O.P.P. - Ya You Know Me.

Over the past nine weeks, I’ve had some amazing opportunities to share a message of hope and strength to over 5000 people around Ontario. From the Annual General Meetings for Municipal and Provincial agencies to motivational comedic talks in the Downtown core in Toronto. These have all been amazing events and I have connected and built network relations with so many people whom I’m humbled to have even been in the same room as. None of them compare to the experiences I have had with the Ontario Provincial Police. Yes!! You heard that correctly!! The O.P.P. Something I thought I would never say, and it’s incredibly gratifying to say. Since May 17th I have been working along side some influential humans within the community safety services division. We have travelled over two thousand kilometres in everything from a city bus to a greyhound to a cruiser to 9 seat plane over lake Superior. I couldn’t be any more grateful for these experiences to travel around this beautiful Province with what would end up being friends and family for life.

This journey hasn’t been linear. That’s an understatement to say the least.  Some may know I grew up with a father that was an O.P.P. constable. This was always a paradox for myself as a young kid. I loved that my father was a police officer, but hated him for never turning off the badge. Some days I just needed my dad, not the cop, not the ex military guy, just my dad. In these speaking engagements with the O.P.P. I have tried to carry that message that we are all human, and not super humans.  We all have feelings and we can all feel pain. Its okay to hurt, and its worth it to get better. I couldn’t imagine working on the front lines as Police, and I’m extremely grateful for them doing their jobs. But as humans in any profession, if we don’t deal with our issues, be it, physical, mental, spiritual, they will deal with us. We are all worthy of recovery and there are so many living testaments to guide you in the right direction.

Another side is being in active drug and Alcohol use, I can say I have had a few interactions with the O.P.P. nothing major, mostly telling me to “get your drunk ass home Paulie”. One of the most intense interactions with the O.P.P. would have been making a phone call just before midnight on September 19, 2006, A phone call that would change lives around the world eventually. After being sexually assaulted and making that phone call to the police my life flipped and spiralled down faster than I ever knew would be possible. After finding recovery and through resilience and getting enough strength to gain opportunities to share a message of Strength From Pain, I still couldn’t have imagined I would have such a positive connection and relationship with the O.P.P. I can say that these people are my family, they support I’m 1in5, they support me personally, they have unconditional love and their generosity is beyond measure. I couldn’t be any prouder to aligned along side them in this fight to smash stigma.  

Monica, Robyn, Rochelle, Jennifer, Raj & Rose, I am forever grateful for you in this wild journey of happy unknown destinations.

Life is tough.

"We all have tough days" is the most true statement to me recently. I get it! Life is tough at somepoint in all our lives. We are not unique in that, what is unique is, how we handle these "tough days". Consistency is the biggest hurdle for me to get and to be honest its mostly all fear based. Based in a brain that wasn't given the tools in the adolescent developmental phase of growth. I have learned that it's no one's fault. No one is to blame for not teaching those resources when I was younger. I have found through pain, what tools work, some times, for me. I'm so incredibly grateful to have learned these. The hard part is always rememebering that I have these tools and can confidently utilize them effectively. Can you imagine how boring it would be if we all had the exact same coping tools?!

 

 I'm learning about the beauty in the process of failure, and how differently I can bounce back each time. Because somethings like playing guitar, or going for a walk, or meditation, don't always work everytime. Failures are growth spurts if you believe in them. They can feel like they're going to kill you or they are going to bless you. And as painful as it is, and as hard it is to shift our thinking of pain and faluire, its the most consistent path to self discovery and healing. It can be the most beautiful transformation because you have had the opportunity to learn. Or it can be forever painful. Sometimes it's about how long do you want to stay down there, before the only option is to do something about it. 

 

Perspective is a huge way to shift painful moments into lessons with gratitude, for me at least. I have always heard "you can't learn anything else new if you're completely satisfied with what you already know," and how true is that? I want to always learn about new things, be open to new opportunities, meet new people with, completely different backgrounds, travel to places where English isn't the first language spoken, I think that will bring so much gratitude for the lessons I have already learnerd, and keep me open to learning more. Life is hard and I think for me, just that alone has built resilience and some of the tools that have been gained, have saved my life. 

 

Don't give up now, beacuse at the end of the day we are all worthy of a story to be told firsthand. Build stepping stones out of pain and failure and it will be the best practical learing you will ever get. Not easy to do consistently, but if you try and make a daily practice out of it. The transformations alone will pull you in the right direction. 

 

MuchLove

Paulie 

Self-Care isn't selfish

As an advocate for societal change, I put myself, and my journey"Out There". This doesn't require pity, nor envy, just identification. Learning that, as Canadians, we have a ton of hurt and pain that has largely been pushed under the proverbial rug.

I most certainly have chosen this path as what I want to do, and more so, what I need to do. In doing so, I've noticed some things. Some great things and not so great things. Being in the public eye, and talking about these stigmatized issues takes it's toll on any human, let alone an advocate with their own set of individual diseases and needs. In saying that. I will always do my best to help out anyone struggling, when I can. 

A massive lesson I've recently learned is, self care, is not selfish, its necessary. For so many months and years, I've put my advocacy infront of my own self care needs. For example: I have dropped everything that I'm doing to go to the hospital to just sit and be with someone struggling with addiction. I don't do this for praise, but so that person won't be alone. I really wish I could do that for every person that reaches out, I can't. I can do my very best to find professional resources and services that can help in someone's specific community. 

Sometimes I have to put myself first, and the advocacy second. A lot easier said than done. We can all give great advice to others, but when it comes to self talk, we just don't say it to ourselves with the same conviction as helping out a peer. By no fault of our own, its just how we as humans are hardwired. 

August and September are really tough months for me personally, and I have worked diligently to keep my self care a priority. Something that was brought to my attention this morning, was the idea to make new, happy memories that will outweigh the negative impact these few weeks have. And that's exactly what I plan on doing. 

This year September 19th will have new meaning, it won't be the day I dred for months before. Maybe a weekend trip to some place I've never been. Maybe I'll get a new tattoo.What ever I do, I won't be sitting around going over the last 10 years of my life hoping it was different. Its up to me to create amazing memories for the next 10 years. The power that we have to supersede old, painful memories is in us all, we just have to dig deep, find out what makes our brain relase dopamine, and do more of that. I want solutions for the experiences I've lived with, not staying in the problem. At the end of the day, it's up to us.

