Mind full or Mindful?

Do you ever get to think about what you are thinking about? What does that even mean?

Your thoughts can overrun you very easily and quite often, if you allow your thoughts the power to control you. Emotionally we can become handicapped because of the impact of our thoughts. Taking the time to think about what you are thinking about, can be a solution to your endless thinking about things that you don’t even have control over. When I have posed the question on others, I think of myself. Am I mindful or is my mind full? Well, frankly, it depends on the way things are going for me. I can say indefinitely, today I think a lot about consequences. That helps.

So, if I am upset by something that is said to me, I have to instantly zip my mouth and think about what I am going to say. I can have a sassy mouth, especially if my pride is stepped on or I feel betrayal in some way, (sometimes I can be sensitive), so I have to make sure I do not respond with something I will have to apologize for later. I don’t like to have to apologize, but I can admit when I am wrong. It used to be a harder pill to swallow until I grew up and learned that the world is divided only by each single individual and the world that they all operate in, revolves around themselves — well, in our own minds.

Sounds crazy, but think about it. Every thought you have revolves around what you were raised to think, what you learned/were taught, and what you experienced– all of it being our own opinions. So, your world revolves around you. The only time that differs is when you figure out how to process acceptance for EVERYTHING. Lol. Exactly, everyday, all the time. Accept what is– and either make a move or leave it alone.

Let’s get back to Mindfulness. My mind can be full of you know what, at the wrong time– that always causes a circus in my brain. But after I realize I’m in my 40’s — not as young as I used to be– and can potentially have a heart attack or a stroke, I have to jump out of the circus before too long. Of course, that entails, coming up with a solution to whatever is clouding my mind. It doesn’t happen as easily as I would like it to, but again, acceptance, is the key to even a moment such as that. I tend to either find a solution or go to sleep. By the time I wake up, I have been blessed with a plan, usually.

And I can be mindful the other 85% of the time. I’d like to say that I am mindful most of the time because I do think, I tend to be aware, and my conscious deals with me about reality. The truth is it matters if I am mindful or not. My life isn’t just about how I perceive the world around me, but how I help my children to consider their own perceptions, through my teachings, my world. I try to be mindful of those around me, what I am doing, adding or taking away, and how I am about myself. I am mindful about how I feel, that is always a “thing” for me. After learning more and more about people, personalities, behavior, and other aspects of our creation, I know it starts with how I feel–at least that is the kickstart of things to come. Then I have to consider what, or who, how or why, I feel the way I do. That can go a long way. If I can understand– be mindful of what is “what,” then I can filter through the situation or “feeling,” and get on with everything else.

I will say, when I laid back on the sand the other day, and looked up at the sky, it was me and the sky. I was certainly mindful of that beauty. There was nothing else to think of in that moment. And then, as natural as when I take a breath, I pull my baby girl close to my chest and hug her, thanking God for the moments when I am aware. The sanity……….

Drug Test, Ha!

What a beautiful morning! It’s raining slightly, skies are gray and the glorious sun hasn’t peeked out from behind it’s cloud haven just yet. A day like this in Pennsylvania during this time of year, would most definitely be cold. Not in South Florida. But this is truly a great start to the day.

I recall many days, dark like this, feeling fearful, shameful or anxious about events from the night before or what lies ahead. Having to go to any appointment was too much of a task most of the time- let alone a rainy day. Oh, and those mandatory visits to a probation officer, knowing there was a possibility to get a drug test “on the spot,” which meant possibly going to jail- “on the spot.” Those days and taking a drug test were like walking to the gallows. I always got the worst punishment possible when I got into trouble, no matter how minor the infraction. It’s like God was letting me know through that discipline, I was on the wrong road– seriously! Eventually I listened and jumped the rails.

