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The Desire Map and Addictions

When I think about the upcoming workshop I’m holding using Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map process and addictions I honestly wish I could share it with everyone right this minute. I was pretty riled up this weekend about addictions and how they can tear individuals and families apart and all I could think about was this process of flipping everything we know on its head and achieving our goals in a spirit supporting way, decreasing the shame of our human failings and really expressing who we are without any hesitation or censure.

Addictions, which includes alcoholism in my definition, are a part of my past and present, my family and friends history and the shame they engender is overwhelming for most people until they learn that secrets really can kill us and bringing light to the darkness is critical. The more we bring addictions and how they affect us out into the open the faster the shame dissipates however the process of taking those first steps of disclosure can be truly excruciating.

I used to be a therapist and worked with substance abuse and trauma for many years, I’ve seen clients and my father die from it. I watch my husband struggle with it every day and I struggle with my own cravings and addictive tendencies. However I know the freedom that comes from accepting the fact that addictions do not equal loser or failure or forever fucked up and it is enormous. Addiction is a disease which means it can and is cured every single day.

You are not lost forever. You are not worthless and you are not to blame for the addiction itself although you are responsible for managing your behaviors for your sake and for those who love you.

How does this related to Desire Mapping? In every way.

Desire Mapping gives you permission to want what you want without judgement. Well, I want heroin thank you very much and I say that’s perfectly fine! You want it, accept that you want it and then plan for how not to act on that wanting.  Once people are past the physical withdrawal it becomes critical to face and learn to handle the psychological components. The Desire Map helps you define, clearly and succinctly how you want to feel and teaches you to achieve your goals from that place, from the place you want to be right now without struggling over how.

No one truly wants to feel numb or hungover, we just want to avoid the emptiness or the anxiety or the hopeless feeling that nothing will ever get better. No one wakes up one day and sets out to burn their lives to the ground leaving a trail of broken promises and hearts behind them.

Addicts in general feel different. They feel odd, out of step, always searching for but never finding “home”, as if they are interacting with the world through a glass wall fearing exposure for the rotten person they believe themselves to be and yet needing to be seen because we all want to belong.  Families and loved ones want to feel supportive yet often don’t know how to love the person while still setting and holding boundaries against the harmful behaviors of a person active in their addiction.

What we want as humans in general is to feel accepted, loved, seen with compassion for who we are and encouraged to reach for even more development.  What we want is to feel alive, productive and creative and I can tell you that every active addict has a stifled creative nature so large that it must be given a channel for expression or it will continue to turn inward and contribute to the outward destruction.

Desire Mapping says your desire is your fuel. What you want is where you start. We don’t start with I’m going to stay sober forever.  We don’t start with I’m leaving if he comes home drunk one more damn time.  Those goals are too big and they miss the core of it all, it takes us too far into uncertainty so we say I want to feel in control of my urges today, for this hour, for this minute. I want to feel accepted (which starts from within) and how can I feel it? What does acceptance look like? Is it knowing I want to drink, accepting that the urge is perfectly ok but not acting on it? Is it exploring avenues of creation so that all that energy we’ve been holding back has somewhere safe to go?

What tiny part of myself can I accept right now and then use that to expand to another part and another? Is it possible for me to choose an emotion other than despair and if so what emotion would I like to feel and how do I stay there?  Do I even know emotions exist other than happy or sad?How do I get distracted, wander off from that feeling and ease myself back into it time and time again throughout the day/night without feeling like a failure at this too?

Desire Mapping answers those questions in a loving way that still holds you personally responsible for your life. Yes you. No one can change the thoughts but you, no one can make the choices but you and the Desire Map process shows you how. If you can’t come to the workshop in Jan go get the book. If you’re out of money get yourself to the library and read it. Ask questions here with the contact form if you need clarification or visit my Facebook pages here and here where you’ll find art and words and Young Living essential oils.

If you want a workshop held where you live contact me, it might be possible for it to be brought to you, you never know unless you ask right?

