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…….

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……

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