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True north truth life without a paddle

I woke up at 5am in a cold sweat in my 60° room on this -8° night as the wind blew around my house shuffling the thoughts and fears in my head. It’s been over an hour and a half now, me sitting here, sweaty, begging my brain to stop and let it go and let me do the easy thing. Let me follow the path of least resistance and simple pleasures, to hell with the rest. But I am not that person, and that is not how my brain works. So I am here, writing, sitting up in my bedroom in the dark waiting for the first whispers of morning light to shine through my bedroom window and lull me back to sleep under the comfort of dawn. I know sleep will not come until I get these thoughts out of my head, so I am here.

I’m right here.

Of course where I am doesn’t necessarily matter right now. Of course I am right here – this is home and where I belong. This is where my family is, where my life is, and where everything that is near and dear to my heart and precious and full of love in my soul lives. Almost everything. But the last piece isn’t mine to have anyway and I know that.

There’s more I want to say that I can’t quite put in words, and that’s okay. They will sound different later, in my voice, and that matters too. Not just what is said, but how it is said, and when. Almost now, but not quite.

Life has a funny way of sorting out its own messes if you just look up. Forget about what the halo around the moon two days in a row tells you. Forget about all the dark promises and hopes. Forget about the 5am fears that wake you up in a cold sweat and tumble your thoughts on end so that you can’t go back to sleep until you let them spill out into the world.

Just speak your truth.

I almost forgot that recently. Navigating things I never have, being there for someone who has become my best friend to me in so many ways, it was easy to let the emotions try to convince me that as long as it was based on caring and connection and love, that it also had to be true. But that’s not always the case. It’s possible to be in love in fragmented ways, and to keep those fragments from actually touching so that you can have a safe space to live your truth, and another space to live your life. The problem is, when you do that, you’re actually fragmenting yourself and hurting your soul and that’s far worse than anything else you could put yourself through – especially with everything ahead.

2020 and 2021 have been a year of immense change. Everyone says 2022 will be better – and it will – but not if the changes we experienced and all the lessons we learned in these past two years of hell are ignored or glossed over. They have to be lived, felt, and grieved. And all the work we’ve done on ourselves these past years has to be the foundation for more. So much more.

Foundations built on truth, laid on broken ground will still crumble. Even the strongest foundations of concrete and water mixed together in the exact combination needed to be stronger than anything before will never stand a chance if the ground it lays upon is cracked and broken. Before you build the foundation, you have to first be standing on solid ground.

I am now. I don’t know where you are, not exactly, or what the ground looks like under your feet, but that is also not my place to ask or answer.

I will not build on broken ground. I built this home on trust and love and honesty and the life around me reflects that. Sometimes, truth takes the high road, sometimes it’s the easy one. But more often than not, it’s the path through the forest you can barely find beneath the tangle of trees and the snarl of branches, grabbing at you as you go by. Tugging at your chest, ripping away the hidden thoughts, the deepest fears, and the little lies you want to tell yourself to make the easy path – the clear one right in front of you – the right one. But you know in your heart it is not. You know in your soul it is not. And you built this home on a solid foundation surrounded by this forest, and it knows. The forest knows. You do, after all, go back there almost every day and hang your fears and worries and weights on those trees, and they gladly take them from you, and you let them and you smile.

You cannot hang your heaviness in the forest and then ask it to hide your heart. It takes your heaviness to give you hope. It carries your burdens to show you light through the canopy and love through the trees. It whispers to you that it will be okay, and reminds you to tell your story. Your home story. Your love story. Your life story. One that makes even the ravens overhead stop in silence to listen.

A lil bird flies over head, reminding you to speak your truth. All of it. I’m right here.

Feel Good

Life without a paddle i love you cj millar

Another night I just can’t sleep. Another night I just can’t stop smiling. So I’m down here hanging with the cats and dogs by myself in the ski and snowboard shop (because yes we have that setup here in the new house and it’s amazing btw) finishing tuning my board because it’s FINALLY FUCKING WINTER!

We’re hitting the mountain tomorrow – the local one with like uh, one run open so don’t get too excited but hey it’s local and cheap and fun so yeah. And guess what? We have fun no matter where we are because that’s what we do. There’s a point in life where nothing matters but time and doing things we love with people we love. I’m there – at that time when what matters is us. This. All of it. Time well spent, together.

The “Maiden Alpine Adventure of 2022” commences tomorrow morning and I couldn’t be more excited. Like a kid at Christmas I’m staying up late getting everything ready. Don’t even care that it’s a baby hill on a half-assed mountain. It’s home. And you know what matters? We’re here. Together. My kids are both going (they talked me into it, old bones and pulled muscles and I don’t care because being with them is what really matters). Their friends are coming. Two dead beginners but that’s awesome because we can all do this together. And it will make me go slow – something I am NOTORIOUSLY bad at haha!

