Category Archives: LIFESTYLE

LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH, WELLNESS

My Story, My Warning: I was Drugged.

I Was Drugged

Probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to write.

Mostly because of the shame attached to that phrase and the unpleasant explanation that follows.

I didn’t want to write this. I didn’t want to file a police report. I didn’t want to pee in a cup. I didn’t want to tell my children or my mother. I didn’t want to tell my friends.

But what I don’t want more than any of that is: I don’t want that creep to do it to anyone else ever again. Because, I know – I KNOW – he has done this before. He’s done it before and he hasn’t gotten caught. He’s done it before and no one has reported it, no one has filed charges.

The Story

I arrived in Dallas from LAX the evening before an HR technology conference, in time to have a friend pick me up at the airport and go to dinner. My friend Jackie selected one of her favorite Mexican cuisine restaurants near the Turtle Creek area of Dallas. I love Mexican food — being a California native and resident, it is often the meal of choice in my home and among my friends. The small beach town where I live has several Mexican restaurants to choose from, so I was excited to try a new place.

We arrived and were seated quickly – we ordered a couple skinny margaritas and cruised over the menu several times – plus talked incessantly about life, love, and work. We were having a great time. By the time we ordered our food, our 2nd margarita arrived. Between chips and the chimichanga, plus being a “lite margarita” – Jackie and I felt no effects of the alcohol.  A third round was ordered, but Jackie, being a wise and thoughtful friend, but also the driver for the evening, abstained.

It wasn’t long until a tray with two vanilla shots arrived, compliments of the Night Manager – “You ladies seem to be having a good time.” We were informed to sip it, not shoot it. Jackie took only a very small sip – but I drank it slowly down, still having felt no effects from the margaritas. Another tray of shots arrived, tequila this time. Jackie, again refused, the night manager insisted she, “Just take an Uber.” She stuck to her guns. I did the shot – within 10 minutes, the night manager was at my side, whispering and giving me a ‘scram’ head nod to, “Go the the bathroom, Rayanne.” I, innocently thinking, he wanted me to leave so he could flirt with my friend, did as he suggested.

I entered the bathroom and proceeded to use the toilet. While I was peeing, the Night Manager entered the bathroom – I froze – an intense feeling of personal danger suddenly came over me. I could see him through the crack in the bathroom door, he stood there, listening to me pee. I stared at his shoes. Then he left.

What do I do???

Thoughts began racing through my head and I felt like I was losing control. I know now, that the drug was in almost full effect at this point. I still did not comprehend the absolute fullness of what was happening to me. I washed my hands and left the bathroom quickly, but he was waiting for me outside the ladies’ room. He called my name and tried to pull me into the men’s bathroom. I pulled away and put my hand up in front of his face – my fingers extended – and screamed, “No!”

I walked/ran away as quickly as I could and grabbed Jackie, telling her, “We need to go – we need to leave – he just tried to pull me into the men’s room.” We gathered our things and went to the car — that is the last thing I remember – but not the last thing I did.

I sat down in the car, we drove to my hotel about 20 minutes away. I got out of the car, got my luggage and went to the counter. I checked into my room, giving the desk clerk my ID and credit card. I signed the receipt and put my license and my credit card back in the right place. I took the elevator to my room, used my key to enter my room, locked my door from the inside, set out my luggage, set up my computer and climbed into bed.
I don’t remember any of this.
NONE of it, I have a 4-hour block of amnesia. Complete amnesia – the next thing I do remember, slightly, is throwing up violently and showering and bathing, showering and bathing (yes, twice each) to try and rid my system of whatever I had ingested.

I was not drunk, I was not hungover – I was drugged.

How do I know? Because it has happened to me before and I was too ashamed to say anything to anyone until many years later.

When I woke the next morning, I was in bed – completely naked, my hair was sopping wet with only a vague memory of showering and bathing and throwing up during the night. I couldn’t even tell you what floor my room was on. My only clue was the key card and its cover sitting neatly next to my computer on the desk with the room number scrawled on it in Sharpie.

