Hear me roar

I admit, these days I’m playing a wee bit loose and fast with my posts while searching for gainful employment that doesn’t make me want to drink myself onto another transplant list and/or hang myself.  Blurgh. However, I must pull my cranium outta my rectum and get on the bus for the month is closing in on us and I still haven’t covered Step 4 in my monthly series.

To recap, we’ve covered honesty, hope and faith so far – step four, simply put, is courage.

COURAGE IS NOT THE ABSENCE OF FEAR, BUT THE TRIUMPH OVER IT.

Nelson Mandela

I’ll be the first to admit that when it came to courage in MY story, I’m not sure that I possessed it, but I wasn’t really given a choice.  One could argue I was given a choice and I could’ve chosen to continue to drink myself to death in the summer of 2015, but I guess the universe had a different plan for me.  I guess I also had a different plan for me – I really didn’t want to die. I don’t know if that’s courage or survival instinct or just stubbornness, but I do know that giving up wasn’t ever an option and I’m genuinely not saying that because I want a slap on the back, I’m saying that because it’s the truth. Also, in absolute candor, I don’t think I realized just how sick I really was back then. I know – you would think that lying in a hospital bed having your abdomen drained repeatedly after having a shunt inserted INTO YOUR LIVER that you’d think perhaps a problem was afoot.  Not this dumbass. You couple a slow learner with a late bloomer and you’ve got…well, me.

Of course, courage doesn’t always have to be so grandiose and epic. Courage can just be getting out of bed some days, amirite?!?  I recently shared a fantastic life-affirming breakfast with a dear friend who I don’t see nearly enough.  We covered the usual topics, i.e;  what we’re reading, our current president quite possibly being the antichrist, and incorporating trans fats and avocados into our daily diets. As we were chatting she expressed some anxiety over a new water aerobics class she had just signed up for. We both commiserated about just how nerve-wracking it can be to try something new. Especially alone.  Now, let me just remind you that we are two grown-ass accomplished women, as if that matters. I shared with her a recent story from my own experience.

Since returning home from my GOLDEN JUBILEE (read:  50th birthday extravaganza) my yoga practice has been reinvigorated and it’s really about time. I had let it slip down the priority chain as finances are abysmal fleeting these days.  In an effort to try different types of yoga and additionally save money, I found a hip and highly regarded yoga studio in my city that offers donation-based “Karma” yoga. Perfecto!  Well, kinda.

As I drove up to the studio I noticed a gaggle of young and taut gals decked head to toe in trendy yoga wear heading into the building.  They were smiling and laughing and EVEN THEIR PONYTAILS WERE PERFECT.  Instant insecurity made my stomach plummet and my throat tighten. I started sweating and pitting out in my generic yoga-wear.  I quickly glanced at the clock HOPING that somehow I was late for the class and therefore it would be RUDE to interrupt it and I’ll just come back some other time when I’m feeling a little better. Like in fourteen years.

If you know me in real life you know that I have never been late in the entire capsulation of my existence. I’m dead serious, and if you DO know me in real life feel free to comment below with one of the times I made you damn near murderous because of it.  So, I knew before looking at the clock that tardiness was not going to be the case so I quickly began reciting the litany of other reasons I could tell myself why I wasn’t going in.  As I started to spazz out I realized my reaction for what it was;  fear – plain and simple.  I’m too old, too fat, too uncoordinated, too farty and entirely too out of style to join that yoga class.

I looked at my reflection in the rear-view mirror and I could see the miserable and familar panic in my own eyes, and just like that, I was sick and tired of being afraid. The reality of the situation hit me and in a flash of mock bravery I opened the door to my Jeep and before I knew it I was standing in front of yet another beautiful gal with cheeks the color of pink rose petals and eyelashes like the open wings of angels, asking me for my name and donation.  “Jesus Christ, what is this . . .yoga for supermodels?!”, I asked, only half-way joking.

“I know, right?”, she replied. “You should try working here, it’s enough to give anyone an inferiority complex!”  I let THAT SHIT sink in for a moment and said, “well then, I’m obviously in the right place”.  She nodded vigorously in agreement and we both laughed.

Guess what happened?  NOTHING.  Well, yes, something DID happen – I went to said 90 minute yoga class, met some other kick-ass gals, LOVED the teacher and walked out of that hip and trendy bonsai-zen-incense burning studio with my head held high and my body energized. If only I had a mic to drop, I would have dropped it. That’s how good it felt to conquer that insecure and scared voice inside of me.  I can only imagine how it might feel to live your LIFE that way, and I’d like to think that some days, I’m on that path.  I relayed this story to my sweet friend and she and I too shared a laugh at how NO ONE feels completely self-confident and cultivated and proficient and has their SHIT TOGETHER all of the time.

I received a note from her yesterday. She went to her water aerobics, despite the voices in her head that tried to convince her otherwise.  She admitted she was fearful but she plundered forward and you know the rest, don’t you?  She enjoyed the class, met some other fantastic ladies like herself and can’t wait to go back. COURAGE, guys.  It doesn’t have to be thunderous and monumental. It can be the quiet and sometimes fragile voice inside of you that is just one damn ounce braver than your fear. Courage is changing your trajectory.  Courage is being honest with yourself, and your addiction.  Courage is facing down your demons and confronting what needs to change, head on. If nothing changes, nothing changes. Courage is recognizing the patterns in your life that aren’t serving you anymore.

So, if you have a chance sometime soon, step out of your comfort zone.  I promise you won’t regret it.  You may even have fun, or learn something, or discover something new and wonderful about yourself, or the world.

But remember, there’s a very fine line between courage and stupidity.  Please don’t cross it.

 

Write what you know.

Over the years I’ve received a lot of tips when it comes to writing.  Advice, guidelines and multiple do’s and don’ts.  As a burgeoning young writer I would read and write voraciously and desperately wanted to write a novel of my own.  As I got older I kept journals and wrote short stories.  When blogging became a thing, I thought it would be the perfect foray into my writing The Great American Novel.  Now, I just needed subject matter.

I did a lot of research and one simple quote from Stephen King kept coming back to me time and time again.  “Write what you know”,  was his advice to wannabe writers.  Sounds easy, huh?  So I asked myself…what do I know?

Not so easy.

Well, let’s see.  I could write a dissertation on the cultural impact of HBO’s “Sex in the City” on modern women and dissect each episode in its entirety.  There’s that.  Ummm…I could write about running a half marathon.   Well, I didn’t really “run” it, I guess.  It was more of a bouncy walk really.  I could totally write about the perfect ratio of the chocolate syrup/magic shell combo onto a big bowl of Extreme Moosetracks.  I know a little about a lot I’ve always said.   That does not a book filleth.

Two years ago I almost lost my life to alcoholism.  I had life saving surgery on my liver and have been slowly getting my life back in order and transitioning to sober living.  I am grateful for the second chance, which led me to my somewhat obvious epiphany.

Drinking, I know.  Inside out and backwards and forwards.  Like a dirty threadbare blanket that’s stained and smelly but yet you grab for it every night to envelop yourself in its false security.

I know drinking.  I know shame.  I know fear.  I know the isolation that comes with it all.

I know what it’s like not to remember.  I know what it’s like to go from the life of the party to the laugh of the party.  I know what it’s like when the folks at work don’t believe you anymore.  I know the pity in their eyes.  I also know that it wasn’t always awful.   There were countless good times and happy memories.  I know that one day, maybe even tomorrow, I’ll want to feel that way again.  This I know.

I also know it will kill me.

So, I’ll write.