Ask me how I ended up on a board again after 23 years…

No really. Ask me. Or not. Because I am going to tell you anyway.

My father died just a little over a year ago. I was an avid skier as a kid. The whole nine – from ski club to ski team, starting with NASTAR in the 7th grade at Gore by myself, to high school ski team, to an obsession that turned into a dream and something I was actually really truly good at.

I skied slalom and giant slalom, often opting to practice more with the boys because their coach was harder and more challenging and I wanted to be better. I skied varsity in the top 6 as a freshman, wrecked my knee and nearly missed the next season with surgery, followed by a far-too-fast return to the slopes that held my league and state rank to have me in the top seed most races by junior year until I blew out my knee again. Racing too soon, too fast just lead to injuries that would set the stage for the rest of my life.

Several (now 4) knee surgeries in, with things torn down, pared out, and pieced and screwed back together, I was told to never ski again. So naturally after shattering my left tibia in an massive inoperable spiderweb fracture of fantastic proportions, complete with stitches, I returned to the mountain on the board my cousin got me. A hair too big Burton Air Fly 5.0 that was too big and too fast for someone of my size.

It was perfect.

I replaced racing with shredding and moguls and slalom turns with park and carves. My knees hated me but I could stay upright, and I loved every single moment. I live for winter and cold sharp air that hits you in the face so hard it takes your breath away. This. I live for this.

Back to my father. Anyway he died and it was awful. We were estranged but take anything awful over what you may have to do and make it so much worse and that was my past year. Hell. It was a hell worse than any hell I ever imagined. But hey, my son bought a snowboard because he wanted to get back on the mountain. He worked really really hard and saved up a lot of money so I went with him to help him choose. He got an amazing LibTech and Union bindings, and talked me and his sister into joining him (she had only really skied up until this point).

She made honor roll so I bought her a board as a reward. We got a great deal and she saved up for boots, and suddenly I was the only one in the family without one. So I did the only logical thing. After 23 years off the slopes, I jumped back in whole heartedly – the only way I know how to live – and ordered my dream board. The one I always wanted and could never afford, or never needed, or just couldn’t justify. But fuck it. I was 44 surrounded by death and change and what the fuck did it matter? Go big or go home.

I chose both of those things. I ordered my dream Never Summer Lady West, complete with a Ravenclaw-like eagle and a cougar snow stomp pad because well, I was old, and cougars are cool (yes I realize how lame this sounds and yes to my kids you can stop rolling your eyes at me now haha). Flow bindings. Ride boots. Fit my newly 80-pounds less body into high school ski pants that were still too big and bought new stuff. And the new me got back onto a god damned board on the top of our little mountain and I felt a little closer to heaven that day, again, for the first time in a long time and I rode.

I lived. I really lived. And I continue to live.

It’s after midnight and I am home and can’t sleep, waxing and tuning my board to every inch of perfection because I love this shit. I live for this. I can’t stop smiling. And I can’t wait to get out there tomorrow. I don’t care if there’s only one run open and we’re taking a bunch of friends that feel like family for their very first alpine adventure. What I really love about all of this is that it’s the first of so much more. A tradition we started last year, and one we will continue for so many years to come. It’s nights like this that feel like Christmas, a kid alive again with wonder in their eyes at all the magic of the best any New York winter ever had to offer. And it’s because you’re here – or maybe you’re not here yet because you can’t be, but you will be someday. And there rest of the gang’s all here. All of us.

This is home. My home on my snow-covered mountain where I can’t stop smiling, so happy for finding someone my soul connects with in a way I though I would never feel again, or ever like this. Surrounded by so much life and so much love that anyone who isn’t sitting here smiling like a fool is exactly that – a fool.

I love you guys. All of you. When Jimmy died, I promised I’d never again keep those feelings in, or let another day go by that I said “goodbye” instead of “I love you.” I’d never say hey – let’s do that tomorrow, because in the marrow of my bones and the deepest parts of my soul that time is right the fuck now.

I love all of you, my life is full, and my cup runneth over. Thank you. And thank you, too. You are my favorite person, I love you.

Soul of the Matter

soul of the matter life without a paddle

I had a dream – or whatever you want to call it – last night while half asleep and stretching and meditating or whatever it is you call it. I’m not a formal meditator. I know it’s good for the body and mind, I just don’t have that level of self-discipline or focus to be honest but occasionally, I turn off my phone and sit on my bedroom floor in front of my electric fireplace and surround myself with some of my favorite stones including the one I found in the forest as a child and just am. I sit there and just let myself be. Let my brain do whatever it needs and push out and quiet all of the thoughts and the stresses and the to-do list and chores and all of those things and just let myself “be” whatever that means.

