The Art of Growing Old

I have come to conclusion that there is no blue print to growing old. What I thought is totally different then what it is. But in this case different doesn’t necessarily mean bad. It is just different.

I never thought in a million years that I would find the confidence that I have today. I thought my light would dim as I grew older, but the opposite is what happened. I found my voice, my confidence and let the light shine. My light grows brighter as I get older and if this keeps up I’m going to be a damn lighthouse when I’m 90.

I never thought I would be making a difference on instagram. I started at the beginning of the year with an idea of sharing my sense of fashion with women my age. I wanted them to see that even if society tells us we need to look one way, we have the power to dress and express ourselves the way we want to. It has turned into something that I never imagined. It’s is now a mission to spread the word that everyone has the right to be themselves. Male or female, gay or straight, young or old, we all have the right to be ourselves without being judged for being different.

I never thought I would let me hair go gray. My Dad told me for years before he passed away to stop coloring my hair. I always said no, because I wasn’t there yet. I didn’t have the confidence to show the world who I really was. I found that confidence shortly after my Mom passed away. Maybe it was my way to have her live on longer because once my hair was gray I looked exactly like her. I remember the night before my last hair coloring appointment and I was just thinking to myself “why am I covering up who I am”. I was truly surprised by the reaction I got. My boys were like “yeah do whatever you want”. I had women stop me and tell me how brave I was. Really, really they did this. This made me think..how many men stop each other and tell each other they are brave for going gray. I guarantee you not too many.

**Side note: Please do not think that I judge anyone who colors their hair. This is just part of my personal journey and I needed to stop coloring my hair for myself. Everyone is beautiful exactly how they want the world to see them.**

I never thought I would have more tattoos at 56 than I did at 30. My tattoos are the roadmap to my life. Each tattoo has a special meaning for me. I can tell a story about each tattoo and tell you exactly where I was in life and how I feeling. I have tattoos for loved ones I have lost. I have tattoos to express the love for my boy and I have tattoos to remind myself to not take myself too seriously. I’m proud of my life, I’m proud of my journey and I’m proud of my tattoos. I have found that not many women my age have the amount of tattoos that I have. This is another mission of mine. If you want to express yourself on your skin – do it. There is no age limit to self expression. Who cares how people look at you and long as you look at yourself with love.

I never thought I would be a successful in business. I don’t have a formal education but what I do have is an amazing work ethic passed down to me by my Father. I don’t give up and problems are just speed bumps. They don’t stop me. I thought my purpose in life was to have children and grow old with my husband (boy oh boy this one did not turn out). I have worked hard, I have stood out, I have taken risks and I am not stopping yet.

I never thought I would still be single. I never imagined myself growing old alone. When I say alone, I mean without a partner because I’m never truly alone. I have great kids, friends and an amazingly old fat pit bull named Liberty. But I really thought I would find the “one” who fit with me. I know I’m only 56 but at this point I’m not sure I’m looking anymore. I have such great things in my life I no longer feel in necessary. But who knows, maybe I’ll walk around a corner one day and there he is. I guess this port of the story will have to continued another day because like I said…how knows.

My goal in life now is to live everyone day, every moment to the best I can. I know I’m getting older because things are not where they use to be. I’m talking about my car keys, I’m talking about my ass. No matter how much I work out, it’s still sliding down the back of my legs. My skin is different. My hair is different. My back hurts more in the morning and I use to just think about losing weight and did. Everything is changing but again not necessary a bad thing.

I’m not going to say I’m like a fine wine getting better with age because I don’t drink. But I will say I’m like a really good book that keeps getting better with every page. My life is my book and I’m the one writing the story. I’ve written some flops in my life, but I really like where this one heading now.

So with this said, I will be writing about my adventures that I’m sure will be coming my way. I never thought any of these things would happen so I can only imagine how interesting the next ones will be.

I will continue to grow old with my gray hair and my tattoos.

Until tomorrow…..

What is a typical family?

What makes a family typical? Is it a Mom and a Dad living under the same roof raising 2 perfect children? I don’t think so. The only thing about that sentence that is true is the fact that there is a Mom and there is a Dad. There is a Mom and a Dad in every creation of life. After the creation is when the lines get blurred.

So today let’s take a look at the myth of “every family need a Mom and a Dad, living under the same roof, united in raising the child together, in order for that child to grow up into a successful human.”

Wrong

What every family needs are loving parent(s) who have a like minded goal in giving their offspring the best chance that it has in the difficult thing we call life. They work together as partners to achieve this goal with the least amount of trauma to the individual that they are trying to raise. Point blank, old myths need to be thrown out and a new fresh approach needs to take its place.

