How to Avoid Death and Incarceration


Sometimes, I will say things like “I don’t want to brag or anything” and “I don’t like to boast,” but I just started tacking on those additions because my husband asked me to do it. I let him win once in a while. Now that I think about it, he didn’t even give me a compelling reason. All he said was that ladies with a modicum of class and refinement don’t go around baring every small success. I don’t really understand his reason, but let me be proof that you can dislike something without actually knowing what it means.

Each December, I take a few days to mentally flip through the previous 11 months. I place imaginary checks next to the goals I set the year before and accomplished, roll over any unfinished business, and then spend the rest of the time going back to the check marks and giving myself a shitload of high-fives. It sort of looks like clapping, but a lot more boisterous.

There wasn’t a ton of boisterous clapping this year. Things were rough. I battled depression (ok, still battling, but I’m going H.A.M. on it), and I met myself for the first time. I gained a level of self-awareness I didn’t have before, and it felt like I was being introduced to the real me without all of the filters I had set up to guard myself against the truth.

I’m still disappointed by this real me. The kind of disappointment an adopted kid must feel after thinking that her birth mother is an opera singer who never forgets her coupon binder and rescues abused seals but finds out she’s actually a lot lizard with stubby toes who only eats at Carl’s Jr. A menagerie of embarrassment and shame and shock and waving some fists at God…that sort of thing.

Even when there is a shortage of check marks, I’m still a big believer in giving credit where credit is due. In this case, to myself. And since I have no trouble boasting about my successes, I’m just going to share the Top 2 from 2013 along with expert inside advice on how to do the same.

1. Still not dead: Cactus Cooler is my favorite beverage, but I try to drink several glasses of plain water every day. Sometimes, I add a splash of Cactus Cooler to the water because I’m a big fan of the artificial “could be citrus but not that sure” flavor. Dehydration causes death. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m very passionate about hydration.

I floss the fuck out of my teeth. I also use a Waterpik and an electric toothbrush. Skipping the floss might not kill you, but Gingivitis and cavities will eventually cause tooth loss. If you don’t have insurance or a lot of money to replace your teeth, you will not be able to eat properly, and then you will starve to death.

Just say no to drugs. I spent 8 years of my life high. I still can’t look at a bottle of Gatorade without thinking about crack. Drugs will kill you. Even worse, drug use will cause wrinkles and the sparkle from your eyes will disappear.

2. Still not in prison: On my saddest days, I feel like I’m in a prison because my thoughts and emotions trap me in a bad and ugly place, but I would never, ever, ever express that to a real prisoner because s/he would beat the shit out of me for being ridiculous. I get it. Real prison is worse than my tears of despair. But an even more bitter place to be is crying tears of despair in prison because there are no 3-ply tissues “on the inside,” and my face won’t stand for that cheap single-ply shit. This is just one of the reasons I can’t be convicted of any crime.

I no longer keep company with negative, dangerous, scheming, untruthful, deranged, whiny, dramatic people. Ain’t gonna lie, this swiftly removed a sizable chunk of my friend list which made me lonely and regretful of my decision in the beginning. My life was consumed by drama for so long that it’s still my default setting, and I gravitate toward volatile people. Two unstable people cannot construct a stable friendship. JUST TRUST ME. The other person’s volatility would set off my own. I narrowly avoided hitting someone this summer. Physical violence=jail time. Most likely. But don’t risk it.

I finally got honest with myself about having a rage issue. And I’m getting help for it. I have no idea what my life will look like without all this anger. And I’m worried that it’s going to take a very long time. I’ll know I’m fixed when my first reaction to conflict isn’t to hit and destroy. Dear God, how many coffee mugs from HomeGoods will have to sacrifice their lives before I’m good?

This is a lot of information and maybe you won’t remember all of it. That’s ok. Just floss your teeth and keep your hands to yourself. You are very fucking welcome.

