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Renee Dubeau

A little bird with a big song.

I have a new title… and it totally freaked me out.

Recently, I was asked to speak at a summit called, “Unleashing the Real, Raw Uncensored You”. It’s all about authenticity, and living the life of our dreams.When the organizer reached out to me to ask me to speak, I felt a combination of pure bliss and utter panic.

I mean, this is what I want to do! I want to share my story, and write books, and speak to groups, and help others find the kind of healing and empowerment that has changed my life. The invitation to speak felt like a big step in that direction- that was the bliss part.

The panic set in the moment I read the word “expert” in the speaker’s agreement.

The entire document referred to the speaker {me!} as “the expert”. Each time I read that word, I cringed a bit. Then, all my insecurities came for a visit, and I had no choice but to invite them in for tea and sit with them a while.

In the long list of words I might have used to describe myself, “expert” was not one of them. I wondered for a moment what exactly the organizer saw in me. Was I missing something? I certainly didn’t feel like any “expert”.

I started thinking about my story, and all the things that are important to me. I’ve been writing for a few years about feminism, health, parenting, love, and overcoming all kinds of things I’ve experienced. I’ve written about mental illness, addiction, surviving sexual abuse, eating disorders, suicide— you name it– but I didn’t feel like an authority on any of those topics.

Am I an expert? What qualifies me as an expert? An expert of what?

The theme of the summit is authenticity. It’s learning to be unapologetically yourself. To listen to your intuition, and allow it to guide you to your dreams. I’ve basically dedicated the past five years of my life to this- first to heal myself during a painful divorce, then to share the things I learned in those brutally beautiful years of discovery and growth.

I like to say that I didn’t become a badass bitch because I had an easy life. My strength has come from a lifetime of overcoming. The key to owning my shit was overcoming shame, and all the ways it made me smaller in the world. To fully own my shit, I had to learn how to love and accept myself without limits, restrictions, or conditions. I had to get so good with me, that it didn’t matter what anyone else thought.

Living without fear of judgement, without the need for validation from others is the closest thing to actual freedom I have ever felt. This freedom lends a safety, a comfort to life that nothing else can. When you experience this feeling of being totally at home in your skin, and seeing your scars as part of your perfection, all fear just fades away.

This kind of freedom scares the hell out of people who are not ready to own their shit and stand in their truth. These are the people who recoil when you say that really real thing that’s a little too much for them. These are the people who tell you you’re crazy for chasing that big dream with all your heart. These are the people who will encourage you to conform and play small so they can feel comfortable.

Maybe, that’s my actual area of expertise. Maybe, I’m an expert at making people uncomfortable.

My fascination with the human condition won’t allow me to be filtered, censored, or silenced. I need to know about, and talk about all the things that make us tick– especially the things we’re not suppose to bring up in polite conversation. I like to talk about sex, politics, religion, quantum theory, and my shitty childhood. I like to write about real life things that happened, and how they changed me. I like to talk about our patterns, how we learned them, and why we continue living in them, even when we really want to stop.

I’ve decided to embrace my new title– Renee Dubeau, “Expert”.

Expert lover.real raw

Expert dreamer.

Expert wine and cheese pairer.

Renee Dubeau, the expert comfort zone destroyer, and pattern crusher.

Renee Dubeau, expert sayer of the things no one wants to talk about.

Expert explorer of taboos and stigmas.

Renee Dubeau- expert owner of her shit… Yeah, that’ll do just fine.

Renee Dubeau– Authenticity Expert. That’s me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tinder- A Super Fun Users Guide / Tinder- the Symbolic Fall of Intelligent Society

Tinder is not a new thing.  It’s been around for a few years.  A lot of people still don’t know about it, because those of us who have used it are NOT going to go around telling everyone to check it out.  

