my thoughts, my choice.

there are those days, many days, where i forget about the magic that is around me.  i wake up lost in my own darkness and lacking the willingness to find my way out. and without the willingness, i am unable to change my thinking and my perception.  thus i stay in the dark.  not present for my life, at all.  Those are the days i miss the magic.

When i am in this state, i don’t see you for who you are.  i don’t see the smile you pass to me.  the compliment you throw my way.  i don’t hear your voice in its real tone.  i don’t look you in the eyes.  and i certainly don’t appreciate you for who you are.  why you are here, and what you may have to offer humanity.

i don’t like when i am in this place.  the place where life goes on and i stand still, playing in my own sandbox full of self-pity.

what is the root of these dark feelings?  it’s simple really….me. me. me.  i usually get in this described head space if i am feeling badly about myself.  or if i am not getting what i want out of someone else.  or if something is not going as i had planned.  the dark place grows out of selfish behavior/thoughts.  it is so simple, yet i repeat the same thoughts over and over again, expecting different results.  insanity?  why yes it is.  it is, in fact, the definition of insanity.

the funny thing is, i very quickly diagnose the problem, and then choose not to make the necessary change in my thought process to get myself out of the ugly place i put myself in.  thus leaving myself to wallow in anger or disappointment.

as an alcoholic, i  love to sit in self-pity and play the victim.  it is my default mode.  having a little over a year of sobriety, i now know this.  and i also know that i have the choice to stay in it, or get the hell out of it and be present and happy in my life.  it’s a simple choice.  change my thinking.  change my perception.  and the magic returns.

trouble is, i don’t always choose to do that.

however, it’s nice to know the option is there.

showing up for life.

showing up for life seems like a rather simple concept.  but for an alcoholic like myself, showing up for life was difficult.  near impossible.  and rather terrifying.  that is why i drank.  life, and the people who make up life, were unapproachable to me.  and i drank to get away from it all.  to avoid showing up for reality and the people who lived in my reality.  when i was in a blackout, reality was not in sight.  and that was the goal.  that is where i wanted to be.

but it stopped working.  and that is when my life began.

i have entered my second year of sobriety, and things are quit different then they once were.  blackouts no longer exist in my world, and reality is at the forefront of every waking day.  life stares me down.  and i show up for it.  people are all around me.  i don’t run from them.  they need me, i show up for them.

i deal with life on life’s terms, not mine.

i am currently going through an emotional time with a very ill family member.  it’s been going on for a few years, but has recently become much more critical.  it’s hard to see.  hard to watch.  difficult to witness the suffering.  but it’s not about how hard it is for me.  it’s about showing up for her, and the rest of the family during this time.  it’s about being present through it all.  it’s about showing love and compassion.  it sounds so….logical doesnt it?  it is.  however, 1 year and 15 days ago, it wasn’t so logical for me to be there for my loved ones.  i resented having to show up.  i didn’t know how to deal with the feelings involved.  i ignored it all.  hid from it.  lied in order to not have to show up.  it wasn’t about my family back then, and their needs.  it was about me, and my selfishness.  my inability to deal.  the distance between me and my feelings.  i never want to be that person again.  ever.

through recovery and my sobriety, i am growing into the person i always wanted to be, but could never find.  the person i sought out through drugs and alcohol.   little did i know the distance between her and I only grew further the more i drank and used.  it’s hard to find yourself in a blackout!

im so grateful that today i am able to show up for myself.  i show up for my family, and my friends.  i show up for life.

yes, i have moments where the thought of “escape” sounds appealing.  spotlights shine down on the fantasy of disappearing from reality for a bit.  when those thoughts arise, i be sure to follow the story to the very end in my head.  cause its the end of the story that brought me to my bottom.  and i must never forget that.  when i think the drink through, i can let go of that fantasy with very little hesitation.  and i can rejoin my happy reality.

 

alcoholism changed me.  sobriety saved me.

 

 

 

a little change goes a long way.

i was very different in the recent past.  one major change…compassion.

i always say how “time flies.”  and it does.  when i was twenty, i never thought i would be 30.  or 35.  or 36 (next month).  it just never crossed my mind.  i figured i’d be in my twenties forever.  i never looked into the future with truthful eyes.  i was going to be young for the duration of my life.  i went about my business as if nothing could harm me or touch me or kill me.  I lived behind a very thick smoke screen.  i ignored the sadness i recognize today in the world.  i paid no attention to the inconceivable.  if it didn’t affect me first hand, i didn’t care. and i didn’t care cause i refused to acknowledge anything that my heart couldn’t tolerate with ease.  im not proud of that, but it is the truth.  and today i speak the truth.  sadly, i know now that i was living my life with very little compassion.  for myself or for any other living being or species on earth.  i didn’t understand that at the time.

my eyes really started to open just over a year ago.  it started with getting sober.  eliminating the heavy drinking from my life.  forcing me to face reality head on.  all of it. 35 years of dirty build up had to be taken on.  challenged.  dissected.  acknowledged.  and dealt with.  it took a lot of forgiveness towards myself, and others.  it took, and will continue to take, many amends and apologies for my past behavior. and that is okay. it’s all part of the process.  and through this process i have found compassion.

compassion.  a small word with a massive impact on life.

