Sunday, August 13, 2017

THE SOBRIETY COIN


I recently found a sobriety coin on the sidewalk. I had heard of sobriety coins, but never viewed one up close. When I got in my car I examined the coin in detail. On one side The Serenity Prayer is inscribed.  On the other, the length of sobriety achieved, the phrase “To thine own self be true”, and the words unity, service and recovery. This particular coin signified 18 years of sobriety; 18 years. Wow! We often hear people joke during lent how difficult it is to give up something for 40 days. How could they ever manage 18 years?
As I held the coin in the palm of my hand, I felt a powerful connection with it. I was overcome with deep emotion and pushed to tears. It was not lost on me what this coin signified. Who was this soldier of sobriety that formerly owned this coin? What demons must they have overcome to have reached such a monumental milestone in their recovery? Where they still living in a state of sobriety? I have friends and family members who have battled addiction and are in recovery.  I know all too well, and have experienced the pain, heartbreak and destruction it brings. I’ve also seen the positive effects of sobriety as a result of the hard work of those who work the program and genuinely want to be healthy again.
Sobriety is described as a state of living sober. I was challenged to examine my own life in an attempt to understand, what areas do I need to experience sobriety? Where do I need to gain control over a negative force that serves only to destroy me, and perhaps, at times, those around me? If I were to be completely honest, which is a key step in sobriety, and choose one, it would be fear.
Fear of:
  • failure
  • rejection
  • what the future holds (don’t we all these days?)
  • being hurt by those I love and trust
  • being used and taken advantage of
  • getting my heart broken… again (I could write another 100 blogs on this one)
  • growing old alone 
The list certainly goes on. These unhealthy fears hold me in an intoxicated state, prohibiting clear thinking and experiencing the life I’m truly meant to live. 
The first step in sobriety is admitting you are powerless over your dependence. Yikes, admitting weakness. That alone sparks fear, yet it must be spoken aloud and confronted in order to free myself from its clutches. OK. Here goes… Hello, my name is LoriAnn and I need sobriety from fear. Phew! Step one, check.
An interesting fact about the sobriety coin is that it not only represents the years of sobriety a member achieves, but, it represents AA's commitment to the receiver - not the receivers’ commitment to AA".  This is partly why it’s critical for recoverings to attend meetings.  They need the support of their community. Community is vital for continued sobriety.
I underwent an unexpected set back a few months ago that propelled me into the depths of fear. The fear paralyzed me in such a way that I was rendered unable to get out of bed for several days and spiraled into a debilitating depression. I was fortunate enough to have a community of family and amazing friends to pull me out of the dark chasm I had fallen into. They didn’t just check in on me with trite messages and calls; no, they showed up in fierce and real ways. They were my recovery group, my community, my people. They pushed me hard, daily, to move past my fears. They proved to me that living in fear wouldn’t change the outcome of my situation.  They also challenged me to surrender my independence and allow them to take care of me. 

How many times have you heard a recovering say "I've got this under control this time". These are lies used to perpetuate pushing their support and home team away. I was guilty of the same.  When you've not showered long enough to where even your dog refuses to sleep with you, you've eaten enough Ben & Jerry's to keep them in business for the  next 10 years and you've binged watched Snapped or, worse, The Kardashian's, you certainly don't have this under control.  Vulnerability is not an easy playground for me to hang in. Standing emotionally naked in front of those I have spent years proving I’m a warrior to was daunting.  By shedding the ego, stripping away my insecurities and allowing my “true” community to be there I was able to detox from the fear and pain I was in and experience sobriety from its attempts to hold me hostage. I had to grab that gravy sucking bull called fear by the horns and let it know who was really boss here. I’ve since learned that I can’t stop fear from coming to me, but I do have the power to stop it from getting in me.
To the former owner of the coin I hold not only in my hand, but now in my heart, know it is safe and has had a profound impact on its new owner. I applaud you for the warrior you’ve been these past 18 years and for the fears and battles you’ve bravely faced to reach this milestone.  Stay the course and never stop fighting the good fight, my friend.  I wish you continued recovery and peace on your sobriety journey and to thine own self be true.

All rights reserved. ©2017  LoriAnn Boyer



Saturday, February 04, 2017

Nineteen Years and Counting

Nineteen years ago today I awoke in a haze in a Los Angeles hospital trying desperately to piece together the events of the past 24 hours. Little did I know then that this would be the first day of my journey on the long road of conquering depression and anxiety. I had suffered a severe breakdown the night before. It was terrifying to say the least. I have always been a happy go lucky, upbeat, grounded and lighthearted soul. Depression and anxiety would be the last malady I would have ever expected to be diagnosed with. Yet, here I was frightened and confused and having to grapple with my new reality. A reality that felt much distorted in the moment.