Of all the dating sites you could join, I would venture to say that Tinder is the most superficial, which is partially why it is so much fun.  Here’s how it works:

First, you download the free app on your phone and set up a profile.  Your profile will consist of a few photographs, your first name/user name, your age, and a quick little bio about yourself.  The app will pull your stuff from your Facebook profile, but you have the ability to edit everything before sending it out to the world.  I have compiled a list of dos and don’ts for setting up your profile:

·    DO- Use recent photographs of yourself.  If your pictures are you in your high school football uniform, you at your high school prom, your senior portrait, and a random internet meme, we will assume (fairly) that you peaked in high school.

·    DO- Smile!  Show your teeth!  Smiling without showing your teeth signals a lack of confidence.  It also signals that your grill is busted, or that you might have a problem with meth.  Meth mouth is not sexy.

·    D0- Use actual pictures of yourself.  If your profile contains no photos, or photos of random stuff and not you, that’s not cool.  When I see a profile with no pictures of the user, I assume that he is either A-married, B- has meth mouth, or C- doesn’t want to own the fact that he is, in fact, using the most superficial dating site ever created.  I’m not cool with any of that.

·    Do- Write something about yourself!  You get a whole paragraph to tell me who you are.  If your profile is blank, I don’t care if you look like Arc Angel Michael- it’s not happening.  Be creative here.  Do you have any hobbies?  What do you do for fun?  What are you looking for in a potential mate?  What’s important to you?  How good is your grammar and spelling?  These are all important things that girls like me need to know.

·    Do- Keep it positive!  Make a list of things you like- not a list of things you want to avoid.  I can’t tell you how many profiles I have read go something like, “No drama, No games, No smokers, No moms, No fat chicks… this is not sexy, guys.

·    Do NOT- Post five pictures of yourself with dead things that you have killed.  I don’t understand these testosterone induced killing sprees.  If I was looking for a knuckle dragger, I would just go hang out at the Affliction store.  I’m looking for an intelligent date here, not a ruthless killing machine.

·    Do NOT- Post  your motherfucking wedding photos.  I’m sure you looked good in that tuxedo… but damn.  Nothing screams “disrespectful douche bag” like putting your wedding pictures on a dating site.

·    Do NOT- Use text speech to create your profile.  I h8 when ppl r 2 lazy 2 b smrt.

·    Do NOT- Use big general statements like “Just a good guy, looking for a good girl…”  WTF does that even mean?  Try harder.

·    Do NOT- Post a bunch of pictures of your kids.  I’m a proud parent too.  I just don’t feel like my kids belong on a dating site.  I’m glad you’re a proud daddy… but let’s focus on you for a minute, mmk?

·    Do NOT- Post 5 pictures of your toys.  I personally don’t care what kind of car you drive, or if you have a motorcycle or whatever.  (Please, just show me your teeth… are they all there?)

·    Do NOT- Post 5 group pictures so we can’t tell which one is you.  This is not a game of where’s Waldo, and I’ll be really sad if I thought you were your hot friend this whole time.

Once your profile is all polished, you’ve chosen 5 appropriate photographs, and written a little something about yourself, you are ready to play!  You set up if you’re looking for men, women, or both, an age range that interests you, and how far away you would like to look.  Tinder will then give you a pile of potential matches to flip through.  This is where the fun begins!  

Click on the photo to see the person’s profile.  You can scroll through the pictures they have used, keeping in mind that they are putting their best foot forward.  You can read the carefully written bio they have prepared for you.  If you like what you see, swipe right to “like” that person.  If not, swipe left.  

The ones you swipe left on may pop up again.  You can just keep swiping left on them.  

If you swipe right, and that person swipes right on you too, you are a match.  The app will notify you that you have a match.  At that point you can use the chat feature to talk to each other.  You can only chat with matches, and thankfully, you can unmatch yourself if you want to.

So that’s it-that’s the way Tinder is supposed to work.  I have had some very fun Tinder dates, and even a couple short Tinder romances.  But, there is an even more fun way to use this app.  If you’re not doing this- you are simply not living your best life.

The secret to getting the most out of Tinder is this.  When you run across an especially hilarious profile picture, screen shot it, caption it, and send it to your bestie.  

Warning- this is addictive and can cost you hours of productivity at work.  It will also test your bladder control at a level I’ve not experienced with any other dating site.  

