Monday, February 28, 2011


He was quiet for a few days... sleeping.  Yesterday he was back in the emergency room - high blood pressure, panic attack - he's never had those before.  Symptoms of withdrawal.  How horrible.

He called me yesterday totally paranoid - that they were poisoning him - that they were "peeing" in his food - he had not eaten in 4 days.  He refused to take any medication.  Spoke to his counselor.  The counselor assured me that this is all "normal".  How the HELL is this "normal"????  Normal???  ADDICTION is not normal!!!

Rough day yesterday.  Charlie told me he was "leaving" - he was "done".  He was talking 50 words a second - he sounded totally out of his mind.  It scared the hell out of me.   "Normal" huh?  Tell that to my heart.

Today I speak to him - he calls me - he sounds great.  Apologizes for "stressing [me] out"...  They put him in his own private room - he told them he doesn't "play nice with others".  He is convinced that his roommate was having sex with another man in the room while he was sleeping.  Jesus.  "Normal"?   Really????

But today he is calm.  He is speaking like a normal human being.  They are giving him less and less meds and that seems to be the reason he "freaks out" once in a while.

What did he do to himself?  How did he let himself get so lost in these damned drugs?  

Okay.... breath.  

I keep telling myself that the important thing is that not only was it HIS idea to go .... but he told me again today that he is not leaving until he is sure he can live without drugs.  That he never wants to go back to that again.  That is so good.... so good.

But my God it is so terrifying to hear him in the midst of these withdrawals!  The physical pain... the mental anguish... and I KNOW he is 30 but does that really matter?????  He is still my son... my first born... the light of my eyes.

For all you moms out there who have written me about your children and their addictions... pray!  Pray every single day... pray every moment you can... He really does hear us.  I have so much hope for Charlie.... I have hope for your children too. Don't lose that.  Your love is stronger than the cocaine, the meth, the pills... the crap.

And for all you moms that have written me that you lost a child to drugs.... know that you did everything you could... know that nobody loved that child as much as you did... know that "tough love" did not take your child .... the drugs did.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Wow!!  Just 12 days left!!  And two of my ladies, Lillian from Canada and Sarah from Australia will be flying in even sooner!  I can't believe how quickly its crept up but I am READY!

As you all know we will have three workshops (in five days!!!).   Julie Nutting will be teaching her fabulous glamour girls and Ingrid Dijkers will share her amazing Over the Edge journaling process with us.

We will also have an all day class at a wonderful store in Ft. Lauderdale called the Paper Niche.  And I mean ALL DAY!  It runs from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm!!!  So much fun!  Can't wait!

Charlie: Day 7

Yes, I am counting the days.  This entire things is voluntary on his part.  He could just decide to get up and go and he hasn't.  That's a good sign.

Spoke to him yesterday, he is much calmer.  They have left him in "extended detox" - the pollution that child has in his body is more than they could do in a few days time.  He sounds depressed.  The counselor says its the medication.  He is going to start working out at a gym they have on the facility so that will help him a lot.

So many people have written me with prayers for this child.  My friend Beatriz, who I am convinced has a direct line to God has been praying fervently for him as have her "prayer warriors" - with love like that how can he possibly fail?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Finding meaning in Art

Read this in Pam Carriker's newsletter Art at the Speed of Life.  It makes perfect sense to me so I thought I would share it with you.  Does art come naturally to you?  Are you trying too hard?  Has it "clicked" for you yet?

Starting on a new journey is hard, especially when you do it alone. Alone is sitting by yourself day in and day out trying to figure out what the next step is. I have a few people I can bounce ideas off of and a coach/mentor helping me grow and expand my new adventure, but when it boils right down to it, the buck stops here. I have to craft my own way. I have so many ideas, so many things I want to do that I spend most of my time just figuring out where to put my attention and efforts. There's a note stuck above my computer that reads, "Where do I want to make a meaning investment?"
You see, it's about meaning - not time, not money, although that does factor in, of course. With a ton of money I could implement everything by hiring people to help me turn ideas into reality. But for now, it's just me, alone, at my desk, trying to make sense of it all. Some days, I just want to throw in the towel, get a 9-5 somewhere where I can make a difference in people's lives, but without having to figure out the how.
Well over a year ago, I asked myself, "What is it I really want to do with my life?" The answer was exactly the same as the answer I got over 10 years ago - I want everyone to find the same happiness I did when I discovered how to express myself through art. Basically, I wanted to become the person I had been looking for all of my life, someone to show me the way, to teach me the game of ART.
For some it comes naturally. It's those lucky people who make the rest of us think that we are not cut out to be an artist. But there's a passion in there we cannot deny, so we persist. I spent so many years trying to find my way, exploring different media, taking classes, and reading. Damn it, I was going to figure it out if it took a lifetime.
And then one day (all alone), it all clicked. Once it fell into place, everything I ever wanted started to happen. Fast. Everything I ever dreamed of. I was on the magic carpet ride of success. But still, something was missing. I was riding away from the very reason that I started teaching in the first place. And that was to help others find that magic ingredient that makes it all click.
So here I am trying to figure out the how. Not how to help you find the magic ingredient - I can teach you how. The how I'm trying to figure out is how to convince you that what you are looking for is not another technique, or a new art supply but something buried deep inside of you. You take a class because you want to know how that artist does what she does. You think knowing how to do it is your answer. But that's her answer.
Your answer lies inside of you. I was unhappy until I found it. I don't want you to be unhappy. That's it. That's why I do what I do. Right now I'm trying to figure out how to best help you find your answer. Since you are reading this, I'm not working alone anymore.
So have you got any ideas, partner? I'd love to hear what you think.  Email me  This operator is standing by.

