Life

I Still Have a Story to Tell

This is the first time I have written in my blog in quite a while. It seems that over the past few years, I have been learning how to live and how to implement everything I have learned from time in treatment. I was so focused on learning how to live, that I made little time for writing.

As I am writing this, a pandemic is spreading across the world. It is taking even medically advanced countries to their knees. Many are in fear and desperation. In some countries, dead bodies are piling up faster than they can be buried.

A little about me, I have a lot of both mental and physical health diagnoses. I have asthma, and a chronic version of the Epstein-Barr virus (the virus responsible for mononucleosis), which leaves me immunocompromised. I have learned that last bit just this year, when the illness left me sick twice, after training for big races. I am a runner. I lost 115 pounds in 2016, and started running after. I started small and have since run 4 half marathons (13.1 miles) and 1 ultramarathon (50k-31 miles). I learned over the past year that running these distances was a trigger for the illness, and had to make the decision to stop. Although my distances now top out at 6 miles, I do continue to run, despite the illness. And I am doing everything I can not to allow the illness to take running from me entirely. I do a lot daily to ensure that my body is in peak physical health, including a wealth of supplements, drinking both 67 oz of water and including electrolytes, and getting all of my fruits and veggies and also whole grains, as well as meditating to reduce stress. I do all I can so as to best equip my body to fight something that periodically attacks my system for no particular reason.

This new pandemic is especially tough on the elderly and the immunocompromised, or those with underlying heart and lung conditions. I am all of these, except elderly. I started paying attention to what was going on with the virus when it first began, and I have followed the developments closely, until the virus arrived at our doorstep. We, the United States, are amongst the last to be inundated with this horrible virus. And unfortunately, our government and our health care system are ill-equipped to deal with any of it. Our people are, regrettably, also obstinate and definitely not the brightest crayons in the box.

I started warning people early on, and no one listened. I was laughed at and ridiculed, called negative and alarmist. But I knew I was right, and it wouldn’t take long for them to know that. I also knew they would learn most tragically.

Right now, the population is split between people heeding the warning, and those ignoring it. We are all waiting to get sick, basically. Some won’t believe it until we do.

I made my regular Friday trip to my favorite grocery store, and the scene was insane. I’d never seen anything like it. By the time I was done, I was certain that while I had not been exposed to the virus prior to that trip, I most certainly had in the grocery store. I cried for my 45 minute trip home, thinking I was probably about to start the last of only two healthy weeks I had left in my life. Even now, the thought brings me to tears. I thought a lot of things. “How do I want to spend it?” “How do I make the most of it?” “Do I loaf around and eat whatever I want? Or work hard to equip my body for this fight?” “I want to make sure I run as much as I can.” “I want to find the beauty in all I can. All the little things we take for granted everyday.”

But of all the things that crossed my mind, one stood out the most. “I wish I had written more” The thoughts that followed were, “I still have so much I want to say. I have to say everything I can while I still have time. I have to write.”

That last realization struck me the hardest. Of all the time I wasted, when I could’ve been telling my story, and all that I’ve learned. What if I don’t have enough time now to say everything I want to say? I told my sister that if I do survive this virus, that moment will be my greatest gift. I had not even realized that was how I felt until I truly believed my life was about to end.

So, that is why I am here. I am starting now. I made a daily schedule for quarantine, and this is a part of it. Thank you for joining the journey.

Dying to Wake Up The Child Within

Saturday, September 22, was the 3 year anniversary of when I was raped… most recently. Let me explain. This was not the first time. I have a long history of surviving these experiences, starting as early as the ages of 3 and 5. And this is not uncommon. Many people, especially those who started their lives as victims, are victimized again. Predators have a keen sense of who would be a good victim, and those who were victimized in their formative years know no other way of being. It has taken nearly a decade of intense therapy to unlearn the things that I was taught as a child victim.

