Addiction…my bitch

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Sitting here listening to Red Table Talk, “Kelly Osbourne Comes Clean” episode, and “wow” what a great reminder of the power of addiction. There are so many great quotes that I could not help but share and re-numerate on the hold it has had in my life through her story.

In my life I have known addiction, personally, intimately, and compassionately. I come from a long line of drinkers, fairly stated more honestly, alcoholics. I was never going to be a drinker because I hated everything about it in my young life and still to this day the smell of beer takes me to a place that turns my stomach. However, my drug of choice was food and in that addiction, I managed to reach 274 pounds with more co-morbidities than I could count on two hands.

Addiction in my opinion, is a personality trait. Many people have addictive personalities that never spin out of control and the trait instead serves as direction and drive. For others, and what you hear most when the word “addiction” is used, the trail of destruction it leaves in its path ruins lives, theirs, and everyone around them. I can relate to both.

I love that the first thing Kelly Osbourne notes is that she “…made it all the way through the pandemic…” without alcohol, which speaks to survival. Daily survival without the addiction, rearing its ugly head, feels like success. This feeling breeds a sense of confidence that “…you are normal, and you are going to prove to everyone that you can do this…” thing that you have avoided, you are cured. You tell yourself one drink can’t hurt anything and then one becomes two, three, TEN. The lie that we tell ourselves that we can have one drink, one bite, or one of anything that we are addicted to, leads to a spiral down the rabbit hole of self-harm and hatred. You sober up and come to grips with your reality “I did it again” and “Now I have to start over” which then leads to “Well since I have already fallen “off the wagon” I might as well _______________ (fill in the blank).” “Normal” is not a thing for anyone with addiction relative to the substance that addicts them. The new “normal” is the process of avoidance of all that has control over you and in building a resolve that can never waver.

Kelly noted that she “let go of her tools” of those things that help her “stay clean every day”. This is always where it starts. We fool ourselves into believing something is more important. It takes work to work the tools that keep it all together every single day for the rest of your life. Staying in control of your addiction is paramount to your survival. It is knowing this that becomes your number one responsibility, to protect the place where self-care lives as your FIRST priority and put all else second.

Kelly notes that some of her “insane thinking” included the idea of getting “pregnant because then she would have to stop drinking”. It is where self-care is absent that we search for the “reason” to stop. That is when we are not reason enough. In my life I remember the same fucked up thinking where a diagnosis of diabetes or high blood pressure would now be the “reason” I would give myself to get serious about my food addiction because the threat of death would set me straight; until the drama of it all would wear off and I would live to eat again. It wasn’t enough to stop for myself or my family; it had to be life-threatening. It had to be dramatic. Addicts live in the drama. It is always life or death until it is death-defying.

Kelly notes “I make everything more difficult.” Yes, WE do. Nothing can be done without it being painful or wrought with effort. Addicts are people-pleasers trying to solve for everyone around them and as Kelly noted she “Drained herself (through helping others) and left nothing for herself.” It is through failed attempts to solve for everyone and everything around you that you finally realize and are forced to answer the question of “How are you going to help someone else when you are all messed up?” Addicts are addicted to everything and codependency is where we find our value. Tell me I am enough, tell me how much you love me, validate me for I am not worthy without your judgment.

The climb out of addiction is hard. “You have to get honest with someone” that can understand the power of addiction and is able to handle your vulnerability. The second part of that statement is profound because as Kelly stated “I tell too much truth” and “You cannot have a conversation with someone that understands…if they are not an alcoholic (or addict)”. I have experienced this so many times with those around me that would simply solve for me by telling me to “Just stop”. JUST stop eating. JUST stop thinking. JUST stop worrying. JUST stop doing. If it were only JUST that easy.

In true addictive personalities, there is no such thing as stopping. You don’t stop. You can’t stop. You learn to use tools to control, manage and live on the positive side of addiction. You also learn to be uncomfortable in the addiction as it is always there, looming in the background, pushing you to do the thing that feels right at the moment. And when we give in, after the instant gratification of that moment passes we are left stripped of our self-worth and confidence leaving us asking, “Am I good enough for help?” and doubting our strength because of the realization that “I have done this again.”

