SEPTEMBER 2013~ (7 incredibly important days of) MARCH OF DIMES

September.  You know it’s the end of summer.  Especially if you have kids.  September is the end of vacations.  September is the back to school shopping for clothes your kids won’t need to actually wear until closer to October, and the filling up of a shopping cart with brand new supplies despite the fact that you most likely have most of the same, perfectly good supplies left over from the previous grade.  It’s getting back into routine.  It’s the whole “crap!-the-kids-need-food-for-their-lunch-so-now-I-HAVE-to-grocery-shop-even-MORE” month.  It is the month when parents run outside in their robes and Ugg boots like lunatics to force the kids into posing for obligatory First Day of School shots like this:

All smiles starting 4th grade...or so we thought!

Clenching her teeth in the traditional “HURRY UP” pose.

But I freaking love every minute of it.  Because I know how lucky I am to have my child here.  I also know other mommies and daddies that weren’t as lucky.  I know far too many mommies and daddies that left the hospital without a baby in their arms, much like I did.  Some got to go back and get them.  It might have taken two days or two weeks or two months.  Maybe longer.  But for some it was never.  They had a baby (or babies) that were just born too soon, and didn’t have the chance to finish growing.

Did you know that NEARLY 500,000 BABIES ARE BORN TOO SOON EACH YEAR?!?!?!?!?
In the United States alone, this occurs for every 1 in 9 babies.  One like mine.

My beautiful daughter Leksi, born six weeks early at 4lbs, 13oz.

My beautiful daughter Leksi, getting some help breathing in her oxygen hood. She weighed in at a little over 4 lbs.

Leksi was born preterm, which means she was born before reaching 37 weeks gestation in utero.   Prior to her arrival, I had been hospitalized three times to stop early labor.  After the third time, they put me on strict bed rest  where I was only allowed to get up to use the bathroom, shower twice a week (gross!), and attend doctor appointments.  I did a LOT of coloring.  I read a LOT of books.  I watched enough television channels to make me more accurate than a TV Guide.  I even canceled both of my baby showers.  I did everything I was supposed to do for 32 days straight, and then one morning while my mom was visiting she was watching me clench my stomach and said “You do know you’re having contractions every 4-5 minutes, don’t you?  I think we should probably start heading to the hospital again…”

I told her to leave me alone.  It would pass.  I was sick of going to the hospital just to get sent home.  I was going to take a shower and lay down.  Oh, and I was hungry so could she please make me a grilled cheese and some tomato soup??

She gave me the Mom Look.

You know the one.  The one where she doesn’t say a word, but her jaw his clenched, her mouth is set in a thin line, she has a blank stare and you know you’d better get your ass where she wants it or you may not make it to the end of the day alive?!?!  Yeah, that look.  It didn’t matter that I was 21 years old, living on my own, and about to be a mother myself.  I got my ass in the car.  And by the time I got registered, gowned, monitored, and epiduraled (<–is that even a word?  Spell Check says it’s not.  But I’m making it one for this blog) I was already dilated to 6 centimeters.  You only get to go up to a 10. Gulp.  So, good call mom.  Thanks for standing your ground or I probably would’ve had a baby born in a car!!

Baby in a car

Baby. In a car. Give me a break, it’s the best I could do without showing any fluids or blood!

The most beautiful person I’ve ever seen in my life was born at 6:34 PM via C-section on a cold day in February, 40 days before she was actually due.  The wonderful team of doctors and nurses had warned me in advance that there was going to be a rush of activity immediately after the birth.   They held my daughter up long enough for me to see her face and give her a quick kiss before they whisked her away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  I didn’t see her until the next day.  This is our first official family photo:

March of Dimes First Family Picture

I was elated here, but devastated 3 days later when I checked out of that hospital with only my backpack and an empty car seat.  Greg thought I was crying because he had gotten a really expensive parking ticket while waiting for me to be released.  That makes me laugh now.  But I will never forget how deeply, deeply sad I felt to walk into an empty nursery in my home.  Or how anxious I felt listening to every ding and ping and beep of the machines that were working 24 hours a day to help my baby keep growing. Was that a good alarm? Was that a bad buzz?!   I didn’t know.  They hadn’t covered that chapter in my What To Expect When You’re Expecting bible book.  I hardly ate.  I barely talked to anyone.  I spent every waking moment next to her incubator, rocking her skin to skin and kissing her little nose, while daddy went to work at two different jobs.  I saw babies getting blood drawn out of their heads.  I saw tubes up babies noses and down their throats in order to eat.  I got to see this teeny tiny set of sextuplets, no bigger than a pound or two each, fighting for their lives.  I even saw a husband and some wonderful nurses pull a woman off of an incubator while she was screaming “No! No! Nooooooo!” over and over again.  Her baby was not going home.

My life all day, every day for twelve and a half days straight was like this, and I remember looking out the hospital window and down to the town below, filled with business suits and college backpacks and utility trucks and thinking “Parents are up here every day waiting to see if their child lives or dies, and life is just going on without them below.”  It was surreal.  It was sad.  No one even knows for certain why premature labor happens.  Researchers have educated guesses.  Sometimes it is an unhealthy lifestyle choice or an infection or physical trauma.  Sometimes it’s hypertension or diabetes.  Sometimes it’s from multiple births or from issues with the development of a placenta or a uterus or a cervix.  Often times it’s a combination of these things together.  And that’s what March of Dimes is working to find out.  So we can put an end to mommies and daddies going home empty handed.  So that babies can stay snuggled in long enough to grow as strong as possible.  So that another mom doesn’t have to leave with an empty car seat.

Here is my “preemie” running her own lemonade stand to raise money for the March of Dimes in honor of my best friend’s daughter, who was born and then passed away at 31 weeks.  Leksi raised over $200.00 for my friends Erica and Brad, and for their beautiful daughter Grace.

Grace Evangeline, we will never forget you. xoxo

Grace Evangeline, we will never forget you. xoxo

If you have an extra ten dollars in your account this minute, this week or this month, P*L*E*A*S*E consider visiting  www.marchofdimes.com and clicking the purple DONATE tab.  March of Dimes helps moms have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies. If something goes wrong, they offer information and comfort to families. They research the problems that threaten babies and work on preventing them.  And because of things going on at home and at school this month with my little girl, I only have SEVEN DAYS to raise $90.00!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   That’s nine people donating $10 each.  It’s been done before, and I have to do it again.  This is for my daughter.  This could be for your daughter (or son or niece or nephew or grandchild) one day too.  xoxo ~Liz

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~AUGUST 2013~ ALZHEIMER’S ASSOCIATION

I can hardly believe it’s the middle of August.  While winter drags on and on and on and on and ON, allowing me plenty of time to write my blogs and do my Good Things, summer just flies by, filled with so much to do and not enough time to do it all in.  I think it’s so much fun having my daughter home during the summer with me.  I love spending as much time with her as I can before hormones and peer pressure hit and she decides that I am the suckiest of all sucksters to ever exist in the history of parents 😉  I absolutely adore sleeping in (and I mean until 11 o’clock in the morning!) for 100 days straight!!  And I am so proud that my little girl joined me on Thursdays for the past six weeks to help deliver sack suppers for Kids Food Basket (my May charity) to churches and missions running camps and Vacation Bible Schools for low-income children this summer.

Image

Kid was sooooo proud to wear her official Kids Food Basket shirt around on deliveries ❤
Heck, *I* didn’t even get one of those!!!

But it’s time to get back to work.  I still have absolutely no clue where my blog post went from July.  As I type, the ‘Auto Save’ updates every 60 seconds to make sure I don’t lose anything…so I’m stumped as to what happened to make it disappear???  July was all about the American Cancer Society and cancer awareness, especially after I had a mole removed off my back that my doctor believed could potentially be skin cancer–it turned out not to be, thank God–and I had assembled a whole list of really, really important people whose cancer diagnosis has touched either my life or the life of someone I love.  I asked my Facebook followers to share photos and memories of their friends and family that have been dealt the incredibly shitty cancer card.  I wrote about how a wonderful follower of the page, Joelayne, enthusiastically agreed to my out of the blue request to join her ‘Making Strides for Breast Cancer’ team, even though she’d never met me before 😉  We have since met, and she is funny and smart and passionate about this cause.  I can’t wait to walk with her on October 12th!  My hope is that I can rewrite July’s blog once school starts again, when I have more free time to dedicate to my posts.  Although we raised $520.00 for the American Cancer Society, I will not officially be done with this charity until I have completed the ‘Making Strides’ event.

Until that gets here though, I have August’s charity Alzheimer’s Association to talk about!!!

Did you know that Alzheimer’s is the 2nd most feared disease in America, after cancer?

“Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life.  Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years.  The most common early symptom of Alzheimer’s is difficulty remembering newly learned information because Alzheimer’s changes typically begin in the part of the brain that affects learning.  As Alzheimer’s advances through the brain it leads to increasingly severe symptoms, including disorientation, mood and behavior changes; deepening confusion about events, time and place; unfounded suspicions about family, friends and professional caregivers; more serious memory loss and behavior changes; and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking.” {facts provided by alz.org}
Alzheimer’s is the 2nd most feared disease in America, after cancer.
Unless you’re me.
I am more terrified at the thought of developing Alzheimer’s disease than anything else in my whole life.  Cancer, if caught early enough (and many times even if it’s not), can at least give you options for treatment.  Attempts at recovery.  A chance at remission.  Alzheimer’s disease can not be reversed.  It cannot be stopped and contained at the point it is at.  It cannot be cured.  Even with all of the clinical trials and studies and research, the medications available for Alzheimer’s patients can do nothing but slow down the worsening of the dementia symptoms.  One of the things that peaked my curiosity and interest in Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease was a 5 part documentary put out by HBO in 2009 called The Alzheimer’s Project. <–click to watch any of the videos*
It was horrifying.  I bawled my eyes out.  I cannot even fathom not remembering my own child one day.  I can’t imagine having your spouse or significant other by your side the whole time and then thinking that they’re a complete stranger the next time you look up at them.  I have a complete, legitimate fear of something taking over my brain one day and allowing it to rob me of any and every important memory I’ve stored away in there in my entire life and I am completely powerless to stop it.  My heart is actually pounding as I sit here and type this.

Although Alzheimer’s Awareness month is in September, I chose August as the month to raise awareness for it because this is the month that I lost my grandma.

My "Gramsbear" and her sidekick, "Dude"  <3

My “Gramsbear” and her sidekick, “Dude” ❤

My Gramsbear was one of the strongest and most independent women I’ve ever known.  In fact, the only time she didn’t want her family to see her was after she had fallen down a flight of stairs trying to carry up a huge stereo system.  It had come crashing down on her at the bottom, and her entire face was swollen and bruised.  She had a closed head injury.  She had dried blood from the cuts everywhere.  We didn’t listen and saw her anyway, but she wasn’t happy about it!!  She loved working and making her own money.  She survived living with my grandfather, an addict with several vices, in order to raise her four children.  She was very involved in her church.  She was an AMAZING polka dancer!  She had an entire full-length closet filled with those flowy broomstick skirts that would swirl around her while she danced.  She was addicted to shoes and coats (and she had excellent taste…I was quite pleased that when I reached adulthood, we wore the same size in both 😉 )  She loved sparkly costume jewelry and fancy hats as well, and one of my daughter’s favorite rooms in Gram’s whole house was “The Pretty Room” where all of that stuff was hung from hooks on the walls.  She loved road-tripping to Shipshewana, Indiana once a summer to spend the day blowing her money at the giant outdoor flea market. It never failed that she would start the trip by singing “On The Road Again” and tapping her fingers on the dashboard of the car.  On her 80th birthday we got her a membership to the Red Hat Society~she loved the lunches and movie dates with those other ladies.  She loved her grandkids…she ADORED her great grandkids.  I remember when my daughter was born and she begged me to bring her to the restaurant she always had breakfast at before church so that she could show her off to all her friends {please note that my grandma attended church at 7:30 on a Sunday morning, which means I had to get the baby there at 6 AM!!!} Grrrrr.  You’re lucky I loved you Gram!!
It wasn’t long after that that we started noticing behavior changes.  Subtle, at first.  A lot of forgetfulness.  Not remembering to take medications.  And then she had a back surgery and it was almost like she never came out of the anesthesia induced fog.  She would go to the grocery store 1/4 of a mile away and forget how to get home.  She would put chicken tenders in the oven for dinner and then leave for a two hour walk with her dog, returning home to smoke pouring into the kitchen.  She would fall asleep in the afternoon, wake up at dusk and confuse it with dawn, and RETAKE all of her medications believing it was a new day.
The scariest moment I encountered with her was a day that I had stopped over to visit for a bit.  We were watching something on TV and all of the sudden she looked at me and said “Do you smell that?  I smell smoke.”  I sniffed the air and told her no, I didn’t smell anything.  But she was insistent.  She told me “He’s not fooling me.  I can smell it.  Run upstairs right now and tell Billy to put that cigarette out and get down out of that attic.  I know what he’s doing up there!”  She went back to watching TV like it was nothing.  I about shit myself because “Billy” is my uncle Bill, a grown man over 50 years old who had moved out of my grandma’s house when he was in his teens.  He was definitely not up there.
Me, my mom, her siblings, and my siblings had to start going over to keep an eye on Gramsbear a lot.  We had to hold onto her medications at our own houses and distribute them to her three times a day so she didn’t overdose herself.  She needed to be checked on constantly.  I know that my own mom was exhausted from the constant care of and worry for her mother, who was also her best friend.  “In 2012, 15.4 million caregivers provided more than 17.5 billion hours of unpaid care valued at $216 billion.” {alz.org}  We begged Gram to give up her driver’s license, both for her safety and the safety of others on the road.  We were trying to convince her to move to some kind of assisted living, or at least a home for seniors, so she wouldn’t be alone.  She told us the only way she was leaving her house was feet first.  She was becoming depressed and frustrated and losing her independence.  One day we couldn’t get a hold of her at all.  Almost every member of the family happened to be somewhere out of town.  When my aunt finally made it over at 11:00 at night, she found my grandma passed away.   It sounds completely disturbing to say this, but I am so thankful that my grandmother died from a brain aneurysm that took her suddenly and immediately, rather than watching her go through the long and winding hell that is Alzheimer’s Disease.  At her funeral there were two entire rows of her Red Hat friends lined up in the pews, dressed to the nines in red and purple, the signature colors of the group.  Gramsbear LOVED the beach.  It has always been her favorite place to be.  Our family let her ashes go in the sand near Lake Michigan.  It was all that she had ever wanted when it was time to go Home.