I happen to know a lot about raising children outside of the 2 parent household. I left my ex-husband with my boys, when they were only 7 and 5. I thought long and hard about what was right for them. It was a long painful decision that I had to make. I went through some very unpleasant times with him and I didn’t want to be married to him anymore, but I also didn’t want to break that perfect family mold. We lived in a nice house, had good cars and everything looked great on the outside. It was hard to express to others the pain I was feeling when everything looked so perfect. I only had one person who I knew was going to be able to see through the bullshit and be able to give me sane advise. The person was my Sister.

I remember sitting down with her one Sunday afternoon and spilling everything that I was feeling and just how generally unhappy I was. She listened, asked a couple of questions and then came up with the answer that I have used to help others in their situations.

Her response was this….

“Lonni, it really isn’t about you at this point. It’s about your kids. You need to take a long hard look at them and ask yourself. Are they okay? Are they going to have the better chance in succeeding in life if you stay or if you go? Once you truthfully answer that question you will know what you need to do.”

I was truly shocked at how simple the answer was but how true it was. My decision to go or stay wasn’t about me, it was about my children. So that evening and the following week I studied my children. How were they really doing? I have to say, once I took the blinders off I was amazed at how fucked up my children were becoming. One cried at a drop of the hat, the other was starving or attention. They were not doing well in school and basically were as miserable as I was, they were just showing it instead of saying it. So with that new found realization, I decided to leave. When I focused my energy on doing what was best for them, it made it easier for me to made the hard choices and not cave in when he tried to be nice. I went through death threats, threats of violence and complete mental warfare, but kept my head down and finished the job I started to freedom.

So it was the three of us and it has always been the three of us. Yes, I had some stupid boyfriends, yes I made horrible choices in men, yes it was hard, yes it was lonely and yes it was hard to do it with one income but it was worth every single struggle. There was guilt when I saw other families with expensive toys for their kids and I could barely keep the electricity on. There was guilt when I saw Dad’s teaching their sons how to work on cars or fix a bicycle.

I wish I could have known then what I know now. Most of those people who caused my guilt before are now dealing with drug issues, or drinking or children having children. I look at them now and I have to scratch my head. If society had it’s way those would be my kids down those things, not the other way around. Society tells us that with we break up that typical family that will happen to our kids. Well I have a surprise for you folks, just because you don’t fit into what is considered typical or normal, this does not mean that your children are doomed.

Look at all the amazing same sex parents who love and adores their child. Do you think that baby cares what they do behind closed doors. Ummmm I have never spoken to a baby, buy I gaurantee you they don’t care. They just want to feel loved and protected.

Look at the single hard working parent who struggles to put food on the table. Do you think the child cares if they are eating hotdogs again for the 3rd straight night because it’s cheap? Ummmmm I would have to say they don’t care, because that same hard working parent sits down with them and eats hotdogs with them instead of staring at their phone.

It’s called being a good loving parent.

So here’s to breaking the mold of what society says a “Typical Family” should be and let’s sing the praises to all the loving parents who stop and listen to their children.

Until tomorrow ……

Side note: I will not be getting into the subject of should you or shouldn’t you leave a spouse. There are many reasons why people end a marriage and I feel that there is no right or wrong answer. BUT I will say, if you are in danger of either physical harm and mental abuse I would say run and don’t look back. Male or Female domestic abuse comes in all shapes and sizes and fear is real. Here is a phone number that I found if you need help and don’t know where else to turn. Sending strength and love your way.

National Domestic Abuse Hotline 800-799-7233

I will always miss you…..

My Mom was there for my first breath and I was there for her last.

Four years ago today I had to say goodbye to my Mom, my best friend and my partner in crime. I dedicate today’s Blog to her. The strongest woman I know and it might surprise you why I say that.

Yes, my Mom had all the traits of your typical strong woman. She held her family together. She fought tigers for her children (at least a couple of neighbors), and she loved us no matter what we did. All of these are commendable but the one trait that stands out for me is the simple fact that she lived her life as her true self. She spent her last days having nothing to prove to anyone and yet she was still the same Mom I had grown up with, laying there responding in the exact same way she did her entire life.

Let me back up a little and give you some pre-story.

