My Blog Motto

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

~Rita Mae Brown

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Thursdays Thought-Cheeky Changes

There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse! As I have often found in travelling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one's position, and be bruised in a new place. ~Washington Irving

What a delightful quote, it made me chuckle a bit, and then to laugh out loud. I wanted a quote about change to piggyback on yesterdays subject of seasons and cycles of change. Naturally there are many cheery, optimistic and inspirational quotes about change but I chose this one for it's realism and simplicity. In truth it speaks to our adaptable nature and resiliency. Those of us who have endured difficult times have often had to trade one discomfort for another in order to reach a destination. Maybe you've gone from a crappy marriage to a life of poverty as a single parent. Or perhaps you've left behind a drug addiction to spend 3 months in a treatment center with four crabby roommates and limited freedom. What ever situation caused us to exchange one bruised butt cheek for another, we eventually made it to the end of the Stagecoach ride, bruised, but having found a new and different place.
How have you "bruised your butt cheeks" to arrive at a destination?

© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Wednesday's Wisdom-Seasons and Cycles

Hello Everyone!
I don't have a guest blogger prepared for today so I will go ahead with my own thoughts today.
Here in Wisconsin, the sun is shining, the weather is slowly warming, crocuses are popping their blooms out from underneath the decayed leaves from last fall and it is no longer painful to go outside. These are all beautiful, wonderful miraculous evidence of Natures ability to keep on going, to regenerate and rebirth. Each season, each cycle has it's own merits and challenges much like the cycles of our own lives. We ebb and flow, sometimes we are cold and sheltered at other times we are in full bloom and beauty. Nature and her seasons affirm that this is the way of life, the natural way. Our season may cycle more or less rapidly than Mother Nature's, we are as her children, perhaps a bit unruly in our ways. But like all children we are exploring, playing and learning. Just as all children should be treated with Love and Acceptance, we need to remember to extend that same indulgence to ourselves and our cycles.
What season are you in today?

Image courtesy of

© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Judge Maryann Sumi Tuesdays Tribute

"If it wasn't clear last time, Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi made it clear on Tuesday: Any further implementation of Gov. Scott Walker's law limiting public employee unions is barred, and anyone who violates her order risks sanctions." excerpt from the Wisconsin State Journal article 3/29/2011,

I have spent a large portion of my day following the progress of the legal proceedings that took place in Madison Wisconsin.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the case, or with the legislative process here in Wisconsin, I can share some links if you're interested in learning more. Suffice to say, Wisconsin is not unique here in the States or in many other parts of the world which have suffered attacks on Unions, entitlement programs, Education and Health Care. It's pretty much the same here as in much of Europe, leaders claim they are "broke" and yet somehow manage to have enough money to provide big tax breaks for the wealthy and fund unending wars and "interventions" in the Middle East.
So, who is Maryann Sumi and how does she fit in? If you're from Wisconsin, it's likely you are at least familiar with her recent role in the Governor Walker/Republican party bag of tricks, manipulations and outright lies that have been employed in an attempt to strip Union bargaining rights, among other things. To tell the entire story would take days, but in a nutshell, the Republican leaders are now being called out on their behavior. The two most pressing issues, lawsuits actually, are in reference to the middle of the night passing of Walkers Union busting bill without giving sufficient notice or allowing an open meeting. The second issue comes in the outright manipulation of constitutional law and legislative process in order to get the bill officially made into Law. In Wisconsin a bill must be published by the Secretary of State before it becomes Law. In this case, the Secretary of State Doug La Follett immediately filed a complaint stating that the Republicans had violated the open meeting rule and therefore the validity of the bill was questionable. This is where Judge Sumi comes in to play. Judge Sumi issued a restraining order which prevented La Follett from publishing the bill until the process could be reviewed to determine if proper procedure had been followed. Here's where it gets good, Assembly leader Scott Fitzgerald, Walkers croney, finds what he thinks is a loophole in the law and has the bill published by the legislative reference bureau (which is usually the role of the Secretary of State, by Law) and then decides that move is adequate to make the bill official law. This event happened last Friday and over the weekend Gov. Walker began implementing changes by raising State employees healthcare and retirement plan contributions, and ceasing payments of Union Dues. What? Who is this guy, Darth Vader?
He may well be, but if so Judge Sumi is the Yoda to Walkers Vader. Throughout a long day of complex, unprecedented process filled with irrelevant arguments and many attempts to derail the process, Judge Sumi maintained her professionalism and authority. She did not hesitate to chastise time wasting or nit-picking and yet gave equal and fair consideration to comments from all sides (unless they began to fall into the nit picky category)
As of today the one clear outcome was that Judge Sumi is not playing and is not afraid to assert her authority in the face of some pretty powerful players...we can only infer that when she say "anyone who violates her order risks sanctions" that includes the Governor himself.
For her Courage, Patience and Integrity Judge Sumi is my heroine of the day!

If you're interested in seeing any or all of the hearing you can view it at-

© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Monday, March 28, 2011

Budget deficit? Or attention Deficit?