In the meantime, just for today, please let yourself off the hook if you’re in addiction or if you love someone who is. You are not a loser if you love an addict. You are not anything that your disease says you are if you’re addicted. You deserve a life free from bondage please give yourself permission to feel happiness and peace. If you can’t feel it, imagine that you can and it will come.

Say to yourself in a mirror, “It’s ok. We’re going to find the answers we need and in this moment I accept you as is, no questions asked.Every day, every minute we get a chance to start over, it’s ok.” Sounds ridiculous but don’t underestimate the power of speaking that out loud even if you don’t believe it and guess what? You deserve to feel good and nothing will change until you make that a priority!

Visit the website for Alcoholic Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous or Al-Anon for more resources available to you locally.

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They Aren’t All Rapists

I’ve known a lot of men in my life.  Good, bad, in between and yes I have known some who were rapists.  We’re not reminded frequently enough in the field of sexual assault services that they aren’t all rapists.  It’s a very small percentage yet over time I am noticing that the men I know now are feeling the sting of those rapists actions.

Those of us working for change spend too much time reading stats, reports, watching videos and basically saturating ourselves in who got raped, who did the deed and how we can try to change the environment to promote more reporting by those who have been victimized.  We go to training and workshops, review programs and look for innovative practices which means we hear a lot about how men are rapists and how evil they can be.  All true but a steady diet of this begins to make the men around me who are trying as hard as the women to improve things feel a little squirmy and weird.

In a survey answered by hundreds of rape and sexual assault support agencies, it is estimated that 93.7 % of rape perpetrators are male and 6.3 percent are female. (Greenberg, Bruess and Haffner, 575)  (

Does that 6.3% mean that it’s really that small an amount of females who rape? No.

We know our culture has a much harder time accepting that there are female perpetrators especially with regard to the sexual abuse of children.  When we hear about we try to dismiss it, reject the information and disbelieve the child as it flies in the face of what we believe about women and mothers and how they are supposed to behave.  Given that men come forward to report even less frequently than women it’s no surprise that we don’t have any idea how many women are perpetrators of forcing unwanted sexual contact on males.

It’s easy to assume, if you’re caught up in the myth of stranger rapists or that rape can only be violent, that a female would not be strong enough to overpower a male but consider this: a male who is his family’s sole source of income exploited by a female boss, a female professor who holds a male student hostage through emotional manipulation and coercion by threatening grades until he agrees to sex or a wife who will not allow a husband to refuse sex and threatens to tell the world he is a homosexual if he refuses.  And while it’s a sad fact and a whole other rant that some men would rather be forced into sex rather than be seen as gay is tragic, it is true for some.

If you think any of the above scenarios are unlikely, think again, every one is a story I’ve heard from men.  Even worse, there are plenty more I could tell you.

It’s difficult as a trainer to balance talking about perpetrators being exclusively male as it certainly seems true and as far as we know the number of females is smaller than the small number of males who offend with the need to not come across as male bashing.  However after 3 days of watching some truly outstanding men feel more and more awful I started paying attention to how we in general talk about perps, I started thinking about how I talk and realizing that I can and will do better to present frequent references to the fact that females can and do sexually offend too.

Men are needed to shift the tide of low reporting stats.  Men are needed to encourage other men to see this issue as important.  Men are needed to make it ok for men to report their own victimization and men are needed to stop the trivialization of sexual assault perpetrated by athletes.

Aside from all that, I really like men, I consider them an integral part of this journey through life and I don’t want them to feel like they’d rather poke a stick in their eye or have a couple of root canals than attend another training where they’re going to end up feeling awful about being male.  I don’t know what the answer is to make it more ok for the good guys to feel respected as we talk about the bad ones but I do know this…we should make the effort to find a way.


Looking for Stars

We’re down here searching the night sky for your star.

I say we.

I know I’m not alone in this.

Do you hear our eyes asking? Is it this one? That one?

Do you see our faces confused and wondering?

Can you hear the hope in our pounding hearts?