Anyway, that’s what I was doing the other night and this dream-thing happened. I saw someone I care about deeply lying motionless on the forest floor. Not necessarily dead, but as if they were dead inside or something. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense at first, but I let my brain just do whatever it needed and absorb whatever message it would eventually give me. It felt like I was watching from somewhere else – like I wasn’t physically there but for some reason I needed to see this. And I realized as things came more into focus, this person was bare-chested but something between the ribcage was strange. You know that space on the front of your chest where your ribs don’t quite meet? There. The place where when animals eat their kill they open up first because it’s the easiest way to the heart without having to go through bone, right there below your sternum. What I saw was this person’s flesh was actually black there. Not dead or rotting but it was as if it was filled with poison.

Two wolves, one grey and one black, came out of the forest into this clearing – where this person was, where I go in the mornings in my woods here to sit and lay down my troubles and breathe. And they tear open his chest right where the poison is and rip it open to the bone. It’s weird though, they’re not eating the flesh, they’re ripping it out and tossing it aside, getting to what’s underneath – the heart. Then suddenly, they stop and walk away back into the depths of the forest and disappear from view.

My view draws closer and I see what they did. They tore out the poisoned flesh, and only that, never touching the bones, and leaving the heart clearly exposed. The amazing thing though was that the bones were good – there was no poison in them – and it made me think of that song. In looking closer I could also see this person’s heart was fully exposed as they lay there motionless, unaware? Unconscious? Dead? I didn’t know what – and I told you this didn’t make a whole lot of sense, as it was a dream after all – but I could see their heart raw and bare and and that deep purple red that you equate with love and passion and all things pure and it was still beating. It was still beating. The bones were good and their heart was still there.

So I laid my hands on the space in their chest where the poison used to be, and could feel that the wolves took all of it out and the forest absorbed it back into the forest floor, the way only trees and a forest can. A strange thing happened next. I could feel this person that means so much to me start to heal right under my hands. Slowly, but surely as if the forest’s and my energy together had some sort of magical healing powers that could bring this person back to life and make them whole again. Eventually they took a breath and the dream faded away just like the poison and all that was left was a small black stone – remnants of the poison that had been buried within for so long. I heard someone or something tell me to bury it at the base of the rock where there was already a hole waiting, in that circle of trees, facing north – to always find your true north – and remember to breathe.

This morning I woke up and found that black stone. It’s been in my room for a while. It’s a black tourmaline, known for absorbing negative energy and releasing it back to the earth, especially useful after a period of great trauma or emotional stress. It’s always on my dresser next to my bed. Naturally, I got up and went for my morning walk back to that clearing. I grabbed a pointy rock on the ground along the way so that I could dig a hole at the base of that rock I use as a headrest when I lie down – the ground is far too frozen to dig even a small hole to bury it in right now. And when I got back there, the strangest thing happened. I moved the leaves away from the base of that rock and there was already a small hole there, just the right size for the black tourmaline. I pulled out my phone to check the compass and it was already facing due north. The hole for the stone at the base of the rock was facing due north – true north – in that small clearing of trees.

I buried the stone there in the woods this morning. Someday, perhaps, when the time is right and the person I care for so much whom I saw in that dream is here, they may dig it up, clean and renewed from the energy of the forest and ready to live again.


Ever feel like when you’re waiting to hear from someone, the air is just sucked out of the room and it feels like you can’t breathe? Like if you’re waiting for even just one more minute, you may suffocate, or choke on your own anticipation and just can’t do anything about it, or really even want to?

That. I wrote about it once. A long time ago. As a kid in high school wishing for something I was pretty sure I’d never ever find but would spend my whole life seeking out anyway. I found it a few years later in a best friend that changed – and saved – my life in a way that I can’t even imagine or even completely comprehend in what feels like centuries after all that’s happened. That was different – we were siblings. Family. Kindred. I loved him but was never in love with him, though somehow I’ve managed to compare everyone I’ve ever dated to him, quite unfairly I might add.

Simple words that held a lot of soul, and my hopes for the future. For someone I’d find someday. I’m older now. Wiser, too, or so I’d have you believe. The air doesn’t do that anymore, though if we’re being honest, it never did before either. I just did it to myself, suffocating on expectations and choking on the hope that the potential I fell in love with would be the same as the person in front of me.

It never was.