For anyone who has suffered serious bouts of depression or confronted anxiety it can be the most hellish of nightmares. When you are in the depths of a full blown depression you feel as if you’re bound in chains and screaming underwater. You see the light at top of the water and exhaust yourself fighting to pierce through its veil.

The first episode was the most terrifying. You have no idea what is happening to you. You feel like you’ve literally lost your mind. You want to sleep forever and wake up to everything being normal again. The irony is, you’re now living your new normal. There will be hours upon hours of intensive therapy as you work toward healing your broken pieces. There are countless antidepressants you can take to numb yourself, but the reality is no one pill can “cure” your depression. That’s like putting a tiny bandage over the wound of someone who just had open heart surgery and hoping they don’t bleed out. Depression is a hard fought battle that you visit time and again. For me, my faith, family, friends, and insatiable will to fight have been the pillars to my conquering this beast. My prayer mantra is always Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. There were countless nights I fell asleep reciting this mantra and singing the children’s song “Jesus Loves Me” as a way of calming my anxiety.

I have encountered several bouts of depression and anxiety since my first diagnosis. They've come less and less over the years and have gotten easier to conquer but they are grueling nonetheless. I’ve learned to lean deeper into prayer and meditation and reach out to my friends in complete vulnerability to ask their support. My good friend David Grant Wright, while kindly nursing me through an episode last summer, said, “It’s like an old friend who taps you on the shoulder to remind you of their presence. You look back, smile and say, ah, you again. Yes, we've danced this dance before and I’ve got this”. 

For all my fellow warriors facing the ugly beast that is depression, never give up. Never lay down your sword and never retreat. No matter how much pain you are experiencing, how weary you get or how frightened and hopeless you feel. No matter how many tears you’ve cried or how scorching the heat of battle gets, never, ever give up. Fight with every fiber of your being and know that you have what it takes to slay the dragon before you. Know that you are not alone. You stand shoulder to shoulder with other combatants who are fighting the same fight. Know that every wound you take to your armor is so the light can shine through when you finally win the battle. 

For me, depression is one chapter in the many wonderful chapters that are my life story. It weaves its way into other chapters but it is not the entire book and I refuse to let it be the main character.  

I thank God for allowing me to wake up in my own bed this morning healthy, happy and depression free. I thank Him for always having his hand of protection and grace over me, even in my darkest of hours. I thank Him for the scars and learnings along the way. I thank Him for being my strength when I wanted to drop my sword and run. I thank Him for always whispering in my ear that I am not alone. Most importantly, I thank Him for nineteen years of hard fought but sweet victory! 

Monday, December 05, 2016

How Rudolph Got Hired

One of my favorite Christmas movies is the beloved holiday classic, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. The undeniably loveable, wobbly legged reindeer with his shiny red nose. I was three when I was first introduced to Rudolph.  Four decades later and after two decades in the Talent Acquisition industry, I’ve come to look at the story of Rudolph from a whole different lens. 
Rudolph had a unique skill set that set him apart from his peers.  A talent that was not initially recognized as valuable, yet would become vital to saving Christmas. His shiny red nose.  When Rudolph is seen participating in the annual reindeer games, Comet is aghast by the presence of his illuminating nose and dons him unfit for duty.  Despite Rudolph being able to fly higher than any of the other reindeer during tryouts.  In Comet's mind, Rudolph did not fit the traditional job description.
Too often I’ve seen hiring managers make the same mistake. They hire in a vacuum.  They refuse to look at candidates who deviate even a fraction from the required skills of a job description.  Today’s business world is changing at a relentless frenetic pace.  This is largely contributed to the constant explosion of new technology, digital transformation, data and analytics and the like.  We cannot go to market with such linear thinking about the talent we need to get the job done.  If we want to hire innovative, creative talent we need to think more innovatively and creatively when assessing talent.  We need to look more at the individual sitting across from us and less at the job description.  Gone are the days of traditional hiring practices.  Granted candidates should meet the basic requirements of a role and honor your cultural and core values; however we should not be quick to eliminate those that are risk takers, quirky, forward thinkers or who don’t fit into the status quo mold.  We should challenge ourselves to seek out ways they could add value to our organizations. 
If Albert Einstein were alive today, I guarantee there would be companies that would immediately reject his candidacy. He was the epitome of quirky. He was what left of center calls left of center, yet he was one of the greatest minds and influencers of the 20th century.  To hire such talent we need to look beyond the resume and stale job requirements.
Like many organization who fail to see potential risk, no one at the North Pole foresaw the blinding snow storm that took place on Christmas Eve.  I do find it surprising they were void of a contingency plan given it was the North Pole and snow was, well, their thing.  They needed an immediate creative solution.  Rudolph, for all intends and purposes, did not fit the traditional job description yet, in the end, his quirky, innovative skill set, that initially no one saw the value in, became the solution to saving Christmas that year. 
One of my favorite moments in the movie is when Santa readies the sleigh for take-off and asks, “Are you ready, Rudolph” and Rudolph enthusiastically replies “READY SANTA”.  He had always been ready even though the North Pole wasn't ready for him.  He was very much ahead of his time.  His passion, drive, determination and unusual skills propelled him from being rejected and considered unfit for duty to leading the pack and being the hero.
Don’t make the same mistakes Rudolph’s leadership and hiring team made.  Hire people who will best represent the direction your company is heading and are cutting edge thinkers and creative problem solvers.  Hire people smarter than you.  Hire people who will challenge you to approach your business from a whole new paradigm.  Hire the unicorn of an individual who is highly capable of getting the work done, but makes you scratch your head a little.  They just might end up saving your company one day!


