Feed Your Mind…

“Free your mind….and the rest will follow…”

~En Vouge, Free Your Mind~

Podcasts seem to be popping up anywhere anyone has an opinion or story. The beauty if that they are all something we all can access with ease (some for free), and tune into other people’s opinions. I scoffed at all of this at first. I mean, “Come on, man!” It’s 2021! We already have 24 news cycles, op-eds, twitter and more. There are a few that I have found to be downright additive to any type of mental health homework though. I love music, but find when I tune into these while walking, I get to exercise my brain a bit too (and it needs it!) I have grown fond of Brene Brown’s Unlocking Us podcast, Dear Chelsea by Chelsea Handler, Joyce’s Meyer’s Talk It Out, and my personal favorite, We Can do Hard Things by Glennon Doyle.

I have been trying to work on my physical health too. Returning to running after a hiatus has been painful mentally and physically. Weekends used to be for 8 mile runs, and mentally I just kick my own ass for not being there. I have been working to add what I can-where and when. One of these is on my 30 minute break, eating quickly and then walking for 20 minutes or so. Today my inner harmony was off. I could blame mercury being in retrograde or I could own my own shit and reset my mood. So I took off for my walk and decided to listen to one of Glennon Doyle’s latest podcasts.

Game changer. She does hard things AND she is a game changer in the field of mental health and recovery (imo.)

As I walked past the newly fallen leaves upon the beautiful sidewalks of East Dixon Avenue in Charlevoix; I tuned in and actively listened to what she had to say with her crew today. The title today was “Living By Your Own Original Music instead of the Crappy Cover Tunes.” (I love a good music metaphor as well.) The topic covered the basis of how do you know something about yourself versus have you conditioned yourself the worst case scenario and telling yourself lies.

Hmmm.

Digging deeper, its a hugely and deeply impactful thought. How do we know when to trust ourselves? Women inherently are trained to be nice to be people and often push away feelings of fear from strangers. It can be their intuition talking to them. I spent a good three years afraid of strangers after my assault. I allowed thoughts of fear to become a baseline.

I am also open up the anxiety I have carried with me my entire life. I was born high strung, hyper aware, empathetic, and sensitive. (All things I embrace more and more as I age and grow okay with.) How do we know if its the beast of anxiety…say a cover tune playing in our minds versus the original song of being of rational mind. Even thinking about this sorta stresses me out!

I love what the basic thought process was by those talking during the podcast. You have to get back to a baseline, ask yourself, how do I really feel in this situation/place/about a person and trust that you were made by God to feel what’s right. Stay out of overthinking and your mind. For most of us, its a damn mess in there.

I get this and it resonates with me.

My entire inner being is so much better after some form of exercise outside. Its like my body feeds off the nature of God’s creation and calms itself back to being in sync. Mentally I can problem solve anything with my running or work out shoes laced up and the certainty of my air pods being charged. Its what works for me. I can’t meditate, sit still too long, and so many other things that others use to calm down.

I understand about those cover tunes all too well. When we tell ourselves we must react to something-we internalize it and we do! What you feed yourself mentally is just as important, if not more, than what you feed yourself physically. Negative thoughts and thinking can be equated with the spinning stomach of a sugar and junk food addict. Its a roller coaster, unstable, and nothing good ever comes from it.

So ask yourself, what are you doing to feed your mind something positive today?

How are you going to re-center your day?

Do the hard thing and put some investment back in you!

And as always, I am a phone call away if you need anything or further brainstorm on this. Who knows, may be can create a rock band of positivity.

Please God Show Me the Way..

Please God, show ’em the way
Please God, on this”

-Stevie Nicks, “Show them the Way”

Can you honestly say you always put faith over fear? I

I’m going to own some serious shit and and admit my own hypocrisy.

I preach faith over fear to so many people. I say a lot of things. Like the positive posts on Instagram and Facebook with the sayings too. My actions don’t always match my words. I freak out. I fret. I blame. I worry. I overreact and show my fangs to those that love me.

So I ask, what does putting faith over fear mean to you?

