Tag Archives: advice

A Love Note to Mothers on Mother’s Day




Photo @Randy Mason

Dear Mothers,

When my youngest daughter was actively using heroin, the holidays were difficult. Mother’s Day was, by far, the prize winner. I spent the day dwelling on the possibility that I might never have a Mother’s Day with all of my children by my side; the reward for having dried oceans of tears, wiped noses and butts, and attended every type of game or performance imaginable. Having raised four children I found it impossible to enjoy the other three knowing that one of them may not be alive at that time next year.

I was not over reacting. I had watched the previous year as mother after mother lost her child. I went to funerals and hugged broken families and whispered the same meaningless expressions of sympathy, where no words suffice. Helpless to offer comfort for which there is no comfort. My own fears of possible loss reinforced.

A very wise woman who I look to like a mother now that my own is gone told me once, “You are only as happy as your most unhappy child.” It was painfully true.

So many years later I am blessed that I will spend time with my beautiful daughter and enjoy my other children. That fear of her not being here next year is all but gone, replaced by the normal fears of an ordinary mother who worries too much, making her text me when she goes home from my house, as well as the occasional fear of avalanches, alien abductions and myriad of other things that defy reality.  I look back and wish I had spent more time enjoying my other children over the years on this day because the truth of the matter is that, although when we exist in the hell of active addiction, our chances of loss are exponentially increased, we are not promised any more than the minute we exist in with anyone.

So, if you are lucky enough to have your children healthy, try not to spend too much time worrying about what might happen tomorrow. Live in this moment, even if just for today.

If your child is struggling or you are missing a child today for any reason and you have other children, remember that they didn’t ask for this any more than you did. Try to count your blessings rather than your heartaches. They need you and you need them.

If your only child is out there somewhere and you are living in the terror, a feeling I will never forget, try to take a few minutes and do something nice for yourself. For me that always meant a pint of Ben and Jerrys, but do what makes you happy.  You deserve it. Try to be hopeful too, because this time next year you might be, like me, celebrating with your child who looks a lot better than you ever dared to dream.

And for all of us, pick up the phone, text, email or send some flowers to the mother that has lost her child due to addiction or any other reason. Ask her if she wants to get out for a while. Don’t assume you know she wants to be alone. We never know what someone else needs. Ask!  Then be there. Listen to her stories if she wants to talk. Call her child by their name. The women that have paid the ultimate price, many of them mother to their own grandchildren, deserve a day to celebrate themselves and all that they have been through.

I carry you all in my heart. God bless and Happy Mother’s Day to us all.

– Maureen Cavanagh

Heroin rears it’s ugly head in suburbia


Dear Friends,

The experience of writing this blog has proven to me that as different as we all may think we are we are all remarkably similar as well. The problems and concerns that hit me in Boston are also having the same effect on someone across the world. Records gathered from police, courts and the medical examiner shatter stereotypes about who gets sucked into this deadly vortex. It’s not all young adults. The median age of overdose victims is 41. And they’re not the dregs of society. They are homemakers, professionals, students and laborers. (Patriot Ledger) . One person every 8 days dies of a heroin/opiate overdose in my area and the numbers keep rising. I am impressed and encouraged by the actions of a small Massachusetts town Police Chief. I encourage you all to share/reblog this story with the hope that the approach will catch on. There may only be small things that anyone can do but sometimes the small ripples create the huge wave of change. Thank you.

https://www.facebook.com/GloucesterPoliceDepartment?fref=nf or http://gloucesterpd.com/blog

Gloucester Police Department (Official)
May 4 at 10:55am · Edited ·
On Saturday, May 2, the City held a forum regarding the opiate crisis, and on how Gloucester has many resources for help. We are poised to make revolutionary changes in the way we treat this DISEASE. Your Police Department vowed to take the following measures to assist, beginning June 1, 2015:
– Any addict who walks into the police station with the remainder of their drug equipment (needles, etc) or drugs and asks for help will NOT be charged. Instead we will walk them through the system toward detox and recovery. We will assign them an “angel” who will be their guide through the process. Not in hours or days, but on the spot. Addison Gilbert and Lahey Clinic have committed to helping fast track people that walk into the police department so that they can be assessed quickly and the proper care can be administered quickly.
– Nasal Narcan has just been made available at local pharmacies without a prescription. The police department has entered into an agreement with Conleys and is working on one with CVS that will allow anyone access to the drug at little to no cost regardless of their insurance. The police department will pay the cost of nasal narcan for those without insurance. We will pay for it with money seized from drug dealers during investigations. We will save lives with the money from the pockets of those who would take them. We recognize that nasal narcan is not the answer, but it is saving lives and no one in this City will be denied a life saving drug for this disease just because of a lack of insurance. Conleys has also agreed to assist with insurance requests from those who do not have any.
– I will personally travel to Washington DC, with the support of Mayor Theken, the City Council, Sen. Bruce Tarr, and Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante, on May 12 and 13. There I will meet with Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey and Congressman Seth Moulton. I will bring what Gloucester is accomplishing and challenge them to change, at the federal level, how we receive aid, support and assistance. I will bring the idea of how far Gloucester is willing to go to fight this disease and will ask them to hold federal agencies, insurance companies and big business accountable for building a support system that can eradicate opiate addiction and provide long term, sustainable support to reduce recidivism.
I am asking for your help. Like this post, send it to everyone you can think of and ask them to do the same. Speak your comments. Create strength in numbers. I will bring it with me to show how many voters are concerned about this issue. Lives are literally at stake. I have been on both sides of this issue, having spent 7 years as a plainclothes narcotics detective. I have arrested or charged many addicts and dealers. I’ve never arrested a tobacco addict, nor have I ever seen one turned down for help when they develop lung cancer, whether or not they have insurance. The reasons for the difference in care between a tobacco addict and an opiate addict is stigma and money. Petty reasons to lose a life.
Please help us make permanent change here in Gloucester.
Thank you,
Chief Campanello

