Richness Comes from Simplicity

Richness Comes from Simplicity

by Dee Harris

You Are Rich photo   

      Too much or not enough?  I believe the answer to that question depends a lot on the phase of life you’re in.  It probably doesn’t matter much in what part of the planet you popped out of the womb.  You probably started learning straight away in your society that more is better.  I know I did.

   Why don’t we live in a two-story house?  Can’t we drive a Mercedes?  I need new clothes for school and that new toy I saw on TV.  That’s just in elementary school.

   I want my own car and my own room.  I want to do those things my friends are doing and travel the world like them.  Our neighbor just got a pool. 

   I just want to get through college without owing a bajillion dollars in student loans.  I’ve get to get that job so I can have my own home and a brand new car.  I’ll need that stylish attire for that new job.

   We have a mortgage and a car payment now.  The kids are growing out of their clothes.  They need money for that new camp and their sporting events.  We really should get better insurance and started putting money aside for retirement.

   I’m so glad and so grateful to have made it to my sixth decade in life.  Life is much simpler now.  Why did I wait so long to find peace and contentment? 

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   Being so wrapped up in the craziness and drama of life doesn’t award much time for contemplating whether or not one has peace or contentment.  That contemplation doesn’t usually come until things quiet down, the kids are on their own, and retirement is here or just around the corner.

   That’s how it happened for me and I’ve found myself reading books and streaming videos and movies that peak my interest.  I cancelled our subscription to TV since most of what I was seeing was a waste of time, depressing and negative, and downright junk.  So I stumble across across videos showing how to declutter.  Embrace the mountains of shit accumulated through my lifetime, thank it for coming and bringing me joy, and ask it to leave.  

   I read a book suggesting I get rid of 27 things each day for 9 consecutive day.  If I miss a day (which I did twice) I must start again on day one.  I don’t know what day I’m on but I continue to rid my life of 27 things per day.  I’ll always find 27 things to lighten the load.

   The result.  FREEDOM!  Tons of weight off my shoulders!  Space for good chi to flow happily through the house!  And this new chi which serves my highest good makes me think twice every time I need this new gadget or that new toy.  I don’t need anything!  I’ve been blessed with everything I could possibly need. 

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   And I find that the more days that go by where I’ve discarded 27 items from my life make me richer.  Simplicity is my richness, my contentment, my happy place.  No drama.  No chaos.  No poison arrows shooting this way and that way.   And I can breathe and be in the moment.  I can live with gratitude and humility.

   And the awesome thing is that I’m finding I now am more attentive.  I can respectfully give you my full attention when you speak with me.  I can now be more empathetic and compassionate.  I have learned to listen better by decluttering not only my home, but the cobwebs from my brain!

   So know “You are rich, when you are content and happy with what you have.”  And if you’re not feeling it, get rid of what doesn’t give you joy or serve you any longer.  Richness comes from simplicity.

   I would love to hear your stories about contentment, and your feedback as well.  Thank you for being  part of my journey!

   With warmest aloha, 

Dee Harris

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For those looking for motivational reminders to live a simple lifestyle, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  This blog is also available on a YouTube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cz5YGeyBrxk .  Mahalo and enjoy!

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Sharing My Message – Toastmasters Ice Breaker Speech

Hi there everyone.  Madame President, Toastmaster officers, members and visitors.  My name is Dee and welcome to my Toastmasters Ice Breaker Speech.

By a show of hands, who here is really excited to be here tonight with no where that you’d rather be?  Sweet.  Well, there’s no where that I would rather be at this moment and I believe there are no coincidences.  No coincidence that we are all here together in this room tonight, affecting, changing, bettering each others’ lives.  I’m really jazzed to be at a point in my life where I’m trying to better myself, and with the ripple down effect, better those who enter my “Dee Bubble”.

When I took a speech class in college I was mortified.  I couldn’t get my body to stop shaking and almost made myself sick with fear prior to giving my speech.  I had memorized all the pages of my speech, vomited it out, and didn’t know what the heck I had said when all was said and done.  I know I want to speak more naturally today and to be myself with rigorous honesty.

Speaking about rigorous honesty, that is one of the lessons I learned once I got sober.  It’s very freeing to be just who I am today, even when I make a fool of myself, and, yet, be okay with that.  That’s a great gift I’ve received in sobriety, the gift of finally feeling comfortable in my own skin and being all right just knowing that I’ve done my best.  I never had this mindset before, when I was active in my disease of people-pleasing and low self-esteem.  With that I can now talk in front of a group of people and not be shaking in my skin, ready to puke my guts out.  Because if you don’t like me, that’s okay.  I don’t take it personally; that’s not my purpose.

Crazy how that happened.  Again, no coincidences that I’ve been provided a journey through life to bring me from a deep, dark place of self-loathing and self-hatred to a place of self-respect and self-worth.

So what am I doing here in Toastmasters?  Well, I’ve always loved to write and am now just experiencing my love of speaking.  This love has awarded me opportunities in the AA community to be of service  the Coconut Wireless Newsletter for 3 years, writing about AA events on this side of the island and then as the Public Information Chairperson and speaking at our local DUI classes is part of that commitment and had become one of my new passions.

That is how I got here.  My new drug of choice is sharing my experience, strength and hope with others hoping that one person will get one thing from my share that will spark a ray of hope and optimism in his or her life.  A message of comfort that no one is ever alone on their journey through life, no matter what’s going on, and together we can get through any and everything.  And it’s okay to take off our big girl panties and ask for help.  Not only should we shed the useless bullshit that has inundated our lives from the moment we were born that does not serve us as moral human beings, but we should shed any guilt and shame we might have put on our shoulders and have been carrying around with us for way too long.  That is why I’m here.  To gain experience on how to share this message.

Today I have an online shop where I sell my Art with a Message of Hope and Inspiration.  I also sell at the Pure Kona Green Market every Sunday down in Captain Cook.  And as I drive there early on Sunday morning I am grateful for the prosperity I shall be receiving that day, not in terms of financial reward, but in terms of the wonderful interactions I shall have with like-minded caring and loving individuals who enter my “Dee Bubble”.  I have never gone home disappointed.

However, last year I started to wonder if sharing my experience, strength and hope was being satisfied with one weekly market and social interaction.  That is when the thought of being a Ted Talker or an AA Circuit Speaker entered my mind.  I put it in my God Box because today I have faith and don’t have to know where I’m going.  I just know it feels right and I shall just concentrate on carrying the message to DUI classes, schools, and whatever local organizations are interested.  With that, I joined Toastmasters so that I can do my best to serve my Higher Powers’ purpose of sharing my experience, strength and hope.  Today I am humble…and I am grateful.

Thank you.

Thank you for being part of my journey and helping me to Share My Message.  With warmest aloha, Dee Harris

If you are interested in my Art with a Message of Hope and Inspiration, please visit my website at http://www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  And if you would like to see this blog on video, please visit me on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7dkpopPjss.  Mahalo and enjoy!

Welcome Change

 

Welcome Change quote

Welcome Change

Dee Harris

   I feel change coming.  I feel it in my gut, intuition, spirit.  You know what I mean?  Like something’s happening but I’m unable to put my finger on it.

   I’m excited for it; whatever it is.  Today I wake up excited for whatever the day has in store for me.  Lately, it’s been a lot of business stuff, like accounting and inventories, taxes and websites, closing out the month and closing out the year.  

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   Since I restarted my business full-time in 2013 I have spent 80-90% of my time on business stuff.  Not the fun, creative stuff.  No, the business/computer stuff.

   When I had my own stained glass business back in the ’70’s and ’80’s we had no computers or internet.  I did a lot of craft fairs and trade shows and travelled heaps.  Years later I burned out from my robot-like state of mass producing similar items and yearning to be a creative.  I decided to take a month off which turned into years, marriage, family and a “real” job.

   Fast-forward to being an entrepreneur in today’s fast-paced world.  Social media is a full-time job.  There is so much to learn regarding SEO, algorithms, conversions and a lot of other uninteresting terminology like that.  However, I’ve learned so much; the most important lesson, I don’t want to do this anymore.  I just want to create art that is meaningful to me that I can be proud of.  And I want to carry a message of positivity and hope, self-love and self-worth.

   So what does that mean?  What does that entail?  What is meaningful to me?  What makes me proud?

   Back-track to 2013 when I quit my “real” job of 20 years that had the weekly paycheck, union backing, pension and health benefits.  Why did I feel I had to leave?  

   At that time I recently had a relapse back into my disease of alcoholism but, more so, back into my disease of thinking.  When I first got sober back in ’98 I was the poster child of AA.  I did everything that was suggested, one day at a time.  Having gone through a 28-day treatment program for alcoholism, I learned about the disease.  Working the 4th Step of AA taught me about my way of thinking and how it didn’t serve me…didn’t serve my highest good.  

   I changed for the better, but, one day at a time, I attended fewer and fewer AA meetings.  I stopped hanging out with like-minded fellows and, most importantly, I stopped giving back what was so freely given me when I needed it most.  Sadly, I had forgotten how freeing it was to live a spiritual life from my heart and my head and ego took over once again, one day at a time.

   13-1/2 years later when offered that drink, I took it.  Immediately the disease yelled out for MORE!  Thus, ended my sobriety but couldn’t take back the time of being clean and sober nor what I had learned about alcoholism.   

   So this was a gift from my Higher Power to get back right-sized.  To remember that unless I give it away I can’t keep it.  To always be there for the newcomer and remember that the newcomer is there to help me remember how f*cked up this disease is…ALL those dis-eases we have with our thinking, with living in negativity, with being hopeless.

   Following that relapse I made it back into the rooms of AA.  My purpose in life was solidified, confirmed, that I was to share my experience, strength and hope with others…ALL others, but especially those suffering from the disease of alcoholism.  I know today that I’ve been chosen to be sober and to share this gift.

   When I got sober again I plunged back into doing stained glass.  It was always so therapeutic to me and I found that its healing didn’t go away after decades of abandonment.  I focused mainly on making stained glass recovery symbols…a beveled triangle in a stained glass circle with “Unity…Service…Recovery” engraved on the triangle.

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   While still working at my “real job” I started an online shop and started learning about web-based business.  I sold my art at local markets.  I was hooked because that’s what alcoholics do; they get hooked.  I found myself head-over-heels involved in AA and working on my business.  My attitude got sucky at my “real” job.  I can tell you now, that it wasn’t my job, but it was me and my lack of a full surrender to my Higher Power.  Rather than get fired after 20 years of service with the company, I chose to take an early retirement.

  That move gave me the ability to go full-force in my business and, more importantly,  full-force in my recovery, respecting this disease like I respect the ocean; I shall not fear it, but I shall not turn my back on it either.  And that feeling of purpose intensifies daily.  My connection with my Higher Power of My Own Understanding fills me with gratitude, humility, and freedom from my thoughts.  I like to write so I became the editor for our local AA monthly newsletter.  When that service position was over, I took on my current position of Public Information Chairperson for our local area…which is where this story started.

   Yes, I feel there is a change coming my way.  I feel it every time I stand before a DUI class to share my experience, strength and hope.  It’s like a high for me.  I love speaking to the classes so much that I started attending Toastmasters so I can learn to speak more effectively.  Hopefully I can carry the message of recovery into schools, businesses and other facilities that feel a “need”.  I just started The Artist’s Way, a course in discovering and recovering your creative self.  I’m stoked to be on this spiritual path to higher creativity!

   I don’t know where my journey will take me.  I don’t need to know anymore.  No expectations, no disappointments.  Go with the flow and stay in the moment.  Keep connected with my Higher Power and stay right-sized, grateful and humble.  Don’t turn my back on the ocean nor my disease.  And give away my gift of life in recovery.

   I would love to hear about your journey and I encourage any feedback.  Please know that you are not alone on trudging (going in grace) the road of happy destiny.  Know there is no need for guilt nor shame you may have put on your shoulders.  You’ve done your best and that’s all you should ask of yourself.  Love yourself for who you are, right now, and be thankful for all your gifts, those assets so many of us wish we had.

   With warmest aloha, Dee Harris

This blog is also available as a vlog on YouTube at YmNg2KJjuLo.  For those interested in watching the transition of my online business of Art with a Message of Hope and Inspiration, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

Let’s Build Strong Children

Quote by F. Douglass

 Let’s Build Strong Children

by Dee Harris

   No particular person nor occurrence made me a broken adult.  No particular person nor occurrence made me an alcoholic.  It is what it is and today I am okay with that; actually, today I thrive because of it!  I am ever so grateful that just for today I do not HAVE TO drink.  And I am blessed today to have a Higher Power of My Own Understanding in my life that helps me to make sense of my journey.

   As I have more moments of clarity under my belt I realize that I must unlearn most of which I carried into adulthood.  I can’t say that my life experiences made me a broken adult, but I can say that a great proportion of it was a lie and I know today it didn’t serve me.

   Growing up watching Ozzie and Harriet and Father Knows Best on tv impressed upon me the perfect family.  Reading Seventeen magazines as a teenager solidified the perfect body shape and attire.  Opinions, media and newscasts pounded into me that more is better and we don’t have to do it morally nor truthfully in order to get it…get the best job, the bigger house, the nicer car, the latest fashions, the fanciest restaurants, the five-star hotels, the status, the bullshit. 

  Geez Louise.  I fell for it…hook, line and sinker.  And it wasn’t until I worked my 4th Step in Alcoholics Anonymous, “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves”, did I realize how fear-based I had lived and was living my life.  Because I did not achieve all those “things”, I pretended I did so that you wouldn’t think any less of me.  And that all stemmed from me “thinking less of me”.

   How does that happen?  A bit of bullying as a child for being an Asian-American in a mostly white school.  A feeling of not fitting in with the popular cliques.  An opinion of being “less than” because we didn’t have the two-story house nor the Mercedes.  Shit.  How does that happen?

   All I know is that today. now that I am a grandma, I want to stress to my grand babies how awesome they are, how perfect they are, are special they are.  And I got that as a child.  And then I’ll tell them again and again and again until I impress it so into their beings that they’ll run away when they see Tutu coming.

   But a crucial lesson to teach along with offering praise and affirmations is humility.  Yes, we are ALL born with special gifts, whether or not you want to look at it that way, gifts that others wished they had.  So when you start comparing yourself with others and wanting what they have, remember your gifts.  And remember, too, that these gifts didn’t come from you but from something greater than you, a power greater than yourself, call it God, call it the Universe, call it fate.  Just be thankful, but not grandiose, for your gifts.  They can be taken from you in a heartbeat.

   And let’s give our children some kind of stability at home…and that means as much 100% quality look-them-in-the-eye in-total-mindfulness attention.  Attention…caring, loving, understanding, compassion.  We owe them that!  That’s how we build strong children!

   And when we see children who are lacking that stability at home, let’s do our best to care for them as though they were our own, ever, ever so delicately.  Because not all children have stability.  Oftentimes their parents don’t have stability nor did their parents.  They don’t know any other way.  No judgment here.  Just empathy and understanding.

   So when the bully beats down on our children physically, mentally, verbally and emotionally, we have spent that quality time with our children looking them in the eye and ever so gently explaining how that bully’s life might be.  Right?  And we taught them to not lower themselves to the bully’s level, lest the bully wins.  Right?

   And then our kids can delicately offer understanding and compassion to that young bully who has not yet developed into some mass murderer.  And that young bully will be flabbergasted that someone didn’t bully back, but offered love, attention, and caring.  Hmmm…  Could there be a happy ending?  It’s worth a try, yeah?  How much worse can our humanity get without some effort and hope?  I’m game and I hope you’re in too!

   I love feedback so if you have any comments, questions or concerns, please feel free to post.    Thank you for being here.  With much aloha, Dee Harris

This blog is also available as a vlog on YouTube at www.  For those interested in seeing what I do when I’m not blogging, please check out my Art with a Message of Hope at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy! 

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Reaching Out for Help is a Sign of Strength, Not Weakness

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Gaga

REACHING OUT FOR HELP IS A SIGN OF STRENGTH,

NOT WEAKNESS

by Dee Harris

   Every day, in every way, I get better and better.  And it all started on that magical day when I asked for help.

   I don’t remember being taught as a child to ask for help.  I only remember feeling belittled when I couldn’t do it myself, didn’t know the answer, felt lost and full of confusion.  We’re taught to put on our big girl panties and “JUST DO IT”!  Well, that doesn’t serve us…that doesn’t make for strong human beings nor a strong humanity.  And when I found myself dazed and confused (I still love Led Zeppelin) as to why I felt like a piece of shit, a loser, hated myself, loathed and despised myself, thought I was a waste of space on the planet, that is when I had to surrender, put up the white flag, and ask for help.

   Well for me it didn’t actually happen just that way.  I had no other choice when I came to from a black-out and a pass-out from drinking too much yet once again.  I was, yes again, in that state of incomprehensible demoralization.  I was a no call/no show at work, the answering machine light was flashing, I heard the message of concern from work, and I had no clue as to whether or not I had responded.  It SUCKS (and unless you’re a straw, don’t suck)!

   Do I lie?  What excuse could I make up?  Should I run away and get another job?  Luckily, I didn’t do any of the above.  I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.  I was too damned exhausted.  Exhausted from what seemed like a lifetime of lying and making up excuses for my drunkenness.  Alcohol was my drug of choice which came from my mental sickness.

   I don’t know anyone who has not dealt with some kind of mental dis-ease.  Feelings of worthlessness and self-pity abound in our society of more is better.  I know now that prosperity and abundance does’t come from having the biggest house, the nicest car, the fattest wallet.  Prosperity and abundance comes from the heart and feeling worthy of taking up space on this planet, for earning our space on this planet.

   And now that I have a few years of being clean and sober my life has made a complete about-face.  Today I ask my Higher Power of My Own Understanding, a Power Greater Than Me, to guide me to be of service to another human being in need.  Because today my life is good and, unless I give it away, I can’t keep it.  But more than that, it feels good; it feels right.

   You see, today I have learned to live from my heart and no longer have to be that intellectual guru I thought I was.  I thought I could will whatever I wanted for myself.  But I couldn’t will away having to drink everyday.  But I could rationalize years, decades, of drinking myself into oblivion.

   And before getting sober and finding a simpler, more peaceful and spiritual way to live, I not only thought I was a waste of space on the planet, but I had no purpose.  I was just coming to, existing throughout the day, drinking, passing out, and doing it over and over and over.  It took me decades to bottom out.  That was my journey, but it doesn’t have to be yours.

   So if you find yourself or know of anyone still suffering in the dis-ease of thinking, addicted to substances or harmful actions, feeling worthless or harmed, please reach out.  Reach out to me or to a trusted human being.  Reach out to the wealth of support groups in your area.  Just reach out…JUST DO IT!

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   And never, ever, ever feel shame nor guilt.  Never feel like a burden.  If you don’t reach out you are depriving us all of the gift of giving…giving of ourselves to another valued human being.  That giving keeps us clean and sober and out of ego.  That giving gives us purpose.

   Thank you all for being part of my journey.  I look forward to being part of yours!  With warmest aloha, Dee Harris

If you’re interested in seeing what I do when I’m not blogging, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com to check out Art with a Message of Helping One Another.  Mahalo and enjoy!

BeYOUtiful

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BeYOUtiful

by Dee Harris

You Don't Have to Be

   It’s taken me literally a lifetime, my lifetime up to this point, to finally be comfortable in my own skin.  Today I can gratefully and humbly be OK in my own skin and to love myself for who and what I am – the real me – the me who was born innocently and without human and worldly interactions 63 years ago.

   Of course when I entered the real world I was immediately introduced to people who would form my life.  Most enhanced my life and made it evolve and flourish; I was allowed and encouraged to mature and blossom.  But something happens when entering the real world where not all people are so caring and nurturing.  Some are downright mean and hateful.  These people, too, would shape my life.

   In school when the other kids would make fun of us, that hurts.  When we feel stupid in class because we don’t know the answers, we feel shamed.  When we don’t meet our parents’ expectations, we feel unworthy.  When we can’t live up to our partner’s hopes in our relationship, we start to experience self-doubt.  When our boss reprimands us for not pulling our weight, we feel panic.  

   All of these feelings create that overwhelming knot in our guts that we’re unable to abandon.  These feelings and experiences, too, start to sculpt who we are today and our opinions of ourselves.  And, all too often, these feelings of unworthiness start to outweigh who we really are – that innocent and unscathed child at birth who is, and always will be, an important part of who we are.

   For me, when I felt the effects of alcohol that horrific knot in my gut of being the square peg trying to fit into the round hole started to diminish.  I felt I fit in.  I didn’t care anymore what you thought of me.  I got to be the real me.  But that real me came from my head and not my heart.  And it was just concealing what was in my head, not truly what I thought about myself.

   Fast forward a few decades.  I find that I am using alcohol more and more to escape reality.  And then I find that I no longer have a choice in using alcohol; I have to drink everyday.  As a matter of fact, alcohol is consuming my life and life is getting in the way of my being able to drink the way I want to, or need to, which is constantly and to the point of no return…blacking out or passing out…and then doing it again and again.  I find that the chapters in my life contain more and more stories of incomprehensible demoralization and that I no longer have control over my drinking but that drinking has control over me.

   Where am I going with this?  My story, my journey, my life has brought me full-circle back to that child who can be herself.  Yes, I’m an adult now and I have responsibilities.  I have learned manners and have learned how to behave in public.  But I can now unlearn what I so took to heart from my experiences and relationships from my decades in this society.

   You see, when I finally hit my bottom with my drinking, I got help.  I was so sick and tired of living that life; I was exhausted of not only the lying and hiding, but never getting good sleep, good food or exercise.  I came to in a 28-day treatment facility for alcoholism.  I learned about the disease.  I did what was suggested and attended AA meetings.  I learned to ask for help and to be rigorously honest.  I got a sponsor.  I worked the Steps.  And there, my friends, is where the miracles happen!

   Working Step 4 (“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”) is where I learned how fear-based I had been living my life up to that point.  And, yes, it stemmed from my life experiences.  I no longer have to, let those experiences shape who I am today.

   It’s so freeing to be able to peel away the onion skin, one layer at a time, one day at a time, and learn that I am worthy because before getting sober I would look at my reflection in the mirror with my hand shaped like an “L” placed on my forehead and I would call myself a loser.  I hated myself.  I loathed myself.  I was a waste of space on the planet.

   But today I realize that I have gifts and that YOU have gifts.  We all have defects of character, things about ourselves that we don’t like, that don’t serve us, that we can or maybe not.  But those defects don’t have to determine who we are or what we think about ourselves.  Let’s change them or make the best of them. OK?  And let’s remember our unique gifts, those wonderful attributes that others wished they had…and let’s share those gifts.

   And when we can turn our negatives into positives, our pessimism into optimism, our helplessness into hope, then we can be our real selves and know but more importantly feel that we are worthy to be on this planet and part of humanity.  When we can get out of ego and live from our hearts we will know from intuition (that feeling in our guts) that tells us what’s right and what’s wrong.  When we respect those feelings and take the path that serves us, we can then share what we’ve learned with others to do our best to make their journeys more palatable.  Yes.  We can inspire!  That’s where are journeys are leading us…

   Please remember “You don’t have to be what other people want you to be.”  Be YOU.  BeYOUtiful!

   I’m so glad our paths have joined today.  I look forward to hearing about your journey or any feedback you would like to share.  With much aloha, Dee Harris

For those interested in checking out what I do when I’m not blogging, please check out my Art with a Message of Hope and Optimism at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

I Am Not Afraid of My Truth Anymore

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I AM NOT AFRAID OF MY TRUTH ANYMORE 

by Dee Harris 

Not Afraid of My Truth Anymore

     “My name is Dee and I’m an alcoholic.”  Holy moly.  One of the scariest things I ever had to say or do was admit that I am an alcoholic.  Especially in my first local AA meeting.  Dang.  There were going to people in there who knew me.  They’ll know what a loser I am and how weak I am.

   As a matter of fact at one of my first meetings I saw a friend go by on his bike in front of the club house and kid me about going to an AA meeting.  I quickly responded that I was going to the laundromat next door.  I felt so shitty I uncomfortably, but victoriously, told on myself in the meeting and later made my amends to my friend.

   And in that first local AA meeting there were, indeed, people I knew.  How could there not be?  I had lived in that town 18 years and was a grocery checker.  Unless they didn’t eat, we had met.  

   But something magical happened in that instant I entered the club house.  I got a feeling of “home”.  Damn, I’m home.  I’m comfortable.  I was greeted in this moment of overwhelming fear with open arms, hugs, understanding, and NO JUDGMENT.  No long-ended series of questions and words.  Simple.  Thank goodness, or I would have been out that door in a heartbeat.

   Backtrack a month.  I am going in for an assessment to see if “I qualify” to enter a 28-day treatment facility for alcoholism (an hour away from where I live so no one would no me.  NOT!).    I don’t know what they’re going to ask me.  I don’t yet know about rigorous honesty.  But they do.  They know an alcoholic is going to lie about their drinking habits and how much they drink.  I did.  I “passed” and spent over 28-days in rehab.

   And that first night when I lay in my bed I think that I don’t need to be here; I’m ok now.  I realize that alcohol is my problem and now I can go home and control, or even stop, my drinking.  But deep down inside I knew that wouldn’t happen as I had tried which seemed like forever, so I stayed.  

   Even when I called to make that appointment for the assessment and I was told that after that initial meeting I would be sent home and called back later to see whether or not “I qualified”, one of my first experiences with rigorous honesty appeared.  I said that if I was sent home, I would not return because my mind would think I am now ok because I admitted I had a problem.  I was told to bring my suitcase with me.

   The day before the assessment I want to yell from the roof tops that I am an alcoholic.  I’m going to get help and I won’t have to drink everyday anymore.  But I selectively let one of my neighbors know.  And my aunt and brother (I would have told my mom but she was on vacation in Hawaii).  I, of course, let my boss know.  And my husband and my two boys.  Something magical happened that day; the weight that I shed by admitting I had a problem was magical!

   And then on the morning of the assessment as I was getting ready to make the hour drive, I hear a knock on the door.  I know it is not my husband who had gone off to work.  I know it is not my kids who had gone off to school.  It was my auntie, grandma and brother who had driven two hours to take me, support me, love me to my appointment.  I break down crying, secretly.  I was full of guilt and shame for what I had allowed myself to become.  I was full of gratitude for the love that was apparent by their being there for me.  I was not worthy.  Why the hell would they drive all that way for the piece of shit that I had become?

   My husband and my boys don’t accompany me to the assessment.  Everything with them is blurry because most of my time with them is blurry.  I was a black-out, pass-out, closet drinker.  Only they knew the real me.  And that me was ugly.  And that ugly me is all I can remember of my life with them up to that point.  One who had to drink everyday to that place of pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization.  Many of them.  Many, many.

   Backtrack to the day before the assessment.  It was my day off but the day prior I had hit my bottom.  I had not come to when my kids came home from school to get ready for work like I did forever.  I had passed out and missed my shift at work.  The red light was flashing on the answering machine.  The message was from the night manager who was concerned whether or not I was ok; it wasn’t like me to be a no call/no show.  And that night manager was one of my best friends (and still is) but I couldn’t call her back.  I just couldn’t.

   So I fish like I had done so many times before.  Fish for answers from my husband and my boys as to whether I had called back and, if so, what I had said.  I don’t remember getting a response from them.

   So on that day before the assessment I knew I had to talk to my boss to let her know what had happened.  What kind of excuse can I make up?  But I was so sick and tired of making up excuses, living a life that was a lie.  A life that was full of hiding.  I was exhausted.  So I told her the truth, on the phone, because I didn’t have the guts to look her in the eye.

   She listened.  She offered empathy, kind words and support.  She got me into a recovery program that changed my life, saved my life, gave me a life, and I shall forever be grateful.

   So one day at a time I get better.  I go through the 28-day program for alcoholism.  I am the poster child for AA and do everything that is suggested to me there.  But something inside of me is missing and I can’t put my finger on it.

   So after about seven years I one day at a time get worse.  I go to fewer meetings, do less service and stop reaching out.  And then one day when offered a drink on automatic pilot I  reply that I haven’t had a drink for 13-1/2 years so no thank you.  That drink was left there for me in case I changed my mind.  

   At that point in sobriety my mind was once again king.  It was running the show.  My ego had once again taken over.  I had forgotten how awesome it was to live from my heart with my Higher Power in charge.  I had forgotten what it was like to be humble and grateful.  I had forgotten what it was to be a newcomer.  And I had forgotten that unless I give it away, I can’t keep it.

   So I drank that shot of tequila.  And IMMEDIATELY, and I mean IMMEDIATELY, the disease, the devil, whatever you want to call it, reared its ugly head in victory and yelled, “MORE!”  So my friend gave me another.  And the lying, cheating, hiding and all the negativity that alcoholism smothered me with once again took priority in my life.  That quickly.  Positivity and optimism turned to negativity and hell.

   Today I realize that shot of tequila and that friend who left it for me was a God Shot, a message from a Power Greater Than Myself that I have a purpose to share my experience, strength and hope with others suffering from the disease of thinking, whether it be alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling, overeating, sex, shopping, abandonment issues, abuse, or life itself.

   Today I am not afraid of my truth anymore.  I am comfortable in my own skin.  I can be who I was meant to be and love myself, with all my character defects.  I no longer live in fear that you won’t accept me, judge me, talk about me.  You’re on your journey and I am on mine.  When our paths cross (like they are right now) I can give you the respect you deserve for your opinions even though they might not be mine.  That’s the beauty of life and the humanity placed on this planet.  I shall learn from your opinions and experiences and become a more compassionate person.  And I shall share my compassion with those who enter my bubble.

   Thank you for crossing my path.  I look forward to hearing about your journeys.  With warmest aloha, Dee Harris

   For those interested in experiencing another avenue of my sharing my experience, strength and hope, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!