Kurt Cobain

My recently-released young adult novel, “Paper Girl,” was written from a place of gratefulness to artists like Kurt Cobain, whose life and work helped me feel not alone in the world. In my teens and 20s I struggled with extreme inner conflict and self-doubt. My “self” was like a chameleon that transformed to fit various environments and relationships. While a certain amount of flexibility is helpful in life, the level of my flexibility worked against me and left me feeling empty. My creative self felt trampled and shy. Like a young child, every so often, my inner artist would tap me on the shoulder and say, “Hey, do you think we could do some writing or painting or something?”

Artists like Cobain helped inspire me to do the hard work of getting up each and every morning to write and honor my artist self. I am grateful for Cobain’s gift. I will end this blog post today with an excerpt from Michael Stipe’s 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction speech for Nirvana.

“It is the highest calling for an artist, as well as the greatest possible privilege to capture a moment…to expose our struggles, our aspirations, our desires…Cobain, Novoselic, and Grohl were Nirvana…Nirvana defined a moment, a movement for outsiders: for the fags; for the fat girls for the broken toys; the shy nerds; the Goth kids from Tennessee and Kentucky; for the rockers and the awkward; for the fed-up; the too-smart kids and the bullied.” (Michael Stipe)

Learn to say no

I hope you enjoy this post from “Learn To Say No.”


6794428-free-stop-wallpaperFor a long time, I had had a hard time saying no. The outcome is, having people overstep on my personal boundaries. This is NOT ok. It’s never been ok, and it will never be ok.

We learn about boundaries when we are very young, our parents do this by setting boundaries with us, and expect us to set our own boundaries with others.  When our parents don’t set these boundaries, or fail to enforce them, we walk all over them. The same thing happens when we don’t set boundaries with others, they walk over us.

So, you can correct this by realizing a few things:
1) You should set boundaries, they are very important for your mental health and for your relationship with others.

2) You set the rules for how you want to be treated and the dynamics of your relationship with them.

3) You can correct broken boundaries, by…

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Career Choices for Perfectionists and People-Pleasers

Here’s a post from soberrecovery.com with respect to careers chosen by “fixers” and “enablers.” This is a hot topic for me. As a person in recovery, I have a tendency to resent those in my life who have tried to “fix” me or tell me who I am and what I need before I’ve had a chance to figure that out for myself. I used to work as an assistant many years ago and it was not a good fit for me as I attempted to become healthy and grow in to the person the Universe had in mind for me to be. It hurt my soul to have a job where my work involved trying to assist people and support people who really didn’t want to behave like adults. Let me see if I can articulate my feelings here. So, when I was emotionally sick, I had very little identity apart from perfectionism and people-pleasing. Perfectionism and people-pleasing are perfect when you are a secretary, because perfectionism and people-pleasing are “rewarded,” for lack of a better term in this particular career. The problem is that when you are a sick person and you struggle with boundaries, you tend to get caught up in other people’s drama. For example, if you are a secretary and you support an executive with poor work habits, it is the perfect “sick” opportunity to use your perfectionism and people-pleasing to “help” the executive or try to “fix” the executive. And because the executive is also emotionally sick, the secretary will never succeed at truly helping or fixing this person. The scenario feeds the illness of both participants in this sick game.

Therefore, as I worked diligently to recover from perfectionism and people-pleasing, my career choice of being a secretary became increasingly troublesome to me. My career choice did not fit with my recovery and my desire to become a more healthy person. Although it was extremely uncomfortable and agonizing to try to get myself unstuck, it was well worth the hard work.

Please weigh in on this in the comments below. Here is the excerpt from soberrecovery.com. I’d love to hear your thoughts:

It has been observed many times that people with codependent tendencies gravitate toward “helping” professions such as nurse, counselor, social worker, life coach, etc.

While never really being attracted to “people-helping” jobs, I can say for sure that my “fixing” desires have definitely helped steer my career choices. I believe that one of the primary reasons I chose a career in IT is because of the rush I get when I fix something. Just yesterday, there was a problem with a hardware component that three different people tried to solve. After all three had given it a shot and then shrugged their shoulders and said it can’t be fixed, I stepped in. After considering the problem from many angles, and taking into consideration the steps that had already been tried by others, I managed to solve the problem. And it felt really good.

To me, this is an example of taking a trait that can be detrimental (like never giving up on fixing another person) and channeling it into a positive and productive trait (finding a solution to something others could not).

I’m interested in hearing about other’s professional/career choices which have allowed you to use traits that may be negative in regards to a relationship with an A, but turn out to be positive in an occupation.

Are We in Control?

We walk a fine line between what we can control and what we can’t. “Control” is a hot topic for me. In recovery programs, one thing we work on is learning to surrender. It is definitely a complicated subject. I welcome your comments. Please let me know what you think.