I hear a lot of people substitute the word “survivor” in place of “victim.” In the years that you are just surviving, this is very accurate. You’re a victim when it happens, and a survivor in whatever you do afterwards to keep yourself alive, moving forward. I developed addictions, an eating disorder, and other self destructive behaviors to survive. My brain could not cope with reality. How could it? Reality was a living nightmare. Pure hell. These are the things I did to survive. To kill this thing inside of me. To get by despite it all. I thought I was doing pretty well. I didn’t realize the extent to which these experiences were destroying my life, until my behaviors came to a head. It was life or death from there. Keep doing what I was doing and let it kill me, or fight and as a result, live. My problem was, I didn’t want to live. I had no interest in it whatsoever. Which is why I nearly died numerous times. But there was some sort of secret spark in me. It was the bane of my existence, and it wanted me alive, when every other part of me wanted to die. It was my incurable hope. And thus, this blog was born, to document it. To explore it.

Today, I don’t see myself as a survivor. I am beyond that. I use the terminology, because it is what people are familiar with. Today, I am a thriver. My life, my success, my flourishing, is my big “fuck you” to everyone who hurt me. Though, today, I’m not angry or bitter. I let that go. It was too heavy. I punished myself with it long enough, believing that I was somehow punishing them by doing it. All I knew was someone had to pay. But I forgive myself for that now. I didn’t understand. I forgive most people, but contrary to popular belief, forgiveness is not necessary for healing. Some things, only God can forgive. I am only human. Today, my heart hurts for that little girl, for every little girl still living and suffering. Not just those who are still being abused, but those who are now grown women, with little girls still trapped inside, reliving it daily. Punishing themselves for the acts of others.

Look, I’ve come a lot further than a lot of former victims ever do. I’ve been blessed. But I do know this: I am supposed to share my experience so that the others know it is possible to not just survive, but to thrive. To use the pain as fuel. To live your meaningful lives. These are things you CAN overcome. As a matter of fact, there’s now even a name for that: posttraumatic growth. And you can achieve it. I promise you, you can.

I don’t want to make it seem like these these things won’t affect you for the rest of your life. They never go away. They will always hurt. At times, they still haunt me. But it is possible to get to a place where they no longer control you. Where they do not shake you. Where you can observe them from a distance that will prevent you from broken by them every. single. time. You’re heart can hurt for the child within, but you will be equipped to comfort her with the compassion you never received. You. Can. Heal. And you can help others do the same. Once you find that love for yourself, you will want to share it with others. ALL of us who were victimized deserve that.

The shirt I made in treatment in 2012 for The Clothesline Project.

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My Sister and Me at a local suicide prevention race. ūüôā

All Your Broken Pieces

I am a part of a running group that chooses a cause or charity every month as their focus. Everyone in the group donates towards that cause. We get a ticket in a raffle for every mile, or 20 minutes worth of exercise we do each day. At the end of the month, the tickets are drawn for raffle prizes. It is called “good running” because we are using our running to work towards bettering our world.

Everything I do is an attempt at improving the world around me, and this is just one way.

I volunteer for Hospice. I share my triumphs and my struggles. I express my gratitude and apologize for my mistakes. My main goal in life is for the world to be a better place because I am/was in it.

Many people don’t realize this, but my self-care is an integral part of my effort to have a positive impact on the world around me. I believe is was Rumi who said, “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today, I am wise so I am changing myself.” This has become my philosophy. In order to be of any use to anyone else, I must first address my needs. Also, I AM changing the world, by starting with myself. Believe it or not, I have seen that have a HUGE impact on those around me.

This week’s celebrity suicides have brought to the forefront of our minds the issues of mental health, suicide, stigma, and survival. It just so happens, that this month’s cause in my Good Running group is mental health. As someone in recovery from addiction and an eating disorder, and as someone who struggles with the affects of a mood disorder, and the lingering effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, these issues are always in the forefront of my mind. This is my every day battle. This is why I try to go to bed at a reasonable hour, and get plenty of rest. This is why I wake up each morning and make my bed. Why I organize and take my meds religiously. Why I try my darnedest to eat a balanced diet and practice moderate, regular exercise. Why I go to AA meetings, a psychiatrist, a therapist, a dietitian, and work diligently as both a sponsor and a sponsee. This is my life. This is my every day. Even when the suicidal thoughts aren’t present, I am working tirelessly to make sure they don’t have the environment they need to appear or grow or fester in my mind. My mind is like a garden that I tend to each day. And my body and spirit are just as important, in keeping my mind a healthy place. They are all intricately connected. It is hard, constant work, but it is so amazingly worth it.