My Mom is what you would consider a “firecracker”. She was small, feisty, sharp witted and as mean as they came. But she was mean with a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye and no one and I mean no one knew she was being mean to them. It was the oddest thing I have ever seen and I don’t think I can explain it. You would have had to seen it yourself to understand. Let me try and describe her in another way because this is not painting a good picture of her. She took an animal personality test one time and her results came back as a shrew. She was so pissed about this and kept taking the test to try and get another answer. Funny thing is, no matter how many times she retook that damn test she always came back as a shrew. A small, hairless, blind, mean poisonous rodent. Now that I look at this I don’t think I made her sound any better BUT that was my Mom.

In her defense she had a be a shrew. She grew up poor, the youngest of five children and fought for everything she got. She was married to my Dad who was not a easy man to live with. She basically raised me and my sister on her own and took care of her parents until they passed. She didn’t have it easy and she fought back and survived.

We lost my Sister back in 2008 to cancer. Losing my sister nearly broke my Mom. My Dad passed in 2012, they had been dating since she was 15 and were just a couple of months shy of their 60 year wedding anniversary. My Dad took care of everything and I mean everything. She learned to pay her own bills, lived by herself for the first time in 78 years and even learned to pump her own gas. I took a strong woman at that age to start learning all over again. I remember my Mom as the woman who spoke her mind, she wasn’t afraid to defend her family and again, just had a wit about her that kept you on your toes.

Back to the story.

My Mom passed away at the hospital and this was by her choice. She didn’t want to go home to die and she didn’t want to go in an assisted living center either. She picked the hospital and that was that. That choice was an easy for me, considering the insurance company kept trying to kick her out, but what they didn’t know was, I was a daughter of a shrew. I fought, I went to the top, I talked to different doctors and I got my Mom her wish.

So as the end neared I had hours and even days of just sitting there with her. I had a lot of time on my hands to think about everything. Her life, her journey, our adventures and basically house she lived. It was one afternoon after a nurse had come in to check on her that I realized that she was still the same person. Still the same Mom. So I started watching closer when the nurses would come in and sure as shit that woman was the exact same person in death that she was in live. I think that live lesson is one of her best lessons and she didn’t even know she was teaching it. How amazing is it that on your deathbed you could look back and know that you had been true to yourself. True to who you really were on the inside.

That got me to thinking and looking at my own life. Was I living by the same rule? Could I honestly say on my deathbed that I was true to the real me? I would have to say”yes” to this. I might not have been very true to myself during my drinking days, but I can honestly say now that I live by my Mother’s example.

I could look on this anniversary and be sad (well I am a little sad) or I could look at this and think back at how lucky I am to have been raised by that woman. How lucky am I that I got to spend those Saturday evenings crammed into a rocking chair with her eating ice cream. How lucky am I that I was raised by woman who showed no fear when protecting her loved one. How lucky am I that not only was I raised by her but I also look exactly like her.

I will leave you will one more thought about my Mom.

I remember one Saturday I was sitting there watching her sleep and suddenly she opened one eye. With her piecing green eye she looked straight at me and said “You know I’m going to haunt you…..right?” My answer was simply “Yes”. I knew she wasn’t kidding and I knew I wasn’t done with her yet. You can ask either one of my children and they will swear up and down that I am her. I act so much like her that they look and me and say hello to her.

So here’s to you Mom. I know you are not too far away. All I have to do is look in a mirror an there you are.

Until tomorrow………………

I am perfectly imperfect….

Simply put – my imperfections make me perfect.

Why oh why do we strive for perfection? What is it in our DNA that tells us that we have to be perfect? The answer to that question is nothing. There is nothing telling us that we have to be perfect but us. So then the next question will be…..why do we do that to ourselves? There is defiantly more than one answer to that question. So let’s spend some time on this subject and see where we land.

As always we need to start with our childhood.

We are all born perfect. Just these little balls of perfection. There is not one baby that is better than another. It’s what happens after you are born that things start to go downhill. When we start to develop and begin the journey of figuring out exactly who we are, we are molded into what society thinks we should be. I understand the whole shaping the young child into becoming an upstanding adult. But I also think there has to be a learning curve that goes only with this. Otherwise you end up with a child who feels one way and is being told that way is wrong. Not only that their way is wrong but they themselves are wrong and therefore imperfect. We start the whole “gotta be perfect” journey very young.

From childhood we go into adulthood. There are a whole new batch of problems there. You have the whole “why are you not married?”, “why did you have a child so young?” even “why don’t you have children?”. You stay in a marriage for this kids, you should have left. You leave your spouse and you are selfish. It just never stops. No matter what you do you are not doing what someone is doing and therefore that makes you wrong AKA imperfect. It is a never ending fucking circle, until you decide to put an end it.

But how?? How do you put the brakes on something that is so embedded into how we are raised and who we have become? For me, I had to get rid of any idea of perfection. I was so far from perfect that I might of well of said that I wanted to be first person to step on Mars. It was not going to happen.