Please enjoy my gallery below of some of our all time favorite Tinder profiles.

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I’ve grown restless.

An indescribable sensation consumes my days. It’s something like being trapped between duty and desire. The demands of logic and prudence shouting over the pretty whisper of my gypsy heart.

I’ve become conflicted. Completely certain, and also utterly unclear what it means to be alive, what it is to live. Dissonance rings between utility and divine purpose. It is a crisis of identity. A crisis of will. A crisis that threatens the very breath from my soul.

I’ve grown restless. Held in the mire of responsibility while longing for the frivolity of my dreams. Playing house in a tiny corner of the territory of my citizenship. My greatest fear, that my caged wings will perish before I am permitted to fly.

I’m breaking open. Pulled apart by the opposite forces that rule me. Of heart of head I can choose neither. Love or money may call to me, but my ears await the voice of freedom. I belong to no man, no country. I was born of the sky.

 

Photo: Wiki Commons

I Remember what I Wanted to be when I Grow up.

I believe it was in the third grade. My teacher passed out paper and crayons to the whole class and gave us one simple assignment. We were to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up. It was likely an exercise we did at the beginning of every new school year.

It’s such a huge decision at 8 years old. There were so many possibilities- some I didn’t even know existed yet. At the bottom of the paper was the phrase, “When I grow up, I want to be a ___________.” I didn’t have to carve it in stone, I just had to choose something to write on that line.

I agonized over the decision until finally, I drew a lady behind a desk in a suit. On the line below, I wrote “journalist”. Back then, I thought a journalist was the lady who read the news on the TV, or maybe wrote a column in the news paper like Dear Abby.

This decision is memorable today for two reasons. First, because almost all the girls in my class filled in their line with the word, “cheerleader,” and most of the boys said, “football player”.

There was one little boy who drew a dinosaur skeleton. He said he wanted to be a scientist. I liked that boy. His dinosaur took up two sheets of paper. I could tell he was different, like me.

In a room full of cheerleaders, I was the only girl who chose journalism. It was basically the story of my life. I wasn’t athletic or popular in high school. I was a band geek, a literature nerd, and a social activist. I loved to read, write and create. I was passionate about the environment and animal rights.

Life took many twists and turns for me. I chose the wrong career for a season, and the wrong marriage. In my years as a bored housewife, I started writing again. I started a silly blog to share stories about my family. I never guessed in those early days of Dysfunction Diaries that I would actually become an author.

I recently remembered that drawing from third grade. Somehow my soul knew even then what its purpose is.

I’ve intentionally avoided writing about politics in the past. For some reason, I didn’t feel qualified to speak on such topics. I didn’t want the drama that could come with expressing my unpopular ideas. But, I dipped my toe into that world just before the election. Then, Trump won, and it seemed all I could do it write about it.

This gift that even my 8 year old soul could see. This voice I have been given- I will use it for good. I will channel that feisty teenager who spent her evenings banging out letters to companies about their environmental practices on an old typewriter. Together, we will rise up in the name of every single person who needs a voice right now.

Finally, thirty years later, I remember what I wanted to be when I grow up. Truly, it was the only thing I ever could be.

 

 

 

Photo credit: Pixabay

 

 

How NaNoWriMo helped me get my $hit Together

NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. Fifty thousand words in thirty days. A global event, in which writers compete against their toughest opponents. I’m not talking about other writers, either. I mean our real opponents- like procrastination, resistance, time management, writer’s block, self doubt, fear and distractions of the two legged, four legged, electronic, and imaginary varieties.

I first learned about this hard core writing event from a friend. Her husband participated in November 2015. He began a fiction piece, and abandoned it midway when he got bored with his characters. I was certain that it wasn’t humanly possible to write that many words in a month anyway. He was crazy for even trying, right? Who does that?

His story stayed with me. As November approached, I wondered if I was crazy enough to give it a try. I’ve been trying to write a book for about four years. Of course, I wasn’t going to write that book for my first NaNo. No, you’re supposed to write a new book. So, I started bouncing around different ideas. I have lots of ideas, and lots of books inside me. The challenge isn’t coming up with the idea. The challenge is staying focused enough on one of those ideas to write the damn book and not give up when it feels too hard.