Detach with Love



Whenever life takes a nasty turn I try to ask myself how did I contribute toward it? Don’t get me wrong, I’m neither a victim nor am I (any longer) the over responsible person who must blame themselves for everything. I just know that in order to change the route you must be aware of the place you came off the road, onto the bumpy dirt path, that led you into the swampy ditch. Then you can drag your muddy ass up out of the hole you find yourself in and never take that road again. This doesn’t happen if you don’t take responsibility for that first (or the second) wrong turn and learn from it.

The question is what do you do when you are watching someone else heading for the ditch and you can tell the hole they will be in might just swallow them up and they have no idea where they got off the road? You might think to jump in, waving your hands and screaming, “Save yourself” or “Watch out ahead.” Maybe you even throw yourself in the ditch a few times so they can step over your back avoiding most of the mud. But then how will they ever learn to change the route?

Sometimes, as painful and dangerous as it feels, the only answer is to let go and detach with love, standing to the side while letting your heart fly from your chest, into the ditch, and hope that somehow all the love you have in it will provide the strength to that lost soul to get back on the road that leads somewhere better.

The three things I cannot change are the past, the truth and you.
Anne LaMott



How much can one person handle? I always wonder what choices are there. Giving in, giving up, seems to yield additional troubles.
Why are we all so afraid to feel the emotions associated with heartbreak in whatever form it takes? Why is it so acceptable to medicate our feelings into submission, instead of standing up and saying I will not be defeated by them? Saying it over and over until we believe it and it becomes true.

“Fall down seven times, get up eight.” – Japanese Proverb

Advice to the young and the young at heart



If you could give one bit of advice to your younger self about relationships what would it be?

Oh, c’mon all of you out there, shouting, “Run!” Think way back or think back to yesterday depending on your age and just how much you’ve had your heart twisted out of your rib cage and stomped on. You know what it’s like when you look across the room and your eyes meet. Everything is aquiver and they say all the right things in just the right way.


My advice would be to pay attention to what they do and not what they say. Oh, the heartache that would have saved me. I’m not saying that words aren’t important or necessary. What I’m saying is if you find someone that consistently does what they say they will do, never less but sometimes more, you have a keeper. In my younger incarnation I fell in love with potential. I loved to hear the plans for what would be, it was so wonderfully distracting from what wasn’t happening.

Now, I watch carefully for actions. I don’t have enough time in my life for potential. I probably never did.

When deeds speak, words are nothing. ~African Proverb


Don’t be a baby? Why not?



I think it’s time for me to be more child-like. I’m tired of being adult about everything.

I was on the beach yesterday watching a family with small children. One curly-haired, blue-eyed, cherub of a girl complete with a yellow bikini making a sand cake for her mother and her slightly older, more serious looking, brother in his boxer bathing suit with small blue whales on them eating a juicy peach and singing a song I don’t recognize. They are adorable, sweet, angelic…oh wait he’s ripping the shovel out of her hand and screaming, “MINE”, she has her mouth open but no sound is coming out, she’s standing up, still no sound…wait for it, wait for it…WOW. She lets out one blood- curdling scream and falls backwards into the sand. Her brother looks on, unfazed, and then continues digging the hole he had been neglecting while eating his lunch. She screams some more and her parents, clearly embarrassed but not unfamiliar with the theatrics, try to quiet her. “Don’t be a baby”, Dad says, while her brother is completely absorbed in digging and singing.

Oh please, let her scream I want to say. How I wish I could do that. Just once. Like say when the guy stole my parking spot or when the woman on the cell phone cut in front of me in line like I wasn’t even there.