I love the Lord with my entire heart. I thank him everyday for my recovery, health, family, happiness, and pray I can be the best person for that day every morning. I bought one of those “pumpkin spice and Jesus Christ” shirts, I openly pray if someone needs it. When someone askes me how I stay sober; I say through God and God only.

Yet there are cracks in my foundation of faith.

Instead of keeping the faith when my Dad was air lifted to ICU; I swore like a sailor, panicked, didn’t sleep, freaked out, and took it 100% out on my partner Ryan. Where was my faith at that moment? It can’t only be there for the status quo moments of bliss and routine. Faith also cannot only be a foxhole prayer. It can’t also trickle out the door the second the going gets tough.

By observing my own behavior and looking back on some past behaviors I have come to the realization that I need to learn to practice what I preach. Just like everything of merit and value in my life-being a woman of faith and virtue takes work. It takes work to unclench my jaw (which I also do in my sleep), take a deep breath and turn those fears over to what I believe in. Its daily work, not dormant sayings. Just like those who stay physically fit and healthy make it a lifestyle not a fad diet-its just as important to work on the health, peace and serenity of my being a lifestyle not a fad as well.

Its work. Its going to be a painful work for me to get back into running shape again, but I know every time I lace up those shoes I am coming back to a place I need to be and doing important work for myself. The payoff and trade off are worth it.

Its daily work for me to admit to myself, the world, and God that I cannot drink like a normal person. I never, ever will be able to again. There is no such thing as one in my vocabulary. Its also going to take work to curb any self pity and the side habit of including the word fuck in my vocabulary.

I was born a feeling person with high strung qualities. I feel things. I don’t know what a baseline of calm is like as a person. It will be work for me to put faith over fear into action in my life. Who knows, may be just for now, when I start off by saying God grant me the serenity…the prayer doesn’t have to stop there and a deep breath of gratitude could help. One day at a time…..I am getting there by owning my shit and working to get better.

Faith over fear.

Not so simple is it?

Unmanageability Doesn’t = Alone

“Is there anyone out there ’cause
It’s getting harder and harder to breathe
Is there anyone out there ’cause
It’s getting harder and harder to breathe”

~Harder To Breathe, Maroon 5~

What would you define in your life as “unmanageable” or the parts you don’t want anyone to see? Or even better yet; what do you think is the definition of unmanageability?

I have had a few conversations with people in various people with different places of their lives of where they felt their manageability of their lives was at the moment. We are all human. Some are good. Some are bad. One was celebrating 30 days without a drop of alcohol. Another was feeling alone, isolated, and yet thought it was all kept together. One was in a life changing and air-grasping for God type of situations. One is making a life career move for their family, wife, and work life balance.

It made me think of my own place in life, my own definition of the word, and how…at times…that term unmanageability was my own damn existence. You see alcoholics and our very core of our program teeter to the very brink of survival around this word. The funny thing is, most of us like to be in control and have a character defect of being in control. I know I do, and I have to daily let the reigns go and let God!

When I think of what unmanageability is, its not being able to exist or cope with your own personal choices anymore. Something or possibly someone is now holding a control, a compulsion over you that is hindering every decision you make. When I am under the control of picking up my first drink, I am no longer myself. I am no longer in control. All I care about is where the next one is at. I will lie, evade, manipulate, plot, scheme, and even literally run miles to a liquor store to get my hands on the next one.

The beauty of the creation of the human mind is we do have free choice. I get to curse a situation out, go for a walk, say the serenity prayer until I am blue in the face, or write another to do list (control defect still under warranty…) before I stare down that first drink ever again.

The gift I have with that definition and the sainthood of alcoholics anonymous is that I know I have freedom of choice. I also know the monster I can create within that choice.

I have memories. Memories of sprinting to liquor stores in the dead heat of summer and inhaling my drink. And then, this is so gross, running back home buzzed. I have memories of holding one hand steady to put a contact lens in or guide a mascara wand over my lashes because my hands were shaking so badly with morning withdrawal. I had to appear I had it together though, right.

Because we can’t let anyone in to know we have problems we can’t manage.

Guess what folks, God put us here on this Earth to put together a we solution, not a me problem.

