This Will Be My Last Post…

Breathe. This will be my last post, written as a 38 year old.

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Saturday is my birthday. Last year at this time, I had a psychic reading done. It was an emotional experience and I recall her telling me that my New Year’s Day should be celebrated on my birthday day. It is the beginning of a new year, for me.

And this year? Man, am I ever ready to be done with THIS year. It has been a difficult year, more specifically, a difficult 6 months.

It has been a year of greats. Greatest year of loss. Of grief. Of growth. Of curiosity. Of finding purpose. Of productivity. Of creativity. Of dancing, ever so carefully as to not disrupt the balance of things. Crying when I need to cry, screaming when I’m angry, asking for help when I can’t do it on my own. I have lived more life in this year alone than in all of my 37 previous years combined.

I am grateful. I am angry. I am sorrowful. I see more beauty and focus less on the ugly. I try to understand it rather than judge it. I have a long way to go AND I have come a long way.

October 10th will be the one year mark of my working. It’s not a lot of hours but it’s what I can do to feel good about myself and it beats the hell out of being unemployed.

I have survived (thus far) raising a teenager… (and a husband).

I have lost a son and a sister.

I have gained the strength, confidence and trust of strangers because some part of each of our stories intersect.

I moved from a townhouse to an apartment and have actually MET some of my neighbors, as in more than the ONE I knew at the townhouse we lived in for five years.

I started this blog and have written consistently, twice a week, since March. I have begun writing a book.

I deserve the t-shirt I saw the other day. It had a picture of a Buddha sitting on a Lotus flower and it reads “Mindful As Fuck”. Yep, that sums it up.

I had been feeling nervous about turning another year older… like it was going to somehow sneak up on me and take me by surprise. HA! IN YOUR FACE. YOU’RE ALMOST 40! By now, you should be living in a house. Working a job that pays at least minimum wage for 40 hours a week. Know how to change my own oil in my car. You know, adult stuff. Do it. All. Right now. Or, you fail. You fail life.

As you can see, sometimes spending too much time by myself is not a good thing.

Just as I was having trouble breathing, I got an email. “Another 9 Inspirational Older People Who Still Kick Ass”. There was a video link for one of the examples, watch it now, here. Seriously, go watch it. Are you watching?

Wasn’t that INCREDIBLE? A.Fucking.Mazing! And one of the judges said something to the effect of “I hope I can move like that when I’m your age” What? I’d hope to be able to move like that at ANY age!

Anyway, watching that video… it was inspiration for me. It eased the tension and anxiety. Helped me to see clearly, life isn’t over. Sometimes it can feel like that but I do know how to navigate (for the most part) and I have two more guardian angels to watch over me as I do my/our work of being our best selves and leaving the world a better place than we found it.

 

 

Well SOMEBODY Must’ve Said It…

Just be yourself. I’m sure someone told me that. Then again, I can be pretty out there, so maybe I made it up? I don’t know. The point is, I’ve been sitting here for the last three hours trying to think of what to blog about that’s not super depressing. But I can’t. It’s September 29th. Noah’s due date. Even though I know he would’ve been here already (he was going the same route Tayla did, swimming in sugar, getting all huge and “moose like” and would come early via C-section. I can’t even talk myself into thinking things are better off this way, for the time being. Grieving is a full time job, hellish hours, almost NO PAY… I’m not sure how equipped I would be to handle and infant, a teenager, a death AND post-partum hormones. It doesn’t matter. My heart has a boo-boo and I want my mommy and my baby.

It’s also grandma’s birthday. Happy birthday “guccum”. I’m sorry I probably won’t get around to my usual releasing balloons and making a card ritual but maybe I’ll take Tayla to Dairy Queen and the fountain. I’ll try hard not to cry as she runs around the water, splashing and smiling because it’ll remind me of Natalie and I chasing each other around and around that Shelter fountain. The colored lights changing the hues of the water. Finally resting, able to eat that Blizzard and cuddle up with grandma just enjoying that sweet Columbia MO air… it always smelled better there. Probably all the flowers.

And it’s Thursday. Another fucking Thursday.