Perhaps it’s me. Perhaps it’s this life. The three of us went our separate ways. Jimmy died, Mike was broken, and I went to pieces and put myself back together so many times that I don’t even look like the girl I was back then anymore. That’s a good thing, I think, in many ways. But I’ve long since reconciled my heart and my mind that what the three of us had as kids was something magical, something incredible, and not something everyone gets to have. The knowledge that I’ve had that before in past lives, and again in this one was enough to carry me through eventually. Finally. After many years of grieving the losses, the broken hearts, and giving away the keys on a cord – key to my heart, key to my mind (that’s the twisted one of course), and a penny for my thoughts – for the last time in my twenties as I told him I loved him and he walked away because he couldn’t deal. I was too much a reminder of the ghosts of our past, still alive in the flesh. And so he buried me with Jimmy and those memories and I choked on the dirt as that part of my past got covered over and the world buried me alive.

There’s no air down there. You get used to living without it. You adapt. You change. You climb your way out to stand back up and move mountains. Build walls. Wrap your heart in barbed wire and tattoo it on your back with a reminder of truth and justice to always keep you honest. You keep going one foot in front of the other. One broken bone after the other – but those are okay. You can work through those. No more broken hearts because you don’t show that to people or give that away. Tell enough stories and share enough of your life and people don’t ever realize that they know you without ever really KNOWING you. And I liked it that way. It was easier. Safe. And I could build myself a home knowing that I had no one who could hurt me because I simply let no one in. Not really.

Then I walked into a room and couldn’t breathe again, only I wasn’t choking this time. Something took my breath away. My walls never came down, but somehow they didn’t matter because you already knew me. Really knew me. And could see me as me. The good, the bad, and the ugly. The scars. The broken bones, and broken trust. The lost girl who ran off to her forest to build a life on top of the last mountain she’d ever have to move.


untitled cj millar


Winter Solstice

life without a paddle cj millar winter solstice hiking cat and dogs

The sun came out this morning back in the forest and I laid down in a circle of trees on the forest floor. I left my burden there, and I stood up a little bit lighter from the weight the trees took off my shoulders.

Thank you.


Record Year

Life without a paddle cj Millar record yearI’m having a record year. We are all, it seems. And the shit just keeps on coming. Rain. More rain. Flooding. Wettest year on record. Warm weather spikes between cold snaps that don’t *quite* freeze or thaw the ground enough in either direction to make sense. Excavation projects. New business. New roles. New leads. New friends and new people. And a new farm.

I found home this year. We’re here. We’re home.

And not everything is new around us. Same town. Same horses (though I question my sanity on this). Same cats (the newest additions came technically end of 2020 even if they didn’t both move in until early 2021 because Lily was afraid). Same dogs (still miss Loki). Same kids (well duh…obviously haha! and they’re both great!).

It’s incredible, really, how things just sometimes come together. Even in a horrific year that god damn it, kept pounding us with issues and headaches and heartbreaks. Sure, maybe no one in my immediate family lost parents this year, because well hey shit weren’t two in 202o enough? But the spillage of that carried over for sure from 2020 into 2021. The kid’s old farm is what it is. My childhood home sold, and funded our future. But there’s stuff that’s even better than that. Better by far, because it’s a part of our future and not lamenting the past.

It’s kinda cool piecing together my childhood my way. Taking the fun and the good and the happy memories. and throwing the other stuff away.

The house is decorated for Christmas. I have a porch and a home I am proud of, and happy to share with my friends and family. There’s a few things I still want to do, that may or may not get done in time for Christmas but I am not stressing it. The big stuff is done. We selected the stuff that had good memories attached and only good ones. That stuff got brought out. Along with our own stuff. Our new traditions.

Hogwarts Christmas. A little bit of Disney (I still desperately want to make the 50th Anniversary trip work somehow before it’s over). A lot of new things in the new house with new traditions that we’re making officially our own. Together.

It’s also incredible to me how we’re surrounded by so many amazing people. Friends that help. Family that’s there, too. We went from having awesome neighbors in NJ, to awesome neighbors in NY, to awesome neighbors at our new place, too. It’s like hitting the neighbor lottery not once, but three times. Same with friends. New friends feel like old friends. Old friends can come visit and have a place to stay and enjoy. There is always wine and bourbon and beer and a hot tub, a couch with a blanket and a pillow, and a seat for you at our table.

What’s also pretty incredible is how people seem to just sort themselves out over the years. People you were close to reveal their true selves over time. They always will. We all do. And as everyone gets sorted in their own way and their own time, the true friends rise to the top. They are there with you no matter what, and cheer you on regardless of whether they are having a good time or a bad time of their own. They know that your success does not inhibit nor prohibit their own, and that you will be right there cheering for them even when you are down in the dumps. And so together, you pull yourselves even higher than you ever could be alone.

