DWI: The High Cost of Having Too Much Fun

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It’s interesting that as I get older I re-visit some experiences and recall those memories with total clarity—no matter how long ago they happened. This life experience was one that made such an impact I’ve carried it with me for almost 40 years.


Getting a little tipsy used to be fun.

Even though the legal drinking age was 18 when I was growing up, sneaking a couple beers from the fridge for my friends when we were only 16 gave me as much of a high as actually drinking the stuff.

I remember how my heart raced with anticipation whenever the “gang” got together. I was a “closet rebel.” To most of the adult world, I was sweet, innocent and a bit of a geek. I was the trustworthy one and always did the right thing. Of course, when no one was looking, my wild child side came out. It was amazing to hang with the “cool kids” and stealing some booze from a dad that would never notice elevated me to a position of admiration among my rowdy peers.

It was ironic that I never really cared much for the hoppy flavor the boys seemed to crave. And even though I wasn’t the prettiest or most sought-after girl in the group, I earned their respect as the risk-taker.

 

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Courtesy of mentalfloss.com

 

Reminiscent of “That 70’s Show,” I remember hanging out night after night on worn-out furniture in our basement retreat. The heavy base sound of our “too loud” music was always pounding in the background, while the guys talked about their super-charged engines and the girls shared the latest gossip. There was always plenty of cold beer and cheap wine to go around, so we all drank. It’s just the way it was.

Even though we all knew the dangers of drinking and driving, we all did it anyway. There was no such thing as sobriety checkpoints or breathalyzer tests, so as long as you stuck to the back roads, you’d be fine – or so we thought.

In addition to feeling immortal, kids seem to believe that bad things can’t happen to them— until they do. That’s how I felt, so at 18, when my boyfriend and I were hit head-on by a drunk 23-year-old and his equally blitzed friend, I was shocked. Thankfully, we had the bigger car so were able to hobble away with a broken ankle and a wrecked-up knee. The party-boys weren’t so lucky – the driver never regained consciousness and died three months later; while his friend suffered major internal bleeding that caused him to lose his spleen and a kidney.

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I suppose I should have been outraged at the driver’s stupidity of getting behind the wheel that night, but I wasn’t. What I really felt was the senseless loss of two young men who were just out for a good time. If only they had called a cab.

While my dad never condoned underage drinking, perhaps watching him casually drink (and drive) had desensitized me to its horror. By the time I had the accident, I was “legal” and had stopped drinking to impress. I no longer felt pressured to chug down a beer to fit in with the crowd, so our date that night consisted of hanging out at a local restaurant, eating chicken wings and drinking pop.

While I wasn’t as angry as I should have been at the reckless behavior displayed that awful night, I did recognize just how very close to death my boyfriend and I had been. Even though the wreck happened 39 years ago, I can still see those blinding headlights barreling toward us, hear the earsplitting sounds of shattered glass and twisted metal, and feel the terrifying panic that we might not survive. Even worse than that, on any other night, it could have easily been me that had caused the accident.

Just hours after the crash, as we sat in the police station recanting the night’s events, I remember feeling a pang of guilt as the officer praised us for being so responsible. I actually wanted to defend the driver of the other car when the cop said, “Finally, the drunk got what he deserved. Usually, it’s the innocent ones that suffer the consequences instead.” I felt neither responsible nor innocent that night. However, I did feel grateful that I had been given a chance to change things.

Ironically, it was my dad who insisted that I get in the car the next day to face my fears and drive by the accident site. He was determined that I become stronger for having lived through it instead of being stuck inside my anxiety. He was right to push me to regain control and never let my fears of what “might happen” dictate how I live.

It only took me six weeks to heal from my injuries, but it’s taken a lifetime of making good decisions to make sure I didn’t waste my second chance. While kids may complain about having to wait until 21 to drink or about strict DWI laws, I’m happy they’re in place. Hopefully, by making it a little more difficult for our young people to over-indulge, they won’t have to learn life’s lessons like I did – the hard way.