P.S. I also give extremely wise and useful tips on the Flourish in Progress Facebook page and showcase my exemplary life on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress). Well, I plan to in the future. Right now, it’s just a lot of (t)hug life shit. Like and follow anyway. You probably won’t regret it.

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  • Melissa Burton

    Absolutely glad you’re not dead or incarcerated but sorry that this year has been a hard one for you. You certainly deserve a little light (besides Cal and Harv) in your life.

    Wishing you a good holiday season, Elizabeth and hoping 2014 will prove a bit easier and enlightening for you.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Homegirl, you are the best. Thank you for always being so supportive and encouraging.

  • nova

    I love the way you write.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      *blush* Thank you.

  • Jennifer Clark

    Ah, so *that’s* why I haven’t seen you in a while! It’s my scheming to make you cook! Ok, if you come visit, I promise to do all the cooking without any snarky comments about your junk food habit.

    Miss you. Glad to hear you are wrestling your demons and winning, dearie!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Miss you too. I’ve been too busy doing absolutely nothing and generally being a whiny baby to come visit. You deserve much, much more than that in a guest.

  • Are You Kidding Me?

    I floss regularly.

    It sounds like you deserve some high fives – those are two very worthwhile accomplishments.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Regular flossers get mad props in my book. That shit is very mundane and time-consuming and so easy to skip. but having teeth is, like, real important to me. I come from a family of weak teeth (my father doesn’t have all of his due to smoking/gum disease so I’m extra paranoid).

  • mommyonthespot

    Well, for what it is worth, I like the real you.

    Also, I will take you up on the flossing thing. That is one thing I didn’t do enough in 2013.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I’m a huge fan of the real you too. Whip smart, sassy, and funny.

      Girl…floss. You will thank me later.

  • Katina

    How do you manage to write? I’m not trying to be an asshole. I just – I got on meds for my special brand of crazy and while it def knocks the cray down a couple notches it also took away any ability to express myself creatively. I look at the notebooks and paints that I’ve played with daily for 20 years and go “Ehhhh….nope…”

    Is there a balance here somewhere? Am I just missing it? Are my meds just not doing what they should be?

    Any thoughts on this would be baller.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Not an asshole-y thing to ask at all. I wish I had a good answer for you, but I’m still trying to figure this out myself. I had somehow managed not to miss posting a single Monday for over 100 weeks, but this spring when things started going really downhill, I just couldn’t do it, no matter how much I tried or shamed myself or guilted myself. I JUST COULDN’T.

      I was looking at my archives the other day and I noticed that in July this year, I wrote one post. For the entire month. I feel like I can almost track my mental health by my ability to write anything at all.

      No balance. I don’t think even writers who aren’t battling anything emotional or mental have a good balance. It’s so hard to be creative.

      I can now tell as soon as I wake up if I’m going to be even remotely productive that day. I don’t just mean writing. I mean, like, a functional human being. And on the harder days, I don’t trip out anymore if I don’t get anything done. All I’m trying to do is make it to the other end of the day.

      Good luck.

  • Misty

    Let’s see . . . Not in prison? Check. Not dead. Check? Damn, I’ve got this thing NAILED.
    I love the real you, the fake you, the gangsta you and the blue you. You are an amazing person with flaws just like everyone. But, you floss. So, you are way superior to my non-flossing ass, so you’ve got THAT going for you!! ;)
    I’m glad you’re getting help and that there are days that you are able to get out of bed. That’s a good start. You just keep doing you. Because the you you are is amazing.

  • Trophy Wife

    You forgot to mention that we became inseparable friends, who have never met and are separated by that giant piece of land between us.

    Miss you girl – hope all is good.


  • Meredith

    “Floss and keep your hands to yourself.” Kind of all we need to know. Well put. I”m writing it down, with a colored pencil.
    Loved this.

  • KnotByGranma

    Preach it. I love finding the good… even if it’s been pretty crappy. Sounds like you’re doing okay seeing through the rough spots. Now I’m off to floss.