Archive | November 2015

The Other 20%

alive-934654__180There’s something going on with me that I can’t quite put my finger on. I have a lot of things I’ve committed to moving forward. Some are events already paid for, others are goals and plans for my future. It starts this week with my plans to attend a book launch in Los Angeles on Thursday evening. This is the first time I’ve attended anything like it. Something I am doing alone because I don’t really know anyone in my personal life who would be interested in attending.  There will be incredible people there, women I want to meet. Women who are living and leading lives I admire because they are artists. They are writers, actresses, playwrights, editors, yoga teachers, retreat and workshop facilitators.

But before Thursday, something else happens. On Wednesday, November 18th, I will wake up with 19 years of sobriety and recovery. In the 12 step program, we call them birthdays or re-birthdays. I’m having lunch that day with co-workers that I consider good friends, but we haven’t had much time to get together of late. We thought my 19-year sobriety date would be as good an occasion as any. Friday night and Sunday morning, I will have tokens presented to me at two different meetings. It’s a little ceremony where I get a cake, the group sings Happy Birthday, a trusted friend says hopefully honest, encouraging things about me and then I give a little speech about my sobriety. The gist of most speeches follows a general format of “What it was like”, “What happened” and “What it’s like now”. It is often a humorous and emotional way of expressing my experience, strength, and hope. I’ve lived in my area for 14 years now and I’m considered an “old-timer” because of how much sobriety I have. There won’t be many surprises as most already know my “story”. Although the great thing about sobriety is a lot can change in a year. It certainly has for me and I’m anticipating, hell I’m facilitating even more change for the coming year as well.

My 18-year token from last year

My 18-year token from last year

Let’s try to get to the bottom of what’s happening inside me, shall we? Maybe fear, but it doesn’t feel that way. There’s numbness, some mild dread and since I’m being honest, there’s worry and anxiety. Ok, now we’re getting closer to identifying what’s really going on. I suppose mild worry and anxiety are better than outright fear. There are a lot of other goals/plans that I’m not mentioning because they’ve been written about previously, or they’re new and not finalized or fully committed to. I think I’m having some trouble adjusting or reconciling who I am. Or who I’ve become? I don’t understand how that can be possible or WHY it’s rearing its ugly head now. They say we can get squirrelly before a sobriety birthday. But I don’t necessarily feel squirrelly.

I used to be afraid to show up for my life to the point that I wouldn’t even make goals or plans. I would simply exist in misery well hidden from myself and others. And if I somehow made plans or goals, I made sure to sabotage them or just withdraw even more from life. I know that isn’t going to happen given the woman I’ve grown into today. I still love the Woody Allen quote “Showing up is 80% of life”. I seem to have the “showing up” part well in hand. Perhaps it’s the other 20% that worries me? The 20% that indicates how I show up and what am I bringing of myself when I do. Huh, so this may be a simple crisis of confidence in the new evolved me? What if they don’t like me? What if I don’t live up to my plans and goals? What if I fail?

Well, all I can do is keep moving forward and have faith in my path, where it’s led me so far. Where God, the Universe and amazing guides/teachers have led me. Where friends, family, co-workers and new acquaintances have encouraged me. Because if I can overcome my fear of the 80%, then I can have faith in continuing to develop the 20%. I mean, that’s all there is to do right? Keep moving forward faithfully.courage-853466__180

 

This entry was posted on November 17, 2015. 3 Comments

That Which Unites Us

12240871_1060899537276434_5894645063716926897_oThat which unites us is far greater than what divides us. Our common humanity is more powerful than any inhuman acts. Yet there is that small, fanatical fraction of us that is convicted in their cause of division, destruction and death. And let’s be clear, radical terrorists of any nationality or cause are still human. I can’t begin to understand, much less comprehend what it takes to systematically drive a human or group of humans to hate so unequivocally. I agree with President Obama, these attacks are not just against Paris and Parisians. These attacks are against our collective humanity, our collective freedoms, and securities.

Their weapons are bombs. Human suicide bombers, airliners piloted into buildings, explosives designed to destroy, maim, kill and strike terror. It’s become so commonplace, knowing it can and will happen anywhere, anytime and in unimaginable ways. Again, I can’t begin to answer the question of why this particular time in history has given rise to terrorists and mass shootings on such a horrific scale. I just can’t and maybe I don’t need to. Because I believe an unintended consequence, of their acts of terror and violence, is a drawing together of the rest of humanity. In our disbelief, in our grief, in our compassion, we are drawn together as one.