Taking that drug test this morning was a reminder of how much I’ve matured as a woman. I wasn’t afraid of the results, but I did have a few moments of reflection. I remember the fear of knowing my urine was dirty and I was already on probation. I always knew I was going to be locked up. But that also raised more questions. Why didn’t my P.O. send me to treatment instead of jail for hot urines. It was obvious I couldn’t stay clean. I needed help.

However, I must say this: Everything isn’t for everybody. As crazy as it may sound, those times I had to sit, saved my life. I had time to recoup and think about my life. I didn’t get “it” right away, but when I did– it was worth it! As I embark on another position to help another person in need, I will keep in mind how much it took for me to “get right.” Of course, no enabling permitted!

Anywhere, Including the Sanctuary

I once met a woman who was in need of help with her addiction. She had come to the rehabilitation center where I worked. It was a situation like no other I had encountered, since being a recovering addict, patient advocate, and Christian. Her story was not strange or unheard of, however sad hearing how difficult it was for her to hide her addiction.

This woman was a wife of a Pastor. She shared how she was a typical pastor’s wife and had to keep her “face on,” and her appearance up to standard. All of this took place as she crumbled inside, due to her alcoholism, and the shame and guilt that was side by side. She told of how she had to hide alcohol all over her house to make sure there would be plenty whenever she needed it, or couldn’t go out to get it. Her alcoholism got so bad, that even though her family began to notice as well as her husband, they had to save face and just cover up the problem. That surely wasn’t easy.

If you know about any addiction, you lose control of yourself and ability to cope with life and it’s circumstances. Your addiction becomes the most important thing that life has to offer and every moment is spent thinking of how you are going to keep using or making plans on how to get what you need. If it’s not a drug or drink, the behaviors also are detrimental. You spend many moments planning on how you are going to get to do whatever it is that you are addicted to doing like gambling, watching porn (or finding someone to lay with), purchasing more of something you already have enough of, and just simply adding fuel to any fire. The coping skills go out the window or there simply just isn’t any in mental reach.

Just like many other families, this woman’s family didn’t want the church or other loved ones to find out so they did what they could to help hide her addiction. She shared how she found more and more hiding spots, as her family fought to locate her hiding places daily. It became so overwhelming that she just gave up and told her family that she could no longer take it. She wanted to get help. And she did. It was a pleasure to work with someone who was actually desperate enough to do what it took to get sober. I remember that feeling.

The holidays are among us and addiction has not changed. People of all backgrounds and statuses are using in high numbers. Addiction is a plague just like the pandemic we are currently facing in our society. Many many people have lost their lives, loved ones, or just their sanity due to addiction and the problems around it.

People are lonely, depressed, dealing with many different personal issues during the holidays. They have lost loved ones, went through divorce, lost homes, jobs, etc., and just find reasons to either pick up addiction or expand on one they may already have. Please take time to love and support your loved ones that are struggling with addiction enough so that they know you are there. Not only does addiction take people away from us, but mental health is also a strong force to fight. Suicide is another problem that we deal with when our loved ones decide they can no longer handle what they feel life is throwing at them.

You don’t have to enable, you don’t have to be afraid either, but you can just be there. It’s really hard to address addiction as a caring loved one. You’re not always sure how to help. Just know you are not in control of the person or the addiction. You cannot cure their addiction. All you can do is be supportive and if you get the chance, squeeze in a little suggestion that you are there to help them get well if they need you. Hopefully, they can see the damage and feel enough courage to reach out and get the help they need before it is not an option. May God bless you all during the holiday season. If you need help or support with overcoming an addiction, you can find me on Psychology Today, or you can find treatment anywhere. There is help all over.