MuchLove

 

Paulie O'Byrne

Sunrise to Sunset

A beautiful sunrise is the start to a beautiful day. Even the gloomy skies can turn into or be seen as beautiful days; let's be honest, a pink and orange morning sky is second to none. Maybe because it makes one wonder how our “blue sky” can take the form of so many beautiful colours, and they are vibrant. 

During my personal journey of self-discovery, recovery and healing through life’s trials and tribulations, I have grown to discover that gratitude is the greatest attitude. 

You see, staying as grateful as possible makes kindness and compassion as easy as breathing. With that said, trying to have an attitude of gratitude every single day is not going to be an easy feat, in fact some days gratitude may not even come into play in our lives. It’s a practice, not something concrete, that we find and once we have found I and grasp it, its a daily reprieve contingent on our moment by moment attitudes. And it all can start at sunrise.

Often times when we cannot control our environment, like who we have in our company, the routes our bus driver takes, where our work is re-locating. Yet, there are still times where one finds themselves in the complete opposite scenario and maybe because of where they are, or maybe it’s because of their attitude, for temporary or long term, but we have to choose something versus doing nothing. 

What has worked for myself is choosing my attitude; not just having the capability of choosing to have the courage to change the things I can, but also to let the things go the things I know I don’t have control over. As with many processes in life, this is much easier said than done; it is not something that come’s easily nor is supposed to. 

As a metaphor, what happens between the sunrise and sunset is up to us; and what happens between the sunset and sunrise is up to the universe. If we tried to control our own destiny 24 hours a day we would breakdown, becoming mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted. Its not rocket science, but sometimes we do need an extra reminder. You cannot stay awake twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and function at a productive level or be a contributing member of society; I’m sorry if you think you can but its humanly impossible. Between the sunset and sunrise is a time for rest and resetting your intentions for the next day. Because really, we only have today, and we only have so much control on what happens today. 

I read a great quote last week that said:

The people who die today had plans for tomorrow, don’t take the moments of today for granted.

To me this reaffirms the attitude of gratitude. What happens today is all I have to focus on. What happens while the suns’ up today is up to me, and after the sun goes down tonight, the how and what of that is up to the universe.

Make your sunrise and sunset apart of your attitude of gratitude. Both, a sunrise and a sunset are things freely given and freely taken if desired. The opportunity for growth happens between them, and its up to you to discover what you can control between them. From Sunrise to sunset we only have today.

#MuchLove

Healing on many levels

When a catastrophic event takes place in the world, we unite. We come together through social media, financial funding, words of encouragement, of protection and of compassion. Yet, when it comes to the healing of the individual we tend to neglect the idea that we need to heal the mind, body and spirit.

With that said, when healing from catastrophic events, it takes time—but rather than seeing it as an endless bounty of time, the notion that it’s not so much about the destination than it is the journey can be critical in one’s recovery. Too, knowing and accepting that it may take the rest of our lives, and that’s okay.

In my experience, I’ve continued down a path of openness and being vulnerable in my journey of healing and recovery. I was the conductor of my own train that was headed to the far off beaten tracks, so I knew I was the only one in control of being able to stop the train from going any further off the tracks.

First off, I had to recognize that there was an issue with the life I was living, that my life had unraveled and become unmanageable. I had no coping skills and I barely knew what those words even meant. At the time I didn’t have the support networks like I do today, so, when I first admitted to myself I had a dependency on drugs and alcohol, I couldn’t comprehend how it got so bad so quick.

To make matters worse, I complicated the shit out of the process, and subsequently relapsed multiple times. I’ve grown to understand that I don't need to know how it got so bad, so quick-- the issue was that it happened, I had a few choices and I chose this life; and I've landed here in this journey we call life, so realistically what am I going to do about it now anyways? So, I continued. Why was I doing this to myself?, Why would I slowly die by investing my future in Cocaine and Whiskey? I fully believed, at that time, that was my only option. That I'd slipped through the cracks of society. I was weighing less than 100 lbs. and living in a parking garage in my 1992 Honda. This is what my disease allowed me to believe I deserved, and nothing more.

Healing and recovery were the furthest things from my mind. I was fixated on how I would stay at a constant level of "highness".

Throughout my healing and recovery journey I have tried a multitude of different approaches to healing and recovery. I went to 100, 12 step meetings in my first 90 days of recovery, back in 2010. It was necessary for my "Healing Development." I engaged in conversations about the disease of addiction and alcoholism, and how the solutions worked in others lives. Through the trauma that I've experienced, I've had to realize that’s it’s a bit of a revealing process. I don't tell too many people the entire trauma story or the hurt and pain I've experienced. Even still to this day, I have things in my heart that I can't say out loud yet. And thats okay.

It’s a trust thing. I'm as vulnerable as I've ever been, and as fearful as it is. I'm the most satisfied in my life's journey as I've ever been. That doesn't mean to say I'm going to settle because I've found some sort of healing and recovery Zen. I heal daily with the current resources and support system. I have full knowledge and belief that my resources and support will change, and for me its about the healing journey with what and who is currently in my "trust tree". Im forever grateful to have found healing and recovery, as I know the oath and outcomes could have been much different. 

Healing comes in all shapes, forms, and times. A few weeks ago, I had the honour of attending a wellness retreat in Bancroft, Ontario. With it's holistic approach to healing, i was open to it, but still slightly apprehensive as I had very little knowledge about holistic healing. After about an hour my nerves settled down, and for 3 days i transformed. I met some amazing humans that I will never forget. The experience was something out of a movie. Equine therapy, water therepy( SUP boarding) and an entire natural spa, to name a few of the services they offer and help hundreds each year. I was humbled to even be on the land, as it is very sacred in history. I can wholeheartedly confirm I will be returning in the near future. The wonderful experience mixed with the incredible humans at Grail Springs Wellness, has given me opportunities to grow and heal. And they want me to be the first Male ambassador for them, so that's pretty amazing as well. 

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All in all, healing is individualistic. Its not a race, its at your own pace. There is no time limit for grief, and anyone who tells you there is, hasn't experienced it. In saying that, we heal as a team, or we will fail as individual's. Our journeys may be different, but we can love, support and encourage each other to a better life. 

"Collaboration is more for just businesses. Its for humans to heal." 

#MuchLove

Paulie O'Byrne

The Anonymity Podcast

Being approached to speak about my journey has become a common occurence, and I take the call very seriously. I have been asked to speak to audiences of thousands, and author some chapter's for some inspirational books. Having done well over 300 radio interviews, I have no shame in sharing my story. 
Recently, I was approached to speak with a great guy named Ty. He hosts a recovery style podcast and has a reach across North America. I was absolutely thrilled to have been asked to share my journey of strength from pain with him and his weekly audiences. Little did I know, this would be an amazing little adventure we would go on. 

