Loving the Unlovable: Why Addiction is a Disease, Not a Crime

I want to preface this post by saying I have never pondered as long & hard about a post as I have about this one.  I’ve been mentally composing it for three days now.  I awoke at 2:30 this morning & knew I’d never have any peace until I wrote this.  Eventually I got up at 4:00 am & started writing it.  If this post offends anyone, I’m sorry but I’m not sorry.  This is too important of a subject to ignore or discuss with useless euphemisms.

This Saturday I found out the painful news that a classmate of mine from high school died.  Out of respect for his family & many friends, I will simply call him John.  His death was shocking news for several reasons, the most obvious of course being that he was young & presumably healthy.  However, it was even more shocking for me because this past Wednesday John had sent me a link to a new band he’d discovered on YouTube which he thought I’d appreciate & asked for my thoughts on the song.  As it turned out, I got busy with work & other obligations & didn’t get a chance to listen to the song . . . Furthermore, on Friday night I sent John an article about one of our mutual favorite bands, Asking Alexandria.  I had just read that the band’s lead singer (Denis Stoff) had abandoned them & that their previous frontman (Danny Worsnop) was rejoining the band, at least for their upcoming tour.  Because I knew John was such a huge fan of this band, I was sure he’d be interested to hear the news, so I sent him the link.  He responded within a few minutes, saying how excited he was to hear that Worsnop was back in the band & recommending that I listen to their debut album & let him know my thoughts on it.  Within 12 hours of that conversation, John was dead . . . And now I will never be able to share my thoughts with him on any of this music because he is gone forever . . . asking alexandria logo

No one is coming out & saying exactly what caused John’s death, but a quick Google search revealed to me that John had an addiction problem spanning at least the past two years about which I knew absolutely nothing.  Due to that & the fact that no one is specifying a cause of death, I am highly suspicious that drugs were involved which brings me to the point of today’s post.addiction-pain

Our country has a serious drug problem.  And I don’t just mean the number of people who use drugs.  Obviously that is a problem.  But what I really want to talk about is the way our country treats addiction & those who suffer from it.  We’ve been fighting the “war on drugs” for decades now & anyone with the least bit of common sense can tell you that it isn’t working.  You don’t need to be a scholar on this subject to know that prescription drug abuse (largely of opiates/narcotics, aka pain pills) & subsequently heroin has skyrocketed in this country in just the past decade.  With this of course comes a huge increase in deaths related to drug abuse, as heroin is arguably the most deadly & addictive drug known to man.  In fact, for the first time, more people have died in Virginia (my home state) of opioid/heroin overdose than from car accidents in the past year.heroin-death-stats

With all of this in mind, I think it’s high time we asked ourselves if the way we’re “treating” addiction in this country is working.  The obvious answer is no.  Criminalization & imprisonment for drug use are CLEARLY not solving the problem.  It didn’t work for John, & it will never work for anyone because addiction is a DISEASE.  Is it a (largely) self-imposed disease?  Absolutely.  (There is some evidence that suggests a genetic predisposition towards addiction.)  But I don’t see anyone arguing that people with lung cancer or COPD should be incarcerated or denied medical treatment even though their disease is almost always related to smoking, an activity in which they obviously CHOSE to engage.  Nor do I hear anyone arguing that type 2 diabetics should be punished for (largely) causing their own disease due to poor diet & lifestyle.war-on-drugs

The difference of course is that addicts are one of the last groups of people on whom it is safe to look down, to despise.  Frankly we all enjoy the feeling of being better than somebody.  It’s just human nature.  But it is no longer societally acceptable to look down on women, gays, lesbians, Muslims, Jews, Italians, blacks, etc (& rightfully so), yet drug users are still safe to despise.  I am guilty of this myself, as a nurse & just as a person.  How many times we have all thrown around the work “junkie” without stopping to think about the HUMAN BEING behind that word?  As Russell Brand, a reformed heroin addict, has stated so eloquently,“It is difficult to feel sympathy for these people.  It is difficult to regard some bawdy drunk & see them as sick & powerless.  It is difficult to suffer the selfishness of a drug addict who will lie to you & steal from you & forgive them & offer them help.  Can there be any other disease that renders its victims so unappealing?  Would Great Ormond Street [a children’s hospital in London, think St. Jude’s] be so attractive a cause if its beds were riddled with obnoxious little criminals that had ‘brought it on themselves?'”  As my mom, a teacher, has often observed, it is usually the folks who are most unlovable who need love the most.dark-days

If you really want to understand the pain & desperation that lies behind addiction, please consider reading any or all of the following books:

  • Dark Days by Randy Blythe (recovered alcoholic & lead singer of the Richmond, VA-based metal band lamb of god)
  • Seven Deadly Sins by Corey Taylor (recovered alcoholic/drug addict & lead singer of both Slipknot & Stone Sour)
  • My Booky Wook My Booky Wook 2 by Russell Brand (recovered heroin addict & comedian/actor)
  • Death Punch’d by Jeremy Spencer (recovered alcoholic/cocaine addict & drummer for Five Finger Death Punch)
  • Indie Spiritualist by Chris Grosso (recovered alcoholic/drug addict & philosopher)

