thanks(giving)

hey.

you.

yes! you!

THANK YOU.

thanks for not forgetting about me.

thanks for letting me get my shit together.

thanks for making me laugh. and cry. and think.

thanks for being you.

thanks for reading for the last 2 years. now please enjoy the wonder that is Pilgrim Barbie.

Pilgrim-Barbie-Doll-1995-barbie-dolls-collection-31686815-640-950So yeah. I’ve been MIA for nearly a month. Moving, 10 days without internet and new gig will do that to a person. But they told me if I stopped being a drunken fool my life would get big. They were right. It’s all big and shit. If it was any bigger it could play William Taft in a movie. The multitude of changes that have happened over the last nearly 5 years have been incredible and the ones over the last few months have been equally miraculous. The point is I have a lot to be grateful for. (By the way, I hate when people in meetings bitch about gratitude meetings. They like to snark, “Well, Gratitude isn’t a step.” To which I’d like to reply, “Well, neither is being a bitter asshole but you seem to being practicing that one just fine.” But I don’t say such a thing because this is a spiritual program.)

Anyway, I am truly grateful. I’m grateful for completing changing.  I’m this guy who couldn’t finish a journal entry and since I’ve gotten sober I’ve finished two full length plays, had five original works performed on stage, been published and even gotten paid for writing silly stuff. More than that, all of my relationships are honest and authentic which alone is a miracle for someone who hung out in Los Angeles nightclubs for as long as I did. And I help people. I know. Me? Yes! Me. Granted, I’m no Mother Theresa or even Angelina Jolie but I try to help people whenever I can. I even helped my gassy, judgemental grandmother read her emails the other day and I actually enjoyed it! Don’t worry. She won’t read that I lovingly called her gassy and judgemental. She can’t see very well. Hence why I read her emails aloud to her in the first place. I’m also grateful that I don’t worry as much as I used to. Funny thing– when your day-to-day life stops being dramatic, you have very little to worry about. when times get tough, I find it’s the little things I’m grateful for like food in the fridge, a warm place to rest my head, regular employment, an incredible husband, siblings who speak to me that make me realize how good I have it.

The guys in my sobriety family and myself do a daily gratitude list which we share on a thread on Facebook. Sometimes it’s the little stuff like “I’m grateful for this day being over.” or “I’m grateful for the bagel I had for breakfast.” Sometimes, it’s more profound. What exactly makes the list doesn’t matter. It’s the simple act of making the list on a regular basis that seems to make a difference. And it’s not just us. Folks all over have long touted the benefits of gratitude and some studies say it might even be good for your health. 

So lovely readers, what are you grateful for?  Sound off in the comments section below! While you think about it, how about letting Alanis provide your gratitude soundtrack?

 

 

 

 

 

listen up

 

listen-up

 

 

Here’s what happens when you work alone most of the time: you lose your damn mind. I mean you kind of keep losing it and keep finding it. Naturally, you keep coming up with ways to re-find it, over and over again. But yeah you go crazy. And when you’re in the business of creating clever like I am while spending a lot of time alone, it’s easy to believe that you are the king of the universe and pretty darn special. As I sit and procrastinate writing, I usually have all kinds of brilliant things to say to imaginary people in my head or amazing ideas that could change the world if only everyone listened to me. Like I said, you go crazy. When I first started working freelance from home a friend of mine from the program said, “Make sure you get out during the day. After all, you’re spending a lot of time with the person who tried to kill you.”  That was a bitch slap I try not to forget so I’ve gotten better about leaving my house during the middle of the middle to run errands or go to meetings.