It's happening all over the country, elected officials are forgetting that they work for us, not the other way around. Some people will argue that these politicians were elected and therefore earned the right to make certain decisions which is true,to a point. It seems however that some of these newly elected representatives are so excited about their new status that they have forgotten a few details. Apparently those pesky checks and balances, those open hearings and other time tested procedures that must be adhered to when creating policy and/or law. are far too troublesome and time consuming. Supporters of these attention deficit stricken Politicians may have forgotten that we do operate with a two party system; the other party having also been elected by and for citizens who also deserve representation. These people have been flooding the streets, stationing themselves in State Capitols, campus Administration buildings and local government offices for over a month now. We have taken to the streets in thousands, in crappy cold weather to insist that we be heard. As I write thin there are events scheduled as far into the future as late summer.
It's not only the "big" events that are propelling the winds of change; there are daily updates on social networking sites with accompanying discussions. There are conversations happening just about everywhere you look. There are small acts of rebellion, a spray painted message on the sidewalk here, and impeach Walker sticker there. Bit by bit the concepts are becoming embedded in our cultural consciousness, and the more firmly entrenched, the less likely they are to be undermined.
No matter what issue ignites a passion within you that demands Justice, there are actions you can take that will make a difference. If you are interested in becoming involved, please feel free to leave a comment or send an email and I can provide you with a list of resources, contact people and tips on ways you can make a difference. I offer the same, eve if your passion project is not related to the many current political issues at hand (although they seem to be covering all the bases if you look closely enough!) Whatever it is that calls your Heart to do have the power to make a difference!
© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Feeling Funky, Feeling Fine



Friday is supposed to be the fun free for all day, and yet today I'm finding it challenging to maintain that state of mind. The good news is, I just realized that if I am to walk my own talk, I have to accept that fact. More than just accept it; but honor, it respect it and stop trying to fight it.
The harder I push back against feelings, the harder they resist. For many years after I got sober I was "The Eternal Optimist", always looking on the bright side. The recovery community is big on Gratitude, and for good reason. What some people tend to overlook, or forget, or fail to recognize at all is that one can angsty, fed up, tired, disenchanted, crabby and all sort of other "bad moody things' and still be Grateful.
I know I've written on this topic in other posts, but is an issue that continues to cause problems for individuals, families, and entire cultures. The myopic and undiscerning frame of reference that fails to take into account the wonderful capacity we humans have for complex thought and emotion. When you think about it, it's pretty cool really, to take a moment and explore all the thoughts, feelings and moods we experience throughout one day. We are constantly evolving, even day by day, hour by hour. This is one reason I like to keep a journal, to observe the cycles of mood and process of thought that weave a pattern in and out through my day, my week, my years...
But as much as I find it fascinating, puzzling, frustrating and beautiful many people are not so comfortable with complexity. Our culture tells us to be even keel, reliable and cooperative. Those of us who dare to express our swings of mood, our frustrations our extreme joy are often labeled as eccentric at best, bi-polar at worst. I'm not denying or discounting that for some people there are symptoms and thought processes that can be disturbing, disabling and even life threatening; but let's look at how many people (especially women) are on some sort of anti-depressant or mood-stabilizer. The very phrase "mood stabilizer" makes me chuckle if only a bit ironically. Are we only supposed to have one or two moods at best? Why is it not ok to feel sad, angry or depressed? Face it there are plenty of reasons to feel that way, just as there are reasons to feel grateful, content or joyous. How can we truly experience one emotion without having experienced a full range of emotions?
I encourage anyone reading this to take some time at the end of the day to reflect on the thoughts,feelings,moods and physical energy levels you have experienced in just one day. Are there any that are uncomfortable for you? Are there any that you may have struggled to repress? I'd love to hear your feedback about this and I think it's a topic that can generate endless discussion.
Have a fabulous weekend and enjoy the wonder and beauty of the medley of moods you are capable of experiencing!
© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursday's Quote and my Grandma

“There is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.” — Martha Graham

My Grandmother was a portrait of contradictions, she was a small woman about 4'11" with a big presence. She was at times elegant and charming. She was frequently mentioned in the small town newspaper where she lived for her work in the Catholic Church or for hosting parties for women of note. On the other hand, she smoked, drank and swore like a sailor and she was not above throwing a drink at someone if they pissed her off. She has the most wonderful husky "whiskey and cigarette" voice which my father and uncle imitate impeccably. Some of the most noted quotes I remember are: "that God-damn dog!", "this town is full of riff-raff" and "Oh for Christ's sake, Jennifer". She was a unique character and she played a starring role in the very early years of my life.
The moment I read this quote by Martha Graham, Grandma popped into my mind. It was characteristic of something she would say, she always encouraged me to be proud of who I was and she herself wore an aura of self-confidence as she clicked down the street in her 4 inch heels. I believe she truly respected people, especially women, who dared to be unique, who weren't afraid to challenge convention and to fully embrace their individuality.
They say that no two snowflakes or sets of fingerprints are exactly the same, this is absolutely true of human beings. What a wonderful gift to humanity it is that we all have something, some essence, that is uniquely Us. As Martha Graham implies, it would be a disservice to humankind to deny others, and ourselves, that gift.
What is it that makes you uniquely you? What are your gifts? Do you allow them to bloom or do you keep them hidden away? If the latter is true, how about bringing them into the light, even if a little piece at a time.

© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Guest Post-Patty Valentine

Welcome to Wednesday's Women of Wisdom. Today's guest post is by Patty Valentine, who in addition to having a very cute name, has a big heart and amazing story of survival. I met Patty on a mutual online support group and I can attest to the kindness and empathy she has provided to others. Here is her story.
My Bio, What do I want to be when I grow up?
By Patty Valentine

