Two rare blood disorders?

 Can you be diagnosed with two rare blood disorders?Apparently, you can.

On Tuesday of this week, I had a doctor’s appointment with my oncologist. Just the fact that I now call him “my” oncologist is a little unnerving.

     He added a second rare blood disorder to my original diagnosis of Essential Thrombocythemia. He attached Polycythemia Vera to my blood disorders.
     Essential Thrombocythemia causes the bone marrow to produce too many blood platelets. Polycythemia Vera is an elevated red blood cell count. One of first courses of treatment for PV is to have the person give blood to lower the red cell count. I cannot give blood because my blood platelets would think they were losing some of their friends and scurrying around finding (making) more. He called it a “double-edged sword”. Doc will also be monitoring my blood every three months for the immediate future.
     Hubby made the comment on the drive home that it probably had something to do with my menopause and as soon as that cleared up, everything would straighten itself out. I was thinking – but not saying – I’ll let you and the oncologist talk about that one ‘cuz I’m not touching that with a ten foot pole. Then, I thought, could he be in a larger state of denial that I am. Probably.
     Then, as I was sitting down typing, trying to wrap my thoughts around all of this new information, I looked at my arms – which happen to be the extremities that I can see as I sit here typing – and this picture show began playing in my head. I could see the bone in my arm and the little blood marrow elves were working so diligently at producing blood platelets that they are exhausted. I want to tell them to slow down and rest.
     This brings me to one of the symptoms – tiredness. I have been extremely, unexplainably tired for the last couple of years, so much so, that I began taking a B-12 vitamin and then a multi-B vitamin – to no avail. I take enough Vitamin B to give an elephant ADD. I’ve been so tired that when I actually wake up and feel rested, I want to sit up and say, “Wow! I don’t feel tired!” I am just tired of being tired. AsJeff Foxworthy would say, “Here’s your sign.”
     Then, another picture flashes through my mind of the little Keebler elvespulling on the icing bag and making huge, beautiful, red blood cells and them joining the already overloaded blood cells cursing around in my veins. Remember the Keebler cookie commercial where the elves pull down on the chocolate icing bag and chocolate icing plops down onto the cookies? Now you can understand why I don’t watch scary movies. My imagination has a life of its own.

     The doctor also told me that within the year, he would probably have to take a sample of my bone marrow and bone to analyze. He was also adamant about us NOT going home and watching a video of it on the internet. He does not know me very well. I cannot look at a cut without losing my lunch. Besides that, someone already told me about their experience having bone marrow extracted. It wasn’t a pretty sight. I do not need to watch a video of it. My mind is a terrible place to be on its own – without the extra help. Apparently, they are having a problem with people going home and watching videos of procedures and then they are hard to calm down. I asked him how much Valium they give. He made it a point of telling me that they use a local. So much for visiting Happy Land.Hubby, not being privy to the conversation I had about the bone marrow extraction, asked Doc to explain the procedure. Doc then asked me to sit forward and he poked me in the behind on my pelvic bone. My response was a loud yelp. He poked in the exact spot that I have had a pain for a few weeks. I explained what happened. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he said okay, and did the same thing on the other hip. He then proceeded to tell Hubby about the procedure (holding pressure on my nerve the entire time). Hubby – one thing – payback’s a bitch! That hurt.

     While we were sitting in the waiting room, a woman sat down next to us and proceeded (without prompting) to tell us her life story. She did not even introduce herself. I guess she needed to talk to someone. She told us about her diagnosis and treatment, and a lot more. Actually, more than I needed to know. Maybe she doesn’t have anyone to talk to. She did say something that I had not voiced. She said that she was angry and her husband did not understand why. She tried to explain to him that she was angry that her body was betraying her with the cancer. I could understand that.
     I feel the same way at times. I look at my arms or my legs and it is as though I can see my body at war with itself; and I get angry. I don’t act on it and I don’t tell anyone, but the feeling is there. Then, I just step back and tell God it is in his hands. I want it to go away, but His will be done.
     That is about all I have to ramble about today; other than, I finally organized all of the books that I have to review. They are all neatly placed on shelves with a sticky note with a number to coordinate them to my spreadsheet. I feel so accomplished! And, my sister dropped by and I unloaded most of my donate box to her. As she was leaving, she made the comment that she felt like a bag lady. I decided that my addiction to bags had finally come to the point where I needed to gift someone with those that I no longer use. Even though the bags are used, they have all been carefully chosen and lovingly cared for and, they are like new and therefore, are like gifts.
     I even did something I normally do not do. I actually gave away a few books! It is also fig season and I have been busy canning figs. There is a bird nest in my tree and for some odd reason; the momma bird thinks the tree belongs to her. She may be finally realizing that I mean no harm to her or her babies because she hasn’t done a fly-by lately. That was a little unnerving the first time it happened. I even managed a few pictures after I parted a bunch of leaves and the little birds opened their mouths thinking I had dinner for them. I hope you enjoy them.