Right Away

Addiction, they say, is cunning, baffling, and powerful. THEY are RIGHT! But since they are so right, why is it so hard to grasp the seriousness of relapse? People work extremely hard in programs, rehabs, and even in the detox levels of recovery. Their loved ones sometimes, are working with them mostly from a distance, and have expectations that there will be a new person arriving when the time has come. Deciding to get sober, doesn’t land you on an easy road. The journey begins with so much insecurity, many people that have stepped on the trail, step right back out as if the road were made of hot coals. They just aren’t willing to handle all of that yet. There is much work that goes into being abstinent from a “drug of choice.” A lot of addicts tend to make the road harder than it has to be. Addicted people hit that road running, but are carrying selfishness, manipulation, trauma, unsettled fears, mental health issues (either pre-active using days or a new disorder brought on by using), physical and emotional pain, anger, and other behaviors or attitudes that tend to be barriers. On the other hand, sometimes, they’re just not ready to let go of the demonic hold of drugs and alcohol. In their minds, at least when they use, they it is familiar. They know what to expect.

The folks that are prepared to fight the battle, because they’ve been fighting a battle much worse, are still walking on shaky legs. The ground underneath them does not feel firm, but they’ve had enough so much that- anything is better than what they’ve already put themselves through. Once that battle has been won, and the treatment has begun, hope arrives. Faith showed up in the smallest amount, and hope came tagging along. With those two things together, a person seeking help and a new life can begin to gain courage. Courage isn’t easy to have. Courage comes like muscles do when an athlete commits to a training program. Courage is built as one commits to a program of abstinence. Commitment is everything. And acceptance is the cherry on top.

Making sure to adhere to some simple measures can help save a sick and suffering addict. First change or simply stay away from, people, places, and things. Yes, that’s right! Birds of a feather, flock together. It’s true. If yoy hang around long enough, things don’t seem as harmful. Don’t use anything that is mind or mood altering. Don’t switch one habit into another habit. And most importantly, go after sobriety as if your life depends on it, because it does! Some people feel invincible if they have never experienced an overdose. But they shouldn’t be fooled. I’ve met many that forgot once they left a program of recovery, or a treatment center, or sober home, the amount they used to get high prior to treatment, is not the same amount now required to get high– and some of them OD’d. God bless their souls and their families, but people aren’t always willing to listen, or ready to quit. If you know someone, don’t be discouraged. It can get better, if they truly want it to. And don’t forget, that as badly as you want them to have a healthy and happy life, you cannot fix them.

Remind your loved ones that are fresh on the recovery journey, to “take it easy.” Tell them to take care of themselves– by eating right/healthy, getting enough rest, doing maintenance to stay “recovery fit.” Suggest that they get in touch with sober supports possibly through AA/NA or CA groups. It wouldn’t hurt for the involved loved ones to join a Codependency group (yes, they have those too) or Al-Anon. If you are close to the person suffering with the addiction(s), you may truly need to seek help and support for yourself. If they have had traumatic experiences, encourage your loved one to take care of their mental health. A bad mental health day can turn into a bad relapse or mental breakdown. You don’t want to preach or chase anyone away, but you also don’t want them to go back to using right away. If they stay sober for a little while early on, they may like it and actually do what it takes to remain sober. This is for all of you family members, spouses, children and friends. We know you all are affected by the disease of addiction as well. You are there.

Acknowledge and Live

Denial is such a terrible waste of energy and time. When we refuse to address or merely admit there is an issue, we take great strides in the opposite of progression. We regress or just don’t grow at all. We can achieve greatness when we can admit, address, and recover from anything that may be hindering our advancement in life.

The most obvious of denials is when a person or persons are dealing with a problem addiction. Let’s not fail to mention here about the many addictions that plague our society. We have alcohol, hoarding, gambling, mind/mood altering substances, sex, hustling, and many more that could be mentioned. These addictions all come with a price. So whether you acknowledge or deny the actuality of your problem/addiction or not, the repercussions of the behavior will seep to the surface.

So what next? You decide you can no longer take the agony. Your consistent desire to seek gratification through your addiction is becoming a nuisance. Your personal relationships are becoming less meaningful, and you do nothing to salvage them. You disregard or dismiss any advice or suggestions of the truth. You are missing sleep, skipping meals, and have become more anxious and/or depressed. It’s time to do something or you feel like your life will be over. You admit you can no longer live like that.

