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?

 

 

 

 

 

Viva La Revolution!

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“All books about all revolutions begin with a chapter that describes the decay of tottering authority or the misery and sufferings of the people. They should begin with a psychological chapter — one that shows how a harassed, terrified man suddenly breaks his terror, stops being afraid. This unusual process — sometimes accomplished in an instant, like a shock — demands to be illustrated. Man gets rid of fear and feels free. Without that, there would be no revolution.” – Ryszard Kapuscinski

Every year on this day, I want to pull the covers over my head. I want to acknowledge the date and its significance by not acknowledging it. I want to hide. I know that’s not the patriotic response or something that inspires a “Never Forget” truck mudflap or Toby Keith country song. But that’s me.  I find life to be ugly and hard and then I hide. Whether its September 11th or a random Thursday in March, fear of the world being real, sad or hard kept me under the covers (and in the bottle) for the better part of nearly two decades. While my drinking and drugging ended in 2009, fear still manages to slip in and cripple me. The above quote, however, got me thinking, what if the changes I seek in the world and in myself begin with finally telling fear to fuck off?

Seriously, fear. Suck it. I don’t think the lives lost are honored by me feeling afraid or by living in fear that it’ll happen again. Or by drowning my sorrows. The more I stare fear in the face, the closer my revolution gets to becoming a reality.  My revolution starts by writing this blog. Not that I have any delusions that my pictures of ponies and quips about reality shows will save lives but facing my truth and telling my story helps kick fear right in the crotch. My revolution continues by spreading the message to gays, lesbian and transgendered folk that they don’t have to live in bars and hate themselves. It’s not Westboro Baptist Church or the Mormons or the GOP that’s killing us, its self-hate and an incredibly high rate of fatality due to drugs and alcohol. Also, my own private revolution is committed to not living in shame about being in recovery, being HIV positive or being gay. Yeah it’s not a worldwide peace treaty but it is what I can do from my dining room table to maybe help somebody else going through the same thing.

Finally, my revolution needs to be fueled by love. Theres nothing more fear hates than love.  On a day where so many feel loss and heartache, actions motivated by love instead of fear are more powerful than any bumper sticker, flag or network TV report. Luckily, the incredibly human and flawed world I live in gives me ample opportunities to practice this. Again, the practice of love starts with this guy behind the keyboard. I’ve lived in fear about silly, stupid stuff lately and yesterday I had it. I was sick of making the conscious choice to feel afraid or doomed or that the planet was out to get me. It was as if I did as Kapuscinski said and got rid of my fear and felt free. I know this in an ongoing battle, this war against fear. And I know there will be times when fear wins. Nevertheless, it feels like a war I should keep fighting.

people like us

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There’s a line in recovery literature which says, “we are people who normally would not mix.” There’s also references to folks in recovery being like survivors of a disaster.

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From my experience, both statements happen to be true. I’ve been to meetings with high-powered attorneys, Hollywood stars, hipsters, homeless people, all gays, mixed and everything in between. I can’t be sure how this is possible but when all you want to do is stop trying drinking or using, all prejudices fly out the window. For the most part, considering they’ve all come back from the brink of death, this assorted group of nuts is usually a pretty happy and welcoming bunch no matter what meeting you go to. I’ve been thinking about the people I’ve fought this battle with lately.  And the book I juts finished reading 90 Days talks about the power of these people too. The people who I was lucky enough to have save my ass on several occasions and in a couple of different States (both mental and geographic). It took a village to lift my glitter covered self out of the gutter. By just showing up and saying, “Hey I feel like shit over here and I need some help” they helped me. Or by sharing that their life was really challenging and they felt like drinking and using. Or whenever I just heard someone say “I’m _______ and I’m an alcoholic.”  I felt less freakish and less alone. I felt like I had the support of these people who were nothing like me.  And I wanted to help them too.

End-ceremony-star-wars-a-new-hope-12500053-820-444These misfits, these people who I wouldn’t normally mix with are the people I like being around the most. They get me. We speak the same crazy language and have the same fucked-up thoughts. And we’ve fought the same battles. As a result of this recovery deal, my life has gotten amazing and wonderful and big. The odd thing is that sometimes this life makes it hard for me to get to meetings and spend time with my fellow warriors.This week was really busy and I only went to one meeting. Well, by today I was pretty much a complete lunatic. I think I actually floated to my meeting that’s much I needed to go there. As soon as I sat down and exhaled, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. I was home– again.

