O.K.

The one (and quite possibly only)¬†person who constitutes¬†my “readership” pointed out tonight that I haven’t posted anything on here for awhile. I guess I didn’t have much to say.

That right there was a lie, right out of the gate.  The truth is, I made the executive decision to STFU.

F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “You don’t write because you want to say something,” (I always do); you write because you’ve got to say something (I do, either way).” So you can imagine the confusion my predisposition to constantly run my mouth causes me. It pains me to not interject myself in others’ conversations. I always feel compelled to constantly bring something to the table, verbally. At times I feel what I’m saying is very important when it’s actually very pretentious. But by shutting it for the summer, I learned a thing or two about shutting it even more strategically.

very important and very pretentious.png

And what I’ve¬†got to say to you tonight is “okay.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten in trouble at work already for not just saying, “okay” while being instructed (That’s another lie; ¬†I’ve gotten in trouble four separate times in the past month and a half [with two different bosses] for “defending myself” during a busy shift). I waitress almost full-time now, in addition to tutoring a beautiful young girl in third grade. I’d argue these are the best two jobs I’ve ever had. I’m not sure against whom I would be arguing this, other than my former self. A shattered ego has a way of resetting my perspective on all things, including (and most especially) jobs.

I don’t know what it is about being told what to do, but I’m not very good at it. To clarify, I’ve never been insubordinate at work on any job, at any time.¬†I’d like to thank my former friend, alcohol, for helping me fake that scam of workforce submissiveness. Sure, I didn’t talk back to bosses, but I sure talked a lot of ish behind their backs. And of course, I drank my work blues away to some oblivion not even a “forever deleted” email could reach. It’s safe to say that alcohol had the opposite effect on my behavior that it would on your run-of-the-mill drunk; that is to say, it made me behave better (not worse) than I would on my own, unimpaired. However, at my new job I’ve had to face the fact that I can be a bit of a smart ass, hot head and overall know-it-all.

And all it took for me to drop the submissive/perfect employee act was a good, solid Italian family — one much more Italian than mine. My bosses (boss family, legit) are really really really good at their jobs. The restaurant is run like a big, bold Sicilian ship. Turns out, they know A LOT more about serving than I do. True to form, my deficit in serving skills is precisely why I never stuck with a serving job for more than a couple of months.¬†I hate being 1. bad at / 2. not good at / 3. not the best at – things. Any and all things. When I don’t know what I’m doing, my ego feels exposed. I assume everyone around me can see that the Empress Wears No Clothes. In my humble(d) opinion, there is literally nothing worse for an addict/alcoholic who despises being called out in front of an empty audience. The biggest P.O.S. that is The Center of the Universe.

Charmed, I’m sure.

Up until last week, my mother and I have sustained the same argument every day for a year straight. Want to guess who had to be “right” in those arguments? Who had to have the last word? Who thoroughly “researched” her position before defending it? Who never just said, “okay?”

Me. The answer is me.

I don’t know how or why, but I was finally able to hear her message:¬†“Just say ‘uh huh,’ even when you don’t agree with me.” What a heinous proposition. But for some reason, I actually¬†heard her. I mean,¬†really took it all in. My need to say everything BUT “okay” or “uh huh” is what has been getting me stuck with her¬†and with my bosses.

My point here is, I had to shut up in order to shut up more. Know what I mean, Jelly Bean?

(Just say okay).

xo

Advertisements

Rhinestone Eyes

I’ve never felt closer to a Higher Power than I have while being in the presence of children. I started substitute teaching this week–fifth grade the first day, second grade a couple of days later. The little nugget children are full of piss and vinegar and inescapable honesty. A little over a month ago, I first started working with high schoolers at the same school as a mentor/electives facilitator, so I had a little bit of real-life experience in guidance before I began substituting.

Right before I began teaching, the Paris attacks occurred on 13 Novembre 2015. I felt angry and confused, just like most people. I also felt ignorant when I realized this kind of shit just happened in Beirut not even 24 hours prior–and I had no idea. The refugee crisis has resonated with me the most out of all of this violent horseshit for several reasons. First, people’s reactions to allowing 10,000+ refugees in our country is disappointing and xenophobic, especially considering ISIS wasn’t even successful in infiltrating this group of people. Second, little baby Syrian nuggets are being wrenched from place to place living homeless for months or years at a time. Lastly, many of us don’t realize that we are not powerless against the evils of terrorism; we have the ability to send our love forth through how we change and ultimately through how we treat people in our lives.