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I still enjoy a glass of wine or a mixed drink once in a while, and on a hot summer day, I’ll steal a refreshing swig of my husband’s ice cold beer. What I won’t do is drink and drive. I grew up fast that night. I learned that no one is invincible, that not everyone gets a second chance to make things right, and that I wasn’t willing to pay the high cost of having too much fun.

What about you? Did you experiment with alcohol before you were “legal?” Do you think DWI laws are overkill or just right? This message seems to be timeless. So, if my story inspired you to think for a moment before drinking and driving, I’d appreciate if you’d share it.


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6 Positive Mindsets That Give Your Dream Its Best Chance To Soar

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Kathy Caprino, from Women@Forbes, provides amazing insight into why women don’t pursue their career dreams with the same vigor and drive as men. 

It’s critical to incorporate these positive mindsets into your daily routine. Only then will your path be clear to moving onward and upward.

6 Positive Mindsets That Give Your Dream Its Best Chance To Soar


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Give Them Space: How I Learned To Avoid Murdering My Adult Kids

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Raising a kid is challenging. I thought I was home-free once my daughter had become an “adult.” Boy, was I wrong.

I wrote this post a few years ago, but I know this is a topic many Women Over 50 have struggled with or are still sorting through. I wanted to share my story to help others see that they’re not alone and that “this, too, shall pass.”

Take a look. I’ll bet you’ll find yourself nodding your head a few times as some of my experiences may sound pretty similar to your own. Enjoy!


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When my husband suggested three years ago that we invite our only child’s boyfriend to move in, I think I must have been high on cleaning product fumes, because I said, “Sure. Why not?”

At the time, our girl was three weeks shy of 21, and her guy had reached that milestone into true adulthood six months before. Lanie and Jay had been dating for almost a year and were already getting pretty serious. She was commuting to college and working toward a nursing degree. He was living with his mom and not-so-nice stepdad over an hour away. He had no job, no car and no one willing to help him get either one. While it wasn’t a parent’s dream match-up, they were gloriously happy, and he treated her like his princess.

Three days before my husband’s now infamous question, we got a frantic phone call at one in the morning. The kids were driving down a newly graveled country road out near Jay’s house, when a deer jumped out in front of them. Lanie swerved to avoid hitting it and rolled her SUV three times. They ended up in a ditch upside down, wedged between two trees. The fact that they survived with only minor bumps and bruises was my sign that there was a bigger plan for these kids and that something had to change.

I can truly say, at that moment, I probably would have agreed to shave my head and become a Buddhist monk if it meant my daughter would stay safe. The next best thing was to have Jay move in so they wouldn’t have to make that hour-long trek every other day. In hindsight, it was the best decision I ever made, but it was also the most naive one.

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Did you know that boys masquerading as young men are crazy? I do now! I also found out that it’s contagious and that their love-struck girlfriends will follow them blindly into Crazytown no matter how well you’ve raised them. Our always agreeable, respectful, considerate child became an alien with entitlement issues and a major attitude. And while Jay was appreciative of our willingness to invest time and money into his future, he just didn’t understand why I went ballistic when he brought home three pet mice and a puppy. For reference, the only pet Lanie was allowed to have was a goldfish named Urkel.

Pretty quickly, hubby and I agreed that we needed to establish some ground rules, or we were going to be on trial for murdering both of them. The first rule was that they had to have separate bedrooms. We had set up our spare room with all the amenities a guy could want – a comfy futon for sitting or sleeping, a smart TV for video games or web-surfing, a dresser and bookshelf for all his “stuff”, and easy access to the bathroom just a few steps away. Lanie already had a Barbie-pink room of her own with everything she needed – or so we thought.

After weeks of trying and failing to chaperone, listening to my husband rant about them “shacking up” in his house, and enduring my parents’ snide remarks about my lack of control, I was DONE!

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For me to get to that point was a monumental feat. I’ve always hated confrontation and would do anything possible to smooth things over to avoid it. That day I learned something about myself though. I learned that it was time to set aside Debbie, the mom, and bring out Debbie, the woman. I had done a great job at raising my daughter to be a thoughtful, caring, intelligent, independent woman. I was so caught up in trying to keep the peace, I didn’t notice that things had changed. My little girl was grown up, and she had chosen the man she wanted to be with. And whether I agreed with every decision she made or not, they were her decisions to make.

