Six years

Six years ago today I woke up a broken man. A man that didn’t yet know that he was about to go 2192 days without a hangover. A man that had no idea what lied ahead only that I could no longer live as I had been living.

Today I woke up and received this six year token for living six full years of uninterrupted reality. I am humbled.

May tomorrow be day 2193.

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420 Thoughts

Happy 420 y’all!

420? Light up time. Mary Jane. Cannabis. Marijuana.

Now I ain’t smoke no Mary Jane in well over 5 years. When I got meeself sober, I got sober. I wasn’t really into the gonja later in my years of partaking mind altering substances any way. I preferred the booze. I did smoke pleanty of weed though. First time I smoked was at age 13 at a Doobie Brothers concert. I shit you not. In my twenties I smoked most every day. Only in the evenings though as I had work to get done during the days. Later on in my forties I lost interest in the stuff as it pretty much only made me paranoid by that point, so it lost its lure.

Nowadays it’s being legalized left and right. My home state just legalized it in November. I actually voted to legalize it even though I’m a sober dude. My view is that marijuana being illegal only creates more crime, unnecessary crime. Legalize it, regulate it and tax it.

Now about that first Doobie and those incredible artist who I remember from that very first concert….

Needless to say this is a much tamer crowd than that night of my puberty. However the talent of the artists shines through in this live version of a Doobie Brothers classic.

Smoke ’em if you got ’em!

Kilted Ballet

At my meeting the other night, I go to those you know,  we discussed Rule #62.

Rule #62 simply states “Don’t take yourself so damn seriously”.

These two handsomely Bearded blokes, known also as the Kitled Coaches, are a great example of the freedom and enjoyment of not taking oneself too seriously. Enjoy!

Meeting wisdom

I go to meetings. I rather enjoy my meetings and am quite active in my 12 step program. My sobriety is very important to me, for it not only saved my life but also gave me back my life.

I hear a lot of good wisdom in meetings. Yesterday I heard this prayer, a prayer that I feel is worth sharing.

“Dear God, may others treat me tomorrow as I treat others today. Amen.”

A prayer I pray at this very moment. A prayer I may choose to pray daily.

Reflections

Yesterday I had a meltdown.

Emotions got the best of me. My assistant at my office who is a company employee was let go this week. I freaked out going into the holiday weekend. I’ve got lots of business Monday and will be trying to get out of town. Fear hit.

Was this meltdown really due to her termination? I mean I had just sat down and made plans with her about how we would handle the workload with my upcoming absence.

No the meltdown wasn’t about her. My company would never leave me out on a limb without back up. My boss was most understanding and helped me to see that I am human. I had a world of weight on my shoulders and I wasn’t seeing it. My boss is a ray of light. I am blessed to have her.

This post isn’t dwell on the negatives of the year. I write this to acknowledge the stressors that I might see the hidden success, strength and blessings within those clouds that facilitated the meltdown.

-2016 was the year I was to have the largest real estate deal thus far in my career. For reasons beyond my control the deal was lost to a competitor. I thought all the energy and effort I had put into securing it for a couple years prior was lost. In hindsight I learned. I learned I am capable of presenting a complete marketing package to a corporation and that I actually am capable of marketing a new development for an investment group.

-2016 was the year my shoulder pain would be cured as I was to have surgery for its repair. Well I’m still in pain and my range of motion is very limited. I can’t even pick up more than 5 pounds with my left arm and the surgery was 7 months ago. In hindsight the worst is behind me. It wasn’t one but three different surgeries performed that day. My body is re-cooperating at its own pace. I gain more range of motion weekly and I am down to just two Motrin a day, which is the least amount of anti-inflammatory medication I’ve taken daily in three years. I will regain range strength and fully recover in time.