My life was complicated right from the start, at conception really, as my mother was 13 yrs old and living in Alabama with an alcoholic father and a mother who had been in and out of her life since she was 6. Starting at that age, she was responsible for taking care of her brother and sister, cooking, cleaning, etc. Her mother had tried to force her to "terminate" me twice, even taping her to a bed while she fought, but she wouldn't have it. I was born 2 wks before her 14th birthday. She did the best she could to take care of me and moved to Texas with her mother, but eventually her mother "won out" when, at 2 1/2, she left me with some "friends", abandoned me really, and told my mother I was stolen. I was eventually adopted by a nice family down the street from the people I'd been left with. I remember very early times, like my 3rd birthday but nothing of my mother from that time. My new family was full of love and kids. I had 3 brothers and 3 sisters. My new mother always told me I was special because they had chosen me. They weren't looking to adopt, like I said they already had a bunch of kids, but because of my circumstances, they wanted to keep me. I had a pretty good childhood overall, but I did have one teenage brother who sexually abused me a few times. I had pretty much tucked that little memory away though, thinking I'd done something "naughty".
My teenage years were difficult, and although I was a strait A student, cheerleader, gymnast, etc, I never felt like I really fit in...not in my family or with my peers. Once in high school, I quickly took up drinking, drugs and promiscuity....and Nightlife! Dallas was the place to be in the 80's as far as the club scene and I fell deep into that scene...of fashion, music, and most of all more drugs. In fact, there are currently 2 documentary movies in the works about the Starck club where they sold ecstacy at the bar (that is until they made it illegal)....the "Studio 54 of the 80's", designed by Phillipe Starck and investors such as Stevie Nicks and Grace Jones. It was the place to be...where anyone who was famous went when they were in Dallas. I thought I was really something...I could walk in past the velvet ropes while other people would wait on those stairs all night trying to get in, and if they were deemed cool enough, they could pay the $10 cover to get in. We'd be up from Wed thru Sun, living on pills and powder, and the occasional little pieces of paper that made everything more colorful. ;) I've recently reconnected with these friends on FB and reunions are being planned...actually, I've already missed one. It was in Jan, and being on tx, I was too sick to go. It has become another place for me to share and talk about hep c and educate and advocate which is good. We all know people who have passed, from drugs, aids, suicide, etc, so there is no judgment there.
Eventually, the scene started to fade, I became restless, and I wanted more. So, me and a friend just up and hopped on a Greyhound bus to LA during the summer of '89. My dad gave me $50 and said "you'll be back". Well, I was gonna show him, and I didn't come back! I really hated LA, where I suffered a couple rapes, and after about 3 months, some people told me "Go to San Francisco. You'll love it there!" and I did. Although I had experimented with the needle a few times in Dallas, SF is where my love affair with it really developed. This was a completely different and exciting scene than the one I'd come from. My "friend" left me there a couple weeks after the earthquake in '89 and I took up with the street punks and met my first husband. He had a big mohawk, sold drugs, and was crazier than anyone I'd ever met...certifiably crazy, but that was the allure after all. We lived in hotels when we had money and squatted when we didn't. Eventually, the habit grew and I took up dancing to pay for it all while he sat at home and waited for me to bring his fix. Occasionally, he'd "disappear" for days on end, not remembering where he'd been. He was manic-depressive and told me that I saved him and if I left, he'd kill himself. He was a cutter, so I believed this. After a couple yrs of this, I knew if I didn't get out of SF, I'd die there, so when the opportunity came up to dance in a club in Hawaii, I took it! We both went "cold turkey" off heroin in Hawaii, while each night I had to go dance. Once my head was clear again, I told him to go away, because I knew if we'd stayed together, we'd be using again before too long. Besides, there were lots of cute military guys there ;-)
I ran so far from my past at first by joining the Air Force at 25 and was stationed in Las Vegas. It was now 1994. Within that 1st yr, I met my husband and became pregnant with my 1st child. My husband was/is pretty much completely opposite of me and didn't have the same kind of past experiences, but was strangely fascinated by and not turned off by my past. He had joined the AF straight out of high school. This kept me grounded, although we did party/drink alot. We were married when my daughter was 7 mos old, then I was soon pregnant with our 2nd daughter. She came when my 1st was 19 mos. He was constantly back and forth between "home", and "the Desert"...Saudi, Kuwait, Turkey, etc, protecting the "no-fly" zones during the 90's, between the 1st and 2nd Gulf wars since, at the time, his job was to load and maintain the bombs and weapon systems on the fighter jets. My military "career" which was Medical Admin, stopped at 4 yrs while his continued. I had messed up my back pretty bad while in training though, so within a yr of leaving the AF, I had my 1st back surgery. Then before the end of that year, we got orders to our 1st choice of overseas bases...Aviano, Italy! Perfect! After 5 yrs in Vegas, I was beginning to get "bored" and was ready for a new adventure, and there couldn't have been a more perfect place!
We moved to Italy at the end of '98 and shortly after, the whole Kosovo situation started up, and Aviano was the center of that least that's where all the NATO troops were flying their missions out of. It was strange to think that during the day, my husband was loading live bombs onto planes, then coming home at night for dinner, putting the kids to bed, etc. Anyway, that passed over pretty quickly, and he went back to the desert a couple times. I can safely say that the 3 yrs in Italy were the best, happiest yrs of my life. I had 2 beautiful little girls was newly married, and living in Italy of all places. I was still able to be spontaneous, as we could just wake up Sat morning, and think, "Let's go somewhere...Ok, Austria's only a couple hours, let's go there!"...or Venice (1 hr), Florence (4 hrs), Verona (2 hrs), Rome (hop on a plane in Venice and you're there in about an hr). One weekend we went to Pisa and camped near the beach...we did alot of camping in Italy actually. We were 45 min from the Adriatic, Italian beaches in the summer, and at the base of a mountain where we could go ski, sledding, etc in the winter. I didn't get bored there. Unfortunately, though, my back wasn't holding up very well, and in 2000, I had to be "aerovacked" to Walter Reed Army Hosp in DC for my 2nd surgery. They had to bring my husband back early from Kuwait so I could go. Anyway, that surgery wasn't successful either and I was becoming more and more dependent on pain meds. My husband decided to go into recruiting then, so he wouldn't be sent away anymore. He completed recruiting school in July of 2001...right before 9/11. We really lucked out on that one. He would've been gone for sure if he'd still been loading bombs.
Next, we moved back to Dallas, which was where I was from, so it was like going home for a few yrs. It had been almost 12 yrs since I'd left Dallas. He was recruiting at the high schools there, so we weren't at a base at all. Within the next 2 yrs, I had 3 more unsuccessful back surgeries, including a double fusion and spiraled into chronic pain and major depression. The drs had be on so many meds, I didn't know what was going on half the time. Here is where I learned I have hepatitis C, and although I was upset, not knowing much about it, I just thought "Thank god it's not aids" and went on about my life. Also during this time, I found and started a relationship with my birth mother who had "lost" me and thought I was dead. Having 2 little girls also brought up memories of the sexual abuse I'd suffered when I was around 5 yrs old, so things started getting really dark and gloomy. I even spent a month in an inpatient facility during this time to deal with my past traumas...sexual abuse, rapes, etc that I had always blamed myself for.
I eventually ended up isolating myself, depressed and unable to make any "real" new friends. I think I felt trapped in the role of housewife/Mom, unable to relate to the other women I met. I couldn't understand those who were content to just be the "keeper of the house". Not that I don't enjoy being a mother, I do, but it became so constricting. No longer could I just pick up and move whenever I felt like it, and even worse, I was forced to live in Alabama for 4 yrs which is where the AF moved us to next. I started fantasizing about going back to San Fran and heroin, where I had fought so hard to leave, and just leaving everyone there. Of course, I didn't, but it was a real fantasy. I guess I really shouldn't complain too much, most of the people in Alabama have never left the state, which brings me back to why I couldn't relate to anyone.
I've lived in and traveled to places all over the world, and I experienced more in my first 30 yrs of life than most people do in their entire lifetime...good and bad. How could I relate to these "simple" people, content to live in the country where Walmart was the center of everything, driving the kids around, cooking, cleaning, etc. All most people cared about was if you like Auburn or Alabama and Nascar...ick! Most people hunted went “mudding”, and camo was in fashion even with the teens. My kids didn’t “fit in” there either, and were called “weird”. Even at their young ages, they’d experienced more than most people there. The nearest "big" city was 30 min away in Montgomery, which btw, is NOT a big city at all, but just the closest place with a mall. I lost myself there and now that I'm in FL and going through this tx, I'm trying to find myself again. My husband will retire soon and he's looking into new careers. We've had our problems, but somehow we've kept it together. It is still a work in progress though. My daughters are teenagers and have been and still are challenging. My older daughter was raped by a “friend’s” dad from the church in AL at 13. She is also bipolar with zero impulse control, and my baby...14 yrs old, is pregnant and due to have her baby in May. My tx will be done in April, so starts a new chapter in my life. I know I'll always have to contend with the chronic back pain that has disabled me and was the beginning of my slide into depression to begin with, but who am I? Who do I want to be, what do I want to be when I grow up? I just turned 43, and I still don't feel like a grown-up, yet I'm going to be a grandmother!

© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Women Who Rock

Tuesdays Tribute goes to Women Who Rock. You may or may not share my taste in
music, but I think most people can recall a song that speaks to one's heart or an artist who seems to have the ability to translate an emotion into pure sound. Whether it's love, lust, heartbreak or joy there are songs that speak to the nature of relationships. There are songs that tell stories of poverty, loss and difficult times. There are stories of courage and triumph. There are some that are just plain fun. There is music for driving, cleaning house, mediating or making love (hey there Marvin Gaye)

For me, probably in part to the era I was born into and in part to my unconventional and rebellious nature I have always loved rock and roll. Music has been my voice when I was muted, or merely unable to find the words to express what I was feeling. From the time I was little jumping on my bed listening to 45's on my record player (the kind that came in a case somewhat like a small suitcase) to the time I celebrated my 50th birthday by going to a Metallica concert, music has been my constant companion.
One of my happiest memories is of being about 17 in a beautiful park in spring, spinning in circles in my long gauze skirt listening to Stevie Nicks singing "Rhiannon". Around the same time, maybe a year or two later, when I was angry and disillusioned, punk rock pretty much took me out of my head and sent me thrashing to the dance floor with raw power and unleashed energy.
For many year and to this day, Rock and Roll has primarily been a male dominated world. In the 60's and 70's as women began to break the gender barriers in all fields there emerged women who defied convention and proved that a woman can be as soulful, as raunchy, as badass as any man. Todays tribute goes to those women who dared to pick up a guitar or drumsticks, beak out the leather jackets and tell the tales of our generation. Joan Jett and the Runaways gave voice to teenage girls, the ones of us who never played with Barbies, who didn't join the cheerleading squad and didn't want to be "nice". Pat Benetar is a little women with a big voice and a commanding presence. Patti Smith dared to be herself and told tales of a generation of seekers and the subculture of their time. Tina Turner broke free from her abusive husband with nothing but her name, a great pair of legs a voice from Heaven. Lene Lovich and Nina Hagen dared to be unique, innovative and creative. There are so many more I could mention but I'd go on for much too long so
I've enclosed a link to a playlist a few of my favorite women rockers and songs, not all the songs qualify as 'rock' but they all embody a sense of empowerment, a
clear signal that women's place is no longer limited to the kitchen.
Rock on Ladies!

