It’s Not Easy.

It isn’t easy to love an addict.
It isn’t easy to hear the lies, to know that they’re lies, and to not be able to do a damn thing about it.
It isn’t easy to watch someone you love so hell-bent on self-destruction.
It isn’t easy to hear “I’m getting clean” again and again and to pray every. single. time. that this time, it’s for good.
It isn’t easy to have someone you love steal from you with seemingly no remorse.
It isn’t easy when they sober up temporarily and you see the shame in their eyes, see the weight of their sins dragging them back down into a vortex of self-medication and self-loathing.
It isn’t easy to see them desperately searching for the next $20, the next fix, the next party.
It isn’t easy to realise you can’t remember the last time they weren’t using.
It isn’t easy when you figure out that the only way to preserve yourself is to distance yourself from their battle, to support and love from afar, because getting too close hurts too much.
It isn’t easy to keep your distance, to stop loaning money, to stop enabling.
It isn’t easy not trying to fix the situation, to fix the addiction, to fix the person.
It isn’t easy to watch someone so young and promising throw their future away.
It isn’t easy to understand why they can’t “just” stop, can’t “just” get it together, can’t “just” get clean.
It isn’t easy to live each day of their sobriety along with them, fearing a relapse.
It isn’t easy. Not even in the slightest.
But an addict knowing that someone loves them no matter what… that’s what makes it worthwhile.

I’ve loved a lot of addicts. Some I’m still loving from afar. One helped make my child. Two I’ve known since they were born. One will hit 15 months clean this week. In fact, he’s the one I have to thank for introducing me to Macklemore’s “ Starting Over.” I’ve listened to this song probably 30 times since I first heard it last night. Every time, it gives me goosebumps and nearly brings me to tears.

The part that really sticks with me are the lines:

If I can be an example of getting sober
Then I can be an example of starting over.

Brother, I love you. I’m proud of you, of who you’ve become, and how far you have come in the past year and a bit. Never quit fighting because I know you can do this.

50 Questions To Free Your Mind

Just before the new year, I decided to commit to a Day Zero project – a list of 101 goals to achieve in 1,001 days. One of those goals was to complete the 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind. Since I’m making pretty decent progress so far (which will be addressed in a future blog post!), I figured I would take the time and get these taken care of today. 🙂

