Gratitude is a funny thing. It can be so hard to have any of it at times, but if you force yourself to make a list, you often find you have so much more to be thankful for than you could ever imagine. Don’t believe me? Try it. Make a list. It might start out with something simple and stupid like…
1.Roof over head.
2.Car that runs.
3.Food on table.
You might feel stupid. You might feel shame. But often you find yourself starting to add more to your meager little list…
4.Trails near by to hike
5.Online Ballet classes to make my inner child smile
8.Beautiful skies, deer, and butterflies
9.Smooth Jazz and Solfeggio Frequencies
After listing some things that bring you joy you might start to list things that don’t bring you joy but also are working well for you like…
10.My boss lets me come in late every single day.
11.Even though I hate my commute, I am glad I have started listening to K-Love again
12.The new cafe at work so I can grab coffee a couple of times a week
13.The Kabbalah class that is helping me overcome my main issue
14.My little suburb - it is far away from everything but it has some nice stuff too and it is safe!
After you have listed some things that are helping you even though you wish you didn’t need that help you might find yourself going deeper and listing what you don’t like because you now see how it is being used to propel you forward…
15.My job - it is setting me up for a career in a field with great hours and time off and it is a field that is good for women
16.Lack of Quality Friendships - the quit space has allowed me to turn inward, to read, to write, to dance and to flow. The quiet space has provided a needed transformation. I am at peace with what is and what will be for maybe the first time ever.
17.Memphis - the journey my soul has been on here is unreal. I have changed so much since I came back and I know I will be leaving much stronger, smarter, and more soul centered than ever. I can say with confidence I am ready for whatever lies ahead.
And then you realize everything good and bad has been happening for your growth, for your benefit, for what lies ahead of you… And you can’t help but smile in the warmth created by realizing it really is all for you.
After I moved back to the very flat land that is western Tennessee, my brother suggested I take up golf. His argument was that if you like being outside in nature, golf is one way to do that. The golf courses are usually very nice and pretty with trees and ponds galore. It was his way of helping me find something to do in the area since I was no longer in the land of mountains and lakes and oceans. And so I got a couple of used clubs and ventured over to a driving range and tried hitting some balls. It would be a couple of years before I started to really grasp the game and the different swings with the different clubs and irons, but I did eventually catch on and I liked it.
Golf is a mental game. Most people who become golfers are attracted to the mental side of the game. I refer to it as more of a mind fuck these days, but it does teach you a lot about life.
One of the biggest lessons I have learned on the course that I am trying to take off the course is the idea that one cannot focus on the whole course and expect to win. Instead, you have to focus solely on the hole you are playing, the swing you are swinging, because each swing brings its own set of problems. Every swing I take on the course has the potential to make me jump for joy or writhe in disbelief and defeat - not unlike every move I make in life. On the golf course you have to learn to enjoy the game for what it is - a total mind fuck. Or I guess better words would be you have to enjoy the problem solving of it all. You have to enjoy the ups and the downs. You have to learn to manage your emotions and not take it personally if you open the round with two pars and close with eight quadruple bogeys. In golf you have to cling to that last time you had a great day or a great hole even if it was two years ago. I think more than anything golf teaches you to enjoy the journey, the journey of being alive here on this planet.
In life we have good years and bad years. We have plans we execute well and end up with a loss that rattles us to our core. We also experience moments where no matter what we do it ends up perfect and those times can perplex us even more. In golf the only end game is to get better at golf, and in life the only end game is to enjoy the time we have - neither offers a concrete end goal or path to fulfillment. Both are about enjoying the journey and I think golf teaches you the how as you continue to play. Maybe that is the caveat - you just have to continue to play - in golf and in life.
The past seven years have been tough. Out of nowhere a string of crazy, strange and serious health problems emerged and now that I am on the other side I am wondering what in the hell just happened to me? And Why?
Everything started around seven years ago. I had just left Los Angeles and was living on the coast in Florida because I couldn’t fathom going back to my home town. I had a great roommate and I was a mere 10 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean. Everything was going well until I started to develop a spastic colon that kept me, well, in the bathroom for more time than I would care to admit. I had horrible pain and cramps and sudden evacuation was non-negotiable. And to make things even more fun I started losing my hair. You know how guys tend to have that V hairline as they age? Well, I was sporting that on and off for about four years. My hair line came and went just like my spastic colon. I gave up so many foods and got all kinds of testing to no avail. Every single test came back with a clean bill of health and a physician who just shrugged his shoulders.
And just like that my colon and revolving hair line problems disappeared. A new era had begun. One that would include large amounts of blood in my urine on an almost daily basis. I again went to all kinds of specialists I would have rather not gone to. Every test, scan, wash, etc, came back clean. This occurred over the course of a year and to this day no one knows what happened. I know I probably lost some hair to that one. I mean if you look that scenario up the options are all very scary and very serious.