I don’t think anyone with a shred of decency could read any of these books & not find themselves feeling a great deal more compassion for those who succumb to the horrors of drug abuse & addiction.  In order to provide a brief insight into the minds of these men who have so courageously conquered addiction, please peruse the following quotes:russell-brand-quote-drug

  • “The mentality & behavior of drug addicts & alcoholics is wholly irrational until you understand that they are completely powerless over their addiction & unless they have structured help, they have no hope.” ~ Russell Brand
  • “The priority of any addict is to anaesthetise the pain of living, to ease the passage of day with some purchased relief.” ~ Russell Brand
  • “Eckhart Tolle says, ‘Addiction begins with pain & ends with pain,’ meaning that pain is behind compulsive behavior. Eleven years clean, I still feel the urge to medicate pain. Whenever events don’t go my way, my first instinct is to annul the feeling, to look for an external resource to solve the problem. The second part of Eckhart’s edict kicks in here—addiction ‘ends with pain.’ Medication of any kind offers only a temporary solution; it always leads back to pain & becomes therefore predictably cyclical.” ~ Russell Brand
  • “What I wanted was to be in love, to have a companion to look after me- someone to replace my mother.  But before I could persuade anyone to fulfill that function, I found drugs.” ~ Russell Brand
  • “Once I finally got a bit of success, it became clear that my internal deficit of sadness & longing would not really be sated by the things I’d always thought would save me.  This realization made me turn to hard drugs– specifically heroin- in an even more concerted way than I ever had before.” ~ Russell Brand
  • Heroin is a greedy drug, robbing you by increments first of your clothing, then of your skin; finally when it comes for your life it must be a relief.  They’re not present, those people: if you talk to them, they just look beyond you, they’re not really there.  That’s why the invisibility of the homeless scoring drugs . . . is almost by mutual consent: they don’t want to be seen, & no one wants to see them.” ~ Russell Brandaddiction-quote
  • “Then I could lean back & everything was suddenly all relaxing & beautiful.  It was at this point that I knew that I was an addict, though the pain of that realization was greatly mitigated by the impact of the heroin: that’s how it gets you.” ~ Russell Brand
  • “Perhaps heroin had, similarly, held me in times of trouble.  The prospect of relinquishing it was terrifying.  The only reason I did so was because I was more afraid of what was going to happen to me if I didn’t . . . at this juncture I was finally willing to do whatever it was going to take to bring that about- up to & including giving up drugs.  From that moment on, I really did take things, in the textbook rehab fashion, one day at a time.” ~ Russell Brand
  • “…but if we’re really sick & tired of being sick & tired, well, then some shit has got to change.  Other people can (& should) most definitely help us through this difficult process, but ultimately it’s up to us to decide to even begin making the change in the first place.” ~ Chris Grosso
  • “All I wanted to do was find the next party so I could forget & feel alive . . . When you try to describe addiction, I guess there is no better word than gluttony.” ~ Corey Taylor
  • Just because we might act like assholes sometimes does not mean we are defined as assholes forever.” ~ Corey Taylor
  • “For many, many years, my life as an active alcoholic was just like today.  I was surrounded by life, things, & people that could have brought me great joy, grand opportunities I wasted because I sat in a haze of alcohol, drugs, & sadness.  I simply would not & could not get up & walk a few blocks through the fog back to freedom & life.” ~ Randy Blytheaddiction-monster
  • “If you are unlucky enough to have an active alcoholic or drug addict in your life, you probably don’t understand why [they] wil not just stop drinking . . . Or doing whatever substance it is they are doing that is killing them & killing you, that has changed them into this awful person, that makes them do such strange, self-destructive things.  I can tell you why- they are insane . . . And their addiction’s need for drink &/or drugs has twisted their perceptions to the point where they do not even know that they are unhinged, that the problem (if they even recognize that they have one) is their addiction.  They may even pay it lip service, but they don’t truly know yet, know it in their soul- because if they knew, they would stop.” ~ Randy Blythe
  • “…not all drug addicts are horrible human beings.  Most of them just need help breaking the chains of their addiction, not a prison sentence . . . most drug addicts I have known started off as decent, normal citizens, only becoming involved in a life of crime after their addiction led them down that dark path . . . addiction will almost always eventually lead an otherwise sensible person into committing actions that would horrify them if they were not caught in its vicious grip.” ~ Randy Blythe
  • “I had become a mere receptacle for alcohol, a garbage can to throw booze & drugs into.  Now I was empty, just like those bottles, & just like those bottles, all it would take to bring me crashing down was one slight nudge . . . I was desperately unhappy.  It was time to try something else, or I would die . . . I was terrified, empty, & heartbroken; but I dug in & did my job.  That was my first day sober. I haven’t had a drink since.” ~ Randy Blythe
  • In the end alcoholism & drug addiction are almost always horribly lonesome repeat journeys to drink at the wells of despair, & the alcoholic or drug addict often feels as if they are the only person on earth who has experienced & understands their particular pain . . . This is, of course, an illusion; a merciless trick that the substance-fueled & monstrously inflated ego plays on the drunk or junkie.  No one is unique in their addiction.” ~ Randy Blythe
  • “…but somewhere along the way I had allowed myself to get lost in a haze of alcohol.  When I woke up one morning in Brisbane, Australia & realized that no matter how far I tried to run into a bottle, I would always carry my problems with me . . . I gave up the race.  I began to face my problems, to try as hard as I could to live in a manner I could be proud of, & to take responsibility for my own actions & life.  There is no escape.  So I simply stopped running. That was the change in me, that was the big ‘aha!’ moment in my life.” ~ Randy Blythetolle-quote-addiction