So I decided to look inward and see what was really imperfection and what was really me. I had to separate the two. When I looked inward I found a scared, lonely little girl who was killing herself slowly with alcohol. Again, not my idea of perfection but that wasn’t my idea of who I wanted to be either. So I started out on a journey to find the real me. I knew she was in there somewhere, I just had to give myself a safe spot to find her. I felt like I was trying to get the scraggly stray dog to finally trust me enough to get help. So I put out bread crumbs to lure myself out of the cycle I was in. Every time I took a chance and let my wall down a little, I would reward myself. Bread crumb, wall down, reward. I started to not need the crumbs, I just started tearing down the wall. Finally, the walls were down and I stood there, reborn and I found out that I was actually a pretty could person. Totally imperfect and perfect all at the same time.

I took this new sense of understanding of myself and ran with it. I was that scraggly stray dog that finally got to run free in a meadow without a care in the world. It was like taking the blindfold off and seeing myself for who I truly am for the first time. I found out that I’m weird, I’m funny, I’m passionate about life I’m everything that I am supposed to be. Now trust me, there are things that I could work on if I wanted to and there are things I could change about myself if I wanted to. Maybe one day I will work on some things and maybe one day I’ll change something about myself – but not today. Today I’m going to embrace me for me.

I look back at my life and scratch my head at why I didn’t see this sooner but that’s another story for another day. All I will say now is that it makes perfect sense how I become an addict. You can only life a life of disappointment for so long before you start to medicate yourself. It’s much easier to dull the pain instead of addressing it. I had to finally get the balls to that. I had to plug my nose and take the plunge into years of paid in order to get to the other side. And here is the craziest part of it all – it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. All those years of being scared to address my past turned into something that I was able to do without too much damage. We build so much in our minds that when it when it actually do what we are scared of we feel rather silly for being so scared of it in the first place. We really are strange.

My embracing my imperfections was just one of many things I had to do in order to live a healthy life. I don’t often call it a sober life because sober sounds so square. So ridged. I personally prefer to call it a healthy life. To me this sounds fresh and full of life. So anyway back to the subject, I knew there were things in my past that I felt made me imperfect so I developed a very strong meditation practice and was able to go back and address those issues. This gave me a safe space (my head) to explore the issues in my past. It was during those journeys that I figured out that there was really anything stopping me from feeling imperfect but me.

So I’m ending this with a couple of thoughts:

  1. You are perfect just the way you are.
  2. You hold the key to happiness, you just have to use it.
  3. Don’t be scared your past, it can no longer hurt you.
  4. You have a voice – use it.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts. Like I said you have a voice and a safe space to use it here.

Until tomorrow…….

The 3 Stigmas of Recovery

I was very honored to be challenged on my Instagram account today to show my support in fighting the 3 stigmas of recovery. To do this, I posted a picture of myself (the one you see here) holding up three fingers. Each finger represents a stigma that addicts and recovering addicts have to deal with on a daily basis. I am going to share those with you here also in hopes of reaching another audience and perhaps helpings someone who struggles with one or all of these.

First Stigma – Addiction is for the weak.

This one pisses me off.

This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Addiction has nothing to do with weakness. It’s a medical condition that has no boundaries. Rich or poor, gay or straight, male or female, it doesn’t care who you are. It doesn’t see the color of skin or home much money you make. It is an equal opportunity stalker and it is always looking for a new victim. Again, addiction has nothing to do with weakness. Instead of weakness lets talk about strength. It takes strength and a strong person to standup and say “Enough is enough”. It takes a strong person to say “I’m going to change every thing about myself to get better.” It takes a strong person to wake up every morning and look at the addiction that is sitting on the edge of your bed waiting for the one moment of weakness to get back in and tell it to “Fuck off”. There is nothing weak about recovery. We are warriors that fight everyday and every month to keep addiction away and sobriety intact.

Second Stigma – Addiction is something to be ashamed of.

Bullshit.

I have lived a lifetime of shame and guilt and I will not give it one more second of my energy. I’m not ashamed of my past or my addiction. It is what it is and there’s not a damn thing I can do about any of it. What I can do is go back and forgive myself for what got me there in the first place. I can go back and save that inner child that is scared and alone. I can do a whole lot of things, but feeling shame is not on the list. I hold my head up high, I sing from the rooftops, I walk into a room like ball of energy. Shame would rob me of all of that. I made the decision to rid myself of this years ago while on a hike. I came to the realization that guilt/shame was like a vampire feeding off my soul. I also realized that like a vampire, I could banish it from my home (me) simply by telling it that it had to leave. It was that simple. I stopped and said these words out load. “You are no longer welcome in my home, you are banished”. One of the best decisions I ever made

Third Stigma – Sobriety will be the end of all the fun.