All Things Southern – Simply put – washing the house

    I know that everyone washes their house, or at the very least hires someone to wash it for them.

    Well, in this Southern household where equality reigns supreme (giggling here), Hubby is the house washer. I had a visit earlier in the day from my very first best friend, who I had not seen in several years, and, after she left, he asked me to help him finish washing the house.

Of course, I said yes with a huge smile on face, but that wasn’t really what I had in mind for an afternoon activity. So, like the good little Southern wife that I claim to be, I went grudgingly out to help.

This is what happened. Hubby did not want me spraying the mixture that he had concocted onto the house…because he wanted it done right.

Hubby did not let me use the scrub brush to make sure all the nooks and crannies were suds properly…because he wanted it done right.

Hubby did not let me rinse the house…because he wanted to make sure that all of the concoction was rinsed off – the right way.

So what was I doing all this time? I was helping, of course! I was sitting on a bench (which I kept moving so I didn’t get wet) watching Hubby wash the house. Pardon me – watching Hubby wash the house “the right way.”

Then, he informed me that he didn’t have to take a bath tonight because he had already been wet, cloroxed, and rinsed. Ummmm

I suppose if I had to guess what my part in “washing the house” was, it was simply to keep Hubby company, at which I excelled.

Has anyone else had this experience?

How to Win Some Blogger Love – Scoring Book Reviews

How to Win Some Blogger Love–Scoring the Book Review, Guest Post or Interview

The world is changing faster than any of us can keep up, and publishing is certainly not immune. Yet, one constant remains. There are only two ways to sell lots of books—good book and word of mouth. Period. Book trailer, bookmarks, giveaways, and flare are fun, but are certainly not major drivers of book sales. If you want to know why, take a few minutes to check out one of my earlier posts that explains why books are not tubes of toothpaste and writers are not tacos.

One of the best ways to generate word of mouth for our books is to enlist the help of bloggers who have large followings. Ah, but be careful. There is a TON of bad advice floating around out there about how to approach bloggers to review a book, give you an interview or allow you to guest post.

I know when I was speaking over the summer, a PR expert spouted off (with great authority) her “helpful tips” to get writers hunted down and tarred and feathered . Um, I meant, tips to make bloggers want to talk about you and your books.

Um…so does this mean you WON’T be reviewing my epic fantasy?

Normally, I ignore anything I don’t happen to agree with, but this bad advice is just far too pervasive and it can land a lot of well-meaning authors in deep *cough* yeah, that stuff. Many marketing people believe (quite mistakenly) that what works in the world of business works in publishing, and that just ain’t so.

(from –

So, let’s just take a look at some of the ways to make bloggers craft a voodoo doll of our likeness:

Bad Tip #1—Send Out Mass E-Mails

Yes, said marketing expert actually recommended that writers make a master list of all the big bloggers and send them an e-mail request for an interview, book review or guest spot.

No. For the love of all that is chocolate….NO.

One surefire way to make any blogger hate you is to send us a nice form letter that is clearly part of a mass e-mail list. I can’t tell you guys how special I feel when I see:

Dear Madam,

Wow! Whoa! Okay, I often argue that storytelling (writing) is really the oldest profession in the world, but Madam? Seriously? No wonder I suddenly feel the need for a feather boa and a chaise lounge. I just thought it was my normal weirdness.

Let’s just apply a smidge of common sense. The last time you went to your mail and some cable company sent you a form letter, did you get chills? Did you get ooey gooey feelings of super-specialness? No. Okay, so here’s a clue. No matter how “thoughtful” the form letter…it isn’t.

When this expert recommended mass e-mailing all the top bloggers, I just kinda wanted to punch her.

And don’t think bloggers will fall for….

Bad Tip #2—“Personalized” Form Letters

Yeah, I am not mentioning any names, but this advice really gives me an eye twitch. “You can send a form letter if you just make sure to personalize the first paragraph with tidbits about the other person.” I just love it when people fake interest in me, don’t you?

I love Dale Carnegie, and I read How to Win Friends and Influence Enemies People about once a year. But, here’s the thing. Dale was trying to teach people how to actually CARE about other people FIRST. His tactics were not meant to be some phoney-boloney schtick to get people to lower their guard so they could be more easily manipulated.

We are not idiots, and we spot a form letter when we see one.