As I walked around my room trying to piece together what had happened, I felt a sharp pain in my foot. I looked down and saw my pinky toe sticking straight out from the side of my foot, swollen and red, bruising already started. I can only ascertain that I kicked the door jam in my hotel room in the middle of the night – I have no memory of that. But I sure felt the pain then.

I Had to Work

I was in Dallas for work — I had to pull myself together for work. I was responsible for getting things set up: for putting together equipment, for making sure everything was in place and ready for the event. I had to smile all day. And I could barely make it to the bathroom. I laid in bed wondering what to do – I shared my story, as a caution, with a FB group to which I belonged. Their support was incredible but a nagging theme emerged – while Thank God I was ok, I needed to report this.

I didn’t want to – I knew what a pain in the ass it was going to be. I pushed it to the back burner because, well – I needed to work. So, I girded my loins and I headed out the door to begin my day in an Expo Hall. A sickening nausea – the kind which accompanies a concussion – was my constant companion, along with a sore foot, dizziness, and general malaise.  I got through the day, doing all I needed to do, but I was a Zombie. Some of my light had left me. 

That evening I shared my story with my grown children via group text messaging. They were angry, of course, but also scared for what might have happened. They were disappointed I had not reported the crime – I countered that I didn’t have time – that I was there for work and there was still work for me to do. But I researched and researched some more. A blood test is no longer needed to see these drugs in your system – a simple urine sample will suffice, for up to 72 hours, after an encounter with Rohypnol – if it were GHB, it would already be out of my system within 12 -24 hours.  So, I started planning – how can I report this, get a lab test done, and still put in 4 more hours in an Expo Hall the next day, plus pack up everything?

The Uber Driver

The next morning, I pinged for an Uber. One arrived shortly: a compact white Mazda. Harold got out of his little white car and helped me with my luggage. I relaxed instantly. Until that moment, I had been afraid – I worried I would not be able to get in the car, that my fear would overcome me, that my trust was completely lost, and that I would hold the actions of one against the many I needed to trust in my life of travel.

But, the right driver was sent to me. I asked Harold to drive me to the police station – he turned, concerned and I told him my story – he stayed with me for the next 45 minutes. He waited outside the closest police station for me – but get this, it wasn’t open — just a remote station. He waited for me outside the Starbucks where I bought breakfast for us both, while I regrouped and re-planned how I was going to do this. I had asked Harold if he had an important lady in his life – he hung his head shyly and said, “Yes, I have a special lady.” I told him to care for her and share my story – this can happen to anyone, at any time.

My trip to the police station would have to wait until later that day — I had four+ hours of work to fulfill now.

He took me to the conference center and got out of the car – he gently shook my hand and looked me in the eye saying, “Take care, Miss Rayanne. I’m sorry this happened to you.”  Then he placed my luggage on the curb, looked me in the eye one more time and smiled with a nod. And with that, Harold restored my faith in mankind. He eased me back into my world. He, this man – a stranger – relit that light.

The Police Report

The day dragged with conference attendance lighter than expected. Once my colleague and I repacked all our gear and I was able to get the shipping of all our equipment secured, my friend Jackie picked me up out front. I had been given the run around over the phone from two different police departments, no one wanted to handle this. I was finally told that I should go to a local Starbucks and call 911 from there and an officer would meet me to take my report. We selected a shop right by the scene of the crime and waited for over an hour – with my flight time closing in, this inaction didn’t seem like the right course, so we bee-lined for police headquarters in downtown Dallas.

Jackie and I stormed the building ready to take on whoever got in our way. Stopped by what seemed a makeshift TSA checkpoint, two female officers were reticent to even let us in, let alone file a report. I think it became very clear that I wasn’t going anywhere until I filed a report. I said, once again – “What if this had been you or your daughter?” They let us through and I was getting ready to tell my story when I heard the sergeant say, looking down at us from behind the counter, “Unless you’ve had a lab test, there is nothing we can do.” I countered that I would be getting a lab test when I left the station – then came these words,

“Well, you weren’t raped, were you?”