What about those bad people? Well, there are times that we see people and befriend people that are right there with us at the start. But things change. We all change. Everyone changes and adapts and evolves even when they say they do not. It’s human nature. It’s how we survive. Some of us are better at it than others, while sometimes it’s done with motivation for our own good, other times for the greater good irregardless of our own well-being, and even other times when things come together, it’s a benefit to us and everyone around us. Either way, how we adapt and change and grow shows our true character, which is why over time, you will always eventually find out someone’s stripes. Or true colors. Or whatever you want to call it.

Point being, is that if you just have faith and remember to always believe (there’s a reason that is tattooed on my arm), the negative and toxic people will simply fall away. They’ll fade into the background, no more the fabric of your life than polyester rayon in a throwback that you only remember when looking at mom’s old fashion or browsing through a thrift store ripe with 60s and 70s and 80s threads.

And so I’ve waited. I’ve worked on me. I’ve focused on home. On finding and making a home for all of us that will be a forever home for us, our animals, and our friends. Always.

Hey guys, we’re here. Finally. 2022 is where it all comes together and we get to enjoy this. It’s where the really good stuff happens. Where the fruits of our labors are all finally ripe to enjoy. Where all the hard work and battles we waged and wars we won are over and we get to sit down on our front porch and just. breathe.

But 2021. Man, 2021 was a record year.

The Raven & The Forest

cj millar life without a paddle raven and forest

I am not your dream girl. I am the sudden shouting of crows when you enter the part of the forest you shouldn’t have. That’s me. I live here.

Perhaps it’s because it’s easier to chase you away than let you in. To keep this serene piece of nature completely to myself, to save myself and my own sanity and let it heal me in the way it always does, if I let it. If I remember to come back here every day or at least a few times a week to let go of it all. Let the forest take the burden off my shoulders and carry some of it as its own. Let the forest do what it does best – grow, absorb, and heal.

I remember the first time I went to Gettysburg with Kelly on our way back from Rock on the Range. We just did a quick stop on the way through as the sun slid below the horizon of the early autumn sky. Neither of us had ever been there before, and I laid my hands on a tree. What I saw then stayed with me and serves as a reminder as to just how powerful a tree is – and even more so when it is part of a forest, interconnected in ever more ways.

Trees can both absorb and give energy, and tell stories if you listen. They are amazing storytellers of the past and everything they see. I am not your dream girl. I am the sudden shouting of crows when you enter the part of the forest you shouldn’t have. That’s me. I live here. I protect this forest, this forest that is home.

cj millar life without a paddle forest

Things have been difficult lately. Income is tight, work has been light yet stressful, and moving still a nightmare. We’re nowhere near ready for winter with horses, the shop still isn’t moved due to ongoing weather issues and challenges, and there isn’t electric or water out to the horses yet (just really long hoses and solar fence chargers). It’s functional, but frustrating and will become a challenge when real winter sets in. It’s hard to function some days, feeling as if I need to always overachieve, and any time I am not doing something, accomplishing something, earning money, I am a failure. I second guess myself constantly, feel like I am doing everything wrong almost all of the time, and then have to stop and say hey – wait – maybe I am doing okay. Maybe I am being productive today.

Today I fed the cats and dogs, tended to some big things in the yard that needed doing, balanced the hot tub, fed the horses, cleaned the stalls, checked weights under blankets, rolled out a round bale by hand to the old men, ran both Roombas, and sanded the shower so I can paint this weekend before Thanksgiving. All before coffee or breakfast, and still had time to get in a quick shower before starting work. I guess that’s a decent amount of productivity to start the day. Sometimes I guess I just don’t give myself credit.

This time of year can be magical. This year it’s going to be hard. Harder for me than most. Last year I had a plan and a vision and knew what to do to make things better – different – for our first family Christmas starting our own traditions. I planned a Harry Potter Christmas complete with a surprise trip to Universal in the spring. But this year will be hard. Sure, we’re living in a new place, and last Christmas I had already received the news of my father’s passing. But I hadn’t really had time to deal with it all yet or let it sink in. And truth be told, I didn’t know it then but I was only at the beginning of the hell that was to come. I cried every day after the holidays that I drove to and from my father’s house. Sometimes it was stifled choking sobs. Other times is was all out soul crushing wails. I don’t know if it was part of the hell or the healing, or the only way to get shit out that I had no idea how to ever put in words. Saying I struggled that hard nearly a year after it happened is the closest to words I may ever be able to come.

