Wear What You Want – The Early Years

Wear what you want. Why do these four words have such a strong meaning to me? Where did this passion come from? To answer these questions, we will have to travel back in time, back to the early years.

I have always enjoyed fashion, shopping and the time that I got to spend with my Mom. Fashion was a secret language that we shared, it was our bond and it was just our “thing”. Some of my fondest memories with my Mom were the Saturdays that we spent together. Our Saturdays were always the same; morning chores, lunch and shopping. Every Saturday without fail, in sickness and in health, rain or shine, we did the same thing. We got up, cleaned the house (which absolutely did not need to be cleaned), got fancied up and started out on our adventure food and style. As a kid, it just seemed like that’s what Moms and daughters did. Didn’t every Mom and Daughter on the block spend every single Saturday at the mall? No, I don’t think so, I think they might have broken up their routine a little or at least. But looking back at this now, I see that those days were more to her than just lunch and shopping, it was her escape. Her way of taking time for herself and doing something that made her feel good, this was her creative outlet. All of these things, all of these reasons were passed down to me. This passion has given me an eye for fashion and flare that is my own. It has given me the confidence to walk into any room knowing that I’m wearing what I want. That was gift that I will always thank her for.

My Mom and I had this routine until the time she passed. We were the longest running cast members in this play, but we were not the only players. Let’s meet the supporting actors. Grandma, now my Grandma had a wicked eye for fashion and never left the house without looking like she was walking out of a catalog (yes it was a generational thing), My Sister, my Sister got drug out every weekend with us, but she just but didn’t have the passion like we did. My mom for some reason never gave her the option to stay home which didn’t always make this for a pleasant experience but she was with us. I know now that my Sister didn’t enjoy shopping because she didn’t feel confident and unfortunately didn’t know how beautiful she really was. It is statements like this that make me wish I had a time machine to go back and tell her exactly how amazingly beautiful she really was. Heavy sigh!

So, every Saturday the four of us would head off to some store or some mall. Yes buying new things was fun (and the ultimate goal) but we didn’t always buy something. Sometimes it was because we didn’t find anything and sometimes it was because we couldn’t afford to buy anything, but we still tried. Sometimes only one person bought something, yep it was always a group effort to shop. For some reason it took all four of us to buy just about anything. It took four of us when my Grandma needed a new hat. It took four of us when she needed a new shovel or tomato planet. It literally took all four of us to buy anything. Why you ask, I’m not really sure and I just look back and appreciate the time that we had together. The fact that we didn’t always buy something came not only from not being able to find anything, but the fact that we didn’t have enough money to buy anything. During these years we still got up, cleared the house (yes it was still perfectly clean but we cleaned anyway), went to lunch then headed to the thrift stores instead the malls. We went from AmVets to Goodwill but never to the JC Pennys or May Co. Those trips were over and wouldn’t return for many years. As a kid, I didn’t mind that we were poor and I didn’t mind shopping at thrift stores. I still remember being so excited when I found that “one” deal. That top for a quarter a pair of pants for .50 cents or even that one great book for a dime that I could lose myself in. Now my sister on the other hand didn’t have the same great experience during those times. She was 6 years older than me and in High School. Kids aren’t nice sometimes and they knew we were poor (I’m sure you know where I”m going with this), yes, they teased her about her clothes. She was already struggling with her acne and her looks, and unfortunately, this just pushed her over the top. I remember not being able to understand by anyone would tease her, I thought we clothes were cute. She was my sister and to me she was perfect. I still remember a particular pair of overalls that she got. I thought they were so cute (I loved overalls then and still do today), but the other kids just tore her down for them. It’s those kind of memories that kept me out of resale shops for years. I associated thrift stores with my sister’s pain and couldn’t bring myself to go into one. I recently decided to face that memory and went back to the same thrift store that we shopped at when I was a child. It was exactly the same. It looked the same and smelled the same, the only thing that had changed was me. I talked to my sister (who has passed) while I was there and told her it was okay now. It was such a healing moment for me. It allowed me to face the pain that I associated with thrift stores. Since that moment thrift shopping is one of my favorite things to do.

Back to the story….Through the years our Saturday shopping adventures never stopped. Even as a teen we would have our Saturdays together. Now this seems sweet, but in reality this was just expensive. While my parents were doing better than they were, they still did not have the money to buy me whatever I wanted. To tell you the truth, even if they did have the money, my Dad still would have made me work for anything I wanted that was over the basics that they gave me. So off to work I went at 16 to buy myself the clothes that they other girls were having handed to them. Yep, that’s right, my friends had parents who were rich, and I had parents who thought teaching me the value of a dollar was more important. Looking back now, I was the lucky kid and had the good parents. School, work, school, work school, work, shop, become my routine. I still remember getting paid just enough to buy my outfit for the weekend and pretty much didn’t have anything left over. I worked everyday after school for that one outfit. It was a really good outfit!

Even out of school and out of the house my bond with My Mom and shopping continued. No matter how far away I had moved (I moved about an 1 hour away), we would still meet every Saturday. I would drive an hour, she would drive an hour. It didn’t matter, we just wanted to see each other. We wanted our time together and we just plain ole wanted to shop. There were new clothes just waiting to travel home to our closets. There were times throughout my early thirties that I just didn’t have much money. I was a single Mom and didn’t have the extra income to spare on my clothes. But that did not stop us, oh no. We would still meet for lunch and still go shopping. Only difference was my boys were usually the ones to get a new top, socks or a small toy, but they got something. My Mom, being my Mom would always slip something into her bag for me. I really don’t care what anyone says, a mom will be a mom no matter how old you get!