Lesley Riley, The Artist Success Expert, is the founder of Artist Success, Solutions for the Struggling Artist. To receive her bi-weekly articles on creating your own success as an artist, visit

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Yesterday I received a few calls from Charlie. He is totally frustrated - bitching and moaning that he is coming home... That he doesn't "need this shit". I had been told this would happen. I gave back as good as I got - told him that HE got himself in this position. Reminded him how desperately he had asked me for help. Reminded him he could not continue his life like that.

Got a call a little later. Much calmer. "I'm sorry mom. I'm just really frustrated. I love you.". "I know Charlie. I love you too."

-Posted from Elena's iPad

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Charlie's struggle

Charlie was taken to the emergency room today. The withdrawal symptoms were severe and he developed a rash all over his body. The detox center immediately took him to the emergency room as a precaution. Charlie asked them not to call me. That he would call me himself when he could so that I would "not freak out".

He called me a few hours later. He sounded weak and tired. I think he himself is shocked at how bad his addiction had gotten.

As unbelievable as it seems, I don't think Charlie ever saw himself as an "addict". Others were addicts. The homeless junkie, the people who could not function. He was not an addict in his mind - he just enjoyed "partying"- he did it because he wanted to not because he had to. I think - I hope - that he is looking at himself in a mirror of honesty and truth. As painful as that might be, it's what he needs to see.

He kept telling me he is okay. "Mom?". "Yes honey?". "How did I do this to myself? How did I get here?". "I don't know baby. But you are working to fix it.". "I love you mom.". "Love you too baby."

-Posted from Elena's iPad

Saturday, February 19, 2011


I was visiting Ingrid Dijkers blog earlier today and from there got into this wonderful blog by Michelle Ward which I fell in love with!  Apparently there is a monthly challenge on this blog which is great fodder for our journals!  I love the creativity of it and of course seeing Ingrid's work on this challenge just made me want to run for the paint jars!

Check them out!  If you decide to take the challenge share it with me!  I'd love to see what you do!   This month they are on Crusade 48:

This month's challenge is to chronicle where you've been and what you've done.  It can be a years worth of events, or just one special outing.  Record the physical evidence in addition to your thoughts and observances.  Things to include:  airplane tickets or subway tokens, matches from restaurants (or the menu you swiped), programs or brochures from an event or outing, a calendar page, ticket stub, badge from the museum, photo from a gathering of friends, an invitation, a get the idea.

GPP C48a 
I am going to do this one first after I make the journal.  I am going to do it the size that Ingrid did - 7x14 because it sounds awesome.   And then I am doing challenge number 24:

This month I challenge you to think about the unthinkable.  Consider what, if any, final wishes you might have.  Write them down and tuck them away in an envelope in your jewelry box or bible or special place.  I truly believe it is a gift to your loved ones to spell out your preferences.  We may think that none of it really matters because we are in a better place but if you have thought it through, even to the smallest degree, you may diffuse a lot of tension. 

I can barely write this post which is proof of how we dance around the subject of death.  My experience makes me passionate about asking you to give this subject some thought.  I’m not going to spell out all the things that I think you should be writing in your Final Wishes letter – you will know what’s right for you.  You may find your letter gets longer or shorter as life experiences give you addition insight.  Think of how much planning went into your wedding.  Now imagine something just as significant to your family, but with less time, compounded by grief.  It’s a gift to do this.   We hope to lead long, healthy lives and doing this doesn't alter that perspective - but we shouldn't leave difficult decisions to our loved ones if we can help it. 