This year will be hard. This year, money is much tighter. Things are much more strained in a lot of ways. As I mentioned, we haven’t even been able to move the shop still though I am hoping to as soon as possible, however it’s out of my control. We’re not set up for the horses the way we need to be for winter. There’s a lot of work to still do to get ready and not a lot of time to do it. There’s no grand plan for Christmas this year other than to survive it. I hope to enjoy it some but I have a feeling next year will be better. Next Christmas for sure, once we’re really settled. Moved in. Things are how we want them to be.

Patience never was a virtue of mine. Nor was self-forgiveness. I am working on these things. In the meantime, if you enter my forest, just remember, I am even bigger than those crows shouting at you to leave. I am the Raven perched above, looking down at you, judging myself for feeling this way, silently watching everything down below knowing that for all that when I open my mouth and words come tumbling out there are a million more things left unsaid. A million more things I’ll never tell you. Because I don’t even know how to tell myself.

This is my favorite time of year in the forest – the time of year when things are still green and orange and red enough in all the rich colors of earth and change and low autumn morning light to still breathe life into to the forest and everything within it, while the crisp northern air at the highest of elevations ushers in daybreak snow to fall upon the ground in a patchwork blanket of white amongst the autumn colors. Life, just underneath the crystalline droplets, still there to envelop you and remind you that change is a good thing. Let it all go. Let the forest absorb it all, keep your secrets and wrap you in its white blanket of winter so that come spring you can regrow and finish what you started this year and start to really settle in home.

it’s nothing

no really. it isn’t you. it’s me. it’s always me.

this year has been a disaster. more than that, really. it’s exceeded expectations and nightmares in so many ways. but it’s here. and it’s real. and it sucks. everywhere I turn is a failure. another failure. something else I did wrong. I didn’t do enough. I wasn’t right. I thought I was doing the right thing but nope, wrong again. tried to do better. find the balance. look for the happy medium. learn. grow. revisit and reexamine to get better. just to end up worse.

moving is hell. the weather is worse. winter is around the corner and I am out of money and nearly out of time and not nearly set up enough to have the farm safe and moved and stable. the ground is sloppy at best, getting ripped up at worst. it’s going to rain more this weekend. a lot more. again. I still can’t get the last outbuilding moved safely because of the weather.

I don’t have down time. I don’t even know what that is. I mean sure, I sorta do. there was that one day that I sat for a few hours I think, oh and one day Shell and I watched a movie. I forgot what we watched. something. it was good. and nice to sit down. I think that was two weeks ago? I can’t remember. I feel like any forward progress is met with the choking reality that again, I’m wrong. I failed. it wasn’t good enough. some things never change. maybe my father was right after all. it wasn’t enough. it may never be enough. I don’t even know what enough means.

but hey, I’m good at my job. so there’s that. like really good. I mean at parts of it. other parts I still suck really badly at. and money is tight but that’s temporary I am sure. I am good at my job. they told me so. I believe them. even when I don’t believe myself. usually.

I can’t sleep. that’s not news. none of this is, really. it’s an old story. I’m so busy out trying to prove everyone wrong, that I can do everything just fine on my own, with just a little bit of help but that’s okay. I can still do everything,

I can not, in fact, do everything.

when I try, instead of getting even some things right, I manage to do. everything. wrong.

it’s a pretty incredible talent, if you ask me. so hey, maybe I’m good at that, too.

We may try to plan a one night work retreat / girl’s night before the holidays. that may be nice if it actually works out. got to have dinner by myself on the way home tonight. that’s like a cool night out for me. dinner. at a bar. on the road home from work. while still working.

man, I really need to get a life. seriously. this is some shit, let me tell you. when work feels like the best thing you can manage to do in any given day because it’s the only thing you’re good at. if only you had more clients to justify it. that’d be cool. oh yeah, so there’s that. but it is whatever. like I said, it’s temporary. I really need to ride one of my horses. I’ve ridden a handful of times all year, only in August. it hurts my soul more than you can know. right now my saddle is somewhere buried in a box. along with the rest of my life. in the garage, on the same side as my father, and other random chunks of my past, present, and future. stored somewhere to be taken out and made sense of another time.


finding home

cj millar finding home cjmillar82

Those two blogs are sitting in draft status still, but no matter. I’ll get to them later. I haven’t forgotten, I just have bigger things to focus on right now. As I wind down my days spent on Lenape Lake, I go for my walks every morning with the cats and dogs as the horses much contentedly on their breakfast and reflect on where I’ve been, how far I’ve come, and where I am going. It’s a wonderful soulful start to the day and it’s nearly impossible to start my morning in a bad mood when it starts out like this. On rainy days, I lie in bed a little bit longer reading the news on my phone or some more of the book I am immersed in lately – The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt. It was a recommendation from my long time friend, Elliot who lives life with such passion and emotion while always pushing to educate himself and his fellow humans even more. I’ll be honest, it kicked my ass back in gear to get reading again. Despite everything going on, it’s been a good distraction from the stress and excitement of moving, the constant go-go-go of our schedules, and a reminder that growth comes in many ways. Being outside in nature is one of them. Reading is another. Building connections with others is another one.