I’ve been trying to give myself pep talks, not wanting to ruin or waste a day (even a Thursday) having a pity party but I haven’t found anything that works yet.

I actually keep going back to that advice from a football player… (I know, right? In my defense, he was on America’s Got Talent- as a magician) and one thing he said that really makes so much sense to me is: “Don’t listen to yourself; talk to yourself”. When I listen to myself… oh man. I can go down the rabbit hole, FAST. But talking to myself? That sounds like a good idea… but maybe I’ll start tomorrow.

Signs?

Sunday’s post was admittedly very depressing. I thought about ending with a joke or in some other way, discount or invalidate my feelings- to make other people more comfortable. I write to honor my experiences, myself. It’s for that reason, I ended it the way I did.

Understandably, my mom was worried. “I want to discuss your post” she texted shortly after it was published.

I told her I was tired and asked if we could talk tomorrow.

“Of course” she said.

First thing Monday morning she called and asked if I was feeling any better. I was, I guess, maybe a little bit.

We talked about Noah and about maybe he is just waiting for me to get healthy… I liked that idea. I thought again of how relieved I was that I lost Noah before Natalie. I didn’t need to blame her for anything more than what I already was.

I guess I need to back up a bit. The other day mom and I were talking about symbols and the which ones in particular we were going to use for the expo. “Rainbows” she said. She kept getting rainbows. Seeing them show up in her paintings, finding “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” song etc. Ok, I thought. Is there anything more to the rainbow? Are we just using it because it symbolizes something beautiful after a storm? While on the phone with her, I googled rainbow symbolism.

It stands for unity. Bridging Heaven and Earth. This felt better… Right.

I thought of it Monday morning on my way to work. I got a text of Natalie singing “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey.

“Don’t stop believing what? In Natalie? In life after death? What?” (Yes, I do routinely talk to myself, especially when I’m in the car.)

Just then, I caught the license plate on the car next to me. 444 NA(w?). 444 Is a sign for angels. I was hoping that the last letter would’ve been a T, I know it was not. Still initials? the triple 4? Signs, right? They had to be.

So you saw a license plate and that to you is a sign? Not everything is a sign! (This is the cynical part of myself, taking the wheel, momentarily.) I’m reading too much into this, I thought. Just then, a Rainbow Taxi cab pulled up next to me.

“Hi Nat… Thanks” I said.

The next morning, on our way out to the car to take Tayla to school, there stood two deer. They paused from chewing their grass to give us a minute or two of eye connection. Once in the car, I googled what a deer as a spirit animal represented.

I don’t remember now the exact meaning but the point of it was that Don asked what I was doing. I told him and he let out a huge sigh. “Why does it have to be a sign or mean anything?” He said.

“Do you know how common it is to see deer out here? Where in the middle of some pretty heavily wooded areas…”

“Yeah?” I asked

“How many deer have you seen here? Since we moved in?”

He was silent.

Was it a sign? Was it a message? Am I making things out that are not necessarily there? Is it possible that it IS a sign or message? Why is THAT so hard to believe? Yes, you can probably make a lot of sense of otherwise seemingly nonsense but today, I am of the opinion of Roald  Dahl who said “Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it”.

If you’re looking for answers, you will find them. Who knows, maybe this post is a sign for you!

A Boy and His Dog, A Girl and Her Cat

As many of you know, we have two cats… two and a half if you take into consideration Bert’s enormous size. They’re great cats and Bert especially, is attached to his human -Tayla.

It was all well and good until dun-dun-dun… I volunteered to take Deano, my parents’ teeny, tiny, dachshund.

We were all excited. It’s been so many years since we’ve lived in a place that actually allowed dogs, all of Tayla’s life, that I’d forgotten how awesome they are. We had been casually discussing getting a dog of our own, a: once we were able to afford one  and b: we wouldn’t be over the allotted number of pets in the apartment. Obviously, it would have to be a small dog, so Deano was a perfect “test drive” for life with a dog.

Since we are only allowed two pets max (even if only one is visiting) one of the two kitties had to go on vacation to grandma’s house. Unanimously, it was Bert. Nemi (who lives at grandma’s) and Frankie NEVER got along. She needs more attention and stimuli during the day while Bert prefers to chill near a food dish or nap in the linen closet… whichever part of him that fits in the closet.