So let’s look back at this journey. From childhood, thrift stores, endless lunches, hours on the road and decades of bonding time. Fashion and the time spent with my Mom, is time that helped me become the person I am today. I didn’t realize then that all the conversations over lunch, all the small talk at the stores and all the questions about what looked good, was nothing more than a Mother/Daughter relationship forged in a Nordstroms department store. Looking back now I see that I took these lessons and turned them into my own. I took the encouragement she gave me to buy something that I wasn’t quite sure of and rock in my own way. Exactly what I’m trying to do now for millions of women around the world. I’m trying to give them the same love and encouragement to “Wear What You Want” that she gave me. I know in my heart that she would be proud. Not so much of me, but for the gift that she gave me and my desire to share that with you. Her fashion, her style, her confidence. Her fashion choices helped her when she was sad, it made hard times not so hard and it just made her happy. I can say with confidence that it does the same for me. So thank you Mom. Thank you for those unlimited lunches, hours of shopping and endless conversations.

I will end this with a message from my Mom and myself. Fashion isn’t what you wear, fashion is about how it makes you feel. It tells the world what you think about yourself and what you want the world to know. Wear what makes you feel good about yourself and you will find your style and I guarantee you it will tell the world one thing…. You will tell them that you are amazing!

A Message To Myself

Dedicated to Lauren.

I am truly blessed to have the people in my life whom I love. One of these amazing humans is a lovely young lady whom I am blessed to have in my life. Lauren asked me if she could request a subject for me to write about. Without even a second of hesitation I said yes. Little did I know what a challenge her question would be.

Here’s what she requested: “What would you tell your past self as you were beginning your sobriety journey?”

Now on the outside looking in, this might seem like an easy question to answer. A simple “keep your head up and keep looking forward” kinda answer. But in reality it’s a difficult question for me to answer. Not because I don’t know what I would tell myself, but because there are so many things I would want to tell myself. This has proven to be the first time I’ve struggled with putting my words down and not knowing where to start. I guess this is good for me because it has made me dig a little deeper. Leave it to Lauren to shake up my world. So here you go young lady, my message to myself……

I know that you are scared. You are scared because you are about to change the only life you have ever known. On top of being scared of change, you are terrified that you will get a taste of that freedom and then have it taken away. I’m proud of you for coming to the realization that you need a change in your life and I’m even prouder of the fact that you have found the courage to try. Not only will you need to heal your physical body, but you will need to heal your mind, your soul and your heart. I will say with 100% certainty that it will be worth every tear and every uncomfortable moment that you will have. There is a different life other than what you have been living and you deserve all the happiness that the other life has to offer. You are a fighter, now fight your life.

I would tell myself that sobriety and the choice to love life is what we call freedom. It’s like that bear that lives its entire life in a cage. This bear know nothing but that cage until the day it is rescued. Now you would think the bear would run free the moment the cage door is open, but it doesn’t. It doesn’t want to leave the security of the cage because it doesn’t know any other life. It will take the bear time to grasp the idea that it is no longer being held captive. The bear will get the idea sooner or later that it has the right to venture outside of the cage and will take a few tentative steps but everything feels different to the bear. The ground feels different, the air smells different, the world looks different. Every single thing is different and even though it is better it is still different. On the outside looking in, we watch the bear and we give it encouragement. We are patient with the bear, we reward it when it makes progress and we celebrate once it leave the cage for good. You are the bear and adiction is the cage. You need to give yourself the same self love and the same encouragement that you give the bear.

The work doesn’t stop once you are outside of the cage. You will need to make sure you keep tabs of every part of your life. Your freedom outside of the cage is like a garden and you will need to tend to your garden on a daily basis. You cannot plant flowers, get them to bloom and then just stop watering them and walk away. You will need to visit your sobriety on a daily basis. You need to make sure all the weeds are pulled, it is watered and love on it every single day. This is not negotiable.

Your wounds will heal. Some will heal quickly and soon be a distant memory. Others will take time to heal. There is no time limit and no hurry, you just have to let time heal all the wounds. You will need to revisit your past through meditation. There will be memories that you will need revisit and save your inner child (this will be explained another day). You will have to be braver than you have every been, but you can do it. You can do it because you have gotten this far.

You will need to learn how to live again. You will find joy in the things you never notice before. A flower will stop you in your tracks because of its beauty. You will laugh louder and smile more. Everything that you were scared of will no longer be scary. Love will taste sweet and tears will heal.

Do not be scared of loosing your happiness before you even get it. This fear will keep you in that cage. This fear will bring its friend guilt and guilt is a bitch. Surround yourself with positivity and likeminded people. Watch shows that that will make you laugh, read a books that will inspire you and stay away for the negative. Tell yourself everyday that it is okay to be okay and you deserve happiness.

There is nothing stopping you from this point forward. You got this and now go live your life.

Pain Is Pain

Simply put…..pain is pain.

No one has the right to tell you anything about your pain. No one can tell you if your pain is right or if your pain is wrong. No one can tell you if you are hurting too much or not enough. Too often we have outside sources judging our pain, rating your pain or even validating your pain. Your pain is yours and yours alone.