If you’re looking for evidence that the decriminalization of drugs, even “hard drugs” like heroin, can actually be effective in reducing drug use & deaths, look no further than Portugal.  Besides, it just seems like common sense to me that as long as drugs are illegal, there will never be adequate rehab facilities & resources to help those suffering from addiction because, after all, who wants to help criminals?  And as long as people are regarded as criminals for being or having been addicts, that criminal history will continue to cripple them for the remainder of their lives.  Is it any wonder that so many of these people never rise above the cycle of negativity when our society is constructed such that they can’t even qualify for a decent job?  As Randy Blythe noted, “It is no wonder to me, even after doing such a short amount of time, that so many men & women released from prisons cannot function in normal society anymore & wind up back behind bars again & again.  Being locked up causes a profound psychic shift to occur.”


Just in case it didn’t set the first time, I’ll share this one again.

To those who may say I am sullying John’s name by writing this post when I have no concrete evidence that his death was actually linked to his addiction, my thoughts are that if John were still here he’d be begging us to talk about this.  Whether his addiction led to his death or not, it is obvious to me that it did have a massive negative impact on his life & on those who loved him.  Ignoring the issue isn’t fixing the problem.  As is often the case in life, the subjects that are the hardest to talk about are the ones we most need to discuss.  I didn’t know John well but from the testimony of those who did, it’s obvious he was a kind-hearted person who loved to serve others.  Thus I believe he would want his death to be an inspiration to those he left behind to open their hearts & minds to those suffering from addiction, to see the human being behind the “junkie” or the “druggie” who can be so easy to dismiss when caught in the throes of addiction.  Until we can learn to see the suffering & the pain behind addiction, until we can learn to see these people as PEOPLE, not criminals, we will only continue to have more Johns & more broken hearts left in the wake of tragic & untimely deaths such as his.

Because I am such a staunch believer in the power of music, I feel compelled to share this song by Brandi Carlile which was written from the perspective of a drug addict begging for forgiveness from those they’ve hurt.  Every time I take care of a drug addict I try to remind myself of this song because its lyrics are so powerful & help to remind me of the person behind the addiction.  Here’s a sample of those lyrics:

Tell me, did I go on a tangent?
Did I lie through my teeth?
Did I cause you to stumble on your feet?
Did I bring shame on my family?
Did it show when I was weak?
Whatever you’ve seen, that wasn’t me
That wasn’t me, oh that wasn’t me

But I want you to know that you’ll never be alone
I wanna believe, do I make myself a blessing to everyone I meet?
When you fall I will get you on your feet
Do I spend time with my family?
Did it show when I was weak?
When that’s what you’ve seen, that will be me
That will be me, that will be me
That will be me

In conclusion & in honor of John, I’d like to share the links to a few songs which I’ve found of comfort over the past few days:

Pregnancy Update: Am I Normal or Losing My Mind?

I have no idea how to eloquently begin this blog post, so I’m just going to dive in & hope for the best . . . One question I’ve been asked a lot since becoming pregnant is “How are you decorating the nursery?”  Each time my answer is “I’m not.”  Seriously, y’all, it took me MONTHS of living in our house to even begin to decorate our house & even now, three and a half years later, there is no cohesive theme to our decorations, unless you count various scattered stuffed animals as a theme.  I know it probably makes me boring but decorating has just never interested me.  If anything I find it stressful.  I enjoy seeing other people’s decorated houses or nurseries but I have no interest in doing the same for my own.  And let’s be honest here: for whom do parents really decorate the nursery, the baby or themselves?  The answer has to be themselves because there is no rational reason to believe that a baby is going to notice or care whether his or her nursery is decorated or not.  By the time they’re old enough to notice it or form an opinion about it, they’ll probably want it redone to match their own particular taste.  And all of that sounds like entirely too much work to me!  baby-cartoon

On another note, is it normal that instead of being really excited about picking out baby gear I just find most of it stressful & annoying?  I’ve never been an indecisive person, but staring at literally dozens or even hundreds of different options for every baby thing known to man can be more than a little overwhelming.  Thank goodness for my college roommate, dear friend that she is, who helped me create our baby registries or else they’d probably still not be done.  Creating the registries with her guidance was fun but otherwise I really don’t know how it would have gotten done.  Seriously. baby-cartoon-2

I hear/read all the time about women who struggle not to buy every baby item they see but that has not been a problem for me.  I’ve only bought a handful of things myself, most of which were from a neighbor who was selling baby girl clothes for $1 each which was entirely too good of a deal to pass up, as well as a changing table/pad with attached chest of drawers which I found on Craigslist.  Part me of wonders if this means that I’m not as attached to my baby as I should be.  Or maybe I’m just being practical as always & realizing that having a bunch of STUFF won’t make me any more prepared to be a mom, no matter how much it might be nice to think it would.papparazzi-cartoon-baby

I’m sure I’ll start buying more baby gear once we have our shower in a few weeks & I can say more definitively what we actually need to buy.  I’m excited of course for our shower but at the same time I’m nervous about it.  I know that must sound ridiculous but I do not enjoy being the center of attention.  I felt the same way about my bridal shower five years ago.  Am I crazy or are there other moms to be who feel this way?

