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…

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.

 

 

 

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….

 

it’s been 11 months since my last hangover…double-u-tee-eff!

today marks 11 months of sobriety for me.  seriously a miracle.  and i feel very lucky to be where i am today.  sober.  grateful.  and for the most part, happy to see the morning light when i awake.  wow.  times have changed.

i read  an article in the NY times this morning about the “hijacked brain” being used more and more as a description for addicts.  i related so much to that description.  think about it…when you envision being hijacked, what is it that you see…that you feel?  for me…similarly described in the article…i imagine a person, with a mask and a weapon, probably in all black, who forces control over a car, plane or train.  the hijacker may not be the one who drives the plane, car, or train, but with his/her violence, there is no doubt who has the power and control in the hostile situation.  and why do hijackers hijack?  one main reason would be because they need to escape, get away, or use the vehicle as a weapon in a far greater scheme.  hijacking is only geared towards the needs of the hijacker.  innocent people are torn away from their normal everyday lives, by the agitation and forced intrusion of the hijacker. hmmmm…sounds so very familiar!

let’s examine further….

compare the above description of the hijacking scenario to the “hijacked brain” of an addict.  the brain becomes an innocent victim of drugs and alcohol…which overtake the brains normal chemical/behavioral  responses, therefore hijacking it.  taking over control.  taking over the body and the mind.  the person is now powerless over themselves.  fascinating!

even after the “high” is gone, the addicts brain is under attack, as it is constantly chasing the high.

in the simplest form, this basically means…..

i am powerless over drugs and alcohol (among other things!).  with that first drink or drug, my brain becomes hijacked, and i become overtaken by the insanity of the hijacker…be it cocaine, alcohol, etc. i loose all control over mind and body.

thank god…i know longer have to deal with such an overwhelming lack of control.  i’ve taken my life back….  the bad guys are no longer welcome.

so what has changed & what have i learned  in the past 11 months?

1.  i do not suffer from that incomprehensible demoralization any longer.

2.  i do not hate the girl in the mirror any longer.

3. i am able to love myself more often than not.

4.  i no longer have hangovers.

5.  i always remember the events that took place the night before.  i remember who i was with.  how i got home. etc.

6.  i’ve learned to have compassion for myself, and others.

7.  i’ve learned to be of service to others in order to find happiness within myself.

8.  i’ve really gotten to know my ego.  and i have put him in his place.

9.  i’ve completed 11 of the 12 steps which are changing my life daily.

10.  i’ve learned what love really feels like.

11.  i feel everything! every emotion.  and i am learning to love it.  even the painful feelings.

12.  i’ve learned to not judge.

13.  i’ve learned the power of compassion and kindness.

14.  i’ve learned the importance of friendship and the dangers of isolation.

15.  i’ve realized staying calm brings me closer to serenity, and acting hysterical takes me further away.

the list really can go on…

the most important thing i have learned, however, is do not take that first drink or drug…no matter what!  

so today i celebrate myself for:

11 months

336 days

8,065 hours

of continuous sobriety!

random act of kindness-8

description of random act of kindness #8-  noticing someone in distress, and taking the time to help them out.

it’s the tiniest acts of kindness that have the biggest impact.

so give a helping hand…don’t walk by blindly.

here i am in NYC, where there is constant construction it seems, and detours in and out of the buildings and stores…or just “stuff” in the way.  i was at the gap store yesterday, returning some shorts i decided i didn’t need.  at the register, im gazing off as the employee is making my return, and i see out of the corner of my eye a young woman, struggling with the door to get out of the store.  she had a very large baby stroller, of course with a baby lying in it.  this particular gap store is located right on the sidewalk, with a large step to get in and out of the entrance door…construction going on around it…not very convenient entrance or exit for a baby stroller (or a disabled person for that matter).

so rather than stand there and watch this poor woman struggle, or act as if i do not see whats happening, i chose to walk away from my transaction at the gap register, and take a second or two to help this poor woman with the door.  “lets start over, i said to her.  back up, and i will go outside and hold the door for you.”  she was outside and on to her next destination with in seconds.

that was easy.

and the woman was grateful for the help.  and i was happy to have assisted.  why sit back and watch or ignore people around us who might need a little assistance?  most people do just that…ignore it.  can’t be bothered.  they are in a hurry.  too busy.  etc.  i’m guilty…i’ve ignored before.  but it’s never too late to turn things around.  and i hope that is what i am doing with my life now…

living in compassion for myself and others.  being of service to you.  staying out of my own head.  out of my own way.  living in gratitude…

being kind to my fellows.

and in doing so, staying sober, one day at a time….in kindness.

random act of kindness-7

random act of kindness #7 description:  hanging out with little B.

little B, is one of my favorite dogs (not my dog).  i noticed she was alone in the yard for a while recently.  she enjoys hanging out in the sunny outdoors….sunbathing. but little B likes to socialize with people as well, like most animals do.  so i had some free time and decided to go hang out with her for a bit in the sunshine.

we played a little…

and enjoyed the sun together…

so random act of kindness #7 was again shared with an animal.  they deserve kindness and love too!  being of service doesn’t only apply to the human race…

a random act of kindness for donna-day 5

we need to be kind to ourselves.  we are our own worst enemies…you’ve all heard that statement before.  it screams truth.  i am my own worst enemy, without a doubt.

