Follow Your Bliss

Blog covering: Love, sex, motherhood, drug addiction, self-worth, body image, feminism, sexual orientation and activism.

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How Dealing With Change Changes As You Get Older

change-good-now-how-get-employeesChange is an inevitable part of life. We lose jobs, move away from our childhood home, break hearts, make new friends, break more hearts, graduate and flutter out of the nest. Sometimes, all by the time we’re in our late teens!

But how we treat ourselves and others changes as we shed old skin and adopt (hopefully!) better, more mature and more ethical life practices.

When I moved away from home the day I turned eighteen, I was completely gripped by the stronghold of a full-on methamphetamine addiction. My relationship with my parents was wrought with metaphorical termites, who had gnawed at the foundation for so long, it was collapsing before our eyes. And we were seemingly helpless to stop it. I was a scared, lost, confused, addicted teen and my folks were two survivors in their own rights, who had never put their own Humpty Dumpty’s back together again. They did their best, I guess, but never learned how to parent four children well enough so that they weren’t fleeing–first chance they got–at the sight of another, more promising structure.

The “more promising structure” was my then-boyfriend’s mother’s rented two-bedroom apartment in Canoga Park, California.

In fact, there my boyfriend stood, brown-skinned and stoned while I swirled like a whirling dervish, balmy, clammy, pupils dilated, mind racing, heart outpacing it, hopping up and down the stairs looking for a canister of protein powder. I was fixating on this food item that I most likely threw out with the hundred dollar bill my mom found in the junk pile of my bedroom. I had started packing at midnight and by 2 in the afternoon on the day of my birth plus 18 years, I was ready to conquer the world! If only I could find that fucking protein powder!

My mother spent the evening attempting to rile up my father enough to stop me (that was never going to happen—he wanted us kids to leave since we were young). So she cried. In that ugly tan leather chair with her legs swirled up on the ugly tan ottoman whose brass buttons left indents in your legs and she looked sick.

“Do you see what you’re doing to your mother?” My father asked, trying to sneak in one last jab before I left. One last trip to Guilt and Manipulation Island, where he owned a massive chunk of land.

“I’m not angry at what you’re doing,” my mother interjected. “I’m angry at how you’re doing it.”

aliceI’ve never fully understood what she meant but I’ve never forgotten her saying it.

Was there a kinder, more generous, more grateful way that I could’ve moved out of the house? Of course. Firstly, I could have done it on a day that wasn’t my birthday. If only for the cake alone!

But we make choices, often times, with the set of tools we have at the time we make the choice. Simple as that. And knowing that enables me to have compassion for people who wrong me and trespass my boundaries over and over again, like my parents have to this day.

Our choices affect our changes. My ability to handle change has improved so much since I was that little girl, aimless and scared to the bone. Even though I thought I knew everything back then (ha ha) I’ve had the good fortune of unlearning many lies and societal untruths. I’ve been able to discover for myself what feels right. What fits in the puzzle of my soul. By taking intentional and devoted time for myself, I’ve become a better version of myself, earned self-respect, healed wounds and even gained the respect of others, which means so much!

Before attending 12-step programs I crumbled in the face of uncertainty and drama. In fact, my life was wrought with drama.

Conflict was so difficult for me to confront that I would often times lie or disappear or accept other people’s versions of what I had done.

Other people’s realities became my reality because I wasn’t solid enough in my own life and I didn’t know what my truths were or how to express them.

It was fight or flight mode all the time. Unable to de-escalate a situation or even explain myself, I found myself turning mole hills into mountains. Minuscule interactions became fights. I heard myself lie more times than I’d like to admit. Situations were black or white. Relationships were on or off and my heart was open or closed.

Again, our choices affect our changes. I quit jobs without having another job to replace it. I slept with somebody without even discussing what our future would be. I gossiped relentlessly about people that I cared about. I would ask for advice when I knew the answer because I didn’t want to face my own inner truths. Despite making Cardinal Rules, I encroached on my own boundaries and did what I wanted even though the consequences brought shame and darkness into my life.

I lived a reckless and self sabotaging life and I left a whirlwind of wreckage in my wake. This is not a good way to collect people who care about you. In fact, people were somewhat disposable to me because I was somewhat disposable to myself.

I think the opposite of demons is grace. “There but for the grace of God go I.”

she+wears+her+demons+with+graceBecause my third-eye was not open and my spiritual practice was unclear, change affected me in a radical way. Especially when I wasn’t the one initiating the change! And because change was so scary, I often initiated change in a haphazard and clumsy way, negatively affecting those around me.

Without excuse, I admit, I’m a work in progress and it has taken me awhile to realize that I have value and others have value, whether they can help me or not. We are all intrinsically linked and it is important—now as much as ever—to remember that we are spiritual creatures here on this earth despite our skin color or our ability to understand our effect on other people.

Time is a great healer and it’s also a great truth teller, as Katy Perry might attest to.

When we get to know ourselves better and with the natural course of time, how we approach change (both self-engineered and not) changes.

When you’re younger, you burn bridges, break bonds and try to bury your past mistakes in favor of a more manicured version of reality.

But as you grow older you realize that life is a continuum. You *will* see people you have wronged. You can make amends. You can turn down the drama several notches and view change in a more positive light. You can cultivate change into a more positive experience, filled with hopefulness and faith.

If you’re lucky, towns are small, memories are short, and hearts are big. Keep the good people close and watch magic grow where once there was only ashes.

…Follow Your Bliss xoxo

“She Wears Her Demons with Grace” sketch by:

Did you find this post insightful or interesting? Have your own thoughts on Change, Family and Addiction? Leave your comment below. 

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RELATED: Saying Goodbye To My Eating Disorder

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Darrah Le Montre is a writer and journalist and devoted mom. Her work has been published by Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, The Fix and nudie blog SuicideGirls.

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FROZEN: A Story About Fertility

rena-strober-egg-789x526Guest writer Rena Strober on freezing her eggs and starting a conversation


[Editor’s note: With Nora Ephron-esque comedic flair, Rena Strober takes heart-wrenching choices and makes them funny! There are many ways to be a mother and various avenues into motherhood. This week, Strober lets us witness her unfolding journey. Enjoy!]

By Rena Strober

Another Mothers’ Day has come and gone. What did I get for this holiday celebrating motherhood? Nothing. It was just another day when I didn’t receive anything from my six frozen eggs, tucked comfortably in a fertility freezer in Encino. I don’t mean to sound needy, but I do check in on them from time to time, and I have made sure they’re sung to sleep to the Frozen soundtrack four times a week. And I do pay their rent! A little gratitude isn’t too much to ask for, is it?

Technically, I’m not a mother of children, but I like to consider myself a mother of other things: I mother my career, I mother a basil plant I recently bought at Trader Joe’s and I mother that spider I didn’t kill in my shower on Tuesday. Instead I let him remain on the empty bottle of body wash where I assume he was reading about the all-natural ingredients. Only a good mother would offer organic body wash. And his life.

But over the past few years, the pang of wanting to mother a child hits me multiple times a week. It hits me as I teach seven-year-old children to sing. It hits me at 4:54 AM when I’m up contemplating all my life’s choices. And it definitely hits me when my niece asks “Auntie Rena, why don’t you have kids?” (Why are kids so honest!?)

Two years ago, I had been sitting in LA traffic when NPR aired a show featuring a book about women in their 30s who were dating the wrong men and rushing motherhood before they were ready. I pulled my car over next to the La Brea Tar Pits and listened intently to every word. I was in my mid-30s; I always knew NPR was for liberals like me, but this time I felt like Terry Gross was talking directly to me.

A girl from my weekly Happy Hour group is the anesthesiologist for a well-known fertility doctor; after three $5 glasses of Chardonnay one night, she told me it was time. The next day I made an appointment with Dr. Boostenfar at HRC Fertility. Mostly because his name made me giggle, but I had also heard amazing things about him.

What’s worse than a first date from JDate? An initial evaluation with a fertility specialist. I bit my nails and picked my polish off because of nerves. What if I found out I can’t have kids, that my eggs are already fried and the only way to enjoy them is in a breakfast burrito? I feared that, although people assume I’m 27, my insides are truer to my real age. Which is, let’s just say, higher.

So I did what I could do: I made sure I looked extra young that day. On my way to the doctor, I listened to the Disney Pandora station and belted out “Part of Your World” (from “The Little Mermaid”) and “Chim Chimminy” (from “Mary Poppins”); I pulled my hair into a pony tail, put on an ironic hip t-shirt from Los Feliz and grabbed pink lip gloss from CVS. Maybe my outsides could trick my insides into looking younger too.

“Wow, you don’t look your age, Rena,” the doctor commented before the exam. “But let’s get in there and see how healthy you are and if you’re a candidate for egg freezing.”

I never thought I’d never find a position more uncomfortable than first date sex but then I had my first ultrasound…without the dinner and drinks. My robe was shapeless and opened in the front, my legs were spread in the most ungraceful position and this “nice doctor” was in no way looking for a “nice Jewish girl.”

After poking around a lot, Dr. B. spoke. “Oh, actually, you look your age on the inside.” What was he doing, counting the rings? Ok, this dose of reality – that although I could act and dress younger, my reproductive organs would tell their own story – shot me into panic mode. “I want to do this, and do this as soon as possible,” I realized. We scheduled my procedure for three weeks later.

