Thursday, January 24, 2019

When You Were Sleeping

When you were sleeping 
I snapped this picture last night when you were sleeping just after I laid the blanket over you. You looked up at me, smiled and drifted back off to sleep on the couch in our family room.  I wanted to capture the sweetness of this moment.

Watching you sleep is still one of one of my favorite things. Maybe it's because it reminds me of when you were a baby. You were such a beautiful baby and one thing you did really well, was sleep. Maybe it's because it's the only time that you're quiet when you're around me.

When you come home to visit now, I realize that absence has made my heart grow fonder.  Despite how tough life was when we lived together,  it was hard to let go when it was time for you to move out. But it turns out that the distance between us is healthy. You have to think on your feet more now. You problem solve daily, without my input. I can focus on your brother and finding out who I am now that my biggest job has changed.

I want you to know,  it's the simplest things that make me proud of you. Every day you get up for work, on your own; probably without a clock. You make yourself a healthy breakfast. You go work out and then ride the bus to work early, to ensure that you get there on time. In fact, you give yourself a cushion, arriving most days an hour before you start. You're very conscientious about being on time and never missing a shift.

Do you know how awesome that is? Most people your age are not like that. I wonder does your employer notice your incredible work ethic? It will serve you well throughout your life.

I remember in middle school and high school, being on time was not something you were the least bit interested in. In fact, getting you out of bed and out the door each day left me ready for spiked coffee and a nap. Look at you now. I never could have imagined that you could get up early in the morning, on your own, to be anywhere.

When you came home last night, you hugged me. You smelled good; freshly showered. I noticed right away that your jacket smelled freshly laundered. I was! This boy is on his game! A year ago, you would do your laundry, but things like your jacket and washing sheets weren't on your radar. It required a prompt, and even prompts may be ignored.

I can see that living with your brother is putting the finishing touches on your journey to manhood. You used to wear your hair short so that you wouldn't have to brush it. Now, you brush it after your shower and put on a wave cap as the finishing touch.

I hope that you appreciate your brother half as much as I do. When I'm down and feeling sorry for myself, I think of you two and I am grateful. I could have never imagined him taking on this responsibility a few years ago. Having you come to live with him was his idea. He extended himself and he has really stepped up to the plate.  I think you are helping each other grow.  Seeing where both of you are at this point in your lives, makes my heart sing.

All of the years I thought for sure, I was doing this motherhood thing all wrong. I wasn't sure what adult life would look like for you. The men you are now, responsible, hardworking, positive, contributers to society, and most of all you have loving hearts. It makes me think maybe, I got something right.

Even when you were fighting so hard against us, you were paying attention.

Now, can you convince your little brother to move in with you next?

I am praying for you always...



Saturday, January 5, 2019

The girl

Woke up thinking of the girl
I used to be
wild and free
no responsibility
not afraid
or even cautious
Did you know me?
You could not know
the secrets
so scandalous
I could never be 
First Lady
or President
of the U.S.
my background check
would be a wreck
men friends came and went
wild times were spent
no worries or seriousness
carefree, fun and frivolous
dating for the fun of it
filled countless
hours of freedom
and loneliness
good friends, 
honest and real
true bond to feel
the rest of our lives 
never counting pennies
Would there be enough
Could times be rough
always worked out
despite the tiniest doubt
one job or another
another lover
who wanted just 
enough of me
I saw the forest
and the trees
didn’t scare me
you might say brave
but definitely
I was free

Friday, December 7, 2018

Subtle Art

I wish that I could master the subtle art of not giving a f*#%.  There is a book by that title. Have you read it?  Maybe I should, but for or some reason I think that things that work for the average person will not work for me. My situation is definitely not average

I'm not good at not giving a f*#%.  I want to not care about what my son is doing or not doing with his young-adult life. 

"Mom. I'm taking a break from college." 
Great! I don't give a f*#%. Good luck with your future. 

The new medication he's taking makes him sleep all day. 
Oh well.  What do I care? Sleep well. 

Philosophers and positive thinking humans like my friend Rebecca believe that you are in charge of your thoughts. You can always dismiss thoughts that you don't want in your head by accessing the voice of your negative alter ego.  Simply tell your intrusive thoughts to go away or better yet, to f#*% off. Replace them with positive messages like... 