What the fuck?

I don’t know about you, but my idea of fun does not include feeling like shit every morning, blackouts and drained bank accounts. There is absolutely nothing and I will repeat this, nothing fun about addiction. You might be able to have a beer at dinner. For me it would have ended in a 12 pack. You might be able to go to a party and have a glass of wine. I would have been hung over for days. If you don’t believe me, ask my boys. They will tell you there is nothing fun about addiction and how much it hurts watching someone you love kill themselves. What is fun is my new life. The joy I get out of everyday pleasures, a healthy lifestyle and money in the bank. I have spent the last 5 years rebuilding a relationship with my children. That has included road trips, whitewater rafting, hiking and just basically living. To me – that is the definition of fun.

So you might have picked up on the fact that I am very passionate about this subject. I have spent the majority of my life dealing with addiction, self loathing and a constant state of unhappiness. I am truly so incredibly proud of myself for making that decision to change every part of my life and start over as sober person. I protect my sobriety like mother protecting her child. I also want to take my platform and help others who might be on the fence or be too scared to take that first step of change. I want them to be able to look at me and know there is something better on the other side. I don’t care how many times you have to try and get sober, please just keep trying.

Here are some phone numbers if you are looking for help:

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Hotline 1-800-729-6686

National Suicide Prevention 1-800-273-8255

National Youth Crisis 1-800-442-4673

Boys Town 1-800-448-3000

Until tomorrow

A Three Hour Cruise

My Dad loved deep sea fishing. He lived for that time of year when every Sunday night he kissed us goodbye, packed up his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that we had spent the last hour making and drove off into the sunset with all his fishing poles.

These fishing trips were overnight trips that last for days. A bunch of his friends would charter a boat and three days later my Dad would return stinky, sunburned and a truck bed full of giant dead fish. There were few things that put that smile on his face and pep into his step and this ladies and gentlemen, was one of them.

My Dad loved fishing so much that he wanted to pass this passion down to his daughters. So my Dad and his friends came up with the idea to do an overnight trip with them and all their kids. I was 7 years old and so very excited about the notion of spending time with my Dad and spending the night on a boat! My Sister was 12 and didn’t share the same excitement.

So Sunday rolls around and I can barely contain my excitement.

I remember getting to the docks and all my Dad’s friend and children were there. There was one girl in particular that my Sister and I did not like. Her name…..Norma Jean. Now Norma Jean was one of “those girls” who was always perfect and super prissy. She was like that mean girl on the Little House On The Prairie. I remember walking down to the dock towards the boat and Norma Jean (she really had to be called by both names) made the fatal decision of trying to talk to us.

Norma Jean “Oh look – Pelicans”. My Sister “Norma Jean did you know that they carry their babies in their mouths and accidentally swallow them all the time?” Well, we (not sure why I was a part of this) got in trouble because sure enough Norma Jean went running to her Dad crying. We were off to a great start.

So with the pelican incident behind us, we got on the boat, claimed a bunk and like any good fishermen getting ready for their journey out to sea, we went to a bar. Yep, you heard me right. In my mind this trip couldn’t get any better, I mean doesn’t every 7 year old go to a dive bar by the docs? I have to say, I learned a couple of things that night.

  1. Bars are really dark.
  2. If your Dad is good looking the lady behind the bar will let you eat all the cherries you want.
  3. Your stomach will hurt if you eat all the cherries you want.
  4. The Barmaid had really big boobs.
  5. I figured out why my Dad was in such a hurry to leave on Sunday nights.

After some time we finally made our way back to the boat and tucked ourselves into our bunks. I personally had the very best night sleep ever. Maybe it was my way of coping with pelicans, cherries and big breasted barmaids. Or the overwhelming smell of diesel fuel. But regardless I woke the next morning bright eyed and ready for whatever came our way. I had no idea it was going to turn into a fish massacre. It went something like this.

First stop – get bait. How amazing was that! We got to stop and scoop up thousands of little baby fishes.

Second stop – Start fishing.

Let me stop right here. Now you would think that my Dad in the course of planning this trip might where he was taking this daughters out to the middle of the ocean would sit down and explain to them just a little of what was going to happen. Maybe give me and my Sister a head’s up on what exactly the role of the bait was going to be. Here’s a thought, “Girls, one of the deckhands is going to take a cute baby fish and ram a hook through its head while you stand there in horror.” Just a thought.