  1. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? Twenty-five. Old enough to know better, but still young enough to not give a damn.
  2. Which is worse, failing or never trying? Never trying is worse. Failure is just failure. Never trying eliminates the possibility of success.
  3. If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do? Sometimes we get caught up in what we’re “supposed” to think, “supposed” to do, “supposed” to feel… that we don’t make time for what really matters to us.
  4. When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done? I hope not. At my current rate, though, probably.
  5. What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world? Violence. Violence has begat more violence since the dawn of time. It’s an ongoing cycle and without society as a whole attempting to halt it, it is destined to continue.
  6. If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich? Something that involved cooking, reading, writing, spending time with my daughter and enjoying nature. If anyone knows what job that is, please let me know.
  7. Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing? When I started with this company, I was doing something I believed in. Now, I’m settling for what I am doing in order to keep my daughter’s life as it is.
  8. If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently? I’d be retired and would be traveling the world right now. I’d say “I’m sorry” more often, and make sure I told everyone important I love them every day. I’d eat dessert after every meal, and take the time to do what I enjoy with those I love.
  9. To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken? I go through periods where I am happy to let the current carry me, but for the most part, I have learned that I must be the master of my own ship. We cannot control our circumstances, but we must control how we react to them.
  10. Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things? I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so I tend to worry about doing things right.
  11. You’re having lunch with three people you respect and admire.  They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend.  The criticism is distasteful and unjustified.  What do you do? I hate seeing friends criticised, especially when it is unjustified, so I would have to politely interject, let the involved parties know that I am friends with the subject of their criticism and request that the subject of conversation be changed.
  12. If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be? Love yourself, your family, your friends, your enemies, strangers, nature… love everyone and everything with reckless abandon.
  13. Would you break the law to save a loved one? It would definitely depend on the circumstances. If it was to save them from unpleasant consequences (ie. Speeding ticket, arrest for shoplifting), I wouldn’t. To save someone’s life, or prevent serious injury or illness, I absolutely would.
  14. Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity? I’ve always believed that beauty is created in madness, so insanity and creativity go hand in hand.
  15. What’s something you know you do differently than most people? My approach to parenting is definitely not the status quo.
  16. How come the things that make you happy don’t make everyone happy? We all have different values. Some people value money more than I do, some people value their interpersonal relationships less. It’s all about priorities.
  17. What one thing have you not done that you really want to do?  What’s holding you back? I would love to travel extensively. Right now, financial obligations are the main thing holding me back, coupled with not being able to take my daughter with me, and not wanting to leave her behind.
  18. Are you holding onto something you need to let go of? There are things I would love to let go of, yes. However, I know that I will let go of them when I have healed enough, and the healing process must not be rushed.
  19. If you had to move to a state or country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why? I’d love to live somewhere hot, close to the ocean, and less technologically obsessed. My visit to Cuba 10 years ago was amazing, so let’s say Havana.
  20. Do you push the elevator button more than once?  Do you really believe it makes the elevator faster? I only press the button once, because I don’t see the point in pressing it more than that.
  21. Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton? I’d much rather be a joyful simpleton. There is so much beauty in the world, and one does not require intelligence to see it.
  22. Why are you, you? I am the sum of my experiences, coloured by my beliefs and limited by my own fears. No one else’s experiences, beliefs and fears will ever align perfectly with my own.
  23. Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend? In the past, I have not. As I have matured, though, I have become the friend I wish to have.
  24. Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you? Losing touch with a good friend nearby is much worse, because it feels like there is no barrier to contact except apathy.
  25. What are you most grateful for? I am most grateful for being blessed with a child who challenges my beliefs about life, encourages me to strive for better, helps me to grow stronger and more confident, and who loves with compassion beyond measure.
  26. Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones? Memories, both old and new, are so precious, I don’t know that I could ever choose between the two.
  27. Is it possible to know the truth without challenging it first? I think it is. For example, harming others is wrong. One doesn’t need to challenge that ideal to know it is true.
  28. Has your greatest fear ever come true? My greatest fear is losing my daughter… and, thank goodness, I have not had to deal with that.
  29. Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset?  Does it really matter now? I don’t remember, and no, it’s not important now.
  30. What is your happiest childhood memory?  What makes it so special? I have so many happy memories of childhood: reading with my mom, playing games outside with my dad and brother, crafting with my grandma, building a treehouse with my grandpa. They all are special because they involve quality time with people I love.
  31. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive? Sitting in nature, listening to the world around me is what makes me feel the most passionate and alive.
  32. If not now, then when? When the time is right, I will know.
  33. If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose? The only thing I have to lose is time and money… both of which I am in short supply of.
  34. Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever? Absolutely. There are souls that speak to mine, and I try to spend as much time as possible with those individuals.
  35. Why do religions that support love cause so many wars? Every religion wants to believe that it is the “right” one. If humanity could just accept others’ beliefs without prejudice, so much conflict could be avoided.
  36. Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil? Nothing is ever truly black or white, so, no, it is not possible to know without a doubt what is good and what is evil.
  37. If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job? No. Not immediately, anyway. Perhaps in a few years, when my investments had started to pay off.
  38. Would you rather have less work to do, or more work you actually enjoy doing?  Right now I have so little free time that I would love to have less work to do!
  39. Do you feel like you’ve lived this day a hundred times before? It’s a typical Thursday at work, so I do definitely feel like I’ve lived today a few times!
  40. When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in? I do this every day when I wake up to face a world with ideals so far from my own.
  41. If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today? My daughter, my parents, my brother, my grandparents, my aunt, my uncle, four of my cousins and my best friend.
  42. Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous? Not a chance. I look forward to being a kick-ass little old lady.
  43. What is the difference between being alive and truly living? Being alive is existing. Truly living is making the most of every second of your life.
  44. When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right? If I know it’s right, chances are I’m either doing it or taking steps to make it a reality.
  45. If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake? I’m afraid to make mistakes because they can be embarrassing, painful and otherwise uncomfortable.
  46. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you? If I knew nobody would judge me, I’d be more honest. I wouldn’t hide my opinion when discussing life with coworkers. I’d take more risks. I’d be much more authentically me.
  47. When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing? This morning, while meditating.
  48. What do you love?  Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love? I love so many things, but above all, my daughter. I try to ensure that my actions every day show her exactly how much.
  49. In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday?  What about the day before that?  Or the day before that? The last few days haven’t been memorable at all, so I probably won’t remember without re-reading my journal.
  50. Decisions are being made right now.  The question is:  Are you making them for yourself, or are you letting others make them for you? I make my own decisions.

Walking Away.

TRIGGER WARNING: RAPE/RAPE APOLOGISM/RAPE CULTURE

 

“Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

“Rape is not worth throwing away a friendship over.”

“Stop overreacting.”

“Don’t be a feminazi.”

These are a sample of the responses I received this weekend when someone I consider a friend made a callous rape joke on Facebook. I politely called him out, and was inundated with comments of similar ilk, as well as several other rape jokes and multiple excuses for this friend’s behaviour.

Frankly, dealing with this shit is getting exhausting.

I’m tired of telling people that rape jokes aren’t funny. I’m tired of being called a feminazi every time I call someone out on rape apologetics. I’m tired of having to personalise the discussion to “Would X be funny if it was in regard to your daughter/girlfriend/wife/etc?” in order to make my point. I’m tired of the victim-blaming. I’m tired of knowing that these people honestly and truly don’t give a shit about rape culture and aren’t going to, ever.