random act of kindness #5:  today i am having compassion for myself.  giving myself a break for my mistakes/behavior.

i started this RAOK pledge because of the way i have been feeling, or rather, acting as of late.  not feeling myself.  acting abrasive.  losing my smile.  expressing a lack of gratitude as well as a lack of kindness towards others (and myself).  and being kind towards others, helps take me out of my own head…which ultimatley is where i have disappeared to.

i’ve been hard on myself for my recent behavior.  beating myself up for my actions, reactions,  and feelings.

this morning, on an early morning bike ride, i processed some important details about my life and what i have put myself through in the past 10 months.  let’s review:

1.  i found sobriety and stopped drinking. began recovery. (10 months  and 20 days ago)

      2.  i quit smoking, after smoking 2 packs a day for more than half my life! (6 months and 5 days ago)

      3.  i went off of my antidepressants.  being flatlined by meds is not my definition of living.  i wanted to really feel life again. (about one month ago)

      4.  transformed into a full-fledged vegan. (about 7-8 months ago)

those 4 things are big life changes.  huge.  and it is not recommended to make so many drastic changes all at once.  especially when newly sober!  but being the good alcoholic i am, that is the way i operate.  all or nothing.  that’s my personality.

as i was riding my bike along the beach this morning, i thought about all of those amazing positive changes i have made in my life, and how much success i have had in my growth as a sober, non-smoking, un-medicated, vegan human being.  but the success does not come without challenges and mountains to climb , lose balance on, and roll down face first.

emotional stress.  emotions period.  they can cause me and my happy- go- charming mood to vanish into a black hole.  and that is what has happened.  im human.  and i am emotionally overwhelmed, perhaps.  my body is changing from the inside out.  brain chemicals are being depleted and regenerated, in the attempt to find a natural balance for me.  my feelings are surfacing tenfold, without the erroneously zen presence of zoloft and wellbutrin.  i can’t run to the vodka if i become irritable or discontent.  sad or hurt.  happy or eager.  instead, i must sit with those feelings.  and as we know, bad/uncomfortable feelings are not always fun to sit with and ride through.

therefore, i am giving myself a break for being a little dark and abrasive, or sad and uncertain in the past couple of months.  life is not always a series of clean smells and warm weather days.

so here i am, giving myself a well deserved pat on the back, coupled with some personal compassion and forgiveness of self.  my random act of kindness for the day.

give yourself a break!

and with each smokeless, vegan, un-medicated passing day of sobriety, my smile and feelings of gratitude grow back.  patience with personal growth is not an innate quality for me….but i am training.

 

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?

the kindness commitment-365 DAYS

random acts of kindness.

a smile at a stranger.  the unexpected compliment.  offering a hug.  a hand written note.  a surprise home cooked (vegan) meal for your partner.

this has been a very strange week for me, emotionally.  i’ve been a tad bitter.  i’ve put expectations onto others, which always lead to disappointment.  i know better than that.  i’ve been selfish perhaps, with too much emphasis on my needs.  and in not getting what i feel i deserve or want, i turned cold.  maybe even a little passive aggressive.  such ugly qualities.  it’s that child in me screaming “i want! i want! i want!.”

i don’t like feeling this way at all.  it is an unattractive way for me to live.  an unpleasant position.  and i’d much prefer to simply be content and accepting of  life’s results throughout the day.  as i am not in control of them anyway, so why should i be controlled by them?

i have so much to be grateful for in my world.  so much to smile about.  yet i forget that when my mood takes over and my dark ego prevails, seeking fulfillment where fulfillment can’t possibly be found.

with that said, i decided i needed to come up with a way to bring my gratitude to the forefront daily.  a way to remind me of why we as a human race are here.  a way to take the focus off of me and my needs, and put that energy where it belongs…being of service to others, in a kind, gentle, human way.

so here is what i have decided to do:

I am committing to do more small acts of kindness.  at least one a day, for the next 365 days.  after that i am hoping it will just happen naturally, as it should.  i am a kind-hearted person, most of the time, and i love to help others and be kind to others.  however, i have a side that closes up quickly and when that happens, people know to get out of my way.  my friendly face goes into hiding.  i become unapproachable.  and i do not like it when that happens.  in fact, i can’t stand to be around myself when im in such ridiculous moods!

focussing on others through this new random act of kindness journey, will help me to stay away from that darker side, and focus on the good in me, and others.  it is really remarkable how when we take the focus off ourselves and help others…bring kindness to others…..our own mood and souls are given a warmth that is unexplainable.  it just feels right.  bring others kindness and your gratitude will blossom tenfold.  if you don’t believe me, follow me on this journey….

365 consecutive days of performing simple acts of kindness.

i will document the kindness daily on this blog.  and for a girl who lacks strength in commitment, this is a big pledge.  but i am on a journey of growth, so i am willing.  and i look forward to it.

I HOPE YOU WILL JOIN ME ON THIS PLEDGE TOWARDS MORE KINDNESS, SERVICE, AND GRATITUDE. ADD YOUR EMAIL AT THE TOP OF THIS BLOG WHERE IT SAYS “FOLLOW MY MIND VIA EMAIL” AND YOU WILL NEVER MISS A DAY ON MY JOURNEY TOWARDS MORE KINDNESS.  READY…SET….GO……..