Back to the second stop – fishing.

As everyone grabbed their fishing poles and without a blink of the eye, rammed the hook through all the baby fishes that we had just spent the last hour playing with. My Sister and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that we had to spring into action. So we came up with a full-proof plan. We would rescue the bait and free them back to their natural habitat. At first we started small, we gabbed a fish and threw it overboard. Next we grabbed two and threw them over board. Then we progressed to handfuls at a time. Scoop toss, scoop toss, scoop toss. On and on it went. We only ran into one problem the whole time we were executing our plan….seagulls. Those crafty bastards quickly figured out that they could swoop down and catch about half of what we were tossing back to sea. We knew we were loosing some but it was a chance we had to take for their freedom.

So over a course of the day we kept ourselves busy and oddly enough no one noticed. I’ve asked myself many times, why one of the adults didn’t notice and stop us. Then I remind myself that these were the same adults that let us run wild in a bar and make ourselves sick on old stale bar cherries.

My Sister and I did such a great job of liberating the bait that believe if or not, they had to end the fishing trip early and turn back around for shore. They had run out of bait.

I have to tell you – my Dad was pissed.

He knew, he knew that we had something to do with this but he couldn’t pin it on us and we were not talking. I have to tell you the drive home was not as pleasant as the ride to the boat. I remember sitting in the middle between my Dad and my Sister, the air was thick with tension and all he said was “Girls, I will ask you one more time, what did you do with the bait?” God – I wanted to be anywhere expect right there. I knew I didn’t have the skills to sneak this by him so I just looked straight ahead and didn’t blink. My Sister on the other hand was one cool cucumber. Calmly she replied “Nothing Dad, we have no idea.”

We never came clean to my Dad. I think he would have laughed about it later in life, but neither one of us was ever that brave to test that thought.

Until tomorrow……

Weird is the new cool.

Why do we fight being weird? Why is fitting in and not standing out one of our life goals? To tell you the truth, I’m not really sure why. What I do know is this. I don’t fight being weird and I am certainly okay with not fitting in. So what makes me different from other people? What makes me okay with being different….well here’s my thoughts on this.

Let’s start from the beginning. The beginning always starts from when we were kids, because believe it or not…everything starts here.

I was a weird kid. Part of it was me and most of it was the environment that I grew up in. I grew up in a very, very disfunctual family and my coping skill that I developed was to be quiet, and invisible with a crazy good imagination. So good in fact I went through a stage where I believed I was a dog. I believed this to the point that my mom had to hide the dog biscuits. She wasn’t thrilled about the biscuits and was rather mortified when my next stage included not eating with my hands. I mean really, dogs don’t have hands and how could she expect me to use mine? Dinner time was an adventure during this stage.

I went from the dog phase where I walked around panting with my paws up to believing that I was left behind by a circus that had just gone through town. I was not shy about this thought and I told everyone that would listen. Again, my Mom was none too thrilled with me. I guess I could have timed it better and waited until she wasn’t standing next me when I told people my sad tale of how they left town in a hurry and my Mom found me in the gutter.

My weirdness never went away, but I did try and hide it when I got older.

Going into middle school was tough for me. Kids are incredibly mean at that age and I learned quickly to try and hide the weirdness. Looking back now, I can see that hiding my weirdness didn’t make it go away and I wasn’t fooling anyone. What trying to hide it did, was to turn it into awkwardness and that is 10 times worse. Boy was I awkward.

So as my progression in life continued, so did my weirdness. I still coped with life’s hardships the same way I did as a kid. I was quiet, invisible and had a great imagination. The good thing was I didn’t try to pretend to be a dog and I was too old to be abandoned by a circus. So I went from trying to hide my weirdness to trying to cope with it. And the way I did this was to start drinking.

When I drank, I no longer cared that I was weird and I gave myself permission to let the weird out. I let my wall down and I did all the things that I was too scared to do when I was sober. I enjoyed the feeling of that freedom and I see now why they call it “liquid courage”. This was an uneasy partnership between me and the bottle – or in my the beer can. I need it and it dug its claws deep into my soul. Unfortunately this song and dance lasted for years and if I’m going to be truthful, decades.

All of this, all of the pain and the lies were all because I was too scared to let the real me out…the weird me out.

The happy ending to this story is the fact that I have figured out how to let the weird me out and I got rid of the bottle pretty much at the same time. It amazes me how we put ourselves into our own prisons where there is no key, and there is no lock. We are there by our own will and can get out anytime we want, we just have to want to.