©2016 LoriAnn Boyer All Rights Reserved


 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Surrendering to Transformation


When I embarked on 2016, I determined that this would be a year of transition and shaking things up. I set goals to improve on the professional, personal, physical and spiritual aspects of my life.  My pastor once said, “If you’re not doing something with your life that shakes it up and scares you a little (in a good way), then you’re not doing something with your life”.  It was time to shake things up and venture into some scary, and, at times, daunting territory and push toward a greater purpose. 
 
On the professional side, although I was much endeared to the people I worked with at my former company, my role was no longer challenging or satisfying and the opportunity for upward mobility was at least two years down the road.  My job search led me to my current firm, where the first few months I felt like Alice in Wonderland when she fell down the rabbit hole. When you move from one job to another, everything in your professional universe changes. 
I swore I’d never work in downtown Los Angeles again and here I was snaking through its gritty streets with its onslaught of rude drivers, one ways, constant construction and/or streets being closed due to filming.  The latter a constant in LA.  I went from a company of 200 employees onsite to about 5-10 people in the office on any given day.  I had new leaders to become acquainted and partner with, new systems and processes to learn, a new team of recruiters to assess, develop and ensure they were providing value to the organization, begin delivering results, and, most importantly, know where all the Starbucks within in a three block radius were located.  As the weeks wore on I began to build new professional relationships, experienced a few quick wins and started to gain my stride, and was landing on a deeper confirmation that this was truly the right role and place for me. 
On the dating side, earlier this year I made a choice to come off of all online dating and take a much needed break.  I had experienced one too many shallow, go nowhere relationships and/or scary encounters.  I was becoming more and more jaded and knew it was time to get out from this cornucopia of broken men who, in theory, wanted to find their soul mate, but in reality were just looking for options.  If I had a dollar for every commitment-phobe guy I’ve met, I could retire today.  Where are all the “real men” with good godly values, are respectful, who know how to treat a lady like a lady and are not afraid to truly pursue a girl?  Really, where are these unicorns being held? I even asked Siri and she replied with raucous laughter.  Alright, alright… I digress.
The thought of being alone is never comforting.  There are nights I’ve woken up in tears over the thought of it.  We are not designed to be alone; however, I wanted to use this time to deepen my spiritual walk as well as get healthier physically and emotionally.
 
As a result, my prayer and meditation practices became stronger than ever.  Although I’ve always done daily devotionals and was listening to online sermons/teachings, I recently starting going back to church, after a three year hiatus, thanks to God’s pressing on my heart and reconnecting with a dear friend.  My spiritual walk is stronger than it's ever been and this would never have been possible if I hadn’t taken the time to bring it back to the forefront of my life.
 
I also got back to the gym and have lost another 15 lbs.  I’m loving the reflection I see in the mirror these days and am working towards getting in even better shape. 
I pushed through a serious depressive episode this summer, which in hindsight, I believe was my mind and soul taking out the garbage with all of the changes I was undergoing.  I am more grounded emotionally, physically and spiritually than I have been in a long time.
I also took stock of my friendships and those in my inner circle.  It’s not until you take the time to quiet the chatter in your life that you realize the need to do some friendship housecleaning.  I had unknowingly been in relationships that were very unhealthy, controlling, toxic and just outright hurtful.  In my desire to be needed or not be alone, I had allowed these relationships and their bad behaviors to manifest themselves in very unhealthy ways. By drawing a line in the sand and letting go of the wrong relationships I was able to make room for right ones to occupy the space they were cluttering up.  I have been beautifully surprised by those whom I now call friend and are part of my inner circle. 
 