It’s not easy to just go into a rehab or seek professional help with your problems. That is a fact, and it doesn’t set you aside from everyone else. The task to get help is challenging, but can be one of the easiest things to do. You seek help, the “helper,” helps you. No one can keep you from continuing in your “problem.” If you are serious about getting better and engaging in life with a more positive approach, go get the help you need. A phone call, an email, or whatever other resource that is out there is not that far away. Your life may depend on your next move. Your family, friends and other important aspects of your life may be on the line. Go for it! I promise, it’s worth a try! I know!

Raw-Real Topics- Denial

In a book by Stephanie S. Covington it states, “It takes a great deal of courage to be honest with ourselves. The layers of cultural denial increase our own personal denial system, and we find it more difficult to recognize and admit that we have a problem.” This is so relevant/profound in a lot of ways. You don’t have to be a person in recovery to experience these things. In our world, in our lives, we face denial in many ways.

*Denial of ourselves, because we don’t like who we are, who we’ve become, or who we wish we could be;

*Denial of problems, because we don’t want to deal with them, we don’t want others to recognize them, or we just don’t want to put in the effort it may require;

*Denial of others’ problems, because maybe they’re our children, spouses, close friends or someone we look up to, and we just don’t want to make them feel bad, or personally experience the shame and guilt.

Denial is a part of human nature. We use denial as a defense or coping skill. This can be a dangerous practice if someone you know is dealing with a life threatening situation like alcohol or substance abuse, domestic violence, any other form of abuse, or maybe even suicidal. It doesn’t always feel like the responsibility should be on the “onlookers,” however maybe- just maybe, those are the only ones that could impact the person or situation and help encourage change.

We know change is a personal decision. I know when it was time for me to change, it was more difficult to address my issues because too many people in my corner chose to look the other way. Oh my gosh, was I a good manipulator! Or was I? I thought I had people fooled, but then, when I look back, I know who was responsible for my way of life at that time. I was not in control, but responsible for my own addiction(s). There were times I would start to wonder who was to blame. Now that is when my ego kicks in. Someone should have tried to stop me! I would think to myself. But really, even if they attempted to get in the way of me and my temporary gratifying moments, I would have denied them access. And then I snap back into reality and remind myself that, it was always up to me.

Don’t get the message twisted though, I still envision the moments when I was doing quite bad and those closest to me that were in denial, they could have been honest and at least planted the seed to let me know what they saw. I saw what they saw. I knew what had to be done. I just didn’t want the task of facing reality- maybe they didn’t either. When I did face the reality of my life, I was grateful that God put people, places, and things in my path to help me pay a little more attention to what was needed. Then, I changed.

Thinking First

No one has ever summed up my level of thinking prior to, throughout, and sometimes still, the way a comedian has with his branded statement, “First Thought Wrong.” I have always loved comedy, I mean who doesn’t enjoy a good laugh (even if only for a temporary distraction) every now and then. Had I never experienced addiction, I may never have given this particular comedian a chance. I was actually working in a treatment center when I first opted to watch the comedian do his “thing.” As much as I was into my addiction, working in treatment was a real “switching the pitch,” deal. I was a group facilitator and I had one of those days where I wanted to do something different and lighten the moment for the patients I worked with. When I first watched one of his stand up shows, I was awed with joy! He was talking about me and it was funny because it was so true.

In my days of running around in the “world,” looking for myself, I was not the best at decision making. I didn’t think before I spoke, unless it was going to jeopardize the benefit. I didn’t always think about that first thought or, whether or not I should go with it. I usually just went with what came up. Not good. Whatever came up, came out. I would say, I had no filter. I used filters and tried my hardest to think right when I was in a state of manipulation. During those days, my first thought always left me with regret.

