth but am open to continually learning and to allow the natural progression to the last stage, when I will decide to pull the plug.

Divine Evolution


I once felt that life was black and white. That there was an absolute right way of living and an absolute wrong way. There was morality and immorality. No grey areas. That was back in the days before I had children. Children do change us.

On days when I ponder the nature of God, I think often about the trajectory of my spirituality. It is intimately connected to the experiences of my life and to the many ways in which I have had to reevaluate my beliefs of right and wrong. I have vacillated between believing in God and not believing for a long time. I now completely suspend belief in the myths and childhood stories of the bible and the religious upbringing of my youth, mostly due to my heart and mind being unable to accept the inconsistencies of those myths with what I have learned and lived in my brief time here. But there is a part of me, I now realize, that wants to believe in a higher power who just loves me unconditionally, like a parent.

Those times when I am awestruck at the color of the trees on a crisp, blue-skied autumn day, or while flying far above the earth looking out the plane window at the beauty of the cloud formations, the color of the sky at twilight and the vastness of the world below; it is at those times, I feel there must be a God. Every fiber of my being feels it.

Then there are those days when I am equally certain that there is no God. If there actually were, he/she would have to have evolved, as I have, as a parent, to the point where he/she would just love his/her children, in spite of sometimes not liking them very much as they pay absolutely no attention to the lessons unsuccessfully imparted to them. A God who might have grown past the fire and brimstone and judgment in the stories of him/her in the bible, that is a god I could believe in.

Come to think of it, perhaps God did evolve, maybe that is the point of the Jesus story and we humans just got it all wrong, as we do so many things. Suppose God didn’t kill his/her only son. I mean, what parent would kill their only child? Just suppose he/she came to us in our own human form to die for us himself/herself, which is what any parent would do for their own child if they needed to be saved. Especially when, as a young, first time parent, he/she set such high expectations and rules for us, which we, as children, were bound to fail at and to break.

How many parents, myself included, said things before having children, such as, ‘I will never allow MY child to behave like THAT’ or ‘this is the way MY household will be run when I have kids’,  judgment oozing from every molecule of our being as we watched hapless others struggle with their own kids? Practically all of us have lived to eat those words.

As I watch my children’s peers, as well as my nieces and nephews, starting to get married and have children of their own, I desperately want to save them from making all the mistakes that I made in parenting. To tell them to not judge everyone else as they will be sorry. But, is that really wise? If I had not made all of those mistakes, would I be as empathetic and non-judgmental as I am now? Personal growth cannot occur without insight. How can we have insight if we never make mistakes?

I would love to save my children’s generation of parents from all the pain and heartache they most certainly will face, some of it directly stemming from their own rigidness and expectations of their offspring. Yet a part of me knows that without personally experiencing that pain and heartache, they have no chance of evolving into compassionate, loving adults.

So I suppose I believe that if there actually is a God, his/her own parenting of us probably has resembled my evolution as a parent. Completely sure of ourselves at the beginning, with the expectations and the illusion of the perfectly behaved kids who grow into the lives we dream for them. Later, those same dreams crushed by the inevitability of these miniature versions of ourselves fighting to be who they are, living their lives freely and with natural curiosity and with hearts and minds and dreams of their own.

After our own dreams wither and die through our kids failing at being what we wanted them to be, and after the path we had set for them is not followed, are we not better people who are more able to love one another in a truer, less judgmental way?

According to the myths of the bible, we were all made in God’s image. It certainly makes it a bit easier for me to believe in a deity if I can compare my own experiences of parenting while evolving into a less judgmental, more compassionate person, to God’s own possible evolution as our heavenly parent, instead of holding fast to some rigid dogma and the myths of organized religion. It actually makes perfect sense.