This interview was revealing. It was also a great reminder that addiction is “…so much more than not using.” If you are reading this you are not alone and if you are not addicted put this blog in your toolbox to serve as a resource for those addicted in your life.

I conclude with the final quote in the interview. The best gift you can give yourself is “The gift of giving yourself a chance.”

Life as I live it — L.

Dress Rehearsal to 50 with only six months more to practice before my debut!

Don’t see it, don’t hear it, don’t speak it…it is what you know…just be.

Time to stop the guesswork

Run don’t run, eat don’t eat, work don’t work, sit don’t sit…it’s insanity! Everything we are supposed to do, we aren’t. Everyone we are supposed to be, we shouldn’t. Where is the line and who decides when you cross over? What I know is that when I run I am a better version of me. What I know is when I don’t obsess over what I eat, I eat less and better. What I know is when I put boundaries around work, I have more expertise. What I know is that I can’t sit…I just don’t know how.

Six months before my 50th birthday and I am finally realizing that the first 49.5 years were the dress rehearsal for what will be the best days of my life. I have spent 49.5 years learning how other people do “it” and then trying “it” on for size. Well I finally know what works for me and now I need to do “it” and move on to the greatest performance of my life, my 50’s.

I know what styles fit my body best and it is not likely that after 50 years this will change. I know what foods work in my system best, as no one has a system like mine. I know how to do my job best for the company that is the perfect fit for me. I know what I know and for those things there should be no more decisions. Let knowing be the decision allowing more time for those mysteries that remain.

Figuring out the last act

What I believe lies in front of me, in the next six months is to figure out the rest. Those things that I have not found the fit. The monkey brain that cannot slow down, cannot stop thinking, cannot relent that is what is left to figure out. Even for that I know the course to take yet continue to stumble as it takes over. The noise, the never ending cacophony of what I should be doing all the time is the next frontier. Do I meditate, do I use oils, do I listen to spa music all day, do I watch tv, read, walk, sleep…RIGHT down the RABBIT HOLE I go!!!

I know what I know. We all do. It is just a matter of putting it all in its place. I control the mind, it does not control me. I control the reaction regardless of what plays out in front of me. Just like the brands I choose to buy, the people I surround myself with, the life I have created…I ultimately have control of this monkey mind and that is the mantra, the final act I will rehearse for the sake of sanity.

Putting it in place is the easy part. Playing it out is where the rubber meets the road. Easy to do when the day is yours to decide. Hard-as-heck when the pressures of life have their way with you.

Life as I live it – L.

Seeking Normal – Day 17

Day 17 prompt:

How has your normal changed or are you living the life you experienced as a child? Re-creation or Recreation?

The prompt is a long-one this morning so I set the question above and offer the entire prompt here.

  • Tara Westover said, “There is a way you experience life as a child, and then as an adult you have to look back and decide how you are going to think about it”.

My answer:

This prompt is very similar to Day 16 so rather than go through my own experience of changing my life as an adult as a result of not wanting to emulate the life I experienced as a child I would like to expound on some of the thoughts that Tara Westover shared in her interview on Super Soul Sunday. These are the highlights as I recorded them and how I perceive them.

  • There is a way you experience life as a child and then as an adult you have to look back and decide how you are going to think about it.
    • This is all about perspective which is gained when you realize that what you think is “normal” is challenged. For me this occurred as I observed my friends lives and families as a child and teenager.
  • It’s strange how you give the people you love so much power over you.
    • Incredible statement. While I did not experience this negatively, I have observed it in others and I think it occurs when you allow other people’s belief’s about you to matter more than your own beliefs of you.
  • They have to invade your reality and they have to distort it and they have to change how you see yourself and have mind-control.
    • This is the greatest statement and helps me to understand why I am so resolved to let go of the ways in which “she” attempts to victimize me by making me at fault. I know my reality better than anyone else in the world and if that reality makes YOU uncomfortable; well that is about you. #Word
  • That’s my view of it and I am not going to change that to make you more comfortable. 
    • I have fought to get to the place where I am in life, a life that makes sense to me, and I am not willing to compromise those views, perspectives or observations that are most definitive, for me.
  • It’s not a question of whether you love them it’s a question as to whether they belong in your life.
    • I will leave this right here. #Word
  • You can love someone and still choose to say goodbye.
    • Yet another truth that is so simply and so eloquently stated that it needs no more explanation. Yes, I have made those choices and stand behind them as way to protect myself. 
  • I think we do love a great disservice when we make it about control and change.