It wasn't in a fancy recoding studio, it wasn't at a radio station. It was just 2 guys talking in a workshop. Laid back from the start, Ty made it very comfortable to just be "me". We chatted about how life was when I was younger, and how life sort of spiralled out of control very quickly. I'm not sure about this, and I may be going out on a limb here. But, he was more interested in how I got out of hell. How the solutions and promises worked in my life. Its this sort of journalism we need in society. We see so much hate, and violence every night on the news. 

It was amazing to feel the sense of compassion and geuine care this guy had for how I was recovering I owe Ty a huge debt of gratitude for not only hearing, and listening to my story, but believeing me and trusting that together we can show others, there is a way out of the darkness, a way out of hell. I don't want to spoil the whole thing so I will leave you with this. No matter what, at the end of the day, remind yourself you are loved by many, and cherished by few. Keep those few tight. Keep speaking if you can. 

I believe you.

Have a listen here. 

MuchLove

Paulie O'Byrne

Language eliminates stigma

The language we use in our vocabulary for characterization or judgment of humans with mental illness, addicts, or sexual victimization survivors, has become a foreign concept to society. The beliefs and willingness for change has started, although the action is lagging behind. Those that have been to one of my speaking engagements know, I always say, "We blame society, but we are society". Language is and will always be a leader in the elimination of this stigma we still have in our society.

In my experiences, living with mental illness and in active addiction, I've found words much more powerful when you’re at rock bottom. Wanting to cling on to the hope of someone's words. When society calls us junkies or a waste of time, (yes that has happened), we believe that there is no hope for us. We believe that using the terminology “junkie” is discrediting. The fact is, we are living with an illness. That illness affects our brain, we believe that it must be true, and this is all we deserve, since this is what we continue to hear. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I didn't wake up one day and say "today's the day I put a needle in my arm." I woke up and said "I need to eliminate this pain I'm living with." With little to no resources and no education on how to obtain the resources or support, I chose that needle. We are not junkies we are human beings with an illness.

In the world we live in, the amount of humans directly affected by sexual victimization is astounding. From educating myself and researching for a few years now, I've discovered a flaw within our community; a divide so to speak. Rape, sexual abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment, can happen to any gender, at any age. I'm not discrediting anyone but seriously, this is 2016. Males get raped by females, females get raped by females, males get raped by males and females get raped by males as well. This disgusting act happens at any age. When we hear people advocating for, say "Child sexual abuse", it would discredit the 40 year old women who was raped in the park last night, or the elderly man who was molested by his nurse at his nursing home yesterday. Sexual Victimization is sexual victimization is sexual victimization, at any age. I would challenge all of us to change our language around sexual victimization. I'm an advocate for change! An advocate for sexual victimization survivors young old and in between.

Our past stays with us forever. We have been through everything good and bad that brought us here to today. Some days aren't as great as others. When the sun shines, it's beautiful, and when it rains it pours. Not every day will be sunny and great. Just like the earth, we have to take time to harvest ourselves. Another challenge would be try to go through an hour without judging anything, or any person. The day is what you make it, regardless of our past. The things I've experienced come with me like my address. Choosing to build or destroy with my own attitude for change.

We blame society, but we are society! Time to wake up and go to work, with-out fear of judgement to ourselves or others! Be authentic in your own skin, and speak to yourself with love and compassion, love self-love! Language matters!

#MuchLove

Paulie

 

Progress the Dreams

Pursuing dreams is scary, but almost necessary for ultimate personal growth. The bigger the dream, the scarier it is. In my experiences, dreaming big has been amazing and also heartbreaking. Every single time I grew in my journey more than I ever thought I could. The paradox is setting goals that makes you happy, but it's going to be anything but a cake walk to achieve those dreams. Tears, fears, desires to throw in the towel; just so you can achieve a goal that makes you happy.

Progress the process! It's not about perfection or doing everything at the same speed as our peers. The highs and lows won't feel the same for everyone and the journey you have will be different than anyone else. For me, I hope to have learned something yesterday that I will use either today, or in the future, and that's progress. This process to embrace self-love, is a long road, but I'm a lot further than if I hadn't started at all. I don't want to perfect the process, I want to progress it every day that I can. There are 86,400 seconds in each day, I have the choice to use them for progression or regression.

The ‘I'm 1in5’ dream is still very much alive, although not in the media as much, the dream to raise 1,000,000$ is still very much alive! The need for more funding in this country for addiction, mental health, and sexual victimization services is still as prevalent as it was a year ago. The dream to build a healing and recovery center is still at the forefront of my mind!  These are massive dreams and goals and I'm not looking to achieve them tomorrow. I have a full belief that it will take lots of time, learning the market, the system, the community, the people, the area, the programs, and all of that is called- the process. I'm fairly young and I have my whole life ahead of me. With great connections and networks, I know that someday, someone will walk into a ranch on the water somewhere seeking healing and, or recovery. That will only be the ending of a chapter and the beginning of new miracles to come.

Dreams are meant to take time. Find beauty in pursuing your dreams and goals. The journey is not all up hill and you will run in to obstacles along the way. That's a place of pause and reflection. Growth begins with lessons learned from obstacles. Fear of overcoming those obstacles keeps you where you are, doing the same thing you did to get to that point. I want to have personal growth as much as I need, that's not saying I want to struggle and meet obstacles as often, but given the tools to overcome the valleys of life. I can grow with new tools and appreciation.

Write a list of 5 things you want to achieve in the next 10 years! Keep it somewhere safe, and look at it every 6 months to check your progress. Adjust your life accordingly, and keep digging, keep fighting, keep being amazing and never forget that you are the greatest person in your dreams and goals. Believe it!

#MuchLove
Paulie

Death from Mental illness, Not suicide.

When we hear that someone has taken their own life, there are usually a few different reactions. Some say that they committed suicide, some say took their own life, and some people just say they passed away. What I'm about to suggest is something I've thought about for a very long time; I've always thought that people that are suicidal, are warriors fighting a battle within themselves, and fighting another war keeping it from others. I know this because I've been there. I've had that rifle in my mouth, focused solely on the fact I could not put any more effort into both these extremely tough wars going on in my life. How could I ever tell anyone that I was dying from a mental illness? I was not committing a crime; I was purely making a decision based on the information I was feeding my mind.