I was stunned and nearly speechless. Nearly. Then I said, “So because I wasn’t raped, no crime was committed? The victim has no voice? What am I supposed to do? What do I tell my daughters?” Jackie started talking too and I think, at this point, the sergeant relented to shut us up.

What if this had been your wife, your mother, your daughter, your sister?

I wanted to scream. I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry. My hands were shaking as I shared my story with a female officer who took notes and promised a detective would follow up with me. We left the station with little time to spare and a need to find a healthcare facility where I could give a urine sample.

The battle to get the right test ensued. We found a local urgent care center which couldn’t help us, not having access to a lab or the right kind of test. A nurse who heard my story and was compelled to help, made some calls and found a lab that could do the necessary test.

We called ahead, the lab assistant was ready to close for the evening. I told my story again and she stated she would stay until we arrived and take a urine sample to be submitted for a couple different tests – checking for Rohypnol and GHB. I was able to leave the sample and also had an immediate result test done that was inconclusive. The other two samples were sent off with results to be returned 3-5 days later. And I paid the $150 for the tests.

But the results were negative…

I was told that I should have had the lab tests done within the first 6 hours for the most accurate results. The disorientation and sickness caused by the drug kept me from thinking clearly in those first 12 hours. The shame and continuing sickness, as well as the need to work, kept me from going to the hospital or calling the police once I ascertained what had happened to me.

I wish I HAD called the police immediately. I just don’t how I could have done anything differently than I did. I met with my physician as soon as I returned home and asked how I might be able to follow-up with a hair follicle test 3 weeks following the incident. I had been told that the drug(s) might show up then. With four follow-up calls asking for a lab referral, I gave up.

I haven’t heard from the detective who was supposed to have called me back, though I have left two messages. Without a positive lab result, however, there is not much the police can do. It is my word against a restaurant employee of eight years.

Does it end here?

It could. It could end here with me just forgetting about it. But I cannot. I will not.

I wasn’t drunk. I didn’t have a hangover. I still suffer from the lingering effects of a drug that someone decided to give me. I was drugged by a restaurant employee I trusted who tried to drag me into the bathroom. His timing was off by about 30 seconds. I was lucky. I was lucky that I was still coherent; that I listened to my internal danger signal and my impulse to leave immediately.

But there are those who have not been lucky. And there are those who might not be lucky this weekend or next. So I bring this warning.

DO NOT ACCEPT A SHOT from a STRANGER. Any time. Any where. Ever.
DO NOT leave your drink or turn your back on it. Ever. And if you do, throw it out or get a new one. 

I never will again. I want the shame on the victim of this crime to be gone. There should be NO SHAME on the victim. We live in a world where we have to trust strangers. Uber drivers. Grocery store clerks. Restaurant servers. Baristas. Mailmen. Police Officers.

This was not my fault. I didn’t ask for it and I didn’t deserve it.

No one does. Ever. 

I’m not done telling this story.

I will not be quiet.

LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH, WELLNESS

Sara Robinson Chambless: How to live mindfully, and why!

Sara Robinson Chambless is an inspired self-realization teacher whose writing, speaking, and wellness practice empower individuals to lead rich and satisfying lives free from worry, stress, and fear.

1. Learning from Thoreau that we do not need to lead “lives of quiet desperation”, feeling stuck on a treadmill, but rather can find what we are “supposed” to be doing and move to an authentic life;

2. Happiness is not something to be pursued in its own right, but is something that emerges when we make life choices that put us on the right path;

3. The key to all of this is living mindfully. And Sara not only gives us some general tips on mindfulness, but spends time making it practical and real in a business context.

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This episode was originally published on A New Business Mindset!

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BUSINESS, CONTRIBUTORS, LEADERSHIP, LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH

Get used to being uncomfortable

I have a good friend going through a tough time right now. He’s just recently suffered a big loss, and despite putting out a strong front to the world, I know he is struggling mightily.

“I suck at this,” he says. Followed by “I feel so broken.”

I get it. We’ve all been there.