We don’t have to manage life perfectly, we can share in things together so when these choices lead us to the miserable unmanageability feeling of hopelessness-we know we are not alone.

So be kind. Make the first right choice. Celebrate those beautiful milestones. Relish in the last outdoor days of Summer.

As always, if you need help, please know you are loved and I am only a phone call away.

Bull Shit and Serenity

I can remember being at a workshop once where we once were supposed to write a life mantra. Something to keep ourselves floating on a pink cloud of happiness, take back laminated to our offices, and smile with warm, down to Earth good feelings every time we look at this.

I hated this work shop. My anxiety was swirling into lists of everything I had to be doing back in my office (or after hours since I had signed up for an employee workshop meant to help with stress management.) The fringe benefits in front of me were not grasped with the authenticity they were meant to. The hypervigilant performer in myself pretended to muse, smiled, and volunteered to read mine out loud. I remember throwing that thing in the trash within a month.

I remember thinking revealing imperfect layers of yourself on any level were weakness and utter bull shit. Authentic wasn’t a word in my vocabulary. Its no wonder I strived so hard in so many areas of my life to fit in and be “liked.” I had no clue who the hell I was. I was an actress trying to please the world and excel at everything I touched (all while appearing flawlessly unruffled and rested.)

I hate that version of myself. It literally served me no purpose and kept me feeling so alone and isolated for so many years. Anxiety may have added benefits of stress cleaning that proves to have results in the end. Not being present is a determent; not an asset. It robs you of peace, serenrity, and true authenticity.

I bring all of this up as it came up on my walk today as I was thinking about what these definitions really are in my life. What are: joy, peace, serenity, and being truly authentic to me? What are they to other people? I need to know what they are so I can figure out some type of status quo in my life to maintain and properly protect with boundaries.

I refuse to be inauthentic in any area of my life anymore.

Serenity to me also means safety. Sadly, when I was attacked and assaulted on a running trail over 5 years ago, someone took that boundary of safety from me. Because of that I struggle with personal space with strange men, walking or runing alone in the dark (at night primarily) and sometimes even being approached by well meaning strangers. I’ve come a long way from even a year ago, but feeling safe in my own skin again is going to be a life long journey I don’t expect everyone to understand.

So this will have to be ongoing, fluid, and require rigorous honesty with myself. No more bull shit painted on smiles.

Its okay to feel things that don’t feel okay and process them in a healthy way.

Its not okay to bottle anything up that can lead to a resentment and mess up my recovery.

Do you.

Be you.

Find out what truly matters to you and protect it at all costs.

Adult Time Out Chairs

“Still
Everything happens
For a reason”
Is no reason not to ask myself

If I’m living it right
Am I living it right?
Am I living it right?
Why, tell me why
Why, why Georgia why?”

~John Mayer~

What do the terms boundaries and consequences mean to you? I’ve had to assert some boundaries in my personal life for my own serenity as of lately–and–its been very difficult. I’ve had to evaluate the terms in my personal life and questioned their meaning and fluidity. The ever changing definition of the word. Then I stumbled upon a woman’s personal quote from an in person speech she had given on good ‘ole Instagram.

“Boundaries have no value without consequences.” Diana N. Patterson M. Ed

That hit me like a ton of bricks. Its so simple at its core, yet as we progress into adulthood we overthink and complicate pretty much everything. A toddler hits another child, they go into a time out chair. Okay. So what is the adult version of this in our lives? We can’t make grown people sit in the corners of our homes….so how do we enforce the hits to our feelings, personal needs, inner peace, credibility, integrity, and spiritual fitness?

There are consequences for our actions. Boundaries are meant to value what we hold near. So step one is probably figuring out what that actually is. I am comfortable saying that at the end of the day I have to and need to have the following: sobriety, spiritual fitness, serenity of some baseline, lack of drama to maintain the first two, a connection with nature (even for a 5 minute walk), a conversation with God, gratitude, faith, and time for my partner and the people I love like family (and those that ARE family.)

Anything that messes with any of those things that I have worked so incredibly hard for needs to be put into an adult version of a time out chair in my life.

No ifs, ands, or butts.

This is easy to write out and point out to other people-but try acting it out.