"Dear, when was the last time you just winged it?"

I think I’ll be doing a lot of “winging it.”

People have also asked me if I’ve read various parenting books & magazines.  The answer is no.  Considering my OCD personality traits (& my husband’s as well), maybe it is odd that I/we haven’t jumped into reading all kinds of parenting books but we haven’t.  There are plenty of things about parenthood that scare me & that I know will not be easy, but at the same time I feel like a lot of things will come to us intuitively.  If they don’t, we can start researching things, but in the meantime I really don’t feel like filling my head with other people’s opinions on how to raise our child.  Is that being selfish or proud or too self-assured?  Or even lazy?  I have no idea.  blankie baby

I’m trying to remind myself that when we got married I was equally ambivalent about creating a wedding registry & plenty of other aspects of wedding planning (the only things I really cared about were my dress, the color of the bridesmaid dresses, the reception location, & most importantly THE GROOM).  Yet our wedding turned out beautifully & more importantly we’ve been happily married for five years now.  People told me many times that I was the most relaxed bride they’d ever met, & while I’m sure I’m NOT the most relaxed mom-to-be, maybe not being too caught up in some of the “pregnancy hype” isn’t such a bad thing either?ambivalence-quote

I didn’t know how to begin this post, & I’m equally unsure how to end it.  I guess I’d just like some reassurance from other moms (or dads!!) out there that I’m not losing my mind & that at least some of the things I’m feeling are normal (or at least okay) on some end of the spectrum.

The Anxiety Monster, Pregnancy Edition

Those of you who know me in real life may have noticed that I’ve been a bit more anxious the past few weeks.  Between getting a bad cold in early August & then developing intermittent allergies that refuse to go away ever since then, some rough shifts at work (including violent patients & multiple deaths), the anniversary of my grandfather’s death last year, & just the general stress of pregnancy, my mind has been more than a little over-stimulated the past few weeks.  I guess my body has been over-stimulated too because I’m sick once again, this time with a viral throat infection that has left me feeling like I have knives in my throat (which is extra fun with acid reflux on top of it), congested, & having intermittent coughing spells if I try to talk for more than about 30 seconds at a time.  Oh yeah, my body hurts all over & I’ve had a mild fever too.  And my normal pregnancy fatigue has been multiplied times ten.  AND of course I can’t help but worry that me being sick isn’t good for the baby!  Arghhhh!!


I struggle with anxiety, but I’ve found that this blog is a great way to tame the “anxiety monster.”

On top of all that, I find myself feeling incredibly guilty for complaining about being sick & stressed about my pregnancy & impending motherhood.  I know there are so many women out there who would give anything just to be pregnant right now, so every time I complain about how much my sacrum hurts (it’s never my lumbar area, always my sacrum) or how much it sucks to be sick while pregnant, part of me feels like this wretched spoiled brat who ought to just shut up & realize how lucky she really is.  But that doesn’t change the way I’m feeling of course.  It just leads to a cycle of negativity that never ends.anxiety charlie brown

Up until the past few weeks I’ve been so proud of myself for how I’ve handled this pregnancy & not letting my underlying anxiety issues overwhelm me.  But here lately I feel like I’ve lost traction & I’m just barely keeping my head above water.  Thankfully I found out today that my glucose tolerance test & my hemoglobin are normal.  Those are at least two things that can no longer be a source of anxiety for me.  My husband & I have also managed to select & purchase a car-seat & stroller recently which, trust me, is a massive endeavor these days.  (Can we say too damn many options?!)  So that’s two major baby purchases out of the way.  Now if Buy Buy Baby can just deliver the stroller instead of some kind of jumper thing that they accidentally sent me instead . . . Seriously, whoever packed that order must have been drunk.  I could understand sending me a similar but different stroller but this wasn’t even close to the right item.  At least they have free shipping, including returns!  And in a week or two I’ll probably find this whole scenario hilarious.pregnancy cartoon

I’m sure this hasn’t been my most coherent or eloquent blog post.  Honestly I’m not sure what I’m trying to accomplish other than to just vent & let the world know that I’m struggling right now.  Overall pregnancy really hasn’t been as difficult as I thought it might be, at least in some ways.  But here lately my anxiety has definitely been getting the better of me, whether it’s obvious to others or not.  Maybe it’s just my hormones going haywire which is entirely possible of course.  Having obsessive compulsive personality traits & a higher than normal level of anxiety really isn’t the best combination for a pregnant woman.  But this is me, & I know that some of these “negative” traits have served me well in life thus far & I can only hope they will serve me well as a mother too in the not so distant future.  In the meantime, I’ll be listening to music, reading P.D. James & Bill Bryson, cuddling our corgi, & reminding myself that the anxiety monster has reared its ugly head plenty of times before.  Yet I’ve survived every battle thus far, which means there’s no (logical) reason to doubt my ability to win the battle this time.  