Monday, March 21, 2011


In the past year as I have begun blogging and writing on my own I have become aware of the recent trend in memoir writing. Perhaps it is the lack of continuity of the oral histories that were passed down through generations during times when families were more intact and the world was smaller. The stories of our ancestors were our family legacy and there was the knowledge that one day our own stories would become a part of the thread that binds the generations. There is comfort in both belonging to a History and in knowing one’s life will not fade into the mists of time.
In modern terms there have been many autobiographies written by celebrities; some tell tale Hollywood gossip and some authentic tales of the challenges and struggles of everyday life. Either way people love these, they reassure us that celebrities are human just like us and that they face many of the same obstacles, joys, heartbreaks and just plain mundane details of daily life that we all experience. Perhaps it was this trend that got people thinking, well if s/he can do it I can. Face it, these people are celebrities and although some have a talent for the written word, others not so much but they get published based on their public image and having the right connections. For the rest of us getting published requires considerably more talent and hard work. Again the internet has been a great resource for those interested in Memoir Writing, and like any other internet resource the quality and intention of these groups or individuals vary. There are the kinds of groups I mentioned earlier where writers are free to showcase their work and receive feedback, a rather open forum. Many of these are great fun with word games and writing prompts and a sense of community. Others, designed perhaps for more professional published writers are more selective in their membership and expect to see a regular level of contribution. Then there are those who have “programs” which of course cost money and ask you to purchase books cd’s and other “helpful” items. Let me be clear that I am not against charging money, being a writing coach is a career and one should be compensated appropriately. My word of warning is to make certain this person isn’t simply in it for the money. Do they show samples on their website? Do they offer free tips and prompts? Do they maintain a regular blog that is open to feedback and interaction? One final word of caution, be careful who you submit your work with. Plagiarism has been rampant lately and because the laws of intellectual property rights, copyrights and trade marking on the internet are relatively new and continuously being refined, it can be challenging to protect one’s work.
One issue I see repeatedly fretted over is where to draw the line in self disclosure. How much do we risk revealing about our family? Do we ask for permission ahead of time? “Hey Dad I’m writing a book can I tell about the time you took me along on a date while you were cheating on Mom?” It’s no secret that many of those who have written tell all family histories have suffered the consequences of the family wrath. Another option some writers opt for is to write “fiction” borrowing events from their own experiences but attributing them to fictional characters often creating composite characters of influential people in their lives. The problem is at least for people, who know the writer, it the veil of “fiction” can be pretty thin.
I believe it is possible to write one’s memoirs without alienating your friends and family, at least not entirely. It requires a certain amount of subtlety, discretion and common sense, but I believe it can be done. And if you’re writing about someone who really hurt you in some way, do you really want to cover for them? My goal as a writer is to shine the light into the darker corners of life, and tell the tales of how we made it into the light.

© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Friday, March 18, 2011

Housekeeping business

It has come to my attention that some people have had difficulty posting comments on
my blogs...and yet others are able to. If you do have a problem, please let me know via email so I can attempt to correct the problem. My whole point is I want to create a Community where everyone has a voice!
Thanks and have a safe and peaceful weekend!

© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Amateur Night

As I'm writing the post in preparation for tomorrows Free for all Friday I'm listening to the occasional bunch of partiers as they pass by on their sojourn from bar to bar in quest of green beer and other Irish themed beverages. I think back on st Patricks Day past and I'm grateful to be snug in my house with my dogs and my cat as my sober and reasonably peaceful company.
St Patricks Day never was a big deal for me for several reasons. First, I always thought it was pretty degrading to the Irish, perpetuating stereotypes of sappy drunkenness and pedophilic looking Leprechauns. I was pretty sure the Irish in their home country do not celebrate in the same way we do here in the states.
second, any holiday that is associated with heavy drinking as it's primary function, is petty much a guaranteed train wreck of a night, followed by a day of confusion, lost panties and memories . and possibly awkward moments with the person lying in bed next to you who you are certain you've never seen before. For those of us dedicated alcoholics the sudden invasion of college students, office workers and other "holiday partiers" was intrusive and annoying. Kind of like having a grade school field trip tour your place of employment. We called these nights "Amateur Nights". St Patricks day was probably the most obnoxious of the amateur nights. Halloween could get bad especially when the alter ego of the costume started taking over, the more alcohol, the stronger the presence of the alter ego. the more control the costume weilded over it's inhabitant.
New Years Eve is another notorious amateur night, but face it the collective mood of excitement and hope that accompanies a New Year allows for a considerable amount of tolerance and goodwill.
Of all the drinking holidays New Years and Halloween seem the easier to incorporate into sober life. There's the hope of New Years a quality which in early recovery is nutrition for the soul. Halloween allows us to dress up and be kids again...and we all know chocolate is a fabulous replacement for booze. But St Patty's day...poor old st Patty. First he gets a bad rap for being anti-pagan, a rumor  with little or no evidence to back it up; and then somehow gets all tied up in the tradition of cheap green beer and regrettable one night stands.
I have a bookmarked article, written by an Irishwoman, I've saved for tonights reading. It supposedly outlines the several speculative origins of st Patrick and describes traditions and celebrations more commonly observed by the Irish.
Maybe it will restore my hope :)

© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thursdays Thought~The Tears of a Clown"

"You grow up the day you have your first real laugh at yourself"~Ethyl Barrymore

I love this quote, although the first time I saw it it rather puzzled me since I believed that I had always been able to laugh at myself. True I had always had a sense of humor; had always used jokes as a way of making friends, lightening the mood or coping with difficult situations. I may have laughed at myself publicly in that self deprecating way that we hope will excuse all of our social fumbles , the old "I meant to do that" as you fall off our bike. It wasn't until I had really learned a thing or two about life and human behavior that I admitted to myself that while I was laughing on the outside I was horribly insecure and unhappy on the inside. Like that song by Smokey Robinson, "Tears of a Clown", I wasn't really laughing at myself, I was just trying to beat others to it.
To be able to truly laugh at yourself you have to be able to step outside of the little box of worry and self importance we all build around ourselves and take a look from the outside. You have to realize that although you forgive your friends  for doing stupid things, you hold yourself to a much higher standard. Finally you have to muster up the humility to say "Why am I the only one that's supposed to be perfect? What's so special about me?" Only then can you begin to chip away at the Ego to reveal the absurdity of the expectations of perfection and "coolness" we hold for ourselves . Then, when we finally realize that there are indeed times we look like a complete fool and that's ok but everyone gets their turn as the Fool; then we have truly "grown up"

© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Guest Artist: Elly Hazard

 I must confess to a bit of nepotism here; but then again if we are to walk our talk, we will support our children in their efforts to heal, to express themselves and to be true to their inner calling. Elly's art is an example of how we can transform our emotions by creating imagery that gives "voice" to those feelings.
Elly is currently a sophomore at Alverno College and is studying art and education. As a child of an alcoholic and somewhat chaotic family she has found utilized her talent as a means of challenging her fears and anger.