Words cannot convey how worth it, it is. But let me tell you this… if you’ve ever seen the change of the light in someone’s eyes, when they finally grasp and really begin to pursue recovery, you’ll know. Something changes. It is just as palpable as a corpse once the spirit has departed. Only this is the opposite of that. It is like, for the first time, someone is finally ALIVE!

I have so much love in my life! I cannot REALLY look around at the people who surround me and not start to get choked up. Runners, artists, teachers, caretakers, addicts in recovery, patients who devoted their lives to becoming the counselors, survivors of sexual violence, those who’ve conquered their eating disorders, those who’ve taken back their power, and declared victory over their lives. I’m surrounded by them. Supporters. And when I struggle, a single post on Facebook sends them the battle cry. And they step up. They always step up. They are always there. To run with me. To go to a meeting with me. To combat ed’s voice with me. To remind me to keep going when I just want to sleep. To ask me if I’ve taken my meds, or written recently, or called my sponsor, or had a hug. I’m blessed.

And the exciting thing is… THEY. ARE. EVERYWHERE. And they will help you too. Because that’s what they do. They’re helpers. And when they’re the ones in need, and you’re the one who is able, you return the favor. You can’t keep what you’ve got unless you give it away. That’s how this works.

This is community.

There is a wealth of hope and resources and people ready and willing to tell you how much you matter, and how worth the fight you are. And you are. There are so many just waiting to offer a hand, to lift you up and walk with you into hope. So, don’t give up. Let’s figure out a way to surround you with these kinds of people too. Because life can actually be so fucking incredible. I promise.

Take This Cup From Me

He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. Luke 22:41-44 NIV

This is not only my favorite part of the Easter story, but quite possibly my favorite moment in the entire Bible. We know Jesus is God in human form, but this is his most human moment. I imagine the prayer/conversation going something like this (paraphrasing, of course): “So, God/father, I know I have to be crucified and all, but I was just wondering if there might be a way to get around that whole part of this? Its going to suck pretty badly, so I thought it couldn’t hurt to ask if there was any other way to do this? I mean, at the end of the day, its your will, not mine. Just wanted to check.”

Who of us would not feel like that with such a task at hand? Overwhelmed, scared, full of dread. And yet, who of us would have the strength to surrender to God’s will with such an impending fate? I love that God sent an angel to strengthen him. It shows the ability of God to strengthen us in times of desperate struggle. For us, the angels may be literal or figurative, referring to people that He sends. Either way, He strengthens us. He sends help. He listens to our anguish. Jesus knew the reason he came. He knew this event was unavoidable and would feel unbearable, and yet he asked God for a way out. And yet, he ultimately surrendered to God’s will. He knew his mission and the purpose, and knowing how it would feel, he ultimately agreed to it… For us.

He knew the purpose it would serve was too great.

How many times have I begged God for a way out?

How many times have I pleaded for another way?

And did he listen? Always.

And did he strengthen me to get me through? Absolutely.

And did my anguish end up serving some greater purpose, either for myself or others? Every. Single. Time.

Did my ultimate surrender to God’s will help me accept the task at hand? You bet.

God is faithful when our fears distract us. God is present in our struggle. He will give us the strength to get through and accomplish great things. He is there. He is there because He knows our anguish. He has felt it for himself. He knows our desperation and fear. He’s been there. Even when we feel like He has forsaken us, still, He remains at our side.

He knows.

Unfettered

When I was a child

my sister was jealous

of my ability to color

inside the lines.

It was the only arena

in which my capacity

outranked her own.

My compulsive attention to detail started there.

The irony of this is not lost on me.

My life has been lived

unabashedly,

unapologetically

unconcerned with

staying inside of lines.

I have been bound behind them,

constrained by myself

or others,

but I can never manage to stay for very long.

