BY: TAMI HARPER WINN
So here we are, face to face, you and I - together again. It’s been awhile and I wanted to speak with you directly and let you know where I’ve been – explain my period of absence. I feel I owe it to you as you've been so faithful to me throughout this entire journey. Thank you. I don’t think you know how much you mean to me. I appreciate you still being here with me and I’ll do my best to bring you up to speed with what living life in the sober lane looks like these days for me.
I’ll admit that opening up this laptop feels a little foreign. I have been away from it for too long. It almost feels like I have been unfaithful to it. Yet, life has had me somewhat busy these days. This past weekend I finished up a two-month whirlwind theatre production I landed a part in that consumed every extra hour I have had. I am by no means complaining, in fact I enjoyed every minute of it. It was taxing but I’ll admit, I am relieved there was an end to it. It was an adventure I have now gotten to cross off my ever-growing bucket list. That’s right, I am living my dreams these days. This sober blogger has a bucket list.
How did this come about – this bucket list? Well, it began 365 days ago tonight. On this night one year ago, my whole world changed forever and began a year that would forever define me and alter me in ways I could never have foreseen. Looking back, this has been the single most defining year of my entire life. I have had so many life altering events that have occurred in my short stint here on earth, but this year was the pivot point that changed my whole being. It’s the year I was baptized in the fires of death so that I could be born again to truly live.
As I write this blog tonight, I sit in Twin Falls, Idaho with friends and family sitting around a campfire pit on my parent’s porch enjoying memories of someone very dear to all of us. There is laughter and smiles and love. One year ago exactly there was only tears of anguish and sorrow, and the feeling that laughter was something none of us would ever know again. Yet here we are. I find myself reflecting back on the last 365 days of my life as I sit here enjoying the experience. Where did the time go? Tonight marks the one-year anniversary of my father’s celestial birthday. On this very night one year ago, I was saying goodbye to the first love of my life – my dad.
It was this time last year that I made my father a promise that I would write that book he knew needed to be written. It was a small and feeble attempt to offer my father comfort even if it was something we both knew he would never see or read. None the less, I made him that promise. Although it hasn’t been completed yet, it is still very much underway. Since that final conversation I had with him, I may not have finished my book, but low and behold, I have an active following of readers for a blog that I have written regularly for nearly a year now and you are one of them. Who would have known? Life has a funny way of doing its own thing.
I am happy to report that I am still very much as sober tonight as I was one year ago at this time. On this eve one year ago I was surrounded in a home full of addicts and alcoholics still in the midst of their disease who were fighting over missing pills of our father who had just passed but only hours before. I did the only thing I knew to do, I called someone and headed to a meeting. That same best friend that was with me that night is here with me tonight. That same daughter who was beside me the entire night comforting my father as he transitioned is here too. We are laughing and living. He would be so happy for us. I am so blessed.
WHAT IT WAS LIKE
Since his passing a lot has happened. Saying even that cannot begin to adequately define the last twelve months of my life. As my world tilted off its axis one year ago, little did I know that it was tilting because it was time to. Shortly after dad passed, while still trying to deal with the loss of him, my mother passed suddenly and unexpectedly. I had not even begun to mourn his passing before it was time to swallow the truth that I was now an orphan. I had lost both of my parents in less than four months of each other. How could I go on?
But I did. I started writing my blog in honor of my father and I will admit it here, that it and you (my readers) saved my life when I was hit with the loss of my mother so soon after my dad. Writing gave me an outlet and a chance to be of service to others who were struggling and traveling these same difficult roads I was, all the while trying to do it sober.
If anything, I could have given my self every reason to get smashed. In fact, most people say that if I had they wouldn’t have thought any less. There were even those that were amazed that I managed to stay sober through it. Looking back, it is amazing that I did. I can honestly say, it never crossed my mind as an option. It is truly a miracle.
But I did stay sober and I became even more determined to live than I had ever been before. Losing both of my parents so close together really stamped a reality into my head – the reality that time is not my friend, nor is it something that can be used as a bargaining chip. It would never be on my side. All I could say with complete surety now was that all I had was this very moment. That’s right, you and I are in this very moment together experiencing it as one. Isn’t it wonderful? I stand in amazement that I can share it with you.
The soft sound of my key strokes as I write this are like hymns of solace for this broken heart. It soothes me to write to you. I want to share everything with you. I want to show you that even though it may be dark right now, I can promise you if you just hold on it will be light again. I want to reassure you that even though you cannot see what’s up ahead right now, soon you will be able to turn around and see clearly what you just walked through and why. It won’t always feel like this. I can promise you. Just hold on. Hold on with me.
I could not have done this alone. When my path was very dark and the road too long, I had those who were up ahead of me on this path who held out their hands, just as I am now, and walked with me. I am offering you my hand. If you are on the dark road right now, I am here, up ahead of you and I don’t want you to be alone. In fact, if you take my hand, both you and I will not be alone. There are those ahead of me that are leading us. In this moment, we are safe – you and I.
I will tell you stories a long the way to make use of our time together. Perhaps one day, you will do the same for another. For now, I am honored to share mine with you. We only have this moment right now, let’s make the best of it.
Take a deep breath and smell the air around you. Close your eyes and feel what is directly beneath you. Be here with me. I have had to spend much time relearning how to be with the moment. It has not been easy, but with each attempt, it gets a little easier. I am happy to help you learn too as we walk this path together. As I share stories with you on our journey, we will learn together and experience each moment together. We can even dream together. For now though, we will just sit here being present with each other.