At least once a month, I get something akin to:

Dear Ms. Lamb,

Wow. I see that you like training sea monkeys for world domination. But have you ever thought, “Gee, New York just doesn’t publish anything good anymore”? Critics are hailing The Chiropractor’s Assistant—A Tale of Love, Betrayal, and Orthotics as the best thing since Snookie’s unauthorized biography. I know your blog is top-notch and that’s why I am offering you a rare chance to interview me before I’m too famous to be reachable…

Yeah…I’m right on that. Right after I organize my liquor cabinet.

I know it is tempting to take short-cuts. I’ve listened to the fancy Power Point presentations at writing conferences, too. But, what might work in Corporate America can make us a digital leper in the writing world.

Bad Tip #3—Faking Fandom

This should fall under the “No, Duh” category. Don’t tell a blogger that you are a fan of the blog unless, well…you are.

Okay, now that I have talked about all the BAD advice, how do you really get a blogger to review your book?

Smart Tip #1—We Should Never Ask for What We Are Unwilling to Give

When a writer is asking a blogger to review a book, that is a HUGE time and energy commitment on the part of the blogger. It takes an average of 10-12 hours to read a book. Then the blogger needs to think, make notes and write a post. You could easily be asking for 20 hours the blogger might not even have.

Interviews are also tough. We need to read writing samples, research your background and even come up with witty and thought-provoking questions. I, personally, have to get my creepy panel van detailed and buy fresh candy. Interviews are A LOT of work.

So, before you e-mail a blogger asking for something, take a gut check. How much have you given?

Trust me when I tell you that we pay attention to people who take time to leave comments regularly. If a blogger gets a request from a REAL fan who has been leaving comments for months? Often it is a no-brainer. Bloggers are people and if you sow kindness and generosity, most bloggers will respond favorably.

Smart Tip #2—Make Sure the Blogger Actually Does Book Reviews or Interviews or Allows Guest Posts

I don’t do book reviews, so to ask me is kind of a waste of time. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to ask me anyway. Years ago, back when she was squeaky new, Piper Bayard hired me to edit her first 100 pages…and then promptly named me The Death Star. Yeah, so asking me to review your book is kinda like asking Ice Pick Vinnie to babysit your kids.

You need some wet work? Some little darlings that need to disappear? I am the right gal. Reviews? Eh, not so much.

But, there are bloggers out there who do review books. Seek them out. Follow their blogs and leave comments. Then, when your book is to a point it needs a review, you will have an established relationship and getting a review will be far easier.

I rarely do interviews. In fact, in three years I have done…TWO. So again, I am not a great choice when it comes to soliciting an interview. My blog is primarily a teaching blog and a formal environment for my general goofing off. Interviews are not my specialty.

If you have a blogger you like, just take some time to see if they even are open to reviews or interviews. This is just common sense. If you need to buy new shoes, don’t go to a florist. Check the blogger’s About Me section and many bloggers will say if they do reviews, interviews, allow guest posts, etc.

Smart Tip #3—Ask the Blogger What You Can Give TO Them

Present yourself as a solution to a problem. Many bloggers are short on TIME. Hey, we’re writers, too. If you want to do a guest post, have some written ahead of time and allow us a choice. If you desire an interview, have a nice bio handy and prepared. You might even have a list of questions to help us out. We might not use your questions, but they can at least help us get us focused and give us a place to start.

This is all just common sense. Serve people first. Be kind and authentic. I know it seems like it takes more time than e-mailing 50 bloggers and hoping a couple will bite. But, if you work to forge relationships FIRST, I promise that your time will be far better spent.

A really great way to meet bloggers is to learn to blog. There are few tools more powerful for creating an author platform. For those interested:

Starting a Successful Blog

Time is running out to sign up! A lot of blogs fail simply because writers take off with no instruction, and, because of this, they are left to learn by painful trial and error. If you believe you would like to blog, but you’re uncertain, I’m doing something new. To accommodate those who are still on the fence, I’m now running a Basic level for my upcoming blogging class that starts next week (and it is only $50 for TWO MONTHS).

In the Basic class, you get to be part of the WANA1012 team and receive all the forum lessons (none of the live webinars are included). This is a really great place to learn if blogging is right for you (Blogging Training Wheels).

If you’re ready to skip the training wheels and get started blogging, then get your spot NOW. My classes have a history of selling out. I offer a Blogging Bronze, Silver, Gold, and even Diamond, for those who are ready to go all the way.

This is a TWO MONTH class—one month for lessons and one for launch—that you can do in your own time, at your own speed and from home. And since you will be part of a WANA team, you won’t have to do this blogging thing alone, so your odds of success are MUCH higher. For those who want to do NaNoWriMo, we can extend the two months if we have to. That’s one of the benefits of being the owner of the interface :D .