I read an article a couple nights ago about the magnetism of our hearts. Author Arjun Walia describes the importance of our hearts’ “intuitive intelligence.”

“Bottom line, feelings of love, gratitude, and compassion ‚Äď any positive feelings whatsoever ‚Äď have a larger impact than we could have ever imagined. These are all characteristics of consciousness, and as quantum physics is showing us, consciousness plays a definite role in the creation of our reality. If this is true, then how we feel about things must too, and with the research coming out from the Institute of HeartMath, it doesn‚Äôt seem unreasonable to suggest that feeling good might very well be fundamental to creating global change.”

The more we connect to the good inside of us, the better chance we have of radiating joy to others. This isn’t some kind of froo froo bullshit that has no basis in reality. When we feel good, we are more likely to be generous and kind to others. We might not have the tools to combat violence in the immediate, for example, but our nonviolent words and actions impact how others feel in a positive way.

Before I started subbing, I saw an image on Facebook of thousands of children meditating for world peace. I took that idea and applied it to the classroom. Both the fifth graders and second graders were STOKED to meditate. One of the kids took my hand and led me to their “reading nook” so we could all sit and meditate where the kids normally read stories. My heart felt so full when I saw these pure beams of light and love practice peace. Each time a kid gave me a hug, I imagined hugging a Syrian refugee child. A part of my soul became aware that the love we instill in children gives the little nuggets a chance to see how to love themselves in the face of adversity.

One of my 12th graders wrote on her daily gratitude list that she was grateful for music. She loves the band Gorillaz, so she wrote down some of her favorite songs from the band. I listened to Rhinestone Eyes, which reminded me of how precious those kids are. They look up to their teachers with these big, saucer-like eyes, sparkling like rhinestones with love and sweet promise. The lyrics struck me in a big way today: “I prayed on the unmovable” and “the storm brings strange loyalties.” I want to show these kids that they matter. They can pray when they feel sad or lonely. They can send love to other kids who have less than they do. They can grow up to be happy, non-violent, loving adults.

Recovery brought me joy and love. I never expected that love to come from children and adults. If you are reading this, I’m sending you love.

Just love.

Photo courtesy of DeviantArt

Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Mo.

I am slightly obsessed with comedian Aziz Ansari. I just picked up his new book Modern Romance from the glorious Petersburg library. In his book, Ansari pulls data from sociologists, anthropologists and Tinder-user focus groups that span the globe–from Qatar to Wichita to France. He mines for information about how cultures date and how the¬†fantasy of choice has taken over. He manages to slip in some information about the hunt for “the perfect job” compared to the quest for “the perfect soul mate.” His findings are interesting because they are evidence-based. I am not at all surprised to see that, according to his data,¬†more choices do not actually lead to¬†more happiness.

Lately I’ve been questioning what my higher purpose is on this planet. Now that I am sober, I have the freedom to explore all sorts of choices because I am available to do so. I promised myself early on in recovery that I would work hard to follow my dreams. What I’ve found almost two years in is that my dreams have changed. As it turns out, I am in the “good enough” mind set that Ansari speaks about in his book. Many daters 40 years ago chose¬†partners based on proximity¬†and subsequently participated in life things with a less-than-perfect spouse. Who says I can’t do the same for a job? Or better yet, a vocation?

I realize I am not as important as I thought I was. I don’t mean to say that I am not a universe in and of myself; I am. What I’m getting at here is that my quest to find my higher purpose only yields results when I keep things simple–and keep my ego out of it. The world will go on if I get a shitty job just to pay the bills. Earth will keep spinning on its axis if I don’t find a job that pays more than minimum wage. My purpose right now is to keep my inner peace and to just show up.