I was discussing one of my book ideas with my boo on the phone one night, when I went to the NaNoWriMo website to take a peek. As we were talking, I decided to go for it. I signed up and made a profile. I didn’t announce my novel, because I didn’t know which one I would be writing. I just made a page for myself to hold space there. I used my little bio and headshots from Elephant Journal. It was a small step, but a step toward throwing myself into a huge goal with a fast deadline. And, why not? Why not write my first book during my first NaNoWriMo? I just needed to make a decision and start planning.

I had almost settled on an idea, when my boo changed the game for me. We were talking through my memoir- the cathartic, heartbreaking, soul liberating piece that I’ve been writing for four years. In four years, I’ve torn it apart and started over three times. In four years, I’ve put it on the shelf and walked away from it more times than I can count. In four years, I couldn’t do what he did for me in one evening.

I started telling him the story, piece by piece, scene by scene. Finally he stopped me and said, “Babe. You’ve got three books here. You’ve got to spread it out and give yourself space to tell the whole story. It’s too big for one book. It’s a trilogy.”

I was floored. It seemed so obvious after he said it. Why didn’t I think of that? It was brilliant, and exactly the shift I needed to get refocused.

With my idea all nailed down for the first book, and my big, scary, fast deadline in sight, it was time to start planning. Except, that’s not really my thing. Usually, I spend a bunch of time outlining, storyboarding, brainstorming, and so on. Then, I start writing in a totally different direction and throw all of it out. I decided not to spend too much time on all the organizing stuff, and instead just start thinking about it.

I did other prep work, like scheduling some time off at my day job, scheduling writing dates with friends,  and stocking the kitchen with wine, coffee, and snacks. I bought a shiny new notebook, rainbow index cars, and kickass pens. Priorities- check.

I joined my local NaNo message boards and started getting connected with other writers. They have writing events all over the city during the month. At my very first one, I met a woman who was writing a screen play. We started talking, and she told me about Scrivener. There was a free trial on the NaNoWriMo website. I downloaded it and started playing with it that night. I’ve never used the words “life changing” to describe a software product until now. Holy $hit. I’ve never been so organized. Seriously, hands down, the most helpful writing tool I’ve ever seen.

Writing real life stuff can be tricky, especially if your story isn’t particularly happy. Usually, I feel like I have to be in the right headspace to tackle certain topics. Or, I wait for inspiration to find me before I start working on something. NaNo showed me that resistance is my way of avoiding the yucky things I don’t want to think about. Having that big word goal and fast deadline forced me to push through, even on the days I didn’t want to, when it made me cry, when my heart hurt, when I felt like this wounds might never heal. I had no choice but to keep writing. And, as long as I kept writing, inspiration kept showing up.

NaNo breaks down your 50k words into daily goals of 1666 words. Naturally, I didn’t do this consistently day by day. I wrote huge chunks of stuff in the beginning and got ahead of my target. Then, the election happened, life happened, work happened, and my vampire hours started catching up with me. There was a brief moment when I didn’t think I would finish. I was behind, and avoiding like crazy all the chaos I didn’t want to look at. But, I had made a commitment to myself. And, I had so many people cheering me on. Failure was not an option. I pushed through all my blocks, and kept writing my little heart out.

I finished my word goal around one o’clock in the morning on November 30th. With twenty-three hours to spare, I did it. I wrote over 50,000 words. My first novel was almost complete. I cried my face off. And, I kept writing.

NaNo was exactly what I needed to push past the fear that was holding me back. It gave me a reason to move my dream of becoming a published author to the top of my to-do list, and not let anything keep me from it. It gave me the opportunity to connect with other writers, try new tools, and come up with new ways to stay focused and keep writing when it gets hard.

Most of all, NaNoWriMo helped me prove to myself that nothing is impossible. Those big scary goals are attainable if we just keep working toward them a little bit every day. Each time we accomplish the next thing that we once believed we couldn’t, we realize our potential in a new way. We let go of the limitations we have imagined for ourselves, and begin to see how truly limitless we are.