I hope you enjoy her art!

© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesdays Tribute-Maggie Kuhn

I  first encountered Maggie Kuhn while watching the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in the early 70's . My Dad explained who she was and that she was a key figure in the "Grey Panthers" an advocacy and Social Justice movement for the "Elderly". I don't remember the conversation between Ms Kuhn and Mr. Carson, but I do remember being impressed with her tough yet funny demeanor...and the fact hat she had casually tossed out a quip that make Johnny Carson blush. In my mind that was a pretty impressive achievement.
So who was this sassy old lady capable of knocking the biggest star of late night television off his square?
At that point Maggie was older, in her 70's, had just earned  recognition for her public reaction having been forced into mandatory retirement. She and other Elders formed the Grey Panthers with an emphasis on elder rights and nursing home reform, but also were actively involved in other areas of Social Justice including youth rights and opposition to the Vietnam war.
Maggie's activism did not suddenly emerge in her older years, in fact she had been a progressive figure her entire life. Maggie came from rather Conservative roots and credited her formal education for nurturing her passion for Social Justice.
Throughout her lifetime Maggie dedicated her career to that passion; first by teaching at the YWCA in the 1930's and 40's where she educated young women about topics such as workers rights, cultural discrimination and sexuality. For the following 20 years Maggie worked for the Presbyterian Church where she continued to educate and advocate for Social Reform. It was the Church  that released her at age 65 due to mandatory retirement policy, but Maggie continued to be a witty outspoken voice for Justice and Equality until her death in 1995. If you'd  like to learn more about Maggie's, life, activism and feisty nature you can find her autobiography "No Stone Unturned" pub. October, 1991, or "Get out There and Do Something" pub June, 1972.
As we grow older we need women like Maggie Kuhn to continue the battle for equal rights and dignity for Older adults. Better yet we can emulate her determination and dedication to Social Justice.
No Stone Unturned: The Life and Times of Maggie Kuhn
© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday Musings upon Musing upon Monday

Happy Monday Everyone      
Many of my blog posts are written ahead of time but I decided Mondays Musings should be true to the name and reflect what it is that I am musing on that particular day. Since today is the first of my Monday Musings, I was naturally musing about the words "Monday" and "Musing"
Monday, as most people know is named for the Moon, Moon-day. In many cultures Moon-day was considered the first day of the week  Apparently that offended some people who thought "Moon-day" was too "pagan" and did not deserve the spot at the head of the table so they replaced the venerable position with Sun-day. Hmm not much different aside from the fact that with some exceptions the Moon is often associated with the female deity and" the Sun with the male.
The wryly cynical side of me can picture it perfectly Father Sun and Mother Moon just hanging around the Heavens, Sun is watching the sports report on t.v. Moon is drying dishes in the kitchen.
Sun : "Mooooon, honey, I've been thinking; being the first day of the week is..*.sigh* "well you seem a little stressed out lately"
"What do you mean stressed?"
"Well I dunno it's just you don't shine all the time and well, frankly it's been a pretty long time since we eclipsed..."
The white blood drains from Moons face, she's seen Sun looking at that damn Venus with her pale blue glitter.
Sun continues, he knows he's gotten her attention now..."I'm just saying I could take over as First Day for a while and give you some time for you, your time " Sun smiles encouragingly, his Golden eyes flash with persuasive charm.
"You know you're right I could use a change of pace...sure you go ahead and take first day, I'll do Second day"
Sun settles happily into his recliner coveting the knowledge that pretty soon the Christians will be running things and his day will be the Day of Rest...and Football"

© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Friday, March 11, 2011

Hello Everyone and Happy Friday,
I started out the morning with my coffee, dog cuddle time and reading the news as I do every day. I was keeping in mind that I wanted to get todays post out early. I didn't have a planned topic, after all that's the fun  of Free For all Fridays, right? I want to keep Fridays light and yet nourishing to set us off to the weekend with our heads held high and hope in our hearts. 
Today's news was not much help. And yet in the midst of all the political chaos that is happening, in our country and overseas...add to that the devastating tsunami/earthquake that has ravaged Japan I return full circle to remember what this blog is all about. Survival, strength in the face of adversity, seeing the world in its harsh reality without losing sight of the beauty and potential that carries us through our challenges.   
I've been making a playlist of Empowered Women videos and realized this song was what I needed today; what a lot of us need  to fuel our strength, to remind us of the Warrior Spirit within us, the Amazon who will stand up for our rights and if knocked down, will get up, shake herself off  and declare "We are Invincible"                                                                                              

Have a Safe and Blessed Weekend!

© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Today's Quote from Emma Goldman

Thursdays Thoughts
  “Idealists...foolish enough to throw caution to the winds...have advanced mankind and have enriched the world.”
 Emma Goldman quote

               Idealism has been both cherished and reviled at different points in history; I suspect the change in sentiment can often be traced to political and economic conditions and the role Idealism may play in either serving, or upsetting, the status quo. When it all boils down to the gravy, I agree with Ms Goldman that it is Idealism that plants the seeds of change and progressive movement in any culture. The key is in the statement ..."foolish enough to throw caution to the winds..."