My wanderlust has launched me

into galaxies,

or great escapes,

or entirely different realms.

Those that even I

had never dared dream.

I have been like an angry mass

of protesters

who cannot be contained.

Not by tear gas,

or fire hoses,

or any aggressive show of force.

Or a child

who still finds herself

scribbling in crayon

on the walls,

stick figures

and illustrations of stories

that only I can understand.

The wildfire

raging behind my eyes

has always been

entirely too ferocious,

and has always spread

entirely too quickly

to ever be extinguished.

And I have found that life,

real life,

can only be experienced

outside of these lines

that are drawn for us,

or those we sometimes manage

to draw for ourselves.

There dwells the buttery richness

hidden in flaky layers

of a fresh croissant,

drizzled in the decedance

of chocolate or honey.

There dwells the freedom

we seek within our slavery,

where the weight of our chains disappears,

and we can finally

run, unfettered.

No, I was not born

to be bridled,

or color inside the lines.

This earth needs me

writing rampantly,

so that I may share my tales

of life untamed.

The beauty of the risk

in living unrestrained.

In the image of God,

with an inability to be fathomed

or forgotten.

Endlessly celestial and

too colossal for a cubicle,

but simultaneously

exquisitely ethereal.

Both yearning for the touch of others

and yet,

too delicate and vast to be held.

This Valentine’s Day, I Literally Held a Heart in My Hand

This Valentine’s Day, I held the heart of a guinea hen in my hand. Organs are slippery, y’all. *insert gaggy-type emoji here*

Today, I had the opportunity to be a part of the slaughtering process on a friend’s farm. It was such a strange invitation for Valentine’s Day, I had to accept.

THIS is my life. Welcome. Pull up a chair.

Sometime last year, I was flooded with a scary bout of depression that very briefly threatened my life, and gave me a reminder of our mortality, especially mine, with the history that I have. I decided from that experience that this life is far too short to say “no” to ANY opportunities that come my way. I decided to say “yes” from now on, no matter what, no matter how scared I might be. Actually, I decided to say “yes” ESPECIALLY in spite of how scared I might be. (This is real life, y’all. Live it!) The time that has followed since has included, zip lining, paragliding, sky diving, fearlessly diving into dating, and many other endless adventures. When the new year started, I decided to take it a step further and try something new EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Today, I assisted in the animal slaughtering process.

To be honest, I’ve been teetering on the edge of vegetarianism for some time now. With the spiritual growth I’ve experienced in the past 6 months, I struggled with the consumption of animals that were hurt and traumatized prior to death. I believe that energy affects their bodies, and what we consume affects our bodies and our spirits. I believe that trauma most certainly has some impact upon us. I’ve also struggled with the environmental costs that come with meat consumption. My goal in this life is to positively contribute to the world in everything I do. I want this place to be better because I was/am here. I’ve also been squeamish about meat for several years now, which has made me wonder if I should give it up entirely. I figured today would be a good opportunity to confront what exactly it means to consume meat.

Today’s opportunity gave me plenty of time to reflect quietly. The farm I was on gives these animals a full, free life. The animals are treated luxuriously, and the slaughtering process is probably a hundred times more gentle than it would be in a factory setting. The lives these animals lived and the methods of their deaths CANNOT be compared to that of commercial farms. Let me be very clear about that. Today was an excellent chance for me to give that some honest thought. So, aside from the ethical question of whether or not to eat meat, I was allowed a chance to also consider carefully from where I source my meat.

I had friends who asked about pictures from today, but the entire process was treated very reverently, which felt entirely appropriate. I had come from visiting a Hospice patient, and to be honest, when I saw the first guinea hen die, I got choked up. It felt very similarly to when my first patient died. Someone asked me a question, and it was hard to talk clearly without my voice cracking. It is hard not to see death in any instance as a spiritual experience. Death is intense and powerful, and at the same time, it has never been something that I shied away from. If I were uncomfortable with death, I wouldn’t work for Hospice.