With each victory, we become more prepared for the next big challenge, and we believe more completely in our ability to achieve that next impossible goal. When we step into our power this way, nothing can keep us from making our dreams our reality. Nothing can keep us from our dharma, our destiny, or the true desire of our hearts.

Namaste xo

Nee

 

 

 

 

Stop the ride- I’d like to get off now

I am sensitive. I know this about myself. I’ve done my best to insulate myself from the cruelties of life. I don’t watch television. I don’t read the news. When something terrible happens in the world, I don’t run out and consume all the footage, facts, and sound bites. I prefer to keep my brain, and my heart, free from all the suffering of the world.

Unfortunately, it’s just not possible for me to completely avoid current events, politics, and all the ways human beings hurt each other and the world around them.

Here’s the thing- even when I’m not out actively seeking the news, when I’m really trying to stay over here in my zen little lane- the damn news is everywhere.

I used to think that watching the news, reading up on current events, and so on made me a “well informed citizen”. What it actually made me was afraid. Afraid of terrorists, and anthrax, and nuclear weapons. Afraid of the swine flu, and Islam, and bombs people made in their shoes to take on airplanes.

I was afraid of lots of invisible enemies I didn’t even know I had.

Left unchecked, fear can become a powerful force in our lives. When we live in constant fear, we are not able to make choices that reflect our true nature, which is always love.

Fear is the antithesis of love– the two cannot exist in the same space. Fear literally silences the still small voice inside us, disconnecting us from our internal guidance. In that space we are in survival mode everyday- like sitting ducks just waiting for the next bad thing to happen.

If we allow fear to be our ruler for a long period of time, it will eventually turn into anger. The anger comes from frustration, feeling powerless, and the anxiety of always feeling unsafe in our environment.

This anger, eventually will turn to hate– and thanks to the media- there are plenty of readymade enemies for us to direct that hate toward.

This creates a cycle of being afraid because bad things are happening, then more bad things happen because people are afraid.  It’s like a merry-go-round of fear, anger, hate, and unthinkable acts that create more fear.

Without actively seeking the news this week, I know that another black man has lost his life senselessly at the hands of white law enforcement. I know that there is social unrest and rioting in Charlotte, North Carolina. I know that people are hurt, and angry, and afraid.

I saw an article on social media today, that said watching the footage of racial violence is giving people Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). People literally feel as if they are living in a war zone, right here in their own homes.

I’m a middle aged, white, woman. I have a professional job, I drive a little SUV, and even though I am covered in tattoos- the police never bother me. I didn’t have to teach my white son how to survive a routine traffic stop- it never occurs to me that the local police would harm my child. These luxuries are afforded me, not according to merit, but because of my pale complexion.

Even the presidential election this year has turned into a big fear circus. We have to vote for this one, because of that one gets elected it will ruin America– so, go to the polls, hold your nose, and select the steaming pile of horsesh#t that somehow seems slightly less terrible than the other. For what?

You’ll get your little sticker with the stars and stripes on it that says, “I voted”. But, will anything change? What, exactly are we voting for?

How can we stop the violence, the hatred, the ignorance– all the things that come from this perpetual fear?

I wish I had an easy answer. I wish I could just toss a great big handful of hippie dust up in the air and magically make everyone return to their natural state of love.

I wish we could replace anger and hate with acceptance and understanding. I wish every person in America could feel truly free. I wish fear would vanish from our world. I have to believe that this is possible. The alternative is just too sad for me to face.

In a world full of noise, where the loudest voice wins– I will shout love from the rooftops.

No matter how hard the media tries to make me fear my earthly neighbors, I will embrace them as divine, eternal souls sharing this human experience with me. This is the only way to stop the fear machine, and begin to live in freedom and peace with one another.

MLK said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” Fifty years later, this has never been more true. We have to get off the fear machine, and learn to love one another.

