The AA Movement


As most of you might already know, I am in graduate school studying to earn my MS in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy. As part of my program, I am enrolled in a Substance Abuse and Dependency course that requires me to attend at least one Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting and one Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meeting.

In the past week, I have attended two AA meetings and one NA meeting.

While I walked away from each meeting feeling like a better person than I did when I entered, the Friday night meeting felt the most impactful to me. This meeting was an AA open speaker meeting, scheduled for 8pm this past Friday. Coincidentally, 8pm on a Friday night is a typical hour for people to begin to ‘turn up’ and pre-game before hitting the bars and clubs. But not here. Not at this church. A community of over 200 people joined on this night to celebrate the ‘birthdays’ of alcoholics.

What is a birthday of an alcoholic? It is another year of sobriety. It is another year of willpower, temptation, good days, bad days, cravings, and mastery. Mastery of another year without a sip of alcohol. Mastery of sobriety.

At the beginning of the meeting, the speaker asked all alcoholics to raise their hands. Every person in every pew raised their hand. You wonder, how do all of these beautiful humans walk among us and work beside us, without us having any knowledge of their membership to the AA program and the insane struggles that they have faced? There is an entire community of alcoholics that are a large part of every city, and the average person exists entirely devoid of this knowledge. We are naive to it. We are ignorant.

I was moved as I watched individuals of all ages, ethnicities, and professions blow out the candles on their cakes and proceed to tell their stories. These people were mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, grandparents, etc. Drug dependency is no respecter of peoples. It can affect anyone, at any time.

But what was amazing to me was the camaraderie that had been formed amongst all of these people with a common desire: the desire to live. The desire to gain their lives back. Here they had come to make, quite possibly, the toughest decision of their lives. The decision to abstain from a substance that had succeeded at running (and ruining) their lives. Here they had come to gain control back. To take the control away from the substance and to work hard to live a clean and sober life that at first felt unfamiliar, vulnerable, and scary. Here they had gained the support that they lacked, when they lost all of their family and friends from their addictions.

One of the hardest things that all AA members must come to accept is the notion that “once an addict, always an addict”. An older gentleman was 33 years sober, and yet still an addict. One lady said in her speech–“I will be an addict until the day they lower me into my grave…but the one thing I will not be, is a drunk”.

One addict explained how, even after 9 years of sobriety, every time he walks through the liquor aisle in a grocery store it feels like he is walking through an aisle of explosives. He then went on to say that he fears the day it ceases to feel that way, as he knows it will be a very bad sign for him.

He mentioned that alcohol continues to come up in a number of life scenarios. People cook with alcohol. There is alcohol in medicines. Do these things count for the alcoholic? It’s a fine line, but it’s questionable. Addicts must be mindful and wise in their decision-making if they do not want to relapse.

It felt ironic that alcohol could be the absolute enemy for all of these people in the church that night, while at the exact same time, hundreds of other people would turn to it as a way to unwind from the week and let loose. Alcohol is powerful. As one alcoholic put it, “choosing to drink is like playing with fire”. It’s never a problem at first, but eventually things can get out of hand. Before you know it, you hit bottom and lose everything that matters.

It is because of programs like AA and NA that people get their lives back. Alcoholics Anonymous instills hope. It brings about change, and positivity. It is a catalyst for miracles to occur. AA is a community of love, faith, non-judgment, and friendship. AA meetings can be found in every 5 mile radius, nearly every hour of the day. It is ALL OVER, and widely available. These meetings will gladly welcome anyone, and everyone. It is a movement…and an absolute beautiful one at that.

Although I am not an alcoholic myself, I have been able to gain a great deal of insight and perspective from the meetings that I have attended. And even though I have fulfilled my requirement for my course, I intend to continue attending meetings. They make me want to strive to be a better person. They put life into perspective, and remind you just how fragile it can be. These meetings give us reasons to be thankful for wherever we are at in our lives. I think that if more people (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic alike) were to attend these meetings, the world would undoubtedly be a better place.