Here’s an excerpt from my novel, Paper Girl. Nikki, the 15-year-old protagonist in the story feels almost no control over her life.

“How did accidents and disease and tornadoes fit in with her father’s plans? Mr. Miller was completely convinced that he was in absolutely control of his destiny. He was in charge. Nikki felt in charge of absolutely nothing. She was in the passenger’s seat of her own life — no confidence that any plans meaningful to her could ever work out….Over the years, she had daydreamed about how her life would be different now if she had been encouraged and supported in her creative endeavors early on….She might be relaxed and content — well on her way to living the life that her soul had been born for — the soul that came from wherever you are before you are here. The soul the Universe had plans for.”

Paper Girl

My young adult fiction book, “Paper Girl,” is available for sale on Amazon. Nikki, the protagonist, faces many painful events that are, for the most part, invisible to the rest of the world. Shocking twists and turns in the story will keep you cheering for Nikki on every page. I hope you will purchase it today for yourself or for a young person you know who enjoys reading stories such as, “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Looking for Alaska,” and “The Beginning of Everything.”

Much of what Nikki faces is similar to what some people face growing up in homes where the parents are absent. It could be they are absent because of drugs or alcohol, mental illness, or because they are simply emotionally unavailable. Here’s an excerpt from the Big Red Book that states this so well.

“We know of a woman who seemed to love canned potatoes. She felt ‘comfort’ just knowing there was a single can of potatoes in her cupboard….As she began addressing her abandonment issues as an adult, she realized that the canned potatoes meant something more than a fondness for a peeled vegetable in a can. She realized, or her body remembered, that canned potatoes were the difference between going hungry or having something to eat when her alcoholic mother went out for days without coming home….As a child, while feeling fearful and hungry when her mother was gone, she found a can of potatoes. She ate the potatoes and felt full. Her hunger left, and she could sleep. At a young age, she felt comforted by the potatoes for two reasons: She solved her immediate problem of hunger, and she knew she did not need her mother to take care of her. She could now take care of herself. She would take care of her sister, too. She learned to drag a chair to the edge of the stove to warm up soup and drag the same chair to the sink to wash dishes. She no longer had to feel hurt or abandoned by a mother she loved and adored….The canned potatoes represented her introduction to adulthood before she attended her first day of school as a first grader. As an adult, through much work, she realized she had a hunger for her mother’s love; a hunger she could never completely quench….When she finally walked away from the abandoning and loveless relationship with her mother, she felt like her world had ended. She felt guilty and wrong, but eventually found peace and inner strength from the work she did in her recovery program. Through much work she now reaches into her cupboard for a variety of food to nourish her body and soul.”

It Will Never Happen to Me

There is a wonderful book I retrieve from my bookcase occasionally. It is called, “Adult Children of Alcoholics.” Some people call it the “Big Red Book.” In my many years in recovery, this book has provided me so much comfort. The words have helped me feel “okay” in my dysfunctional history and my present struggles. Reading its words is like a clean breath of ocean air.

One of the reasons attending support groups is so very helpful when you are trying to get better, is because the world is filled with sick people repeating the mistakes of their past. We’ve all done it. “I’m going to be different than my parents. I’ll never behave the way they did. Last night was my last drink. Never again.”

If you are one of the many people in the world who is working a recovery program of some type, sometimes after a day at the office, you might need to get to a meeting. You might need to hang out with people who, like you, are trying to get better. Your school and your office and your studio is filled with people who are emotionally sick. If you are surrounded at work by emotionally unhealthy people, you need to fill up your tank by surrounding yourself with those who want to get better. It’s easy to get dragged down when you are trying to get better.

I am so glad I am sober. I thank God every day for my sobriety. But sometimes I feel very different from those around me, like no one understands me. If I’m surrounded at work all day by people who haven’t yet found their path to serenity, it can be tempting to get caught up in their chaos or their stress. These people are still addicted to the “drug” of chaos. I used to be one of those people. I work hard to not fall back into it. God’s grace is a huge factor in keeping me sane. Here are some words of comfort from the big red book. I hope you enjoy reading them.

“Family dysfunction is a disease that affects everyone in the family. Taking a drink is not necessary to be affected….we developed survival traits called ‘The Laundry List.’ Denial can lead us to believe that we have escaped our family dysfunction. Step One of the Twelve Steps of Adult Children of Alcoholics is to realize we are ‘powerless over the effects’ of growing up in a dysfunctional family. The Step calls us to admit that our behavior today is grounded in the events that occurred in childhood. Once we come out of denial, we realize we have internalized our parents’ behavior. We have internalized their perfectionism, control, dishonesty, self-righteousness, rage, and pessimism. We have internalized both of our parents: the alcoholic and the para-alcoholic. The para-alcoholic (the codependent) is driven by fear, excitement, and pain from the inside. The biochemical surge and cascade of inner “drugs” that accompany these states of distress in this parent can impact children as profoundly as outside substances. We believe that the long-term effects of fear transferred to us by a nonalcoholic parent can match the damaging effects of alcohol. This is why many of us can abstain from other addictive behaviors after growing up, but be driven by inner drugs that can bring difficulties as we attempt to recover.”

