Writing on Writing

I’ve always loved writing. I started a daily practice of journaling in junior high (around 12 years old) and kept that up all the way through college. In high school, English was my favorite subject and I learned the basics from Mr. Mehle, story analysis and structure with Mrs. Holmes, and then in my senior year I was lucky to be placed with Ms. Casey- one of The Best teachers I have ever had. As it was an Advanced Placement course, we had piles of reading to complete plus essay after essay after essay. Ms. Casey gave us so much work, I recall many all nighters, reading and writing tirelessly just to attain a “5/5” score. Which I only got once- countless 4+++++ grades yet only one victorious 5 for an essay on William Faulkner’s “The Sound and the Fury”. (Can’t believe I actually remember that after 30 years! That’s just how important getting that 5 was!)

Upon transferring to USC my junior year of college, I was accepted to the School of Cinema-Television Critical Studies program which was my first true academic challenge- as one of the top film schools in the country the workload was immense. I had to make movies as well as watch hundreds of films and TV shows, go to lectures, read and write nearly constantly, all the while working full time at a fine dining restaurant. I wouldn’t have changed that experience for the world- studying critical writing was an honor, I loved the output, my bylines were my pride.

After college, I landed in Public Relations mainly because I can write the heck out of a press release be it semiconductors, robotics, artificial intelligence or antivirus software- even when I know nothing about the topic, I easily learned about it and made it sound oh so good on paper. Once I left the tech PR industry for hospitality, where writing skills are not expected, cover letters and polishing my resume were my sole writing outlet for about 5 years until Running4theReason was born in 2010.

Each and every medal has a story!
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Sober Thanksgiving Toolkit

I chose to stop drinking in January of this year and have gotten through a lot of sober “firsts” since then, Thursday will be my first sober Thanksgiving. Apologies in advance to the Turkey Day Devotees out there but, I hate Thanksgiving. (Not a fan of Christmas either but I’ll jingle those bells next month.) Only thing that got me through the prior 30+ Thanksgivings was alcohol. Lots of it.

Mainly, I dislike Thanksgiving because of the family pressure. Given my childhood Traumas, I am not too keen on spending time with parental figures and distant family that you only see once a year. This brings up my anxiety, several triggers, paranoia, and constant self-doubt. Am I dressed okay? Do I look alright? Why isn’t anyone talking to me? Do they like me? Am I being entertaining enough? Am I acting too drunk? Is it rude if I just go ahead and open another bottle? Have we really been here for 3 hours drinking yet haven’t even had dinner yet? When will this damn dinner be over and when can we leave? Well, too bad you feel that way Laura- the calendar says so, damnit, and now you have to spend the longest meal known to man, chit chatting every last ounce of your energy away, while consuming 5,000 calories because society expects you to. Grrrrrrrrr.

Alcohol was my Thanksgiving savior, social lubricant working all its magic, allowing me to feel inauthentically happy and carefree- alcohol gave me the power to talk more (even though I was slurring), listen more (even though I recall little of what was said the next day), and feel some semblance of confidence (even though I actually acted a hot mess). But not this year, Thanksgiving. Not. This. Year. This year, with over 10 months of sobriety in tow, I am confident I can get through Thursday just like I got through all the other “firsts” and- hopefully- will finally find a newfound gratefulness and appreciation for the holiday itself. (Highly doubt that though. I vote we have a second Halloween in its place instead- who’s with me???)

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Today’s Reason: You

If no one has told you lately, let me be the first: you are awesome and perfect just the way you are. Your journey is unique and no one else can inform your path. Others we choose to bring along our journey become our teachers, even if temporary, and guide us when enduring the hardest of times. The times where we struggle, the periods when the world is just too much and everything is a battle, the days when not one thing goes right. I’ve been there too. We all have. Yet, you are the answer. The power is within you, as it is within all of us, to grab the reigns, bear down, and ride those rocky paths of life with grace and triumph.

It’s taken me a lot of work over several years to finally love myself and have true compassion for others. For way too long, I ruminated on all the things I wasn’t: not kind enough, not smart enough, not accomplished enough, not skinny enough- yet, surprise surprise, that did absolutely nothing for my motivation. All the negative thinking did was hold me in place; stewing in those comparison juices got me nowhere. The moment I started telling myself, “I want to do this, I can do this, I will do this, and I do not care what other people may think!” is when the real action began.

Where ever you are in your journey is the exact right place to be. Remember that! Once life takes you down a difficult road know that you have the ability and skill to choose how that difficulty dictates your life. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Breathe in the good, breathe out the bad.” and I am here to tell you that’s stupid. In times of strife, especially, one must take the good along with the bad as they are a package set. It is 100% okay, even necessary, to see and feel every inch of the bad, every little nook and cranny of it, in order to truly understand it. The good is you, the bad is you and both hold the answers you seek.

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Living Life’s Traumas

I read once that we all experience capital “T” traumas as well as lower case “t” traumas throughout life- Traumas being the bigger, longer lasting incidents such as physical and emotional abuse whereas trauma is akin to short term instances like injuries, illnesses, or losing your job. Many more examples in each category of course but as a subjective concept, your Traumas and traumas will be a very different list than anyone else’s. My Trauma began and continued throughout childhood and as a result, I have continually experienced trauma ever since.

Upon beginning Yoga Teacher Training, we were asked why yoga? Why did we choose yoga, what does yoga provide us, why are we interested in pursuing a deeper understanding of our practice, and why do we want to become teachers? I answered, “As an adult survivor of child abuse, I want to spread the positivity and acceptance that yoga provides for anyone who has experienced a similar situation. From that, I can steer my business to attracting exactly that kind of client, be it one recovering from past traumas or those with PTSD looking for a place to heal. I aim to provide a safe, loving place to practice while nurturing acceptance and compassion for the mind, body, soul, as well as the world that surrounds.”

My Yoga Guru SC has encouraged me to tell even more of my story and I am still getting comfortable with that- this is the first step. I’m not yet ready to face/ write/ share about my childhood Traumas, so that’s not what this post is about (edit: that’s exactly what this post turned out to be!). Currently, I am going through a physical trauma that has dogged me for over 20 years. Injuries and illnesses I am oh so familiar with unfortunately but with my nascent spiritual practices, I am becoming more at one with and accepting of the physical and emotional pains I continue to endure.

One day after spine surgery, February 2021. I can feel my pain just looking at this photo!

I just realized I can’t really discuss my current physical traumas without getting into a little bit of those childhood Traumas. Damn. Alright… <gulp> here goes…

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Funemployment: Week 12

You guessed it, I am still unemployed. I have been offered a handful of positions over these past few months but due to one red flag or another (salary too low, location too far, hours too many) I have declined them all. In fact, I declined another one just this morning due to the 10 hour/week commute + a 50 hour work week expectation. No fricking thank you.

Yet, that’s the standard for the industry I chose: hospitality. I started down this path in high school, working in coffee shops and pizza places which built a strong foundation for dealing with difficult customers but, young and inexperienced, I wasn’t very good at that at first- you give me attitude, I will give it right back and you can take your extra-hot-half-caf-dollop-of-foam-5-shot-ridiculousness and your I-am-allergic-to-everything-gluten-free-carb-free-vegan-hockey-puck and kiss my 16 year old minimum wage earning butt!!! (“Let’s have a talk about your attitude, Laura.” Yeah, I got that a lot.)

I matured, learned the elements of successful customer service, becoming oh so very friendly and welcoming that in college I landed at a fine dining restaurant in Beverly Hills as a hostess. This was no Starbucks-Pizza-Hut, no sir- this place was 5 star, this place was expensive, this place attracted celebrities, this place was serious service. And, I loved it.

Fall of 1994 with co-host Michael at Lawry’s Beverly Hills- where my now nearly 30 year hospitality career truly began!
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Today’s Reason: 48!

Celebrated my 48th birthday on November 1st and this one was, by far, one of the best birthdays I have ever had! I did all of my favorite activities (yoga, hiking, got a massage, stayed at a fancy hotel, took a cooking class, ate a ton of beautiful and delish food), felt all the love from my family and friends, and didn’t even set that cheap Halloween wig on fire when blowing out my birthday candles! Best part of it all: no days lost to hangovers, no money nor time wasted on drunken ragers for other people, and no memories lost to black outs! (I did, unfortunately, get into an argument with a former drinking buddy but other people’s reaction to my sobriety is a subject for another post.)

In one year, so much has changed. I started off my 47th year of life with a weekend trip to wine country wherein my husband and I drank for 12 hours straight, joined 3 new wine clubs, purchased 16 bottles of wine, and were too hungover the next day to truly enjoy that fancy hotel or that beautiful food or do anything active whatsoever so started drinking/”celebrating” all over again! That was how I valued my time a year ago and that’s quite alright, acceptable to most even; but now, above all, I value presence, joy, learning and movement- all of which alcohol robbed me of for way too long.

Kicking off 48 with a 9 mile hike in
amazing Muir Woods!
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9 Months Alcohol Free

Woke up this morning, checked my phone and smiled at the notification from my I Am Sober app: I’m nine months alcohol free today! Yay me! I’ve hit the 3/4 of a year milestone and I can barely believe it- feels like these nine months have flown by but also like its taken forever to get here.

So much has changed during this time, I’ve endured some difficult situations along the way and while some still remain, just about every other aspect of my life has improved. My skin is brighter, my face and belly aren’t bloated anymore, I’ve lost weight, sleep is The Best (have never slept this good in my life! ever!!), my blood pressure has dropped, the relationships with my kids and husband have improved, and I feel like a freaking Sober Super Hero- hands on hips, chest puffed out, cape flapping fashionably behind me, villain triumphantly defeated.

From the start, I inhaled as much writing as I could about alcohol addiction and its effects on the brain, body, relationships and how much our American society applauds/ supports/ encourages our consumption from all of our day ones. I’m just at the tip of the Quit Lit iceberg, yet I have a much clearer understanding about why I drank the way I drank, the influences (direct and indirect) that kept me drinking for nearly 30 years, and how all that impacted my sense of identity.

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Funemployment: Week 1

I was let go a week ago. I am recovering. I am no longer wallowing. And I am keeping busy…

DAY ONE: Embrace all the outrage, anger, sadness, and humiliation in the world. Cry in husband’s arms, call/text all girlfriends for support and vent until I can’t vent anymore… then vent more. And cry more. Wanted- in every last fiber of my being- to open several bottles of wine and anesthetize from all these horrible feelings but, I didn’t. Instead, I called more friends and ate chocolate.

DAY TWO: Couldn’t sleep all night, woke up still feeling horrible. Wrote blog post about getting fired to try to feel better about getting fired. Kinda felt better. Kinda didn’t. Started applying for jobs. Successfully stayed away from the Wine Witch but did not escape the Chocolate Chum.

DAY THREE: That horrible, gut sinking feeling remains. Damnit. But holdonwaitasecondhere my job applications are getting responses! Two interviews scheduled already! Also got to the gym and listened to all the angry break-up songs while I attacked on the elliptical and did weights for an hour and that felt great. Rage seems to be abating but pretty sure I need a little more chocolate just to be sure.

Finding truth on the trails.
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Today’s Reason: Fired

Yesterday, I was fired. I was working in the hospitality division at one of the most esteemed colleges in the country and after just a year, I was let go. “We decided to go a different direction and today is your last day.” I keep replaying that moment over in my head with disbelief that there was no warning prior, no concrete reasons as to why just, “Today is your last day.”

Anger took over. As soon those fateful words were spoken, I said nothing in response, turned away from my (former) boss and started calmly shutting my computer down. He also said nothing further- no thanking me for the long hours and 6-day work weeks I had put in, the myriad of successful processes I had created, the team of nearly 80 people I had built from zero, no tidings of good luck in my future, no offer of a reference even- instead, he left the room. I placed my badge and keys on the desk, said, “Wow, really? Really???” to the HR rep, picked up my purse and walked out.

I didn’t even clean out my desk, just left all of my personal effects behind and exited the building for the final time as fast as I could. Now, here I wallow sit in the feelings that remain: anger, sadness, disbelief, rejection, worry, shame, humiliation just to name a fun few. But, on the other side of this new hurdle I can see a glimmer of relief that it’s over and excitement for what’s to come.

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Alcohol Free Me

Drink (one of many) in hand, making it all look oh so fun!

I started drinking my freshman year of college, fall of 1992. That word “drinking” means a lot of things to different people but my version was the sober-all-week-party-all-weekend-Sundays-are-for-hangovers kind of binge drinker. No social event went without an alcoholic beverage in hand. As soon as that warm, intoxicated, pain-free blanket of escape was wrapped around me, I only wanted more. One of my most epic drinking days started at 10am with vodka smoothies, followed by mimosas, margaritas, lots of beer and tequila shots, and then of course red wine once the beer ran out. By 3am I attempted puking/sleeping only to get up at 5am to run a half marathon. (Said half marathon had me vomiting at mile 1, 6, and 9, then walking/ crawling/ cursing the final 5K only to grab a glass of champagne once I crossed the finish line. Yeeeeaaaaah.)

Drinking in college, makes sense. Post-college, I continued my weekend partying ways. Stopped drinking when I got pregnant, had both of my children back-to-back and once I stopped breastfeeding my second, I went back to drinking but this time it was different… the Mommy Wine Culture was very real and I jumped right in (as evidenced by my shirt in the above photo). Met a great group of like-minded moms who also loved to party and we took turns hosting “play dates” which amounted to us drinking and chatting while the kids occupied themselves. We insisted on our Moms’ Night Out every month, wherein we would go out to a fancy dinner, indulge in the best-of-the-best, and go dancing all because we sacrifice and work so hard as stay-at-home-moms, we felt we deserved these nights to ourselves even if we blacked out and couldn’t recall any of our “good times” the next day.

208 days since my last drink and counting!
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