In my own experiences with suicidal thoughts and actions- they are not a cry for attention, they were a last resort. I'm not perfect, and I don't claim to know everything about mental illness or suicide, all I have is my own experiences. I've never thought of suicide as a crime, but rather the only other option in my mind. My depression, anxiety, and P.T.S.D. had me believing that suicide was the only option to stop the chaos, the pain, and the abandonment I felt for so long. I was dying from depression. I was sick with an illness. I was not a criminal. Dying from a mental illness is just the same as dying from any other diseases. If we don't treat our illness, it will turn fatal. If you had diabetes and didn't take your insulin because of what people thought about your diabetes, you would die very quickly. This is a language shift we as society have to make. People die from physical ailments every single day, yet we never put suicide in that category.

My last suicide attempt was in 2010. I had taken 80 sleeping pills, and drank a 40oz of whiskey before 10am. I had sent a few good byes to people and I’m willing to bet they were wondering why I was saying good bye. I was found with very low vitals and taken to hospital by ambulance and then by police to a psychiatric ward the next day. I never got to speak to a mental health professional for 2 days, and what I learned that day will stay with me forever. It's not something I like about myself, but something that has been on my mind. I wouldn't tell anyone but a crisis line if I was suicidal today. As much as I love my support and friends and family, for me I would not call them. The reason I say this is because in my mind it would cause more hurt and confusion if I told someone close that I have a plan to end my life. I thank god every day for crisis lines- the humans that work for them are angels among us. I can boldly state right now I've called the crisis line over 50 times since 2010, and I'm still here.

Being suicidal is not something to be ashamed of. It's something that's incredibly hard to admit, even to yourself. It takes guts for anyone to admit there not okay. Use the resources in or around your community to get the help you deserve. And yes!! You do deserve it. I've had some very tough days since May; I got sick and had to postpone the I'm 1in5 tour which was devastation to my mind, lost a great friend to suicide, had a terrible break up with an absolute beautiful woman, wrote my car off in an accident,  lost my puppy and the list goes on.

In November I thought that was it, that I could not do it anymore. I went as far as looking at payment of funeral expenses for myself; I wouldn't want to put that on anyone else. I figured I would wear my suit, so no one would have to see me naked. These thoughts were getting very intrusive to the point that I had a plan. This was the scariest time of 2015. I didn't want to let anyone know, I didn't want to even believe these thoughts were getting this intense. My plan was taking action. I had called the crisis line and even went and spoke face to face with a crisis nurse at the hospital. The mental health system in Canada is absolutely atrocious, and I'm not afraid to say so. I wasn't in immediate danger, and due to the amount of patients that were already admitted, I was to go home and call the crisis line every 2 hours. I was dumbfounded that was the process I had to take to stay alive for another day.

As suicidal as I’ve been, I've always thought of others. Would anyone even notice I'm gone, would I just be a stat, and an obituary in a local newspaper? Of course people would notice. Some of my greatest supports would be crushed. I know this and it's helpful and also a hindrance. I've thought about ending my life on my birthday before, for the sole reason people will only have to feel sad 1 day a year, not my birthday and death day. These are things I've spoken with my counsellors with and I assure you right now, I'm not suicidal, and have zero plans. I've reached a point in my life, that if I have to call a 9 digit phone number to save my life I will. I will not be stigmatized by my diagnosis. I won't let others suffer from the decisions I make when I'm very sick with mental illnesses.

My friends can say “call me if you need an ear” and I would still call the crisis line- it's just where I'm at. I'm a work in progress and I'm dumping the baggage that I've allowed in my mind for so long. Anger towards me will never take the pain and hurt and abandonment away. Taking action and talking to someone about it may start that process. It's working for me, and I have more baggage that an air Canada flight from Gander to Vancouver. I don't love myself today, but I believe I'm worthy of love. I believe love will happen in my life when I start to accept the same amount of love I give out. Life's a big wheel, and the love will come around full circle, I just have to put it out there.

If your suicidal, or worried about ending your life. Please hang on! Please call a crisis line. We need you! If your worried about someone that maybe suicidal, call your local crisis line, they have great tips and techniques on how to love a suicidal person through there moments of deep hurt and pain. No one commits suicide; they die from a treatable disease, mental illness.

#MuchLove
Paulie

The ties that bind us together

It's been said that if the ties that bind us together are stronger than the ones that tear us apart, all will be well. We will have stronger relationships with each other, and more specifically- family and close friends. As someone who has tried to hold on to my close friends like they are my actual blood family; I have to tell you, unfortunately, some have left, new friends have come in to the wolf pack, so to speak, and some have been around since the beginning and even if the communication is distant, we pick up where we left off every time. These ties are so strong even a veteran boy scout couldn't undo these knots.

The holidays are around the corner and we have to go through the whole "How has your year been?" conversation with some people who genuinely don't give a shit. I call it verbal diarrhea. Some people will be actually interested in what you've been up to, and some won't. Here's a cool new idea, prioritize your holiday schedule by the people who have been there in 2015- the ties that have been strong all year long. Spend time with the ones that love you, and who you love.

I'm not a huge fan of Christmas and haven't been for a long time. This year could be so much different. I'm going to spend a few days with my newly reconnected blood family in Montreal. I feel their love in action and in their words. I believe them, and I trust them. To me December 25th is usually just the day before the world junior hockey tournament starts. This year I have a massive opportunity to give and receive love from my family. The ties in this family are strong, and we may bend but I can assure you we will never break.

We will have moments this holiday season of sadness, and joy. We've lost some legends this year. We wish we could get one more Christmas with them, or one more rum and eggnog at the local outdoor rink. What we have to remember is that even though they are not here physically with us this year, they are all doing what they do best without suffering and pain. I like to look into the sky at night and remember my friends and family that have passed away. I have a hope and a belief that the stars we see in the sky are holes to heaven and those greats that have had to leave us this year are peering through those holes checking in on us every single night, not just the holidays.

Prioritize your company this holiday season. Be open to new opportunities and never ever forget those who have had to leave the earth this year. Look to the stars and reflect on the good times. Was 2015 out of control, or was it a forgotten year? It's your choice. Have a great holiday season and have an amazing, safe New Year's Eve.

All my blessings.

#MuchLove
Paulie

 

What is Love?

In spite of my former hard shelled person, I'm going to share something that has impacted me more than most lessons learned. What is love? Do you feel it instantly with someone or over time? Do you ever tell your friends you love them- like you do with your partner, or parents? For many, many years I had a flawed perception of what love meant. I thought it meant love was concrete; it had to be a certain feeling, or it wasn't love. Let me clear things before we go any further: love comes in many forms at many different speeds, at many different times.