I strive to live by the golden rule, and treat others the way I would want to be treated. That doesn’t always allot for a time to pause and grasp is this person treating me the way that I deserve to be treated or that is harming my precious recovery bubble of serenity. I have to hold a higher value on that. Even if it means putting someone on a time out in my life for now. I never make these decisions lightly, or base on one interaction (because we are all human and doing the very best we can.)

Either way I have to start valuing myself and what I have worked so hard for in my life to protect it. Just like parents don’t like handing out punishments all day long, I don’t like hitting delete, block ,and responding with “I’m sorry I can’t be there for you right now.” Trust me though…if I had to cut you off for now….I was handed the loppers not scissors to do so.

So this Sunday, I am going to challenge myself to one thing that I must protect and think hard about it while out getting some exercise. (I swear sometimes Lake Michigan and my conversations with God help me out with answers…) It may be sleep, less e-mail, less something, but I’m going to work to protect it.

After all value starts with v….v means victory and another beautiful day in recovery.

Never Judge a Book by Its Cover

” Just for today, I could live through this day only….Not deal with life’s problems. Just for today.” ~George Harrison~

I recently came across a picture of myself from say circa 2017. In this picture, I’m smiling, its summertime outside, I look put together, teal streak in my hair matches my dress, in front of the library where I was spending time working on wrapping up another degree-fun phone no less!

Things aren’t always what they seem. I had a hard time seeing this one.

Not because I was so in shape due to running so many miles (which was bore out of a bit of self hatred for myself at the time….) its because I was so very sick still at the time. I was suffering from an invisible disease that kills 88’000 at a minimum annually.

I was a full blown alcoholic in this picture. I had even been to treatment; so everyone assumed I hoped and prayed I was better.

I remember taking this picture and then sneaking alcohol into a public bathroom for consumption. I will spare you more details, because it just breaks my heart and I don’t want to trigger anyone. I had it ALL together though right. That day I had gone for a long run, gotten dressed to match my hair, enjoyed studying in the sun, planned ahead and more. I looked happy. I was so incredibly empty and in pain in the inside. That is what alcoholism is its pain.

I can remember for the longest time I often heard, “well you don’t look like an alcoholic.” I heard it in treatment, meetings, you name it. Guess what, its pain, its real, its raw and doesn’t discriminate. The pain of that girl from four years ago makes me wince. I just want to reach back in time and hug her.

The AA promises ask us to not regret the past, but not shut the door on it. This very much applies here. I can’t beat 2021 Kate up over the actions of 2017 Kate, however I have to remember and forever be vigilant. I could wake her up real quickly and throw away a lot of hard work if I wanted to. I also thank all of you who stood by and loved me at my worst back then-I know it couldn’t have been easy.

Its good to glimpse back to remember progress and remember what used to be. I took a walk that evening to return library books and stopped to take a similar photo in front of a similar building. I am older, tired after a long day, hair is dirty, not in as a great of physical shape, but sober and like myself so much more.

The pain and hiding is gone and I’m starting to see a new freedom.

To the Family That Still Suffers..

“If I’m helpless tell me now
Tell me now
And I’ll stop trying to figure it out”

~John Mayer~

Have you ever had a week that just ate you alive and spit you out? If you didn’t have to raise your hand, Congrats-its 2021-you have officially lived in a bubble. Life is filled with its ups and downs. We have to feel the glory to know the defeat and all that jazz.

My sleep tank is pretty empty, my journal has been furiously written into, footsteps beaten into, more serenity prayers to count and so much more. While I was stress cleaning the house today (that IS an entirely different topic for another rainy day!) I had so many thoughts cross my mind that I knew the universe was telling me to get it out there. You see at the end of my stressful week placated with a large drinking festival and overtime at work; I stand with my battle wounds at the end of the finish line still sober.

GRATEFUL to still be sober.

I had a serious overlap of recovery and relapse and the “addict that still suffers” happen before my very eyes. I also had a new sub sphere of recovery I hadn’t thought about before occur to me. The families that still suffer.