Here is what I remember in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks… I felt like an American. I felt like a part of this country in a way that went beyond goosebumps watching fireworks on the 4th of July or standing with my hand over my heart listening to the national anthem before a sporting event or National pride every 4 years at Olympic outcomes. I know after the Virgina Tech and Sandy Hook Elementary shootings, we as a nation grieved together.

As social media continues to evolve and shrink the globe with its proximity and immediacy, it’s been the main facilitator in connecting us at this time in our modern history. It unites us to other parts of the world and other cultures, showing us our commonality more than differences. If we are willing to see the similarities. Who doesn’t love, appreciate and heart melt over a smiling, loving baby? Who doesn’t see or feel the unifying realization of family, laughter, love, music, faith and gratitude for what one has? This, our collective light, love, compassion, hope, passion will overcome darkness, fear and hatred every time. Every. Damn. Time. No matter the cost. 10984638_998888616870859_7999765687922613027_n

As I cry and grieve over the stories and images coming out of Paris, I am still grateful for my freedom and right to choose hope and compassion. I am grateful that I’ve already chosen to live from my heart, which can really hurt on days like this. But then all I have to do is reach out to those around me in my personal life or on social media. To see the light, the love, the compassion, the hope. These are our weapons and I wield them gratefully.

Namaste and God Bless Paris and her children. God Bless us all, even those trapped in their hatred and fear.

This entry was posted on November 14, 2015. 1 Comment

Serendipity And Synchronicity

star-520441__180This particular stretch of my life has been amazing so far. Little acts of bravery seem to lead to other slightly bigger acts that connect me to incredible people and opportunities. I started following a wonderful woman on Facebook named Jennifer Pastiloff, who is a yoga teacher and writer that facilitates manifestation workshops and retreats all over the world. This summer she posted an essay contest on Facebook to win a scholarship to one of her yoga and writing retreats. 70 other writers and I submitted our essays. I was one of the fortunate among six writers to win a scholarship! I will be attending her New Year’s Ojai Manifestation Retreat December 30th-January 1st. When Jennifer posted the announcement of my essay, I was embraced by a community of writers, a few who promptly sent me Facebook friend requests which I accepted.

Two months ago, Jennifer mentioned she was proud to have an essay included in a book coming out called ‘Shades of Blue’. It was a small mention so I thought it was cool and made a note to keep an eye out for the release. It turns out the book contained essays from 34 writers and was edited by Amy Ferris. Amy was one of the women who had “friended me” on Facebook and as the book launch got closer she started posting a lot more about it. It contained personal essays on depression, suicide, mental illness and feeling blue. I have some very personal experiences with the subject so I pre-ordered it from Amazon and read it in 3 days. Amy asked everyone to please help “blow up” Facebook with posts about the book on the day it was to launch. Since it launched on a Tuesday, I promised I would review Shades of Blue as my Tuesday blog (something I’d never done) and put a link on how to purchase the book http://buildyourownbrave.com/2015/09/29/shades-of-blue-writers-on-depression-suicide-and-feeling-blue-edited-by-amy-ferris/ . Amy loved my review/blog post so much that she re-posted the link to her page! It led to two of the essay writers commenting on my blog and another one also re-posting my blog to another page. That lead to more Facebook friend requests, one, in particular, from a writer in the book, Beth Bornstein Dunnington. Beth lives in Hawaii, puts on plays and writers workshops.

Lately, I’ve been focusing a great deal of my energy and time trying to figure out how I can afford to become a Life Coach. Not just afford it financially, but what certification program to get into and to narrow down what kind of Life Coach I will be. Well, a path and a plan has presented itself due to tremendous help and suggestions from my yoga teacher and another spiritual soul sister at work. That has given me a huge sense relief. But then I had a vague, nagging sense that I’d been neglecting my development as a writer. After all, I did decide I would be a Life Coach and a writer, so what was I doing with my writing besides my blog?