Realized That My New Best Friend Was Nothing but a Mirror – Kimberly Kirberger

I hope you enjoy this post from one of my favorite blogs, “Seeds for Life.”

Solitude can be a powerful tool to help you realize that you are your foremost friend. You are the only person who can understand everything you have ever been, everything you will ever be, and what you are right now. People come and go in your life, like a constantly moving ocean, but it’s you who is going to swim in it. That’s why it is important to never underestimate your potential. All those wild dreams and unopened boxes of aspirations can be unlocked only by you, no one else. When you’re feeling down, try self-talk. Talk to yourself as your best friend would. Help yourself in putting a big smile on your face, and realizing that by being yourself, you add something positive and beautiful to the world. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t scale that mountain. Simply tell yourself that you will, and remember that you are your best friend!

Source: And Realized That My New Best Friend Was Nothing but a Mirror – Kimberly Kirberger

The Pope in America

Whether or not you consider yourself a spiritual person, you’ve probably heard news stories about Pope Francis visiting the United States recently. I was impressed with the amount of coverage this story received. I’m not Catholic, and I don’t understand all of the Catholic traditions and rituals, but I’m a “live-and-let-live” kind of woman, so I tend to sit back and observe and try to learn about things I don’t understand.

I’ve studied the Bible for many, many years. When I was 18, I was pursuing the field of computer programming, attending a private university on a partial scholarship in connection with computer programming. As I sat in classes, I began to become frustrated with the dynamics of simply sitting in class and being told that things are the way they are. I longed for more of a back-and-forth discussion about some of the ideas of our founding fathers and religion and politics. I decided to change my focus, and I moved to Tennessee to attend Bible school. Honestly, I’ve never been a very good Sunday school student or Bible school student. The reason I say this is because it seems that I ask too many questions for the typical Sunday school teacher and Bible teacher. I tend to ask questions like, “Why were women treated so poorly in the Bible?” “Why do religious people get hung up on things that Jesus wasn’t bothered by?” Few people have the answers I’m seeking. For this reason, I continue praying and reading and having discussions with people. My motive is to grow spiritually and lean on a higher power in my daily life. There’s a quote from the Dalai Lama that I especially like. “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”

This seems to be Pope Francis’ religion, too. He is obviously a humble and gentle man who is slow to judge and quick to love. Why do followers of Christ find this difficult? Why do followers of Christ make things more complicated than they need to be? I was having a discussion with a friend earlier this week, and she told me about one of her co-workers who was making unkind remarks and behaving with fierce condescension. The person is also a clergy member. I understand that we all make mistakes. I’m not asking for perfection, but if you are representing Jesus, and you are truly connected to a higher power, it would be my hope (and my expectation) that you would feel some type of remorse about behaving badly. When I say “behaving badly,” I’m talking about treating other human beings with unkindness. It would be my hope that my friend’s co-worker would, at some point, say something like, “You know what? I’m really sorry I treated you poorly the other day. That was wrong, and I hope to do better in the future. Will you forgive me?”

As I was watching the news coverage of Pope Francis’ visit to the United States and I was observing the sea of people crowded in tight places with hopes of catching a glimpse of him, a thought kept coming to the front of my mind. “I wonder what this humble man thinks of all these people rushing to see him? I wonder if he hopes they are not worshiping him. I wonder if he feels uncomfortable with all of the fuss?”

I suspect that he does feel somewhat uncomfortable with all of the fuss. I honestly believe Pope Francis is an authentic man of God. The characteristic that makes this crystal clear is his humility. For those who know nothing about spiritual matters, humility is honey. Have you ever stopped to think how ridiculous it looks when a person turns on the TV and sees an angry preacher telling the world that God hates homosexuality, for example? What good does that do?

Why is it hard for those who claim to be followers of Christ to follow in Christ’s footsteps? Jesus was the one who was always hanging out with “the sinners.” His group of guys got in trouble for “working” on the Sabbath (picking grain from the field), and Jesus reminded the religious people that “The Sabbath was made for man. Not man for the Sabbath.” In other words, chill. Don’t get hung up on all these rules that, by the way, you guys are horrible at keeping, and you only use them to sit back and judge and decide who is going to hell and who is not. I’m sure Jesus was wondering why people would waste their time on this type of thing. Why not just be kind and pray and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit?