I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone, and attend one. You will be surprised what you can learn from others.

xx allie


2017 Reflections


Luckily, I had much to be grateful for in 2017. This past year was a year of personal growth. I spent a good deal of time and effort bettering myself and working on my shortcomings. It was a year of recovery from depression, personal psychotherapy sessions, reading self-help and psychological novels, and coming to know more about who I am as a person and what I am looking for in a future. I have come to acknowledge and accept my weaknesses, and have discovered the potential I have to be a great therapist nonetheless.  Because even therapists are not perfect. Because even therapists do not have all of the answers. We are all human, and we are all susceptible to the obstacles inherent in being alive.

Through trial and error, and hardship and hurt I learned about what I am not looking for in a relationship, and consequently the things that I value most. I learned that no amount of love for a person supersedes compromise or respect. I learned that not everything can be fixed, and that sometimes letting go is the best, albeit the hardest, solution.

I learned that people who block your path to betterment and success are better left behind…not with anger or hatred, but with compassion toward their self-set limitations. When you are ready to let go of the people who are holding you back, beautiful things begin to happen.

After letting go of my last relationship, I was able to divert misused energy and passion to something that truly mattered: my education. Gone were days of tears, anger, bewilderment, and betrayal, and instead came feelings of self-fulfillment, gratitude, and pride.  A sense of completeness came over me, as I felt more whole on my own than with anyone else. Nothing had the power to upset me now. Nothing had the power to knock me off my feet, except my own exhilaration and momentum in life.

I started graduate school in August of 2017, and began to surround myself with anything and everything that steered me closer to my goals. For the first time in years, I found myself sitting down to write papers at coffee shops on weekdays—my absolute favorite thing to do. I could immerse myself in the topics and literature that fed my passions and left me itching for more. Everything felt right again. Everything felt purposeful. I completed my first semester with nothing but ‘A+’s, and I couldn’t be more proud of the hard work and countless hours that I devoted to earning those grades. Nothing came before school. Nothing served as a distraction. For that, I feel lucky.

In 2017, I was able to adhere to a good routine involving a number of various exercises per week. I lifted weights, took Zumba, played tennis, and became a new member at Studio Barre in Newbury Park. The community at Studio Barre, paired with the physical challenge, kept me coming back and actually looking forward to it. Exercise ceased to feel like a hassle, and therefore I kept it up. This year I experienced less “phases” and more of a hard-wired lifestyle.

I have managed to hold on to all of my best friends, despite occasional tiffs or disagreements. Again, I was graced with another year of proof that my friendships are solid and shatterproof. The health of the ones I love is, for another year, pristine. There is nothing that is more of a blessing to me than this.

Wealth has entered into my life in many forms. But monetarily speaking, I cannot say enough great things about the cryptocurrencies that I’ve invested in during 2017. I feel that good earnings will continue to come, and I truly encourage people to educate themselves on these types of investments and join in while they continue to rise!

It is true that 2017 brought with it a few unforeseen endings. However, with endings come new beginnings…and I can’t say enough about how excited I am to embark on the new beginnings that have recently entered my life. I feel good vibes heading into the new year, and I am excited to be carried by life’s waves of spontaneity and good grace.

Happy New Year to all. Let’s make it the best one yet.

xx allie



December Faves


Happy Wednesday Everyone!

Hope everyone is having a good day.

I just got demolished by a final…but it’s okay–time to study for the next one! I forgot how draining it is to study for finals. I’m done with 3 of 4 now, and I swear, I’m not cut out for this. My brain is slacking on everyday things this week, as I’ve been diverting all of my mental energy on psychopathology, research methods, family systems therapy techniques, and psychotherapy theories. Help.Me. I am counting down the hours until I’m done with tomorrow’s class and I can finally celebrate the Winter break and my birthday weekend! No more school for another month! WOOHOO.


This Christmas season is an unusual one for California. As you might be aware, it’s been a white Christmas season….and I mean white with ash. If you live in an affected area, then you have probably seen the ash layering the streets, your car, your roof, etc. This makes me so sad. There are many people I know that have lost their homes or have been evacuated as a result of the fires. I, for one, truly miss FRESH AIR. Tempted to take a hiatus from California and head to Washington for a nice, long weekend. I could really use some forest beauty and R&R. I’ve always wanted to be spontaneous one day and just UP and GO. Maybe I’ll do it this winter break….

I’ve been meaning to write a blog post for A WHILE, and unfortunately I have not had the time to sit down and just DO IT. But today, since I am braindead from my final a few hours ago, I figured I’d sit down and finally write one before getting back to my studies.

Happy December Folks! Here are a few of my DECEMBER FAVES!!!

  1. ADVENT CALENDARS: If you know me at all, then you know this is a Keyser Family tradition. There is no December without an advent calendar. Why do we love these so much? Because you’re guaranteed chocolate every day. Also because it’s a countdown to Christmas. Need I say more? I get mine from Trader Jos. They never fail.img_8074-e1513225042235.png
  2. WINTER SCENTED CANDLES: YES YES YES. The one I’m burning this precise moment is “Evergreen” scented and it’s from Bath & Body Works. It literally smells like a forest of Christmas trees in my room right now. They have a ton of different scents to choose from, and it’s so much fun to explore them all! I always aim for the Soy wax candles..since they emit a healthier smoke into the air than just your average candle.
  3. HOT CHOCOLATE: I don’t feel guilty about drinking empty calories if it’s during the holiday season (or lets be honest…pretty much ever). If I enjoy the drink…then no regrets. If you’re in the market for a fan.tas.tic hot chocolate, then look no further then Starbucks Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate drink. (disclaimer–you don’t even have to like caramel to LOVE this drink)
  4. CHRISTMAS MOVIES: This might be the only time that I recommend Hallmark movies…but if you’re going to watch them at all…then I guess it’s permissible in December of all months. You must also watch “The Grinch”, “The Santa Clause”, “Elf”, and “The Holiday”. I just purchased a 50 inch HD 4K tv for my room, so you can bet that I’ll be spending my entire winter break snuggled up binge watching everything that exists.
  5. BABY CHRISTMAS TREES: Trader Jos comes in clutch with these too. I bought a baby  tree for my room, equipped with silver confetti sparkles for decoration. It is literally adorable on a bedside table and doesn’t take up much space at all! I think mine cost about $3…but they have a special “Grump” tree that is SO freaking cute. I recommend it.

grump tree

6. STRING LIGHTS: These add the perfect holiday touch to any room. I found mine at Target for only $5 (batteries not included). They are super cute, perfect length for my windows, and have little rose gold bells attached.

7. STOCKING STUFFERS: Stockings are (hands down) my favorite part about Christmas morning. It’s so much fun to explore your stocking…because every goody is such a surprise! Some ideas for stuffers: nail polish, face masks, little gift cards to Starbucks or In-N-Out (if you’re Californian), chocolate, fuzzy socks, lip gloss, hand creams, etc.! Be creative… and maybe even a little quirky.

Okay that’s all the time I have for today guys. Keep your eyes out for more posts….as I am about to have SO MUCH MORE TIME!



Black Friday Consumes Thanksgiving

black friday

Happy Tuesday everyone–it’s almost Thanksgiving! I hope that everyone is excited for turkey, Martinelli’s sparkling cider, and good ol’ pumpkin pie. We all know that year after year we consume over 5,000 calories in that one Thanksgiving meal alone! Only this year it’s different. Thanksgiving itself is being consumed. Hide yo kids, hide yo wife.

If you’ve done your research at all on the Black Friday specials of 2017, then you may have noticed that the major door-busters begin at 6pm on Thanksgiving night. 6 PM!!! What in the name of Christopher Columbus?! I thought black Friday starts on Friday?

Isn’t it true that Black Friday used to start at precisely midnight following Thanksgiving?!

Over the years, black Friday has continued to creep closer and closer to Thanksgiving night. Last year I remember that a lot of the doors opened at 9 or 10 pm…. and even that was pushing it. BUT NOW 6PM? If you’re like most Americans…then chances are you are just sitting down to eat your Thanksgiving feast with the fam at this time. And now what? Instead of enjoying and appreciating quality family time, we are all supposed to be running off and finding the best deals on expensive items? Blasphemy.

What about everyone that must show up to work at 6pm on Thanksgiving, just so that people can barge their way through the doors and save money on a TV or game system? Hath America no soul?

At this rate, I would not be surprised if Thanksgiving goes extinct in the coming years. Black Friday will become Black Thursday, replacing Thanksgiving once and for all. I digress..

I honestly refuse to be at the door-buster sales this year, and I highly encourage all others to do the same. Instead, I will be embarking on a CyberMonday shopping spree from the comfort of my own home. In fact, I am hearing that CyberMonday is supposed to be even better than Black Friday….so there.

This Thanksgiving…don’t lose sight of what is truly important. Family, friends, and thankfulness. ❤

…and if you do decide to shop this Black Friday, then may the odds be ever in your favor.

xx allie





All day today I have felt shaken. I simply cannot get the vision of Sunday night’s catastrophe out of my head…and yet I was not even there. Thankfully, I did not attend that concert. Thankfully, no one that I personally know was hurt. But tonight I lay in my bed thinking about the many thousands of people who lost someone dear to them unexpectedly on that night. I wonder how many people will cry themselves to sleep, grieving over the loss of their son or daughter, their husband or wife, their cousin or best friend. Nobody could have foreseen the events of that night that left us all in disbelief. Nobody can undo it. My heart breaks to know this.

As I studied today in a public place, I felt an overwhelming sense of anxiety as I imagined how it would feel if suddenly I were challenged with the daunting task of running for my life amidst an avalanche of bullets. A feeling of panic overcame my entire body as I stewed in fear at the thought of its possibility. To think that at any moment one could be caught off guard and introduced to the stark contrast of life and death.

There is nothing in this world that will remedy the tragedy that occurred on Sunday in Las Vegas. But when tragedies of this sort happen, it is important that we do the only thing that we know how–look for the light.

There were many heroes that rose to the occasion when those bullets were fired. Incredible people jumped in front of bullets to save others they did not know. On that night, we saw the sinister act of one highly disturbed person. But in contrast, we also bore witness to the truly compassionate nature that resides within the very same species. We were reminded, albeit traumatically, of the extremely divergent conditions of the human mind. The devastation that can result from that of a deeply troubled mind, versus the heroic altruism that comes from the same network of neuronal connections.

We wonder what caused such a psychotic break. What compelled this man to follow-through with the deadliest recorded mass shooting in US history? The sickly part is that we may never know. We may never determine what caused him to snap. This shakes us even more.

But if we can learn anything from this tragedy, let it be this: spread kindness. 

We cannot know what people are going through behind the scenes. We cannot know how our interaction with a stranger might affect their decisions–and how those decisions might affect others. We cannot truly know even the people that we think we know. The best defense against this act of violence is just simply to spread kindness. It doesn’t take much, but it makes all the difference. Do something to make someone’s day. Start a chain reaction. Show the world what us humans are really made of.


xx allie

A Grateful Wednesday Morning…

fall morning.jpg

As I sip my regular hazelnut latte in a local Coffee Bean at nearly 10am on a Wednesday September morning, I couldn’t feel more in my element. It’s calm and quiet in here, aside from the background music that’s playing, and to my right is a fall-themed poster hanging on the wall, advertising their new pumpkin cold brew almond milk latte. This morning is calm and peaceful. There’s something magical about it, in fact. Today I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude.

For today, I’m not in a hospital. I’m not at a funeral. Today I’m not amidst a natural disaster. Today, I made it to the coffee shop without being pulled over or getting into an accident. I looked in the mirror this morning and saw nothing that was cause for concern. I woke up today in my bed, calmly and without being startled by a major earthquake. I used my credit card to purchase my coffee, and it didn’t get declined. Everybody that I know and care for, to my knowledge, is well and happy. Today is a beautiful day.