And then today, as I write this, I had a big business setback myself. A project I was counting on fell through at the very last minute.

“How could this have happened to me,” I yelled out loud earlier today, within earshot of my poor wife who had no choice but to listen to my frustrated rant.

I’m feeling pretty blue as a result. This despite the fact that at this very moment in my life, I’ve never been happier, I’ve never felt more optimistic, and the growth track with my business remains overwhelmingly positive.

But setbacks and losses still suck. They still hurt. A lot. And it’s easy to fall into a tailspin as a result.

Here is what I am learning: Setbacks are a regular part of life. As much as you don’t want them to happen, they do. YOU HAVE NO CHOICE IN THIS MATTER.

And instead of curling up in the fetal position, or venting through loud vocal obscenities and rage like I do, foolishly, you have to suck it up and move on.

As a new friend of mine says, you have go forward, “Always Forward.”

Business and life is uncomfortable. It just is. If you expect it to be smooth and easy, you’ll be disappointed.

But it is moving forward, picking yourself back up, taking one step forward at a time = THE ONLY WAY TO KEEP GOING.

You know this, even if you are unwilling to admit it.

All the great ones do this. You can too. I can too. And I have to, for people are counting on me.

Life is uncomfortable. And it always will be. You have no choice but to accept that, and take that on as a personal challenge, and embrace it.

The Sun will come up tomorrow, the clock will keep ticking, dust will keep going through the hourglass, and you’ll still be there…

The question is will you be wallowing in it and sucking on your thumb? Or will you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move forward…Always Forward?

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BUSINESS, LIFESTYLE

Emily Lagasse: Our pets deserve better food

Joined on the show today by Emily Lagasse, the Founder + CEO of Fedwell Pet Foods. Our pets deserve better food, yes. But learn how one entrepreneur built a business from scratch to solve a very common problem….

Discussion guide from my conversation with Emily Lagasse:

1. The inspiration behind starting Fedwell Pet Foods.

2. Challenges with manufacturing and getting the product made, and how she’s dealing with that.

3. She shares her unique distribution model, and how she will scale the business when the time comes. And what you can learn from how she will accomplish that.

4. She walks us through her current product line, but shares where things can go from here: foods for new animals, and adding new proteins, such as crickets. Yes…crickets!

5. How do you build trust with a new market, in a very competitive market, on a very sensitive subject (what people feed their fur babies)…

6. What are the biggest challenges building a business like this? And can you share some key lessons for those trying to do something similar?

7. Any guidance for finding and recruiting manufacturing for any type of product?

8. How do you deal with the strict testing of product, especially when everyone in your market is concerned, from finicky owners to veterinarians?

9. How do you scale a business such as this, without compromising quality and your principles?

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Emily Lagasse

About Emily Lagasse:

Emily is the founder and CEO of Fedwell Pet Foods, a Boston-based company offering the only 100% natural pet food on the market. Fedwell products are based on Emily’s home- cooked recipes that she used to heal her African dog, Fenway, after he got sick upon their return from Peace Corps service in Togo. Every bag of Fedwell contains recognizable ingredients anyone would be proud to serve their whole family.

Emily was the grand prize winner at the 2013 Female Entrepreneurship Challenge, earning over $30K in cash and non-cash prizes. Emily was also a semi-finalist at Babson’s BETA challenge in 2014, and in 2015 Fedwell was named one of Inc Magazine’s coolest college startups. Fedwell concluded a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2014, with over 200 backers, raising over $20,000. Fedwell is currently carried in specialty pet stores in Massachusetts and is being featured on the PBS show StartUp, which draws 15 million viewers annually. (Episode 308, Wake up and smell the dog food, airs on Boston’s WGBH on November 22nd at 12:30pm.) Emily is a native of Boston, attended Ohio State University for her undergraduate degree in Marketing and Transportation Logistics and is a recent MBA graduate from Babson college. In her spare time Emily plays in a volleyball league, enjoys outdoor activities with her dog, and teaches life skills to youth aging out of the foster care system.