I don’t want this to be a morbid or morose exercise.  It can be thought of as a loving act.  Do it for you, do it for your loved ones.  Back in high school we had an assignment to write our own obituary.  It was a lesson in goal setting and forecasting as we imagined what we hoped would be said about ourselves.   Writing my obituary didn't make me suicidal, just like deciding where I want to be buried, or if I want to be buried,  doesn't mean I want to die.  Do you know the poem The Dash?  The day we are born and the day we die doesn't mean as much as what we do with dash between.  Think of this crusade as a similar assignment.   
For this crusade:  write a private letter stating some of your final wishes.  Do this for yourself.

She lost her sister.  I too had the privilege of speaking to my father about his last wishes but it was the most difficult thing I ever did.  I think this crusade - though some might find it a little morbid - is a kindness to those that you leave behind.  I think I would like to have a journal - with thoughts for my family - that they would only see when I pass.  Things that maybe I wont have the time to say.  Uggh.  Morose huh?  But I still think it's a beautiful project.

These crusades will be fun!  And God knows I need some fun right now!


I think I am going to write a book "For the love of Charlie"....  it will not only be cathartic, it will be a testament to emotional survival!

Charlie called me last night using a cell phone he borrowed from one of the nurses.  The ladies man strikes again.

Turns out he wanted to tell me a "funny" story.  As you guys know, Charlie arrived at detox on Wednesday night.   In detox, apparently they do a massive intake on your life story (that must have been interesting because Charlie is the most honest person in the world - doesn't hide or sugar coat any of the things he does - although sometimes I wish he would).  Anyway, he showers, they give him a PJ and give him what they consider enough medication to put this man to sleep.  Little do they know that he needs massive amounts of medication just to be able to sleep.

So at 11:00 pm (California time) it's "lights out".  What???  11:00 pm!!??? That is when this boys day starts!  So what does my darling angel do?  He leaves the facility (which is a huge house in a residential setting), jumps the fence, buys a six pack of beer and some pot from some kid riding a bike!  How does he DO that????  How does he find this in a place he has never been???  Well, thinking about it I assume people know this home is a detox and ride around waiting for some poor sucker to jump a fence and buy weed.

Well, like he said - it was only weed.  So my little cherub drinks his beer, smokes his joint and jumps back over the fence all in a matter of 15-20 minutes.  Charlie is 6 feet tall and weighs about 250 pounds.  He jumps over the fence and lands on a plastic chair which, according to him, EXPLODES.  His leg gets caught in the chair somehow and its taking him a few minutes to disentangle himself.

He runs to the back door which he got out through and lo and behold it is locked.  Oops!!  So what can he do he says??  He walks through the front door where they are waiting for him.

"What did you say to them Charlie?" .  He says "Mom, what could I say??  I looked at the doctor and said, GUESS I DIDN'T MAKE A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION?"

That's Charlie.

In the meantime, I want to be mad but I can't.  It's his first day and all he bought was pot?  I'm okay with that for today.

The little things that keep a mother sane.

Friday, February 18, 2011


This is my son Charlie.

I have received so many emails from so many mothers who have sons and daughters that are addicted to drugs. So much pain in their words. So much heartbreak between the lines.   My heart goes out to each and everyone of you.

Only going through it can anyone understand the desperation and total sense of helplessness that is felt when you see your child - no matter how old he or she is - killing themselves a little each day.

Only going through it can you understand the mental process of preparing yourself to bury your child while at the same time attempting to live a "normal" life.

I hope my sharing these things with you helps you in some way.  At least to hold on to hope.

Charlie left for California yesterday.  I wanted to accompany him but he insisted this is something he had to do alone.  The night before he went out and came home almost unconscious - drove himself home that way.  He came home at 6:00 am yesterday.  We had to leave for the airport at 11.  I was terrified I would not be able to wake him or get him to get up. It's happened so many times before.

I went downstairs to his apartment at 10:00 expecting the worst.   When I got there his brother was sitting on the couch (he is 22) and Charlie was in the shower.  His suitcase was already in the living room and packed.  I knocked on the bathroom door and his response was - "it's okay mom - I wont let either of us down."  I had to walk away from the door so he would not hear me sob.

He was ready at exactly 11.  Hugged his brother and gave him his last paycheck.  He said he didn't trust himself with money.  Gave his brother his cell phone.  I asked him why he was not taking the cell phone... what if he needed to call?  He said he didn't want to take it because it would be too tempting to call people or have people call him and he didn't trust himself not to back out.  He was totally and completed high.  But he was so damned determined.

We got to the airport - I had no idea about his flight because it was all prepared by the rehab.  He was flying from Ft. Lauderdale to Phoenix where he had a one hour stop and then catching another flight to California.  I totally panicked.  He was in such bad shape.  Would he get on the second plane?      I watched him go through the gate and I thought I was going to go into total hysterics.  What if??? What if he didn't get on the second plane?   What if he just got off in Phoenix and went looking for drugs???? What if.....  But I just hugged him and told him how proud of him I am.  I begged him to take advantage of this and get his life back.  He just hugged me back and started sobbing.  There are no words to express the fear of letting him go.