I heard my friend say at a meeting on Friday that sometimes he has to say to himself, “You know what? I woke up sober. That might be the only important thing I do all day. And that has to be enough.” I¬†am elated when I hear shares like this one. It takes the pressure off of me to “make things happen.” I tend to put a shit ton of pressure on myself to find a job that reflects what a badass I am–in both my salary and my title. But that rubric of “needs” no longer serves me. Now that I have taken a very part-time job as a high school online electives facilitator (read, mentor) a new world of possible choices¬†has opened up to me. Yes, I continue to write during the day when I am not at school, but I also get to spend time with young people helping to set them up for a great future. My former sponsor told me before I started writing this blog to “remember why I started.” I do remember. In fact, I think about it every day. I started writing so I could help people. Now I see I want to help young people, too.¬†It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Today, I choose to apply calmness and rationality to my life situation. I live with my mother, who provides me rides to meetings and helps me get to my job. I am eternally grateful to her for being willing to help me out in the most difficult period of my life. I am filing for bankruptcy in December, because years of people-pleasing to get/keep cars for jobs to get/keep said jobs, to live in cool places well beyond my means, to buy drinks when I had no money to do so–all of that nonsense caught up with me. Simply put, today I choose to participate in a hard reset of my life and my dreams. My Modern Guilt about my Modern Romance with choice belongs in the rubbish bin, along with my old ideas about who I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to be doing.

If anyone reading this is around my age (29), then I am sure you have had your share of self doubt and impossible quandaries about¬†your future. The best piece of advice anyone ever gave me was that no one knows what they are doing. There is not a single person on this planet who “has it figured out.” Gratitude for the present helps me to see that where I am is “good enough.” A quote I’ve shared before that my friend happened to post this morning reminds me what living my higher purpose looks like:

“Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.”

–Albert Camus

I wrote a paper in French about Albert Camus when I was a freshman in college in 2004-2005. I loved that French class, and I pursued a double major in French and Political Science simply because I loved both subjects too much to choose. People told me I chose not one, but TWO useless majors. I proved them wrong by obtaining political jobs right out of college for nearly six years. I applied French when I spoke fluently with Haitian cab drivers after nights of blackout drinking. I showed them.

Though I no longer have political jobs or drunken conversations with drivers from francophone countries, I am happy I followed my bliss when I was in college. Had I not taken the political route, I would have never ended up in Los Angeles. Hell, I may never have gotten to such a stressed out state to get sober, either. The truth is, I may never know. What I hold close to me is that my choices led me to where I am at this very moment: writing to help people, not just to help myself.

According to my good friend, Ziggy Stardust/Nicole (see previous blog post), I am experiencing my Saturn Return. In astrological speak, this means that I am undergoing a huge life change that shifts my perspective completely. Maybe in a few years all of this change will make more sense. In ten years, I might be having a very similar conversation with family and/or friends about how grateful I am I lived with my mother having no idea what I was going to be when I grew up. Maybe good enough is better than anything I could dream of right now.

Maybe good enough is enough, simply because it has to be.

Photo courtesy of uinterview

Spiritual Feminism

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately–and not the OCD kind. I don’t know if my newfound spiritual curiosity has to do with the recent¬†articles I’ve read¬†or if this is my way of “branching out”¬†in the¬†Higher Power / God department.¬†I spend a lot of time with my mother, who is a die-hard Catholic, and that woman really loves her saints and her Christ.¬†Her¬†hardcore love for¬†her church family inspires me to think beyond my Catholic School Biases.¬†Her journalistic work on the Pope, including seeing him in Pennsylvania, has helped me keep an open mind. The Pope himself has readily become my ongoing¬†#MCM for months now. In short, I’m really feelin’ the Catholic Church. All of the Christ-like examples in my life are shining forth with unconditional love and service work.

I just got¬†off the phone¬†with my sponsor whose conversation resulted in both of us agreeing Jesus¬†was a¬†G. He threw tantrums in temples, he hung out with “women of the night,” he¬†defied physics¬†and he gave his 12 besties guidelines to be super nice to people who needed someone to be super¬†nice to them, even if they didn’t deserve it. Not to mention he converted water into wine. I don’t drink (now), but even as a person in recovery¬†I concede that¬†a miracle of that magnitude wouldn’t be the worst for people who enjoy pairing a fancy red with their steak.