Love can hurt like a paper cut after you stub your toe. There are ebbs and flows to life and love. I didn't allow myself to have the capacity to accept love. I didn't want it, because I was too fearful of the love crashing down, and subsequently leaving me heartbroken. I've had some hurt in life, just like any of us will. It's how we get back up, what makes us smile again. To me it's giving love with no expectation of love in return. It's more for me to learn how to give and ACCEPT love with no expectations. It's finding your worth and loving yourself to that amount.

I have thrown away absolutely amazing relationships in my life solely on the fact I couldn't accept the love that person had for me. It's something we must work on daily.  If we wake up in the morning, that's certainly something to love about yourself. Love that you’re alive! If we can get out of bed, even more love! Anything after that is going to be amazingly positive and possible if you give and accept love. For myself I'm learning to shed this hard shell. Let some people who love me, into my life. Be a bit vulnerable, but don't get taken advantage of.

Two and a half weeks ago I was not feeling love, I had lost my sweet puppy to an unforeseen death sentence, and a phone call changed that. I have searched for my family (uncles, aunts, and cousins) for years. I have been denied contact with them for 21 years. That is out of my control. What is in my control is my drive to meet these people. I found them! I received the best opportunity in the world two weeks ago. I got a chance to actually talk to my family. 16 people who have always loved me, and I never knew. It's bittersweet, and I will never take these great people for granted. For the first time in a long, long time, I'm going to have a family Christmas, with my blood family this year.

The miracles that come from letting go of some false glimpses of love, and embracing the actual love you feel, deep down in your core, are priceless. I'm eternally grateful for the resilience I have in my soul. Without it, I may have given up this search. I have found love in my family. I am learning to accept love in my life. It is a process of lowering the hard shells, and being open to greatness within us. Being vulnerable, and embracing the love our supporters have.

Have you ever thought, "I wonder if anyone loves me"? And not knowing people from all over the world actually love you, you just maybe haven't seen them in 21 years, which is out of your control. I love my friends. Like actually love them, and I love my family so much. I'm so humbled to have them in my life now and forever.

Dream BIG, Love Hard, and Never forget your worthy of the greatest love, and that is to yourself.

#MuchLove

Paulie

Not my time.

I have put a lot of pressure on myself. Turns out my own body has said “no”. I have to have more medical tests. I have poured everything into creating an environment for everyone to come together and feel comfortable to share their personal stories of #StrengthFromPain. A lot of people have invested a lot of time and money into I’m 1in5, including me.

With unforeseen medical problems and circumstances while on the road in British Columbia, I had to stop and come home to Ontario to care for my physical and mental wellbeing. I can tell everyone I'm not in a good spot in my life right now. The depression I live with is stirring and I am having a hard time after I promised so much to you all. I am discouraged and pained to tell you all that maybe this just isn't time for me to do this.

Many people have offered me help and have had to carry on with their own lives. It’s a big commitment to help someone go across Canada. My purpose was to educate Canadians and raise money to help others. I really just wanted Canadians to know they didn't have to feel alone, and that it's ok to reach out for help in moments of life’s pain. I am reaching out now.

The mental, emotional and physical impact of the tour I started and had to stop has taken its toll on me but helped me to make another difficult decision. There will be no tour this summer. It's with an extremely heavy heart that I make this decision. Feasibly it just won't work this year.

Building something like this takes a ton of time with many, many volunteers. It also takes sponsors, donations, and funding. It has to be coordinated and we need more time to put that together. A lot of well-meaning people had to pull back too.

It was extremely hard to come to this decision and accept it; to make this choice. I'm going to need to step back from the advocacy, education and awareness for a period of time so I can be stronger. I still strongly believe in #StrengthFromPain. I am strong in my commitment to sobriety. I need some time to rebuild my life and get focused.

Not every day is great, some days down right suck. Some days we need to step back for personal safety. Today I have to look after my physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing so that I have a tomorrow. I thank you all for the tremendous amount of support. I am “1in5”.

Eternally grateful;
Paulie 

Before you quit, Keep going.

Depression and anxiety are powerful. Over the last month I have experienced both quite heavily. Although stopping the I'm 1in5 cross Canada tour due to a serious physical illness was the smart decision, it was an incredibly tough one to make. I have gone through the "what if's" about a million times, and it has stirred up feelings of inferiority, of self doubt, of self hate. This is how the disease I live with works. I felt like, by stopping the tour I was failing myself and others. I had it in my mind I would die for this cause, because its just that important to this journey I'm on. I want to reiterate something very important, before you read any further: THIS IS NOT OVER.

This, for myself, is a journey to become a whole person, not a perfect person. I have had experiences that have not only taught me very important life lessons, but also taught me that life is not easy. Through my time on the west coast  walking on the road, and receiving great media awareness, I discovered there is an abundance of pain in Canada. I received a ton of messages from mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters of someone in there immediate family who is suffering through addiction, sexual victimization trauma, and or mental illness. The most frequently ask question was:"what can I do? Is there anyone who will help them?" This caused great heart ache, as it became more and more clear just how far we, as Canadians, must come to erase this stigma attached to addiction, sexual victimization trauma, and mental illness.

As the window to cross the entire country closes for THIS YEAR, it doesn't not mean that this is over. Starting August 1st, 2015. I will set out on roller blades, and running shoes from the Terry Fox Monument in beautiful, Thunder Bay, Ontario, and travel south east into southern Ontario, and ending in our capital city, Ottawa, Ontario.  I will travel between 40 and 45 kms a day, taking 2 months to complete the distance of 2300 kms. I will still have my hockey stick and ball, and our goals of creating as much awareness as possible will continue. We will try to raise 500,000$ and give 10 existing Canadian Organizations half of the funds raised(25,000$ each organization), we have only had one organization asked to be removed from our beneficent's, as we now were not crossing the entire country. We have room for 1 organization looking for much needed funds, with similar values, vision and mission as I'm 1in5.

Dedication, and commitment are attributes that make this as successful as it is. As the abrupt stoppage of the Cross Canada tour happened, some of our followers lost faith, lost hope, and had to remove themselves from following  the on-going journey. We have a great core of humans that are dedicated and commited to making this continue to be as fulfilling as it is, or more. I am forever grateful to those individuals who have never lost hope, faith, or vision that this will happen. As some know, the physical part of the tour is extremely draining. We had a medical personal resign just 3 days before our departure to Victoria. For the I'm 1in5 All Ontario Tour 2015, we need a dedicated, and 100% committed nurse/medical person. This has to be one of the most important pieces to making the continuation of the tour going. If you are a nurse/massage therapist, We would love to hear from you. We are looking for individuals to give an hour or 2 a week for the next 4 weeks to help with planning, routing, and fundraising. Please consider giving your time to help with this summers tour across Ontario. If you are interested in volunteering, please fill out our form here.