Trust that my stories are similar in nature to yours. I too know loss and pain. I can relate. This year I not only said goodbye to my parents, I also said goodbye to our family dog that was 15 years old. It was a year of death and loss. As I buried my poodle Pierre in the backyard under a rosebush, I realized I was sick and tired of burying the ones that I loved. I remember looking up to the sky and stating clearly and loudly that, “I wanted to live.”
I meant it. I needed to live. I wanted to live. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to smile and to laugh again. I wanted to enjoy my life. Something tells me you have wanted the same things. I know I wanted to wake up every day grateful and so that’s where I started. I began my gratitude journal. It was a journal that every morning, before I do anything else, I write down three things I am grateful for. As I developed that habit I also began to form an attitude of gratitude. It began to cast a strange glow on my life and my choices.
I began to act as if. For me, writing has always been a tangible way of seeing what it is that I have rolling around in my head. I spit it out in black and white on the screen before me and I can look at it with a different set of eyes. I began to express to the universe my wants and desires. I began to tell the universe my dreams and what I secretly hoped for. I gave life to the words I wrote as I began what I now call my bucket list.
With death and loss all around me, all the tasks that come with finalizing everything began to overwhelm me. I wanted to escape, but how? I wanted different experiences. In my life I have white water rafted down the Payette River, jumped from an airplane 10,000 miles above Caldwell, Idaho. I have learned how to ski, taken up the piano, and volunteered for some amazing organizations. I have been on talk shows and got to meet my biological mother on one. I even completed the difficult feat of graduating college. But, even having done these things, I never understood the gravity of what they meant to me. I took them for granted. I'm certain that if you look back yourself you can find those types of moments in your own life that were your own brand of amazing that perhaps you may have taken for granted too. That's ok. We all do. The difference today for me is that I use them as proof that I can accomplish the unimaginable - that I can do the impossible. I can have everything I ever wanted and more.
So, I began small. I got involved in writing clubs and became a self taught author and self publisher. Then I took it to the next level and on my father’s birthday this year I submitted my first ever article to the Hippocampus online magazine and received honorable consideration. I began writing my weekly blogs, then I helped my best friend Scott launch his dream of a weekly podcast. I soon after took my daughter up into the skies over Boise, Idaho in a hot air balloon on a beautiful Sunday morning. I had always dreamed of being in a hot air balloon, as far back as childhood. So, I did it. The adventure was only just beginning.
I have always wanted to travel outside the country. But first I needed a passport. That takes time. I remember getting my photo for my passport and the young man asking me where I was going. I told him where ever the wind blows me. I had no set destination yet. It is the intention that will make it so. I have learned in sobriety that action followed by more action is the only thing that ever produced results for me.
So, I applied that same theory to my dream of one day owning my own home. I took the action to produce my desired outcome. I am now in the process of preparing an offer on a home and perhaps very shortly I will be writing you from inside my new home.
WHAT ITS LIKE NOW
With each step I took into my brave new world a new door opened. Miracles were abundant. I’ll share with you just a few of the more significant ones that have come to pass this past year. Last year, I took a trip to my father’s house to share a special spiritual event with him. That same weekend he passed. I didn’t get to share it with him. This year on that same weekend, I had the chance to be there in person at that very personal spiritual event. It is a dream that began as a small girl. I am testing out my traveling shoes by planning my first ever trip to Hawaii. I have always wanted to be a foster mom to a child that was in need. I got the chance to foster two. I even had the chance to finally hold my first and only granddaughter in my arms after a year of waiting. And finally, I had always wanted to be in theatre production and I was. I landed the part in a local play and acted out my dreams right in front of everyone. It was fabulous. These are just a few. I am not the only one entitled to such miracles. You can have them too. What would you like to do if you had the chance to?
I still want to learn how to ride a motorcycle, speak another language, and play the drums. I want to own and learn to shoot a gun. I still want to watch the Macy’s Day Parade live and ice skate on Rockefeller Center. Heck, I even want to run for public office someday. I still have dreams of traveling somewhere, anywhere outside the U.S. and taking a cruise with by best friends. I more than ever want to teach in another country and one day, maybe for the last time, get married with my toes in the sand at sunset on the beach.
I want to parasail and ride a horse on the beach. I want to scuba dive and repel down the U.S. Bank building here in Boise. I wake up every morning with one more thing to add to my list that I want to experience before I die. I want to live this wonderful life and today I am taking the steps to make those dreams of mine come to life. I will not waste another minute looking back. I look forward, take actions to produce the results I want, and savor the moment I am in – drinking in all the possibilities. I am literally drunk on life.
My list of miracles that I have already made manifest continues to be written. I am a dreamer. I am also a dream maker. So as I continue to write my book, I look forward to the day here in the near future when I will hold a hard copy of my very first book in my hands. I hope you will hold one too. That has been my biggest and most prized dream to date. It is a dream my father began dreaming for me as a child. It is the one dream that got me excited about limitless possibilities. My father taught me how to dream all those years ago and for that I am eternally grateful. Because of his belief in me, I now am able to believe in those dreams myself. I have even gone one step further. I have begun making my dreams come true. Now, it's your turn.
~ Tami Harper Winn ~
The story written here is solely the work of the author’s. Any use or reproduction of this article is prohibited without written consent of the author or credit to the author through works cited.