My Blog Motto

"Good judgement comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgement"

~Rita Mae Brown

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Years Revealations

Happy New Year ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! 

(almost) This year we enter a new decade as well, although my son contends that technically last New Year rang in the new decade. He's a Gemini so I don't even bother arguing with him unless I'm up for it.
I've been thinking about my New Year's post for quite some time and now that I finally sit down to write I feel like there's too much to say in one post. I also realized there's a lot of common ground with what I'd intended for my Jenny's Liver/Hepatitis C experience blog. As we draw to the end of the year I'm approaching the end of my nearly year long treatment for Hepatitis C. Needless to say it's been an unusual year.
I've really come to enjoy New Years, even more than Christmas. Christmas was fun when my kids were little, and when I was little, but now it doesn't feel like a big deal. And yes, I am one of those people who is irritated by the mass consumerism, the bombardment of advertising for unrealistic gifts (does anyone really walk outside on Christmas morning to find a Lexus with a bow on top? Much less one that's not covered with snow and ice?)
Christmas has it's own magic to be sure, but I've discovered New Years has a different kind of magic altogether.
For one thing there's Hope. People make resolutions and regardless of whether they actually keep them it's kind of nice that there is a day where people think about ways to better themselves.
Many of us, especially if you're just a little self absorbed like myself, like to take stock of the past year, the highs and lows, the joys and sorrows and if you're like me you take the time to review what you did well, what you might have done differently and what you damn well will never do again. I like to read back over my journal from the past year, a tradition I repeat on my birthday which is only a few weeks later, to refresh my memories and details that get lost in time.
I stopped drinking 10 years ago and soon after I became a grandmother for the first time. Nearly every New Years since "sobriety life" I have spent either working at the youth shelter or with my granddaughters. The last few years (since leaving my job at the shelter) have been with my granddaughters creating our own traditions as they get older, and keeping alive many of the same traditions from my childhood. We especially enjoy banging pots and pans and whooping at the moon at midnight, It's funny how at first, having the responsibility of watching the girls was kind of a safety net for me. Any alcoholic worth her salt will tell you that certain holidays are damn near physically painful the first few years of sobriety. I'm not sure when it happened, but the babies stopped babysitting me, and I began to look forward to spending the night with them for it's own sake and for the legacy of our own traditions. And while I'm realistic about resolutions, I don't like to  make promises I'm not certain I can keep, I do carry on one tradition I had started while still working in the shelter, I would have the kids make 3 wishes for the New Year, one for ourselves, one for our close community and one for the Global Community.
I wonder, if everyone made resolutions that were dedicated to not only self improvement, but to extending compassion and care for others...and kept those resolutions, what kind of a New Decade we all might create.
Peace, Blessings and Happy New Year,

 © 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Messages from a Younger Me

 Long before the invention of the Internet and blogging, I had always been a dedicated journal keeper. I think I began at about age 8 and have continued for most of my life, maybe taking occasional breaks here and there. Part of me always felt a little "different" and overly self conscious and I found it difficult to share my innermost thoughts, fears and desires with even my closest friends. So, as is the case for many an angsty teenage girl, my journal became my friend, my confidant, and the Treasure Chest that contained the jewels, the secrets, the broken pieces and the love letters that were the Real Me.

As I got older and my life became more and more a series of circumstances I never would have imagined myself to be a part of, I recognized the importance of recording those events, having the intuitive sense that someone, someday, may find a jewel contained within the rubble.  Then finally as I clawed my way out of the mess my life had become, I found journaling to be therapeutic and illuminating. In my journals I opened the doors that contained my own mysteries, riddles that I didn't even know existed and discovered vulnerabilities and strengths I had kept hidden even from myself.

Since relocating recently, I've had the opportunity to sort through my belongings, including those things that get stashed away because they contain sentimental items and family treasures. I have one large plastic tote that contains the oldest, most special treasures; letters from my grandmother who passed on over a decade ago, ribbons from horseback competitions in my middle school years, my kids first t-shirts, all sorts of memorabilia...and, my old journals.

Ever since going through AODA treatment 10 years ago I have established a yearly tradition of re-reading the last few years journals on my birthday. It's a celebration of all the events that have led me to where I am today. It's also an opportunity to identify  and reflect upon, patterns, cycles, habits, growth and change. Until this week, however, I have not reached back more than a few years into my past. I have snuck a few peeks, but I always felt like I was holding something of great power and potential danger; the incantations of secrets and lies I had conjured up to delude myself. I was afraid to reveal, even to myself alone in a safe space, the Enchantment that kept me so deliriously rooted in my self destructive lifestyle.

What drew my attention this time was a small notebook, not even a school type notebook, but a notepad really, the kind we used before there were post it notes. On the cover were some doodles I had made, a skinny waitress, an androgynous punk looking character and various small animals. There were a few dates and a long forgotten phone number. Not certain what it was, although I vaguely remembered seeing it over the years, I began to browse through the yellowing dog eared pages. I realized I was holding the oldest journal I still have in my possession. It was from 1980 when my later to be husband and I had just left our hometown to return to my roots in New England. But it was not that simple. I remembered the basic story of course, it was a pretty major event in my life, completely relocating, but I had clearly forgotten some of the more intimate details. You see this was the beginning of a relationship that was to continue for 8 years and produce my oldest child. This was the relationship that was fueled by obsession, jealousy, manipulation, illusion and violence. The glue that kept those vices securely in place, that sealed the lock to the cell of my own personal prison was alcohol, and later, narcotics.

I had left my Midwestern home, or at least it had been for the past 7 years, to go "on the run" with the man I believed to be my "soul mate". I believed, at the time, he was being followed by the DEA because of his involvement with certain people. I believed this to be true because it was what he told me. He said he had to get out of town, went into hiding, dyed his hair and convinced me to sell almost everything I owned to raise money to get out of town.
I had known him for 3 months.

Reading my words from so long ago was eerie...I felt as though a  ghost, a wisp of my former self was reaching out to me through the years, trying to explain and justify what had happened. And on the other side, the "Adult Me" listening patiently wanting to say things like "Oh sweetie, it's not supposed to be like that"

So now, Jenny from 30 years ago, young, naive, romantic, giving her all for the sake of "love" is reminding the Jenny of today, cautious, experienced, self protective, of exactly what feelings, beliefs, needs and illusions started this crazy journey through our adult life. A life that took so many unforeseen twists and turns and eventually led me to where I am today, creating a life where I can reach out on a daily basis to women, young and old, who have lived, or are living, driven by the same illusions that were my blueprint back  1980.
Stepping into that life renews my understanding and empathy and bring it to a deeper level than the unreliability of selective memory will allow.

This in itself is a testament to the value of Journaling.

© 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Friday, December 3, 2010

Social Networking for Survivors and Advocates

It has only been in the past year that I have become active in the blogging and Social Networking community. I discovered this world soon after losing my job as a Community Advocate and then subsequently experiencing health problems that have restricted me from returning to the world of work. As they say, crisis equals danger and opportunity and I have chosen the path of opportunity; this “crisis” has provided me with the time to reflect upon my life goals, my values and professional opportunities.  Serendipitously, as I was wondering what to do with my life, a good friend of mine was offering a workshop on Social Networking for Women. (See link at bottom of page)
I have always been an activist and have always known that my life’s calling is to empower and support those who believe themselves powerless due to the circumstances life has dealt to them. To lose my position as a Community Advocate for Women and Children experiencing Domestic Violence was both a blow to my professional identity and to my Survivor self. My Professional self had been stifled by rules, underfunding, understaffing and policies that, I believe, did not always place the clients’ best interests at top priority. My Survivor self felt re-victimized, once again something I was passionate about and dedicated to was taken away from me. I had wanted my years of enduring an abusive relationship, learning the tricks of survival and eventually finding my own way out to count for something. I had intended that my real life knowledge combined with my years of training on the academic side of Advocacy would be a powerful combination and a great gift to offer the Community. While I still can, in my heart and soul know this to be true, I have come to the conclusion that, for me at least, this gift will have to be delivered in a different package.