The hardest thing to swallow about this whole process was the ”egg-surance” – the extraction and the storage is not cheap, and as an actor in LA, I didn’t have thousands of extra dollars sitting in a savings account. But I did have plenty of chutzpah.

The most expensive part of the process is paying for the medication: $4,000 for the hormones and shots. And so, I turned to the network of women I had collected over the years.

I put together an email telling my personal story of wanting to be a mother but not being in the right place in my life to do it. I spoke of egg freezing and how it has come so far. I then asked that if anyone had leftover fertility medication or knew anyone who had recently been through IVF and that I would trade a personal song and/or latte for whatever drugs they had.

What happened next was nothing short of a Hannukah miracle. The 25 emails turned into 50 which turned into 250, forwarded around the country. All of a sudden I was getting emails from strangers, women who connected to my story and wanted to help.

The next weekend I set out with a Starbucks card and and open heart and made my way around Los Angeles collecting needles, Follistum, Menopur and even alcohol pads. Each door I knocked on led to 20 minutes of honest chat with women about their fertility experiences. Some of these amazing women found success – we talked as a baby sat on the floor next to us. Others never got pregnant but were happy to share their leftover drugs with me. It was a beautiful, deep, feminine bond like none I’ve ever known.

Two weeks later I started with the shots; six days after that, I had six little eggs gently removed from my ovaries and placed in a freezer in Encino.

For the past two Mothers’ Days, as I ordered roses for my own mom, I sat and thought about my eggs– my tiny chances or ”Olafs,” as I like to call them – sitting in a freezer and waiting for the thaw.

Perhaps I’ll use them soon, or maybe they’ll remain frozen forever. But either way, I feel so good about my decision. And beyond my personal experience and because of it, I believe now more than ever that it’s time that fertility and the advances in modern reproductive science become part of our daily conversation. If nothing else, it brings women closer together and for that I am grateful.

This story first appeared at Grok Nation.
MG_7738Rena Strober is a native New Yorker currently living and working in Los Angeles. She made her Broadway debut in Les Miserables and went on to perform on and Off-Broadway for a decade. Some shows included Fiddler on the Roof, Beauty & The Beast, Reefer Madness, Bat Boy and more. She is currently recurring on Disney’s “Liv & Maddie” and has guest starred on “Shameless,” “The Big Bang Theory” and “Adult Swim.” Rena is also well known for her voice work on Disney’s “Penn Zero,” “Ever After High,” “Sailor Moon” and dozens of video games including Fire Emblem Fates, Republique and Zero Escape. When she’s not working as an actor, Rena teaches voice at the Academy of Music for the Blind and is their director of Outreach. Learn more about Rena at: Follow her on Twitter.

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Darrah Singing!

Hi friends! Happy Saturday! I’m enjoying this lazy afternoon, drinking Starbucks Pike Roast and working on a writing assignment. Last Saturday, I was hanging out in bed singing along with one of my fave singer/songwriters, Jewel Kilcher. When she first arrived on the music scene in the middle-90s, with her eternal white tank tops and that mystical feather hanging off her acoustic guitar, I was totally mesmerized. I listened to her debut CD “Pieces of You” so many times I scratched it up! One of the sweetest #1 crush songs on it is called “Near Me Always.” Here I lend my voice to it.

Listen to more of my covers in the SINGING tab.

Enjoy your long Memorial Day weekend! Check back Tuesday for a new post! And be sure to sign up for my e-newsletter DARRAH’S CLUB by entering your email address in the box to the right! —–>
Darrah xoxo

Singing “Near Me Always” by Jewel

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You’re Only As Sick As Your Secrets


What Is Privacy In This No-Privacy New World?

By Darrah Le Montre

I grew up in a family that said, “I love you,” a lot. Everyday. I love you was a truth, an apology, an afterthought, a team drill and an aside. My idea of love was so skewed for so long. Despite being told I was loved, I was also yelled at, ridiculed, hit, neglected and my voice and needs were diminished.

There are many adages in program that help me. “Easy Does It”, “One Day At A Time,” “This Too Shall Pass,” but the one most reflective of my adolescent life and my years as an addict is this one: You’re Only As Sick As Your Secrets.

I grew up in a family that was hyper-private and there were many secrets. Because of the unhealthiness and addictions, the way our family presented itself to the public versus what was really going on in the inner dynamic were two very different things.

In my recovery from eating disorders and drug addiction, I came to know that we are only as sick as our secrets.

My older sister recently wrote to me out of the blue and asked me to limit what I write about her in my essays on this blog. Unfortunately, I’m only able to do that within the confines of what would put her in danger—as I won’t censor myself. I made that decision a long time ago.