Furthermore, I think Jesus was a feminist. He hung out with Mary Magdalene on the reg, who was purported to be one of the busiest “whores” around. He told judgmental people to step off, then she washed his feet with her hair. One image comes to my mind where Mary Magdalene is¬†holding an egg (that I interpret as her owning the eggs in her body like a feminist would). According to biblical folklore and/or fact, “Caesar laughed [at Mary M], saying, Christ rising from the dead was as likely as the egg in her hand turning red. But, before he could finish speaking, the egg had turned¬†bright red! The miracle of the egg turned many to Christ that day.” Men not listening to a woman who¬†is right?…hmm.

Lest we forget that Jesus’ teenage years and roaring 20s are conspicuously absent from the New Testament–I doubt very sincerely that this was an accident. Maybe Jesus went through rugged terrain finding himself during those years. Maybe his calling to be The Coolest Dude on Earth got figured out when he acted as people typically act¬†at those ages.

The articles I’ve read are vast in their subject matters, from Christianity to Planned Parenthood. The most recent ones that got me thinking are about Planned Parenthood. I know a few people who are pissy about the government’s hostile takeover of PP, as well they should be. The (white) men who are hellbent on legislating our sexual reproductive systems are a bit shortsighted in this matter. My guess is that many of these unfortunate-looking men got lucky a few more times than they’d care to admit–and by “lucky” I mean to “get some” after a night of tipping back whiskeys with the Good Ole Boys in DC taverns, cutting back-room deals to defund Planned Parenthood. My deductive reasoning leads me to believe many of the women these blowhards bedded were on birth control, have had mammograms and/or have had access to treatment they would not have otherwise had if it weren’t for PP. Seems like a double-standard to me.

I don’t know how Jesus would feel about any of this. But my understanding of the Beatitudes is that every person is equal under the eyes of God. My¬†understanding of the Constitution happens to coincide with Jesus’ words–that all PEOPLE are created equal. As a nation founded on equality and rigid Judeo-Christian “values,” I think something has gotten lost in translation. America may have been founded by gun-toting white people, but this country was built and sustained by women and black people. That’s just economics.

I seek to understand people, though I know this may never happen. The best I can do is find the God within myself and act accordingly. I am of the belief that Heaven, Hell and Purgatory are all euphemisms for Right Here Right Now. My version of God speaks to me through music, and that’s just me. I have Stevie Wonder’s song “As” on repeat as I write this. He seems to know a thing or two about godliness:

Did you know that true love asks for nothing
No no her acceptance is the way we pay
Did you know that life has given love a guarantee
To last through forever and another day

Blessed are the female badasses, for they shall love no matter what.

Off The Sauce September

Did you know that September is National Recovery Month?

WE GET A WHOLE MONTH.

I remember when I got a chip for 30 days of sobriety in April of 2014. I had never made it 30 hours sober–much less 30 days–before that. At the time,¬†I had a humorous case of the nervous sweats and an incurable desire to wreck every double-shot, Trenta iced coffee from here¬†to eternity. I numbed myself with phone calls, constant coffee to the face, Now and Laters, entire economy-sized jars of pickles, HBO Go and Netflix. I walked over a mile one way¬†every morning to my home group meeting at Caf√© Tropical on Sunset Blvd, leaving my¬†apartment by 6:15 am to make the 7am meeting (and to have time for two smokes beforehand with my friends). I chose the morning¬†AA slot due to¬†its magical charms and my utter disbelief that I could be up that early and not still be legally drunk.

sbxAn entire month sober–that¬†blew my fucking mind.

And it still does. I celebrate 18 months sober on September 17. My heart grew one size bigger with the realization that I get to celebrate this milestone during the one month a year that is dedicated to shining a light on addiction and recovery. I recognize the magnitude of this shit–it is¬†my right and responsibility to speak up. I am one person in recovery out of millions. I am alive and well today because I got help for my addiction to alcohol.

My enthusiasm for recovery hasn’t smoldered, but it has morphed into something far better than I could have imagined. The best and most beautiful gift of my sobriety is¬†the freedom to be available to other people. I connect with new people¬†and old friends who have resurfaced in my life now that I am not a complete C U Next Tuesday. It seems there is no shortage of love to go around. Forgiveness¬†and acceptance are¬†the prime suspects for my criminally large joyfulness.