I pick one and make a wish on light that left the source a million years before breath filled my lungs.

What else is there to do but wait another million years to stop searching? To stop wishing against reality?

In a world of endless sequels and reruns, accepting that a story has ended is nearly impossible.

So we tell your story as best we remember it,

And we look for stars.


Goodbye to a Young Friend & Don’t Use Tragedy as Ammo for Gun Rights

Not on the same day a tragedy occurs. Not now when friends and family are reading your troll-ish, shit stirring comments below the news articles which by the way got all the facts wrong and leave me shaking my head wondering if reporters do any fact checking at all.  You want to talk about gun rights do it on your own time. Do it on your own blog, your own Facebook page or keep your evil to yourself.  A child is dead, our friend is dead and he is not a trophy for you to use for your personal cause against guns.

No one who knew Shawn Kilker is surprised that he killed a relative and then killed himself. No one can get their head around whose life he took before he took his own.  No one can believe that he shot his own son Keith.  Not so hard to believe for those of us who work in domestic violence, sexual assault and child protection.  Not for those of us who can smell an unstable personality from miles away.  We know all too well that yes, yes they will kill their children and sometimes do. Yes, yes they will kill their wives and sometimes do. Yes it’s true they valued them and called them “the apple of their eye” but that was before Mother had enough and was leaving.  That was before shit got real when the cops showed up with a warrant.  That was before desperation set in and the need to destroy overrode the need to love.

Tonight we stood in a park in Keenesburg, Colorado (a town we just recently moved from but maintain ties to) with candles to say goodbye to Keith Dean Kilker Cowboy as he called himself as a child.  The same park where I walked my dog the last day of her life.  The same park where my husband and I watched our first amazing fireworks show together,  where we walked at night to play on the swings like kids and where we celebrated his birthday and we all discovered the cheese I had used in the chili was spoiled.

In the park now my husband sobbed for his lost “lil Keith” that he will never take fishing again or laugh at for wearing cowboy boots with shorts or grab a soda for as they work on an engine together.  Lil Keith who he will never hand money to for a job well done in the yard or plowing snow.

Tonight we watched 14 candles glowing on a table, one for each of his years on this earth and we cried. We listened to friends and his sister tell us that his last day was a good one, that he was happy and that he freely chose to stay with his quickly unraveling Father as they were sent from the house.  Perhaps like all sons he thought he could save his father Shawn Kilker.  Perhaps like all children he had loyalty to someone that didn’t deserve it.  I don’t know why he stayed, I just wish so hard that he hadn’t.

The preacher in the park said to look around at how many hearts had been touched by Keith’s short life. Keenesburg, CO is a very small town and everyone does almost literally know everyone else.  You really couldn’t live there and not know Keith even if he had never been in your house swiping sodas and snacks. Even as I was driving into town tonight I caught myself looking for him to go whipping across the railroad tracks on his bike as more than once I’d had to dodge him there.  There were a lot of people in the park tonight.  A lot of hearts broken by this loss.

Keith cracked me up with his total lack of self-consciousness.  I dropped some clothes off for his sisters once and he had two of the sweaters on before I could even get them out of the car.  He thought they were cool so he wore them and didn’t care one bit that they were girls clothes.  Keith would eat anything in the house that wasn’t nailed down and he wasn’t shy about asking.  He was so damn cute that you couldn’t deny his big eyes anything. He would come over and pet our fat dogs and talk sweetly to them years ago before they died then he would head out back to find my husband so they could go fishing or work on something together.  He later would come by and cuddle our cat Grit since she had lived at his house for a week or so when we all first found her as an abandoned feral kitten.  While she scratched most of us being a temperamental tortie I don’t believe she ever scratched him.

He was sensitive and creative something his father frequently ridiculed him about.  As he got older we could see him start to drift into areas that teenagers shouldn’t and I worried about him.  I worried when he would come over mad and talk about things that happened at home.  I hoped that his sports, his friends, mother and sisters would hold him steady through his adolescence.  Almost 24 hours ago now his father made sure that he would never have one.

