Back from the Pandemic – onto Life.

Hey everyone! How are you doing? I am finally back from the pandemic… we were able to keep our home and business, and had to pool our resources in order to do so. I was keeping my attention on the shop and the home and so didn’t really have much time to blog or write. Didn’t even write for Medium really.

But now, that has changed.

Bald Eagle in Pennsylvania ©2020 DAMcGarrity

Since we have been back, our customers – who are super loyal – have been diligent in making appointments and getting tattooed. We love you all! I am now the shop manager, which means we have a system and appointment software. The shop is doing well.

My husband and I have started hiking… after a few years of just walking on trails in the woods and local parks and some spots at the Lehigh Gorge and maybe .01 miles on the Appalachian Trail right off of Route 611 last year, we walked about two (2) miles last weekend and inadvertently wound up on the AT. Two days later we went back to hike the AT for a bit longer – coming in right around four (4) miles. This time we brought more water but didn’t have proper footgear. We didn’t have any incidents, but yesterday I went out and bought hiking boots because I am serious about hiking. And I also bought a proper backpack. I had been using a little fashion pack to carry with me, but it is floppy and impractical.

We watched AT YouTubers last year and gave it a lot of thought, but with both of us working crazy hours and me being in school before, it didn’t make a lot of sense. This week, we are back to watching AT YouTubers and their journeys fill me with such joy. Especially Liz ‘Handstand’ Kidder, Evan, and also Dixie. Three great YouTuber AT people you will want to watch if you are interested.

Black Bear on the AT ©2020 DAMcGarrity

We have seen many critters on our travels, mostly some birds and bugs, a few deer and a snake or two. However, we were finally able to see a bear! Oh my, it was so exciting. As soon as we saw each other, we both froze… then he started walking again as I continued to stand still. I managed two pictures because I was so full of shock and glee. I keep thinking about that bear and it just fills my heart with peace and joy.

So, my husband and I have decided that we are going to start our own AT & hiking journey and possibly document it with video and blog entries. It is so close to my heart and soul of things I want to do with my life. And close to my husband’s as well.

What do you think?

One life.

Thanks so much for reading guys… I appreciate your support and love. Take care, hang in there, and let me know what you think in the comments!

Darlene

New Ideas

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I am still bummed they stopped doing the daily post and that has dulled my motivation to blog. Edits for the novel are almost complete, along with some new entries for Poetry Through Recovery which still does not have an official release date.

Despite the delays, I came up with another great idea for myself since I have so much to offer the world.

I am starting a YouTube Channel. Yes! How exciting, right? It’s going to be a trial and error thing at first because I have some issues with talking (it’s why I am a writer) but I want to do this because I feel a deep calling in me. (I guess it helps that I am taking a public speaking class in the fall!)

My YouTube Channel is going to be about getting through the bullshit of feelings, to put it bluntly, so people can live their best life. There will be an edge about living sober because one of the biggest reasons why people abuse drugs is because they don’t know how to deal. In light of this sick, sad opiate epidemic, I feel like it is something I need to do since opiates almost killed me and I am here to tell the tale of survival. I am attending a viewing tonight of a young woman who died last week as a result of opiate abuse. 😦

There has to be a way to stop all of this insanity, and I believe the first major step is self-awareness.

The username is irrelevant to the cause right now (it is Ninja500Chic – I used to ride a motorcycle!), but that link name will be changing to something more appropriate to what I want to do… which is help people with the truth about living sober. And not just sober, really. Living life free from the bullshit of regret and the past.

I am still figuring all of this out. Meditation has been a cornerstone in my life recently and let me tell you, it helps. A lot. It really makes sense to me now how life situations come in piles instead of droplets.

I am so excited about this! ❤ Stay tuned my friends… this is going to be beautiful.

Please, go to YouTube and follow my channel for upcoming videos about how to live your best life whether you are sober, want to be sober or are struggling to stay sober. Maybe you have a family member who struggles with addiction… this channel will help you to see inside the mind of an addict from both sides.

Right now, the channel is: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfmkKfG9HbB0SmKKg-rgg0w

The username is:

https://www.youtube.com/user/Ninja500Chic

Image: matthewmister.com

Twelve Years Sober

776eaf4719ddaa1fb1d210fa91a956e5_screenI might be guilty of bragging, but that’s fine. Some things are worth bragging about every day. Being clean and sober is one of them. It might be difficult to understand if you’ve never been on the giving or receiving end of this type of hell. That makes you fortunate.

But, I am fortunate, too.

I am fortunate to have been through hell and come out filthy on the other side. I went through all that shit to make me a stronger person and to help others get through their own version of hell.

That is what this life is all about. Helping others. I don’t get to give up because as much as I might want to, or as much as I might feel my life is all my own and that it is no one else’s business what I do, that is an inaccurate statement.

I am doing this whole Law of Attraction thing and though it feels like nothing is giving and nothing is sparkly, I am learning that I am still on my path. I am learning that despite once feeling guilty about everything that ever happened to me, I am okay. I am the master of my universe. I am the creator of my life. I have a vibration that attracts things. The essence of that which is like unto itself is drawn.