Tara Westover’s book “Educated” is profound. I highly recommend it as a read that you will have a hard time putting down.

What I know as an adult is that we have all been through the trauma of childhood because regardless of how it is defined it is your normal for the first 18 years and it is only after you are removed that you understand the true meaning and how it has set you up for your future as it will now be defined by you.

Live as I have lived it – L.

Who are you…really?

This moment in our lives when everything we thought “was” “is” we are faced with many questions about life and who we are. We walk around in this world in “roles” as defined:

the function assumed or part played by a person or thing in a particular situation

When that assumed function or part is no longer relevant because the situation no longer exists who are you? The situational roles cannot “define” you as they are only relevant in those situations however those roles that are truly defined are who we are regardless of situation. Mom is a role we play regardless of situation, if you are a Mom you are and will always be a Mom. “Director of ______” is a title that becomes a role you play in a situation. That “title” does not have relevance in all situations.

Why do I go into all of this? Well because I think it is easy to identify with these titles that truly cannot define us however when we lack definition of who we are we claim these titles as identity. The issue in a time like this when we are stripped of those titles, roles or fantasies of who we tell ourselves we are or better who others think we are, is that we are forced to face what is left…who are you? Who are you…really???

This is the time to look inward, reflect, revisit your plan and start over again. As Swizz Beatz, an American hip hop recording artist, DJ and record producer said, “everyone should have a 2.0 version of their game-plan. If you don’t use this time you never will. How many times have you heard people say, “only if I had time to do…”. This is the TIME.”

He is right, the time is now to define who you REALLY are and then decide who you want to be and make the game-plan.

I want to offer you an exercise to try-out as you are exploring “what’s next” in this journey, building your 2.0 version of who you and who you want to be. This was offered by Tim Ferris in a 2015 TED Talk and can be very revealing if you just give it the time, the idea is not goal-setting but FEAR-setting…let’s explore.

  • Fear-Setting – 
    • Ask yourself the following “What if I…?” and then do the work to “Define”, “Prevent” and “Repair”.
      • Define – write all of the worst things that will happen if you take that step. Write at least 10 things that you fear will happen.
      • Prevent – write down the answer to prevent each of these from happening or decrease the likelihood. 
      • Repair – what can you do to repair the damage if the worst thing happens.
    • What might be the benefits of an attempt or partial success in your “What if I…” scenario?
      • You could build confidence and/or develop skills and ultimately everything is a learning experience. 
    • What is the cost of inaction (emotionally, physically, financially, etc.) in 6 mos, 1 yr or 3 yrs? 
      • If I avoid this action or decision what might my life look like?

I like this exercise because it forces us to face the reasons why we don’t act on those things we say we want. It is more revealing than goal-setting because goals can at times become ethereal and allowing a sort of “hall-pass” if we don’t reach them. Fear-setting requires you to face IT, reveal IT and solve IT.

Who is it that you WANT to BE, what is it that you WANT to DO, what is IT? We are all at a proverbial START LINE, we are ALL starting over at some place and now is the time. If not now, when? Are you staying where you are because _______________ (fill in the blank)? How does that serve you today and how will it motivate you tomorrow?

Who you really are is here and now. You are no longer the titles that are bestowed upon you but are faced with who you are in “real” life. You are Mom, you are sister, you are friend or you are not. Only you know what you and who you really are and ultimately how much it matters to you to be that person or want for something more or different.