My second life’s passion has always been to write, to tell real stories of real people, the kind of people who are not usually given a voice in our society. I am interested in both fiction and non-fiction and although I’ve been told I have potential as a writer, well we all suffer from self doubt from time to time.

Therefore, for me, the anonymity of the Internet has become a safe zone to test the waters of my skill as a writer while also giving me the opportunity to continue my work in Community Education and Advocacy. Thus far I have achieved this by blogging, participating in bloggers’ discussion and submitting my story to various websites whose mission is to spread the truth about real life issues faced by individuals who have experienced drug addiction, abuse, depression and medical issues or have lived otherwise non-conventional lifestyles.

It makes perfect sense that the Internet be a vehicle for writers and aspiring writers to showcase their work. There are many wonderful online groups and networks where one can submit a sample of their writing and receive feedback and critique, with the added cushion of anonymity. I think there are many of who give birth to words, music, art and beauty but who are insecure about displaying our work. I myself fall into this category which is only exacerbated by the fact that both my father and stepmother all well known local poets. There is a human nature toward comparison and I dread being compared to either of my parents for fear of not living up to the expectation their careers have defined; regardless of whether that fear is founded in reality it is my reality.

The time I have spent blogging and following discussion groups has got me thinking about my own memoirs. I encourage other women, especially those “with a past”, or a little out of the mainstream to tell their stories. Traditionally history has been written by the rich and male; the voices of the “underprivileged” (with a few wonderful exceptions) have not been a part of the pattern of our culture and our legacy as a nation, as a people. One of my favorite books as a child was the story of Harriet Tubman. It gave me great hope and inspiration that someone from such an unimaginably horrible background could develop so much courage, put it into action and tell her story. If a story can inspire a depressed and skeptical ten year old girl, it has done its job, it is a success.

As someone who came to adulthood in the pre-Internet age I am constantly amazed at the amount of information and opportunities for communication that are now available. Human Beings have are so accustomed to instant information and we have acclimated to this development in just about 20 short years of human history. Add to this the ability to communicate with like minded others on a Global scale and the collective human spirit is available to us in ways we never would have imagined 30 years ago. I am not alone in speculating what this means to the development of future generations or the impact on our culture as a whole.

In my particular situation the impact has been life changing. It has opened my mind to potential life choices I’d perhaps fantasized of, but never believed I could manifest. I am now in between worlds, one foot just barely in each. I am in fact in my own world (as my children will confirm!) a world which I am creating day by day, a world where I am content, where I feel I belong. It feels good, amazingly good. I rarely felt that I fit in any of my past environments, which may explain the repeating pattern of creation, dissatisfaction, crisis, destruction and the long road to rebuilding and stabilization. It was beginning to appear as though every time I pulled myself out of whatever kind of trap I’d locked myself into; addiction, bad relationships, poverty etc. the “good life” only lasted a few years at best. I was trapped in the cycle of ruin and redemption; and although the manifestations of each cycle would change, the basic pattern and the message to myself, remained the same. Now I see an opportunity to break free of the restrictions titles, roles and expectations that often overwhelmed me, driving me to self sabotage. I see an opportunity to continue to educate and advocate on my terms, utilizing the value of my life experience and continually learning from the shared experiences of others.

As I near my 52nd birthday and the end of a year of grueling treatment for Hepatitis C, I see a road before me that is unfettered with gates, signs, speed limits and crazy detours. I am pleased to say that my eyes are set on that path toward my vision of what my future can be.

© 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard
Theresa Reed, media conssultant

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gratitude-the Original Thanksgiving Message.

Nanakooa's Healing Place In the midst of the trends of family pressure, the expectation of the "perfect meal" and media invasion (Black Friday Sales) let's remember the origin of this day, Gratitude for a bountiful harvest and for generous help of others; without these we cannot survive.

I am fortunate to be surrounded by people who embrace the concept of Thanksgiving as a day of Gratitude. I have seen and heard many expressions of Thankfulness and Appreciation, mostly for the non-material gifts in life. Of course having such wonderful people in my life this doesn't happen by accident or pure luck. I've been thinking and writing about personal choice lately after realizing that, as a learned response to being victimized, I had accepted a sense of powerlessness. I believed I was at the mercy of my environment and other people who would choose to manipulate that environment. Life was something that happened to me and it was my job (I thought) to just buck up and make the best of things. Naturally this world view does little to inspire gratitude or hope and it tends to attract people and situations that do not serve our best interests. I remember being surrounded by people who could only focus on the negative aspects of Holidays; having to be with family they don't get along with, pressuring themselves to have the "perfect" meal and getting up at 3 am the next day to be pushed and shoved around by rabid shoppers vying for 10 dollar microwaves. These individuals, whether they had been victimized in the traditional sense of not, obviously were operating with the same blueprint I was. They allowed themselves to be controlled by whatever expectations family or society or the media had dealt them, and they tried to make the best of it. Making the best of something that is not authentically your desire is hard work, it's exhausting and in the end we are usually dissatisfied with the results in on way or another. Unfortunately many people never consider that they have options, that they have the power of choice.
Eventually we realize that if we make choices that are aligned with our values and desires the world won't fall apart, that everyone we love will not abandon us (although some may be pissed off!) nor will any other of the fears that keep us from being true to ourselves will manifest. Once we reach this point we are able to create Holiday traditions that express the best intentions of celebration.
I frequently make gratitude lists, it's something I learned I AODA treatment and it has become an important element in my road to recovery. It helps me to maintain perspective and it helps me to know myself, what makes me grow and what brings me happiness. By clarifying all these elements I find it easier to make goals, to set intentions to plan and work for toward creating the kind of lifestyle that suits my individual needs and desires. I hope that at least this one day of thanks can help others do the same.

One last side note, we often see this holiday as the beginning of the White mans genocide of the Native Americans. While I have both native and puritan ancestry, I believe that at this point there was harmony between the two cultures. Each lived simply from the earth and respected the gifts the earth gave in return. It wasn't until investors, profit seekers and big business discovered the settlers could be manipulated and used to serve their own greed did things start to go bad. It is the same greed and profiteering that ruins so many peoples 4 day weekends with the repeated messages about Black Friday. Sure consumers are getting some "good deals" comparatively speaking, but the wealthy are sitting back, enjoying whatever it is they enjoy on their day off and raking in huge profits. I prefer not to give them the satisfaction, because that's my choice.
Have a Blessed and Grateful day,

 © 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Link to the Like Minded

Hello all,
 I'm back from my hiatus from internet, with a renewed vision of what role the internet and social media play in my life. While my internet was down I spent time writing "just for fun" with the idea that I could use the material later for blogging if I chose to. One of the pieces I started took on a life of it's own and is still in process. I had started pondering the power of social media and writing that is available to anyone, regardless of economic status, education, gender, age etc. It is an equal opportunity forum, giving voice to people who would otherwise not be heard publicly. We can educate one another, support one another and organize around united causes and values. Indeed it has always been my mission to target a population of women whos inner lives, thoughts and wisdom are invisible in our society. It was a lovely case of serendipity when I came across this article and website almost as soon as I first logged back online after 2 weeks.
 Enjoy, Nana
 A Good Virus: Social Media Storytelling by Kathleen Sweeney
 © 2010 Jennifer Hazard