It’s really amazing to finally be at a point in my life where my core strength is both physical and emotional. I feel more fit than I ever have been in my life, and it’s inspired me to treat myself better. I used to not take very good care of myself. I thought I did, and I tried, but after a childhood lacking any real structure when it came to health goals and nutritional education outside of the classroom or school sports, and an early adulthood spent trying to escape my childhood, by the time I tried to make a change my body had no idea how to do so. Neither did my mind. And that was the trickiest part. I had spent so many years working on my mental health without understanding the correlation to physical health that it took a lot of work to rebuild my outside to look like my inside. But I did it and wow. Taking care of myself feels better than I could have ever imagined.

You know what else, though? That’s not even why I’m here. I usually don’t mention names in my writing (Elliot got that well-deserved shout out above though!) and am intentionally vague in many ways not only out of respect for whomever or whatever may be mentioned in my writing. I do that because I didn’t come here to change your opinion of them. I didn’t even come here to change your opinion of me. No, I came here to reflect on myself and identify ways that I’ve improved, find ways that I still need to do better and push myself for positive change, and most importantly, to remind myself to enjoy the journey along the way.

cjmillar82 finding home

Always make time to explore

I know that sometimes it may seem to some people that all I do is talk about my life which well, yes that’s true. This is quite literally my story and I am a storyteller, after all. But there’s more to it than that. You may have heard me mention “my kids” at a few points throughout here if you’ve followed along at all. I don’t usually refer to them as “son” and “daughter” because until two years ago, I was always CJ, the family friend. Things change. Life threw a lot of curve balls at all of us (to say the least…), and now we live together and they’re my kids. They’re amazing. I don’t often say son or daughter out of respect, as that was a request from them some time ago and they don’t call me mom, because well, I am not their mother. It’s a unique situation that needs no explanation to anyone but us. But sometimes they read this blog and I want them to know that I am so incredibly proud of both of them.

They may not realize it, but they’re a huge part of my life in a tremendously positive way. I think it can be easy to see life through the lens of our past, or at least I know that was one of my biggest faults I’ve been working to overcome anyway. When we do that, if we’ve had a rough past, we tend to see all of our negative traits and assume we must be a burden to those around us. It becomes harder and harder to see the joy and laughter we bring. And harder still to see the value we share in our connection with others. Make no doubt – it’s there. And I’ve learned when looking at myself as well as looking at others to see the value there and man, it’s astounding. When it comes to the value people in my life bring me – and I am not talking material things, I mean in matters of life and substance – I am so incredibly wealthy. It’s unreal, and I am so grateful. And I hope these kids realize that I am grateful for them, too.

I’m learning to let go more and more every day. I’m learning that the more I let go of the need to sort everything through in my mind, to have everything planned out, to have a map on how to get from here to there to there and over there and every stop we need to make along the way, the more life just flows. I’m not a planner – I know it may not sound like that from the last sentence but I swear I am not! I need more, like, buckets of what needs to get done in what order. I can rearrange those buckets or move them around, or possibly even hand some of those buckets off. It doesn’t need to be planned to the last detail but I like to have an idea of where I am going, most of all when it comes to the security of home.

I feel like I’ve been finding home for a very very long time, but never really have. I closed on my father’s house a week ago now, and that’s exactly what it feels like – my father’s house. Not my home. Sure, it used to be. It was our childhood home. But it hadn’t been home to me for a very very long time. The last place I owned also wasn’t really home. Sure, I owned it, but with someone else and it was a boarding farm and horse owners were always coming and going and while I am a very social creature, never having any alone time or privacy wore me down after a decade and I moved on (for that and many other reasons…). Living where I am now was a blessing in that it gave me an out, an escape route, and a 5 year plan to make another change. But life kept getting in the way. Add in a few new-to-living-with-me kids (see above), a few deceased family members and friends, and a global pandemic for good measure, and well, that’s enough to turn anyone’s life all topsy turvy. I’ll just leave it at that.

cj millar life without a paddle topsy turvy finding home

Guys, you know what? We’re so close to finding home. So close. We’re packing up here. We’re winding down our days on Lenape. I’m enjoying morning hikes on Matawa. And I’m looking forward to the next chapter that’s right here around the corner and sharing it with these two incredible kids, our menagerie of animals, and all of you. Just wait.

cjmillar82 just wait to find home

Just wait.