So whether you start your own blog or just get out there and read a few, getting in the mix and forging relationships is more critical than ever. Have I missed anything? For you bloggers out there, what makes you feel warm and fuzzy? What can writers do to get your attention that isn’t illegal in all Southern states?

Hi, my name is Jack – a book review

Hi, My Name Is Jack

One Man’s Story of the Tumultuous Road to Sobriety and a Changed Life

About the Book:

In this grippingly honest narrative about one man’s journey from addiction and self-destruction to recovery and a changed life, readers will be dismayed at the hurtful patterns of his two alcoholic parents and how they scarred and shaped the outcome of their three sons forever. Watts openly talks of his multiple failed marriages, strained relationships with his children, overwhelming business losses, and the self-loathing and guilt that plagued him for years.

 In spite of all of this, Jack held on to the conviction he made more than fifteen years ago never to drink again. Gradually learning to make better choices, he discovered how to move past deeply engraved dysfunctions and become a productive, loving adult. Included are accounts of his efforts to live out the twelve steps in restoring relationships with family members and confronting the offender who molested his three daughters.

A story like this is one that continues throughout a lifetime. The glimpses shared in these pages will inspire readers to be honest about their own demons and provide hope for a fulfilled and joyful life beyond the shackles of addiction.

 About the Author:

As a young boy and a young man, Jack Watts experienced multiple expressions of religious abuse, which led to self-destructive behaviors that nearly ruined his life. But through programs such as AA and the support of loving Christians, he made much progress toward recovery. However, he found that the particular effects of religious abuse needed a program beyond what he had experienced. Thus began his journey to find the spiritual freedom his heart yearned for and the eventual creation of the 11-step program, Recovering from Religious AbuseJack has an A.B., from Georgia State University; an M.A., from Baylor University; and has completed everything except for his dissertation for a Ph.D. from Emory University. He has worked for nearly three decades in marketing, exclusively serving Christian ministries and publishers.

Jack Watts can be found on the following websites. Stop by and say hello.


The following was taken directly from Jack Watt’s website.

Why I Wrote

I wrote my story because I had all of this “stuff” inside of me that was keeping me from being the person I knew I was supposed to be. I realized I needed to get it all out, and that’s exactly what I did.

 Although I have been to thousands of AA meetings and years of counseling, nothing has been as cathartic, healing, or empowering as when I wrote Hi, My Name Is Jack.

 It started out like it was a massive fourth step, which is writing a fearless and honest moral inventory of your life, but it quickly became much more, as I began to learn about the dark side of my family’s history. By the time I finished, my story read more like a mystery novel than a memoir; with twists and turns so bizarre they had to be true.

 Once completed, I knew I had to share it with others. If I didn’t, the value of the lessons I learned would have been lost. If you read Hi, My Name Is Jack, you will get to know me really well. This isn’t just my story, however, it’s your story as well. Nearly everybody who reads it recognizes significant points of identification.

 Therefore, if truth interests you more than fiction, and if you are seeking encouragement and hope, Hi, My Name Is Jack may be exactly what you need.

—Jack Watts

Chapter 1: (From the Amazon page)

“I’ve Only Had Three”

“Jack, I don’t know how to say this gently; so here goes. If you want us to continue dating, you have to go to AA and stop drinking.”

 This ultimatum was delivered to me in the late spring of 1994 at a quaint Italian restaurant on Peachtree Street in downtown Atlanta, right above Underground Atlanta, by my long-standing girlfriend, Eleanor Benedict. We had been talking about Bill Clinton, who had taken office a little over a year before.
 There had been no segue. She just blurted it out. When she did, I wasn’t offended; I was surprised. I wasn’t an alcoholic. “I’ve only had three beers,” I said quickly and defensively.

“Tonight you’ve only had three beers, but your drinking has gotten out of hand. I can’t go on like this. It has to stop, or we have to stop. The choice is yours. I’m serious about this,” and I could tell that she was.

Now she had my attention. For me, three beers was nothing. I used to think of three beers as priming the pump before I started on Jack Daniel’s. I would have anywhere from eight to ten of those and wind up the evening with one or two Grand Marniers. That was a normal evening routine for me.

Eleanor and I had been dating for three years—going on four—and Eleanor had been pressing me hard to marry her. Having been married twice, I was reluctant.

She was a medical doctor, finishing her residency at Emory and about to make substantial money as an internist. Eleanor was in her early thirties, redheaded, and had green, captivating eyes that were warm, alluring, and troubled. She was five three and always seemed to wear too much makeup. She wasn’t beautiful—not in the traditional sense—but she was quite striking. She was also very exciting. There was never a dull moment with Eleanor.

At the time, I was doing quite well financially. I admit that I found the prospect of living a jet-setting, affluent life with a cute young doctor very attractive, but our relationship had its share of problems. One time, I was taking one of my daughters, Jordan, to the movies, and Eleanor came along to shop while we did. She and Jordan were fooling around in the car, and Eleanor bit Jordan. That’s right. My girlfriend, the doctor, bit my daughter, who was only eight years old at the time. Jordan screamed because it was a hard bite, which both startled and hurt her. It was all I could do to keep the car on the road as Jordan reached over to cling to her daddy. Eleanor apologized, insisting that she was just being playful, but the scene was so bizarre that I began to rethink the possibility of a lifelong relationship with her.

This aberrant behavior was not an isolated incident. Another time, Eleanor and I planned to go to a bed-and-breakfast inn for a long weekend in Savannah. One of my older daughters, Brenn, who was twenty-two at the time, asked me if we could drive her there and back. Brenn planned to stay with a girlfriend of hers who just happened to be the hostess at the same B&B where Eleanor and I were registered. Naturally, I said yes. Frankly, I thought nothing of it and looked forward to the long drive down and back, with Brenn along for the ride. She was a lot of fun. For this trip, we drove in Eleanor’s car instead of mine, which was in the shop.

Although Eleanor readily agreed that it would be wonderful having Brenn, she was secretly seething. When we arrived at the B&B, Brenn’s friend Jennifer, who was a very attractive young lady, gave me a hug, which was apparently a little too close and a little too long for Eleanor’s comfort. Having known Jennifer since she was fourteen, I didn’t think a thing about it—nor would anybody else in their right mind. Yet Eleanor, who had more and more frequently acted as if she had some kind of personality disorder, was not behaving like she was in her right mind—she was acting insecure and jealous. Although she didn’t say anything then and there, her discomfort quickly turned to anger. When Brenn left to spend the weekend with Jennifer, Eleanor unleashed a tirade of obscenities that would have made a sailor blush. I was stunned, but there was no appeasing the doctor.

I retreated to the bathroom to take a shower and to avoid further battle. My fear was that every other guest would overhear her shouting, making it impossible to look others in the face at breakfast the following morning. While I was in the shower, Eleanor hurriedly gathered her things, threw them in her car, and left.

I will never forget how I felt when I realized what had happened—like an absolute fool. There I was, a forty-nine-year-old man with his twenty-two-year-old daughter, stranded in Savannah—250 miles from home. I not only felt like a fool, I also looked like one for being in a significant relationship with someone who was that volatile.

Within an hour, I rented a car for Brenn and me to drive back to Atlanta, cutting the trip short by two days. While on the road, I left a message for Eleanor, telling her it was over, which was the healthy, appropriate thing to do.

But I wasn’t healthy. Although I did not realize it at the time, I was an alcoholic. Therefore I reconciled with her two weeks later when she came to see me—remorseful and in tears. That is what alcoholics do; it’s who we are. Even when there is no alcohol in our system, we still think like alcoholics, and it costs us. I was a rescuer, and my alcoholism clouded my judgment regularly and repeatedly.

It’s funny because Eleanor thought all of our “issues” were based on my drinking and not hers, but that wasn’t true. I think she had problems with alcohol as well, and like nearly every problem drinker, she was in complete denial. During our last Thanksgiving together, my family came to eat at my house in the Buckhead section of Atlanta. Being the host for all four of my daughters and their families, I didn’t have anything to drink. I was much too busy. By the way, this is also one reason I denied having a drinking problem for so long. I didn’t have to drink on every social occasion. There were many times when I never touched it, but in truth, these times of abstinence were becoming less frequent.

 Before the meal, everyone was talking and mixing very well when Eleanor, who was feeling no pain, spilled her red wine on my beautiful new white Burberry rug in front of everybody. I asked her to clean it up right away.

 “Let the maid do it when she comes next week,” she said with a dismissive, haughty laugh.
 Immediately I got a sponge and started cleaning it myself. Victoria, my second daughter, who was twenty-four, marched up and said, “Dad, why are you cleaning that and not her?”

Eleanor heard this, and the battle was on. They went into another room and let it rip. It was awful, and it seemed to go on for hours. Every once in a while, Eleanor would come out and refill her glass to keep her throat moist for the next round. By the time the doctor left to go on duty, there was nothing left to be thankful for. The holiday was ruined.

 She called in the early evening after everyone had left and said, “It wasn’t that bad.” She added, “The first two cases I saw today were Thanksgiving gunshot wounds.”
 “So I should be grateful that we didn’t have gunplay?” I said, still infuriated that the holiday had been destroyed.
 There were dozens of other examples I could describe, but everybody could see this relationship was unhealthy—that is, everyone but me. I met Eleanor at a Bible study, and we were attracted to each other at first sight. She was a petite beauty and obviously quite intelligent. I kept hoping things would turn around with her, but they never did.
 So when she gave me the ultimatum to go to AA, I went. I found a noon meeting at the Triangle Club, which was right behind a huge liquor store that I frequented often. When I went to the first meeting, I was surprised to see so many sharp people and virtually no street people. At the end of the meeting, I went forward and picked up a white chip, which signaled my acknowledgment of being an alcoholic and my willingness to surrender my problem with alcohol to God.
 My relief was instantaneous. I felt a burden lift from my back, and I was certain I was in the right place. Ever since I was in high school, when I first started drinking excessively, I knew I was different. I didn’t fit in—not really. At AA I was finally with people who were like me—people who thought like me. It’s definitely where I belonged.
 On the outside—the side I allowed people to see—I looked fine. In fact, I looked better than fine. I looked good. On the inside, however, I was a mess, and I knew it. In the second step of AA’s 12-Step program, it says that God can restore an alcoholic to sanity. At first this seemed a little extreme, but I soon realized how crazy I had become. Take my anger, for example. I would sit in a meeting and, if a guy looked at me in a way I didn’t like, I would say to myself, I can take him. If he even looks at me again, I’ll beat the crap out of him.

I always thought like this and was surprised to find that most people don’t. Even people who have a problem with anger aren’t that angry. My anger seemed normal to me, which is a pretty good definition of insanity. By the way, if a girl looked at me, I thought, She wants me.Sadly, I still think that way, which is pretty typical for a guy—even an older one.

 In those first few months, AA was my life. People seemed genuine and more willing to be transparent than any people I had ever seen before. At Triangle, there was a guy who led quite a few meetings. He was kind, accepting, insightful, and had an obvious desire to help others. He seemed genuinely humble, which came from deep within him. He was also gay and h…

In lieu of a guest post, I asked Jack Watts to provide a copy of the Conclusion. He was kind enough to do so. Enjoy.



I began telling my story the day I went to AA to pick up a white chip. That’s when I acknowledged publicly that I was powerless over alcohol. But joining AA involved more than admitting I was an alcoholic. In many ways, that was easy. The other part—realizing that I thought like an alcoholic— was really difficult.

It wasn’t simply giving up my addictive behavior that was required. I needed to change the way I thought about life, which has been more challenging. Drinking caused me problems—no doubt about it; but it was thinking like an alcoholic that made my life a wasteland. It produced chaos, dysfunction, and insanity—each requiring years of sobriety to transform. At the time, I had no idea what would be necessary to make me whole; I just knew I needed help and lots of it.

My surrender was also an admission that I needed God to heal me and restore me to sanity. Every successful AA story is a God story. Even though I had been a Christian for years, it wasn’t enough. I couldn’t solve my problem with alcohol on my own—most people can’t. I needed recovery—not abstinence.

***As I end my story, perhaps the best place to do so is where it all began— at an AA meeting.

A year after my meeting with Mona, I went to a 5:45 meeting at Triangle, where I have been a regular for years. I brought Jordan with me. She had just graduated from The University of Georgia with a degree in psychology. She was getting a graduate degree so that she could counsel children who have been sexually abused. Obviously, I’m very proud of her and the choice she has made.

As the AA meeting ended and the chips were being given, Jordan stepped up and said, “Hi, my name is Jordan.”

“Hi, Jordan,” several hundred people responded in unison.

She continued, “I’m not an alcoholic, but my dad is. This is his fifteenth anniversary of sobriety, which is a special milestone for him. That’s why I want to give him his chip.” Turning her eyes to me, she said, “I’m very proud of you, Daddy.” With that, she gave me a blue chip, as tears started to fill her eyes.

Accepting the chip with misty eyes, I looked at the crowd and said, “Hi, my name is Jack.”

“Hi, Jack,” came the familiar response.

“I’m an alcoholic, and it’s been fifteen years since my last drink.”

The audience, which was filled with familiar faces, all clapped, smiled, and hooted their approbation. It was a wonderful moment.

As the applause subsided, I said, “I remember the day I picked up my white chip like it was yesterday. I was determined to stop drinking, but I had no idea how to do it. It took about a year for me to come to the point where I no longer craved alcohol. I thought that was all I needed.”

When I said this, most people laughed. Like me, they knew my journey to sobriety had just begun.

Continuing, I said, “By the time I picked up my five-year chip, I no longer thought like an alcoholic. It took that long for me to become sober—completely sober.” Several newcomers groaned when I said this, recognizing the daunting task that lay before them.