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Geographical Relocation

It has taken months of vacillating, debating and false starts but I finally decided it was time to change residence. My former flat had, through numerous recent circumstances, gradually drifted out of that region known as "my price range" like a rogue balloon.  I cast back and forth between enduring the stress of moving vs. the stress of having basically no money and finally decided to resume my search for a smaller, more affordable apartment.  After finding a few affordable, but unattractive prospects and/or being denied because of pets or credit history,  I finally stumbled across an upper flat only 3 blocks from my former duplex.
Everything seemed to fall into place perfectly, which my former AODA counselor used to say was a sign that you were on the right path. I was able to qualify for funding from a local Advocacy agency to help with the moving costs,  I hired movers for the first time in my life and on November 2,  I moved into my new digs.
It's a cute place, it has character, a huge kitchen,  a sizable balcony/upper porch and lots of closet space. Like many of the houses in my neighborhood it's probably between 80-100 years old and was very likely a single family home that was converted into a flat sometime around the 1940's, which is partially what gives it it's unique character and floor plan, (and tiny bedrooms!)
Now, my sole purpose for moving was to save money, which I will eventually (the movers cost twice what they'd estimated) but it also was an important step for me to make this decision and go with it while in the midst of treatment for Hep C which leaves me with sporadic motivation and low (if any) energy.  I knew I would be doing a lot of the work alone and I knew it would, frankly, knock me on my ass for a few days. I also knew it needed to be done and it was up to me to make it happen.
In addiction "Geographical Relocation" is a trick that people frequently use on themselves and their loved ones to create a sense of false hope for interpersonal change. "Once we get out of this neighborhood with all our history/ with all the bars/ with all our "using friends"/ (fill in any appropriate external force of control that is preventing change) "things will change".  Of course as we all know, we take our problems with us because our problems don't live in the house, or the bar or in our friends, but within us.  Naturally, with my History, I've dragged myself, my family and all my personal belongings down that Yellow Brick Road many times, and learned the same lesson that Dorothy ultimately learned; "Over the Rainbow" is within us all, we only need to look inside to find it.
After moving, not surprisingly I was exhausted. Not just moving exhausted but being on toxic treatment and overdoing it exhausted. Enter, stage left, sick grandchildren and next thing I know I am sick as a proverbial dog. After two days of not keeping any food down and basically sleeping the entire time, I came back to the real world long enough to realize I had a counseling session scheduled with my therapist that day. I gave him a call to let him know I wouldn't be there and why. His response was "oh no everything was supposed to be okay after you moved"
Hmmm, really?
Did I give the impression that I believed that? Did I imply I was falling for the old "Geographical Relocation" self scam? I'm  pretty sure I did not, and yet his response irritated me at the time.  I wasn't sure if he was being facetious or....what. I responded by telling him that I was simply sick with a bug, no deeper meaning attached, and things will be fine.
Funny how once we've travelled the Yellow Brick Road, learned our lesson and moved on, we still carry the stigma of our old ways, even if only in our own minds.

© 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Friday, October 15, 2010

"Murphy's Lie", falling shoes and other barriers to Happiness

We all know "Murphy" of "Murphy's Law". The law that states whatever can go wrong , will. It guards against undue optimism and enjoyment, reminds us not to be too happy or something bad might happen. And if we do happen to enjoy some success Murphy is standing behind us whispering in our ear.  Murphy is the Eyore, The Debbie Downer, the archetypal Sad Sack. He tells us to fear not only failure, but success as well, because after all, according to him it will all eventually turn out badly; inevitably the other shoe will fall.
Many people are familiar with this mind set, this legacy of overworked caution, but no one has perfected it more adeptly that children of Alcoholics, and with good reason.
Growing up with an alcoholic parent involves learning to negotiate ones way through a maze of mixed messages, to maintain balance on the fault line of shifting boundaries and to be able to become invisible when its safer than being seen, or heard.
One can only be invisible for so long before she begins to fade, the more parts of You that you hide, the less accessible they become. The more we fade, the less we believe that we need, or deserve. So naturally two things happen; our cloak of invisibility becomes a barrier that filters out not only the negative but everything else as well. We create an energetic block that prevents us from receiving Love, Prosperity and anything else pleasant that might come our way. If some amount of Love or good fortune sneaks it's way past out armor, we quickly recoil. "How did that get in here?!' as if a snake had slithered it's way under our bed. We are uncomfortable with it's presence, it frightens us because we don't quite know what to do with it. What we do know is how to sabotage it, one way or another, to make it go away so we can remain safe in our familiar belief system known as Murphy's Law. Like so many other lies society teaches us, we have incorporated it into our core set of beliefs so deeply that we don't even think to question it.

Once we begin to recognize Murphy's Law for what it is, the rusty old remains of an obsolete coping mechanism, we see that it is really Murphy's Lie.  Like any other step on the road to personal growth, health and recovery recognition and acknowledgement is the first step.  many will tell you the first step is the hardest, I don't know that's necessarily true, but I think it is the most disruptive. It rattles our cage, it challenges our inner Eyore, it throws us a little off balance. But once the cage stops rattling, and Eyore calms down and we get our "sea legs" we can begin the next stage of acceptance, we can stop judging ourselves and get down to the philosophy of "it is what it is, and it ain't what it ain't" and we are on the path that will eventually lead us to be able to accept being Happy when we are Happy to be in that Moment  not give a thought to Mopey Murphy and his proverbial falling shoe.

© 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Sunday, October 10, 2010

SURVIVOR: Be A Hero For Sara

Hello all,
I hope you are enjoying fall, the brilliant colors of the changing leaves and the cooler evenings that make for good sleeping weather.
I wanted to share this link for a few reasons. First I think it is a worthy cause to write a letter or sign a petition on behalf of Sara, I think you will feel the same if you read her story.
 This is a public issue, Sara has willingly given her story to the public in hopes of gaining support, and it is a brutal example of the kind of cruelty that truly creates awareness and empathy. number and statistics slip in and out of our mind. Statistics don't have faces, feelings, stories and voices. We need this kind of reality check, it prompts us to ask ourselves, where could intervention have occurred,? Was support was available to this young woman? And, since this happened over 20 years ago, we can take stock of some of the changes that have been implemented, that may have prevented this tragedy.

 © 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

SURVIVOR: Be A Hero For Sara: "Today, YOU have the opportunity to be a hero in the life of Sara Kruzan…a survivor of human trafficking. The daughter of a drug addict, at

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

DV awareness, are we really aware?