 

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Photo credit: RLJ Photography NYC / Foter.com / CC BY

 

We’ve had a lot more bumps and bruises to endure over those years, and we still struggle at times to get along, but I’ve learned that they need their own space. While we share the whole house, those two rooms upstairs are theirs. It’s funny – when I started treating them like adults, they started acting like adults.

My next job…to get my husband to loosen his grip on all HIS power tools. This ought to be fun!

Do you think I’ve totally lost my mind for continually trying to play referee to grown children or can you relate? I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. I’d love to hear your thoughts – for or against?


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You’re Smarter Than You Think You Are

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Starting your own business and becoming an entrepreneur (especially a woman entrepreneur) can be a terrifying prospect.

While we’d all like to use our talents to earn money, actually finding the motivation and time to sift through all the billions of gigabytes of digital information available can make even the most committed individuals want to hide under the covers.

I started this journey five years ago, and although it’s been a little scary at times, it’s also been invigorating. If you have a dream of sharing your passion with others, then it’s time to start now. 

Here’s my story. I hope it inspires some of you to take the leap and be the best you can be.


I’ve always considered myself a little above-average when it came to communication skills.

I like to talk—probably a little too much at times. I like the interaction with people and really enjoy sharing experiences.

But I really love to write. Like many before me, my love of the written word started with my first pad of paper and ballpoint pen.

I’d write about anything and everything. I was definitely teacher’s pet in every English class—not because I needed the help with my grades, but because I wanted to learn as much as I could about creating stories people would want to read.

Through each school year, I was the geeky one.When the other kids moaned about the essay portion of the final exam counting for 50% of their grade, I rejoiced. As long as I had the chance to write out my answers, I had it made!

Well, I took business classes in high school to learn the fundamental skills I’d need to work in an office, but my dream was to become a journalist AND someday write a book.

Like a lot of childhood dreams, mine got derailed by an overly critical Creative Writing teacher I had in my senior year of high school. While I was accustomed to reading the rave reviews about my work from teachers throughout my school career, this one was different. Every single short story, every poem, and every assignment I turned in was met with harsh criticism and disinterest.

I was mortified! “Had all my teachers been lying? Were they just praising my work because I was their favorite? Now, what was I supposed to do?”

I decided to put “Ms. Creative Wrong” to the test. For a writing assignment, I submitted an award-winning poem I wrote in fifth grade. It had been a class assignment when I was 10, and my teacher liked it so much, she submitted it to the school magazine. I won $50.

Fast-forward to my twelfth-grade recycled poem…and I got my one-and-only “A” of the course. I was convinced I HAD a gift and LOST it, so I gave up on my dream of becoming a writer.

Have I lost YOU yet? Or does my story sound something like your own?

As you may have guessed, that dream was resurrected (even if it was 35 years later.)

“People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves, they have the first secret of success.”       -Norman Vincent Peale

I went on to become an administrative assistant (see, those business courses did come in handy!) I never stopped writing, only I was invisible when I did it. For years, I’d been ghostwriting articles for my company’s marketing and advertising campaigns—I just never got credit. I thought I was okay with that, and I was until “I wasn’t.”

My nephew, a brilliant millennial who took a leap of faith, moved to NYC without a job or a place to live, and who is now a wildly successful videographer, came home to visit. He also composes music, plays in a band, and spent some quality time writing a graphic novel.

He’s read some of my “stuff” and has always encouraged me to pursue my dream of becoming a professional writer. After years of staying in the background, my confidence really took a hit. I actually heard the words, “But I’m not smart enough to write a book” come out of my mouth when he questioned why I hadn’t followed my passion.

While I didn’t realize it at the moment, a few days later, I started remembering some of the things my nephew mentioned. One word, in particular, stood out…FREELANCE.