Idealism requires Action, in order to create change. I think that at this moment in history we are witnessing the manifestation of Idealism that has simmering in the kettle  for several years now. There are Revolutions in Libya and Egypt, and all over America people are uniting and organizing to prevent a few politicians from stripping us of our hard earned Labor rights, environmental protections, social safety nets and Public Education.
Idealism, the power to imagine a better world, to visualize systems of cooperation and equality is what enables us to speak up when our rights are being violated. Without Idealism and creative thought we would be like sheep, content to focus on our t.v. shows, celebrity addictions and other nonsense.  Idealism, whether in vogue or not, is without a doubt a necessary ingredient in the recipe for creating a meal that can sustain us all.
Any thoughts? Agree? Disagree? I always love to hear others thoughts!

© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Guest Blogger Eva Day!!!!!!!

 Hello Everyone,
I hope you enjoy this beautifully written and very moving post by Eva Day, Wise Woman Extrodinaire!!!!

Kicking Up The Dust.
Dear Jenny and  female friends.
Jenny is in a phase just now of giving extra focus to political issues in the world around her and the effects of the decisions and oblivion of the "big players" on the lives of ordinary folk and women in the every day world.  I see the care and the commitment in that, from Jenny, and recognise of course that the personal is political and the political is personal.....   we are all part of the world being shaped every day
When I first came across Jenny's blog and a place for "women with a past"," the concept resonated with me immediately.  I imagined wearing my past with pride, like a cloak, perhaps a battered, frayed or somewhat stained one, but well woven and sturdy and richly coloured......   a cloak that trails out behind me, sweeping the dust of the ground as I walk forward, into the future and  - the wisdom of a more mature woman.  Hah!!  But, yes, I do feel after much journeying I know a little, just a little about life, even when paradoxically, it becomes ever more mysterious and perplexing.  And  yes, let's have confidence that we will walk forward boldly into some way of living and being which is forged from wisdom - as well as the good humour and the grace to realise we will also occasionally stumble into wisdom and foolishness too, or be met by it!
Women with a past certainly will stir up an amount of dust as they walk - they do not tread lightly or quietly ,as our foremothers were too often exorted or trained to do, though they may well know how to do so when the circumstances require.  Warrior women can move through the darkness or through difficult terrain with stealth if instinct guides them.... But can also walk like queens, proud and certain when they have heart for their journey.  And the dust?  Well amongst those foremothers told to tread modestly, there have always been those who could not and would not, and they are companions to me.  The dust feels like a pleasing image to me, as what better reminds us of the truth that from the earth we come and to the earth our bodies will return, in one form or another..   ashes to ashes, dust to dust - I can't think of a patriarchal reference that is more female in its symbolism.  Perhaps a little of the dust we raise on our journeys will settle  on the cloaks of other travellers along the way, will blow gently into towns and villages we pass through, will be the form and substance from which daughters, and sons, too, make solid forms: our homes, our pots, our messes, our works of art, the shapes of our lives.   We have touched others, and been touched by them, some of our substance and essence is expressed in their lives of others, just as their lives nourish - or deplete - ours.
When I sense my own past, tune into it with the feeling and instinctive nature, rather than remember specific events and incidents or analyse from a rational sequential viewpoint - then I am in the land of myth and metaphor.  I remember in my bones, and in soul mood... there were hopes and impulses and sudden passionate drives and urges.  There was an absolute will to live, to thrive, to explore, to taste life and to break the rules.  Sometimes because the rules forbade me to do something that called to me more powerful than any social constraints, and sometimes just because the rules needed breaking. Often I was a damned perverse - girl, young woman, slightly older woman who "ought to know better."  And I think I still am all those things and more.........   I have been a daughter  - of two mothers, in my life - and like many reading this am a mother, too.  Like all of us, my past is personal. The particular place I was born, the events that unfolded beyond that, what was done to me and what I did - to life, to myself and others.  Active, passive, many different rhythms.  Never passive for long though, in the rhythm of the passing seasons and years... .. often difficult, hopefully also tender and kind enough to have made somebody's day gentler and more whole from time to time, creative in a playful spirit, destructive at times when wounded, cornered, angry....   Though destruction, too, can be a death and a rebirth, a space for a renewal or new directions. 

Footprints.  That's another picture that comes to my mind's eye.  My footprints, your footprints, and those of the women who walked before us and will come after...  And yes, again, I mention sons too, still believing in a world where boys too, as well as girls,  can be allowed to truly respect their mothers and grandmothers and learn from them - and teach them to.  (If I were a grandma, I'd be quite willing to learn to suck eggs!)  Footprints, also seem somehow a particularly masculine image in our culture.  We tread in the footprints of strong, bold males, in stories and films, don't we?  I would like to feel that our footprints can be trusted  .....  
From one perspective, you may think that I've told you really - nothing - about my own challenges and triumphs - the details - as a woman with a past.  In another sense, I hope you feel I have.  And that you might be like another beautiful piece of fabric or wonderful embroidery on my patchwork cloak..... and I on yours.
Good travelling to all, and my wishes to you for good health, good living and good humour. xx eva
(article for International Women's Day is my latest post.)

Image courtesy of
© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Invisible Heroine

I've spent hours reading researching women's history looking for my first featured Tuesday Tribute. Good news is I have lots of material for future posts. As I was reading historical accounts of famous women’s lives and the reform movements they were fighting so hard to create, I realized that for every one woman whose name is now at least recognized if not honored, there have been thousands of women who stood with her to make her efforts possible. These are the protesters, the canvassers, the volunteers, the ones who sit up late at night addressing envelopes (pre internet!) They are the ones who sewed, by hand the banners that called for women's suffrage; they are the women and girls who walked out of the sweatshops, knowing the possibility of homelessness and starvation lie ahead, to demand fair and safe labor practices. They are the women who burned to death or died jumping out of windows in the infamous Triangle Factory fire, while their bosses safely escaped making no effort to save the women. In Africa they speak out against non-consensual female circumcision and forced marriage. In Afghanistan they maintain the safe houses and shelters and tend to the need of the women and girls who come to them seeking refuge. They are the women young and old who spent two weeks sleeping on the cold marble floor of the state Capitol in Madison Wisconsin last month. We see a face in the crowd in photographs or videos, but we don't know their names. We don't know the details of their lives. Maybe one has a baby at home that she will tend to throughout the night after a day of walking through the streets. Maybe another survived polio and every step towards Justice painful and labored. Look at the others; maybe this one goes home to a husband who disagrees with the "crazy idea" that women should have the right to vote and run for office. And maybe he conveys that message with his fists, trying to beat the will out of her one gut wrenching, ear ringing punch at a time; and the next day she gets out of bed aching and sore, arranges her hair and scarf to hide the bruises and heads out for another day to march for her rights; for all of our rights.
For every invisible girl and woman who sacrificed, suffered and died to protect our rights I ask we take a moment of reflection to honor her legacy.
© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Monday, March 7, 2011

I now have a schedule!