I came into a situation where in my line of work an individual had need due to a water damaged cell phone and more in the early am hours. As well as needing replenishing of gin and tonics prior to 8 am. He was asking staff to help him locate his brother (who is locally known in the area.) At first the length I went to was to tell others to “not judge” out of nothing but fierce loyalty to those I see still struggling. Then I mulled it over, this individual asked me for help, the internet is accessible, I know who he is asking for, I just had a nagging gut feeling I owed the brother a phone call.

So I trusted my gut. I called the brother and as politely as I could reintroduced myself and only revealed that his brother was here and his cell phone was damaged so was looking to try to connect with him. What I got on the other end of the phone was a grateful sigh followed by polite feedback on how to move forward. I was told the family was looking for this person and had combed the town hospitals and jails in desperation.

The empathy in my heart exploded and my mind swirled back to a different time. A time when I was sitting in the Bear River Health Treatment Center, and after a really intense group session I was overcome with remorse and called my Mom. I couldn’t believe that I had been so selfish when I chose alcohal over family and literally had my poor parents, Aunt Susie, and so many others worried sick for days that turned into weeks on what the ill fated outcome could be. As soon as she picked up the phone, I started to cry and told her how sorry I was for everything I had put her through and after what we had just been working on I had to call and tell her that.

I still rememeber her response.

“Its in the past, all I want is for you to move forward and be healthy and happy.”

I had forgotten until this past week the intense hell the addict that still uses or the alcoholic who still hasn’t surrendered yet put their family through. We call recovery and the recovery community a WE community. You have others to help you get through it for a reason. Its like having the largest, international extended family ever. The same is for addiction. Its not just a solo person it can take down. The entire family suffers.

So for me, from here on out, whenever I silently pray for the addict that still suffers, I will add on the family that still suffers. Weeks good and bad come and go. I’m forever grateful that my family can now sleep well knowing I am okay.

I hope and pray you can all do the same for yourself. As for me, I am going to work on better sleep habits, longer runs, and as always I am here if you need me.

“Good Enough for What?”

“And if I’m being honest
I’m not always as tough as I seem
And I can have my moments
Where words can get the best of me
And the ones that I say to myself
Are the ones that hit the hardest”

~If I’m Being Honest, Kaitlyn Bristowe~

What words do you hear in your head on repeat daily?

For so many of us; its version of negative self-talk. Something someone has said to us that stuck in a place of time of intense healing or need of character affirmations’ not assassinations’ and it just…well STUCK. The human nature tends to believe the very worst about ourselves during our very best days. Matthew Perry just admitted during the much famed FRIENDS reunion the amount of pressure he felt to always be “on” make others laugh, perform, and how paralyzing it was for him. The people that were around him daily had so much empathy for him. They had no idea. My heart hurt for him. I got it. Those isolating thoughts that lasso us into just “one more drink” in the early days of our addiction.

I’ve been there. I’ve always been the “not good enough” girl in my own mind. Its horrible, damning, isolating, leads to searching for something to numb and more. We snap at the things that people don’t understand. We seem like we have it all together. Its exhausting.

I share all of this because I’m in a place now where I’m sober, exploring my demons that lead me to drink in the first place, and able to reach out and listen to others. This past week alone with others has been eye opening, emotional, and so incredibly transparently reveling that others suffer from this too. People suffer in silence an perform at a perfect 10. Its heartbreaking. I get it and so have been there. They take on so many burdens, negative words, emotions and more and manifest it unto themselves.

I’m so done doing it.

I refuse to allow myself to be a part of anything that eats away at: myself, my self- esteem, my spirit, my recovery and my authentic self. I refuse to buy into the words I have been called this week meant to take me down: useless, lazy, selfish, self-centered, and more. I also refuse to watch anyone get taken down when they aren’t able to fight for themselves. Kicking someone when they are down is criminal and makes you weak. I have a bit of my Grandma (TT) Geraldine in me-don’t mess! I am who I am in this moment doing the best I can, and I am inclined to believe that the rest of the world is as well.

So for now, do what Ellen DeGenerges says, “Be Kind to One Another.” People are already playing tapes on repeat and suffering from things you know nothing about. For so many that I love; your kindness is what may help keep them sober and serene for that day. (seriously.) Words matter and so do you.