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CONTRIBUTORS, LIFESTYLE

I am not wishing you Happy Birthday on Facebook. Deal with it.

My birthday is coming up soon, and frankly, I am dreading it. Why?

Not because I am getting older (but that sucks too).

It’s because of Facebook and their infernal mother-farking birthday function. It’s ruined birthdays for me, and has taken the fun out of my celebrating the birthdays of people I care about.

For the record, I no longer wish people “Happy Birthday” on Facebook, or any other social network for that matter.

I really don’t want my greeting buried under hundreds of others.

So, if you’ve been offended that I haven’t said anything to you on your BIG day well, sorry, but I am not losing any sleep over it.

Why?

Because most of what I see and hear isn’t genuine, and stems from one simple fact:

From half of my Facebook friends, I hear from them one day per year. And yeah, you guessed it: it’s on my birthday when I get the perfunctory “Happy Birthday [insert name here]!”

And it doesn’t help when you attach one of those motion-GIFS. Frankly, that’s your attempt to make it “more” personal. Despite the fact that I will receive 100s of those on the big day. All they really do is clog up Facebook’s servers.

These particular Facebook friends who pass along greetings once a year NEVER like anything else of mine. They never engage with me on my content. Never comment on stuff I share, whether it is on music, photos of my activities, food I eat, issues of the day, etc.

Now, it’s a VERY FAIR question to ask why am I connected to someone who only contacts me ONCE A YEAR? Yes, #truth. And the subject of another essay for another day. And I bear my share of responsibility in this too.

Frankly, when I observe others on their actual birthday, I am quite saddened when they are spending time ON THEIR ACTUAL BIRTHDAY responding to birthday wishes on Facebook. Do you not have other things to do on this special day? Really? You have to get out a little more friend…

I also hate the standard “Thanks for all the birthday wishes, I am very blessed, and I have the bestest friends” notes that people post, you know, so they don’t have to acknowledge all of these greetings. Probably from people they also only hear from once per year.

So yeah, at the end of the day, I’ve stopped doing it because I don’t want people to think of me the way I think of others who do it to me.

No, on rare occasion, I will send someone a birthday message via Facebook, but I’ll make it a point to personalize it and make it legitimate. Or, I will take advantage of Facebook reminding me, and send them greetings through another, more personal, medium.

And for the record, I am grateful when someone I know and interact with year round sends me a real, human, personal note.

Social media has changed the world. It connects us in ways that most never dreamed possible, and its wonders continue to marvel and hint and what’s still possible down the road.

But the downsides are its automation and lack of a personal touch.

I’ve been binging the AMC series TURN, about George Washington’s spies. Seeing them write meticulous letters on parchment with a quill pen and ink, that correspondence seems so real and genuine…

…verses the automatron scanning today’s list of birthdays on his Facebook page, and BANG-BANG-BANG-Done.

Ok, good. Moving on to the next task…

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AUTHORS, LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH, WELLNESS

Dave Griffin: How running leads to both personal AND professional growth

Joined on the show today by Dave Griffin, founder of Flying Feet Running Programs, and author of a new book called In the Distance: Why We Struggle Through the Demands of Running, and How It Leads Us to Peace.

Discussion guide from my conversation with Dave Griffin:

1. How the focus and drive needed to become a runner can aid and enhance professional motivation. This is more than just about running, it’s about professional development too!

2. How he used the benefits of training and running with others in his leadership of his corporate risk management team – his 4 unique takeaway tips.

3. The statistics that indicate successful leaders are also regular exercise enthusiasts – the psychological truths behind this.

4. How running takes us back to our early childhood years and why it is important to be in touch with that part of ourselves as we mature in business.

5. Of course, we discuss the health (and mental) benefits of running.

6. And for those who are NOT runners, Dave shares some insights on HOW TO START!

Find Dave Griffin’s latest book here:

About Dave Griffin:

Dave Griffin began running in 1976 as a high school freshman. He ran competitively through 1989 with PRs that include a 25:43 5M, a 32:11 10K and a 1:12:24 half marathon. After a 12-year period of casual running when his children were young, he returned to competitive running as a master.