Tomorrow, he will go back to being the responsible person that he was in 11th grade.  (Insert eye-roll here). 
It's not my job to help him. I can only do so much.  
Think about the things you can control Karen, because he ain't one of them! 

A couple of days ago, I was feeling especially stressed. I felt like my heart-rate was elevated. There was some tingling in my left arm. I thought my blood pressure was up.

Something told me to drive to Walmart to check out my blood pressure on their machine. I have a wrist blood pressure cup here, but I wasn't sure if I  could trust it's readings one-hundred percent. 

My blood pressure registered 155/102. I thought this has to be wrong, so I took it again. The result was even higher!  I was sitting there taking deep yoga breaths, trying to relax. Hoping I could trick the machine into believing that I'm calm. It was funny, in a very dark humor kind of way.  

After the reading at Walmart, I went to pick my mother up from her nail appointment. Her first question was, "What about my fruit? Did you go to the store yet?"

"Yes, Mom.  As a matter of fact, I did go to the store. I went to Walmart to find out my blood pressure was notably high. But you sit right there and relax while I go next door to Randall's to get your fruit!" 

Over the next 12 hours or I would measure my pressure periodically.  It came down as I tried to relax hiding in my bed from one son, and not talking on the phone to my 23-year-old son. 

I called the next morning and made an appointment to see a doctor. Notice I didn't say, "my doctor?" That's because my doctor moved away over a year ago. Since then, I have seen a couple of medical doctors that I have not liked at all. 

There is nobody like Dr. Obrien. She was no-nonsense and very straightforward. I loved her. She had been my medical doctor for 16 years. What can I say? I don't like change.  

When I got into the doctor's office, my pressure read almost normal. Which of course made the white, male, doctor completely dismissive of me. He made it seem as if this problem was all in my head or maybe, it was due to my faulty blood pressure cup. Only I had the cup with me and we measured it against his. It got the exact, same reading. Asshole

In the interim between the high reading and the appointment the next day with the white guy doctor, I imagined my death by stroke or heart attack. It may be very strange to actually joke about this with my husband. 

"What would I do if I lost you?" he asked. 
"I don't know. Celebrate?" I kidded with him. He did not think this was funny at. all. 

I can't help but turn to humor or as he calls it sarcasm, when life is stressful, which is pretty much all of the time.  It's the Ward "Hollywood" Wesley  (my father) inside of me. He will not be denied these days since his death. His presence is stronger than ever in my DNA.

Since the doctor dude basically blew me off. Now, I will keep measuring my pressure and go see someone else if I need to.  I will also try to relax more. 

I made a "well" appointment with a female doctor by the last name of Dandekar. Her skin is brown.  She speaks with an accent. It's not that I'm prejudiced against white guys. Especially hot, white guys. But this dude was not hot. I will not be seeing him again. 

My therapist suggested that I become "less available" to the boys. I asked her if she could prescribe me my own apartment. She laughed. 

Oh. And please note, one of my friends was sure to tell me, that the problem with my high blood pressure reading, just might be alcohol-related.  To which I wanted to give her the finger. I refrained. I love her. I know she meant well. She's a freakin' nurse after all.  

I didn't even reply to her to explain. I talk about drinking on FB a lot more than I can actually drink. I do this because I think it's funny. (I know. I'm weird). My body has actually made me decrease my drink consumption as I get older. I've had no vodka in weeks! I've had wine tho! Usually one glass in the evening. If I drink any more than that, I stay up running to the bathroom all night. This is God's little trick that he's playing on me. 

I'm afraid they will have to pry the wine glass from my dying hands because it is a ritual that I enjoy most evenings. There isn't much in my day to day life that I enjoy. Yoga and therapy are the highlights of my day to day existence.  I may have had to cut down, but I will not cut out one of my favorite hobbies. Judge me. If you want. I don't give a f*#%. 

Ha ha! Notice how I did that there?  

To purchase the book Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck click here, or go to my Amazon Link above. I think it will be next on my reading list. 


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Dear Blog, Thank you

Thank you for being here for me.
I love that I can come to you whenever I’m feeling sad, lost, and unsure.
When I need someone to just listen and not judge me, you are here.
When I need a way to reach others who are on this journey through life with autism and mental illness, you are a conduit.
I sincerely thank you.