I’m stepping up my game this month. Gratitude lists all the fuck over social media at least once a day, accompanied by topical memes and pictures of pandas (Google “panda daycare”– a surefire way to get you¬†really happy, really fast). I’m doubling my meetings this coming week (my attendance is more sparse than I would like it to be). I am calling, writing¬†or texting¬†at least one person in recovery every day. I am following up on a story I wrote about the Unite to Face Addiction Rally¬†by attending it¬†in DC October¬†4.¬†Lastly, I am “talking to Bowie” on a super frequent basis–i.e., praying a bunch for people and showing my flamboyant love to whomever is around to receive it. I am making myself more available, is the thing.

So let’s do this.

xo

Yes, I Accept.

Typically, whenever I utter the words, “yes, I accept,” there is a an unmistakable shit-eating grin on my face and a twinkle in my eye. ¬†The only times I have ever found these words worthy of elliciting my signature¬†response¬†apply to the following situations: A). I have been offered a badass job, B). Apple products require me to sign off on Terms and Conditions for my new iPhone, or C). Someone has asked me if I am willing to pay extra for guacamole or sour cream. ¬†These days, my acceptance threshold has reached new levels of discernment: I face (with equal enthusiasm) an undeniably¬†sobering reality, in addition to¬†an unrelenting desire to coax the joy out of myself, even if it kills me. ¬†(The “me” I reference here is Ego.)

What I have discovered in the last 48 hours–which have passed so effortlessly–is that acceptance has set me free. ¬†I have attended hundreds of meetings since March of 2014, where many of the best passages out of the appropriate alcoholic literature describe acceptance being the antidote to my life’s “recent unpleasantness” (as my grandmother Myra “Bunch” Morrisette used to say). ¬†One passage greets me with offensively bright pink highlighter each time I open my Big Book to read about how to get through the present time sober:

And acceptance is the answer to all¬†my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some¬†person, place, thing, or situation–some fact of my life–unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or¬†situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment…I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my¬†attitudes.

I find immense joy in the knowledge that resistance is futile. ¬†Sure, when my spicy Italian hot-headedness commands attention, I can spit expletives with the best of them. ¬†A friend once even referred to it as The Morrisette Charm Offensive (and offensive it was). ¬†I¬†like¬†being angry sometimes. However, the moment my Higher Power¬†nudged me toward the exotic realm of sobriety, I agreed to disarm by disengaging my anger. ¬†I made a commitment to myself and to all that is good and right in the world that I would no longer answer to the dictates of my own thoughts or emotions. ¬†I am now reaching a new stratosphere of consciousness where there exists a far greater power in humility–or as I like to call it, knowing when to just shut the fuck up–thoughts, feelings and all.

I have struggled with powerful questions about what surrender and acceptance mean for my feelings, because I am addicted¬†to feelings as much as I am addicted to my own¬†line of thinking. The best, most non-addicting thought that has crossed my mind thus far is simply,¬†“I don’t know”. ¬†I find that my higher power lives in me amidst uncertainty, as well as in the outside world, guiding me with an ever-pliant intuition. ¬†I see now that to accept how I feel at any given time requires a bit of consolidation rather than compounding. I¬†get¬†to feel angry; I don’t get to let that anger pervade all of my thoughts and actions with unconscious motivations…I am trying to stay sober, here, people.

And today, I accept that I no longer have the fight in me to resist joy. ¬†I spent the afternoon with an alarmingly irreverent friend of mine, riding the same buses that recently brought me to public tears, panic and¬†confusion…only to find that we did not stop laughing the entire 2+ hours we spent schlepping to West Hollywood, Silver Lake and onward to Glendale. ¬†I observed my anger, resentments and situational depression slowly deflate after a meditation meeting last night clear through to this afternoon, job-hunting with a friend rather than lumbering under the duress of my false ego’s stronghold.

So, yes.  Yes to less.  Less pressure, less unhappiness, less trivialities.  Yes, I accept these terms and conditions.

 

Photo courtesy of en.memory-alpha.org