So let’s explore this subject and see where it takes us. This is typically a subject that people like to shy away from It’s not a fun subject to talk about, but I feel it is a very necessary subject. You have to understand pain in order to process and deal with it. So we will breakdown the basics of pain, how we deal with our own pain and how people treat you and your pain.

Pain is simply something that causes you discomfort or distress. It can be physical, it can be mental or it can be emotional. All three of these pains are valid and need to be dealt with. We very often deal with physical pain and ignore the mental/emotional pain. Broken bones will heal in six weeks, broken hearts will take longer.

We don’t think twice about going to the doctor for our physical pain. If we break our arm we go the hospital to get it fixed. We have a rating system for physical pain. How many times have you been at the doctors and they ask you to rate your pain from 1 to 10. With physical pain we have something to show for it. We wear a cast if we break a bone. We use a bandaid if we cut our finger. We can show someone a scar and explain to them how we got hurt.

Emotional/mental pain – now that’s a whole different ballgame.

Emotional/mental pain as not bounds. We have nothing that we can show other people to tell them how we were hurt. We carry emotional/mental pain in our head, our heart and in our soul. There is no limit it this pain. It has all the freedom to expand into every fiber of our being. It can invade our dreams and it has the potential to impact every aspect of our lives. It is up to us to put a limit on the damage that our pain can cause. Here’s an example of what I mean:

Example: You as a child experience a trauma. It can be mental, emotional or physical, either way, you are in pain. This childhood pain will follow you into your teens and then adult life and will become a part of who you are. Many people who experience a childhood trauma will turn to substance abuse in order to dull that pain. Unfortunately substance abuse will only cause the pain to rampage with no bounds. Now take that same child, and the same trauma and control that pain. You have to turn around and face that pain. Acknowledge it, call it out, call it every name in book, just don’t ignore it. Pain will impact every aspect your life when you pretend it is not there. I will not tell you to let it go. That is just stupid. You might as well tell your left leg to get lost. Your pain is a part of who you are and should not go away. I’m not saying to keep it in the forefront of your life, I’m saying acknowledge it, file it and go forward.

Back to the subject

Mental/emotional pain is a silent stalker. Mental/emotional pain can a childhood bully, a neglectful spouse, an absentee parent or an overbearing boss. Mental/emotional pain is anything that hurts your heart, your soul and gets your inner voice talking shit on you in your head. There is not limit to what damage this can do to you. There is no scar you can show anyone. You cannot go to the hospital and rate your mental/emotional pain. You have to figure out what path works best for you when it comes to this pain. You can keep this pain to yourself or you can share it. Describing this pain can be daunting. It’s hard to put feeling into words, it is like trying to describe a color. You can share your pain with people who have similar experiences but no one will ever have exact formal of pain that you have. Mental/emotional pain is like a snowflake, not two are alike. For some reason mental/emotional pain comes with guilt. Guilt is an ugly demon but we will get into that another time. I do highly suggest the following: share your pain in a safe environment, find a healthy outlet and find a healthy storage unit in you.

So here is my point. Physical, mental or emotional, your pain is uniquely yours. You have to own it and figure out how you want to deal with it. Once you learn to be okay with your own pain, you can start to show compassion for other peoples pain. You can’t experience it but you can understand it. What you might think as “not a big deal” might be earth shattering to someone else and that is perfectly okay. There is no reason to rate anyone’s pain, you just have to accept the fact that the person standing in front of you is hurting.

This brings me to a personal note. The only fight my sister and I ever got into was over this subject. I know she had a hard childhood and she protected me every chance she got, but I had a hard childhood also. I couldn’t get her to understand that even though her experiences were painful, mine were also. It took a fight on my front lawn for us to get past the pain and actually see each other and our unique pain.

It is my hope that after reading this you will gain a new understand and compassion when it comes to this subject. When you hear someone talk about their pain, just try and not compare it to your own. Have compassion if their pain seems trivial compared to yours. Who knows, that table might turn one day you and you will need someone to show you the same compassion back. If someone doesn’t understand your pain, just realize that they don’t understand their own. Don’t get mad and don’t take it personal. It’s them, not you.

I will be the first to tell you that I don’t have all the answers, but if you do need help let me know. I will help you find resources in your area. You should never feel like you are alone and your pain is real.

Election Night Story Time

As I sit here glued to the TV, flipping through the channels and hanging on every word, I have decided to give myself a break from reality for a moment at least. And what better way to do that than with a story.

We all have stories. Some stories are funny, some are sad and some weird BUT all stories tell us something about who we are. My stories always seem to point back to the fact that I get myself into trouble. A lot! So sit back and enjoy my election night story.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Lonni who was always the smallest in her class. She had large green eyes, always wore her brown hair in two large braids, never wore a dress and always found herself getting into trouble. Maybe it was her never-ending curiosity or maybe it was the sheer lack of parental supervision but either way she and mischief were the best of friends.

Now, this little girl and her overwhelming desire to push every envelope that ever crossed her path, had a bodyguard. Not just any bodyguard, she had the biggest badass that Dora Drive had ever seen. This bodyguard struck fear in the hearts of all who made the fatal mistake of picking on this mischievous child. This bodyguard was her sister.