As part of my small but determined contribution to Domestic Violence Awareness month I'd like to say a few things. First having an "awareness month" for anything evokes mixed feelings for me. No one can argue against dedicating time to increase awareness of a social issue and it provides opportunities for survivors to be heard. But what, I wonder, does it really accomplish? Do people carry that awareness with them for the rest of the year? Does the help increase additional funding and programs?  Does the publicity really illuminate the experience and challenges of what families of D.V. face?  Are people told that every day women are turned away from shelter because there are no beds? Do people know that women, and even children turn to prostitution as a way to escape their abuser? Or how many women turn to alcohol and/or drugs to escape the reality of their miserable lives, to quell the fear that quakes in their stomach most of the day? And how about the long terms effects of living in a heightened state of fight or flight; how that changes your brain functions and disrupts serotonin and cortisol? There is a phenomenon known as complex PTSD, which is the result of long term regular exposure to trauma. How about the kids who grow up under these conditions? These kids brains are forming and developing under these conditions what does this say for their prognosis as adults? And given that fact how many of these children go on to become abused or abusers themselves?
There is a lot of emphasis put on getting women out of abusive relationships, or preventing them from getting into them in the first place (most of which are ineffective), but there is little long term support for women and children to assist them with the ongoing issues that linger even after leaving the relationship. And what about then abusers? They are basically lumped into one category...abusers, and yet there are different types of abuse. The Coercive control type is probably the most dangerous and the most difficult to treat. Men who use coercive control are the horror stories we hear about not letting their partner work, attend school, go out with friends and tend to more physically violent and very clever in their skills of manipulation. Abusers are dealt with via the criminal justice system, they generally don't do much time and  they are usually mandated to attend some kind of "anger management" program. It takes more than a few weeks of anger management for someone to change a lifetimes worth of conditioning and damage that makes someone capable of hurting the people they love. violent behavior is often a mental health issue and needs to be treated as such.  Just as we have to listen to victims to understand their needs, we have to listen to perpetrators to understand why they do what they do, to begin to understand ways to effectively intervene. I sincerely believe that, with some possible exceptions, most abusers don't want to be abusers, just like most addicts don't want to be addicts, but there are some behaviors that are formed early on in life that effect us in ways we can't control...until we learn differently. There are ways to do this, but they are not quick fixes, they don't come in a pill and they are not applied, or even taught to most service providers. There are a lot of things that are changing in the world. 20 years ago a woman would have to press charges against her abuser or he was off the hook, there were fewer resources for help for families experiencing violence, and women were less likely to come forward and ask for help.
We have moved forward in so many areas of response to DV and that is a wonderful thing, but we need to continue to move forward, to always be open to examining new interventions and solutions to problems, and to not be afraid to try something new. This is the kind of awareness I choose to focus on, to dig deep to look at the BIG picture and to tell it like it is, both what's working and what's not. And please remember abuse happens every minute of every day, don't forget about it once October is past.

© 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Friday, September 24, 2010

It is what it is, and that's all that it is.

I don't know if it's the Ribavirin making me  crabby or what (there is such a thing known as 'riba rage') but I've recently become irritated at phrases like 'Healing Journey" or "Self-Discovery". But wait you say, isn't that what this blog is all about, Jenny? Well, yes, and no.
First of all as I've contemplated Life, and Misfortune, and Happiness and Growth and All That We Are it has struck me that many of the phrases we use imply some sort of ending to the process. Some sort of be, what Healed ? Then what? What does that even look like? And worse yet are we selling our selves short by not being at some point of healing that we think we should be.
Part of this problem has to do with linear thinking. We are not to blame for that, it's the way we've been raised in our culture to perceive time, and movement and growth. Fact is, we really don't understand much about any of those things. I'm no expert on quantum physics, it fascinates me but makes my brain hurt, but I'm pretty sure the "way of the Universe" is not linear. And neither are our lives. I've talked before about healing happening in layers and stages, but that still implies some sort of final destination, to some kind of core truth. Maybe that's enlightenment. But I'm not so sure even Enlightenment happens all at once, unless perhaps when we die.
I've mentioned before that I'm somewhat changing my tone, my approach, to this blog and my goals in general. It's been almost a year since I've been out of work, out of the field of "Helping" with their strict definitions of  "what works", what "sucess" looks like, and what it doesn't and their quest for "Evidence Based Practices".  When I reflect on my original goal, it is to bring a little more Real Life into the services and systems that are designed to help people. One of the finest Therapists I ever worked with used to say "it is what it is" any time a client would lament her situation, especially if she were condemning herself. So yeah it is what it is, if it's "progress" ie learning to make healthier choices for ourselves, or choices that are more in sync with what we believe in and value. If it's making a mistake, even though we've made the same mistake before. It all part of the process of life.
So for my own self respect, and contribution to my creative abilities, I am going to throw out the psychobabble, I'm going to tell it like it is. I might even swear, damnit,
As the Great Journalist/Commentator Walter Cronkite concluded his evening broadcast, "And that's the way it is"
© 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

I saw this quote this morning and felt it spoke to my thoughts in this post :)  Thank you, Julia and Wayne!
Julia von Flotow Via Wayne McGuire - "The Universe has no edge and the centre is everywhere."

Wishing everyone a peaceful weekend!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

My life on film, er, pixels

the Tat, wish #2

A couple of years back when my last boyfriend/ man friend and I separated due to "creative differences" he got custody of the "good camera". By "good" I mean, not disposable, and it isn't pink with Hello Kitty emblazoned all over it. When I got my tax return last year my tax guy (like I have 'people', lol) pretty much told me that this was the last year I was going to rake it in on all the deductions my single Mom status with a low paying job and excessive student loans had previously bestowed upon me once a year. I figured I'd better make this last run a good one. I did take care of some debt and other responsibilities, gave my kids spending money and bought my Granddaughters some clothes, but I had promised myself this time I was granting 3 of my own wishes..and lo and behold I did.
My 3 wishes were: a new laptop, a new tattoo and a "good" camera. The laptop has been well worth the investment.  I am able to sit in privacy and write, email, blog or check in on facebook gossip. The tattoo is pretty badass and represents my courage as a survivor. The camera has just been plain fun. It's one of those cute little colorful things that we see Ashton Kucher gliding around cocktail parties sneaking pics of attractive young women who pretend not to notice. So logically since this pretty boy can use it successfully, so can I. Well I can now after some trial and error (heavy on  the error side) and after actually resorting to reading an instruction or two. So now my latest project, or addition to my ongoing project of telling my story, recording my life as a Middle Aged, Unemployed, Hep C infected, recovering alcoholic, Master's Degree having dedicated Advocate, mother of 3, grandmother of 2, rescuer of stray animals trying to survive on a meager Social Security Disability at least until I can create some additional income, is to photo document  some of the days in my life.
 I just started today, officially on my bus ride to the bank, the grocery store and back home; a trip that with a car would've taken about an hour at most, but took close to 3 hours. But not to worry I promise it's not going to be some 21st Century version of 'Christmas in Appalachia". On the contrary I've been spotting sights that if I were clipping down the street at 35 or 40 mph I would never have noticed. The project is new and in the works and I haven't decided what, if anything, to do with it. I will probably include a pic or two with captions on my blog just to try it out, get some feedback and probably have some laughs, just as soon as I find that battery charger.
© 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

An 11-Year-Old Bride Escapes

Follow link for an amazing, sad, inspiring of so many. I've always been interested in other cultures and their implementation of, or disregard for, human rights. In college in my Women's studies courses I found the curriculum to be extremely Eurocentric (no surprises there). There is so much work to do in the cause for Peace, Equality and Justice, but I'd like to remind all of us including me, that there are atrocities being committed against women and children all over the world. Often these atrocities are condoned by the culture in which they occur whether covertly or openly. Since our 'involvement' in the Middle East we have heard more and more stories from women who are finally able to speak up. And we hear the stories of the amazing courageous women who provide shelter and safety for these women. I think that once in a while at least, it's important to look outside of our own culture(s) and remember that oppression against women and children is worldwide; and often happens in situations and conditions in which the level of horror and powerlessness is beyond our imagination. And yet we also discover amazing stories of hope, courage and compassion that cross borders, cultures, and economic status. I'd like to propose a reader challenge. When we were kids we played a game where we would spin the globe and with our eyes closed put a finger on a spot on the globe, stopping its rotation. In our game we would pretend we were going to travel to wherever our finger landed and imagine glorious, dramatic and sometimes gruesome adventures we encounter. I challenge my readers to do the "globe game" and then take some time to research the Human Rights conditions in that area, and especially the role of women and children. This can be can be educational. It can open our hearts and minds to a world we never knew existed. Give it a try, I'm going to do it too. I'd love to hear your discoveries!  © 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Finding your style, and running with it

The initial stages of my blogging experience involved a lot of trial and error and experimentation. I felt like an explorer with a partial map, discovering new paths, new tricks new avenues; it’s been fun most times, frustrating at others.
Like any other social situation we are new to, we enter cautiously, careful not to offend anyone, trying to make a good impression. So we continue to write, we force our friends and family to read our posts, anxiously awaiting feedback (and hoping its positive enough to keep us going).
Then one day we sit down to write, maybe one of those days were feeling a little sassy, and we realize we are no longer “company’ or the new kid in class who has to maintain face.
We develop this comfort level with experience; a little feedback helps too, (hint, hint)
Now we feel free to open up a little more about our personal lives. We bring things down to a real level.
Depending on the type of blog you write and your intended audience, self-disclosure and daily observations may be the primary focus of your writing and will come quite naturally. If your blog is intended to be more informational and educational, you may rarely self disclose, if at all. I’ve seen blogs intended to promote business that run the gamut from “strictly business” to shameless self promotion.
I’ve found myself using more discernment and seeking balance between telling my story, and promoting my mission to unite survivors to advocate for themselves and other survivors.
I’ve decided that in order to be true to my mission I have to let the “wild woman” Jenny out to speak her truth, along with the Professional Jenny who is has the clinical and community resource knowledge to assist survivors. As I reflect on my original intention I’m finding that it is the Survivor/ “Wild Woman” whose voice is most relevant. She is the one with the most courage, the most moxie, with the most important stories to tell and the most capability for empathy.
It is also exciting that this transformation that is occurring during that point in my life where I’m finally reaching the age where I have more confidence, bigger perspective and less concern for what others think of me. How liberating for a woman who was anxious and socially phobic literally for as long as I can remember. So here I am a sassy middle aged survivor with experience, opinions and ideas just begging to be shared.
I’m putting out the call to all sassy middle aged women “with a history” to come together, share our knowledge and experience, humor, antics, irreverence and who knows maybe pave bold path for our daughters, granddaughters and all the young women who will follow.
Peace and Solidarity,

© 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Monday, August 16, 2010

Finding Power in Peace

“Our mystical power should not be relegated to the distant past. It still exists. I want mine now, and so does every woman I know. Our power is not evil but good. We must reclaim our goodness as well as our power. Today, the reason we haven’t found our grail, the key to who we are as women, is because we look for it in worlds of false power, the very worlds that took it away from us in the first place” Marianne Williamson
The last line of this statement struck a chord within me. It was one of those moments when you know the deeper truth and meaning behind mere words. We women want our power and that is the first step. We’re just not sure how or where to find it
I have come to the conclusion that it’s not for lack of looking, but of too much looking. Marianne states, we look for it in the worlds of false power. At the most superficial level we look to the media to tell us what will make up whole. The answer is usually something material, of cosmetic.
Even if we decide to connect with enlightened others, we don’t find our “others’ until we are truly ready. We need to learn that although we can benefit from mentoring and guidance or support, the only way we will know we are truly ready is when we are able to look within, rather than outside ourselves
There are some good teachers and guides out there; and there are also a lot of people making a lot of money by telling people how to become enlightened, successful, and whatever else they’re selling. Some of them probably believe they are right and doing the right thing. Some of them are pure charlatans. Some of them may mean well but are ill prepared or improperly initiated into whatever system they are preaching.
The co-opting of The Native Americans various beliefs is a common example. Having not grown up within the context of the native environment would require extra training and self reflection to understand a system of beliefs that is based on a lifestyle and culture that is completely foreign and misunderstood. And then there is the very real betrayal that Europeans have stolen everything from the Native Peoples and now want to take the last thing they can call their own.
Please understand I’m not saying we shouldn’t learn about other spiritual systems. In fact I believe the more we can familiarize ourselves with the more likely we are to open ourselves to possibilities. We find similarities within all the beliefs we explore.
One thing that has become clear to me is that we have to learn to listen within, and in times and places of peace, to connect with our spiritual power. Ritual has its purpose, but it’s not necessary. We have all we need within ourselves to discover and. celebrate our power.

© 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Friday, August 13, 2010

News and Updates

In accordance with my original mission I have begun work on my sister site, The intention and goal of this project is to organize survivors who wish to be actively involved in public policy making, service delivery and public education. There are many ways to accomplish these goals. Writing our stories and sending them to politicians, service providers and funding sources can have a substantial impact. Forming Advisory committees, organizing survivor speak outs, using art and film to record our histories are all effective methods to make our message heard. We ARE the experts on Domestic Violence, we know what services are lacking and which ones are working. We know how we want, and deserve, to be treated by social service agencies, police officers, and the judicial system. Finally, as older women we can attest to the long term effects of abuse and the need for ongoing services. The key to change is Communication and Organization, let's Unite as Survivors and help create a future of Peace, Respect and Compassion.
In other business, I am continuing to work on my memoirs, blogging and making connections online. It's wonderful to find so many compassionate, creative and like minded individuals.

My latest project is my new Hepatitis C blog describing my experiences with the disease and, now, being on treatment. I had started including posts about my journey through treatment on my survivors blog, but because this experience has been so much a part of my life; because my day to day activities are dictated by my side effects, I decided this chapter of my life deserves it's own space. I am also discovering an urgent need for information and advocacy for individuals stricken with this often stigmatized disease. I will continue to share my personal story while also accumulating useful information about Hepatitis and treatment options.

© 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Long term effects of abuse finally getting attention

Domestic violence victims have higher health costs for years after abuse ends
Victims of domestic violence endure significantly higher health costs than other women for three years after the abuse ends, a new study finds.

Well Duh, right? But seriously click on the link to read article, I'm looking for more statistics and stories about the long term effects of abuse. This was part of my original mission for creating this blog because it is a painfully overlooked area in Domestic Violence treatment and research.

© 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The ride that is my life

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

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

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It's not just emotional healing that hurts

A while back, in May, I blogged about my next step in Healing; treating my Hepatitis C. So far it's been a bumpy ride, with plenty of ups and downs. How about I start with the good news. My viral load is now undetectable. This is a good sign and it means it's worth it to continue treatment. My doctor seems to think that I can beat this for good if I do maintain the treatment for the rest of the year. For those of you who don't know, undetectable doesn't mean cured, yet. The trick is to remain undetectable after treatment ends. For some people it works, some people stay "clear" for a while then the virus reappears, and for some people it seems to come back immediately after treatment is stopped. There are of course, many variables affecting treatment success, but maybe some of it is just good old luck of the draw. Given the uncertainty of success any shred of good news from the doctor is a beacon of hope, an incentive to carry on even if you feel like crap. Unfortunately one of the more common side effects of the treatment is depression. So for me it's kind of like a day at the beach when I've already got second degree burns. Add to this the loss of income the loss of a social role as a community advocate and sometimes I just wonder what the hell happened. Good thing I've had lots and lots of therapy to cope with depression because my old Buddy, Deena Depression has been hanging out quite a bit lately. And that, my friends, is one reason I'm telling my story, all aspects of it. Some of it is simply Ego validation, I admit that; but there is also the desire to reach out to others who have or are having similar experiences. It can feel like a lonely road sometimes and knowing someone (many people actually) are having the same experience does lighten the load. If you yourself or someone you care about is going through treatment for hepatitis C, or considering treatment I recommend seeking out information from others who have had the experience. An excellent online support group I have found is HepC Nomads- I have found everyone there to be both informative and supportive. Another good resource is The National Hep C Advocacy Council at As always if you have questions or feedback I'm happy to respond. Peace and Blessings © 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Friday, July 16, 2010

Laughing with the Jester

I was, uncharacteristically, nearly speechless for a moment when I first saw this. Then my reaction was to want to laugh, cry and get up and dance. Some people are offended by this video. They feel it is demeaning to those who lost their lives in Auschwitz and other prison camps. It is an extremely painful history to carry and I can respect their feelings however, they have the option of not watching it. For the rest of us, Survivors of all sorts, I think the role of the Jester or the Trickster is desperately needed. We have become either too politically correct on one hand, and too angry and righteous on the other hand; we tiptoe around our feelings of horror and rage and fear. It's almost like we are protecting them. It's almost as if we are afraid that if we allow ourselves to laugh, our experiences and pain will be invalidated. It is my personal feeling that our experiences are what they are, no one knows why some people were chosen to have more difficult lives than others. What we can chose is how to recover and heal. Today I am choosing to laugh and dance in honor of the strength of survival.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

If you don't get it right the first, second or third time...

Hello all, You may have noticed I've been futzing with different template designs. I've been having some issues finding the right layout, one that enables me to post the information I need or want to share. Because I do have a website I'm going to experiment with adding my blog to that site. I'm actually working on simplifying all elements of my life, donating unused items, clearing out clutter, organizing paperwork etc. so this makes perfect sense. I've never been the most organized person in the world, but I have also realized that I do possess the capacity for organization. Part of the problem throughout my life has been the chaotic situations and people I have, either willingly or unwillingly, had in my life. I've tended to cater to other's needs and desires even if only a passive way, by denying my own. My theme for this year is all about reclaiming and redefining myself, taking control of my life and my environment. I can only believe that fate has had a hand in creating the circumstances where I am needing to relocate. I love my flat and have lived here for four years, but it's too big and too expensive now. I normally hate moving, but I'm beginning to look forward to a fresh environment to recreate my life within. I will keep readers updated as I merge my blog. In the meantime check out my website if you haven't already, I'm constantly updating it with new information and features as I learn more about how to do all this stuff. Peace, Nanakoosa

Monday, July 12, 2010

Happy Monday

Good Morning, Happy Monday and Happy New Moon. This is always a good time to plan a fresh start, begin a project, nurture a dream. What will you nurture this week? Image courtesy of:

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Independence Day

In the movie "Stuart Saves His Family" with Al Franken as Stuart Smalley (I highly recommend it to anyone in recovery) there is a scene where Stuart and his friend are watching fireworks on July 4th. For every firework Stuart declares Independence from something that's been holding him back. I think this is a wonderful idea! What are you ready to Declare Independence from?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Why I’m taking action against teacher layoffs

Here in Milwaukee, as in many parts of the country, cutbacks in funding are resulting in a large number of teacher layoffs. Milwaukee stands to lose over 400 teachers and 600 support staff. For me this news has prompted me into action. It has struck a blow to my family, friends and to my basic core values.

On a personal level, the news of the layoffs came within days of my son's graduation from high school. His school employs progressive ideas and teaching methods to accommodate a population that may not have succeeded in a traditional school environment. The schools motto and mission is "The school where you can be you" and the focus is on providing a safe accepting environment for youth who have been bullied, misunderstood or just didn't fit in. Gay, Lesbian and Transgender teens are welcomed and provided an environment where they can be safe, both physically and emotionally. For this school in particular it is essential to have staff that is on board with the mission and culture of the school. The three teachers who have been given notice have been exemplary models of this style of education and have made positive impacts on many students' lives. As a survivor, I am greatly impressed by the schools policy of non-violence and especially the way issues are addressed in a non-punitive approach that encourages empathy and positive problem solving. It is my personal belief that if more schools took a similar approach we would see a reduction in violence in our communities.

In the bigger picture, because teachers are being affected nationwide, it is an opportunity to draw attention to the role education plays in the lives of our next generation of adults. It is time to look at the roles that schools and teachers have taken in children's lives in a society where so many children are lacking hope, lacking time with their families who must work long hours just to provide the basic necessities, and where so many of the messages they receive come from a media that cares for nothing but their role as consumers. For many youth school is more that a place to go learn how to pass a standardized test; it is a community. Teachers are more than just someone who stands in the front of the room and spews forth information required by standardized tests; they are mentors, role models and guides through the complex journey of growing up. More humane schools and communities produce more humane citizens; it's time for us to factor in the human element, the personal element when balancing our budget.

Finally I'd like to add that this crisis has prompted me into action, it has given me the opportunity to speak out publicly to use my voice to stand up for something I believe in. As survivors we all know how important this is to our healing process. Many of us were silenced by fear and insecurity for years. To take back our voices our opinions our power of expression is one more step in taking back our lives.

Peace and Blessings,


If you are interested in helping this cause please contact you representatives and tell them to pass the Keep Our Educators Working Act Now!
Iowa Senator Harkin has introduced legislation that would provide $23 billion to financially strapped school districts. In Wisconsin you may Contact Senators Kohl and Feingold and Congressional Representatives to encourage them to fight for the bill's passage.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A stranger in a strange land...

"I had crossed the line, I was free; but there was no one to welcome me to the land of freedom. I was a stranger in a strange land." ~ Harriet Tubman. One of my reasons for creating this blog, and my website was my realization that as a survivor, and a survivor of multiple challenges, I never really felt "normal". Even after receiving degrees in Social Work and Counseling I chose to work in small grassroots nonprofit agencies rather than for profit or government agencies. I knew I'd never "pass" in that world; nor would I want to. I would feel like an alien, a misfit and I'd probably end up getting fired. I did in fact get fired from my last job and I know it was partially due to my inability to conform to corporate like standards and expectations. No one was right no one was wrong, it just wasn't a good fit with the changes the agency was making. When I saw this quote by Harriet Tubman, I was initially transformed to the memory of reading her biography as a child. I imagined how lonely and terrified she must feel even while feeling the joy and gratitude of freedom. While her struggles and accomplishments were monumental compared to one woman's struggle with addiction, abuse and depression, I think there is a common phenomenon that occurs whenever we find freedom, from whatever it is that has had us caged. fortunately for many women leaving a violent home, recovering from addiction or embarking on another healing process there is support ready and available. This is especially true in the early stages. But as I had mentioned in an earlier post, "Crashing the Party of Normal Society", many of the systems in place are focused on getting the individual through those initial early crisis stages. It is often when the dust settles and we have stabilized that we realize that we too are strangers in a strange land. at this point we are faced with a choice. Either we allow ourselves to revive our victim role and accept some sense of defeat, that we will never be "normal" or we cherish the experiences and wounds that make us unique resilient individuals and begin to celebrate our individuality. After all most of were somewhat non-conformist to begin with, right? That may have been part of what got some of us into trouble in the first place. I say let us learn to embrace those qualities of non-conformity, of clever survival tactics of resiliency as we create our new reality. there are enough of us "strangers' out there that we need not be alone. There are others who understand. There are other women on the same path, the same journey to freedom and healing. Let's learn to recognize each other, and to support one another throughout the entire process of healing and liberation. If you read this post and feel it applies to you, take from it what you will and I always welcome feedback. If you feel you know someone else who may benefit from reading this please pass it on. If you find a stranger on the road who has a common story to tell, take the time to listen and support her. We need not be alone. peace and blessings, Nanakoosa copyright 2010 Jennifer Hazard/ Nanakoosa's Place.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