People shared stories of Keith while his family, wrestling, football and baseball teammates openly grieved and I watched the sun set.  I listened to my husband choking on tears. I watched the people who used to be our neighbors wipe away sadness.  I watched our friends, huge tattooed men, share their pain for a lost child killed by a lost soul.

I seethed in anger over knowing that Keith was gone forever, over knowing that Shawn would one day do something violent again but never expecting this and over knowing that as hard as we try sometimes we just can’t make a difference. This was not about gun ownership, a background check would never have stopped Shawn from owning guns and would not have stopped his chronic and self-medicated mental instability.

Through my own frustrated tears I stared at the sky’s fading light while birds winged into the trees to settle down for sleep.  They were going home for the night.  Going home is how I have to think of wherever Keith is now or my heart will explode and my throat will howl the sounds of agony and wasted life for a thousand years.

I hope he wasn’t afraid. I hope whatever happened in that house as his world so rapidly came undone happened fast so that he did not suffer. I hope that he knew how loved and cherished he was by the people he was forced to leave behind.

I hope most of all that I will see him again when it’s my turn to go.






Passionate Singing: A short, short story

When she sang it was in this thin reedy voice that set everyone on the church’s teeth on edge. She was so tiny and thin and leathery that it was incredible and defied reason that such a sound could come out of such a body.  It did. It was awful. But seriously how are you going to tell a little old lady that she sounds like someone’s killing cats when she sings?  When she raises her skitchery and loud voice to the skies in praise of the Lord? No, you will not say one word and I myself chose not to sing for fear that I might sound terrifying too.

What you will do is this: you will suffer and sit there and contemplate the pain that Jesus went through when he died on the cross for you and even though intellectually you know his pain was worse you will find yourself debating the merits of yours versus his.

So if my ears actually start bleeding does that count as maybe 3-5 lashes of the whip? If my mind cracks in half does that come anywhere near the anguish of waiting to die? Of course not but we are born narcissists and we can’t help but think our pain is worse than anyone else’s on the whole planet even Jesus.

When I complained as a child about Mrs. Bunker’s reedy rampage called song, not giving a crap who it was she was singing to, I got a pinch for my troubles.

After that I chose to sit in the furthest back pew with my Grandfather who would give me paper and pen. He would listen, or pretend to listen, to the sermon while I drew pictures and wrote short stories about ladybugs and their houses catching on fire which come to think of it why do we say that anyway? What a horrible rhyme to teach children.

All children’s rhymes are pretty awful when you research them.  It’s kind of horrifying to realize that all the fun you had with your sister singing Ring around the Rosie was related to people dropping dead of the Black Plague. Gross.

I was about fifteen when Mrs. Bunker’s voice ended. Even then I remember during the singing, the following Sunday, that things felt wrong without her warbling off key tones.  It was Texas hot in the pews. I felt off kilter, grumpy and I wanted everyone to shut up and not sing since Mrs. Bunker couldn’t anymore.

Her daughter was sitting in front of me softly crying.  I felt awful for having hated her Mama’s songs for so long.  I reached up and patted her doughy shoulder and when I pulled my hand back I realized it was not only doughy but really sweaty too however I didn’t flinch at all.   I just wiped it on my skirt and was proud of myself for patting her shoulder at all given how much I hated touching most people, even my own family.

Mrs. Bunker’s screeching and its sudden silencing taught me about being gracious.  My mother would tell me often to take things with a bit of grace to which I would nod vigorously and then go about clomping my way through life as usual. I finally got it on that sweltering day.

Mrs. Bunker was, or rather had been, a person.  Listening to her and appreciating her efforts would have been gracious.  So what if her singing was horrendous?  She sang with all her heart and pure passion trumps skill any day of the week in my book now.  Recognizing that her high volume songs had value, even if I personally didn’t enjoy them, made me forever after aware that I didn’t know as much as I thought I knew on most days.