       :sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.

if someone says something unkind to me or is inconsiderate, etc. i am better at not taking it personally than i was before.  in the past, i would obsess over what they did or said for hours or days on end.  today i can accept, usually, that whatever they did or said to me most likely doesn’t have anything to do with me personally…but rather it is something born from their own issue/s.  maybe they are having a bad day.  or maybe someone said something that hurt their ego and they are taking it out on me.  whatever it might be, i try hard to not take it personally today.  instead i’ll have compassion for them and whatever they might be going through.  and then i let it go.  theoretically.  like i said, i am no saint.  but most of the time i can act with compassion today.

if someone is hurting.  i have compassion.  if i am hurting, i have compassion.  i try to be kind.  to you, and to all living species on earth.  i feel now.  and it is best to feel good about myself, then to feel bad.  and i feel good when i live in compassion.

compassionate living is something i now strive for.  i’ve taken it further than with just humans and human contact.  i want to live compassionately towards all living species on earth.  as i mentioned earlier in this post, back in my younger years i lived in a thick fog.  i refused to recognize the inconceivable that is around me.  and there is a lot of it in our world.  this includes the cruelty and lack of compassion that is thrown upon the animals on our planet.  i chose to bear witness to the truth nearly a year ago, and by doing so, i had no choice but to change my ways.  my heart wouldn’t allow me to turn away any longer.  and so i became a vegan.  i refuse to be a consumer of meat and dairy products, knowing what i know today.  this also includes non-food products that are tested on animals.  i can no longer take part in any of that.  i simply can’t do it.  it’s compassion.  and i have it today.  i suppose i always had it, i just didn’t know to what degree.  with the choice of becoming vegan and showing compassion towards all animals, i’ve gotten to know a side of myself that was once hidden.  and i like this side a lot.  it just feels…right.

no, im not perfect at the game of life, but i am certainly better at it today then i was last year and the years prior.  i still have many faults.  and insecurities.  and i make huge mistakes.  i still have a dark side i can fall into.  i can loose my compassionate side at times. i can take things personally.   if i didn’t then i wouldn’t be able to call myself human.  but i now recognize these characteristics when they present themselves.  i can move past those barriers faster.  continuing to better myself in the process.  it’s progress not perfection.

i’ve visited my darkest demons through this journey.   and continue to.  and let me tell you, my skin has thickened in the process.  my heart has grown.  my voice has been found.  and my personality has escaped its own personal jail… and continues to make itself known.  i am present.  finally.

sobriety and my truth has brought me far.

far from what i once was, but not yet what i am going to be.

what a journey.

incase you are interested, below are websites that have helped open my eyes and helped me make my choice to become a vegan:

http://www.peta.org/ 

http://www.farmsanctuary.org/

http://www.mercyforanimals.org/

random act of kindness #9

yesterday i was so busy with work and feeling stressed about a few things in my world.  at the same time i was thinking of my friends and missing them.  i wasn’t able to pick up the phone and chat with all of them at that moment.  i was in a time crunch.  but i could easily send a quick text message letting them know i was thinking about them.  i know that when i get a random text from someone in my life, it makes me smile.  makes me happy if i was otherwise bummed out.  a simple text says so much and many people don’t realize that.

in today’s world of technology, it is easy to get away from one on one conversation and hide from any real face to face or voice to voice  interaction with other humans.  for the introverted type like myself, that can be dangerous.  for anyone really, it can be dangerous.  texts, social media, emails…can all act as a shield from society.

but there is a flip side….

this same technology can act as a bridge for connecting people as well.  when life is busy or has its own plans for me…it prevents me from having the time to call everyone on my list or to check in with those i love.  that’s when the beauty of texting comes in to play.  i can say “hello”…”thinking of you”  in a matter of seconds.  and the receiver is sure to appreciate the act (generally) and will then know i am thinking of them and they are still on my radar, even though im not present or able to pick up the phone.  texting is a way to stay connected to those i love.  and i am grateful for that.

so random act of kindness #9 was texting a few friends that were on my mind…just to let them know i was thinking of them.  it’s that simple.  and it generally has  a big (positive) impact on the receiving end.

use our technological world in a positive way to stay connected.  it works.

IT’S SO SIMPLE AND THE KINDNESS IS APPRECIATED….