Awake My Soul

awake my soul cj millar life without a paddle

I have two other posts sitting in here as drafts, but I’ll get to those in a minute. I’ve been listening to a lot of Mumford & Sons lately, in case you hadn’t noticed from the two most recent blog titles (the ones sitting in draft status are not though), not for any particular reason but simply because they happened to come up on my music recently and just seemed to fit. So I added them to my morning playlist, and this song came on and suddenly all the stuff that’s been swirling around in my head had something to say.

I also just realized how much you can tell about my mindset by how I write. I’ve been fragmented a lot recently, for reasons I’ve said before, so it would make sense that I start to write and then walk away to come back later, but sometimes don’t finish quite in order. Such as the two draft blogs I’ll finish later. But I also realized my last blog was written all in lowercase, which was something I used to do a lot, then I checked my other blogs and they’re written in normal sentence case. It’s interesting to me how the more self-aware I become, the more I am aware of what’s around me, and am able to absorb all the positive and let the negative slide away.

This week I sold my childhood home, lost one large client who was incredibly toxic, went to a family friend’s father’s funeral, and started the process of moving out of the farm I am renting. I also picked up a client we’ve pursued for years who is incredibly positive and enthusiastic and exciting, gotten incredibly fit, have the most amazing animals and people in my life. And am listening to my favorite playlist as I review a 9 page white paper I wrote for work earlier this week that also had been swirling around in my head for some time. It only took a few hours to write because like so much of what I write, it’s always written in my head first, it’s just a matter of getting it onto paper and helping it make sense for the rest of the world! So far I’ve gotten incredible feedback on that paper and I feel like I’ve been more productive at work in a truly meaningful way than I have been in a long time. I gotta tell ya, it feels great!

Last Thursday was the last time I set foot in my childhood home. I left a lot behind there in that house, a lot of memories, a lot of nightmares, and a lot of lessons and strength and growth and learning, and of course, there was positive too. I decided to let go of what was behind me and walk away. Take with me the good, learn from the bad, and close that door for good. It was cathartic and liberating, and I pulled out of my driveway for the last time in my life with my soul a thousand pounds lighter, and my face smiling up at the sky. I cried just now though, because the money from that sale just hit the Estate account and with that, that house’s door that I closed for the last time last week, opened the door to my future and everything that’s ahead. To my home. My forever home.

Sure, sure, there’s still a lot of accounts to settle, bills to pay, and things to get done. They always say as one door closes, another one opens. Lost a big toxic client, gained a big positive one. And so when I can’t sleep these days, I’ve taken to repeating these four things to myself as I close my eyes and remind my mind to allow myself to fall asleep.

My body is safe.
My spirit is strong.
My soul is thriving.
The universe is providing.

Reminding myself that I am safe, that I am strong, and making sure I am always reminding myself that the last two are present tense. Those things are happening. I am thriving and the universe is providing, every single day. You just have to keep looking up, and keep believing.

The more I work on myself and how I react to things around me, set my own expectations and focus on all of the positive things around me – and still to come – I can’t help but smile. The change is seismic, I can feel it, as if my soul is awake again after some long healing slumber. For the first time, the way I feel on the inside and the way I look on the outside match and it’s a true sense of authenticity that runs through to my core. I’ve always been an authentic person – falsities and fakeness make me ill – but even figuring out my metabolism and how to have my outer strength match my inner strength was enlightening and inspiring. It made me feel even more in control of my future, and able to let go and understand and most importantly accept when things don’t go as planned. And it’s a really empowering and comforting feeling. It’s also interesting because for the first time, I feel like I could actually possibly start to open myself up to sharing some of my life with someone else instead of just keeping those walls up forever. I’ll have new physical walls around me soon enough as it is, seems like I’ll finally feel at home and perhaps the old walls, just like that old door on my childhood home, can come down and close for the very last time. I said to my friend who’s been having an even bigger shit time of it lately than I have, earlier this week that she can lay down her sword, and straighten her crown. She’s not a warrior, she’s a queen. I, however, am and always have been, a warrior. Perhaps I’ll hang up my sword on one of those new walls, though I’ll always keep fighting for a better future and those I love. I have no desire to be a queen, ruler of anyone. No, thank you. Much like my namesake, Joan of Arc, I am a warrior. With a soul.

Here’s to what’s ahead – even if I can’t quite see it clearly just yet.