This year of transition and pushing myself outside of my comfort zone has been rewarding in insurmountable ways.  There have been moments of tremendous fear and anxiety along the way coupled with great victory through the milestones I was able to reach.  I’m astonished at how amazingly adaptable we humans are when we finally resolve ourselves to the change.  We often distress or bristle during times of great transition; even though we know it’s exactly the direction we should be heading in.  Sometimes we make excuses as to why it’s not good for us or will subconsciously look for a way out. 
I often equate change to wearing a new pair of moccasins.  You’re drawn in by their newness, yet don’t feel their comfort at first.  They sometimes blister making each new step a little awkward and painful.  You want to reach for your old pair because they were familiar and made you feel good when you put them on; but they are tattered and torn and no longer serve their original purpose.  You are now forced to be temporarily uncomfortable in order to move forward.  Then something beautiful happens.  With each step you take forward, you begin to adapt and surrender to the change, and you realize the discomfort was meant to be in order to push you further down the path to your true potential.
 
As I reflect back over this past year, I’m thankful for all of the beautiful disruptions I had the courage to surrender to.  They, in turn, pointed me to the wonderfully rewarding and fulfilling life I am now living and have open the door to the untold possibilities before me. Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.  As such, I can hardly wait to see where 2017 leads!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

My Giving Tree

My early mornings and evenings are spent outside on my patio in prayer and meditation. I sit under this beautiful tree that has become the centerpiece of my quiet time. Typically, I close my eyes to pray and mediate; however, tonight was different.  As I tried to close my eyes, I was struck by the absolute exquisiteness of this tree that has been my silent prayer companion over the years. She has heard them all and seen me at my most vulnerable. The prayers of thanksgiving for all the wonderful blessings in my life. Prayers of love and protection over my family and friends. She’s heard the many tears I’ve shed when my heart was broken or I was pushing through a painful trial. And, been witness to the countless hours of meditation as I seek direction in my life and work toward always refining myself. 
Tonight, I became fully aware of her powerful presence. We are similar, she and I.  We are strongly rooted, adaptable, unwavering and resilient and have weathered many a storm. If a part of us breaks, we heal and rejuvenate ourselves. We represent a life force, steadfast reliability and a place of solitude. 

As I pray and mediate tonight, I do so with deep gratitude for the beauty in front of me.  For the symbolic and sentimental nature this beautiful tree brings. God is always in the details, but sometimes we need to have our eyes truly open to wholly appreciate and see them. Tonight was one such night!

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

First Steps

I remember the day my son took his first steps.  I was sitting on the floor in our family room across from my then mother-in-law as we passed a helium balloon back and forth.  Enamored by the balloon and determined to take hold of it, my son promptly pushed himself up on his feet and attempted to walk toward the latex sphere.  Fear of falling was not even a remote option because he had his eye on the prize of procuring the balloon.  Then, without realizing he was taking, literally, one of the first fundamental steps of his life, he began to master walking.  This was the genesis of many wonderful milestones my son and I would share. 
 
I recently had that transformational moment parents of young adults inevitably go through.  That moment when you realize they’ve crossed the threshold into adulthood and are now the captains of their destiny.  It’s an emotionally complicated and bittersweet stage in life.  A few weeks ago, Stephen and I were sitting out on our patio.  This has become our new family time.  It’s a time I’ve come to cherish at the end of each day.  We have dinner and download and regale the day to other.   As my son was conversing, I realized that sitting before me was no longer the little boy with skinned knees and a love for all things Legos and Thomas the Tank Engine, but rather the man I had so earnestly wanted to raise.  He had recently started driving and was working three summer internships in addition to freelancing as a sound engineer on independent films.  He was earning and managing his own money, taking meetings with producers, directing and producing his own movies, dealing with the hellish nightmare that is LA traffic and still found time to make his bed every day.  All very grown up responsibilities and I could not be more proud of him.
 
From the very second  I knew I was going to have a baby until this moment, I have had my arms around him; guiding, loving, teaching, protecting and preparing him for his future.  In what seemed like a cruel flash of time, the day has come when I have to unlock my hold around him and let him stand on his own.  Much like the day he took his first steps and I stood behind him as he wobbled across the room, ready to catch him should he fall, only to watch with joy as he mastered his stride.  I now stand here as I watch with elation my son not just take his first steps into adulthood, but propel at lightning speed into it.  
 