So with no booze in me, I am able to be as weird as I want to be and baby I want to be weird. I see nothing wrong with dancing down the aisle of the grocery store like I’m the best dancer on Soul Train. I see nothing wrong wearing what I want. There is no age limit on feeling good about yourself and no one is going to tell me how to dress. I see nothing wrong with getting as many tattoos as you want. I see nothing wrong with going to the park and making my way across the monkey bars. I see nothing wrong with being the person you want to be without feeling judged or looked down on.

I don’t look at someone who is weird and see someone who is unsure of themselves. I see a warrior. I see someone who is so confident with themselves and have such a bright inner light that you have to wear sunglasses when you look at them. I see someone who has shrugged off of what society tells them to be and flicks it back them. I see someone who I want to walk up to and start talking to. I see someone who is going to make a difference in the world. I see a leader. I see me.

So as I sit here and write these words, I have to look back at the little girl who thought she was a dog that got left behind by a traveling circus. I don’t feel bad for her, I am very proud of her. She is a survivor and has learned to embrace all the weirdness that makes her, her.

I don’t eat dog biscuits anymore but I still get a lump in my stomach every time a circus coming to town.

Until tomorrow…..

Toot Toot Honk Honk

If you don’t toot your own horn who will????

You might not be perfect but you are the perfect you. You might not look like a model but that doesn’t stop you from being beautiful. You might not have always been sober but you are sober now. You might not have a partner now but that doesn’t make you unloved.

You get where I’m going from here….right?

For the majority of my life I told myself everything I just said backwards. I told myself I wasn’t perfect, that I wasn’t beautiful, I would never be sober and I was unlovable. What a miserable way to exist. I say exist because that was not living.

So what changed? What made me turn that way of thinking around?

Well, it wasn’t just one thing, it was more of a slow and steady journey that I set myself on to finally enjoy and live my life. Let me see if I can draw the picture for that I had in my mind…this is how I explained it to my therapist.

I pictured myself standing on a large rock. This rock represented who I was and where I was in life, at that very moment. Un-happy, un-inspired, un-hopeful and just downright sad person. This rock was surrounded by dark (black) shallow water. On the other side of the pond was another large rock. This rock represented who I wanted to be and where I wanted to be in life. I wanted to be full of happiness, full of inspiration and downright happy. Now in between these rocks were a bunch of smaller rocks. The rocks were in no particular pattern, shape or size. I told him that my goal, my journey was to get across the water to the rock that represented happiness. I knew to the very bottom of my soul that I could get across the water. I just had to find the way. So I came up with a plan. I was going to keep my eye on the other rock and would slowly but surely jump from one small rock to the next. to the next. I knew I would have missteps and might even have to turn back around and take a different path, but I was getting across that dark pond one way or another. Now that I look back on it I believe the black water represented all the hurt, guilt, unhappiness or just everything that was shitty in my life at that moment. I envisioned myself one rock closer every time I changed a bad habit. Every time I had a positive moment I would jump to the next rock. I set goals for myself and when I achieved them I hopped. I told myself that I was good enough for happiness (hop, hop). I felt better about myself, jump to the next rock. Some jumps were huge, some were tiny little hops. I had to turnaround and try different paths a couple of times, but I kept going. Then one day before I even knew it, was standing on the other rock. Toot Toot Honk Honk.

So how do you start hopping?

Well, you need to want to get to the other rock for one thing. You need to tell you self you deserve to get to the other rock. Whoa lets talk about this last one.

Deserve..yes this I little bit of a detour but I feel it is an important one.

Deserve can either be your best friend or your worse enemy. You can tell yourself all day long that you deserved what happen to you. You can say you deserve not to win. You can say you deserve not to be unhappy. But you flip that around and tell yourself you deserve to win, you deserve to be happy and no you do not deserve to have bad things happen you – it gets all weird. Why is that? Why is it so much easier for us to be hard on ourselves, to be scared to be happy? Well, I think part of that is the people we are around or maybe just society in a whole. You have to admit, society can be a little toxic sometimes.

Examples:

You: “I deserve to be happy.” Them: “What makes you so special?”

You: “I deserve to win.” Them: “Well aren’t you being self centered.”

You: “Bad things are not going to happen to me and I’ll fight back if it comes near me” Them: “Well aren’t you a Bitch.”

Me: “Yes I’m a Bitch and damn proud of it. How do you think I made it across all those damn rocks to my happy place?”