Yesterday was the BIG day. Don and Tay dropped off Bert, in the most undignified way imaginable… He’s too big for a carrier, so they put him in one of those mesh laundry bags. Half way to the car, his feet and half his ass fell through the bottom. Anyway, he makes it there and is fine.

I pick up the doggie, who cried the whole way back to my place- which is expected, I’m not complaining, just observing. I call Don to ask him to meet me downstairs because I have multiple bags and need help carrying everything.

He and Tay meet me in the parking lot. Deano is still crying but not as loud. His head is poking up out of his carrier and I pet him. We get upstairs, Frankie sees Deano and her tail poofs out like a puffer fish or a life preserver when the rip cord is pulled. She runs away, gone for the remainder of the evening.

I set out his food and water dishes, toss his squeaky ball and feed him a treat. It’s close to bedtime so I decide to take him outside before settling in. I opened the front door to the building and he ran with a purpose. I was surprised, since he’s never been here before, where he thought he was going… to my car. He found it right away and sat down next to it. “They’ll be back honey. You know that. Let’s go potty and then snuggle under the covers.” He basically nodded in agreement before trotting back to the apartment. He had no issues with the elevator which surprised me for some reason. He just got in with no fuss. That’s very unlike him. He’s endearingly the weeniest of the weenies, scared of most everything… except elevators, I guess.

I laid his blanket on the bed, helped him up and he licked my face a couple of times before burrowing under his blankie.

I woke up at 3:00 which is not all that unusual, but I discovered in the living room/kitchen two piles of “cigars” on the floor. One on the hardwood, the other on the carpet. At first I thought Deano (sorry buddy) had left both presents for me but realized the litter box hadn’t been used since I changed it that afternoon… Now I knew what I was looking at: dueling stools. Instead of a pissing contest, they were having a shit-off. Man, in retrospect, I really wish I knew who left which pile… someone has skewed the balance of my opinion on who should be pooping and how much. Note, neither of the piles were very lady-like, Frankie…

Today, he and the cat circled each other. In the morning there was a lot of back and forth barking and hissing that dwindled down with the hours left in the day. Towards late afternoon, they were able to both be in the same room, fairly close in proximity to one another, merely giving each other the death stare. They’ve started to circle each other, trying to sniff out what the other is, without getting too close. Like watching a boxing match, trying to figure out which one is Mike Tyson and who is Evander Holyfield… I hope they’re not BOTH Tyson’s but I guess I’ll let you know whose ear I find in the morning… maybe I should set up a camera because even if someone is missing an ear, there’s no guarantee that the animal didn’t pull a Vincent van Gogh…

Oh boy, I’m loopy. I’d better Van Gogh to bed! Shit. See? Sorry!

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Am I a Masochist?

I’m really starting to wonder…

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Me

Masochist:

noun
1. Psychiatry. a person who has masochism, the condition in which sexual or other gratification depends on one’s suffering physical pain or humiliation.
2. a person who is gratified by pain, degradation, etc., that is self-imposed or imposed by others.
3. a person who finds pleasure in self-denial, submissiveness, etc.

I’m asking myself this because of a series of events that happened today.

Sometime during the morning, around 8 o’clock, I made a playlist. I copied the lineup of the Overdose Awareness Vigil and put it into my phone.

Here’s the playlist prior to the vigil starting:

Katy Perry – Unconditionally
Susan Boyle – Wild Horses
Lukas Graham – 7 Years
Ruth B. – Lost Boy
Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Adele – Remedy
Katy Perry – Rise
Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men – One Sweet Day
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
Wiz Kalifa – See You Again
Janet Jackson – Together Again
Dani & Lizzy – Dancing in the Sky
Everything But the Girl – We Walk the Same Line
Daughtry – Home
Puff Daddy & Faith Evans – I’ll Be Missing You
Michael Jackson – You Are Not Alone
Idina Menzel – Let It Go
Demi Lovato – Stone Cold
Tenth Avenue North – Worn
Prince & The Revolution – Purple Rain

I’m pretty sure it was Boyz II Men that got the tears going and Wiz Kalifa that kept them flowing. Puff Daddy proved instrumental (pun not really intended, but whateves…) in the transition from crying to sobbing to screaming. I grounded myself to the car until I could pull myself together.

