634 days equals…

1 year.  8 months.  25 days.

That is how long I have been clean and sober, today.  One day at a time.  One feeling/emotion at a time.  One life event at a time.  One solution at a time.

My life is so good today.  And it is changing daily.  So many experiences have manifested since I chose to show up for my life.  1 year, 8 months, and 25 days ago I was emotionally and spiritually bankrupt.  I was sick.  Hung-over.  Ashamed of my behavior and my life.  I was angry and scared.  I was tired…exhausted.  I had no love for myself, and I certainly didn’t know how to love you.  I wanted to just vanish.

I am no longer that person.  I am not ashamed of who I am and the life I live and am no longer a puppet for the fear and anxiety that barely strung me along.

Life presents itself in so many forms, and today I embrace it, even if it is scary.  Even if I am unsure.  Even if I feel incapable of succeeding.  Where my thinking can destroy me, my perception can save me.  And with that truth I can trudge through anything. My world has changed dramatically since sobriety became my number one focus.  I recently left my job, after over a decade of working there.  I love the company I worked for.  I love the friendships I have made there.  However, it was time for me to move on.  To extend my creative playing field a bit more.  I needed a change.  And I went for it.  If I was not sober…if I had not worked this program during the past year and 8 months, I would never have followed through with my desire to grow in my career, and thus leave my job.  I would never have had the courage to do it.  Fear would have continued to consume me and I would likely have stayed where I was… comfortable, and therefore “safe.”  Today I see that as nice as it is to feel safe, there comes a time when risks need to be taken in order for growth to occur.

I am constantly growing.

Becoming a vegan has been a beautiful transformation for me in sobriety.  I realized the true definition of compassion.  After becoming sober, I became more present and aware of the horrible ways our human race treat animals that are slaughtered for food consumption. I could no longer be a consumer of meat and dairy after I witnessed the truth behind factory farming….because for me, it was not a compassionate, loving way to live any longer.  Sobriety brings many truths and many gifts.  Becoming vegan was one of them for me.

And more is constantly revealed.

I am in a committed, loving relationship with a truly beautiful, sober woman.  I get the opportunity to live a bi-coastal life, bouncing between New York and Los Angeles, living in the two best cities in the country, in my opinion.  Sobriety has given me this gift.  The confidence to be myself in my relationship.  Genuine and authentic.  Sobriety has taught me that with truth and honesty, grows intimacy.  And with intimacy, grows love.  Sobriety has taught me that my character defects do not define me, and I am lovable even with my faults.   My confidence and self-worth has blossomed, naturally.  I have learned the importance of loving without expectation.

Serenity is always near, should I want it.

I have sobriety to thank for that.  I wasn’t expecting to grow so much and have such awesome experiences in such a short period of time.  But it has happened, and if I continue to do the work, I suspect more gifts from life will appear, and growth will continue.

There are key tools for living that help make it easier….I have a couple go to suggestions that help me along the way…

The best tools for my life are:  Understanding and accepting that I am not in control.  Knowing and believing that most of my thinking and fears are not reality.  Realizing that if I just do the next indicated thing, and stay out of the results, life will work itself out.   It is all very simple, really.  And if I continue to live by these simple rules, I can say to myself:

dont worry

and for that, i am grateful!

Till next time…

God, are you laughing at me?

we have all heard the statement “God works in mysterious ways.”  he also has a sense of humor.  sometimes i feel like i am just a little plastic moving vehicle on his game board of life.  i guess i am, kind of.  sometimes his moves i like.  other times, i resent the path he sends me on.

but that doesn’t mean i am not grateful for every move he makes on my behalf.   if i am left to control my own game of life, i’d be screwed.  so go ahead God, make your move.  i may follow kicking and screaming, but i will follow.

and then there were three.  three girlfriends.  brought together for reasons out of their control.  clearly God’s work.  no explanation given by him…im forced to follow.  a smoke-filled car.  loud music.  three girls.  laughing.  crying.  stillness.  anxiety.  peace.  uncertainty.  confusion. laughter. love. running, yet staying close.  faith.  oceanside.