I used to write about my sobriety here but stopped because I was busy with other things and there were already so many great websites and blogs about living sober I figured I would be better off helping people in other ways, and so I did.

If you are going through it, keep going. You’re going to be okay. If you need help and have to where to turn, go to one of these links to get started. AA NA

Guilty

Being Me…

Dance Floor
Dance Floor (Photo credit: enric archivell)

Okay, so I’m an alcoholic.  I was probably born one, but didn’t catch on until my late twenties.  Further, I didn’t do anything about it until my early thirties. I tripped, stumbled, blacked out… did all the crazy things that alcoholics do and then some.

The one thing that got me tripped up all my life was… me.  I am so damn hard on myself!  I can go down my list of “nots” and really spiral into a dark, lifeless hole.

I am not pretty enough; smart enough; talented enough; GOOD enough. It seeps in like a cool November breeze and before I know it I am sitting there shivering with rage.  I cry, curse at myself. Hell, when I was a teenager, I even used to hit myself if you can imagine that one.  I just hated myself so much.  I hated me, I hated my mother for giving birth to me and I hated God for allowing my birth.  Surely, it was a mistake.  Why on Earth would He put someone as pathetic and ugly as me on the planet?

Yeah, ugly.  I suffered with my self-image for a long time and still do… sometimes.  I was picked on all through school as a child and then a pre-teen and a teenager.  I was even made fun of as an adult. I resorted to violence to fend off the teasing when I was younger.  When I was older, I just drank more.  Surely the alcohol would numb my self-loathing.

I guess I felt, “hey, if I can’t be pretty, I’ll be a brute.”  Even though I weighed maybe seventy pounds soaking wet when I was thirteen.  At five feet seven, that right there my friends is a ‘bean pole,’ as I was called.

There were much worse names.

I was picked on in junior high school because I didn’t “fill out” like all the other girls.  I was so flat chested, I didn’t even wear a bra.  One time, some boys were walking down the hallway behind my friend and me and they grabbed at our backs to snap our bra straps.  I found out later they did that to prove I didn’t have a bra on because I didn’t have breasts. They laughed their asses off that day.  I ran in the bathroom and cried.

I felt worthless.  I felt ashamed.  I felt soooo ugly.

So yeah, I became violent. I started getting in fights with other girls and I started beating up boys.  Beating up boys!  Not so much beating them into a bloody pulp, but I got the best of them for sure.

Now, you would think that after all these years, and all my years sober and all the step work I have done and all the resentments I have talked about with my sponsor and all the shit I have let go, that this would be the big one I wanted to let go, because, after all, who the hell wants to hold onto a big pile of shit?

I just don’t know how to let it the hell go!  I am so mad still (sometimes.) I am not mad all the time, but sometimes I just get mad.  Sometimes, I look in the mirror and still see that skinny, flat-chested girl who used to get picked on. The girl who boys didn’t like.  The girl who boys didn’t ask to go to dances and when she was at dances, they certainly didn’t want to dance with. The girl who never got put on the “list of girls.”

A lot of people say, “Darlene, get the hell over it.  That was a long time ago.  You’re beautiful!”

Yes, there are times that I feel beautiful. But there are other times, usually when I am watching television or I am on the beach or at a big concert or something, that I just get way lost in the hoopla of what is defined as beauty today.

For the record, I don’t watch much television and I rarely go to the beach. I listen to a lot of music, do a lot of writing and I do my readings everyday because a small part of me knows it is all in my head.  A small part of me sometimes sees something beautiful in me.

I never think of drinking over this.  Hell, I can’t remember the last time a drink entered my mind.  Thankfully, I have a lot of women in my life and a pretty good support system.  Thankfully, I have the rooms and the literature I read.

Thankfully, most times I recognize it is all in my head.

Hope – It Keeps Me Hanging On

Music guitar
Music guitar (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Not sure if you ever saw the movie “Shawshank Redemption,” but there is a great scene in that film regarding ‘hope.’  Tim Robbins’ character has it and Morgan Freeman’s character thinks he is hopelessly romancing hope because hope is a heart breaker.

Maybe it depends on the person when it comes to hope.  I used to feel disdain for hope.  Maybe it was because I grouped hope with wishing and praying when I was using and drinking.  Then again, the things I hoped for were things like not getting pulled over by the police while I was high or having twenty extra dollars in my pocket to finish getting my load on. Go figure.

These days ‘hope’ is very different for me.  I do hope for material things like hitting the lottery or waking up one day with big boobs, but I know these things aren’t going to happen, so I am acting the child when it comes to hoping, praying and wishing for things.

I need to redirect my hope to attainable things that are not materialistic.  I write music reviews for three different websites.  At this moment, I am not paid for this, but that’s okay.  I love what I do.  I hope to one day get paid to write about music, but until then I will work my day job and write about music in the evening.

I hope to one day have a flourishing career in the music/writing industry.

Hope is amazing.