A close friend and mentor of mine called me the other night and as we were reminiscing over 21 years of friendship she reminded me of who I was when she first met me. She recounted, “You had no confidence and doubted yourself because of an education that at the time you did not have…” but in her eyes an education I did not need. She went on to recall that she could never understand why I thought so little of myself and thought so much of college/education as the person she saw before her already had the knowledge. You see it was not enough what someone else thought of me if I could not see it myself. I had to do the work, I had to define it and decide on it. She was right, I put so much weight in education that not having it discounted everything I DID know, everything I WAS. Three college degrees later I AM confident, I AM educated however I know now that I always WAS. It took time working on me, believing and proving it to myself because it was important to ME despite it not having relevance to anyone else.

I tell you this story because it is imperative that you decide for YOURSELF as you define yourself. Not as others see you, not as you are titled in the outside world, not based on your reputation. Who are you…really?

John Wooden, famous UCLA basketball coach, says, “Your reputation is what you are perceived to be and your character is who you really are”…I leave you with this thought, this exercise and best off I offer all of this to you in a time that I KNOW you have the time to do something about it. Whether you do or you don’t, well that is yours to decide because ultimately it always comes back to that simple point of control…decision or indecision…ultimately you always DECIDE.

Who are you…really? Me? I am still working on it, every day…Always Starting…The Art of Never Giving Up – L.

Validation…an autobiography

Today’s dose is about the concept of validation. The definition revolves around; checking, proving or affirming a persons truth. In this day and age of social media there is much to be said about the public validation that we seek when we post on social media. We post to share but we also post to validate; this is why we look back to see how many “Likes” or comments we received on any given post. It validates us.

Many of my friends have decided to quit social media because of the way it was affecting them. Self-esteem and self-worth are easily taken to “task” when we are seeking “approval” or worse comparing our lives to those in the posts of our “friends”. “Friends” who we likely do not connect with face-to-face, “friends” who we have only connected with because of past relationships aka high school, previous jobs or long-lost family members.

I like to say that I make social media work for me and that I don’t work for social media; I belong to groups that feed me the intel I need and that inspire me. However I, like many, do look to see what the “reaction” is that I am getting from my posts. It makes me feel good when I post something that gets a lot of attention despite the reality that many of the people “liking” those posts are not those involved in my daily life. It doesn’t matter it validates that I am doing, saying or showing something that others “like”. We all have a human need to be liked after all.

Validation is “recognition and acceptance” from others and ourselves. That recognition and acceptance come in the form of “likes”, however internally that same recognition and acceptance of OURSELVES comes in the form of self-confidence. That is where the work needs to occur; within our selves.

Validate yourself by setting your intention and following through and then find satisfaction in your effort. Validate your actions because they are yours and yours alone. Do you accept where you are? Do you “like” what you are doing? This is the place where validation MUST live. A million “likes” on social media will never replace the self-validation you seek because ultimately YOU know the truth.

#Word – L.

Undoubtedly Self-Confident

Self-confidence as defined is “a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgment”.  I found it interesting that “trust” was part of the definition; however fitting. I have always felt like I have a great deal of self-confidence however if it were redefined as a “great deal of trust” in myself I am not sure I would be so “confident” in my opinion. I find my self-confidence in more of a fearlessness than trust. I am bull-headed, I am defiant…I don’t always “trust” that I am making the right decisions but I do it anyway. Self-confidence?

What the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.” — Napoleon Hill

I believe in the concept “fake it ’til you make it”. I have learned through observation and knowledge that this is a more masculine than feminine strategy.  A recent study showed that men will frequently apply for a job that they are not qualified, while women will only apply for jobs that they have proven experience or expertise.  I subscribe to the idea that I can become an expert at anything if given the chance and willing to take the risk. Self-confidence?