At least I could take a small amount of solace around this thought:

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In case there is anyone out there who STILL DOESN’T KNOW, I HATE the Beatles.

I hate the news too.

That evening, I started talking to people about the Jacob Wetterling case and how awful it is that Danny James Heinrich will not face murder charges. I know the family signed off on it. I probably would’ve too, if it meant getting answers I’d waited 27 years for. I think… and I think about what I would’ve done in Patty’s position. Why? I’m grateful to not have to be in that situation, why do I keep trying to imagine what it’d be like on that side of Hell?

And I over schedule myself. A lot. Tomorrow morning I’m expected at a Recovery Breakfast at 7:30. Like a.m. As in the morning. Couldn’t we have a brunch instead? It’s not even so much the hour but having to fight traffic to top of the earliness. I need to get going on that invention idea for a horn that honks at the people behind you and also has an extendable middle finger to salute any deserving drivers…

Implement Evil Idea and watch the look on my face.

I also told someone I’d drop off needles for the exchange program. In Brooklyn Park. It’s a bit of a hike.

I have therapy on Thursdays too.

Fridays are my writing group.

Mondays are open mic night at Acme, after I work.

Tuesdays I usually work and then have group.

Wednesdays are my volunteer day

And then it’s back to Thursday.

I don’t HAVE to be this busy. Like I said, I think I may be a masochist…

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Overdose Awareness Day

I feel gutted. My head hurts, my eyes are puffy, my heart feels filleted and drained.

I went to the Overdose Awareness Candlelight Vigil tonight, where a handful of people spoke about heroin, opioids, overdose, prevention, reversal and loved ones lost.

It was very interesting to hear people from different areas of expertise talk about what they saw and what they knew.

I learned about brain chemistry, a needle exchange program, new laws and Don, Tayla and I attended the Naloxone training afterward.

After all the info., after all the heartbreaking stories, there was the tribute video. I think Miles said he added 36 new names this year, bringing the three year total to 103. It’s too much! Too much senselessness. Too much loss. Too much heartache…

Natalie was there too. I felt her. I saw the signs. Don pointed out shortly after we’d gotten there, this:

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I wish I had more energy to describe everything…

The video started to play and I started to panic that maybe Natalie’s info didn’t get added. No! People have to see her face, know she was important! This is what was racing through my mind. Until the song “You Raise Me Up” started to play. Grandma’s song. I started to relax a little. She’s with grandma. Everything will be ok. About the middle of the song, Natalie appeared on the large, white projection screen. Sorry about the video quality… my phone had run out of space, so Don took the video and once you see Natalie’s picture, I start bawling… so. There’s that. The photo doesn’t show up that well on the video, so I’ll include it below.

Video Tribute

I love you Natalie.

Goodnight.

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Lights, Camera, Acme!

I did it. Back in late April or early May, I entered Acme Comedy Company’s annual Funniest Person in the Twin Cities contest. My original performance date was scheduled for June 5th but with Natalie passing on the 19th of May… there was no way I was going to be ready. I emailed Acme and the coordinator was kind enough to reschedule me for August 23rd. Even with all that extra time to prepare, I was still utterly unprepared. It took six weeks for me to even be able to get downtown without having a panic attack.

Sunday night I texted my boss asking if I could have Monday or Tuesday off to prepare. I got Monday off and I CRAMMED. I’d gone over it enough to attempt the Open Mic night. What an experience!

Nothing spectacular happened, not in a good or a bad way for me… It wasn’t my first time. I’d done other open mics, been on stage and under the lights, the scrutiny of judgmental drunks… but for a few others…

Really one in particular… I won’t mention her name because it is my hope that she was so shitfaced that night, that she was in a blackout and won’t remember a thing.

Her name is called. She gets on stage. Her voice is strong and loud. She starts with the self-deprecating humor that affords many comedians leniency when it comes to their act. She moves around, she’s animated, she’s wearing mismatched clothing so she certainly entertaining but her material… was shitty. It was really too bad because I knew, if she’d had anything even remotely funny to say, she would’ve been a hit!