Cue the serendipity and synchronicity of this past weekend. I took my laptop so I could blog on the road. I also used it to keep up with Facebook. The Hawaiian writer/editor, Beth Bornstein Dunnington, posted she was hosting a Big Island Writer’s Workshop in Van Nuys CA on January 22, 2016 because two other workshops she was hosting at the same venue on January 23rd & 24th had filled up so quickly. I saw this post at about 2 a.m. Saturday morning after I’d just finished posting my blog. I was excited and scared, then dismissive of signing up for it. I’d never attended a writers workshop and it sounded intimidating. I went to bed and got a few hours of sleep. I woke up later Saturday morning to Beth actually tagging me in the post for the workshop asking me to sign up because she would love to work with me! Holy crap on a cracker, right? I went back and forth with her a little about my trepidation. Another writer came into the conversation to encourage me and I signed up. Wow. That was Saturday morning.

Sunday morning I woke up and saw some notifications on my phone so I went on Facebook and saw that someone who’s page I followed was doing a Periscope broadcast with a special guest. I knew the special guest had to be another woman I follow and had some interaction with on Facebook so I clicked on the link. Becky Vollmer of You Are Not Stuck and Scott Stabile were doing a live broadcast! They had done a workshop together called Get Unstuck and Just Love this past Saturday in St. Louis and they were talking about how wonderful it was. Periscope is interactive with the audience able to type into the presenters, so Becky and Scott were also responding to some of the live posts from viewers. I asked them in all capital letters to please bring their workshop to Southern California next year. Becky pointed at the screen and said “Look what Tammi typed, come to California” and Scott looked down, smiled and said “It will be early next year”. WHOA, now I  have another event/workshop to look forward to.

Lastly, The Los Angeles book launch of Shades of Blue is November 19th and 11 of the 34 writers including Jen Pastiloff, Beth Bornstein Dunnington, and Amy Ferris will be reading excerpts of their essays! There will be musicians performing and it is co-sponsored by organizations committed to shedding much-needed light and attention on depression, suicide, and mental illness. I bought a ticket the day they were available. I will be sitting front row, seat 6. I am also hoping to meet each of the three amazing women who have reached back to me when I’ve reached out to them. They have each assured me, we will meet. hands-1022028__180

I’m so damn grateful to God for where my life is headed and for the people he continues to place on my path.

This entry was posted on November 12, 2015. 2 Comments

Three Trips To Vegas

As I wrapped up my weekend before heading back, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed my time away with my friend.  I’m coming home with almost half the money I brought with me which is a definite plus and I was smart enough to not take my debit and credit cards. On our last night, Dawny (Weezer) and I (Miss Clairee) went downtown for the Freemont Street Experience and it was fabulous. We danced for hours to a fantastic Reggae cover band from Hawaii of all places. We walked Freemont taking in all the characters and the hourly light shows. Afterwards we got back to the timeshare, put on our pyjamas and indulged in some delicious desserts before putting our heads to pillows. Actually after Dawny went to her room, I turned on the fireplace and put my feet up for a spell to reflect. I was thinking this was only my third trip to Vegas and each time has only gotten better.

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Although in all honesty it wouldn’t have taken much to beat my first trip there. It was a “honeymoon” in Vegas where we borrowed my mother-in-law’s new Hyundai for a turnaround trip from San Diego. We arrived late in the night and I spent most of the time in the hotel bed with menstrual cramps while the groom was downstairs gambling. He let me drive back to San Diego and I got us pulled over for speeding. He convinced the CHP officer that we were on our honeymoon so we got cited for seat belt violations instead of speeding. Those were the highlights I remembered in January of 1988. Yes, I know looking back it certainly did not bode well for the marriage but we were young, had just had a baby and we thought we were in love.

The second trip was two years ago in August. I had the bright idea on the way to lunch in a car full of work friends to celebrate someone’s 40th birthday in Vegas. Well, these were the kind of friends that made things happen! Sandy had a timeshare we could use, we all had credit cards and disposable income so an adventure was born! We flew out for a long weekend to celebrate the “baby” of the group turning 40. Now that was a fun (and expensive) trip! We stayed at a timeshare where we floated on a lovely lazy river surrounding the pool during the day. The main birthday event was a strip show called The Men of Sapphire who picked us up in a limo bus and we had VIP seating. It was quite fabulous and I received my first and second private dances. I’d arranged one for myself while my girls surprised me with another one. Our last night we saw an adult hypnotist show at The Paris that was hysterically funny, then went downtown to enjoy the Freemont Street Experience.

I suppose the fireside reflection caused me to think of how I felt after each of those trips. The first one left me feeling a little bit heartbroken and disillusioned because it was nothing like any honeymoon I’d ever hoped to have.