 

today marks one year SOBER!

7-11 has a nice ring to it.  todays date marks 365 days of clean blood running through my veins.  no alcohol.  no drugs.  one year of dealing with life on life’s terms.  feeling every prick and prong.  earning every tear and smile.  i am nothing short of a miracle.

what was i doing on this exact day, one year ago…?

i woke up with a beating headache.  my attempt to not drink the night before turned into a high-caliber blackout.  i woke up on 7-11-11 with that horrible feeling of incomprehensible demoralization.  what had i done?  what had i said?  where is my car?  how did i get home?

and then came the phone call from my dear friend, who i shall call beth.  she reminded me of my behavior the night before….and the pieces began to come together.

here is the short story:  i was  hanging out with a few friends. started off at a restaurant in venice beach and ended at a backyard bonfire.  where i attempted with drunken passion to turn my straight girlfriend gay. sounds rather humorous, and i can laugh about it with beth, now.  but at the time it wasn’t so funny.   i wanted what i wanted when i wanted it.  that was me, drunk.  not attractive, at all.  i wasn’t violent or anything like that.  but i was aggressive with my words and was often seductively persuasive. not classy at all.   i was known for taking straight girls to the dark side for a night.  (there were some good times!  ha ha ha)  but this night was a big FAIL.  and i m grateful it was…as this was/is a very dear friend of mine and i had no business saying what i said and acting as i did.   i will spare you the details…but when alcohol entered my blood stream, there was no telling what would happen.  what i would say or do.  who i would take home or go home with.  how i would get home.  if i would get home.  this night was no different from the rest.  and like most mornings after, i woke up drowning in humiliation.  completely exhausted.  sick.  stricken with a deep self-hatred that never seemed to escape me.  i wanted nothing more than to hide from the world and all the people in it.  a typical feeling for me during my drinking days.  i hated who i was.  what i stood for.  i hated the feelings that overwhelmed me.  i hated your happiness.  and i wallowed in my misery.  that was donna exactly one year ago.

can you say GRATEFUL?  i am so grateful today that i do not have to live that way any longer.  i don’t wake up in the mornings with that loathing self-hatred.  my memory isn’t taken from me any longer by booze and drugs.  my actions are in control.  my words and my behavior are manageable today.  and most importantly, i feel love for donna.  the spiritual depletion i felt 365 days ago is replenishing in me.  i didn’t know how to feel before.  i didn’t want to feel.  experiencing my feelings was way too much for me to handle.  living life on life’s terms was not a choice for me while i was drinking.  my world was unmanageable.  one year later i can say with confidence, that i truly experience every possible emotion and feeling that crosses my path.  and i take it in with pleasure.  painful or otherwise.  i absorb it and i live through it.  and i am grateful for that.  life is worth living when i do so on life’s terms…not mine!

what i know today:  i know now that it’s the first drink that gets me drunk.  so i stay away from the first drink.  i know now that once alcohol is in my blood, i have no control over donna any longer.  i know i will end up right back where i was 365 days ago…hating myself and everyone in my line of vision….if i should choose to drink again. i know i need to go to AA meetings in order to stay sober.  I know i need to work the steps daily, as best i can.  I know i need to keep a close relationship with my HP.  i know i have an allergy of the body and mind.  i know my head speaks louder than my mouth.  and most of the time, my head is lying to me.  i know now that most troubles in my life are born from fear.  i know how to feel today.  i know what it means to be authentic.  i know how to love and be loved.  or at least im better at it then i was before sobriety. i know what it’s like to be in the moment.   i know how to live today.  it’s not a life without problems, but it’s a life with an authentic truth that allows for pain, challenges, happiness, and laughter, successes and failures….it’s a life worth living.

my name is donna, and I am an alcoholic… with one year of sobriety!!!

what does ‘americana’ look like?

i am doing visual research on the subject ‘americana’ for a project i am working on and it has really saddened me.  the visuals that are tied with the word ‘americana’ are horrifying to me.  america and what it is known for seems to visually look like McDonald’s burgers.  super sized fries. coke. and mass amounts of junk food.  i even ran across an advert for a DONUT BURGER:

we really have become a fast food crack house of a country.  the red white and blue has been well associated with McDonald’s since the burger was 15 cents:

and it has only gotten worse.  i used the search term “americana” and here are just a few of the images that i ran across:

a picture of american health huh?  i think not.

and we wonder why we are in the midst of an obesity crisis.  some call it an epidemic.

we introduce this horrible food to our kids at such a young age.  McDonlad’s happy meals.  cotton candy.  gummy bears.  coke.  ice cream.  etc.  they become little addicts of junk food quickly.