While working as the facilitator, I often thought a lot about how I would be able to encourage the patients to think about what they were doing versus what they wanted to be doing. It took obviously a vast amount of self searching, learning, acceptance, and willingness on my own behalf to see the reason to think about my thoughts, let alone, motivate someone else to do that. So after showing them the videos of this awesome comedian, we discussed the whole theme of learning how to think first, dwell on a thought a little while and make sure that it sits well. The conversation was good, but that’s what it turned out to be.

Recovery is a process that works from the inside to the out. It’s not typical for people to buy into their possibilities with a little guidance from others’ suggestions. I won’t forget the best thing that helped me through my behaviors that kept me where I was. It was to think first. That is a real anecdote for a person that had my coping skills. Of course, when your mind is clear, you have the ability to think better. Mental health plays it’s own role in our thinking. Putting balance in oneself with level headed thinking, maintaining good mental and physical health, and intentional soul searching, are all a good set of practices to enter into a journey of recovery. At the end of the day, with a clear and balance mode, I can decipher whether or not my first thought is wrong, or if I need to let myself think a little further to act or speak. The journey isn’t over yet.

To, or not to

So you woke up today and thought, “Life has got to be more than this.” Could last night have been the last time? Is the fence heavy enough to hold your weight? Or, are you actually ready to find the ways and means to begin changing your life?

The world of addiction owes no one anything. So many people get caught up in the lifestyle around their addiction, that even if they want to quit the habit, there are so many other aspects that need to be changed as well. For instance, gambling addicts have accumulated friends in the world of gambling and those people understand the weakness which can always bring the addict back to the drawing board. Here comes another “get rich quick” scheme. The gambling addict plays right into it. The gambling joints, casinos, the people, the boos, the women and many other things need to be removed in order for the gambler to have a successful chance at recovery.

The biggest problem with all of that is it takes more than willpower to even accept that life has gotten unmanageable and it will take a mountain of movement to change it. Unfortunately, faith in addicted people is very minimal as the promises made over time, have rarely come to fruition. Without trust from loved ones, or other supports, it makes recovery a lonesome task. Sometimes people won’t even tackle the job because they feel no one believes in them, they’ve lost everything, and it just doesn’t seem worth the trouble.

Truth is, it is more than worth the trouble. I know.

After running from myself in years of active addiction, I got so overwhelmed with what I had to face if I got sober, that I (being the risk taker that I am) gave in. I actually was throwing in the towel on life. I wanted life to be different. I didn’t care what changed, but something had to give. My freedom from that bondage surely didn’t come right away. But it was worth the trek. I had to truly relieve myself of all obligations I had to “that life” and become open-minded to stay the course. It became a job and I felt like it was reachable, just at a super far distance. Little did I know, the most challenging part was going to be for me to let go of my “ideologies” of superiority (they were false anyhow), and listen to reason. What a heck of a list!

The decision was to go with it, or not go with it. I had to want to get sober and live that way “for real,” and do what it took to achieve that feat. And it was a FEAT! I have to share an important factor. I did not want to give up the freedoms that being irresponsible gave me. As long as I was running, I could live how I wanted, maybe not with WHAT I wanted, but free nonetheless. No rules, no cares, no responsibilities. If any of these came up, I bucked them of course. It was challenging to quit using and abusing.

The final deciding factor was my sanity. I knew if I stayed on the road to destruction, I would have no sanity. I didn’t want to die without having my faculties. I wanted to at least “go out” coherently. So, I did it. In 2009, I gave up that continuous battle that was leading nowhere or to an early death, and I went in full force. Slowly but surely, I made it out and guess what? I still have my sanity– for the most part. If you are wondering what to do next, just decide what it is you want. Once you make that decision, it may be easier to sort out your confusion and do something about how you want to live out the rest of your life. I know things will happen and some of them may make me question my desires and coping skills, but I also know that today I actually care about more than forgetting things with medication. I get to feel real feelings, that don’t always feel so great. I get to enjoy my children and be available for all their needs. And, I get to indulge in life without feeling like I forgot many parts of it. I am present today. I chose “to.”