Even though, I’m incredibly hilarious and a wealth of knowledge, I find the most powerful thing I can do while I’m out in the world and away from my desk is listen. After writing, programming and listening to continuous broadcasts of The Sean Show, now presented in stereo on radio station KRAZY, all day long my brain needs to hear other stuff. After a particularly long stint listening to my own garbage, I found myself incredibly grumpy and mercifully on my way to a meeting on Friday afternoon. While there, people were discussing meditation. As they talked about the power of the tool and how it can transform their days, it dawned on me that my spiritual life had really taken a crap over the last few days. I got busy. I was stressed. I haven’t felt well. And blah, blah, blah. The meeting continued as I was instantly awakened to the fact that maybe things seem stressful and maybe I feel terrible in part because I’m not meditating. Major lightbulb! One I wouldn’t have noticed if I wasn’t listening.

Some people describe prayer as talking to God and meditation as listening to God so it isn’t a surprise that this topic came up and resonated deeply with me. Later that day, I had a chance to actually listen to a friend whose life has been incredibly difficult. No one-liners. No advice. Just listening. Again, its powerful stuff to practice for the kid who was labeled “Talks to Much In Class” at an early age. It certainly goes against my nature as a loudmouth, joke telling smartass. But listening is something I need to do more of.

So in the spirit of that, I’ll be doing 30 Days of meditation when this 30 days of blogging ends. I have a practice but like my personal writing its spotty. This 30 Day Blog experiment has been a blast and now I can’t wait to implement in meditation. Who’s with me?

Anything Could Happen

The funny thing about optimism is that even though its something I whole heartedly believe in, it can vanish the minute the waters get rocky. Like it’s incredibly easy for me to preach, “Don’t worry. This too shall pass” to other people but practicing in my own life? That’s another story. I’m sort of on-paper, in theory kind of optimist but will flip-flop back to pessimist land in the blink of an eye.  You know, kind of  like the friend of your’s from college who went vegan but still ate chicken sandwiches when no one was around. So knowing this about myself as I do now, I sort of have to work overtime to keep optimism and faith alive.

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Staying out my pre-programmed Irish thinking of “This world’s going to hell in a handbasket!” can be accomplished if I do things that make me feel good. I was once told that I could slowly achieve self-esteem if I practiced estimable acts. Once someone explained to me what estimable acts actually were (by the way gossiping and buying cocaine did not make the list. Go figure.), I’ve been able to live by this. Mainly, it boils down to thinking of others. If I’m wrapped up in my own garbage, my day is usually garbage. But if I’m busy doing things that make me feel good like helping my fellow-man, my day usually gets better. Sometimes, Its texting somebody I know is having a rough time. Sometimes, its making coffee for a meeting. Sometimes its letting my husband sleep in. And in a pinch, holding the door open for somebody or picking up some thrash can be lifesavers too.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that after a few weeks where I honestly felt crappy and felt like things weren’t ever going to get better, they have. This is largely in part because I kept doing stuff that helped others and myself. Even when it drove me nuts. On this Sunday evening, I am actually optimistic. I’m working on some great projects. My relationships are good. I have some fun events this summer. The amazing thing about being sober is that I have seen my life and other people’s lives change. I beleive that my life is only getting more incredible as the days pass, even if I can’t see exactly it at the time. The song is right– anything could happen. And more than that,  I think it already is happening.

 

The Mental Health Dance Off

There are some times when a conversation is just a conversation. You lob ideas and stories back and forth.  It’s a lovely little cha-cha where all parties involved are on beat and dancing right along. Other times, you land smack dab in a brutal conversation dance-off, where everything out of your mouth is challenged or one upped. It is less about dancing just to enjoy the music and more about winning. I wound up in the middle of a battle conversation the other night and my response surprised me.

In LA, conversational pissing contests were an everyday occurrence and where my own bad habit of taking over a conversation really took flight. An average douchey, LA contest-sation starts a little like this, “What are you working on because I just finished two national commercials and my clothing line is being carried at Fred Segal. Oh and next month is my art show downtown.” Ugh times a zillion.  Like shut the fuck up. Nobody is handing out ribbons for being more awesome or for having more going on or being more right. Yet it’s what we people do. We want to win and be right and be special even if our tactics to get those things turn us into total jackasses.