As a result of her request, I have to walk the fine line of trying to make a compassionate decision toward her while also respecting my own needs (which were rarely acknowledged or met in my alcoholic home). I also have to be certain I’m not trying to control her or get back at her for things that happened when we were kids.

I am currently crafting a response back to let her know that part of my healing process is writing about my experience in our home. Now, this is from my point of view, obviously. As we all know, there is our perspective, the other person’s perspective and the truth. I don’t kid myself to think I remember things exactly as they were. Only as I am.

The letter from her got me thinking… while I don’t want her to have anxiety or uneasiness about what I write, I can’t make the promise that she wants. And I don’t feel it’s selfish, I feel it’s evolved. It’s a tough decision on my part.

Part of the reason I feel confidently about telling her ‘no’ is because of my own process of releasing my attachment to how I feel about how other people feel about me. Another slogan in program is “What other people think about you is none of your business.” I’ve intentionally surrendered so much around what I’m OK with people saying or knowing about me. In fact, I’d rather be the one to just lay down the cards and admit “these are the things I’ve done” and thus others don’t have the power over me to reveal seeming secrets. Fearlessness is a powerful tool. Being unafraid of judgment is dynamic.

In an effort to put my money where my mouth is… The two most embarrassing acts I did while in my speed addiction are: I went to the bathroom next to a tree at a public park during the middle of the day in plain view of passersby. 2) I changed my pad in the passenger seat of my then-boyfriend’s truck at a gas station in front of his cousin.

These memories make me feel a mixture of sheer horror and odd reverence. I was so fucked up I just didn’t give AF. I was also in a weird space of irreverence about the world. I was angsty and young (eighteen) and rebellious and pushing the limits on acceptable behavior.

But, I’d rather you hear it from me than an old drug buddy!

In a way, I feel lucky that I grew up in an era predating social media. The lessons my daughter will learn will be steeper in some ways because everything is recorded for a sick kind of humiliating and fraternal posterity now. There are no photos or videos or Snapchat’s of me pissing aside a tree. But, there are memories that grow fecund in the vacuum of our minds, and I suppose, sometimes that’s even more dangerous.

I know that my teenage and early-20s drug addiction and eating disorders were a result, in part, of my formative years and the home I grew up in. For better or for worse, my parent’s choices affected my three siblings and me. So did my choices. My behavior and repeated choice to use drugs and run around with shady people was difficult for my parents. I have compassion for them.

In a way, I wouldn’t mind if my mother wrote about what it was like to have a teenage drug addict living in her home. At least I would feel seen. I would feel she was processing through an important chapter in our shared lives. I would feel like it actually happened. But, she is still in her own addictions. And if she did write something, I fear it would be in spite and I would not be handled with kid gloves.

And, I guess that’s what we all want. To be treated with gentleness. So I will do the best I can with my sister, while still maintaining my boundaries. After all, I’ve learned to treat myself with the softness that I always wanted. And to allow people into my life who will treat me with fragility. Not because I’m weak. Because I’m strong enough to admit that I need love to be a verb and not just something you are told before bedtime.

…Follow Your Bliss xoxo

Did you find this post insightful or interesting? Have your own thoughts on Family, Addiction & Privacy? Leave your comment below. 

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RELATED: Saying Goodbye To My Eating Disorder

RELATED: This Is What Dating An Alcoholic Is Like

RELATED: From Sex Addict to Monogamous Mom: A love junkie finds true love


Darrah Le Montre is a writer and journalist and devoted mom. Her work has been published by Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, The Fix and nudie blog SuicideGirls.

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Darrah’s Facebook Fan Page!


I’m super-excited to share that my Facebook fan page for this blog has reached over 2,200 fans! I’m so blessed to have such a robust & charming readership as you guys! Seriously. Not only do you read my work, but you comment and send love and unique and interesting and thought-provoking ideas my way. I’m very lucky to have ♥YOU!♥

I made a video blog to Thank You for being a part of my Facebook family. If you aren’t yet a member of my fan page, please visit & hit like! Also, sign up for Darrah’s Insider Club in the box to your right. You’ll get an email when I post new blogs! smile

Sending Love!
Darrah xoxo

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Jungle Book Premiere — Red Carpet Pics


Darrah at the Jungle Book Premiere at the El Capitan Theatre


Mitchell Lieb, Pres. of Music/Soundtracks for Disney (Far Left), Elizabeth Sherman, Original Jungle Book Songwriter Richard Sherman (Center), Lola Debney (Score Coordinator & wife of Jungle Book composer John Debney), Darrah


Darrah & Lola Debney


Jungle Book Red Carpet Photos — El Capitan Theatre

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