I love you all and am always a phone call away.

Love always, Kate.

“Get Feisty!”

What do you hide that scares you to not talk about?

I know for me for MANY days, weeks, months, and may be even years it was the broken pieces of my broken past littered with trauma, addiction, healing, and moving on.

In the beginning, I wanted to be the poster child for everything I had going on to heal from. It helped me feel connected to others. I was LOUD and PROUD. Then somewhere in the dark and twisty parts of my life story, I got quiet and retreated. (I call these the shame pockets Satan wants us to dwell in.) I have had some odd reminders lately that have pulled me out of these pockets.

I was able to talk about my life, my moments, my own path, my own healing, my own recovery, my own trauma to look someone in the eye and let them know they weren’t alone more than a few times in the past week. I explained to a physician while talking about a very dibilitating migraine issue that NO NARCOTICS and “sorry I get very fiesty about my recovery!”

I loved the response back, “Get fiesty! Its YOUR recovery and your life!” I was not expecting that response. I mumbled something back like, its not something I have ever had a problem with, but I just don’t trust my brain. I also got the response, “You shouldn’t, you have a disease we need to treat and nuture too.”

Nuture.

Wow.

“I said thank you so much for saying that” (then damn near cried when I had a moment alone…)

I am grateful for the checkered path of a very cumbersome week that pulled me out of my comfort zone. There are no coincidences in life or God’s plan (in my opinion.)

I am not sure where my pathway is for this moment, but I want to say this.

We are all human. We all have our own stuff. Some of our rock bottoms and trauma are so incredibly jagged and scary. That doesn’t mean you have to be alone or that another human being can’t connect with you. I care. So many people in this world care.

You are a worthy, blessed, incredibly human being.

And I am always a phone call or text away….even with a migraine.

Love Thy Neighbor

“All you need is love…” ~The Beatles~

Aren’t we supposed to say “hate the sin, not the sinner….?”

I’ve noticed a trend lately. There appears to be a whole new entity of “isms” and prejudice(s) present in our country. Its not about being red or blue, but one side of the aisle of the other but more. I have witnessed pure hatred between people who consider themselves decent, law abiding, some Christian, people towards people who voted differently than they did the last election. Hate towards a person simply because they voted differently than you.

I am talking hate, disgust, contempt towards one another. Severances of friendships. Lack of understanding. Just labeling of another person and assuming they are BAD or a supporter of (insert.) I know of families split, and friendships ripped apart. I could keep on going.

This is a new “ism” in my opinion. This is not loving thy neighbor. This is hating someone based on how they voted. Aren’t we a country united on the belief that this shouldn’t be happening at all anymore? Freedom of so many things, religion etc. If you were to gossip with your friend that you couldn’t stand so and so because they were practicing a religion different than you, a different ethnic make up you would be a bigot or racist. This is a slippery slope folks and not much different.

In order to grow and not be where we are at, we have to talk about the uncomfortable in the moment of reality. We have to stop seeing things from our own lenses, and own jaded media outlets (and they are all jaded and adding fuel to the fire…another topic…) No more finger pointing.

So lets all embrace one another. This past year has been ROUGH! I am sitting in a newly reopened public space wearing a mask. A year ago when this would not have been my norm seems so far away. So lets imagine where we all can be a year from now. Will you have learned from your friends? Had meangingful conversations? Opened your mind and heart up? Mended wounds? Disenganged from hurtful social media?

Where do you want to be a year from now? What is ACTULLY in your realm of control?

You actions of kindness, respect and more. I am so serious when I say this. You don’t have to agree with everything, everyone, and may be upset about the election or possibly still celebrating. Neither makes you a better or worse person. It makes you a person who made a choice.

So what choices will you make? Will you go shovel the walk for your elderly neighbor or not because their political signs tell you your have differing politics? Hold open the door for the person still wearing the whomever 2020 pin different from you at the grocery store? Will you put away the judgement and go back to looking at a person as a person.

We were commanded a long time ago to love thy neighbor. I could think of nothing more fitting for Valentine’s Day week.

Spread the love.

You might be surprised.