That’s what’s so incredible about this blog too. “My People” read this too and I read their blogs and so on and so on. This experience with UrtheInspiration has been so powerful and so much fun I figured why not make it even bigger? So I’m happy to announce that I am finally fast-tracking the book proposal for a book based on this blog and I’ll be featuring guest bloggers, this fall too. But more on that later. For now, thanks for being my people. I couldn’t do this without you.

starting here, starting now

Something occurred to when I was sitting in a meeting. Well, two things actually. First of all, I’m craving waffles. Like plain old crispy, buttery waffles with the perfect amount of syrup. But not like fancy vegan gluten-free waffles. Because those don’t sound delicious. They just sound sad. And while I am a proponent of the waffle sandwich, earlier I just wanted a regular waffle. The second thing, and I promise it’s more thought-provoking, is this idea of things getting better. While I am a walking, talking show tune-singing testament to things getting better and I say this to people who are suffering all the time because I also believe it to be true, I think there’s more to it. What if things were already better? What if this mythical time when stuff improved was actually now?

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First of all, everyday that I don’t wake up with a head-pounding hangover and nasal passages clogged with blow is a good one. So if we’re talking comparatively, things are a billion times better. Period. I don’t want to die. I’m not getting kicked out of another apartment and I no longer throw items at the people I love. Success all the way around. This does not mean I’m not allowed to be ambitious or get disappointed or occasionally want to bitch slap someone. What it simply means is that if I’m happy with this moment or at least accepting the moment and grateful for what I do have, the rest of this existence is easier to deal with.

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Then I started realizing, while still not totally paying attention to the meeting but having moved passed the waffle obsession, that ‘it’ getting better isn’t the issue here. I’m the issue! Life, planet Earth, the nature of addiction, the fucked up state of our government- these are all things I cannot change. As much as I’d like our planet to be custom tailored to fit my crazy ass, it isn’t going to happen. I have to get better. More than that I can’t delay happiness or gratitude because things aren’t perfect. Pardon my French but fuck that. Waiting for the non-stop bus to Joy is a waste of time. I’ll walk there my damn self, thank you very much. There’s no reason why I can’t choose happiness right now.

How boring and small-minded to think that my happiness is so fragile that I have to portion in out for moments that are perfect. It’s not stuff or people or life that “makes” me happy or sad. I’m the only one who can embrace happiness and I’m also the only one who can tell it to go screw itself. Things are good. Life is good. And it has been all along. Whether I can see it and enjoy it, that’s up to me. So if you are struggling, feel free to punch me when I sincerely say, “It’ll get better.” And by “it” please know that I mean, you. You will get better.

even still, glee exists.

That random dictionary that pops up when you type a word in defines glee as “great pleasure or delight.” I don’t know if the Google dictionary can be trusted but I do know it was hard to feel great pleasure or delight today in the wake of the Trayvon Martin verdict and the news of Cory Monteith’s death. Admittedly, I don’t follow the news so I wasn’t invested in the Zimmerman trial. For me, obsessively following trials and the news falls under the category of “serenity killers.” I also didn’t really watch Glee but as an addict, this story really bummed me out.

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The 31-year-old Montieth reportedly struggled with drugs and alcohol since his teen years. Most recently, he left rehab for “substance abuse” problems back in May. While Glee might be a modern but happy-shiny teen show, Montieth recent life seems like it was pretty dark. There’s an autopsy coming but what does it matter. The results won’t be released and we won’t ever really have this conversation we so desperately need to have.  The teens who watched Montieth and followed his rise to fame aren’t likely to hear the truth from publicists about his struggle with the disease of addiction.

Perhaps I’m negatively projecting here. But if Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Heath Ledger and Amy Winehouse have taught us anything, it’s that we no longer like to tell the public that drugs and alcohol killed our icons. When I was a kid and Belushi died, I remember seeing a magazine cover saying, “Drugs killed John Belushi.” You would never see a headline like that today.  I’ve griped about this before and-spoiler alert- I’ll continue to do so. If one of these celebrities was killed by cancer or AIDS,we’d know about it. We’d say “Weren’t they strong for battling that disease?” But when it comes to addiction and alcoholism, we tend to revert to shame and misunderstanding. We either blindly idolize them, no questions asked. Or act like they were long time losers who had it coming. Yet the big thing we’re missing out on by withholding, in my opinion, is the collective admitting that”Yes, drugs and alcohol will still kill you” and a chance to talk about it. Of course the media has to wait until autopsies are complete and naturally loved ones of the deceased have every right to privacy. But some acknowledgement of the epidemic could maybe save lives.