Born 5 years earlier into a family that had little to no need for softness, this older sister took it upon herself to protect, love and guide her little sister. She protected her sister from other kids, gave her comfort when she was sick and sheltered her when life got angry. She grew up hard and wanted to make sure that her little sister had a softer life.

She protected her from all of these things and more, accept for one thing. She couldn’t protect her against her pet turtle. Named Charlie Brown, this desert turtle lived in their backyard and basically minded his own business, ate leaves and moved, well as slow as a turtle. In Lonni’s eyes he was a menacing dinosaur that had nothing be evil intentions and was faking his slowness. So everyday when her sister went to school she would muster up the courage and go into the back yard to face her foe. As we all know, all good heroines need weapons, but weapons are not easy to come by when you are 4. This did not stop her, she would just have to make her own. Now Lonni was a quick thinker and what better thing to fight with a turtle with than leaves. So she would scour the yard to find leaves large and small. Once she couldn’t carry anymore she would head off to find Charlie Brown. Once she laid eyes on him, she carefully made her way close enough to fire off her arsenal of leaves and then run for safety.

Let’s take a minute and look at this from the turtle’s point of view. Hi, I’m Charlie Brown and I’m minding my own business. I’m just standing here and think about walking over there to that part of the yard. Hmmm, I know it will take me at least half a day to get there and now I’m not really sure I want to go. Oh wait, here comes that little girl again and she’s bringing me an armful of food. I’ll just stand here and wait for her. Gosh, I’m not sure why she’s throwing the food at me and running away, but I’m going to follow her and thank her. She is so nice.

This scene played out over and over, day after day. Her Mom would tell her to just stay away from the turtle, jut the little girl knew deep down inside that if she didn’t strike first, Charlie Brown would get the upper hand. She new better than to just stay away. Finally after months of gladiator style backyard fighting, the little girl’s Mom just had enough and someone had to go. But who? Who would be the unlucky one to be packed up and shipped off. As much as her sister loved her, she did not want to see her turtle go and voted to keep Charlie Brown. Luckily for the little girl, cooler heads prevailed and she got to stay.

The End

This story is dedicated to my amazing badass sister who spent the majority of her life and my life protecting me. She fought bullies for me, listened to me when I needed to be heard, raised me when our parents were not around and I don’t care what she said, I know she loved me more than that damn turtle. I lost my bodyguard 13 years, 360 days ago (but who’s counting). My Sister passed away after a brief battle with a very agressive cancer. I felt like a part of me died with her that day and it took me years to learn how to be a complete person. I cannot explain the amount of love and respect that I have for that woman. She was one of the good ones. But, I have a lot of stories about her and will share them all with you. I told you the Charlie Brown story today because even at the end we were still talking and laughing about this. I remember sitting next to her at the hospital while she slept (at least I thought she was sleeping) when she suddenly opens her eyes, looks over at me and says “You know he was a fucking turtle and you could have outrun him, right?” We had such a good laugh over this and fact that I fought him with food. She always asked me “What where you thinking” and the truth is I don’t really know. It is just who and I am and like I said. I aways seem to get myself into trouble.

Until next time…..

Surviving Parenthood

I have come to the conclusion that parenthood comes with a lot of guilt. Especially mine.

I’ve been a parent now for over 30 years. I have two amazing sons who I am very proud of. They love their Mom and I love them more than anything in the world. How we got to this point is still a mystery to me because I got to tell you, looking back it should have turned out very differently.

I was a youngish Mom who went into Motherhood all bright eyed and bushy tailed. I had the idea that no mother would ever love her children more than I was going to love mine. That we would be the perfect family and have the perfect life. Life unfortunatly had other intentions for us.

I had my first son just 3 days shy of my 26th birthday and my second son 2 and half years after that. On the outside looking in we were the perfect family. The hard working Dad, stay at home Mom and 2 beautiful children. What it looked like on the outside was not what it was on the inside. I will not spend much time on the subject of my ex-husband, other to state that he was not a nice man so we packed up and left. His parenting stopped around this time also. He made a couple of cameos to stir up some shit and that was the extent of his involvement. End of subject.

My idea of parenthood changed that day we left. Not necessarily for the worse because I don’t think being a single parent is a bad thing. Having one loving parent is way better than having two miserable ones. While my boys and I were determined to make the best of things, things were just hard. My boys were 7 and 5 when we left and like millions of other single parents I was the “one stop shop”.

So there I was, a 32 year old single mom in a moldy rental, two young boys, a pit bull and a new determination to make this all okay for my kids. We had our good days, like the day we roasted marshmallows and made s’mores in the living room fireplace. We had not so good days like when I would become overwhelmed and not have the patience that I knew they deserved. There were times that I could not afford the electricity and I would cook by candlelight. After dinner we would play board games until we had to stop when we got lightheaded from the candle smell. Those were fun nights. I learned quickly that if I had to choose between gas or electricity I would choose to keep the electricity on. We could handle the dark but cold showers were unacceptable. Having the water turned off was the absolute worse. You HAVE to flush the toilets. For the most part we took everything in stride and we generally worked together. It wasn’t until they got older and I got to drinking more that things turned bad.