I’ve been feeling some kinda way these past few weeks. Up, down, exhausted, perplexed, stressed. So many days I want to quit all of my jobs. I just want to go away to a place where I am the only person that I am responsible for.

There is really no one I can share all of my secret, insane feelings with. I can’t even share them all with my life partner, and husband. He sees a lot of what’s going on, but most of the time he’s living on his own planet.  Apparently, he also speaks another language because we certainly don’t understand one another.

He will never fully understand what it really means to be a mother to these children. And that's okay. He can't. He can't be inside my head and my heart. He will never have the exact same emotional connection to them that I always will. He is a man. I am the woman who once carried them inside my body.

Sometimes, he blames me for being overwhelmed by them. It's not that he doesn't sympathize. It's just that he thinks like a dude. Everything must have a logical fix. He’s famous for saying, “You just have to draw the line with these kids.” Like it's just that simple.

I have been working for the past two years with my therapist on establishing boundaries. That doesn’t mean that they just magically abide by them all. In fact, when you stop putting up with their shit, things usually get worse before they get better. Even redirection and boundary management take a ton of emotional energy.

If you close a door but you have to hold it shut because they are still trying to knock it down. Are you any less tired? When you finally get the door closed and locked, does that mean my mind shuts down and I can just sleep like a baby? Do I wrangle a meltdown or take a stressful phone call and then instantly turn around and channel my creative-self? Do you think I can arbitrarily sit down, focus and write after I have been run over with emotions and blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong in the history of the world?

A couple of weeks ago, my niece who is a fabulous soccer player and all around amazing girl, officially signed for a full-ride scholarship to a major university. She has worked so hard both in her studies and on the soccer field. She has traveled the world, working to become one of the best players in the United States. Both she and her parents well deserve this opportunity. I am over the moon happy for her.

Ironically, a couple of days later, my son tells me that he has decided to take a break from college. Talk about a punch in the gut. Initially, I couldn’t help but think. Great! He’s signing up for a life of mediocrity.

Intellectually, I know that everyone has their own journey in life and the college route is not for everyone. The problem is, I always thought it was for him. The way that his mind works, I think is near genius. Up until his senior year of high school, he was a self-motivated, amazing student. He challenged himself with advanced classes (even when I didn’t want him to because they stressed him out). Everything stresses him out. However, he was self-determined.  So who was I to stand in his way?

Since his senior year, life has been one crisis after another, on top of a mountain of anxiety.

Through it all, he has successfully completed several college classes. He has also successfully dropped nearly as many as he has completed.

He gave some very good reasons in support of his decision and he took full responsibility. He isn’t doing well this semester. He tried his luck with four difficult classes (against my better judgment).  However, he continues to fall behind. Assignments snowball on him until he is overwhelmed with anxiety.

In the letter he sent to his History professor explaining his reason for dropping her class, he took full responsibility for lacking focus because "I really have no clear end goal  in mind.”

He thinks he wants to do something to help the world be a better place. He is very curious about social justice issues and wants to be someone who effects change in the life of others. He has admitted that he is not motivated by money, but by service to others.  (Although, ironically he loves to spend money).

He’s leaning in the direction of a degree in Sociology. Maybe he wants to be a Therapist. We just aren’t sure if he has the executive functioning skills to make his dream become a reality.  The actual execution of the plan is getting in the way.

Every time he sits down to write a paper, he collects so much information and research. Then he becomes overwhelmed by the attempt to organize it all into an effective paper, following the guidelines set out by the professor. And he almost always waits until the very last minute to get started.

The day he told me that he was dropping the latest class, he still decided to go to Starbucks that night to continue writing the paper that he would not turn in. He wanted to write without the parameters and limitations set by the professor.  Who does that?

Last week we sat down with a job coach who works with young adults on the spectrum. They are going to work together to help him find employment. Basically, because he doesn’t know what else he wants to do.

He is really good at eating out all over town and spending money that we supply since he is a student. However, he is a student who keeps dropping classes that we have paid for. So at this point, he really needs his own money. He needs to figure out if he really values an education enough to do the hard work that comes with it.

I am so afraid for him. He’s brilliant. But can he make his brilliance work for him in a college setting where organization and planning are required?

Are we doing too much for him? Are we doing too little? Is anxiety the problem? Does he just not want to do the work?

