4 Ways to Tell Your Program is a Total Sham and How to Fix It

If you don’t believe in the effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous, then this probably isn’t the right post for you. Despite the fact that AA has saved millions of lives and scientists have exposed a ton of evidence that backs up the program, devil’s advocates continue to debate on whether addiction is a disease or a lifestyle decision. Critics of Alcoholics Anonymous have called the group a “cult that relies on God as the mechanism of action”. Lee Ann Kaskutas put these claims to the test when she studied the effectiveness of AA by comparing the length of abstinence from alcohol to the exposure to the program. Kaskutas found that the two are directly related, bridging the gap between faith and science. If anything, I think we can all agree that if someone thinks that they ought to quit drinking, then they probably should.

I am a huge advocate for AA, which is why I must say, with disappointment, that I have not been working the program that I know I should be. So here I am, ratting myself out. Here are the four ways my program is a total sham and how I intend to fix it.

  1. You don’t attend any meetings

Meetings are important. Not only are they an open forum to release any burning desires you may have, they are also therapeutic to your fellows in the circle with you. Meetings offer a convenient way to fulfill a service commitment and to stay active and relevant with the group.

Right now, your home group may not be meeting in person, due to the pandemic. Never fear! This amazing website has made it to where there is no excuse for why I have not attended a meeting. I mean, seriously, there are meetings available in all languages and on a variety of platforms (Second Life, anyone?). It’s refreshing to be able to experience a different vibe in these gatherings, especially since my home group consists of those of the lighter, wrinklier variety. Also, if you still can’t seem to find a meeting out of the thousands of options, you can always opt to start your own! Needless to say, there are people who make excuses and there are people who make a way.

  1. You don’t have a sponsor

I was very pregnant the last time I worked with a sponsor. I guess one could say my morning sickness worked in my favor (I just didn’t want to go, okay?).

Either way, it was my loss. A sponsor makes the journey 10 times easier. They are your designated person to call when you want to complain, cry, and pray. If you pick well, they could also mentor you in other areas of your life.

Many people would recommend that you jump in and grab anyone who is willing to sponsor you just for the sake of getting started as soon as possible. If you wish to follow such advice, I would recommend working with someone temporarily while you look for someone to permanently fill that position. Personally, I like to be picky with my sponsor. After all, you are getting down, dirty and honest with this person, and many times, talking to them every day or seeing them weekly is required. I would rather enjoy this person‘s company.

Asking someone to be your sponsor can be nerve-racking. However, most of the work in choosing your sponsor is done in listening. Throughout the meeting, find out who has what you want to have. I don’t mean look them up and down and see who has the newest Gucci belt. Listen out for the person who is speaking your language. Ask yourself, who is God speaking through to get to me? Immediately after the meeting does not have to be the time that you ask them to guide you through your steps. I typically give them a quick elevator speech covering who I am, where I am in my program, and why I appreciates their share. After exchanging numbers, I like to get these questions answered before committing to the sponsorship.

  1. You’re not serving others

Doing service work is one of the three pillars of Alcoholics Anonymous. Staying useful to others was definitely something that took me out of my head when I had cravings early in sobriety or when I was wallowing in self-pity. I noticed that the service work that I do today, really isn’t serving others. The work that I do, I get paid for, or it was done because it was something I could add onto my resume. While I do enjoy community service, in order to be of service to others, I have to do it for others.

You can be of service by volunteering or donating to local nonprofits. For example, The WRATH Foundation helps women and children escape and recover from abusive situations in the DFW area. With school starting back up, there are several back to school drives, too. I am going to join Be My Eyes, which is an app that uses video conferencing to connect you to a shopping member of the blind community. You can help them shop, move about their environments, and in other similar ways.