I’ve reached that difficult point where I want to cut these people out of my life. Their disdain for equal rights, their bigotry, their unchecked privilege, and their blatant misogyny colour every conversation we have. Yet, I haven’t been able to call it quits.

These are people I’ve known for 20+ years. We’ve been friends since before we were in school. They’ve been there through tough moments in my life, and I have, likewise, stayed by their side during suicide attempts, parents divorcing, heartbreaks, rehab, and so much more. These are people who’s opinions I have valued for years. When the giant shift in demeanour came, I thought it was a phase. The longer it lasted, the less I could convince myself that it wasn’t here to stay.

Now, I’m stuck here with friendships I would hate to end over a difference in opinion… but in the case of this opinion, it’s so toxic that it has irreparably damaged the fabric of our relationships. Is this worth trying to salvage?  Or will this just end with more frustration on my part and a general sense of animosity all around?

I try to live by the ideal of loving everyone, especially those who don’t deserve it, because they need it the most. It’s hard to resign yourself to knowing that sometimes loving someone means walking away… and sometimes loving yourself means walking away, too.

Five Lessons From Today’s Run (and a Wicked Smoothie Recipe)

The weather this weekend was finally conducive to getting out for a real run for the first time this year.

About 5 minutes into the first kilometer, I realised how out of shape I’d let myself get over the winter. Through the next 6km, I let my mind wander (as I love to do while working out) and learned the following 5 things:

  1. Not running during the winter kills me. My time is a full minute and thirty seconds slower than it was last fall. Running in rain and snow isn’t fun, so I’m going to have to come up with a (gasp!) gym plan for next winter. Yuck.
  2. I need to do more yoga. Maybe it’s just my body getting back into a rhythm, but I am sore in places I didn’t know running could affect. My once a week yoga workout is going to have to become a daily, or at least every-other-day thing.
  3. Somehow, Fall Out Boy found their way onto my running playlist. And they need to find their way off of it, right quick. Nothing ruins the mood of a good run like thinking “I hate this song” for 3 1/2 minutes straight. Twice.
  4. My lungs still hurt after a run. Maybe it’ll get better the longer I’m a non-smoker… but as of now, they were equally, if not more, painful compared to when I smoked a pack a day.
  5. There is nothing in the world that feels as amazing as a good workout. Seriously. Nothing.

Following my run, I made my favourite post-run snack:

Banana/Apple/Blackberry Smoothie (with Wheatgrass)
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/3 apple (I prefer Gala)
  • 1/4 cup blackberries (I used frozen, fresh are fine as well)
  • 1 oz wheatgrass (Fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup yogurt (I prefer Almande Vanilla)
  • 1/3 tbsp black chia seeds
  • 1/3 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1/3 tbsp hulled hemp seeds

Directions:

1. Chop up banana and apple into blender-friendly pieces. (My blender is old, so I make sure everything is in small chunks. If you have a Vitamix or equivalent, feel free to skip this step!)


2. Add blackberries and wheatgrass to blender containing apple and banana.



3. Add yogurt to blender.



4. Add seeds. (I keep a 1:1:1 mix of chia, flax and hemp seeds pre-mixed in the cupboard so it’s just a one tbsp scoop.)


5. Blend well.

6. Enjoy!

I generally keep a bunch of pre-made smoothie packs in the freezer so when I’m in a rush, I can just dump one in the blender, throw in the yogurt and seeds, blend and go. 🙂

Friday Five – March 15, 2013

This week’s Friday Five:

  1. What’s the longest line you’ve ever stood in? When I was ten, we went to Disneyland shortly after the Indiana Jones ride opened. The line was about 2 hours, and then the ride broke down…
  2. When did you have the most fun waiting in line? October 4th, 2012 when I went to see Rise Against with one of my best girls! Best line ever.
  3. What line, no matter how long or short it is, always drives you crazy? The line at the post office. It always takes forever.
  4. When did you last behave in a manner that was over the line? I have a short fuse and an inappropriate sense of humour… so probably sometime this week.
  5. What are some lines of poetry you can recite from memory?

Okay, we didn’t work, and all
memories to tell you the truth aren’t good.
But sometimes there were good times.
Love was good. I loved your crooked sleep
beside me and never dreamed afraid.

There should be stars for great wars
like ours. There ought to be awards
and plenty of champagne for the survivors.

Survival.

Some days, when my past feels really hard to deal with, I remind myself that simply getting up and facing the world makes me stronger than I ever thought possible, and gives a giant middle finger to those who have tried to hold me down.

I am not the person I was then. For better, for worse, everything in my life has changed. And that’s okay.

One foot in front of the other. One day at a time. I will make it through. I will survive. I will thrive, despite my demons.

We’ve all been sorry
We’ve all been hurt
But how we survive is what makes us who we are.
– Rise Against