Finding Motivation:

I honestly wasn’t even sure what a freelance writer was. I’d heard the term before but had no clue just how big the industry had gotten. I really was more curious than anything when I sat down at my computer five years ago and started to see what was out there. I hadn’t intended to launch my second career at that moment, but that’s what happened.

This is what started me on my way to becoming a successful freelance writer…

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Yep, my first Google search for “freelance writing opportunities” gave me:

2,570,000 results!!!

I thought I hit the “Mother Lode!” I was not prepared for such an unbelievable number of opportunities from one simple search. Obviously, this was a “thing,” and I needed to start learning immediately.

The wonderful thing about being a freelance writer today is that the tools of the trade are at my fingertips. Anything and everything I want to learn about can be found online. I’ve got to admit that in the early stages of my career, with so much information available, I quickly became overwhelmed. I had no idea where to start, what I was getting myself into, or who to trust.

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Educational and Business Tools:

The best advice I can give you is that you can’t start a business alone. I’m not suggesting you take on a partner or hire employees (yet.) I believe it’s important to seek out reputable companies that offer the services and tools your start-up business needs.

Technology can feel like a runaway train where you’re always trying to catch up. In the five years I’ve been freelancing, I’ve often struggled to understand how to manage social media, cyber-security,  and digital marketing.

Working with amazing companies like HP Business Solutions and HP Life, I’ve had opportunities to learn the fundamental skills I needed to start my own business through coursework, such as Basics of Finance, Business Communications, Social Media Marketing, Selling Online, and even Setting Prices. The best part…It’s all free of charge.

In addition, they have developed an initiative to bring together groups of global entrepreneurs to “share ideas, issues, and solutions to make businesses more successful.” This provides worldwide networking opportunities to grow your business.

While HP Life is getting you up to speed online, HP Business Solutions can provide the equipment and accessories you need to get the job done. Their state-of-the-art technology and reputation for high-quality products were all the reassurance I needed when I bought my HP laptop and printer, and I’ve never been disappointed.

Find Your Niche:

As I said at the beginning, I didn’t think I was smart enough to be a freelance writer. What I quickly discovered was that I had many unique work and life experiences that I could share through my writing.

By establishing a niche (or several) for topics I was familiar with (mine has been in the home improvement industry, and now, freelance writing), you’ll be better equipped to target your specific audience and create a following.

Build Your Brand:

This involves establishing a platform through website development, blog and content creation, and a social network presence. This is no easy task.

After a lot of stops and starts, I discovered that WordPress offered a package of tools to fit every branding requirement. With pre-packaged themes, tutorials, and a blogging community willing to answer any question, you’ll have a website up-and-running in no time.

Blogging for fun or for financial gain will give you the best opportunity to practice your craft and improve your writing. Initial packages are free, so you’ll have the time to learn how things work before committing to significant expenditures.

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Social network sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram can all drive traffic to your website. If your ultimate goal is to monetize your blog or other services, you must be active on social media. It’s impossible to keep up with this ever-changing world, so pick just a few sites and schedule posts in advance. This will save you the time and frustration of daily posting.

WordPress Plug-ins also allow you to link your website to your social media pages, so your published post is automatically sent to your network. Pretty cool, right?

Getting Your Feet Wet

Even though I’d been writing for most of my life, I wasn’t really prepared for how different it was to write for the web. Everything has a unique format that takes some time to learn. Blog posts, for example, have a more conversational tone and short paragraphs. (My apologies to my fifth grade English teacher who taught me that there was no such thing as a single-sentence paragraph. There is now.)

You may be surprised, but my first 100 posts were done through a content mill. Not always known for having the best ethics, content mills offer an inexpensive option for companies to obtain articles, blog posts, and website content. In turn, they take a commission for every order and pay writers extremely low per-word fees.

I thoroughly researched content mill companies before finally jumping into the game. I chose Textbroker to start my freelancing career and will be forever grateful for the experience.

There is no charge to become a member, but you are required to take a test to gauge your writing abilities. A “star rating” is used from 2 to 5. The higher the rating you achieve, the more writing opportunities will be available and the more money you’ll earn per word. While 1.8 cents per word may not seem like much, the first time you get paid to write, you’ll feel like you made a million bucks!