WTF just happened?  

i do not need to know the mathematics of it all.  why we landed up together as we did and under the circumstances that we did.  it just is, and that is good enough for me today.  knowing that my higher power has a plan for me, helps me during the harder times in life.  the questionable times.  the faithless times.  the times where i would prefer to just say “F-it.”  God shows up for me, and when i show up for him, life syncs.  and it did, this past weekend.

i feel blessed this morning.  grateful for the life experiences i continue to have.  grateful for the feelings i am able to feel.  when i was drinking and using, i felt nothing pure.  nothing but anger and resentment.  purity and truth did not exist in me.  i was fueled by my own potential demise.  today i get to feel from the inside out.  some feelings are painful, some bring warmth. i welcome them all, for they are new experiences for me now, and they remind me that i am alive.

life is good.

and then there were three:

 

thank you my friends.  and thank you God.  

xoxo

#CMO2012 National Coming Out Day

while trolling facebook early this morning, i was made aware that today is national coming out day.  In reading that, i became overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude.  gratitude for being “out.”  for being loved by those in my life for exactly who and what i am.  not everyone agrees with my sexuality, but most people in my life seem to accept it.  and for that, i am grateful.

i remember when i realized i was gay.  that feeling of uncertainty.  excitement.  a new energy that illuminated. i had just been intimate with a woman for the first time.  my body spoke to me.  and so did hers.  it was a feeling i had never experienced before.  i was 24 years old.  and my life was about to change.

i never quite felt right with men.  i was always “one of the guys.”  i had boyfriends and experiences with men throughout my younger life, but i never really felt intimately connected to them.  They were buddies, not really boyfriends.  i tried, but was unsuccessful at playing the heterosexual.  even when i thought i was heterosexual!

at 24, i was handed a gift.  and since then, i have found passion.  intimacy.  love.  expression.  with women.  i began to live with a deeper sense of authenticity.

my “coming out” experience was fairly organic.  one day, i was gay.  and from that day on, i have been gay and will forever be, from what i can tell.   life just naturally progressed in that direction for me.  i told my closest friends, who claimed to know i was gay before i did.  i slowly came out to my family.  that was the scariest and toughest part of outing myself.  like i said, not everyone agrees with my sexuality, but most seem to accept it.

i feel blessed to have the ability to live without fear of my sexuality.  i believe in expression of who i am. and being gay is a huge part of that expression.  it does not define me, but it is a permanent glowing impression on my blueprint.

happy #nationalcomingoutday to all. #cmo2012 #countmeout

 

 

 

 

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….

 

pssst. i’m gay. deal with it.

the church these days seems to be getting less loving, less god-like, and more brutal in their preaching ways.  it’s bullying, plain and simple.  it’s hate.  it’s intolerance.  and it is not god’s way.  there have been many recent sermons that have gone viral due to their hateful message regarding the LGBT community.  i blogged about one a couple of weeks ago…a preacher who said us “gays” should be put on our own island, surrounded by an electric fence…where eventually we would all die off.  really?

it’s 2012, and i am shocked at the ignorance and fear that much of our world still lives in.  the fact that there is such brutal bullying that goes on today just breaks my heart.  our purpose on this planet is to live a spiritual and compassionate life.  to learn and grow through love and compassion for all living things.  and god made us different for a reason, in my opinion.  diversity makes the world go round. and to love all things living….. different from you….or the same….. is to really live.  it’s called unconditional.  you heard of it?  i don’t expect anyone to be perfect at this, as we are human.  but i do expect people to practice love, not hate.

to all you fearful anti-gay, bullying individuals out there:

why are you so afraid of me?  why are you so interested in my business and my choice of love and lifestyle?  why do you care who i say “i do” too?  or who i retire with at night?  i am not hurting anyone.  i am not affecting your life and your choices.  i have the right to live just as you, so stop trying to take my freedom away from me.  you do not have permission to take it.  it does not belong to you.  you do not have permission to hurt me.  to wound me with your words.  you do not have permission to tell me how to live.  what do eat.  where to work.  how to drive.  what to wear.  and you most certainly don’t have permission to tell me who to love.  and who not to love.  