  1. You are absolutely miserable

This is not to say that you won’t have a bad day in recovery. But, if you have no set plan of action for those days, you are bound to fail. I always recommend everyone to find their “go-to” beverage. Mine is Topo Chico. I love cracking open a cold one and the fact that they have zero calories. They also sell it at every bar I’ve been to. Other substitutes for alcohol include kombucha, sparkling juices and alcohol free wines and beers! O’douls didn’t disappoint, but some other well-known brands are Brew Dog and Big Drip. I’m dying to try Kombucha after reading about its popularity. It has that “cool” factor. Let me know if you have tried it and if it’s any good in the comments!

Having a list of coping skills to help you take your mind off of drinking and hating life, is also very useful. It always helps for me to have a project I’m always working on, but if staying busy doesn’t help you, then indulge in your own kind of self care. If you aren’t feeling any benefits from working your program, then change it. Always remember: if nothing changes, nothing changes.

“Guess what, I have flaws. What are they? Oh I don’t know. I sing in the shower. Sometimes I spend too much time volunteering. Occasionally I’ll hit somebody with my car. So sue me.” -Michael Scott

Here’s What Your Business Needs to Survive Reopening

I know you saw it—The lonely, vacant, dark drive-thru of Taco Cabana; the tumbleweed rustling by the entrance of your favorite dessert spot; and sad business owners posting their “Thank you for your love and support, but we are sorry to inform you that…” signs in their doorways. 

Household name brands are filing for bankruptcy by the bundle these days. Businesses don’t open with the intention of staying under 50% capacities and are not able to afford their rent or pay their workers. While many residents in the North Dallas area are pleading to open back up, several families fear the possibility of that coming to fruition. Essential workers are

not only being overwhelmed by the chance of contracting the rapidly spreading disease, Covid-19, they are also under the pressure of working less hours, homeschooling their children, taking care of immunocompromised housemates, all while fulfilling their daily duties as a human being. That’s a lot for anyone to juggle.

It’s not that our families aren’t the best people in the world, it’s just necessary that we are making it a priority to be social. John T. Cacioppo (2011), founder of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at University of Chicago, studied the deleterious outcomes of social isolation in humans and found that just the objective presence of others is not sufficient enough for humans to survive and prosper. The quality of human interactions matter.

Humans have always survived by banding together to help and  protect one another. “Indeed, there is now considerable evidence that social isolation, and the pain associated with the disconnection that it produces, can fruitfully be conceived as a biological construct” (Cacioppo).

We are dying for some real human interaction. We have been stuck at home, we’re grumpier than usual and we just want to enjoy a carefree outing. 2020 has been the longest decade ever! Now, if you take one nugget of wisdom from this, I hope it’s the following:

If you work in customer service, leave your attitude at the front door.

If you didn’t give a crap about customer satisfaction before, it’s time to start. Quality of service is becoming more important as we begin to reopen the businesses we have left. 

Christina Chi (2009) studied the direct correlation between customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction. These studies also show the impact that these positive interactions have on the financial performances of these businesses. Now more than ever, we have to do all things possible to maintain the highest level of care and service to our patrons (p. 245).

You know customer service is being taken seriously when Walmart employees are being forced to care. The associates now have an “Ask Sam” feature on the app that locates items, checks inventory, transmits emergency alerts, etc. this feature was designed to help the employees do their jobs more efficiently and be of service to their customers. Kudos to Wally World!

And trust me, I get it! I have spent years in customer service. I’ve smiled through some encounters involving irrational people. Sometimes we have to work on a bad day, we run out of supplies, your boss chews you out, or Karen just on one that day. Just remember your financial responsibilities, the times you enjoy being there, and why you choose to show up. Unfortunately, people can suck, and the day that customer service representatives are finally able to fight one person a shift probably won’t be in our lifetime.

“In the end, life and business are about human connections. And computers are about trying to murder you in a lake. And to me the choice is easy” -Michael Scott

4 Things You Must Do Before The Quarantine Ends

Growing up, I often complained about my parents never letting me do anything. Well, after 24 years, I take it back. 2020 is the strictest parent I’ve ever had. I’ll admit, I didn’t take the virus seriously in the beginning. I treated the shutdown like I would a small vacation. Assuming that 2020 would let up sooner than later, I was “getting around to it” and taking advantage of this rare opportunity to stay home, reset and solidify my foundation.