Despite the struggles within my own mental well-being, this is part of what makes me whole. To know that someone will be able to share there own story, That someone will be able to gain some freedom from within there own mind, That 10 organizations will benefit and grow to provide amazing , MUCH NEEDED, resources to those who still suffer in silence, For all 1in5 Canadians to gain strength from pain. The need has never been greater, and the time is no better than now. The struggle of depression, and anxiety may live in my life today, but I will learn to Love myself again. I will learn to be motivated by the fears that keep my disease active. I will stay mindful of my surroundings, and take appreciation in the generosity of others towards a collective goal. I'm 1in5 will become part of a Canadian Network of healing and recovery. With dedication, commitment, and support, we will give millions a voice, thousands a place to share their voice, and hundreds to hear their voices. We may just help save a life .

Much Love Paulie

I have every reason to give up. But I won't

Life is going to throw you curve balls, and make you adjust your stance in the batter’s box. Sometimes anything that can happen, will happen. We can let it destroy us, or we can readjust our plans and build upon it.

Trying to achieve a big feat takes courage, tenacity, strength and determination. In the case of the I’m 1in5 tour, it takes a healthy physical, emotional, and mentally fit body and mind. There have been unexpected setbacks. I trained for a long time to do this across Canada, and was very unfortunate when I hurt my knee, just 3 days in to the tour.

I didn’t see stopping the tour as an option, just as an opportunity to heal and get back on the road with the help of a fantastic physio staff at SunGod physio team in Delta, B.C.

After 2 weeks of intense therapy, I received my medical clearance to get back on the road and continue with the tour.  Physically my knee felt ok to keep going, and I was very excited about continuing this dream made reality. After pulling in 15Km on my first day back on the road, I woke up after staying in Wal-Mart parking lot to keep our expenses to a minimum, Sunday morning I woke up with, what I thought was a stomach bug.  I didn’t want to stop as I thought maybe rollerblading and walking some kilometers may help get my endorphins up and running. Little did I know I was in a lot more pain than I wanted to believe. I made it 7 kms and had to take a break.

I was sweating profusely and was beginning to get physically sick. I made it 6.5 more kilometers before I was just physically unable to keep going. Getting sick on the side of the highway. and not being able to replace the fluids i was losing, I was physically drained. Mentally I was exhausted and emotionally upset with myself. I was thinking in my head “how is this happening”, “why can I not feel better”

Monday I decided to take a rest day, and see if that would help ease my physical self as well as my mind. I still felt sick. Tuesday I woke up feeling even worse and decided to get to a doctor. For those who know me, going to the doctor is usually a last resort. I was disappointed and discouraged that I just physically wasn’t well enough to walk that day. My anxiety and depression had started to kick in. I felt like I was letting our donors down, letting our supporters down, but mostly I felt like I was letting myself down.

I told the doctor about my physical pains as well ast the emotional toll it was starting to take on me. He diagnosed me with a virus that was bronchitis and prescribed me medication and rest. 

Wednesday morning I woke up in even more pain, and was beginning to get very concerned. Right away I went to the emergency room, and saw a doctor. My dream of walking this entire country had came collapsing in. After getting some blood work and tests complete, I was diagnosed with a bleeding ulcers and acid reflux that was causing some damage in my stomach.  My doctor informed me that if I didn’t take the time out to let this heal, and ignored it, I would die on the side of the road. 

4 years of planning came crashing down. The last thing I expected to hear was that I had to stop for right now. I was devastated, heart broken, and crushed. I called one of my greatest friends and I’m 1in5 family members, Edward, and told him. We both were in some shock and disbelief. We decided to talk in an hours time and regroup. It was devastating to call him. I then called my addiction and mental health counsellor and emotionally fell apart on the phone. I said “I have every reason to quit right now.” And she said “yes, but I know you and you won’t quit, you just have to adjust your sails with the wind”. I had to make a big decision to continue with the pain and run the risk of dying on the side of the road, or pause the tour and seek major medical attention.

It’s been a whirlwind of a week, and the supportting messages and encouragement have meant the world to me. Right now I can’t physically keep going. I’m going to be coming back to Ontario to get the proper medical attention that I require.

We will continue on. Covering the distance of a 9,700km journey requires a certain window of time before the weather becomes a problem  With the medical issues I have suffered, we unfortunately have missed this window.  A new plan is being made.

Tentatively, we are planning on moving this journey to the province of Ontario between July 1st - August 1st of this summer.  Starting from the Terry Fox monument in Thunder Bay to the front steps of Parliament.  If I cannot stick handle across Canada at the moment, then I will at least journey to this nation’s capital raising as much awareness as I can about mental health, sexual abuse and addiction.  

Quitting is not an option. I have every reason to quit, but I’m not going to. The tour is not over and I’m 1in5 is still just getting started. This is something I have invested my whole being into this, I have full belief and faith this will happen. A sprained knee and a physical sickness is a long way from my heart and desire to create a world with out stigma,  The end goal of I’m 1in5 is to create healing and recovery facility for all Canadians to gain Strength From Pain, and raise funds for organizations that support those affected by sexual victimization,mental illness and addiction.

I can’t say enough about all of the support and encouragement we have received. We’ve created amazing awareness. Although at the moment,  I am discouraged, and disappointed. This will not drown me, but strengthen me.

Sometimes in life we have to look at the big picture for our own safety, and right now I would be doing an injustice to myself and all Canadians if I was to keep going with this sickness.

Thank you all for not giving up on this, and having the faith that we are the change, All of us, together.

 

Much Love, Paulie

8 years of struggle changes with one step

September 2006 will forever be etched in my brain. For 8 long years, that day held power over me. I never in my life expected to to be battling, myself, day in and day out for 8 and a half long years.  

The sexual abuse I experienced, most definitely ignited some demons that I didn't have the knowledge to combat the urge to hurt myself, and in turn hurt others. I thought I was the only one who felt like this, and that would never get better.

TODAY, I start on another chapter, and it’s a journey of over 9000 kms, but more importantly it’s a journey to start new conversations surrounding sexual abuse, mental illness, and addiction. Today Canadians can live reassured that you are not alone, even if you feel like you're the only one. I’m not doing this for fame nor fortune, but to make sure I do my part as a Canadian, and also a human being. No one should ever feel like they are the only one. and hopefully in the next 6 months we will establish that in Canada.