This morning I am living the life that I’ve been envisioning for a while. I am enrolled in grad school, working to become a professional mental health clinician. Week days can now be spent focused on the subjects that interest me, and capture my heart. Effort can now be expended in activities that will catapult me into the career that will complete me and fulfill my soul.

Sitting here in this coffee shop, about to endeavor on my readings for the week, is exactly where I want to be in this very moment. I could think of nowhere else that would empower me more. I am in my element, doing the very things that I’ve been wanting. I am where I need to be, to get to where I want to go. There is absolutely nothing more comforting than that feeling.

If you aren’t living your life in your element, I highly encourage working towards it. Absolutely nothing compares. Follow your dreams, and more importantly follow your heart. A waiter once told me, “if you follow your heart in life, then you’ll never be disappointed“. I remember when he said these words, I screenshotted them in my mind. I knew that there was validity to this statement. I knew that this guy was speaking from experience.

I think his statement was true for anything. For love, for education, for careers…for life. If you do nothing else worthy of noting, then do this one thing–follow your heart.

Happy Wednesday, blogees. Stay beautiful.

xx allie


Welcome Fall


Alright, so I know that it isn’t “officially” fall yet, but I can’t help the fact that it sure does feel like it. And quite honestly, I couldn’t be more excited for the change of season. I always look forward to the start of fall, but when it actually arrives it ends up being SO much more satisfying than I even remembered.

Every morning that I wake up in the fall is a glorious one. Why? Because the lighting is different; there is a slightly orange filter that blankets the town making everything seem literally kissed by the sun. The wind feels different, and the leaves start to fall. There is no season, to me, more beautiful than that of fall. The beauty of the earth is just too powerful not to notice. It overwhelms my senses in the best of ways.

Starbucks has begun to serve their seasonal drinks again (hallelujah!). Pumpkin spiced lattes and salted caramel mochas, and I just can’t get enough. I spend too many hours per week inside a Starbucks establishment, and yet I don’t regret a minute of it (although admittedly, my bank account does). The taste of fall invigorates my taste buds, activating every pleasure center in my brain.

I woke up to a pumpkin on my kitchen table this morning, and immediately I felt energized by the realization that my favorite season is again here. Once the heat wave passes through, it will be time for scarves and boots, leggings and sweaters. It will be time for rainy nights, and hot cocoa. Thunderstorms and lightening skies.

There is something intimate about the fall. There is a peaceful undertone, that hums in the background of every day. There is a whisper of hope in the air. It is hard to describe the feeling of enlightenment that I get from experiencing the beauty of a fall day. It is a feeling unlike any other. I am awakened by it, and reminded of my extremely fortunate life. I am at harmony.

I challenge you to cherish every day of the season, and to be grateful for the life you live despite any trying circumstances you may be experiencing. If you are healthy and alive, revel in that. Seize the day, and make it count.

Happy Fall.

xx allie





Bad Days

bad day 2

Humans are not infallible. That’s what makes us human. We have bad days. There are days that we wish we could quit. Forgo all of our responsibilities, retreat back to our bed, pull the covers over our heads and press “reset”. But life doesn’t work that way.

So instead, we do our best to pull through. To continue to do everything we planned on, despite the dull feeling in our chest and our sudden onset of demotivation. Despite the starkly opposing good moods we come across during our day, and our intense effort to tiptoe around them without causing harm.

On these days, antidepressants don’t seem to do the trick. The dosage hasn’t changed, but yet something seems off. You recall once again what it feels like to feel. What it feels like to hurt. These are the days that the medication ceases to matter, and we are put to the test. It can’t take away reality, or even diminish your experience of it. It just sits dormant in your system–as if every active particle running through your veins slows to a halt and descends to the bottom-most layer of your being. Maybe tomorrow they’ll pick back up again. Maybe.