Each performer gets three minutes. That’s it. At 2:30, a solid red light comes on. At 2:50, the light begins to flash. That’s your cue to get off the stage. It’s written in at least one place that those who go over their time, will NOT get time again.

Miss Sunshine is still onstage, seemingly unaware of the gigantic red light. The light starts to flash and she ignores it. THEY TURN OFF HER MICROPHONE AND SHE CONTINUES TO TALK! The audience, from what I can tell, is split down the middle. Half of us are frozen in horror over the blatant disregard for the rules, while the other half are sitting on the edge of their seats, smiling and waiting to see what the club will do next… They turned off the lights. A booming voice from out of nowhere stated “MA’AM YOU NEED TO GET OFF THE STAGE, NOW!” She sort of stumbles off the stage and ironically, this is when the crowd erupts with laughter while I dread my new worst nightmare.

But that was Monday night. Practice night. Tuesday was the big day. I worked for a few hours and crammed again, with new material.

More specifically, “the Natalie jokes”. The jokes I’d agonized over telling or not for weeks. I decided to tell them for three reasons. One, after the open mic, I went out to smoke. There was a man already smoking. “You did good up there” he said to me. “Thanks. I think I did alright I guess.”

“Comedy is hard” he said.

I nodded and said “I have a few jokes I’m debating on telling tomorrow, my sister died of an overdose and while I feel like if I can laugh about it -anyone should be able to, I don’t want to scare people away or alienate anyone…”

“My son was on stage tonight too. The guy joking about his crazy aunt? Sometimes tragedy is gold. It can work. His aunt he was talking about? That’s my sister, Natalie.

So, I kinda took that as a thumbs up from her that it was okay to do those jokes.

The second reason was because while talking to Shar, she told me a white dove was out in front of her house. Just sitting on the sidewalk. She looked it up and one of the meanings is to let go of inner turmoil over a subject. Ok, DONE.

And the last reason? Lots of people told me Natalie would be with me on stage, I figured she’d want to be in the spotlight.

So, I opened with my Natalie jokes. They went over well, I thought. No crickets on their end, no tears on mine…

Then I went into my main joke, which was more of a story about THE ONE TIME I had my eyebrows waxed.

I felt good about the job I did. The people who came to see me agreed that it was between me and one (of 5) other guy.

The other guy won. Sorry other guy, I don’t remember your name… I didn’t even get to hear your set but I could tell by the way you were NOT at the open mic/practice night and the way you were actually reading a book instead of pacing the floors or constantly looking at and resetting the timer on your phone that you were much more prepared, rehearsed and deserving of the win.

Saturday the top 25 scores of the summer will be posted and I may or may not advance to the semi-final rounds. Either way, I’m really glad I went up and did it. It’s important for me to keep some balance and even if I only made my friends laugh? That’s good enough for me.

 

Addiction: Willpower or Disease?

What about both? Or neither? We don’t even really need to label it, do we? Does it help anything? It seems to only divide people and that takes the focus off of recovery. Before you even get started, you’re at a disadvantage.

Yesterday I got to hear Caroline Myss speak on addiction. What I heard, blew my mind, literally expanded my brain. I felt it grow bigger (I’ll have to remember to thank her for the headache). I’m sure much of the reason is because I used to be a very black and white thinker. There was always an absolute. Until there wasn’t.

I’ve been learning the DBT skills for a number of years and if you’re unfamiliar with DBT, I encourage you to read up on it! It has helped me so tremendously. The basic principle says it is both/and vs either/or. Just because something is one way, doesn’t mean it can’t be any other way. Childbirth is a great example. Happiest day of my life, finally becoming a mother. Also, saddest day because she was very premature, was born not breathing and it was touch and go for months afterward. But just because I was sad and scared, that didn’t take away my joy.

Anyway, after being steeped in this new way of looking at life , I couldn’t believe I’d neglected to see the dialectic aspects of the willpower vs disease argument.