I was welcomed to help in any part of the process that I felt comfortable with. I helped with a few parts of cleaning after the death. I do not think that I could, at any time, become comfortable with actually killing the animal. NO part of the process felt comfortable. I started with what seemed easiest. A lot of it is a very delicate and careful process, that I feel too crippled by self doubt to try and approach. I’m not generally terribly enthused about trying anything with too much room for error.

The entire process was quite draining and overwhelming. I am still reflecting upon the experience, but I am grateful to have had it. It actually seemed like a very meaningful way to spend Valentine’s Day. I am grateful to the family that allowed me to be there, and participate at my comfort level. How I will approach meat consumption moving forward is still up for debate, and I will require more time to ponder, meditate, and probably write about the experience, so that I can see further into it and its meaning, and process how exactly it made me feel.

Where your food is coming from, and what exactly it takes to get to your table is something we all need to spend some time considering carefully. Food is not only nourishing our bodies, but also impacting us and our world in ways which we remain comfortably unaware. I’ve learned in eating disorder recovery that food is so important. It is never “good” or “bad.” It is something our bodies and our minds need, and it is equally important to consider how food might be nourishing or harming our souls as well. This world needs us to be intentional about every choice we make right now. Just some food for thought moving forward. Take some time to chew on that. ūüėČ

 

 

An Open Letter to My Future Husband

I don’t know if any of you have heard of The Good Men Project, but let me go ahead and recommend them. I follow them on Facebook and on Twitter. They have some amazing articles that inquire, uplift, and inform. Today I saw one titled “An Open Letter to my Future Wife: How I Plan to Make You Happy Every Day of Your Life.”

Recently, I have been coming to terms with what it means to be a new person in Christ (yes, even 3 years into this journey) and to act like it when interacting with the opposite sex. I am so used to interacting with them one way, that I’m having to learn what it means to do things differently, in a way I’ve never done it before. God is basically reforming my DNA, which is no small feat. And, it is not without setbacks and screw ups. But He has made one thing very clear, we do things differently around these parts, and it is time I started walking the walk.

So, in an effort to imagine what my NEW future will be like, I was inspired¬†to write an open letter to my future husband. I never dreamed of getting married in the past, but I suppose I should start considering it. I’m dedicated to this¬†with everything I’ve got, and an open heart and mind. Here goes.

Hello there, future husband,

I wish I wasn’t at such a loss of words already in this letter. I’m hoping that isn’t a horrible sign.

I read a letter someone wrote to their future wife today. In it he promised all of these things that he would do for his wife. And I thought I would love to have a husband like that. Unfortunately, at this point, I’m only starting to consider that men like you exist, so hopefully, I’ll be more willing to believe when we meet.

That being said, I want to tell you what I will be willing to do for you, my loving, supportive, and stable love of my life.

There are lots of things I cannot offer you, because as they say “every saint has a past,” but I know you will be able to value what I can offer.

I will have an open ear to listen whenever you have something you need to talk about, and a shoulder to lean or cry on when things get hard. And whenever you need it, I will have an encouraging word. I want to pour into you as much as you pour into me.

I promise to always have an open mind and heart with you, to trust God and to trust you with my whole heart.

I promise to share with you everything that goes on in my life with a candor with which I can only speak to you and to God.

I promise to keep the passion of our youth ignited well into old age, to always have surprises for you, and to look at you the same way in 50 years as I did when we first fell in love.

I promise to let you listen to your music in the car at least 50% of the time, no matter what kind of music you like, without complaining at all about it.

I promise to do everything I can to foster a physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy me, and a physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy us.

I promise to always consider your needs.

I promise to stay dedicated to the love of our God and to the love of our family, whatever that looks like in our life together.

I promise to always work on being a better communicator.

At this point, I feel pretty satisfied with the idea of never having children, but if you definitely want to, I am willing to compromise, because I know I will have your love, support, and stability throughout the entire process. I will not be in it alone, and neither will you.

If you decide to make a big change for the better in your life, I will support you with everything I have. I want you to be happy more than I want anything materialistic.

Most importantly, knowing that I can trust you never to hurt me, I offer you unconditional love. I do not take vows lightly. If I promise to stay dedicated to something, I will see it through to the very end, so even when you have the most difficult, ugliest of moments, I will love you through it.

