There were many reasons I started blogging. The love of writing, the need to share my story, the desire to influence and make great change in the addiction space and somehow make sobriety appealing, my love of talking about myself, the idea of putting the fear of God into any man who had ever wronged me... But more than any other reason, it was because I myself had been so influenced by other humans who had shared their own real life stories.
My first encounter with such truth telling of this kind was (as it probably was for all of us) Eat, Pray, Love (read while spiraling down), followed by Wild (read at rock bottom), followed by the book that finally tipped my dream into a reality, Carry On, Warrior (read one month sober). Today, most of my reading time is dedicated to consuming the same "Woman Changes Life, Changes World" themed books, enough self-help and spirituality reads to occupy a small village for at least three years, and blogs. Lots and lots of blogs. I consume them like I consume coffee these days. Brain Pickings, Marie Forleo, Gabby Bernstein, Momastery, I Fly At Night, Seth Godin, Mary Vance, Miracles Are Brewing, Ivy League Insecurities, A Beautiful Mess, Rebelle Society, Tiny Buddha, Zen Habits, THE MIDDLE FINGER PROJECT (ALL CAPS BECAUSE SO GOOD), Turning A Page On Alcohol, byRegina, Private Life Of A Girl. Not to mention the random musings posted to Facebook, blog style, by Anne Lamott or Elizabeth Gilbert or Glennon Melton.
And this is just off the top of my head. I know I am leaving off a good 20 or 30.
Blogs inform me. Blogs show me that other people are doing things. Blogs inspire me and charm me and change my mind and open my world and more than anything, make me feel connected - and deeply so - to a new world that I feel part of. A world that I don't necessarily see while I'm standing in line at Starbucks.
Here are some of my favorite blog posts. These are the ones that made me gasp, reel, fist pump, cry, and stand that much taller. The ones that rocked my world, changed my mind. Changed my life.
10 Blog POSTS That Changed My Life.
1. Momastery, Why The World Needs The Mentally Different. A while ago, a dear friend of mine, Guy du Plessis, explained to me that he believed that those that suffered addiction were really just like canaries in the coal mine: that we who could not deal with living in this world, and thus had to escape it through extreme measures, were simply smelling the poison before the rest of the world could. Our death and suffering was not some outlying tragic behavior, but rather, was smoke signal to the rest of humans: "you guys, something terrible is happening here. I can't take it." This post by Glennon Milton of Momastery brilliantly illustrates this concept, and further, explains that these *afflictions* we call anxiety, depression, and addiction are really truly our superpowers. That we who suffer are really those who have smelled the poison first, and therefore, have the capacity to make great change - first in ourselves, and then, throughout the world.
2. I Fly At Night, The Pregnancy Principle. This post, written by my dear friend Laura McKowen of I Fly At Night, showed up in my inbox while I was on vacation with my pregnant sister, and it resonated deeply. I had for the past few days watched my sister effortlessly and unapologetically ask for exactly what she needed, exactly as she needed. And not for herself, mind you. For the growing life she was carrying inside of her. Normally, she wouldn't be so demanding of others or put people out to ask for what she herself needed - that would be unthinkable. But when it came to taking care of herself and putting her needs first for the sake of the unborn child, there were no holds barred. We so often in the normal course of our lives fail to treat ourselves as gently and as important as growing fetuses or little new born babies or children, but the truth is WE NEVER stop needing to get our needs met - all of us always need to take delicate and deliberate care of ourselves like we would a pink little baby. And for those of us in recovery, this is even more paramount. I often ask my clients to please imagine they have cancer or to remember that most people GO AWAY to get treatment for addiction. For those of us doing this in the course of our normal lives? It is imperative to meet our needs first. Because, we are growing a delicate and precious life: our own. This post reminds us of this, with some amazing pointers on how to.
3. Ivy League Insecurities, Are You Ready To Stop Drinking? I love everything about this post from author Aidan Donnelley Rowley. I'll name a few. First, Aidan had absolutely zero to gain and everything to lose from posting a left-field commentary on drinking on her blog, and she did it anyway. Second, she's the voice that so many of us need to hear - someone who didn't fall all the way through the fifty trap doors that we imagine we have to before we start to do something about problem drinking, and yet there she is, questioning her problem with drinking, and boldly. She represents what the majority of us look like: someone who is sick of drinking getting in the way of all those other wonderful things we could/should/want/need to be doing with our lives, who hasn't lost it all. Whether you have fallen through the fifty trapdoors and landed at your bottom, or you're just beginning to snoop around the interwebs to investigate your own relationship with alcohol, this is a great perspective to have and a great role model to know.
4. Turning The Page On Alcohol, Challenge Accepted. Okay huge bias here, this is one of my clients and also, one of my superheroes. I can attest with first-hand knowledge that it took a lot for this brave little badass to see her drinking as she does in this piece. And yet here she is, with one of the most enlightened views I've read on what it means to have a drinking problem (here it's a drinking challenge!). It's a short, sweet piece that will hopefully help you flip your own opinion of the hand you've been dealt from burden to privilege.
5. Kaity Rides A Bike, That Time We Talked About All The Feels. A short and mighty piece on owning our story, ending the stigma of addiction, and the freedom that comes from not giving a fuck.
6. Hip Sobriety, Hi My Name Is Holly, and I Am Not An Alcoholic. I'd be a terrible marketer if I didn't include some of mine. 9 reasons I don't assume the label alcoholic (and further believe it should be put to death entirely). This is without a doubt my favorite piece. While reading it may not have changed my life, writing it - for certain - did.
7. I Fly At Night, Did Quitting Drinking Stick The First Time? Another from Laura, and one I hope everyone reads, and then reads again. One of the biggest blocks on our path to sobriety is the fear around what happens when we fail in our attempt. What does it mean if we try and we can't? That we are stuck that way forever? That we are really that fucked up? That we are one of them? I know this fear well, because this was my fear. This was THE fear. The one that kept me stuck, the one that kept me up at night, the one that stopped me from trying in the first place. Because, what if I tried and I couldn't? What I know now - on this side of things myself and knowing so many that have walked this path - is that sobriety is like any other goal we may have. If we decide for sobriety, and we do the work for sobriety, it is ours. I repeat. If we decide for sobriety, and we do the work for sobriety, it is ours. As anything that we decide for and work for is ours. And like all other grand achievements we till towards, we must also be willing to accept failure as part of the process. Because it is. No exceptions here. You will fail in your attempts, because that is how you LEARN. As Winston Churchill says, "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."
8. Sarah Hepola, Everyone Has Blackouts, Don't They? I read Sarah Hepola's book, Blackout, in 36 hours - and that was with restraint. It's not so much that she captures in black and white what is the emerging story of alcohol addiction in our binge drunk society - young, educated, female, perfectionist - or that her story could have been my story. It's that she captures it in a way that makes me both double over with laughter at the ridiculous tragedy that is this path, and stand up and cheer for the bravery and courage it takes to walk the damn thing. This article is a must read, as is her book.
9. Brain Pickings, Fail Safe: Debbie Millman’s Advice on Courage and The Creative Life. This is actually not about addiction, at all. But it's one of my favorite writings ever from one of my heroes. I read this piece when I feel crazy for doing something grander than I think I am worth, or lazy, or stuck, or when it feels impossible. As she says so eloquently, "If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve. Do what you love, and don’t stop until you get what you love. Work as hard as you can, imagine immensities, don’t compromise, and don’t waste time. Start now. Not 20 years from now, not two weeks from now. Now."
10. Momastery, Courage Today. This post is why I love Glennon so much. Because even though her life looks shiny and she seems larger than life and together and big and all of those things (oh because she is all those things), she's still human and she still feels all of the deeply human shit we subject ourselves to feeling. Less, a mess, not enough, lonely, too small for her big shoes. But G, being G, never lets anything stop her. Ever. Not fear, not smallness, not mean comments or big stages or big mistakes or crazy thoughts or big hard things or excruciating, painful things. No thing. This piece has nothing to do with sobriety, but it has everything to do with what we do once we sign up to do the work required to stop escaping our lives with drugs and alcohol, and step into our own big shoes. Because it reminds us that no matter what we will ALWAYS have to do hard fucking things (it really never stops people, like ever), and that no matter what, we will ALWAYS be able to do hard fucking things. No matter how terrifying, big, impossible or painful they may be.