We are the change, collectively as Humans to save lives by simply having a conversation. I will tell you right now, If someone came to my high school back in ‘99 and said that this had even a potential to happen to me, or any of my friends , I may not be in this position today. I have struggled. I have been at the deep pits of my own personal prison, and all because that's all I felt like I deserved. I  deserve so much more than living in a car, slamming cheap whiskey back, hurting myself and everyone around me. This summer I will give the power that I’ve gained away to all the Canadians I meet, in hopes to enhance their own lives.

Today is the day, that you never need to feel alone anymore. Im doing this for all Canadians who felt like giving up, who felt worthless, hopeless. You NEVER have to feel that way again. You are no longer alone. If you have the will to fight for your life, than the life you work for, will be forever worth it. You can go through struggle, and that's exactly it, Through. You no Longer have to stay in your shame, no longer have to feel embarrassed to reach out.

The strongest thing i ever did was speak out. I am unbelievably grateful to be alive today. there are 86,400 seconds in every single day. the sun will rise every day, whether that's out where we can see it, or above the clouds. its still shining. I Can’t thank you all enough for saving my life, in turn saving some others as well. my gratitude will be a cornerstone to my recovery, and that’s what makes me get that power back from September 2006.

#MuchLove  Paulie 

 

Sarah Smith: Angels & Anchors

We all have angels, souls close to us, which have gone before us; those "greats" who left this earth before we wanted them to. We hold their memories tight, and let them live through us daily. I have many angels, and they carry me through the painful days. I let the legacy of their lives be lived through my daily experience.

Sometimes those Angels have Anchors here on earth, they may not be related, nor ever met each other. Sometimes you see those angels in other people. You make a similar connection and they become anchors in your life. Along this journey I have met some amazing, selfless humans. Some have become anchors, and some have become angels. I hold them both extremely close to my heart.

In November 2014 I had the opportunity to witness an incredible evening of inspiration, awareness and music. The music was from the voice of an Angel, Sarah Smith. Her voice is absolutely stunning and her personality is brighter than the sun. I knew right at that moment I wanted to meet her. Just to be in her presence gives me presents. A few weeks ago I got that opportunity. I received a very loving and encouraging message from Sarah about the upcoming I'm 1in5 tour across Canada. I was extremely humbled to receive this message and even more grateful to be invited to write some music with her.

I had an old journal entry that I had been playing around with on my own guitar. Honestly just messing around with some chords and lyrics. When I met with Sarah we sat down, laughed so hard our belly's hurt, and we came up with a song that resonates with the struggle of many; the balance of life when you've experienced pain.

I'm so excited for everyone to hear this amazing masterpiece performed by Sarah recorded in Germany with her brilliant Pat Anthony.. Sarah you will be an anchor in my life for eternity. I hold your passion, love, encouragement, and support very close. It most definitely helps me stay grounded. Much Love to You.

How many steps do you think you take in a day?

It all starts with the first one. Just like the first breath of the day, I will be grateful for my steps and my breaths. Starting on May 1, I'm going to be embarking on the wildest experience of my life thus far: walking 60 kilometres a day for six months, travelling across this beautiful country on a mission. The mission for the 8 million Canadians who have suffered sexual victimization, addiction, and mental illness -- a staggering statistic, and one that is very close to my heart and soul.

After I was sexually assaulted in 2006, I never thought it would be possible to feel normal again. I went into self sabotage mode, mainly because I felt a societal stigma against me. I thought for sure I was the only guy to ever be molested (NOT TRUE). I thought people would question my sexuality if they knew I had been molested by another male. I felt that I was broken. These are things that we, as society, have to eliminate.

This is a journey for all of the Canadians who have dealt with some sort of mental or emotional pain. For the round pegs in the square holes. For the desperate, but even for the average Joe. You are not alone anymore. I want to share this message of strength from pain with the world, and it all starts with one step. Please join me this summer as I travel on foot through many communities across Canada with my hockey stick and hockey ball. Bring your stick. Most importantly, have a conversation about what we can all do better to make this a stigma free country. Lives will be saved, and great memories will be made. I grew up in a middle class family like many Canadians, never expecting to face what I've had to face and live with mental illness. I am the average 1in5 Canadian, and average 1in5 Canadians lives like this every day.

Disclosing my sexual assault and standing up in the fight against this stigma that kept me sick for so long has been an experience to say the least. I have met some amazing people. This summer I hope to meet millions more. Please feel free to join me on my walk when I come through your town. By supporting this journey, you are not only standing in an army against the silence, you are helping extinguish the stigmas. I thank you in advance, from the bottom of my heart.

If you have you ever considered volunteering for big national events like Clara's Big Ride, or Rick Hansen's Man in Motion tour, you should consider working with I'm 1in5. We would love for you to apply as a volunteer -- just click here.http://www.im1in5.com/crosscanadatour/ We are looking to have an international impact, and the more people we have in the I'm 1in5 army, the bigger impact we will have. By giving us your time, you will help us change lives.

We are also accepting donations daily, and momentum is picking up. Any amount you donate comes with a perk -- for example, if you donate $5, you will receive an I'm 1in5 sticker. For a $100 donation, we will name a kilometre of the tour for you. Anything you can give will help support those who are suffering in silence. It's easy -- just click here.http://www.gofundme.com/im1in5

Our goal is to raise $1,000,000. Half of this money will help organizations that have had an impact on my journey towards sobriety and wellness, as well as organizations that share similar values, mission and vision. With the other half, our Board of Directors will be purchasing property and beginning construction of a healing and recovery center on Lake Huron. Your donation will make a difference in someone's life.

We hope this journey will be remembered as one that was inspirational and life changing for all Canadians. It all starts with one step. Will you help?

When the Puck Drops: 17 stories that will rock you, shock you, and inspire you

A few months back I was approached by Dan Blackburn, youth mentor and founder of Pillars of Greatness. I had been following Dan on social media for quite some time, but I was floored when he wanted to meet with me about including my story in a book he was writing. I was so humbled that Dan wanted to share my journey of #strengthfrompain in his new book "When the Puck Drops: 17 stories that will rock you, shock you, and inspire you". I jumped at the chance because what happened to me when I was younger could be happening to another hockey player, or anyone else that reads this book. My hope is that they will be able to identify with the pain yet be inspired by the hope, strength, and courage.