I always had an issue with drinking and had quit when my children were young. I started drinking again when my marriage stared to end and I didn’t stop for 20 years. During this time I spiraled out of control and they spiraled out of control with me. I went through boyfriends and they went through hell. I drank until I blacked out and they have blacked out those times. I was self destructive and they were lost. I was angry and they were sad. I can go on and on all day, but the bottom line is this. My addiction not only stole my life, it stole my children’s childhood. There is no good way to look at what they went through and this is one area of my recovery that will never recover. I personally will never play this down, I will not soften the truth and I will not diminish the pain that I put my children through. It is my belief that to do any of those things would be slap in their face. For me to deny anything or to say it wasn’t “that bad” would put them right back in the position of feeling helpless. Not to mention they would see right through that bullshit and would I would loose all the progress that we have made. For me the facing the ugly truth is the only way to face this. It’s painful but necessary.

By the time I did quit drinking nether one of my children liked me, one wouldn’t speak to me and the other barely tolerated my presence. I went into my healthy journey with the hope that we would be able to heal. I had an idea of what I wanted it to look like, but the reality is so much better. Better than I ever dreamed of. I have been able to share experiences with them that I never thought possible. We have been on trips together, have started new traditions, have become closer and have a bond of trust.

This journey of healing has it moments. Please don’t think for one moment that it’s all rainbows and butterflies. The past can raise its ugly head and I deal with it when it does. As a parent it is my duty to put their feeling before mine. If something triggers them, it’s my responsibility to acknowledge their pain and help them. It’s my job to be the Mom I should have been all those years. The times when I was drunk and they needed me. This is my “do-over” and I plan on doing it in the best possible way. I don’t care if my children are 5, 25 or 55, I will do what I can, to be the best possible Mom I can be. There are not many things in life that give you a second chance, but I feel love is one of those things.

If you are currently struggling with addiction or the aftermath of addiction, I will say this. Stay true to you. You have to heal yourself first and then those around you will heal also. Addiction doesn’t only affect you, it affects everyone who loves you. The same goes with healing. When you are healthy it will affect those you love and help them heal also.

I shed a couple of tears writing this tonight but after rereading this I realized something. It might have taken me a few years, but I feel like that bright eyed and bushy tailed Mom again. That feeling is worth every single tear.

Until next time…….

Channel Your Inner Mary Poppins

There is just something special about good ole Mary Poppins. Besides her talking umbrella, beautiful smile and that amazing carpet bag that carries every thing, she has just the right amount of magic.

Just like Mary Poppins, we too have the right amount of magic in us. I’m not talking about casting spells or turning your angry neighbor into a toad. I’m talking about the kind of magic that makes you pick up the phone and call an old friend, just to find out that they were down and needed to hear a friendly voice. The kind of magic that makes you slow down at a green light for no reason, only to have a car run a red light. The kind of magic that you fill in the pit of your stomach when you know something is quite right. The kind of magic that we all have locked inside of us just waiting to get out.

Some people call it instinct, some call in luck, some call it bullshit, I simply call it magic.

So how do you unlock your inner magic? Well, there are all sorts of way you can do this and each person will have to find their own key to unlock their own magic. Because as you know, like I say….We all have our own paths and what works for one person might not be the exact fit for another. I’m going to share with you the way that I unlocked my own magic and hopefully this will get you started on your way to unlocking yours.

First – you have to simply believe. You have to believe in your own magic and what you are telling yourself. When your inner voice talks you, stop and listen to what it is saying. So often we brush if off or push it aside and don’t listen to what we are trying to tell ourselves. You can’t always push aside what you inner voice is telling you. You will have to just start listening and believing. Here’s and example: You drive to work the same way every day, then one day for no reason, your inner voice tells you to go a different way only to find out that there was an accident on your regular route. Had you of gone that way, it could have been you. You not only do you have to listen to your inner voice you have to believe what it is telling you. This gets easier over time once you learn to follow your instinct.

Second – you have to believe in yourself. So you decided to start listening to your inner voice AKA magic and you started to believe what it is telling you. Now you will need to start believing in yourself. Your inner voice is really just you, it’s just the subconscious part of your brain that we don’t listen to because there is too much life noise going on. If you have a feeling, act upon it. Don’t push it aside or tell yourself that it is nonsense. It’s not – it is your magic. Trust yourself, you will not let yourself down.

Third – Explore your mind and unlock more potential.You don’t have to wait for your magic to come to you, you can actually go looking for it. The best way to do this is to meditate. Please don’t tell my you can’t mediate because everyone can, you just have to work your way up to it. So back to my point, meditation is an amazing way to unlock your magic. You can explore that part of your mind that you keep locked away. You can push past all the noice to the quietness of your mind and get in tune with it. Here are a few steps to help get you started if you have never tried meditation before. Find a safe spot. By this I mean a quiet spot that you can relax without worrying about someone walking by or interrupting you. Put on some soft music (this will help calm your mind) and let you mind wander. At first it will be all over the place. That’s okay, it will calm down after time. Once you get the hang of meditation, you will learn to just soar through your mind. I have had some amazing experiences with meditation, but that is a blog for a different day.

Fourth – Journal your experiences. Write down every time your inner voice talks to you, what it says and how you reacted or how did you feel. Do this for a month and then go back and read what you wrote down. It will surprise you how often you actually have interaction with your magic. I guarantee you that you were pushing it aside or not listening to it for a long time. I personally think as children we are much more connected with our magic and that it is age and our daily grind that drowns it out.