Just as before, the blood just vanished from my urine. And a new problem emerged shortly after. This one has left me with a lot of reverberations. Large scale vertigo attacks that came out of nowhere and would last for around an hour meaning I was on the floor of wherever I was at the time of the attack for around an hour keeping my eyes closed and trying not to vomit. It was to say the least, extremely interruptive. On top of that, I typically felt like complete shit for two - three days after an attack and since I had them on an almost weekly basis my life dwindled quickly to a very base level of survival. After an attack, I was useless. My brain was foggy, and everything felt like I was walking through very thick mud. I just couldn’t function. It was bad. I again went to doctors and had scans, ultrasounds, tests… and nothing. Not one damn thing could be found. I had a clean bill of health. These attacks would last for a little over one year and then vanish without a trace.
And then? Nothing. I was left with a body that had been through way too much and a whole bunch of weight. I had gained 30 pounds! I had yoga poses I could not do because I had a stomach in the way. Ugh. I was exhausted, fat, and unhappy. I was also different. I couldn’t do a lot of the things I had done before this almost decade of woe. My energy levels were different, my metabolism was different and my activities had to change.
And then just like that to coin the phrase again, my metabolism started to pick back up. I became ravenous, but now I could eat without fear of sudden evacuation. To date, I have only lost 10 pounds. It is slow, but also steady. I see a pattern where I drop two to three pounds then go back up and then ever so slowly slide back down and then repeat. It has to be a Guinness World Record for slowest weight loss ever, but I am fine as long as my heath issues stay away and my weight slowly descends back to a number I am more accustomed to.
So I titled this patience, which I have not spoken about. I guess I did have patience through out those seven or so years. I was so wrapped up with what my body could and could not do I did not have time to care so much about the other stuff. Isn’t it strange that life was easier when I was facing major health issues than it is now that I am not? Now is when I need all the patience I can muster. I am on the mend. Things are looking better on the health front and so now, I am keenly aware of everything else. I have never been more depressed than I am right now. I have never been more unhappy than I am right now. I have never been more shattered than I am right now. It is like I am waking up from a bad nightmare to see that I lost seven years and I haven’t made any gains in any area of my life. Now is when I need patience the most. I guess I no longer have a reason for all that has not materialized. Maybe it is not patience I need at all. Perhaps I need faith and that is something I am low on as well. Becoming homeless really jarred me and even though I am still here to tell the tale - it changed everything I ever believed about God and the Universe. Perhaps what I need right now is faith that God hasn’t decided that He is done with me. And patience to be willing to stick around to see what’s out there, to see what’s next…
“That's the problem with drinking, I thought, as I poured myself a drink. If something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen.”
― Charles Bukowski
The quote above is a great recap for what inevitably happens if I decide to allow alcohol back into my life. It just somehow becomes the thing I do pushing all of the other things I was doing out of my life. And I don’t like that. It has always been all or nothing with me, but then again I am an all or nothing person.
It is amazing when I look back at all of the wonderful things that have come into my life while I was sober. Hiking, photography, creative writing, stand up paddle boarding, yoga, travel and exploration, reading a ton of books, working on major side projects I want to share with the world, learning new crafts and trades, taking up golf and ballet… just to name a few. And then there is the other me. The one who drinks alcohol. This last stint I only drank wine as I didn’t want anything stronger, but it turns out the wine was strong enough to slowly take over all of my other things and I slowly turned into the girl who doesn’t want to do anything if wine was not involved meaning I either sat on my sofa, sat on a patio, or sat in a bar. The sober girl is way more interesting, wouldn’t you agree?
And I like who I am these days too. I like who I have become. It might be the first time in my life I can say that. I am very intentional with my life and my time. I look for quality friendships with people who will appreciate me for who I am and what I have to offer. I am no longer okay being around people who tolerate me. I may not be content with where I am in life right now, but I am content with who I am in life right now. I like me.
I don’t think I ever realized what all alcohol was taking from me. I just couldn’t see it. I mean back when I was really bad off I could see my health fading, and after I got sober the second time around I could see how my love affair with alcohol had taken my career, my friendships, and chances at love, but I never realized what else it was taking on a day to day basis. It took my peace of mind and replaced it with insane emotions and a whole lot of anxiety. This I found out recently, when I decided to have a glass of wine after a few months of not drinking. The next 48 hours were shit. I was an emotional rollercoaster and my anxiety went through the roof. I couldn’t resonate with my affirmations or keep myself on a lighter vibration to match what I am calling into my life. I really felt horrible. I have always heard that people with anxiety or depression should not drink but this was the first time I experienced it living color. It made my decision easy. I walked alcohol back out of my life. I don’t need the emotional and mental torment. I don’t need to forget about all of the stuff I want to do and accomplish and I don’t want to lose the woman I am right now. I like her and I want to keep her around.
PS. If you are sober curious and would rather have an alcohol replacement instead of just going cold turkey - try these: