Paleo Waffles – That Taste Good!

Paleo Waffles

Today, marks Day 2 of my “healthy eating-but tastes good” series!

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE waffles – and so does everyone else in my family! Both my husband and I grew up with waffles and our kids have now become waffle converts. I’m not a big pancake person (unless they’re my dad’s which are made in a cast iron pan with lots of butter), but I’ll take a good waffle any day (usually on the weekend with a big ol’ cup of coffee!).

And, just like the Paleo granola I featured in my last post, my husband’s aunt introduced me to these seriously scrumptious Paleo waffles. Originally, a Paleo pancake recipe from The Paleo Mom, she tried them in a waffle iron and they turned out great! The key ingredient in these are plantains, which sounded pretty strange at first, but provide the perfect texture for the waffles. Not every grocery store sells plantains, but I did find them at my local WinCo. Typically, any large grocery store will have them so just call around before you go shopping.

I like to put fruit on anything I can, and these are especially good with fresh or frozen berries. Costco sells a wonderful organic frozen berry mix that I love. Just put some in a bowl and defrost them in the microwave and they’re ready to go. Top it off with a little maple syrup and a side of bacon – and you might become a Paleo waffle convert too!

Ingredients:

  • 2 large green plantains (about 2 cups pureed)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1/8 tsp salt (a generous pinch)
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • Coconut cooking spray

Directions:

  • Peel plantains (I find it easier to quarter them before I peel them) and place pieces in your blender or food processor.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients to the blender or food processor and process until it forms a smooth batter (about 1-2 minutes).
  • Spray waffle iron with cooking spray and poor batter into waffle iron.
  • Let cook 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown.
  • Repeat with remaining batter, adding a little more cooking spray as needed.

One batch of batter will typically serve a family of four, however, if you have big eaters or want leftovers (they’re great heated up in the toaster), I would suggest making two batches.

Enjoy!

AMAZING Paleo Granola

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A few things before I tell you about this amazing recipe! First, considering that this isn’t a “foodie” blog, I find it funny that my most consistently viewed post continues to be my “Easy Peasy” Chicken Enchilada recipe thanks to Bembu – I’m forever grateful! Second, I LOVE food – all kinds, so I’m thrilled to have an outlet to share that love; and lastly, I regained my love for food and cooking when I got sober, which is truly a gift in my mind. While I don’t focus on writing about food, it’s always on my mind and once in awhile I’ll come across some recipes that I MUST share!

So, this week I’ve decided to change things up and do a little “healthy eating, but still tastes good” themed week of posts. And, on Friday I’ll end the week with a not-so-healthy look at my very favorite treat in honor of a special day. So, just roll with it and hopefully you’ll get something out of it along the way!

Okay, so onward to Paleo Granola. Please, please don’t let the name scare you away! I know the whole “Paleo” thing has been all the rage lately, and to be honest, I was a little skeptical at first. However, a number of family members and friends have had GREAT success with the Paleo lifestyle – and, really, that’s what it is – a lifestyle. While I admire those who can do strictly Paleo, I’m afraid that I enjoy a few non-Paleo items just too much. And, really, I already gave up alcohol, so in many ways I feel like I’ve done my “duty” in the area of giving up things for health-related reasons – at least, that’s the excuse I’m using for now! But, that still doesn’t mean I won’t incorporate some yummy recipes into our daily living.

Recently, we were visiting my husband’s aunt and uncle, who practice a Paleo lifestyle, and his aunt had made this wonderful – seriously-out-of-this-world granola. Disclaimer: I could live off of Greek yogurt, fruit and granola. I’m pretty sure I’ve had every variety of granola out there (hello, my parents were hippies!) and this was the BEST. Turns out it’s Paleo and comes from Stacy at Paleo Parents (oh, and my kids love it!). I prefer mine over plain Greek yogurt with a little honey and fruit, but you can eat it however you like – right out of the container it great too!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 C sliced almonds
  • 1 1/2 C unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 C walnuts, finely chopped or pureed
  • 1 C macadamia nuts, finely chopped or pureed
  • 1 C dried cranberries
  • 1/2 C fresh dates, diced
  • 1/2 C coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 C honey
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  • Combine almonds, coconut flakes, nuts and fruit in a bowl
  • Whisk together oil, honey and cinnamon
  • Pour oil-honey mixture over nuts and fruit and mix, mix well (hands work best)
  • Spread onto a single layer on lightly oiled baking sheet
  • Bake for one hour at 275 degrees, stirring every 15 minutes to prevent burning (this is important or it will have a burnt taste to it)

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Does Alcohol Make You Crazier?

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have suffered from anxiety, depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) from the time I can remember. For better or worse, it’s part of who I am. I wasn’t always comfortable admitting I had all these “issues,” but, eventually, you just have to accept it and do your best with what God gave you. Over the years, I have learned various ways to “deal” with my mental health issues – mainly counseling, medication and getting sober (that was a big one).

However, that wasn’t always the case. Drinking was the main way I used to cope – with everything. If I was feeling anxious, I would drink; if I was feeling depressed, I would drink; if I was feeling obsessive, I would drink. And, on and on. It was a nasty little cycle I had going on. Of course, I always thought that drinking would make it better; that a few drinks would make it all go away. I would FINALLY feel relaxed! Ha!

The thing is, I never even realized that those drinks could actually be making my mental health issues worse. So, you can imagine my surprise when I came across the new health guide created by treatment center, Yellowbrick, that states the “Ten Mental Health Reasons Not to Drink Alcohol.”

It was like the first time I took one of those “are you an alcoholic?” quizzes. As I read down the list, I mentally made a check note by each one: interrupts normal sleep patterns (check), leads to rebound anxiety (check), contributes to increased impulsivity (check, check), interferes with prescribed medication (is that why my Prozac wasn’t working like it should’ve?).

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I’m by no means telling “normal” people not to drink alcohol in moderation, but the reality is a huge percentage of our population suffers from anxiety and depression. If those people were more aware of the real effects drinking had on their mental health issues would that change their drinking patterns? Would they think twice about having that second, third or fourth drink? Maybe.

I’m a firm believer that knowledge is power and if we arm ourselves with the facts, we might be able to make different decisions in the future. Decisions that could potentially change the future of our health for the better.

This post was sponsored by Yellowbrick.

When the One You Love Is Gone

Grief Process

Yesterday afternoon, in between rain showers, I took a walk around our neighborhood. I walked quickly, knowing that I only had a short time before leaving to pick my son up from school. The fresh air felt good, and I let my thoughts drift as I walked and listened to my music.

I thought about some of the things that had been weighing heavy on my heart and how more than anything I wished I could see and talk to my mom. I wanted to hear her soothing voice, telling me everything was going to be okay. I just wanted her.

As I began to walk the steep part of the road close to our home, I found myself gasping for air. Tears started streaming down my face and as I tried to catch my breath, I began crying harder. A couple of cars drove towards me and I did my best to hold it together, walking as fast as I could to get home. Once home, I collapsed onto our entryway bench and sobbed. I wanted my mom more than anything, but she wasn’t there.

I went into the house, knowing I needed to find something. I needed to see her, hear her – something. In my bedroom, I keep a box filled with letters and cards I have received over the years. I hastily opened it, as if I were looking for some lost treasure. I sorted through the cards and letters, opening them up, looking for her distinctive handwriting. And, finally, I found them. Towards the bottom, I found the card she had sent to me when I was in high school and she was away taking care of my grandpa; the card she had given me when I graduated with my master’s degree; all the cards and letters she had written me over the years. And, they all expressed the same thing – how much she loved me, how proud she was of me and the happiness she wished for me.

And, I felt myself breathe. I felt my body relax because this is what I had been looking for. This is what I had needed from her. She wasn’t physically there to give it to me, but she was there in spirit and memory. Her words spoke what she couldn’t physically say to me. And, I knew everything was going to be okay. I knew I was truly loved. And, I knew that she had loved me more in those short 27 years of my life before she died, than most people experience in a lifetime.

I am so grateful for those years.

I don’t share this because I want you to feel sorry for me. Far from it. I share this because this is what grief looks like. No matter how much time has gone by, it sneaks up on you and punches you in the gut when you’re least expecting it. I share this because this is the type of thing I used to drink over. I didn’t want to feel the pain and sadness and loneliness. I didn’t want to feel anything.

But, now, I don’t have to drink. I don’t have to keep shoving my feelings down, deeper and deeper. Because, the truth is, they never go away. Those feelings are always there. Now, I let myself feel. I cry because I’m sad and pissed off that my mom’s not here.

And, then I find ways to feel close to her. Because, she’s always with me; I just have to open myself up and look for her. And, there she is – just waiting to tell me she loves me.

 

 

 

Drink – A Book Review

A quick note to my fellow recovery bloggers and aspiring writers: if you haven’t yet tried it, I suggest using Grammarly’s plagiarism checker because you never know what us drunks are capable of (kidding!) – and it’s way more fun to read original stuff!

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As many of you know, I love recovery-related books. Before I ever got sober, I was reading books about people who had been there, done that. At the time, I secretly had concerns over my own drinking, but it would be months before I admitted I had a problem. And, then when I finally did get sober, I had this overwhelming need to know that there were other “normal” people like me out there who had gone through the same thing. That was a very lonely time for me and the voices that came through the pages of those books took away some of that loneliness and gave me hope.

Ann Dowsett Johnston’s recent book, “Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol” is one of those books that give us hope. But, not only does she give us hope by sharing her own experience with alcoholism and recovery; she gives us knowledge with her in-depth research regarding what has truly become an epidemic in our culture, stating, “We need to have a robust discussion about this issue: How does alcohol play out in your community? In terms of suicides? Kids being abused? Violence? Teens in emergency rooms? Are we having an adult discussion? I don’t think so.”

As I read about Johnston’s own experience with alcoholism, I found myself nodding my head, thinking, “that’s exactly how I felt!” Sometimes it’s hard for me to put into words what my alcoholism was like, but Johnston explains it perfectly when she says,”Suddenly, you realize booze has moved in. He’s in your kitchen. He’s in your bedroom. He’s at your dinner table, taking up two spaces, crowding out your loved ones. Before you know it, he starts waking you up in the middle of the night, booting you in the gut at a quarter to four. You have friends over and he causes a scene. He starts showing you who’s boss. Booze is now calling the shots.”

One of the main differences in Johnston’s book compared to other recovery-related books that I have read is that Johnston takes it a step further and really addresses the core issues related to drinking, women and our culture. She raises key questions, such as “why are we aware of the dangers related to trans fats and tanning beds, and blissfully unaware of the more serious side effects associated with our favorite drug?” And, most importantly in my opinion, she takes aim and questions the motives behind the alcohol industry, media and politics and how they all work together to feed this growing rise of drinking and alcoholism among women. Giving the history behind the alcohol industry to attract more women, she describes the development of “alcopop” or “chick beer,” and I couldn’t help but be reminded of the loads of Zima, Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Smirnoff Ice I used to drink.

Johnston urges us to educate ourselves about the serious risks of drinking and to start having real conversations about it. “When it comes to alcohol, we live in a culture of denial. With alcoholics representing just a tiny fraction of the population, it’s the widespread normalization of heavier consumption that translates to serious trouble.”

I often think about what I’ll tell my kids about drinking. While I would love to tell them to never touch it and avoid it like the plague, I know that’s not realistic. But, I will tell them the risks. I will tell them my story and how easy it is to get caught up in a culture that normalizes drinking. I will tell them they have a history and they need to be very, very careful. I will tell them that no matter what, they never HAVE to drink. And, I will tell them that alcohol changes you. It changes the person God intended you to be.

Johnston’s book inspires me. It inspires me to tell my story and do my part in telling the truth about drinking.

As a side note, I was not paid for this review – I simply liked the book. However, this post was sponsored by Grammarly.

And, God Said Be Still

Snow

On the 7th of this month, God said, be still. He said stop your busyness, throw away your to-do list, spend time with your family and just be. How did He do this? He sent snow. Lots and lots of snow. More snow than we’ve had in over five years. And, then He sent freezing rain. And, we were stuck. We were snowed in for three days. And, we were together.

On the first day, in the midst of my kids arguing, I said, God I don’t know if I can do this. And, I went downstairs (we have a daylight basement) and locked the door. I took some deep breathes and I prayed for patience. And, God said, you’ve got this. And, I did. That’s the thing about my God, He’s usually right.

The next day, it snowed a lot. As I stood in the kitchen cooking a big breakfast, looking out at the snow falling, I felt peace. Peace in the simplicity of a morning where we weren’t rushing out the door; or barking orders at each other. Peace in my children’s laughter and excitement over the new fallen snow. Peace in sitting with my husband, drinking our coffee and just being.

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We played, built snowmen and sledded down my in-law’s driveway. We didn’t need fancy sleds. Boxes worked just fine. We used my husband’s childhood sled to walk around the neighborhood, visiting friends along the way. It could have been anywhere; at any point in time. We were just a family – sledding, laughing and being together.

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Sledding

And, God said, Chenoa, I know you’re not a big board game player, but you’re going to play a game as a family, because, really, what else do you have to do that’s more important? And, so we played a game of Chutes and Ladders and we laughed. And, I said, okay God, that was fun but I’m pretty sure that game is rigged because every time you get to the top, you have to slide down one of those damn chutes and it’s impossible to win. And, He laughed, because He knows it’s true.

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We baked cookies, watched movies, did puzzles, danced and sang (I’m pretty sure my husband and I could both sing that “Frozen” song word for word). And, I didn’t worry about running out of wine – because before, that’s what I would’ve worried about. Because, before, that’s how I “coped” with my kids. Now, the only thing I worried about running out of was my coffee and Prozac. Because, God knows I need both of those to function. Yes, my God has a sense of humor.

And, in the silence of the snow, God said, this was good. This was good because it made you be still. That’s what I love about my God. He knows what I need, when I need it most.

People Are Finally Talking

Keep Living

Ever since the tragic death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, the media has been saturated with stories and articles about the rise of heroin use and addiction. For better or worse, it takes someone of means and notoriety to get people talking about something that has been going on for awhile now. Being part of the recovery community, it’s something I see day in and day out. It’s nothing new and whether people want to believe it or not, it’s everywhere. It’s not just the junkie in the abandoned house that’s shooting up anymore – it’s the rich kid down the street, the housewife with the Range Rover and the businessman at the local coffee shop. If you think otherwise, you’re kidding yourself.

Ever since federal and state regulations made it harder for people to get their hands on prescription drugs, people have been turning to heroin because it has the same effect (it’s an opiate), it’s easy to get and it’s affordable.

Like all addiction, heroin addiction is an epidemic. And, just when you think it can’t touch you, it does.

Seeing the recent news on Justin Beiber’s run-ins with the law and substance abuse issues, it makes me wonder what’s next for him. Realistically, it’s only a matter of time before he goes from alcohol, pot and pills to harder stuff – if he already isn’t there. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but the likelihood of it happening is pretty high considering the circumstances.

The thing is, our society does a really good job talking about addiction and substance abuse issues, yet we fail to talk about the solutions and treatment options. The media loves to report on the latest statistics, celebrity run-ins and even death, but how often do they follow that up with ways people can get help? They don’t, which is why when I was asked to promote Advanced Health and Education, an addiction treatment center in New Jersey, I didn’t hesitate.

As a premier New Jersey drug and alcohol treatment center, Advanced Health and Education “provides comprehensive and effective counseling services to adults and adolescents who are experiencing addiction to alcohol, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine or prescription drugs.” Rehab and treatment has almost become a joke among many, who view it as a luxury getaway, when in fact it saves lives.

Treatment centers like Advanced Health and Education not only offer people a reprieve from alcohol and drug addiction; they address emotional issues and teach people the skills to lead a fulfilling life without the crutch of alcohol and drugs. The only way we can stop the cycle is if we address the underlying issues that drive our addictions. Treatment centers can help do this and get us on the road to recovery.

Unfortunately, many people rule out treatment and rehab programs because of the cost, however, many insurance companies cover alcohol and drug treatment in their plans. Also, many treatment centers, like Advanced Health and Education, offer scholarships and financial aid. Look at it this way: think about the time and money you currently spend or spent on getting and using drugs and alcohol. I guarantee treatment is less and you’ll actually get something positive out of it.

As Hoffman’s good friend and fellow recovering addict, Aaron Sorkin notes when talking about Hoffman’s death: “He didn’t die because he was partying too hard or because he was depressed — he died because he was an addict.”

It was reported that Hoffman spent 10 days in rehab after relapsing on drugs after over 20 years sober. A typical rehab and treatment program lasts 30-60 days. Would Hoffman have lived if he would’ve stayed longer? I don’t know, but maybe.

Addiction is nothing to take lightly. If you or someone you know needs help, find a treatment center and go – it could be a matter of life or death.

Betty Draper Gets Sober – A Mad Men Party

Mad Men Party

Disclaimer: For the most part, I write about my recovery from alcoholism. But, I also write about my life in general. Things I’m passionate about, DIY projects, book reviews – and even parties. When I first got sober, I never thought I’d be able to go to another drinking party again, let alone host one. And, at first I didn’t. I was very careful about where I went and the situations I put myself in. As I’ve gotten further along in my sobriety, I’ve come to know what I can do and what I can’t do. What I feel comfortable with and what I don’t. Wine was my thing, so I stay away from wineries, wine tasting, sip and shop events and parties where wine is the main event. Although my husband still drinks around me, he chooses not to drink wine at home – I think mostly out of respect for me. I don’t keep wine in our house and, honestly, I don’t sit too close to someone who’s drinking wine. The smell still gets to me. With that being said, I don’t have a problem being around people who are drinking – socially and responsibly. It’s different for each person in recovery. Some people can’t be around drinking at all, or choose not to have drinking in their home. The key is finding what works for you without fear or embarrassment of what others will think. It’s not their life.

Up until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t hosted a “real” party since getting sober. But, with my husband turning the big 4-0, I figured it was time! We absolutely love the show “Mad Men” and had been talking about having a “Mad Men” theme party for awhile and what better excuse than a 40th birthday?!

So, with the decision made I put on my party planning hat and got busy! We kept it small, wanting to capture that quintessential cocktail party atmosphere. I created simple invites with silver cardstock and a velum overlay tied together with a red ribbon (I forgot to take a pic). On the invite, I requested that everyone “dress the part.”

With a little help from Google, I found some great ideas for décor and favors. For those who aren’t familiar, “Mad Men” takes place in the early 60’s, so I thought it would be fun to create favors using 60’s candy. I found a great online store called Old Time Candy where I was able to order a “decade box” of 60’s-style candy – how cool is that?!

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And, candy cigarettes because no “Mad Men” party would be complete without some smokes.

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For the favors, I used some simple red bags, some tags, a thank you stamp and a little ribbon (all things I already had) and divided the candy into ten individual bags. I think they turned out pretty cute!

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To set the stage for the party, I scoured our local Good Will for crystal ashtrays, serving platters and bowls. I wanted to find a classic rotary dial phone, but to my surprise they were out – they’re “retro” now which means they’re cool (which also means I’m getting old!). On the day of, I set the ashtrays around the house with a box of candy cigarettes nearby and a classic book of matches. Of course, my kids (5 and 7) were very confused by all the “smokers” in the house.

My husband was in charge of the bar area – which I was happy to delegate to him. Fortunately, we already had some pretty cool vintage cocktail shakers and barware. He stocked the bar with a number of items, so guests would have a variety to choose from. And, of course, we had some cocktail books on hand in case anyone wanted Don Draper’s favorite – the Old Fashioned.

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And, it wouldn’t be a “Mad Men” party without classic Coke in the bottle and Heineken (the featured beer on the show).

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And, for the martini drinkers, I brought out my grandparent’s olive green martini glasses. If those glasses could talk, oh the stories they would tell!

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Now, for the food! When I think 60’s cocktail party, I think cheese balls and pigs-n-blankets. You know, the really good stuff. Luckily, our local grocery store and Costco had all the fixings for a true 60’s spread! I also included sweet-n-sour meatballs, a cracker, cheese and salami tray, veggies with classic ranch dressing, artichoke dip, mini egg rolls and a dessert tray with a variety of bite-size brownies and cookies. Ta Da!

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Our guests came dressed to impress!

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Cheers to great friends and fun times!

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And, I’m happy to report this Betty Draper is still sober and loving it!

Oh, and just for kicks – because sometimes you’ve just got to laugh.

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Thanks for stopping by!

Tip Me Tuesday_Button

Some Much Needed Sunshine

Sunshine Award

I love blogging awards because 1. It’s humbling to know others are actually reading your stuff (and like it) and 2. It gives you a chance to pay it forward and recognize others for their ability to reach out and touch you through their writing and stories.

I’m honored and humbled that Tracy over at Wanderlust nominated me for the Sunshine Award. Thanks Tracy – I could use a little sunshine right now in the midst of this cold! If you aren’t familiar with Tracy’s blog, stop by and check it out. Not only is she an AMAZING photographer, she has over 20 years of sobriety, which to me sounds like an eternity! I’ve found very few people in the blogging world who have that kind of sobriety so I consider her a true gem.

As with any award, there are a few guidelines. Here’s how it goes:

To accept the award, the awardee must do the following:

  • Display the award on your blog.
  • Announce your win with a post and thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Present 10 deserving bloggers “who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.”
  • Link to the awardees and let them know of the nomination.
  • List 10 interesting things about yourself.

Okay, 10 interesting (if you can call them that) things about myself.

  1. Growing up, I wanted to be a high school English teacher.
  2. I never, ever thought I would end up settling down in Oregon. But, now, I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I love it.
  3. I used to think I really liked big cities, but as I get older, I realize that I don’t like them at all. And, I’m okay with that.
  4. My dream is to live on a little piece of land with room for a BIG garden and chickens.
  5. I have a thing for cowboy boots and love everything country – music, rodeo, Americana, etc. I think it has something to do with my Texas roots!
  6. I could never run for a political office because there are too many pictures of me topless and inhaling (not necessarily at the same time). Unfortunately, when you drink like I did, you do really stupid things that you end of regretting. Ugh. Oh, and if you happen to have any of those pictures PLEASE burn them!
  7. I used to think that being a church-going Christian meant you had to have really big hair and wear lots of makeup. Not so! God loves me just the way I am!
  8. I got my first (and only) tattoo on my 33rd birthday. It’s a naked woman sitting on a crescent moon, which is the same one my mom had on her ankle. It’s taken from a necklace she used to wear when I was little and I treasure it. It’s my way of holding her memory close to me – always.
  9. I’m thinking about getting my nose pierced again. Shhh…don’t tell my husband!
  10. I love, love, love strong coffee. Hot. In a big mug. Preferably by a big, roaring fire.

Okay, now for the good stuff! I absolutely love the blogging community and have come across so many amazing and talented people. I truly admire those who are willing to take a chance and expose themselves by sharing their innermost thoughts and experiences with total strangers. Not all of them are recovery sites, but they all speak to me in a special way and give me diverse views on living life. I encourage you to check out their sites.

http://thesimplecountrylife.com/

http://soberidentity.com/

http://beefandsweettea.com/

http://mendedmusings.com/

http://mentalrollercoaster.com/

http://soberboots.com/ (Heather is taking a little break from blogging, but she’s awesome so I had to include her.)

http://sobercourage.com/

http://drunkydrunkgirl.wordpress.com/

http://emotionaldrinkingdotcom.wordpress.com/

http://onetoomany1.wordpress.com/

It Hasn’t Happened…Yet

Speak Truth

My voice was shaking as I stood at the podium and stared across the sea of faces. A friend had asked me earlier in the week to share my story as part of a panel at a local recovery center and I was starting to wonder if I had made a mistake. It’s one thing writing about my story from the comfort of my own home, but standing in front of others and sharing the details of my life is a different thing all together. But, at this point in my life and recovery, if something makes me nervous or uncomfortable, it’s usually a sign I need to take the plunge and face my fear – this was one of those times.

As I began to speak, my body relaxed and I continued to share my story with those in the room. I was the first to speak and was relieved when I was finished. As the other speakers followed me and shared their stories, I started to feel a dangerous sense of superiority. Instead of focusing on our similarities, I started focusing on our differences, which is a really bad place for this alcoholic to go. Out of four women and one man, I was the only one who hadn’t spent time in jail or prison; I was the only one who hadn’t gotten a DUI; I was the only woman who hadn’t had her children taken away from her; I was the only one who hadn’t been addicted to pills or meth; and I’m pretty sure I was the only one sitting up there with a graduate degree. So, immediately my mind went to, “Wow, I was never THAT bad,” “Boy, compared to them I really had it together.” HA! And, this people is the crazy, insane mind of an alcoholic! And, with that I found all those old judgments, insecurities, fears and better-than-yous coming back in vengeance – the same stuff that made me drink.

And, from there, for only a slight second, my mind went to that very scary place where I started questioning if I really had been THAT bad. And, then with one quick interaction with the woman sitting next to me, I remembered that, yes, I was THAT bad. During a short break we had started chatting and I joked that my story looked pretty uneventful compared to hers, and she looked at me and said, “But, yours is just as important because not everyone is going to relate to mine.” No, I hadn’t been arrested or spent time in prison, I hadn’t gotten a DUI, I hadn’t lost my children, I hadn’t lost my marriage, I hadn’t been addicted to pills or meth – YET. None of those things happened to me, but my life, as I knew it, had become completely and totally unmanageable because of one cunning and baffling reason – alcohol. And, I’m convinced that if I hadn’t stopped drinking when I did, those things would’ve happened to me – and maybe worse.

As I sat there and looked out at the other men and women in the room with their family members sitting by their sides, I wondered if anyone related to my story. Did anyone see the similarities or were they simply focused on the differences? Because, until we can stop looking at our differences and instead focus on what we have in common, there will be no hope.

After the discussion was over, and I was signing out, two women came up to me and thanked me for sharing my story. They saw themselves in me and could relate to much of what I said. While both older than myself, they found the similarities and it gave them hope.

Despite my initial reservations, I plan to keep going back and sharing my experience, strength and hope.

I’m here because others chose to share their stories with me. It’s my responsibility to pass it on. That’s what we do.