We paid for a private tutor.  They would work together, but he would still freeze up when it was time to write …alone. He would say, “Mom, I need you to sit down with me and give me feedback.” Only he really thinks I’m an idiot and can’t really help him, because I don't think exactly like he does.

There are other resources on campus, like tutoring and Academic Coaching. I don’t think he utilized those nearly as much as he could have.

I know it’s not an anomaly to not know what you want out of life at the age of nineteen. A lot of people are actively seeking a goal that they may no longer want once they mature and figure out who they really are.

For now, I just wait and wonder …and hope. I can’t walk the path for him.

His brother needed the motivation of being away from me to reach independence.  Is he the same?

I know they both see me as an extension of themselves.

I wonder …if as long as I am within arms reach of him, will he ever grow up?

It’s like since they see me as an extension of themselves, whenever something goes wrong, surely it must be my fault. And somehow, it’s my responsibility to fix it. Only I can’t do that anymore. His life is in his hands.

I feel like I need to be out of sight out of mind so that he realizes that he is capable and responsible for himself. He is frustrated by us, some days he “hates us”.  And yet, he can’t seem to see that he is the key to his own happiness and freedom. He is welcome to walk out this door and create the life that he wants.

My dear blog...

I wish that you could help me solve this puzzle. Tell me what to do, or not do. I want answers. I want fixes. Only it’s all so complicated. And again …I’m not really the one in charge.

Still …thanks for being here. I love you.

Friday, November 9, 2018


The pain doesn't hit me until I crawl into bed that night.

Earlier that afternoon in the heat of anger, the most hurtful words that have ever been said to me in my entire life came out of the mouth of my child.

My child. The person who I love more than anything.

Love and human decency are lost in translation when this kind of anger takes over. I don't think this was an autistic meltdown. It was more like rage. It was measured at first and then it blew up.

Everything that I stand for. Everything that I've taught him by my own words and actions over the past nine-teen-years, flew out the window. Poof. Gone.

I'm left in disbelief.

Who is this person? 

After the initial shock, my first thought is of him, his life, his future.

When we are both calm I ask him, "What kind of life do you think you will you have if you shoot off your mouth with such venom to a person that you love and care about, especially a female? It doesn't matter if it is in anger. The world is not forgiving. People will say goodbye and not look back."

I'm your mother. Sometimes I want to walk away and not look back. At least not until you have grown into the person that I know you can be. 

In my heart, he is still my most thoughtful, loving child.  He has always been the sensitive one with the biggest heart.

God didn't give me a girl, but maybe he will be the one who will take care of me in my old age.

I'm not so sure.

I have worked my entire life taking care of him,  guiding, and protecting him.

Part of me knows it's not about me.
It's his own pain that makes him say hurtful things.
It's projection.
Hurt people, hurt people and all of that.

I love him, but I don't want to be his "safe person" anymore.

In fact, our relationship feels the opposite of safe.

Our relationship has become unhealthy for both of us.

"I love you too much to let you believe that this is acceptable behavior," I say to him.

Apologies and saying you didn't mean it begins to read like an empty book.

I am collateral damage after his words explode like shrapnel.

He feels all better because he let the anger out.

 I'm left sitting with holes in my heart.

My heart still beats. I still love, but the holes remain.

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder.

I think we need to test this theory.

Change is imminent.

Friday, October 19, 2018


When I wake up each morning, I try to have a game plan for my day. Giving my son a ride to campus twenty miles away was not a part of my plan. I told him I would not be involved in his daily transportation when he registered for these classes months ago. It's a daily piece of friction that neither of us needs. 

After the week that I’ve had with him when he persisted, asking me more than once, and then he threw in the extra part about having a test today and not wanting to be late for it,  I agreed to take him. A decision I almost immediately regretted.

You know that feeling in your gut when you say yes when you mean really mean no? That feeling is getting bigger lately. My body is no longer giving me a pass on going against my gut. Every fiber of my being tells me, this is wrong. This is not serving you.  What’s more, it isn’t serving him on his journey to adulthood. Doing things for him that he should be doing for himself
is stunting his growth.

I found myself on the road this morning so angry with him and with myself. I could hardly see straight. This is definitely not healthy for either one of us. I dropped him off without speaking too many words (aloud). There was plenty of cursing inside my head. 

