Life Of Illusion 5-29-17

This morning I had two people reach out to me asking for my bio. In truth, I don’t have one. I assumed everyone knew my story. 

I’m sharing a brief bio about myself in the event you haven’t read my “About” page. This is a condensed version of my story however, I hope I somehow resonate with someone today and make a difference. 

I’m Velma. I want to share my story with women (and men) out there who may find themselves facing challenges in life. Life is hard sometimes, especially when you’re a woman because often times we are seen as caregivers. There’s an expectation that we can persevere through anything. I’m no stranger to the pitfalls of life. There are many challenges, insecurities and fears that go along with trying to get through this thing we call Life. 

I’ve survived divorce, custody battles, the death of my father, a 16 year eating disorder, alcoholism (I’m 15 years sober), an emotionally abusive relationship while battling cancer, I’ve done my best to raise three wonderful children as a single mom. I’m a warrior and I’m a survivor. 

My dad passed away six years ago and I was devastated. My life turned upside down. I quit my job, broke up with my boyfriend, packed up my bags, left my family, friends and even my children to move to San Francisco in the hopes of finding happiness. Unfortunately, I hit rock bottom. For the first time in my life, I found myself facing challenges I couldn’t overcome. I found myself broken and I felt like a failure. I ended up sick, very depressed and I lost my self worth, self confidence and my strength to believe in myself and persevere. 

God certainly has a sense of humor. On April 10, 2014, I was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. I’ve been battling the wreckage of this disease ever since. I endured six chemo therapy treatments, 36 radiation treatments, a year of infusions, the loss of my hair, my eyebrows, my eyelashes, my fingernails, toenails and the loss of my dignity too. My knees and the bathroom floor became very good friends. I was on my knees every day asking God for the strength to make it through one more day. I made it! I’m a survivor.  

Life can be challenging at times. Occasionally I feel like I’m “living a life of illusion” however, if there’s one thing I know, in any challenge, this too shall pass. If God brings you to it, he will certainly bring you through it. My philosophy is you have to find the humor in all things. There is always something to be grateful for and there is always, always something to laugh about. My hope is that by sharing my stories, my experiences, my ups and my downs, that someone will find themselves inspired to keep going and never give up! If I can do it….So can you. 

I read a quote once that said, “She was unstoppable! Not because she didn’t have failures or doubts, but because she continued on despite them.” I am continuing my fight every day and I hope that I will be the inspiration you need to do the same. I’m an overcomer! I’m a survivor! I’m Fierce, Fabulous and Funny!

If you’d like to contact me, please email velmadunkin@gmail.com. I’d be happy to hear from you and offer any advice or encouragement I can. I am a certified John Maxwell Coach. My goal is to add value to the lives of others and make a difference. I hope I can make a positive difference in your life.

This is certainly my song!

Another Day In Paradise – Revised 5-24-17 

I wrote this blog two years ago on March 4, 2015. My sobriety date. Today I’m 15 years sober. I’m still climbing out of the pit but my passion for helping those in need or being a voice of hope and inspiration for others hasn’t changed. A friend send me a text this morning saying “Another Day In Paradise”. It sparked this memory and caused me to refer to this blog as a reminder of just how blessed I am. Despite the challenges in my life, I am living another day in paradise. 

Today is my sobriety anniversary. I have been sober for 13 years. It’s hard to believe that 13 years have passed since I woke up from a three day blackout in the back of a police car. I was on my way to jail for throwing a cell phone at my boyfriend. I had spent the weekend consuming an unimaginable amount of alcohol. In fact, my last drunk consisted of three fifths, a bottle of wine, a half gallon of whiskey along with many cocktails at the bar. It was Sunday, March 4th, 2002 when I entered reality. I had no idea what I was doing in a police car, I had cut my arms, legs and and face with a knife and all of my eyelashes from my right eye were gone. I suspect I burned them with a lighter. Who knows. The journey has been long but through the grace of God, I am able to celebrate my thirteenth year of sobriety. 
Between the years 2000 and 2001, my ex-husband and I went through a nasty divorce. It’s amazing how two people who fell in love and raised a family together could become so bitter toward one another. Divorce in any relationship certainly brings out the “ugly” in each of us. My divorce was no different. I find the humor in it all by referring to our divorce as “the War of the Dunkins”. If you’ve ever seen the movie “the War of the Roses” that was my ex husband and I. We fought over everything, however unlike the movie we didn’t have the chance to swing from the chandeliers. The divorce was so stressful and made me feel like such a failure that I found myself drinking every day for over a year. Of course, being the class act I thought I was, I rarely drank before 5:00 pm. I often refer to myself as the “Joan Crawford” classy drunk who never missed a cocktail hour. Looking back, I find myself so embarrassed. 

We all have stories, my story however belongs on TLC debuting as a mini series. The past few years have been a difficult journey but somehow I’ve managed to get through it without the use of alcohol. I have God to thank for that. 
I spent the morning volunteering at my church today feeding the homeless. Rather than celebrate my recovery, I find it more rewarding to give back. My story at times may seem overwhelming and more often than not, I feel sorry for myself but some how volunteering my time feeding the homeless brings so much happiness that even for just a few hours I’m able to focus on someone else’s story. I’m quickly reminded of how lucky and blessed I really am.

I began volunteering last week and since then, my life has taken on a new perspective. I’m happy again and every day I look forward to going back to my new “job” that pays me in rewards and blessings rather than with a big paycheck. I’ve met some wonderful people, I’ve cried many tears, I’ve swept floors, wiped spilled milk from tables, served oatmeal, assisted the sisters in handing out clothes and I’ve hugged people who live on the streets and haven’t bathed in several days and despite their adversities and challenges, they are filled with a sense of gratitude for what they do have that it’s hard for their gratitude to not be contagious.  