That was at 2:30 pm.

The plane was to land in Phoenix at 6:30 and then he would take a 7:30 flight to California.  I guess I expected him to call me from Phoenix.  He didn't.  Those were the longest hours of my life.  He was to land in California at 7:30 their time, which was 10:30 our time.    At 11:30 I still had not heard from him.  I was in a total state of panic.  My oldest daughter, who has a much clearer head than I do called the airline - the plane had landed an hour late.  Okay.  Breath.

But another hour went by and nothing.  I called the center - they told me that they had people looking for him at the airport - he was supposed to meet them at baggage claim - but they could not find him.  My heart dropped to my knees.  Of course I imagined the worst!  How could I think anything else?

Finally, almost 3 hours after he was supposed to have landed, the wonderful lady from the center called me to tell me he was fine.  He was already in detox and was going through intake.  She said the counselor told her he is absolutely "determined" that he told them he was not living like this any more.  I couldn't even breath at that point.

A little while later one of the counselors lent him his cell phone so he could call me.  Hearing his voice totally broke me down.  He was crying too.  His exact words were "Don't cry mom.  I swear to you that you will never have to cry for me again.  I love you."  

The counselor got on the phone and told me that he would be in "black out" for the next 10-15 days.  They literally keep him sleeping the entire time so that he can get through the withdrawals.  I would give my life right now to save him from that.  If I could take his pain and make it mine I would.

And all of this happened while outside the bedroom door a party was going on in my daughter's house for my grand-daughter's 4th birthday.  Throughout the entire day my other 3 children did not leave my side for a minute.

For the first time in 15 years I have hope for him.  I have hope that he will be able to win this battle he has brought on himself.  I have hope I will have my son back.

Don't ever lose hope.  Don't ever give up.  Nothing - NOTHING is stronger than a mother's love.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Charlie can't do it any more.  He knows he needs help and has finally asked for it.  I am flying him out to California today.  I ask for your prayers that God enlightens those that will treat him.  That He guides them to help my son finally rid himself of drugs and get his life back.  I can only pray with every ounce of strength I have that this works.  For him.  For me.  For all of us.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Keys 4 Art 2011 - our second art retreat - starts on March 8th, 2011.  Actually for me it starts on the 4th which is when my friend Lillian arrives from Canada.  Sarah - who is flying in from AUSTRALIA!! - will be here on the 6th.  She will be celebrating her 40th birthday with us and I can't tell you how flattering I find that!!

We will have 15 women this year!  How exciting is that!! And we have Julie Nutting and Ingrid Dijkers teaching!  Five days of art, friendship, laughter and mojitos!!  Can't get better than that!

I am running around like a chicken with my head cut off!!!  But wow!  I am so looking forward to this!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Okay!!! So I'm 50!!!

My darling eldest daughter very rudely pointed out to me that I am no longer 49... as in my bio to the left... but am 50!!!  Yes I am smartass!!!  I will change it!  LOL!!


I love this movie.  I think I've seen it at least a dozen times.  And every time I see it, it moves me.  Bucket list.  What a neat idea that has always been....  We all know we are going to die at some point... could be sooner... could be later...  Thankfully I have a short bucket list....

-  to see my son drug free before I die
-  to visit Tuscany and sit under a tree and just breath there
-  to visit Provence in France.... to shop in those fabulous little french flea markets for little odds and ends... for lace... for vintage paper and books
-  to visit San Miguel de Allende in Mexico.. to walk through the artisan kiosks and the streets of this quaint little Mexican city

That's basically it.  My bucket list.  I am so grateful that there are so few things that I have not already done, accomplished or obtained.  What about you?  What would your bucket list contain?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


This is the latest posted Glamour Girl from Julie Nutting!! Isn't she fab????  

If you are not familiar with Julie's work, hop on over to her blog.   AND she has a book coming out soon which you HAVE to get!!!  You can buy it here.

Art Journal Caravan February Project

This is the greatest online project I have ever been involved in.  I had joined the 2010 and had done nothing with it.  This year I have done every one so far and am really enjoying it.

Today we got our February Project:

The Adjective Project.
This month's Adventure Quest is sponsored by the letters A-Z!We're going to explore adjectives all month long one letter at at time! Diving deep down into who we really are and the things that we are feeling on a daily basis this month.
How do you feel TODAY? Is there a word that would describe it?
What do you think that you can discover about yourself as you assign words to your feelings and thoughts? Or take another approach and start thinking about all the adjectives that describe YOU that start with a particular letter. There are many ideas in the way point section to help you apply some part of this project to you.
Words are a huge part of what we do as art journalers lets explore some different ways to use them.

This sounds like exactly what the doctor ordered!