-2016 marks the year of my brother’s death. He died one year and 1 week after my father died. Our immediate family went from all five of us down to just 3 at the anniversary of my father’s passing. Watching my mother loose her oldest son was heartbreaking. In hindsight my brother was ill for many years. His struggle with alcoholism, pancreatic disease, liver failure and diabetes had left his 62 year old body destroyed and mangled. He was suffering as were his loved ones caring for him. His demise was early yet it was his time. He touched our lives as we touched his. He lives on through us. His soul is at peace and his body no longer suffers.

-2016 marks my mother’s stroke. She is 84 and still works. My mother is young at heart, full of love and hope. She gives freely and loves unconditionally. Suddenly she can’t work, she’s stuck at home, she is weak and unsteady on her feet. She can hardly use her right hand. In hindsight it was mild. It was a warning that her blood pressure needed to be monitored daily. She was having spikes in her blood pressure and had thrown a few clots leading to several small strokes that will only temporarily limit her. She is in physical therapy. She should fully recover in time and be able to drive again and possibly work again which is her goal.

-2016 marks the worst year of my business and income since about the year 2000. My business faltered even though the real estate market is booming around me. Where- o -where had I gone wrong? Where were my referrals and clients? In hindsight I look at what I wrote above. My energies had other priorities to be directed toward. Life freakin’ happens and I met the terms life gave me. I lived. I grew. I laughed, cried, loved, traveled, gave, comforted, recovered, shared, healed. I stressed. I accomplished. I slept. I did all of it sober. I freakin’ stayed sober.

Life, it has struggles. Life, it has blessings. Life, it is a miracle. Life, it is meant to live.

Happy New Year, may the next year bring all of us challenges, growth, love, and life…yes lots of life!

Reflections on 5 years

“Sobriety”

Interesting word. Clearheaded state of being. Has many interpretations. Isn’t for everyone. Is wonderful for me.

My 5 year token

My 5 year token

My sobriety date is 7 November 2011. That was my first day without drugs or alcohol.

I haven’t used recreational substances since that date. I’m one of those who cannot use any. I can’t stop once I start. I tried moderation. I tried different substance. I tried different drinks. I tried controlling. I tried limiting. I tried period. I’d try then I couldn’t stop until I was sick, passed out, blacked out, injured, embarrassed, in trouble, lost, confused, missed work, lapsed responsibility …I couldn’t stop. I’d lost me.

Not everyone is like me. I found others like me that were not drinking. They weren’t drugging either. Things were working for them. I decided to try what they were doing. It worked for me. Not drinking worked for me. Alcohol was my mind altering drug of choice, the others were auxiliary enhancements. I don’t need them and I not longer drink.

There are many ways for people to live their lives. I’ve found a way that works for me. I celebrate the anniversary of making that discovery today. I celebrate five years of living one day at a time unaltered and sober. I like being this way. I actually enjoy hanging with my friends who do drink and those who don’t. I keep booze in my house for those who do drink and they keep Juice and club soda in their house for me.

I live life in a world of diversity. This beautiful life in this beautiful world. I love my life.

Being of service to others

Some of you know I’m sober. Some may have picked up I follow a twelve step program. Others reading this may not have a clue about these personal detail but guess what, now you do.

The final step, the twelfth step, is about carrying the message and helping others who want or desire help. It’s about helping each other. It’s about helping the group. It’s about improving just the little part of the world that surrounds oneself. It’s simply being of service.

Earlier today while driving to the grocery I was contemplating what difference can I make? What difference in the vast world? How could I change the world? How can I, big bearded little me, make any difference?

Start. Start right here. Start with what I have. Start where I am. Do one thing that makes this little area right around me better. Clean the trash or of a shopping cart left out in the parking lot and bring it in to use. Then return that shopping cart clean and ready for use in the proper spot. Smile and share humor with the clerk adding “Thank You, I hope you have a great day” when walking away. Be courteous when driving home. Let someone ahead of me in traffic. Put my neighbors trash cans away  for them after I park my car before carrying my groceries in from the alley. Leave each place I encounter just a little better than I found it by doing just one simple gesture.

Little things have ripple effects. I feel good when I do good. Others feel good when I share good. Good interactions lead to more. More leads to even more.

Turns out being of service is simply doing little things that improve small situations. This little service returns big results. When each of us do simple little things to make each immediate area around us better than we found it, imagine. Imagine the possibilities.

Go ahead. It has to start somewhere. 😉👍😃

 

Voting Ballots and The Magic Eight Ball

This is a big election. It’s a big election in every possible way. It’s a big election even in the size of the California ballot. My Ballot was two pages each 18 inches long and double sided. Initiatives and candidates totaled 41 votes.

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I’ve read and reasearched all of them. I made the choices that resonated not only with me, but what I feel was best for our community and what would best benefit our environment. I feel as the species that was gifted with the abilities that we have we are also given the biggest responsibility. My belief is that the biggest resposibility that befalls us is not only all of our fellow inhabitants of the planet but the planet itself. I believe that the greatest wealth is the sharing of wealth. I believe that a society is only as good as it treats those who are the weakest among said society.

Only one proposition left me in such a dilemma that I had to break out the Magic Eight Ball. Seriously. California’s Proposition 64 which would legalize recreational marijuana use tore at me.

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Being a sober man I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve smoked a lot of pot. A lot. Pot wasn’t my drug of choice, booze was, but I always had it around. When I quit drinking I didn’t throw my pot out, but I never picked it up again either. I decided to be sober period.

I know that prohibition was more harm than good when it came liquor. I know that marijuana laws cost the state money. I know that legalizing and taxing pot would increase our states coffers. I don’t truly believe pot should be illegal. That all being said I don’t really believe that making it more available helps society overall nor as a sober person do I desire to promote more use of intoxicants. However I know from my own use that the laws did not stop me and that it was very easy to get. Very.

So I asked my dear Magic Eight Ball that I keep on my coffee table for important life decisions such as this one. “Dear Magic Eight Ball, should I vote to make marijuana legal in California?”

Wouldn’t you know that of all its answers I got this one:

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I cracked up. Reply Hazy…LOL.

Oh how I remember those days!

Back to life, back to reality

The surgery took place July 6. After a couple days I was finally able to give a better description. Now that I’m somewheres about 16 weeks out and in the throws of physical therapy I figured it was about time I started back to the gym. The doctor has been pro PT but anti gym. It’s apparently way too easy to have an accident at the gym and screw up a post op shoulder.

With my history of having been somewhat of a fitness ferret, I was a startin’ to notice some things. Though the weight has stayed exactly what it was the last gym day apparently gravity has started making some changes. There’s a slight appearance of a small gut beginning to form as well as tighter pants. In the mirror I’m noticing the dreaded butt sag. The arms have deflated and the pectorals have lost any form of definition. My poor legs are starting to resemble tooth picks and the back ache is notifying me that the core is loosing its strength.

I decided screw what the doctor says, I gotta get my ass back over to the best gym in the whole wide world. Yes you are correct, that would be World Gym San Diego!

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Fearsome was ecstatic as I could barely contain him as we walked toward our favorite stompin’ grounds. We were greeted immediately with an enthusiastic “where have you been?” by one of the owners who was working the front desk.

It was good to have been missed.

The old school heavy metal rock was blaring. The place was busy as usual. We headed straight upstairs for a twenty minute treadmill walk (no running yet as one fall and all surgery will have been for naught), some stretching of the now tight and stiff muscles, three different abdominal excercises and then some lunges got us started. We headed down to the main gym floor to get in three different leg machines then to the benches for some of my physical therapy excercises for the upper body that involve zero up to no more than 5lb weights.

The shoulder, especially the bicep tenodesis, will not allow the left arm to lift more than 5 pounds until at least January. Damn it felt good to work out. It was fun to see all the usual friendly faces, feel the energy, hear the music, smell the sweat and take in the pure eclectic diversity of the clientele that makes World Gym San Diego one of the best, if not the best gym in the world.

Recovery continues and many days the shoulder is sore, but sore in the good way telling me that I’ve correctly worked my PT exercises. The upper body looks and strength will come back over a slow period but will come. The legs, butt and core can start now on their return to normal. Yoga will come back again in a few more months for my flexibility, core strength enhancement and inner serenity.

I am so blessed with health, strength, recovery, health insurance, home, love, partnership, friends, community, support, puppies, work, country, knowledge, understanding, freedom, money, sobriety, insight and yes of corse Fearsome. I actually found tears of joy streaming down my cheeks and into Fearsome as I drove home.

I cherish them tears as each and every one is an expression of the blessing that is life.

I cherish this blog and my expression.

I cherish you for reading, sharing and loving me back.

He was someone I looked up to

April 6,1954 was the day my mother gave birth to her first child. Born in Las Vegas Nevada the son of an Air Force Lieutenant, he was named David after our dad.

I am in Ft. Lauderdale. I have been very busy with renovations on a property here. I was supposed to fly home today. I have yet to leave. Travelous interupptus.

No not an airline mishap nor a renovation glitch. Family matters.

David has been sick for many years and is now in end stage liver disease. David is the oldest of us three boys. I am the youngest. David is only 62.

I got the call from my sister-in-law this morning before I was to head to the airport to fly home. David isn’t expected to live past the weekend. Internal bleeding.

Early in the morning I will now be flying to Newark, then Dulles and finally in the mid afternoon I arrive in my hometown to be with my mother.

I had to call her today with the news. It isn’t easy telling your 84 year old mother that it looks like her son will die this week. This week marks one year since her husband of 62 years left us.

My middle brother is in Italy on holiday. He’s due home the end of this week. Mom needs one of us now. I’m closer and don’t have to clear customs.

I’m tired. I’ve been on the phone all day. I’ve cried. I walked on the beach. I had a good dinner alone overlooking the ocean. I’ve planned and changed plans. I’ve gotten confused. I’ve consoled. I’ve communicated.

I write.

Writing helps.

He’s my big brother. We aren’t real close. As a boy I wanted to be like him in many ways. He was popular, athletic and handsome. Alcoholism took all of that away from him.

I now live as a sober younger brother. I am confused, frightened, angry, empathetic, and powerless. I’m grateful that I found a way out. I’m bitter that many who succumb to addictions don’t make it out. I understand the ones who don’t find a way out, as I was once there. I am one of the lucky ones.

Fearsome on Ft. Lauderdale Beach

Fearsome on Ft. Lauderdale Beach

Sober Beard

Earlier today we swore. We swore using several F-bombs due to pain.

We went to physical therapy and were referred to our surgeon probably because I was sweating and crying tears as the shoulder was getting checked out. Fearsome did his duty and just absorbed the tears into beard oblivion.

The shoulder and bicep are ok. The bicep is still attached to it’s screw and didn’t separate as was feared. Dr. Surgeon felt it best I step down the intensity of PT (trying to be the perfect patient I apparently overdid it a bit) and re-start on pain meds. As he put it “take these and get some sleep”.

I filled the scrip. I came home. I had lunch and took a pill. Now instead of in fucking pain, I am fucked up. Seriously fucked up. Pain is better but I’m dizzy, giggling and half in the bag. I remember feeling this way on the way home from the surgery itself.

Since getting sober almost five years ago this surgery and associated meds are the first time my consciousness has been altered in all this time. I can say that I do not like this altered state and am grateful I not longer live in it.

Why do I write this? FearsomeBeard is our journal. It’s a place for our fun, feelings, opinions, likes, dislikes, love, humor, sadness, anger, attractions, affections, inspiration, motivation and self realness. This post is self realness. A post to remind me if ever tempted to break my sobriety purposefully, that I don’t like this inebriation. A post to reinforce my sober life. A life lived in full unaltered experience.

God knows I had 35 years of altered experience. I did enough of anything and everything I wanted and more. It was fun, it was bad. It is part of what made me who I am today. I have no regrets. I have many beautiful days of sober clarity ahead.

Public Service Announcement

Processing the grief of Orlando can leave one, especially me, feeling overwhelmed and bewildered.

I decided that a diversion would be in order. A diversion that is fun and has humor would be good.  A diversion that could hold my attention yet leave me with enlightenment.

Vodka! That’s it, Vodka would be a great diversion!

You’re welcome for this valuable PSA.

What do you expect? I’m sober. I ain’t gonna drink it.

Award Winning Beard!

Thank you Debra!

For She has bestowed the fabulous …

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to Fearsome!

He is humbled. Have you ever seen a Beard blush? I could feel him blushing today when he got the news.

So we will answer a few questions, some of them dating back to before Fearsome’s emergence.

  1. What does music mean to you?

Music is is one of the gifts of being human. It is art. Audible art. My interpretation of art is expressions that move us. Expression that stirs emotions, calms, enlivens, comforts, disturbs, enlightens, envelopes and frees. Music gives us expansion and enriches the human experience of life. It is communication, but communication at a higher moving level that has the power to reach deep within us and stir us. Music is an art where the talented composer allows the performing artists to add their own brush strokes of understanding to influence his/her work. Gerswin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” moves me, motivates me and gifts me with beauty each time I hear it.

2. What is your first music related memory?

Dad playing Neil Diamond on his stereo. My father was an audiophile who always had the best stereo equipment and speaker systems that he could afford on his middle class income. Neil Diamond was always a favorite of his. He liked to play his stereo loud, rattle the windows loud. I spent many an evening trying to go to sleep after my mother tucking me in with the sound of my fathers music blaring from down the hall. My first memories date back to the late 1960s. While “Sweet Caroline” came in at one of billboard’s number five and is Diamond’s most remembered hit from 1969, it’s Diamond’s “Holly Holy”, which made it to number six that year, that is burned into my memory and my musical first. “Holly Holy” is actually a much richer and more intense piece of music than its more popular counterpart from that year.

3. What was the first album you ever purchased yourself?

The first album I ever purchased for myself was Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy. I saved and saved up for that through doing chores for my mom. I had to earn my allowance.  I thank my parents for that lesson in values. I was eight. Work hard, save, reap benefits. My older brother had that album and I loved it. He wouldn’t let me play his so I had to buy my own. I still have it to this day. It’s in great condition. It’s condition I attribute to my parents for also teaching me to take care of what you work hard for and it will last you a lifetime. It truly has. It is still one of my favorite pieces of music ever produced. The whole album is one piece. Led Zeppelin, in my opinion, were masters of their art and their music is magnificent. This tune, “The Ocean” closes the album with a moving climax and rocking finish…’oh so good!’

4. What is the latest music you purchased?

“Every Day Feels Like Summer With You” from the Shaun the Sheep soundtrack. This tune grabbed me from the first moment I heard it when the movie opened. It’s a feel good tune. I’m a feel good guy. I truly believe that you get what you focus on…. If you focus on the bad shit in your life or in others, you get more bad shit…. On the other hand if you are grateful for what is right and focus on that, you will get more of what is right and is fabulous. Good thoughts create good things so I choose to fill my life with things that make me feel good. Call me Pollyanna cause I’m proud of being one. As soon as I finished watching the movie a few weeks ago I wrote a post about it and bought the tune. I listen to it almost daily.

5. What is the very last song you listened to before writing this post? Be honest!

Blue Oyster Cult’s “I’m Burning for You”. I read these questions just before I left for my evening meeting (some of us sober dudes go to meetings) so when I parked my car I took a picture of my dash to prove what tune I was a rocking to on my drive home….

My dashboard, as you can see Ozzy's Boneyard on Sirius XM was my station tonight as it often is.

My dashboard, as you can see Ozzy’s Boneyard on Sirius XM was my station tonight …as it often is.

…and now for the tune….caution as it’s quite the 1981 throwback…it’s actually good driving music.

Now I get to nominate some bloggers for their own Music and Words Award!

I nominate these fabulous bloggers below and congratulate them on this prestigious award. I can’t wait to see their posts!

Blobby,

Eric,

Mistress Maddie,

Travelpenguin,

Myhusband&I,

Jaywalks,

DavidFinchRN @thereisanotherwaytolive

RobertTheINFP,

Willyorwonthe.

 

 

 

Life, living it on life’s terms

Many of you long time Fearsomebeard readers know that Fearsome and I are sober. We stopped drinking and using any and all drugs almost four years ago. I had an unhealthy ability to not be able to control my consumption of alcohol once I started. Fearsome just went along for the ride and occaisionally suffered a blow or two from my lack of control.

Other drugs never were a problem, but might find themselves being consumed once I had lost control with the booze. Upon deciding to stop drinking there was never a desire nor use for any other drugs. I also know me, if I partook of another drug I would most likely pick up a drink. I do not want to go back there. So life is easier if I’m just flat out sober. Period.

Now we aren’t temperance teetotalers that believe no one should drink. Nor are we ones to shy away from being around those that do. I didn’t quit drinking to stop living, but to START living. I stopped imbibing to gain a life that I enjoyed instead of regretted. We meet friends at bars and parties. We throw parties and keep a moderately stocked liquor cabinet for our guests. We just don’t pick up a drink ourselves as Fearsome and I both know where I will end up.

The one little thing that happens to me, when I follow straight and narrow of preferring to drink just a club soda with a twist instead of a martini, is that I am fully aware. Meaning I feel. I feel everything. I used to numb myself by drinking myself into yet another black out. Now I feel. I have had to learn to accept natural feelings and live with them. It’s actually quite nice, once I got used to it.

Needless to say everything I went through in the past few weeks has been felt and more is still being discovered. I am grateful for the fact I went through it all without even being tempted to drink. In my past I would have done what I had to, then got smashed. I have, and am, walking through this period of my life that we have to walk through at some point. My biggest blessing is that I am processing it all as I feel it and not putting it off, by drinking it off.

I felt I needed to share this because I flat out needed to write it down and record it for myself. I don’t hide that I’m sober, but I don’t go around waving a banner either. I just am me. As usual I wanted to look at the definition and post what I saw.

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I especially resonate with the synonym “clearheadedness”.

May we raise a glass, be it a club soda or a vodka martini, to clearheadedness! ….and I’ll stick to the club soda thanks…

Clearheaded

From Google

As some of you know, I am sober. Sober by my own choice because I got to a point where I could no longer have a drink without losing control. I don’t hide the fact that I’m sober. I don’t push sobriety on other people either. I’m always available if someone has an issue and reaches out desiring help.

Today I am contemplating the meaning of sobriety. It can mean abstinence from alcohol or substances, but it means more to me than that. I put it like this, one can be free of intoxicating  substances but also a freakin’ mess. I look at the definition above and the synonyms of sobriety that resonate with my understanding of it are: clearheadedness, dignity, levelheadedness, common sense and practicality. I find these terms to be desirable traits. Qualities that I label as good charachter.

Many people can drink or use other substances in responsible manners and maintain a good quality charachter. Other people, including myself, cannot. My choice to live substance free is my choice which leads me to a life of levelheadeness, dignity and practicality. This is what I deem as sobriety, a good enjoyable life. A path of life leading me toward a person of good character that I wish to be.

I have met a few along the way that are clean of substances, but aren’t really what I would call sober either. Face it some people can be a mess without chemicals, which brings me back to values and focus. We get what we focus on. We become what we focus on. If we are into drama, we get drama. If we see the bad in everything, we get more bad. If we search for beauty, we find beauty.

If we desire a contented, clearheaded, fulfilling life and are willing to work toward having it, we will find we are living a contented, clearheaded and fulfilling life. This is what I mean by sobriety, just a plain old good life. It does take focus and work, but I find it less work and much more enjoyable than the life I used to live.

Cheers to a good & fulfilling life! Yes I am raising a glass, so what if mine is sparking apple cider…