I made it to yoga class but found my frustration hidden in the corners of every quiet space.  

My dear friend Rebecca
It wasn’t until I sat down to write at the library that I found a little relief. I texted my friend Rebecca ( my very wise younger friend. She reminded me of something that my therapist has been working on with me for months. “Forgive yourself. Show yourself some grace." 

I'm doing my best on any given day. Tomorrow I’ll do even better. One thing for sure is I can’t give up, or give in. Every single thing that happens on this journey is teaching me something. Total course correction is not going to happen overnight.

My "yes" today came behind what was already not a good week with him. There was an ugly meltdown with some serious implications. He had to leave the house and wasn’t allowed to return for the night. Luckily, we have a neighbor and friend who was gracious enough to allow him to spend the night in her home. Things are getting to the point where I know for sure, that he is going to need to live away from me sooner than later.

Unfortunately, it seems like our relationship is a trigger for him.  Hopefully living away from each other will help reduce these incidents. I just don’t know where he can go at this point. He will not qualify for some of the same programs we used for his brother.

Autism meltdowns are ugly. Autism combined with a mood disorder can be a nightmare. Blue is nineteen.  Some of the behaviors that occur during a meltdown could get a person into legal problems if they occur in an uncontrolled environment. 

Where is the line? What is he in control of? What can we do to stress to him, this behavior could cause you big problems? He is a male. He is black. If law enforcement gets involved in any way, will they have the proper training to realize that this is a neurological and mental health issue? We’ve been there before. I don’t trust law enforcement.

If you’re lucky, you end up in the hospital and not in jail. Will the hospital really help you? Or will they try some new med that makes matters worse?  It's a coin toss. Who wants to toss their kid into a mental health ward?

Both boys seem to see me as an extension of themselves I’m either the other half of their brain, their legs, or their arms or one of their feet. They don’t believe they can operate without me. If something goes wrong in their lives,  surely it must be because I’m not doing my part.

Kendal doesn’t live at home but in this transition to living with his older brother, he reaches back to me more and more, obsessively, compulsively.

As Blue goes through his transition, it feels like he didn’t get the memo that my role in his life has changed. He is an adult who is primarily responsible for himself. He still has this natural inclination to call on me to do things that I did for him as a child and yet he wants the autonomy of being an adult.

At least once a week he says to me, “Why is everything about responsibility with you?”

My question is, “Why isn’t anything about responsibility with you?”

The mental energy that I spend just trying to maintain boundaries is exhausting.  The more I draw the line for my time and availability, the harder they push the boundary with phone calls, text messages, and requests.  If I give them an inch, they run me over with a truck.

It makes me want to run and hide. When they were younger, I would hide in the bathroom, just to center myself. I would play on my phone, read a blog or chat with some of my autism mama friends who understand and make me feel less alone ...less crazy.

Today it feels like I need much more than a bathroom between us. I need my own apartment, without a forwarding address, and a new unlisted telephone number.  Either that or the last adult child in the house needs his own place.

There are too many questions and not enough answers. Add on my irrational, sometimes incapacitating anxiety and forward movement feels next to impossible. There is no choice but to keep it moving.  

As always, I am always a work of art progress.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Me-Cation Party of One

If we are friends and we spent time together a year ago, chances are you don’t know me now. My siblings all live in California. I live in Texas. I go home at least once or twice a year. They almost never come here, which is okay, because my house is a bit of a disaster. Some of them read my blog. We talk on the phone. I don’t think they really know who I am anymore.

I am different.
I’m evolving.
I’m becoming…
this after-intense-motherhood-gig, person. I am the sum total of all of my experiences. Not many people know all of my experiences.

I am a 53-year-old African-American woman.
I am a wife of nearly 25-years.
I am a mother two autistic young adults.
I am a mother to a 30-year-old son whom I have raised from the time he was 5-years-old.
I am a caregiver to my 79-year-old mother.
I am a writer.
I am a wanna-be-artist.
I am a mother to my precious, sweet dog Harry, who is my favorite child because he does not talk...back.  

My friends who follow me on Facebook know more details about my life than they probably ever wanted to know. I tell the truth. I don’t sugar coat my life. I say a lot of things that other people probably wouldn’t say. I love to express my feelings in writing. I laugh at myself, a lot. I live to make others laugh as well. I post pictures of the highlights, smiles, and my dog Harry. 