anger, triggers and the whole Big Picture

wow, as I read over my last blog entry I was struck by several emotions pretty much all at the same moment. This is kind of like being the odd kid out in a snowball fight; you get pummelled from every direction at once. It takes a moment to clear the ice out of your eyes and re-orient yourself. The primary and most disturbing emotion, was anger. Now I'm not saying anger is bad. There are times it is necessary to spur us into action. As we all have heard probably more times than we cared to, "it's not the anger, it's what you do with it that matters" in this case the anger drove me to take action to examine my patterns of interactions with others and the remainder of the bombardment of feelings. We often hear that at the root of anger is sadness, grief or a sense of having been betrayed. Once we begin to figure this out (somewhere around middle age for most of my generation) we are faced with the challenge of acknowledging sadness, grief and betrayal. Ow. The Hell with that you may say. That stuff hurts, and it makes us feel vulnerable. Worse yet, it may make us admit to ourselves how we may have contributed, at least passively, to the situation that got us so angry in the first place. In my case I overlooked a lot of warning signs in this guy. I helped him out financially and even when it started becoming obvious that he was taking advantage of the situation I tiptoed around the subject, because always had an excuse, an idea, a plan. So much like my ex-husband...and this wasn't even MY boyfriend. Oh this is even less fun isn't it? Can't we just stomp around self righteously and demand justice. Can't we just punch someone in the eye? Sure we could, but then guess who we have become? We have become the abuser. And yet, we cannot afford to bury our heads in the sand and passively expect that it will all blow over. Maybe it will. my daughter hasn't heard from this man since he found out the police were looking for him. It would be easy to say, "ok that's done with." The problem is, even if he never crosses paths with my daughter again, there's always the next woman. If we are ever going to put even a dent in Domestic Violence as a social issue, we have to start looking out for one another. We have to be united in declaring that we will not allow this to happen to anyone. in order to reach the point of maturity and self understanding we have to muddle through some of those uncomfortable feelings like grief, sadness, betrayal and guilt; then by knowing and respecting ourselves we choose to respond, rather than react, in a way that will both resist participation in violence and will create an atmosphere of safety for ourselves and others. Peace and Blessings, Nanakoosa

Friday, May 28, 2010

Can We Break this Cycle?

When will it end?

I don't know how much more I can stand. My anger grows like a dangerous flame, soon to rage out of control. My sadness and disappointment is like a pile of rocks on my chest. Crush the Witch.

I was awakened this morning by my daughter bursting into my room in tears. Outside were yelling, swearing, insults and threats. I knew the voice spewing the ugly filth: it was James her ex-boyfriend.

He had broken into her house, wielding a baseball bat, threatening to "beat her ass' He hit her, he got into a fight with her current dating partner. He broke the kitchen window with the baseball bat.

It won't end here. He will keep going. He will keep hurting, if he is not stopped. He MUST be stopped.

I hate the fact that part of me wants to respond to violence with violence. I want to punch his arrogant, lying self serving face.

Instead I pray for Justice to be served. We filed a police report, we gave a good description. The cops are aware of his record. Let's pray they find him…no bail, no quarter.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Next Step

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

A tale to tell, a song to sing

As I was browsing through quotes, for the quote of the day (ok I don't make it every day but I try) I found Maya Angelou's well known “A bird sings not because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song" It was one of those moments where the words seemed to jump out of the page at me. They reached inside my mind and heart and struck not one, but several chords. Within the last year with the loss of a job and the onset of some health issues, I've begun to make use of my time by writing. I've always wanted to write. I grew up in a family of writers and artists, but somehow I never felt I was good enough. That was because I expected immediate praise and perfection. Even now my inner critic, who has thankfully lightened up on me considerably, will have something nasty to say. 'Why are you doing this anyway?' "What do you hope to accomplish?" "What's the PURPOSE?" Well, Miss Critic, I have an answer for you, I do it because I have a song. ©2010 Jennifer Hazard Originally posted on Nanakoosa's Healing Place, Facebook page,

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy mother's Day

Hello All, I just wanted to take a moment to honor Mother's Day and all women who have cared for and "Mothered" someone else (including ourselves). mothering is more than just giving birth. It is teaching, guiding, mentoring, providing comfort and love. In my family of origin I was fortunate to have many mother figures who helped raise me. My own Mother is an amazing woman who has survived and overcome many obstacles and I am grateful for her courage today and every day. Since this blog is a place to honor our healing processes, I'd like you all to take a moment to acknowledge how you have mothered yourselves in giving birth to a new life of healing and self discovery. May your day be blessed with Love and comfort! Nanakoosa

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spring Cleaning

This was originally posted in April,re-posted in response to Dawn's challenge to repost an article we wish had gotten more attention/readers at original publication. This was the perfect post for me now at the next transitional season, I always do fall cleaning too. Thanks, Dawn for the idea!