does this make you feel better?  bullying with your words and labels.  making another fellow human being feel less than and not worthy of this amazing adventure we are all handed…life?

do you have any idea what effect you have on the children, teens, and adults that you bully and harass? the pain that is burned into their being by your phobic daggers?  the lives you halt by your insensitive, unloving, and certainly un-godly “defenses” against humankind.  yes, humankind.  the collective human race.

you defend (thru hate and bullying) heterosexuality as if same-sex marriage or same-sex love is, or will be, forced onto you personally.  stay in your hetero relationship.  i don’t care.  i think it’s fabulous if that’s the kind of love you choose.  after all, it’s about love, not gender.

do you have a child?  a niece or nephew?  godson or god-daughter?  imagine them being bullied at school for whatever reason..being overwieght, unattractive, too smart, etc.

it looks/feels something like this:

would you tolerate it?  would you just let your child, or your niece/nephew,  live with that abuse daily without trying to put a stop to it?  would you consider this kind of bullying from other kids acceptable?  would you encourage it?  i don’t think so. it’s intolerable.

so perhaps think real hard next time you decide to scream anti-gay, hateful words towards another person.  think about it while you are sitting in church on sunday, praising god with your anti-gay preacher suggesting us gays all be put to death.  or when it comes time to vote for giving the rest of the human race the opportunity to marry in love.  just think about it.

it could be your own kid that you are acting out against.

god didn’t grant us life so we can destroy it by defaming our fellows….especially by way of outward brutality.  this separation of people is against the rules.  play nice, or don’t play at all.  we all have the right to be here!

and that is my opinion.

 

 

random act of kindness-6

hey dude, your meter has expired!

and in santa monica, ca….that is a big no no!  you can’t get away with that for too long before a ticket is nicely placed on your car windshield.

random act of kindness #6 description:  feed the meter for someone.

i was walking out of my local grocery store and i noticed a flashing expired meter.  usually not a big deal, except there was a car parked in that spot, and a meter worker not far down the road, i noticed.  it was only a few minutes before 6pm, which is the hour you no longer have to feed the meter.  it’s also the most likely time to get a ticket, in my experience.  3 minutes shy of the cutoff time.  they are slick ticket givers.  hey…the meter workers are just doing their job, i get it.

anyway, so there i am having noticed the meter expired, and having noticed the meter worker coming on down the line.  so i had two choices, walk away…as it’s not my problem, really.  OR , throw a coin in the meter for whoever was parked there….saving them from a 70 dollar ticket for a 3 minute mistake.

so i threw some money in the meter and went about my merry way.  felt great.  i have no clue who the owner of that parked car was.  and i never will.  but i did a good deed for them.  and i don’t need them to know it.

the best acts of kindness are done without any recognition.  because it’s then that you know you are doing them for no outside reason…you want nothing in return.  damn, that feels good.

 

 

words leave marks!

wow.  i just ran across this story about a young girl who was bullied via facebook (and at school) for being “fat” and “unattractive.”  under a photo the girl posted on facebook of herself, a teen boy commented that she was so fat and disgusting that no one would want to rape her and that she should die and her body should be donated to science.   not sure if those were the exact words, but it went something like that.  watch the video for yourself.  it disgusts me. and saddens me.

this case made news originally because the young girls mom allegedly choked the teen boy after bullying his daughter. no, didn’t choke him to death, just seemingly grabbed his neck with force.   im not going to focus too much on that side of the story.  i will only say that i do not agree with her actions and think things should have been handled differently.

my focus here is going to be on the bullying of this young teen girl.  it breaks my heart.  makes my blood boil.  brings back memories i’d like to erase.  bullying was bad enough when i was a teen…today it is out of control. made worse through social networking, instant photos and videos, etc.  humiliation can be spread in seconds.

sadly, teasing is part of growing up.  almost every kid will experience it at some point.  however teasing turns into bullying when it is repetitive and done with intention to hurt.

as a child i was considered fat.  i was, as i recall, the biggest girl in elementary and junior high.  or at least that’s the way it felt.  i recall very few days that i was not bullied at school.  being called fat. fat ass.  ugly.  gross.  wide load signs put on my back.  cornered by teen boys who would steal my belongings, etc. the list goes on.  i cried all the time.  it was daily humiliation.   i was sad.  depressed.  scared.  and worst of all i hated myself.  eventually i began to believe all the horrible words these bullying kids threw in my direction for so many years of my childhood.

words leave marks!