Fifth – Find people who have also unlocked their magic. I have a couple of special friends who have the same level of appreciation for their inner voices/magic and I absolutely love sharing stories with them. We always learn something new from each other. You will find a lot of this kind of thinking at yoga, they are a very self aware bunch of folks. You might find that some people don’t want to hear or believe in any of this and that’s perfectly fine. Some people don’t want to look beyond what they can see and again that’s perfectly fine.

So there you go. You now have some steps to help you along your way to unlocking your own inner Mary Poppins. It’s totally up to you to decide how much of your mind you want to unlock and how much you want to keep locked. I personally like to explore inside my head and see what’s rattling around in there. But I do keep a few areas locked up because I just don’t want to revisit that pain. But that is my choice…….I am the supreme leader inside the realm that is called my mind.

Until next time my friends……….

Kindness Does Not Equal Weakness

This took me a long time to learn.

I grew up in a very hard family. My Dad was raised in an orphanage and he learned at a young age what it took to survive. With the best of intentions, he did a very good job passing that wisdom along to his daughters. I in turn learned young how to survive. I learned that you never backed down. You never started a fight and you certainly never ran from one. You never showed fear because they could smell it on you. These are some of the words of wisdom I received heading off to my first day of kindergarten. I still remember sitting there with my lunchbox praying that no one picked on me because I knew I would have to fight back if I wanted to go home that afternoon. I really wanted to go home that afternoon.

I took these lessons to heart as a child and struggled with them most of my adult life.

I struggled with the fear that I would be weak if I showed a soft side. This fear of coming across as weak turned into anger. As it turned out that anger was my ultimate weakness. Around and around it went and I didn’t know how to stop it. Ugh, it was such a vicious circle. At the end of this cycle, I was an angry person, I was an alcoholic, I was a hot mess. I was never a mean person. I was just a confused person that wanted to be strong but didn’t know what strength really was. I was like this well into my early 50’s. I was angry and I didn’t know how to release that anger in a healthy way. It was so much easier to drink the anger away, or at least dull the anger that ran through me, a least for a little while. But as we all know, the anger always comes back and it brings its ugly friends shame and guilt. I was a big bubbling mess of anger, alcohol, guilt and shame. I tried to fight people, I flew off the handle at the smallest thing, I wouldn’t back down from anyone. It felt like I had a black vortex in my mind. All of this, because I didn’t want to be weak.

So how did this madness stop?

It wasn’t overnight that’s for sure and there was no quick fix. It took a lot of soul searching, reading and journaling, but I finally found my path to true strength. I’m going to share some of what I learned and how I changed that pattern. With a side note……

Side Note: I’m a firm believer and will say this often. We all have our own paths and what works for one person might not necessarily work for another. If you are looking for any life change, read what others have done and how they have changed their lives but mold it to fit you. Not two journeys are ever the same.

Step One: Stop drinking. I got rid of all sorts of problems when I stopped drinking and my anger problem was one of them. I could feel myself settling down and the things that pissed me off before were no longer doing that. It was like slowly letting the air out of balloon.

Step Two: Letting go of the past: This one is always hard for me. I had to get over the idea that I was letting my Dad down. I had to reprogram myself to believe something totally different. The first couple of times that I just let something go, I felt weak. But deep down inside of me I knew that wasn’t true. I have found that letting go of the past has helped me in so many areas of my life. Our past shapes us but it does not define who we are today.

Step Three: Figuring the true meaning of strength. To find the true meaning of strength you just have to look around you. Strength is the person who goes out of their way to help others. Strength is the person who feed the homeless. Strength is the person who forgive others. Strength is not the bully. Strength is lead by confidence, not by the ego. Anyone can be angry, the strong can be kind.

Even today I still have to constantly remind myself that I don’t have to fight everyone. I know it makes me the stronger person if I’m the first one to say “Sorry”. But I also know what to look for. I know when I’m triggering myself and old thoughts start popping up.

I know from the bottom of my heart that my Dad, didn’t teach me these things to screw me up. He truly thought he was giving us a head start on how to survive a hard world. I do thank him for the strength that he taught me. The never quit attitude that make me succeed in business. I will be telling a lot of stories about my Dad, he was amazing. Hard, but amazing.

Until tomorrow……..

Ego vs Confidence

This is a fine line between love and hate.

So many of us confuse these two. You look at that person who’s head is held high and think to yourself “That person has a healthy ego”. Well, I hate to tell you this but the ego is never healthy. The ego is like the evil twin to confidence. It disguises itself as confidence, sneaks into your home and then does nothing but cause damage and pain.

My ego led me to years of drinking and unhappiness. It kept me from reaching out for help when I needed it most. I was jealous of anyone who was healthy or happy and this made me into a spiteful person. I was angry at being held in the prison and lashed out every chance I got. I was ugly on the inside. I know that I did not paint a very pretty picture of myself but it’s the truth. I have to keep reminding myself of where I have been to make sure I don’t go back. I have to remember the pain that my ego caused me so this way I keep my defenses up. My confidence now keeps my ego at bay. To better understand the difference let’s take a close look at both of them.