It's that time of year again, spring cleaning. This process can be a very symbolic and healing act as many will tell you. Whenever I read an article written by someone lauding the spiritual cleansing that can be gained by spring cleaning, I cringe. I picture some well put together middle aged woman in flowing silk gown, her arms adorned with exotic bangles, floating around her perfectly feng shui house happily "cleansing" like some New Age June Cleaver. When she's done cleaning she steeps in a bath of oils and herbs and meditates by candlelight about all the unneeded habits, thoughts and behaviors she is releasing. Maybe some of the authors of these articles and books do have this kind of lifestyle. I'm betting that not all do, but they are leaving out some important details. As they say the "Devil is in the details" and I can attest to that. Having been disillusioned by trying to compare my own process to some of these tips, and admittedly tainting them with my own skeptical imagery, I've decided that being true to my mission to being real, authentic and honest it would be a great idea to post about "Spring Cleansing" in my world.
Now, before I come across as bitter or cynical, I love the concept of cleaning/cleansing and utilizing the opportunity to let go of what is no longer needed, whether it's a stack of old magazines, or a negative thought pattern. In fact, the impetus for this post was when I opened the bedroom curtains and realized the mirror over my dresser is covered in dust. I remembered one of the articles I had read that addressed this issue specifically. Your mirror reflects you; you probably look in the mirror daily. As someone who avoided mirrors for years,(except to apply eyeliner) I'm happy to say that I am finally content with the way I look and yes my mirror should "reflect" that. It's a nice symbolic reminder of clarity and self recognition. Another word about glass, my windows seem to get very cloudy and dull over the winter. Once the sun arrives and we take down the plastic and open the curtains, it's time to really let the sunshine in. Good news and bad news: bright sunshine comes flooding in warming us, filling us with light and hope and…..aaggh illuminating all the dust, furballs, fingerprints and scuffs that were barely noticeable in winter's darkness. This is where we may be tempted to feel overwhelmed, discouraged and ashamed, all those feelings that may send us down the road of self criticism and perfectionism.
Let's put a stop to that immediately! There are two beliefs about housekeeping that I live by. 1) It's my house, I will determine my standards regarding what makes me comfortable. 2.) If it feels unmanageable, that's only a feeling, not a reality. I break my cleaning into small tasks. Whatever bothers me the most and doesn't make me feel comfortable is the first project. Spring lasts more than one day and so can spring cleaning. I often find that once I get a good start and allow myself some breaks to do other things, the rest no longer feels like a daunting chore. I can begin to enjoy the concept of clearing, cleansing and renewing. It can be a good time to rearrange some things to give your house a new feel. Even if it's only a few pictures or knick knacks, I find it doesn't take much to give my environment a fresh look.
Here's a word about throwing things out. I've often heard writers speak of opening yourself to prosperity and claim that clinging to old things can restrict the flow of prosperity into your home. I can see the philosophical and "energetic" rationale behind this practice but I don't see this as an all or nothing proposition. Personally I, like many others who didn't have a lot growing up (or at stages in our adult lives either) have a tendency to hang onto things "in case I or someone else needs them". On many occasions this has been beneficial to someone I knew who was in need, including me. I'm an advocate of the barter/trade economy and it has worked for many. Of course sometimes all that stuff begins to take up too much space and it becomes obvious it's time to part. I strongly encourage anyone in that case to utilize the barter systems that are available either in your community or online. If you don't want to involve yourself in the barter process look at what items can be donated, and find the appropriate resources. Homeless shelters, DV shelters, community agencies, even schools may need something that you have. You would be surprised at what someone else may really need or want. Many people are getting into DIY arts and crafts and I've seen some beautiful artwork, jewelry and clothing created out of "found" or discarded items.
Finally, to summarize what I believe are the key points of this whole spring cleaning/cleansing trend:
-It's your house, you decide what's comfortable. Some people need minimalist uncluttered space to feel emotionally and spiritually at home. Others like me, find great comfort and warmth in a house that looks a little lived in, I would feel spiritually rather empty in a stark orderly house…but remember that's just me, we all have our own preferences and standards of comfort.
-when and if you do throw unwanted items away, make an effort to find a use for them, or a way they can be recycled. We owe it to our future generations to leave them something better than miles and miles of garbage dumps ("landfill' is too polite and tidy sounding word…I try not to use it!)
-Try to find some enjoyment in the renewal process. Open the windows. Put on your favorite music, dance while you mop, take regular breaks and treat yourself to something you really enjoy (for me that's chocolate) and as you're cleaning give some thought to the other areas in your life, behaviors, thoughts, people or situations that it may be time to let go. And don't forget to add up the things you do cherish and find worth keeping. Hopefully you will find yourself comfortable and content both in your home and in your own skin
-Last but not least…there is no June Cleaver, New Age or otherwise!
Happy Spring!©2010 Jennifer Hazard, Nanaoosa's Place

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Authenticity part 2

Authenticity part 2 The topic of authenticity seems to be cropping up all over the place. Granted I do a lot of reading and research on areas where authenticity would be likely to be a frequent topic and a desirable goal. For many of us in those circles, it’s not a novel idea. I am noticing, however, that the concept seems to be making its appearance in the collective consciousness; as things tend to do when their time is due-when humanity needs them and is ready to accept them. I’m not certain why the “divine timing’ but I can think of several good arguments for the development and nurturance of authentic living. If we are authentic true to ourselves and our inner being, our values become clear; we begin to realize and prioritize what it is that really matter to us. As our true “heart’s desire” becomes clearer we are less inclined to be persuaded by others that may attempt to manipulate us, convincing us that they know what’s best for us. I can’t help but relate this to the “economic crisis” and the role of advertising and the American trends of consumerism. When we don’t know who we are, what we really value, it’s easy to look outside ourselves to fill the emptiness of uncertainty and doubt we harbor. We are at risk of filling the void with seemingly easy, quick fixes; drugs, alcohol, spending beyond our means. Our country’s current economic problems are the result of both individuals reaching beyond their means to acquire things, belongings, vacations, homes, etc that they believed they needed and the greed and lack of morality of those who were willing to capitalize on those “needs”. A friend and I recently discussed the gift of having been raised in a household with limited income. You learned what was essential and what luxury was. You learned that people are more important than things. You learned how to entertain yourself and have fun with whatever you had available to you. My kids remember very few of their Christmas or Birthday presents. One of their most fond holiday memories is in creating a house from a large cardboard box that a Fischer price playset was packaged in. They kept that box house for months. They drew on it. They taped up curtains from old fabric scraps, cut out windows and even a mail slot and played for hours creating a world of pretend around their “home” I’m not implying that poverty is essential to the discovery of one’s authenticity, but I believe there is a connection between living simply and living authentically. Given our current times with not only the financial problems our country has faced, but the increasingly obvious need to create sustainable sources of energy and food, the real need for community and cooperation, it makes sense that there is a mass appeal for authenticity. If we are to create strong communities, work cooperatively and be open to lifestyle change, it is important that we have a sound foundation of self understanding and self respect. Once we have achieved this foundation, we are less threatened by change, by sacrifice and by new ideas and world views. As individuals we are all part of the larger community of humankind, links in a chain, with the strengthening of each link the chain becomes stronger, more flexible and more functional. May your authentic self thrive as a strong link in our healing community.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Authenticity is a concept that I was introduced to when I was in treatment for alcohol abuse. Each morning the residents and house manager would start the day with the reading of at least one daily affirmation. The topic of authenticity was a common element in many of the affirmations, especially those intended for women. Maybe we lose ourselves in the midst of an abusive, controlling relationship, or in our addiction, or other self defeating behaviors. Or maybe we never developed a strong sense of identity and appreciation for ourselves in the first place and that itself made us vulnerable to abuse, addiction and other dangerous lifestyles. Regardless of what came first the chicken or the egg, one of the great things about residential treatment is that you learn or rediscover who you really are. You are separated from your family, friends, job, social life and most of your personal belongings. All of the external "things" we use to define ourselves are stripped away. You live in a house full of strangers who know nothing of your history except that you share the common bond of addiction, and now you don't even have that "identity" to fall back on. This is a frightening experience for most of us. But once the initial fear, anger and powerlessness wears off, we are left with the rather exciting opportunity to look within and remember who we are at our most inner core of our being. We are also able to pick and choose which of those traits we wish to develop, nurture and refine. And, wonder of all wonders, we are free to decide what characteristics, habits, traits and interests we want to introduce into our lives. It's like the terrible twos or adolescence all over again. We try on new roles and some of them don't fit, we rebel against change and rules, we struggle with self identity and self esteem. Most of us don't make it the first time through treatment. Finding our authentic self is too much work, too scary, too filled with uncertainty fear of failure,and worst of all fear of not being accepted for who we are. so we go back to what we know, an abusive relationship, the bottle, the pipe, the needle, whatever it was that we thought defined us. My aoda counselor once said to me, treatment will ruin any future relapse for you. As usual she was right. Once I had the glimpse of who I could be, who I wanted to be, that other life revealed itself for what it really was, a cheap gaudy mask designed to hide me from not only the rest of the world but from myself as well. So on my second bout of treatment, I was a little more receptive, a little less rebellious and a lot more willing to reclaim Jenny, whoever she was. I knew she was in there and I knew I could resurrect her. It has been a long journey, but within the last couple of years I finally feel I know me, my authentic self. Ever since that relationship with me has developed life has changed drastically for the better. Lucille Ball once said "Love yourself first and everything else falls into line". The love you find is well worth the discomfort of stripping away the masks and delusions we create in order to avoid being authentic.