I love you already, and I cannot wait to start our life together!

Sincerely,

Your Future Wife

marriage

 

It Really DOES Get Better

Take it from someone who has been there, it really does get better.

For those of you who don’t know the It Gets Better Project all started in 2010 when Dan Savage, in response to a rising number of suicides linked to bullying, made a youtube video¬†with his partner to inspire hope for young people facing harassment.

The It Gets Better Project’s website says: “The It Gets Better Project’s mission is to communicate to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth around the world that it gets better, and to create and inspire the changes needed to make it better for them.”

The idea is great, but I also believe it is universal.

It doesn’t just apply to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth, nor victims of bullying or high school students.

Whoever finds this post and is struggling:  It really DOES get better.  I promise.

I’ve recently been following the heartbreaking story of Rehtaeh Parsons, a young woman who was raped, then bullied until she decided to take her own life. ¬†I wish this message had found her. ¬†Because it does get better, even for those of us who have lived through the most devastating, terrifying, and degrading form of violence there is. ¬†Even for Rehtaeh, it could’ve gotten better.

I’m in tears as I write this, because I didn’t make it to this conclusion for lack of trying to kill myself. ¬†I had two life-threatening attempts, but somehow lived to know that these things come out on the other side.

IMG_0493

the light at the end of the tunnel

Life isn’t as hopeless and painful as it can, at times, feel. ¬†I know there is plenty of pain to be felt, and despair to be trudged through, but I know something else too. ¬†I know that as dark as it can get, it can get that much brighter. ¬†I know that these feelings that consume, even they will fade away and make place for new ways of feeling.

I used to be so certain that the darkness would last forever.  For me, it was a good 28 years or so before the clouds started to part and make way for light.  I can look at that time now and understand what growth came from it.  I know that I am that much stronger because I went through it.  And I see now how my experience can benefit others.

That’s everything this blog is about.

Sometimes, in my darkest moments, I had a twinge of hope that kept me alive, even when I wanted so badly to die.  My hope plagued me, because it seemed to work against all the hurt I knew in my life.  I just wanted to let go, and sometimes, I did.  But I know something about that nagging particle of hope still imbedded somewhere deep within.  It was a glimpse.  It was a glimpse at what could be.  And for me, what now is.

I wish Rehtaeh could’ve known this. ¬†There are so many people out there right now, who I wish could know this. ¬†I don’t even know your names. ¬†I didn’t even know Rehtaeh, but right now, I cry for her like she was a dear friend.

If you’re looking for some shred of hope, a reason to stay alive, I pray the words of this stranger can be that for you.

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clouds parting, making way for light

I don’t believe suicide is selfish or wrong, because I know it is not an act entered into lightly. ¬†I know the despair it takes to bring you to that decision. ¬†But it cannot be an option, because your life has worth, and meaning, even if you don’t believe it. ¬†The anguish doesn’t become extinct through your death, it is simply passed on to others. ¬†To those you loved most. ¬†No, the anguish is defeated only through living a meaningful life. ¬†Through sharing your struggles with others. ¬†Through finding your joy.

None of us are as alone as we sometimes feel.

It may feel like it is taking to forever to get there.  But you WILL get there.  It may feel like more than you can bear.  But you CAN bear it.  You may think no one understands, but I do. You may think this darkness is all you will ever know, but you will live your fair share of joy as well.

It really DOES get better.  I promise.

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 IF YOU ARE IN CRISIS, CALL: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Contact the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for more resources.  

Plenty of people are waiting to help you at any time.

Lessons I Learned in 2012

I see a lot of blogs doing years in review. ¬†I would do that for you, but I feel that, although I have learned a lot and accomplished a lot in 2012, I haven’t done anything exceptionally noteworthy. ¬†I was looking back over my year, and what I realized is a year summed up in learning. ¬†I have grown a lot this year, through experience and through trial and error.

In the spirit of a new year, I will share my top ten lessons from 2012.  I pray that the next year is full of new lessons, exciting growth, solid accomplishments, and exceptional love, for all of us.