       

so what effect can such bullying have on a child.  here are a few troubles that may transpire for the victim of bullying:

anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem, poor social self-competence, depression, psychosomatic symptoms, social withdrawal, school refusal, school absenteeism, poor academic performance, physical health complaints, running away from home, alcohol and drug use, and suicide.

using myself as an example, by the time i was about to depart from junior high school, i was very depressed, my self-esteem was non-existent, i was horrible in social situations because i felt like no one would like me and i wasnt good enough, my self-confidence was shattered, i was often withdrawn, i faked sicknesses so i wouldn’t have to go to school, and i didn’t want to be alive.  when the time came for me to join high school, i lost a lot of weight, in all the wrong ways, because i couldn’t imagine 4 more years of hell.

as an adult…i am still uncomfortable in social situations, i am very introverted and quiet by nature, my self-esteem certainly resurfaced in adulthood, but has never reached its full potential, same goes for my self-confidence, my alcoholism and addictions were in full throttle as i entered early adulthood, i am rarely happy with my physical appearance and am constantly telling myself i am fat. i believe most of these characteristics developed as a bullied child and stuck with me into adulthood.  they are wired in my hard drive now.  i have a great life today and i do have confidence and self-esteem, and i do like the person i have become, but the ghosts of my childhood past still linger.  naturally.

so when i watched this video of this beautiful young teen, crying as she repeated the words of her bully, my heart broke.  i know what it feels like, and i don’t wish those feelings on even the worst of enemies.  emotional abuse is just as sad and just as dangerous as physical abuse.

how can we stop bullying?  how?

although being bullied as a little girl continues to affect me in some negative ways, i am lucky in that i didn’t grow into a mean, angry, bitter adult by way of my childhood emotional abuse.  i grew into a very emotionally sensitive, kind, thoughtful, and gentle woman. (most of the time-cause im not perfect) and  one who knows the dangers of abuse by words, and who can’t even imagine being so mean to another human being.  in fact, if i witness someone else saying hurtful things to another person, child or an adult, i feel it penetrate in me. and it makes me extremely uncomfortable.  not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.  but it just is.

seriously…what can schools/parents do to prevent bullying to such extremes?

i hope this little girl who recently felt such emotional pain from bullying…can keep hold of her self-esteem and confidence and is shown, by way of love, how beautiful she is and how much she shines in this sometimes very cruel world.

please watch the video from the Dr. Drew show.

i am just posting the part regarding the bullying.  if you want to see the whole video, please visit HLN’s/Dr. Drew’s page.

i forgot how to use a pen!

not really, but do you remember the last time you received a handwritten letter from someone?  or the last time you sent a hand written note to someone?  do you recall the days when getting the mail was exciting…..the possibility of a letter from a friend or family member?  or lover?  the anticipation?  or the surprise?  those days a re long gone.

random acts of kindness pledge-day 4:  writing a hand written letter to my best friend, sarah.

we have been friends since age 14.  we’ve laughed, screamed, cried, fought with such loud vocalizations, God was telling us to shut up.  thankfully we never really physically fought,  although we did once get into a physical brawl over a beer in high school.  go figure.  that was quite a funny scene as i recall.  teenagers!  we were trouble back in the day.

so… i was thinking of dear sarah, and decided to sit down and hand write a letter to her.  i wanted to be personal, and a text or email just didn’t feel personal.  we use to exchange “notes” in high school daily.  personal little letters.  with silly sketches and drawings.  it was so fun.  and the handwritten quality of the notes made them personal.  writing with a pen takes effort and more time then a text or email.  you have some thoughts.  you put them down, pen to paper.  stuff it in an envelope.  throw a stamp on and hand it to the postman.  the receiver gets your thoughts a few days later.  not instantly via text or email.   there is an excitement nowadays, i would imagine, when a letter is found in ones mailbox.  it is a nearly extinct practice today.