I think Christians would benefit and would have a huge positive impact on the world if they would follow the example of Jesus Christ and Pope Francis.


Customer Service

Do you wish you could obtain great customer service all the time? Before you answer that question, think about it carefully. What are you willing to do to obtain great customer service? What is it worth to you? A lot? Not much? Are you saying, “Wait a minute. Why should I have to do anything to receive great customer service?” If you are asking this question, you may need to step back and examine your own behavior and your own outlook. Ask yourself why you aren’t willing to do anything to get what you want. It may be that the reason you aren’t willing to do anything to get what you want is because your view of the situation is this:  you view the customer service experience as someone else’s deal. It’s the other person’s job to provide me with great customer service! The end.

Have you ever stopped to think about how this sounds? It sounds a little like this to me:  “I, the almighty customer, deserve to have WHAT I want WHEN I want it and HOW I want it. Serve me!”

If, after examining your thought process, you discover that the above statement falls in line with your belief system, chances are you will not have very many good experiences with customer service. You will continue to go through your life upset and angry because “that waiter was slow,” or “that customer service rep was horrible on the phone,” or “that shoe sales woman was rude and inept.”

One reason you will continue to have bad experiences is because of the junk you are projecting. C’mon. You have to admit that the “serve me…I deserve it” way of thinking is far from humble. Kindness and humility when authentic, draws people to you. We all know people who are negative and brash, and some people, including myself, ignore these people and do what I can to not have to be in their presence.  I would rather not have to be around a negative and whiny person. I would much rather surround myself with people who are chill and are able to “go with the flow.” Negative energy puts negative energy into the atmosphere creating more negativity.

Think about this. Have you ever bothered to ask your server at a restaurant how their day has been? Have you ever bothered to notice how busy the restaurant is and say something like, “Wow! Looks like you’ve got your hands full this evening. Are people treating you okay tonight?” If you have never done this, I highly recommend it.

I work as a trainer/help desk technician for a law firm. Things always go more smoothly when the person who calls me for help doesn’t treat me with disrespect when they call me for help. I will say, most of the people who call me are kind and patient. However, there are times when I see a person’s name come up on my phone and I think, “Ugh. It’s Debbie Downer,” or “Damn. It’s Negative Nancy.” Although I do answer the call because it’s my job, it starts the whole transaction off on a negative path. On the other hand, if I see the name of one of the many pleasant people I’ve helped in the past, I don’t dread their calls.

I work with lots of smart people. But sometimes they don’t behave in smart ways. For example, if I’ve ordered food at a restaurant, and I’ve requested “no mayonnaise” on my club sandwich, and the waiter arrives with a club sandwich with mayonnaise, I have some choices to make. If I’m Negative Nancy, I will probably bitch and complain to the idiot waiter because, God forbid, a mistake was made. How dare they put mayonnaise on my sandwich! Don’t they know who I am? Behaving this way is a complete waste of my energy. There is no good reason to act in this manner. And if your waiter is having a bad day and is also a Negative Nancy, he or she might just want to cough on your sandwich because you are unkind. Again, being rude is just not smart. Are you smart? Do whatever you can to NOT be rude.

As weird as you may think this sounds, I believe there is much truth to it. Hang with me here. It is rare that I have poor customer service. My orders are usually correct. Are you amazed? I hear from people occasionally who claim they always have slow service or they don’t have good luck at restaurants. Have you ever heard of “the law of attraction?” In a nutshell, the law of attraction is the Universe doing its best to give you what it thinks you want. For Negative Nancy, the Universe thinks she wants to be able to bitch and complain about poor service and being mistreated. Therefore, it gives her what it thinks she wants: poor service. This way Negative Nancy can maintain her identity of negativity and she doesn’t have to get out of her comfort zone and do any changing. Think about it. At times, it’s easy and sort of “team building” to be negative about something. I didn’t say it was GOOD team building, but it is an activity that can draw people together against a perceived enemy.

Next time you have to call your IT Help Desk, try this. And it must be genuine. It can’t be fake. Say, “Hi _____________ (whatever the technician’s name is), it’s ____________ (whatever your name is). How’s it going today? You guys slammed?”

Once the technicians answers the question, go ahead with the reason for your call. You might say, “I am having trouble with my document, and I was hoping you might be able to help me,” (or whatever your technical issue happens to be.)

We don’t all see things eye to eye political, religiously, or in many other areas. But we are all part of the same race: the human race. And we are all fighting some type of battle. You will be amazed at what a short pause and an authentic demonstration of care towards another person will do for a situation.

I’d love to hear some of your comments on this post. Cheers.