On September 14, 2013 some of my friends and I are Walking to End Alzheimer’s and raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Association.  There is $10 in there already from me.  I am looking for 9 other people to donate just $10 EACH to reach my goal for this month.  If you have an extra ten dollars in your account this minute, this week or this month, P*L*E*A*S*E consider donating to my Team My Sudden Attack of Conscience by clicking HERE.

Also, if you live in the West Michigan area, I am collecting donations for the Side By Side program, which gives caregivers a much needed break for the day by taking Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients into their beautiful facility.  The purpose of this program is to maintain or improve their physical and cognitive skill set, which in turn improves quality of life, and delays nursing home placement.  If you can donate any of the following items, please let me know and I will find a way to pick them up from you!!!

*Watering cans
*Vases for single flowers
*Individually packaged snacks (granola bars, cheese crackers, cereal bars, cookies–both regular and sugar-free– etc.)
*Art supplies (paint brushes, acrylic paints, large white paper for painting)
*Different sized and shaped small boxes (for painting)
*Decaf coffee, decaf tea
*Flushable wipes
*Kleenex or other brands of facial tissue

Thank you, as always, for your continued support. xoxo ~Liz

“Do not let what you CANNOT do interfere with what you CAN do.”

Sigh.  If you haven’t heard (or read) by now, I totally disappointed myself for my June charity.

(This is probably a friend of Mary Tyler Mom's...)

(This is probably a friend of Mary Tyler Mom’s…)

It’s all laid out in black and white in the post below this one.  As of this second, I still have not been able to find an Emergency Preparedness Class offered within 50 miles of my home.  I did find a class available where I can become certified in Adult and Pediatric CPR; however, it’s $90 (NINETY FARKLE DARKIN DOLLARS!) a course.  Working part time in the summer does not give me the means to take a course that costs that much at the moment.  At the moment.  When school starts up again in the fall for my daughter and full-time checks are being deposited in my bank account, I will be signing up as a member of this class 😉   I want to make sure that I can DO something in an emergency situation: fire, flood, tornado, explosion, gas leak, what have you.  I am an extremely anxious person by nature (and somewhat by nurture), and having a task or a situation to focus that nervous energy on keeps me from shaking and panicking and throwing up.

As far as raising the money in a matter of only six days…..WE DID IT. Talk about shaking and panicking and throwing up!! Phew!  I am so relieved.  I don’t believe that I deserved to have that kind of support and response in only 6 days, but I got it anyway.  And I am so grateful to the people that donated, because it’s not the Red Cross‘s fault that I slacked on my resolution, yet they are the ones that would have suffered.  Not only did we reach the $100 goal, we exceeded it by $20.  I am honored and humbled to know people as fantastic as all of you.  I only made a link and a $10 donation possible~you guys did all the rest.

So.  June is over.  I’m halfway done with my resolution.  I can’t even believe how fast time flies!  Would you like to see how you guys have helped over the past six months?!  It’s mind blowing, really.  To tally everything up like this really puts it into perspective:

125.00  (God’s Kitchen/Gallery 303~January)
145.00  
(Best Friends Animal Society~February)
600.00  
(St. Baldrick’s Foundation~March)
175.00  
(Kids Food Basket~April)
500.00  
(Arbor Circle~May)
120.00  
(American Red Cross~June)
————————–
$1,665.00 raised for charity so far!!!

And that is just the cash.  That is not including the buckets of clothes and diapers and kids toys and baby food that went to the pantry at God’s Kitchen for homeless and underprivileged youth or the bowls that my friends and I purchased and painted for the “Soup’s On For All” benefit in January or the tickets we bought to attend the event to support the Gallery 303 program.  That is not including bag after bag after bag of towels, blankets, chew toys, nail clippers, hair brushes, laundry detergent, paper towel, leashes, collars, treats, and pet food that got distributed to two local pet shelters in my area.  And it’s also not including the two trips I had to make to drop off sandwich baggies, pudding, cereal, peanut butter, juice boxes, applesauce, crackers and paper lunch sacks to Kids Food Basket.  There was a hair shaving event where I got to hang out with some of my most fave bloggers in the whole world.  There was a 1 year sobriety celebration for my super-mega-awesome-amazingly strong husband!!  There has been satisfaction from encouraging words and supportive friends, and there has also been disappointment and helplessness when I feel like I haven’t done enough.  I wishwishWISH I could get to so many more charities.  I get emails and private messages about people and places that have touched your life and need help.  Sometimes I can find a way to make that happen.  And sadly, sometimes I just cannot.


Overall, I am so pleased at where my journey has taken me so far.  I am far less bratty and selfish and absorbed, but there is still plenty of work to be done.  I hope that someone else who has never volunteered and rarely donated to charity has been inspired by this page.                                                                                                                                                                                                            You don’t have to be Joe Millionaire to make a difference.

Joe Millionaire

You just have to WANT to do good things.

~JUNE 2013~ AMERICAN RED CROSS

Never throw in the towel

About a  week ago, I posted this on my Facebook page.  It popped up somewhere on some random page at the exact time that I needed to see it…because I was thinking about throwing in my own towel ( a figurative one of course, since I don’t actually do any of the laundry in my house). I thought about giving up on this page.  I thought about giving up on these charities.  I thought about giving up on my New Year’s resolution when I was almost HALFWAY THROUGH.  Gulp.

Why would I do that now when I am so far into this?!?  I don’t know.  Allow me to give you some b.s. excuses an explanation. After the anticipation and the build-up to my husband’s 1st Soberthday last month, I was spent.  That single day that we successfully raised $500 for Arbor Circle gave me such a physical and emotional high!!  I loved it.  The positive thoughts and kind words and amazing support Greg and I received that day were some of the most incredible acts of love I’ve ever witnessed.  HUNDREDS of you guys stood by us and shared our story and congratulated our family on sticking together and making it this far.  But what was one day of celebration and joy was also the culmination of one year of anxiety and fear and commitment and encouragement and relief and pride for me.  I am not usually a crier, but the floodgates sure opened that day!  When I logged off of Facebook at the end of the day on May 22nd, I felt like I could sleep for a year.  I was exhausted. I crashed, physically and mentally.  Sobriety is hard work for all involved, yo 😉
I spent the next week ignoring the internet, instead finishing up school projects and field trips and lunch duty for my daughter’s 3rd grade class.  I took some more naps.  I went swimming in my pool.  I finished up my last 40+ hour work week for the rest of the summer because I want to be able to spend time with my husband and my daughter and my friends.  I started looking for bigger houses to move into because we’re cramped in ours and it drives me nuts.  I went to bed early and slept in late.  I did everything I could think of to lay low and avoid my responsibilities to myself and to all of you.

Not responsible

About ten days into the month of June, I put some serious consideration into pulling my head out of my ass.  I had made a promise, dammit!!  I owed it to all of the people following my page and my blog and donating money and supplies and volunteering time.  I needed to get inspired!  I needed to get to work on my June charity!!  I had big plans!!!  I changed my profile picture to the American Red Cross logo (except I forgot to post the link where you could donate all month. Derp).  I called my local Red Cross chapter with the intention of setting up a blood drive, only to find out that is something that has to be set up with plenty of notice in order to avoid conflicts, publicize the drive, and schedule donors for their appointments (Double Derp).  Finally, I went to the ARC website to sign both Greg and myself up for Emergency Preparedness Training so we could be useful to others around us in the event of a disaster…..there was not a single EPT course available within 50 miles of us.
Strike Three.
I was out.
I took another nap.  I pulled away from my friends (real life and online~sorry you guys 😦 ), I got snotty with my family, I sulked, I complained, I threw a pity party complete with balloons more deflated than my spirit, and then I tried to get away with it by sharing my tales of woe online.  And you guys almost let me get away with it!  I felt validated for slacking when friends and followers (all of you with wonderful intentions ❤ ) told me it was okay, I deserved a break, I worked real hard and I’ve done so much to bring attention to so many good causes, maybe I should just rest up and come back to it later.  And all of the sudden, for some reason, THAT was all the motivation I (finally) needed!
I am plenty rested up.  I can’t come back to it later because the need is now.  I will get a break, and that break will be on January 1st of 2014 when I’ve crossed the virtual finish line of my goal.  And when did I limit myself to finishing a charity for good by the end of one particular month??  What a crazy restriction.  I have the rest of the year!  I can still put together a blood drive.  I can still sign up for a class that assists people in crisis, albeit not the one I originally planned on.  Maybe CPR.  I’m sure Greg would be happy to volunteer for mouth-to-mouth practice.  Wink, wink.

The American Red Cross is just as deserving of the attention and financial support as any other charity I have in my line-up this year.  Their cause is a remarkable example of humanitarianism.  I feel ashamed that I waited so long to bring so much attention to what they stand for and what they do:
Each year, the American Red Cross immediately responds to about 70,000 natural and man-made disasters in the U.S., ranging from fires to hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hazardous materials spills, transportation accidents and explosions.  When disaster threatens or strikes, the Red Cross provides shelter, food, and health and emotional health service to address basic human needs and assist individuals and families in resuming their normal daily activities independently.  The Red Cross also feeds emergency workers like fire fighters and police, handles inquiries from concerned family members outside the disaster area, provides blood and blood products to disaster victims, and helps them access other available resources.  More than 90 percent of our total work force is composed of volunteers, and 91 cents of every dollar donated goes to fulfill the mission of the Red Cross. [information provided by redcross.org]

The first time I ever encountered the Red Cross was when I took babysitter's training classes so I could be as awesome as these girls!!

The first time I ever encountered the Red Cross was at age 11 when I took Babysitter’s Training classes so I could be as awesome as these girls!!

Moral of the story?  I’ve picked up my towel.  I’ve wiped off my sweat.  I’m gonna keep on going!!!
I. WILL. FINISH. THIS. MONTH.  I’m not giving up.  Please don’t give up either.
If you have an extra ten dollars in your account this minute, this week or this month, P*L*E*A*S*E consider visiting http://www.redcross.org/charitable-donations and clicking the red DONATE NOW tab.

~MAY 2013~ ARBOR CIRCLE

It has been almost one full month since I have posted on the result of my May charity!!  Shame, shame, know my name.  *hangs head* …………………….
Okay, I can’t leave my head hanging or else I won’t be able to see the keyboard to finish typing.
Anyway, if you don’t recall (but how dare you not recall, as it was one of the best days of my life!! 😉 ) my husband Greg celebrated 365 days sober on May 22nd.  For the first time since starting this page as my New Year’s resolution, I decided not to ask for donations at all during the rest of the month…I wanted to save it for one very special day~ his 1st Soberthday.

