me

The short version:  I want to spread the message of gratitude and it’s power to help us live with life’s struggles no matter WHAT they are.  Gratitude pulled me out of a very deep, life-threatening mess back in 2013 and continues to give me gifts until this day.  I did a project, I have a gratitude group for peeps with chronic pain, and now I’ve got this site and am writing a book on my experience.

 

The more detailed version:  I look at this person with her young family and know that she has no idea what’s in store for her.  My body worked exactly as it was supposed to with no effort back then and I didn’t know anything otherwise.  If only I knew to appreciate it back then….

Anyway….let’s see…where to begin..

I grew up in NJ and had a wonderful childhood.  I graduated college in 1991, worked as a publicist in the music industry in NYC and married my high school sweetheart, Rob (my angel), in 1993.  We bought a house in the county where we both grew up as we love living the country life (yes…there is country in NJ!)

We have two BEAUTIFUL children who are my heart. Riley was born in 1996 and Jake was in 1998.  I was fortunate enough to be able to stay home and raise my babies.  I LOVED being supermom and took that role very seriously…perhaps TOO seriously.

I became very involved in the school system and acted as homeroom mom, chaired PTA committees, became PTA VP and eventually President.  I helped found a non-profit children’s theatre group in my town (theatre & the arts are a big part of my family), started a catering business….I mean seriously…..I’m exhausted just TYPING it! What.  Was.  I.  Thinking?

I was a people-pleaser to the extreme and put my own needs on the back-burner.  I LOVED being known as the woman who could ‘do it all’, except there was eventually a price to pay for that.

In 2001 I got sick with a virus which brought out an autoimmune response in me. After a year of going from doctor to doctor trying to figure out what was going on, I was finally diagnosed with lupus & fibromyalgia.

I went many years of feeling pretty good and when I was not in a flare I still carried on with my crazy-town schedule.  Then in 2009 EVERYTHING changed after a stressful situation with one of my volunteer positions knocked me on my ass.

Pretty, huh?  Not..

I hate this picture.  My eyes….they’re so vacant…

It pains me to look at, but I need to from time to time to remember how sick I was.  SCREW the celebrities who think they’re so brave by posing with no freakin’ makeup on!  Post a pic of yourself at your rock bottom, and then I’ll be impressed! (But I wouldn’t wish this self-inflicted hell on anyone.  Don’t try this at home, kids….)

This was in January of 2013 right before my ‘bottom’.  The greasy hair due to not showering, the red nose and cheeks from the booze….omg…it’s just sickening.  I was 100 lbs and just a shell of the person I once was.  I’m so sad for this girl.  She was so very sick.

That stressful incident I mentioned in 2009 was the energizer for what became a 4-year lupus flare.  The pain was awful and every day my hope lessened more and more.  Days turned into months turned into years.

Rob picked up the pieces of our family, as he had no choice.  This once happy social butterfly became isolated, depressed, and unhinged.  I stopped showering.  I stopped eating.  I started drinking.  It helped with the pain….

…until it didn’t.  During the last year before I hit rock bottom, my self-medicating became out of control and I don’t think I even realized it.  Maybe I thought I was entitled to do it because I was in so much pain…I dunno.  I didn’t realize that by using this method of pain management I was actually making the pain worse and I became sicker and sicker.  It didn’t last long, but it was bad. I still can’t even believe this was ME….but it was.  And I own it.

So I hit rock bottom on June 20, 2013  and my family was instantly in crisis mode. This was the worst day of my life.  I had woken up in a hospital not knowing how I got there….

Turns out, I had driven in a blackout and crashed into a parked box truck.  To this day I do not remember anything from it.  I thank God every day

To this day I do not remember anything from it.  I thank God every day that He saved me from injuring anyone.  It will most definitely haunt me forever, but it is also what I use as a springboard to do some good with the gifts I have been given.

What to do, what to do?

My sister found a rehab in CT that had a chronic pain program and I was shipped off there for 30 days (you can find out more about it on the ‘chronic pain’ page.)  I sobered up and I spent a month learning how to LIVE with chronic pain…not just exist.  I left there a changed woman.

June 20, 2013 was also the BEST day of my life because I have used this rock bottom as the foundation to build a life again.  It was a GIFT.  So in a way, I also like this pic because it reminds me of how far I’ve come over the past 4 years.  I have worked my ass off to dig myself out of this hell.  I use this pic and the memory of that time as the basis for all of my gratitude – ANYTHING….no matter how painful either physically or emotionally…is better than this.

It’s hard to put into words how I’m feeling today.  And I’m not talking physically….because that really hasn’t changed.  I still have those same health issues that I had when my 4-year flare began 8 yrs ago.  As a matter of fact, I’ve piled more on top which can make things tricky for me sometimes.

But you know what?  I’m happy.  I’m deliriously HAPPY.

Gratitude does this for me, my friends.  Every single day if I remember to come from that place of gratitude and remember how low and full of despair and misery I was at my lowest of the lows, everything else seems very unimportant.  I’m telling you…it works. Gratitude works!

What is your main goal in life?  In its most simplistic form, what is it that you want?  Pretend that today is your very last day on earth…… think about your life and what you hope you will have accomplished.

For me, I would like to die knowing that I loved and was loved by others, that I was understood, that I had fun, that I took chances and didn’t always play it safe, that I was of service to others, and that I was true to myself and HAPPY…..and I’ve already achieved all of that….and that’s thanks to my always-present gratitude.

Wanna come along for the ride?  I can help you find it.  I’m telling you, you may not know it’s there, but when you are mindful of where to find gratitude, it breeds.  It breeds like freakin’ rabbits!!!  Gratitude breeds gratitude!

No more negativity!  Let’s do this thing.  Let’s start a gratitude revolution!

 

5 Comments

    • Lauren

      Awww, Cennin. We are ALL inspirations. We make it through the day hurting like we do and we LIVE even though it hurts and we go to bed annd get up for another day. Thank you so much for your very kind words. It is an absolute pleasure having you in AoG. Thanks for reading! xoxo

  • Alyssa

    I found you on instagram and Im in love! Your story is so inspiring and its refreshing to see someone else trying spread love and gratitude. I am married with 3 young kids Sometimes I feel like quitting, sometimes I feel like I dont know what to do! But God always gives me an opportunity to encourage someone else(which always makes me feel better) and to remember to be grateful for what and who I have. Sorry I just shared my “whole life story” I just want you to know you’ve encouraged and inspired me. Thanks again!!!

    • Lauren

      Hi Alyssa! I’m so happy that you found me! And I’m glad that my story can be used for good when at a time it was so dark. That time is what sparks me to feel gratitude every moment of every day…even when my chronic pain is giving me issues. It’s still better! Nice to meet another happiness spreader! Join my Facebook page if you’d like to get more regular stuff from me! https://www.facebook.com/gratitudeaddict/
      God bless. xo

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