Here are a few excerpts from my part of this fantastic book:

"My partner didn't say a word to me the entire drive. On top of that loneliness, I had massive hesitations about going home. Locking my door for safety. Sitting on the couch that I was just sexually assaulted on. This would be the first time I would have experienced flood of emotions that I mentally felt, I had to cover up, or numb-out. Immediately I walked into the shower, and began burning myself, violently vomiting due the pain of the scalding hot water. I stood in that shower for more than 3 hours."

"Choosing my attitude everyday has been life changing. I have realized in my 30 years on this planet, no two days have ever been identical. I am grateful every morning I wake up sober. If its raining , I'm grateful for the fish, and nature. When its +40 degrees , I'm grateful for the beach."

Dan's book was released on Monday, and I know it will attract the attention of millions of people. Get your copy at www.danblackburn.com/thebook.

I'm so very fortunate for crossing Dan's path, and having the blessing to contribute to something that will save, inspire, and strengthen many lives. Thanks a million Dan.

Brothers by more than circumstance

I have always been surrounded by music. Being born in Halifax and having lived on the east coast, I can tell you it's a big part of the Maritime culture and lifestyle. In September I had the great honour of meeting a musician I had been listening to for 20 years, Sean McCann of the band Great Big Sea. At the time, we were both speaking at an event along with another great Canadian, Tiffany Rose. I was so excited and humbled by the opportunity to meet this person who had inspired great happiness through out my childhood.

I stood up there in front of hundreds of community members at the London Recovery Breakfast, bared my soul, shared my courage, and managed to inspire someone. Tiffany, who'd been sitting at the same table as me, was the person I'd inspired. She shared her story of strength and tenacity, and she also inspired the person who happened to be the next speaker, Sean McCann. Sean got up on stage and shared tales of his days of alcoholism, including a tour bus leaving with out him in it and endless Friday nights. Three years prior to the Recovery Breakfast, Sean had gotten sober, and Mondays were Mondays again. Life was real, and he could see and feel it. He also told a story that he had never told publicly before -- in fact, the only person who knew about it was his wife.

In front of hundreds of people, Sean told of his own victimization at the hands of a priest when he was just 15 years old. The room fell silent as everyone listened to his story. Telling that story took true courage, and we were all inspired by it. It was an amazing experience to witness. To think that I had a small part in making him comfortable enough to disclose his experience of sexual abuse was a moment I will never forget. It all became clear to me in that moment: speaking out helped someone. It was a chain reaction: former NHL all-star Theo Fleury did it for me when he spoke, helping ease me into sharing my pain. After telling my story, I was able to help someone with theirs. I know that when Sean shared his story, he helped someone too. To help someone gain strength from pain is an indescribable feeling, and it's why I do what I do.

I got Sean's number that day, and a true friendship developed. We checked in with each other weekly, and Sean inspired me to keep playing guitar, something I have just picked up in recent years (no, hockey isn't my only outlet!). Playing music has become a way for me to learn, grow, write, and experience something inside my body that I call "serendipity" -- finding something without even looking for it. I started to play around with some lyrics and talked to Sean about helping me write a song for the upcoming I'm 1in5 tour across Canada to promote mental wellness. I was very apprehensive about sending these lyrics to Sean. Nonetheless, I wrote them all down and sent them to him.

Just a few days later, Sean sent me what he had put together. For those two minutes and 27 seconds, I was in awe. I was overwhelmed with pure humility. Sean had used the words I had sent him to create an amazing song that showcases all of his musical talent. I listened to it on repeat for hours and was still as amazed as the first time I had heard it.

Not too long after that was my 30th birthday. Sean happened to be on tour with his "Help Your Self" album, and I went to see him play with fellow musician Matt Wells. It was a great night, and about half way through Sean's set, he looked over at me and told the audience it was my birthday. When he started into the birthday song, Matt presented me with a very, very chocolatey cake. It was a great moment to feel loved -- almost like having a 140 person birthday party at the London Music Club. He strummed his guitar a few times, and started speaking about the impact I have had on his journey, and how a few months ago I had sent him some lyrics. The flood of emotions started as Sean performed "Strength From Pain" for the first time live. I was in shock that this was happening. It was the song that he had sent me, the song I wrote the lyrics to. It was being played in front of over 100 people. I will always cherish that moment.

The song represents life on life's terms, and the idea of gaining strength from whatever pain you may have in life. I heard a long time ago that "pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional". I want this song to inspire people to never give up on life. When the clear blue sky comes falling down like rain, take your strength from pain.

From the second we met and shook hands, I have thought the world of Sean McCann. His courage is second to none, his resilience to overcome is beyond measure, and I'm so very fortunate to have such a fine example of strength from pain in my life. Thank you so much again, Sean, for this incredible gift.

To hear Sean's new album "Help Yourself" visit his website at http://www.seanmccannsings.com

Time and the Beauty of it

There is no time limit to recovery and healing. It takes as long as it takes, but it IS possible to get through the pain. If you can truly believe that, you will already be well on your way to recovery. Some may never fully recover from a trauma, or an illness, or a death, or any other difficult moment of life. And that is OK. Healing is not a race; it's set at our life's pace. We're always so busy -- we rush through meals, speed down highways, check our email while we brush our teeth -- but healing is something that cannot be rushed.

Progression in recovery is much richer than perfection. I don't ever want to be perfect, because that will mean I'm done learning. Growth is built in struggle. If I'm continually learning and growing in my healing and recovery process, I will be at peace with the journey. Not every day is great. But if you're grateful for the day, you're halfway to happiness with that attitude alone.

Something I've learned about this whole process is that the only time I'm against is old age. I'm 29 years young, and I have a lot of living to do. I certainly won't be bound by time limits. We have a tendency to put pressure on ourselves to do things within a specific time frame -- have a full time job by 25, buy a house by 30, get married by 35 -- but real life doesn't happen that way. There are some things that will take us our entire lifetime to understand, and if we don't accept the time it will take -- no matter how long or short -- we may never understand. At times, we may learn things that we think are useless, but at some moment down the road -- months, years, decades later -- we come to a situation or moment in our lives when we need that knowledge after all. And we will have it, because we were open to it in the beginning.That knowledge could be lifesaving, to yourself or someone else. Be patient with this life. We only have one, and it's more precious than gold.

The time in this journey is the amount of beauty you allow yourself to see. Even a year ago, I wouldn't have been able to do what I'm doing now. I just didn't have the openness to understand that we all deserve happiness. Time is a beautiful thing, and it's all about perspective. I'm encouraged by the beauty and even the heartache of time in my 29 year journey. Time helps heal. It's a burden to those who hold it with limits, and a wonder for those who live with the beauty of time in their hearts. Good or bad, time will pass. Stay in the moment.