Ok, I’m not quite this big yet, but bending over to pick up dropped items is definitely harder than it used to be.  Also, this cartoon made me laugh way more than it probably should.  But those of you who know how clumsy I am will understand why.

Turn Off the Radio

Last week I was fooling around on YouTube & in the process stumbled across a few songs off the latest album from the Floridian rock band A Day to Remember.  ADTR is a band I’d heard about for years but had never really listened to until last week.  Once I heard songs like BullfightParanoia, & Naivety, I knew this was a band I definitely needed to add to my musical library.  After a quick Google search I realized the band had just released a brand new album at the beginning of this month (which includes all of the aforementioned songs).  Cue a trip to Best Buy where the album was on sale for $9.99!bad_vibrations

One of the reasons this album has continued to remain on almost constant replay for me for a week now is because of the great variety of musical styles the band employs on the record.  Songs like Naivety are considerably more punk whereas songs like Bad Vibrations & Exposed are much harder & remind me a lot of Parkway Drive (which is a great compliment since their 2015 album Ire is definitely a favorite of mine).  adtr

Like all great albums, this one just gets better with repeated listens.  One of the gems I’ve discovered the more I’ve listened to the album is the tenth song Turn Off the Radio.  With all of the distracting & divisive messages that confront us every time we log on to social media or watch/read the news (be it newspaper, radio, TV, or the internet), this song could not be more relevant right now.  At the same time, as with any truly great song, the message is timeless.  There’s never been a time in history when greater genuine conversation & connection between human beings hasn’t been needed.  But in today’s modern world of social media, texting, online dating, etc, the need for this message has only been amplified.  (Just to be clear, I don’t think any of these technologies are bad.  We just need to learn to use them in a wise, productive manner, & we shouldn’t allow them to take us away from real person to person interaction.)  us vs them

I for one know I struggle to not be an ostrich with my head in the sand but also not be overwhelmed with all of the negativity in the world today.  But this song is a great reminder to me that so much of what the media feeds us is just junk, whether it be crappy pop music or divisive politics or any other number of media diversions.divisive-media

Take a moment to check out the lyrics below.  And of course give the song a listen.  And remember, as Aristotle once said,“it is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”  So turn off the radio & have a real conversation with someone, even if they disagree with you.  You never know what you might learn.adtr-2016

T-T-T-Turn off the radio

There’s something missing
There’s an anger living half the world away
I hope you listen for a person
With perspective that isn’t always the same

No need to water it down right now
You play the victim, but it’s all a charade
Times they, they are a-changin’
Get your things in order, or get out the way

And it goes on & on & on

Turn off the radio
Till they’ve got something real to say
Turn off the radio
To clear my mind & let me think
I need an answer, I’ve got the questions
Can’t anyone out there just relate?
Turn off the radio
Turn off the radio

There’s a division in our culture that we live with every day
We’re just people eating people, such a sick sad world we live in today
All I know’s I wanna be everything expected of me
So everyone we can agree somebody out there understands me

And it goes on & on & on

Turn off the radio
Till they’ve got something real to say
Turn off the radio
To clear my mind & let me think
I need an answer, I’ve got the questions
Can’t anyone out there just relate?
Turn off the radio
Turn off the radio

Someone out there if you’re listening
We’re the victims of our indifference
Tell us more without controlling
What we think with what you’re showing

Turn off the radio
Till they’ve got something real to say
Turn off the radio
To clear my mind & let me think
I need an answer, I’ve got the questions
Can’t anyone out there just relate?
Turn off the radio
Turn off the radioadtr-logo


I Am Not Superwoman

I’m not sure how to begin this post, but it’s something I’ve been wanting to write for months now, so I guess I’ll just dive right into it.  Ever since I shared my pregnancy news, people have (naturally) been asking me if I plan to return to work full time once the baby is born.  It surprises me how many people, both men & women, seem truly shocked when I tell them I’m only coming back to work part time, hopefully one night a week.  (For those who don’t know, I’m a night shift nurse.)superwoman

There are a multitude of reasons why I’ve chosen not to return to work full time, but they all basically boil down to this one simple fact: I am not superwoman.  I realize it is the norm nowadays for women to work full time while raising young children, but I have never thought this made a lot of sense, either biologically or psychologically.  It just doesn’t seem logical to me that I would spend nine months growing & nurturing a baby only to wind up allowing a daycare (or anyone other than me & my husband) to essentially raise her.

stay at home mom daycare

Hey, there is a lot of truth in this . . .

To be fair, I am fully cognizant of the fact that I am extremely lucky to have a career & finances that allow me to work part time, but I also think our society has forgotten that so many things we think of as necessities nowadays are really options.  Part of the reason my husband & I will be financially able to live off of only one full time salary once the baby is born is because we have always been so frugal & responsible with our money.  Maybe that makes us boring, but I couldn’t possibly care less at this point in our lives.