The open order topics are varied, so you’ll be able to write about things you know or test your research capabilities as you try to find your niche.

Unlike some unsavory mills, the Textbroker team truly cares about their clients and their authors. The first few orders you produce will be reviewed for grammar, punctuation, and content. They’ll give you suggestions on how to improve (there are specific rules you must follow), and they even provide free classes to help increase your star rating and earning potential through direct client orders.

Sales and Marketing:

If you’re going to be a professional “anything,” you need to develop a sales and marketing plan. For freelance writing, this involved learning how to sell my skills through pitches.

Much like the old-fashioned, face-to-face interview, those skills must now translate into a digital footprint. Many jobs are done remotely where employers and employees never meet. It took me a while to learn the new rules for finding clients. I enrolled in courses that taught me how to pitch clients, build a portfolio of sample work, and even establish price structures.

Online job boards are often the best places to find work that matches your niche. To get the first shot at higher-paying opportunities, you may need to pay for a membership, but the return on investment can be significant.

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Getting Paid

You may not always have a say on how you’d like to be paid, but when you do, the easiest way I’ve found is through PayPal. Establish a free account with an email address and password. It’s a safe system that protects your privacy while allowing you to transfer funds to your personal bank account. International payments are no trouble—for a small fee foreign currency is exchanged for USD. You can even create invoices right in the PayPal system so you can get paid quickly.

Are you afraid to take that first step? Don’t be. You can move as fast or as slow as you want. This is your business, so you’re the boss!

It’s taken me several years to break into the freelance writing business, and I’m committed to being a life-long learner. The industry is constantly changing and evolving, and when it does, I want to be ready.

“It’s not the destination, but the journey that matters most.” -Wizard of Oz

A plaque on my desk reminds me of this every time I sit down to write. So far, my journey has been life-altering. How about yours?

You really are smarter than you think! Get started today.

Has my story inspired you to start your journey? Have you already taken those first steps? I’d love to hear where your path has taken you. Won’t you share your experiences in the comments section below?

Enthusiastically,

Debbie


Giving Your Vision A Voice. Let me help you express your message.

Now offering Business Writing and Virtual Assistant Services. Visit my Contact Page to get started today.

#ItsNeverTooLate                                                                                              #AgingWithAttitude

Creative Walking

Who knew? Well, I guess genius, Steve Jobs understood the benefits of walking and creativity. 

I definitely want to try this to create my next post.

https://www.inc.com/carmine-gallo/steve-jobs-practiced-this-1-habit-that-triggers-creative-ideas-according-to-neur.html?cid=sf01001&sr_share=twitter

What do you do to come up with brilliant ideas?

What Words Cannot Express

No matter how many years go by, this day serves as a reminder that we must live every day to its fullest.

September 11, 2001.

The day that changed our lives forever.

These images (and others from that day) evoke an angst in me like nothing else can.

Finding the right words to express the emotional roller coaster inside me seems impossible; and yet, perhaps necessary to slowly close the wound that never has completely healed.

Please allow me to set these thoughts down in pieces rather than in prose. Connecting them now, even after all these years, is just too much.

Freedom. Blue skies. Deep breaths. Safe. Secure. Protected. Comfortable. Good. Hope. Everyday life. Normal.

Shock. Disbelief. Chaos. Turmoil. Horror. Evil. Fear. Anger. Despair. Death. Grief. Hurt. Silence. Broken.

Tears. Sadness. Unity. Compassion. Pride. Patriotism. Faith. Love. Strength. Determination. Survival. Heart.

Change. Suspicion. Distrust. Anxiety. Blame. Unrest. War. Discovery. Justice.

Contemplation. Acceptance. Remembrance. Rebirth. Awareness. Guarded. Changed. Never Forget. Still Free.

AMERICA.

With deep admiration and appreciation for those who protect us every day,

Debbie Dey


Giving Your Vision a Voice. It’s Never Too Late.