I learned early on that addiction was a disease. I believe that, to some extent. On the other hand, I didn’t like surrendering to a Higher Power. Not because I don’t believe in God or because I thought I could handle it on my own but simply because it sucks to feel powerless.

If I turned it over to God, was he supposed to freeze me in my tracks every time I came close to a liquor store? Sour the taste of alcohol on my tongue? Come down from Heaven to personally lecture me on the evils of drugs and alcohol? That part wasn’t so laid out for me.

In her talk, she got my attention right away by saying “there is no way we’d ever think of treating a person with any other disease by suggesting that they first admit they were powerless”. That’s not an exact quote, it was more like, if anyone suggested I treat my illness that way, I’d kick them out of the room… That made sense to me.

I didn’t like the notion that when an addict (I use the term addict to include alcoholics, compulsive eaters etc just because it’s easier for me to write) had a relapse, there was very little in the way of consequences. Sure there are the natural consequences of the behavior but as far as family and support, the reaction (if you subscribe to the notion of addiction being a disease) is mostly, if not entirely, encouraging. Just pick up where you left off. It wasn’t you, it was the disease… I’m not suggesting you berate anyone for a relapse, that won’t help… AND, drugs (or whatever the harmful behavior) does not exist without the person. Heroin has never robbed anyone at gunpoint. A fifth of vodka was never pulled over for drunk driving… See where I’m going? We do have some control.

And, I get it. It is REALLY HARD. That’s why we need support groups and sponsors and activities to keep us engaged. There are far too many practicing and deceased individuals who want(ed) to quit and it didn’t happen. Natalie wanted to quit. She had quit… and, there is a reason I don’t have any regrets about how we as a family, handled “it” (her addiction). Like someone said to me earlier, “when you have the flu, that’s not the time I want to hear about how washing my hands will help me in the future”.

We couldn’t stay with her 24/7. Or even if we did, there’s no guarantee she would’ve stayed clean. I know I talked about this already and I don’t mean to ramble…

My point is, in addition to Caroline explaining her viewpoint (which by the way, odd as it may seem, really was a very non-judgmental way of looking at things. It was more just fact to her, let’s figure out where the problem is so we can find a working solution) there was an article I read that looks at addiction as a learning disorder.

Addiction is basically a maladjusted coping method. If we can look at it that way, without the shame and the stigma… acknowledge that yes, a part of the brain is affected but it’s not a degenerative illness we can focus on the recovery aspect. We can STOP debating the cause and concentrate on re-learning.

Caroline Myss has videos on YouTube, this particular one was part of a paid course so I can’t create a link to it. I will include the article about school of thought on addiction being a learning disorder though.

The NY Times “Can You Get Over an Addiction?”

What are your thoughts on addiction? Or your views on how addicts are treated? Do you have any ideas on how to make things better? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section!

Ps: I am still doing the GoFundMe campaign to help #EndtheEpidemic and #ShameEndsWithMe event to be held on October 15th, 2016. Time is TBD. If you can help with a donation or a share of the link, I’d really appreciate it!

EndtheEpidemic

Thanks so much! ❤

I Just Dyed

My hair. Back to purple … technically “Violet Vixen”. I’m not really sure why.

I mean, I kinda know why. The gray (or as Tayla calls them, “silver”) hairs were scaring the shit out of me. My roots had grown out a few inches and I was just generally ready for a change. Plus, my girlfriend offered to do it!

We were at her place Monday night. We’d gone down to Acme for their open mic night because I’d wanted to get in some stage time before my Aug. 23rd performance but the sign up sheet was overflowing with nearly double the 25 name capacity. I added my name anyway and figured if it was meant to be, it would be. That being said, I was cramming in the material into my memory as fast as I could while silently bargaining with God to PLEASE give me one more week to prepare.

At 7:30 the list of comics went up and I was granted a stay of execution.

Anyway, back to her place we went. She colored my hair while we watched America’s Got Talent clips on YouTube until it was time for me to wash my hair.