“When I picked up my ten-year chip,” I said, “I had finally learned how to incorporate my recovery tools into other areas of my life. And from then until now—my fifteenth anniversary—I’ve learned how to live day-by-day in recovery, especially the value of honesty.”

Looking at Jordan who was beaming, I smiled. “Most people don’t learn to live until they are told they are dying,” I said. “I want more for my life than that. From  this point forward, my goal is fulfillment, which is achievable, as long as I remain  sober in body and spirit—one day at a time. Thanks for being there for me when  few others were. It means the world to me.”

As I sat down, I realized I was no longer a prisoner of my past. My chains have been broken, and I’m free to go forward, embracing the truth and the light. I’m free to finish strong.

As the meeting ended, Jordan and I drove off in my Volvo convertible. The weather was lovely, and everything felt in sync. With the top down and the wind gently blowing, Jordan turned to me and asked, “Dad, do you think you’ll ever get married again?”

It was a great question. After so many failed attempts, sobriety and counseling had taught me that I was okay the way I was and didn’t require a woman to feel  good about myself. Perhaps Humpty Dumpty would have to remain broken forever. At the same time, I knew I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life alone; so I answered, “I’m not sure whether or not there will be a caboose to this train, Jordan.”

Smiling, I added, “I’ll keep you posted.”

Knowing me as well as she does, Jordan just grinned mischievously; so did I. I guess we both knew the answer.

Book Quotes that I felt were important (few among many)

His bullying was no novelty to either Dick or me because Danny used every opportunity he could find to inflict minor physical pain or major emotional cruelty. In spite of this, we loved him dearly. He was our big brother, our hero, our champion in standing up to Dad. He couldn’t see the intensity of our loyalty because he was a bully, and since bullies are obtuse by nature, they often can’t see or understand what’s going on around them. They’re too busy with the corporal dimension of pain to comprehend the emotional side of life.

I was terrified. Blacking out was the kind of alcoholic behavior I couldn’t deny. I was scared to death; and just like Murph, I immediately stopped drinking – cold turkey – no slips, no relapses, no excuses. Also like Murph, I didn’t go to AA, as I should have; so I didn’t deal with any of the underlying causes for my acting-out behavior. I just stopped drinking – with surprising success – for years. But I was a “dry drunk,” with all of the causal factors for medicating with alcohol still lurking just beneath the surface, itching to emerge again and destroy me.

Since Martha’s parenting skills have always been exemplary, I’ve never had real cause to complain. Over the years, we’ve had no more than two or three conflicts, all of which were resolved within a day or two. Neither of us speaks ill of or undermines the other, especially in front of our daughter. Jordan actually believes we were well suited for each other and never should have divorced. Since we couldn’t make the marriage work, Martha and I decided to make the divorce work well. It’s something I’m very proud of.

I was shocked, but she was right. It couldn’t hurt now. I’ve thought about that moment a thousand times since, and it helped me  understand how cunning, baffling, and powerful alcohol really is. Mom was never sober – not really. She just quit drinking – a big difference. It has also made me realize that once you’re an alcoholic you’re never free from its influence. No matter how long you’ve been sober, you can never let your guard down. You can achieve great things through sobriety, but alcohol remains your constant enemy. You can never drink again.

Obviously I was playing a game of self-deception, but that’s what alcoholics do. They put on a happy face and say “Everything’s fine” – especially when it isn’t. they use alcohol to numb pain and blur reality…Everyone else sees it – but not the alcoholic.

But I knew that confronting Danny was my duty and my responsibility, regardless of the fact that more than three decades had passed since his offenses against my family and me. I had to stand up for the truth and for my daughters. I would be unable to live with myself if I shirked this responsibility.

I thought about the choices Danny had made in life – as well as their consequences. Because of his egregious behavior, he is alone, completely alienated from those who should be close to him. He is bitter, angry, unfulfilled, and friendless. Nobody cares whether he lives or dies – not really. Truly, the consequences of his actions have produced a living death.

From Page 131:

We drank for happiness…but became unhappy.

We drank for joy…but became miserable.

We drank to be sociable…but became argumentative.

We drank for sophistication…but became obnoxious.

We drank for friendship…but made enemies instead.

We drank so we could sleep…but woke up tired.

We drank to gain strength…but ended up feeling weak.

We drank for relaxation…but ended up with the shakes.

We drank to get courage…but we became afraid.

We drank to be confident…but became doubtful instead.

We drank to make conversation easier…but we slurred our speech.

We drank to feel heavenly…and ended up feeling like hell.