Griffin started the Flying Feet Running Programs in 2004 while his daughter, Katie, was running in high school. The program has since grown to provide year-round coaching and support to runners of all experience and talent levels in the Carroll County, MD area.

Griffin began writing about running and life in 2006, when his bi-weekly column, Dave Griffin on Running, was introduced. In 2010, Dave published his first book, After the Last PR – The Virtues of Living a Runner’s Life.

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CONTRIBUTORS, LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH

You don’t need to get up at 4AM each morning to be a success

Every day, I read some article that, if true, someone far more awesome than me has already done the following by 6AM:

photo-1428954376791-d9ae785dfb2d1. They were wide awake, showered, dressed, and at their desk by 4AM…losing a half pound of weight in the process.
2. By 5AM, they had already written 2,000 words.
3. By 520AM, they had meditated for 20 minutes and achieved near enlightenment.
4. And by 6AM, with all the kids awake, bathed, and lunch boxes packed, they had also done yoga for an additional 20 minutes. Namaste my friend!

Let me boldly and proudly declare, that by 6AM, I haven’t gotten out of bed yet. But, according to the internet, I am the only person on the entire planet still sleeping at this time in the morning.

Other essays I’ve read, some of these even more amazing people have also run a 5K (or more), prepared food from scratch (that they harvested from the back yard garden), have read the entire Wall Street Journal by 617AM, and have even done a little work to lower the Earth’s core temperature by .05 degrees.

These are truly amazing people. And all doing overtly sustainable activities before the Sun even rises.

By 617AM, I have probably read one or two articles on the Red Sox. And by then I have a 5 year old Golden Retriever standing on my chest giving me the vulture look. I will usually pretend to go back to sleep to fake her out, but Shiloh usually doinks me in the eye with the cold tip of her wet dog nose to tell me I am full of it.

Around 625AM, I will have stolen a look at my lovely wife, who is forcing her eyes closed so that I am made to believe she isn’t awake yet. For she doesn’t really want to talk to me until 10AM at the earliest. Trust me, she’s awake.

Seriously, I am amazed at the amount of people who have rewritten the U.S. Constitution by sunup. Who are all of these people? Why are they so perfect? How is it that with all of these amazing people, we still have cancer, and why are geopolitical affairs still such a mess?

Are these people for real? Are they even real?

Despite my obvious failings in the wee hours of the morning, I am still happy. I am still running a growing and successful business, I have a wife that loves me (after 10AM), and I have two happy, healthy dogs.

And oh, I haven’t even told you the really bad news yet: The first two things I do in the morning:

1. Check Facebook.
2. Read my email.

Yes, since you started reading this essay, there have been about 300 new articles published condemning humans for checking email and social media before midday.

And yes, despite the fact that I DO NOT get up at 4AM each morning AND check email and Facebook whilst still in bed, here is a list of the things I happen to still accomplish:

1. I read a book a week.
2. I run at least a 5K three to four times a week.
3. I walk my dogs round Chicago the non-running days of the week.
4. I run a business.
5. I conduct a dozen radio interviews for my business.
6. I explore my city (which translates to: I eat a lot).

I do all these things when I can, and when I want to. I check email as often as I want to. I check Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram whenever I want to.

Look, I am not condemning people who have a set morning routine. I admire them for getting up early and achieving things.

It just doesn’t work for me.

For me, every day is different. My interview schedule varies each day. Some days I am on the road. Some days Stephanie and I have plans. Some days are running days. I just simply cannot follow a strict routine day in and day out.

But you do have to find out what works for you. And stick to it. Or at least know WHAT you have to do, and be disciplined to get it done over the course of the day.

Just don’t judge me when I don’t rise at 4AM. We are all different, and we are all wired in different ways. I am glad to hear you’ve figured out what works for you, and appreciate you sharing it with us. It may very well inspire someone to try something new.

Live life on your terms. Don’t be guilted into following a process that isn’t right for you, just to please some superhero that probably isn’t real…

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