Even at fifteen I knew that her weeping daughter would give anything under the sun to hear her mother sing once more.  I supposed Mrs. Bunker was singing with Jesus now and I was more than a little certain that he didn’t mind how she sounded either.

I cleared my throat, took a deep breath and raised my voice to the rafters in song.



wolff den press:

A new book is out which means a new published writer is born! Check it out~

Originally posted on A Novel Journey:

My novel, The Inheritance, is now out in softcover, as well as Kindle, at Amazon.  I would be immensely grateful to anyone who feels led to share this on their blog to help spread the word. Thank you so much! It’s this writing community of amazing bloggers that has given me the courage and inspiration to keep walking the journey to completion of this baby. :)

The Inheritance

When Victor and Vivian Forrester meet their unexpected fate on their way home from hosting a charity dinner, it leaves their three estranged adult children with an unexpected fate of their own. Madison has the perfectly planned life of which her two young children are the center, leaving no room for anything or anyone else, including her husband. Her career as a psychiatrist enables her to validate her self-worth and give her children everything they need. She has made a promise to herself that…

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Sales People

I was accosted the other day at Costco by a woman selling Juice+, some kind of supplement that probably has value but I wasn’t in the mood. Costco makes me grumpy on a good day much less when I feel attacked in the freezing cold produce dungeon.  She saw my basket full of vegetables and took it upon herself to try and convince me it would be better to take a pill than have to eat “all those vegetables”.

Who does that?  I can see trying to wrestle the carton of Ben and Jerry’s out of my greedy paws, although I would recommend that you not actually try this, but vegetables?  You want me to put back my whole basket of the healthiest food I could eat? You really think a pill can beat out green smoothies, juices and salads?

It wasn’t just her though that seems to get more aggressive the more I say no. I’ve been followed by the Dish satellite salespeople at Wal Mart, a magazine salesman was getting pretty mouthy with me on our porch until he saw my tall tattooed husband come around the corner of our house to see what all the fuss was about, and don’t even get me started on the Jehovah’s Witness people in our area. Does selling Jesus door to door really work anyway? Bless their hearts I know they mean well but I do have to restrain the urge to open the door fast enough that they fall off the steps.

Really I’m not a violent person…generally speaking.

I’ve just had it with aggressive salesfolk. If I see you approaching with your sales face on and I shout no and start backing away – do not keep coming! No means no and the more you push the less likely I am to even entertain the idea of getting some information on your product!  I sell things too – I sell my art, I sell my books, I sell Young Living essential oils and other than maybe sending out one too many tweets or going overboard now and then on Facebook postings (I mean you CAN un-friend me!) I don’t push and I never will.

Well I don’t push…unless you’re on my porch selling things I’ve said I don’t want and then I make no promises!


Logic and The Heart

I have a friend who misses something in the South. An unworkable situation tangled with regret and love and the knowledge that it can’t be made workable and life must go on as it is.  None of that stops the heart wanting what it wants, “Ulysses Everett McGill: Pete, it’s a fool that looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart.”  Truer words have never been spoken as I too have always missed people and things in the South: magnolias, soft summer nights, tea that is brewed as God intended and most of all my daughter.  Now she and her wife have given me two more people to miss. Twin girls to add to my list of things to cry about as I get out of the car at the airport to return to the dry beautiful elitism of Colorado.  Every time I say I won’t cry and every trip I do, just as I did every school year when I took Morgan to the first day of school and cried all the way to my school and then later work.  Leavings are just painful no matter what you do.

I grew up in Texas and while it’s different than Georgia (of course it is don’t be ridiculous!) it is also similar in many ways. I don’t miss the racism and dogs living outside on chains and the knowledge easily witnessed that the Civil War is alive and well.  Rebel flags hanging everywhere with their double and triple meanings some overt and others clandestine but very present.  I don’t like that social workers are paid about the same as fast food workers.  I don’t like that if I think working in the field of sexual assault issues is tough here it’s unimaginably uphill there where sports players are the 2nd ranking practitioners of religion right next to the Baptists. And I should specify Southern Baptists and also say not everyone is rigid and judgmental but things in the South move slowly and that includes attitudes toward women.