Top Ten Lessons I Learned in 2012:

10.  Life is worth living.  I know this sounds like a pretty basic concept, but it is one I did not believe for a really long time.  I felt like every day was just a repeat of the one before, and every situation was going to end grimly.  Let me emphasize, every situation will end badly, if that is the intention you place upon it in the beginning.  Your world, your life, is what you make of it.  Keep deciding that you are cursed, and you will be.  Place positive intentions on your day-to-day life, and on your goals, and they will manifest before your very eyes.  This year, I took one of my business cards and on it, I wrote down what I want for myself in the next year.  I carry it around with me daily, and I believe these things will unfold in my life.  You can do the same with a dream board.  Take a poster and create what you want out of your next year.  Watch it happen.  I did this during my hospital stays, and I always conveyed stability, health, balance and love.  These things are now ever present in my life.  It is like magic.  Whatever you put your energy into, you will have.

9. ¬†Doing what you’ve dreamed of is worth the experience. ¬†I always dreamed of living in California. ¬†I was just sure I’d feel at home there. ¬†This year, after treatment, I had an opportunity to move out to California. ¬†I took the opportunity and have been here since. ¬†I love the weather, and having access to beautiful beaches and sunsets. ¬†Living here does have its pros and cons, but I am so glad I took the opportunity to come here. ¬†I’m acutally living out one of my wildest dreams. ¬†How amazing is that? ¬†I’ve also learned that this particular city isn’t somewhere I plan on settling down. ¬†I wouldn’t have known that, if I had not tried. ¬†I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be here.

8. ¬†Distance makes the heart grow fonder, but traveling is hard.¬† ¬†As a result of living out my dream, I’ve been transplanted a very long distance from a lot of people that I really love. ¬†Being here has made me realize how much I truly appreciate these people, but it has also made me realize that I’d like to be closer to them. ¬†Traveling is difficult, I’m sure most of us would agree. ¬†And expensive. ¬†I love my loved ones that much more, but the added cost and stress of being away… is it worth it? ¬†I’ll keep you posted. ¬†I have, in the meantime, made great friends out here on the left coast. ¬†So, I have multiplied my love. ¬†That’s always a good thing.

7. ¬†Recovery is a lot of work, but¬†I’ve never done anything this important and this necessary before. ¬†My sponsor always reminds me that recovery has to come first, before everything else. ¬†I know this is true. ¬†I cannot have success in work, school, family, or life, if I do not work on the one thing that keeps me stable and keeps me sane. ¬†Without recovery, all those other things are irrelevant because they aren’t even possible.

6. ¬†Failure may not be an option, but neither is perfection. ¬†I’ve always heard the clich√© that failure isn’t an option. ¬†I think it is this phrase alone that birthed perfectionism. ¬†“I’ve got to do it,” turned into, “I’ve got to do it perfectly.” ¬†I walk on a thin line between two extremes. ¬†Balance is crucial for me. ¬†I know I can have an “all or nothing” attitude, and I have to remind myself constantly that an accomplishment is an accomplishment, if I didn’t do it perfectly, at least I did it. ¬†We are always our own worst critic. ¬†Ease up on yourself a little. ¬†Strive to do well, but don’t corner yourself into unforgivable expectations. ¬†I see a lot of people in recovery around me either throwing their hands up, or striving to attain the unattainable. ¬†Expecting perfection is like driving into a brick wall. ¬†It doesn’t matter wether you do it quickly or slowly, eventually, you’ll hit that wall. ¬†Eventually, you’ll be devestated by the fact that you messed up. ¬†We all mess up, it is inevitable. ¬†Learn to brush it off and keep moving.

5. ¬†Doors will open, when you’re ready to see what’s on the other side. ¬†God knows, timing is everything. ¬†If you hold out and have faith, things will turn around and trials will end. ¬†You may think that things are impossible, but I am here to tell you that the impossible is possible. ¬†Lil’ Kim used to be a hero of mine, and now my music taste is almost completely faith-based. ¬†I used to dread waking up in the morning, and now I’m grateful for each new day. ¬†This year, I’ve reconnected with several people that I was certain I’d never hear from again. ¬†Things change. ¬†Doors open. ¬†Anything is possible. ¬†These things hardly ever happen right away, but they will happen when you are ready for them.