But back to the dinner/smack down in question. Three of us, all sober people of various flavors of recovery might I add, started talking about the Olympics and the trivia of the day. This soon led to smartphones appearing  out of thin air and facts being thrown down as if they were absolute gauntlets. By the way,can’t we get through one dinner without whipping our smartphone dicks out?  It’s so obnoxious. We all lived and talked for generations without having devices to prove our points. Anyway, when I drank I liked to win these kind of things so I’d usually be the one pressing on trying to get my point across. The other night, however, I just sort of let my dinner companions battle it out. This isn’t because I was secretly trying to win the other contest happening at the time- the “I’m more sane than you” competition which was quietly brewing from the minute we sat down that night. No, for some reason I just didn’t participate. I knew it was going on and felt the strain of the conversational battle. But I sipped my Diet Coke, nibbled on appetizers and politely tried not to give a shit.

The truth is, I was actually happy to see these two argumentative motherfuckers and for some reason didn’t let their bickering get in my way of enjoying my meal or their company. When I returned home, I was exhausted. I’m not much of fighter anymore so even being near that kind of crap takes its toll. Now my husband can tell you, I don’t always choose not to fight. But I did make that choice and I didn’t engage in crazy conversations the other night. Oddly enough, this little victory made me feel like I had beaten something far more important than my two arguing dinner companions.

Spot it, You Got it

I hate when people post about politics on Facebook. I hate when I read things by so-called experts that are clear opposition of the right way of thinking, you know my way. I hate that hating everything is clearly a symptom of me not being good to myself and mainly I hate that what I don’t like in others, is what drives me crazy about myself. Sigh.

After an incredible two weeks wherein my play opened, my mom came to town, another exciting creative project was born and generally the sky was blue and the world broke into a happy musical number, I crashed. See, the thing about this HIV gig is that going non-stop can really wear a body out. Sure, I received the messages like “Hello, we need to lay down” and “Excuse me can we get a freaking vitamin up in here!?!” But I didn’t listen. I’ve been busy and things are fantastic so why should I take time out to take care of myself? Well the short answer is even though I’m healthy and I live with a “chronic manageable disease”, I simply can’t burn the candle at both ends. When I first got diagnosed, my doctor told me “Listen, you and stress are over. Nothing wreaks more havoc on a compromised immune system than stress and pushing yourself too hard.”  This sage advice has rung in my ears over the past 3 years of living with this condition. Until recently. In November stress wound me up in the hospital. So through the not so subtle head cold and body ache I got over the weekend, I finally paid attention.

Here’s where I get back to that open paragraph. I know about freaking time. This morning, I don’t feel great physically so as I peruse Facebook or read articles online I get more and more bitchtacular and before I know it I’m in a foul mood. My sick puppy brain tells me that not feeling great gives me a hall pass to act like a cynical jerkface. But then a miracle happened as I was reading this study that really pissed me off, I’m not angry. I don’t hate everything. And I can stop feeling emotionally bad even when my body feels like it got hit by a bus. Mainly, I’m annoyed by behaviors that I don’t like in myself. As usual, the person out to get me and make me feel shitty is the dude in the mirror. Being preachy or entitled or always right or stubborn or judgmental are character defects that still pop up in me . Naturally spotting them in others is something I am very good at. The missing ingredient here that lead to morning of crabbiness was meditation and prayer. I had an old sponsor who told me to pray before I turned on my computer or looked at my phone everyday. Again more advice that I don’t always follow. Obviously.

But the good news is this, nobody got hurt. I didn’t fire off a bunch of “Go screw yourself” emails. I didn’t cuss out my husband. I didn’t open a beer because the world was out to get me. I saw it happening. I prayed. I stopped and flipped the script. I laughed at how terrible I was being. And that little but revolutionary change right there is reason enough to smile even though I’m sneezing.