The ego is just a huge bitch. There is just nothing good about the ego. The ego makes people self-righteous and mean. They are self centered and will never be team players The ego is that person in a movie who, when running from the monster locks the door behind them before everyone is safe. You know the one I’m talking about. The one who thinks only about them selves and would rather kill others then help everyone. The ego drive them to think only of themselves, but they always ends up getting eaten by the monster in the end so you would think they would learn. Well, the ego in real life is the monster and it will eat you in the end also. The ego will make you judgmental and think everyone is below you. Your ego will tell you no one is as good as you and this will lead you to be isolated and alone. Exactly where it wants you to be. The ego will stop you from reaching out for help when you need it the most. The ego keeps you isolated. Your ego will not allow you to show any realness. Your ego will keep you a prisoner in your mind because you are either too good for others or if you do reach out you are too weak. Have I painted a good picture here? There is nothing and the repeat, there is nothing good about the ego.

Confidence on the other hand is everything good and warm. Confidence is like a snuggly little puppy. Warm, full of love and just wants to make you feel good about yourself. Your confidence gives you pride in yourself and there is nothing wrong with being proud of yourself (that is a blog for a different day). You take pride in your accomplishments. You have self love and take care of yourself because you matter. Now this is big one. Self love and self care. If you don’t have both of these in your life at this moment then you need to take a hard look at your ego. Has it snuck into you life? If the answer is yes then work on getting it out of your life. You help others because you have the ability to do so. It makes you feel good when you help others because you have confidence and you want others to feel as good as you do. You work well in a team because you want everyone to succeed, not just yourself. Confident people are like a beacon of light. People are drawn to them because they give off such good energy.

So we have go over the two and you should have an idea on the difference. My suggestion is to take a look at your life and see which one is leading the way. If you are confidence driven you are good to go. Just keep up the maintenance and keep everything going in the healthy direction. If your ego is too close then start working on your confidence. Has something happened lately so shake your confidence? Find out where the breakdown is and start repairing that damage.

Let me give you another picture and you will learn this as you read my blogs. I consider myself my own house. I live in my skin the same way I live in my house. So when I mention doing maintenance on your home, I’m talking about doing maintenance on your self.

So let’s get back to when your confidence has been damaged. Life is like a wind storm sometimes. You can board up windows and lock the doors, but when the wind blows it can still cause damage. So take a look at your home and see what damage the storm has caused. Do whatever repairs are necessary and get ready for the next storm. I hate to tell you this, but life is going to be full of storms and you need to keep your home in good condition to get through them all.

There is one more player in this story and that’s Karma. Karma is never far way from either confidence or the ego. Karma rewards confidence and will slap you upside the head when the ego gets in control. I recently had a lapse with my ego. I got run down at work and instead of reaching out for help, I let my ego slip in and it just made the situation worse. Karma swooped in and gave me a quick little boop on the nose to let me know she was there. That was all the warning that I needed to get my confidence back and put my ego away. It’s funny how life will tell you exactly what you need if you just open your eyes and look.

So there you have it. You have the difference between ego and confidence. You know what to look for and you know if you need to do some maintenance on your home. I hope if you do need to repair anything, it’s only minor damage.

Until tomorrow.

Middle Aged and Tattooed – Oh The Things People Say

Tattoos are very popular these days and are generally accepted in society. They are most popular/accepted in the younger age group. They have no real boundaries on the amount of tattoos or the placement of them. Tattoos on someone in the over 50 group is looked at differently. While still somewhat popular, they seem to be more on the smaller, subtle side. When someone in the over 50 group pushes the boundaries on what is acceptable, it seems to bring out the weird in people. Or at least I seem to bring out the weird in people.

It seems to be that anything outside of what society calls normal makes people nervous. When people of nervous they say weird things and sometimes just downright rude things. Today I will give you some examples of what I have had said to me over the years. Some are rude some are weird and some are just out of curiosity. Nothing that people have said has hurt my feels because I don’t really care what they think. If I cared I never would have gotten my first one.

So before we start, let me paint a picture of what I look like to give you a perspective of what people see when I walk into a room. I am 56, small with gray hair. I also have two full sleeves, a hand tattoo. My back, stomach both ankles and my ear is tattooed. Point blank, I am very colorful.

So here we go…

“You must be wild”. The answer to this one is easy “No”. I will be out with a group of friends and sure enough someone will come up and ask me this question (Ugh so boring) If they only knew how wild I really am. I go to bed early. I don’t drink and I consider a good book a great date. 99% of the time it’s a guy asking me this question and 99% of time I think he is hoping that I say yes to this question and yes to everything else he wants to ask. Sadly he has picked the wrong person to ask this question to because 100% of the time he goes home alone.

“I will pray for your soul”. Umm thanks? I’ve read the Bible and maybe I am wrong but I don’t remember the “Thou shall not get a tattoo” commandment anywhere in there. I’m not making fun of the Bible or anyone’s choice of religion. What I’m making fun of is the simple fact that people feel that they have the right to walk up to me and said that. They basically are telling me that I’m on the fast tract to Hell because of my tattoos (there are other factors that might get me there but I don’t thinks its the tattoos fault). I think this lecture or offer of help would best be saved for the true sinner who truly is going to Hell and needs to be prayed for.

“You are going to regret those when you get old”. Well, honey I hate to tell you this, but I am already old and I don’t regret any of them. Why would anyone feel the need to tell someone that they will regret something that is never going away? I don’t walk up to people and say “Wow, when you get old you really are going to regret eating that Big Mac” or “Dang, you are really going to regret who you married when you get old”. How do people think that I’m going to react? Do they think and I’m going to agree with them? Are they hoping that I breakdown and confess that I regret everyday of my life? Are they looking for the misery loves company response? Not sure and again I don’t care. Little do they know that I love my tattoos and the older I get the more appreciation the fact that I have for them. My Mom was 75 when she got first tattoo after my Sister passed. She was okay with it and I know I will be okay with my tattoos also.