That is how I started tooting my own horn. It is just one version, one story and one example of what worked for me. Everyone has their own journey and their own list of things that will work or will not work for them. You just have to start trying and see what works. Try to figure out how you can get there and if you take a path that doesn’t work, hop back a couple of rocks and plot another path.

I always tell my sons that if you try something and you don’t like it or it doesn’t work out, it’s not a failure. It’s called life and you have to try so many things to see what works for you. If you are too scared to try out of fear of failure, you will never leave the first rock. You will be frozen where you are.

So start with a small goal, a small hop, never take your eye off the prize. I will be here if you need any words of encouragement.

Until tomorrow……..

I Am

I am a whole lot of things….

I am weird, I am happy, I am optimistic, I am sassy, I am determined, I am older, I am energized, I am a Mom, I am a boss, I am an Auntie and a Lala, I am still sober and I am over 2020. These are just a few of many things that make me, me.

This list changes daily, even minute by minute. I keep myself in check on a constant basis and the trick of doing that for me is knowing what is on the list, figuring out if I like what’s on there and addressing the ones that I don’t like on there.

For example if that list contained “I am sad” I would need to figure out why I am sad, address those feels and get rid of what’s making me sad. If the list contained “I am angry” I would have to figure out what was making me mad, address it and get rid of it The thing is, I don’t shy away from the bad ones, in fact I keep a sharp eye out for those because believe it or not, the bad ones are the most important.

I know it’s easy to say and I know that sometimes I can’t get rid of the bad ones as quickly as I would like. Let’s go back to the “I am angry” one. This one gives me a run for my money because anger use to be my go to emotion. Not only do I have to remove it when it makes the list, I have to block it from getting on there in the first place. I know that the anger will make itself at home. So much so it will build a fire and snuggle in for the long run if I let it. Anger is never allowed on my list of what makes me, me.

I have my list locked down so let’s talk about your list. Your list, no matter what you want on there or don’t want on there is exactly that – Your List. Sit down, clear your mind and figure what items are acceptable or unacceptable. Look at the list and then look inward to yourself. How many of those items that you want on there are on there and how many are missing. How many of those items that you never want on your list have made themselves a long term tenant.

If making this list sounds impossible, you are not alone. This is a skill that you will have to learn over time. But like any skill this will strengthen over time and become easier the more you do it. Here are some tricks to help you get started.

  1. Carry a notebook with you so you can write down your items throughout the day.
  2. Have your phone handy (not for texting) but you can use the note section and Siri to jot down your ideas while driving. Driving is a great time to listen to your inner self
  3. Take a solo walk and have a conversation with yourself. Again you can use your phone for notes.
  4. Try some meditation. This also will take some practice but will become a valuable tool over time.

If you didn’t notice the theme of that list has two major components. Alone time and something to take notes with. Both are very important.

When you are ready, make that list. If it’s not easy for you just keep trying, keep looking inwards and keep taking notes. You will come up with your final list and keep a sharp eye on it.

My being, my best “I am” is my responsibility and I take my job very seriously.

Until next time……….

Where do I start???

Here I sit, 56 and feeling like I am finally being the best version on me. I spent too many years hiding from things. I hid from the truth, I hid from the past and I hid from myself. There are times in my life that I came close to letting the real me out but I was always too scared to do it. Good news is – I am no longer scared.

My stories are going to have a combination of funny life moments and some not so funny life moments. But either way they will always end up with an upbeat message. I absolutely refuse to do negative. Life is hard but I won’t it make it harder. So let’s start with a story so you can get a feeling of what’s to come.

How I got kicked out of the Blue Birds.

Back in the 60’s, the Blue Birds were for girls that were too young for the Girl Scouts. Now for some reason my Mom decided to put me into the Blue Birds when I was 7 (I think I was drawn to the fancy uniforms and asked to join). The meetings were fun and full of young girls eager to be older and graduate to the Girl Scouts. Everything was going according to plan until the one Sunday afternoon when my Dad decided to tell us a new joke he had heard. I personally thought is was very funny and my Mom, Sister and I all had a good laugh. It was such a good joke that I decided to share with my troop. Now go figure…my Mom received a call from the troop leader and according to the one side of the conversation that I heard, I was asked not to come back. I’m not sure if it was the joke, the fact that I had to explain the joke or the reaction and tongue lashing that my Mom gave the troop leader. But either way, I never went back.

Yes, I remember the joke and yes I will share it with you.

“What is the only thing the Jolly Green Giant is afraid of?”

Answer: Avocado pickers

If I have to explain this to you, send me an email and I’ll tell you why.

This is one of my favorite life stories. I love that fact that I’m different, that my childhood was different and because of that…I have many more stories to share.

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