 

Photo: Public Domain Photos

Going back to my Roots…

I’m spending the day clicking down memory lane. It’s time for me to gather my little stories and give them to the world in book form. I’m just amazed looking back on Dysfunction Diaries. I had no idea where it would take me when I started writing all those years ago.

Reading these stories, I can clearly see my growth. I can almost pinpoint the exact moment in time when I realized that I am a writer. This blog was more than just a silly hobby. It was the first step in my writing career. It gave me a voice at a time in my life when I didn’t know I had one.

Dysfunction Diaries helped me gain creative confidence. Through the feedback of so many wonderful people, I began to see the talent I have been given for storytelling.

Dysfunction Diaries helped me grow a thick skin. I’ve learned to accept criticism. I’ve learned to speak my truth and honor my story- even when people don’t like it.

Most of all, Dysfunction Diaries opened me up, helped me see myself, my family, my experiences in a new way. I realized that my story was more than just humorous. If told honestly- it’s actually kind of awesome and inspiring.

I’m excited to go back to my roots for a little while and compile these stories- and also write some new ones! I can’t wait to hold my first, published, paper book in my hands!

Namaste xo

Nee

Photo: Preus Museum

Can’t You Write About Something Else?

“What do you want to do, write for MAD Magazine?” my dad asked.  Concern on his brow.  Disapproval in his tone.  “Why can’t you write about something else?”

I shrugged.  I thought it was funny.  My fifth grade teacher, however, refused to publish the political cartoon I had made poking fun at Vice President Quayle for misspelling potatoes (or tomatoes or whatever it was) in our school news paper.  She said it was disrespectful.

That was about the same time I wrote an essay for a contest at school.  We were supposed to write about our family.  I couldn’t wait for my parents to see my winning piece, hanging in the front hallway at school for the whole world to read.  “Although we’re not very close, we still love each other…”  was the only line either of them spoke aloud.  “Why would you write that?”

And so it began.  Censorship.  Criticism.  I didn’t know what I would do with my writing back then.  I just knew that I was good at it.  All of my teachers praised me. I could put together a research paper or book report easily.  And when I got to write about whatever I wanted to write about, that’s when I really shined.  I didn’t know where it would lead, I just knew that it felt good.

In High School, I kept my poetry stashed in a folder in my locker so my parents wouldn’t find it.  My English teacher frequently pulled me aside.  “Are things okay at home?  Should I be worried about you?  You’re not actually suicidal, right?”  I’m sure I scared her to death, but it was my catharsis, my therapy, my art.  The words flowed from me, even back then, and brought a healing to my soul that nothing else could.

Since then, I’ve scribbled in a hundred journals, and on secret sticky notes, and kept volumes of things typed in every electronic device I’ve ever owned.  At some point, about eight years ago, I decided to put myself out there with a silly little blog I called, Dysfunction Diaries.

I will never forget my first public post.  I was so excited to share hilarious stories about my crazy family- ala my ‘Mad Magazine’ roots.  “Renee, this might be the stupidest thing you’ve ever done.” someone commented on Facebook.  “Maybe,” I replied.  “Or, maybe I am on the verge of something genius.”  That is where it all began.  For every criticism, I received at least 10 compliments.  This is still true today.

The tough part about writing creative non-fiction, is that it makes people around me a little itchy sometimes- especially the ones who tend to take themselves too seriously.  Still, it’s the genre I’ve naturally gravitated to since I was a kid.  Truth has always been stranger than fiction in my world.  Although I do write some straight memoir work, mostly it is creative non-fiction- meaning that it’s based on a real story, but dramatized, embellished, exaggerated, and prettied up for comedic and/or dramatic effect.  (It’s art, people.)

I think my toughest critics fail to realize sometimes, that when I’m talking about my crazy family- I’m also talking about myself.  Clearly, I do not take myself at all seriously.  I truly believe that laughter can be the best medicine.  I also believe that there is a time to be humorous, and a time to be serious.  Whether I write humorously or seriously about my past, my family, my divorce, spiritual, political, or social issues- I am putting my heart and soul on the page for the world to read.  It takes a thick skin, and a certain amount of vulnerability to put myself out there for the world, but it is what I love.  I am thrilled to do it.

Whenever I share my stories, I am amazed at the responses.  It’s not just laughter, or the occasional criticism.  More often than not, the reaction I receive is “Oh my God. Me too.”  It’s amazing. By sharing little pieces of myself, and opening the dialogue with my story, people in turn open up and share pieces of themselves with me.  This is why I do what I do.  If my story can help, encourage, support, and/or inspire just one person, I am honored to share it.

So, to answer the question that has followed me from my elementary school days, “Why would you want to write about that?”.  There are so many answers.  Because, it’s true!  Because, it happened to me!  Because, it’s cathartic, healing, and therapeutic for me to write, and for others to read.  Because, I own my sh*t, I’m not afraid to share it, and I do not fear judgement for it.  Because, the story is like a parasite in my brain, and the only way to save myself from it is to put it on the page.  Because, it can be of benefit to others who share my struggles.  Anyone who has dealt with mental illness, abuse of any kind, married the wrong person, had their babies in their teens, grew up poor, has struggled with weight, substance abuse, loss… everyone can relate to something about my story.

Every experience in my life has brought me to this moment, and I have no choice but to take this leap of faith.  I trust and believe that I was given this story, and the talent to tell it, with a purpose.  My intention is never to hurt anyone with my work.  Quite the contrary.  There is no malice in my heart.  This is not to say that the story is always a pretty one.  Rather, it is an honest glimpse inside the heart and soul of me, with the sincerest hope that it will help and inspire everyone who takes time to read it.

I own everything that has happened to me.  It is my privilege, my joy, and my duty to share it.  It is my dharma- my purpose in life- to write, share, and speak my truth to all who can benefit from it. I couldn’t stop if I wanted to. (And, to be clear… I definitely don’t want to…)

 

Why We Are No Longer Welcome At The Sherwin William’s Paint Store…

I inherited a French Bulldog last January.  While I am absolutely thrilled to have him, and love him to pieces just the way he is, I must say he is the least athletic dog I have ever seen.  Thankfully, what he lacks in athleticism, he makes up for in immortality, which is lucky for him because he is prone to accidents. One of these accidents, unfortunately, was my fault.

I woke early one morning this summer and decided to take Bo, the immortal French Bulldog, for a walk.  We live approximately four city blocks from my favorite Juice Bar.  I thought, surely, Bo could make the trip from our apartment to the Juice Bar and back safely.  It was early in the morning, it wasn’t even hot out, and it’s only four blocks away.

The trip there was a piece of cake.  We strolled leisurely along.  Bo stopped to smell every blade of grass and tinkle on every tree all the way there.  When we reached the Juice Bar, I tied Bo to a table on the porch and went inside to get a green smoothie for me, and an ice water for him.  We sat on the porch for a little while enjoying the beautiful day before beginning the journey back home.

It’s important to note that French Bulldogs are genetic anomalies.  They do not exist in nature, and for good reason.  Their cute, little, squishy faces make it impossible for them to breathe.  On a good day, Bo sounds like he could suffocate on his own jowls at any moment.  With physical exertion, like walking four blocks, he sounds like asthmatic Darth Vader with a smoker’s cough.

After about a half a block, Bo started huffing and puffing.  His little tongue flapping in the breeze as he slowed his pace gradually.  No problem, I thought.  We’ll take it slow.  There was plenty of shade, it wasn’t hot to begin with, and any healthy dog should be able to manage the easy trip.

As we neared the half way point, Bo stopped dead in his tracks.  He stood still as a stone on the side walk for a minute, then took a few clumsy little side steps into the grass.  He fell out in the grass, all spread out like a big, furry bullfrog.  Heaving for air, he stayed there in the shade.

After several minutes, Bo’s breathing was still labored.  Passersby stared at him with concern.  Certainly, it was the loud huff puff huff puff huff puff that caught their attention.  Some smiled a silent, “Bless your heart.” as they walked by.  I gently tugged on the leash to encourage Bo to stand up.

“B*tch, I’m dying!” he glared at me.