If I’m depressed, you will probably know about it. You just may not know the total extent of it. No one knows the total extent of my depression and anxiety, not even my husband or my by best girlfriends.

There is one person who knows everything about my mental health, or lack thereof --my therapist. She's incredible. I love her. I trust her. She knows the truth, the whole truth, so help me God. She is helping me do the work to figure myself out. She listens to me with complete objectivity and without a personal agenda. She never ever judges me. She doesn't even tell me what to do. She helps me figure out what I really want. She helps me to listen to my own voice and stand up for myself.

A couple of weeks ago in the middle of September, after encouragement from my therapist, I took a break from my life. I called it a much-needed me-cation. All summer long, I had been longing for it. Every hot, treacherous day in Texas made me ache for the breeze of the ocean. Every afternoon, staying indoors because the heat and the mosquitos which are unbearable, made me want to escape. Every evening waiting for the weather to cool down, and it never did, made me hate this place where I live just a little bit more.

Even though my day to day life can be excruciatingly lonely. My phone rings often, but it’s usually my kids with a problem, a want or a need. The appreciation for what I give of myself to them is invisible if it exists at all. I was literally dying to spend some time alone. For a change, I wanted to do whatever I wanted to do without compromising with anyone. Life with this family is one gigantic compromise. There are so many days when I’m doing my best not to run away, for real. As in permanently.

I needed to be able to think my own thoughts, or not think at all. I wanted to not be constantly on call for the play by play of everything that goes on in the days of my young-adult children. I needed time off from being their constant problem solver, listener, and therapist. There’s a reason why therapy is only 45-minutes per session and not 24/7.

I wanted time off from thinking about what all of the adults in my house will eat every day. “What’s for dinner?” is one of the questions I hate most in the world.

My second most hated question is, “Where are you going?” I’m going. Away. From you!

I’ve paid my dues. I’ve been answering these questions for a long time. My children are grown. Enough already.

My mother has suddenly decided that she doesn’t cook anymore. She just sits, and sits, and waits for me to decide something. I’m tired of deciding. I’m all decided out.

Kendal is 23-years-old now. He moved away a few months ago to San Antonio where he lives with his older brother, Adrian. Still, he is relentless. He calls me every day at least twice a day, more like ten times. It would be incessant if I let him. I have learned to turn the phone on "do not disturb" or completely off if I really need peace.

We have a contract to keep his phone calls to once a day. He seldom keeps his end of the bargain. Which means I have to spend a lot of energy pushing back in order to maintain this boundary. I believe that he thinks I was put on this earth to be at his beck and call. For the longest time, I played into that. I’m done. Not anymore. I’m tired.

This time before I left for my me-cation,  I front-loaded my family (including my mother) with expectations. First of all, I sent my mother to spend some time with my brother in California. It was his turn to share the love with her.

I told them all shortly before I left, “I’m going on vacation. Alone. I will not be available by phone. Where I’m going they don’t allow cell-phone conversations all day. I can check my phone in the evening, but I would rather you not call at all. Use all other available resources before you call me. If there is something urgent, I will try to get back to you within 24 hours. I will be on a retreat for women. I can not disclose the exact location.”

More specifically, a retreat for one woman. Me. You don’t need to know exactly where. Trust that I have my reasons. I’m sure it will be less expensive than a divorce, going into the hospital or rehab, which is where I’m on my way if I don't get a break.
Only my husband knew my exact location, and he wasn’t one-hundred percent thrilled about it. He would have preferred to be with me.  Luckily, he had to work. And honestly, this was something I needed to do for me and for the health of our relationship. We talked or texted every day. I also told him I don’t want to know everything that’s happening while I’m gone. There is plenty that I shield him from when I’m home because I know that he is inundated with work. Which is actually a good defense mechanism for not having to deal with all of the crap.  

I have lived on the edge of panic for so long, the amygdala in my brain is on constant alert for fight or flight. At this point, I  prefer flight. As in, on an airplane, away from this shit.
I went home to Los Angeles, but it wasn’t my normal kind of visit. I needed a real vacation. At the very last minute, I think 7 days before, I decided that it would be to one of the places where I am most comfortable in the world. I know how to fly in-and-out quickly and easily without dealing with LAX. I use Long Beach Airport where I can walk across the street to rent a car.