I started the water and for whatever reason, I always manage to forget how small her shower is! It’s a nice sized bathroom. Jacuzzi tub too. But the shower… there is literally only enough room to turn around in it. Plus, there is no light overhead so it’s dark too. Keep this in mind…

So I start to rinse. Once the water is running clear, I have to shampoo. Twice. I turn around to get the shampoo tube and knock two or three things off the shower caddy. I grab the shampoo bottle and try to open it. With wet hands. Nothing. I end up using my teeth to get the cap off. The shampoo isn’t like I remembered it. It doesn’t work up the lather it used to. Whatever, I’m tired and squeeze more into my hand for round too.

After I’ve shampooed twice, I’m ready for the conditioner. When I grab that tube, I drop it. Bend down to pick it up and think the two robes hanging on the other side of the shower door are burglars. Thankfully, I’m too scared to scream, so no one think I think I’m about to be murdered by some terry cloth.

I forget which step I’m on in the process and read the two tubes.

“Shimmering Conditioner” and “Conditioning Shampoo”.

WTF. Really?

Because I had soap, water and dye obstructing my vision, I’d used the wrong thing first. They couldn’t make that just a little less confusing?!

But, I feel so stupid at this point, I just get out of the shower. I’m ready to get home and go to bed.

By the time I get home, my hair is dry. I look into the mirror and wonder when the hell did violet get SO PURPLE? Was it always this shade? I looks exactly like someone spilled grape juice all over my head.

What was I thinking? Why am I telling you?

Because of something someone said to me about it when it was this color before. She had commented that she liked my natural shade better. This was too bold or brassy or something along those lines.

And I feel like that’s what I need right now. I need confidence or at least the appearance of it. although right about now I’m feeling like I just learned that lesson where if your cat dies, you can’t just get another cat that looks like the first one…it’s not the same.

I changed my hair color but it’s not the same. I don’t really feel any different…

Despite that, I am familiar with the term “fake it til you make it”.

Here’s to faking!

It’s Time

I’ve been sitting on an idea. For years, it’s been in the back of my mind. Natalie’s passing has brought it to the forefront and it seems with each passing day, it gains more energy.

Today, all that momentum has come to a head. Today is the day to let my “baby” out into the world… because I need help. I can’t do it alone and I don’t want to.

The daily word prompt today is muse. One of the dictionary definitions for the word is: “The goddess or power regarded as inspiring a poet, artist, thinker, or the like.”

I remember the moment with crystal clarity. We were driving home, (the old place) down McAndrews Road. As we approached the stoplight, I saw in my mind’s eye, a vision. A flash. An image… It was shortly after Natalie passed and I was drowning in a sea of my own thoughts and grief.

In 2015, police in MN seized 18 pounds of heroin. That is equivalent to 8,200 doses and heroin has been steadily on the rise.

“This HAS GOT to stop” I thought.

Then I saw it.

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I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it but it has been one of a handful of times where I was sure I was merely the instrument for some higher purpose.

A month or so goes by and I am realizing how much shame plays a part in addiction. “We’re as sick as the secrets we keep”. If people can’t talk about it? They aren’t getting help for it. Addiction has been scientifically proven to be a medical illness. Even if it wasn’t, I still don’t see the good or the point of shaming anyone because of it… if they are talking about it, it’s because they want help.

Anyway, I was reminded of a very low point in my life. I had a lot of shame. A ton of it. So much so, I figured the word shame and my name could be interchangeable. “It even SAYS me in the word” I thought. A minute later, I realized the “me” in shame is at the end. Shame ENDS with me.

This is what we need to realize to stop the stigma.

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Sample of a cell phone case.

People are dying everyday from this shit. We can not afford to pretend this isn’t a problem or that this doesn’t affect us. My life, my world was shattered nearly three months ago from heroin I never touched…

I keep hearing the mediums voice in my head.

“She says she doesn’t want to be just a number”

The only number Natalie will ever be to me is number one.

I am (hopefully soon) starting a line of products, cell phone cases, t-shirts, magnets etc. to raise money and awareness. A percentage of the proceeds will go to Progress Valley, the treatment center where Natalie stayed and The Steve Rummler Hope Foundation who is committed to ending the problem here in MN. I’ve included links to both organizations, check them out!

We do better together… It doesn’t have to be this hard.

Please, help us?

Steve Rummler Hope Foundation

Progress Valley