The South feels so damn old to me.  It is both majestic and romantically grand at the same time bent with age and crippled badly. I hate sentimentalism and war.  Noble ideas are one thing people dying from bullets and starvation and exposure to the elements is quite another. Open meadows bring to mind scores and scores of those who died slave and soldier alike.  Families changed forever in good ways for some and tragic for others and a little of both was had by all in my opinion.  Those kinds of changes take generations to heal from if they ever do.  I drive through the Southern states and in that swampy air I smell Sorrow, as if the air itself still softly weeps for it’s painful past.

Still the heart yammers on murmuring to itself in spite of your frequent admonishments to STFU. We can live years even lifetimes stuck in the circular path of conflicting desires. I want to be here in Colorado. I want to be in the Atlanta area with my daughter and her new family. I want to be here. I want to be there. I slowly go insane trying to solve what at this moment appears to be unsolvable.  I’m sure anyone reading this blog has felt the need to try and logically argue the heart out of its yearning nonsense.  I know for sure all of us who have tried have failed to some degree.

So what do we do? Pray. Meditate. Use Young Living oil blends by the gallon to handle the anxiety and conflict. Go to work, to the gym and breathe in and out.  Return again and again to the present moment ,as in “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34 NIV and what not.

Lately I’ve learned that the more hands off I am when life presents me with
confounded conundrums they almost miraculously resolve themselves with time.  Chop wood, carry water; slap on the Stress Away and nag the daughter for pictures of my granddaughters.


Complicated Grief

I am starting to think as a culture and a country we are suffering from complicated grief. We don’t seem to get over things anymore much as someone who has been hit time after time by life gets to a place where stuck-ness and sadness and rage become a constant state of existence.

We lack rituals for transitions unless you count sports events and I don’t. We don’t acknowledge that our children going from our laps to their peers hurts.  The little girl who you used to take with you everywhere becomes a teen who hates you.  It’s temporary but the little girl is gone and you must find something to love in this new creature giving you the finger.  Saying goodbye to the younger child can be critical to forming a new relationship with a teen and then an adult and then a newlywed, etc.

Much time when I was still a therapist was spent helping parents acknowledge the sadness underneath their anger.  Acknowledging that the 8 year child is gone and missed and this 14 year old isn’t much fun usually shifted everything to more solutions and less complaining. Rituals of saying goodbye and mourning the change helped immensely.

I saw and still see the same things with people in their 50s approaching retirement.  Mostly women come to therapy so that’s what I’m more familiar with but it’s hard for women to say goodbye to careers. Especially if that career has been long term.

The career has been there like an anchor through divorce, remarriage, children growing up, leaving and parents dying.  Your career was a lifeline through many storms and changes so when you see the end of the road approaching the fight to hang on can be extremely difficult if you don’t acknowledge it and say goodbye even if only in your mind.  If you don’t effectively say goodbye your transition into retirement can be pretty ugly.  These are the people that retire and die a year later in my opinion.  We must have something to move toward when we are leaving something behind.

It’s hard for some people to see the younger generation sweeping and making changes to all that you worked so hard to establish and they certainly don’t want to hear your war stories or why you created what you did.  It can blind you to the fact that sometimes old structures need to be knocked down and bit of chaos tossed around to create something totally new.

If you’re approaching any kind of transition say goodbye to what is leaving while you are welcoming what is coming in. It’s ok to be sad at losing anything: a friendship, a lover, a cherished pet, a child to a teen, a spouse and a career.  Hell it’s ok to be sad when trading your old car in for a new one and who hasn’t felt that little twinge?

Ritual. Use something to mark the end of a time. Write and burn letters. Plant a tree or dig up one that’s died. Hike a mountain and at the top shout into the wind what you are letting go. Just do something besides eat it, drink it or zone the pain away in front of a screen or worse let it turn into the kind of rage that burns you and everything you touch, away. Image