But today, you go back to feeling. The pain a band aid makes after it’s been ripped off your supple flesh. Not the immediate sting, but the throb that follows it. The throb that withstands, until it finally diminishes to nothing but a memory. A memory you hope to never relive.

Depression is the ugliest monster I know. It lurks and taunts you from time to time, just to remind you that you are not infallible. That you are human. And while sometimes I loathe its existence, other times I take a moment to cherish the ability to feel so strongly. To relish the very assets that make me feel alive. Because good days cannot truly exist without the occasional bad day. Because the range of human emotion is what makes the experience of living so intimate and formidable. And because perhaps my appraisal of this experience means more holistically than the experience itself.

xx allie

Back to School

back to school.jpg

So I survived my first week of grad school…but just barely.

I write to you today (on a Saturday night) because I am quarantining myself from the outside world, due to the illness that has befallen me. Slight fever, runny/stuffy nose, sore throat, and coughing. There is never a year in my life where I make it through the first week of school without catching something. I guess grad school is no different. So here I am.


First Impressions of MFT Grad School:

  • People seem to be a lot more friendly and open to discussion: Perhaps because my cohort is so small, and we all know that we are going to be very close over the course of the next two years. Students are eager to exchange names and get to know one another. In a weird way, I already almost feel like family to some of them.  I know that we will be having a lot of deep conversations in our classes, disclosing a lot of personal information and narratives. I am looking SO forward to intimately getting to know each and every one of my cohort members, digging deep into each others’ psyches and learning the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for them choosing this line of work. I was also surprised that my cohort is rather young. I expected that our ages would be scattered, with a substantial range between the youngest and oldest peer. Turns out we are all about the same age.
  • Professors really care: The professors I’ve met so far seem to REALLY care about getting through to their students. They are willing to bend over backwards to meet up with students after class to address and answer their questions. They encourage you to email them at any time if you are confused about anything. They ask a million (*dramatization*) times throughout class if we have any questions. They have spent a long time creating extremely detailed syllabi that preface the expectations of the class, assignments, grading scale, and rubrics. They are passionate about their subjects and work hard to teach the material in ways that are understandable and clear, providing a number of extremely good examples and  relevant class exercises. They seem to really want us to excel in the class and receive “A”s. I feel inspired by their enthusiasm and encouraged by their belief in us.
  • Challenging Exams: Long gone are the days of multiple choice exams. It never occurred to me before, but since our classes are so small (in some cases only 7 students), grading exams is nowhere near as daunting as it probably was when my classes were 800+ people. All exams are now composed of only short answer and essay questions. While I’m not super stoked about this, I guess it will provide our professors with an accurate idea of our knowledge and understanding on any given subject. Not sure yet if tests are ever curved. Crossing my fingers that they are.
  • Attendance: Mandatory. This one is a little more obvious. Unlike undergrad, you can’t just choose not to show up to grad school classes. Doing so would be doing yourself a colossal disservice. Every class is made up of a week’s worth of content. The professors also pass around an attendance list during class. They know who you are. And they know when you don’t show up. It’s hard not to notice in a class of only 7 people. Gone are the days of playing hooky.
  • Laptops: So far I’ve noticed that I’m one of the only people that doesn’t bring their laptop to class. I literally felt like Elle Woods with my little notepad and pen. Am I the only one that sees laptops as a distraction though? I know I’m slower at hand writing than typing, but I definitely digest the material better when I actually write out the words, rather than press buttons on a laptop. I never used my laptop to take notes as an undergrad, but since the professors move so quickly in class through the slides, I may have to make a change. Gone are the days of hand written notes…maybe.

Overall, I’m super excited to start grad school. I forgot how much I love learning, and the enthusiasm I have for doing the reading and taking my own personal notes at home. I really feel like I am in my element, and that grad school is the perfect place for me at this point in my life. I am excited for my future career and the many many people I will hopefully be able to help. There is no better feeling than following your dreams, and I highly suggest that if you have a goal…start working towards it! You would be amazed how invigorating it feels to be doing something important for yourself, and working towards becoming a better version of you. That’s it for this post. Signing off–

xx allie