“Did you get those tattoos in prison?” With a straight face the answer is …”Yes, I did time for I hurting a stupid person”. Again, we could try and figure out why someone would think this is okay to ask, but I feel we would come up with the same answer. That question has no answer.

“Did that hurt?” Well, that sure as hell didn’t feel good. Unless you have a tattoo there is no good way to explain how they feel. Each placement has different pain level. Each Artist has a different touch. To me the pain is part of the process of healing and a necessary part of the experience. I’ve never had one that I couldn’t sit through. So get a tattoo and when can discuss this question at length.

“I couldn’t take you to a work function so we can’t date.” First – I would never date anyone who is so closed minded. Second – he was not my type. Third – I’m pretty sure he knew this and that is why he had to be mean before I asked him to go away and finally Fourth – I don’t date men who do not have tattoos.

So there you have it, just a few of the very odd and sometimes rude questions that people ask me. I will never figure out why people ask these questions. My answers will always depend on the person asking the question. If that person is older I will try and be patient because I know they come from a different era. If you are a child and ask out of curiosity, I will be patient and explain the question. But everyone else who falls between these two, it fair game. Do not stare at me then act surprised when I ask you what you are staring at. Do not say something under your breathe and act surprised when I ask you to repeat yourself. Don’t be rude to me because this will not end well for you. Now that I’m thinking about it maybe I should come with a warning label.

Until tomorrow………

We are all addicts.

I’m very fond of saying this because I 100% believe it is true. We are all addicted to something. You can be addicted to drugs, alcohol, shopping, sex, good grades, attention, tanning, smoking, food and just about everything that makes you feel good for the moment. But at the end of the day we are all the same and we all have monsters on our back. Some are small and harmless and others will eat your soul, but we all have one.

I started my addiction journey younger than most. I always loved the taste of beer and don’t ask me how I knew I liked beer as a child but I did. I would come home from church, grab a Dixie cup and share a beer with Dad while watching sports. What appeared as a harmless bonding time between Father and Daughter turned into decades of self abuse.

I graduated from Dixie cups to sneaking drinks when he wasn’t looking, to stealing full beers, to mixing hard alcohol into Tupperware bowls to drugs. I didn’t stop this pattern of self abuse until I was in my 50’s. I take that back. I did stop the two times I got pregnant. The only thing that I ever truly loved were those two unborn babies, unfortunately once they were born old demons came back.

I’m not going to spend all my time today telling you the sad story of my alcohol journey because truthfully it’s too long for just one blog. But what I am going to explore today is the judgement that society puts on anyone who openly has an addiction. We don’t judge the person at the gym who can’t stop working out the same way we judge a drug addict on the street. We don’t looking down on the person who just spent their last dollar on a new pair of shoes because they can’t stop shopping the same way we look at an alcoholic. There are certain addictions that society has deemed acceptable and there are certain addictions that have been deemed unclean. The unclean ones get all the attention and it’s not good attention. They get the stares, the whispers, they are judged and ridiculed. It’s just not fair.

Let me give you an example. I go to San Fransisco often and you may or may not have heard, but there is large homeless population and open drug use on the streets. This is an example of what I like to call “in you face addiction” We walk by these individuals and think to ourselves “wow, I’m so glad I don’t have that problem.” People turn a blink eye and walk away because that addiction is too ugly and it’s easy to say “that’s their problem” they shouldn’t use drug. You are right, they shouldn’t but we should judge them for their addiction, we should help and be thankful that our monster isn’t that big.

Yes, I know buying too many shoes is vastly different then being homeless, addicted and living on streets. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make here. What point I’m trying to make is this. We need to stop judging people with addictions because we are not all that different.

It’s so easy to look at someone and cast judgement, because we don’t want to turn that attention inward. If we looked in with the same judgement that we send out to others, maybe we would stop judging so much. It irritates me when I hear people talk down to someone who won’t join in for a drink. I really sends me over the edge when I hear people peer pressure other people into drinking. And last but not least the one that tops all the others is when people ask “do you ever think you will drink again?”. I mean really people, WTF. Would you walk up to a recovering heron addict and ask him if they would every think about jabbing a needle into themselves again?

I’m on this rant today because it irritates me when I speak about my past addiction like it’s not big deal because truthfully it’s not a big deal, And the person that I’m talking to tell’s me I shouldn’t say those negative things about myself. I hate to break this to you folks but my past isn’t negative – it just my past. If I thought my past was negative I would feel shame and that would lead me right back to the bottle. To make things worse these people who say these things have addictions themselves. They are addicted to sugar, they smoke, they can’t stop eating and no one says a thing to them.

Ugh

So if you are reading this and you have any past addictions that caused real harm to yourself, please do not feel less than perfect. There is no reason for us to feel any shame about our past. The past is exactly that – the past. We all have them. If you currently have harmful addictions, please remember that deserve happiness just as much as the other person. Do let the thought of people judging you stop you from getting help. Just remember, they are going through the same thing you are, just on a smaller scale.

Until tomorrow…….

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