I can juggle many projects at once....

Hello friends,
I realized that now that I'm getting serious about this whole project for “Women with a Past” that I’ve been brewing in my cauldron for the past year it’s probably a good idea to create a schedule. This will work for both my benefit (I'm not known for my ability to stay "on task" as they say on report cards) and for the convenience of my readers and contributors. This schedule will commit me to writing, and therefore maintaining focus on my mission, on a daily basis. I know from experience that once one commits their energy and applies consistent effort, magical things can happen. Here's to hoping for lots of Mama Mojo, Women's Wisdom, Survivors Solidarity and Feminine Fierceness.

Here is the schedule:

Monday's Musings and Mish Mosh: my own thoughts and musings, usually focusing on a particular issue or topic. Please feel free to send in suggestions for topics. 

Tuesday’s Tribute: Each Tuesday will feature a bio of a Heroine, past or present, who has stood up for the rights and freedoms of women.

Wednesday's Women’s Wisdom:  Guest posts, artwork, projects and contributions. 

Thursdays Thoughts: Quote for the day, and reflection

Free for All Fridays: Friday is the day to keep it light, have some fun, tell some jokes or maybe post a video as we prepare for the weekend.

I will welcome anyone interested in guest posting or introducing yourself and any projects you may be working on. I just ask that you submit your posts to me by email at with “guest post" in the subject line so I can review them before posting. If I have questions or concerns about content I will contact you as soon as I am able so we can discuss the issue and let you know when your post will be featured.  Post topics are not limited to recovery, surviving domestic violence or sexual assault.  Although a part of my mission is to empower and support survivors, we all have a "past", by the time we reach mid life we have all struggled at one time or another and we have all overcome challenges.   Even if you are a survivor or in recovery, don't feel you have to limit yourself to those experiences. Having said that, do be aware as readers that many women are interested in sharing their stories of survival and recovery which can be upsetting or triggering.  In respect to that I will indicate in the headline if the story of that nature.

My next step is to compile a mailing list for a monthly newsletter! If you would like to add your name to the mailing send an email and I’ll sign you up.
I want to thank everyone who has volunteered to contribute, and everyone who has been reading my blog faithfully as I’ve negotiated my way through getting my “cyber legs” in the past year. Your words and support are golden!


© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Saturday, March 5, 2011

New Feature...Guest Posts!!!

Hello All,
I am very excited to announce that after a year of blogging and networking I have arrived at the point that I will begin to share stories, bios and interviews from other survivors, advocates and allies.
This feature will give voice to survivors and will also help promote other bloggers and advocates who are doing the same. We have growing Community of bloggers, writers, artists and advocates who are dedicated to dismantling the walls of denial and misinformation that surround Domestic Violence, Sexual Violence, Addiction, Mental Health issues and Poverty. I am honored to be a part of this Community, to have the space to share my stories through them and to have the opportunity to offer the same in return.
I will continue to share my own posts and experiences as well as having a featured Heroine at least once a month. In the interest of staying true to my mission and maintaining focus my political ramblings will be posted on my facebook group and page as notes. You will find the badge in the right column if you wish to follow my tirades!
Thank you all for being loyal readers for an entire year!
Today’s featured guest is Sherry Clyburn who I met in a discussion group on Linkedin.  It is a closed group by anyone interested in joining can follow this link
Here is Sherry’s story; I hope you will join me in sharing her mission.

Sherry's Story
I am a survivor of childhood abuse which spiraled into a long term relationship with a man who introduced me to a life filled with domestic violence, and unfortunately I also became a non-offending mother of a sexually abused child. I am developing two books.

“Shadows of Silence: Book 1” gives readers a front row seat to what transpired in my life.

“Shadows of Silence: Book 2” This is an anthology e-book, with entries from professionals as well as both male and female survivors from most age brackets, from many walks of life and from many parts of the world.

As a sign of my appreciation for being a part of my e-book, you will receive a copy of the e-book "Shadows of Silence: Book 2" naturally free of charge (there is no selling price for this e-book)

Once I am published I will be presenting something that is rather unique gift. Most authors sell their book alone with nothing extra. I am giving the second e-book to those who purchase it. The second book will contain no less than 500 entries and no more than 1000. I am able to give it because I am paying a one -time fee for the temp plates.

Here's a link that will allow you to read some of my testimony and other articles that I have authored so that you can learn my writing style.

I want to thank you in advance for caring enough to check out what I am doing. I really hope you will join me in my efforts to spread awareness about an issue that affects more than half of this world. If you are interested in adding your voice or if you have additional questions please do not hesitate to contact me at

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sherry Clyburn

This is what I believe and why I work so hard to create awareness. Some people are under the impression that we can end abuse. I mean no disrespect, but honestly, these people who believe we will achieve the ending of abuse are looking at a different reality than I am. I might be wrong, but my belief is that we will never totally eliminate abuse. Nonetheless, I do believe we can lower the victim population through one simple equation: Education + Awareness = Prevention.

Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy 

© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard