Blog

Quarantine & Relapse

Covid/Quarantine/addiction/relapse

“Yeah, I don’t know, Herb. This quarantine shit is crazy. Can’t do shit and can’t go anywhere. Been stuck in the house for 2 months straight, and all my bills are paid plus some. Shit, might as well get high.”

  • Anonymous Person who called me recently

Addicts/Alcoholics those in recovery and prone to relapse and with mental health problems seem to be getting hit especially hard during the Pandemic.

Here’s what I’ve noticed, somewhat in a nutshell:

I, personally benefit from structure and a schedule.
Wake up, coffee, work, home, walk, dinner, shower, Netflix, bed. Maybe the gym if I felt comfortable enough to go. I’m sure that most of you can relate to this.

Quarantine flipped all of our plans, structure, and schedules upside down.

Now we just have all this time.
Time to think. Time to over think. Time to waste. Time to sit. Time to get bored.

Now, a lot of us, have indeed found the time useful, and our day to day lives haven’t been that upset. But there are a great many who in just 75 short days, have lost their lives, their sanity, their recovery.

It’s a pretty rough formula that quiet frankly lined up “perfectly” to facilitate relapse.

No work. No activities. No meetings. No gatherings of any kind. No church. Hell, even parks were closed.

Idle time. Idle thoughts. Just. Stuck. Inside four walls for a lot of people. And the isolation and boredom is a breeding ground for chemical use.

And then factor this in: money.

Free money.

Lots of it.

More, than some were even making before.

“So, all of our bills are paid, in some cases $990 a week times 4, plus my significant others, or a room mate I got an apartment with when we both left the half way house with 1 year clean.” Etc…

And it makes for a very dangerous combination.

Stress+ Boredom + fear + quarantine + loneliness+ time + more money than I’m used to = big time problems in the addiction world…

(*Now I am not condemning PUA insurance or unemployment, I myself have benefited from it here and there and am grateful. This is just to illustrate from what I see- partly why the numbers are so alarming right now)

NOT TO MENTION, just the uncertainty and stress of the times, the media, Facebook, etc… this virus has everyone truly shaken and scared.

Then, for a time, and even now- treatment centers, half way houses, even county jails, are not taking people. Detoxes are turning people away, treatment centers are shut down or taking extreme precautions (get a covid test, wait 24-72 hours for a negative result) and by then we’re gone.

The resources for help have been scarce and the demand has been through the roof.

It’s truly heart breaking. I have seen so many pass away during this time, and it had “nothing” to do with covid-19. It was alcoholism, addiction, suicide, etc. I am so saddened by this.

I hope we can get back to the old normal fast. This new normal is killing people while we’re trying to save people…

Hold
On
Pain
Ends

Herb.

Dad Bod

Inspiration, move me brightly…

It’s funny, trying to be a writer sometimes. I have always said that I never wanted to force anything. That I didn’t want to write just to hear myself talk. That I never wanted to just put any old thing out into the world of the internet just because I could. I always do my best to put something real, authentic, and meaningful out on when I write. Because I believe that some where some one is reading it and it might just make a difference to them. So I always wait for a moment of inspiration to strike me and nudge me into writing about it. And I never know when that is going to happen, hence the Grateful Dead song lyric quote above, “Inspiration, move me brightly.” Because it just happened. I had to stop and write about this because it matters to me. And I am sure, to many Men and women out there.

I love being a dad. I love being a step dad. I love being a husband. I love having two dogs. when I first met my wife, Tiffany, and we were just in the preliminary stages of our dating and getting to know each other- she had mentioned that she had three children. Three children who were not so little anymore. I, having my own son, Lucas knew that if this were to really move into the more serious stages of a relationship and ultimately, marriage knew that there could some day be four children, that we could some day become a mixed family. We could become the Brady Bunch. And that scared me. For those of you who have been following me since the beginning, or who know me in real life- know the circumstances surrounding my son’s coming to this earth. I wasn’t prepared to be a dad then, how in the world can I expect to someday be prepared to be a step dad? Man, This is some heavy shit. But its nothing new, right? I mean, this kind of situation unfolds every day all over the world…

I remember when we all really spent the day together for the first time. We went to the Potowatami Zoo in South Bend, we got a hotel and we had pizza. It was a good time. Man, they were still so little compared to today. I can do this. This is awesome! We hung out more and more. All of us often, almost every weekend. And as our relationships bloomed and we all grew to know each other it was very apparent to me that this is getting serious, and that this is for real. And it was and sometimes still is very scary for me.

These are children. These are Her children, and my son. These are little lives here. With dreams, and with innocent hearts and wild imaginations. And they can talk, and think, and watch and learn. What in the world is going on here? What if I fail? What if I hurt them in some way? I can never replace the man that helped create them, is that even what I am supposed to do- or trying to do? What do I say when ______ ? How do I react if____? This is all so much. I was terrified. They don’t really know me. I am just this guy that Mom introduced them to. How do they know that they can trust me? How do they know that I am or am not going to stick around? The pressure, although I was never pressured by anyone but myself- was immense. I was stepping into a world that I have never experienced before. Literally I was just a couple years back eating days old food out of dumpsters and strung out on crack and heroin. And now that I just wrote that, I am wondering who was crazier at the time, her or me(sorry babe). But its true. What in the realm of fuck was going on here. All of this was so much and so fast. But I knew that I trusted God and he would never put something on me that I couldn’t handle. Apparently He believes in me more than I believe in myself sometimes. Sheesh. Welp, here we go…

And as the days turned to months, and we spent more and more time together and ultimately moved into to our first home, our “starter house” as we call it. Which by the way is a great idea for those out there in recovery, and the normies alike- get a starter house that you rent, and stay there until you find out if you two are gonna kill each other or not. Lol. Don’t Kill each other. That would be bad. But we did. We moved in together. Tiffany, Her three, and me, with luke on the weekends and one over night a week. What chaos. Oh the feels. The sleepless nights. The turbulent mornings. The birthday pressure. The holidays. The school shopping. Groceries. Homework times 4 now. And then to top things off, we got a damn dog. A crazy ass pit bull that we named Reba. I love my dog. Shes a good dog and her feet smell like Fritos. But it was and still is at times, very scary and high pressure. Am I doing this right? What are my boundaries? When do I “move in”? When do I hold back? How can I possibly walk that fine line between “you’re not my dad”, “Step dad”, Friend, Parent, Leader, “I need you”, etc… It is by far the most turbulent position I have ever been in in my life. Top that off with having my own biological son. Walking that fine line- Don’t favor luke, don’t favor these three. Don’t be over critical here, while being overly gracious here. It is quite the magical balancing act and I have no idea how we have all survived up to this point. And it doesn’t matter if the children have a relationship with their “real dad/mom” or not. If you’re a step parent you understand, its a very trying relationship to have. Do I need to feel like I am competing? Am I competing? Am I filling someone else’s shoes? Am I taking their place? Do I need to feel this way? Do THEY feel this way? What are my limits here? What is my role, exactly? Who do they need me to be? Who am I to them? Being in a mixed household is difficult a lot of the times. There are days when I feel like we bounce from child to child, meeting their needs and listening to them, talking to them, helping them, driving them around and I feel like my mind set, perception, and outlook literally shifts as I move from person to person. How do we attend to each one fairly, respectfully, lovingly, and equally address each moment, stay objective and not favor any one over the other? Am I doing this right? Who am I to them? How do I discipline them without being an asshole? How do I praise without being a kiss ass like I’m trying to win them over? I just don’t know.

But the days pass, birthdays come and go. Holidays, vacations, new bikes, fortnite, hikes, redamaks trips in new buffalo. Cutting down of christmas trees. Stress. Sleepless nights and rough ass mornings. Spilled cereal. Young Connor’s first “Heart break”. Jamie’s BFFs, Logans dirt bike stories. Which is another thing, how do I react or stay interested in a conversation with Logan on those car rides when all he does is talk about how awesome his real dad is? Am I bad person for being a little discouraged and honestly disinterested when he just goes on and on about this? I don’t mean to. I love him with my whole heart, but what about how awesome herb is? Wait, does he not tell me because I am failing? Am I failing? Oh my God, did I blow this whole thing? Were 4 years in, and married now. What did I do wrong? Fuck. Luke’s Baseball, and football, and always bouncing around, and 14 bazillion questions about everything under the sun. which may in the moment be a bit annoying, or trivial, but it’s also pretty cool- not ever has an adult asked me who I think would win a fight, a shark or a dinosaur. Or what my favorite dinosaur is. And they always have to have this or have that. I cant even go fill up the gas tank without being asked for a fucking sweet tea, or a slurpee, or some kind of junk food. It’s crazy man, and it reminds me alot of me when I was a kid. I may not have come from the best place in the world. My parents were not millionaires. They were not perfect, and they didn’t have their shit all the way together. Far from it. But it didn’t matter to me. They were there. They were present. They were my idols for a very long time, and though they struggled in their own ways, ways that I never even saw. They tried their best. They failed a lot, but they succeeded too. I don’t know what Life was like in the 90’s as parents, and I can’t imagine. Were they too trying to compete with someone? Were they too trying to keep up with the Joneses down the street? I have no idea what their mind sets were or how it affected them. But I know they did their bests. And that’s all that we can do. I remember talking at a banquet sponsor night with Mitch and we got on this topic and He jokingly said- about Luke ALWAYS, and I mean ALWAYS wanting a damn Happy Meal. And he said, “Just get the kid a fucking Happy Meal. Which I don’t 100% of the time agree with as we try our best to maintain healthy diets and eating habits, but once in a while it is nice to see them light over what kind of two-cent toy is inside their little red and yellow box of rubbish. But it makes them happy. And I don’t want to always hear about your dirt bike stories, but it makes Logan proud to tell me. And I don’t really care about what kind of fortnite skin you got, but I can see that it interests you- and so it interests me. And that’s the case with all of them, and even their friends. Being a dad, being a step dad, being a mom, being a parent is hard sometimes man. I mean its hard all the time, and easy sometimes. Its scary. There’s often little balance and harmony between the hectic and hussle and bussle of it all. But there are times when things just kind of stand out ya know?

Case in point. And this is funny, so I hope I can share it accurately. But, One of my pet peeves is the kids eating in their bedrooms, which are upstairs. And it’s not because I don’t want them to be relaxed and comfortable and enjoy themselves while watching YouTube videos, of. other kids. playing. the same. games that they have….weirdest shit ever. You’re gonna play video games and when you’re done, you’re gonna watch videos of other kids playing video games? Damnit man go outside. Sheesh. this is 2020 i guess. But it’s not because of that, its becuase THEY NEVER BRING THEIR DAMN DISHES DOWN. Like ever. And they always try to bargain, and plea that THIS TIME they will, And they don’t. Ugh. And I, or Tiffany will end up going upstairs, and hunting dishes to bring down- but I have adopted an alternative strategy. I’ll go upstairs and find them all and then place the dishes in a pile or group right in the entry way of their bedrooms, so they see them as soon as they come home from school. It makes me chuckle when they get up there and I can hear all the dishes Clink together. YEP! They got em. But the jokes on me I guess because they just bring them down and plop them in the sink and then I gotta wash them. But I relish the small victories against these little love able human adversaries of mine… And I have always, until recently really wondered if I was even really loved by these kids. If I was even really respected. If they paid attention to my “life talks” as Jamie calls them. If they know that they can trust me, if they know that I am not going anywhere, respectable, and trust worthy. And it’s funny how the littlest events can stand out to us and show us that were going in the right direction….

The other morning, Tiffany had fixed the boys cereal before the day began, and Connor and Logan were just sitting down to eat. I was just starting to stir upstairs and was getting ready to come down for my coffee, now apparently when Connor sat down he asked Tiffany if he could take his bowl of cereal upstairs to eat because he was a bit chilly. Tiffany said that was fine as long as he brought his bowl right back downstairs. And as the timing of this whole interaction played out to perfection, He had just been granted  permission to go eat upstairs as I made the turn at the top of the stairs, and they heard me coming down. (Im laughing as I write this) “I’m gonna go put a hoodie on” Connor says, unbeknownst to me at the time. I just came down and got some coffee. And I know that that may sound very insignificant to you, but to me it speaks volumes.

These children had no Idea who I was, What I wanted, how I would treat them, or how long I would stay. And it has literally taken years, I think, maybe just for me?- to truly become solidified with one another. And over these years I have constantly wondered if they were listening, if they cared, If they loved me, if they respected me, if they wanted me and if they needed me. And I cannot even imagine how hard it has been for these little hearts here. They still have so much wonder, and innocence inside of them. But we have all come together little by little as each moment passed. And I know the answers to a lot of those questions now, I think. Yes they need me, yes they love me, yes they see me, yes they want me, yes they appreciate me. Us. Their parents. It’s so easy sometimes, to only see things through my eyes, because theyre attached to my brain, but often I have to make the extra effort to really look back at my own childhood, and remember how hard it is to be a kid. I cannot even imagine being me as a child with permanently split up parents, that would be so hard for me. I can’t imagine. They’re little humans and they hurt easily and they love hard. They don’t need me to compete with anyone except myself. They need me to be the best version of me that I can possibly be. They just need me to be HERE. All four of them, equally. And in different ways at different times. It is not about me anymore, When it was about me I almost died and destroyed countless lives in the process. It is about being a Dad. Being a parent, and doing my best to break the chains that enslaved myself for so long. Hurts, Habits, and Hangups- they all die with me now. I refuse to let these little ones fail, or let them down- although I will, and I will check myself, dust off, and keep going. Because being a parent has no off days. Giving up is not an option, and What we do today as parents will be shown to the world in the years to come. They may not always offer feed back, or tell you how they feel or like it is, they may not even tell you that they love you back all the time, but they are always watching, and listening and learning. They are being molded not only by our words, but by our examples and what we do, how we speak, how we treat animals, and other humans, the life talks we give them, the interest we show, the words we use, and the stories we tell. They’re little sponges so make sure they soak up the right stuff. will you be prefect? will I? Will we? Absolutely not, but it is okay to take ownership and share the lessons that we as adults learn in our short comings with our children. They’re wise beyond their years and they understand more than we may give them credit for. They do love us, and they do need us. We may not give ourselves the credit all the time, but looking back on things- my parents walked on water- even when they struggled. But I must always do my best to make sure that my feet match my talk. Because they can see when it doesn’t. You don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent. Just be there, and love them, and talk about dinosaurs with them! These moments are fleeting and before we know it, we will wish they were young again. Sometimes we don’t recognize the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory.

Train up a child in the way they should go. (Proverbs)

I don’t Like to call it a Dad Bod, I prefer Father Figure.

Be one. You Matter.

The Birdhouse

“Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Life is a mother fucker sometimes. I have no idea what I’m doing. And I think that’s one of the points. We learn and we grow. We fuck up, we fail. We succeed. We repeat. I saw a meme some where recently, that said something like, “When we’re kids we don’t realize that as our parents are watching us grow up- we’re watching them grow up too.” Something like that. Makes a lot of sense to me. I am 34 years old, going on 65 and concurrently going on 19. Weird concept. Most days I haven’t the foggiest idea what I’m doing, or where the day will take me. I just know that going backwards is not an option anymore and using drugs will not help anything one bit. A lot of random thoughts going in to this one, and it’s weird because when I sat down to write this one, I had a target. Delete? No, keep going. It will flow out eventually. Thanks for hanging in there with me. This is Catharsis.

When I first got clean, I had all these ideas. Nothing tremendously profound. Just ideas. Of what my life would or should look like. What certain milestones, holidays, or moments would feel like. I would day dream and imagine these places that I would go, and the feels that I would feel. I guess we call these types of thoughts, Designs. Truth be told, I don’t think I could reasonably design a birdhouse and it come out right. But the difference today, is that I am willing to put in the work to do it. To build the bird house that is. I am not perfectly good or perfectly bad. Neither are you. We just are what we are. And though I have never built a birdhouse before, if it came down to it, I would Google, YouTube, ask for help, put it together, take it apart, as many times as I had to in order to come out with the end result of having a little home for out feathered friends to enjoy, and for my family to enjoy having in the yard some where.

This dudes really blogging about how he can’t build a birdhouse. WTF? Next!

I write exactly how I think. In real time. This shit is not rehearsed. I am trying to make a point here, and Ill get there. But the Idea here, is the birdhouse is a metaphor I guess. For the end result. The life. The goal. The happiness from the quote above.

Why do you think that it is one of the most famous quotes ever written and it says the PURSUIT of happiness? Not happiness it self? I have been thinking about this recently. And to be honest, I have been thinking about this because I have really been struggling with some serious depression like symptoms. And I bring it up to people and they almost 100% of the time say, But Herb, what the hell do you have to be depressed ABOUT? That makes me snicker. I don’t think that anyone out there is ever depressed about something. And, yes, I am doing much better now thank you. I talked with my wife, who is without a doubt my number 1. My super hero, my confidant. God I wish I could be more like her. I envy her strength and mental toughness, rationale, and internal fortitude. I am the weak one. And I have Prayed a LOT. I have spent my last days, as I work from home and do my best to assist in the homely duties, really blasting praise music and in prayer and meditation which are big parts of my life and recovery. And I have talked with others and really leaned on my relationships. And writing helps. But anyways, back from that thought, I have absolutely NOTHING to be depressed about. I have much to stress about, but as my daily motivation app reminded me of today- “Do not stress about things that are out of your control.” Funny that I needed an app to remind me of that huh? Isn’t that day one stuff? The serenity prayer and all. But anyways. Building a birdhouse…

When I first got clean, and as life continued to chug along, I always had these milestones, these goals, and these aspirations for myself, my wife, my children, my family, and our lives together. Goals are good. Milestones are good. Hopes and aspirations are good things. And being vulnerably honest here, going all the way back to the beginning, and even recently, as I tend to lose focus from time to time of what’s really important; I have foolishly thought that, “If I/we can just get Here________ then things will be good. And then If we get here_________ then we will be great. But, God willing, if we can really do this thing__________ then all will really be awesome.” Dude, that’s addiction talking man. That is fucking drug addict thinking. I mean, in a way it is. Is that not one of the ways that our addiction manifests itself? Exterior solutions to internal conflicts? I think so. A great job, a beautiful wife, wonderful family, our very first home purchase on the horizon, and I fall into a big time emotional and mental slump because it doesn’t give me some hit the lottery/cocaine type rush. TF is wrong with me? But I’m really starting to learn some things as I grow older and older. The pursuit of the happiness is the happiness. The building of the birdhouse is the birdhouse. It’s the time invested in yourself and in your families and relationships, and in ourselves that matters. The journey is the destination. Everything else is just fucking stuff. Wow. And I know that some people may read this and have a lot of mixed feelings about it, but its true. Milestones in recovery, Milestones in careers, and in life are fantastic things. But its the miles that make the person. We are not ever defined by these things that we achieve. Were defined by the work it took to do so. Were defined by the relationships we formed and nurtured along the way. Were defined by how we persevere in the face of adversity and the turbulence of life. Holy shit. It’s true.

And what this last several weeks, maybe even months I don’t know, Has brought to my attention, placed on my heart and put on my fucked up brain is something that I have been quoted saying myself before: There is no Chemical, there is no Material, there is no exterior solution to a/an Spiritual, Internal, Mental, Emotional problem or conflict. It is really crazy to me how much we can learn, unlearn, and relearn the same shit over and over for the rest of our lives.

Yes. Today I am a VERY proud, happy, loved, driven, husband, father, writer, career driven, Christian, recovering person. But sometimes, in the midst of all the drive, and chaos, and life, growth, and work, and media, and people, and places, and gas stations, and TV, and laundry, bills, emotions, arguments, and everything that happens throughout our day to day lives- all of which is specific to us individually, I can forget-

I prayed for this.

This journey. This Pursuit. This riggamaroll. This marathon that I am on. IS THE DESTINATION.

Sometimes I think as humans, at least for me, that we compete with ourselves too much. And that creates pressure, and pressure brings stress, and for me personally, stress brings depression. And I white knuckle all these things that life brings, even the good stress, so much that when the storm passes, I have exhausted my emotional battery and am not able to enjoy the sunny skies and the rainbow afterwards. Anyone else experience this? Just me? Word.

Son of’a bitch, Everything is real. The good is real. The bad is real. The blah is real. the bills are real. The emotions are real. The kids are real. the house is real. the wife is real. the responsibility is real. The dogs, the oil changes, the snow, and fucking mortgage process… all of it is real. And it is the journey. It is the destination. It is the pursuit of happiness.

And once in a while, we get those, what my wife and I call “Lochloosa” Moments…

(Please, Listen to the Live version, of Lochloosa by JJ Grey and Mofro and youll understand)

In my line of work, my phone rings a lot. Like a whole damn lot. And though it is a beautiful thing to be able to assist those who are in need of help and relief from the disease of addiction, sometimes it can take a toll on me. Emotionally and mentally. There are days, when My Wife will return from her job and I wont want to talk at all. I mean at all, because my face and jaw, and my mind and emotional battery are just so tired. And thank God she understands, She has even helped me set time boundaries for myself to help me find rest in between all the craziness. And I am not exaggerating about the craziness- ask her, I swear on multiple occasions I have sat up in a dead ass sleep and answered my phone in a dream. It’s crazy. I used to have server dreams too, when I was waiting tables alot, and they were never fucking good- I was always in the weeds in them. But I digress.

What I’m getting at here, is that so often, I, and I am sure you too, will be so caught up in all of the work stuff, and then the family stuff and all of the ‘Real’ shit that I went over before, and it can be so overwhelming. I have never felt the pressure and stress that I have been feeling over this damn house ever before. And though it is “Good” stress, stress is stress, and I am a drug addict and the problem with that formula is that I am an addict and addiction is not about drugs, its about escape and if I am not careful I can and will return to the behaviours that brought me to my knees and I can very easily blow the whole fucking thing over something so fucking trivial as stress. Man, I wish you could have seen how fast I just typed that. Literally at the speed of thought. PHEW.

BREATHE, HERB.

We get so caught up in the world. The world. The physical. Yes, people are nice. Things are nice. Family is nice. Dogs are super nice. Progress is good. Working is good. Homes are beautiful. Nature is wonderful. All of the things that we see and experience throughout our days make up who we are in some aspect. But If I am not continuously working on my own personal growth and development, And learning to enjoy the journey as the destination- Then I can miss the climb.

But what’s nice about it all. Is that once in a while, something comes through. In my job, we have a saying, “Enjoy the silence when it comes.” And I believe that that also applies to life. Maybe the silence is a nice meal with our families, or a long walk with the dogs, maybe the silence is watching a documentary with the wife. Or going for a drive listening to music and getting dunkin. Whatever your silence is, that’s your Lochloosa. Your happy place, your mediation spot. A healthy and peaceful head space where you can find your rest. And that is part of the journey too. it’s not always about The rickedy and shakey climb up to the top of the roller coaster, waiting for the arms in the air screaming exhilaration of the drop and all the wild fun, sometimes its the fucking lazy river. That sweet spot. Just enjoying the journey and the marathon, finding a safe and brief plateau to just recharge the old bones.

I could write on this all damn day long, but I have some actual work to do today.

I guess what I am getting at, is that, Money burns, Houses will eventually crumble, Stuff is just stuff, Cars break down, and shoes really are a dime a dozen. We cant take any of that stuff with us when we go, so why do we put so much importance on it now? All of that “Stuff” Is just fucking turd polish anyways, If I am not working on myself on the inside and doing my best to help my family and friends thrive and feel loved. None of it matters. What matters is the pursuit. The journey, and the memories we make along the way. I have absolutely no Idea how to build a birdhouse, but if the kids and the wife wanna build one, we will find a way. because the construction of the bird house, the time we spend together, THE MEMORY OF BUILDING the birdhouse is what we will remember when we look outside and see a family of Robins making nest inside. Not the house itself, but the memories that went into it…..

 

Enjoy the ride.

Brother’s Keeper

“We asked God to help us show the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend.  When a person offended we said to ourselves, ‘This is a sick man/woman.  How can I help him/’her? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done.”

Page 67- The Big Book of AA

1:48 A.M Friday morning February 7th, 2020. The name on the call log in red because I had missed the call while I was sleeping.

I hate getting those calls. Not because they sometimes disturb my sleep- I rarely sleep through the night anyways. But because they are NEVER good calls. No one has ever called me at that time with good news or to tell me how well they’re doing. I awoke at roughly 6:30 and saw the missed call. Instant concern and worry. I returned the call and heard the voice of an old friend. Someone who I love and respect immensely. Someone who I still as I write this, admire very much. *And this is all still very fresh in my mind and I am still processing, so please bare with me. But I figured this was as good a way as any to flesh this out*

“I need help Herb.”

“Oh, buddy. I know.”

I could hear the grief, the brokenness in his voice. He was lost. He was hurting badly. I could hear the shake. I could feel his tremors. His voice cracking. The utter humiliation. His pity for himself. He proceeded to walk me back through his now 2 years long relapse. we chatted. I asked questions and he answered. He would take breaks to “Take that breath” That- deep, from the soul desperate and ugly breath, and then return to his story. We talked for about 45 minutes and really re kindled our old friendship. He needed help and I wanted to help him. I needed to. We came together with a plan of action, and made all of the necessary arrangements. Work was notified and family/friends made aware. He was in bad shape, but he had a willing heart. He was ready to finally pick up that 1,000 pound phone and ask for help. He was ready to let someone else in. When the pain of change is less than the pain of being the same, we take action. We make adjustments. We ask for help. And we follow through. But he, my friend, is what you would refer to as the “Low Bottom Addict”. Like me. I could tell by the way he sounded, and the things that he told me- like the way he had been using, that he was going to need some assistance getting moving and getting to a hospital for some help. That did not go well. I had sent over and escort to pick him up. A man sober 14 years. A man ready to help him. But my old friend was so fucked up and out of his mind that this was clearly not the time to try and get him to make a move. Eventually, after several hours of hanging out with him and working on him, and his inability to stop using and come down- we had to reconvene- my escort and I, and make a decision to take a step back for a while and allow him to come down a bit. He was not at the time a danger to himself or anyone else. In fact, he had some company there with him, who seemed lucid, rational, and sober. And this person had agreed to keep an eye on him for the next several hours, and to stay in communication with us. So he was safe and would be taken care of. We agreed to let him come down and sleep it off and we would re visit things in the morning. Today. February 8th, 2020.

This morning, 9:18 A.M. I, having had the history with him, we decided that I would take a shot at him. I would go over to his home and see if I could get him moving. After all, were long time friends. So this should be easy enough right? No problems at all…

I knocked on his apartment door. Nothing. Waited. Nothing. Again, and again, and again. I know he’s here, his car is in the parking lot and no foot prints in the snow near the entrance to his place. I call his phone. I can hear it ring on the other side of the door. He is definitely here. Knock harder and harder still. I walk around the the side of his apartment and wrap on his window. Again, and again. Nothing. No motion, no stirring. Now I am consulting with my team on the phone. Roughly twenty minutes of knocking on his door and window, and about 17 calls to his phone. I am now fearing for his life. Had he passed away inside? Was I only a matter of minutes too late? Should I call for help? One more knock on the door, and if I don’t hear anything I will have to call emergency services….

Finally! A noise from inside. Some shuffling of feet. Hands meet door on the other side. The dead bolt disengages. And the door pulls inward toward the guts of the house enough to reveal my friend. And a very large hand gun….

Instantly. And I mean fucking instantly. My blood ran ice cold. And I instinctively showed him my hands. I am not 100% sure how the next moments went, as I was on extreme alert, and fearing for my life. I believe I blacked out from fear and was running on 100% survival here. “Whoa, buddy. It’s me. It’s Herb…” “Herb, you’re not Herb, who are you!?” “Buddy, it’s me. It’s Herb. It is Herb man. Please. I can leave if you need me to, but if you let me in, you gotta put the gun down.” I remember having this ‘Run like hell’ thought. And I could not take my eyes off of the pistol. At first I thought to myself, that maybe it’s a B.B Gun and this is just a scare tactic. But the more I fixed my eyes on the weapon and looked it over. The more and more I feared that I may die right here. I had to get my eyes off of the gun and make eye contact with him- It’s crazy how it takes so long to explain something that happened in a matter of maybe 10 seconds. But it seemed like an hour. I was finally able to peel my eyes away from the pistol, my guess is that it was a 9 or a 45- I don’t know guns, but it was absolutely large enough to bore a massive hole through what ever it was pointed at. And right now it was fixed dead center in my chest. Sternum shot. I’m gone if he pulls that trigger. And I worked my eyes up to his. And the moment we made eye contact I knew that I was safe. “It’s me man, remember____________? (removed to protect his identity.) It’s so funny, strange, interesting to me- maybe I myself am more fucked up than most. Delusional at times. But as he was holding that gun and He identified me in his mind. I could see all of his hurts. I could see his pain. And maybe that’s what he was actually pointing the gun at all along. I just happened to be standing in the bullet’s path. As soon as this little interaction finally caught up in his brain and he processed it he immediately removed the gun lifted it away, pulled the clip out, and took the bullet out of the chamber. He then set all three parts of the weapon on the counter and threw his arms around my neck. And sobbed. I mean, sobbed. That “Gnashing of teeth” from the gut and soul brokenness sob that only the most desperate of men or women can make. The sound of a soul in pain.

We hugged it out for several moments. Then to the double shoulder pat and squeeze as we looked at our old friends. This man was once a mighty mighty man. Very much in shape, a seasoned veteran of life. A hard working father. And a mighty man of God. Today, as I looked him over and evaluated his condition, I would venture to say that he was MAYBE 120 lbs. Soaking wet. Zero muscles in his legs. Little Frail Flamingo legs. Gaunt. Cheek bones blaring through his face. He appeared to be about 85 years old. Frail and decrepit. So sad and so heart breaking to see. I felt as if I could actually hug him, and squeeze him to death. His clothes barely stayed on. I threw his shoulder over mine and walked him to his couch like trainers do an injured football player to the sidelines. He sat back in the reclining portion of his couch, and I one knee kneeled next to him with a hand on his shoulder. He lit a smoke. I took in the scene. Burn marks littered his arm of the couch. “His Spot”, no doubt. Today was one of the most powerful days in recent memories for me. Today was fucking brutal, and personal. And sad. I stood and made my way to the foot of the reclining portion which held his feet up and stared down into the eyes of my friend. He nodded out for just one quick second. He took a drag of his cig. This man was in total spiral. Physical withering, and spiritually dead. A shell of his former self. He was once a life speaker, a service do-er. A leader and a mentor. Today he was at a bottom, from a relapse. A 2 year run. Couch covered in burn marks, house shuttered in. No blinds allowing so much as a thin line of sun shine in. Complete and utter despair. Delusion. Paranoia. All of the tell tale side effects that we drug addicts know all too well. But my friend was not using: Cocaine, Crack, Meth, Heroin, Pills, Powder of any kind. He was not using any of those “Typical Druggie/Junkie Substances”  My friend was using the legal shit. The stuff they tax. The stuff they sell over the counter. They push it down our throats on T.V. They glamorize it with celebrities. My friend was using Alcohol…

“Sorry, buddy. I just woke up. I’m ready to go Herb. I’m beat.”

“I, Know brother. Can I make you a pot of coffee? You gotta a coffee pot?”

“No, but do you mind if I take a shot?”

I could smell the burning Amber liquid as he painfully gulped one down. Then another. And a third. He Grimaced as he choked the last down, and finished his smoke.

We chatted for a while, He mostly listened. But when he did speak, it was “I’m sorry, herb.” “I’m Scared.” and “Fuck”. A lot of “Fuck.” And just that. nothing more. There was nothing more to say.

It took some time, and constant nudging and moving him along. But I was actually able to get him to firmly commit to going. And I gave him a deadline of about an hour- to be dressed and ready to go. During that hour I witnessed someone’s bottom. I had to help him shower, not like that- but I had to get his clothes for him. His towel. I had to turn the water on for him, while the poor, frail, suffering, and naked man stood on the other side of the shower curtain. I packed his clothes. I got his hygiene. I helped him with his socks. I tied his shoes for him. I put his shirts on for him and gathered his pocket stuffs- wallet, phone, smokes, and etcs… Once again I was going to have to basically carry this man. This time to my car. But I promised my friend that I was going to help him, and that I was not going to leave without him. And I meant it. Today was one of the most powerful days in recent memory. Today I saw someone in their most vulnerable and desperate place. Today I saw someone’s secret place. I saw their pain. And I latched my strength to his lack of strength. And I carried my former mentor out of his apartment. And to my awaiting car. I loaded his things, and we pulled away. He silently cried in the back seat while I tried to keep things light and positive. I played music and offered him something to drink. He declined. He cried silently. He grimaced in spiritual pain. But even still, through all of that, I saw something in him. I saw relief. I saw hope. And I saw that He Wanted to do this. I have chills as I write this. God bumps. Today was one of those days where something just comes through, ya know? Today was one of those days where you can just feel something special. Something cosmic. God was with us today. On the door step, in his apartment, and in that car.

Tomorrow, my friend will wake up with one day sober.

Dope F(r)iends

“Our common welfare should come first, personal recovery depends on AA/NA unity.”

-The First Tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

When I first started using chemicals, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Hell I smoked cigarettes “The wrong way” for like two weeks before my buddies had finally had enough of heckling me and showed me the proper way to use one. I hadn’t been inhaling them, I didn’t know how. I just wanted to fit in and be one of the guys. The same when I first started drinking, smoking pot, and so on. I didn’t even know what drug was what. I just knew that I liked the feelings of acceptance, escape, and to be honest with you- being fucked up. So I just kind of developed this insatiable desire for blotto, no matter what the chemical was. And I believe this is why we addicts refer to our drug of choice as “More”. Did not matter. What’d’ya got? I just wanna get high like you. And this is one of the many reasons why I referred to myself in my using days as a “Junk box”. I didn’t care about what I was putting into my body, as long as it got me loaded and took me away from reality. So as I began to progress into the netherworld of drug addiction, it was kind of like I was in the classroom of the counter culture. I remember asking some of the older cats that I was running with what they were into. What to look for in my house, in my parents medicine cabinet, under the sink and in the freezer. It was all learned behaviors. I didn’t know what I was doing and I certainly had no idea what I was getting myself into. I moved on from chemical to chemical like fucking Pac Man. Just gobbling up any thing I possibly could to constantly stay as loaded as I could. From cigs, to booze, to weed, to pills, to powder. More. Gimme. More. Let’s go. All the while learning and re learning the lifestyle, sharpening my manipulations, honing my craft. How to lie. What my parents would believe. How to sneak out. When to flip on the tears and how to twist the truth on my feet when caught up in my bullshit. The hope shot- The promise that I’ll get my shit together, go to school, get back into baseball, and later on in life- get a job. I Promise you I am going to do better. I’ve actually got a couple job interviews next week. The Sympathy ploy: I’m sorry, okay? I don’t know what I’m doing. Do you think I wanna be like this? I know I’m a loser do you think you could make me feel any worse about it, I’m trying my best! Sorry I’m not as good as you. damn. The guilt trip: Well if you were actually here for me or gave a fuck about what was going on in my life maybe you would have actually been able to stop me. This isn’t all my fault, it’s your fault too. Damn, Take some ownership yourself. I mean, shit, I took the pills FROM YOU. Don’t be such a fucking hypocrite. And the fear Monger: Fine, Fuck you too then. You’re gonna ground me? I’ll just sneak out anyways, but this time I am never coming back. When I turn 18, I’m outta here. I’m gonna go out and intentionally over dose just to get away from you. you’re never gonna see me again. I hate you. And the list goes on and on. But I never acted like this until I got around others who did. AND I AM NOT SAYING THAT IT’S THEIR FAULT, I MADE CHOICES. I take full ownership of that. But what I am saying is that I had to learn: who was doing what, what drugs would do the trick, where the parties were, how to obtain the drugs, the people I needed around me to get what I needed’s lingo and find an “In”, how to infiltrate the circles that had the strongest drugs, Where to get them, how to use them, and all the dope fiend tricks to keep the life style going.

And this is why they say that you are the average of the 5 people you associate with most. I became my environment. I became the people that I ran with. To a fucking T. But what’s weird about it all, is it was almost a subconscious thing all at the same time. I didn’t wake up each day, put my feet on the floor, stretch, grab a cup of coffee and say to myself, “welp, time to go be a drug addict today.” I didn’t even know what the fuck a drug addict was. I thought I was just having fun and being one of the guys. I thought this is what Life was. I had no idea what battle ground I was walking out into. Honestly, looking back on things I did not do these things intentionally, I did them instinctively. It was all almost as natural to me as breathing air, or eating food. It’s as if, when I took my first puff off of a cig, my first swig of booze- that I activated some vestigial “on/off” or “stop/go” mechanism. And it just took over. I never once, throughout all of my using woke up and had the thought that “today, I want to make my Grandmother cry”, “Today, I am going to lie to my brother.” It never happened. But it was as if, the chemicals were actually re wiring my brain to be constantly puppeteered by them. I always say it was like the tail was wagging the dog. I know that that may be hard to believe or understand, especially by those who don’t understand addiction, but I swear to you that’s exactly how it is. And it just gradually progressed over the years. And this is why they say that “Bad company corrupts good character.” It didn’t matter that deep down inside I “knew right from wrong”. I was in the grip. And my moral compass was gradually moving in the wrong direction.

On the flip side, however, when I first started trying to get clean, it was the same, equal, but opposite process. It is very strange to envision and think about as I write this. I wish that I could just “download you” with my life’s experiences. I think that maybe that would be more effective to convey to you how intricate this shit is. It’s like watching some fucked up movie. But when I first started attending meetings and such, I was very apprehensive. I was very cautious and closed off. Which in and of itself is super fucking ironic and offers a glimpse into the addict’s mind alone. I have absolutely no problem driving into the worst neighborhoods and projects in the city of Chicago, waiting for fucking hours for some dude named “Lysol” – who is ALWAYS “Finna pull up” to bring me some mystery powder that was probably tucked in his ass cheeks on the way over- and trusting that this mystery substance is what he says it is and that it is going to do the trick. I have no problem trusting THAT process. So why in the hell are we addicts so apprehensive about trusting the recovery process??? And the answer is why we started using to begin with: ITS FUCKING UNCOMFORTABLE. It’s weird. It’s different. And it involves me looking at myself and being honest for the first time in a very long time.

But anyways, I was closed off. I didn’t know how to articulate what I was feeling. And even if I did, I wasn’t gonna share it with you. I don’t even know you. This shits weird. But I did know without a doubt, that I did not want to use anymore. So I was kinda caught between a rock and a hard place. This was double uncomfortable. I didn’t wanna use, but I definitely didn’t wanna do all this work. Addicts are so funny some times. “I’ll do ANYTHING to get clean…..Exxcccceeeppttt that. Nope. Not that.” But I did possess some degree of open mindedness. Enough to keep showing up anyways. I knew I was fucked if I went back to using. And just like when I was younger, and when I was constantly looking around for “who’s who”, and “who’s got what” “Where to go, and how to find it”, I started noticing that these guys were speaking my language. They were sharing my story! I didn’t even have to say a word. They talked about using like I used. Crack hotels. The same shitty city streets that I once ran. I started to hear My truths. From them. And I just kept sticking around, and finally got myself a sponsor and working the programs. It takes some time, and some serious work, honesty, and willingness to try- but as the months and years continued to pass, I was once again becoming my environment. But this time in a good way. Good Company was “corrupting” my Bad Character. Stuff was starting to wear off on me in positive ways. I was learning to trust people again. I was learning to trust myself. I was praying and I was doing the next RIGHT thing. I could wake up every day with peace in my heart, and though life can and will kick our asses from time to time- addict or not- that’s life- I knew that as long as I kept trying to be the best version of myself that I could be, even if I made mistakes- they were honest ones and I would be forgiven, so long as I could survive a little bump to my pride. And I started to notice a subtle change to my identity over time. I was moving on from “The drug addict Street person jail bird” to the guy who got clean and turned his life around. And it feels pretty damn good.  I hope this is all making sense. To me it is effortless writing, because I literally just write as fast as I think. Which is nice. I don’t have to try and force anything. But the moral of the story here is actually quite interesting. Almost contradictory of the old school ways of thinking as I understand them. Quite paradoxical. I had to learn how to be a drug addict, I had to learn how to get dirty- from drug addicts. Then when the time came- I had to learn how to be clean and recover- From fellow drug addicts. Pretty damn interesting to me. See, I had been through all of the “classes”- all of the groups led by people who went to college to help people like me- AND PLEASE DO NOT TAKE THIS THE WRONG WAY- I know that you have big love in your heart if you’re one of these people and I have NO DOUBT that you have helped hundreds, if not thousands of people along your way- but FOR ME, For Herb personally- I just couldn’t connect. I needed something Raw, something Visceral, something “no bullshit” from someone who had walked my walk and someone who could talk my talk. someone who had felt what I had felt and been where I had been. So the classes never really stuck with me, But they did plant many of seeds, for which I am truly grateful. But they didn’t really start to sprout until I got around others who came from where I came from, and were going to where I was going. When we ask for directions, I guess it’s best, for me at least- to ask someone who has been to the destination I seek, and who can lead me there at times.

I had to learn how to use from a drug addict, and I had to learn how to be clean from a clean addict. Iron sharpens Iron. But bad company corrupts good character.

I used to know Dope Fiends.

Now I have Dope Friends.

Thank you for loving me.

Never give up on yourself. You are capable of amazing things.

Transformation

“Be not conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

-Romans 12.

 

On the left:
One of my many booking photos from Porter County Jail. Strung out, homeless, sick, dying, and broken.

On the right: the happiest day of my life! Posing with my beautiful wife Tiffany the day of our wedding. 4+ years clean and absolutely in love with her, our children and family, and our life together!

All glory, thanks and honor go to God. I did not do this. And thank you to all of my recovery peeps who have loved and supported me along the way. With a willing heart and a change of environment amazing things can and will happen! I am so truly blessed, humbled, grateful, and in awe of the amazing life and people that we share today!

I struggled with posting the picture on the left because it just stirs up so many painful and dark memories for me. But I will always do my best to push through my comfort zones in hopes of reaching just one more person, one more family.

To the families out there: NO ONE is beyond saving. NO ONE is beyond help or hope! With the right assistance and guidance- someone who can help you take charge- someone who knows what works and what doesn’t, miracles can and will unfold right before your very eyes.

To the still struggling addicts: You are loved. You can get your life back and live it to the fullest! You matter! If this poor and sick soul on the left here can get clean, you can do it too! I used to sleep in abandoned buildings and eat out of dumpsters and garbage cans. I know what desperation and hopelessness feels and looks like! You are not alone! I will do anything I can to help you get your life back! Never give up hope!

Herb Stepherson
Author: Junkbox Diaries
219-916-7236
Hstepherson85@gmail.com

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Kobe

I feel like a little piece of my childhood died right along with Kobe…

 

“Something happened America and I didn’t want you to miss it.
In the last 24 hours I quietly watched people of every race, religion, economic background, college grads and people who barely got out of high school. Scientists and bricklayers, Wall Street types and the guy who changes your oil. The family in the most expensive mansion in town and the folks living in public house… all of them, sharing a moment of grief for the handsome and talented man in this photo.
All of them stopping what they were doing when they heard the news and sharing a gut punch moment of dread, a feeling that this couldn’t have just happen. Not him. Not Kobe.
I know we are a divided nation right now, I get it, but please don’t feel the divide is so great we can’t bridge it. We can. We do. We will.
And all the panels of talking heads on the alphabet soup of cable news can’t turn us against each other. Don’t let them.
We really do have more in common than we think and we all love and lose and hurt no matter our zip code or who we voted for.
This loss should remind us how much we do share and in this moment I see a nation sharing grief for nine innocent people.
There is no sense to why this happened but we can find purpose in the loss.
Something happened in America and I didn’t want you to miss it.
We love each other. Kobe proved it.”

-John Gray Writer~ A Post I saw, Loved, and shared on Facebook

 

I have never mourned and grieved the loss of someone I have never met before, until Kobe Bryant died. I grew up idolizing sports figures, and, truth be told, I still do. I could not imagine, until recently, life without the Sports figures that I hold dear. Kobe, Jordan, Shaq, Lebron, Tiger, Primetime, The Manning Brothers, Chipper Jones, Khalil Mack, Drew Brees, Pat Mahommes, And yes, as much as I despise the Pats- Tom Brady. I mean these, and so many more, are in a very cheesey and non creepy way- Parts of my life. They’re so much more than just Athletes for me. They’re Heroes. So many of them have over come adversity, and fought tooth and nail to become who they are today, only to put their bodies on the line- game in and game out while america sits on a couch, or in a restaurant and screams at a light up little box, known as a television. And always have been heroes for me.  And in light of recent events I have felt led to share a little bit about my take aways from this horrible and untimely tragedy.

We all know, or should know, by now that Kobe Bryant is a Hall of Fame basketball player. In fact, the NBA is going to by pass the voting process and streamline his induction in light of his untimely death. He has two retired numbers for the Lakers. He is a top 4 scoring champion and number 1 in almost every single Lakers category. Over the last several days, ESPN and countless other news outlets around the world have been interviewing his colleagues, friends, fans, and just about anyone who has been impacted by his life and death. I remember vividly Doc Rivers’ courageous interview, voice cracking, tears running down his face. Inconsolable. Trying his best to articulate his emotions and grief when asked about what number 8/24 meant to him. And although we all may think that Kobe “The basketball player” is who they’re mourning. Basketball pales in comparison to what they were really grieving. They lost a friend. They lost a brother. They lost a Hero. But what Really made him a Hero to so many? Was it because he was fluent in multiple languages? No, but that is pretty cool. I took Spanish for like two and half years and I only know a few choice phrases, like ?Donde Esta La Biblioteca? I think that means where is the library. I have never met Kobe, and to be honest with you, I am thinking about deleting this whole post because I don’t want to offend anyone, or piss anyone off- due to my ignorance of his life and true legacy and relationships. But I wont. What I am trying to get at, is- Like the post I shared above from Facebook- for a Moment in time, the whole world stopped. It will in the future be one of those “Where were you moments”. I was at home, and I learned about his passing from my Daughter Jamie. My heart sank and I jumped on Google and turned on the news for confirmation, hoping to God it wasn’t true. But indeed it is true. And I am still very saddened by it. He was a kid from Philly. He fell in love with a game. Drafted right out of high school. Living his dream. Utilizing his platform and influence to make other people’s lives better. Not just his wife and children’s. And from what I can tell he was very humble and Gracious. I mean, he flew to Philly to watch his final basketball game, Where Lebron broke his record in his home town. In front of his home town people. And he smiled the whole time, and cheered him on, and congratulated LBJ. Pretty damn selfless. Pretty damn cool if you ask me. And though I don’t know enough personally about him to write some type of Biography on him, which this is not meant to be anything close to- What I do know about is people. And touching other Human Being’s lives. I hope I do anyways. For I know that there are thousands of people on some scale or another- good or bad, that have impacted me. Impacted my life, my heart, my spirit, my self esteem.

I know I’m a bleeding heart, leave me alone, I’m trying to make a point here. But I mean, look at the news. It’s been days, and they’re still talking about it. They’re still outside the Staples center with posters and flowers, and candles and all coming together. Not over some basketball player. But over the impact that one of their heroes had on their lives. The inspiration that He instilled, that anything is possible if you work hard. That you can achieve anything. That you can make a difference. That you can be a good dad and husband and pass on that work ethic, love, and inspiration to your own children. That being selfless is truly the most fulfilling thing to be. And I know there’s gonna be those that bring up his case from back in the day- So I’ll just go ahead and handle that now: We have all done things that we’re not proud of, you’re not perfect, and don’t judge someone just because they sin DIFFERENTLY than you do. End of story.

But the moral of the story here, is take a step back. Look at what just happened, like the post that I shared above. We all grieved together. We all had one pulse for a brief moment in time. We all had that lump in our throats at the same time. Black, White, American, Australian. European, Gay, Straight, Believer, and Atheists. We all acknowledged this young man, and the other’s in the helicopter’s lives. Collectively. In this recent week- it has made me personally reflect on what is truly important. It has made me feel convicted at times, about the things I could have done better, the times I could have loved harder, or better. When I have failed, Forgiveness, Fatherhood, Compassion, Memories. And it has reminded me not to take things for granted. That no one is promised tomorrow. No matter how rich or poor you are, our timelines are all different. Our “Dashes” are not the same. No matter who you are. No matter what you do for a living. No matter what your “position” in life. The only thing that people are TRULY going to remember you by- is the way you made them feel. The way that you touched their lives. The impact that you had on them. The leadership you showed. The example you set. Yes, The world is mourning the life of Kobe Bryant “the basket ball player”, But I promise you, that the Giant of a man- one of my all time favorite athletes- Shaquile O’Neal was not bawling his eyes out thinking about the time Kobe scored 81 points. He was crying and grieving all the memories, the impact, and the influence that that young man had on his heart.

Think about your life. Think about who you really are. Think about who you could be. Think about all the good you could do in this world, in your communities. If we just put the blinders on, focused, and followed that little voice in our hearts that perpetually propel us toward doing good. Toward blessing other people’s Lives. Toward making someone smile, making them FEEL special. *Spoiler alert* just to pull you off your little pink cloud for a moment- You’re gonna fuck up. you’re gonna fail from time to time. you’re gonna actually hurt people’s feelings some times. And that is very human of you. But learn, Grow, and get better. Did Kobe fail? Of course he did. But his greatness and impacts of goodness Far out weighed his shortcomings. And that is the idea here.

True, when 99.9% of us die, they will not erect a statue of us. They will not raise up our old high school jerseys and immortalize us. But what will they do? What will they say? What will YOUR legacy be? What do you want to be remembered by? As? Like Kobe, do we want to be remembered as the amazing, loving, kind, gracious, philanthropic, talented, giving person who made everyone’s Lives better? Who inspired others, who left a real life mark on this world? Or do we want to be remembered as the “Hall of Famer”- The “best damn carpenter/Dishwasher/Lawyer/Salesman/Golfer/Writer/Waiter/Uber Driver(Fill in your profession here___________)?”

We have the ability, every day when we wake up, and even as each moment passes through out each day- to actively choose. If we really focus on it. If we really make it a priority, we can Actually recreate ourselves in the blink of an eye. We, in each interaction and thought that we have throughout our lives, have this thing called conscience- and we can tune in to it- and in that moment be self aware- and focus our energies and compass in the direction that we wish. I have come to know that thing as the “Still Small Voice”. What will you choose? Who will you become in the next five minutes, days, weeks, months, or years? How will you spend your Dash? How will you make others Feel? Will you leave a lasting mark on someone’s heart so profoundly that they cannot help but do the same for the next generation? Will you live this life out to make your presence noticed, or your absence felt? Meditate on these things. Mentally chew on them. Pray about them. Who do you really want to be? Are you just conforming to the world around you, while that still small voice is screaming at you, to break out and LIVE? Who do you want to be? Who are you now? Where do you want to be? How do you want to be remembered? As the Hall of Famer who Showed up and Balled outrageous, or as the comforter, the teacher, the leader, the example, that helped change the heart of someone who needed it – and left a lasting mark on this world as we know it?

If you want to change the world for someone you have 2 choices: Hurt them Deeply, or Love them Profoundly.

Choose wisely.

 

THE DASH

the poem by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning… to the end.

He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time they spent alive on earth and now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own, the cars… the house… the cash. What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard; are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left that still can be rearranged.

To be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile… remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s actions to rehash, would you be proud of the things they say about how you lived your dash?

 

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Rest in Peace, Kobe.

You spent your Dash well. Be proud Kid. You inspired many.