4. ¬†Belief makes miracles happen. ¬†Did you know that the true power of prayer is in the belief that those prayers will be answered? ¬†As I said, the impossible is possible. ¬†They key to seeing the impossible unfold before you, is believing that it will. ¬†If you ask God for something, but doubt that He will give it to you, don’t expect it. ¬†If you hope for something, but believe it could never be, it never will be. ¬†The power lies in what you believe. ¬†You are manifesting the outcome with your very thoughts and intentions. ¬†Just believe.

3. ¬†Every cloud has a silver lining. ¬†It wasn’t until this year that I realized, what that little old lady with a walker taught me. ¬†I stumbled, but I did not fall. ¬†BAM! ¬†Silver lining. ¬†I got in a car accident, but I am safe. ¬†BAM! ¬†Silver lining. ¬†I’m struggling with finances, but I believe everything will work out for my good. ¬†BAM! ¬†You get the point. ¬†Yes, hard stuff happens. ¬†Yes, we have our struggles and our trials. ¬†Yes, sometimes we fail, or people fail us. ¬†But we learn from all of these things. ¬†We grow. ¬†Every time you lose someone, there opens an opportunity for someone new to come into your life. ¬†Every time you struggle, you have the opportunity to learn, grow, and know how to change outcomes for the better next time. ¬†Don’t see your losses or failures as a devastation. ¬†They are opportunities for new and better things to unfold in your life and your circumstances. ¬†Don’t look at what you lost, look at what you gained.

2.  The hard moments will pass.  A recent campaign that set out to encourage gay youth struggling with bullying and prejudice has gained new ground.  The concept behind the campaign?  It.  Gets.  Better.  This idea, though it once seemed preposterous to me, is true.  It does get better.  The hard moments will pass, things will turn around.  Sometimes it is a waiting game, but you have to hold strong, because I guarantee you things will start to look up.  Look, if anyone knows this, it is me.  So, trust me.  I waited 28 years for my life to change, and it happened.  I finally see this world in a new light.  I finally love myself and those around me.  I finally want to get as much out of this life as I possibly can.  I finally believe.  Was it worth the wait?  Absolutely.  The hard moments will pass, and as you get used to watching them come and go, they will get more brief and less intense.  The hard moments will be blinks in your vast reel of days, weeks, months, and years of the incredible that your life will become.

1. ¬†God is good. ¬†I have experienced and accomplished a lot over the past year, all of which, I am completely grateful for. ¬†At the end of the day, when my work is done, I thank God that I have had an opportunity to do this work. ¬†I have been treated for the traumas I have endured. ¬†I have met tons of new people. ¬†I have an incredible sponsor and incredible supports. ¬†I have experienced new and exciting things that I never could have imagined. ¬†I am living in a city that I used to think was only a distant dream. ¬†I am living a life that I wasn’t sure even existed. ¬†I have everything I could ever want and more. ¬†All of this, is because of God. ¬†I have done a lot of work, but only because God has provided me the opportunity to. ¬†I was in treatment for 5 months, because insurance covered it. ¬†If that isn’t a miracle, I don’t know what is. ¬†I worked with some of the best therapists in the country, because God gave me that opportunity. I am grateful for all the support I have received, but none has been more important than that of my God. ¬†I could sit here and try to claim this has all been because of my hard work, but that would be a lie. ¬†Without God’s timing, ingenuity, and grace, all of my hard work would have been worthless. ¬†At the end of my year, as I reflect, I am certain that this is the most important lesson I have learned. ¬†When I had no faith, belief, or hope, desperation stepped in and gave me God. ¬†God restored my faith, belief, hope. ¬†God instilled in me a gratitude for my desperation. ¬†God gave me a life worth living, and the desire to live it. ¬†Without God, I’m not even sure I would still be here. ¬†At the end of the day, I know that everything I learned this year, I learned because of lesson number 1: God is good.

HappyNewYearNeonFlash