But maybe I’m wrong. Just two weeks ago, People magazine featured a story of how Matthew Perry’s life has changed since getting sober. So maybe our attitude is changing. Who knows. This post, as always, is about my attitude. Shocker, I know. But its hard for me not to feel upset when I hear about someone who lost their fight with addiction. Perhaps it freaks me out to realize that could have been me. Or maybe it makes me angry that they never got help or weren’t able to grasp recovery. Probably a little of both.

What I do know is: great pleasure or delight exists for me today. It doesn’t come in a bottle or box or from a sketchy guy in a Datsun at 4am. It comes from being sober. As my husband and I worked on our next creative venture on the couch and nibbled pizza as we bounced ideas off each other this afternoon, I felt real happiness. I also felt it yesterday when I walked down the street and watch gray clouds dot a pink and orange sunset. I feel it when I have ridiculous conversations with my cat. Its because I’m free. I don’t hate myself or my life so much I need to check out. After decades of being miserable I’m finally free. And I guess after years of pain, Cory Montieth is now too. Still, you can’t help but wonder if there wasn’t an easier way out.

people (insert head shake and deep sigh)

The songstress in the photo below once crooned, “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.” While the inherent codependency of that lyric could be undoubtedly discussed until my computer exploded, I guess the 1960’s wisdom of ‘needing people’ to express not isolating from others is sweet. Yet seeing what a pain in the ass they are, people who tell other people to go screw themselves might be luckiest people in the world.

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Now relax, I’m not going to launch into a post about how people suck and how wronged I’ve been by the entire planet beginning with my abusive 1st grade teacher(affectionately known as Sister Snake Face) leading all the way up to the cashier at Starbucks from last week who ignored me (affectionately known as “douche waffle”). Sadly, recovery has forever tainted my bitch sessions about others. I’ve been programmed to look at my part first and to have compassion for crazy people and to pray for people I want to kill. Really takes the fun out of the whole ritual. As a drug, people really suck. Next to slamming Robotussin, no other substance provides such an unreliable high and such a flaming hot headache. As former grand marshal of the codependents parade, which never happened on the account of all of our time being spent worrying about each other, people addiction is something I know a little about. Listen, like I said, if drugs or a bottle were available I’d gladly take them first. But people were more like cigarettes. Not a fast high but a habit that would make me sicker and crazier the longer I did it. Just how I like my habits to behave. A year and half away from romantic relationships and some gnarly soul-searching helped me kick my people drug. However, that detox was a slower and more slippery one. I never had normal relationships. Like ever. So sliding into crazyland behavior like trying to control when people call me, not eating in hopes that we’ll go out to dinner together and generally trying to manipulate people into spending time with me was incredibly easy. It took my several failed friendships in sobriety and months of dating hell to realize, I had a long way to go in building a health relationships with these ‘people’ Babs was singing about.

I bring this up today because people as they are known to do, have been a disappointment lately. And by lately I mean since that whole Garden of Eden fuckup. Seriously, my relationships get complicated and that’s a blessing. Really. My relationships these days are real and authentically human with actual people. Which is terrific for somebody who use to refer to friends who he knew from nightclubs as “We Hate Her” and “Snaggle Toe”. The flipside of these real relationships is that always  sometimes people let you down. Again, they’re an incredibly dicey drug. I’d be better off with a pack of Kools and a box of wine if I wanted to check out. Thankfully, I don’t want to check out today. I also know that humans being human is a two-way street. I let people down too. I screw up constantly. And , yes, 12-steppers, I’m usually to blame, at least partially, for whatever issue I have with people is. Sigh.

I heard Barbra say in an interview she always thought the lyric should be that “people who don’t need people are the luckiest people in the world” as it expressed the heartbreak her character in Funny Girl went through. I get it. But it seems like that song turned out okay. I know that if I just let things happens, just forgive people for being people and just be grateful for having the people in my life that I do have, I’ll be okay too.

listen up

 

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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?

thank you nice people. keep up the good work.

Not much to report here on day five. I ran a bunch of errands, did some writing and oh just had my faith in humanity restored. Scratch that. Turns out it was a bigger news day than I  initially thought.