I am a student at heart and love to learn but better yet, try on for size what I learn…take it for a test run. I will try anything (of interest) and am not afraid of failure. I believe in failing fast and being ready for change on a dime. I was raised by two parents that embraced this if by nothing more than happen-stance. My dad is a risk-taker and a dreamer. He dreams big and doesn’t see obstacles. My mother was the definition of independent and taught me the value of freedom from all ties that bind. The confidence that they lived in this life together and apart served me well. The bad times solidified this confidence as it showed me that a strong sense of “self” would serve me (them) well in the worst of times.

I do not believe in the idea that ” you can do anything you put your mind to” as I have learned through my experiences that this is a myth. But what I do believe is that when you are confident in your abilities (those things that you are skilled, passionate and meant to do/be) you can persevere. Choice is power. Where I choose to place my intention is where I find my confidence. We all decide and those things that don’t serve us don’t define us. Confidence is served in this world by placing yourself where you are meant to be not where other see you. Confidence is formed in the resolve of the choice, power is the decision and intention serves as the path.

Trust? As a word on its own…NO. Trust in my ability…YES. Trust in my qualities…YES. Trust in my judgment…YES. Self-confidence? YES, a resounding YES. I GOT THIS, I always do and so do you.

Life as I see it – L.

Finding your voice…

I had the privilege today of being a Moderator for Castell Project which is a nonprofit that provides organizations in the hospitality industry tools and support to accelerate development of their high-potential women. My topics as shown in the picture included the one I chose for my blog tonight; Finding your voice.

I have a voice in every aspect of my life; sometimes too much of a voice but I have a voice. As I have discussed in previous blogs I work harder these days in silencing that voice; W.A.I.T. (Why Am I Talking) and only speaking up when I can add value. Again it’s work because I seemingly have so much to say that to hold back takes real effort.

The fact that “Finding your voice” is still a topic in 2019 is surprising until you sit in front of these amazing women I hosted at my table; of all ages and career paths. The reality is that it is a topic and one that we have to spearhead with our daughters, sisters, best friends and every woman within our reach. We as a gender have a voice however what I witnessed today as the overarching issue silencing that voice is CONFIDENCE. The confidence to speak up about what you KNOW, the confidence to ask for what you WANT, the confidence to be HEARD. These women need the permission to speak and since that is not going to happen when they are sitting “at the table” we have to give them the permission NOW.

This confidence has to show itself in our words and our actions…

  • It’s not being defined by the titles that are assigned to us. Who cares if you are an “Assistant” or “Associate” or anyone’s #2; it’s irrelevant. Do you know what you are talking about? If the answer is “yes” then apply that knowledge and speak up.
  • It’s not “telling on ourselves”. One of these fabulous women said to me “I feel bad because I have an eight-month old and if I have to leave for an appointment…” blah, blah, blah. I stopped her and “gave her permission”! Why do you have to tell anyone what your appointment is for, why are you telling on yourself. If you have an appointment it’s enough to notify of the appointment, leaving out the rest. YOU DON’T HAVE TO CHOOSE YOUR FAMILY OVER YOUR CAREER. You can have both; balance it unapologetic.
  • It is asking for that raise if you deserve it, asking for the promotion if you have earned it and asking for what you want out of your career. No one is going to care about your career as much as you. Your career is your responsibility. You have applied for a job on your career path that suits your career at that time and your employer has employed you to do the job YOU applied for; what more do they owe you? Nothing. They have given you exactly what you applied for; if you want more YOU HAVE TO ASK FOR IT. Don’t wait for someone to come to you.

I don’t like to believe that there is still a gender bias in the boardroom but I know there is…however it is our responsibility to be heard by speaking up. Stop waiting for someone to hand you the mic! If you have something to say, if you have value to add, if you are the authority in the room than I give you permission to SPEAK UP AND BE HEARD!!!

I am woman, hear me ROAR – L.