Have you seen them?

They sleep all day and lay awake all night. They only have enough energy to do that one thing. They might have a job, but after and before work, there is nothing of use in them. They might have somewhat of a social life, but when they come home, they have no desire to engage. If they do engage, it is mostly only for their own benefit. You might get a few muttered words. If they don’t have a job, and maybe they love the “game,” they play the game from the time they wake up, until the time they pass back out.

How about this?

They are sleepy, hungry, and with minimal energy. They eat, drink and use up as much energy in the house as they can. They have red eyes often. You see Visine sometimes. That was odd the first time but no one really thought too much into it. I mean, I had some in my medicine cabinet for the longest time. They sometimes can be moody, and can’t get much conversation out of them. How about when you want to ask a simple question and they act as if you are getting on “their nerves.” They don’t have to contribute because you want them to just “take care of themselves.” But, turns out, because you’ve taken care of them for so long, they are struggling to do just that, and somehow you’re still footing the bills. Ha!Oh, but when it is time to go out, they either look like they just rolled out of bed, or they are too good to do that and they get dressed like a million bucks. Either or, pick a day, or a mood. It wouldn’t be so bad if they could function just a little bit more than the average chum. It’s sad to watch. So many young people spend more time getting and smoking weed, and their ambition diminishes. Those kids with all the sprite, and motivation, lose it when they get lost in the weed. Especially since no one seems to think it’s that big of a deal these days, and they have that right, but what does it steal? I guess we won’t know until the weed takes its toll. I pray for our younger generation and their little brains that still need to have less of the recreational chemicals to continue to grow. I pray that they can keep some of their brain cells and do something productive before they shrink most of them, since it’s not that big of a deal.

I’m just saying. It does matter. Look at them, watch how they act and then decide, what effect has it had on the young person in your life? Duuuhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

Celebrating Life

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My son Jovan would’ve been 27 years young today. He died of an overdose on February 26, 2012. I mourn his absence, but I respect what I cannot change. It took a while to get a grip on how I was going to interpret his death for the rest of my life. I knew for sure that I was grateful for the time I had with my firstborn son. I knew that I enjoyed his spirit when he was alive. I also knew that I would have to be the best grandmother I could be to his children. Yes, at 18 he had just been made a father of 2 baby girls. I know that was a lot of pressure on him and I know he wasn’t quite prepared for the responsibility. He loved to hang with his friends and have a good time. I know I will always miss him.

No child should die before their parents, I’ve heard said many times over. True. But when drugs and alcohol are present in any situation, there is no absolutes. Well, there is one for certain. Both lives and well being are put on the line. Coming from a family where addiction shows up in many forms, you just hope and pray that those genes skip your children. Some dodge the bullets, some get hit with the all too familiar ones, and some get hit with different ones– same monster.

As I use these moments to remember my son and embrace the feelings that have overtaken my emotional state today, I am glad to have what I hold of my son. Jovan was awesome and very “energetic.” A lot of people listened to him and had love for the person he was. He was handsome and made us laugh. He is in our hearts, forevermore.

If you have lost a loved one to addiction/overdose, just know you are not alone. I remember hearing people tell me that it will take some time, but I will get over “it.” I thought, “Wow! I’m gonna get over this one day!” But I also held on so tightly to sad moments of grief, because I didn’t want to “get over it.” I thought I would forget about my son if I didn’t look forward to the sadness I felt on his birthday, holidays, and the date of his passing. When I realized that the feelings and memories that I had of my son, would remain with me forever, I was then able to be more excited about celebrating his life, than mourning his death. That changed me forever. Losing my son, was the greatest loss. How he died, was a nightmare. How it changed me, is monumental. How I live so his death isn’t in vain, is priceless.