with all the advancement in technology, the human race has become much less personable.  less social.  less friendly.  and much less authentic.  there is no need to be as real anymore.  at least not socially. true face-time is limited for many these days. and im not talking about the video chat application.  im referring to real face to face time spent together talking.   luckily most people still need to show up for work and school, so there is some human interaction there.  but it is far less than it was 15 or 20  years ago.  everyone is hiding behind their online profiles.  there is no need to be real and truly personal today, cause we are able to hide behind the facade of a social presence…called facebook. pinterest.  twitter.  foursquare. and the like.  as well as text messages and emails.  it’s the perfect hideout, especially for introverts like myself.  i do it.  im guilty.

however, i don’t think its the healthiest way to “socialize.” or  to show kindness or sentiment.  some things should be left offline.  which brings me back to the hand written letter to sarah.  i could have easily sent her a text message saying “hey, thinking of you and missing you.”

blah.  in using that route all the time, the meaning gets lost after a while.

but a hand written letter, unexpected.  that my friends, will put a big smile on sarah’s face…i suspect.

and so my  4th random act of kindness has been completed.  and in writing that letter, i got a rush of great memories of our fun times together back in the day…before marriage, kids, careers, and life stepped in.  it felt good putting pen to paper.

 

i hope she doesn’t see this blog post before her letter arrives.

random acts of kindness pledge-day 2

random act of kindness #2 description:  picking up the tab for dinner with my dear friend katie.

why?  because i felt like it.  it’s nice to take out a friend and treat them to coffee or a meal, coupled with friendly catch up time and conversation!  it was a lovely couple hours spent at one of my favorite places to eat, swingers.

what did i have to eat, you ask?  the vegan cobb salad. i give it 5 out of 5 stars for sure!  oh yeah and one whole wheat vegan pancake on the side.  i couldn’t resist.

let’s review the day, and why this random act benefitted me and helped my sobriety and sanity.  it’s a holiday today…memorial day.  a monday.   most people have the day off from work and spent the day perhaps at the beach, or BBQ-ing with buddies, etc.  i spent the day working.  no complaints, that’s life.  it happens.  however by the time i got out to see my friend katie for an early dinner, i had a little bit of a resentment brewing in me, and a little bit of a pity party having a dance off in my head…all because i felt sorry for myself for having had to spend all day indoors on my computer.  but once i got out and in good company with katie, i began to get out of my personal pity bash and out of my own head by asking about katie.  and how she is doing.  yes, my life was discussed as well, but we shared our lives with each other, and all in the world was good.  although this particular random act of kindness was paying for our meals in the end, the real kindness came from katie..her friendship…and the joy that comes with a simple meal and some friendly conversation.  so thank you katie…for being you.

and really, im grateful to have my job and i didn’t mind all that much working today, of course.  i just lost hold of my gratitude momentarily.

here is katie at the awesome swingers diner….

all of this helps me stay out of my own head, be of service to others, stay in gratitude, and stay sober!

more random acts to come…

 

 

random acts of kindness pledge-day 1

my journey towards being of service to others, bringing kindness to others, and finding my own gratitude in life, has begun.   365 days performing (at least) one random act of kindness daily…day 1.  it was a good day to begin, as i had a rough start upon awakening.  i needed to do something that would distract me from my own victim mentality and focus on someone else.

my dear friend and co-worker, elaine, loves dark chocolate covered ginger from the co-opportunity in santa monica.  so, on my way into work, i decided to stop by the co-op and grab her a treat for no good reason, other than i adore her and felt like making her smile that morning.  life can be tough and during those tough times, we can forget to use our smile muscles.  elaine needed to massage those muscles.  and i knew that.

i left the treat full of happiness on her desk and went about my business.  hopefully it made her feel a little extra loved…which she is.

i wonder what todays random act of kindness will look like?