Amen.  Being frugal has allowed us to have options which means freedom!

Trust me, over the years we have learned that some things are worth spending a little extra money to get a true quality product, especially if it’s something that could affect your health (like good shoes for the gym/hiking or work).  But at the same time we’ve found ways to cut monthly expenses by skipping out on cable TV & expensive restaurants/bars, etc.  I’m also not the type of woman who gets monthly pedicures, haircuts, or other such things.  The most I’ve ever spent on a purse is $40, & aside from gym/work shoes, I’ve never spent more than about $30 on a pair of shoes.  Nor have I ever spent more than $30 on a pair of jeans.  I buy used books & the Kroger brand of almost everything at the grocery store.  I suppose I can thank my mom for teaching me to be so frugal.  I’ve been called cheap before, but it doesn’t bother me one bit because the people who say that almost certainly have a lot less money to their name than I do.  So who’s really the cheap one?piggy bank

Anyway, I’ve wandered from the point, so let me return to explaining what I mean when I say I am not superwoman.  I work with & know plenty of women who do work full time while also raising young children, & I am continually amazed at how they manage to “do it all.”  At the same time I’m fully aware that most, if not all of them, are constantly under a great deal of stress & suffer from a fair amount of guilt over the time they are missing with their children due to work.  If nothing else, I know they suffer from a massive sleep debt & lack of any “me time,” neither of which is physically or psychologically healthy.  I’m not saying being a stay at home mom is a walk in the park.  But I’ve certainly never met a stay at home mom who regretted her choice to spend those first few years of her children’s lives at home with them.  On the other hand I meet working moms all the time who say they wish they could/had been able to be stay at home moms or to work part time while their children are/were young.  The point is maybe other women are ok living with that level of stress but I’m not.  Life is way too short to be stretched that thin.

When I was in nursing school I was confident I would be the first (or one of the first) among my class to go back to school.  I was certain I wouldn’t work more than five years as a bedside nurse before I’d be in NP school because being an NP was always my ultimate goal.  As it turns out I’ve now been a bedside nurse for just over five years, & I’m now far less certain that being an NP is my long term goal, or in any case, I’m in no hurry to reach that goal.  I used to think I’d be so jealous if I saw friends or classmates of mine returning to school before I did, but the truth is I’m not jealous at all.  I’m sure there will come a time in my life when I do wish to become an NP or to further my education in some way, but I can tell you with 100% certainty that time is not now.  If for no other reason, there is no biological timeline for higher education, but there most certainly is a biological timeline for having children, no matter how much we modern women do not like to admit it.biological clock

Just to be clear, this post is not meant to disparage women who do work full time while raising young children.  Once again, I am fully aware of how blessed I am to be in a position to even have the choice of working part time once our baby is born.  And if there is anything I’ve learned in life it is that there is not one right path for everyone.  We are obviously all different people so it is only logical that what works for one person or family won’t work for another.  anxiety

I just know that for me, especially with my anxiety issues & OCD tendencies, to try to work full time while also raising young children would be a nightmare.  As much as I do enjoy nursing, at the end of my life, whether that be at 35, 55, or 85, I know that my career will not be most important to me.  Is it hard for me to think about possibly losing traction in my career?  Sure. But not nearly as hard as thinking about missing out on those early formative years with my children.  (I say children because I do hope to have one more after this one.)  My mom always said if you got the first few years right, the rest would be easy, & I truly think she was correct about that.  To be honest, it isn’t the teenage years that scare me, it’s the toddler years.  I know most moms are sad as their kids grow up & aren’t “little” anymore, but I don’t anticipate that being a serious problem for me.  I’ve always enjoyed older kids & teenagers more, but even so, I can’t stand the thought of a daycare (or anyone else) spending more time with my children than me in the first few years of their lives.  The way I see it is both nursing & motherhood are far, far too important to do halfway, & at least for me, to try to do both full time would be to allow both to suffer.  And that is not acceptable to me.


Modern women have certainly proven that we can do it all, but at what cost?

So, in conclusion, yes, I have chosen to only work part time once the baby is born.  I used to think that would be a hard decision to make, but it’s actually been surprisingly easy.  I know modern society teaches women that we can “do & have it all,” & while I have no desire to return to the 1940s or 50s when women were expected to be stay at home moms (hell, even stay at home wives), I am fully aware of my own limitations.  That is why I’ll be the first to admit that I am not superwoman, & I have never been so at peace with the knowledge that I cannot do or have it all.

Rock Star of the Week: Chris Motionless

Last night I began thinking that it would be fun to start a blog series about my favorite rock stars.  I’ve been working on a post on this topic for ages now, but I’ve realized that such a post would be more like a novel.  So what better way to break it up a bit than creating a series of posts about all my favorites?  These will be appearing in no particular order.

*Warning: I do not censor my favorite rock stars, so yes, there will be swearing (duh).chris motionless

This week I’m going to initiate the series with Chris Cerulli, otherwise known by his stage name Chris Motionless, the lead singer of Motionless in White (MIW) out of Scranton, Pennsylvania.  If you’re not familiar with MIW, their music could be described in various ways from heavy to gothic to horror metal & probably a lot more.  They’re exactly the kind of band that ten years ago I could never have imagined myself enjoying.  But they’re also a band whose music I fell in love with immediately upon discovering it.  You can read all about that here.