I have a love/love relationship with Los Angeles. The longer I’m away from it, the more I realize how important it is to me. I love the beaches. I have so many memories tied almost every beach there, from as far south as San Diego to as far north as Monterey.

For some reason, Manhattan Beach is one of my favorites. That’s the place I think I would like to retire when I’m rich. Ha! I have a special affection for all of the beaches of Southern California. Some people don’t like the Pacific because the temperature of the water can be cold. Some of the beaches can also be full of seaweed to the point where you can’t enjoy them. This was the middle of September and Manhattan Beach was perfect --warm even. The weather overall was perfect. It was close to 80 degrees during the day. Most evenings by the beach, you barely need a sweater.
All summer I thought of the ocean and everything about it that I missed. We needed some time together. I needed to take deep breaths, think, write. To meander about, take my sweet time and not have anyone questioning me.

I spend most days of my life living for others. This was about living for me, for just a few days. It was about meditating to the sounds of the ocean, relaxing and writing, not even necessarily talking.  

After last minute texts to my closest girlfriends, they did come out to see me where I was near the beach. My family had their reasons for not being able to come out to my last-minute invitation, and that was perfectly okay. My girlfriends didn’t care that I didn’t give them a big heads up that I was coming to town. They didn’t care that I did not come see them at, or closer to their homes the way that I usually do. They didn’t ask “Why didn’t you plan something with us weeks ago?”

My thought process was, I am my priority. Spending time with anyone else will be icing on the cake. The cake will still be moist and delicious without them.

Still, my girls Jenny, Mary, and Rebecca jumped at the chance to see me at least for dinner. Rebecca took a day off and hung out with me at the pool at the hotel. It made me feel that unconditional flavor of love that only my girls can give.

I’m sure they wondered What is going on in your life? Is your marriage okay? What are you doing here all alone in this hotel? Who does that? 

However, they didn’t judge me, not one bit. In fact, Rebecca is also a writer and business owner. She is a big proponent of Self-love and self-care. She was happy to see me doing this for my self.
I sat in the California sun overlooking the marina, next to the pool of this little boutique hotel in Redondo Beach. It was lovely to have time to think clear thoughts, to come to some conclusions about what is next, what needs to change, and what I really want from the next stage in my life.

I tried not to think about my deeply rooted fears for Blue’s life and his future. About how much he still has to learn about life, self-care, medication compliance, and how to maintain a budget.

Thoughts of autism and anxiety seeped through. How autism compounds things and makes simple things seem difficult. I worry about him every-single-day. I question everything that I do as his mother. I thought of how something small can turn into something huge within a blink of an eye. I thought about how much I needed time away from thinking about all of this.

I walked the beach alone, observing the power of the ocean and the beauty of the breathtaking sunset. Every evening I came back to my room, alone and reveled in every-single-moment of quiet. It was my favorite kind of party -silent, party of one.

And Oh My God, there was a bathtub on my private balcony. I soaked in warm bubbles and bath salts each night while I listened to the sounds of the dolphins and seals playing in the ocean. It was such a breath of fresh air in contrast to the sound of complaints and requests for services.

My body was so relaxed. I was in bed most nights by 11 p.m. My sleep was sound and deep. I woke up free of worry. I sat on my private patio and meditated on the sounds. No worries of whether or not an adult child was making it to class on time. My biggest worry was getting down to have breakfast in the hotel's restaurant. I had a regular, healthy appetite. Where at home I drink coffee and avoid eating because eating means thinking of what to eat, and cleaning up after what to eat, and who has the energy for all of that? I would eat near the patio doors and walls made of windows which overlooked the marina. I was alone. No conversation And I didn't want any.
It was the ultimate indulgence in self-love and self-care on my journey so far. I know for sure, I want more of it.
When I checked in to the hotel, I knew instantly I never wanted to leave. I really did not want to leave and go back to my world of responsibilities.

When I checked out, sadly I asked the girls at the front desk, “Do you have a frequent guest club? I would love to join because I will definitely be back.”

If you knew me years ago, I loved to be around people as much as I possibly could. After years of isolation from the home that I love, I would travel near or far to be with the people I truly connect with. This time the most important person I connected with was me, and it was a freakin blast!