The tables have now turned and I’m taking my first steps.  My first steps in letting go.  My first steps as the parent of an adult.  My first steps in moving forward with my life.  It’s time for me to do more grown up things.  To travel more, learn a new language, settle down with an amazingly wonderful guy and be more adventurous, spontaneous and maybe even a little daring.  I’ll be the first to admit I’ve wobbled a bit, but I too am mastering my stride.  It’s painfully hard not to feel a loss of purpose as I navigate this emotional but necessary transition and grapple with feeling my role in his life slowly diminishing as he has grown and flown. 
 
As I now step back and watch my son thrust toward his future, I’m comforted in knowing I’ve more than equipped him for the journey.  And much like I did at his age, he’ll look back from time to time for reassurance and support, which I’ll gladly and gently provide, only to have him then turn and steady his gaze ahead toward his destiny.  In the meantime, my arms have been opened to release him but, like any good mama, they are always here ready and waiting to hug him.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Turning 50

This past weekend, with cherished friends and loved ones around, I celebrated a milestone birthday of turning fifty.  Even saying the phrase “I’m fifty” makes me shake my head in disbelief.  Where did this fifty come from?  I don’t feel fifty and I’d like to humbly (but proudly) believe I don’t look it.  Back when I was the tender age of ten, fifty seemed like an eternity away.  Well, it appears that eternity, in all of its matured glory, has finally arrived. 
 
Amidst all of the jokes of now being old enough to be an official member of AARP and my friends believing I need to start wearing Depends diapers, I’m actually quite proud to have reached this turning point in my life.  “Over the hill” is a comedic expression that is synonymous with reaching this milestone.  Let me assure you, I am anything but over the hill.  I stand firmly at the center of not just the hill, but the mountain top, stoic and resilient and have a full awareness and appreciation of all that is around me.  I certainly don’t anticipate treading down the slope anytime too soon.  Granted I am now officially closer to death than birth, but I still have an ambitious list of accomplishments yet to be consummated.
 
I had recently been reflecting back to when I turned forty.  It was the eve before my birthday and I was sitting on the edge of my bed watching the clock round to midnight.  The second the clock struck twelve, an overwhelming excitement washed over me.  I, me, LoriAnn was now FORTY.  It was a rite of passage, if you will.  I was now part of this special forty and over club.  I felt I had finally come into my own.  But, all too soon, my excitement turned to fear.  I had been divorced barely a year and was still healing from the pain and effects that such a life event brings.  I had fear of how I was going to raise my son, then only 7 years old; with as little collateral damage and need for therapy as possible.  Fear of how I was going to make ends meet.  Fear of how I was going to navigate the shark infested uncharted waters before me. And, sadly, but most certainly, fear of being alone. 
 
If I could go back today and sit with that girl I would take her by the shoulders, look her squarely in the eyes and tell her that she’s going to be just fine.  She’s going to be fine because unbeknownst to her she’s got a lot of fight in her.  A strength and courageousness she will exude repeatedly over the next ten years for the many unforeseen challenges she will face.  She will slay one dragon after the other and emerge stronger with each win.  She will lose some battles as well but the lessons learned and wounds incurred will be invaluable and key in continuing to build her fortitude and character.   

More importantly, she will be fine because of the many wonderful people she will have in her life who will share in her journey.  They will celebrate her wins and successes and comfort in the losses and painful moments.  They will laugh hard together and cry hard together.  They will call her on her missteps because they value the friendship and that’s how she will learn to be a better person.  They will carry her at times and she will need to let them (still a tough one for her but she’s getting there).  They will love deeply, beautifully and unconditionally and she will evolve in an insurmountable magnitude for having them by her side.   
 
As I now embark on my fifties I do so with unfettered passion.  The fear I had in my forties has long since dissipated. The beauty of being older is that I’m also wiser.  Wise enough to know that everything to this point was the ramp up to what my true potential, gifts and accomplishments that are yet to be.  I have bigger mountains I want to climb.  I may smell like Ben Gay when I reach the top of them, but reach them I will. This momentous birthday is my threshold to new opportunities and a stronger fulfillment in life. 
 
I look to the well-trod path behind me and all the love, joy, pain and experiences I was blessed to have along the way and whisper a prayer of thanks for each encounter.  I now point my compass to the road ahead and take my first steps on this new direction of my journey.  An adventure of both continued friendships and new companions, untold possibilities and undiscovered horizons that await.  I’m of the belief that the best is yet to come and that fifty is, and will be, truly fabulous!