The second one left me feeling like your supposed to feel after a trip with a bunch of girls in Vegas: exhausted and a little bit broke financially (ha ha!) but totally worth it. I mean we had some fun stories to tell in the office when we got back!

But this last trip was the best because it was fun, relaxing and refreshing, which was unexpected given we drove up Friday and back Sunday. I’m not sure I had any expectations really. Although I did admit to Dawny I had some concerns about traveling with a friend because it doesn’t always work out well. However, we proved to be a winning combination! I want to leave you with one final picture of Dawny and me that is not from Vegas. It was taken the day we dubbed ourselves “Weezer and Miss Clairee”. A day she dared me to run through a fountain in Balboa Park and after I did, she grabbed my hand and made me run through it again, this time with her! When I look at it, I wonder how I could have ever had any concern about traveling with her. 11144416_10207427958719412_3940625614056302555_n

This entry was posted on November 10, 2015. 1 Comment

Everybody Needs A Little Time Away

I’m taking my blog on a road trip to VEGAS BABY with my girl Dawny! She’d asked me some time ago if I wanted to come to Vegas with her on the weekend after her birthday. She has a friend who offered the use of their timeshare condominium for the weekend as a gift. I have to say it has been really fun and nice, once we got going on the road as evidenced by the picture below. I say that because I felt like a hot, disorganized mess in the days leading up to the trip and even worse the day of. Every day I had a list of specific items, chores or things I needed to do and each day I couldn’t get it all done. Obviously I got all the important things done, but it still left me feeling stressed and vaguely inadequate. Does anyone else go through that before a trip?12066023_10208231317922890_2165247940276102540_nThe drive took us about five and a half hours with traffic. It’s a beautiful thing to be on the road with a friend that you can talk to about everything or nothing at all and just enjoy the comfortable companionable silence. In the grand scale of things, we’ve only known each other five years but we pretty much hit it off from the beginning. Being around us is like have a front row seat to the Tammi and Dawn show, or Queenie and Dawny as we affectionately call each other, having no qualms informing perfect strangers of our nicknames. Some days, like on this road trip, we refer to ourselves as Miss Clairee and Weezer, an older, much lighter, wackier version of Thelma & Louise, minus Brad Pitt, killing a man and driving off a cliff. She enjoys country music and I really don’t mind listening to country stations when I’m driving. It’s actually a great genre for road trips.

The timeshare has  a very funky Vegas chic decor with two separate bedrooms and bathrooms. It has a full kitchen, dining area, living room and a washer/dryer in the unit. It’s seriously impressive, the perfect weekend getaway. 12191476_10208232406150095_9113207088780984397_n 10984241_10208232404670058_7270738166820344977_n 12190061_10208232405030067_5989170268689636304_n 12196345_10208232405470078_2890456285929509997_n

Both of us are PROFOUNDLY grateful we are passed the stage of playing dress up, going to clubs, trying to pick up guys, walking around in high heels and tight clothing! We went to the Encore/Wynn Casino tonight because I wanted one of their snazzy Red Cards with gold lettering! I won a little more money than I took to the casino and we went out to eat afterwards. Tomorrow we are going to listen to the Holiday Inn’s spiel for 90 minutes in the morning  so we can get a $60 gift card to use at one of the four restaurants at the Venetian. We plan on spending tomorrow evening, after an early dinner somewhere at the Venetian, on Fremont Street. That’s where the real gambling, people watching and fun will take place! We bought some seriously cute but comfortable outfits from Kohl’s for this. Because while we are passed the stage of dressing up for others, we love to do it for ourselves!

I’m sitting here smiling as I write this, wondering if some of you may be expecting a wilder, racier version of this blog since it is in Vegas. But honestly, this trip is about both of us needing a little time away from our extremely busy, productive lives before the Holidays hit in earnest. I’d like to write a ton more, but it’s almost 3 am and I feel like my brain is shutting down, as it rightfully should. I just want to say I’m so damn grateful to be at this stage in my life, where I can do something like this because my children are grown and I’m financially responsible enough to plan and afford it. Of course it helps tremendously that we don’t need to pay hotel or airfare, we don’t go clubbing and we don’t drink. What we do is make each other laugh, have fun making others laugh with or at us and make the most of getting a little time away!

This entry was posted on November 7, 2015. 1 Comment