The mission of Love Big. Big Love. is to help others build a life where love imagines greatness - in ourselves and the world around us. The building blocks of that greatness are often simple, every day choices toward love. People talk about how one choice, one day; one decision, one moment in time, holds the power to change the entire course of your life. Well - March 11, 2020 is the 30th anniversary of the day that changed mine. I chose this date to launch Love Big. Big Love., because it resonates with the energy of what has become my life’s work, and the focus of this blog.
So what happened on March 11, 1990? On that day, Fate, God, the Universe - whatever name you ascribe to the Higher Power that connects us and guides us – served up a life changing choice. I had been given the choice before, after all that is what I believe God does: he or she constantly generates opportunities for love, and it is up to us to choose to lean into those opportunities, or to let them pass by. The choice given me on this day was to wake up and get sober, or to go back to escaping everything by drowning my soul in drugs and alcohol. I was 22, almost 23 years old, and I had spent the previous 5 years unraveling and destroying the picture-perfect fresh start I’d had coming out of high school.
I came from a family marked by mental illness; alcoholism; divorce; scandal and bankruptcy, and a parent with a debilitating health issue. At 18, I was given a full ride to college through scholarships, a clean slate socially, and freedom to become who I was meant to be, without the drama and needs of my family. Five short years later I had thrown that fresh start away. My scholarships were gone. I had flunked out of college, and I was being evicted from my apartment. I had recently been fired from a job for the first time, and the night before, I had been bailed out of jail for reckless driving and a DUI.
The man sent to bail me out of jail was a family friend, whom I had not spent time with in years. My dad had called an old friend who was what we call in the south -“well connected.” Dad was hoping his friend’s connections could “fix” the DUI. Today, I know this phone call afforded me the opportunity of a much bigger fix.
Dad’s friend, whom I had always known as “Uncle John,” was a recovering alcoholic, and two years previously, he had lost his son to an accidental overdose. His son and I were the same age, and had grown up together. I remember the empty ache I felt inside the day I found out he died. My childhood friend’s struggle with addiction was such a tragic contrast to the funny, delightful, kind soul I knew as a child.
My Uncle John drove me to his house in silence, having already listened to my sob story of how I ended up in jail. Once inside, he sat me down and said, “Leslie, I think you might be an alcoholic. What do you think?”
Those words shook my whole world... I had grown up with an alcoholic father. That was NEVER going to be me! Yes, in spite of everything that was going wrong, I never once thought I had a problem with alcohol or drugs. I thought I was just trying to have a good time. When he ascribed the word alcoholic to me, it is eerie in retrospect how my soul just knew he was speaking the truth.
That night Uncle John offered me a different kind of fresh start. He told me he would support me for 6 months under his roof, if I would use the next 6 months to do whatever it took to get, and stay, sober.
That act of love, and my choice to follow its path, changed my life permanently. This is the focus of this blog – choosing love. When we choose love, whether as an action (Love Big.) or see it in a person, place, or thing (Big Love.), the journey of love imagines greatness. What we imagine, we create.
For me, the outcome of Uncle John’s act of love on March 10, 1990, and the choice I made on March 11, 1990, has been 30 years of a second chance. In those 30 years I have had the opportunity to break the cycle of addiction and mental illness in my family; I have been blessed with a happy, healthy marriage; two amazing, almost-grown children; and a career as a licensed professional counselor, where I am able to return the love and guidance that have blessed me and changed me so many times over the years.
While this was a beautiful, powerful moment in time … my life is not always happily ever after, I mean whose is? We all have our highs and lows. Like many, I have made a lot of mistakes along the way. One such mistake came on the heels of the illness and death of my father in 1997. I chose fear on the day of his funeral, and briefly dove back into drinking, but on April 29, 1997, I came out of my grief, and found my way back to sobriety. I have been sober ever since.
Out of that relapse came an even deeper dive into self-examination. So this blog will also be about making mistakes through fear-based choices. I’ll share my thoughts about how to recover, and how to slowly but surely erase the habit of fear. Just as love creates, so does fear. If love imagines greatness, then fear imagines shame.
The product of that fear and shame often looks just the way my life looked in 1990: broke, homeless, depressed, and self-destructive. But don’t be fooled into complacency even if your circumstances are not that dire. The outcome of fear can also look like a successful life cloaked in anxious self-deprecation and fueled by the pursuit of perfectionism. We see a lot of this in our world today, and it yields a very different kind of fruit than love.
I hope you will find something useful in this journey I am calling Love Big. Big Love. I will offer bi-monthly self-help posts, almost daily inspirational quotes on social media, spiritual fitness coaching and energy healing services. I will slowly add other resources to assist you on a personal journey toward spiritual fitness.
In closing, no blog about spiritual fitness should end without an opportunity for self-reflection. Click here for a free pdf fillable journal entry to type in and print. Reflect on the questions and start writing.
In your reflection, I hope you find something that adds to the story of love, in a world where the story of fear abounds. I believe it is a story that so many are hungry to hear and learn more about.
With Big Love to you!