As an aspiring public relations specialist, I have a firm understanding that this is a very competitive industry and that I must do all things possible to stand out. In a perfect world, a college degree would be a ticket to a major-related job that’s ready for you to start within the 6 months allotted to students to start paying back their debts. Unfortunately, these degrees are looking more and more like a sheet of paper. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for going to college and furthering your education if you wish to. Just make sure to go the extra mile. To help you achieve that, I have come up with 4 things everyone should do before the shutdown is over.

1. Get in the Middle of the Herd

Covid-19 has isolated you enough, and now it’s time to find your people. Look for a society, internship, or school organization and get in where you fit in. It is important that we surround ourselves with a community of like-minded people. This group setting will help counteract the many impacts that the pandemic has on on mental health, open doors for your career and brainstorm material for future projects.

The organization I chose to cling to is Public Relations Student Society of America. PRSSA was founded for the sole purpose of helping students like me to become professional PR representatives. They offer webinars, certifications, conferences, publication opportunities, internships, etc. Signing up is only half the battle. The rest is fulfilled once you find yourself in the midst of all their benefits. Introduce yourself to the current leaders, run for office, and register for those virtual conferences!

2. Collect Certificates

If there is a digital or paper certificate at the end of the course, then it’s worth taking. Certifications show that you mean business, and they look spectacular on a resume. Not all courses are free to take, but I’d still recommend scrolling through some of the quick, cheaper courses. While researching available trainings, I realized I never saved a certificate from completing a CITI Program course on social and behavioral research, so jog your memory before you gyp yourself like I did!

Revisit your society and upload your membership card to your LinkedIn, and see what type of certifications they offer or recommend. PRSSA offers a Certificate in Principles of Public Relations that students can apply to test for within 6 months of graduation that employers are always impressed to see.

These sites offer a variety of certs (and there are a ton more!): Coursera, Cybrary, Google Digital Garage, Free Code Camp, LinkedIn

3. Get Informed

The success of a public relations professional is dependent on the ability to stay relevant, useful and inspired. Subscribe to newsletters, blogs and content that peak your interest, while staying mindful of fake news! And I don’t mean fake news by Donald Trump’s definition. Find sources that are in the center, top of the media bias chart. If you don’t like neutral, factual news, then for every source you follow that is for it, subscribe to a source that’s against it.

Learn the ins and outs of social media. Find the tutorials (and certifications!) that each platform has to offer and consider how it can help your brand (business or personal). Use hashtags and get good at them. There are over 2.6 billion active users on Facebook, so your job is to introduce yourself and give us a reason to remember you. Social media is constantly competing and changing. Catch up if you can!

4. Network

This last one is important to never stop doing. Beyond your buddies, who do you know? What do those people do? What interests you about them? How do they inspire you? How can they be of service to you? Most importantly, do you agree with their brand? Don’t connect with someone you don’t agree with just because they have a lot of followers. That will inevitably come back to bite you in the ass. Someone you know may be starting a new business and is waiting for you to offer your services. Those slots won’t be open for long. Experience will be wherever you create it.

Connect with people at virtual events held by your society or social platforms. I’m going to be honest, registering for ICON 2020 made my hands sweat! The minute the registry required me to state my job title and position, I froze. Do I qualify? What if an actual professional laughs at my job title because I’m really just an amateur? Forget it. I’ll put “student” and leave the job titles to the people in the suits. But what if I end up looking like I stumbled upon the conference on accident? Do I really want to spend all of ICON repeating an elevator speech response to “what do you do?” and risk looking like I don’t have any clear direction? Luckily, I focused more on the third and final outcome — to come as the digital media consultant that I am and enjoy the professional development, showcases and keynote speakers.