MIW reincarnate

Chris (seated) with his bandmates from Motionless in White

I’ve actually written a bit about Chris on this blog before because he is just such a unique individual in so many ways.  When I first discovered him & his band, I immediately felt a powerful connection because of my love for people who break stereotypes.  Chris is a man who is covered in tattoos & piercings & is never seen wearing anything other than black.  (There might be other colors involved, but the greater part of any outfit of his will always be black.)  He is also famous for his extreme use of makeup including his lust-worthy eyebrows.  Not going to lie, I never thought I’d say a man looked good in makeup, but Chris Motionless taught me otherwise.  See the picture below if you don’t believe me. chris motionless 2Basically, in appearance Chris is much like a younger, more modern version of Marilyn Manson.  And just like Manson, there is so much more to Chris than what many would initially assume based on appearance alone.  A lot of folks would assume someone who looks like Chris would be a devil-worshipper or at least a drug user or alcoholic.  As it turns out, Chris is none of those things.  In fact he’s very well known in the rock/metal community for his “straight edge” ways.  In other words, he does not drink, smoke, or participate in promiscuous sex.  If you find any of that hard to believe check out this interview.


Is this jacket epic or what?!

What I love best about Chris’s choice to live this way is that he doesn’t push it on other people (some of his own bandmates do smoke & drink), & he hasn’t chosen this lifestyle because of any religious affiliation.  He has chosen it simply because he thinks it’s the best way for him to live: “I think alcohol, and getting high, and all that shit, is retarded . . . I’ve never really had any interest. Like… You know how some people are even curious to see? You know – “I don’t drink, but I wanna know what it’s like to be drunk” or “I wanna see what it’s like to be high even once.” It just doesn’t have any interest to me at all. It just doesn’t make me feel like I wanna know. I think that shit’s disgusting . . .  if I’m with somebody, then it’s a monogamous relationship . . . I’m not a playboy, for lack of a better word. I have a little self-respect.”  See the link in the previous paragraph for the full interview from which these quotes are taken.  chris cerulli

Despite writing & performing what many would describe as very dark music, Chris is also well known as an extremely polite individual with a propensity for kindness & having a great smile.  “. . . the MIW frontman has a fearsome onstage persona that’s somewhat at odds with his friendly and well-spoken offstage self. “I don’t want to be an aggressive and intimidating person to people in real life,” he explains. “That’s why my stage character has a different name than me [Chris Cerulli]—it’s a good way to let that part of my personality shine. It’s a big reason why I love to play live, having that outlet . . . There’s a lot of anger inside of me, and I certainly don’t have to convince myself to be pissed off.”  (See this interview for more, which includes Chris talking about how his parents have always supported him despite not being too fond of his general appearance.)  Despite the fact that I don’t have any tattoos or piercings (outside of earrings), nor do I dress in all black or wear heavy makeup, I can strongly relate to Chris on this subject because while I am known as a very kind, polite person, there is a lot more to me than might initially meet the eye.  Which is probably why people are often so shocked to discover that I like such “hard, dark” music.  I’m not saying I’m a deeply angry or bitter person on the inside.  Not at all.  But I’m not some “happy-go-lucky I love everyone all the time” angel either.Chris-Motionless

Chris is also a big promoter of self-respect & personal responsibility & has openly decried fans who try to credit him with saving their lives: “NO. I did not save your life. NO.. band X, Y or Z did not save your life. IF in fact you were on the brink of any self harming action… it was YOU who pulled yourself from the ledge. You saved your life, You are the hero. Why are people not willing to take credit for their own actions? . . . MIW’s main message has always been about not giving a fuck what people thought and encouraging you to do the same.”  (You can read Chris’s full blog post on that matter here.)  chris motionless quote

Furthermore, MIW’s latest song from their forthcoming fourth album is all about how the band has achieved the success they have today through sheer hard work & determination.  Check out the music video here.  With lyrics like these, you’d be hard-pressed not to find this song inspirational:  “I’ve been to hell & back, with no promise of return/So I made friends with fire to keep from getting burned/No money, no sleep, dedication/10 years on the road, this is sacred/And when I’m facing a wall, I do not quit/Cause if you mean it, you will make it/Pulled apart in a world so demanding/I’m still here, still standing/I’ve sweat blood from Stockholm to Scranton/Still here, still standing . . . If you mean it, you will make it!”  (If you’re curious about the song’s title 570, it’s the area code of the band’s hometown Scranton, PA; hence the lyric about Scranton in the song.)chris miw

I hope that reading all of this will inspire you to check out Chris’s band if you aren’t already familiar with them.  To start you off, here are some links to a few of my favorite MIW songs:

  • Reincarnate: the first song I ever heard from MIW & the one that made me immediately fall in love with the band
  • America: a scathing discourse on the hypocrisy of this country
  • Break the Cycle: an empowering song about how we can all be our own worst enemy & overcoming self-doubt

Grammar Nerd Alert: My Favorite English Words

As some of you already know, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit of a grammar Nazi . . . er, nerd, that is.  If you’re ever driven down Leesville Rd with me in Raleigh, you’ll know that I can’t help but point out how irritating it is to me to see the sign for “Russling Leaf Lane.”  Every time I see it I want to scream “How could you not know that it’s supposed to be RUSTLING?!”  Ahhh!!  There’s also a new sign outside of the gas station near our house that says “closed for rennovations.”  Seriously, a double n at the beginning of the word?  I understand the occasional typo in an email or blog post, but it boggles my mind that something could make it to an actual road sign or official poster for a business without someone having noticed these errors.  Hello, spell-check exists for a reason, folks!