Day 8 – Control

Self Control (film)
Self Control (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“You cannot always control circumstances, but you can control your own thoughts.” ~ Charles Popplestown

Wouldn’t I just love to control everything, everyone and every circumstance so that I may never be upset, angry or hurt.  The truth is, I have no control over anything except my thinking, and that is where the trouble comes into play.

For years, I tried to control the behavior of others to manipulate my mood.  I would tell them how to behave so that I may be happy.  This is a temporary fix to a deep problem.

Honestly, the sheer effort it takes to control other people and their behaviors is exhausting.  Putting people where we think they belong, helping them act the way they should act and relying on others to make us happy is unfair to us and them.

Do you find that trying to control everything is exhausting?  

Day 5 – Celebrating Freedom

Freedom
Freedom (Photo credit: Josef Grunig)

How awesome is it to celebrate freedom from the slavery of drugs and alcohol?  Once a drudgery of self-loathing and hatred, when I put down the drink and the drug, I found a new way of life and discovered freedom to the core.

There were no more lost moments of clarity.  Nights once spent in a drunken stupor were a thing of the past.  My nights turned into eating at diners after meetings with other like-minded people in search of a common goal.  I discovered that drinking and drugging were not a staple when it came to fun.

Fun and entertainment came in new and enlightening ways without drugs and alcohol.  As I started to work my program, the chain-links of self snapped one by one, creating a gate I could swing open into a new world.

One by one, I snapped a link one day at a time.

Amazing.

Day 4 – Keeping Score

Hopscotch
Hopscotch (Photo credit: Jan Tik)

When I was little I played games like most kids.  Hopscotch, Tag and Freedom were some of my favorites.  As I got older, I joined a few organized sports like softball and basketball.  I was athletic and while I didn’t particularly enjoy losing, I did it gracefully… sometimes.

Somewhere along the way I learned the awful habit of comparing myself to others.  My looks, my education, my material belongings… all of this and more was never good enough, never small enough, never big enough, never pretty enough; it was never enough and there began my dark spiral into the “not’s” as I call them.

Comparisons are like keeping score and I came up short (the loser) every damn time.

Something I’ve learned in sobriety is to compare myself to myself.  Everything about me I need to compare only to myself because, being a good alcoholic, it is easy for me to tailspin into a dark hole of self-doubt and woe-is-me.

“She’s prettier.” “Her boobs are bigger.” “Oh my gosh!  Look how cute her feet are!  I wish I had feet like that!” I mean, it goes on and on and on!  Ugh… I can go from 100 to 0 in less that thirty seconds when I start keeping score in my head.

Keeping score wears on my self-esteem, it shows on my face and most important it drains me.  Luckily, I love to read self-help books, go to meetings and talk with other women.  I have learned when I start to keep score and am learning how to stop.

  • Say the Serenity Prayer.
  • Realize that everyone is beautiful in their own way (including me).
  • I am better than I was a year ago.
  • I am on my own journey, and it is amazing.
  • Focus on my attributes.

These are some of the ways I deal with my “not’s.”  I’m human, so some days are easier than others.

Progress, not perfection.

Day 3 – Worthiness

If you don't see your worth, you'll always cho...
(Photo credit: deeplifequotes)

“The reality – the real reality – is that we are already worthy, there is no test to pass.”

That’s right.  Worthiness.  Self-worth. Feeling worthy. I battled with this demon for decades.  I battle a little less each day and am winning the war. Go me!

Worthiness was all in my mind.  I tied my self-worth to people, places and things for years (like a good alcoholic).  Even after I got sober, I still did this and could not figure out why I wasn’t feeling any different.  Then I started reading my Big Book and a ton of other books.

It clicked.

There is no test to pass!  No one is judging me.  Okay, maybe some people are (human nature), but you know what?  Who cares!  In the end I have to stand before me and my Higher Power and that is all I have to live with.  If I can get to the end of the day and go through my inventory and know that I did the best I could, recognize where I need improvement and give it to a God of my understanding, I have lived my life as intended.

Do you ever feel unworthy?  How do you leap that hurdle? 

Day 1 – Reacting to Conditions

Sunday
Sunday (Photo credit: ex.libris)

I have this great book called, “365 Excuse Me…” which is a daily thought book.  There is a quote for each day of the year and a short blurb about the quote.  I do not read this book every day, but when I do, turn through the pages until I find something that suits me.

I had a great heart to heart with my daughter Sunday night, and after picking the book up, happened to flip to the page that said this:

“As long as we’re reacting to conditions, something will always be wrong.”

How awesome is that?!

Basically, that quote means we cannot change anything that goes on around us.  We can only change how we think, which changes how we feel.  We can choose how we react to a particular situation!  Way freaking cool, man!

It took me years to figure this out!

Quick example:  I am in traffic and someone cuts me off.  I can either yell expletives and flip him off, thereby ruining most of my morning, or I can say to myself, “Gee, I guess he is in a hurry.” Shrug it off and just go about my route to wherever.

I have no control over what the guy did!  I only have control over my reaction to what happened.  Period.

Are you able to control your reaction to outside events?