My Review:

Jack Watts wrote a forthright memoir about his life as an alcoholic. I enjoyed his candidness; his unrestrained approach to storytelling. His ability to tell his story – the good, the bad, and the ugly – in an unsullied way was astounding.
“Hi, my name is Jack, and I am an alcoholic.”
The book, in my opinion, is extremely well written. The chapters were short and to the point, which made stopping and starting the book very easy. I found no grammatical errors, and the book’s content stuck to the story. Often, when writing memoir, it is easy to go into too many minor details; losing sight of the story’s importance; this was not the case with My Name is Jack.
“Now she had my attention. For me, three beers was nothing. I used think of three beers as priming the pump before I started on Jack Daniel’s. I would have anywhere from eight to ten of those and wind up the evening with one or two Grand Marniers. That was a normal evening routine for me.”
My Name is Jack gives the reader insight into the life of an alcoholic. His story takes us through the ups and downs of his addiction, and while some may laugh, his Karma. I often speak of Karma in stories on my blog – my stories. I can frequently be heard saying “I must have had a hell of a good time in a prior life, because there is a permanent bite mark on my behind from Karma coming around and biting me.”
“As part of my AA program, I began to take a complete – painstakingly honest – inventory of my life. In so doing, I asked myself exactly when I became an alcoholic. I decided that it was in 1933 – eleven years before I was born.”
My bite is miniscule compared to the bite on Jack’s behind. If it could go wrong, it did; if it could come around, it did; yet, this man stood tall and jumped right back from the fire into the pan – many times.
“I prayed and asked God why He had allowed all this to happen. I begged Him repeatedly to answer me. Finally, one day a voice – like thunder – seemed to come out of the heavens. “I don’t know, Watts,” the voice said. “Something about you just pisses me off!”
Jack Watts is a man meant for love. His love and devotion for his children and his grandchildren shines through as though the Heavens opened up and pure sunshine came streaming through. While his life is full of the love of a good family, the one love he so desperately seeks has eluded him. I hope he finds that one special person.
The book is full of poignant phrases, as you can see from the above quotes taken from the book. Jack speaks with a wisdom that only someone who has lived life to its fullest, the good, the bad, and the ugly…
This book is a definite must read!
My Name is Jack can be purchased at Amazon AND Jack is offering one of the commenters an autographed copy of his book. Just leave a comment below with your email address for contact purposes. A tweet or mention about the give away will bring a smile to my face! Thanks!

All Things Southern – Bless her little unfortunate heart

       Yep! That’s about right. My heart is always in the right place; but what I’m doing just seems to get me in trouble.
       It’s the story of my life folks.
       For all you following my stories, you probably remember that about this time last year, I mowed over one of Hubby’s prized fig trees in our little orchard of a back yard. Putting it mildly, he was none too pleased.
       Well, he warned me the other day – now that spring is here and I’m out mowing the yard again – that he replaced the tree. Ummm – news to me. Needless to say, I was standing there with a roller coaster going through my mind wondering if I had already mowed it down. Since he wasn’t jumping up and down and ranting and raving, I assumed that I hadn’t.
       I was out mowing the orchard – back yard – today and noticed this huge picket – actually a tall piece of pvc pipe to be exact. It was marking a very little, teeny-tiny fig tree. That tree would have definitely been history! I’ll be safe as long Ryka and Calypso don’t decide that piece of plastic pvc pipe isn’t their newest toy – or the tree. AND! Get this! Hubby wants to buy me a zero-turn radius mower! Is the man nuts, I ask?! I’m am plenty dangerous enough on a regular lawn mower, I don’t’ need any extra help!
       I’m known for doing good deeds; or maybe I should say that I am known for good deeds gone wrong. It is truly not my fault. I must have had a hell-of-a-good time in a former life, because Karma has definitely got something on me. There is a permanent bite mark on my butt!
       You would think that after being married to me for fourteen years, Hubby would remember that I can not tell which way the wind is blowing – when it comes to knowing which gate to swing open and which to hold open. I inevitably get it the opposite – every single time. He knows this. There-are-just-some-things-I-do-not-get. I just don’t! So…knowing that, why doesn’t he just tell me every time I get out of the car to open the gates, which gate to secure? Hello – how many times must the gate scrape the side of his truck, or him take a gate out with his band wagon or boat trailer, etc. until he gets it? I don’t get it!!!
       Incidentally, he may very well think I do this on purpose.
       Oh, well. There were a few other good deeds gone wrong that I’ve done recently, but on the off chance someone he knows reads my blog, he hasn’t found out about them yet, so I am not going to expound on them. That should keep me safe for a while. They always surface – eventually.
       So – the moral of this little Southern story is: The road to hell is paved with good intentions – usually mine. Bless my little Southern heart!