Had our waitress sneak a "1" candle into his French toast ;)

Had our waitress sneak a “1” candle into his French toast 😉

Following a delicious celebratory breakfast of French toast (Greg),  a double order of pancakes (me…HEY!  I can celebrate too) and chocolate milk with whipped cream and sprinkles (our daughter, who thought it was her special day since she got to skip school), I came home and posted the following request on my personal Facebook page, as well as my blog Facebook page:

Alright my favorite Do Gooders: you know that I usually ask for my charity donations alllllll month long. But not this month.  This month my charity is Arbor Circle, a rehabilitation and counseling facility in my town that works to help get people their lives back when they suffer from mental illness and/or substance abuse issues. They counsel adults. They counsel children affected by the behavior of these adults. They counsel families to give them the tools they need to stay healthy themselves if no one else will. They try to help over 11,000 people a year…and my husband is one of them. They helped us pay for 3 months of outpatient rehab. They helped us find a way to pay off all but $300 of Greg’s astronomical hospital bill, since he didn’t have insurance. They gave Greg an amazing counselor. And the best gift of all was that they gave him the tools to keep himself sober and be a fantastic dad.  WE WANT THAT FOR OTHER FAMILIES TOO!  So for TODAY ONLY I am looking for the 9 other people that will help me support this charity with their $10.00 donation. I know we can do it. Everyone deserves a chance at a sober day, a clear mind and a happy life. Sometimes we can’t do it on our own. It’s okay to ask for help.  Thank you for all of the positive comments and the amazing support ~ we’re reading all of it!! xoxo

And then I held my breath.  Sometimes I never know if something is as important to all of you guys as it is to me.  In fact, it has blown me away EVERY SINGLE MONTH that we have exceeded the $100.00 goal.  Sometimes just by a little bit, but more often than not it has been by a lot.  I expected that a few of our friends and family would see this and want to do something good for Greg.  I figured that some of my blog followers would want to donate in honor of someone they knew that has been affected by some kind of addiction.  What I was not expecting was the comments, the private messages, the shares, the “Likes”, and the $500.00 that was raised because of that one amazing day. ❤

Friends donated ❤
Strangers donated ❤
My friend Jeanna who writes the page My Children Think I’m Perfect signed up to make a recurring donation over the next year ❤
My friend Melissa who writes Adventures of Ninjamama auctioned off a hand painted glass and donated the money to Arbor Circle in Greg’s name ❤

Greg and Leksi
All of those donations and that support give kids like my daughter a chance to have their parents back.  Hell, it can give parents the chance to have their kid back!  The donations boost much needed funding to programs that help to support and encourage people struggling with substance abuse and/or mental health issues.  It helps kids cope when they are left to witness their loved ones going through all the trauma.  It gives hope to people like Amy and Libby and Jeanna and Katy and Greg, who were damn lucky enough to find their way out of the dark and start heading towards light and towards life (which reminds me, THANK YOU AMY, LIBBY, JEANNA, KATY and GREG for sharing your stories this month with my followers and with me)!!!  They brought tears to my eyes, and I rarely cry.  I hope you’re proud of yourselves 😉

The support and love that our family received will never, ever be forgotten.  I try to remind you as often as I can that I can’t do this alone ~ you are the reason that Good Things are happening.  When that money is tallied up at the end of each month, I am only responsible for a teensy weensy portion of it.  I truly and humbly adore your sudden attack of conscience .   Onward!!!  xoxo

Hubby's one year sobriety coin from AA ~ he carries it with him everywhere.  The sobriety...AND the coin :)

Hubby’s one year sobriety coin from AA ~ he carries it with him everywhere. The sobriety…AND the coin 🙂

The Serenity Prayer.  Tattooed on Greg's back in hopes that somebody else who needs to see it, will.

The Serenity Prayer. Tattooed on Greg’s back in hopes that somebody else who needs to see it, will.

Greg’s Story ~ “It Wasn’t Just MY Struggle”

This story was written by Greg, my super hot and super sober husband 😉  Tomorrow he will celebrate 365 consecutive days of not picking up a drink.  It’s a day I never thought I would see come.  I don’t think it’s a day he thought he would ever see come either.  Greg’s story is very real.  It was not written and shared for anyone to judge.  It was written to help, to give hope, and to inspire.  Although you may identify greatly with his struggles and triumphs, not a single one of you has thought the EXACT same thoughts and felt the EXACT same feelings as Greg in his situations.  Please keep that in mind before you think it’s acceptable to judge him.  It’s not.  And if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.  Today, it is only okay to support.  It’s okay to sympathize or empathize.  It’s okay to encourage.  Thank you, Greg, for sharing your story ❤

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“Hi, my name is Greg and I am an alcoholic, but not a writer, so I am going to tell my story as best I can.  It might seem jumpy from one subject to another, but I’ll try and keep it in line.

There are some addicts that can probably pinpoint a time in their lives where or why they started to abuse.  I am not one of them.  There isn’t a specific part of my life or something that happened that made my drinking spiral out of control: it just did.  I moved to America in 1988 from a completely different culture and way of life.  To me, life at age 8 seemed very simple and just.  I came from Poland, and to a lot of people in my new country it seemed that we were all just farmers, drinkers and weird dressers.  Well, that was kinda true back then…and I’m sure to some it still seems true today. In our culture, the men made the money and worked the long, hard hours (and that was reason enough to drink every night) while the women took care of the house and the kids.  My mother was never much of a drinker, but my father drank enough for both of them.  In fact, just this past December we lost my father due to liver failure and other complications from his drinking.

Since I came here when I was only 8 years old I grew up mostly in the American culture, but my family was pretty much set in their way of life, especially the men who were drinkers.  I went to a Catholic elementary school but then had to attend public high school.  It was a bit of a change going from one to the other.  When I got to high school I didn’t have many friends because they had all gone on to the Catholic high school.  We were poor immigrants and couldn’t afford the tuition.  I had to try and fit in as best I could and to do so I partied and drank with every crowd I hung out with.  Even though I tried a few drugs, I never got into them.  Alcohol was what would become my addiction.  I hung out with my older brothers and their friends a lot, so I had access to booze very easily.  Pretty quickly I became the popular kid because I could get alcohol for me and my friends with just a simple phone call.  I also lived with my brothers unsupervised on the top floor of our apartment house while my parents lived downstairs, so my place quickly became the party house.  If you lived on the west side of Grand Rapids, there is  a good chance you partied at my house more than once!

As much as I tried (or didn’t try) I didn’t graduate from high school, but I set a quick goal for myself and received my G.E.D. within a couple months of dropping out.  I went to work in the restaurant industry, because that’s all I knew how to do. (Is it a coincidence that a lot of bars offer “Industry Nite” for people who work in restaurants to get tanked after work??)  Every place I worked at I moved up in rank pretty quickly.  I guess I had a knack for it, and with that came more responsibility and stress.   To calm the stress, I drank.

I guess I started drinking because it was so accessible for me, especially when I was old enough to buy.  I could drink at work because I could function drunk.  Somewhere along the line I became a little depressed and felt my life was going nowhere, and the booze numbed that feeling pretty well.  Even though I had a great wife and a gorgeous daughter, I felt as if this is who I was and that I didn’t do anything “great” in my life.  Before I knew it, I would drink all day and all night.  For me, the greatest accomplishment was that I could drink two fifths of gin in a day and no one would notice because I was still functional.  If my wife wouldn’t have found me on the couch covered in sweat that cold February morning , I don’t know if I would still be here today.  And if my withdrawals hadn’t been as severe as they were, I would probably STILL be drinking today.

Once I got out of the hospital I stayed sober for about two months.  Even with rehab and substance abuse counseling that whole time I started to slowly drink again.  I was looking for a miracle to just brain wash me out of this damn disease.  I thought that non-alcoholic beer would be okay, and I started to drink some of those.  Before I had even realized it, I was drinking regular beers followed by shots and mixed drinks.  I would leave my counseling session and go straight to the liquor store on my way to work and get six single shooters for “at work” and a half pint for the ride there.  When I could, I would sneak away and take the shots during the lunch hour to help hold me over until I could get a break from work and head back to the liquor store to restock.    One day, a friend of mine that is in the AA program asked me if I wanted to go to a meeting someday.  He never pressured me, and I knew no one at the meetings would judge me because they had all heard it before.  It was a goal I set for myself just to see if I could do it, and trust me when I say that my life almost immediately changed for the better.  Now, I don’t know if I’m working this program the right way or not, because I haven’t gotten through the 12 Steps yet, but what I DO know is that I haven’t picked up a drink today and I don’t plan on doing so tomorrow, but I can’t always plan tomorrow so for TODAY I will not drink.

This last part I write with a big smile on my face and a tear in my eye because on May 22nd, 2013 I will celebrate one year sober.  I look back on my struggle and realize that it wasn’t just MY struggle, but also a struggle for my friends and especially my family.  The support I have received from so many old friends and a lot of great new friends is overwhelming.  The years wasted with my wife, daughter and family I will never be able to pay back…but today it is with a heart full of joy that I get to say THANK YOU to all that have been there every step of the way.”

Jeanna’s Story ~ “My lifelong struggle with anxiety and self-harm: I thought about it, and I think this is all that matters…..”

This was written by my beautiful friend Jeanna, whose laughter and positive attitude and love for life is contagious!   We started talking one day a few months ago when she saw this picture posted on my friend Melissa’s blog page, Adventures of Ninja Mama:

Pal's
This was one of the first family pics we had taken after my hubby had gotten sober.  We had been cruising around at a classic car show –Greg’s idea of a good time, not mine 😉 –and then stopped for lunch at an old fashioned diner that had a mirror on the ceiling.   That was one of the best days the 3 of us had had together in a long time.

She commented that she loved this.  I commented back.  Then I started following HER blog, My Children Think I’m Perfect.  It is AMAZING.  Painfully and brilliantly genuine and forthcoming (and I highly recommend you read her post Unsinkable when you get a chance). Then we started messaging each other back and forth and then we discovered that we only lived a couple hours from each other!!  Jeanna and her hubby drove with me and Greg and my sister and her boyfriend to Chicago to shave their heads for kids’ Cancer awareness.  We had so much fun together that she picked me up a different weekend and drove us to support another blogger in a Chicago show.  We talk on the phone, we text, and she was more than happy to help me out with my blog by writing this story for you today.

Jeanna’s story is very real.  It was not written and shared for anyone to judge.  It was written to help, to give hope, and to inspire.  Although you may identify greatly with her struggles and triumphs, not a single one of you has thought the EXACT same thoughts and felt the EXACT same feelings as Jeanna in her situations.  Please keep that in mind before you think it’s acceptable to judge her.  It’s not.  And if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.  Today, it is only okay to support.  It’s okay to sympathize or empathize.  It’s okay to encourage.
Thank you, Jeanna, for sharing your story. ❤

"I am at peace." ~Jeanna

“I am at peace.” ~Jeanna

“…..I walk outside and look into the night, all I see is a life worth living. Surrounding me at every turn are blessings. I fall to my knees in gratitude.

For I know darkness.

And because of this I scream thank you into the light.

I know hope.

I close my eyes and I whisper, “this too shall pass.”

And I believe myself.

Once upon a time I drew razor blades across my flesh and begged for my mind to stop hurting. I drew words into my skin and hoped that they would be heard. My restless mind begged to be forgiven, redemption for every task I couldn’t tackle. I was at war with myself and the battles raged endlessly.

For years I clung to childlike prayers of optimism and when the world fell around me, as the world on occasion will, it tore my heart into a thousand pieces. The burden of realization tore at my insides; I ripped at my outsides to validate my pain.

I doubted my worth at every turn. I noticed the rafters where I could tie a noose before I noticed validation in the faces of those around me. I feared love, because I feared loss. And in doing so, I feared life. I drowned in terror.

And somehow, by some chance, by a blessing, by one last breath of shear will, I decided to swim.

You can be reborn. You can have a life worth living. You can awaken to a dream. I promise.

You can heal.

But you must stay to see another day.”

 

Katy’s Story ~ “I Drank the Kool Aid”

Today, I am honored to have permission to re-share a blog post with you.  This was written by my friend Katy…but a lot of you might know her better as the platinum blonde, spazz dancing tornado of awesomeness that is I Want A Dumpster Baby.  I started following her by pure accident after Greg got sober, but she changed everything for me.  EVERYTHING.  My husband adores her.  I adore her.  One of the biggest privileges we’ve had on our journey to sober living was to meet her in real life 🙂
Katy Katy Dumpster Baby
Katy’s story is very real.  It was not written and shared for anyone to judge.  It was written to help, to give hope, and to inspire.  Although you may identify greatly with her struggles and triumphs, not a single one of you has thought the EXACT same thoughts and felt the EXACT same feelings as Katy in her situations.  Please keep that in mind before you think it’s acceptable to judge her.  It’s not.  And if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.  Today, it is only okay to support.  It’s okay to sympathize or empathize.  It’s okay to encourage.  Thank you, Katy girl, for sharing your story!!!  You know that Fregs and I love you so, so much ❤

I Drank the Kool Aid by Katy M.
— from the blog I Want A Dumpster Baby

          I never met a vice I didn’t have to quit.

Hi my name is Katy and I am a grateful alcoholic. Here’s where you all say, “Hi Katy”. I am many other things, but if I don’t acknowledge and be grateful to be an alcoholic, I won’t be any of those other things. I am a hardened, some say, cold, black-hearted woman and I am not ashamed of it today. I know better. I know I am really a tender, soft spoken, afraid little girl, in a beat up, world-weary, yet still hopeful and healthy woman’s body. I am proud as hell of myself and so very grateful. I still want a drink sometimes, not often, but sometimes. Not to drink, but just to not be so VERY SOBER all the time.

Today I have a wonderful husband, a great job, a great apartment and two lovely kitty cats. My family and in-laws are amazing. I have good friends, not many, but a few who get me and love me. I have a lot of acquaintances and then this weird circle of AA friends who really know the most intimate screwed up things about me and love me anyway. It’s a pretty kick ass club, but only the really fucked up get to join, and it comes at a devastating price. My life is good; great actually. But it wasn’t always.

I am the only thing that got in the way. I grew up with an amazing, supportive family in the suburbs and had every advantage and even graduated college, all courtesy of my non-alcoholic parents. So, if you think you become alcoholic because your parents were, let this be a lesson to you. It is indiscriminate. It can happen to anyone.

I was and am highly insecure. I started drinking at 18 at college and that alleviated the insecurity. Then I drank – and drank and drank and drank. I don’t have an off switch like most people. My natural inclination is to drink. To NOT drink is a miracle. I will spare the sordid details, but I wound up drinking 24 hours a day – cheap vodka from a water bottle. I got fired, I got evicted and I became homeless. I stole, lied, cheated and manipulated people like a sociopath. I was a terrible person who did terrible things when drinking. But I’ve learned that I wasn’t terrible, I was sick, which doesn’t excuse anything, but helps to accept it all.

My parents paid for four rehabs and let me stay at their house until they couldn’t stand it any longer. My mom, bless her heart, was very involved in Al-Anon and had the good sense to kick me out. Which I know was the hardest thing she’s ever had to do. But it wound up being the best thing in the world for me. My parents lost a couple years of their lives due to my selfish addiction. They would spend evenings driving around the city of Chicago looking for their daughter – absolutely heartbreaking.

I had no money, nowhere to live and no one who trusted or believed in me any more. And rightly so. I was a typical Jekyll and Hyde alcoholic. I was a sweet and generous person who became belligerent, mean and compulsive liar while drinking.

I got sober a month after 9/11 and I will never forget that at that time I was so out of it, that I believed it was all a hallucination. I didn’t have enough of a grasp on reality to know we were being attacked and it was real.

There were a few hospital stays, psych ward holidays and that last jail stint at 26th and California……

(INSERT MY MUG SHOT HERE)
Just kidding, I don’t have my real mug shots. But I’m sure this is close.  I was pretty hot.

That last morning in jail, I felt grace and hope.  I have no idea why I was given this gift, but I was.  The tiniest smidgen of hope was all it took to get me off that cold slab and into the world of recovery.  I walked out of that jail with my number in black marker on my hand and headed to the bus to get me to a safe place where my parents could pick me up when I called my mom and said, “I’m ready.  Please come get me.”  I decided it was time and I surrendered. I WANTED TO LIVE.

I was so sick when I stopped drinking for even a few hours that my delirium tremors scared the life out of me. It’s been almost 10 years and I still so vividly remember them. The visions, the sweats, the shaking, the cold; I never want to forget where I came from.

My sponsor told me for the first year I was sober, “Shut up and listen.  You have nothing to say that these people need to hear.”  And as much as I hated it, I completely understand what she meant now.  And she was right.  *kicks dirt*

I get a kick out of people who come into the rooms of AA for the first time and they ALWAYS think they are somehow unique and can do it differently. I did too, and when you get tired of the insanity – trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results – you try something else. I don’t know why it works, but I‘ve had the pleasure and horror of working with all kinds of drunks. Some still sober, some drunk and some dead. I know a lot of dead people. I have become accustomed to “walking over the bodies”, which means, the reality is this disease kills people all the time. Those of us who are sober have to keep going or we too get dragged down. Everyone has their own story and their own path, but underneath all of it is addiction and it is essentially the same with everyone.

Many people say AA is a cult, and I say, who cares? It’s way better than the alternative. And I am Agnostic. I can believe in whatever the hell I want to believe in as a Higher Power and still get sober. People who get held up by thinking AA is a religious program are just using that as an excuse.

I will always be a drunk. I’ve gotten many qualities from being a drunk that normal people don’t ever get. I am funny. I am tolerant of addicts, to a limit. I can turn anything into an “it can always be worse” scenario that annoys the hell out of people. The compassion for people who struggle with addiction is the overwhelming element of my make up that I am grateful for. I root for the loser. I was that loser and I found people who rooted for me when everyone else quit on me.

I am in a fortunate position of not caring one bit for people who judge that this is who I am. I would be dead had I not accepted my powerlessness over alcohol. They say there are three outcomes for people like me, hospitals, institutions or death. I’ve done two of the three and today I choose to live. I wanted to kill myself and just gave up, hoping that I wouldn’t wake up from a blackout. But I continued to wake up, and I have to believe there’s a reason that I received this gift when so many don’t. It’s a big weight to carry. It’s my responsibility to help other people who are trying to get this – whenever and wherever – to help people who want to get sober.

I’m really not a sappy, sentimental person and yet I freely admit that every day is a gift. I believe you get back what you put out. And for a long time I put out crap and got crap in return. These days I am most kind to animals, secondly to humans, although that is more difficult for me. Humans will let you down. Eventually everyone does. I’ve had the privilege of making amends to my family and employers and several others. I think my family would say my living sobriety is the best amend they could have.

I lived in a women’s halfway house with 8 other women for the first 6 months of my sobriety. It was incredibly helpful for my developing relationships with women. Out of those women, only one other than me is still sober. The rest are using or dead. That is the reality. The truth of this recovery is that I cannot do it alone, my higher power and other sober people help me every day.

One of my favorite things, and one that my husband of two years tends to deal with very patiently being with me, is that I frequently have random people contact me to talk about a friend or family member or themselves having a drinking problem. I love that. It is a subject I know an awful lot about and can speak to with much enthusiasm and wisdom, I hope. I also joke about all this, a lot. And man, I laugh harder now than I ever did when I was drinking. We laugh and laugh. It’s my favorite thing in the world to make him laugh. My husband is a “normie” and he drinks. But like most people, he can handle it. I will never be like that and that’s OK. It’s good to have both sober people and people who drink in my life. He eats meat and I don’t. He drinks and I don’t. I smoke and he doesn’t (I’ve quit smoking as of this re-post). See, we really can all just get along. I’ve learned to look for the similarities and not the differences in people. I have told my husband that if I drink again, he needs to leave me. Not stick around for the destruction. I hope if that ever happens that he will heed that call.

My darling husband.  Married May 24, 2009.  I LOVE love.

On October 4th of 2012, I was sober for 11 years.  I don’t like to celebrate my earth birthday any more as I am so much more grateful for my sobriety date. I take responsibility and it all goes into who I am today. It is only through karmic grace and the 12 steps that I am sober and happy today. All we have is today, and I choose not to drink. EVERYTHING depends on that choice that I make just for today. My sponsor told me in the beginning, “You can drink tomorrow if you want, but don’t drink today”. I have told many sponsees the same thing over the years. As tomorrow appears I, hopefully, will say the same thing.

Libby’s Story ~ ” Some days I have to stay on my knees so I don’t pick up drugs.”

This was written for you all by my beautiful friend Libby, who I attended Catholic school with for  seven years.  Yes, we were plaid skirt wearing, Peter Pan collar popping “good girls” together 😉  Libby’s story is very real.  It was not written and shared for anyone to judge.  It was written to help, to give hope, and to inspire.  Although you may identify greatly with her struggles and triumphs, not a single one of you has thought the EXACT same thoughts and felt the EXACT same feelings as Libby in her situations.  Please keep that in mind before you think it’s acceptable to judge her.  It’s not.  And if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.  Today, it is only okay to support.  It’s okay to sympathize or empathize.  It’s okay to encourage.  Thank you, Libby, for sharing your story. ❤

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I am a loving daughter, a loyal sister and friend, an Incredible Zia (Italian for Aunt) and a devoted student THEN I am a recovering drug addict. 

The devils candy (crack cocaine) no longer has my soul…I am blessed and I am strong. I am 32 years old and will have 9 years sober on November 2, 2014 and this is a daily struggle.  Some days I have to stay on my knees so I don’t pick up drugs.  I started drinking at a young age, then smoked marijuana and got mixed up with the wrong crowd and “stepped” into the downward spiral to running away, stealing, lying, hating, beating, being beat, and prostitution.  I have been kidnapped.  I have hurt others (physically and mentally). I have lived on the streets and have turned my back to my family. 

I got into some legal trouble November 5, 2005 and was taken to jail. It was a very serious physical altercation that was on the news, and that was how my family found out about the trouble that I was in. I was sentenced to 3 years in prison and it never occurred to me that there were drugs in prison…I decided that I would stay sober in prison and do ALL I could do to stay focused and connected to my family, friends and professionals on the outside. 

When I came home I had to take care of many medical/psychological issues that were not treated in prison, and after a year I decided to take some classes at a community college.  I got straight A’s and from there made the huge decision to become a social worker. I am currently in my last year at Grand Valley State University studying social work. I will be focusing on dual diagnosis clients with mental disorders and substance abuse issues. 

YES!! Me…I am doing this because I was there and just know I can really help people that are struggling with active addictions. I am a miracle that has/is going to make a difference in this world with positive intentions. I am love.

Amy’s Story ~ ” It seemed at the beginning like there were a lot of rules…You know what? The only real rule is: DON’T DRINK or USE. That’s the only rule.”

This was written for you all by my beautiful friend Amy, who I met on Facebook via a friend I met on Facebook 😉  Amy’s story is very real.  It was not written and shared for anyone to judge.  It was written to help, to give hope, and to inspire.  Although you may identify greatly with her struggles and triumphs, not a single one of you has thought the EXACT same thoughts and felt the EXACT same feelings as Amy in her situations.  Please keep that in mind before you think it’s acceptable to judge her.  It’s not.  And if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.  Today, it is only okay to support.  It’s okay to sympathize or empathize.  It’s okay to encourage.  Thank you, Amy, for sharing your story. ❤

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“When a friend asks you to write a little bit about your addiction life, of course you want to share as part of the 12th step, or merely in the name of helping another person find hope – but you also struggle through the thoughts of having to dredge it all back up. So, let’s just dive right in… like a meeting I guess.

Hi. I’m Amy. I’m an addict.

I’m an alcoholic, I’m a drug addict, I’m a sex addict, I’m a card carrying member of Debtors Anonymous (pun intended), and clinically bipolar. (Right here I’d love to say, “…and I’ll just listen tonight. I pass” whereby everyone would chant, “Thanks for comin, Amy.”)

The deal is this. The way I understand it, addiction is addiction. Whatever it is I do in my life to escape the reality of it all, and do it to a point that it causes me distress and despair – it’s addiction. And typically, if you’re addicted to one thing – the chances are, you’re addicted to many things. Addictions don’t discriminate. They can accumulate, but rarely discriminate. 
I think the underlying issue for me is the bipolar diagnosis. As far back as I can remember (3 years old-ish) I’ve had some things that just “weren’t right”.

I have to mention that my life growing up was so normal. My parents were married, stayed married and raised my brother and me in a very loving home. The fact that we are both addicts is a matter of heredity, I learned in treatment. My parents didn’t display addictive behaviors growing up, and they’re only slight if any at this point. My point here is – I didn’t come from a “broken home” and I wasn’t born to “druggie” parents who moved me around from school to school. They were, and are, good people. My choices are not their fault.

As I grew up, I had to find a way to cope with the highs of mania and the lows of depression. At 8 years old I managed to masturbate for the first time. How does an 8-year old know how to do that? I don’t know. All I know is that it was self-soothing and quieted my mind. I remember it vividly. 
I was searching and clawing my way through elementary and middle school appearing absolutely normal to the outside world. Well, mostly. I found my self-worth in the arms of a myriad of men – or boys I guess, at age 14. I wanted/needed someone to cling to. As boys turned to men, the weight of disappointment when a relationship ended became insurmountable. I would do nearly anything to cling to a relationship.

Because I was so relationship focused, I didn’t have a lot of girlfriends. There weren’t a lot of weekend sleep-overs and parties. I had a few just to keep my parents calm thinking that everything was “normal.” 
The first taste of alcohol I had was a Sun Country wine cooler out of a 2-Liter bottle. I didn’t care for it. In fact, I never did acquire a taste for any alcohol. In order to drink beer, I had to chew Big Red gum to disguise the taste. Turned out that when I drank, I’d slam down 5 shots of whatever someone bought for me – and I was set for the night. (I hated the feeling of being “full” too. Drinking always made me feel full.) When I felt myself coming ‘down’, I’d have one or two more to keep me at it. The truth of the matter is, most of the time I went out, I was manic so it didn’t take much to make me SEEM wasted.
My first serious boyfriend was a known pot-head. I never even considered smoking anything because, to me, smoking looked very low class. I’m glad now that I never tried it – I KNOW I would have loved it. After telling him several times I wouldn’t smoke with him, he asked me to try LSD. I did. And then I did it again. And again. And again. But that was it. Four of the most hysterical nights of my life. Also, they were some of the most dangerous as I look back.

It wasn’t long after I fell into that trap that he moved on and I graduated from high school. I wound up pregnant (learning later that I didn’t know who the father was) and lost. Married and divorced in 18 months I was still searching.
In the arms of another man I was given cocaine. A LOT of cocaine. I HATE cocaine, but I did it because I wanted to feel alive. To escape the nightmare that was my mind. As I type this I realize that my manic mind is very similar to being on cocaine… no wonder I hated it.

As that relationship fizzled I found myself alone, with a baby, without a job and broken. I went to a doctor (this is before I was diagnosed with Bipolar) who prescribed anti-depressants. They worked! They shot me RIGHT into full-blown mania. Oh Mylanta – what a mess.

I destroyed marriages, slept with multiple men, got married and divorced again and racked up over $60,000 in credit card debt. I chartered private planes, had closets full of clothes with tags still on them and drove cars right off of the showroom floor. THIS is the danger of prescribing antidepressants to someone with Bipolar.

During the course of my manic phase, I often struggled with anxiety (ya think?). So I went back to the doctor (who I now call the “candy man”) to get more drugs. He prescribed me Ativan. I LOVED Ativan. This was exactly what I needed to quiet my mind. I fell in love. I took the anti-depressants to drive me up, and the Ativan to bring me back down. I was IN CONTROL… until the depression came.

I took more and more Ativan. I slept most of my time away. <This is pretty hard to dredge up because this is where I feel the most loss. I don’t care that I frittered away hundreds of thousands of dollars. Or that I wrecked marriages. What I hate the most is that I missed out on my little girl’s childhood. If I wasn’t in recovery, this in and of itself would drive me to suicide even today.>

I was in and out of a local psych ward trying to make some sense of it all. I had stopped abusing alcohol but the pills remained. I began taking the correct pills as prescribed but I was still drowning. After many meetings and testing, it was confirmed that I am, in fact, bipolar. FINALLY. An answer.
Somewhere in the course of this nightmare I started going to AA meetings. And then NA meetings. And then SLAA meetings. I got chips. And key tags. And I shared. And I read. And I prayed. It seemed at the beginning like there were a lot of rules. Read this book, do these steps, don’t talk to those people, yadda yadda. You know what? The only real rule is: DON’T DRINK or USE. That’s the only rule. How you get there is your choice.

There is a lot of wisdom in the years of sobriety sitting in an AA room. LISTEN to the oldies. They know stuff. Take what you want and leave the rest. 
I’m sick of writing about this. I’m depressed and angry at the whole mess all over again. And I will be again. And again. Because that’s life. These are emotions. They don’t go away.

I’ll close by saying: Nothing in the WORLD is worth dying for. No matter what you’ve done, or not done – suicide is not the answer. I was merely breaths away from taking that way out. It’s really not the answer. You have to believe it.

You’re gonna get tired as hell, and you’re gonna get angry, sad and lonely. There will be shame and disappointments. You may even get too happy and over-celebrate. NONE OF IT MATTERS RIGHT NOW. Just stop what you’re doing. Put your feet on the floor and close your eyes. BREATHE. It will all be different in a little while. Call for help. Call ANYONE. Walk. Talk. Shower. Eat. Cry. Scream. ANYTHING, just do not end your life based on temporary feelings.

People love you. You may not know it or realize it yet – but they do.”

KIDS FOOD BASKET REALLY PACKS A LUNCH…ERRRR, I MEAN PUNCH!! ;)

Soooo, a little over a week ago I finished up working on my 4th charity.  My FOURTH.  Which makes me one third of the way done with my New Year’s resolution!  Me, the girl who rarely finishes anything, and if so it is certainly never on time.  Me, the girl who has a 45 second attention span and jumps ship at the sight of something shiny.   Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! 🙂
I feel like someone should fetch me a podium and a microphone, so I can thank the people that got me to this point.  People like my hubby and my daughter, who forfeit some of their very important time with me so I can write blogs and run my Facebook page.  People like my friends and family, who support me and encourage me and remind me that even if I reach just one person then I am making a difference.  People like my fellow bloggers, who wrote the stories and divulged the personal experiences that inspired me to choose some of the charities that I did, and who share me with their own fans way more than I deserve.  People like YOU, a follower that is reading this and sharing my statuses and interacting with me on my Facebook page and messaging me to let me know how this inspires you too.  Oh, and of course I can’t forget to thank my Adderall, without which my dedication and focus on this year long task would not be remotely possible 😉  I am seriously loving every minute second of what I’m doing.  Thank you, you guys!!!
*[waits for wolf whistles and thunderous applause to die down]*

Okay, but seriously.  Let’s get back to the good things, which are actually more like great things!  Kids Food Basket was my April charity, and I already miss it.  Is it crazy to miss assembling and packing 300 bologna sandwiches!?!

100 sandwiches to a box :)

100 sandwiches to a box 🙂

KFB works to ensure that children in my West Michigan community do not go to bed hungry by distributing Sack Suppers, which are paper lunch bags filled with over 1,000 calories from five food groups.  When paired with the breakfast and lunch served in school, KFB’s Sack Supper is enough to meet a child’s daily nutritional requirement.  Both the Grand Rapids and Muskegon locations together serve FIVE THOUSAND school children every weekday.  Within the next year, KFB’s goal is to take every school off of their waiting list, and by doing so they would accommodate another 1,000 students.  Is it as disturbing to you as it is to me to know that 6,000 children from just around MY TOWN go home to no dinner???  That means it’s happening around your town too!  And that sucks.  I love dinner.  Who doesn’t love dinner?!  

The Sack Supper menu for my first day of volunteering.  The items listed first are packed on the bottom, and as you make your way down the list, the lighter items get packed towards the top so nothing gets smooshed!!

The Sack Supper menu written on the white board the day I took my tour of the KFB facility 🙂


There is a new menu put up every day, and the items listed first are the heaviest so they get packed towards the bottom of the bag.  As you move down the list, the lighter items end up on top so that the kids’ dinners don’t get squished!  The KFB staff also took into consideration the fact that a lot of the children receiving the Sack Suppers may not have access to a stove or a microwave or any other appliance that would heat their meals.  Therefore, they are very careful to only send food that can be consumed “as is.”  KFB also sends out Snack Sacks, baggies filled with pudding cups and sunflower seeds and granola bars, which help sustain children over long weekends and holidays when they won’t have the chance to receive their regular bagged dinner.   They are always looking for large groups to assemble Snack Sacks off site, as well as to fill snack bags full of trail mix and popcorn!  If you live in the area, and are looking for a team building activity for your office or your students or your church group, etc,  then pretty please consider volunteering for KFB.  It is so much fun, and they need all the help they can get.

Oh yeah...and did I mention we donated over 50 packs of pudding?!?

Oh yeah…and did I mention we donated over 50 packs of pudding?!?

 

And Cheerios.  And applesauce.  And peanut butter.  And baggies.  Lots and lots of baggies.  It says so right here:

Yep, you read that right.  7 pounds of plastic baggies.

Yep, you read that right. 7 pounds of plastic baggies.

Sigh.  There’s so much to love about this organization that I can’t even put it into words, even though my job is to put it into words.  Kids Food Basket has the most amazing, passionate staff.  I did not meet one employee that wasn’t fully invested in the success of this organization.  From the moment I emailed them to inquire about helping, I had nothing but positive feedback and complete support.  There was Ashley, who was totally enthusiastic about my project, and took me on a complete tour of the facility, while giving me the detailed background on how they got started and where they plan to take it in the future.  There was Laura, who runs the volunteer process flawlessly, and who made sure I was able to get my volunteer time done in the month of April even though I gave her very little warning.   There was Austin, who has the actual assembly process running like clockwork and down to a science.  They are friendly and outgoing and always appreciative of the helpers.  There are so many more that I didn’t list on here, but they are just as crucial to the success of Kids Food Basket.

(Left to right)  Ashley, Austin and Liz :)

(Left to right) Ashley, Austin and Liz  🙂

So….how did we do???  We did fantastic, as usual!!  You people are amazing.  I never ask people how much they’ve donated when they let me know that they have, so sometimes my final number is just my best guess, but I know for sure that we donated at least $175.00, and I know for sure that we donated 5 huge bags of food and packing supplies.  I know that I spent 3 hours on site, trying to work as fast as I could to get as much done as possible.  I know there are about 1,000 decorated paper sacks that we will end up turning in total.  I also know for sure that I will ABSOLUTELY be back to spend more time working with them!  I will be back to help put thousands of juice boxes into crates and stack them five crates high.  I will be back to help assemble and bag hundreds of bologna sandwiches.  I will be back to drive the lunches to the schools that they get distributed at.  I will be back to drop off lunch sacks decorated by the entire student body at my daughter’s school.  I will constantly be on the lookout for weekly deals at local grocery stores on items that go into the Sack Suppers.  And I will be encouraging you all to do this too.  It’s easy.  Just go to their website www.kidsfoodbasket.org and click on the red DONATE tab or the blue VOLUNTEER tab at the top of the screen.  Tell them that Liz from My Sudden Attack of Conscience sent you.  Decide that you want to make a difference and then just get up and do it.   Find a program like this in your town.  START a program like this in your town.  You, too, can really pack a punch.  xoxo

Every volunteer who comes through KFB gets to sign the walk in cooler.  I am one of THOUSANDS, but I'm still making a difference.

Every volunteer who comes through KFB gets to sign the walk in cooler. I am one of THOUSANDS, but I’m still making a difference.

~April 2013~ Kids Food Basket

What do you think of when you hear “childhood hunger”?  What images come to mind??

Maybe something like this:

Poverty hunger

A child far away in a third world country, drinking river water and devouring whatever food scraps she can come across?

Or how about something like this:

The child of a homeless parent, gobbling down food given at a soup kitchen?

The child of a homeless parent, dirty and disheveled,  gobbling down food given from a soup kitchen?


How shocked would you be if it was a child that looked more like….this:

Clean face, combed hair, smile on his face.  THIS couldn't be the face of childhood hunger, could it?!?

Clean face, combed hair, big smile. THIS couldn’t be the face of childhood hunger, could it?!?

It could be.  It could be your child or your niece or nephew or your neighbor kid or a student in the classroom when you’re doing lunch duty.  It could be a patient you wait on, a kid whose hair you cut, someone you drive in carpool.  Hunger is not partial to gender or race or social class.  It can strike students at public schools, private schools, charter schools and home schools.  It sends MILLIONS of children to bed nightly with hunger pains 😦

I have no doubt in my mind that you have experienced hunger pains before.  You know the ones. Your tummy is completely empty, not a drop of food in there to spare. And it feels like someone reached in and grabbed hold of your intestines and twisted them into a pretzel knot and THEN punched you.  You get a headache.  You get really irritated.  HUNGER.  You can do something about it usually, right?  You can grab a snack from a vending machine, or out of your cupboards.  You can pull over at Arby’s.  You can throw together a bunch of things from your refrigerator and make an appetizer that Paula Dean would be proud of, right?!?  Right!

(Unless you "cook" like I do...then that whole Paula Dean part is just a fantasy)

(Unless you “cook” like I do…then that whole Paula Dean part is just a fantasy)

AND if you’re a parent, especially one living in the United States of America, you have the power to ensure that your children will always be fed and will never have to experience this, right?!?!   MAYBE.  But maybe not.

“According to a report by the USDA in 2008, 16.7 million children in the United States are living in food insecure households.  Food insecurity refers to the lack of access to enough food to fully meet basic needs at all times due to lack of financial resources.  Food security is a term used to describe what our nation should be seeking for all its people – assured access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life, with no need for recourse to emergency food sources or other extraordinary coping behaviors to meet basic food needs.” {information provided by http://www.kidsfoodbasket.org}

Times are still tough, people.  Times are tough for families that used to be financially independent and aren’t anymore.  Times are tough for families that had it tough before, and now they are devastating.  I personally live in a nice, middle class neighborhood where all of the residents take pride in their houses and care for their landscaping and clean up their dog crap.  The parents hang out on each other’s porches and the kids run from backyard to backyard.  We share juice boxes and popsicles and cracker packs with all of the kids running around and burning energy, but there is a little kid that lives on the opposite side of the street from me that asks neighbors for food all summer long.  Not snacks either, but rather full fledged meals.  When school isn’t in session and this child no longer receives breakfast and lunch in the cafeteria, and sack suppers to take home at the end of the day for dinner, there is a hunger issue.   The child’s single mother works full time and pays her taxes and makes sure her child gets to all of her doctor visits and eye exams and dental appointments, but sometimes that doesn’t leave enough left over for groceries that week.  We do what we can to help, but places like Kids Food Basket (<–click on it) do more.

WHAT IS KIDS FOOD BASKET, you ask?  (You didn’t ask??  Well, you should have.  And who cares, I’m gonna tell you anyway):

~~ “Kids’ Food Basket is the only organization in greater Grand Rapids dedicated to attacking childhood hunger. We currently provide Sack Suppers to nearly 5,000  kids every day during the school year, plus hundreds more at local sites in the summer.  The schools we serve have a student population in which 80% or more of students live at or near the poverty level. Even with this requirement, we currently serve 38 sites, and there is consistent demand for our services. We have a number of schools on our waiting list at any given time.”

~~ “Sack Suppers mean that lunch does not have to be a child’s last meal of the day. They are an evening meal distributed at school and taken home. With over 1,000 calories and five food groups, each Sack Supper provides nutrition that’s critical to the development of healthy bodies and strong minds.  Sack Suppers are a critical victory in the attack on childhood hunger.  School officials provide Kids’ Food Basket with the number of children at their site that they know are living in food insecure households. Often, children self-report that they have not eaten since yesterday at school. In addition, teachers, nurses and social workers recognize the signs of poor nutrition, which include listlessness, low energy, below normal growth, pale complexion, circles under their eyes and poor concentration.”

~~ “Kids’ Food Basket does not receive any funds from the Federal, State, County or City Governments. We receive monies through grants from local foundations, local businesses, individuals and community organizations.  Kids’ Food Basket has a small paid staff, including executive director Bridget Clark Whitney, who has been with the organization since its inception in 2002.  In addition to our staff, Kids’ Food Basket is guided by an active and amazing founder, Mary K. Hoodhood, and a supportive board. Every day, over 175 volunteers join us at Kids’ Food Basket headquarters to pack and deliver Sack Suppers — it is truly a community effort!”
**all facts taken from the Kids Food Basket web site**

Back when I was in the planning stages of My Sudden Attack of Conscience, I asked my friends and family and Facebook followers what some of their favorite charities were.  Kids Food Basket was my number one reply.  I am curious to know how many other cities have something in place like this??  I can’t wait to do Good Things for this one.  I had only heard of KFB before, but when I started researching it I knew it was special.  It is NEVER a child’s fault that there is no money for food.  A child should NEVER have to wake up or make it through the day or go to bed hungry.  This organization is trying to make sure that they don’t, and I totally love that.  If you have an extra ten dollars in your account this minute, this week or this month, P*L*E*A*S*E consider visiting  http://www.kidsfoodbasket.org/donate/donate-online and clicking the red DONATE ONLINE tab.  I will be sending my $10, as well as volunteering to pack Sack Suppers AND deliver them to the schools.  I will also be collecting 100% Fruit Juice Boxes!!  Kids Food Basket uses over 100,000 juice boxes a year  MONTH!  My daughter’s class (and maybe even her whole school, if I can swing it) will be decorating 8lb. paper sacks to deliver the Sack Suppers in.  This month should be FULL of great experiences ~ won’t you dig in with me? 🙂

Sluuuuuuuurp!

Sluuuuuuuurp!

 

COME AS STRANGERS, LEAVE AS FRIENDS :)

Phew!  I feel like I am finally recovered from an amazing weekend in Chicago where we attended a Shave-A-Thon for Charity #3, St. Baldrick’s Foundation.  I feel like I had jet lag.  Only…I didn’t take a jet.  I guess it was all of the nerves and excitement and the anxiety of making sure I had everything ready to go.  It was probably also the combined seven hours of sleep I got that entire week leading up to it 😉  But I was so excited!!!  And how could I not be??  Together, we raised well over the $100 goal that I set for all of my charites.  We raised $600.00 to be exact. Dayum.

That’s six hundred dollars that goes directly to PEDIATRIC cancer research.  “Did you know that all types of childhood cancers combined only receive 4% of U.S. federal funding for cancer research?  And that about 60% of all funding for drug development in adult cancers comes from pharmaceutical companies, but for kids??…almost none, because childhood cancer drugs are not profitable.”  {~taken from stbaldricks.org.}
NOT. PROFITABLE.  That makes me sick.  These are kids we’re talking about here.  Most of them are not even old enough to drive themselves to appointments or sign off on medical documents without a parent or guardian being present.  But they are not profitable, and their lives are not worth it.  If only they were thirty years older…only then do the pharmaceutical giants think they deserve a shot.  If you follow my Facebook page, then you know that I was mostly inspired to choose this charity because of a little girl named Donna.

Image

Donna Lu Quirke Hornik~ just one of (too) many faces of pediatric cancer.

I first read about Donna a couple of years ago, when her mom published a blog detailing Donna’s 31 months of cancer treatment over a period of thirty one days.  Donna was only 20 months old when she was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor, papillary meningioma.  She died when she was four years, two months, four weeks, and one day old.  But more important than those 2 moments in her life were the two and a half years in between where Donna chose happiness and fun and hope and tantrums and love and dancing and sassiness and being a big sister, everything that a child her age should be choosing.  I was also inspired to choose this charity because of Donna’s parents, namely her mom Sheila who writes the amazing blog Mary Tyler Mom.  If you haven’t read Donna’s Cancer Story on her page, I encourage you to start here http://www.chicagonow.com/mary-tyler-mom/2011/08/gold-is-the-new-pink/.

Donna’s mom and dad could have crumbled, but they didn’t.  They could have holed up in their home, locked all the doors, turned out all of the lights and never come out again, but they didn’t.  THEY CHOSE HOPE.  They’re still choosing hope.  And they are the coolest people.  I met them this weekend, along with their little boy Jay, Donna’s younger brother.  They smile and laugh and joke and play and comfort.  I also got to meet some of my other favorite bloggers like Katy from I Want A Dumpster Baby, Karin from Pinwheels and Poppies, Chris from From The Bungalow, and one of my fave girls Jeanna from My Children Think I’m Perfect who SHAVED HER HEAD BALD after raising $2,041.00 for St. Baldrick’s!!!  Jeanna and her hubby Doug rode with me, my hubby Greg, my sister Ellen and her boyfriend Jake to Chicago.  Doug, Greg and Jake also shaved their heads in support of pediatric cancer awareness (and so did Jeanna’s young son and tween daughter!  They are super brave, especially with how nasty kids can be these days).   Although we spend plenty of time together in virtual life, it was our first time ever meeting in real life and we had the best time!  Thank God, because six hours there and back is a looooooong time to travel with people if you don’t mesh 😉  We devoured these awesome loaded tator tots and mingled with celebrities and spent all day in a room full of courageous shavees, ranging in age from 11 to 89!  All together, the Chicago Shave-A-Thon event raised over $40,000.00!!!  We will definitely be going  back next year, so start saving your pennies…I’ll be coming after ’em!  Thank you so much to everyone who donated to Charity #3, especially my Aunt Karen and my Uncle Bruce, who had their company BW Manufacturing (www.bwmanufacturing.com) generously match $250.00 of the money raised!!   Because of people like them and because of people like you one day there WILL be enough money for research and medication and prevention and awareness and cures.  You just gotta keep choosing hope.

Team My Sudden Attack of Shaved Hair!  And no, I am not REALLY grabbing anyone inappropriately....at least, I don't think I am.

Team My Sudden Attack of Shaved Hair! And no, I am not REALLY grabbing anyone inappropriately….at least, I don’t think I am.

 

Jake was one of the first shavees to go, while Sheila from Mary Tyler Mom cheered everyone on.

Jake was one of the first shavees to go, while Sheila from Mary Tyler Mom cheered everyone on.

 

My hubby went in like this...

My hubby went in like this…

...and came out like this.  March Madness dork!

…and came out like this. March Madness dork!

The couple that shaves together...

The couple that shaves together…

...stays together :)  Doug and Jeanna from My Children Think I'm Perfect.  Look her up on Facebook.  She is amazing! xoxo

…stays together 🙂 Doug and Jeanna from My Children Think I’m Perfect. Look her up on Facebook. She is amazing! xoxo

Look at the company I'm forced to keep.

Look at the company I’m forced to keep.

Just LOOK at it!!! ;)

Just LOOK at it!!! 😉

I've gone stir crazy with these people!

I’ve gone stir crazy in the car with my seeester!

Some of my faves <3

Some of my faves 🙂  Left to right ~I Want A Dumpster Baby, Mary Tyler Mom, and Pinwheels and Poppies.  Look them up on Facebook too!

SO. EFFING. PROUD.Some of the best people I've ever known.  They're choosing hope! xoxo

SO. EFFING. PROUD.
Some of the best people I’ve ever known.  Jake, Doug, Jeanna and Greg are choosing hope! xoxo

“Who Am I?” or “25 THINGS ABOUT ME YOU PROBABLY DIDN’T KNOW AND MOST LIKELY DIDN’T WANT TO”

Wanna hear me talk about myself??  Well too bad, you’re gonna have to because my friend Melissa over at ADVENTURES OF NINJAMAMA (http://adventuresofninjamama.wordpress.com/) tagged me in a little blogger game about who I am.  So here’s some stuff.  You can read it.  Or don’t, I don’t really care.  I’m off to watch my DVR’d episodes of this weeks’ Days of our Lives episodes anyways…..

1.  Where were you born?

Grand Rapids, MICHIGAN.  I have never lived anywhere else.

2.  Were you named after someone?

No.  But my parents did work VERY hard at making sure I was called by my given name “Elizabeth” by everyone that met me…that all went to shit in high school when people started calling me “Liz” and I just wanted to let them call me whatever they wanted so I didn’t get my butt whooped! 😉

3. How many children do you have?

One.  And done.  My tubes are tied and the baby-makin’ factory is closed for business.  My family is the right size for ME.  My daughter is not bratty or a loner or shy or weird just because she doesn’t have any siblings.  If people feel the need to lecture me on my choice, I usually just put a really sad face on and tell them that I only have HALF of a uterus, so I am unable to carry a whole baby…this shuts people up and gets me a sympathetic pat on the hand about 99% of the time.

4. How many pets do you have?

Two puppies, both rescue pets.  And by puppies, I mean they are 4.  But they will ALWAYS be puppies to me.  Chase is a Boston Terrier/Boxer/Idiot whose given name is Starchaser Red Rose (hey, my daughter was only 5, what do you expect?!) and Nolley is a chihuahua that wears pink hooded parkas and rides everywhere with us. 

5. Your worst injury?

Okay…prepare to be disgusted.  My worst injury HANDS DOWN is the thrombosed hemorrhoid I had for 8 days.  I thought I was going to die.  My broken finger, broken foot, popped kneecap, wisdom teeth removal and c-section COMBINED did not hurt worse than that damn butt bubble!!!!!

6.  Do you have a special talent?

Not unless you count being able to recite movie lines word for word after just two viewings…

7.  Favorite thing you can bake?

That question should say “ONLY thing you can bake?”  I can make cupcakes and that’s about it.

8. Favorite Fast Food?

Ummm, I don’t know if I can pick a favorite.  I love Arby’s and Long John Silver’s and Taco Boy (a local Mexican fast food joint) pretty equally.

9.   Would you bungee jump?

Never.  I am beyond terrified of heights.  Never.  Next question.

10.  What is the first thing you notice about people?

I don’t know for sure, but I know that had to be doing SOMETHING noticeable, or I probably wouldn’t have looked twice at them  😀

11.  When was the last time you cried?

When I watched Intervention.  I am not big on crying, but there is something about those damn interventions that gets me every single episode.

12.  Any current worries?

Not that I can think of at the moment.  But I’m sure I’ll blab it all over Facebook if I do.

13.  Name 3 drinks you drink regularly.

Coke (in a can), Mountain Dew (in a can), and now water (room temp, with a straw) because I am being forced to by my husband, my family doc, and my surgeon.  Gahhhh, I freaking HATE water  😛

14.  What’s your favorite book?
Too many to name!!! I am a book junkie.  How about my favorite book to read to my little girl??  That would be Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day. 

15.  Would you like to be a pirate?

No.  I get sea sick.  And pirates just don’t look menacing with Sea-Bands and TransdermScop patches on.

16.  Favorite Smells?

Lemon anything, but I don’t actually eat lemons.  My daughter’s hair after a bath.  My hubby’s cologne.  Warm brownies.  Toasted marshmallows.  

17.  Why do you blog?

Because it’s my New Year’s resolution.  And for the first time in my life I’m keeping it and following through on something! 

18. What song do you want played at your funeral?
Hangin Tough by New Kids on the Block.  It would be even better if they could just show up and sing it live.  No, I am not even joking.  ❤ Mrs. Jordan Knight 4ever ❤

19.  What is your least favorite thing about yourself?

My nose, my nose, and did I mention MY NOSE??  I hate it.  I’ve always hated it.  I have yet to find a single member of my family with the same nose.  If anyone reading this is a plastic surgeon and wants to provide me with a new one free of charge, please email me at mysuddenattackofconscience@gmail.com 

20.  Favorite hobby?

Doing crossword puzzles.  Nerdy, I know.  But I absolutely love them, and the 200 page puzzle book that my hubby bought me after he got sober was one of the BEST gifts I’ve ever gotten.

21.  Name something you’ve done, you never thought you would do?

Succeed at my charity work and my blog page!  I didn’t think very many people would take me that seriously.

22.  What do you look for in a friend?

Someone who is true to themselves and their values.  Someone with a mind and a sense of humor as filthy as mine. Someone who commits to bringing others up rather than beating them down.  Someone who is loyal. Someone that has fun and loves life and LIVES it in the moment and isn’t afraid to act like a complete idiot right beside me.  

23.  Favorite fun things to do?

Go to Vegas with my Wolfpack.  Go sledding in the dark with my daughter.  Rollerskate.  Dress up in 80’s clothes and go out and dance.  Have girls night out dinners with my best friends from high school.  Hang out with my hubby now that he is sober 🙂
 

24.  Pet peeves?

Horrible, lazy grammar.  Toilet paper that is pulled from “under” rather than “over”.  The overuse or incorrect use of the word “literally”.

25.  What’s the last thing that made you laugh?

Oh jeez.  Like I can remember that!  I laugh probably a MINIMUM of 57 times a day.  It is usally at something rude, inappropriate, vulgar, vain, politically incorrect, snarky or a combination of all of the above.

 

xoxo ❤ ~Liz 

 

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Me and my friends at a New Kids on the Block concert in 2010. I may or may not have ironed Jordan Knight’s face onto my little black dress and then bedazzled it with hearts. Don’t judge. They had me at “Hangin Tough” 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~MARCH 2013~ ST. BALDRICK’S FOUNDATION

I’m here to thank God for my girl.

Leksi and kitty

Unconditional love.

Every single morning, the first thing I do is check on my daughter.  She is usually still fast asleep, with her unruly blonde hair, her perfect pouty lips, her unblemished skin.  She is breathing steadily, she is dreaming peacefully, sometimes she’s even smiling.  She has allergies and asthma, but it it well controlled.  She is a good, albeit PICKY eater, and she loves water and plain white milk (gross).  She orders broccoli over french fries at a restaurant every. single. time.  No joke.  Whose kid does something like that?!   She has lots of friends, gets amazing report cards,  and has never had a bad conference from a teacher.  She plays tennis and runs track and takes swim lessons and sculpts at clay class.  She is sassy but sweet, she is outgoing but humble.  And as her mama, I get the to have the amazing privilege of seeing her open her eyes, get ready for the day and take off to explore and live life without a care in the world.  I get the chance to teach her right from wrong.  I get to teach her fact from fiction.  I get to be there to watch her take her own chances and make her own decisions and figure out how to recover from her own mistakes.  I get to watch her grow every day and I don’t ever take it for granted.
THANK GOD.

Because not everyone in this world gets to do that.  I count my blessings all the freaking time.   I, myself, have already attended two funeral visitations for kids.  That’s two too many.  My best friend gave birth to her 31 week old daughter and then lost her after just 16 hours of life due to complications from a detachment of the placenta early on in her pregnancy.  My other friend’s 10 year old daughter died immediately from a brain aneurysm that took her while she was hanging out at an after school program .   Mamas and Daddies around the world have to experience the heart breaking pain of losing a child every day.  I’m not even going to list all of the ways that this could happen.  Hell, if you watch TV or read the news then you’ve already seen the evil that exists in this world.  If you are a parent, then I’m sure you’ve thought of a hundred horrifying scenarios and then immediately pushed them out of your head.  For example, you never imagine that when your child is vomiting and cranky and off-balance and not eating well that a doctor will send you home with a pediatric cancer diagnosis….

Donna Lu

Donna Quirke Hornik ~ photo by Joel Wanek.

THIS is Donna.  Daughter of Sheila who writes MARY TYLER MOM, one of the first and best blogs I have ever read.  Donna. Also a daddy’s girl, a typical big sister, an adored granddaughter, niece and cousin.  A dancer.  A thinker.  A free spirit with a great imagination.  A preschooler.  She was not even two years old yet when she got diagnosed with papillary meningioma, an aggressive brain tumor.  If you have not read Donna’s Cancer Story on Mary Tyler Mom’s blog, I encourage you to do so by clicking here: http://www.chicagonow.com/mary-tyler-mom/2011/08/gold-is-the-new-pink/.  My advice?  Keep some tissue near you.  The really soft kind with lotion, because you’ll probably use it A LOT.  Donna and her family fought and triumphed and fought some more through 31 months of treatment.  Donna is only here in spirit today.   Donna died in between her parents when she was only four years, two months, four weeks, and one day old.

And Donna is just one of hundreds of kids that will be diagnosed with cancer in their life.  *Did you know that before the age of 20, 1 in 300 boys and 1 in 333 girls will be diagnosed with cancer???  *Did you know that more US children will die from cancer than any other disease, or many other diseases, combined?  *That 73% of kids who survive their cancer will have chronic health problems as a result of their treatment and 42% will suffer severe or life-threatening conditions like secondary cancers?!?  And here’s the statistic that’s the most mind blowing to me:  *worldwide, a child is diagnosed every three minutes.

Kraft Easy Mac

In less time than it takes to heat up a cup of Kraft Easy Mac, a child will be diagnosed with cancer 😦

Something needs to be done.  Pediatric cancer research needs more funding.   *All types of childhood cancers combined receive only 4% of U.S. federal funding for cancer research.  So this month, I am going to do my part to get more money to the largest funder for this outside the US government: http://www.stbaldricks.org/.  St. Baldrick’s Foundation was formed in 1999 by a group of insurance executives, and since that time they have granted over $100 million to researchers trying to find a cure for childhood cancer!  They host Shave-A-Thon fundraising events all over the US, and on March 3oth this year I will be traveling to Chicago with my husband, my sister, her boyfriend and a bunch of my other friends to attend one!  I am beyond excited to meet Mary Tyler Mom.  (And also, Katy from I Want A Dumpster Baby who I did my charity in honor of last month!)  And I hope you will help me by contributing $10 to this amazing cause.  If you have an extra ten dollars in your account this minute, this week or this month, P*L*E*A*S*E consider visiting the donation page for Team My Sudden Attack of Shaved Hair at http://www.stbaldricks.org/teams/mypage/80683/2013 and click on the green DONATE button.  *The event goal for last year was $20K and they raised $79K!  This year the goal is set at $30K.  The oldest shavee that will be attending is 89 years old (!) and she is doing it with her daughter, a returning shavee from last year. What a cool old lady! 🙂  Let’s help kick pediatric cancer’s ass.  Let’s do it so that one day there will be no more mommies or daddies receiving a cancer diagnosis for their baby.  So that one day grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and friends won’t have to have “playdates” on an oncology floor.  So that one day people like Mary Tyler Mom and Mary Tyler Dad won’t have to parent their child by doing good things in their baby’s memory.  LET’S HELP KICK PEDIATRIC CANCER’S ASS.

*All statistics and cancer facts provided by St. Baldrick’s Foundation at http://www.stbaldricks.org

***Just a quick update for all of you that don’t follow my Facebook page:  TODAY IS THE LAST DAY TO DONATE to Best Friends Animal Society!!
Please click https://secure.bestfriends.org/page/contribute/give?default_amt=50 to directly donate to the largest no-kill animal shelter in the United States.  The donations for this month have been PAWesome! 😉  People sure do love their fur babies.

Also, if you live in or around the Grand Rapids MICHIGAN area, I am still looking for help with donations with the following items:
~Nylon Leashes
~Nylon Buckle Collars
~Balls, Tennis balls, and Plush Toys
~Chewies and Rawhide (no Greenies please)
~Dog Biscuits, Training Treats, and Hot Dogs
~Kongs 
~Dog Brushes
~Spray Cheese (in a can) — helps medication go down easy.
~Canned kitten and cat food
~Dry dog food
~Paper towels
~Mini paper plates
~Tall kitchen garbage bags
~Borax laundry powder
~Liquid hand sanitizer
~Dishwasher detergent
~Laundry detergent
~Liquid antibacterial hand soap refills
~Toilet paper
~Disinfecting wipes (Clorox or Lysol)
~Cat carriers and dog cages
~Towels of all sizes
~Bedding: bedspreads, blankets,flat sheets…USED are fine!

Need a little motivation to do so??  How about this?

ImageFor every THREE items purchased and delivered to me, you will be entered into a drawing to win a $25 Petco gift card.  You can find a bunch of these items at dollar stores, so it would only take spending $3 to get entered for the gift card!!  I will be collecting these items from now until Sunday, March 3rd @ 5pm EST.  Items will be distributed evenly between two local recue shelters in Grand Rapids:  Crash’s Landing (http://www.crashslanding.org/) and MacKenzie’s Animal Sanctuary (http://www.mackenzies.info/). If you are interested in participating, please message me for directions to my work so I can arrange to be there for the drop-off 🙂  Oh, and if you haven’t already done so, please consider sharing my blog with your friends, family and coworkers~the more people I have following along, the more these charities benefit!! xoxo ~Liz

***LAST CHANCE TO DONATE***

~February 2013~ Best Friends Animal Society

Geez you guys, I can’t believe we’re already half way through February.  I am so SO sorry for not writing about this charity until now!! My health has been a real CATastrophe lately, and it’s been “ruff” on me 😉  The only way to make up for lost time is to amp up my effort.  And to write a good enough blog post to make you sympathetic to my cause.  I think that I can do both…..

[photo credit to icanhascheezburger.com]

[photo credit to icanhascheezburger.com]

Back in December when I was putting all of these charities together, I had not planned to specifically donate to Best Friends Animal Society.  In fact, if you look back at my original list it says “Humane Society for Shelter Pets.”  I selected the HSSP after doing some research into larger animal charities like the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).  However, it sorta puts a snag in ones plans when it is discovered later that this particular charity is unable to accept donations…GAH!!   The Humane Society for Shelter Pets is devoted to encouraging people to donate LOCALLY and that’s what I liked about them.  I learned some very interesting things off of their website (www.humaneforpets.com) that I was not aware of before, and I thought you guys might find some of these interesting as well:

~ “Despite the words “humane society” in its name, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is not formally affiliated with any humane societies that operate at a city, county or regional level. HSUS does not run a single pet shelter. And the vast majority of its funds are kept for its own agenda. Only ONE PERCENT of its budget consists of grants to pet shelters.”

~ “Similarly, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is not affiliated with other local SPCAs (but does run ONE shelter in New York City). Generally, pet shelters are independent organizations.”

~ “It’s easy to forget local shelters and rescues who work tirelessly every day as we get mailing labels or see TV ads for national groups.  American Institute of Philanthropy, an independent charity watchdog, finds that the Humane Society of the United States (which is not affiliated with local humane societies) spends as little as 50 percent of its budget on programs and as much as 48 cents to raise every dollar.”

😦

Now don’t get me wrong.  I am not against ANY place that takes in homeless, abandoned, abused, neglected and injured animals.  I think every one of these animals deserves the chance to have a good home, no matter where they end up getting placed.  It’s not like it was their choice that they got dropped off or taken in there.  However, I do believe that local shelters need far more financial help than the big guys.  Rescues and local shelters have to work hard to come up with enough donated money to house the animals, feed them, bathe them, clean up after them, and provide shots/vaccines/antibiotics and other medical care, as well as pay the full-time staff, the doctors that care for the pets, recruit volunteers and pay for the overhead costs of running their facilities.

Ready for why I chose Best Friends Animal Society??  It’s sort of a crazy tail (get it?! you get it right??) but let’s start with this guy and eventually I’ll get to the point:

Greg for the blog

This guy is my hero.  Also my husband, my best friend, my sidekick.
Next week he will be 9. MONTHS. SOBER.  It has not been an easy road, but we are so incredibly fortunate that we didn’t have to do this journey alone.  We have each other.  We have amazing family and friends.  We have compassionate counselors, a spectacular sponsor, and the support of AA meetings.  AND…we have the love and encouragement (and dare I say, friendship?!) of one of THEE coolest girls to ever exist on the internet.  Her name is Katy, and she writes the blog http://www.wantadumpsterbaby.com .  To be honest, I can’t even remember exactly how I stumbled upon her.  I do know it was just a few weeks after my hubby was released from detox at the hospital.  I was grasping for anything, anyone, that could help me make sense of the whole alcohol addiction thing.  Some kind of beacon that would show me there WAS a light at the end of the tunnel, that addiction could be overcome, and that life with an alcoholic didn’t have to be lived on pins and needles.

And then….. there she was.  Bright blonde hair and glossy red lips and sassy cat-eye frames.  Standing in a dumpster!  What the hell was this chick all about?!  I started stalking browsing her Facebook page.  She is a self proclaimed “Proud drunk” ~ sober now for 11 years.  She is a vegan.  She hates when people act like dicks.  She has two kitty cats named Sally Boy and Eliza Jane that are like babies to her, and she wants to take in rescue babies just like she takes in rescue pets.  She has been homeless, jobless, friendless, hospitalized, committed, and jailed.  But she has also been given a second chance, and because of that this woman lives, breathes, oozes gratitude.  She is funny.  She is smart.  She is compassionate.  She is supportive.  She is SOBER.  I fell in love 😉  I started commenting on her page, and she would comment back.  I was inspired and hopeful and I wanted hubby to be as well.  I purposely would leave her page up on our laptop, knowing that he would open it and see it.  Would he take the bait and check out what she had to say??  Turns out he would.  And I’m pretty sure my hubby is in love with her now too…which is cool with me, because I totally get it.  She is the bees knees and the cat’s meow and any other weird animal expression you can come up with.  In a weird way, she brought my hubby and me together in this battle despite the fact that she’s never met either one of us in real life.  She is special.

Best Friends Animal Society

“Go. Go NOW and donate. For the love of snips and snails and puppy dog tails, send us $10.00 so we can survive and thrive!!!” ~Fido

And so to show our gratitude (there’s that word again) we have chosen KATY’S favorite animal rescue as February’s charity.  Best Friends Animal Society is located in sunny and warm Kanab, Utah and is the nation’s largest no-kill animal sanctuary for homeless, abused and abandoned pets.  They own nearly 3,700 acres, and they lease another 17,000 acres of state and federal land.  Almost 30,000 people travel there each year to meet and work with the animals, including Katy herself!  Best Friends “fights discrimination against pit bull terriers, battles commercial breeding operations and keeps community cats safe and out of shelters with trap/neuter/return.”  They work to spay and neuter pets, save lives and reduce euthanasia rates.  They are doing good things.   If you have an extra ten dollars in your account this minute, this week or this month, P*L*E*A*S*E consider visiting Best Friends Animal Society at http://www.bestfriends.org/ and clicking on the orange DONATE TODAY tab in the top right corner 🙂  And please let me know if you do!!!  I always want to make sure you know your donation is appreciated.

*** More to come tomorrow on a project my sister Ellen and I are working on for some local shelters near us in Michigan.  And pictures next week of some volunteer time with my little girl!! xoxo ***



Service and Soup and Satisfaction, Oh My!!!

Phew!  It’s after midnight here in the Mitten State, and that means I am officially racing into February hot on the heels of S*U*C*C*E*S*S.  It is officially the end of my January charity~ God’s Kitchen/Gallery 303!  Too bad that I could also add Surgery and Sickness into those “S” categories above.  January is always, ALWAYS “sick month” in our house.  64-16-36!  And no, those aren’t my measurements…that is the temperature range in Michigan in any given 24 hour period.  It’s hard to stay healthy when you’re shoveling snow in your shorts 😉  Playing both nurse AND patient this month has kept me from detailing my first charity as much as I wanted to on this page.  From this point forward, I definitely want more blog action than Facebook action (…by the way, did you know there’s now a Facebook fan page you can follow for??  Check out https://www.facebook.com/mysuddenattack for my quick posts and fast links to my donation sites!)   But I digress.  Let’s get back to the important shiz… WE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  [If you’re a parent of a toddler, or have been one in the last 10 years, you’ll know to insert a little Dora booty shakin’ action here].  When I thought this up and planned this out and posted it online, I got excited but I really didn’t think there was that fat of a chance that I would be able to pull this first charity off.  I thought getting HALF of the money might be pushing it.  I doubted that people I had never met before would find my little pee-on blog and Facebook page and commit to following me.  And I planned on most of you not sticking around to help hold me accountable for my actions.  BUT APPARENTLY I THOUGHT WRONG because slowly, but surely, so many of you are finding me and telling me that I was RIGHT 🙂 

             

~ SERVICE ~ 

 

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[This is Mama Sue, mother of of my ex-high-school-boyfriend-who-is-still-like-a-brother-to-me.]

Oh, and I guess more importantly she is the reason that I chose God’s Kitchen/Gallery 303 to launch my project 😉   As soon as I posted “The List” of the 12 charities I had chosen to work on, she was on the phone with me immediately.  She was soooooo excited for me!  And that got me all excited too.  Mama Sue is a volunteer for God’s Kitchen and Gallery 303.  She is one of hundreds that they need.  She took me down there for my first time so I didn’t have to feel like an idiot.  She gave me a tour of the soup kitchen, the art gallery, the food pantry, and the baby pantry.  We toured the kiln room where volunteers fire thousands of pottery bowls for the main fundraising events.  She showed me where they assemble all of the Meals on Wheels deliveries for the home-bound.  We went past freezer after walk-in freezer of frozen food, and shelf after shelf after shelf of canned goods and non-perishable items that don’t last on there very long.  There are a LOT of hungry people, you guys.  And it goes fast.

                                                           

~ SOUP ~

 

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Best high school friends EVER. Anna, Jilaine, Lindsay M, Erica, Krista, Sarah, Andrea, Lindsay D, and Becca (not pictured)  ❤

Back in December, I contacted the woman in charge of throwing the “Paint Parties” for my charity’s biggest fundraising event Soup’s On For All which you can read about here –> (http://soupsonforall.org/).  I am lucky enough to have friends that will drop almost anything to be there for each other.  They told me to just name the date and time and they would be there for OUR paint party.  We had appetizers and pizza and bubbly grown-up drinks and laughed until we cried.  I’m not going to name any names, but some of our bowl were preeeetttty interesting, to say the least! LOL!

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Most of my friends were also able to attend the Soup’s On For All event with me this past Monday, February 28th at a downtown club here in Grand Rapids. We missed the ones that couldn’t! xoxo  

This fundraiser was so much fun.  There were 5 (five!) floors of different soups, breads, dips, cupcakes, candies, and drinks for you to sample until you could burst, all served by local celebrites and law enforcement.  There was live music and dancing.  There were raffles, and an amazing gospel choir that could be heard from top floor to bottom, and all of those painted bowls to take home as souvenirs to remind us that people go hungry EVERY. DAMN. DAY.

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Oddly (and funny!) enough, we never saw our bowls put out!!! The volunteers told us that some of the boxes hadn’t even been opened yet, but we’re thinking they just didn’t want to hurt our feelings if people were subjected to our “art” and had a bad reaction  😉

 

~ SATISFACTION ~

So, you guys…like I said before….WE DID IT.  Not just me, because I told you from the second I started this that it was impossible for me to do alone.  WE did it.  Wanna know what WE did?!

~ WE exceeded the  $100.00 donation goal by twenty five extra dollars.  In addition to the $10 donated by my family, I would also like to acknowledge/thank/adore Jenn, Linnaea, Todd, Jamie, Kathy, Jeana, Ralph, Emilija, and Kim for their monetary contributions and support of my very first charity, as well an anonymous donor who sent $10 as well!!  Oooooh, the mystery!! 😀  If you donated as well, please let me know so I can shout you out some love.
~ WE as a group accounted for 11 tickets at the Soup’s On For All benefit at $50/ticket. I’m horrible at math, but I used my daughter’s sparkly blue calculator to figure out that we sent $550.00 to the fundraiser just on that one night.  And no, I am not kidding about needing that damn calculator.
~ WE collected 12 boxes of baby clothes, 6 bags of baby food and juice, 3 boxes of blankets, and 2 boxes full of diapers, as well as snowpants, jackets, boots, toys, sippy cups, formula, diaper bags, shampoo, conditioner, toilet paper, paper towel, and a huge helping of non-perishable food items all for God’s Kitchen.  So far.  I have more items still being donated over the next few days.  I will accept donations as long as they are coming at me.

I’d like to finish up with two last things I was very honored to receive.  Below is a copy of an email sent to my friend and donor Linnaea:

From: Peggy Helsel <phelsel@ccwestmi.org>; To: <linnaea> Subject: Elizabeth’s Blog Sent: Wed, Jan 9, 2013 8:11:15 PM 

Good afternoon, Linnaea.  Thank you so much for your support of those we serve!  Thanks, too, for sending on the information about your friend Elizabeth and her wonderful challenge to support our community throughout the year.

 
I just loved her blog.  I am guessing that you all had a good time while painting your mugs!  Could you have Elizabeth contact me or send me her e-mail.  I would love to thank her and learn more.
 
Thanks again.

Peggy Helsel
Vice President of Philanthropy
Catholic Charities West Michigan
360 Division Ave. S – Suite 3A | Grand Rapids, MI 49503
o: 616.551.5662 | c: 616.295.0509

www.ccwestmi.org”

V.I.P. folks.  She’s V.I.P. for this charity!!!  All smiles when I got that email.
And last but not least……

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This is the cookbook I received from Mr. Rob Miller, executive director of God’s Kitchen/Gallery 303. I got to meet him in person and explain what I was doing with my blog. He thanked me and gave me the official Soup’s On For All cookbook, even though I assured him I would likely burn my house down if I tried to cook anything out of it. No joke. Take-out is my middle name.

And my apologies to anyone who is not a Michigan State Spartans fan, but my hubby and my baby girl are, and I missed them all night while I was at the benefit and I knew they would love this soup bowl as their souvenir!  Special thanks to my friend Jilaine (Mama Sue’s daughter and dedicated U of M fan) for wrestling it off the table before anyone else could have a crack at it 😉

Alright, I’m off to get some sleep for a few hours, and then I will be back later in the day to present February’s charity!  Peace out, trouts.

Want to see the complete list of charities I’ll be donating to this year???  Please check out that post by clicking here –> https://mysuddenattackofconscience.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/a-renowned-philosopher-once-said-get-on-your-feet-get-up-and-make-it-happen/

~January 2013~ God’s Kitchen/ Gallery 303

Well, we made it!  HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!  By now, the hangovers SHOULD be gone, and the new gym memberships should be signed up for 😉  I hope you are excited about the fresh starts, the do-overs, and the potential that a new year can bring.  Did you make a resolution for yourself this year?  Are you aiming for a healthier you?  Are you cutting out booze or quitting smoking or taking up yogalates class?!  Or did you just say “screw it” because you know you’ll only follow through on it for a few weeks?

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[This was JUST like me this past New Year’s Eve.  Plus, I have that same ugly Christmas sweater.  And those stone-washed jeans.  And, if I dig hard enough, probably that Member’s Only jacket.]

If you made a resolution this year, then good for you.  I hope that you are successful at it.  It is often hard work, but I know it can be done!  And if you decided not to make a commitment to yourself, then that leaves you a bunch of free time to make a commitment to others – because that’s what I’m doing this year.  If you’re new to this page and you’re wondering what the hell I’m babbling about, it would help to read my first post http://mysuddenattackofconscience.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/thegrinch/.

I like to re-read it myself sometimes.  It refreshes the goal I have in my mind, and gets me all pumped to do good things this year.  Good things like GOD’S KITCHEN/GALLERY 303!!!!!  God’s Kitchen is a soup kitchen run in my hometown of Grand Rapids, MI.  Last year they served over 180,000 meals to the hungry, homeless and home bound.  They get absolutely no Federal or State funding to do this, rather they rely on monetary contributions, organizations that help provide goods and TONS of volunteers.  All my life I have lived about 9 minutes away from God’s Kitchen.  I always tried my best to avoid “that area of town.”  I’m sure you know what I mean~every city has one.  Except a couple weeks ago, I had to drive down there and pick up some art supplies (more on that later!) and I had to go into the building.  Alone.  During lunch.
Joey Lawrence

Couldn’t have said it better myself, Joey Lawrence.  I’ll honestly tell you what I was expecting as a first time visitor:  dirty, gritty, disgusting people that had given up on life because they had chosen drugs or booze or crime and now they were freezing because it was winter and they needed someplace to warm up for a bit.  You know, like they show on television and stuff.
Here’s what I was not expecting:  an amazingly nice man that came to the door and said “Come on in ma’am” when I couldn’t find anyone in the office to let me in.  Men and women of all ages, all races, all wearing clothes that weren’t half bad.  Some were knitting sweaters.  Some were reading books.  Some were playing cards and hanging out.  They ALL smiled at me.  And the food smelled better than anything I could ever cook!  {I am a TERRIBLE cook, by the way.  The food in our house is either done by my hubby or done by Pizza Hut.}  Shut the front door.
Now, don’t get me wrong.  I have lived 31 years and I’ve seen homeless people that WERE dirty and gritty and they had chosen booze and drugs and crime over anything else.  I’m not some naive twit.  But there are also people existing out there that have hit hard times and have no other choice.  People who don’t have family and friends in town they can lean on.  People who are choosing homelessness as the better choice over abuse or neglect.  The better choice over abuse or neglect.  That is crazy to me, yet it makes perfect sense to some of these folks.  A lot of them need help and support and warm food and a warmer smile.  And THAT is why my charity this cold January month is God’s Kitchen/Gallery 303.

I will be volunteering at the art gallery, serving at the soup kitchen and helping to collect items for the baby pantry and the food pantry.  I will be giving my $10.  And I am going to ask YOU to help out in some way as well 🙂   If you have an extra ten dollars in your account this minute, this week or this month, P*L*E*A*S*E consider visiting the Catholic Charities of West Michigan site at http://ccwestmi.org/ and clicking the orange DONATE NOW tab in the top right corner.  OR you can mail a check made payable to Catholic Charities of West Michigan to:

Catholic Charities West Michigan
Attn: Development
40 Jefferson Avenue SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
*please write SENT BY MY SUDDEN ATTACK OF CONSCIENCE on the memo line*

CCWestMi is the brains behind God’s Kitchen and Gallery 303, as well as numerous other programs that do good things.  I am excited to work with their directors and their volunteers this month.  And I am excited to work with the people that live in this community.  Some of my best friends are along for the ride, having already painted soup bowls for a benefit we’re attending at the end of the month ❤

Finished

[I love these girls.  We have been through so many tough things together at such a young age, yet we all still come out smiling.]

Next week there will be pictures, pictures, pictures.  I want to make sure you KNOW that I am out there doing what I promised to do, and that I’m not just full of shit.  Until then, think about turning in a roll of quarters or giving away your change from a twenty dollar bill.  Volunteer at your own local food pantry.  Donate clothes you grew out of years ago if you’re not going to stick with that gym membership 😉  You don’t even have to make a difference in someone’s life~start by just making a difference in their day.

A renowned philosopher once said: “Get on your feet. Get up. And make it happen.”

Or maybe that was Gloria Estefan.  I forget.  Anyways, the messenger doesn’t matter as much as the MESSAGE.  And I am so excited that I am getting the chance to put “The List” up and make it happen!!!  If you don’t know what list I am talking about, then please go back to the VERY FIRST POST LISTED ON THIS BLOG.  Then come right back to —-this spot––.     And yes, I am well aware that I promised my finalized charity list on December 1st, and since today is December 10th this obviously did not happen.  But please allow me to explain.  The list I promised did not occur for one (or all) of the following reasons:

1.)  I didn’t take my Attention Deficit Disorder medication as directed.  I may have missed a dose or two.  Or fourteen.  And it’s damn near impossible, yet comical, for me to function without it.

2.)  I am huge procrastinator. HUGE.  Synonyms for HUGE: Behemothic, Colossal, Cyclopean, Elephantine, Gargantuan, Grandiose, Herculean, Majestic, Super-sized, Titanic.  That’s me!  That’s bad :/

3.)  I have had a very busy few weeks burying some very special people.  One month ago we tragically and unexpectedly lost my cousin Rob in a car accident at the age of 35.  And just yesterday my family returned home from a trip to Connecticut where we laid my father-in-law to rest after he passed peacefully on December 4th.

Death can be a wonderful reminder of how short life is, and how we should make the most of every second.  Every single person was put on Earth for a purpose, no matter how long they stay here.  YOU are here to make a difference to someone.  YOU are here for a purpose.  YOU should believe that with all of your heart, and if you don’t believe it and you think you’ve got it so bad, then I hope you find something or someone that inspires you in this blog this year.   I wish that I could have chosen soooooo many more charities.  Trust me, I know that there are a million good causes.  And if you don’t like one or some or ANY of the ones I’ve chosen and you’d rather donate your $10 to something closer to your heart, then by all means please donate to something that YOU stand by or stand for!  I have tried to divide my choices up into local charities near my hometown of Grand Rapids, MI and charities that assist people much farther than I’ll ever be able to reach.  With that being said, I am pleased to FINALLY announce my twelve charities for 2013, in alphabetical order  🙂

Drum roll

“Drum roll, please”……………………….”DRUM ROLL.”
(Oh! Uh, DRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR)  *cymbals crash*

  1. Alzheimer’s Association
  2. American Cancer Society
  3. American Red Cross
  4. Arbor Circle
  5. God’s Kitchen/Gallery 303
  6. Humane Society for Shelter Pets
  7. Kids Food Basket
  8. March of Dimes
  9. More-Self-Less
  10. Out of the Darkness
  11. St. Baldrick’s
  12. Wounded Warrior Project

All of these are very near and dear to me, and to people I love.  There will be fantastic blog stories to go along with these, I promise  🙂  I am also honored to have my mama coming along with me to these events to document my year in photos.  I can tell you that the charity I will be starting with in January is God’s Kitchen/Gallery 303, a local charity.  Some of my best girlfriends and I are already getting together to paint ceramic soup bowls for a fundraiser to fight hunger and homelessness.  I am honored to have these girls along for the ride with me, and I am honored to have you too!!!  So get your ten bucks and your volunteer hours and your old towels and your blood ready (yikes!) and I’ll see you back here (and on Facebook) soon.  Auld lang syne!!!

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