May I add another? You truly want to cry when you realize you’ve actually posted something with a typo or grammatical error in it.

All that being said, I’ll also be the first to admit that I say ain’t a little more than I really ought, but at least that’s kind of a real word . . . Anyway, today I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite English words.  Just to be clear, no, I am not one of those annoying people who intentionally tries to use “big” words to dazzle my listeners by making myself sound intelligent, but certain words have just become so commonplace to me that I sometimes forget not everyone reads as much as I do & doesn’t always know these words.  If you read a lot like I do, you too probably relish the joy of learning new words on a continual basis.  For my fellow grammar nerds, you might want to keep checking this post over the next week or two because I’m sure I’ll forget a few words & feel compelled to come back & add them.

grammar insult


  • Pernicious:  having a harmful effect, especially in a gradual or subtle way
  • Proclivity: a tendency to choose or do something regularly; an inclination or predisposition toward a particular thing
  • Predilection (very similar to the previous word): a preference or special liking for something; a bias in favor of something
  • Atavistic: relating to or characterized by reversion to something ancient or ancestral
  • Germane: relevant to a subject under consideration
  • Allocate: distribute (resources or duties) for a particular purpose
  • Ostensible: stated or appearing to be true, but not necessarily so
  • Ostentatious: characterized by vulgar or pretentious display; designed to impress or attract notice
  • Conspicuous: standing out so as to be clearly visible
  • Ebullient: cheerful & full of energygrammar nerd signs
  • Egregious: outstandingly bad; shocking
  • Astute: having or showing an ability to accurately assess situations or people & turn this to one’s advantage
  • Sagacious (very similar to the previous word): having or showing keen mental discernment & good judgment; shrewd
  • Adroit: clever or skillful in using the hands or mind
  • Sporadic: occurring at irregular intervals or only in a few places; scattered or isolated
  • Acquiesce: accept something reluctantly but without protest
  • Intransigent: unwilling or refusing to change one’s views or to agree about something
  • Requisite: made necessary by particular circumstances or regulations
  • Sycophant: a person who acts obsequiously toward someone important in order to gain advantage
  • Obstinate: stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or chosen course of action, despite attempts to persuade one to do socommas
  • Deleterious: causing harm or damage
  • Derelict: in a very poor condition as a result of disuse & neglect
  • Disheveled: (of a person’s hair, clothes, or appearance) untidy; disordered
  • Dastardly: wicked & cruel
  • Impeccable: (of behavior, performance, or appearance) in accordance with the highest standards of propriety; faultless
  • Immaculate: especially of a person or their clothes) perfectly clean, neat, or tidy; free from flaws or mistakes; perfect
  • Pertinent: relevant or applicable to a particular matter; apposite
  • Singular: exceptionally good or great; remarkable
  • Indefatigable: (of a person or their efforts) persisting tirelessly
  • Opulent: ostentatiously rich & luxurious or lavishgrammar hideous
  • Grandiose: impressive or magnificent in appearance or style, especially pretentiously so
  • Pretentious: attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc, than is actually possessed
  • Genteel: polite, refined, or respectable, often in an affected or ostentatious way
  • Crux: the decisive or most important point at issue
  • Gingerly: in a careful or cautious manner
  • Incessant: (of something regarded as unpleasant) continuing without pause or interruption
  • Solicitous: characterized by or showing interest or concern
  • Calamitous: catastrophic; disastrous
  • Cacophony: a harsh, discordant mixture of sounds
  • Vicarious: experienced in the imagination through the feelings or actions of another person
  • Vivacious: attractively lively & animated

Just to be clear, I’m not one of those judgmental fools who holds everyone to as high of a standard as I hold myself.  For example, the pastor at my aunt’s funeral yesterday definitely didn’t have the best grammar.  He also had a pretty thick Southern/country accent.  Yet I found myself absolutely loving the way he talked.  The crux of the matter is I just can’t stand it when people use incorrect grammar in actual writing or publications.  That’s what is truly intolerable to me.  And yes, writing does include texting.  If you don’t want me to think (slightly) less of you, don’t text me using “u” or other such grammatical atrocities.  Also be sure to use actual punctuation, please.  Run on sentences with no commas or periods are truly painful.

Fellow grammar nerds, please feel free to comment with your own favorite words!grammar nerd mug

Alas, I am not so secretly scared that I’m going to discover a typo/grammatical error in this post!  Haha!!