I have travelled quite a journey these past 13 years, I’ve been up and I’ve been down but somehow God has seen me through it all. Thirteen years ago I was rock bottom, ironically thirteen years later I’m rock bottom again. The good news is with gods help I was able to climb out of the pit of addiction and all the demise that came along with it, I suspect he will help me climb my way out of this pit too and who knows, in a year from now I’ll be able to look back and say “look how far I’ve come” and once again be able to say God carried me through this challenge too. A good friend once told me “Velma, you’re rock bottom. There’s nowhere to go from here but up”. I may be rock bottom but I’m moving on up!!!

In the meantime I’ll keep moving forward and take this time to ask anyone reading my blog to give back to your community. Whether it’s volunteering your time to help those less fortunate or even donating clothes or money to your favorite charity, please do so. It’s such a rewarding experience. My song for today is “another day in paradise” by Phil Collins. I chose it because sometimes when we feel like our lives are in disarray and we feel sorry for ourselves, remember there’s always someone else less fortunate and our lives really are another day in paradise. 

Love Your Kids Unconditionally 7-22-16

I posted this on my Facebook two years ago. I thought it was worth blogging about. These girls were so wonderful and so full of happiness and gratitude. Their circumstances were bleak. They were shunned by their own families yet they exuded such a positive spirit. My heart went out to them. All they had was each other. I should mention they were only teenagers.  I couldn’t imagine turning my back on my children. They touched my life in so many ways that day. 

I’m really weak today so I ran downstairs to Safeway to buy some drinks and  food to build up my immune system. While standing in line two young girls came up and stood in line behind me. They had a huge bag of bagels and donuts. They were clearly gay. I tried to make room on the counter for them to put their bag down. For some reason, I don’t remember why but I apologized saying. “I’m sorry. I’m just really weak today”. What happened next cracked me up and certainly gave me a new perspective. One of the girls replied. “Omg tell me about it! We are homeless living in a shelter and all we’ve had to eat is a bowl of cereal! But they gave us some money at the shelter so we are loading up on bread!” These girls were young. I looked at them and asked “why are you homeless?” One of the girls, Alice, an African American girl,  shared she was from Sacramento and her parents kicked her out when they found out she was “queer”. Her words not mine. My heart went out to her. Kimberly, a stunning Mexican boy turned girl, shared she became homeless when her parents found out she was a transgender. The thing about these two girls was they were so positive and so happy. And despite their circumstances they were more worried about me begging to share their bag of goodies with me to get my energy back. They were funny, happy and even more so filled w so much gratitude for all the blessings they do have. I had five dollars in my wallet and I handed it to these girls. They were so over joyed and grateful. Kimberly, the transgender said “omg we are so blessed!!!!! Yesterday we found a bag someone accidentally left on a cart and it was filled w cookies. Today we got some money to buy bagels and donuts and now you hand us five dollars!” We had a nice visit. I don’t always understand why people are gay, transgender, etc but what I do know is it’s not for me to judge. We are all the same. I also know that these two girls were a blessing today. Despite all their adversities and challenges. They were happy, grateful and willing to help others. Now in my book that says a lot. I may be facing my own challenge but there is always something to be grateful for! Today I’m grateful for meeting Kimberly and Alice!

One of the things that has stood out in my mind about these two girls was they shared how hard they had fought not to be this way. That’s so sad. Unfortunately they come from a culture that doesn’t accept them. What has bothered me the most and has forced me to pray for them is their positive outlook on life. Their gratefulness, their kindness and their sense of humor. Something they obviously learned from their parents. As parents I believe we should love our children unconditionally. Right or indifferent they are a blessing from god. Kelly and Alice are no different. It really is sad that their parents can’t bring themselves to accept them for who they are. I love my children. I will love them always and forever. Unconditionally no matter what. Carole, a dear friend,  posted this quote. I thought I’d share as a reminder to all parents, especially those w children who are “different” should regard their children as a blessing and love them unconditionally no matter what!

Be Inspired 2-20-16

In January as I was waiting to meet with my oncologist my brother texted me this inspirational video. I was so touched I began to cry. I’m a die hard San Francisco fan but the message in this video couldn’t have come at a better time. 

I met w my oncologist who didn’t have the best news but despite the negative there was hope. I made the decision that day that despite everything I wasn’t going to give up. Since then every morning as I get ready for work I listen to the above video and others to inspire me and encourage me to keep on fighting. Not only to beat this crazy disease but to follow my dreams and live life to the fullest. I’m rock bottom, in financial disarray & im fighting cancer every day but the good news is I’m fierce, I’m fabulous, I’m funny & I’m not giving up. 
I’m sharing some of these videos w all of you today in the hopes at least one of them will inspire you the way my brothers act of kindness to inspire me that hopeless day in January, inspired me and continue to inspire me every morning as I begin a new day. “I love you little brother!”
I met a man having a chemo treatment the same day I was last year. I asked him how he was. His reply “I’m great! Every day above ground is a great day!” I’ve never forgot those words. Keep in mind he was fighting cancer for the 2nd time. So today as you face the challenges we all go through on this journey to survive….remember Today Is A Great Day! Every Day Above Ground Is A Great Day! If you’re reading this then my goodness it’s a great day! Go out and make the best of it. Be inspired!!!!

As for me…..well let’s just say “I’m living life to the fullest!!!!”

  Maui Sunset  
  Inspirational T-Shirt provided by Hotoveli