UnFu*k Yourself – My thoughts…

Unfu*k Yourself; Get out of your head and into your life from Gary John Bishop. I got this book on Audible and started listening when I was in Dallas a few weeks ago and about 20 minutes in I turned it off. I was DEFINITELY not in the right mindset and wasn’t sure the book was for me. I restarted the book (yes, always starting) on Monday in time for my 3rd first day back at work…ha! I finished the book today and have thoroughly enjoyed his points. Here are the one’s that appeal to me and why:

  • “All I know is that I know nothing” – Socrates
    • We all have to learn this, some more than others. I was taught a valuable lesson from my boss a few years ago and that was to be the one in the room that only speaks when you have something to add and not for the sake of speaking. She told me a story of a man that she highly regarded and when he spoke the entire room would stop and listen…because he only spoke when he could offer value. My mantra to remember this important lesson is W.A.I.T. – Why Am I Talking…
  • ”True relentlessness comes when the only thing you have left is relentlessness. When it seems all is lost and all hope and evidence for success has long since vanished, relentlessness is the fuel that drives you through.” – Bishop
    • Words to live by indeed! Many think I have gotten through the last ten months as a testament to resilience but the reality is that it is relentlessness and again the inability to GIVE UP even when I wanted to, I just could not.
  • “We are waiting until that point when in our minds everything is perfect…while you are waiting for your life to get better your life is not getting any better!” – Bishop
    • I have done this so many times in my life! “When I lose 50 lbs I will be happy”, “When I have a house I will be happy”, “When I ______ (fill in the blank) I will be happy.” It’s BS! Your life will be the life you have whether you are fat, homeless or in any condition! Live your life NOW!
  • “Your internal condition means nothing. It’s just another excuse you give yourself to stay out of the risky zones of life. The problem is those risky zones are life.” – Bishop
  • “Stop blaming your past!”, “We all have pasts, some of them are f’n horrific, SO WHAT…why is it that you show more passion for your past than you do for your future!” #WORD!!!!!!
    • Somewhere in the world my Aunt Susie is screaming PREACH!
    • Let me tell you about a past that has passed…girl grows up in a trailer park in Miami, her parents remarry and divorce multiple times throughout her life, she drops out of high school five months before graduation, has a child at the age of 18, marries a drug addict and then wakes up one day and says NO, this is not going to be my life…that girl is now a Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer of a company.
    • Talk about turning your mess into your message…that girl not only SAID it was going to change she DID it, she became the change she wanted in her life. She moved out that morning, packed everything in her car that she could fit (including her 2yr old), started a new job that day, finished her diploma, enrolled in college and obtained three college degrees and busted her ass climbing ladder after ladder (with many chutes along the way) there has never been a rear view mirror on her journey; there was simply NO looking back. There was no choice. Relentlessness in action.
  • “We can forget our past by creating our future”, “When what is in front of you is so bright, and so satisfying you won’t have time to look behind you, your eyes will be focused straight ahead” – Bishop
  • “You may not like everything that has happened in your past but it has shaped every part of you.” – Bishop
  • “Look at the habits that have put you in the situation you are in.”, “Stop doing it”, “Stop letting your internal condition dominate the quality of your life.” – Bishop
  • “You are not a special case”, “NO more excuses” – Bishop

I have to conclude this blog on the very chapter that drew me to this book to begin with; “I am not my thoughts, I am what I do”. I have been studying the “Power of Now” from Eckhart Tolle and the theory of dis-identifying with the mind. What comes first the thought or the emotion? The thought elicits the emotion therefore how we identify with our thoughts is key to controlling the emotion. Going further down this rabbit hole it’s important to remember that YOU are not your thoughts. It takes practice indeed. You will have a thought and rather than reacting to it, you stop and decide if you will acknowledge it and the act or not fnrom there.

“You don’t have to feel like today is your day, you just have to act like it is…if we sit around waiting to be in the perfect mood you will never get started.” Bishop. This is where relentlessness lives, there is why I continue to get up every time I get knocked down, why I get up at 5a to get on the treadmill, why I push harder at work than anyone could push me, because I have to create the life I want every day, even when I don’t want to. We all KNOW what to do, why then do we not do it?

“You change your life by doing, not by thinking about doing ” Bishop.

Gary’s final quote “I get knocked down but I get back up again” – Chumbawamba!