It was becoming apparent that Bo would not make the journey home.  I needed a plan.

Then, I realized that half a block away there was a Sherwin-Williams Paint Store.  It stood high on the hill at the end of the block.  Like a light house in the storm, I knew that if we could get to it, Bo would be safe.  They were sure to have air conditioning, a cold tile floor, and some cool water for him to drink.  I did the only thing I could do.  I scooped up all 30 pounds of panting bulldog and carried him up the hill.

I breathed a deep sigh of relief upon entering the paint store.  There was, in fact, a large empty area of tile for Bo to lay on.  He spread out in his bullfrog pose again, still breathing loudly.  I left him there, and went to the ladies’ room for some cold, wet paper towels.  When I returned, Bo was dragging himself around with his front legs to find another cold spot on the floor.  He had made a large pool of saliva all around himself, and continued to drool and pant loudly.  I bent down to squeeze the cold water from the towels onto his head.

“It can’t get any worse.” I thought, right before it got even worse.

Bo struggled to stand.  His stubby legs shaking under the weight of his stout little body.  The panting was interrupted by a new sound. His insides churning and pumping, churning and pumping, the horrible sound of “I’m fixing to puke.” A mountain of vomit erupted from my dog.  Bright yellow chunks of half chewed dog food in thick white foam spewed from him forcefully.  The vomit river flowed below him, growing larger and larger until I picked him up and ran out the door with him.

The little girl had come out from behind the register to walk a customer to his car.  She looked at us in disgusted, silent, horror.

I put Bo down in the grass while he collected himself. Come on, Bo.  Get it together.  Fear and guilt washed over me.  You can’t die like this, Bo.  Today’s not the day.

I took my pitiful dog back into the paint store.  Again, I left him on the cold tile floor and went to the rest room.  I returned with the trash can and an entire package of paper towel and began cleaning up the floor.

Bo gave me a side eye, “How’s your green smoothie, stupid?”

I sat down by my angry, disgusting, breathless dog.  As he lay dying on the floor, an old man approached us.  He bent over curiously to examine Bo, and with a raised brow asked, “What kind of dog is that?”

“He’s a French Bulldog.”

“Huh.  It’s too hot for him.” he said, turning on his heel to return to his shopping.

Thank you, sir.  You are a marvel among men.  Tell me, where did you get your detective training?  Your intuition surpasses all others…

“How are we going to get you home, Bo?” I whispered.

Bo used his front legs to spin himself around and turn his back to me.  I contemplated just leaving him there, the grumpy little sh*t.

The old man reappeared when his shopping was finished.  “Do you live close by?”

“Yes, sir.  Two blocks that way,” I pointed.

“Do you need a ride?”

“Are you sure you want this dog in your car?” I asked.  I don’t know that I would have put him in my car at that point.

“It’s my work truck, I don’t mind.”

I disobeyed mother’s number one rule, and accepted a ride home from a stranger.

“I hope he feels better.” said the bewildered little girl behind the counter as we walked out the door.

Please don’t be a serial killer,  I thought as I gave the old man directions and lead him right to my front door.  I thanked him sincerely, and admitted that he may have saved Bo’s life that day.

I put Bo in a cool bath and apologized profusely for nearly killing him for a trip to the Juice Bar to get a green smoothie.  He barely spoke to me the rest of the day, but eventually, he forgave me.

I learned a couple of things that day.  One, GMOs are bad- this applies to all genetically modified organisms- vegetables, flowers, dogs… Nature knows how to make things correctly, and humans can really only jack that up.  Two, there is no green smoothie delicious enough for me to risk the bulldog’s life.  In the future, he will just have to wait at home while I walk down there all by myself.  Three, there are kind strangers everywhere.  They show up just  in time to save the day when you need them.  And finally, just because stores have tile floors and air conditioning, doesn’t mean they want us to bring our dying pets in there for shelter.  The young girl working behind the counter was clearly traumatized by the dramatic scene, and for that I sincerely apologize.  I am certain that my money is no longer good there, and that we are definitely no longer welcome at the Sherwin-Williams Paint Store.

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