Right down on the ground screaming. Can you imagine?

I think we could learn a thing or two about feeling our emotions without apologizing or holding them in from children. How do we get so repressed? Of course throwing yourself down and wailing isn’t the answer but maybe more honesty in our emotions is still an option.

“Hiding how you really feel and trying to make everyone happy doesn’t make you nice, it just makes you a liar.”Jenny O’Connell, The Book of Luke

Italy, Inspiration, and Incredible women


The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.  Michelangelo 

Is it acceptable to still want to be something when you grow up, even at 49? Is it best to have a plan and expectations or is it better to do as I do most of the time and just have an idea and fling yourself at it? Do we still get to do that at this age? Of course I’m not saying that I don’t think about what I want to do, but if I consider what has worked in the past, I’d say launching into something full steam as if it were really already under way has been the successful approach. Starting this blog and proclaiming to people all over the world what I was in the process of doing surely made me feel as though turning back would be defeat. 

This new business and non-profit is the first endeavor I’ve undertaken where my main concern is not how I will work it around my children. My youngest of four is almost 17 and the oldest nearly 30, so it’s all about me this time.  What a glorious age this is. I love the woman my age too. They have done so many different things, many while raising children, and often supporting a home, that they just don’t have time to be afraid or if they are they kick it aside and march on. They’re supportive and compassionate without being patronizing. They know themselves or they are clearly on the path and don’t mind telling you what they think. Women in thier 50’s, give or take a decade, are to be envied. When I turn 50 next year I feel like I’m entering this exclusive club of creative, smart, funny, self assured people who don’t have time to take any crap from anyone and God help you if you mess with anyone they love. They are fiercely loyal and understand the value of a good girlfriend. They know what they want and also how to get it. I just love that. 

Another incredible part of life at this age is I get to do some of the things I’ve dreamed about. July’s adventure is a trip to Italy. I’ve dreamed of this trip and I see no reason to waste anymore time. If you miss my ramblings I’d suggest you check out:











Oh, it’s just ridiculous how much talent and insight is out there. I could never include them all. These people and quite a few others have become a sort of blogging family for me.  I feel very blessed. 

Positano, Florence and Tuscany.  I’m going to eat, drink, be merry, and contemplate my future as if I were 16 and it was all ahead of me, because it is. Only now I’m smarter, have no time to waste and I’m aiming higher. 



There is no greater harm than that of time wasted. Michelangelo

New Experiences and changes…


“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

I love this quote. I love quotes in general. Whenever I am feeling a little lost I’ve always looked for inspiration in the words of others. I imagined that they must know more that I do if everyone was quoting them and I’m usually able to find just what I need.

I have to admit, the idea of giving my resignation to the school where I teach special education is a a little daunting. I decided about 5 years ago after a divorce to complete a Master’s program in Special Education and change careers to become a teacher. It wasn’t easy to juggle work and school and four children, with very little help. Both of my parents died during all of this and there were many other problems, many financial. In other words; I nearly killed myself getting here and after 2 years in the exact job I thought I wanted that actually wants me back I’m planning to resign. Wow, when I write it down it sounds nuts.

For all that is good about this, there is bad. It’s not the new and richer experience I had hoped for. In fact, I spend most of my day doing tedious paperwork and handing my lessons to my tutor so she can enjoy teaching them. I love the kids in my class and I think they may even love me as much as a middle school student can. I do know that they  know how much I respect them and I absolutely get that back. But, my job is about 10 % teaching and 90% administration. Let’s not forget I’m actually considered living on the poverty level for the town where I work. I make 50% of the median income in my town. Not even the deciding factor, but significant enough to mention.

So, the new and richer experience had to include a way to make the world a better place. I know myself and if that is not part of the plan I won’t be happy doing whatever I am doing. I’ve always volunteered and worked in nonprofit and have started two nonprofits of my own. The trouble was that I could never make enough money to support my family at these jobs so I would find myself doing something that made our lives more comfortable but gave no personal satisfaction aside from that.

I have been in search of the opportunity where I can live a comfortable life, be challenged, independant, and also give back. I think I’ve found it. The business I’m starting with give a percentage of the cost from the client  and a percentage of my profit on each transaction to a nonprofit I am creating. My thought is that if I do it at the start that neither the client or myself will miss that small amount.

Imagine if every business did that? Imagine the good we can do? I want to be a part of that and I know that if I work hard I can create something wonderful that will employ people, give other woman a new start and allow me to support my family. I’m chronicling it on here so that I can show other women after I successfully create this business called Magnolia that just because you’re scared doesn’t mean you should stop.

Take a second to send some encouragement if you happen to read this. I’m going forward but the good thoughts help.

Thank you for reading and good luck to you too!