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I guess I should clear up my dramatic statement since I sort of sounded like everyone on planet Earth has been yelling at me and throwing things at me for the last forty years until this random stranger was nice to me today. No, I do actually believe that if I’m kind and friendly to people, I’ll get it back. Time after time, this theory usually delivers. Today it just happened to deliver at my new HIV healthcare providers, a place I so desperately needed it. Being as I work freelance, the offices of Sean INC. don’t exactly provide CEO-type of healthcare and I have to rely on the cheap/free stuff. Thankfully, Denver takes great care of HIV positive peeps wtih its system.  After some chronic fatigue and blood sugar level funkiness for the last six months, I finally kicked myself in the ass, made phone calls and sought new medical help. Yeah, HIV is a manageable condition that doesn’t kill us anymore but you still have to, like, actually manage it. Nevertheless, the minute I don’t feel well I still naturally think I’m headed for this inevitable future:

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I told you I was dramatic. Once I calmed the hell down and talked to other positive friends, I was able to get into action and get into a clinic. Today was first appointment of the drop off paper work variety and my case worker turned out to be angel. I mean really. Terrific guy, super friendly, organized, compassionate and even gave me a hug and said, “We’ll get to the bottom of what’s going on. Don’t worry.”Wow! I bet they don’t do that in CEO-type of doctor’s offices! I suddenly was able to exhale and already physically felt a little better knowing I had someone this awesome working for me. It was 15 minutes that truly changed my day. It made me realize how just being compassionate and kind and authentic can really transform the lives of others. So nice people everywhere, thanks for just being your nice selves and keep doing your thang. And I’ll try to return the favor whenever I can.

12 Days of Blogmas: The Odds are Good

Greetings! on our 9th day of blogmas ,we’re talking all about my failed attempts in early recovery to become a “ho, ho ho.”

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The post The Odds are Good but the Goods are Odd is my pick for today for a few reasons. First off, every so often as a writer you get write something that makes you laugh and entertains you first without worrying about the readers, this was one of those posts. Thankfully, others seemed to like it too. Secondly, the photo of the  cheesy Ken dolls is one of my favorite images on this blog.  It just worked. It’s not the above Ken dolls however. These beauties are from an Etsy card entitled “Fairy Christmas”.  Uh. Yeah. So there’s that. Lastly, this post made it in to our celebration of blogs because its one of the only ones that talks about dating and sex in early sobriety. Hmm. Why is that? Oh right that’s because I wasn’t exactly a hot ticket in my early days of sobriety.  Or as the post puts it, ” My life was a hot mess and I was fucking nuts. So no, my toxic, curdled milkshake did not bring all the boys to the yard.”

Love and dating for anybody is tough but in early sobriety the whole thing seems like a huge puzzle. Granted, I have a laugh in the post and the sentiments expressed there are the truth but I was also really lonely. It felt like things were never going to get better and I was never going to be “dateable” again. But the writing was on the wall: I had to deal with my issues before real relationships of any kind were possible. It took a lot of work to get where I loved myself and was okay with myself. Once that happened, a better quality of guy (i.e my now husband) started to show up on the radar.

Yet it is hard to deny the comedic nature of  sex and romance and thus our 9th Day of Blogmas post was born.I’m lucky to come out of the other side of feeling miserable and lonely and be able to laugh about it today.  Here now is another chance to read The Odds are Good but the Goods are Odd as well as a photo of me with a giant pink Betsey Johnson-designed Christmas tree from the Plaza Hotel in NYC. Just because.

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12 Days of Blogmas: That Cat Blog

Yesterday we talked about the most visited blog post of 2012 and today it pains me to talk about the other end of the spectrum. Yes kids, it’s time to look at one of our least popular blog entries. On this the 10th day of Blogmas, your true love gives to thee a blog about my cat Maeby (Pronounced  ‘maybe’. Just in case you ever hang out with her, I didn’t want it to be awkward).  What weird sort of alternate internet universe am i living in when a cute and from the heart blog about my cat only gets 7 views?  I mean look at that face.maeby

That Cat Blog, since you obviously didn’t read it, was all about animals, how after having to leave my old pets the little charmer pictured above magically showed up in my life and how 4 dogs, 3 cats and 2 chickens helped me stay sober. Furry critters have always been a part of my life and sometimes I do better with animals than I do with people but not in a crazy cat hoarder kind of way. I think I explained this special relationship better when I wrote:

“I can’t speak for other alcoholics or addicts (and the minute I do , please call me on my shit) but I am so awkward around people and worried about saying the right thing that being with animals is a relief. They don’t care about what I’m wearing or what I do for a living or who I know. They want food, some petting and they want to sleep which oddly enough sounds like a lot of alcoholics I know too.”

I do get it though. Not everybody likes cats. Or animals. And most people don’t like alcoholics. And I totally understand that too. But thankfully here at UrtheInspiration, I like all of those things and I like you too. I hope the 10th day of Blogmas is all that you dreamed it would be and please enjoy That Cat Blog as well as this odd photo of Maeby nibbling on a pineapple.

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