You can overcome this job freeze and take charge of your future. Take these suggestions, and you will stand out amongst job candidates. Follow the necessary steps to come out a better, shinier person this year.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. -Wayne Gretzky” -Michael Scott

Yes, I am aware that no one reads this blog

Sometimes I’ll start a sentence, and I don’t even know where it’s going. I just hope I find it along the way”. – Michael Scott

I disappeared. Let’s talk about it.

After my nauseating pregnancy, I started to drink wine again. Even though I was still fulfilling my duties as a mother, I decided that I generally feel better when I am not drinking, so I stopped. As for my program, I’m being lazy and haven’t been working it, so I am not counting my days. I didn’t think it was fair. However many days it has been, I want to keep it up, so there will be more on that in the next posts.

I didn’t come back to my blog because I didn’t know how to. Not only was there guilt about not continuing my program and fear of judgement, but I’ve been doubting my abilities and holding myself back for a long time. I can only assume that I am not the only one who does this. I was considering my depression and my traumas as reasons why I couldn’t possibly become a successful woman. Now, I didn’t blatantly tell myself that every morning I woke up, but I told myself that through my actions. I’ve been doing the bare minimum at everything besides being a mom. How hard and passionately I mother Nova has shown me how relaxed and careless I am with other important things in my life, and it shows in many areas. I created social media accounts, but I never tried to get any followers. I worked on my resume, but I didn’t start my cover letter. I joined the school organization, but I never ran for office. I started the blog, but I never attracted an audience.

Everyone has something to offer the world. When we learn what that thing is, keeping it to ourselves is a disservice to us and our communities. We put in all this work to become professional adults and don’t give… dare I say it… personal branding *puke* the attention it needs. Reputation management expert and librarian at University of Virginia Kimberley Barker uses the party analogy. Not focusing on our personal brand is like putting the work and effort into throwing a party and then forgetting to tell people about it. Now, I’m aware of the arrogance that the term personal branding radiates, so let me explain. As cocky as it may sound, personal branding is necessary because there are going to be times when you are simply the best person for the job. We must do our part to serve others, and it is up to us to be the people we want to be. If we wait until we feel like we’re good enough for the job, we will never do it. Therefore, step forward with confidence even when you have to fake it.

My first step was creating this website. I wanted my own domain that is in my control. Do I know what type of content I will publish? Not at all. Do I have confidence that I am capable of developing great content? Of course. Do I plan to learn as I go? Most definitely.

My second step was taking the Myers-Briggs personality type test. One of the best ways to understand my personal brand is to learn why I do the things I do and learn what makes me tick. Now, apparently it is impossible to find a Myers-Briggs test for free online, so click here for a pretty amazing copy. After taking the assessment, you can find more detailed descriptions here. My results are extroverted – sensing – thinking – judging (ESTJ), The Guardian. I found that it reflected the type of person I wish I was more than what I have been practicing. All in all, my results are spot on, and I was left smiling as I read the great explanation of myself!

As I grow into my brand more and learn myself, I will blog about a variety of topics. I will get deep and dive into topics that I enjoy and am challenged by like motherhood, sobriety, public relations, adulting and starting fresh in general. I appreciate your patience as I undergo reconstruction. Stay. I promise, it’ll get good.

What were your results on the test? Do you think they’re accurate?

When to walk away from him

I’ve met someone who seems to be the perfect guy. Unfortunately this guy, Gary*, threw red flags that I believe is important to take note of, especially for a codependent addict like myself.

When I got out of treatment I was thirsty for attention without even knowing it. I should’ve considered the fact that for a few months shy of a year I’d been cooped in rooms with dozens of straight girls and that I may be a bit lonely. When I got home and saw my low inventory of friends, I remembered Gary, a guy from my high school who I saw had gotten sober years ago before I had considered it for myself.