i loved fast food as a kid.  as a teenager.  i craved it.  the sapidity of it all.   my taste buds coated with the salty fried goodness.  i wanted more. and more.  and more.  and more.  fast food is addictive.  fried fatty, salty food is addictive.  sugary sweets are addictive.  just like cocaine.  alcohol.  nicotine.  there is not much of a difference, in my opinion.  

some people don’t buy the idea that food is addictive.  that the term addiction should be linked only to  drugs and alcohol and that people who overeat are simply lacking self-control and self-will.  hmmmmm.  i disagree.  lets examine this further:

“What other term would you use for a woman who gets into her car at 11:30 at night and drives six miles to the 7-Eleven to get a chocolate bar, and does it every night? She’s gaining weight, she feels profoundly guilty afterward, and though she resolves to stop this behavior, she does it every night, night after night? That’s a food addiction.” – (pulled from webMD)

that sounds much like the actions of a drug addict.  replace the word chocolate with cocaine, vodka, or heroin.  addiction is addiction. and america is feeding it to us by the mouthful.  breeding addicts through inexpensive, fattening, processed, meat heavy, dairy heavy, salty, sugary, horrible excuses for food and beverage.

luckily i escaped food addiction in young adulthood.  i woke up to reality and realized the harm i was doing to myself.  i managed to stay away from fast food 90 percent of the time once i reached 25 years of age.

i got even smarter close to a year ago, at age 35, when i chose to become vegan.  today i am a compassionate, healthy, plant-based consumer.  and i couldn’t be happier with that decision…and i certainly feel much healthier ridding my body of americas fast food, meat and dairy based consumption.  i am a guilt free consumer today.  and the chances of me becoming obese, are much less being a vegan.  and i feel good, knowing no animal died in order for me to eat today.

i hope that america can move away from the iconic fast food symbolism that has been stamped upon us, and adopt a much more compassionate, healthy, guilt free visual for the red white and blue.

aren’t these much nicer visions of health:

i think so.  and i challenge you to give healthy and compassionate living a try.  only good will come of it.  and if you think being vegan lacks taste in the mouth, you are mistaken.  it is some of the best, most imaginative food i have ever had.  i will never go back to how i ate in my younger years.  i couldn’t possibly stomach it, for a number of reasons.  but for the purpose of this blog….try the change for your health, if nothing else.

 

 

 

 

i am enough.

i have a necklace that i wear everyday around my neck.  it reminds me that, the donna i am today, was yesterday, and will be tomorrow…is enough.  

getting sober is not always a ray of sunshine.   my eyes have been opened wide.  my heart has been exposed.  my feelings are in full force.  the reflection i see everyday can no longer be blackened by booze and drugs.  i have no choice but to really face donna, daily.  with that force of reality, i must accept myself and recognize, i am enough…just as i am.

do you have any idea how difficult that is to say…. for an addict like me?  i am a compare and despair kinda gal.  walking down the city streets, i look at the women trotting by.  no, not because i am a lesbian and am admiring their beauty.  i am staring at these women, comparing my outsides to their outsides.  i see thin and beauty in front of me, and i tell myself how i am not that.  i am too big.  not attractive enough.  getting old.  etc.  compare and despair…a phrase i learned in the rooms of AA.

i play the comparison game in other areas of life as well.  i am a photographer.  i look at photos all day for my day job.  and therefore, i begin to tell myself how amazing the photographers are that i am researching, and how un-amazing my work is.  compare and despair.

as difficult as it was for me to swallow the following concept prior to, and at the start of sobriety, i am able to grasp it now….these feelings and behaviors are all self-centered and ego based.  it still makes me cringe to say that.  why?  because overall i am an incredibly sensitive, kind-hearted, giving individual, who puts you way before me.  therefore i never thought i could be self-centered or have an overexposed ego.  but…this is not the truth, i now know.  comparing myself to you, and being so concerned about my appearance, is clearly me thinking about me and focussing on me.  damn ego.  

when this game of comparison occurs, i go into a very dark place.  a depression, if you will.  and it is not easy to get out of.  it’s comfortable.  it’s what i have known for so much of my life.  its false security.  it’s why i drank.  darkness was my friend, and still creeps in on occasion.  and it is up to me to crawl out of it.

now i have a little tool around my neck.  a gift from my cousin, who had no clue the impact this necklace would have on me.  i wear it everyday.  and when i begin to compare and despair…when i begin to tell myself i am not good enough… i look at the charms around my neck and remind myself…i am enough.

sobriety does not bring perfection.

but it brings the path to a new life, and a new love for life and for self.  and i am on that road now.

i consider it training.

and with everyday of training, my strength in sobriety, self-love, and self acceptance, gains the muscle needed to power down my ego, tame my self-hatred, and massage my self-love.

one day at a time.

i am enough.