Gary was eager to hang out and reconnect and told me he was still sober! When I saw him a few days later, I learned his idea of sober was much different than mine. He still smoked weed and drank, but I figured he must manage it well because he was living in a house (I later found out he wasn’t paying bills at and he doesn’t own) and was saving for his car that just broke down (he wasn’t saving).

He latched on fast. He asked me to be his girlfriend that day. Why I said yes, I’ll never fully understand. I liked moving slow with people. I was eager and he was available, and he was interested in going to my meetings with me and said he wanted a relationship that was more relaxed and emphasized the fact that we both have our own goals and lives. So we began.

He needed to know where I was and what I was doing at all times throughout every day. If he didn’t know, then I could expect several calls in a row and a “What have you been doing the past few hours” when I picked up. He wanted to fall asleep on the phone, and I told him I wanted to watch tv and sleep on my own (is it really too much to ask?) and he’d get mad and hang up.

It took two weeks for me to know it was too much for me. This is not the ideal relationship for me. It was far too controlling. he’d said he loved me already, he was obsessed, and honestly I was afraid. So I shot him a text (I figured a two week relationship could be broken off in a text, afterall it wasn’t that serious).

HE FREAKED OUT. the name-calling began, then the typos, the pictures of his liquor, and lastly a picture of him cutting himself. I called the police. They picked him up and let me know that he didn’t cut himself deep enough to cause any serious damage but that they appreciated the call and would be taking him to a psychiatric hospital to evaluate him. I broke into tears. I was trying to figure out why this was always happening to me. Why I was always cleaning blood in my relationships and “being the cause” of their meltdowns? I was crying. The whole situation took me back to my past relationships and I felt like I was broken and undeserving. That’s when I went into relapse mode and dealt with my pain the only way I knew how in the moment.

He called from the hospital and apologized for his actions (that he didn’t remember) and told me that he nicked and artery and almost died (despite what the officer said…). Having relapsed at this time, I felt closer to him than ever and I accepted his apology and by the end of the phone call we were back together. It lasted about a week. I didn’t really want to see him or be around him. I was pissed that I’d relapsed and that he was still so controlling. I backed out and endured the name-calling and belittling again. I had a new vision. I had gotten a good paying job and I was going to set goals to go back to school and see the world like I planned. I didn’t want him to hold me back more than I felt I had already let him.

But.. I had to talk to him the next day. This time it was different. I found out I was pregnant. I had an idea that we could move in together and take care of the baby without actually being together. But he wanted to get married (obviously NOT). And I was still getting used to the fact that I had a growing embryo in my uterus. I needed time to think (AKA cry and lay in my bed). I leaned on one of my best friends and we would go tot he movies and he would just listen to me vent about my anger or sadness or life in general. And the next day Gary sent him threats and sent me pictures of his eyebrows and head shaved.

I’d had enough of the games. I had a lot more to think about at this point, so I told him that he needed to get help. His healing is his responsibility! I know now that I need to take my time in relationships and that I have to know my worth. I’m in a vulnerable state but I’m not so dense that I didn’t see the red flags. I’m just unfortunately so used to them. but honestly… fuck that.

With that said, I hope he found a job, is saving money, is getting place of his own, and has a car. But until he wants to better himself I really don’t want him around me, my family, or my kid. Guys like this are dangerous. And when we are vulnerable and not careful, we will be snatched and dragged in relationships like this. I can spend the whole post talking about how disappointed I am at myself for “letting this happen”, but where would that get me? I’m proud that I am mature enough to see what happened for what it is so I can learn from it.

Walk away when he calls himself God or Jesus’ brother. Walk away when he makes your problems about himself. Walk away when he says his purpose in life in to FIX you. Walk away when he doesn’t see his self destructive behavior as an issue. Walk away when he needs to be on you like white on rice (and gets mad when you point it out). Walk away when he doesn’t like your friends or your family. Walk away when he says that if you ever want to relapse, to call him first so he knows what you’re doing and so you’re “not alone”.